One of my favorite things about horror, and movies in general, are the lines of dialogue that change the game for their film. Part of this comes from the fact I'm a word nerd, and another part comes from my interest in the psychology of characters in these flicks. Of course, not all horror lines can be as memorable or impactful as the likes of "We all go a little mad sometimes", "We belong dead" and "I see dead people", but I often find there are many horror lines that deserve attention for taking their films to the next level. And now, I'm gonna talk about three examples I love from three horrors I love - Night of the Living Dead, The Exorcist, and The Frighteners.
Some gigantic spoilers for the first two movies follow! (But you've probably already seen these movies anyway.)
Example# 1 The Film: Night of the Living Dead The Players: George Kosana (Chief McClelland), Bill "Chilly Billy" Cardille (Field reporter) The Setup: We're about an hour and fifteen minutes into the film. An escape attempt has just gone horribly wrong, and two are dead. The remaining characters sit in different stages of shock, waiting for a TV broadcast that might have answers to help them. When the broadcast comes, they find a reporter interviewing the Police Chief in charge of a "search and destroy" effort. And when asked about the creatures' prowess (specifically "Are they slow moving?"), Chief McClelland answers with.....
The Line: "Yeah, they're dead...they're all messed up." Why I Love It: For starters, this is 1968. The zombie craze we live in today was unimaginable. There were no ground rules for a film like this, despite a few predecessors in style (The Last Man on Earth comes to mind). Not only do our characters know nothing about these creatures, the audience themselves know nothing about these creatures. And while the film has made strong efforts to get across the details of the ghouls on the loose, I find that this exchange sends the most efficient message about the dilemma. There's something about the potentially uneducated man of power stopping mid sentence to consider the situation before muttering about how messed up the situation is in his Gary Sinise voice that brings closure to the idea of these creatures on the loose...without actually bringing any closure to the situation for the characters.
Example #2 The Film: The Exorcist The Players: Jason Miller (Father Damien Karras), Ellen Burstyn (Chris MacNiel) The Setup: The Exorcism is underway, and Father Karras has had a bit of a breakdown. Father Merrin has asked him to leave the room, and he now sits alone on a bench at the bottom of the stairs. His elbows are on his knees, his hands are wrapped in prayer, and his head is sunken in fear and disappointment. Enter Chris, the concerned mother. She asks "Is it over?" and he shakes his head slowly from side to side. She pauses, and asks her next question. "Is she going to die. The priest responds.....
The Line: "No."Yeah, I know. It's two letters. It's barely a line. You can't walk around and claim you're quoting The Exorcist every time you say no. But stay with me here.
The fact of the matter is, this is the moment that turns the film around. If Father Karras were Super Mario from the video game, this moment would be the equal of getting a one up, star power, a mushroom, and maybe even that leaf that brings raccoon ears and tail all at the same time. Miller delivers the look above, the small word, and his ensuing slow rise from the bench and walk upstairs with such confidence and resolve that, in one word, he's restored our faith in surviving the ordeal on screen as viewers, not to mention made us feel strongly about the future endeavors of little miss Regan MacNeil. It's like Rambo tying his bandanna, but with a white collar in its place.
Example #3 The Film: The Frighteners The Players: Jeffrey Combs (Milton Dammers), Michael J. Fox (Frank Bannister) The Setup: Frank Bannister's attempts to get clear of the soul collecting demon that's been after his town are falling apart. He's now stuck alone with Special Agent Milton Dammers, a strongly psychotic fellow who's quite convinced that Frank himself killing people with his mind. He's got all the motives figured out, except one....
The Line: "But what about the guy in the toilet? What did *he* do? Piss on your hushpuppies?" Why I Love It: OK, this line doesn't really matter to the film, except to further our understanding that Dammers is cuckoobananas. And, believe me, we get that. Anyway, what the hell does it mean? I mean, you've probably noticed the hushpuppies at the top of the post already, why on Earth would anyone piss on them? I'm confused by this line, but I love to say it. Anyway, I'm hungry now so I'm going to Long John Silvers to get my own piss-free hishpuppies.
In the meantime, feel free to come up with your own Unsung Moments of Dialogue Awesomeness in the comments below, and I'll be back with more one of these days.
If there's one thing I know, it's that I LOVE LISTS. So, when Chuck over at Zombies DON'T Run asked bloggers to vote on the Top 10 Horror films of the '90s, I jumped at the chance...until I actually looked at the list of horrors released in the '90s. Yikes.
Anyway, here's how I voted:10. Scream - Probably the most iconic mainstream horror film of the decade, which is a sad statement. However, it still works well as a thriller, especially when compared to the I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend type films of the decade. (I will admit, however, that I am rather fond of Urban Legend. So sue me.)
9. Nightbreed - Clive Barker's Hellraiser gets tons of praise, and rightfully so, but I've always been a little sad his followup didn't get the same fan base. I think it's one of the most inventive and fun monster films around.
8. Mimic - Guillermo Del Toro's most overlooked film. It's got a great claustrophobic feel to it, and the creatures are pretty cool when they show up. Mira Sorvino? FOXY!
7. Tremors - Speaking of creatures, bring on the Graboids! One of the most enjoyable bits of popcorn entertainment out there, plus a juicy role for Fred Ward. Good stuff.
6. Scream 2 - Wait, what? That's right - I strongly prefer Craven's second Ghostface flick to the first. Firstly because it features LievSchreiber in a fantastic role and Timothy Olyphant, who's cooler than Matthew Lillard. Secondly because it takes the self-referential nature of the first film to new heights while not being afraid to take risks.
5. The Frighteners - My favorite Peter Jackson film. Great horror comedy with a fantastic performance from the awesome Jeffrey Combs.
4. Sleepy Hollow - Tim Burton's tribute to Hammer films is visually rich and splatter friendly. It also features one of my favorite horror scores of all-time from Danny Elfman.
3. Army of Darkness - I'm sure you're noticing a trend of horror comedies here. But when I think of horror comedies, Army of Darkness is the first place my mind goes, everytime. For me, this is the movie that made Bruce Campbell into Bruce Campbell.
2. From Dusk Till Dawn - Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez' vampire action flick is an undead Assault on Precinct 13 or Rio Bravo. If this thing came out today, it'd be a gigantic hit. Definitely ahead of its time.
1. Candyman - And, finally, I come to the only movie of the decade that still scares me silly. Also from the mind of Clive Barker, it harvests things I love about horror stories - from superstitious townfolk and ancient legends to the simple fear of whatever's behind you - to set what feels like a Victorian era ghost tale in a modern day Chicago ghetto.
Notice the fact that I didn't post as many alternatives to my picks as I did when I voted for the '80s bests? Well, that's because this decade was generally awful for horror. But I'm pretty comfortable with these 10, and I'm sure there are many others (In the Mouth of Madness, Demon Knight, and Cemetary Man come to mind) that I'm fond of too.
In the meantime, feel free to head over to Zombies DON'T Run to cast your vote for the Top 10 Horror Films of the 1990s. And of course, feel free to comment on my crazy monkey of a list below.
