Thursday, October 04, 2012

Halloween Movie Marathon - 2012

Well, here we go. Another October is upon us and it's time to start hittin' the cider, rakin' the leaves, pickin' the pumpkins, and of course, feasting our orbs on some fright flicks! This year promises to be better than last (only watched 9 movies and haven't even blogged them yet!). I've assembled a mixed bag of the old, the new, the sublime, the bizarre, and the down right freaky. One new category within the genre that I'm introducing into this years marathon is a handful of the early 60's horror/wacky films that featured aging Hollywood stars like Betty Davis, Joan Crawford, and Olivia deHaviland. Haven't seen these flix since I was about 11 years old and I remember being really creeped out by them. So, we'll see how well the scares have fared over the decades. As usual we'll hit up the 50's and 60's sci-fi films, some late 40's noir horror by Val Lewton that I'm really lookin' forward to, and all manner of monsters and mayhem leadin' us up to the big day. 27 films, that's how many I've got picked out for this year, that's ambitious given my current "new normal" life, but a guys gotta' have ghouls, uh, goals. So, Seekers, lets get crackin' on this years stream of screams!

1.) Attack of the Crab Monsters - 1957
I'm sure that I've referenced many times in these blogs the TV show that introduced me to many of these campy, late 50's, sci-fi films. It was during the Summer of 1965, on Thursday nights at 8:00 pm, The World Beyond would show these syndicated B movies and I just ate it up. This Roger Corman gem was one of the first movies that aired on that show and I've never forgotten it. It was out of production for decades and I searched all over the Internet trying to find a copy, no luck. Finally, it was released with 2 other Corman films on a digitally enhanced DVD. Well, not sure I should have looked so hard! Basic story here is your classic "aftermath of nuclear testing in the ocean" deals that has mutated the sand crab population of some uncharted isle. A second team of researchers are dispatched after the first team vanished without a trace. Good old Roger doesn't waste any time building the suspense, we get our first glimpse of the giant crab at the 4 minute mark! Shoot, that's barely past the credits. Some Navy guys are pulling up to shore in what appears to be a row boat (talk about your defense cuts) and one of the hapless squabs falls over board. Now, they are only about 15 feet off the shore line, so the water should only be about, oh, say 2 feet deep! But somehow our man overboard must have found a sink hole 'cause in the next shot he looks like he's deep sea diving. When his mates top side reel him back into the boat his damn heads been torn off. Ouch! As a kid that really freaked me out, headless bodies were always scary. The movie carrys on with just hints of our monsters, but also Corman adds a new wrinkle to the giant monster gag. Apparently, when these crabs eat you, they absorb your personality and are able to speak telepathically to the other people on the island. No, I'm not kidding, why do you ask? The acting is B movie caliber (the professor from Gilligan's Island is featured here) and the dialogue is a hoot. The crab monsters themselves are hokey as hell, but its all in good fun. Mostly nostalgia for me, but I think you'd get a kick out of it. Fun: 5, Scares: 1, Effects: 1

2.) Beast from Haunted Cave - 1959
Directed by Corman protege Monte Hellman, this movie was so low budget that they couldn't even afford the word "The" in the title! Actually, this movie ambitiously attempts to weave together a story involving a small band of low rent criminals, lead by a misogynist boss, who are plotting a gold heist in a North Dakota mining town. There's also a ski resort in this little town, and that's where most of the story takes place. The movie spends an inordinate amount of time and energy developing the characters of these thugs, the handsome ski instructor hero, and the put upon gal pal of the gang leader. So much time in fact that they never get around to explaining anything about the "beast". Really, no back story at all. The monster in the brief sequences we actually see it (which are all nearly at the end of the 80 minute film) appears to be a wraith like skeleton thingy with spider legs. Yes, really. It first attacks a bar maid who is out on a make out date with one of our ne'er do wells. They take their passion up to the cave where the gang is planning to plant a bomb that will serve as a distraction when they knock over the ol' gold storage depot in town. She gets, uh, well I'd guess you'd say absorbed by what looks like floating cobwebs, and her Casanova gets freaked and runs out of the cave back to the gangs hotel room. Somehow this incident causes the thug to develop some sort of psychic bond with the beast and he's bedeviled by this the remainder of the movie. Now, there was an extremely interesting scene that I swear must have been the inspiration for James Cameron's Alien. The beast takes its victims and cocoons them along the cave walls, leaving them alive to serve as snack packs when it gets the urge to drink blood. Oh, yeah, didn't I tell you, the spider legged skeleton thing sucks blood. Eventually, the ski instructor and the mob girl end up together after having dispatched the beast, who has, of course, killed everybody else. The End. Fun: 4, Scares: 0, Effects: 1

3.) Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte - 1964
So this is the first of my aforementioned horror/wacky films, but I'm actually stunned to find that it's not that wacky, in fact, its a damn, good movie! The cast is/was A-List Hollywood: Bette Davis, Joseph Cotton, Olivia DeHaviland, Victor Buono, Bruce Dern, and a host of other character actors that most of us have seen in dozens of movies from this era. Shit, it even has a classic flaw, like Welle's Citizen Kane. In the opening scene we are treated to an overlay that tells us the year is 1927. Remember that as I set up the movie here. This movie, expertly directed by Robert Aldrich, keenly weeves together a classic "whodunit", with elements of horror, and the well traveled story of family greed and treachery. The basic set up begins in 1927 when Charlottes father (Buono)learns that his only child has been having an affair with a married man. He confronts that man (Dern) and under threat of physical harm, directs him to cut off the relationship and hit the road. Just after the break up has taken place, during an elaborate plantation ball scene, Dern is brutally attacked by someone with a meat cleaver and killed. Charlotte enters the ballroom party shortly after, covered in blood, and the main storyline of the movie is complete. However, in the next scene we jump to the year 1964 and as we pan over the graveyard just outside of the plantation, we see the young man's headstone which is inscribed with the year 1928 as the date of his death! Yet, the opening scene clearly states that it was 1927. Just a little screw up. Enough of that. This movie is incredibly shot, and by that I mean the lighting, and the cinematography of the black and white print is just superb. The noir aspects and angles, the deep shadows, the use of moving cameras, all add to the mounting suspense and bolts of horror that dot the film. The actors, as previously stated, are f'ing phenomenal, and the storyline and dialogue are captivating. I saw this film originally when I was about 10 or 11 on "Friday Night at the Movies" which I think was on CBS. Man, those were the days. Anyway, I don't want to tell too much about the plot because there are so many potential spoilers. This one is definitely worth the watch. Just a little final factoid: This movie was the sequel to "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane", which featured Davis paired with Joan Crawford. The film was a massive success, but apparently Crawford's total Diva attitude got her thrown off the next film. Imagine that? Something about wire coat hangers, I think. Fun: 7, Scares: 8, Effects: 6

4.) 28 Days Later - 2002
Zombie movie anyone? You gotta' have at least one of these in your seasonal viewing or it just doesn't feel right. This Danny Boyle entry into the long line of walking dead films adds one new feature to the zombie myths. Danny's ghouls can run, and fast! These bastards don't just come shuffling up after you, they strap on their Nikes and haul ass! That gives this movie some real scary moments that other dead movies just don't. After all, how many of us have watched these zombie flix and wondered, "why don't you just run off, they'll never catch you, look at 'em, their slow as shit!". But Nooooooooo, not these Olympic caliber cadavers, they're on the move big time. My only real complaint with this movie is that there's just not enough scenes of the zombies. It's big on characters and does flesh each of them out nicely which gives us empathy, but there's too few scares along the way. Not a waste of time, but not as good as some other zombie movies of the decade. The remake of Dawn of the Dead comes to mind as one of the better ones, but don't blow 28 Days Later off, go ahead and watch it, just don't expect too much. Fun:4, Scares:5, Effects:6

5.) Whatever Happened to Baby Jane - 1963
Okay, remember I prefaced this year with the new wacky broad category? Well this flick is the mother of all those films. This was the first film of this kind, at least that I'm aware of, and it set the bar for the similar films to come. Here Bette Davis and Joan Crawford turn in performances that literally stunned audiences when it was released in 1964. Why? Mainly because most movie goers familiar with these two Hollywood icons were shocked, not so much with the story, but more at the way the two actresses appeared. Especially Davis who was the definition of run down, used up, bitter, and drunk ex-child star. The story is both a mystery and a thriller leading the viewer astray throughout the picture. The storyline revolves around Davis' character, a huge child star in the 1920's, doted on by her father; and Crawford's character, the sister who goes on to become a huge movie star in the 1940's, after Davis' child star turn has run it's course. One evening after a Hollywood party, the two are involved in an accident that clearly intimates that one of the sisters tried to kill the other, but only maimed her instead. We flash to the present time where Crawford is wheel chair bound and nearly a prisoner of Davis in their aging Hollywood home. Both actresses are superb, but Davis is truly amazing. Hadn't seen this one in decades, and it was worth the watch, although the sequel, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte in my view was the better film. Fun:5, Scares:4, Effects: N/A

