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Discussion in 'Movies' started by John Stell, Sep 13, 2019.
So I take it someone has a bit of a ScarJo obsession.
090) 10/28/2019 The Fog (1980) 1/2 (out of four)
Marvelous ghost story from co-writer/director John Carpenter. On the 100th anniversary of coastal town Antonio Bay, minister discovers diary revealing founders murdered a leper colony to get funding. Now the victims are back for revenge, hiding in an unearthly fog that enshrouds the town. Excellent cast, atmosphere, music, and pacing. And it looks beautiful too.
091) 10/28/2019 Motel Hell (1980)
To make his famous meat, Farmer Vincent rigs highway accidents, rounds up the survivors, and then plants them in his garden to fatten them up. Complications ensue when he finds himself attracted to one of his captures. Western star Rory Calhoun turns in a game performance. But the attempts at black comedy mostly fall flat. Final 20 minutes or so are fun, especially the infamous "pig chainsaw attack" sequence.
092) 10/29/2019 The Howling (1981) 1/2
Reporters covering serial killer case learn a shocking truth about the murderer. Brilliant updating of the werewolf myth, with mysterious respite known as The Colony serving as home to some unsavory characters. Humor is mixed well with the horror, and the effects rival those of An American Werewolf in London. Memorable ending too. Most of the characters are named after directors of werewolf movies (Terry Fisher, Fred Francis, Bill Neil, etc.)
35) Countess Dracula* (1971) 3/5 stars - Some Hammer fan *I* am! I'd never seen this sort of late-era offering and I enjoyed it well enough. The film is based on the legend of the Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who supposedly bathed in the blood of virgin girls to maintain a youthful appearance. Ingrid Pitt is just great here, but other than her performance the movie is a letdown. It was fun seeing Nigel Green (Hercules in Jason and the Argonauts) in this, but definitely a minor Hammer IMO.
36) Hereditary* (2018) 4.5/5 stars - I was blown away by this film, despite watching it kind of fall apart in the last 10 minutes. AMAZING performances all-around, particularly from Toni Collette, this is the creepiest and most effective horror movie I've seen in a LONG time. Ari Aster is a talent to be reckoned with for sure, and I'm looking forward to watching Midsommar before the Challenge is over.
Movies! The last days of the challenge! I'm getting despondent as I always do. Too many movies I'm not going to get to. I need to retire! Here's what I got in. Started strong.
066 10/28 Vice Squad (1982) 3.5/5 Knocked another off the “Terror In Aisles” list with this viewing. A psycho pimp is on a roll trying to get at a prostitute that set him up to the cops. It’s kind of refreshing that the pimp is a white cowboy, but that’s all that’s refreshing in this pretty near unrelenting sleaze fest. It’s greasy, but it’s fun and with good pacing.
067 10/28 Zombie (1979) 4/5 I’m guessing I’m not alone, but this was my gateway film into Fulci’s filmography, so I’m probably rating it higher than it should. For Fulci, this one moves at a good pace, has some great action set pieces and of course, the main draw is the gore. What I’ve always liked about this is the variety of zombies. Instead of simply riffing on Romero, the dry zombies mixed with new is a neat idea. That said, the mad scientist on an island plot is hokey. It’s fun hokey though, so four stars it is!
068 10/28 Amityville: The Evil Escapes (1989) 1.5/5 It’s been 10 years since I last watched this one and it’s still a boring piece of shit. I caught myself staring at the wall at one point, so dull this film is. A haunted lamp from the Amityville house that looks like a person turned into a tree made out of iron is sent to an old lady and a bunch of stuff starts happening. None of it is scary, none of it really related to the previous films and poor Norman Lloyd gets a paycheck in a bit part as one of a gaggle of priests that tried to cleanse the original house. It sucks.
069 10/28 Beyond the Door III (1989) 2/5 This one has nothing to do with the second film, and the second film had nothing to do with the first film so this whole franchise is a bunch of bullshit. Americans travel to Eastern Europe to watch a pagan ritual based around virgins and it’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo. I found it a slow paced chore to watch. There’s some okay gore for the splatterheads, but that's about the nicest thing I can say about it.
32) The Mummy's Hand (1940) *1/2
Two broke archaeologists convince a traveling magician to finance an expedition to the legendary lost tomb of Anunka.
I guess even back in 1940 Hollywood was throwing together cheap sequels solely for the sake of cashing in on a great original film.