The 1991 shocker Popcorn, from only-time feature director Mark Herrier, is a bit of a horror mutt. Mixing elements of slasher and supernatural horrors with loving parodies of '50s B-movies and the works of Toho studios in Japan, it comes off as one of the more intriguing horror mashups in my memory.
Our story begins with a film student named Maggie, who's suffering from horrific nightmares of a man she's never known - and who thinks these dreams would make one heck of a screenplay. Meanwhile, her film department decides to put on a fundraising "horrorthon" at a deserted old movie theater...which also happens to house a movie trailer sized reel of film from the presumably lost '70s acid-trip horror film Possessor. As it turns out, Possessor is the creation of a madman named Lanyard Gates who a) killed his family during the film's premiere, before burning down the theater and killing himself with the audience, and b) appears to be the man from Maggie's dreams.
Of course, the night of the marathon begins, and a raucous, packed house shows up for Mosquito, The Amazing Electrified Man, and The Stench, but Maggie soon realizes that one of the members of the audience seems to be the undead Gates. Members of the film class soon start dying in ways that eerily resemble the gimmicks of the films on screen, while Maggie realizes that she appears to be the killer's intended target. Jill Schoelen, who stars as Maggie, was previously the damsel in distress in 1987's The Stepfather and 1989's Phantom of the Opera and knows the survivor girl roll well. She's supported well throughout the film by the supporting cast, particularly Tom Villard (One Crazy Summer) as the dorky leader of the film class, Toby, and bit performances by veterans Dee Wallace Stone (E.T., Cujo, The Howling) and Ray Walston (Damn Yankees, The Stand). The rest of the cast is your standard teen-horror group of unknowns, but none of them are painfully bad at their roles.
There are a lot of things I love about this one. For starters, the footage from the films featured in the triple feature are fantastic examples of the genre cinema they're imitating, including the in-theater gimmicks that were so popular in the '50s and '60s. The bits from Mosquito (which was filmed in PROJECT-O-VISION!) are especially hilarious, but the other "films" feature some good laughs too. The film itself has a dark, cheap feel to it, and while I'm not sure it's intentional (there's a green vertical scratch that's visible on the DVD transfer during what I assume is the film's fourth reel), it makes the film feel authentic as a B-movie treasure.
Also, the whole film seems to completely love the idea of cinema as a relevant part of culture, which is something I love to see. There are references to no less than Citizen Kane, Ingmar Bergman, Alice in Wonderland, Indiana Jones, and plenty more throughout the film, and most of the references are relevant to the progression of the plot. Additionally, the scenes involving the audience watching the B-movies seem to give the film a lot of energy, leading us to a finale that involves audience participation in the plot's outcome. The film's portrayal of moviegoers who're looking for cheap fun actually adds to the humor of the film in the second act, and to the tension of the film in the third act.Popcorn never really hits top speed, mostly because the Possessor film that much of the plot relies on isn't near as engaging or creepy as it could be, but the film's consideration of all things horror as part of culture makes it instantly lovable in my mind. It's easy to see that the people behind the film had the utmost respect for horror cinema across the history of the genre, and had a lot of fun putting together their own terror tale. With humorous gags, some creepy/surreal images, and a few twists in the final reel, Popcorn passes as the kind of mindless entertainment it praises, and I'm glad to give it a recommendation as Midnight Movie of the Week.
(By the way, Popcorn can be viewed instantly on Netflix, despite the fact the DVD is out of print. Check it out if you're feeling lucky.)
In the meantime, I want to thank whomever nominated me from the bottom of my heart, and I hope any of you finding us for the first time through this poll will stick around and have some fun reading my ramblings.
Most cinema buffs agree that the 1970s were the apex of the horror genre thus far. We had The Exorcist, The Omen, and more on the satanic front and Halloween, Black Christmas, and more starting up the slasher genre. We had Dawn of the Dead jumpstarting the zombie genre, The Wicker Man doing its thing, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre making exploitation mainstream, and plenty more. In no way is this week's movie, The Food of the Gods, comparable to any of those films in quality or relevance. The fact that I'm leading this review with mentions of them serves one of two purposes - 1) Showing how diverse the selection of horror was in the decade; or 2) Proving that I'm crazier than a rabid cat in a burlap sack. Let's hope for the first.
Produced by American International Pictures' Samuel Z. Arkoff and directed by Mr. B.I.G himself, Bert I. Gordon, The Food of the Gods is billed as an adaptation of H.G. Wells' novel (fully titled The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth), though it takes a very simple route of telling the story as a "nature gets revenge" tale. We might not think of that on our own, so the opening narration informs us of it, thankfully.
Our story begins with a professional football player named Morgan (who appears to play on a team of no more than 9 players, all scrawny and lanky middle-aged Caucasians) and his team's publicist jettisoning off to a British Columbian island for some horseback riding with a teammate, who's promptly attacked by the world's largest wasp and killed. When I say killed, I mean stung so badly that his bloated corpse resembles George Kennedy.Soon after it's revealed that a local farm woman (played by legendary actress/director Ida Lupino in one of her final roles) has found a substance bubbling out of the ground that, when consumed, makes animals grow to epic proportions. Like most illogical humans, she jars it, labels it F.O.T.G., and starts feeding it to everything while trying to sell it off and make a fortune. What follows is a mashup of our favorite stereotypical sci-fi/horror characters facing the challenges of the food's mutations. These characters include the hero (Morgan, played by Marjoe Gortner), the hero's assistant (Jon Cypher) the money-hungry cynic (Ralph Meeker), his initially-in-it-for-cash cohort (Pamela Franklin as a "female bacteriologist"), a young yet distressed couple (Belinda Balaski and Tom Stovall), and the aforementioned farm woman, Mrs. Skinner. In the opposite corner we have gigantic wasps, chickens, worms, and - most of all - rats. The battle is on.
If you haven't guessed yet, this is not a good movie. The creatures look silly next to our characters, and while the trickery of making normal rats look huge is impressive, they still don't look threatening at all. Gimmicks like the giant chicken early in the film fail too, primarily based on the fact that you can see the edges of the chicken suit and the person inside at times. The script relies on the opening and closing narrations to make most of its points, and also gives Morgan some godlike understanding of plot elements. My favorite example of this comes when he decides the huge rats are too large to swim due to their new found size, and sure enough is proven right as the film goes on.Why, you ask, am I pimping this as Midnight Movie of the Week? Simply because The Food of the Gods is a perfect example of what a bad movie can be - a blast to watch and hurl laughs and insults at. As a piece of high-class idiocy, The Food of the Gods never fails to entertain, and I'd call it one of the finest films to riff on with friends over pizza and Dew (or whatever your food and beverage choices might be). The Food of the Gods will fill you with its own brand of goofy cheese, and for that I feel it an adequate choice as Midnight Movie of the Week.
(By the way, check out the trailer below to see the studio try to sell this film with a COMPLETELY serious tone....and try not to laugh!)