6.) The Body Snatcher - 1945
If you only know Boris Karloff as the lumbering, bolt necked monster creation of Dr. Frankenstein, then you, like me, are in need of an education! The story here is a fictional piece built around the true life exploits of Burke and Hare, the 18th Century grave robbers who devolved into murder in their practice of supplying bodies to medical doctors for research. Here Karloff plays Cabman Gray, by day a London cabbie, and by night a grave robbing entrepreneur. He holds a evil control over a well known and respected Doctor who teaches anatomy at the university. The film hints at an alliance of the two men earlier in life before the good Doctor elevated his stature. Karloff plays this part like a master, he is truly menacing and projects sinister intent during the course of what appears to be normal conversation. He is always smiling, laughing, and joking but just beneath this pleasant demeanor lies a tangible and frightening evil. In one scene at a local pub, Karloff invites the Doctor and his young protege to his table for a drink. Right away we see that the Doctor is quite uncomfortable, although Karloff appears affable and polite. I swear, watching Karloff in this scene made ME uncomfortable. His delivery of each line of dialogue is truly frightening. The story basically grapples with the morality of the time: the ghoulish practice of grave robbing for the sake of medical advancement and knowledge, but also threads together the two characters and the class distinctions that cannot mask the brutal similarity between them. Wonderfully scripted, well acted and filmed, The Body Snatcher is, for its time, a scary movie. The final scene is a real shocker. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot, Bela Lugosi has a small role here as a half wit assistant to the Doctor, and it's very entertaining to see the two horror movie giants of their time sharing a few scenes. Fun: 7, Scares: 7, Effects: 3

7.) Bedlam - 1946
Uh, oh!! Miscue alert!! This ain't a horror movie, hell, it's not even a thriller, or a mystery, or a suspense movie. It's sort of a, uh, what would you call it? A historical fiction movie perhaps? Here's the deal, this film was included in the Val Lewton "horror" collection that I just purchased so I made a natural assumption that it would at least try to be scary. Not. It stars Boris Karloff again, and after having just watched (and loved) The Body Snatcher from this same collection, I was looking forward to another dose of the non flat headed Karloff doing his thing. Now, Karloff is excellent again in this movie playing the role of the head of the notorious asylum Bedlam. This movie basically tells the tale of the infamous asylum, known for brutal treatment of the patients, and the steps that lead to its reforms. But trust me, there is not one frightening moment in the film. Although Karloff is good and really shows off his acting skills, there's just no "gotcha" moments. Anna Lee stars as the young ingenue who begins the film as an escort to a nobleman and ends up being committed to Bedlam where she transforms herself into a crusading reformist. It would be one thing if the film ever gave us shots of Karloff terrorizing the patients, or brutalizing them in some way, but this is never shown and so it's hard to get into the reform end of the story. Anyway, let's not dwell here. Forget this one and lets go cleanse our palette with some REAL horror. Fun: 1, Scares: 0, Effects: N/A

The next cavalcade of films, 10 in all, were watched during an eyeball popping 48 hour horror session in New York City with my son Cory. We do this every year, but usually we have more time so we can space the carnage out, but desperate times call for desperate viewing so here we go................................

8.) Cabin In The Woods - 2012
Well, finally, an entry that occurred in this decade! Wow, what a ride this movie is. Smart, funny, shocking, and quickly paced, Cabin is another in the genre of "knowing" horror films pioneered by Wes Craven's Scream series. In other words, the characters and the audience are in on the cliches and gimmicks that occupy the horror movie world. But Cabin takes a whole new turn on this schtick and ramps it up 200%. Filled with homages, winks, and nods to dozens of horror movies that we've seen, Cabin gives us a whole new look into why things happen the way they happen in the horror movie universe. Not going to put too much more info out there on this one, I want you to see it for yourself and let it take you by surprise the way it did me. In a good way, too! Clearly this is my front runner so far for the best entry into this years marathon. The actors are all competent, if not really good, and many of these you've seen multiple other films. Most notably, Chris Hemsworth (Thor), playing the obligatory "jock" role. All the other horror movie character stereotypes are here as well, the loose girl, the virgin, the stoner, the jock, etc. However, Cabin plays with our expectation of these stereotypes by giving the characters depth beyond the expected role. It's hard to explain, but once you see it you'll know what I'm talking about. Go out and rent it this Halloween season, you'll be glad you did! Fun:9, Scares:8, Effects: 8

9.) Creature from the Black Lagoon - 1958
The 1950's brought to us a vast variety of science fiction films, most fixated on the universe beyond our world, alien life, other planets, space travel, and man's quest for understanding. Others focused on the fear of nuclear war and it's aftermath here on earth including all manner of mutations of plants and animals. Some of these films were first rate, others were pure crap, and only a precious few gave us any lasting character or horror icon. Unquestionably the most popular of this era was The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The last of the big 13, as they were known to us Aurora model builders, The Creature was one of Universals last forays into films that featured an iconic monster. I was fortunate enough this year to catch this film in its original 3-D format on the big screen and it was a delight! Corny by today's standards sure, but the pure innocence of the presentation and the wonderful invention of the Creature character give this movie a lasting impact. Directed by Jack Arnold, who was at the helm of at least a dozen sci-fi films during this era, the movie wastes no time in getting to our story. Scientists searching for geological and biological specimens in the Amazon discover the existence of a prehistoric "man fish" in the fabled Black Lagoon. That's it, the rest of the movie follows suit with the Universal formula. You know, you always sympathize with the monster in a Universal film, they always had such pathos! If you get a chance like I did to see this on the big screen, in 3-D, grab it! Totally worth the price of admission. Fun: 8, Scares: 2, Effects: 5

10.) The Thing (remake #2) - 2011
In 1951 a small but truly remarkable film hit the theaters. All about a group of snow bound researchers and military personnel in the Arctic who had uncovered a large, unidentified craft buried deep beneath the ice, and, not far from this site, the frozen body of what appeared to be some humanoid type creature. As they thaw out the frozen visitor they quickly become aware of their mistake: he's still alive, not friendly at all, and bent on a rampage to destroy all those around him/it. Simple enough, huh? In the 1980's, John Carpenter remade this movie. Keeping the basic story intact, Carpenter added an interesting plot device. In his version, the alien could "take over" or assume the life form of those that it came in contact with. Dogs, humans, it didn't seem to matter. This added to the suspense of the film because the characters, nor we, ever knew who was human and who was alien. Well, here in the new millennium this film has been remade yet again but adds nothing to either of its predecessors. Well done, well acted, decent script and good locations but ultimately empty of advancing anything new or better than the superior Carpenter version. This film portends to be a prequel of sorts, recounting events that lead up to the storyline of the Carpenter movie. Not really sure why, I guess just so the writers and directors could claim some sort of originality. Watchable, but not worth it. Stick with the two previous versions, you'll be glad you did. Fun: 5, Scares:6, Effects: 7

11.) Sinister - 2012
Hot off the presses, this one was just released while I was in NYC for my annual horror movie marathon that I do with my son each year. Didn't really know what to expect from this one, not many trailers available or promotions, but hey, they had the balls to release it in October instead of banishing it to the graveyard of January/February releases. So, we figgered it had to have something going for it and in many ways it did. An unsettling little movie about a crime novelist (Ethan Hawke) who has had a 10 year drought since his last hit book. Specializing in writing books about real life murders that have not been adequately resolved by law enforcement, Hawke's character moves his family to each town where the murders occurred and moves into houses down the street or in the same neighborhood as the victim. This causes a great deal of stress within his family as they deal with the difficulties of relocation. But this time he takes it a step further and actually moves his family into the very same house where a mass murder of an entire family took place. Naturally, he's not in a big hurry to disclose this information to his family. Slowly, but with definite intent, the plot thickens as he comes to learn that this house, and these particular murders, are not quite what he thought. Basically a haunted house movie, the story also integrates elements of the Satanic and cultism. There are some definite scare moments, several times my heart jumped, and that rarely happens to me. It's not the Exorcist, but Sinister has its moments. Warning, it does deal with the murder of children, and the Satanic manipulation of children, so if that sort of thing bugs you, then you better pass on this one. Fun: 3, Scares: 8, Effects: 6

12.) The Loved Ones - 2010
Another in what I've come to call suburban terror films, this Australian entry into the genre was an unexpected treat. Well, if you can call a movie that contains a scene with someone using a power drill on someone elses head a treat. Here's the deal, our hero, high school stoner Brent is suffering the post traumatic stress of having been in a car accident that killed his father. They swerved off the road to avoid running down a blood soaked teen who was aimlessly wandering down the middle of the highway. Flash forward to Brent as the constantly stoned, sad eyed, boyfriend of hottie girl friend Holly and their plans to go to the Senior Prom. One day at his locker he is approached by a girl we have not seen yet, who asks him to the Prom. He declines politely and heads off to class,while the camera pans to the face of the anonymous girl who has been dejected. Clearly, we can see that shit ain't right in her head! The next thing we see is Brent being kidnapped by an older man and thrown into a car. Fade to black............and when the light go up people, strap on your seat belts and take your stomach pills 'cause it's gonna' be a furious ride from here on out. Brutal, shocking, and relentless the story proceeds with clear nods to House on the Left, Texas Chainsaw, People Under the Stairs, and a host of others. Not stealing, but paying homage to these films, The Loved Ones keeps its originality intact, and is mainly held together by the fab performance of Robin McLeavly as Lola, the homicidal, spoiled, and disturbed would be Prom Queen. This is a keeper, kids, but not for the faint. Fun: 3, Scares: 8, Effects: 5

13.) King Kong - 1933
Ordinarily, this wouldn't be one of my go to Halloween films. Oh, I like it and all, that's not it, it's just that I've seen it SO many times in my life starting as an 8 year old that I just don't feel drawn to it, especially when I'm trying to cram in so much "not seen yet" material into my limited time of film viewage. But, couldn't pass up the opportunity to see it for the first time on the big screen at a theater in NYC. As I've said before in other blogs, when you get a chance to see movies that you only know on the small scale in the way they were originally intended, you grab it! And it did not disappoint. I won't belabor the story here , y'all know it and if you don't or if you only know it from that travesty of a needless remake by Peter Jackson, then nothing I say here is gonna' get you motivated. It's a classic, the stop motion animation by  Willis O'Brien is just, uh, what's that you say? You thought it was Ray Harryhausen that did the animation? Well, you're not alone, I think that's a common misconception that most casual film fans make. Harryhausen was an assistant to O'Brien on King Kong and that's where he learned the craft which of course he would perfect over the next several decades. But the fabulous and, for its time, groundbreaking special effects make the film a historic event. Remember, this is 1933 kids and audiences had never seen anything like this in a movie before. Kind of like truth in a Mike Moore film. Sorry, couldn't help myself! Nuff said, King Kong rocks! Fun: 9, Scares:3, Effects: 9

