Showing posts with label horror. Show all posts
Showing posts with label horror. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

HOLIDAY PODCAST: "3615 code Père Noël"/"Deadly Games"/"Game Over" or even "Dial Code: Santa Claus" (1989) - A Xmas Genre Xrossover 2020 episode w/ JAL & Ryan

 


Watched:  11/07/2020
Format:  Shudder Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Rene Manzor


It's French. It's Christmas. It's got a deranged Santa and a kid who has seen a lot of 80's action films. It's like "what if 'Home Alone' were infinitely @#$%ed up?" Justin and Ryan take a deep dive into a movie that feels like it's about to break as a cult classic, and features a very Bonnie Tyler Christmas song. You may know it as "3615 code Père Noël", "Deadly Games", "Game Over" or even "Dial Code: Santa Claus". But it's a frikkin' delight, this thing. 
Merry Christmas - Bonnie Tyler

Xmas Genre Xrossover 2020:

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Spooky Noir Watch: The Seventh Victim (1943)




Watched:  11/18/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:   Mark Robson


A Val Lewton horror film - that means a lot of atmosphere, mystery, wild plotting and not a lot of blood or outright frights - The Seventh Victim (1943) is a study in building a sense of dread and doom.  It's a strange, strange film, following one lead character for much of the film before putting her in a corner and finding other characters more interesting to watch.  

The film marks the movie debut of Kim Hunter*, who plays a private school girl who learns her bills aren't being paid by her sister - and her sister seems to have disappeared.  She hits the big city and learns her sister has sold the cosmetics company she owned, her shrink hasn't seen her in a bit, and she was romantically hooked up with Ward Cleaver (see a young Hugh Beaumont as a sort of romantic character!).  

Seems her sister fell in with a bunch of devil worshippers, and that's no gone great.  In fact, when paired with a private eye who decides to do the work pro bono, he gets bumped off.  At some point, we find the sister, and she's on a path that none of the men around her quite understand as they try to save her.  

But, I'm selling the film short.  Being a Lewton produced film, it's all about ideas and what you can't see in the shadows.  There's a Lynchian dream-like quality to portions, and the horror of what you realize must be happening (from people getting away with murder right in front of you) to rooms full of people trying to talk you into suicide that's far weirder than any makeup or jump scares.  Really, the closest thing I can think of in a "we're gonna watch someone end badly" closest to this film was Fire Walk With Me.  

Included as a Noir Alley entry - it works.  The film's aesthetics rely on expressionism, deep shadow, etc...  There's certainly a doomed quality and an underworld scratching at the edges of polite society.  In this case, an underworld that's what polite society does after 8:00 PM.  



*Kim Hunter is much beloved at The Signal Watch as the actor who (a) appeared as Zira in some Planet of the Apes films, and (b) as Stella Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.  




PODCAST: "Krampus" (2015) - a XMas Genre Xrossover 2020 Special w/ Marshall and Ryan

 


Watched:  11/04/2020
Format:  HBO, maybe?
Viewing:  Second or third
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Michael Dougherty


Tis the season for genre mashes! It's horror with Christmas joy! Join us as we peek in on a family that has lost its Christmas spirit - and is now facing a giant beastman-shaped reckoning. Marshall and Ryan talk the 2015 holiday horror hit that's become a bit of a perennial favorite (already!) - which reflects on how the holidays with family can really be a nightmare.


Music:
Krampus Main Theme - Douglas Pipes

Xmas Genre Xrossover 2020 Playlist

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Watch Party Watch: House on Haunted Hill (1959)




Watched:  10/30/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1950's
Director:  William Castle

We were trying to find an ideal movie to prep friends for Halloween, and I think a William Castle spooktacular starring Vincent Price is a pretty good option.  

House on Haunted Hill (1959) is a classic in part because it's an examplar of Castle's interactive theatrical experiences (I believe during this movie, he released a skeleton over the audience on wires) and because it seems to be in the public domain.  But, I dunno, I kind of like it.  It's cheesy, it's giddily malicious, and it makes no sense unless you say "I guess maybe the house WAS haunted?"

Anyway - it's not high art, and doesn't have quite enough spooky scenes, but it's still a fun one.



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.



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.  

