Monday, October 31, 2011

all out war

Now they got this big airgun that shoots a bolt into their skull and then retracts it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October 30 Pt. 2: Jacob's Ladder

Radio Isn't Dead posed the question at the beginning of the month. What scares you?
I think one of the scariest traits a horror film can possess is the sheer sense of unknowing. The bizarre or unexplained. No need for dull exposition. Eraserhead is a film that will always give me the creeps. But it really defies genre. Jacob's Ladder oozes that exacting fear inherint in all of us. It's also a picture that modern films have been bitin' from for a long, long time.

What starts out as a Vietnam film soon escalates into a nightmare induced fever dream. Brimming with surreal atmosphere and hellish surroundings. Few films are able to create a nightmarish world perfectly. See the aforementiomed Eraserhead for proof. Even fewer are able to inject deeper meaning into that world. Jacob's Ladder is an extremely rare breed that is not only profoundly terrifying but intelligent and heartbreaking. A film whose demons kicks you in the dirt repeatedly. Only to let you finally see the light once it's all said and done. Top 30 worthy.


October 30 Pt. 1: Jaws

Summer of '75 saw the birth of the blockbuster. It arrived alright. With teeth ready to sink its bite into an unsuspecting crowd. Right down to the iconic poster tihs film simmers with nostalgic glory. Seeing a director like Spielberg take on material like this is something that I'm starting to miss. His last genre efforts, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull & War of the Worlds show that 'magic' he loves to talk about disappearing. Regressing in tone and texture rather than progressing. He showed off his directing chops with Duel. Jaws takes everything he learned previously and amps it up to 11.

People often accuse of Spielbergo's movies being sugarcoated. This is certainly true of the Kick the Can segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie, Hook & several parts of Temple of Doom. Around that time he was all about kids. The magic and wonder of childhood. It's a far step from seeing little Alex being attacked by a shark in '75. I don't know if he'll ever get back to this point. Jaws also contains one of my favorite monologues. Belonging to Robert Shaw of course. It's a feverish, sweat inducing story that counterposes a merrily singing Shaw, Dreguss and Scheider. A+

Saturday, October 29, 2011

October 29 Pt. 2: Videodrome

Cronenberg has always been interested in the human body. What gets under our skin. Both literally and metaphorically. His recent efforts like A History of Violence internalize the horror. When Stephen McHattie's face is hanging off, it makes the impact of the scene that much more potent. It's the ideas and story that are now at the forefront more than ever. That's not to say his past work hasn't had interesting concepts. It's just now they are much more subdued in presentation. But when they hit you, they hit you until you're lying on the ground with your nose punched through your skull.

The Brood was a restrained movie when all was said and done. Scanners was, for the most part, restrained. Videodrome on the other hand doesn't hold back. Only this time, instead of traditional graphic violence, its all organic. Rick Baker's practical effects hold up to this day. Look no further than the cancer gun scene.
Concept wise, it's obviously a middle finger to those who lashed out at his early work. A criticism I've seen thrown at the film is its bewildering plot. Videodrome is essentially Canada's answer to some of the Italian horror films of the late 70's and early 80's. It's much more about an intense and unforgettable experience. One that would bridge the gap between an exploding head and Jeff Goldblum spewing fly blood from his fingertips.

Long live the new flesh.


October 29 Pt. 1: Frenzy

Frenzy to me represents what might have been had Hitchcock lived on and directed future films. Unfortunately he passed in 1980. Hitch's second to last film is quite possibly his nastiest. The trademark dark humor and masterful suspense is there in spades. Yet there is also a natural progression of some of his darkest material since Psycho. Unofrtunately that doesn't necessarily mean it's a progression of that quality. I've always wondered what types of films would ole' Hitch be makin' had he lived during the 80's. Frenzy is an indication of a delightfully grimmer side.


