Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts

Friday, October 22, 2021

Kiddie-Horror Watch: Return to Oz (1985)

noticing the poster makers realized they needed to not tell everyone their favorites aren't really in the movie



Watched:  10/21/2021
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Walter Murch


I am categorizing this movie as a kid's horror movie, because (a) that's how Jamie, who has seen it, pitched it to me, and (b) this is a horror movie.  Starring and for kids.  I don't know if that's what anyone set out to make, but that's what it is.  Dorothy returns to a post-apocalyptic Oz where everyone is "dead", and she's pursued relentlessly by murderous creatures.  This is AFTER she's almost given experimental shock treatment to make her forget Oz.  There's a headless woman and her cabinetry of de-capitated heads she can wear who is going to enslave Dorothy for future decapitation.  Dorothy's then put into some weirdo Saw type situation and has to outmaneuver the guy playing with her life.  

All of which would be fine - kids can take a lot - except that the movie is joyless and a slog.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Hallow-Scream Watch: Killer Workout/ Aerobicide (1987)




Watched:  10/21/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's (so, so 1980's)
Director:  

A few weeks ago, tweeter Dr. PopCulture BGSU posted a picture or two from a movie of which I'd never before heard discussed, Killer Workout (1987), and I vowed to watch this movie at some point.  Well, our own JimD decided, YES, we would both see this movie, and so a copy showed up in the mail.  

I am genuinely supportive of the genre film preservation going on in weird little corners.  There's basically no reason anyone should work to preserve and distribute Killer Workout.  It's a very low-budget film with no bankable stars, bad cinematography, as wobbly a plot as you're going to find, and zero logic.  Sort of.  But.  Movies like this were an important part of the cinema world for a long time, and they've mostly disappeared as VHS players and tapes have headed to the bin.  It's weird that we may lose a lot of movies because of dedication to a format.

Olive Films is a newer but growing distribution company doing good work out there, bringing a wide range of film types to the market - from respectable classic film to.... Killer Workout.  They seem really cool and I need to spend more time reviewing their catalog.  I would LOVE to know more about their efforts to preserve and distribute films - but I have a lot of questions about their presentation of Killer Workout.  It *seems* like they had an idea to not just get the movie out there, but retain some of the VHS experience.  

JLC Hallow-Watch: Halloween Kills (2021)




Watched:  10/20/2021
Format:  Peacock
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  David Gordon Greene


SPOILERS

So, this isn't a movie, it's the second act of a three part film about Michael Myers and the residents of Haddonfield.  Maybe the third part of a 4 part film, if you want to think of the 1978 film as the prelude.  

I haven't read anything about the movie as I was trying to avoid spoilers, but it's got a very low reviewer rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which... fair enough.  Horror sequels usually stand alone, using some of the same characters.  But, much like Halloween 2 from the 1980's (now erased in this continuity), this chapter acts more as an extension of the prior film.  Halloween 2 picked up as Laurie Strode was whisked away to a hospital and Myers tracked her down.  This one does similar - picking up from the end moments of Halloween 2018 on the same truck ride where we left the Strode women.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Doc Watch: 15 Minutes of Shame (2021)




Watched:  10/19/2021
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Max Joseph

There's something weirdly "student film"-ish about this documentary.  From the "let's start this with a quote" business to a third act diversion that isn't actually on topic, as interesting as it is.  It's the sort of "this is too good not to rationalize its inclusion" stuff I found myself doing when working on docs in college.  It also locks into a political POV that I think keeps the film from reaching a necessary and broader audience, undermining its impact.

But - the overall premise and most of the talking heads are great.

Co-Produced and narrated by Monica Lewinsky, the film looks into how the internet has weaponized shaming/ cancel culture, but really how you can wake up one morning and your whole life is now public and awful, and you have absolutely no say in how it plays out.  

FRIDAY Watch Party - THE WOLF MAN! (insert howl sound here)




Universal kept putting out horror films after Bride of Frankenstein, and would hit it big again - zeitgeistwise - with The Wolf Man in 1941.  

No, he does not look like a dog or wolf, he absolutely looks like a guy with a glandular problem and in need of a dentist.  But that's not the real terror of the film.  It's a movie about curses and bad luck.  And trying to convince people that Claude Raines could have fathered Lon Chaney Jr.  (Mrs. Wolf Man must have been 7'3").  

Still, it's a fun picture and perfect for the days leading up to Halloween!

