Netflix Screaming Theater Vol. l

blob-outside-theatre-screen-shotThis is how we leap and creep during SHOCKTOBER — all horror, all the time. Sadly, Netflix Streaming has the worst selection of horror among all their titles. I can only assume there must be a deal between studios and Netflix to not let home viewers stream quality shocks or classics. Instead, it feels like where ScyFY Channel or straight-to-DVD movies go to torture the living. Check under “Frankenstein” for example, and you’re rewarded with Al Adamson’s borderline unwatchable DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN (1971) (hello David Konow!) among a few obscure others, with Andy Warhol’s FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN (1974) being the most prominent. There are few classic Universal or even Hammer films available. When the best werewolf film available is FRANKENSTEIN’S BLOODY TERROR (1970) — which I adore — there’s something wrong here. You would hope that at least for October some specialized titles might have been added to the streaming queue. But there’s enough here to digest…

alteredb-1ALTERED (2006) – The first feature directed by Eduardo Sanchez (co-director of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT)  and cleverly written by Jamie Nash was sent to the unfair realm of straight-to-DVD by Universal after a disappointing test screening. It’s too bad, because budgeted at eight million dollars, ALTERED could have easily earned its costs back in the theaters. This is a fun, unique, creepy science fiction horror with a great premise: a group of backwoods friends who were abducted and violently “probed” by aliens seek revenge by capturing one…with unexpected results.

Sanchez shows a sure hand as director (the opening shot is fantastic) and he builds a nice camaraderie between the characters, although their overtly hillbilly patter is a might overdone at first. It’s also good to see Michael C. Williams (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT) in an unrecognizable role; his penultimate scene is some kind of modern grue classic. I was impressed by the old-school physical efx of the alien, a nifty original design with disturbing accouterments. And the brief use of CG is kind of spectacular. To the movie’s testament once I started watching I couldn’t stop. To say more would ruin the surprises in store. Here’s a rave review from Dread Central.com. I truly enjoyed ALTERED and count it as a new favorite in the Evil Alien genre.

4155KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER TV SERIES (1974) – One very cool thing about Netflix streaming is getting to viddy bounty from the boob tube. I was happy to revisit the full season of my favorite TV character from the 1970’s, one Carl Kolchak, intrepid Chicago reporter of the supernatural. Thanks to the record-breaking rating success of THE NIGHT STALKER (1973), Darren McGavin became a welcome weekly fixture on my young Friday nights although the series only lasted one season due to a time slot of the damned and the star’s displeasure with the scripts. It’s true, even in my youthful media idealism, I thought the series ridiculous. Every episode revolved around our fearless reporter discovering some new witch, demon, monster or robot and finishing it/him/her off by the episode’s tag. I could accept a Las Vegas vampire but was chagrined that Kolchak happens to board a cruise with the worst lycanthrope since THE WEREWOLF OF WOODSTOCK (1973). Apparently McGavin wanted more humor, which results in a schizophrenic tone. Much as I love the Kolchak character, he’s simply too glib and unserious here. If you found out that the boogeyman actually exists you’d become a monk, mystic or madman. It doesn’t help the series was sloppily directed in bad TV style but there were some memorable frightening moments.

straightjacketSTRAIGHT-JACKET (1965) – It wouldn’t be Halloween without one or two William Castle films. Netflix Screaming obliges with an HD version of  this mild shocker starring Joan Crawford in one her many post WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE (1962) horror roles. She’s actually the best thing in one of Castle’s more exploitive titles as a woman returning home to her daughter after being put away for the brutal axe murders of her boyfriend (Lee Majors!) and his lover. Also featuring George Kennedy as a grimy handyman, the story unfolds with a few surprises and one or two lopped heads. Castle never had a visual signature but he had moxie and Crawford surpasses his skills in an entertaining role. Her highlight is an awkward drunken seduction of her daughter’s boyfriend. You can’t help but love her as she lights a match on a spinning bop record. I just wish Castle had provided a stronger gimmick than the cardboard axes given out at a few theaters. He attempted a tie-in with Gillette razor blades, but they hung up on the master movie macabre showman. And stick around for the brilliant Columbia logo at the end…

phantasmPHANTASM (1979) – An all-time favorite. Twenty-One year old Don Coscarelli wrote and directed this utterly original sci-fi horror film that reaped big box-office and MPAA controversy over its gore, which is E.C. Comics fun and less bloody than JAWS. I think of PHANTASM as the best ABC After-School Special never made given its theme of filial abandonment and metaphoric nightmares. After the death of his parents and a family friend, young Mike Pearson discovers odd happenings at the creepy Morningside Cemetary. He enlists the aid of his reluctant brother, Jody (Bill Thornbury) and Reggie (Reggie Bannister), the hippest ice cream man in film history, to stop the malevolence of the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), one of the genre’s great villains.

