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Discussion in 'Movies' started by John Stell, Sep 13, 2019.
I still think that's the best horror movie of all time.
No argument from me.
It's been a busy couple of weeks. I have had a chance to see a few things at the theatre recently.
Rear Window (1954) - Top tier Hitchcock. Not really horror, but pretty terrifying toward the end. I highly recommend seeing it on a big screen. There is so much going on and so much detail in the set.
The Haunting (1963) - First time viewing and on a big screen. Loved it! The house was amazing. All the details of furnishings and the opulence and busy-ness of it made it easy to get lost. It was easy to see how the characters could be overwhelmed by the surroundings. I loved Claire Bloom as Theodora.
Psycho (1960) - Another in my Hitchcock top five. Great on the big screen and probably one of the most masterful directing jobs on screen. The fact that he is able to change the audience's sympathy from Marion to Norman is amazing.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) - Another first time viewing on a big screen. This was amazing. There are so many unanswered questions. Who is really the villain? The acting of both Crawford and Davis is tops but Davis commands the screen with her totally serious portrayal of the former child star.
I'm debating whether to stay home and do laundry or go to the theater to see Poltergeist tonight. October is a great time for classics at the theater.
Nice lineup! And hey, the laundry can wait.
And spawned two sequels. I recall enjoying Bereavement (Part 2, though it's actually a prequel and first chronologically) better than the first film. Have not yet watched Malevolence 3: Killer.
The Curse of the Cat People (1944) ***
This "cough" sequel has very little to nothing to do with the original film. It's about a little girl who lives in an imaginary world and her friend just happens to be her dad's dead first wife. This film never gets the credit it deserves because it's not "horror" enough but it works perfectly as a child's fantasy and Robert Wise did a very good job with the direction. The performances are really good and the ending is quite effective.
Mrs. Claus (2018) ** 1/2
Another current day slasher trying to be an 80s slasher. This time out a sorority Christmas party gets attacked by someone wearing a Mrs. Claus outfit. The plot is rather predictable and there are some really stupid scenes with characters talking about boring subjects but if you want a gory slasher then this lives up to its hype. There were some pretty clever kills here and there's plenty of gore as well. The practical effects are so much fun to watch and especially in this CGI age.
Monster from Green Hell (1957) **
Scientists are doing experiments with insects and outer space and eventually a giant wasp is attacking people in Africa. The use of stock footage is rather insane here but overall I thought this was a fun monster movie. It's cheap and poorly made but I give the filmmakers credit for at least trying to be creative mixing the real footage and the stock footage. The giant wasp looks okay on its own but when you put it with the stock footage it's a tad bit silly.
Re: THE THING. I think the special effects were just too shocking or gross for people at the time. It's certainly far from a mainstream film even when watching it today. Not to mention E.T. was out at the time. A theater near me is playing it this weekend so I plan on seeing it on the big screen.
That was definitely a major factor. At the time, it was absolutely a "holy shit" experience.
(22) Room 6 (2006): A mediocre psycho-horror flick about a woman who is in a car accident, then can't find where her husband was taken in the ambulance. I was wandering around NetFlix (or Prime, I can't even remember), looking at "October" movies, and picked this one out, for some reason. Standard unexplained weirdness, strange behavior, mental breakdowns, people turning into demons. I really try not to "figure out" these movies while I'm watching them. I don't see the point in wasting my time trying to ruin a movie-watching experience as it's happening. Unfortunately, I took a break of several hours in the middle of this, and during that break it just hit me what was going on. Ho-hum. Been there, done that, many, many times.
(23) The Brides of Dracula (1960): Like a lot of people my age, I spent a lot of my tween/early teens years staying up late Friday night watching Hammer flicks, in my case on "Denver's Own Channel 2". I don't think I've seen more than one or two since then. So, this was my first selection from the Hammer 8 movie set I just got. I have to say, the transfer is stunning. I was struck by how soap-opera these are, and I enjoyed the overly dramatic acting, lighting, and camera work. I'm sure I didn't catch on, way back then, to the fact that women seem to exist in these movies only to look smokin' hot, and say as little as possible. Smokin' hot they are, and I think only the main female role had any actual lines. The vampire fangs look like they're straight from Spencer's Gifts, which pretty much fits in with the entire production. It was fun, but also a little like cotton candy.
A few moments still prompt that response today so I can imagine that it was completely out of control for a mainstream movie back in 1982.
October 22: US (2019) - 4 out of 5 - First Time Viewing
A family vacationing near the beach are terrorized by people who look just like them. These doppelgangers are strange and deadly, and are apparently not alone.
