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An Octoberfest of Horror Films 
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Quote:
What are some Hammer films you'd recommend? I'm severely lacking in that department of my film knowledge.



Their first big one, "Curse of Frankenstein" with Peter Cushing & Christopher Lee airs tonight on TCM. Its hosted by guest programmer John Carpenter. Horror of Dracula is on Oct 17.

On Oct 31 they have a Hammer marathon on TCM(The Reptile, multiple Dracula movies, Mummy, etc)

TCM is also showing Curse of the Demon on Oct 17. Holloway has mentioned this movie here in the past, I strongly recommend it. Here is a thread on it:

viewtopic.php?f=27&t=2808&p=62422&hilit=curse+of+the+demon#p62422

Also a great haunted house movie called 'The Uninvited' with Ray Milland airs Oct 10 & Oct 30.


Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:52 pm
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Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
PeachyPete wrote:
I think you watch more movies than anyone on the forum. It's humbling. I've never even heard of a lot of the movies you watch, this one included. What are some Hammer films you'd recommend? I'm severely lacking in that department of my film knowledge.


You humble me, sir. :-) Many thanks for the kind words!

I've actually been catching up with Hammer in the past few months, myself -- I had never even seen Horror of Dracula until October of last year.

I recently wrote an article for a friend's independent zine, "The Five Best Hammer Horror Movies You've Never Seen." My picks:

The Abominable Snowman
Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (quite possibly my favorite Hammer -- gob-smackingly creepy atmosphere)
Night Creatures
Quatermass 2
The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll

As for the more prominent movies, I largely enjoyed the Frankenstein run (even the worst ones in the series were just okay), but all but one of the Dracula pictures bored me to tears.

Hope that helps! :-)


Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:27 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Ah, and my chiller of the day was Stagefright, and I've rarely seen a slasher so bound and determined to continually shoot itself in the foot. The hook is neat (troupe of actors trapped in a theater with a creepy, owl-masked maniac), and though it's not terribly deep, the imagery and few moments of legit tension indicate that the film was on anything but autopilot. But those little nagging flaws and inconsistencies that you sort of forgive to start (how the killer makes it to the theater is a doozy) pile up pretty quickly, and the last half-hour is an extended cat-and-mouse game, only with no suspense or logic to speak of.

When Stagefright works, it's pretty cool, but it trips up way too many times to wave away.


Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:34 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Last night's viewing was American Scary, a documentary about TV horror hosts (i.e. Vampira, Svengoolie, and the like). I have to admit, the subject alone got my attention, and while the production values aren't the spiffiest, the stories shared by such figures and the various folks who watched them on the air made for an entertaining and personable experience. Terrific stuff, no doubt.


Fri Oct 07, 2011 7:33 am
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
So.

George A. Romero Presents Deadtime Stories - Volume 1.

I'd read reviews from other horror aficionados that were depressed/enraged/saddened at this cheap mess of a flick, and while it is certainly a slice of low-budget awfulness, it never reaches the dregs that something as horrendous as Creepshow III stooped to.

Romero barely has anything to do with the movie, aside from guiding us through the stories by way of pre-taped intros (which have him just sitting on a couch with a book -- way to be ambitious there, Cryptkeeper). The shorts themselves are about as godawful as one another, though in their own ways (at least the killer mermaid segment showed some potential).

Cheap, uninteresting, and not even entertaining on a "so bad, I'm having a blast" level. Pass on this, no hesitation.


Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:29 am
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
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Dementia 13, written and directed by none other than Francis Ford Coppola, is not a good film. In fact, it is a fairly shitty one. Coppola, working with a budget of $22,000 (given to him by Roger Corman out of left over funds from his The Young Racers, on which Coppola served as a sound man) and a script designed to be a gothic copy of Hitchcock's Psycho, fashions one of the dumbest horror movies you're likely to ever see (or hopefully, that you'll never see). First things first, there's no thematic underpinnings to the story so if you're looking for any kind of analysis, it isn't coming. That isn't always a problem as long as watching the plot unfold is engaging or the characters are interesting. In this film, neither is anything worth remembering. The plot is standard order, right down to the Hitchcock inspired "twist", and the characters are nothing but stock horror cliches. However, working with $22,000, most of this is to be expected, right? It takes a real genius to infuse some life into such a cheap production, and in 1963, that genius wasn't Coppola.