What makes the film so unique is Coscarelli’s ambitious scope, as he jumps from shock to suspense to humor to science fiction. His place in the genre hall of fame is secure with the iconic “silver sphere,” still one of the most outrageous, memorable horror film set-pieces. I particularly like the tapestry of a real community between the friends, illustrated by the wonderful “Sittin’ Here At Midnight” musical interlude between phantasm1b-1Jody and Reggie (who kindly thanked me when I told him we included PHANTASM in a  70’s film course at Berkeley). I would think Wes Craven a fan too as this fear-of-parental-loss theme reflects elements of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Special praise should also be given to Fred Myrow’s effective Tubular Bells-esque score. And how bizarre that just as I finish typing this, I note an LA Times story today on the 30 year anniversary of PHANTASM…Boooooooy!!!!

THE TERMINATOR (1984) – I literally haven’t seen this since its opening weekend. Not because I don’t think it’s a science fiction action masterpiece — we all knew that in the theater on Saturday as the movie unspooled — but I recall the film so clearly I’ve never felt the need to go back. Until now. And I’m happy to say my recall didn’t fail me. What an incredible director Cameron is here, making the most of a six million dollar budget and a tight, excellent screenplay (with acknowledgment to the works of Harlan terminatorEllison). I still think this is superior in every way to the the sequel, which I never cared for. Give me Stan Winston’s latex cybernetic flesh and Gene Warren’s stop-motion miniatures over morphing CG every time.

Obviously, it’s still Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best performance (especially compared to his horrendous miscasting in the role of The Governor) and there’s nobody that could have filled his exoskeleton. Linda Hamilton is tough and appealing as is her relationship with future savior Michael Biehn. Technical effects are top notch and clever, particularly Brad Fiedel’s memorable clanking electronic score. Almost every scene simply works due to Cameron’s fully formed directorial assurance. Sadly, the Netflix/Starz streaming is not anamorphic, so…you’re terminated, fucker.

strange+behavior+ad+mat2STRANGE BEHAVIOR (1981) – It was good to finally see Michael Laughlin’s unusual horror film about the weird murders plaguing a quaint little town (actually New Zealand. Hi Leah!). Co-written by Bill Condon (GODS AND MONSTERS; CHICAGO), I’m not sure what was the impetus for this odd science horror story, but Laughlin directs in a subtle widecreen style (thank you Netflix) and gets engaging performances from his cast of familiars and unknowns. I’ve always liked Michael Murphy, especially when he’s in ass-kicking mode here. I won’t give up the plot as it’s part of the film’ “strange” charm, but it keeps you guessing until the not-wholly satisfying end. There are some scary set-pieces and Laughlin is just as interested in the characters as the terror. Tangerine Dream provides a moody terrific score that I want now. It’s hard not to respect a movie that features a Halloween dance musical number or killer hiding under a Tor Johnson mask…And don’t forget to check out the loose sequel, STRANGE INVADERS!

THE MUNSTERS SEASON ONE AND TWO (1964) – At the height of the 60’s monster boom, kids could choose between two television horror-comedies: THE ADDAMS FAMILY and THE MUNSTERS. I’ve always prefered the subversive antics of wily Gomez and sexy Morticia over the more filial sweetness of The Munster clan, but after reviewing many episodes, it’s hard not to be charmed all over again by Fred Gwynne’s jovial, egocentric, petulant Herman Munster. I pity Gwynne for blaming TorqueOmata15this role on his typecasting through the 60’s and 70’s (saved by Francis Coppola re-inventing him for THE COTTON CLUB), but he is the real star here, always endearing and humorous. My favorite of the episodes are the ones that resonant with the 60’s culture, such as “Zomba,” about Eddie’s love for an afternoon horror movie host (Louis Nye) and the episode where Herman discovers his inner beatnik poet. There’s no doubt that Jack Marshall’s theme song is among the coolest in TV history and the Munster household is a marvel of gothic production-design. I suitably geeked out in Rob Zombie’s living room when he pointed out the original furniture he owned from the series. And though both seasons were in black and white, the 1966 feature MUNSTERS GO HOME! was shot in ghoulish color and makes the family appear positively Bava-esque.