If you've been living outside a cave for the last hour or two, you probably don't know that Bruce Campbell has announced that production on Bruce vs. Frankenstein, a sequel to My Name is Bruce (review here) will begin this Fall! Now that that's been said, there's plenty of speculating to be done. With no delay, I present to you the 6 Biggest Questions The Mike has about Bruce vs. Frankenstein!
6. My Name is Bruce had a budget of peanuts and was shot primarily on Campbell's own property. Should we expect anything different this time? My first guess on this one is NO. Though I'm sure the first film turned a heavy profit on DVD, I don't expect this one will get much backing from anyone. Plus, Campbell states the film will be shot in Oregon - which is where his property that the first film was shot on resides.
5. Should we expect any bigger names in the horror community to show up for the sequel? Despite the first film featuring many folks from Campbell's work in the Evil Dead trilogy, the supporting cast didn't seem to know how to match the cheese of the star. Again, the budget will determine this answer. I'm sure we're not in for any Brad Pitts or George Clooneys joining this one, but we know Robert Englund likes work in the genre on the cheap, right? Wouldn't he be a great Dr. Frankenstein to match wits with Bruce?
4. Why doesn't George Clooney come home to the horror genre? Come on, George. You can do better than Return of the Killer Tomatoes and Return to Horror High, even if something the quality of From Dusk Till Dawn is probably still out of reach. You've adapted from "TV doctor" to "superstar in Cary Grant suits", why not come back and ham it up with Bruce? Ah, The Mike can dream.
3. Who plays the monster, and how will he be portrayed? My biggest concern with any adaptation of the Frankenstein story is the monster. Will we get a creature that's like the book's desperate-yet-adaptable-and-sympathetic creation? Or will it be a Karloff-esque imposing invalid? Either approach can work, but also can fail miserably. My random pick to play either kind of Franky Monster? The guy from Sherlock Holmes who used to be WWF'sKurrgan. Or, if we're going smarter, Clancy Brown who used to be Highlander's Kurrgan. Either way, Kurrgans work for this role.
2. Where will the plot go? How can a title like Bruce vs. Frankenstein meet the dreamy nightmares floating around in The Mike's head? When it comes to the actual film, this is the biggest question in my mind. Are we saying Bruce has to face the monster or the doctor? Maybe Doc Frank wants to reanimate a corpse and give it the monster-ready mind of Ashley J. Williams himself? Maybe he's created a monster he never dreamed of, and thinks only Bruce Campbell can defeat it? Maybe Bruce meets a Doc Frankenstein who has not only a monster, but a Delorean that can transport Bruce back to Victorian times for a mere 1.21 Jigawatts? Seriously, I could ponder this one all day and not come up with a disappointing answer. Can the movie do the same?
1. Will the movie actually happen? Seriously, how long have we been hearing about Bubba Nosferatu coming soon? Is Bruce just giving us false hope? For the sake of humanity, or at least for the sake of horror fans in all galaxies, I hope not.
That's all the questions I can get down before my brain explodes, but I'm sure I'll be pondering this one and eagerly anticipating any news as we go forward with 2010. If you've got questions, or better yet answers, hit up the comments below. If you're Bruce Campbell, you rock...and give me a call. You can make this one work, and I'm willing to help.
2009, Dir. by Joel Schumacher. Originally known as Town Creek.
When I spied that Joel Schumacher's Blood Creek was making its DVD debut this week, I decided I had to say something about it, entirely due to the circumstance of the flick. My local bargain theater was one of the "lucky" ones that received a one-week run during a September dump by Lionsgate Films, and I managed to be one of the few to experience this relatively unknown, yet slickly polished, horror flick.
Blood Creek begins by telling us of Adolf Hitler's attempts to harness occult powers during his reign of power in the 1940s, and introducing us to a German Officer (Inglorious Basterds' Michael Fassbender) who comes to a small Virginia farm to try and harness a rare power. After acquiring a blood-sucking power that's not unlike a vampire's, the German chap is trapped by the family and the film suddenly jumps ahead to present day. After a family subplot is quickly resolved, two brothers (Prison Break's Dominic Purcell and Stardust's Henry Cavill) end up at the farm, which is still being terrorized by the undead Nazi blood-sucker. Purcell's character seems to have been a part of some experimenting done by said sucker (I'm unsure if anyone told him the War ended, unfortunately), and the story unfolds from there.
If you're a little lost in that description, you're not alone. Blood Creek is a muddled film, which many have attributed to a "butchering" of the script by Schumacher during production. There are plenty of loose ends and slightly explained occurrences throughout the film, and I recall scratching my head while trying to make connections often. The actors don't do much to help with this, as they shift through the dim setting quickly and never seem to have a full understanding of what they're trying to say either.
I've never been a member of the lynch mob that's still after Schumacher based on his Batman films, and I actually enjoy a majority of the films I've seen from him. And in his defense, Blood Creek is a very good-looking film with heaps of gore and a lot of atmosphere. The villain is very impressive to behold and would definitely terrify me if I ran into it in a back alley, as well. The Nazi ties add to the intrigue of the film early on and really help it become interesting, until the story gets twisted up in itself like I already mentioned.
In total, Blood Creek is a slick bit of horror entertainment at its best and a incomprehensible mess at its worst. If it were a film from a first-time writer/director who's simply getting his feet wet, I'd probably be forgiving of its faults. But coming from an established Hollywood director, it's a bit of a disappointment. I won't condemn the film entirely, as I do think it's worth a rental based on its atmosphere and original concept, but I find myself sad that the whole thing wasn't put together more carefully. There was a good movie inside this one, and unfortunately it got lost during the process.
I haven't made an easier decision this week than the one I made when I chose Moon as the Midnight Movie of the Week. To say I've quickly become a fan of this movie is an understatement. Truthfully, I've kinda become some weird concoction of Lord of the Rings and Twilight nerds on this one - so far as to use a week's vacation in correlation with its DVD release and then rent a copy of it from a dirty Redbox when my preorder didn't arrive the first two days. Believe me when I say, the movie's well worth seeking out.
Directed by Duncan Jones and starring Sam Rockwell, Moon tells the story of Sam Bell. Sam is an astronaut who's just two weeks shy of completing a three year stint harvesting precious Helium 3 on the far side of Earth's moon. What's worse than spending three years on the far side of the Moon? How about spending three years on the far side of the Moon...alone.
Obviously, that amount of time without human contact can make anyone a little batty. Sam does have the companionship of the ship's robotic controller GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey), who is onboard with the purpose of keeping Sam safe, but as his contract nears an end he begins to deteriorate emotionally. A few strange visions and a harvester accident later, Sam finds that he does have company in the base - in the form of a mirror image who claims that he, in fact, is Sam Bell.
The less you know about the film from that point forward, the better. But one thing I must say about Moon, a testament to Jones' direction and the writing of Nathan Parker, is that the film appears to know exactly where it wants to go. A lot of films dealing with identity and psychological disturbance seem to get lost in their questions and forget to give the viewer sufficient answers, but Parker and Jones' combination of story and script provides a completely satisfying story that doesn't leave the viewer grasping at straws. I don't mean to say that the film is simple or that it plays down to its audience, either, as it balances quite nicely by being both thought-provoking and straight-forward.