 
Day:  Friday 10/22/2021
Time:  8:30 PM Central/ 6:30 PM Pacific
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Cost:  $3 - $4

LINK HERE ON FRIDAY TO WATCH (link up 15 minutes to showtime)

also - announcing SIGNAL WATCH NOIRVEMBER




The Universal Monsters Hallow-Scream Watch Party series is meant to be a casual good-time as we check out the run of horror movies that started with Dracula and have become staples of culture the world over!  Everyone knows what these monsters look and act like, but it's probable most people haven't ever actually seen the movies they're in!  So, come watch!  

Starting just two years after the silent era, these movies quickly became the blockbusters of their day, bringing strange ideas most people hadn't considered, wild visuals, and complicated creatures to the screen.  And, ever since, studios have been looking to recapture this particular lightning in a bottle.

We think you'll enjoy watching along and checking out the creepfest that is Universal Horror!

Noir Watch: The Dark Past (1948)




Watched:  10/18/2021
Format:  TCM Noir Alley
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Rudolph Mate
Ellen Corby - domestic

A mash-up of two kinds of mid-20th century films, this one is quasi-noir, I guess, mostly because it echoes other films which are definitely noir.  But it's one part "trapped in a location with a criminal and his organization" which you'll know from The Petrified Forest to Key Largo, and one part "hey, kids: psychology!" - which pervaded any number of movies in this era, from Nightmare Alley to Miracle on 34th Street to Highwall

But, basically, a very young William Holden plays desperado Al Walker, whose gang just busted him out of prison, killing a couple of guards and a warden en route.  He and his gang (and his girl, played by Adele Jergens) hide out in the home of Lee J Cobb and Lois "Miss Moneypenny, herself" Maxwell, where they're entertaining a few guests.

It becomes a psychological cat and mouse game as Cobb tries to both save his own skin and that of his guests, and maybe cure the insane murderer, so long as he's got a few hours to hang, anyway.  

It's absolutely buckwild how both medicine and therefore psychology were seen in this era as quick miracle cures that could happen overnight.  I guess when the answer is "20 years ago we didn't have penicillin", everything seems possible.  

As a "we're all trapped in here with criminals" movie, you can do much better.  As a "mid-20th Century psychology" movie... it's just under par.  But, Lee J. Cobb makes for a convincing doctor, Adele Jergens is terrific as Holden's girl.  Holden is very good, himself, but he's early here and when you know movies where he's able to do more and with better dialog, this is definitely a less notable role for him.  

I'm fascinated with the gigantic country/ woodland getaway homes of this period.  I've seen dozens of movies with country houses like this, from Christmas in Connecticut to many-a-noir, and the movies always place actors in gigantic, spacious cabin/ houses that read as "set for a play" much more than a dwelling, and always seem bigger than anyone's actual home.

The movie also has Ellen Corby, who played a domestic in a dozen movies I've seen - and does so again here, but she's always around in some capacity as a "regular" person - be it a nurse, whatever.   I need to start an Ellen Corby tracker, because she went uncredited for years and was maybe the hardest working woman in Hollywood for decades. Yet, no one ever talks about her.  But she has 265 IMDB credits.  265!




Monday, October 18, 2021

Vincent Price Watch: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)




Watched:  10/17/2021
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Roger Corman

It is insane that I've never watched this movie.   With Corman directing, Vincent Price starring and a set-up that would become classic and - as Jamie pointed out - feels positively Bond-ian, it's a fun watch.  

It's a period piece, sometime during the Spanish inquisition (don't ask me when.  They're wearing those frilly collars I think of as 16th Century), and the events are around fallout of the Inquisition.  It's a genuinely screwed up story, maybe more thriller than horror, but there are genuine moments of creepiness and chills here and there, which I frankly wasn't expecting.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

PODCAST: "Dawn of the Dead" (1978) & (2004) - Halloween 2021 - Horror Sequels w/ SimonUK and Ryan


 
Watched:  08/25 & 08/31/2021
Format:  YouTube and Amazon
Viewing:  at least second for both
Decade:  1970's and 2000's
Director:  George Romero and Zack Snyder



SimonUK and Ryan celebrate Halloween by taking a bite out of the sequel to the zombie movie that started it all, and which some consider the most delicious of the genre. We also discuss the 21st Century reanimation of the same idea. Join us for a Halloween horror discussion fit to wake the dead.




Music:
L'alba dei morti viventi - Goblin, Dawn of the Dead/ Zombi Soundtrack
What the World Needs Now (Is Love, Sweet Love) - Burt Bacharach


Halloween 2021 Playlist!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Hallow-Scream Watch: Gothic (1986)




Watched:  10/16/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Decade: 1980's
Director:  Ken Russell

Gothic (1986) is one of those movies I remember always seeing on the shelf at movie rental places.  It was always in, but I never pulled the trigger and watched it.  I'm thinking the copy on the box describing the movie was not great, because - I believe - had it been more accurate, I would have rented the movie.