Cheap sets, stock footage, bad acting, boring cinematography, and absolutely horrible makeup. The Hill of the 7 Jackals looks like Southern California, not Egypt. No inspired nor imaginative camera work or lighting. There are even a couple of obvious day for night shots. And between Banning's sidekick, the bartender and the magician, the poor attempt at broad comedy is extremely distracting and sets the complete wrong tone.
And then theres that awful Mummy. It looks like they just wrapped a blonde haired blue eyed surfer in an ace bandage and rolled him in the mud. In the tent scene he has normal eyes in one shot and black contacts in the next. And he has hair! Just awful.
And just when things get serious, its over in an instant complete with a tacked on happy ending and snappy happy music over the credits.
Not scary, not ominous, not funny. And not very good.
Beyond the Door III (1989) * 1/2
I decided to give this one another shot since Vinegar Syndrome took the time to release it. I think I enjoyed it even less. There's some good gore at times but the film is just deadly dull. The plot is very small and the pacing is just deadly dull. I just love the Italians though. Ya can't make money on a film so just change the title to a sequel to a film that did make money.
Eli Roth's History of Horror (2018) ***
Look, this documentary is good. It's fun. It features some nice interviews with some big names. However, Eli Roth's "history of horror" is quite limited. I know not everything can be discussed but there is so much missing here and it's clear that the only history on display is from the past thirty-years with older titles barely getting mentioned. I mean, TWILIGHT getting more attention than NOSFERATU? Why no mention of Karloff or Price? No Chaney or Cushing. Not only does it skip a lot of horror but it also pushes bullshit facts. There's a segment on slashers where Siskel and Ebert are attacked and then a comment is made that critics didn't even watch the films. Umm... they did. Every critics hated slashers. Running zombies are discussed with 28 DAYS LATER and Eli quickly brings up NIGHTMARE CITY but what about THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD?
The Riverside Murder (1935) **
A detective and his assistant try to solve the murder of a man who was shot. This murder-mystery clocks in at 61-minutes and there's barely enough plot to fill up that time slot. The horror elements are small to none, although the film does rip off Universal's SECRET OF THE BLUE ROOM. This here was Alastair Sim's first theatrical film.
Inoperable (2017) **
Horror version of GROUNDHOG DAY, HAPPY DEATH DAY and so on has Danielle Harris playing a woman who keeps waking up in a hospital where everyone is gone except a few strangers and some crazy doctors. She must keep re-living this until she figures it out. I've always got a problem with these type of movies because if the set-up, ala the first scenario, isn't good then you have to sit there are keep watching the same bad scenario play out in a variety of ways. This film wasn't awful and it was actually well-made but at the same time the story is just stupid, Harris doesn't seem thrilled in her part and overall it was a waste of time.
Yeah, I was expecting the Vinegar Syndrome stuff two weeks ago they just arrived. I was expecting the Severin titles two weeks ago and they've yet to ship so I'm certainly not getting everything on. I have managed to watch everything that was on my "to see" list from last year though.
You're doing better than me! There's a bunch of modern/newer releases I'm probably not going to get to as well as some older discs I haven't gotten too. I will kill off this VS pack though. Only two films left.
(31) Friday the 13th (1980): I'm fairly certain the last time I saw this, Kevin Bacon was unknown, so it's been a while. It surprised me how... well... quaint this is, in some way. Silly and made for a bag of chips, but enjoyable in it's own way.
(32) Straw Dogs (1974): My fist time seeing the Peckinpah flick, which was a blind buy on the recent Criterion sale. I don't have any idea what to think of it. Just a lot of messed up people doing a lot of messed up things. A lot of the artsier '70s cinema seems to escape me.
(33) Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948): I need to get at least one title from the jumbo Universal Monsters set I got in this month, and this is it. It was fun. What else can I say? It's definitely more about A&C than the monsters, who are just there as a vehicle to drive the comedy. I suspect I've actually seen this before, but it would have been so long ago, I don't recall. Same with any Universal or Hammer title aside from a select few.
Trying to get a few in during the last few days. I watched The Black Cat (1934) when I got home from work in the morning. I am truly amazed that much of it made it past the Production Code. Great performances from both Karloff and Lugosi.