The meat-and-potatoes of Moon is Rockwell in his lead performance(s). He creates two distinct personas for the Bell character(s), and at many times throughout the film I nearly forgot that it was the same actor pulling off the role(s). There's a movement amongst the cinema savvy to bring light to his performance for Oscar voters and although I fear it won't amount to anything, it's a noble and righteous cause. I can't remember a more complex and fascinating performance within the past year.
Moon is a brisk and effective film, managing to create its dilemma, advance its character(s), and come to a satisfying conclusion in just over 90 minutes. And once you fall for its charm, you'll most likely want to watch it again to pick up the hints and inside jokes that permeate the film.
In a year full of sci-fi blockbusters that have pulled in rave reviews (Avatar, District 9, and Star Trek come to mind), Moon was lost in the shuffle. But I'm confident enough after two viewings of this one to say that Moon is easily my favorite sci-fi film of the year, and probably my favorite film of the year, period. And, like I said earlier, that makes it an easy choice as From Midnight With Love's Midnight Movie of the Week.
9:49 pm - With no further ado, it's my first viewing of Peter Jackson's Dead Alive! (BE AWARE, I'M GOING ALL OUT WITH SPOILERS APLENTY!) 9:51 pm - For starters, I must say that I always thought that was Geena Davis on the poster/cover when I was younger.
9:52 pm - Rat-Monkey? I heard that right, right?
9:53 pm - Severed limbs already! We're off to a good start!
9:55 pm - Y'know what Dustin Hoffman would say about this movie? WE'VE GOT TO FIND THAT MONKEY!
9:57 pm - Wow, for a second I thought that was Super Mario as the father. But hey, tarot cards are fun.
10:00 pm - This old lady has to have a gruesome demise. Listen to that voice. She's got to.
10:02 pm - Are the close-ups supposed to be this close-up? Slightly awkward.
10:05 pm - Oh, young New Zealander love. Whoa, RAT-MONKEY! That thing's amazing!
10:07 pm - At the 18 minute mark, and SHIT JUST DEFINITELY GOT REAL!
10:11 pm - Wait, we're back to lovey-dovey? Give me more rat-monkey, please.
10:12 pm - That was gross. And that was just the beginning.
10:13 pm - Yup, that's grosser.
10:14 pm - Super glue to the face! Hilarious and repulsive!
10:15 pm - Why are dinner scenes such easy gross out points in splatter films? I mean, the answer's obvious, but whoever thought of it was a genius.
10:16 pm - Yeah, custard. That can't end well.
10:18 pm - Wow! Dog eating. That's disgustingly awesome.
10:20 pm. I'm not gonna lie, I'm near vomiting. That nurse scene was amazing.
10:22 pm - They keep ratcheting down the action just when I want more. Slight disappointment there.
10:23 pm - And a quick jump ahead. To grossness with animals. UGH.
10:25 pm - SON OF A BITCH! I was NOT ready for a needle to an eyeball. My queasy stomach Richter scale is now at a 5.7.
10:27 pm - MOTHAUCKA! More needles. NOT COOL.
10:29 pm - Funeral time. This can't be good. Well, for the characters, of course. As a viewer, I'm lovin' it.
10:31 pm - Yeah, I've heard the quotes enough to know the Father's a badass. And you can tell just by hearing him.
10:34 pm - Grave pissing? Who ever thought that was a good idea? WOWSER. That's a bit of blood.
10:35 pm - WILL THEY PLEASE STOP WITH THE NEEDLES! I will turn this shit off! (It's not shit though, it's awesome so far. Just please, no needles.)
10:36 pm - I kick arse for the Lord! That is as classic as its reputation.
10:37 pm - Great bit with the offed head. Wonderful and inventive. Now, A Zombie's Breakfast. If I were a morning person, that'd be a great name for a blog.
10:38 pm - This is as hilarious as it is gross. Love it.
10:40 pm - The zombies are boning, aren't they?
10:44 pm - We've got a zombaby! NICE.
10:45 pm - Why on Earth would he take Zombaby to a park?
10:47 pm - Oh, because the scene was gonna be that funny. Wow, this movie keeps getting better.
10:49 pm - That Uncle has trouble coming his way.
10:53 pm - OK, we've definitely hit a post-Zombaby-at-the-park lull.
10:55 pm - And, more needles. I will destroy you, Peter Jackson.
10:58 pm - The dead are indeed alive. And they love ribs, apparently.
11:00 pm - My golly. This gore has gone to 11. Hand through back of skull and out mouth? Awesome.
11:02 pm - Teeth removal by pliers. Almost as bad as needles.
11:03 pm - Wow. That torso splitting in the door is one of the best effects I've ever seen.
11:06 pm - Zombaby. Seriously amazing. Again.
11:07 pm - Why let the Uncle back in? Let him rot!
11:09 pm - And, that's why you let the Uncle in. So he can slice and dice. That's nice.
11:11 pm - Make a wish.
11:12 pm - Party's over, Lionel says.
11:15 pm - As great as nearly everything in this movie is, the jack-o-lantern headed electrocuted zombie on the kitchen wall looks silly and never goes away.
11:16 pm - That is one fantastic lawnmower, BTW. And jack-o-zombie just combusted at the right moment. Shoulda complained about it earlier.
11:18 pm - Yet another WOW at the Gigantic Mum Zombie. Disturbing.
11:20 pm - Flashback time. And then...well, that's just gross.
11:22 pm - Is there a movie near as gory as this one? I'm not sure. It's so over-the-top, which makes it extremely effective. Hey, it's Zombaby! Yay!!!
11:23 pm - Well, we're covered in zombies....let's make out! And, credits roll. Why did I wait so many years to see this movie? It's delightful! I kinda feel like I could vomit any minute, but in a good way.
And with that, I declare this Impromptu Horror Movie Marathon Day concluded. It's been real.
After a restroom break and some deliberation, I'm back for more horror. It's 8:25 pm, and I've just started up The She-Beast, starring none less than the gorgeous Barbara Steele.8:27 pm - Well, I know we're in "Transylvania - Today" already, thanks to a title card. Odd, because the cars look like they're from approximately 1966.
8:28 pm - And, thanks to a book written by Gustav Van Helsing, we're into a flashback already.
8:32 pm - Looks like we've gone right past lynching to some ritual by the lake. And there's a midget running through a herd of sheep!
8:33 pm - Wow, that creature makeup is....well....not impressive.
8:35 pm - So basically they killed her with a giant one of those bird looking things that dips into water?8:36 pm - And back to "present" day.
8:38 pm - Barbara's getting my hopes up with a reference to werewolves. Sad.
8:39 pm - This hotel's apparently run by Italian John Belushi.
8:42 pm - So, we've got a Van Helsing and apparently Dracula existed in this reality. I can roll with it.
8:44 pm - Had I written this, I'd have called the Van Helsing character "Count Exposition". Or Count Exposito, since it's Italian.