Friday, October 28, 2011

October 28 Pt. 2: Night of the Living Dead

At the age of 6, a midnight feature came on that started out with a car on its way to a graveyard set to an eerie score. Night of the Living Dead the title card read. With grim foreboding I layed me eyes upon. In the next hour and a half, I would go through the ringer. Maybe I was too young to get the social commentary that was in the film. The fact that this came out in '68, a year of assassinations and protest. What always stayed with me though was Judy going up those stairs and seeing that corpse at the top of them. Karen Cooper picking up a garden trowel and going after her mother. The fact that it ended on such a downbeat note. Harp on Romero all ya want. The man formed a legacy after these films. & if it wasn't for his first three dead films, I'd be starving for something to wet my appetite. Beatin' on a car window with a brick, trying to get inside for some fresh meat. I just wish the meat of his last two zombie films felt fresh. Instead, it feels like leftovers.

I've always maintained that while Night was his masterpiece, Dawn was the one with the best balance. Day on the other hand veers into such nihilism and is shamefully dismissed because of it. I personally hold major digs for the film and actually in some ways prefer it over Dawn. Though that story has pretty much been told...


October 28: Santa Sangre

Surrealism and horror. A theme I'll be covering this whole weekend. But what better way to kick it off with Jodorowsky's hell bent side show Santa Sangre. I'm cracking open the door a lil' bit to reveal a pick culled from my personal top 100.

The director known for more or less kicking off the midnight movie scene with El Topo and redifining cinematic art with Holy Mountain finally used tunnel vision to channel some truly creative work. It's not as sporadic and chaotic as Holy Mountain. Which is arguably his Inland Empire. The quest isn't quite El Topo either. It's really Jodorowsky setting the horror genre on fire and dancing around like a wild Indian watching it burn ever so slowly into an ember. Jodorowsky also occupies a territory with fellow surrealist Lynch. His films don't quite fit into a genre. Who can really classify Inland Empire or Lost Highway anyway. The story for Santa Sangre plays out as a horror film. The extra toppings of surrealism and mad circus mayhem are funneled through a filter and comes out as a poem full of blood red colors and hallucinations. A disorienting experience. But that's what you'd expect as the end of the mayhem from a movie like this. Right?


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From the Crypt

5 years old. Some of my friends weren't even allowed to watch Looney Tunes. Yet, here I am. Being graced with the cover of a horror themed comic book. Tales From the Crypt. Issue #5. That cover both haunts and comforts me to this day. Knowing how it all started from there. With each page turned, I delved further into the macabre and mischievious. It did what several comedy/horror genre movies have been doing or trying to do. Bringing levity to the horror situation. Yet surprisingly, it wasn't quite Abbott and Costello. It's intentions were a few shades darker.

The boogeyman under the bed and the monster in the closet are no longer scary when you turn them on an evil doer. They are strangely comforting. Revenge has been a factor in storytelling for as long as storytelling has been around. But never has it been done with such gleefully tongue in rotting cheek humor. & that was the formula EC essentially created. If not created then perfected. It's this very formula that has been nearly impossible to duplicate. In both spin off books and movies.

This is why I hold a movie like Creepshow near and dear. Romero and King get it. They understand the material and paint each scene with care. Conversely, this is why a film like Zombieland fails miserably. It's not about some faggotty hipster trying to score with the girl next door. It's about Henry luring Wilma into a laboratory for a special surprise.

Graham Ingels, Johnny Craig and Jack Kamen would become heroes. Their artwork and writing being something I'd always look forward to as my collection grew like the grass on Jordy Verrill's house. Then there was ole' Cryptkeeper. The (g)host with the most. His ghastly presence becoming a nasty treat when Tales From the Crypt would become a TV series. Getting home after school and popping a tape in the VCR to record episodes off the television became a ritual. The episode Television Terror would end up becoming a favorite. & it only made it cooler that some of the names who would executive produce the show and even direct some of the episodes happen to be Robert Zemeckis, Richard Donner and Walter Hill. Not to mention the plethora of stars ranging from Schwarznegger to Brad Pitt to Kirk Douglas.

I'm rambling now because I seriously could go on for hours about my love for these "books of juvenile delinquency." I'll always have William Gaines to thank for creating the EC brand. My gateway drug into horror. Sometimes you love something so much it becomes a part of your soul. That's what EC comics were to me as a youngster and in many ways still are.

And that's the story dear reader! Tune in next time for another gruesome installment.

October 24: Deep Red

If anyone were knew to the giallo genre, Deep Red would be the first film I'd show them. It's got the essential components: brutal (yet reserved) kills, a sleak killer and an awesome soundtrack. It was around this time giallos were in their peak before they devolved into straight up slash 'em flicks. Look no further than a film like Fulci's New York Ripper to see what I'm talking about.
Argento's direction is at a peak here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24 Pt. 2: Who Can Kill A Child?

