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

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Halloween Double Feature: "Frankenstein" and "Bride of Frankenstein" (1931), (1935)




Watched:  10/30 and 31/ 2022
Format:  Criterion
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  James Whale

This is now my movie Halloween tradition.  If I haven't already watched them elsewhere, watch Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein to wrap up the spooky season and before my thoughts turn to sweet potatoes and turkey.  

I don't necessarily always watch with zero distractions - these are movies I've seen over a dozen times each.  I can put them on and do other things and look up for key scenes.  

Anyway, here's a podcast Simon and I did on the films.  

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Halloween Watch: The Blob (1958)




Watched:  10/30/2022
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  second?  third?
Director:  Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. / Russell S. Doughten Jr.

I am 95% certain Simon and I are podcasting the 1950's and 1980's version of this film next Halloween.  But here's some early thoughts.

  • Pictures for teens may actually provide a more realistic portrayal of cops than 95% of movies (ie: they walk in with a thousand assumptions, ignore all evidence in front of them, and there's a non-zero chance they're going to arrest the very people who were asking for help)
  • There are numerous lengthy and pointless scenes in this movie
  • Apparently just anyone can get to an air-raid siren
  • The instinct to shoot at a gelatinous monster is prevalent and wild
  • This movie is terrifying
  • The FX are absolutely insane.  I need to read up on how they did all of this.
  • That poor nurse.
  • In some ways, this is a movie about a little dog no one can keep track of.
  • In other ways, this is a movie about the world's shittiest first date.
  • The job of a teen girl in this movie is to silently stand there and be forgotten but absolutely be in scenes standing  there hoping Steve McQueen can do something.
  • Everyone in this town shows up for midnight movies.  Young, old, rich, poor.
  • Weird flex to predict global warming, movie
Anyway, love The Blob.  So good.

Hammer Horror Halloween Watch: Lust for a Vampire (1971)




Watched:  10/30/2022
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Jimmy Sangster

So, way back when I was first getting familiar with Hammer, I watched Lust For a Vampire (1971), and wound up with one of those absolutely wild experiences you get once in a while on the internet.  Admittedly, I'd not *really* been watching the movie - I was online and just watching the movie with one eye and I dashed off a jokey, jerky write-up.  But I was so much not paying attention that I mistook a completely different actor for Christopher Lee, which should tell you how much I was *not* watching.  

Within 24 hours, actor Judy Jarvis (nee Matheson) - who plays Amanda McBride in the film - spotted the review and *rightfully* called me out.  My review was stupid.  I'm lazy.  It happens.  But it was also a reminder that I should actually pay attention to a movie and give it a fair shake if I'm going to criticize the film as a viewer.  And real people do work on these films.

I promised Judy Jarvis I would rewatch the film, but, honestly, that's a *lot* of pressure.  Now I didn't want to embarrass myself if Judy Jarvis was still patrolling the internet, and I absolutely wanted to give the movie a fair shake this time.

Suffice to say, I am now more familiar with Hammer, what was going on in 1970's British film, and know how to watch these movies from a better perspective.  I've read Carmilla and become more aware of what Hammer was doing with the Karnsteins (a family of vampires they employed as Dracula wound down and based on the novel Carmilla).

I am not just saying this:  I loved the movie this time.  

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Pumpkin Carving Watch: The Haunting (1963)




Watched:  10/29/2022
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Robert Wise

Every year, we carve a couple of Jack-o-Lanterns and this year is no exception.  And when we carve pumpkins, we put on a movie we know well so we only have to partially watch.  The Haunting (1963) was Jamie's suggestion for this year's carving.

It's been a little bit since I watched this Halloween favorite, and, dammit, is this movie good.  Having now read the novel upon which it is based, it's even better.  But what is in the movie has always been there, so take off your "spooky movies didn't get sophisticated until the 1970's" glasses and soak it in.

I like vampire movies, werewolf movies, etc...  I get the actual willies from haunted house movies and Michael Meyers.  Probably because The Shape is basically a stabby, unknowable ghost.  

Anyway - borrowing heavily from Shirley Jackson's text, leaning on stellar performances across the cast and Wise's smart direction and some off-kilter/ really creative camera and lighting work, it's just a delight to watch.  When I'm not gritting my teeth.  

Here's the jack-o-lanterns, by the way.  Jamie used a cookie cutter and hammer to get her pumpkin's eyes done.  I think it looks cool!



