Monday, April 30, 2012

Down A Dark Alley: The 80s Continued

After this batch of reviews will be my look at some of the Friday The 13th film series, followed by the 90s and 2000s. Oh and don't forget to check out last year's Horrorfest, which was covered in this blog from August to November.

Out of all the horror movies I've seen over the years, this one might be the most fun. The 80s were all about outlandishly entertaining movies, period, and it shows in this movie which is a unique twist on the zombie genre, released a year later after 1985, The Year of The Zombie (Re-Animator, Day of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead). Plus it stars Tom "Thrill Me!" Atkins, who embodies a badass sarcastic cop who's unfazed about most things. But not everything.

The opener is hilarious, thus also showing that horror and comedy have often gone hand in hand with horror movies, although this one doesn't have a great deal of humorous moments. The main two characters are likable enough, and of course they are the ones to unleash the Creeps upon an unsuspecting college population, primarily a sorority house full of your average bubble headed female coeds. I like that the movie slowly builds up and increases the amount of crazy events, until the final act boils over-too many horror movies lack that kind of patience. "The good news is your dates are here. The bad news is... they're dead."

What's great about the newly released SE DVD of the movie (which I own, and watched again a couple months ago) is that it contains the two endings created for this movie. The original ending being more shocking yet amazing, while the SE's ending that the director preferred, one which would have left the door open for a sequel. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately considering a sequel might have sucked) we are left with only the stand alone feature, which is a classic and a candidate for my famous Top 20 Horror Movies list. 95

Scare Level=3.0

As far as vampire movies go, this one is fairly original in various ways. For starters, the movie acts more as a western than a horror movie, even though there are some creepy moments and the main players are, well, vampires. Also there is a great deal of twisting some of the rules, although when you think about it the rules really aren't hard and fast with mythical creatures. Okay, so long as they don't goddamn sparkle-screw Twilight. Besides Twilight never had a vampire character as cool as Bill Paxton's psychotic, sun glasses sporting, murderous badass.

Sure some elements of Romeo and Juliet also exist here to a small extent, but that's not why I found this movie to be so refreshing and entertaining. The characters themselves are engaging and well written, and Bigelow endows the movie with something of a female touch that works-and also because those elements match up with the movie's more hard edged, macho tendencies. Why we don't have more horror-westerns that as good as this one is beyond me, if only because having vampires in Texas just simply makes sense.

After all, vampires are really as ancient and outdated as cowboys are. The final showdown between the hard luck and tired youthful protagonist, spurred on by a desire to save his beloved while opposing forces stronger than he is strikes anyone who's seen plenty of the western genre (I certainly have, and I'm a huge fan of it) as being rather familiar. How Bigelow handles the ending results in something very tension and exciting. Even though there are better vampire movies in existence, this one is recommended due to being something off the beaten path. 90

Scare Level=5.0

Back in the late 80s-the mid 90s, Peter Jackson was giving us very gory, highly entertaining, and completely outlandish horror movies (and a twisted take on puppet TV shows as well, in addition to the critically acclaimed Heavenly Creatures). Unleashing his creative fury despite budget limitations and the fact that at times he had no idea what the hell he was doing, Jackson gave us movies that, looking back, are quite original and really off the pale. This counts as his first feature, and in creating it he gave birth to something that while not at all scary is gloriously campy and quite hilarious.

Fast and furious really describe this movie, as since the length isn't particularly long the movie doesn't waste any time setting things into action-so there really isn't any set up or build up, which isn't a bad thing in this case. Between wondering what the the blue blazes was going on and laughing a lot, the movie establishes that these aliens come to earth seeking us humans as the ultimate in fine dinning. Yeah they want to eat us, which is surprising considering that most humans lack basic nutrients and are high in cholesterol.