8:45 pm - Finally, Barbara gets to let her hair down. Rowwr.
8:48 pm - Time for go to bed...with Barbara Steele. Nice.
8:49 pm - The hotel owner is named Groper, but apparently he's more of a Peeper.
8:53 pm - I'd say shit probably just got real. Poor Barbara.
8:57 pm - Groper and the less attractive truck driver are plotting. Not a good thing.
9:00 pm - This guy's taking the fact that his wife seems to be missing far too well.
9:03 pm - Why do you keep a Van Helsing around? For situations like this one.
9:05 pm - On second thought, maybe they got the bad Van Helsing this time.
9:09 pm - They turned Barbara Steele into THAT? Not right, movie. Not right.
9:14 pm - You know how I said that last movie was dragging? I lied. THIS movie is dragging. At least new boredom looks shiny. (I can't believe I just said that.)
9:17 pm - We've got our first bloody murder. And...wow...it's a camera attack! Break that fourth wall!
9:18 pm - Ian Ogilvy went on to some good anthologies for Amicus, but here he's wimpy and pretty pathetic. Both as a character and as a performer.
9:23 pm - I know, we'll give her a sedagive! Also, I'm pretty sure this movie would have been a billion times better if it had been called " The He-Beast" and the husband got to turn into a beast and Barbara was allowed to run around being herself and being hot. Or, they could have kept the She title and made the couple lesbians. That woulda worked hardcore. Yup.
9:27 pm - Nothing like a good police subplot to BRING THE MOVIE TO A STANDSTILL.
9:28 pm - You know Van Helsing is smart because he doesn't say "I don't know", he says "I don't know YET." That's pimp. I'm starting to think this Van Helsing isn't entirely worthless. Or, he's good at faking it.
9:29 pm - KARATE CHOP! NICE! I made a very loud cackle just then.
9:30 pm - Did this thing just go Keystone Cops on us? I think it did.
9:33 pm - There's under ten minutes left...and we're watching the worthless cop hijinks. Boo. Don't they need to be dealing with, oh I don't know, A SHE-BEAST????
9:37 pm - Even The She-Beast is asleep. That's how dull this part of the film is. And....I spoke too soon there.
9:39 pm - Well, that was an abrupt jump to the pertinent parts of the script. Only 4 minutes left, thank golly. We're, of course, back at the drinking bird device.
9:44 pm - THAT'S IT? Really? Man, what a disappointment. I expect more from Dark Sky DVDs and Barbara Steele. There's a nice final touch with Barbara at the end, but that's about it.
9:47 pm - So, we've got through The Roost, From Within, Sleepaway Camp, Tooth And Nail, and now The She-Beast. I've got one movie left to wrap up this marathon, and it's one that I've put off viewing for far, far too long. I suspect it's the most well-regarded horror film that I've never seen. And it starts....now.
It's 3:56 pm. I just said I need a better movie. And knowing that, I put in....Sleepaway Camp. I haven't seen this in probably a decade, and am pretty sure I'm crazy for picking it under these circumstances. Alas, here we go. 3:57 pm - This is incredibly dreadful opening credits music. But it's light out. Feels like a scene out of High Anxiety. "What a dramatic campground!"
4:00 pm - Love how the dad and the kids have entirely different accents.
4:02 pm - You know, if I had a degree in Psychology, I'd assume that kind of accident could be incredibly traumatic.
4:04 pm - Thank the lord that's not anyone's real mother.
4:06 pm - Robert Earl Jones has his son's voice. Too bad he didn't have the outfit and helmet that he was wearing at this time. Would have made the movie far, far better.
4:12 pm - I didn't see this movie until after I was too old to have gone to camp, BUT THIS IS WHY I NEVER WENT TO CAMP. (And yes, I do mean because of the "head chef".)
4:13 pm - Emphasis on "head". [/rimshot]
4:15 pm - Poor head chef. I guess that's what the kids call a SICK BURN! [/doublerimshot]
4:19 pm - I've just never understood the appeal of camp. It's like it was parents' excuse to send their kids to the woods where they could be crappy to each other without bugging the adults. Kinda like a supervised walkabout.
4:21 pm - "This guy blows dead dogs!"
4:23 pm - This movie could have been called Puberty: The Killer Musical.
4:24 pm - Blue Oyster Cult t-shirt plus mullet = What the ladies call "DREAMY!"
4:29 pm - Who sits on opposite sides of a snotty girl and spends their time nodding and smiling at each other?
4:31 pm - Here's to you, Blue Oyster Cult Shirt Lisp Guy. You belong in the douchebag hall of fame.
4:33 pm - Now the torch of jackassery is passed on to Tight Jeans and Half a Florida Shirt Guy. It's on.
4:34 pm - "As far as I can tell, the boy drowned." I'm curious, what was his first clue?
4:35 pm - You can tell Judy's important, because she's got a shirt with her name across the tits.
4:38 pm - Awww. First kiss. So romantic. *giggle*
4:41 pm - It's amazing what one goofy looking boy can do for Angela's shyness. Years of progress in like three awkward conversations.
4:45 pm - Short shorts + no shirt = me vomiting.
4:47 pm - NOT THE BEES!!!!! NOT THE BEES!!!!!!
4:50 pm - Oh, young love. How sweet. *giggle*
4:51 pm - Awkward.
4:53 pm - Capture the flag, eh? I want to play Halo 3 now. Nerd.
4:55 pm - The dramatic implications of this love triangle are KILLING ME! Who will ever give Judy the love she deserves!
4:58 pm - After Angela gets thrown in the water, all the other kids throw sand at her as she's being saved. Such a horrible vision of humanity. Thankfully it's a slasher film, so nothing it does really matters.
5:00 pm - Oh look, a shower scene. Yawn.
5:05 pm - Time for some first person action, which is surprisingly not abused throughout most of the movie.
5:13 pm - The death toll continues to rise. We've just gotten through our F13 arrow wannabe scene.
5:14 - Hey Ricky! You got some 'splainin' to do!
5:17 pm - And it's time for our final twist's explanation. Yay!
5:18 pm - Most memorable final shot of the '80s? I dare you to forget it. And, the final credits roll. For all its ridiculousness, this one is at least fun. While I'm still here - what's with this song over the end credits? How awesome is it? (The correct answer is VERY AWESOME.) This might be the most musical schizophrenic film of the day, considering the opening in contrast to this.
5:23 pm - Time to start up one more flick, before I get to the meat and potatoes of my marathon. Thus I'm going against my better judgment and going back to the After Dark Horrorfest well for the post-apocalyptic cannibal flick Tooth and Nail....5:28 pm - Once again, Lions Gate DVD = A BILLION TRAILERS. I've never seen one for this Wristcutters: A Love Story flick, but it looks kinda good. Sad I missed it when our now departed indie theater had it.
5:29 pm - And, it's movie time. Diggin' the music to start us off. (What is it with me and music today?)
5:31 pm - Y'know what really sells the scale of an apocalypse? Anything but a frickin' voice over.