Interestingly, the film begins like a classic B noir, with a husband and wife bickering over money and inheritance, and a "timely" death leaving the wife in position to take advantage of her husband's misfortune. I thought the movie could go in a pretty interesting direction by making a horror movie out of a standard noir trope. Nope! Turns out, and this is a spoiler that I'm being too lazy to tag (come on, it's from an obscure B horror movie from 1963!), the wife is the equivalent of Janet Leigh in Psycho. Just as her story is starting to get a little interesting, she's offed and the narrative goes in a completely different direction. Hitchcock obviously pulled this sort of transition off quite well, but Coppola is unable to shift the focus of the story (mostly because he spends absolutely no time setting it up, unlike Hitch), and the result is clunky and confusing.

The only real value I found in the movie was a few scenes where Coppola was able to create a pretty creepy atmosphere. A few of the death scenes are unsettling and pretty inventively shot for the time, and there's an underwater scene that is genuinely frightening. Other than a select few scenes, however, the movie was complete shit. For Coppola completeists (do those exist?) only.


Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:56 am
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Saturday's viewing was The Beast Must Die, which I should've by all means fallen in love with -- come on, a werewolf whodunit, complete with a William Castle-style "werewolf break"? I was enraptured in the opening minutes, though it didn't take long for the film to whiz away all that good will. Too many things about the film bugged me to no end, mostly in how the characters don't question the gun-toting zillionaire's sanity when he claims that werewolves are real and in how said "suspects" really have no reason not to get the hell out of Dodge. Finding out who's the lycanthrope does keep you going for some of the time, but it's an overall disappointing experience for something that began with so badass a premise.

And late Sunday evening, I wrapped up the Disney-bred supernatural flick The Watcher in the Woods. I read up on its troubled release history afterwards, and it doesn't surprise me that the movie was such a clustercuss, as it ends on a note that's both incredibly random and surprisingly flat. It's not a horrible movie, but with a spooky old house, otherworldly goings-on in the woods, and '80s-era Bette Davis shuffling about, the scare factor felt pretty darn dry. Maybe little kids could be freaked out by it, but it's not hard to imagine preteens getting bored fast.


Mon Oct 10, 2011 1:43 am
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Image

Ti West's The House of the Devil, an 80s horror movie that just happens to be made in 2009, takes a bunch of horror cliches, throws them into a screenplay, and attempts to come up with something a little bit better than those late night cable entries we've all seen a million times. It's a cool, if not overly ambitious, idea. The movie doesn't attempt to be tongue in cheek or offer up some kind of commentary on the state of modern horror, it just exists as a genre entry drenched in 80s style. Shot in 16mm to give the film a dated (I use dated because I don't just want to say 80s over and over) look, West throws just about every horror convention, both in terms of plot and style, on the screen. There's the young college girl who's strapped for cash and takes a babysitting job, the best friend who knows better, and the much-too-creepy-for-anyone-to-believe-they-aren't-insane employers. We all know where this story is headed. While the narrative is well setup, characters well developed (for a horror film), payoff plenty gory, and even some subtext about the wrongdoer being punished (the greedy bitch only needed $300 for her apartment and demanded $400!) that's a common device in horror, this isn't a film about telling the audience a story that keeps them on the edge of their seat. That's an impossibility with all the standard horror movie elements in place. It's a film completely about style.

Not only does the decision to shoot on 16mm give the film a distinctly 80s look, but the soundtrack (naturally, all 80s pop songs), plethora of freeze frames, and details within each scene add even more 80s feel to the proceedings. It's a movie that harkens back to those cable movies I've already mentioned. We begin the movie expecting a quick set up before being treated to an all out gore fest. It feels like a movie that's going to have a high body count...and then no one dies. And we keep waiting. And waiting. There's finally a fairly shocking, but not all that surprising, killing and we think the shit's really about to hit the fan...and then we get a babysitter dancing around a creepy old house listening to her Walkman. What the fuck is going on? This movie isn't unfolding like I expected it to!

Of course, that's kind of the point of the film. West's aim is to make something original and different out of something cliche. The movie's opening credits tell us that during the 1980s 70% of people believed in satanic cults and 30% rationalized the evidence due to government cover ups. Does that have anything to do with the movie? Sort of, but it's doesn't explain anything about the story or really have much at all to do with what happens. It's just there to show us that it's possible for things to not go according to plan, and that we shouldn't automatically dismiss that as bad, or wrong. It's something of a disguised disclaimer for the film. Yeah, it's full of cliches and things you've seen before, but it isn't going to be what you're expecting it to be. It's a clever little touch and something I didn't realize until days after having seen the movie.