What transpires is batshit madness, carefully executed yet unleashed upon the audience, as a bunch of highly trained psychotic badasses take on the alien menace. Not even bothering to ask questions or check things out save for five minutes, they blow everything to hell and back with a glee that goes beyond comical. The ending is beyond wacky, which is in line with the other inspired craziness. I really would like to see Jackson go back to making these kind of movies, but I don't think he will. At least we still have films like this one to watch again and again. 87

Scare Level=Non-existent

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Down A Dark Alley: Horrorfest, 80s Style Part II

Partly because I'm behind on my 80s horror viewing, but also due to the fact that it was the last big decade for the genre until the 2000s, I have viewed a lot of 80s horror films during the fall months. Here's a couple more write ups:

Until I finally viewed this movie, I wasn't sure that what I had rented was a horror movie. However, it can be considered as such due to the fact that it fits into the category of "Body horror," a sub genre perfected by David Cronenberg. A man who's work I've sadly explored very little of. What this movie also proves is that the mind can be a very frightening place.

Expounding on that is the really freaky, strange and beyond insane nightmarish drug induced hallucanating trips that William Hurt goes on during this movie. Some of them are quite awe inspiring, but most of them result in rather stark and nightmarish moments that were really quite creepy. The movie even goes beyond the realm of sanity when Hurt's character ends up becoming a primal creature of sorts. And then he goes on the rampage in old school monster movie fashion.

Anyways, this film is also highly sexual in many aspects. The nudity and sexual tension kind of serve their purpose, and in a way the supposed "power of love" adds the main characters in their march back to normality. I like that this film is highly science based, and that aside from some rather outlandish scenes it is highly realistic. For those seeking a rather intelligent type of horror flick, and a sort of mind blowing experience, I recommend this one. I really want to read the book soon. 87

Scare Level=4.5

Freaky. Gross. Disgusting. Mind blowing. Utterly insane. All can describe David Cronenberg's 1983 classic, which not only is an addition to his collection of body horror movies, but is also flat out awesome in its own right. There is something twisted at work but also an extension of media theories and even thoughts on the human body itself. I honestly cannot say if any of the movie actually makes sense, but that doesn't really matter.

What the hell is it with 80s horror movies being highly sexual? Well not all of them, but at least many that I have come across. If they're not showcasing nudity in a slasher film, you get a movie like this one or Altered States that showcases it in an almost graphic, unflincing nature. In addition to being about the mutation of the body and the mind being launched into the outer reaches of insanity, Cronenberg makes the film as much about rough lovemaking as Blue Velvet was.

Now the body horror leads to some moments that would be easily part and parcel of a monster movie, and I think that's also what Cronenberg was aiming for. However, in this case the medium really becomes the message (heh, McLuhen comes into play), as the TV ends morphing and reshaping its creators and users. Thus, we have a "Monster turning on its maker" message of sorts, along with James Woods' sleezy, irresponsible smut and violence peddler Max Renin being the vessel for something truly unholy and unnatural. "LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH!" Indeed. 95

Scare Level=4.0

This movie has what could be the creepiest musical score ever for a horror movie. Okay, so maybe its not creepier than the classic Halloween (1978) theme, but its still up there. This along with Halloween and The Omen (1976) are horror movies where the music sets the film's mood, and give it an additional atmosphere that works incredibly well. In the case of Children of the Corn, though, the movie doesn't waste any time giving us a nightmarish world where kids, worshipping some sinister god, murder every adult in town and form their own demented Amish community. Complete with chastity belts, no use of electronics, and human sacrifices when needed, as no one is allowed to grow up. Reminds me of a demented, violent cult version of Peter Pan.

Into this whacked out land of corn wander two adults. The guy isn't important, but his wife is played by Linda Hamilton back when she was really hot. I have no idea if she made this movie before or after The Terminator, or if the latter film came out at around the same time, but she's great in both movies. From what I hear the Stephen King short story is different from the movie in some ways, but I haven't read it so I have no idea what's different and what's not. I'm guessing that the two main characters, who encounter the cult and are forced to fight against a deranged ginger child screaming "Outlander!" throughout most of the movie and his tiny child boss who heads the whole thing, weren't changed for the movie. And that the story has to have the famous "He Who Walks Between the Rows" creature/god/monster whatever the hell it is that the children so eagerly obey and fear.