Thursday, October 22, 2020

PODCAST: "The Mummy" (1932) and "The Mummy" (1959) - Universal and Hammer Horror for Halloween 2020! w/ SimonUK and Ryan

 


Watched:  10/10/2020 and 10/13/2020
Format:  BluRay and Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown (a lot) and Third
Decade:  1930's and 1950's
Director:  Karl Freund and Terence Fisher




We get wrapped up in some positively ancient horror favorites; two takes on the ancient dudes coming back and causing a lot of problems for colonial pillagers of ancient burial sites! First up is the weirdly undiscussed 1932 Universal feature starring Boris Karloff as a former clergyman who would do anything for love, then we talk the 1959 version starring Christopher Lee in a similar role - but this time opposite Peter Cushing. We'll walk a Nile in their shoes as we dig deep and discuss two horror classics!
 

Music: 
The Mummy Opening Titles - Franz Reizenstein, The Mummy OST
King Tut - Steve Martin, 45rpm edition

Saturday, October 17, 2020

PODCAST: "Phantom of the Opera" (1925) and (1962) - Universal and Hammer Studios! - Halloween 2020 w/ SimonUK and Ryan


Watched:  October 4 ('25) October 6 ('62) 2020
Format:  BluRay (Kino Lorber) and Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  1000th and First
Decade:  1920's and 1960's
Director:  Rupert Julian and Terence Fisher



SimonUK and Ryan cannot remain silent on the topic of that wacky phantom what lurks beneath the opera! We take a look at two of the many film appearances where a creepy music teacher stalks and abducts his pupil while making the most of a poor real estate situation and skin condition. We take a look at the 1925 film from Universal as well as the 1962 take from Hammer, and, boy howdy, are these two different films. 
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor - JS Bach (unknown performer)
Don Juan Triumphant?   I'm not sure, honestly


Halloween and Horror (everything at The Signal Watch)

Hammer Watch: Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968)

 


Watched:  10/14/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Freddie Francis

Let's start by saying "continuity" is not the watch-word for Hammer's Dracula series.  

The remote village which last saw Dracula die by drowning in a frozen moat around his castle is now located in a steep mountain area (as suggested in prior films, but which always seemed a whole lot like a forested area in a topographically uninteresting meadow).  I think the movie opens during Dracula's brief return to life from Dracula: Prince of Darkness when Dracula must have stopped off for a bite in the village, leaving a village maiden dead and inverted inside the bell of the local church.  

The plot is a bit windy, but involves a good-hearted Monsignor showing up, trying to ensure Dracula cannot return after the events of the prior movie, but a fallen priest winds up bringing Dracula back (and becomes Drac's henchman).  Dracula tracks the Monsignor home where he targets his niece.  The niece is dating/ apparently shagging a local student/ outspoken atheist.

Prior characters and locations are kind of nodded at, but only in the faintest ways.  The nearby abbey featured prominently in the prior film is unmentioned, as are any previously seen characters.  You'd think folks would invent speed-dial just to keep Van Helsing on it.

As in prior Hammer vampire films, there's a question of how Christianity and faith intersect with the abomination that is Dracula - and this film puts a fine point on it, featuring a priest who has lost his faith, a priest who has not and a smart mouthed atheist college student.  A cross is a good way to put Dracula off, but it requires faith in the object - something an atheist doesn't have (nor a fallen priest).  Released in 1968, while Britain and the US were wrestling with youth culture movements (our juvenile lead is doing his best to look like Roger Daltrey circa 1968) there's certainly a strain of "this new-fangled thinking by the youths is gonna get us all Dracula'd".  

Of course, seeing the inverse of God and miracles is a pretty good argument that one is not getting the full picture and answers questions of someone who might ask them - and so there's an emergency (and logical) jump to faith, or at least a reasonable facsimile of faith.  And the lack of faith by the fallen priest has made him vulnerable to Drac's evil ways and not even particularly interested in resistance.

Yeah, it's a bit on the nose that Dracula is literally impaled on a cross at the end, but given the themes, it's got a certain poetry and we'll allow it.  There does seem to be some sort of divine will at play in this film, but you don't want to be a flirty barmaid/ cannon fodder for the plot.

This is the Hammer Dracula with the weird "Drac Lens".  It's not a terrible effect, but once you notice it, you do keep looking at it instead of the action of the screen. It's not without motivation, but would have worked better as a POV device.

It's good to have Lee back as Dracula, who even has lines this time, and other familiar faces like Michael Ripper and Rupert Davies.  

All in all - enjoyable as the last, if very different in tone as this one was not directed by Terence Fisher.  



Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Amazon Watch Party: How to Make a Monster (1958)




Watched:  10/06/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director: Herbert L. Strock

How to Make a Monster (1958) turned out to be a surprisingly watchable bit of borrowed-thunder schlock from American International Pictures, an indie studio that knew Universal couldn't copyright wolf men or frankensteins and really focused on the hep teens as an audience.  You know they loved the kids because a character, just at the far end of middle-age, literally monologues for a minute about how great "teens" are, just sort of out of the blue.