10. Thriller - 1.36 "Pigeons From Hell"
Southern Gothic atmosphere out the wazoo in this famous Thriller episode, based off a Robert E. Howard story. When their car gets stuck, two young brothers - one of them Brandon de Wilde, all grown up from Shane - head to a nearby decaying old plantation house, with dire consequences. Boris Karloff has a ball during the spooky intro, and this one features an infamous, early hatchet murder which must have been really shocking for early '60s TV audiences.
11. The Twilight Zone - 2.5 "The Howling Man"
An exhausted, feverish traveler named Ellington (H.M. Wynant) collapses in an isolated monastery in the European mountains, and is grudgingly given shelter by the grim monks who live there. Ellington soon discovers the titular howling man, who claims the monks are mad and have kept him prisoner for 5 years. Brother Jerome (John Carradine, excellent and almost unrecognizable behind a big white beard) eventually reveals the truth to Ellington: that the man is in actuality Satan himself. But that can't be true...can it? Classic episode, directed with all manner of queasy angles and stormy atmospherics by Buck Houghton, from a script by Charles Beaumont. Features an amazing transformation scene at the climax, clearly inspired by a similar one from Werewolf of London.
12. The Twilight Zone - 3.23 "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank"
When Jeff Myrtlebank (James Best, especially good) opens the lid and climbs out of the coffin at his own funeral, three days after he was pronounced dead by the local doctor (Edgar Buchanan), all the townsfolk become fearful and suspicious. Is he still human? Or is something else now possessing Jeff Myrtlebank's body? Gently ambiguous mountain folktale, capped by a nice little flourish of a twist. Also with Dub Taylor and super cute Sherry Jackson as Jeff's sweetheart, Comfort. Written and directed by Jackson's stepfather, Montgomery Pittman, who also wrote two more strong Twilight Zone episodes, "Two" and "The Grave," this aired just a few months before he died from cancer at the tragically young age of 45.
The Fog has been my go-to Halloween night movie for the past decade or so. Will be watching this one Thursday night for sure!
093) 10/29/2019 The Human Monster (1939) (out of four)
Bela Lugosi is running an insurance scam where he collects on policies by having the insured parties murdered with help of blind henchman. Pretty daffy stuff, with Lugosi as his old reliable self. I can't say the VCI 2K restoration impressed me that much.
094) 10/29/2019 The Devil Rides Out (1967) 1/2
One of Hammer Studio's finest films, with Christopher Lee playing the good (and Godly) guy by taking on satanic cult. Tension pretty much from the word "go", with various twists and turns and great ending. Maybe the special effects aren't what they could have been but they don't diminish the power of this great film.
095) 10/30/2019 An American Werewolf in London (1981) 1/2
Two pals backpacking through the English countryside are attacked by a werewolf. The one that survives is warned by the frightful, decomposing image of the one that didn't to beware the full moon! Highly regarded by many, I find it frustratingly uneven. The opening 20 minutes, the nightmare sequences, and the werewolf attacks are topnotch. But the humor works only sometimes, with groan inducing moments such as a police inspector who spills medical pans or walks into a door, or the overly chipper murdered couple and other "cute" moments. The nurse and doctor don't believe in werewolves for 98% of the film and then suddenly they do believe with nary a moment of pause, shock or surprise. Scriptwriter/director John Landis picks and chooses which mythology to believe in for convenience sake. So yeah, werewolves come out only on the full moon (which is actually Hollywood make-believe) but they can be killed by anything, meaning the werewolf could just as easily been Cujo. And the ending absolutely stinks, because Landis at this stage (after Animal House and The Blues Brothers) could end a film only with a bunch of car crashes. I know a lot of people love this film. But it pisses me off because of weak script.
They Remain (2018) - So, I discovered this one listening to a podcast about horror films inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. They mentioned this film and I had never heard of it. This is a very cool little film, I thought. The genre for this is "cosmic horror" or the more bland label "weird horror" which I honestly am not sure if I understand that designation because a lot of horror is weird.
Here's the set-up for this one, a large corporation has purchased a remote piece of land where strange things appear to be occurring with the plant, insect, and animal life on the land and they send a pair of researchers to investigate the source or cause of this anomaly. Obviously the company feels there is something of value here. The land has a history though having recently been the home of a violent cult and potentially even further back been the site of other human slaughters. The scientists begin with standard research into potential chemical causes but soon find themselves questioning how the history of what took place in this forest may play into the changes in the plants and animals there.