As far as 80s horror movies go, this one is essential if not only because of the score, then due to the fact that crappy and dated CGI aside its a well made horror movie. Its not incredibly scary, but its really creepy. I've never seen the sequels, and I have no intention of doing so considering I hear how bad most of them are. But the first movie is quite good, and probably lead to everyone thinking we Midwesterners are demented corn worshippers. Well, I'm here to tell you that's only, um, half true :shifty: 85

Scare Level=5.0

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Down A Dark Alley: The 1980s

Now I've viewed the most from the 1980s during my Horrorfests since this decade has some of the most fun horror movies, not to mention the fact that it was the last big era for the genre until the 2000s. So here we go....

Despite the fact that I'm not a big fan of werewolves in general, I liked this movie a lot. Dante starts out with a strange and creepy encounter and then gives us some measure of calm before plunging us into a world even stranger, deadlier, and featuring hot werewolf sex. I'm not kidding about that last part, and yes its heavy. Although this movie isn't better than Gremlins, which I consider to be his best work, its still a must see for fans of his work and horror movie buffs in general.

Furthermore, the atmosphere here is laid on pretty damn thick. The characters (just like in An American Werewolf in London) are somewhat familiar with the werewolf mythology, and there are several key scenes that actually freaked me out. What Dante delivers is a workman like film, one that pulls very little punches, manages to be entertaining, and is a worthy companion to its superior competitor that was released the same year.

No I have not seen the sequels, and I hear they are quite terrible so I think I'll pass. But I do eagerly recommend this one to viewers, as its quite possibly one of the best horrors of the 80s. Even though I kind of saw the twist and the ending coming, the last scene is actually great, and the final shot is deliciously eerie. Too bad the current decade hasn't been as kind to Joe Dante, as he's really a good director and has a substantial body of work. 87

Scare Level: 6.0

Even though this is a good movie, and it does feature some really inspired creepy/freaky/weird moments, I'd say that compared to the fantastic Videodrome that this movie is messy, and a lesser movie. Sure there is a head exploding, and Michael Ironside being his usual great self, but this film fails to further dive into its themes; if anything a lack of a good budget and a more interesting script would have helped this movie more. Not going to lie, though: I also wanted more head exploding. Cause that was really cool.

Once again, Cronenberg covers his usual brand of body mutation and human monsters living among us-with the creatures being fairly obvious, less subtle-yet at the same time we get an earlier glimpse of the human mind bending morphing strange occurring moments that showed up in his later movies. I'm not sure if the protagonist and the woman who becomes his partner were supposed to be stilted in their acting approach, either, as if that results in seemingly more realistic performances, or maybe they just weren't very good. I didn't find that to be distracting anyways.

Sure the last act where critical mass is literally reached and a Jedi mind battle takes place leading to something rather frightening, but this movie never gets beyond its bare minimum ideas. As an early effort sure it works, but this is one movie where a well done remake would probably improve upon what has already been accomplished. 80

Scare Level=3.5

As far as slashers go, this one is fairly standard-and yet, due to some well done kills, a decent sense of pacing, and a great deal of entertainment thrown in, its passable and better than some of the slasher sub-genre's offerings. Plus you have Jason Alexander and Fisher Stevens playing teenagers when the former looks too old to really do so, and its amusing to view them in action before they become more famous. Oh and of course Harvey Weinstein helped write the movie, so really its important in terms of having helped launch several notable people's careers, which is cool I guess.

What happens in the movie isn't really important: some stupid kids play a prank, set a dude on fire, guy survives and comes back to wreck his terrible brand of violent, gory vengeance. The movie actually starts out slow, and for a while all we get is some boobs and kids playing pranks. The killer stalks and sneaks around, waiting to strike while showing off his horribly disfigured and burned face. I will say that the movie's opener, with a stupid corner getting his just deserts, was the highlight of the movie's first half.

