Last of the Monster Kids

Last of the Monster Kids
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween Viewing: Week Three

Internet problems prevented me from getting this up sooner. Sorry, guys.

October 18th:

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Sure, the “slacker gets life back together” plot is a little trite but I’m constantly amazed at just how good the rest of this movie is. Also, having seen “Spaced” now, it sort of ups my appreciation for this one. (9/10)

TerrorVision (1986)
It feels like they filmed a first draft. There are a number of clever ideas and scenes here but the whole thing feels very half-baked and unfocused. I dig the theme song. (5/10)

Matinee (1993)
The coming-of-age story is cute and well acted but I honestly think Dante should have just made “Mant!” as a feature instead. (7/10)

Poltergeist (1982)
When this movie kicks into scare gear, it’s really effective. I could do without all the Spielberg-y “love conquers all” schtick, but when where talking killer clown dolls, evil trees, giant ghost beasts, and tearing your own face off, I’m all there. (7/10)

October 19th:

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)
So buried in it’s own comic book extravagance that it comes very close to being completely ridiculous. By the same accord, it’s hard to argue with a period costume drama that has Mark Dacascos kicking people in the face. (7/10)

October 20th:

The Final Destination (2009)
I prefer to believe that Death is a sadistic bastard that allows people to escape his design just so he can murder them in contrived, ridiculous ways, rather then buy that every single structure around me is a rickety deathtrap waiting to happen. Ignited sawdust? (5/10)

“Lost Tapes”: Death Crawler
A couple isolated on an island full of giant, killer centipedes is actually a pretty good idea for a movie. (7/10)

The Fly (1986)
With an auteur like Cronenberg behind the wheel, it would’ve been good regardless, but Goldblum and Davis make this great. (9/10)

The Fly II (1989)
Pretty much on auto-pilot until the full-blown Martinfly makes his big appearance near the end, at which point it becomes a solid monster/splatter movie. Still the “good fly-monster vs. evil corporation” story is so simplistic compared to the complexity of the first. But hey, Princess Vespa’s got a decent sex scene. (5.5/10)

October 21st:

Ed Wood (1994)
I’m watching a lot of not-really-horror-movies this Halloween, aren’t I? Eh, a movie about the people who made horror movies is close enough. (9/10)

Hatred of a Minute (2002)
I appreciate what was attempted here but the movie can’t seem to decide if it’s a gorefest or a psychologically thriller. Either way, the indie-movie acting is what really undoes this one. (5/10)

Christine (1983)
Hey, I kind of love this movie! I’m as surprised as every one else is. (8/10)

October 22nd:

The Happening (2008)
Don’t be surprised if, at some point in the future, you see this one playing with “The Wicker Man” remake on an unintentional comedy double bill. (3/10)

Paranormal Activity (2007)
A creepy ghost flick that does some mildly clever things? Sure. Scariest movie ever made? No fucking way. With the amount of hype and marketing behind this one, just about any movie could’ve been pushed to this level of success. (7/10)

October 23rd:

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Julie Adams and the Creature will always be my favorite horror couple. (9/10)

Basket Case (1982)
They don’t make high quality trash cinema like this anymore. (7/10)

Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
There’s much more slow-mo in this then I remember but I maintain that this is the best “Freddy vs. Jason” movie that could've been made. (8/10)

The Prey (1984): Uncut
I suppose this is the superior cut. The often discussed, rarely seen softcore footage is forced in but fascinating. Most of the nature footage is gone, quickening the pace considerably. However, my heart still belongs to the classic version, with the scenes of Jackson “Shazam!” Bostwick talking to a deer and rocking a hardcore banjo solo inserted into the movie at seemingly random intervals. (7/10)

(Big thanks goes out to Joseph at The-Bodycount-Continues for getting me a copy of this rarity.)

October 24th:

Bad Ronald (1974)
There’s admittedly a lot of TV movie creakiness here but the concept of someone stalking you from within your own home is quite creepy. (7/10)

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
I’d like to say this is the unfairly maligned Blackhorse entry in the franchise, but it’s not. It’s truthfully just not a very good movie. Tom Atkins’ sleazy performance is all that kept my attention. (5/10)

As we head into October's final week, with Halloween right around the corner, I'll try and get as much stuff watched this week as possible.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Halloween Viewing: Week Two

Classes and the flu kept me from seeing as much as I wanted to this week.