All of this longwinded-ness aside, despite a clever premise and some inspired direction, this is a movie that feels very padded at only 95 minutes. Slow burn has become a sort of shorthand for film fans and critics to mean something that's slow paced but still effectively tense. However, in The House of the Devil, West takes the tactic much too far and the result is a movie that's fairly boring for much of it's running length. The idea is to deliver a movie with all the standard horror elements that doesn't have to rely exclusively on gore and "boo" moments, and while this film does achieve that at times, it's too inconsistent. A lot of the time spent in the house is boring and not very tense. In a movie like this the tension needs to be constantly building, and that doesn't happen. It builds, levels off, builds some more, then levels off. Those moments of leveling off cause the overall product to suffer. It feels like a 45 minute movie with filler to make it feature length. It's disappointing because the idea sounds like it could make for a pretty smart genre film, but it ends up being a one trick pony.


Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:38 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
^ That's really disappointing to read, Pete. Really, really disappointing. Almost everything I've heard about the film has been really good (as opposed to "just good") so I hope that my eventual viewing experience will be better than yours.

Come on, forum dudes. You've seen this one and love it. Tell the Pete-bear how wrong he is!


Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:36 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
It worked til the ending but boy what a build up!


Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:54 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Not directly related to the thread, but I'll be catching a theatrical screening of Dawn of the Dead (Romero, not Snyder) tomorrow night. I'm pretty excited.

Week after that, both Bride of Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein are playing. Unfortunately, one of my best friends from back in the day had to pick that weekend to get married, and I'm in the wedding party.

Psycho is playing the week after that, though, which should be a nice consolation.


Thu Oct 13, 2011 11:12 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
ed_metal_head wrote:
^ That's really disappointing to read, Pete. Really, really disappointing. Almost everything I've heard about the film has been really good (as opposed to "just good") so I hope that my eventual viewing experience will be better than yours.

Come on, forum dudes. You've seen this one and love it. Tell the Pete-bear how wrong he is!



Yeah, I was pretty bummed too. I had heard good/great things. I think people are overpraising it because it's something different with the standard elements in place. It's worthy, but I don't think it's necessarily good. Some folks will tout the way the movie maintains suspense without much of anything happening until the last 20 minutes, but for me it became a numbing feeling. Once you realize that the movie is 70 minutes of attempting to hold suspense, that suspense is no longer suspenseful, if that makes sense.

Ken wrote:
Not directly related to the thread, but I'll be catching a theatrical screening of Dawn of the Dead (Romero, not Snyder) tomorrow night. I'm pretty excited.

Week after that, both Bride of Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein are playing. Unfortunately, one of my best friends from back in the day had to pick that weekend to get married, and I'm in the wedding party.

Psycho is playing the week after that, though, which should be a nice consolation.


That sounds pretty awesome. That's a hell of a movie.

Your friend? Asshole. If he was a true friend he'd schedule his wedding around your theatrical comings and goings.


Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:10 am
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
PeachyPete wrote:
House of the Devil? More like House of the... um... Not Devil!!


The kids on the street trading in their hard-earned Applebee's chump change for buttons of heroin, the cineplex flashing images of 12 people stitched together ATM, Obamacare and Herman Cain and the people buying their Dilbert calendars in October.

Wouldn't it be nice to travel back to a time where people were actually concerned over devil worship?

I love me some "public fears in feature films" and, although I doubt that the population was losing sleep over goat sacrifices and pentagrams, House of the Devil works the angle to high art. High-ish art. Whatever you call it, HotD channels the same silly energy that had The Amityville Horror bullet to the top of the bestsellers list. And why not? From the rusty paperback rack in Ye Old Apothecary to the screen, House of the Devil feels like a warning issued to concerned parents. The danger is REAL and you must get in between your children and dark places before... it's too late.

The film takes very seriously its subject matter -- nary a moment of good cheer may be yanked from the screen -- and, for me, earns respect by selling the public fears despite the public fears being altogether fictional. The movie isn't brisk but it does have some great sense-of-place, this nifty dedication to setting tone and focusing on the monotony of daily living/breathing in extraordinary circumstances. The characters don't know they're in a cheap horror film and so their experience works as authentic. Yeah, sure, it's an homage to the 80s horror template but it also works as a call to pure moviemaking for the thrill of it. This movie was made with love and it shows.


Fri Oct 14, 2011 7:07 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
PeachyPete wrote:

Hour of the Wolf, Bergman's surrealist dream/nightmare, like all of his films, is not for everyone etc etc.