Based loosely on some real-life events (and then deeply fictionalized), the movie imagines about 24 hours of drug-fueled shenanigans in a mansion in Geneva at the turn of the 18th to the 19th Century as Percy Shelley, Mary Godwin (soon to be Mary Shelley) and Mary's step-sister arrive to have a hang with the notorious libertine, Lord Byron - in self-exile from England.

Halloween Watch Party: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)




Watched:  10/15/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1930's
Director:  James Whale

My friends, I have watched this movie so many times and talked about it so much, I am sure you are sick of it.  But we had a grand old time watching it together for a Watch Party!

So, annual viewing of Bride of Frankenstein, complete!




Friday, October 15, 2021

This Friday 08/15 - Hallow-Scream Watch Party: "The Bride of Frankenstein"



If you've never seen Bride of Frankenstein, it's not really what you think it is.  It's way, way weirder than whatever you had in mind.  

But mostly - It's shockingly modern in its attitudes, mix of humor and horror and pathos.  It ALSO has some #MeToo-level messaging that is so utterly core to the film, that after seeing it, you will be able to spot with absolute certainty someone who co-opted the film's iconography without ever seeing the film itself.  

Come for amazing sets, stunning costumes, high camp, sad monsters and a movie that does it all in about 85 minutes.  Plus, you know, see The Monster drinking booze and smoking a cigar.  

also - announcing SIGNAL WATCH NOIRVEMBER


SCHEDULE

Day:  October 15 - Friday
Time:   8:30 PM Central/ 6:30 Pacific
 

Cost:  $4




The Universal Monsters Hallow-Scream Watch Party series is meant to be a casual good-time as we check out the run of horror movies that started with Dracula and have become staples of culture the world over!  Everyone knows what these monsters look and act like, but it's probable most people haven't ever actually seen the movies they're in!  So, come watch!  

Starting just two years after the silent era, these movies quickly became the blockbusters of their day, bringing strange ideas most people hadn't considered, wild visuals, and complicated creatures to the screen.  And, ever since, studios have been looking to recapture this particular lightning in a bottle.

We think you'll enjoy watching along and checking out the creepfest that is Universal Horror!

SW Watch Party Series - Noirvember




For three Fridays this November (2021), we're going to get together and watch some of the biggest names in what came to be called the Film Noir movement.  Just like other watch parties of late, we'll be gathering via Amazon Watch Party.

Days:  Fridays
Time:  8:30 PM Central/ 6:30 Pacific
Via:  Amazon Watch Party

Movies will be about $3 - 4 to rent.

November 5th
Best Laid Plans Noir:  Double Indemnity

November 12th
Detective Noir:  The Big Sleep

November 19th
We'll put it to a vote!


Join us and catch up on the dark alleys and byways of a movement that cinema still hasn't gotten over.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Halloween Watch: The Blob (1988)




Watched:  10/13/2021
Format:  NBC Peacock
Viewing:  Second (maybe third)
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Chuck Russell

So, for some time, my pals who are horror fiends have been saying to me "have you ever seen the 1980's Blob remake?" and I've said "yes" and they say "did you like it?" and I laugh, and say "it was fine, but I haven't seen it since it first hit VHS."  And then they say "well, you have to rewatch it."

What I failed to ask was "but why?"

Circa 1989, I did watch The Blob remake on VHS.  I recall it was my brother and me during the summer, and we called Kevin Dillon "Rocky the Reckless Driver", laughed a lot about his mullet (which has to be a crazy wig) and, at the time, felt it was an okay movie, but not great.  

Friends, I need some feedback in the comments, because my takeaway from rewatching The Blob (1988) is that it's an okay movie, but not great.

I genuinely don't know if this movie was kidding or not.  It's not funny enough to be a straight up horror satire, but it does do some things I quite liked.  Now knowing more about horror films when I first saw it - I'm still not sure if the filmmakers were being "edgy" or - possibly - subverting audience expectations.  Like, they just bump off all sorts of people who would have been the survivors in other films.  The good-hearted football player, the waitress, the sheriff... a kid!  It's wild.