Jordan Peele's follow up to the enormously successful and critically acclaimed Get Out is a bold and masterfully crafted horror tale. A Twilight Zone-like tale filled with bold concepts (that are bold in their scale rather than their social commentary), US will likely befuddle viewers expecting a similarly buttoned up and explained story. Far more comfortable with ambiguity, Peele nevertheless gives enough breadcrumbs for folk to come to a number of conclusions about what it all means, what the moments that close the film out are supposed to mean, or tell us, and what we're supposed to walk away understanding from it all. I love that.
The collection of performances, working with a terrific script, are exceptional. Most actors in the film get to play two roles, the main character and the 'tethered' versions, showcasing their fine talents very well. Lupita Nyong'o is absolutely amazing as Adelaide and Red, with Winston Duke, her husband in the film, also standing out and having fun offering up more of the lighter moments the film has for us. Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, the two kids in the family of four, are also terrific in their dual roles.
What I most appreciated about US, and also was thankful for about the marketing of this film, as that the bolder pieces of the plot were genuine surprises (the marketing didn't spoil the bigger parts of where this film goes). Peele unfolds his story, even the more outrageous parts of it, naturally and logically. Scrutinizing the various underlying details may show off the seams and wrinkles in the ideas, but taking it all as a fascinating 'what if' idea, US is compelling. That Peele's filmmaking craft is exceptional only makes the film that much more entertaining. Re-watch value will be high. I loved it.
Tarantula (1955) 1/2
A scientist trying to solve the problem of world hunger creates a number of mutated animals through his experiments, including a giant spider that gets loose and terrorizes a small desert town.
Pretty good 50's sci-fi feature with a decent story aside from simply having the spider show up and eat a few people. Effects were quite good, though as with most giant creature features, the size of the creature changes depending on the scene. The ending was very abrupt, though I think that's usually the case with these older sci-fi films. They don't waste money by filming anything past the climax where threat is eliminated. Excellent blu-ray from Kino.
Fun cameo from Hank Patterson (Fred Ziffel on Green Acres). i knew I recognized him, but it took me a few minutes to put it together.
27) Suspiria (1977) - TCM ***
I had read a lot about this movie in Fangoria and Gorezone when I was a teenager and eventually watched it on a crappy tv on crappy VHS. And atill being a relative newcomer to Cinema at the time it seemed very foreign and cheesy.
What a difference 30 years, widescreen and HD makes. Watching this now was a revelation.
The first few minutes grab you and set the mood. Such evocative colors. Music, sound, screaming. And that head coming through the stained glass window. Just a brilliant, chaotic symphony for the senses.
Argento also has a wonderdul eye for framing, making full use of the widescreen. From two shots with characters on the extremes of the frame to textures and small details everywhere in between. No wonder this looked so bad on VHS.
The film does lag a bit in the middle. The second kill, in the coils, isnt very interesting or scary, just weird . and instead of organic color and texture it just seems oddly bathed in filtered red or green light.
But immediately after is an important scene, shot outdoors, with wonderfully interesting camera angles and intriguing use of wind. This scene sets up the finale. Where its into the coven, again with such rich, textured, detailed sets. Tremendous sound design, creative over the top violence. And what a perfect ending, with sound effects over the credits instead of music.
While there is a linear story being told, this film seemed much more like an abstract painting, with stunning imagery and sensory overload providing visceral emotional beats.
I didnt buy the recent blu ray. But as good as this looked on TCM Im definitely interested in the upcoming 4k release.
And wait it did. Poltergeist was awesome on the big screen.
13) The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) - This one gets me to the goal of (at least) 13 appropriately themed movies for the month and finishes off the Universal Essential Collection set. I've seen this a bunch of times but it is always a delight. I particularly like those atmospheric scenes of the jungle and, of course, the creature swimming below Julia Adams. We watched the 2-D version.
Funny thing: as we were watching the ship make it's way up river, my wife and I both said, "We need to watch 'The African Queen' again." So I guess we'll be doing that soon.
068) 10/22/2019 Phobia (1980) 1/2 (out of four)
Renowned psychiatrist is trying to cure several volunteers of their phobias using experimental implosion therapy. Then the patients start dying. Directed by the great John Huston this is a subtly unnerving thriller that unfortunately lacks a compelling lead for it to really score. One of the script writers was Hammer's Jimmy Sangster, so expect several twists and turns.
069) 10/22/2019 Trilogy of Terror 2 (1996)
Uninspired sequel to the classic 1975 TV Movie features nothing new. The first story is an all-too-familiar tale of a rich jerk, his unfaithful wife, and a murder plot. The second story is a remake of "Bobby" from Dead of Night (1976) that is so close to the original they should have just inserted the original; and the final tale is essentially a redo of "Amelia" from the original. Of course when the Zuni Fetish doll starts going ape there's some fun to be had, especially considering the advance in special effects. But the overall cheap feel and uninspired (or hammy) performances make this seem like a lame attempt for director Dan Curtis to capture some his former glory as the king of TV horror.