Many fans of the movie note the awesome kills, namely the hilarious and rather blood filled raft massacre, which came as a bit of surprise to me when it probably shouldn't have had. There's more boobs, death by clippers, and an epic battle to the death between hero and evil sadistic villain that works actually quite well. Despite the lack of real suspense with a few exceptions, and the high level of dumb thrown in (all slashers have it, otherwise their would be a lack of victims), this is worth viewing if you enjoy this sort of thing (I suppose I do to a degree). I'm glad there wasn't a sequel. 75

Scare Level=4.0

Friday, April 13, 2012

Down A Dark Alley: The Best of Horrorfest-70s

Now for some write ups from my favorite decade for the genre: The 1970s.

When it comes down to it, most of the horror movies I watch are creepy at best, never really scary although I suppose there are those that manage to be disturbing or unnerving. However you can easily stick this one in the "Goddamn freaky" category, as the same guy who gave us the rather happy "A Christmas Story" later on made one mean and rather eerie horror movie in the 1970s. Striking first before "Halloween" came out four years later, Clark's contribution to the slasher brand proves that despite the many cash grabs associated with the sub-genre there are also movies that can be considered relatively good or great contributions to movies in general. If this movie doesn't scare you, then the film's tagline is right: "Your skin is on too tight."

Even in the age of cell phones, the movie's use of regular phone lines is very inventive and quite creepy thanks to "Billy's" nasty, frightening phone calls that can be best be described as a mixture of multiple personality disorder and unprintable dialogue. Just like "Halloween" the film's death count is quite low, but rather maximized to great effect, making the movie all the more scary. It also never really reveals the killer either, turning the movie into a mystery as well and only making the viewer wonder who is truly capable of these horrible and gross acts of violence.

Despite discussing the ending already with someone on RT, I'm not completely sold on what the final shot really indicates, and if the movie ever truly gives as any answers. That is rather irrelevant except for the sake of curiosity anyways, and the final moments result in a truly great last act. Sure this movie does have its flaws (John Saxon isn't one of them-he sure appeared in a couple other horror movies), but you can't go wrong with a movie this raw and unflinching. Looking at his filmography, it seems that he made a handful of other horror movies, and I intend to explore them all. 92

Scare Level (out of 10)=9.5

Goddamn that baby is ugly. Very ugly. A bastard child, with looks only a mother could love. Well its mother does love it, and while dad is horrified at first, he grows to love it. In a way this film is a Frankenstein style tale of sorts, with the creature spawned by it parents, its "creators," who at first try to destroy it, only then to change their minds. Just looking at that picture makes me glad that the evil monster baby is only shown a handful of times throughout the movie.

Whoa, those plastic doll things are creepy. The film zooms in closer on them to up the tension. Anyways, this baby is evil because it runs around killing people. You scare this thing, and it will slit your throat or rip your face off. The minute the baby comes out the womb, the little wanker freaks out and kills all of the doctors and nurses assisting with its birth. That's pretty wicked right there. I like how when the thing wanders around, the camera turns blurry, as if to suggest that the baby has a limited and weak vision due to being young. Oh and the milkman kill is down in pure style, and is the best one of the bunch.

Finally, tons of policemen go and hunt the little freak, leading to the eventual showdown which is actually more suspenseful and surprising than I thought I would be. Although this movie is a bit on the cheesy side, I do like that like some horror films there's a theme, and that the movie somewhat explores it. That mankind in screwing around with chemicals and other shit ends up creating a rather horrible and monstrous animal. Sure its fairly simple, but sometimes that's really needed. 79

Scare Level (out of 10): 4.0

Going in, I thought to myself "There's no way this will live up to expectations. Sure its 70s horror, but sooner or later I'm going to find one of those supposed classics that disappoints." Yeah, that didn't happen because this film is vintage 70s horror at its finest. Considered by some to be part of a loosely connected "Satanic Trilogy" also featuring Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist, there's really very little flawed or wrong about this film. By the final act, I sat there and said to myself "This is awesome. Wow." The film is built on so many coincidences that seem to link together, but until the last act your not sure if they do or not.

That's the genius of this film, that slowly but surely everything builds up to rather creepy and freaky moments that just stay in your head after they happen. The film's death total isn't high, but the deaths that happen are amazingly crazy, kind of implausible, and yet they work. One left me with my jaw dropped wide, another wondering how the hell that was even possible. But in a movie where a damn sinister, creepy child may be the Anti-Christ come to earth, none of what occurs is far fetched at all. There is a guide realism at work here, so magnificent, chilling, and effective.