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A HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON (1970) – Speaking of Mario Bava, at least he’s represented on Netflix Screaming with one of his lesser films, a more moody psychological piece bereft of his usual cinematic psychedelic palette. The story of a wealthy fashion designer who has a penchance for dressing up in bridal gowns and killing women, he finds himself hounded by his wife who unwisely tells him that their marriage will last “until death do us part.” If that’s not an invitation to a psychotic then I don’t know what. She gets her death wish but her husband doesn’t count on her return from the grave to trip him up…

HFAH is lower-tier Bava giallo, but there is the usual audacious photography and suspenseful sequences. The film was advertised as a gore shocker (rated PG!), but it’s mild compared to his bloody TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE. Any Bava film is a welcome treat at Halloween time, but the transfer shows too much bad compression so I’m afraid I have to divorce myself from the print shown here…

BLOODSUCKING FREAKS (1976) – This infamous black “comedy” originally titled THE INCREDIBLE TORTURE SHOW about a troupe of professional sadists is probably the most offensive movie I’ve ever ever seen. What to make of moments where a crazed dentist yanks out a woman’s teeth to prevent her from “biting” him before forced oral sex or a sweet ballerina getting her feet cut off by a murderous dwarf? The film was protested by woman’s groups when it played in New York, achieving a well-deserved misogynistic reputation. There’s no reason for me to revisit this as its awful images are already burned into my reluctant retina, but for fans of the sadomasochistic outre, bon apetit.

sjff_01_img0142DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1931) – The best filmed version of Robert Louis Steven’s eternal tale on the dual nature of mankind remains this classic starring Fredric March in one of the most outstanding genre performances of all time. There’s a reason why he was given the Academy Award for Best Actor in an era unused to honoring horror. Beautifully directed by Rouben Mamoulian, the disturbing feature still packs a wallop as this is pre-Hollywood Code and therefore ripe with risque terror. March’s feral Mr. Hyde is a genuine id gone amuck, and Jack Pierce’s startling make-up has yet to be topped. This is a must-see and thanks to musical theater archivist, Miles Krueger, I recently had the thrill of trying on Mamoulian’s actual glasses that he wore while directing the film.

popcornposterPOPCORN (1989) – I’ve always wanted to see this cult, troubled Alan Ormsby/Bob Clark production and I’m glad I have. Basically the tale of a mystic, disfigured killer who stalks an all-nite horror movie marathon, Writer-Director Ormsby left (or was let go) halfway through filming and replaced by Clark’s PORKY’S star, Mark Herrrier. Ostensibly a tribute to the days (or nights) of chiller theatres, POPCORN is an unusual genre mash-up and worthy of at least one viewing. The highlight remains Ormsby’s affectionate films-within-a-films, done in the retro-style of Joe Dante’s MATINEE (1994). There are nice character bits by Ray Winston and Tony Roberts and the movie’s villain is apropos wacky and disturbing. The worst thing here is the uber-80’s synth score and the forced cameo by a limp reggae band on stage (who didn’t love reggae bands performing during monster movie marathons?). I enjoyed POPCORN as I’m a sucker for horror films set in movie theaters (like NIGHTMARE IN WAX (1978) or Lamberto Bava’s DEMONS (1987)) and Ormsby is a true aficianado as his classic 1970’s collaborations with Clark proved. The pair arguably had the best American auteur genre run of the decade with CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS (1971); DEATHDREAM (1972); DERANGED (1974) and BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974). Sadly, this is a weak-looking print that may not be any better than the maligned official DVD release. Perhaps the cloaked usher can escort you from the Screaming Theatre for now…

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33 Responses to “Netflix Screaming Theater Vol. l”

  1. I agree, the Netflix streaming selection for the genre is pretty lame. You can watch all the Masters of Horror episodes, though. (Then again, the quality veers wildly.)

