Monday, October 31, 2016
In some ways, there's no way in hell this movie could have been made any other time than a certain window post 1985 or before 1991. In other ways, this world is just now catching up to what Cassandra Peterson and company were saying, and an idea that I suspect people of my generation (and older) have a harder time grappling with than the kids today.
I'm not here to argue that Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988) is a bleeding edge comedy, because it has more in common with a sort of groan-inducing shenanigans with a sort of Looney Tunes style of thinking, topped with a winky, we're-not-taking-this-seriously vibe that lands pretty squarely in my wheelhouse.
Cold War spy transmissions? Secret messages from underground organizations? Alien broadcasts? Something from beyond?
I don't know! I don't want to know! They're creepy as hell, and will send you down a terrific rabbit hole of Halloween paranoia! Because somebody is saying something to us and who knows what the hell it is? It's just terrifying Chtulu language presaging the endtimes and great calamity!
Sunday, October 30, 2016
It's been years since I've seen it, but once upon a time, I loved the 1940 movie Rebecca. And, yes, should my ship come in, I am absolutely naming my expansive estate "Manderley". I expect to be very unhappy there and hire extremely creepy staff.
The Uninvited (1944) is not Rebecca, but it feels very much of the same mindset and era, like someone took the basic work and pitched it up in some places, toned it down in others and added some layers of complexity while removing some of the scale. Also - ghosts.
That doesn't mean I didn't like The Uninvited, but it's hard not to see some parallels between stories of lovely seaside houses and the mysteries they hold about their former mistresses. A good PG-sort of fright fest, The Uninvited has genuinely creepy moments and does a pretty good deal on a World War II era budget and with the limited casting options.
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Despite endorsements from multiple trusted sources, somehow I'd never gotten around to watching Sam Raimi's post-Evil Dead horror film, Drag Me to Hell (2009). Which is too bad. I wish I'd gotten to it sooner.
If you're a fan of Raimi's other horror work, this is more or less in line (and possibly in continuity) with the world of Ash and the deadites. I was surprised how much it shared both aesthetically and in spirit with the Evil Dead franchise - mixing the horrific with the grotesque with slapstick.
I don't want to oversell the movie - it's not a life-changing experience, but it was perfect for a bit of Halloween spookiness and mayhem and everything it was trying to do worked for me. And, coincidentally or otherwise, the movie feels a bit like an old school Universal horror film in some ways, which is all right as the movie was at least released through the studio.
TCM was on a Universal Monsters sprint last night, and after the frighteningly monstrous loss by the Cubs in Game 3 of the World Series, I needed to chillax for a bit with some creepy mayhem. I watched the last twenty minutes of The Invisible Man (a movie I always give short shrift. It's really good.), and then moved into The Wolf Man (1941).
The Wolf Man is a movie of highs and lows. It sets up a great mythology from whole cloth and the modern-age denial of werewolfism as the result of some psychic shock suffered by our tortured protagonist. Of course all of these things are beats every werewolf movie since has imitated. It contains Claude Rains and Bela Lugosi - even a young Ralph Bellamy. I'm in the camp that likes the monster make-up, but the Wolf Man scenes are better in concept than execution, never really feeling like much more than a large guy manhandling people instead of a monster rending them apart.
It's kind of strange that Universal's 2010 go at rebooting this franchise was such a mess, because - this is a very simple movie. Seems like it should have gone better than it did (I only really liked the bits in the medical college and then in the streets of London - and that felt more like a Landis-homage than anything to do with this movie).
It's certainly a crucial movie for getting monster movie history, and I still think it's very well realized.
But there's an elephant in the room by name of Lon Chaney Jr. And that elephant isn't much of an actor. I really want to like Chaney Jr., but he's playing on the same screen as Claude Rains. There's just no comparison here, and his character spends most of the movie hitting on an engaged woman (I think I found your real wolf here). I wish the scenes with the Wolf Man felt more full of menace, but no matter how well shot and well-lit those scenes are... man. It looks like a hirsute lumberjack on a bender.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Today did not work out at all.
Several months ago, when I assumed UT Football would be great and I'd want to be home on a Saturday to watch the game, and back then when I assumed the Cubs would not be in the World Series, I purchased a ticket to the Alamo City Comic Con. Just for one day - today. So, I took the day off and drove to San Antonio for comics shenanigans.
Straight up, I don't know why I do these things. Mostly, I find them depressing, but I show up every three years to a Comic-Con as some sort of mildly expensive reminder that this thing is not my bag.
I had to make it a short day of it if I wanted to go to SA and back AND watch the World Series, but I've yet to be at a Con in Texas where 3 hours wasn't way more than enough (what people do with a 3-day pass, I will never know. Stand around looking a little peaked in your Ranma 1/2 cosplay by day 3, I'd guess).
What got me off my butt and to The Alamo City in the first place was the fact that Margot Kidder was scheduled as a guest, to appear all three days and, really, she's one of the very few people I'd be pretty excited to meet at this point in my life.
So, you will notice there are no pictures of Margot Kidder in this post, and that's because she never showed up while I was there and before I realized I didn't want to spend any more money, and so I gave up - the entire enterprise leaving me, once again, wondering what it is, exactly, I am doing with my life.