Did I mention I finished reading Richard Laymon's "The Cellar" earlier this month? After reading and liking a few Jack Ketchum novels, Laymon was recommended to me as the next logical step in my journey into splatter-punk. I figure his first published novel and one of his most popular books would be a good place to start. I liked it, for the most part. The murder, rape, and general abuse of children is all typical eighties shock stuff, but what I really liked about the book was the almost old-fashion "monster in an old house" premise it has. The whole thing plays out a bit like a darker, much more twisted EC Comic. I thought the down beat ending was unnecessary though. So, I'm thinking "Island" is going to be the next of this author I read. What do you think, readers? Any suggestions?

Anyway, on with the list.

October 10th:

Werewolf of London (1935)Considering how much the modern werewolf genre is informed by “The Wolfman,” it’s fun to think about how things would be different if this movie was more successful in it’s time. On it’s own, it’s a pretty solid Jekyll and Hyde riff though Henry Hull is sort of a dick the whole time, even before his transformation. (7/10)

The Hunger (1983)
There’s some pretty visuals here but it’s not surprising that the lesbian love scene is all people seem to remember about this movie. (6/10) (Also, isn’t it weird that Cliff De Young, seen playing Brad last night in “Shock Treatment,” plays the lover of Susan Sarandon, the original Janet, in this movie? That’s weird, right?)

Theatre of Blood (1973)
A more twisted and, appropriately, more theatrical take on the Dr. Phibes formula. One of Price’s best roles and pretty much without questions his goriest film. (8/10)

October 11th:

The Invisible Man (1933)
This has got to be one of the earliest examples of a true horror-comedy. (8/10)

Lord of the Flies (1963)
Just as slow as the book but less overwrought. (5/10)

October 12th:

Don’t Look Now (1973)
The movie gets kudos for it’s fantastic score, great lead performances, and startling visual style. I don’t know why this is always referred to as a horror film, it’s more of a thriller. The murder subplot is tedious but even knowing the ending before hand can’t rob it of its power. (8/10)

The Mummy (1932)
More spiritual, romantic, and creepier then “Dracula,” the film its most often compared to. (8/10)

The Mummy’s Hand (1940)
A fun, pulpy adventure flick. (7/10)

October 13th:

Reincarnation (2005)
Some of the trippy shit and studying of film differentiates it from the J-horror glut, but even the Japanese had to be groaning about how they had seen so much of this before. (5/10)

“Lost Tapes:” Werewolf
I’ll admit that the twist ending caught me off-guard. (6/10)

“Lost Tapes:” Skinwalker
Some okay build-up but the conclusion was really goofy. (5/10)

October 15th:

Phantom of the Opera (1925)
That this movie is over eighties years old and is still the most faithful adaptation of the book, among countless others, is kind of sad. Still, stiff direction aside, Chaney’s performance makes this a complete classic. (8/10)

Dead End (2003)
The great cast and mid-way turn into horror/comedy makes this a good time. It’s also about an hour longer then it needs to be. Coupled with the obvious twist ending, I bet this would’ve made a pretty awesome “Twilight Zone” episode. (7/10)

Tower of London (1939)
Rathbone and Karloff are mesmerizing (I love the scene where Richard suggests something so awful it even makes the immoral Mord pause.) but the movie falters when focusing on any of the other characters or the convoluted royal family stuff. I prefer Roger Cormon’s remake. (6/10)

October 16th:

“Psych:” Let's Get Hairy
Not as classic as the slasher episode from last season but it’s good to see David Naughton getting work, and the “Hungry like the Wolf” montage made the whole episode worth while. (7/10)

Spider Baby, or The Maddest Story Ever Told (1968)
This movie is real underrated. It’s sort of the perfect crossroad between the classical horror of the 30s and 40s and the exploitation horror of the late sixties and seventies. Not to mention that the Merrye clan is such a fascinating, interesting group of character. A sequel or two that explored their dynamic more would’ve been great. (9/10)

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
I love the scene where Audrey II leans forward and checks for loose change in the pay phone. That’s a gag that costs hundreds of dollars and hours of work that you might miss if you blink. Talk about a commitment to comedy! (9/10)

Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn (1987)
The demon-hand-o-vision is my favorite shot in the movie. (9/10)

Grace (2009)
The subplots needed to be cut but, at the same time, it needed to be longer. However, Jordan Ladd’s performance and that shocker ending makes it worth while. (7/10)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Halloween Viewing: Week One

So, it's October, in case you hadn't notice. Halloween's coming up and, as a horror fan, I use this as an excuse to watch a whole bunch of my genre favorites.