    Here’s my personal Shocktober so far: Something Wicked This Way Comes, Village of the Damned, Jekyll and Hyde ’32 and ’41 (holy coincidence!), The 7th Victim (some seriously dark shit for 1943), The Changeling (Medak, not Eastwood), Serpent and the Rainbow.

    Just got Hour of the Wolf and the Corman/Price Pit and the Pendulum in the mail today. Remember, kids, there’s only one Halloween, and it’s only 31 days long! That’s only a twelfth of every year! Gotta make the most of it!

  2. wow, i’d better pull my finger out, i’ve been slack so far with, let’s see: the night stalker (the movie; yay, kolchak on dvd!), salem’s lot (hooper’s, which i’m not sure if i realised before was actually a tv movie, but maybe i did), herzog’s ‘nosferatu’, wendigo (fessenden) and…i think that might be it. a sad effort thus far, hanging my head in shame

    oh, poltergeist! my son’s first time, double feature with ‘tremors’

    and i did badham’s ‘dracula’ recently but it might have been in september so i guess technically it doesn’t count…damn, maybe half a credit?

  3. christian Says:

    Frank: Exactly Frank. MAy friends think I’m nutz but you only get October once a year. Isn’t HOUR OF THE WOLF Bergman? That’s reaaal scary. PIT AND THE PENDULUM is great, I love all the Corman 60’s films. But his best is MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, thanks to Nic Roeg cinematography.

    Leah: Get with the program sista. SALEM’S LOT iis next on the list funny you mention. WENDIGO was just alright. Morre like an indie drama horror. TREMORS is just perfection (the name of the town and original script was UNDER PERFECTION) and I’vestill never seen Badham’s DRACULA, tho given Langella’s career trajectory it might be time. It always felt so gentile and romantic, exactly the kind of vampire tales I want to steak. Give me FRIGHT NIGHT any day.

  4. Good choices, Leah, but you do need to step it up and, um, pull your finger. Don’t you want your boy to grow up knowing the true meaning of SHOCKTOBER?

    Yeah, Salem’s Lot was a miniseries. There was an edited-down version, I think, that played in Europe as a feature. I need to watch this one again. The novel was the scariest thing I had ever read in my life at that point, so I was slightly disappointed by the film. But I know it’s fondly remembered, and there were some very effective moments.

    Hour of the Wolf is Bergman’s closest thing to a genre film. It IS real scary, kids. Check it out.

    I liked Wendigo for what it was. Fessenden is known for genre-bending. But if you were looking for more straight-up thrills, I can see where you’d be put off.

    Tremors got that elusive horror-comedy blend just right. It’s not easy. Many have tried…tried and died. See Jennifer’s Body (or don’t!)

    Pit was okay. Nice atmosphere, dull-as-wood hero, plot like a mystery TV show. Great final shot, though. I’ve got Red Death next on the list; it’s been a decade or so, but I remember it being pretty good. And Conquerer Worm, which is neither Poe nor Corman, but is Price at his most evil and least hammy.

    The Badham Dracula is lavish and tepid and too tasteful for its own good. Go in with low expectations and you might get some enjoyment out of it.

  5. christian Says:

    SALEM’S LOT was one of the best King adaptions (and one of my fave of his books), even given its tv pedigree. It’s a genuinely scary tube movie, no doubt due to Tobe Hooper’s unsettling work. There are images seared on a generation of kids who saw it on airing or cable. I think the Euro-version has different scenes, more blood. All that and James Mason! Can’t wait to check it out again.

    CONQUEROR WORM is a tad too unpleasant and a bummer, but he is good. Just rewatched the DR. PHIBES films which I always savored for their onyx humor.

  6. i REALLY need to watch some scary flicks i haven’t already seen, i own all those i listed, some on VHS even just to make matters worse. but lately every time i try something new i end up disappointed and annoyed with myself for giving it a go, and then i seriously wonder if i’m turning into a big ‘bah humbug!’; but if i don’t try new stuff i think, ‘don’t be such a stick in the mud about new stuff!’, and so it goes round and round. i haven’t seen ‘hour of the wolf’ in ages and i don’t have it so i think i’ll go a-hunting for that, sounds like a plan.

    anyhoo, i love ‘mask of the red death’ – pretty much my fave vincent and that’s saying a lot – and ‘tremors’, what a hoot. and i must admit having a big soft spot for badham’s ‘dracula’ because it was the first ‘count dracula’ vampire movie i saw at the cinema when i was a kid, and thus there is a little part of my brain that still equates langella with dracula, even tho i think there are certainly better vampire movies

    (and man, my boy is already a big freak for halloween, we’re already working on his ‘grim reaper’ costume but i have yet to figure out mine. we really do mess up our kids in our own special way…but if you can’t cleverly trick your offspring into being funny little varitions of yourself, what fun are they?)