14.) Martyrs - 2008
Okay, each year Cory and I challenge ourselves and our stomachs with at least one film that pushes the envelope. Human Centipede, Inside, Hostel, have been but a few of our self punishing outings. Now these flicks aren't our cups of tea, but we feel that if we don't explore this extreme side of horror, than we're not really basking in the entirety of the genre and therefore may not be quite as informed as we should be. (did they buy that? really, are they buying that??) I'm not sure if that's a load of shit or what, but for whatever reason we try and pick an extreme movie each Halloween season. This film we actually had our mitts on for three years before we watched it. I think the online reviews freaked us out or something, but we manned up this year and plunked ourselves down in front of the flat screen and readied for the worst. Well before the film even starts there's a damn disclaimer by the director who is on screen apologizing in advance for what we are about to watch!So now we're really feeling tense.But as it turns out, we had over hyped ourselves. Sure, pretty brutal stuff here, but still not on sick/weird scale with Centipede and Inside, or even Audition. It's a story about child abuse, revenge, insanity, and a secret society of old people who are looking for evidence of "life on the other side". No, I'm not kidding. This film really takes a weird turn about half way in. At first we're focused on one of the two female leads who was a captive victim of a serial child abuser for years. She manages to escape the physical imprisonment, but is clearly forever lost in a nuthouse in her head. She grows up to track down the culprits, finds them and brutally blows them all to hell with a shotgun. Now, her friend, whom she met in an asylum, has been her defacto caretaker for most of her life til now, and she is presented to us as the "voice of sanity and reason" of this duo. I don't know, probably not worth going into a lot of the details because most of you will never watch it. But, having set it up for you as one of our guilty extreme displeasure's, it's worth telling you that the story is pretty interesting and it does engage you to watch while giving you all manner of reasons not to! Hit the Pepto Bismol and then put it on, if you dare. Fun: 0, Scares: 5, Effects: 5

15.)  Frankenweenie -2012
A full length feature film based on the 1984 short film that Tim Burton did while working for the Walt Disney Company. Inspired by Burton's love and appreciation for the classic Universal Monster films of the 30's and 40's, Frankenweenie is the the stop motion animated story of a young boy, Victor Frankenstein, who attempts to reanimate his dead dog after it is run over by a car. Outside of having some pretty impressive stop motion work, this movie is totally unnecessary. Whoever was charged with "fleshing out the story" from the original Burton worked clearly missed on all sorts of morality angles. The basic lesson here, if you need one, is: Your dog's dead? No worries, don't learn to cope with grief, or confront the mortality of us all, just blast the friggin' Fido full of electricity and, Oi la! You have your mutt back. Really, not much real thought went into this script and the movie is clearly confused on who it is supposed to be playing to. Not witty or sophisticated enough to keep adults interested or entertained, and too dark and weird for most little kids, Frankenweenie seems lost in a search for an audience. It's a shame that Burton's love for the source material didn't materialize here in more clever ways. Basically, it's black and white, its the Frankenstein story, and there's some characters that pay homage to the classics. But beyond that, totally forgettable. Fun: 3, Scares: 0, Effects: 5

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Halloween Movie Marathon 2010

   Okay, in what is sure to be one of the weirdest things I've ever done, I shall proceed to recast    my 2010 Halloween Horror Movie Marathon in the year 2012!!! For one reason or another, I never blogged out my viewing of this wonderful year, so to rectify this travesty, I shall attempt to recapture that bygone era with this entry. Now, we're almost at our new marathon for 2012, so I'm gonna' have to really put the pedal to the metal to get these 27 films documented prior to my new session. I know, you're thinkin' "well that's all good about 2010, but what the f happened to 2011?? Good thing your on top of your game Sparky, last year was nearly a total waste. Personal and professional disturbances on an epic level left me totally drained and unable to watch, much less pontificate about, a ghastly grouping of ghostly, uh, let me see, well shit, I guess there is no "g" word for movies or films. Crap, I hate when that happens. But, Seeker, let's leave all that jazz behind and forge onward into the past and on to the future all in one thrill seeking blog dedicated to my singular love of this wonderful Halloween season!!

Arachnopobia - 1990
Hate spiders? Annoyed by spiders? Think spiders are the worst damn thing that you could ever find in your bed in the middle of the damn night when you're trying to not be afraid of spiders???? Then, true believer, this movie is the film for you. Fun, frightening, fast, and fact based, Arachnophobia plays on one of the most widely shared phobias of our generation: Friggin' spiders are friggin scary! This film truly plays this fear to the hilt as it builds a clearly Speilbergian foundation story of a young, big city doctor, transplanted to a small, rural town in New England, to replace the aging and ailing town doctor. This story line is crisply placed on top of the back story of an expedition to the South American rain forests by a team of  scientists in search of  various cures related to legendary "giant" spider species. Well, one thing leads to another and a giant "bird catcher" spider bites and kills one of the researchers and hitchhikes in his casket back to the States right to the very town where our young, novice, town doctor is setting up shop. Soon townies are dropping like flies and the fun and frights begin. A decent performance by Jeff Daniels as the transplanted doctor who, oh yeah, has a lifelong fear of, you guessed it, spiders. John Goodman turns in a good cameo as an eccentric and dedicated pest control engineer. Once the action gets going it never lets up till the end. This is a really fun and light film to start off your season of scares. Fun: 10; Scares: 8; Effects: 9

Countess Dracula - 1971
Okay, no Academy nods for this tired film. Loosely, and I mean in the extreme of the word, based on the story of Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory who reportedly bathed in the blood of more than 600 girls during her time. Basically this is a Hammer wannabe film: good sets, nice cinematography, and the actors actually don't appear to be phoning it in. But all that can't overcome the shear "not scary at all"-ness of the movie. Light nudity here and there, as was the rage back in the late 60's and early 70's, and starring Ingrid Pitt, a horror film stalwart back in the day, the movie plods along with the story of how the Countess conspires with her evil Sergeant-At-Arms to kidnap and kill the local town virgins in an effort to retain immortal youth. Naturally, her murderous ways are uncovered by her current boy friend and she, like this films, sort of peters out into dust. Not one of my favorites, but not throw up bad either. Fun: 3, Scares: 2, Effects: 3

The Crazies - 2010
At the time, this movie was brand spankin' new, and unfortunately, that's about the best thing I can say about it!! A remake of the George Romero chestnut, the plot centers around a "anytown" USA in rural America that inexplicably is beset by occurrences of random violence by otherwise normal town residents. Basically just another zombie movie with few slight nuances, The Crazies initial opening scene set us up for what appears to be a real thrill ride. Not. It goes like this, during a local Saturday afternoon little league baseball game, a dazed and stumbling town resident appears in the outfield heading towards the mound carrying a shotgun. This is no call to the bull pen, however, the resident is clearly "zomba-fied" (pale, greenish skin, oozing blood and black stuff from all orifices, you know the drill), does not respond when our hero, aptly performed by Timothy Oliphant, confronts him and tries to make him drop his weapon. This conversation escalates until Oliphant (oh, yeah, he's the town Sheriff) has to shoot the dude in the face in front of the all the spectators and participants at the game. Truly and awesome and intense scene, but from then on, the film just becomes a succession of this scene. There's a bunch of blah, blah, and intrigue when the big, bad, Government boys step in to quarantine the town and play fast and lose with the story of a "toxic" occurrence that may have something to do with these episodes of mass murder. But, as a wise man once said, "you've seen it all before". The movie never really picks up any pace, it just meanders to the end. Fun: 4, Scares: 5, Effects: 8

The Collector - 2009
Now this is the kind of new horror film that we fans trod through hours of bullshit movies hoping to find. The rare combination of the introduction of a new "monster" character, a smart, original, and well written story, and a well directed film. The trifecta!! The Collector has an insidiously clever plot device: a reformed house burglar trying to remain on the straight path is forced into one last job to pay off his ex-wife's gambling debts with the mob. Michael Reilly Burke turns in a fabulous performance as our haunted, ex-con who now works as a security alarm installer on a home remodeling assignment. In the initial scenes we are introduced to the family that owns the home, their various story lines, and their interactions and bonding of sorts with our protagonist. The back story is very solid and that's a rare find in itself for most horror films. Now, we get to the chase; our ex-con has reluctantly make the decision to burglarize the family when they are away over the weekend, BUT, unknown to him is the fact that before he gets there to do HIS thing, another more dangerous, more vile, more evil and more vicious perpetrator is in the house doing HIS thing. And HIS thing is gruesome!! Now our hero has to make the moral choice to continue his burglary in an effort to free his family from the clutches of the mob, or save the innocent family members from this crazed serial killer!! Is that awesome, or what? A minor negative to this otherwise fab horror film is it's "torture porn" sequences. I believe the film makers could have pulled off the movie without these, but, they don't detract too much from the shear power of the rest of the movie.Overall it's well worth the viewing, and it'll scare you. Fun: 9, Scares: 9, Effects: 9