This film has been on my radar for quite a while. I got the chance to finally sit down and watch it a few months ago. The title alone says it all. This one is not for the faint of heart. The basic premise is two vacationers travel off to an island inhabited and ruled by kids. The stock footage in the first 8 minutes is disturbing enough and it obviously is trying to drive a point home. A scene like this basically segregates a film like this into obscurity.

Imagine the "evil kids" subgenre film but taking it to the extreme. The filmmaking here is pure 70's grit. No boundaries. It doesn't revel in the gore and is played very matter of fact. It's a rare one.


October 24 Pt. 1: Scream

As time goes by, the appeal of the Scream movies seem more perplexing. In the past decade of "homages" and "tributes" to the genre, only a handful have successfully passed. The problem here is that the bad ones poke fun at what they are actually trying to be while the good ones actually are what they attempt to be. If you think about it, today's countless attempts at trying to recreate an exploitation film (something almost impossible to do anyway) are strikingly similiar to the spawned brethren of a bastard child named Scream. Which was birthed from an ugly spore of hip dialogue and survival kit for the slasher movie.

Craven does inject some good moments here and there. The opening scene for example. I like slasher movies though. I don't need a cast of hot and hip stars to tell me the rules. Trying too hard could never be exemplified better than the Scream franchise and all of its Kevin Williamson spawns that followed.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 23 Pt. 2: The Mummy

Of the Universal Monsters movies, I consider Frankenstein my favorite. But It'll Dark Be Soon already covered those bases. The one film I always thought had so much potential and didn't quite live up to it all was The Mummy. Granted, the Universal Monsters vibe is in full force here. Yet upon the first couple viewings, there was still something that could be improved upon. Egyptian mythology offers a treasure trove of grotesque imagery that could be used with startling results. Yes, I'm talking remake. & I as much as I hate to say it, this is a film that, when put in the right hands, could offer up a grotesque interpretation of the material.

As '99 rolled around and they eventually did remake it, I was given Indiana Jones with mummies instead of anything remotely satisfying. Horror films have been cursed with the "R" word for quite some time. Some good (The Thing '82, The Fly, The Blob) while most others awful. There's still a bountiful amount of material to be mined here and given the right director and screenwriter, it could go down as a reinterpretation that actually elevates the material rather than completely squander it all with a brainless Brendan Fraser.


October 23 Pt. 1: Dead Alive

Around 2009 I wondered if I should ever bother with a Peter Jackson film again. Lord of the Rings, for all the grandiose special effects, ended up leaving a bitter aftertaste. Then The Lovely Bones came out and it cemented that wondering with a big NO. Strange enough, the first PJ film I laid my eyes upon was The Frighteners. An adequate spook-n-surprise story with an (at the time) more-than-adequate produced named Robert Zemeckis attached. It would only come as more of a surprise when around the time I was anticipating a soon to be lackluster seige of Return of the King that I would learn upon his early works.

I think it speaks volumes when someone who once so lovingly created a scene of a bunch of intestines chasing a man is now creating a scene of a girl wandering in the "in between". I'm pretty sure there's a "I'll never top myself after this" feeling when you create a film like Dead Alive. But that's just the thing. All of his films, with the exception of Frighteners, have a large scope if not in concept/theme, then in set pieces.

Dead Alive was the answer to the likes of Evil Dead. "Top this Raimi" might have well been the tagline for the picture. Undead baby, kung fu preacher, an overbearing mother and the zombie massacre to end them all. It still stands as Jackson's most creative effort. We all secretly want to see more blood in the zombie film that's playing. Dead Alive finally quenched that bloodthirst.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

October 22 Pt. 2: The Beyond

Italian films of the 70's and 80's are almost an acquired taste. You either get it or you don't. Suspiria is not beloved for its storyline. It's beloved because of the style Argento uses. It's all about image and sound and how the two are used to give the film that gothic vibe. Fulci takes nightmare logic one step further. Just watching the likes of Zombie or City of the Living Dead you come away with several great scenes. The splinter in the eye, the zombie taking a chunk out of a woman's neck, , etc. Well that's just it. The images of Fulci's films are the things you go to when you put on a Fulci film. Not so much the story.