  7. christian Says:

    You’re like me that way Leah. I’d rather go to the New Bev to see THE GHOST AND MR CHICKEN over most new things I deem not worthy. But I’ve been watching a lot of straight to dvd cable stuff thanks to Netflix Screaming and discovered new gems like ALTERED. I seem to rely on old familiar ways.
    And I have plenty of VHS tapes I like to watch, rare stuff unavailable on dvd.

    There was nothing like seeing MASQUE in Amsterdam during a Corman film festival. I’ll have to watch DRACULA in a nice transer now.

    And obviously your boy is going to turn out as fun as you.

  8. We’re getting OLD, gang. That’s the bottom line. You try to be receptive to new stuff, but more and more often you go with the tried-and-true. It’s like food — most of us know what we like by this point in our lives.

    A good film that I see now has less effect on me than a mediocre (or even bad) one I saw as a kid. I’m more jaded, less receptive, more aware of being manipulated. The funny thing is, you can go back and recapture the old magic because it’s been imprinted into your subconscious. But then you try to show something like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark to someone who’s never seen it and their objectivity ruins it. It isn’t triggering any childhood memories for them — it’s just a bad old TV movie.

    Occasionally I’ll fall in love with something new, like Pan’s Labyrinth — I have a feeling I’ll be revisiting that one every few years. But mostly I see ’em and forget ’em. There are contemporary bands I like, too, but they’re not gonna change my life the way The Pixies or Husker Du did.

    I do try to mix up my home viewing habits. Most of what I’ve seen this month I’ve seen before, but I either haven’t seen it in years or Dorothy Vallens has never seen it at all. (Thank Yog she never says “Why are you making me watch this old crap? Let’s see the Friday the Thirteenth remake!” If you find someone like this, kids, grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel.) I’ve got a Bava film coming I’ve never seen (Kidnapped) and I had never seen Seventh Victim before last week. Does watching old movies that are new to me count?

    Another rambling comment. Can you tell I’m shirking other responsibilities? Christian Divine: bad influence.

  9. Huh, no Salem’s Lot on Netflix. Bastards!

    Salem’s Lot personal trivia for anyone who cares: I never liked the characterization of the vampire. Always felt they should have switched the casting of Barlow and Straker, since the latter was described as tall and bald and creepy, and the former was smooth and articulate. King himself even said something about the henchman seeming to have the master on a leash in the mini.

    I had my own perfect mental casting for the role in my perfect mental film version — Rutger Hauer.

    Wouldn’t you know it, they actually DID cast him in the remake, years later, when he was far too old and fat for it. Call it Batman ’89 syndrome. (I’ve still never seen it because I’ve never heard anything good about it. Rob Lowe?? Really?)

    I’ve only accurately predicted a casting choice like that that twice in my life — the first was Jodie in Silence of the Lambs.

  10. I just ordered SL from Amazon — on VHS! Four bucks, INCLUDING shipping.

    Why the hell not? I just hope the VCR half of my DVD/VCR works.

  11. thanks for the wise/kind words, christian and frankb, cheered me up; either i feel slightly less like the crypt keeper now, or i feel a bit better about being the crypt keeper because i’m not alone in my crypt-keeper-ness – perhaps a bit of both :-)

    the funny thing is, when i DO come across something i find genuinely scary or enjoyable nowadays like ‘session 9’ or the thai ‘shutter’ or [REC], I’M SO EXSCTATIC I PRACTICALLY DANCE A JIG AFTERWARDS. i never used to dance jigs after seeing good scary flicks back in the day, i can tell you that (having netflix streaming sounds great)

    introducing many of my classic faves to my boy now is fascinating, and sort of seeing them through his eyes with a fresh perspective is quite an adventure and an eye-opening one at that: some movies that i hold ferociously dear to my heart just don’t do it for me now and that’s quite painful (in a way i wish i could go back in time and un-watch them, so as to hold on to those warm, vague memories instead of spoiling it all with a fresh new perspective/opinion); while other films hold up amazingly well and i fall in love with them all over again, and they cement themselves as unshakable legends in my mind

    christian: ‘the ghost and mr. chicken’, too funny. i bet you have more VHS than i do

    frankb, i have ‘the lot’ on VHS, interesting point about barlow and mason’s straker, ‘young hauer’ would indeed have made a great barlow (lol ‘batman ’89 syndrome. indeed). i’ve never seen the rob lowe version and god help me if i ever do, there are lines to be drawn and NEVER crossed. i do love king’s book, one of his classic efforts.