Unfortunately I was unable to find a screen cap of the downright eerie ending, and I know I haven't even touched upon the fantastic cast assembled here. The best one of the bunch is Gregory Peck, an esteemed and famous actor at the time who agreed to be in a horror movie. Its him especially that makes all of this work, because man if the guy who played Atticus Finch gets scared and worried, well the audience should (and does) follow suit. That bit of casting is incredibly smart, and its stuff like and the small details plus the film clicking on all cylinders that makes it work. If you have not seen this movie, do so. I guarantee Donner's near masterpiece will be featured in my Top 20 Horror list next year. 98

Scare Level=8.5

After this movie appeared in theaters, some accused Cronenberg of hating women, although I don't really see it here. Nah, the guy just created this rather nasty, mean spirited, and highly disturbing psychology body horror after his divorce-and well splitting up with someone you love sometimes leads to rather less than nice feelings. Regardless of that fact, this is a movie that is hard to write about simply because I have already tried to forget about what the hell I saw. When you witness horrible murders and a scene that despite the FX is beyond gross, focusing on happy things is the usual defense mechanism.

Apparently Oliver Reed, in addition to being one cool dude in real life and a good actor overall, made a couple of horror movies. I haven't seen the other one(s) he's done, but here his charisma and overall strong presence drives home a complex character. On the one hand, his doctor plays God with people's lives, driving home extreme psychological feelings in attempts to pull out something extending past the realm of human understanding. Yet he seems to actually be trying to help some of his patients, in particular the main protagonist's wife, who's fragile psyche masks an incredible rage that in the end actually manifests itself in the form of downright freaky, ugly looking dwarf creatures.

Once again, Cronenberg hammers home not only the idea of the monster within (you can make a strong argument that Reed is the mad scientist, and his patient is really his horrifying creature), but of course body mutation/horror that so readily pops up. What I like so far about his horror movies is that he plays with monster and horror movie conventions, crafting rather intelligent yet terrifying works about things most sane people don't even think about. Oh and once you've seen what happens before the movie's finale, childbirth and motherhood becomes utterly terrifying and graphically nasty. 88

Scare Level=9.0

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Down A Dark Alley: The Best of Horrorfest Day 3

Now, for the rest of the 1950s and 1960s horror write ups (and then its on to the 70s before a weekend break):

One last note: this review was penned before I saw Blood and Black Lace:

One thing you can be sure about when it comes to Bava is that he is going to lay on the atmospheric creepiness immediately. His movies work at a much slower pace than other horror films, and that's not necessarily a bad thing as he simply builds up the tension, giving the viewer a more richer painted out vision of the nightmare they are witnessing. He was more old school style in his approach to making movies, as usually they were made on low budgets and are clearly based in the style of the famous Val Lewton pictures and the 1920s German expressionist classics. Going in and expecting "Boo!" moments and plenty of extreme violence would be rather foolish.

Besides, I like how eerie and creepy this movie without any additional trappings anyways. Barbara Steele gives an effective and awesome performance as a dread undead witch seeking vengeance for the past transgressions committed against her during the Dark Ages. Using her fellow undead buddy to do her sinister bidding, of course. Bava isn't just content to have her face marked with ugly, nasty nail marks but also focuses heavily on her deep, unforgiving eyes that seem to pierce the viewer's soul. Naturally as in some of Bava's other movies there is a fellow who would be best served to stay out of all this business, but intervenes anyways out of either curiosity or his love for a rather pretty lass.