5:33 pm - Oooh, that guy! I like that guy! (His name happens to be Michael Kelly. I always knew him as That Guy.)
5:36 pm - Is there a more boring place to set a post-apocalyptic film than an abandoned hospital?
5:37 pm - Ooh, it's Lewis from Revenge of the Nerds. Seems like a scientist. Makes sense.
5:39 pm - Sex in the soiled linens room. Heh.
5:41 pm - Speaking of, I've been watching horror movies for nearly five hours....haven't seen a single pair of tits. I'm starting to think our precious genre is getting a bad rap.
5:42 pm - Just realized that was the guy from Cabin Fever. Knew he'd been in an Eli Roth film as soon as he said "retarded."
5:46 pm - Man, that guy (Kelly) is a fantastic cynic.
5:48 pm - By cynic, I think I mean asshole.
5:56 pm - Nice surprise kill, and then we're back to the slowness. This movie goes somewhere, right?
5:58 pm - I love "We don't know anything about her!" scenes. This one was too short.
5:59 pm - "I'm just gonna wander around alone for a while. You guys stay here and live for now." (Not actually said, but close enough.)
6:00 pm - This kinda reminds me of Prince of Darkness, but without the Liquid Satan.
6:02 pm - Michael Madsen looks so sad these days. But he'll always have Mr. Blonde to keep him awesome.
6:03 pm - The Rovers are exposed. I hope they have red ones.
6:06 pm - This vote for a new leader to face the Rovers is too intense....I'm off to get tacos.
7:16 pm - And, I'm back. I'd like to remind you all that this blog is sponsored by Taco John's and my adorable baby "niece".
7:17 pm - Yup, Prince of Darkness without Liquid Satan. Final answer.
7:22 pm - More non boob sex, and now the cannibals are roaming. Cool lighting in this flick, at least.
7:24 pm - I'm the token alternative character and the token minority, and I'm wandering around alone. No reason to fear, right?
7:27 pm - Could Madsen appear less interested in being in this flick? Oh wait, yes. I just remembered Bloodrayne.
7:28 pm - If I were them, I'd look at the killers and say "I'm afraid you're going to c.....leave me."
7:28 pm - Also, I wonder how many times in his career Michael Madsen has had to say "Well, well" with a sly grin. My best guess is A LOT.
7:31 pm - Excellent broken bone shot.
7:33 pm - Needles are to me as snakes are to Henry Jones, Jr.
7:35 pm - Wait. She's not a doctor, but she is able to cut out parts of bones and put them back in right. What?
7:42 pm - "If they want dinner, they're gonna have to pay for it." It's funny, because they're cannibals and they plan to attack them.
7:43 pm - BTW, I'm assuming the apocalypse made everyone decide to change their names....but the awful choices are so disturbing.
7:43 pm - And blatant twist occurs.
7:44 pm - I love watching actresses who aren't good actresses get "shot" and have to fall down. Someone should make a montage, it'd be funny stuff.
7:45 pm - "I'm gonna kill you!" "Not if I eat you first." - WOW.
7:47 pm - Like From Within earlier, this thing just needs to speed up and end. I will not be going back to the After Dark well tonight, that's for sure.
7:53 pm - In good news, That Guy is back and still cool. In bad news, the Rovers are roving again.
7:55 pm - "Forget the plan, just kill the rest." For once, someone makes sense. Let's get this over with.
7:57 pm - I want to see a picture of Vinnie Jones petting a kitten. Just to know he's not really a monster.
7:59 pm - Bow and arrow kill for the second straight movie. If only someone had killed themselves with one in From Within. That'd be an impressive suicide.
8:02 pm - When you walk straight at someone who has a bow pointed at you, don't be surprised when you get an arrow in the gut. Confucius said that, I think.
8:03 pm - Man, that acid really burned through that guy. I think I should run away and leave the two other jars of it on the shelf. Unarmed is sooooo better.
8:05 pm - The survivor girl just Ultimate Warriored her face. That should do the trick.
8:07 pm - And, the hunted becomes the hunter. Worst trend in 2000s' horror, but this one handles it OK, I guess. Or maybe it just lacks the annoyance because the whole movie is so mediocre.
8:09 pm - TOO MANY DAMN NEEDLES! OUCH!
8:11 pm - And another voiceover leads to the credits rolling. Not an awful movie, but pretty darn unimpressive. I'm officially done seeking out After Dark titles without some amazing reviews or me winning the lottery and having more money to waste. If the producers want to help with the second idea, I'd greatly appreciated it. Now, let's move on to the late evening segment of our marathon......
The title pretty much says it. Today, I'm watching a butt-ton of horror movies in a row, and I'm gonna talk about them here. Keep coming back for updates throughout the day!
It's currently 1:02 pm and I started my assault on my senses at 12:54 pm with Ti West's The Roost. If the rest of the movie is as good as this opening (TOM NOONAN!!!!!!!!), I'm in for a treat.
1:14 pm - We're 21 minutes into the film, and it's officially in to "average horror plot and characters" territory. But the atmosphere is fantastic, and the lighting mixes with the handheld aspect the film so well.
1:17 pm - Fantastic tease of a gruesome discovery through quick images. And I wish I lived in this town with its Halloween radio programs. Very cool touch.
1:28 pm - WE'VE GOT BATS!
1:30 pm - 37 minutes in, we have our official SHIT JUST GOT REAL moment of the movie.
1:35 pm - Now that we've got a threat, we're in the "talk about what to do while hiding" stage. And just as I typed that, SHIT GOT REALER! Holy balls, that was well played.
1:46 pm - We're back to being slow and dreadful. Also, I've decided all horror movie scores need to feature violins, or whatever this movie is using to sound like violins. Just think about it. Imagine the them from Halloween played on a violin. Yeah.
1:53 pm - This movie's really starting to resemble Bloodsuckers from Outer Space. Only without the bloodsuckers and the idea of them coming from outer space. Oh, and this movie's good. Nevermind....
1:54 pm - For a second, I thought the score was going to evolve into In the Air Tonight. Coulda been a good move. :)
1:55 pm - Nice "fright break"!
2:05 pm - Maniacal cackling? CHECK.
2:08 pm - That was abrupt. But effective. Oh wait......
2:10 pm - And the credits roll. What a fantastic little film. Like West's more recent and more publicized House of the Devil, The Roost is an effective throwback to how horror movies used to be, without really being a ripoff of any specific film. The cast is average and the plot isn't anything too deep, but the whole movie just has a fantastic feeling of dread behind it.
2:13 pm - And, Noonan is back for a curtain call after the credits. Nice touch.
2:15 pm - By the way, classic horror character stupid decision that leads to the finale. But I've never let that slow me down in my love for a horror.
2:19 pm -On to my second film, and I expect to be far less enthusiastic about this one. It's from the After Dark Horrorfest series and it's entitled From Within..... 2:21 pm - I'd just like to say that seeing the Crank 2: High Voltage trailer makes me very, very happy.