PodCast 220: "Halloween Trilogy" (2018, 2021, 2022) - a Halloween PodCast w/ MRSHL and Ryan




Watched:  10/20 and 10/22/2022
Format:  HBOmax and Peacock
Viewing:   Second/ First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  David Gordon Green





To wrap up Halloween 2022, Marshall and Ryan take on the more recent trilogy of sequels based upon John Carpenter's 1970's ground-breaking classic, that spanned 2018-2022. We drive relentlessly through three movies, slashing our way through narrative complexity, taking down the multitude of ideas presented, slaying any questions about what the movie is trying to do, and staring into the abyss as we try to figure out what, exactly, is staring back.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Halloween Theme - John Carpenter 
Halloween Ends - John Carpenter 


Halloween 2022 Playlist



All Halloween and Horror PodCasts

Halloween Watch Party Watch: House of Dracula (1945)



Watched:  10/28/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Erle C. Kenton

I'd seen this before and couldn't really remember it.  But when I saw "Hunchback" on the poster, I was like "oh, yeah.  This one."  

Dracula (John Carradine) goes to a Dr. Edelman trying to figure out if he can be "cured".  Edelman being a movie scientist/ doctor is like "why not?"  The same day, frikkin' Larry Talbot shows up *also* looking to be cured of being the Wolfman.  And in the cave below the house?  Frankenstein's monster.  Because why not?  

Whether Drac was serious or not about his cure and whether he was overwhelmed by his own innate evil or not is never explained as he throws the plan out the window to get un-vamped in exchange for trying to turn one of the two nurses into a new bride.  Along the way, Dracula turns the doctor into a sort of quasi-vampire.  Shenanigans ensue.

We have to talk about Nina.



Look, this whole movie is not about Nina, but she's in, like, 1/3rd to 1/2 of the shots the movie.  And I do not know why.  She's set up as a major character, but is not.  She's just... there.

Nina (Jane Adams), the dutiful nurse to Dr. Edelmann, is the poster-specified a hunchback, which is mentioned like once, but otherwise goes unremarked upon.  So she's, visually, always there in bright white nurse-gear and trying to be helpful and has an obvious difference.  

Actress Jane Adams was not a hunchback, and whatever prosthetic they put on her seemed to really bend her over and make her arms hang a certain way.  The character has not a negative bone in her body.  She's sweet and helpful and literally everything points to things working out well for Nina.  Like, they introduce a potential cure for Nina's bone difference - which she gives up to help the frikkin' Wolfman instead.  That's Nina!  Always helpful.  

But at the movie's climax, Nina is just thrown in a pit to her death as a bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Which...  weird flex to suddenly go dark in a movie that feels very much aimed at kids.  

I have no ideas or no theories as to what happened here.  Was there supposed to be another fate for Nina?  Was Nina always doomed?  Was she accidentally in more of the movie than they intended thus drawing focus?  Why take a super cute actress and suggest she needs work and then bump her off with her storyline unresolved?  

It's a mystery wrapped in an enigma and smothered in secret sauce.  But what reading I did do tells me that this movie was on a conveyor belt through pre-production to post-production and while Adams had a swell time working on it, the veteran actors were less than impressed with the industrial approach to movie making that they compared to how TV would be made in a few short years.

Anyway - Nina going down into the pit will now haunt me forever.  

Adams' career in film and TV was not terribly long.  She showed up in 1942 and sort of petered out in the 1950's, finishing with an appearance on The Adventures of Superman in 1953.  It looks like she did a lot of B's, monster and cowboy movies.  She was kind of short for Hollywood, I guess, at 5'3" (which doesn't seem that short), but she attributed that to how she wound up in less than glam-girl roles.

We think she's peachy.

So here's Jane Adams without her prosthetic.  Lovely girl.  Not exactly in the Dwight Fry in weird make-up mode.








Friday, October 28, 2022

Hammer Watch: Blood From the Mummy's Tomb (1971)




Watched:  10/26/2022
Format:  AFS Cinema
Viewing: First
Director:  Seth Holt/ Michael Carreras

Well.  This was 40 minutes of movie stretched out over 96 minutes.  

I'll defend the last 30 or so minutes of Blood From the Mummy's Tomb (1971), but the first hour of the film is weirdly plodding for a Hammer, with long stretches of the movie that feel like filler to hit an unnecessarily long run time.  This whole thing could have been 70 minutes and lost nothing.  