    (and watching old movies that are new to you certainly counts in my book, i’ve been trying to do that myself lately and it’s been rewarding)

  12. christian Says:

    I wrote an epic reply that somehow did not post. Boo hoo.

  13. Hate it when that happens.

  14. ah bummer. i’ve lost so many epic posts (and possibly even one legend post) to the ether of cyberspace over the years that i now highlight & copy anything longer than a few lines right before i hit send just purely out of habit

  15. christian Says:

    I usually do that very thing but the heat of the moment takes over…

  16. You guys can’t be THAT old, what, mid-40s? I’m 30 and I think you’re all cool, but maybe that means I’m old.

    In terms of new horror, I thought Paranormal Activity every bit as scary as the peanut gallery seems to, scarier than Blair Witch even, and I’m largely with Christian in esteem for that picture.

    I’m going through that recent William Castle box set for Slant, and so far I’ve watched Mr. Sardonicus and the original 13 Ghosts. I’ve seen Straight Jacket long ago, and I’m saving a return as one of the last viewings from the set.

    This year I’ve also checked out Brides of Dracula and Curse of the Werewolf, both Hammer, and did a double feature of Body Snatchers both Kauffman and Siegel (I think Kauffman’s is the masterpiece of the two, though Siegel does his reliably lean, disciplined work). Watched Something Wicked this Way Comes per Christian, which, sorry, isn’t anywhere NEAR the book. The atmosphere is just right, but the story doesn’t kick in the way it does in the book, and I didn’t feel the primal pull between light and dark that Bradbury so brilliantly sells in the novel.

    Rewatched Cabin Fever, I don’t get why certain sectors of the fanboy crowd hate Roth so, he’s a flaky director, but he gets better with every picture and has a flair for atmosphere (particularly in the best scenes of Hostel 2) that has been underlooked. He hasn’t made what I’d necessarily call a good movie, but all show developing promise.

  17. christian Says:

    Mid-40’s? Puh-leaze. Bite your tongue junior! It’s okay, you’re an old soul anyway;]

    PARANORMAL ACTIVITY on the docket if I can get out of my SHOCKTOBER home horror marathon.

    Revisiting much of Castle’s ouvre including his wonderful autobiography which is must-reading. He never had much visual style but he had chutzpah!

    Funny, I’ve got that exact Hammer double bill coming up on Netflix meself. Still need to watch Kaufman’s BODY SNATCHERS as I’ve never seen it! I haven’t seen Siegel’s version since being a little monster kid.

    SOMETHING WICKED is too soft it’s true. It’s ripe for a proper remake. Would love to Spielberg tackle it like he planned. Perfect for him.

    Still haven’t seen CABIN FEVER, but I’ll check it out…

  18. You’re right, Chuck, we ARE cool. But just try convincing those twenty-something brats of that.

    Saw Paranormal Activity last night — after watching The Exorcist in the afternoon. Scaaaaaary day! The gf made me leave a light on all night. Haven’t had to do that since I shared a room with my brother. Even better, they’re apparently doing construction in my building, because there was an intermittent tap-tapping all night long…good thing I didn’t have to be anywhere today.

    The film was very effective, despite cell phones going off TWICE during the screening. Each time, it took me ten minutes to get over my rage and back into the mood. I’m beginning to understand why some people never go to the movies anymore. I’m ready to start a movement threatening to boycott films for a month until they put phone-proof shielding into theaters. We’d have to get enough people to actually go through with it, though.

    Sorry, I digress. It makes my blood boil. Anyway, the film worked very well. People were leaving before the end, and I don’t think it was from boredom. It will be interesting to see if the director suffers the same fate as the Blair Witch guys and the movie’s success is seen as a one-time gimmick. I’m also not sure how it would hold up on a second viewing.