On the heels of I Was a Teenage Werewolf (an early Michael Landon film) and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, I guess AIP decided to do some metacommentary and, thus, How to Make a Monster is about how monster pictures are no longer the cool thing, daddio, so our aging movie-monster specialist is told that after this last movie, he's being cut loose.  See, new producers just bought the studio and they basically want to make singing and dancing pictures (a real eye for the future, these guys).  

The make-up specialist has figured out that a formula he's been working on for make-up application has a hypnotic quality, and he uses it to get the teens he's so fond of to start murdering the interloping new bosses.

There's plenty of 1950's B-movie hijinks, some deeply questionable decisions, and a seemingly stable make-up artist who has a whole different scene going on in his private life than you'd have guessed.

I am unsure if the movie is trying to comment upon the career of Jack Pierce, famous for the creation of Frankenstein's monster, the Wolf Man, the Mummy and others - who was ousted in 1946 from Universal.*  After all, the movie is about a make-up artist who created wolfman and Frankenstein monsters and who is let go as new studio brass comes in and wants a change in tone for the studio.

Jack Pierce didn't go on to murder anyone that I know of, nor was he a master of mind-control, and finished his days working on Mr. Ed.  It's really been the rise of the Rick Baker's of the world who discussed Pierce that means he's discussed today among make-up nerds.

It is not clear why the villain needs to put on full make-ups in order to get his minions to kill people, or why he puts recognizable make-ups on them, but the effect is something else as the poor kids run around strangling business guys just going about their own business.  Nor is it clear why the make-up man doesn't clear out to give himself a better alibi, rather than waiting around while the murders happen.  

But, all in all, a cheery little horror movie that abruptly goes into color in the final reel, making for a jolting effect that feels almost surreal.




*there's a whole weird chapter of Hollywood make-up history that includes a near mafia-like relationship between the Westmore family and all of the studios.  The Westmores basically took over make-up across LA in the 40's and 50's, and were jealously protective of their reputation.  In some ways, the relationship continues to this day with SyFy's Face Off monster movie make-up contest - a product of the Westmore family.  Some of this, I believe, is covered in the recent Lady From the Black Lagoon book, which describes the sidelining of Millicent Patrick as a designer for the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Amazon Movie Party Watch: Corpse Grinders (1971)


 

Watched:  10/09/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Ted V. Mikels

There are no words.

Hammer Watch: Dracula - Prince of Darkness (1966)


 

Watched:  10/09/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Terence Fisher

This Halloween, we're making our way through the Dracula films from Hammer Studios.  This is the second appearance of Christopher Lee as Drac and the third in the series (the second film, Brides of, dealt with a sort of faux-Dracula making like Drac and building up his own creepy harem).  

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) sees a pair of English brothers and their wives touring around Eastern Europe when they decide, against the advice of everyone, to head to a town near Dracula's castle.  They're met by a cleric who is VERY against the idea of going anywhere near the castle (which isn't on the map, and so they believe must not exist, despite the assurance it does).  Being British, which in this movie means everyone who is not a British male of a certain standing must be wrong about everything, the tourists head right for the path the cleric warned against, and, hey, get dropped off right in front of Dracula's castle by a coachman who is NOT putting up with these dummies.

Helen, one of the wives, is a bit of a pill, but she is 100% right about everything and no one listens to her, which is why you want to not be a pill about everything.  The foursome come across a random DRIVERLESS CARRIAGE, and GET IN, thinking they'll take it to town - I suppose because these men think a free carriage for the taking is a reasonable touch befitting their place and not at all weird -  until the horses ignore their directions and dump them the crew in front of the castle.

A Lurch-like minion welcomes the quartet and sets them up comfortably.

Turns out, Drac is still "destroyed", but like Sea Monkeys and tap-water, he can be brought to life if you add blood to his ashes.  So, our minion, Clove, goes about making that happen.

Like Horror of Dracula, the scale of the Dracula story here is rather small.  The travelers are a small party, Dracula only ever really seems to threaten them (for all the talk about the force he is), and a lot of the movie depends on people - in classic horror tradition - making bad choices.  Which, before 2020, seemed like a contrivance, but, well...  While I very much liked Father Sandor, played by Andrew Kier - I became a fan of Helen (Barbara Shelley) who is the only one with any common sense and who gets to let her hair down as a vampire (even if Dracula is a bully to her).  