Example:  We see 85% of the moments leading up to an Egyptologist's demise and can infer he dies off-frame.  It's not great, but a workman-like scene.  We then then watch Our Hero look for the guy for what has to be a full 2 minutes of screen time, retracing the path we just saw just seconds before.  Look -  all we needed was Our Hero walking up on the dead body and showing his horror and revulsion.  That's like 10-15 seconds, easy-peasy.  

So, yeah, it's a weird movie and falls in a lot of traps I usually associate with indie-schlocky levels of movie-making where there's pressure to reach a minimum runtime and no one working on the movie understands pacing or narrative economy.  This is a movie made by actual professionals from a real studio.  It's weird.  When you see the slow-moving dad, partially paralyzed from mummy-attack, realize his daughter on the 3rd floor is in danger and he rushes to help her from the basement, I let out an audible groan.  We're going to see a lot of awkward stair climbing.  

What the film does have going for it is Valerie Leon, but YMMV here.  She's not an amazing actor, but she ably fills the role of Hammer lead.  

Valerie Leon takes a hard look at herself



Stylistically, the film has one foot in modern 1971 and another in pre-WWII movies of mummies and even archaeology.  But throws in odd bits like Our Hero's car is an MG TA from the 1930's, I believe, while keeping the wardrobe for the young leads hip and modern.  

The plot, based upon a Bram Stoker horror novel with which I am unfamiliar, does inform how we wound up with so much reincarnation jazz in mummy films starting with Karloff.  On the very moment of discovery of a sarcophagus containing a perfectly preserved Egyptian queen/ priestess, an archaeologist's daughter is born and his wife dies in childbirth in London.  As she approaches her birthday (they never say which one...) it seems the daughter, who exactly resembles the "mummy", is becoming possessed by her. 

The movie becomes a plodding "gotta catch 'em all" of the artifacts of the queen, scattered across London in the homes of the archaeologist's team - who don't stay in touch.  Why no one destroyed the artifacts is never stated.  Or why they didn't, like, put the in a vault or mail them to relatives or basically do anything to actually stop this... never comes up.  

There's also a Dr. Pretorious-type imported from Bride of Frankenstein in James Villiers' Corbeck.  It's such an obvious swipe, it's kind of adorable.  And aside from Leon's wardrobe, the best part of the film.

I suspect Hammer probably knew this movie wasn't great, but they had also hired a down-on-his-luck Seth Holt to direct, and the guy died ON SET the last week of filming.  They soldiered on and made a movie, but - man.  This is not good.  It's not even "fine".  It's just mind-numbingly dull for vast stretches and it absolutely didn't have to be.  There's plenty to talk about vis-a-vis how it relates to modern mummy films, old mummy films, the Hammer canon, etc...  but I can't do it.  









Thursday, October 27, 2022

Vincent Watch: The Fly (1958)




Watched:  10/25/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  FIRST
Director:  Kurt Neuman

A while back I figured out I had never seen The Fly (1958).  Whatever I saw - which was in pieces on TV - was Return of the Fly from the following year.  Both star Vincent Price. Look, I'm not always great at knowing what I did and did not do.

I was inclined to check the movie out anyway, but October 25th marked the 29th anniversary of the passing of Vincent Price, add in Halloween shenanigans and it seemed like the time to watch it.

Look, I loved this movie.  Great cast, great story, and understood horror on a much deeper level than "oooo!  a scary monster!".  Like, there's body horror, psychological horror, existential horror...  you can see why Cronenberg was like "I have an idea of how to re-do this".

If you've lived in the world, you know "Heeeeeelllp meeeeeee!"  And I'd seen the clip on YouTube.

All this to say, this movie is as dark as anything I've seen from this era, and I've seen piles of post-1955 noir.  You don't get much more f'd up than a man-fly or fly-man.  Or a woman having to flatten her own husband to paste.

The film stars Price in a POV role as the brother to the scientist who becomes The Fly, who is played by Felix Leiter himself, David Hedison.  Patricia Owens didn't have a huge career, but she's amazing as the wife who had to learn to work an industrial press in a pinch.  Herbert Marshall as the Inspector, and a surprise appearance by Kathleen Freeman as a domestic who has no idea what is going on.