    I’d like to discuss the ending, but we’ll wait until everybody’s seen it.

    I agree on Something Wicked. Not a dismal failure, but not quite a success. The autumnal, small-town, period atmosphere came across well, which is crucial. That’s two-thirds of Bradbury, right there. But I think Price was miscast. Mr. Dark needs to be in control, which is not his strong suit as an actor. He seemed almost ineffectual. Pam Grier’s casting was just strange — I kept waiting for her to pull a gun out of her hair. Some of the effects had a tacked-on feel, because they were. But Robards was solid, and the kid playing Will was VERY good. Wonder what happened to him.

    I wonder what a David Gordon Green Something Wicked would be like.

    Disagree on Roth. Cabin Fever felt like it was six hours long to me, because I didn’t laugh and I wasn’t scared. There was no control of tone and the filmmaking was borderline incompetent, just “throw-anything-in-and-hope-it-sticks.” Even the gross-outs failed. It’s no Re-Animator/ROTLD/ Braindead (Dead/Alive). I’ll say it again: horror/comedy is HARD.

    Kaufman’s Body Snatchers is great, C. I have the DVD, and I don’t own all that many films. I know I’m partial because I saw it as a kid (in fact, that was one of the times we slept with the light on — that dog gave my little brother nightmares) but it holds up for me and is a perennial fave. It’s creepy and it has a great cast and a sly sense of humor that never undermines the paranoia. (W.D. Richter script.) Plus, it’s set in SF. I don’t wanna talk it up too much, but I think you’d like it.

  19. I always liked the clips that I saw from IOTBS especially since it was clear Kaufman was riffing off 70’s EST type San Fran culture. Good to see Leonard Nimoy doing something different too. I have seen the final scene however, so no surprises there….

  20. Frank, truthfully everything you say about Cabin Fever is dead on, but I kinda dig it for some reason, and I think, in this case, I sorta like that first movie “fuck it, let’s try it” vibe. Did you see Roth’s Hostel movies? i’m doubting you’d like them, but Roth is in far more tonal control there than he was in Cabin Fever. And that bloodbath scene in 2 that pissed everyone off is legitimately unnerving.

    PA’s last scene is PERFECT, save maybe the “effect”, which it didn’t need, but that was a small issue. PA is so hard to shake for two reasons: a. being able to see the hallway through the bedroom door is intangibly fucking creepy, and b. the actress is surprisingly vulnerable and touching. To me the picture comes darn close to being a parable on abuse, but I think that kind of term paper metaphor hunting does the picture a disservice, this is a primal movie, let’s keep it that way.

    Kauffman’s Body Snatchers is one of my favorite horror movies, it has that erotic tone that Kauffman, when in his zone, is so confident with. The “pod scene” is a beaut. And this is the way Body Snatchers should’ve always ended.

  21. I have not seen the Hostel films. I did watch a torture scene from 1 on Youtube (which I found more competent than the whole of CF) and it was admittedly effective, mostly due to the creepy performance of the Czech actor — but I also wondered what the point was. How hard is it to make us cringe by showing graphic sadism and mutilation?

    I did like the Thanksgiving trailer he did. “It’s blood.” “Son of a bitch!”

    I’ll bite my tongue and refrain from commenting on PA for now.

  22. Just so you don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily opposed to depictions of torture and suffering onscreen (or in any other art form). I like Hooper’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which is a sick, sadistic movie. I like Tarantino, Argento, Chan-wook Park. It’s a matter of context, and where the line is drawn is highly subjective. It’s like Justice Potter said…

  23. christian Says:

    I grew up savoring the goriest, bloodiest movies I could withstand. I drew uber-violent comics and did gore make-up for my home movies using Tom Savini ‘s cool make-up guide. I was the only one in my school with access to the FACES OF DEATH films and had parties for them.

    At some point, I regressed and rejected the cine-bloodlust of my youth. I haven’t seen HOSTEL or SAW or what have you. I just don’t need to see people tortured onscreen, unless it’s in the service of some loftier esthetic goal.

    Even Hooper’s TCM is relatively bloodless, but psychologically disturbing. I still like Argento and some others, but I can’t stand the Japanese horror films that all seem cut from the same torture cloth. Cold sterile and sadistic.