It also has a certain attempt at Last Starfighter folksiness for our hero, Rocky the Reckless Driver and The Cheerleader (I cannot recall her character's name but the actress is Shawnee Smith who is still very active).  People are very small town and folksy.  As the town's Bad Boy, Rocky the Reckless Driver sure is a problem for the Sheriff.  After all, he has a bad attitude!  Again - I have no idea if the movie is kidding or not about this character.  Or the attitudes of the town.

Anyway, the effects are good for a 1988-era mid-budget sci-fi film, and they don't screw around with much in the way of sideplots.  Instead, using what seem like side-plot set-ups that should go someplace else as a red-herring so you don't think certain people will be consumed by Mr. Blob.  

I also don't get how a Blob that can't tolerate cold was matured in space. But that is not for me to know.  But I do like the pivot and plot twist that this was a government experiment gone wrong versus a rogue asteroid.  I'm not sure it actually impacts anything, but you feel less bad when the containment suited government agents start getting et.

Anyway, you people have been telling me this movie is great.  It's okay!  So, lemme know what you love about it.  

It can't be that good.  It doesn't have a rockin' theme song like the original.



Monday, October 11, 2021

Graham/ Kinda-Noir Watch: The Glass Wall (1953)




Watched:  10/09/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Maxwell Shane

I dunno if this is actually Film Noir.  It sure didn't feel like it, but Eddie showed it and brought Dana Delaney along, so who am I to argue?

The Glass Wall (1953) was a contemporary issue movie in 1953, but one that echoes in the events of today.  A Hungarian WWII camp survivor and resistance fighter has stowed away on a ship and arrived in New York.  But with no papers, he's set to be turned away and returned to Europe where he is fairly certain he will be killed.

Any of this ringing a bell?

He's stowed away under the notion that if he can find an American he saved and hid for days in a haystack, that man will support his entry to the US.  But all he knows is a first name and that he plays the coronet.  So - he makes good his escape, pursued by the law, walking through the streets of New York.

Also starring Gloria Grahame in a surprisingly small role for her at the time.  But after Bold and the Beautiful, Grahame knew she'd been good in earthier roles like in Crossfire, and so appears as a factory worker, down on her luck and knocked around by life.  (She also steals the coat of an impossibly young Kathleen Freeman, who makes a federal case out of it eve though she gets her coat back).   

Less familiar will be the stripper with a heart of hold, played by Robin Raymond - a very Americanized Hungarian transplant living with her less-adjusted mother and deeply American brother (Joe Turkel!*).  It's a great part of the film I hadn't seen coming, and rather than platitudes and Gloria Grahame looking amazing as a shop-worn girl who needs a pal - typical movie stuff - it's a look at the multiple angles of the immigrants here in the US.  And, man, in one of those shining moments of film, it feels *true*.  

In this era of dismissing the UN as useless, it's also a time capsule of what the UN was supposed to be, and what it represented to the world in the wake of the atrocities and devastation of WWII.  And as quickly as it's established, we can see how useless an empty UN is - maybe something not intended in the way you can see it now, but certainly how it was meant at the time.

Star Vittorio Gassman is exactly what the film needed - a handsome face that could look desperate.  The film wasn't shot entirely on backlots.  There's some real footage of Gassman on the streets of 1953 NYC including Times Square.  It's chaotic and dark, lit with neon.  As Gassman looks for his friend, the loneliness and alienation are stunning.  

The movie also features Ann Robinson from War of the Worlds and a handful of character actors, as well as real jazz musicians like Jack Teagarden and Shorty Rogers.  

The movie isn't great, but I have a feeling - because of it's period messages reverberating to today - I'll remember it.  




*ah, you know him from Blade Runner and The Shining.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

HALLOWEEN PODCAST: "Psycho II" (1983) - a Horror Movie Sequels Spooktacular! w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  08/05/2021
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Richard Franklin



Simon and Ryan go nuts talking the second and unexpected installment in the adventures of a boy who is maybe a little too close with his mother. We're reminded the 80's weren't that much after the 60's as Stormin' Norman returns back to Casa Bates to start over and maybe enjoy his role as a motel entrepreneur. Could things go wrong? Hey, let's not get crazy here.




Music:
Psycho II Score by Jerry Goldsmith


Halloween 2021 - Horror Sequels Playlist

Queen of Halloween Watch: Elvira's Haunted Hills (2001)




Watched:  10/10/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second?  third?
Decade:  00's
Director:  Sam Irvin

This movie is a curiosity on so many levels, the mere fact of its existence tends to overwhelm the actual content of the film.  