2:22 pm - But in the name of saving time, I skipped the Transporter 3 trailer. :(
2:23 pm - Lions Gate should really just label all their DVDs the "ALL OUR TRAILERS AND EVENTUALLY THE MOVIE EDITION!"
2:24 pm - Finally, a movie. I'm assuming it'll start with a suicide.
2:25 pm - Bruce Willis' daughter looks just like him....which is kinda hot.
2:26 pm - I'm pretty certain that is NOT how that would have gone down....from a ballistics/physics standpoint, that is.
2:27 pm - Commentary on the difference between you and your reflection? Gotta wonder if that's gonna come in to play later on....
2:31 pm - Death toll up to 2. Creepy sound effects? FAIL.
2:32 pm - "Juliet drank poison. Not stabbed a pair of scissors into her neck." Is our lead dyslexic?
2:36 pm - So we don't only have bad sound effects, we have bad creepy montages of random "scary" images?
2:37 pm - More overhanded "messages" and a story of a past murder and/or drowning? Hmmmmm......Hey, that guy! (Adam Goldberg, to be exact.)
2:41 pm - Reveal of corpse number three in 3......2.......1..........YAHTZEE!
2:44 pm - Just when I thought we'd escaped the influence of gangly long-haired J-horror ghosts....
2:46 pm - I don't remember anything in that "Son of a Preacher Man" song about beating up TV's John Connor. Maybe it's just me.
2:48 pm - Whatever train of thinking includes nude paintings of one's great-grandmother is a little weird for my tastes. In other news, it's only been 25 minutes and this movie is making me want to cut myself.
2:54 pm - Our first alleged scare is a big LOL moment. It's now 10:00 PM in the movie at 2:55 pm here and we're 30 minutes into the movie. Number overload.
2:58 pm - Oh yeah, that LOL moment led to death #4. And now we've got piano music that's depressing. See what I said above: Violins = GOOD. Pianos = BAD.
2:58 pm - Apparently the rules have changed. Or at least what we thought were the film's rules have changed. Getting sloppier.
3:02 pm - Dramatic janitor.
3:04 pm - "If your pants are open, can I go in?" Weirder when said by a creepy chick to another chick.
3:06 pm - Wisdom from the town cop: "People here are just passionate. That doesn't make them murderers." It's true. Killing people makes them murderers.
3:08 pm - Riiiiiight. That would pass for a suicide. Sure thing, boss. [/sarcasm]
3:09 pm - If emo-TV John Connor turns out to be a sparkly vampire and this is all a trick, I'm gonna be angered.
3:12 pm - This movie's making me hungry. I think it's all the religious zeal mixed with pasty ghosts whose faces evaporate. Kinda reminds me of a Sunday lunch at Long John Silvers.
3:15 pm - There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission.
3:17 pm - Those mirrors. So tricky. We're up to six dead. And there are still 36 minutes of predicted pain left...for the viewer, that is.
3:20 pm - Man, I just got the crap scared out of me and am afraid someone's following me and I'm going to die. Thus, it makes sense that we LEAVE THE FRONT DOOR WIDE OPEN.
3:22 pm - It would be great if a montage could cover the next 15 minutes of plot in the next 2 minutes of time.
3:29 pm - And, the loose ends of the plot that we already assumed are finally coming together. Yawn. I'm entirely focused on my next movie pick right now.
Christopher Lee is perhaps the most respected horror star of the latter half of the 20th century, and rightfully so. While working primarily with Hammer Films in the 50s-70s, Lee played no less than Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, The Mummy, Rasputin, Fu Manchu, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Jekyll, and Mr. Hyde. Plus he went on to appear in The Wicker Man (Not the "Not the bees!"/Nic Cage version, of course), the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the Star Wars prequels, and a Bond film. He's worked with no less than Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, Joe Dante, Peter Jackson, and Billy Wilder. But I'm going to tell you something you probably didn't know about Sir Christopher Lee - his best performance comes in 1968's The Devil Rides Out.
Directed by Hammer go-to-man Terence Fisher, and adapted by Richard Matheson from Dennis Wheatley's novel, The Devil Rides Out gives Lee the rare opportunity to play a heroic role as the Duc De Richlieu, an occult scholar and general bad-ass set for a reunion with old friends Simon (Patrick Mower) and Rex van Ryn (Leon Greene). When Simon doesn't show up, the Duc and Rex (which would have been a great name for a buddy-cop show) crash a party held at his posh mansion/observatory, and quickly uncover the scary fact that Simon happens to have gotten involved with a cult of devil worshipers led by the sinister Mocata (fellow Bond-villain Charles Gray, known also as The Rocky Horror Picture Show's Criminologist).
The plot gives Lee lots of opportunities to use his forceful presence for good, and he succeeds in every one of them. The Duc is kind of what you would get if you mixed Walter Sobchak from The Big Lebowski, Veronica Mars, and Sherlock Holmes - A loud, intimidating character who is capable of anything he sets his mind to and has wits that are matched by no other. Any actor would love this kind of role, but only an actor like Lee can pull it off with such panache. Despite Fisher's terrific direction, Matheson's script and Lee's awesomeness, The Devil Rides Out has a few flaws to overcome. Greene, as Lee's cohort, is an entirely vanilla actor despite his impressive chin, and Lee has to carry him through several scenes. The film's damsel in distress is played by Nike Arrighi, who does a bit better than Greene - but it's pretty clear that Lee is operating on a different plane of existence than anyone else in the film, except for maybe Gray as Mocata. Moreover, the film peaks with a few effects scenes that are incredibly dated, and probably weren't even too impressive in their day. Lee has often stated that he'd love to remake the film with modern effects to deal with these issues, and I can't argue with his idea of having a more mature Duc de Richlieu fighting off the cult once again.
In fact, Lee has often proclaimed this his favorite film that he appeared in, and I am darn close to agreeing. But even if I avoid such a grand proclamation, I'd no doubt list it alongside The Wicker Man and Fisher's first Dracula film among my favorite films featuring the fantastic Mr. Lee. If you haven't checked out The Devil Rides Out, which I've unfortunately found is the case for many horror fans, I can't recommend it enough as my first ever Midnight Movie of the Week here at From Midnight, With Love.
Yeah, that's Love with a capital L. It's that time of year when everyone starts putting up end of the year lists (and it's my blog's one-year anniversary!), but for my purpose at FMWL, it's not enough for me to point out movies that came out this year. After reading an excellent post from Larry Blamire, director of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (WHICH I LOVE!), I got the idea to list some midnight movies I fell for during the first year of my blog lifetime.
To start, I'm gonna ignore 2009 and focus on the Horror and Sci-Fi Films I thoroughly loved watching this year. They might not be Citizen Kane, but they're awful homey: Beware! The Blob (1972, Larry Hagman) - Yes, it's the "sequel" to The Blob, and yes, it's THAT Larry Hagman. Look, you all know how I feel about blobs. This has to be on the list.
Bloodsuckers from Outer Space (1984, Glen Coburn) - Ultra cheesy flick features a wind that turns everyday small-town Texas folk into zombie-esque bloodsuckers. This is what the B-movies of the '50s would have looked like during the glam '80s, for better or worse.