  24. Does that category include Kiyoshi Kurosawa? I hope not — I think he’s operating on an entirely different level. Cure and Pulse are two of the creepiest, most disturbing things I’ve seen since…well, ever.

  25. ‘kairo’ is way creepy

  26. So is this thread. It won’t die! (Well, maybe it will give up the ghost after Halloween.)

    In the meantime, I’ve seen Bava’s Black Sabbath and Rabid Dogs, and The Andromeda Strain. Romero’s The Crazies is up next. I realize I have a crime film and a techno-thriller on the list, but they’re both scary, right?

    Still waiting for my Salem’s Lot, um, tape. Hope it gets here before the month is out!

  27. Hey gang, should I rent Halloween 2 just to mix it up? I don’t think I’ve ever watched 1 and 2 together — mainly because I always felt that 2 kinda sucked. We all know the story of how Carpenter had to step in and shoot extra gore because because audiences were jaded after all the Friday the Bloody burning Toolbox Prowlers — but also because the new guyl just couldn’t get it up, tension-wise.

    But it is the only “legit” sequel (Carpenter was directly involved) and sometimes the passage of time is kind to old slasher flicks. Or should I stick with personal tradition and continue to treat it like Be Cool and Blade 3?

  28. fwiw fb i approve of bava’s “rabid dogs”, even tho it’s more ‘crime’ it’s fucking sick so i think it qualifies for gross-out all hallows eve month fare

    as for ‘Halloween II’ i have mixed feelings, but i think you can watch it back to back with ‘the ween’ without feeling like a huge tool, so long as you do it with a grain of salt (and plenty of tequila and lime). there’s still a whiff of carpenter and hill in there – and even tho whatshisdoodle can’t manage carpenter’s sublime, subtle menace and tension, the fact that it picks up right from where the original leaves off with the same core cast and characters is a bonus, giving it a genuine feeling of continuity even tho the movie doesn’t have nearly the same look and feel of the great classic.

    sorry, rosenthal

  29. What the hell, I’ll do it for variety’s sake. It’s only a movie…it’s only a movie…

    But it is sad and pathetic how they couldn’t get something as simple as the mask right in the sequels. How hard is that?

    So how’s your unholy month going? What are you guys watching?

  30. christian Says:

    My mac is in the process of dying a bizarre technicolor death, so i have to be pithy for the moment.

    I haven’t seen enough of the japanese new wave of horror but they all seem cut from the same cloth. hair in pipes, little freaky girls, stark rooms with something revolting happening. I actually thought the THE RING was superior to the original if only because they took out the ridiculous paranormal lab. I’ll watch a few for SHOCKTOBER!

    As fer HALLOWEEN II, I was in the process of my new post dovetailing with one of the sequels before my mac got the videocard vapors. Coming soon!

    Still haven’t seen RABID DOGS. Such an unusual Bava that I’m curious. It’s okay to mix up genres for SHOCKTOBER as long as the thematics are there — to scare. Fantasy is fine too. Watching a few choice Harryhausen treats this month too.

    Six more days til Halloween, Halloween…SILVER SHAMROCK!

  31. If you’ve never seen any Kurosawa, try Cure or Pulse. Seriously. There is some familiar imagery (they were made before the cliches solidified) but they’re FAR superior to stuff like Ju-on (a repetitive collection of nearly identical scare scenes) in my book.

    But be warned that they are heavy/creepy and not “fun.” I’d compare them in tone with Don’t Look Now or Cronenberg, dark and unsettling.

    My previous Mac was acting up, so I dumped 8 oz of holy water on the keyboard. It got rid of the evil, all right — Father Karras-style.

  32. christian Says:

    I’ll borrow a friend’s copy of CURE/PULSE. Yes, JU-ON was all the cliches I mentioned. The Japanese are just a bad as recycling scares as we are. Theirs always looks esthetically creepier though…

    Can you believe I still haven’t seen DON’T LOOK NOW and have managed to avoid reading ANYTHING about it all my cine-philic existence?

    I think dumping holy water on an evil mac just gets it angrier…..

  33. !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You haven’t even had the ending spoiled for you? All the more reason to see it ASAP. Unbelievably creepy, beautiful-looking, atmospheric film. Wear a sweater ’cause you’ll be chilled by the palpable damp of Venice as well as the mood.

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