I knew Stuart was all in on this movie, so I'm glad he hyped it for me to finally get around to it.  It's a couple levels better than what I was expecting, which was William Castle adjacent.  But thought and ideas went into this, and not just schlocky fun.



Sunday, October 23, 2022

PodCast 218: "Near Dark" (1987) - a Halloween PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan


Watched:  09/26/2022
Format:  DVD
Viewing: Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Kathryn Bigelow




SimonUK and Ryan head west to dig up a cult classic! It's a 1980's take on vampires that doesn't suck! This film helped pivot vampires into something other than romantic, well-dressed folk and gave us hard-travelling vagabonds who might just treat you like a Capri Sun pouch.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Rain in the Third House - Tangerine Dream, Near Dark OST 
Mae's Transformation - Tangerine Dream, Near Dark OST 


Halloween 2022



Halloween and Horror - All

Vampire d'Halloween Watch: Fascination (1979)




Watched:  10/22/2022
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jean Rollin

I don't know the work of Jean Rollin, but I understand more cultured folks will.  Something to look into.  His imdb looks like horror and thrillers, so, sure.

This film is mostly mood in the best way.  I think some of y'all like JAL might dig it if you haven't seen it.  It's essentially a well telegraphed vampire movie with the languid pace of Daughters of Darkness that has some astounding moments that alone are worth checking the movie out for.  

I enjoyed it, but it's mostly paper thin when you want to discuss the plot, which is a young criminal takes the gold he and his compatriots stole and hides out in a mansion which is inhabited by two young, attractive women but no servants or anything.  He tries to sort out what is happening, has sex with one of them and dodges the gang of crooks.  Also, there's a reunion of more attractive young women.

I dunno.  Give it a shot. It has some stunning visuals and never overextends its reach as a lovely, moody bit of horror with a curious spin on the vampire idea.





Saturday, October 22, 2022

Halloween Watch Party Watch: The Fog (1980)



Watched:  10/21/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  third?
Director:  John Carpenter

We PodCasted this one a while back.  

Still, very much enjoyed this one with other folks.

Here you go. 


Thursday, October 20, 2022

Halloween Hammer Horror Watch: Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1972) - in a movie theater!



Watched:  10/19/2022
Format:  Austin Film Society 
Viewing:  First
Director:  Roy Ward Baker

The last movie I saw in a theater was March 5th, 2020.  Simon and I went to see Shane, because when they show Shane, you go see it.  But then COVID and the complete re-writing of movie distribution on the fly happened, and my sense of cinema FOMO ceased to exist.

So... what could draw me back to the cinema after 2.5 years away?  Well, the promise of gender-bending adaptation of a classic horror tale, murder, mayhem and some mild nudity, of course.  And- part of Hammer's 1970's output of throwing madness at the wall to see what sticks.

Take a look at the poster above and ponder - the actual actors from this movie are not seen here.  The seeming murder?  Not part of the movie.  At times, Hammer would create a poster first, and then a movie.  This is pure pulpy hucksterism at it's finest, and I think more stuff needs to be made this way.   "I dunno, we pre-sold something called 'Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde' and promised sex changes and blood.  It writes itself!  Go make it!"  AND THEY DID.

Y'all, maybe it's the thrill of leaving the house to see a film on the big screen.  Maybe I'm easily swayed by five seconds of boobs, but I found this movie an absolute delight.  

Look, you can apply your film criticism hat and do the thing where you face facts and say "this movie may not have intentionally been saying things, but society...!" and that's legit-ish.  You can also say "look, they very quickly made a movie that was about a kooky concept and the main reason it's not horrendously offensive is that no one read the book it's based on and made Hyde what he was in the book as a woman."  And I think both ways of viewing the movie have value.

We all know the story of Jekyll and Hyde - a scientist looking to quite literally use chemistry to separate the "good" side of one's character from the "evil" side.  Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1972) sees a well-intentioned Jekyll who is, instead, seeking to prolong life and believes that something in the female physiology will assist with this chemical reaction.  After an early success with a @#$%ing housefly, where he believes he mistook a female fly for a male fly, he leaps 1000 steps ahead and experiments on himself, transforming from the passably handsome Ralph Bates into Martine Beswick.  Might as well become a knock-out, I guess.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Jekyll's neighbors, the Spencers, because man is this where the film feels knowingly perverse.  A mother and her son and daughter move in upstairs (and invention of the film) and let us say that their downstairs neighbor is split in his interest between the brother and sister.  It may not be horror, but it is *interesting* and there's a killer scene that really tells us how Jekyll is unravelling, and it very much illustrates the dynamics of what's occurring with Jekyll/ Hyde.