Drag Me To Hell - 2009
Oh, that damn Sam Raimi, he's a character! This is nearly classic Raimi in all respects and a welcome return to his roots as a horror film writer and director. Gypsy curses, pesky insects, ugly witches, seances, you name it, this one's got it. Basic story, struggling and ambitious bank clerk, played by Alison Lohman, unwittingly rejects a loan application from an old, gypsy woman who is trying  to avoid being evicted from her home. Lohman, in the process, also deeply offends the cultural sensibilities of the gypsy and "shames her", and this is the turning point of the plot. The gypsy places a curse on Lohman that makes her the target of demonic, dark spirits who, in 3 days time, will "drag her to hell" if she does not make amends. Well, in a real piece of shit luck for our heroine, when she finally tracks down the old woman to apologize and set things right: the old lady is DEAD! Crazy film work, frenetic Raimi scene cuts, great effects, and a strong cast with well written dialogue make this one a winner. Plays slightly more for fun the for fright but it's a great ride. Fun: 9, Scares: 7, Effects: 8

Eden Lake - 2008
Have you seen Straw Dogs? Last House on the Left? Funny Games? The Hills Have Eyes? Okay then, you've got the foundation of this smartly crafted but not so original entry into the "family terrorized by hedonistic, sadistic, hooligans" genre. A husband and wife just want to get away for a little romantic bonding at a remote wooded lake in the countryside. Once there, they are confronted by a group of local punk kids who appear to be just flexing there teenage delinquent muscles. At first they are easily dispersed by the husband who is older, and not afraid of them, and physically built enough to deter the rowdies.........for the moment that is. Quickly things escalate into a cat and mouse game of chase. Eventually the teen terrors capture and torture the couple in an extreme manner. During one of the breaks in the torture, the wife manages to escape and the remainder of the film to it's climax is built around her battle to survive the continued pursuit of the hooligans, avenge her husband, and find any one to help her to safety. Well written and acted, with more than a handful of "edge of your seat" moments, Eden Lake is a respectable thriller that'll keep you interested, even if you are not bowled over by it's originality. Fun: 4, Scares: 7, Effects: 5

The Flesh and the Fiends - 1959
Time for a throwback film, too many current things so far, need to bathe in the innocent era of the 50's! Peter Cushing's great, I don't care what any one says. No matter how good or bad the film, and he's been in both, Cushing NEVER turns in a phoned in performance. Here we've got a semi-historical docu-drama about the story of Burke and Hare, the infamous grave robbers and murderers of 18th century England. Cushing plays Doctor Robert Knox, the surgeon who's quest for medical breakthroughs led him down the dark path of accessory to murder. Good ol' Donald Pleasence plays Hare, and I swear, I can't watch him in any movie without expecting him to break into one of his over acted Michael Myers soliloquies!! Anyway, this is a good small film and truly is horrifying when you reflect on the era and what people would do for money, and what others would do for science. Starting with simple grave robbing to supply Roberts with the bodies he needs for medical experiments, Hare and Burke quickly turn to murder as a more expeditious way to provide the "fresh" cadavers that Roberts pays extra for. Soon, as to be expected, the pair deliver the body of some one that Roberts knows and the moral dilemma soon unravels the unholy alliance between the three. Good stuff, easy to get through, and as I said before, Cushing is a master. Fun: 5, Scares: 4, Effects: 3

Frankenstein Created Woman - 1967
Let's try and remember what I just said about Peter Cushing as we review this next deep, pile of steaming turd. Bless his heart, he gives it everything he's got, but friggin' Olivier couldn't act this movie into relevance. Let's see, it's basically an updated version of the Bride of Frankenstein, made by Hammer Studios in the era of their decline and eventual demise, the late 60's. It incorporates, clumsily, elements of: life after death, the existence of the soul, the tempestuous balance of science and nature, transsexuals, adultery, revenge, and of course, beer. You may be thinking that I'm off my rocker here, and for the most part you'd be right regardless of my review, but I'm tellin' you the truth. It still has the imprint of all that was and is good about Hammer productions: fantastic sets and costumes; well written and delivered dialogue; and the direction of Terrance Fisher, who was the king of Hammer productions. Much like Cushing, he gives the material his all, even when it clearly is rubbish. I don't often do this, but I recommend you not waste your time with this film, perhaps if you can stream it for free, but only if it's free. Fun: 4 (just for Cushing's acting), Scares: 0, Effects: 2

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires - 1967
Heysoos Marimba!! To coin Nicholson's Joker, what is there to truly summarize the magnificent malignancy of this stinker!!! Dracula, check. Van Helsing, check. Kung Fu zombies, check. Hey!! What the F???? Kung Fu Zombies?!?! Yes, children, it's true, the once mighty Hammer Films at this point in their history was reduced to recycling footage from obscure Japanese horror films and inter-cutting them with new footage featuring the acting prowess of Peter Cushing. God, was there anything this man wouldn't do (well) for a paycheck? I'm not gonna' waste too much of my prowess for prose on this surreal and terrible movie. If I advised you to see it, it would be merely for the exercise of seeing if you'd be as stunned as I was when I watched it. Truly horrible.  For the record, this film and the former were packaged together as a double feature, so at least there was an economy to the stinkage. Fun: 0, Scares: 0, Effects: 0

Mark of the Vampire - 1932
Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, and some broad I'd never heard of in a film, that for years, really several years, I (as a dumb kid hopelessly addicted to Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine) had seen the still pictures from and had for that same amount of years assumed it was some Dracula movie that I had missed. Crazy to finally have watched it and understood that it was basically a send up of sorts of the whole Bela/Dracula thing. It turns out that it's a mystery, misdirection, semi-thriller type film about some heirs fighting over an estate with one of the heirs trying to "scare" the other ones away ala "Scooby-Doo". Harmless, unpretentious, and directed with style by Todd Browning it's worth a nostalgic viewing if only, like me, your wondering where all those fantastic still shots came from!! Fun: 7, Scares: 0, Effects: N/A

Let the Right One In - 2008
Let Me In - 2010
Two films for the price of one, hey? What we have here is the original Swedish production, released in 08, and it's American counterpart released in 2010. Both equally impressive on different planes. The original film had, duh, originality going for it. A truly moving and inspired story of a young boy subjected to bullying from his classmates who chances to meet and become involved with a vampire. Now, the hook is that this vampire is forever destined to be 12 years old, the same age as the boy, but is in reality decades older. Truly touching and horrifying at the same moment, this film reaches you on a very visceral level. The girl, at times innocent and coy, and at others animalistically violent and unchained; the boy, troubled and put upon, and yet somehow aware and wise beyond his years. There are several elements to the story that are also intriguing, not the least of which is the young girl vampires middle aged caretaker (he keeps her safe and supplies here with blood so she, herself, does not have to go out and hunt) who is clearly aging and unable to continue with the duties with which he is charged. Later in the film(s) you begin to realize that he, like the new boy, was introduced to our girl vampire at a young age and now has to relinquish his role. All and all, several of these elements are very strong and moving. I recommend both films highly, but the original is clearly superior. Oh, yeah, the final scene in the pool house will blow your mind! Fun: 4, Scares: 9, Effects: 8

The Mummy's Shroud - 1967
This film is part of a double feature Hammer Collection release that I tirelessly searched out on line since they had been discontinued several years back. Eh, perhaps I should use my time more wisely. Now, it's not horrible, just not the Hammer top tier. Made in 1967, The Mummy's Shroud was the last Hammer film to be shot at the Bray Studios and marked the end of that 16 year collaboration. Clearly, parting from Bray Studios hastened the end of Hammer Films. But, on with the movie. Is there any point in going over the overused plot? Archaeologists breach the tomb of sacred and cursed Pharaoh and blah, blah. Good acting here, in spite of the "you've seen this Mummy movie a dozen times or more". Most notably Andre Morell taking over the duties for Peter Cushing and the strained, maniacal over acting by Catherine Lacy as Hayiti,a crystal ball gazing gypsy/witch, clearly lifted from the Maleva character in Universal's original Wolf Man, but on steroids. Really, I cracked up every scene she was in, you have to see it to believe it. Anyway, the movies got the usual line up of characters: intrepid scientists, beautiful daughter, dashing young hero guy, crazy Mummy tomb protector (always full of piss and vinegar and threats using the word "doom" alot) and this bunch is completed by your classic zipper backed stumbling Mummy. Again, not one of Hammer's best outings, but watchable. Fun:7, Scares:3, Effects: 2

Plague of the Zombies - 1966
This second feature of the aforementioned set also stars Andre Morell, turning in a solid performance in a movie that does not demand it. A marginal zombie film, this one used as it's marketing campaign "Drums! Voodoo!! Drums! Death!! Drums! Zombies!!!" flashing across the screen while, you got it, drums play heatedly in the background. The story is about a small town in the English countryside beset by some epidemic that is causing the recently dead to reanimate. Now, unlike the Romero take on this, the movie stays with the more time tested Voodoo curse aspect and of course a cult made up of the town leaders who are hell bent on using the cheap zombie labor to work in the gem mines beneath their respective Estates. Hmmmm, sounds like a political statement, don't it? Pretty good make up on the zombies, the usual staples that we've come to depend on from Hammer, sets, costumes, music, and a tolerable story. Fun: 4, Scares:3, Effects:3

The Orphanage - 2007
It's hard to do a ghost story in the modern era, but Guillermo Del Toro pulls it off with and abundance of style, story, and scares. The story centers around a woman who returns to the orphanage where she spent a good portion of her childhood. Whilst screwing around with things best left unscrewed around with, she let's loose a bunch of evil spirits that proceed to creep her, and us, out for the remainder of the film. Part mystery, part thriller, part horror, the pacing is adequate to the task of moving through all of these parts. A creepy little kid with a sack over his head is the main freak factor and does not disappoint. I've had the luck to stumble upon a few good ghost movies over the recent years, but this one may be the best. The cinematography is awesome, the sets and period piece costumes are artfully done, and the acting is top drawer even though you've never heard of any of the actors. It's a Spanish production so you have to deal with the subtitles, but no worries, there's not that much dialogue anyway. Fun: 5, Scares: 7, Effects: 8

