Saturday, October 31, 2020

Halloween Doc Watch: Wolfman's Got Nards (2018)




Watched:  10/29/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Andre Gower

I saw The Monster Squad at Showplace 6 on a weekday in late summer when I was a kid.  I must have said something about the movie and thinking I'd miss it (it wasn't released until mid-August of 1987, which would have been just as school was starting), so I'm guessing I thought the clock was ticking.  My dad loved movies, too, when we were kids.  Not like some of your dads who showed you Carrie or whatever, he just liked going to the movies or making a bucket of popcorn at home and watching a movie with us.  

All I know is that on a weekday in the few weeks Monster Squad was out, my dad took the afternoon off work - came home and got me, we watched the movie - and then he dropped me off and went back to work.  I don't think he remembers this at all, but it meant a lot to me when I was 12.  

Hammer Watch: Dracula A.D. 1972




Watched:  10/28/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Alan Gibson

So, we skipped a Dracula movie in there because we read it was super not good, and Jamie's been watching these with me, and I'm trying not to make her hate this.  I have a weird fondness for this very not good movie, which I'd seen before and picked up on discount on BluRay.  But, you know, from a critical standpoint, and through the eyes of 2020, it's hard to say Dracula A.D. 1972 aged particularly well.  

Interactive Watch: The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959)

 


Watched:  10/27/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Edward L. Cahn


I had never heard of The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959) before this week.  But it was Jenifer's selection for the Tuesday watch-along party, Halloween appropriate, and had a wacky premise.  And that premise was: what if someone read an article on head-shrinking in National Geographic?  

A family somewhere in America full of the last vestiges of Victorian gentlemen scientists/ explorers had once gone to South America, gotten killed and brought a curse down upon the Drake family.  Now, the brother of Jonathan Drake has been murdered/ decapitated, and a skull has mysteriously appeared in the family crypt.  

But a lot of heads have gone missing in the Drake family over the years, and skulls keep appearing in a handy skull-accommodating curio cabinet they've got.  

Well, turns out there's an evil scientist who seems to have it in for the Drakes (the last of which is a young woman with a solid profile), and there's a spooky guy dressed in some sort of clearly supposed to be "native" garb that looks like a track suit who has his lips sewn shut running around poking people with a stick dipped in poison, which is a real dick move.  

A cop gets involved and is cranky, but decides magic makes as much sense as anything else.

Look, these days it's hard to do a story where "evil" is based on anything coming from a place other than WASP-based culture without getting the twitter cops on you.  I get it - this movie is xenophobic at minimum, exploitative at best, and has the weirdest opposite of "brown face" you're gonna see in a movie.  I do think that it's okay to have *some* aspect of mystery out there in the world and that it's possibly not a reason to go into hysterics re: the movie's racism.  This is not the movies to champion that idea, but it's possible.

As a straight horror movie, it actually has a nice, pulpy set-up, and I can see this in a horror comic or the like, as much as on the screen.  It sticks to *some* tropes, like the big, strong American cop plowing ahead through the film's action, but it also has so much to set up with the premise, it still has a bit of novelty.  Mostly, it really, really leans into using a few key real-world terms and indigenous words and no one sounds natural using them.

Much discussion was had about the stiff acting of Valerie French in this film, but I think (a) she wasn't given much to do and this was probably shot in a week, and (b) she's doing something approximating an American accent over her London accent, and it's clearly a struggle.  She might have been happier in a Hammer Horror during this window.



Friday, October 30, 2020

Friday Amazon Watch Party: House on Haunted Hill


Day:  October 30th, 2020
Time:  8:30 Central



One part Vincent Price, one part William Castle, and a dash of Elisha Cook Jr.!  It's a house!  It's on a hill!  And maybe, just maybe, it's HAUNTED.  

A favorite of MST3K, Elvira, and inexpensive UHF Halloween-time programming, Vincent Price is caught in a bad romance with a cranky blonde.  For her birthday, he's rented a house with a reputation as a site of murder and, more recently, GHOSTS.  Like, angry ghosts!  

Price has invited several strangers, each in need of some quick cash.  If they can survive the night, they get a sack of dough.