The movie is a bit unusual in appearance for a Hammer Horror.  I assume it was filmed on rented sets to get the right claustrophobic feeling of London of the 1880's. and the seemingly perpetually darkened streets.  And it's packed with extras, bit parts and multi-room, multi-level sets.  

Also - amazing plot twist - the Dr. Jekyll here is also Jack the Ripper.  The famed precision of the murders is now part of Henry Jekyll's need to collect, like, thyroids or something.  It's actually an interesting bit of change - and really, that's what I liked about the movie is that it isn't just a game of telephone or a movie that tries to improve on something that works just fine.  They're just kind of going bananas to do as much as possible (the publication of the novel predates the murders by only 2 years, so it basically kinda works).

Oh, the film school papers that could be written about this film as misogynistic swill.  One can only imagine how the very notion of the film would be enough to pre-write a 1000 opening paragraphs in need of supporting evidence.

Is it "horror" to *become* a woman?  The movie doesn't exactly comment upon that notion or make it seem bad - just different.  Jekyll doesn't seem as upset that he's becoming a woman from time-to-time as he is that someone is taking over his brain and body.  He's a scientist, and the fact that he's a woman is a weird but not infuriating side-effect.  The character of Jekyll could potentially, in today's terms, be considered asexual, and the biggest difference is that Sister Hyde is... not.   

But but but...  I mean, Hyde's "evil" side is (duhn duhn duuuuuhn) a woman!  Curiously, the movie either on purpose or by accident doesn't really make that distinction.  Jekyll already runs around paying off morticians for access to the dead bodies of young women (a common practice til the early 20th Century), and he has no problem looking the other way when he asks some thugs to provide him with dead girls.  Arguably, all "Sister Hyde" does is look great and try to continue existing - before the murder, I guess.  But that's just to cover for the fact that s/he can't go out looking for women anymore as Dr. Jekyll.  The pure evil of Hyde in the novel is not present here despite the promise bestowed by the copy on the posters.  

Even the permission Jekyll seeks from an unknowing young woman regarding his trolley car problem of needing to murder young ladies FOR SCIENCE is phrased in the kindest possible framing.  She doesn't know what she's telling Jekyll to go do.  

The title is probably a fairly good indicator of how seriously the creators seemed to take their own film.  It's fun, bloody, weird and a bit sexy.  I might have put it off had it not been a Halloween showing at Austin Film Society, and I'm glad I did get to see it.






Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Halloween Watch: A Comedy of Terrors (1963)




Watched:  10/17/2022
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jacques Tourneur

After The Omen, Jamie requested something lighter for Halloween viewing.  When I read her the description and cast of A Comedy of Terrors (1963), we had our winner - and this was before I knew it was a Richard Matheson script and directed by the great Jacques Tourneur.

This movie feels distinctly like veteran Hollywood players dicking around in a comedic thriller/ horror film, and you're just sort of watching it happen.  The sense of comedy is *distinctly* of the 1960's variety (seemingly appealing to young adults who grew up on 1940's and 50's cartoons and earlier live-action screwball shorts like Three Stooges, I think), while also appealing to the faux literary pretentions of horror from its Poe-borrowing roots, and quoting of Shakespeare to get some credibility.  And, of course, well-endowed women around older men - the Hammer formula, but it's also just movies, I guess.*

The cast includes:  Vincent Price as a ne'er-do-well mortician, Peter Lorre as his blackmailed assistant, Boris Karloff as Price's senile father-in-law, Basil Rathbone as Price's landlord, lovely Joyce Jameson as Price's would-be-opera-star wife, and Joe E. Brown in a small role as a cemetery keeper.  Also credited:  Rhubarb the cat (who is in it throughout and plays absolutely no role) and Beverly Hills - who is some classic 1960's eye candy (think about how Bond uses women as props).

Was the movie funny?  Occasionally.  Shockingly, Rathbone kind of steals the show even as Price and Lorre had me at a low simmer of giggles all throughout.  Comedy is a weird beast in that it can age like old bread as readily as it ages like fine wine.  Some of it works great ten years later, some of it feels awkward and weird.  A lot of it you can see was fresh in the moment, but 60 years later, it's not quite as great.  Or funny.  