Blood of Dracula - 1957
Not to be confused with the far superior Hammer Film "Taste the Blood of Dracula", this is the Samuel Arkoff low budget dung heap that at least serves to educate you on just how bad production values can be. Let's see, the story is about a girls school, run by a overpowering Headmistress who of course dabbles in the occult. No, I'm serious, but this is no Susperia. Basically she seeks to control the minds and will of her student body for no particular purpose other than to provide the movie with some sort of plausible excuse. Starring no one in particular and directed by the shlock meister Herman Cohen, Blood of Dracula has unintentional, laugh out loud moments. The campy scenes of 50's era teens and their crazy lifestyles is mostly what gives the movie a reason to be watched. Other than that? It sucks. Fun: 6, Scares: 0, Effects: 1

The Satanic Rites of Dracula - 1973
First guy cleaning out old Hammer film room stuff:  "Hey, what do you think we should do with all these out takes and edits from Dracula A.D. 1972?" Next guy helping with the task: "Uh, I dunno, are they any good?" First Guy: "Well, no, actually they're really pieces of shit." Second Guy: "Okay, well, I guess we can give 'em to Hammer and let them make one more tired ass Dracula film."  This is pretty much the vibe I got from this latter day nod to the some of the greatest Dracula films ever made. Cushing and Lee are here, and Cushing does his Cushing thing, but the Lee scenes feel tired and also ran. Literally like many were out takes from the previous cruddy Drac film, A.D. 1972. This was the end for Hammer and it is painfully evident from beginning to end. No longer with Bray Studios, Hammer opts for location sets in and around London and it just doesn't feel "Hammer" like. No stunning sets, no fabulous period dress, and way too much emphasis on "swingin' London", render this Drac outing a mid to low grade attempt. Hell, Lee doesn't even sport the blood shot eye lenses that MADE his Dracula look!!! What's the deal there? Fun: 4, Scares: 2, Effects: 2

Serpent and the Rainbow - 1988
Wes Craven strives for respect in this definite departure from his previous films. Basking in the glory of the huge hit, Nightmare on Elm Street, Craven tries hard here to straddle genres. The story is loosely woven between disparate elements: the political upheaval in Haiti during the Doc Duvalier years, and the ancient practice of voodoo. Basically it's an A list cast for Craven with Bill Pullman in the lead role as a research doctor sent to Haiti to investigate a drug that allegedly brings people back from the dead. While doing so he becomes romantically involved with another local female doctor and slowly drawn in to the sinister underpinnings of the voodoo culture. All this while also pissing off the  Haitian police and the government higher ups. Perhaps all a little too ambitious for the skills that Craven actually has, the movie tends to unravel in reel 3. Up to that point it is pretty deliberate in it's approach with a taught storyline, building tension, and pacing that suits the creepy undertone of the subject matter. Then it seems like Craven just loses control, or can't figure out where to go, or how to wrap all of these elements up. The end scenes don't appear to even have been shot at the same time as the rest of the movie, everything from sets to cinematography seems different. All in all though, a brave attempt by Wes, but most of us are happy with his stock in trade. Stick with the straight on horror. Fun: 4, Scares: 6, Effects: 6

Count Yorga, Vampire - 1970
The 1970's really had it's share of campy, throwback, horror films, but Count Yorga somehow rose above the fray to become a "cult" classic. Believe it or not, I never saw this film until this year (2010), and it's easy for me to say now that I didn't really miss anything. Hell, The Night Stalker movie with Darren McGavin was a better vampire movie than this one, and it was on TV!! Now, it doesn't suck out loud, but it's just so full of that, uh, 70's thing that it's hard to watch now. Hippies, Volkswagen vans, crushed velvet jackets, mod hairdos, etc. etc.,. The whole story is basically Dracula 101, complete with updated castle, 3 ravenous brides, and a crusading doctor, whom no one believes, out to end the evil that is the vampire. Hey!! Don't Bogart that neck, my friend, pass it over to me! Fun: 3, Scares: 3, Effects: 2

The Addams Family - 2010
As many of you already know from previous marathons, I travel to NYC for a weekend each October to visit my son and the two of us watch an eye bleeding amount of films in 3 days. In addition, Cory usually tries to scope out an event or two that we can go to that stays within the theme but buys us blessed relief from sitting in his apartment watching back to back horror. This year we went to the Fontaine Theater on 46th & Broadway for the musical production of the beloved 60's TV series, The Addams Family. I can still remember how friggin' excited I was as a 10 year old when I saw the first ad's for the TV show. Man, it just didn't get any better than that. This musical, as musicals often do, keeps most of the flavor and the feel of the campy series and tries to add to the mythos with some of it's own input. Mainly in an effort to thread the songs in. Story? Who cares, it's all just a set up for the odd sense of humor of the Addam's and their kin. This musical was thoroughly enjoyable. It's still playing there although the cast has changed, however, I don't think that will matter since all are playing well known characters. Fun:9, Scares: N/A, Effects:8

Nightmare on Elm Street - 2010
I hated this movie before it came out. Sorry, don't like to prejudge, but some movies you just don't mess with. Case in point: Rob Zombie's sorry ass retelling of Halloween; Peter Jackson's ridiculous, overblown mess of King Kong; and now, into the needless remake column comes Nightmare on Elm Street. Seeking to "flesh out" the back story, always the bullshit conceit of these remake efforts, we are given new, and apparently, important insight into the character of Freddy Krueger. What these jackinapes don't understand is that it is precisely the aura of mystery of these characters that make them scary!!! To understand why they do what they do is to remove a good deal of the terror of what they do. This movie is a total piece of crap. It adds nothing to the original, and in many ways, drags down the source material. These remakes are simple money machines for studios and the uncreative people who make them to dupe a new generation into thinking they've stumbled onto something new. It's a joke. Watch the original, don't waste your time with this junk. Fun: 2, Scares: 2, Effects: 6

The Human Centipede - 2009
100% medically accurate. That was the tagline for the movie's marketing. I don't know what kind of a mind comes up with a story like this. I also don't know what kind of a person sits behind a desk and green lights a movie like this. And, more disturbing, I don't know why I was compelled to watch a movie like this. This is a " I got to take a shower immediately following" type movie. It's is beyond depraved, however, it is truly original in it's horrific premise. And what premise is that, you're asking? Trust me, you DO NOT WANT the answer. I'm not going to go in to the story, you can find that out on your own, just google the trailer and you'll get an idea of the madness that is this film. Now, having said all that, let's discuss the films merits. The dude who plays one of the best, I mean hands down, flat out, best deranged doctor I have ever seen is named Dieter Laser. Is that a great friggin' name or what? He is perfectly cast, and eerily seems like he's not acting at all, that this is the way he is! Freaky. The film is shot well, does not appear low budget, and the supporting cast, charged with what must be the most ridiculous role in history, put their heart into it and sell it to you. I can't imagine reading the script as an actor and saying "oh yeah, I was born to play the role of a guy/girl, with his mouth sewn to the ass of another guy/girl". Ooops, I accidentally gave away some of the thrilling plot. Watch this at your own peril. And what ever you do, don't order pizza to be delivered in the middle of it like my son and I did. It just takes all the fun out of the pizza. Fun: 0, Scares: 8, Effects: 8

I Sell the Dead - 2010
Certainly the best movie I've seen this session. Original, smart, funny as hell, and with some genuine Raimi like film technique. Set in the 19th century the story is of two grave robbers who are in the employ of a surgeon. Typical set up, yes? Like the previous movie, The Flesh and the Fiends, the premise remains the same. Doctor needs corpses, grave robbers need money, and neither has any moral confliction with the hows and whys of this arrangement. Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings) plays the young apprentice grave robber who grows up learning the "trade" from an older mentor played by Larry Fessenden. Angus Scrimm (the Tall Man from Phantasm) plays our good surgeon and reliable Ron Perlman plays the Irish monk who is sent to interview Monaghan in prison about his other worldly pursuits. Ah, but it's not just another grave robbing story as we learn when during the interview Monaghan confides to Perlman: "if there's one important thing I've learned while in the trade it's that you never, ever, trust a corpse." Truly this is the original part of the film as we learn that the grave robbers encounter all manner of the undead while pursuing their demented vocation. Zombies, witches, vampires, you name it, our intrepid pair run in to them all while trying to make a buck. I can't recommend this film enough, it'll make you laugh your ass off, and it has some genuine scary moments. Fun: 9, Scares: 7, Effects: 8

Frozen - 2010
Okay, this may very well be my 2nd favorite of this year. A small film that turns on a very simple plot device, one that all of us who have ever been on a ski lift have contemplated with anxiety. Three happy go lucky college kids are on a ski weekend before a holiday. Not content with the days skiing fortunes, one of the guys get the lift operator to allow them one more late night ride before the ski resort closes for the rest of the 3 day weekend. Bad move. The three start up and through some smartly conceived miscommunication, the lift is shut off half way up the mountain. This is where the terror begins. It's very primal and we can all relate to. The story proceeds with the three's thought processes and plans for rescue and/ or escape. I'm not going to give away any more, because as you watch it and the way it plays out, it's one of those films that will have you literally yelling at your TV trying to give the "heroes" the benefit of your omnipotence!! Watch it and love it. It'll definitely creep you out. Fun: 8, Scares: 9, Effects: 8

My Soul to Take - 2010
Wes Craven again and here's he's clearly trying to recapture some of the magic of Scream at the same time bringing in bits and pieces of Elm Street, Shocker, and a host of other Craven Classics. For example the main storyline is that in the town of Riverton Massachussetts, a serial killer known as the Riverton Ripper, proclaims the night before his execution that he will return to kill the children of the people who were responsible for his capture. Sound a little too familiar?? Well it ought to. From here Craven leads us back into the "whodunnit" meanderings of the popular Scream quadrilogy. Unfortunately, the audience is now more than wise to that shtick and is constantly trying to second guess every character and every event. It's tiresome for a viewer to be distracted by attempting to "solve" a movie. I like a movie to surprise me, not "plan" to surprise me, if you get the subtle difference. Well shot, it's very crisply directed, and the kids/actors are all competent and charming. Not a waste of time, but not a gem either. Fun: 4, Scares: 6, Effects: 7

Well, kids, as hard as it is for me to believe I actually completed this little time travel adventure, here we are at the end of 2010 and poised for a whole new month of horror in 2012. New marathon starts Oct.1, so stay tuned, and get ready to get your scare on!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Halloween Movie Marathon 2009

Halloween Movie Marathon - 2009!Is it just me, or does the world seem to be spinning around on its axis a hell of alot faster these days? I can't believe it's October again, my favorite month, and it's once again time for me to dive into an ocean of horror and sci-fi seasonal goodies. You know the drill by now, we're gonna' try and view 31 flicks in 31 days to celebrate the big, build up to Halloween.