070) 10/23/2019 Grave of the Vampire (1972)
Inventive, original low-budget thriller about vampire's offspring hunting down his father with the intent to kill him. Michael Pataki makes a great bloodsucker and the script is consistently surprising. Atmospheric and creepy. Written by David Chase, who in couple years would be writing for and producing Kolchak: The Night Stalker. (And he later did some popular mob show for HBO.)
26) The Thing (1982) 5/5 stars - Another film I like to watch every year (thanks for the reminder @John Stell!), there's really nothing I can say about it that hasn't been said already. For me, The Thing is Carpenter's best film, and it gets better every time I see it. It's still as effective today as it was THIRTY SEVEN years ago. 37 years?!?!? Holy crap! Hard to believe it's been that long!
Bad start to the day yesterday with a couple of clunkers, but it got better. I've hit the unseen part of the Chucky films, and I'm shocked at how much I enjoyed SEED OF CHUCKY. I got a couple of films left in the series, but so far it may be the most consistent horror franchise. Or maybe it's due to me not having watched them to death back in the day like I did with the Halloween and Friday films.
045 10/22 Critters 4 (1992) 1.5/5 Like all the other horror franchises that do a time jump into space, this one is the dribbly shits. Which is crazy since this series, especially the first film, has deep Sci-Fi roots! Anyways, Critters in a cheap space base with 5 people since there’s zero budget. Some of those people Angella Bassett, Brad Dourif and Shelly’s abusive boyfriend with the ponytail from Twin Peaks so I’m docking this one half a star for wasting the cast.
046 10/22 Trapped Alive! (1988) 2/5 People get stuck in a mine and there’s a killer. This is the type of horror that is typically described as “shitty”, it has some tits, blood and a monster, but manages to be dull all the same. Nicest thing I can say about is the Arrow Blu-ray has amazing cover art.
047 10/22 Horror Express (1972) 3.5/5 Bumping this one up half a star after watching the Arrow Blu. Fun monster movie with horror heavyweights Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Through in Telly Savalas and a Rasputin and you’re in for a good time. Some not bad gore and a really neat premise to the monster makes this one memorable.
048 10/22 Seed of Chucky (2004) 3.5/5 Where to even begin? Glen, the baby from the previous film is basically a living Ziggy Stardust doll being mistreated and desperate to find his real parents, Chucky and Tiffany, who are “dead” but working in Hollywood in a film about the real Chucky murders, starring Jennifer Tilly (playing herself). What’s great about this is this is the film where it felt like they went “fuck it, let’s go all out.” So it’s completely bonkers, the puppets are really good, there’s more splatter than some of the previous films and John Waters gets a featured role. Oh, and buried in all this is a surprisingly decent looks at gender identity. In a Chucky movie. What a world we live in.
October 23: The Vault (2017) - 3 out of 5
Two sisters, along with a small handful of heavies, rob a bank but get more than they bargained for when the bank turns out to have a deadly secret.
The Vault is a mash of up deadly ghost/spirits and a bank heist movie, but what's interesting here is that the bank heist part of the film is the more interesting and better realized part of the package. Francesca Eastwood and Taryn Manning play the sisters, and they don't get along. James Franco shows up as a bank employee with a secret and the man who sends the heavies down to the titular vault to find more money (when the upstairs take isn't as much as they need). The lead up to the robbery, and the execution of the robbery make for some pretty intense stuff, but once it shifts to the horror portion (oh, and the cops show up so now it's a bank siege as well), it just doesn't quite do it for me. Part of that could be my wish that what these criminals discover in the vault was a monster of some sort. I didn't know much about the film so the ghost angle was already a let down, and even the execution of the ghostly horror is pretty weak. The overall story and explanation works well by the time it's explained to us, but the journey, as the bad guys meet grizzly ends, isn't all that interesting or even scary.
I'd say The Vault has a few things going for it, and a handful of things that drag it down, so the net result is just an "okay" movie.
Ghost Ship (2002)
A salvage crew gets a lead on an abandoned "ghost ship" adrift in the Bering Sea. Setting out and hoping for a big score, they discover the Antonia Graza, a legendary cruise liner that went missing over 40 years before. They board the ship and search for treasure. They do find a large cache of gold, but along with it is a ship full of ghostly apparitions and a demonic presence that will do anything to prevent them from ever leaving.
Third film produced by Joel Silver's Dark Castle Entertainment (after remakes of The House on Haunted Hill and Thirteen Ghosts), I can still remember sitting in the theater and being completely freaked out by the opening scene. Unfortunately, it's mostly downhill from that grand guignol opening act.
We follow the characters creeping slowly around the dark ship, encountering supernatural events here and there, but overall it's a rather ho-hum affair with a couple good scenes linking a number of boring ones, with a lot of exposition and explanation about the history of events on the ship.
Worth watching, but not something I revisit very often. I mostly only watched this as it was on while I was at the gym. (AMC cable)