But I did enjoy the film, especially the second half.  

The plot is essentially that Price is an undertaker, a business that seems like it would do well no matter the economy, but he's clearly not the popular one in town, and rent is due, so he has to start making funerals happen - fast.  Comedy ensues.

This was, weirdly, roughly the plot of goof-around video JAL, a ragtag group of pals and I made Freshman year at UT.  So we were onto something, I guess (I played "the dude" and it's the worst part of the film, so you'll never see it.  Justin plays an FBI agent looking into the murders, and he's brilliant.).  

Anyway, if you're looking to see some classic horror stars have a grand time - maybe more than the one you're having watching the film - it's worth a view.  I thought it was all right and genuinely hilarious in several places.  It absolutely did the job for a Mid-October Halloween watch.  It's very AIP, but that's not a bug, it's a feature.

Frankly, I think Price's work a few years later in England fulfills the promise of what he's doing here even better.  But why not check this out?


*I'd argue 50's - 70's horror did this in a particular way so you weren't necessarily seeing the women as romantic interests for the leads, even if they were married it seemed companionate, but they were there nonetheless.  

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Halloween Watch: The Omen (1976)




Watched:  10/15/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Director:  Richard Donner

Mostly, I watched this at long last because I'm tired of SimonUK assuming I've seen this movie, and then being surprised I haven't seen it.  So here we are.  ARE YOU HAPPY, SIMON?

It's not that I thought the movie would be bad, but once I heard the premise, I basically figured I could guess what the movie would be, and I don't think I was too far off.  Of course I didn't know specifics, but lots of creepy stares from a kid and people dying badly around him as the parents try to figure it out...  check and check.  

But- here's the thing.  It's just really well done.  I mean, say what you will, but kudos to Richard Donner for crafting a movie that has you cheering for a five year old kid to get it.  That's storytelling, kids.

Living at the intersection of two horror genres, (a) the evil child genre and (b) Satanic Panic fodder, The Omen (1976) manages to package the two nicely, pulling in name actors who are past their heyday but can still deliver the goods.  I mean, it's a bit odd to cast a 60 year old Gregory Peck to play the husband to a 40-year-old Lee Remick as the parents of a 5 year old (in 1976.  Now... meh).  Fortunately, both are terrific, unravelling on separate timelines as they deal with the reality of what's happening to them.  And, man, Remick can do more with a look than most actors can with all their tools and tricks.  

The film also stars a young David Warner, and it was great to see him doing his thing in the wake of his passing.

I'm glad I saw it, even if the past 46 years have seen so much in the way of imitation, it may not feel terrifically fresh at this point on a first viewing.  But it also never veers away from the point that there's a 5-year-old bringing about the end of the world, and no magic doo-dad is going to miraculously fix the kid.  And the *scope* of the story was so much bigger and better realized than I was guessing.  


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!


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
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.

   



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


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
D'Ampton Worm Song - The Tossers


Halloween 2022

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Vampire Watch: The Lost Boys (1987)




Watched: 10/05/2022
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Joel Schumacher

My first takeaway from this is that The Lost Boys (1987) is Rated-R but also clearly a kids movie.  It's also not clear *why* it's rated R.  There's no nudity, the language is now fine on cable, and it's not even that gross or violent.  I saw it in the theater which would have been right around when I also saw RoboCop several states away in the theater, so it wasn't just a local thing.  Twelve year-olds, maybe exceptionally tall ones like myself, were just wandering into whatever we wanted to see and the theaters wanted our ticket and Spree money.  

But, yeah, I hadn't watched it since high school or early college, and it sure seems aimed at kids when you see it now.  The leads (Corey Haim, Jason Patric) are supposed to be in high school, I guess (a whole other question, because this is from the era when high schoolers were shown to be sexually active and drink and smoke pot as a matter-of-course), and Haim seems cast years older than the part is written.  What 16 year old needs to be told "it's bathtime!" or goes to sleep in their parent's room?  - a quick Wikipedia check confirms that the younger characters were supposed to be 8 years old, originally.

Which makes sense.  1986 was a pivotal year for comics - see the Dark Knight Returns stuff scattered in the Frog Bros.' comic shop.  But mainstream America hadn't yet picked up on the shifting content in comics and wouldn't for years.  Trust me, I was there.  So the characters were intended to be *kids* interested in *kid stuff*.  