However, seeing as how I didn't have anything formal prepared for this blog, I was just going to let this month go by without anything happening. But, after looking at how every other film blog under the sun is getting in on the fun, I couldn't resist. If I'm having a horror movie marathon anyway, why not do brief write-ups for each one I watch?

Anyway, I started this year's marathon the way I start every year: With viewings of many of the classic Universal monster movies, because these films are what I asscioate the Halloweens of my childhood with. I want to do a Report Card of some sort for this series some day but these mini-reviews will do for now. A recent Horror Etc. podcast also got me in the mood to revisit some Vincent Price classics I hadn't seen in a while. Also peppered throughout are stuff from my Netflix queue and whatever recent horror TV shows and movies I catch.

October 4th:

Frankenstein (1931)
Perhaps the single most iconic horror film ever made and one that will live forever. (9/10)

Dracula (1931)
Staginess aside, I’ll admit to liking this one more and more every time I see it. It's classical Gothic imagery strikes a cord. (8/10)

Feast III: The Happy Ending (2009)
I liked the giant robot and the alt chick’s tits and nothing else. (4/10)

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Maybe the best horror sequel of all time and just the sort of classy affair I needed to clean my pallet after that shitty DTV sequel. (9/10)

Dracula’s Daughter (1936)Still not a fan of the comic relief or romantic subplots, but it’s heavy character-driven story and feminist subtext makes it one of the most subtle of the original Universal horror cycle. Also, I think this might be the first time vampirism was shown as an addiction. (8/10)

October 5th:

Murder in the Rue Morgue (1932)
The Expressionistic atmosphere sure goes a long way, making this one of the creepier of the original classics. (7/10)

House of Wax (1953)
Pretty hokey by today’s standards but this movie made me a Vincent Price fan. (7/10)

October 6th:

Zombieland (2009)
I liked the zombie killing, not so much the Twinky obsession. (7/10)

The Black Cat (1934)
My original complaint about this was I couldn’t buy Lugosi as the hero and Karloff as the villain. I see now that what’s brilliant about this movie is the way it plays these two icons against each other and both are casted against type. Lugosi gives one of his best performances as the revenge obsessed man while Karloff is at his most sinister. (8/10)

“Lost Tapes”: Southern Sasquatch
The redneck stuff is pretty campy but the monster aspects are convincing. (6/10)

“Lost Tapes”: Chupacabra
Maybe a little light on Chupa-content but not a bad example of what this show does well. (6/10)

The Raven (1935)
A much more traditional film then “The Black Cat” but Lugosi and Karloff are still great together. (7/10)

The Fly (1958)
That a cheesy, dialogue-and-character-driven, 50s reactionary, domestic sci-fi drama like this could be nine year old me’s favorite movie says more about me then it does this movie. Still, the acting is awfully good and Andre-Fly scrawling “I love you” on the chalkboard is still kinda’ heartbreaking. (9/10)

October 7th:

The Wolfman (1941)After seeing this multiple times now, I think I can say the “Vertigo”-style freak-out is my favorite scene. (8/10)

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)There’s sincerity and almost sweetness about this campy predecessor to slashers films and modern torture horror. (8/10)

Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943)
I would’ve preferred a solo Wolfman sequel because the Frankenstein aspect seems a little forced in and Lugosi was a lousy monster. Still, you can’t fault the fun factor of the very first monster mash. (7/10)

October 09:

Old pal JD picked out this night’s viewing, two flicks he's been wanting to see for a while but hadn't gotten around to yet. Thus the slightly unsensonal choices.

Shock Treatment (1981)
I remember this movie being less bad last time I watched it, but I still like the music. (6/10)

My Bloody Valentine (1981): Extended Cut
The nasty gore is what people remember but this essential retro-slasher has also got a lovable cast of characters. (7/10)

Come back next week for more fun!