Elvira was a pop culture phenomenon back in the 1980's, but it's probably fair to say that the 1990's weren't as good to her.  After the commercial failure (but, I think I can say, comedic success) of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark in 1987, big media interest in Elvira waned.  Back then, that was it.  You basically got your shot, and the idea of revivals wasn't huge at the time.  The roaring return of Elvira as a talk-show staple, baking show staple and general presence and gadfly in the universe is mostly due, I think, to people who liked Elvira and had access to the internet.

But in 2001, we were just barely getting past GeoCities and convincing our parents that getting a computer was actually something they needed to do.  I had dial-up.  It was a different time.

The 1993 attempt at an Elvira sitcom had fizzled (and, frankly, I DO NOT GET HOW.  The pilot is as good or better than 90% of what was on TV at the time, and came loaded with Elvira), so the Hail Mary of the moment was Cassandra Peterson and John Paragon writing a movie, self-funding it, and then grabbing a bunch of people and heading to Romania to film.  

80's Hallow-Horror Watch: CHUD (1984)




Watched:  10/09/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  

Uh.  

This was not great.  You can read my tweet-thread as the movie unspooled here:  


It's a not-great film that doesn't understand how cheap horror movies are supposed to work, or movies in general, and is weirdly pretentious.  Which, frankly, if you told me yesterday that CHUD (1984) has lots of scenes that feel like they're improvised by a couple of actors who've been taking a lot of classes, and it will all be treated with deadly seriousness: I would not have believed you.  But here we are.

All of that stuff, by the way, is fine:  if any of it lands.  Or the movie is earning it.  Or the writing doesn't get away from the movie.  But at the end of the day, this is a movie about Morlocks eating people, and for some reason we spend 1/3rd of the movie in an unrelated story about John Heard's career and his relationship.  None of which is CHUD-related.  Or particularly good.  

By far the weirdest are the extended scenes between Daniel Stern and Christopher Curry, where both are intent on playing unhinged and angry.  And the scenes just. keep. happening.  Both in length and frequency.

In theory the movie is about NYC having a problem with Carnivorous Humanoid Underground Dwellers, but it's also about a soup kitchen, the plight of the homeless, a career change that's really impacting a marriage that might be on the rocks, and a cop who seems really stressed out because his wife disappeared, but he fails to mention this as a problem until the second half of the film.

Also, the willing belief that nuclear waste was disposed of beneath NYC when it would literally be easier to put it on a boat and float it out 20 miles and dump it.

Maybe the WEIRDEST moment of the movie was when we saw a scene that I now believe James Cameron must have ripped off for Aliens where people with flamethrowers go down into the tunnels with a video camera  while their bosses watch them on monitors.  That's gonna sit with me a while.


Hammer-Ween Watch: The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964)




Watched:  10/09/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Michael Carreras

Hammer Horror!  That eventually gets scary!  If you really wait.

This first Mummy movie from Hammer is awesome, and so I figured even a xerox of a xerox would be fine.  And, it is.  

Mummy is dug up, Egyptians are actually okay with it  - sort of - except for killing the one British guy.  But then a big, dumb American showman (Fred Clark, who was in *everything* for like 20 years) decides that instead of taking it to the British Museum, they should take it on the road.  

Anyway, there's a whole lot of plot, and the leading lady seems like she's written by someone who really had some trouble with their last girlfriend, taking the usual 1960's Hammer misogyny to cool new levels.  The reason the Mummy shows up and the motivation of those bringing him back is all-new.  But we do get some decent Mummy-Terminator action.

For once, the Egyptians are given the benefit of the doubt - they're not the ones setting things in motion - at least not the official Egyptian government.  They're not thrilled Fred Clark is going to tour their dead pharaoh around Wisconsin, but aside from that...  

Anyhoo.  It's fine.  It's not my favorite, but it was a fun Hammer watch.




Saturday, October 9, 2021

Hallow-Zombie Watch: Return of the Living Dead (1985)




Watched:  10/09/2021
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Dan O'Bannon

Well, that was a lot of fun.  Y'all were right.

I have been intending to watch this since I was 18, and I always just forgot to watch it.  But "Add to My List" and HBOmax are an excellent pairing for getting me to actually watch some things.

I don't have a ton to say about the movie.  It's good, Rated-R chaotic fun, and I was shocked to see James Karen in the first scenes, and then realize I was also looking at Clu Gulager.

Anyhoo.  Not writing it up, but very glad I finally saw it.

Halloween Interaction Watch: Frankenstein (1932)




Watched:  10/08/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1930's
Director:  James Whale

My friend, I am not writing up Frankenstein again.  Here's all the stuff about Frankenstein on this blog.

Here's SimonUK and me talking about the film during last year's Halloween podcast.