Saturday, October 15, 2022

PodCast 216: "Cat People" (1942) and (1982) - a Halloween PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan

Watched:  09/06/2022
Format:  Amazon 
Viewing:  Third/ First
Decade:  1940's/ 1980's
Director:  Jacques Tourneur / Paul Scharader

SimonUK and Ryan cover both the 1942 and 1982 versions of a story sure to instill cat scratch fever. Our curiosity doesn't kill us as we check out two films, each a classic in its own way, as relevant meow as they were then! Join us as we compare and contrast, and ponder workplace safety around werebeasts!



Main Title From Cat PeopleConstantin Bakaleinikoff conducted Roy Webb's score
Cat People (Putting Out Fire) - David Bowie & Georgio Moroder

Halloween 2022 Playlist

All Halloween and Horror

Watch Party Watch: The Black Cat (1934)

Watched:  10/14/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  third?
Director:  Edgar G. Ulmer

The Black Cat (1934) imho is a Universal Horror A-Lister that rides the Halloween movie bench because of the lack of "monsters" within the film.  But it speaks much more to where some great horror would come from over the years than, say, Frankenstein, which is it's own genre.  You can feel the echoes of this film in many a future Corman and Hammer movies about deranged dudes with a beef and essentially borrowing from the general world view of Edgar Allen Poe.  

Starring both Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, with amazing set design, cinematography, and performances from our leads - both vying for who is the more watchable weirdo - it's a really fun, thrilling watch.  It's also a glimpse into what was possible in a Pre-Code horror/ thriller world with content I'm not sure would have been in a movie by 1941.  But then you look at RKO horror, and, man, who knows?  But it's a movie with mostly uncomfortable thoughts more than anything on screen.  

Karloff's character is clearly way past sociopathic, having sold out his own people during WWI and returned to Austria - having woo'd and won Lugosi's wife (who believed Bela dead).  Bela has finally left prison after being captured during the war and wants revenge - and his daughter if she's there.  A dopey American couple gets mixed up in it all, and unfortunately for them, the woman is the quite fetching Jacqueline Wells (better known as Julie Bishop).  And because everyone here is a psycho, she becomes the MacGuffin.  

Look, this movie has Bauhaus architecture, Satanic cults, hypnosis drugs that go nowhere, and an unfounded and unexplained fear of kitties.  And cat murder that goes uncommented upon.  It's absolutely wild.  And not just for Karloff's extremely comfortable-looking wardrobe of dressing gowns and silky robes.  

The runtime is like 70 minutes, so it moves along at a rocket clip, so it never gets boring and I highly recommend seeing it if you've never checked it out.  If nothing else, it's a lot of weird, spooky fun.


Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Halloween Watch Party: The Black Cat (1934)

This one is real weird.  Like, I don't really feel like anything I can say would really prepare you for or contextualize the movie terribly well, so let's just light this candle.

Day:  Friday - 10/14/2022
Time:  8:30 Central/ 6:30 Pacific
Service:  Amazon 
Cost:  $4

link live 10 minutes prior to show

Marvel Hall-o-ween-Hall-o-Watch: Werewolf By Night (2022)

Watched:  10/10/2022
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Director:  (checks notes)  Michael Giacchino.  Huh.

This fit the dictionary definition of "fine".  I'm not mad I watched it, I wasn't against what the story was trying to do, but as pal JAL rightfully pointed out, the Marvel machinery seems to have taken over for a portion of the film, and I'm not sure it was to the movie's benefit.  

Werewolf By Night is no one's favorite thing in comics, and if I'm tracing the lineage correctly, the character (Jack Russell, which surely is someone @#$%ing about) appeared in 1972 at what I'm assuming was part of the 1970's monster explosion as classic horror became hip for kids again.  But, also, the Comics Code was no longer nun-teacher strict about rules, and things like "no vampirism, no werewolfism" were stricken from the code.  

This thing is a kind of neat experiment by Marvel - making essentially a TV special that works much in the same way we used to get both the famous kids' stuff like Charlie Brown, but also some older-skewing fare.  Werewolf By Night is maybe 45 minutes, has a more humble budget than, say, Endgame, and exists as a fun holiday treat.  But it's Marvel, so it's also opening the door to the weird and horrific corners of the Marvel U from whence we get Blade the Vampire Hunter (still in development), actual Dracula, but also fellows like Man-Thing.  

But as a 45 minute, moderately budgeted film, it's also led by a first time director in Michael Giacchino, who you know as one of the current wave of actually very talented film scorers.  Why direct?  I have no idea.  But I do think, the oddball impact is that you can see what rails Marvel clearly puts around directors as a support system and to ensure certain bits of quality are maintained.  But, in this case, I'd say that's where the film gets away from them.

The film has the vibe of someone trying to borrow from Universal horror pictures who doesn't actually know what made up the 1930's and 40's Universal cycle of horror's look and feel.  It is definitely in black and white (which some Marvel horror was in the 1970's, natch), but it lacks a certainly visual moodiness and the weight of scenes moored by cameras the weight of an automobile.  I am not insisting that anyone shoot everything in American shots for 45 minutes on grainy film, but continuous camera movement is not how Tod Browning and James Whale were shooting movies.  It lacks the expressionistic ethos or methods used in both Universal and RKO horror - ie: anyone can turn down color-gradient, not everyone knows what to do next.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Angela Lansbury Merges With the Infinite

Angela Lansbury, an actor whose career spanned 1944 - 2018 (not her life, her career!) has passed.  Let it be known that a pre-Murder She Wrote Lansbury was a stone cold fox, which is always a weird revelation about senior citizen TV detectives.  Go watch The Harvey Girls and then come back and we'll discuss.

Because Hollywood is weird, she was like 36 when she was cast to play the mother of the lead in The Manchurian Candidate - roughly 3 years older than her screen son, and it seems she played older characters for years to come - eventually catching up with herself and then maintaining a career as a plucky, sometimes feisty, occasionally insane (Sweeney Todd) individual.  

One of her last screen appearances was in Mary Poppins Returns (2018), but she was just sort of ubiquitous my entire life.  And, of course, as the voice of Mrs. Potts in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, which I heard on a loop every 90 minutes for three years at the Disney Store.  

Here's to Ms. Lansbury, one of the last contemporaries of many of my favorite actors and one I count among our most beloved.  

Monday, October 10, 2022

Watch Party Watch: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

just a reminder that nothing in horror goes harder than Rick Baker's AAWWIL wolf

Watched:  10/07/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  ha ha ha ha
Director:  John Landis

On Friday we watched An American Werewolf in London (1981) as an Amazon Watch Party.  Fun was had!  

Here at the Signal Watch, though, we've covered this endlessly.   No reason to write it up.  

Here's me and Si talking about it in 2019.

Here's 2015
Here's 2012
Here's 2016

Here's Jenny Agutter:

Sunday, October 9, 2022

PodCast 215: "Lair of the White Worm" (1988) - a Halloween PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan

Watched:  08/23/2022
Format:  Amazon
Viewing: Second
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Ken Russell

It seems somehow inevitable that SimonUK and Ryan would cover this 80's horror cult favorite. And what's not to like? We slither our way into more Halloween spookiness with a discussion of caves, England, worms, wyrms, a young Hugh Grant and the relative value of a Dynasty star on your cast



D'Ampton Worm Song - The Tossers

Halloween 2022