The Car (1977, Elliot Silverstein) - A few years before John Carpenter brought out Christine, James Brolin faced off with THE CAR. Like most '70s horrors, this is smarter and more plot driven than you'd expect, if not slightly ridiculous.
Cold Prey (2006, Roar Uthaug) - If nothing else, I've never seen a slasher film with a director who's name was cooler than Roar Uthaug's. Plus the Norwegian title is Fritt vilt, and that's cool. Oh yeah, the movie's fun too.
Gorilla at Large (1954, Harmon Jones) - A series of brutal killings happen at a traveling carnival, and appear to be the work of the show's man in a gorilla suit...wait, isn't that supposed to be a gorilla? It's like a live-action Scooby Doo, with Technicolor and a cast of no less than Anne Bancroft, Cameron Mitchell, Lee J. Cobb, Raymond Burr, and LEE FREAKIN' MARVIN.
Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969, Robert Parrish) - Thoughtful, intriguing sci-fi flick that's more than a cash in on 2001 A Space Oddyssey's popularity. Full review's on the site somewhere.
The Last Starfighter (1984, Nick Castle) - I don't know why I never saw this before. Clearly someone abused me by keeping it from me. When I did finally catch it, I was glad to find I loved it for more than just its connections to the first three Halloween films. (Director Nick Castle played The Shape in H1, Lance Guest starred in H2, and Dan O'Herlihy starred in H3: Season of the Witch.)
The Masque of the Red Death (1964, Roger Corman) - This might become my favorite Poe/Corman/Price film with time. It's definitely the best looking, partially thanks to cinematography by a young Nicolas Roeg (Don't Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Walkabout). Price is at his best.
Monster Beach Party (2009, Jay Andrews) - OK, I know I said I was leaving out 2009, but damn, this movie has to be mentioned. Also known as Monster Beach Party A Go Go or as Stomp! Shout! Scream! it's a valiant attempt to lovingly spoof the mid 20th century beach party horrors that I love. If I had money, I'd back a remake of this in a second. We need more Skunk Ape vs. Hot Chick Band. Night of the Creeps (1986, Fred Dekker) - I'd seen this long ago on a worn out VHS tape (are there any VHS tapes left that aren't worn out?), but finally getting a revisit on DVD was a revelation. Though it can't meet its hype (or Dekker's The Monster Squad), it's definitely one of the '80s best horror comedies.
Phase IV (1974, Saul Bass) - Saul Bass is one of the most respected men in film for his work on graphic design and title sequences (see Psycho or Vertigo for proof), but he directed only one film - this little sci-fi thinker about a research station dealing with an uprising...by ants. The film looks great in mixing footage of real ants with the secluded setting, and Bass' visual style mixes perfectly with the subdued script.
[REC] (2007, Jaume Baleguero & Paco Plaza) - I've reviewed this already, but as far as I can see it's the winner of the "handheld horror flick holy grail." Short and sweet, if you like your horror intense and gory. And who doesn't?
Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008, Darren Lynn Bousman) - Another flick I've reviewed, but it stands as the most surprising love of mine from this year...and is probably the film I watched most in 2009. Testify!
The Unearthly (1957, Boris Petroff) - So, this is probably one of the worst movies I saw this year, and I can't say much about it that MST3K didn't already say. But it was so much fun to watch John Carradine be evil while future 50-Foot Woman Alison Hayes worries and Tor Johnson proclaims "TIME FOR GO TO BED!" I mean, it's B-movie heaven.
Who Can Kill a Child? (1976, Narciso Ibanez Serrador) - On shock factor alone, this movie might be the most memorable I've seen this year, and it also helps explain what's up with Eli Roth. It's literally 107 minutes of a couple being terrorized by a throng of angry, violent children. What's not to love?
Those are the Horror and Sci-Fi flicks I fell in love with in 2009...but wait, there's more. As an added bonus, I'm throwing out comments on nine Non-Horror/Non-Sci-Fi movies I fell for in the past year. And they start with this amazing image:The Anniversary (1968, Roy Ward Baker) - I can't very well mention my site's anniversary without bringing up The Anniversary. A full review's here somewhere, so I'll just say that Bette Davis plays a psycho, ultra-maternal, cyclops. BOOM.
The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970, Sam Peckinpah) - I love westerns, and I love Peckinpah, and this thing was just beautiful. Jason Robards' lead performance is perfect, and David Warner's here too. Sweet.
The Baron of Arizona (1950, Samuel Fuller) - Vincent Price tries to swindle the U.S. out of the state of Arizona in this drama. Let me say that again. Vincent Price tries to swindle the U.S. out of the state of Arizona. I can't make that up.
Born Yesterday (1950, George Cukor) - I'm a sucker for old school rom-coms, but I'd never gotten past the awful Melanie Griffith remake until this year. I'm glad I finally did, as Judy Holliday is fantastic.
The Fallen Idol (1948, Carol Reed) - Instantly preceding Reed's The Third Man, The Fallen Idol holds its own as one of the most beautiful black-and-white films I've ever seen. The plot's been recycled since, but has never been done better.
A Matter of Life and Death (1946, Powell & Pressburger) - Finally released on DVD by Sony, the Archers' WWII drama takes place between the worlds of the living in the dead, and shows us by balancing gorgeous settings and photography in both technicolor and black-and-white. Probably the third best new film I saw this year...but more on that later....
Vibes (1988, Ken Kwapis) - OK, look at that picture above. It's a nerdy Jeff Goldblum dancing with Cyndi Lauper. How can you NOT want to see that movie? What if I told you it had Peter Falk too, and was kind of a mix between Ghostbusters and Romancing the Stone? Don't tell me you're not in - this is the easiest sell on the list.
With all those films mentioned, I hope you can find at least something on this list that interests you. If not...well, I guess it's time for me to list my Two Favorite Movies that I Saw for the First Time in 2009! First Runner-Up: Lonely Are the Brave (1962, David Miller) - Look at Kirk Douglas. That is bad-ass, folks. Here he stars as a man on the run from the law (played by no less than Walter Matthau), simply because he's tired of the way society's changed. While first glance puts the film in the western genre, this is actually a gripping drama about how difficult it can be for generations to adapt to the expectations that surround them as cultures evolve and they're ways become obsolete. Douglas had long proclaimed this to be his best film, and I'm inclined to agree based on what I've seen.
And, my favorite movie that I saw for the first time in 2009 is........... That's right: MOON. It's from 2009, it's directed by Duncan Jones, and it comes out on DVD next week. I assure you, there'll be a full write-up on it then.
Thank you all for reading, and I can't wait to talk about FMWL's second anniversary next year! As always, let me know what you thing, and here's to happy viewings!
The Mike began his youth by demanding ghost and monster stories, and was soon given three VHS tapes by his parents - The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Lon Chaney's The Phantom of the Opera, and 1958's The Blob.
Since then, he has embraced the wide world of cinema, and has always kept the bizarre, fantastic, and macabre close to his heart.