As a welcome gift, each of the guests receive a gun.

Anyway - it's a kooky, campy good time, with Price being all dapper in a well-cut suit.  There's some good jump scares, crazy ideas and Elisha Cook freaking the @#$% out.  Skeletons.  Old ladies making faces.

It's a whole scene.

Halloween at League HQ - 2020 (a brief tour)

and, yes, Scout wandered into the picture there at the bottom


It's Spooky Season at League HQ.  We did do some indoor decorating this year.  However, some of this stuff is up all year long.  For example:  My Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein posters are always a feature in The Hall of Gentlepersons.



Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Spooky Comedy Watch: Hubie Halloween (2020)




Watched:  10/25/2020
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Steve Brill

Look, Adam Sandler movies are not my thing, but we'd been drinking.

This is a perfectly good Halloween comedy, and is more or less exactly what you expect out of a an Adam Sandler comedy, if you like that sort of thing.  It is also feels weirdly more like it *understands* Halloween more than almost any film I've seen.  It gets what the holiday is, and doesn't need to make the lead *hate* Halloween and be won over by the holiday.  And doesn't oversell what happens on Halloween.  

While Sandler doesn't exactly light up the critical heavens with each release, he clearly has made his sets somewhere people want to be.  The cast on this thing is amazing, including faces I haven't seen since, like, Happy Gilmore.  And everyone gets a chance to be funny.  It's really generous, cooperative stuff.

Probably safe for 11 and up.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

PODCAST: "Van Helsing" (2004) - our Halloween 2020 Finale! w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  10/18/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Stephen Sommers



Well, what better way to wrap up our review of classic monsters and monster movies than to discuss 2004's mish-mash of Dracula, Frankenstein, werewolves, hats, hair, bodices and swing around on ropes? Universal threw money at the guy who gave them the 1999 Mummy franchise and he promptly went bananas, abusing SFX teams and creating the worst kind of fan-fic. Join us as we make our way through Van Helsing.
 


Music
:
The Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt Kickers

Monday, October 26, 2020

Watch Party Watch: The House That Dripped Blood (1971)




Watched:  10/23/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Peter Duffell

Really, an excuse for me to watch an Ingrid Pitt movie, I subjected friends to The House That Dripped Blood (1971), a horror anthology starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Denholm Elliot and, of course, Ingrid Pitt, all in different sequences.  

The budget is modest, but it does have a sort of fun "let's tell spooky stories over the campfire" vibe to it, with four episodes of horror, all in complete different genres.  One - a writer conjures the villain from his book to life.  Two - a retired actor stumbles upon a wax figurine in a wax works in the village that reminds him of a woman with whom he failed to kindle a relationship, and he becomes obsessed.  Third - a man moves into the house with his young daughter, who may be a bit too much like her deceased mother.  Fourth - a horror movie star and his much younger girlfriend/ co-star move into the house while he also secures a cape that may really, really get him into the role of a vampire.

It is a silly movie, in many ways, but a darn good one for the Halloween season.  


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Hammer Watch: Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)




Watched:  10/24/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:   Peter Sasdy

I actually liked this Dracula a bit more than I expected.  We're hitting 1970 by this time, Hammer was loosening up, and the characters feel a bit more three-dimensional around Dracula - which is welcome what with the lack of Peter Cushing.  

Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) picks up during the events of the prior Dracula film, with Dracula impaled on a golden cross.  A wayward English traveler comes upon the scene at that very moment, and, being an enterprising fellow, collects Dracula's cape, his clasp and his ring after the count is "dead".  As well as putting some of his blood in a vial.

Hammer Watch: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1968)




Watched:  10/22/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Terence Fisher

I've watched the few Frankenstein movies from Hammer that I've seen completely out of order.  And this is no exception.  I think this is the second to last movie, but, really, do not know.

Completely spinning the opposite direction from Universal, Hammer decided the selling point for their Frankenstein films was not the monster, but the good doctor himself.  Building on the arrogant sonuvabitch from the novel, this version of Frankenstein is NOT humbled by his first creation, but emboldened by his success, and so the subsequent films are him doing what all good scientists would do - keep working on it.