My problem with this film, if I'm recalling correctly, was that, considering how horrifying Bergman's films are to start with, the explicit push into the horror genre made a little too explicit certain icey-cold moods that Bergman usually kept just under the surface without including the requisite dash of real, actual terror needed to make them work. It was just sort of stuck in an awkward place between being a genuine horror movie and one of Bergman's clinical dissections of depressed Swedes. Nearly any one scene in the movie could have appeared in numerous other Bergman films as the small dose of atmosphere and/or brooding in between smart, sensitive depictions of slightly lower-key brooding, yet instead of tempering the different levels of brooding all the brooding is pitched at the same, broodier level. Had Bergman opted to make an actual horror movie with actual horror in it (that is, had he had scenes pitched even higher than the base level the rest of the film is at), he could have made it work, but instead the film ended up redundant both of itself and of several other, much more superior early-60s Bergmans. It's interesting that Bergman considered it a companion to Persona, the one film in his filmograhy, I feel, that managed to solely work in the negative range of emotion, and on the metaphorical side of logic, and completely make it work.

On the other hand, I haven't seen the film in two years, so what do I know.

A bunch of fuckers wrote:
The House of the Devil and what


I'm with Major, Josh, and the other silent supporters on this one. I loved this movie, more than I loved many more technically superior, better crafted, more Zeppeliny movies. Major makes a good point, I think, when he notes that the characters, not knowing they're in a cheap horror movie, don't need to act as such. And yet, there's something about being in a big, spooky house alone that just makes you want to act like you're in a cheap horror movie, isn't that? That, or just the opposite: Whoop and hollar, dance around a little, order a damn pizza. You know, the works. That's why The House of the Devil really worked for me: It's playing off of something much more relatable than Satanism panic: being too smart to panic about Satanism, or the dark, or being in a big house alone, and yet panicking about it anyway, even if just subconsciously. And then actually having those fears, both of the flavor of the week variety and the classic big spooky house variety, confirmed? I think if you were to break down any horror movie far enough, you'd come up with a formula a lot like that one. Yet that's all The House of the Devil is; it's a horror movie in the purest, and in its own special little way scariest, sense. If that's not worth loving alone I don't know what is.


Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:25 am
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
ed_metal_head wrote:
Come on, forum dudes. You've seen this one and love it. Tell the Pete-bear how wrong he is!


Erm, I...uhh...thought this was just okay...

...LOOK! ELEPHANT! *points and runs away*

Oh, and to catch up on the last few days...

Dark House - 4/10

Imagine the Asylum doing a knock-off of 1999's House on Haunted Hill. Jeffrey Combs hams it up, but it just ain't enough.

The Phantom Carriage - 8/10

Spooky, atmospheric flip side to It's a Wonderful Life, in which a drunkard faced with having to drive Death's coach for the coming year is shown what a douche he's been to everyone he's ever met.

Altitude - 4/10

"Hey, one of my friends has a plane! Let's shoot a terrible, repetitive, grating horror movie!" Cue bullshit "Twilight Zone" ending. Cue credits.

Race with the Devil - 5/10

Decent chase film that gets the cult angle right (a faceless, omnipresent threat) but ends on a middle finger of a note. I hate to base so much of why I didn't like a movie on the ending, but there's a difference between "dark" and "yeah, we don't give a shit about these guys."

Hellraiser: Revelations - 3/10

Kiss. My. Ass.


Sat Oct 15, 2011 12:41 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Zeppelin wrote:
And yet, there's something about being in a big, spooky house alone that just makes you want to act like you're in a cheap horror movie, isn't that? That, or just the opposite: Whoop and hollar, dance around a little, order a damn pizza. You know, the works. That's why The House of the Devil really worked for me: It's playing off of something much more relatable than Satanism panic: being too smart to panic about Satanism, or the dark, or being in a big house alone, and yet panicking about it anyway, even if just subconsciously.


I do think this is what the movie is trying to relate. It tries to give the sense of "are these fears justified?" Are Samantha and her friend being unnecessarily paranoid because of the various things they've heard, or stories they've read, or whatever the hell else makes people associate the tangible with the emotional? That's interesting stuff. However, the film's fatal flaw is the somewhat surprising death of Greta Gerwig's character. As an audience, once that takes place, we can't ever really feel what the film is trying to convey. We know the fears are justified and it becomes a more clinical experience than a visceral one. Considering there was, what, 45 minutes to an hour left in the film before anything really happened, what could have been a small misstep was, for me, a complete disaster. The rest of the time Samantha spends in the house is an intellectual exercise until we get to climax. My last sentence sounds entirely too sexual. The filmmaking, in technique, is genuine and mostly effective, but the story betrays that no matter how well-intentioned.


Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:09 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Major Aphasia wrote:
Wouldn't it be nice to travel back to a time where people were actually concerned over devil worship?