Gianetto De Rossi's effects, Sergio Salveti's camerawork and the returning collaboration with Fabrio Frizzi's score are all factors to be dealt with. It harkens back to what Haxan promised in 1924. It's the stuff of nightmares. Gory crucifixions, sulphuric acid meltdowns, chain whippings, tarantuals and what Fulci film can be complete without the eyeball impalements?

It also contains the best exploding head shot captured on film. So there.


October 22 Pt. 1: Freaks

Freaks Some may argue as to whether this is even a horror film at all. To that I ask, what line must be drawn where one considers it a full on horror or just a thriller with horrific elements? Friedkin considers Exorcist a psychological thriller. Some critics even consider The Shining to be a psychological thriller. People are afraid to own up to and embrace the genre. Se7en and Silence of the Lambs I've seen on multiple lists of both horror and thrillers. Whatever the case may be, all of these films contain unforgettable scenes of dread. Freaks is an early example of this.

Tod Browning proved he was a force to be reckoned with when Dracula was released. But his best film is Freaks. The "normal peple" actually come off as self centered and egotistical. While the sideshow performers are quite likeable. The fact that they used actual circus performers was a feat in itself. Hell, it even has a member of the Lollipop Guild in it! This film would never get a greenlight from a studio today. A

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 18: C.H.U.D.

When it comes to horror, I've always preferred mine raw. Most of my top faves are from the 70's. The decade that was home to chainsaw weilding maniacs and demonically possessed children. More I think of it though, the more it hits me that a particular decade can't really be pinpointed as favorite concerning horror. The 70's, as great a decade as it was (& it easily is my favorite decade of film in general) wasn't nearly as prolific as the 80's in pumping out genre films. Yesterday we hit upon what could easily be classified as a 70's grindhouse film but with the trapping of a 80's slasher picture. Today we're hitting territory of the 80's B-film.

Subjectively speaking, one man's trash is another one's treasure. I'm not saying this film comes off as trash. Far from it in fact. C.H.U.D. takes a plot that could find it's home in a 50's midnight horror feature and dresses it up with 80's clothing. The result is an entertaining genre exercise. Besides, it's got John Heard, Daniel Stern and a cameo from John fucking Goodman!


Monday, October 17, 2011

October 17: Pieces

Ever since Jason donned a hockey mask, slasher films have been about two basic needs: boobs n' gore. So, with those two ingredients in mind, directors have been concocting their own little creations and plugging in the basic formula. That's not to say the formula is at all stale. You know what you're going to get when you sit down to watch something like The Burning. What you don't really expect though is to what degree you are going to get it. With this in mind, Pieces succeeds. It 'outslashes' the Friday the 13th series. Even if its rooted in bizarre plot mechanics and grindhouse schlock. Without a memorable villian though, the dish we are served ends up a little dry. B/B-

Sunday, October 16, 2011

October 16: The Innocents

A black screen with only that haunting theme playing for the opening minutes of the film. Monochromatic terror doesn't get much better than this folks. The Innocents is a story based on Henry James' novel Turn of the Screw. It's been filmed several times before but no interpretation comes close to matching the eerie foreboding that Jack Clayton captures here. Granted, it's dialogue heavy. But! there still are moments that are genuinely terrifying.

If anything, The Innocents is a prime example of how to use lighting and shadows to create scares. Ones that are done right. Freddie Francis knew what he was doing. Lynch must have seen it since he would employ him for a little ole' picture in 1980 called The Elephant Man.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

October 15 Pt. 2: Let Sleeping Corpses Lie

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie

a.k.a. The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue a.k.a. Don't Open the Window.

The first film to really show zombies attacking in daylight. The bulk of horror films back in the early 70's and really up until that point had nighttime settings. After so many of them though, things do get desensitizing. It's not until you see the monster in the daylight in full color that things get a little surreal. A trait another horror film would share from that same year but I'll save that for later in the month.

The story at times lacks in logic and tries to bat a hand in exposition. Don't let that keep you away from this hidden gem. The plot allows the important aspects of the film to be pushed to the fore. Grau's direction keeps things interesting and gives you everything you could want in a zombie. The English countryside is photographed with incredible atmosphere. You'd be tricked into almost thinking this was a film from Britian when it's really Italian.