As you can see by the picture here, I kinda' take it seriously! So, we stay with the same annual game plan, I'll feast my orbs on all manner of horror and sci-fi films from my own personal library, from classics to modern, horrific to horrible, and I'll follow them up with a quick review and a ratings scale for scares, fun and effects. My scale is from o 1 to 5, with 5 being the top. So fasten up your safety belts, Seekers, here we go into the wild, weird and wonderful Halloween Horror Movie Marathon!!

1.) Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - 2008 - Oct. 1Okay, so this films not really in the wheelhouse of horror anymore than Raiders of the Lost Ark, but I had to finish out the trilogy which started promisingly with The Mummy and quickly degenerated into this dismissible final installment. Where in the first one the writers and director clearly introduced horror elements and menacing situations, this latest outing is mainly a coaster ride of allegedly thrilling feats of daring do! Not. Brendan Fraser clearly just collecting a paycheck here as one of the only two returning original cast members. The others, no doubt, saw this debacle coming and beat it out of town! Jet Li is listed in the credits but I swear he's only really in the film for about 2 minutes. The rest of the time he is rendered as a CGI stone encrusted Mummy.Now, it's not a horrible movie to be sure, but it sure as heck ain't a good movie either, and it certainly is not a horror movie. So, I've entered the season on a soft note, cinematically speaking, and I promise to stay more in line as we progress. Scares: 1, Effects: 3, Fun: 2

2.) The Hideous Sun Demon - 1956 - Oct. 2

Written, directed, produced and starring Robert C. Clarke, this 1956 sci-fi chestnut ain't gonna' give Clint Eastwood any reason to worry. Basically an "anti-Wolfman" epic you can clearly see how Clarke was largely influenced (read that "liberally stole from") by the 1940's Universal classic. In Clarke's version our protagonist, after being exposed to, what else? Radiation in some freak lab accident, which apparently the movie's budget didn't allow for filming, becomes a reptilian creature when exposed to the Sun's rays. Try as he may to evoke sympathy from the viewer, ala most if not all of the classic Universal monsters, Clarke basically is not the actor he needs to be to pull it off. Not to mention the movie's kind of ridiculous anyway. However, it is a lot of fun to watch these mid 50's "atomic" warning movies. The make up for the Sun Demon is a stitch, again budget constraints only allow for the top half of our monster, so whenever he appears he's wearing trousers, a belt, and matching shoes!! Scares: 0, Effects: 1, Fun: 3

3.) Joy Ride - 2001 - Oct. 3
Now here's a fairly decent picture, 2001's Joy Ride stars Steve Zahn, Paul Walker and Leelee Sobieski as three cross country travelers terrorized by a menacing and anonymous trucker. It's sort of a nod to Spielberg's made for TV movie "Duel" which came out in the 70's. Plot? Yep, here goes: Zahn plays Walker's nere do well brother who, during a cross country drive, goads him into playing a mean prank on a lonely trucker over the CB radio. It's actually kind of fascinating that a movie made in 2001 would have CB radios as a plot device, it so 70's. Anyway, the prank goes bad when the trucker, lured to a motel on the promise of sex, ends up killing one of the guests. Soon he catches on to our two pranksters and proceeds to terrorize them throughout the remainder of the film. Sobieski joins in about 1/2 way into the movie, for what reason I'm not sure. Anyway, good scares in this one, nice mounting suspense, and of course, a wide open for a sequel ending. Scares: 3, Effects: 3, Fun: 3

4.) The Giant Claw - 1957 - Oct. 4
I recently purchased the Sam Katzman's Icons of Horror Collection and this is one of the 4 classic films in that set. Made in 1957, this tale about a giant, goofy ass looking buzzard stars none other than Jeff Morrow, stalwart of the 50's sci-fi scene, as our hero. This movie never really explains where, why, or how this giant buzzard happens to be here, but by God they sure do explain everything else!! Typical of these 50's movies, shortage of good writers left the dialogue weak so they make up for it with science text book recitations! Really, it's like your sitting in a damn lecture for several minutes of the movie. Entertaining AND educational, hmmmmm? Still, this flick was one of my favorites back in the day when I used to watch "The World Beyond" a Summer Sci-Fi show that featured all these gems of the day. Scares: 0, Effects: 1, Fun: 2

5.) The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll - 1960 - Oct. 5
Now here's one I haven't seen before, and frankly, I don't think I'm any worse for having missed it. Right out of the famous Hammer Production vault, this film is one of 4 on the new Hammer Films Icons of Horror Collection. The problem with trying to get your mits on these Hammer films is that apparently there are about a dozen "rights" lawsuits flyin' around keeping anyone from releasing the definitive chronological collection of these awesome films. Okay, back to tonight's gem. It's Hammer so right away you know the production standards are high, the color is startling Technicolor, and the story and dialogue are a notch or three above most other genre films of this era. And, true to a handful of Hammer movies, they play a unique trick on the timeworn story of the ill fated Dr. Jekyll. In this version, Jekyll is the long suffering scientist married to a philandering wife, who is philandering with his best friend (brilliantly played by Christopher Lee). However, in this telling, once the potion to separate the good and evil identities is ingested, Jekyll transforms into a handsome, well spoken, gentleman about town. Although, true to Hyde, he is evil to the bone and totally without conscience. It's a neat little twist in an otherwise familiar tale. The only thing that gets borderline annoying in this movie is the sound track, it's absolutely cartoonish in places, especially during the "gay Paree dancing girls sequences. Overall, a strong and enjoyable outing from Hammer. Scares: 1, Effects: 2, Fun: 2

6.) American Scary - 2006 - Oct. 6
Fabulous, interesting, nostalgic, funny and doggonit, pretty darn informative too! This wonderful film is a documentary about the wonderful world, history and legacy of the late night horror hosts that we have come to know, fear, and love. It's a real hoot to watch and relive some of the moments with Vampira, Svenghouli, Count Gore DeVol ( my personal host!), Zacherly, and a multitude of others, known, unknown, and mostly unheralded. Unfortunately though, I thought the movie was short on actual "scenes" from the horror hosts. There are dozens of interviews, lots of talking, and certainly loads of opining. For those of us who are into it, that's fine, but to the casual viewer this documentary is a bit talky and would have benefited from the archival antics of the wonderful hosts that it features. Also sadly lacking, and interview with Elvira, who most believe single handily legitimized the late night horror host and brought the genre to mainstream America. Still, well worth the watch. Scares: n/a, Effects: 2, Fun: 4

7.) Monster on the Campus - 1958 - Oct. 7
You'd never know it to watch this clumsy film that it was the work of Jack Arnold! Yes, the same Jack Arnold that gave us Creature from the Black Lagoon and It Came from Outer Space. This outing is a definite misstep for ol' Jack. The story? Arnold Franz stars as a poindexter science professor at a small upstate college. He's diggin' around for some prehistoric evidence to support his theories on evolution, and gets this really ugly, big, Paleozoic fish sent to him from Madagascar. No........I'm not kidding. Well, turns out this big ugly fish has been (of course!) irradiated for shipping to retard the deterioration process and blah, blah, blah. Look, he gets cut on the tooth of the thing and the infected blood make the professor go through "reverse evolution" and he becomes a Cro-Magnon man. Naturally his prehistoric urges necessitate the murders of a few folks on campus but he can't bring himself to kill his gal pal, Neanderthal or not! Completely absurd make up on the monster, it actually looks like the rubber masks they used to sell in the back of Famous Monsters Magazine. Again this films budget gives us another "terror in trousers", like the Sun Demon, our campus Monster manages to keep on his stay pressed pants throughout each transformation. Speaking of which, there is a pretty dandy old school, ala Universal Wolfman, transformation scene near the end of the film. Clearly the budget was shot on this scene. Scares: 0, Effects: 1, Fun: 2

8.) Frailty - 2002 - Oct. 8
Subtle, well crafted, superbly acted, and interestingly written, Frailty is a gem that I hadn't planned on watching this year. My daughter agreed to sit with me and she doesn't care much for anything black and white, so she chose this fine horror film from my collection. A brilliant story about a Father, played by Bill Paxton, and his two sons whose cozy blue collar suburban world is turned upside down with Dad gets a "vision" from God. He is instructed to slay demons, demons that apparently are all around us waiting to be "revealed". Clearly much of the current plot line from the CW show "Supernatural" was derived from this film. As the story progresses the older son rebels against the Father, assuming that he has slipped a gear and is out of his head. He tries to free himself and his younger brother from the horror of kidnap and murder that their Father has brought into their life. Any more detail would enter into spoiler territory, suffice to say that Frailty is a smart and paced horror movie, if not in the traditional sense. Scares: 3, Effects: 3, Fun: 3