Or a place! In Italy the prosecutor initially posited that the attractive young American lass killed her friend as part of a Satanic ritual. Said prosecutor has used the Satanic Ritual thing in trial before. How cool is that? Let's all go to Italy and pretend to worship the devil! (or just another country where people believe they're being demon-possessed...please don't read foreign newspapers).

Anyway, I'd like to build on Major Aphasia's (that feels weird to type) point and posit that the film might be more successful with those who worry about this kind of thing.

A.J. Hakari wrote:
Erm, I...uhh...thought this was just okay...

...LOOK! ELEPHANT! *points and runs away*


No way you're distracting me with a Gus van Sant film, AJ.


Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:58 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Major Aphasia wrote:
Wouldn't it be nice to travel back to a time where people were actually concerned over devil worship?

West Memphis, circa 1994?


Sat Oct 15, 2011 10:04 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
PeachyPete wrote:
I do think this is what the movie is trying to relate. It tries to give the sense of "are these fears justified?" Are Samantha and her friend being unnecessarily paranoid because of the various things they've heard, or stories they've read, or whatever the hell else makes people associate the tangible with the emotional? That's interesting stuff. However, the film's fatal flaw is the somewhat surprising death of Greta Gerwig's character. As an audience, once that takes place, we can't ever really feel what the film is trying to convey. We know the fears are justified and it becomes a more clinical experience than a visceral one. Considering there was, what, 45 minutes to an hour left in the film before anything really happened, what could have been a small misstep was, for me, a complete disaster. The rest of the time Samantha spends in the house is an intellectual exercise until we get to climax. My last sentence sounds entirely too sexual. The filmmaking, in technique, is genuine and mostly effective, but the story betrays that no matter how well-intentioned.


A fair criticism, and one I can't entirely argue, except to say that that didn't personally bother me. Maybe just because I'm enamored of scenes in movies where no traditional action takes place or because, considering The House of the Devil is a blend of both a smart movie about cheap horror movies along with a cheap horror movie itself, it made sense to me that Gerwig's character would be offed so soon, in the tradition of so many cheap horror movies. Probably both of those things, actually. Still, your criticism does make sense, and actually gives me a great excuse to watch the film again. We'll see if that actually happens, but I've got the hankering right now, at least.


Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:30 pm
Post Re: An Octoberfest of Horror Films
Image

I love it when the evil force in horror films is a stand-in for some larger societal issue. Social commentary is the bees knees. The Omen has to be one of the templates for this kind of film. Made in 1976, and working with a screenplay from the book's author David Seltzer, director Richard Donner crafts a film about the dangers of parenting, or more precisely, the dangers of not parenting. Simply put, your child will become the fucking devil if you don't take your own time to raise your own child. It's a simple enough message, but for the majority of it's 111 minute running time, The Omen is a genuinely unsettling film.

The movie makes 2 choices, one early and one throughout the film, that really bring home it's point and add some importance to the production. The first is a simple, standard one for movies of this kind. The audience is let in on just how evil Damien is while his parents are kept in the dark. Gregory Peck and Lee Remick don't have a clue why all these awful thing keep happening around them and their son. They also don't have a clue about parenting (HA!). That's the other smart decision the filmmakers make. They don't ever let the audience see Peck or Remick really being parents. Hell, these two even openly admit they don't want to be parents. There are no "moments" between Damien and his parents, no discipline, no anything. The closest the kid gets to anything resembling an upbringing is the attention given to him by his new devil worshiping nanny. Of course, this kid is the Anitchrist, so who in their right mind would want to be around him anyway?

Anyone familiar with horror movies knows the plot of this one, so a summary isn't needed. The one plot related issue I had was that once David Warner enters the film, it becomes a somewhat silly detective movie with him and Peck cavorting around the globe looking for clues and Specific People With Answers. However, the movie redeems itself with a really, really dark ending. I read that an alternate, slightly more hopeful, ending was initially filmed but canned in favor of this one. It's always a good thing to hear about a producer making, and supporting, the right artistic choice. After all, when the fucked up parents die, the fucked up kid still has to go on living his or her fucked up life. The ending completes the commentary well and is really the only way the film could end and be taken seriously.

The movie has a great, creepy soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith that elevates the material. It's just perfect. There's also a couple inspired death scenes, especially Warner's. Also, the original nanny hanging herself is really, really disturbing. I was lukewarm on the film after seeing it, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. It stays true to itself and, despite some silliness towards the end, is effectively scary and pretty smart. It's a simple, straightforward film in both it's execution and goals, but it succeeds at what it's trying to do. It deserves praise for that.


Mon Oct 17, 2011 6:53 pm
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