Everyone knows Night, Dawn & Day of the Dead. Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is that hidden gem that's always waiting in the wings for its next victim.


October 15 Pt. 1: Basket Case

A co-worker recommended I watch this one. So it's only fitting I squeeze it into the marathon. This one took me by surprise. I'd never heard the name Frank Henenlotter before, but my ears were at attention when it was over. Henenlotter's films are essentially exploitation with the extra juice. Basket Case, Brain Damage (which I have yet to see) & Frankenhooker are films you'd expect to be playing across the street from a grungy grindhouse cinema.

Before we asked the question "What's in the box" this film had us asking "what's in the basket?". Now be forewarned, Henenlotter injects a fair amount of cheese. As expected from these types of genre movies. Yet where it would detract in other cases, it actually adds to his sensibilities. He wouldn't quite perfect it until he got to Frankenhooker, but what we are given here is a gory, straight outta EC comics plot.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

October 13: Alien

Scott's filmography is a tricky beast. Black Hawk Down had some memorable scenes. Yet it never geled cohesively & I was stuck with vapid excess as an afterthought. Speaking of excess...Hannibal?! & don'tget me started with Gladiator. It doesn't seem Scott will ever get back on the right track. Blade Runner though. That's a film I do dig in all its neon synth glory. Even that doesn't come close to approaching what he accomplished in '79.

Alien is about a multitude of things- isolation, fear, mutiny. All in an enclosed space. It's the ultimate solution to the haunted house concept. Why not just leave the house? Well, in space you're shit outta luck. & apparently no one can hear you scream either. Above all else, the concept and design of Alien are two things that always left an impression. It is after all, about getting violated. Having a creature rape your face, impregnate you and then have an alien come rucketing out your chest. Much like the feeling Scott's recent films have left me in. I guess that's what's so terrifying about the movie to begin with.

As long as were on this topic of the Alien franchise I will state a strong opinion. People alway single out Alien 3 as the worst in the series. They love Aliens but when Fincher went dark and abandoned all hope right at the outset, it got under people's skin. If there ever needed to be a reminder it is this: people die in Alien movies. The concept alone is terrifying enough. & I don't think we need to rehash this when Se7en silenced the naysayers of ole' Finch.

But I'm digressing. Alien has always had a soft spot in my heart and a hard spot in Kane's stomach.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Day 10: The Host

The drive in creature feature. A staple of 50's cinema. So why not go the extra step and inject family drama and black comedy. Why not even slap a new coat of wax on the monster while were at it. Voila. We have Bong Jon Hoo's The Host. A director who is 3 for 3 in my book in terms of straight up cinematic gold. In that 50's tradition, this is the creature feature I always wanted from American cinema but never really got. Don't get me wrong. The 50's "drive in classics" are fun. But The Host offers so much more than the scares or faux scares of that genre. The characters are genuine in their decisions and actions. It doesn't fall prey to being self concious. It embraces its genre and goes one step further with it. A place where many horror films these days fear to tread.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 9 Pt. 2: 28 Days Later

The debate will rage on: fast or slow zombies. Another debate will continue: Is 28 Days Later a zombie film. One debate won't continue though and that is whether or not it is a good horror film. It dishes out everything you;d want: high intensity suspense, gore and an astounding score. Usually when bitten by a zombie, the effect actually takes time. 28 Days plays it out that if you get so much as a drop of blood on you, the change is almost instantaneous. Something never quite mined from the undead/infected genre, or at least not as successfully until 2002.

It could have been a perfect movie had it not been for some of the all too influenced Day of the Dead ending. That being said, it's easily Boyle's best work since Trainspotting. It's works like these that are proof that the genre of horror isn't entirely dead and the end is certainly not fucking nigh.


Day 9 Pt. 1: Spider Baby

"Jack Hill is unknown for one main reason: poor self promotion. He was in the same film class as Francis Ford Coppola and it's fairly obvious as to why Francis made it big and people scratch their heads when you bring up the name Jack Hill."