Lee doesn't have any actual dialog in the film, and there are two accounts of how that happened.  The screenwriter claims he didn't give the titular character any, and Lee says he refused to say any of the dumb dialog as it was written.  I have no idea, but I tend to believe Lee.  So it's weird to have your villain just sort of growling and hissing at people when he also seems to care a lot about his appearance (I mean, he always looks neat as a pin). 

As promised, we're paying attention to the role of Christianity in these films, and it's hard to ignore the role of Father Sandor and his pals in the monastery.   A monastery that's surprisingly cross and crucifix free.  But it does show the readiness of the literate clergyman to combat evil in physical form, and, yes, there's ample deployment of the cross as a deterrent.  It's NOT clear why the church hasn't just set the castle ablaze, which seems to the prudent move when you have the King of the Undead a carriage ride away*, but we at least get Father Sandor laying the smack down.  

I'm making fun, but I liked the movie a pretty good deal.  It's not amazing cinema, but it is a sensible follow on to Horror of Dracula and manages some genuine thrills, if not chills.  


*I'm not one to call for murder, but it doesn't count when your target is an unholy monstrosity bent upon the devastation of human life, yo





PODCAST: "The Wolfman" (1941) and "Curse of the Werewolf" (1961) - Universal/ Hammer Halloween 2020 w/ SimonUK and Ryan



 
Watched:  Wolf Man 09/26/2020  Curse of 09/27/2020
Format:  BluRay/ Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown/ Second
Decade:  1940's/ 1960's
Director:  George Waggner / Terence Fisher




Things get hairy as SimonUK and Ryan take a look at two movies where a fellow is really not feeling himself. We look at the classic Universal take on werewolves and the lesser known entry from Hammer (Spanish werewolves!), which are wildly different in some ways, but really agree on the "sorry, you're doomed" angle when it comes to curses that turn one into a ravening beast who still politely wears trousers. 

Music:
Wolf Man Main Theme - Charles Previn
Curse of the Werewolf Theme - Benjamin Frankel
 



Sunday, October 4, 2020

PODCAST: "Frankenstein" (1931) "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935) and "Curse of Frankenstein" (1957) - Halloween 2020 w/ SimonUK and Ryan

 


Watched:  09/18 (Curse), 09/19 (Frank), 09/20 (Bride of)
Format:  Amazon Streaming, BluRay
Viewing:  Third, Unknown, Unknown
Decade:  1950's, 1930's
Director:  Terence Fisher, James Whale


It's the story of a scientist with a dream and the friends he made along the way! We stitch together three films for one monstrously excellent discussion about one of pop culture's favorite go-to's, the mad scientist and his shambling pal(s). From the shocking arrival of the 1931 film by Universal to the mid-50's experiments by Hammer to bring the story to life, we chat what makes the story work from any angle, and why we're still watching 90 years later.




Music
Frankenstein Main Theme (1931) - Giuseppe Becce
Bride of Frankenstein Suite (1935) - Franz Waxman


Halloween 2020
Halloween and Horror

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

PODCAST! "Dracula" (1931) and "Horror of Dracula" (1958) - Halloween 2020 w/ SimonUK and Ryan



Watched:  09/11/2020 and 09/12/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown and Unknown
Decade:  1930's and 1950's
Director:  Tod Browning and Terence Fisher



It's Halloween! This year SimonUK and Ryan are taking on the classics of horror from not just one - but two studios! We're starting with a monster that really sucks - our dear old pal, The Count! Join us as we talk two great takes on Dracula - from Universal and Hammer Studios, respectively - that cemented the character in the collective imagination and which still continue to thrill! Let's talk creepy castles, alluring monsters and rubber bats! 

Horror of Dracula Main Theme
- James Bernard
Swan Lake - Act II (excerpt) - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 


Halloween 2020 Playlist
All the Halloween and Horror

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Friday Amazon Watch Party: PSYCHOMANIA



I've suffered through this movie, and now you should too.

It's "Psychomania" - a movie British people love and Americans will find baffling.

The leader of a biker gang in a small, British municipality makes a deal with the devil for power or immortality or both (I can't remember) and returns to life to wreak havoc.  And by havoc, I mean - kind of upsetting old ladies and people on ladders.

The final film of famed actor George Sanders, this one plays with life, death, and life again.  And frogs.  and motorcycles.  And very, very bad music.

Day:  Friday 07/31/2020
Time:  8:30 Central
Amazon Watch Party (link here)