9.) Curse of the Mummy's Tomb - 1964 - Oct. 9
By the mid 60's Hammer Studios had already harvested most of the worthwhile Universal characters and spun them in a unique, and more horrifying way. No one will argue that Horror of Dracula with Christopher Lee is certainly a more in your face horror movie than Bela Lugosi's Dracula, although both are excellent in their own right. But as sequels go, Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, albeit respectable, is not adding or subtracting to the Mummy story. As with most Hammer films it is well shot, beautifully staged, well acted and has good characters with tight believable dialogue. The Mummy itself is cool, scary in its own lumbering, silent way, and enters the film at about the point you'd expect: near the end! Oh well, as I said, this Hammer Mummy film is not up to par with the earlier Chris Lee Mummy film, but it's a fine distraction for an early October watch. Scares: 1, Effects: 3, Fun: 2

10.) Angry Red Planet - 1959 - Oct. 10
Look, all I know is that when they started showing the trailers for this in the early 60's, me and all my buddies KNEW we had to go see that movie with the "crab/rat/bat/spider/thing" in it! Well, alot of years have worked their way in between then and now, and the "me" thinks this movie sucks................big! It's not bad enough that it's slow, badly acted, horribly scripted, no, that wouldn't be enough for writer/director Ib Melchior, he had to go and shoot what would have been the only cool scenes in the movie in "Cinemagic". Hey, Cal, just what is Cinemagic? Well, glad you asked there, Sparky. Cinemagic is basically taking a bad orange gel and putting it over the lens of the camera, than adjusting the contrast so hot that it makes the entire picture look sort of like an orange negative. And this was supposed to HELP this movie?? It's got plenty of unintended yucks throughout for example, our astronauts all wear patten leather loafers with their space suits, the "modernistic" equipment looks like cast offs from a Mr. Wizard episode, the leading man, Gerald Mohr looks like the spittin' image of Morton Downey, Jr., and there's enough misogynistic dialogue to keep N.O.W. busy for months. See it if you have to, but I hope you don't have to! Scares: 0, Effects: 1, Fun: 2

11.) Invisible Invaders - 1959 - Oct. 11
Invaders? Possibly. Invisible? Definitely if you're talking about plot, acting, sets, editing, dialogue, and casting. With the exception of sci-fi stalwart John Agar (clearly at the beginning of his career here), the remaining cast is disposable. Now, and this is the big revelation for me, there is no way that George Romero didn't see this film. The premise of course is that "invisible" aliens from "the moon" somehow find their way to earth and inhabit the bodies of the newly dead! Sound familiar?? Well it should, even those exact words are used in Romero's classic NOLD film. Even the make up and stilted lumbering of the "undead" smacks of the Romero's film. I haven't read any bios or behind the scenes, but I'd be off my center if I didn't at least mention the similarities. The film also briefly features John Carradine as the first or the possessed undead and his character, in what surely must have been an inside joke, is named Professor Noyman. Wasn't that the name of Karloff's character in House of Frankenstein?? I think so. But at the end of the day the film clocked in at 1 hour 7 minutes so it was enjoyably short. The undead actually looked pretty cool, and John Agar rocks so I can't beat it up any worse than I already have. Scares: 0, Effects: 1, Fun: 2

12.) Journey to the 7th Planet - 1962 - Oct. 12
John Agar is in this movie. It is most likely made by the interns who worked on "Santa Claus vs the Martians", but the writing is worse. Short plot? In a future world (2001!) the Earth is governed by the United Nations, there are no "atomic" weapons, and all nations, especially the Netherlands, work hand in hand to explore space. Sounds to me like Obama's favorite film so far. Not to belabor the issue, this movie keeps you guessing, on the edge of your seat really, because it so deftly conveys the message that at any moment.............NOTHING could happen. Get this. A United Nations Space Team is dispatched to explore Uranus.........insert joke here..........when they get there they find that it is controlled by a huge brain that can make them manifest any thought that they think. Yeah, I know, sounds crazy right? Look, I'm not going to waste any more time on this pure suckfest but I'll leave you with this: If you watch this movie, you WILL lose brain cells. Scares: -5, Effects: -1, Fun: 0

For the next several movies I'll be on my annual trek to visit my son in New York City. As many of you know, every October we spend a weekend together watching all manner of horror films until our eyes bleed.............for the most part.

13.) The Stepfather - 1982 - Oct. 17 (1st movie of the day)
This film sort of snuck in and snuck out on most horror buffs until recently with the big budget remake being released this week. If the remake is, as most remakes are, as completely retched as Hollywood can make than it will serve you well to check out the source material here. Just released on DVD, 1982's Stepfather stars Terry O'Quinn (Millennium, Alias, Lost, Etc.) superbly playing the role of a schizo sociopath in search of the perfect family and the American Dream. His problem? Can't seem to avoid eventual disappointment with the family unit and feels compelled to, uh, kill them all. Loosely based on the story of John Litz, and in my case, Bradford Bishop, the story is compelling and O'Quinn's acting is the vehicle that brings the movie out of obscurity and into cult status. True, this film was lost in the onslaught and explosion of the 80's slasher films (Halloweens, Friday the 13ths, Nightmares on Elm, etc.) but it cultivates its own creeping suspense and terror in the singular personage of O'Quinns performance. Scares:3, Effects: 2, Fun: 3

14.) [Rec] - 2007 - Oct.17 (2nd movie of the day)
Now here's a goodie! This is the original Spanish version of the movie that later would become "Quarantine", here in the good ol' U.S.A. I've never seen the latter but I can tell you the the source material is darn good horror. Filmed in the now accepted "reality video" format, the movie chronicles a young female reporter doing an what appears on the surface to be a puff piece about the local fire department and those who work for it. During her expose, she follows the fireman on an emergency call to a local apartment building where there is a report of a woman in trouble within her apartment. Within minutes after arriving at the apartment building she, the rescue crew, and everyone within the apartment soon realize that they have been sealed in due to an unknown and unexplained outbreak. From this point, the horror picks up velocity and draws us into a full blown zombie extravaganza!! I know, I know, you're thinkin' "Oh, crap Cal, not another zombie movie!" But hold on there, Seeker, this film manages to break a bit of new ground mainly due to the unique perspective of the hand held camera. So, whether or not you've seen what I imagine to be the dumbed down American version, I highly recommend this foray into fright. Scares: 4, Effects: 3, Fun: 3

15.) Halloween - 2007 - Oct. 17 (3rd movie of the day)
I am deathly afraid that these cumbersome, needless, meandering, overblown, poorly written, directed and acted remakes will be the death of the horror genre. When I first heard of this travesty my visceral gut reaction was immediate: "What kind of an asshole would ruin this perfect Halloween classic?". The answer? Rob Zombie. Now, I know some of you out there think this fella is God's gift to horror and you're allowed your opinion. But for me, I suffered through his stinkfest "House of 1000 Corpses" and vowed never to watch any sequel it spawned. I have remained true to that promise. I wish I would have had the foresight to put the same seal of disapproval on ANY product that Zombie writes, directs or produces. His characters are the worst, the dialogue is complete gutter speak, he creates a world where, really, you want EVERYONE dead because they are all so despicable!! The worst part of this film is the back story of Michael Myers. Zombie strains to find a "reason" for Myer's sociopathic, murderous tendencies and fails.........miserably. The beauty of the character in Carpenter's (brilliant by comparison) original is NOT KNOWING why he does what he does. It's so much scarier that way. My advice? Steer wide and clear of this trash heap and pray that Michael Bay doesn't ruin Freddy Krueger next year in his needless remake of the Nightmare on Elm Street. Scares: 0, Effects: 2, Fun: -5

16.) Horror of Dracula - 1958 - Oct. 17 (4th movie of the day)
Now the only reason this fine film made it into this years watch list is that I was able to see it in the theatre on the big screen, as God intended!!! Really, as many times as I've, you've, we've seen these classic pic's, there's really nothing like seeing them in a real movie theatre the way they were presented originally. You know the drift here, Chris Lee takes on and subsequently OWNS the role of Dracula forever. Yes, Bela good, but Lee brings the awesome evil and menace that would define the character for decades to come. Much like Neil Adams reinventing Batman as the dark avenger of the night, Hammer Studios introduces us to the Dracula that we always wanted. Truly a classic and simply magnificent on the big screen. Scares: 3, Effects: 3, Fun: 5

17.) Curse of the Werewolf - 1961 - Oct. 17 (5th film of the day!!!!!)
This was the 2nd feature of a Hammer double shot we saw on the big screen with the previous film. Again, just too awesome to see these films with an audience, on a giant screen, with the smell of popcorn in the air. This particular movie surely wins the award for longest back story ever!!! Literally, we sat through 1 hour of the movie just getting the weird origin of the monster we had come to see. And the damn film is only 1 hour and 20 minutes long! Much like the Hulk TV series of the 70's, we finally get a look at one of the best representations of the Wolfman ever brought to the screen. Trust me kids, its well worth the wait, Hammer's Werewolf is totally animal and totally cool! True to the Hammer code we get the acrylic red paint blood in gobs and our hero/villain is convincing in his pained "why is this happening to me" role. Any way you slice it, this film is a classic. Scares: 3, Effects: 3, Fun: 5

18.) Dracula A.D. 1972 - 1972 (duh!) - Oct. 18
Ya' like Dracula? Ya' like Mod lookin' Hippies? Ya' like the swingin' English scene? Ya' like movies with more Dracula in the title than in the actual movie???? Than you'll love this clearly throw away Hammer film. It couldn't be more obvious that the series had run it's course at this point and was dangerously bordering on self parody. Again we find Christopher Lee as the Count, and he's awesome looking as usual, but sadly and awkwardly underused in this movie. It looks like they had to pay him by the minute and they were trying hard to cut corners. As you might expect Peter Cushing returns as yet another descendant of Van Helsing (did this family LOVE to procreate, or what?!?) and turns in a top notch performance. Say what you will about the caliber of film, budget, or whatever, I've yet to see either Lee or Cushing turn in a less than admirable acting job on any of these films. By this time they both MUST have known that these films were soon to fade into oblivion but they sure don't show it in the acting. Not the best, but certainly worth watching. Scares: 2, Effects: 2, Fun: 3