Sid Haig made it clear about Jack Hill when I heard him speak at Flashback Weekend in September. It was there he spoke of with great fondness a film called Spider Baby. The chance he had to work with a legend. The wolf man himself, Lon Chaney Jr. Spider Baby has that 50s/60s "spook house" tone that I just love. It doesn't pull alot of punches either. We're treated to a severed ear in the opening moments. & that credit sequence is just foaming with evil vibes. Also, before Haig belonged to a family of psychpaths & serial killers, he belonged to another family of psychopaths & cannibals. Think of a demented ancestry between the Firefly clan and the Merrye family and you'd be on similiar wavelengths.

I don't mean to speak ill of Francis at all. Always been a huge fan. Hill on the other hand is someone who has been versatile within the exploitation genre. Introducing us to those Switchblade Sisters and giving us Pam Grier in Coffy. A director like Hill is alot like that underground band you knew about in high school that never quite made it big. It's always interesting to hear what rebellious albums they crank out next.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 8: The Prowler

The Prowler is one of the countless slasher films that came out in the dawn of Friday the 13th's release. While the film does suffer from the slasher stereotype of "fuck plot. tits and gore all the way", it still is one of the more memorable slasher flicks of the 80's. Tom Savini even did some of the more memorable gore FX for this film. Both him & the director Joseph Zito would team up again on the fourth installment of Friday the 13th, The Final Chapter.

Despite the illogical plot of the picture and the fact that it's pretty easy to guess who the killer in army fatigues actually is, the film still can hold its own. One that many 80's horror fans will love.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 6: Cannibal Holocaust

"Why is this in your collection?"

It's usually a question reserved for the likes of what one would dub "a guilty pleasure". I have gotten to the point where I have no guilt for what I like. Then there's a flip side to that coin.

"Why is this in your collection?"

Same question. Only this time they're asking it not for the sake of your taste in film. But for your sanity. For those wondering where I fall in the ballpark, see the above paragraph for the answer. I guess it boils down to this: curiosity. Many of us, some to a small extent, others to a larger degree, have a fascination with the macabre. What drew me into these types of movies is that very thing. It's an andrenaline rush. Are they going to go that far? Oh yes, they just did. So as someone who had their fill of Romero zombie films, the best of Carpenter and all the other classics, I was ready for something different. Something that took horror to that next level. I had already seen tone and suspense mastered with Psycho & Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Now it was time to go to Italy and see what those fiendish filmmakers were up to.

There's always those first time viewings that get embedded into your memory. You never forget it. Cannibal Holocaust hit me like a Mac truck going 75 mph. The opening credits & Riz Ortolani's haunting score set everything up. Probably even more powerful than Ortolani's main theme is the piece of music played at one of the most infamous moments of the film. The girl on the pike. How the HELL did they pull that off? Having the knowledge of how Ruggero Deodato actually did it still can't diminsh the power of it. Cause a film like this, no matter how many times you see it, harks back to that first time sitting down in front of the TV. Popping it in the DVD player. Feeling like you just went to hell and back after those credits roll.

Cannibal Holocaust like many of my favorite movies is an experience. Horror just picks up the darker reflections of society anyway. This is one of those films that takes you the darkest recesses of mankind. Stares at you with unflinching malice and dares you to watch further. "You think you can handle this scene? Well wait till you see what's in store for you next."

It makes my top 100 because of that very reason. It's an experience. The kind that has been rarely equalled in horror & more importantly extreme horror.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 5: It

The eater of worlds. King's novel is something I have yet to tackle & given enough time, will. Tommy Lee Wallace has dabbled in this playground before. Sure enough, Halloween: Season of the Witch had children in danger. The strength of the film lie in the dilemma it presents: only children can see Pennywise. & it works in the first half. Wallace takes the formula for Season of the Witch and injects that same sort of dread here. Only this time it's not some Silver Shamrock commercial. It's a razor sharped teeth clown that feeds on fear.