Look, that's an interesting movie and one I would have maybe watched, but 1987 also saw The Monster Squad tank.  And this is the one people remember more than 1987's Near Dark, which I personally prefer as a horror movie.  The Lost Boys is an adventure comedy with horror elements - and that's great!  

Due to a recent reference to the film in Hulu's Reservation Dogs season finale, I think Jamie became curious and mentioned she'd never seen the film, so I did want to fix that as soon as possible.  And, I'll be honest, it's a lot better than I remembered.  I didn't remember *not* liking it, but it's genuinely funnier and better considered than I think I was giving it credit for as "a thing I liked when I was 12".  It's got great conflicting vibes that play off each other incredibly well, and it doesn't have delusions of grandeur - it's just really good at doing what it's doing.  

The cast is made up of stars and talent.  I mean, it's a weirdly well populated movie and managed to catch a whole lot of people on their way up between Coreys, Patric Sutherland, Gertz - and workhorses like Weist and Hermann who got to do something fun.  And even Alex Winters - who has maybe three lines would be hugely famous within a year or so.  

(late edit:  I forgot to mention - this movie debuts sparkly vampires!  After Alex Winter The Vampire is killed, he sprays blood all over the Frog Bros.  In the sunlight, his blood is clearly full of glitter!  SPARKLY!!!!)

I don't want to oversell the film, but it was fun!  There's some commentary baked in there about the double-edged sword of the joys and folly of eternal youth that gets overshadowed by "whoops, I'm a vampire" and the complete rejection of the possibilities.   They don't really do much to support the idea that Star and Michael even really know each other, and Star is never more than "girl" in the movie.  The timeline feels like it's 96 hours, tops.  Corey Haim's wardrobe feels like it was selected by a crazy person. 

But I enjoyed catching it again for nostalgia reasons, but also to reconsider the movie 35 years later.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Dracula Watch: The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)




Watched:  10/03/2022
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First 
Director:  Alan Gibson

Well, this is the final Dracula movie starring Christopher Lee as the good count, it's 1973 happening out there, and the soundtrack has a wah peddle.  I won't say I didn't enjoy this movie.  I did!  It's got Cushing still leaning into it, Lee is much more engaged than in Dracula AD 1972, and how can you go wrong when you include Joanna Lumley?  

This movie follows what happens when Dracula gets himself a cult going, and managed to plan ahead.  His plan may make no sense, but it is very, very dramatic.  Some key scenes seem to take place off-camera, and you will not like the guy who they cast as "our hero".  He has a terrible haircut and is rude to Joanna Lumley while also clearly supposed to have a romantic spark with her that no one is buying.  She's clearly way, way out of his league.  

Anyway, a mysterious cult seems to have recruited some deeply important people with the promise of power.  They kill a chicken and everything.  But it's secretly Dracula planning to use a super-bubonic plague that will wipe out humanity.  As the authorities bring in Van Helsing to sort things out, he sorts out that Dracula survived their last encounter and is now working to create a plague so all of humanity will die, and he will then be able to die, himself.  This idea gets no further consideration as some kinda wild stuff.  

There's a basement full 'o brides, a gang wearing matching sweater vests of evil, a woman wildly othered and exoticized for being Asian, snipers, excellent use of a net, and Dracula getting caught in a shrubbery.  

Joanna Lumley plays Jessica Van Helsing, seen in the prior year's Dracula AD 1972 as portrayed by Stephanie Beacham.  And her wardrobe is 70's fabu.  No notes.  She looks terrific.  




The movie plays it pretty straight, and nobody is an idiot just to serve the story.  I'm not sure how unleashing a plague requiring physical contact that becomes obvious one has said plague is particularly frightening when you realize no one would touch those people and just walk away from the threat.  Literally Lee's scheme in Captain America: Death Too Soon is 10000x more effective.   

There's some kinda interesting direction here that shows we've moved well on from the TV-like set-ups on the first Dracula.  Even if the title sequence just yells "make it cheap!".  It's funny what some camera angles and not pumping a studio full of flat lighting can do.  But, man, you can also feel that this is not the world's most expensive movie when Dracula's office looks absolutely borrowed for the day.

Yes, Dracula has an office.

Anyhoo.  Go watch!  It's the last Dracula Lee/ Cushing team up.