19.) Inside - 2007 - Oct. 18. (2nd film of the day)
Okay. Let's see. Where do we start with this one...........a couple of years back I watched and reviewed "Audition" and as you may remember, was a bit freaked out about it. "Inside" BLOWS THAT FREAK OUT AWAY!!! Why, you may now ask, is this particular lil' French film more freaky than most? I guess it's due to the subject matter, the stark and graphic depiction of the violence, the depravity of the antagonist, and the depressing and brutal ending of the film. Word of warning: DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE UNLESS YOU ARE IN THE MOOD FOR EXTREME BRUTALITY, VIOLENCE, AND GORE. Really, this kind of shit is not my cup of tea, but once one travels into the quest for horror, one never knows what kind of film they may encounter. Truly this is the case here. Now, on the one hand it is an incredibly absorbing film. I gotta' say, I was totally into the plight of the heroine (uh, sort of) and was really invested in the demise (or so I hoped) of the creepy antagonist. Here's the story in a nutshell: the movie starts with a car accident in which a pregnant woman and her husband are involved. The husband is dead and we cut to the wife in the hospital where she is awaiting release and is approached by a creepy ass nurse who proceed to engage her a conversation about babies born dead! Now we cut to the pregnant gal at home and from here the film takes off and relentlessly pursues horrifying us at every turn. Can't give out too much else or else we're into spoiler territory. In some ways an engaging, interesting, and original film, it is also a repulsive, depraved, and horrific story. Watch at you own risk. I'm not kidding. Scares: 4, Effects: 5, Fun: -5!

20.) Zombieland - 2009 - Oct. 18 (3rd film of the day)
Hot off the presses Zombieland aspires to be "Shaun of the Dead" American style. NOT!! Missing the wit, the pathos, the character development, and story arc of Shaun, Zombieland comes across as a lame distant cousin. Funny for the first 30 minutes, the film quickly degenerates into a fairly text book regurgitation of most, if not all, of the now overworked and over used Zombie cliches. The basic pretext is that we are in a world that has been taken over by the living dead and those that are still human are wandering about the Zombie world looking and longing for the world that used to be. The writers could have done more to play up this theme but, well, they suck. There is a sequence in the middle of the movie that is a curve ball of sorts, but if I tell you about it it'll spoil the surprise. I'm not gonna' hate on this film, but I really wouldn't recommend it as a must see. Scares: 2, Effects: 4, Fun: 3

21.) Paranormal Activity - 2009 - Oct. 18 (4th film of the day)
Scariest movie of all time!!! Buy heart attack insurance before entering the theatre!!! Grab onto your boyfriend or girlfriend for dear life!!!! Uh, maybe it's just me, but this film must rank among the most brilliantly hyped, marketed and over stated movies of all time. Needless to say, I was unimpressed. Not only was I not scared, EVER, I was damn near bored most of the time. The audience that I watched it with in NYC must have concurred because at the end credit roll there was an audible groan of disbelief throughout the theatre. Now, it's not like the film didn't have it's semi-original premise: young couple in a townhouse in a non-disclosed area are semi convinced that they are being "haunted" by some spirit or spirits. The movie is shot in the now familiar "home video" style replete with shaky cuts, unnecessary fades and pans, and the usual routine that goes with this type of camera style. Think "Blair Witch" without the total originality.
The movie seeks to build momentum through a series of slowly building bedroom camera scenes where the the "activities" of the "demon/ghost/whatever" ever so slowly escalate. Again, I'm not gonna' hate on this film, but it was totally, and I believe, intentionally, over hyped by the studio that bought the film for a song. Allegedly made for $11,000.00, Paramount purchased the film for $300,000.00 and it has proceeded to make $2,000,000.00 in general release. Okay, that's the way Hollywood works but my advice is to wait for this one to come out on DVD and watch it at home. Scares: 2, Effects: 1, Fun: 2

22.) A Nightmare on Elm Street - 1984 - Oct. 19 (1st film of the day)
I'm not gonna' be able to add much here as most if not all of you know that this Wes Craven film simply set the standard for introducing a new, original, and interesting horror icon to the starving for something horror set. Freddy Krueger is the king of new age monsters and delivers in this first film in a way that is distinctly different and preferable to all the sequels that follow. Frightening, threatening, menacing and intent on terror, this Freddy has all the attributes and mystery that are lacking in the subsequent 7 sequels. Not until Freddy VS Jason do we see Freddy as Craven intended him to be. So, you know you love it, watch it every year and enjoy the pure originality of Wes Craven's ode to horror history. Scares: 3, Effects: 3, Fun: 5

23.) Phantasm 2 - 1987 - Oct. 19 (2nd film of the day)
The original Phantasm was a landmark horror film, setting a new bar in surrealism, originality, and atmosphere. Unfortunately much of that is lost in the less than adequate sequel. Coscarelli, who piloted the first stunning feature, seems aimless here not knowing where, when or why the story should continue. Adding to the unsatisfactory feel of this sequel is the conspicuous absence of the original lead actor. Reggie returns, but without the original Michael the experience feels and plays out like an also ran obligatory rehash of the first film. Widely anticipated as a DVD release, I am at a loss to figure out why. Sure, it's got the Tall Man, the Ball, and the inexplicable midgets from another dimension, but still this film falls flat on all fronts. Scares: 1, Effects: 2, Fun: 2

24.) Dracula - 1931 - Oct. 19 (3rd film of the day)
Yeah, I know, I watched this last year, and the year before, and probably for 10 years before that but this time I got to see it on the big screen in a REAL movie theatre. Just like the previous Hammer films that I was blessed to re-experience in a theatre setting, so to is this viewing of Bela Lugosi's Dracula. The refined performance of Lugosi is truly stunning in the theatre setting and even given the sophistication of today's audiences he manages to draw you in to the character like it was the first time you ever saw him. Awesome is the only word I can use here. Lugosi is great, the movie is timeless, Universal rocks, and I feel fortunate to have had the chance to experience the movie the way people did 78 years ago!! Scares: 2, Effects: 2, Fun: 5

25.) The Mummy - 1932 - Oct. 19 (4th film of the day)
Okay, all that shit I said in the last movie, well pretty much that applies here. This was the 2nd film of a double feature of a film fest in Brooklyn that me and my son went to. It's great, really. But for the sake of taking up enough space to fit the picture in my text let's go over the positive points of this timeless classic. Number 1? Karloff. Period. He is so perfect in this role, so subtly menacing in his performance that it literally builds throughout the film until you are fully involved by the final scene. Now, as a monster showcase, it's lacking. Let's face it, the Mummy that most of my generation know from the Aurora Model version is only in the film for the first 10 minutes. Beyond that, there is no Mummy, just Karloff as Ardeth Bey, the creepy reincarnation of the Mummy Imhothep. Scares: 2, Effects: 2, Fun: 4

26.) Trick R Treat - 2009 - Oct. 19 (5th film of the day!!! AGAIN!!!)
Original in composition, exquisitely filmed, and convincingly acted, this film stands as a semi tribute to the night of Halloween. It is, in format, an anthology film, deftly weaving the comings and goings of several characters within the confines of the night of Halloween. Several years in the "coming out soon" category this movie finally gets its release straight to DVD and thankfully so. It's clear to see how the studio brass had no idea how to market this gem. It deftly avoids any pigeonholing into any of the known horror categories. Suffice to say that viewing this film will bring back loads of Halloween memories from nearly every viewer. Clever, subtle, scary, and interesting , I think you will fine Trick R Treat to be one of those rare genre films that gets better with each viewing. Scares: 3, Effects: 3, Fun: 5

27.) The Gorgon - 1964 - Oct. 25

Ya' know kids, we're gettin' really near the big day and I'm crammin' in movies like the Democrats are crammin' in earmarks into the bullshit Health Care Reform bill. But travel on we must and so we have this Hammer film loosely based on the legend, or mythology, of Medusa. Our story revolves around some nebulous English province that is haunted (inexplicably) by the ghost of Medusa's sister Magiera. Yeah, I know, I've never heard of her either. Magiera evidently possesses a nubile young assistant to a local Doctor played effectively by Peter Cushing. Well it quickly becomes apparent that...................oooooops, spoiler. So I've got to shut my mouth and let you experience this fairly competent movie on your own. Scares: 3, Effects: 2, Fun: 2

28.) Scream of Fear - 1961 - Oct. 26
Look, I'm runnin' out of time, tomorrow (on the real calendar) is Halloween and I'm way behind on my reviews. However, on a good note, I've actually surpassed my goal of 31 in 31. So from this point on the critiques will be sparse and we'll just list the films that I've tackled. This movie could be considered Hammer does Hitchock, as it reveals itself to be a tautly written and well acted melodrama starring Susan Strasburg as a wheel chair bound heiress who is tormented by ghosts of her dead (?) father. See it, love it, and tell me it isn't Hitchcock redux!
The remainder of the marathon looks like this:
29.) Resident Evil
30.) The Werewolf - 1956
31.) How to Make A Monster - 1958
32.) Halloween - John Carpenter's classic ode to this glorious day.
There you have it kids, another year in the books and lookin' forward to settin' up my awesome yard display tomorrow. Have a great and scary Halloween and we'll look forward to next years marathon where I intend to dwell deeply into more of the REAL horror side of cinema.
Happy Halloween!!!!!