The problem? The second half. Oh that second half. Nostalgia is fun. When it's brought into a horror movie it could sway it good or bad. What's wrong here is with the chemistry and potency of the actors. The kids in the first episode all had their little quirks, or cliches even. Regardless, another high point that diminishes some of the weaker ones is Tim Curry as Pennywise. What I love so much about King's concept is that there really is no concrete thing that is used as 'the scare factor'. Every kid has their own little fear that is manifested upon them. Now how cool is that?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 4: Inside

The first two entries of 31 Days had light hearted elements in them. Now we're going straight to the jugular. The French have had a penchant for extreme violence in their latest entries into the horror genre. Instead of the machete they give us the concrete saw. With Inside, it is a multitude of weapons. The cold dead gaze of a crazed Beatrice Dalle being For my money, it the most succesful in developing overwhelming tension. Both Martyrs & High Tension had sharp left turns when they approached their third act. The former going to the point of changing the concept (a ballsy move rarely seen in horror) of the movie entirely.

When dealing with Inside, it's straight up tension until those last heart pounding minutes. Now I won't spoil it for you. But you'll know exactly when it comes. It's a constant one upmanship in terms of gore and grue that offers us the flip side of the coin to the zany antics Peter Jackson gave us in Dead Alive.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day 3: Haxan

Speedy McFlash's latest entry into 31 Days is the gothic Rosemary's Baby. So I thought it'd only be fitting to go all the way back to the 20's to a movie brewing with gothic and literary references. I've always held a serious attraction to silent horror. It gets away with many things the talkies cannot. For one, they are intensely atmospheric. & to go off on a slight tangent, that type of atmosphere has been rarely captured anymore. Only Eraserhead comes close (sorry Guy Maddin, I know ya tried with Brand Upon the Brain). Haxan constantly pokes at us with a three pronged pitchfork. It's fiendish cries and devilish gaze transfixing. Benjamin Christensen's lighting cues and staging help paint a darkened world of witchcraft, torture, and possessed nuns.

If film is indeed a visual medium revolving around light and movement, the silent pictures of old are in a class unto themselves. Just watching one of these makes you wish things would almost simplify in cinema. I love the Tarantino & Mamets of the world, filling the earholes with that oh-so wonderful dialogue. But isn't it just as wonderful, if not moreso, to sit back and get engulfed in the visuals the medium has to offer?

Christensen gave Haxan a tonality of surrealism. Denying us cues from when the film jumps from reality to another. Prefiguring the genres of demonic possession that the likes of Friedkin brought us with The Exorcist. It's one of those early sparks that started the hellfire and brimstone kindling.

If you have a fascination with the grotesque, the macabre or mysticism, you owe it to yourself to watch this.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Day 2: Street Trash

You go to Texas Chainsaw Massacre to feel the grimy, sweaty Summer heat. You go to Eraserhead to get enveloped by a dark brooding atmosphere. So what do feel when you pop in Street Trash? Trashy. That's what. The title delivers. The film flies by in its running time. Due to its way of linking five main characters and four plots. I mean seriously, how many movies do you see that contain the plots of:

1) a crooked cop action movie
2) a comedy about hobos
3) a drama about a Vietnam vet
4) and a love story between a homeless man and a junkyard secretary
& to add icing to the cake, throw in a little body horror with melting drunks.

Street Trash offers up a giant plate of offensive humor. We're talking the kind John Waters and Lloyd Kaufman would be jealous of. No apologies. No refunds accepted. It's foul, innapropriate and also happens to be funny as all hell. A cult classic in the tradition of Larry Cohen's The Stuff. So raise a glass of Tenafly Viper & check it out.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day 1: Night of the Demons

Linnea Quigley. In the nude. With makeup all over her face. Not intrigued yet? Well, this movie just may not be for you. This movie had me with its opening titles. 80's music and synthesizers have always been criticized as dated, cheesy and stomach churning. That criticism is pretty much buried here. The opening music encapsulates what is to come- a big ole' bag of fun. The kind of fun you'd have in a haunted house with a bunch of friends.

By all intenstive purposes, this could have easily been written off as another B- horror movie from the 80's. The typical group of 80's kids going to a haunted house for a schlockfest. & it more or less plays on those conventions. Yet there's still something more to it. Even in today's state of horror, you don't get this level of ghoulish glee. A horror film that just doesn't hold back and delivers the goods.

NOTD is one of those movies that they just don't make anymore. It's hard to pull off horror that is fun. That's one of the charms of 80's style horror. The fun factor is sorely missing from the genre these days. I'm all for the scares and terror. But how often do you come across a chilling dance scene from Amelia Kinkade that comes out of nowhere. B -

Did I mention Linnea Quigley?