I thought this premise was great. This film is beautifully shot as they make the most of the remote forest setting and like a lot of low budget films employ basically just a small number of actors, the primary ones being the two research scientists. A lot of this film is built on the atmosphere it creates, which I loved, and is not at all about jump scares or any big effects. It is a well conceived picture that uses setting, actors, and dialogue to maximum effect. Essentially, this is a slow build as we are there in this remote forest with our two main characters learning about them, their history, and discovering with them the secrets of this piece of land.
This has been easily the best new film I have seen this month but I like this kind of picture where you are dropped into a mystery that puts the emphasis on characters, setting, and atmosphere. If you are looking for blood, guts, and jump scares this is not the place to go. If you want a picture that presents ideas for you to think about, dive right in.
Sounds like another variation on Annihilation.
37) The Reptile (1966) 4/5 stars - A very good and offbeat film from Hammer, despite some dicey practical effects. The UK Region B Blu-ray is a mixed bag. I'd say a good third of the film looks pretty bad, but the deficiencies can be overlooked. Recommended.
In fact they mentioned Annihilation in the same podcast as well as Tarkovsky's Stalker. The similarities may be that all of these films took inspiration from Lovecraft, however, to me they are very different films. They Remain opens with a Lovecraft quote. This picture obviously did not have the budget and so has none of the effects or large set pieces of Annihilation. Here they focus more on the two main characters and their conversations and in terms of portraying nature it has more of a Malick approach of beautiful lingering shots of trees, insects, animals and the land. So, it's down to just the photography here, which honestly works wonderfully. Were I to compare it to another picture I think I would say it reminded me most of A Field in England...not the same story but a similar approach to telling the story. Also like Wheatley's film I would call this horror and not as much science fiction as Annihilation is.
They Remain is based on a short story by a writer named Laird Barron. I've not read any of his work but as I understand it he is working in the tradition of guys like Lovecraft and Poe. So, I think all the stories above share this sort of Lovecraftian concept of the natural world and order of things suddenly becoming something we are no longer able to grasp leading to terror.
In that way I think these stories are similar but they are also considerably different due to a number of factors and reasons.
You didn't rate it high enough
No, it isn't a perfect film, but it is a very good horror movie that I like a whole lot. Unfortunately, I just watched it twice about a month ago so it didn't make it to this challenge.
No argument from me! It might be Fulci's best, but I like THE BEYOND a little bit more.
Got in four. More Amityville nonsense.
070 10/29 Amityville 1992: It’s About Time (1992) 2/5 A guy brings home a clock that used to reside in the old Amityville house and it causes all kinds of demonic stuff to happen. The previous film was about a haunted lamp, and I’m sorry but the haunted clock, try as they do to make it a thing is just a garbage excuse for a plodding horror film that is no way near as clever as it thinks it is. A well made boring film that never really delivers. Nicest thing I can say is poor Dick Miller got to collect a paycheck in a bit part.
071 10/29 Berserker (1987) 2/5 This one follows the Friday the 13th model of a group of campers out to party, only they get attacked by what appears to be a bear, only it’s the BERSERKER!. Another slasher where the pacing kills it. There’s some okay gore, some sweet bear action and I loved the metal soundtrack but not enough to ever watch it again.
072 10/29 Amityville: A New Generation (1993) 3/5 This one has another goofy haunted object premise like the previous two entries in the series. In this case it’s a haunted mirror that once resided in the Amityville house. Unlike the previous two entries, this one manages to actually relate things to the original films so it feels like it coexists in the Amityville franchise as opposed to having “Amityville” added to the title as a marketing ploy. A bunch of artists in a collective get affected by the haunted mirror. Cast is a step up from the previous, with genre faves David Naughton and Richard Roundtree in supporting roles. There’s some neat ideas, the odd bit of well done gore and novel way to tie this into the Lutz stuff. It’s not a great sequel, but it was a hell of a lot better than the other haunted object films the preceded and I’d probably watch it again.
073 10/29 Unmasked Part 25 (1989) 3.5/5 I quite liked this one. It’s a British piss-take on the Friday the 13th films, but manages to play it pretty straight. Has a dead solid, vicious start, goes for a bit of a wander midway through but has a decent enough ending that stays true to the premise of a “Jason” being exhausted with his murderous role. Some good gore effects, it reminded me off early Peter Jackson horror films, only not as good. Still, as a parallel F13, it’s not the worse thing you can watch and is probably better than most of the legit sequels.
The Beyond is the one Fulci film I got in this month.