Even though this movie is well made and executed, I wish the ending had more bleak and sinister. Having already seen Kill Baby....Kill! and Planet of the Vampires, two other rock solid horror films from him, I rather like this Bava fellow. Unlike Corman, who usually underlined many of his movies with a sense of campy or would go over the top, Bava manages to strike a certain balance. Black Sunday appears to be the best of his movies that I've seen so far, and it also a prime example of how to play a horror movie seriously. 81

Scare Level=4.5

Before becoming known for such films as The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Sound of Music, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Robert Wise worked with Val Lewton on a few horror films. One of them I have seen, and its pretty sweet: The Body Snatcher, which was creepy Gothic horror, sporting an excellent Boris Karloff performance. Well in 1963, Wise returned to the genre with the well made classic The Haunting, and I'm glad he did because the movie is pretty damn good. This film, much like "Snatcher," has rather strong psychological undertones. And it works. Also I flat out love the film's beginning, where the eerie sounding narrator tells the rather stark and dark tale of how Hill House became a cold, damp and forbidding place.

Unlike many other horror films that rely primarily on gore and jump scares, this movie instead slowly builds up its frightening moments, and rests on letting your imagination mainly take over. I much prefer this method instead, even though I must confess that many of the movies that have scared me feature rather shocking jump scares and more obvious methods. The cast itself is wisely rather tight and small, thus allowing us to focus on a few characters and thus making us more likely to fear for their safety. Large casts in horror movies are typically only useful for slasher movies anyways. Oh and apparently there was a lesbian undertone to the two female characters, but I really didn't see it.

Anyways, the film's last half is really, really strange, and is highly psychological. I'm not sure what really transpires, although there are clues to suggest that what the good Doctor thinks happened, happened. But I do like that final scene, one that sort of inspires a bit of creepy feelings and is sometimes featured in horror films. Overall I'd say so far this is one of the best horror flicks out of the ones I've seen so far, and it even stands a chance of cracking my Top 20. 90

Scare Level: 5.0


Anyone who bashes the slasher genre must be either ignoring films like this one, or the fact that not all slasher movies are some idiot running around in the woods with a large hunting knife. Although one can argue that this is technically a giallo and not a slasher picture, Bava's 1964 classic has many of the notable aspects of the genre. Females being murdered by a mysterious stranger who uses a knife and other ways of killing.

The audience left to try and figure out who the killer is, along with those in the picture. Many creepy moments, usually powered by the camera showing the killer's viewpoint as they stalk their prey in the night. However, unlike some hack director Bava had style, class, and a sense of how to make a visually stunning, well made horror movie that also had some good scares, entertaining to mass audiences while being interesting enough to please critics. Although I must confess I have no idea how Bava was received by critics during his career, he is now rightfully considered one of the masters of horror, who perfected his gothic brand and gave us horror fans many classics.

What I most like about this film is how the movie does not pull any punches, and just simply begins with a murder right away. In doing so Bava does admit that his characters are paper thin (another slasher movie characteristic), but he still keeps his camera on them, giving out enough information so that when they are actually hunted, we care if they live or die. Perhaps there is also a thematic undercurrent in this particular movie, but I'll be honest and admit that I don't recall just what it is: I can't imagine it being too deep, but still worth exploring nevertheless. Some of the kills are also rather graphic, such as one woman being burned alive, and a scene where one woman is trapped in a basement full of junk isn't just stylishly filmed, its also framed so that the audience actually can sense the tension and even feel her fear. After all, horror movies at their most basic level are meant to terrify and scare us.

Naturally I won't give away the final act, although I must admit Bava ends his movie in a clever and memorable way. So far out of the ones I've viewed from the Italian director, this one is the best, as its creepy, well directed, and unlike some of his other films features the least amount of flaws. I still have much to view from the man, and I look forward to exploring some of his other works, as he was a rather prolific director. 90

Scare Level=5.0

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Down A Dark Alley: The Best of Horrorfest Day 2

Now to dive into the 50s and 60s write ups, although really there is only one from the 50s and a couple from the 1960s. Beginning with a short review of a really good remake:

Unlike, say, zombies or werewolves I'm not a huge fan of the vampire genre. Sure I think Bram Stoker's Dracula is a great novel and that there have been good vampire movies. Its just that at times they seem way too stuck in the past, at least more so dated than other monsters. Regardless though, Hammer Studios did a fine job rebooting that most famous old school monster, the king of all fang toothed creatures, Dracula, and they accomplished that in grand style by casting Christopher Lee in the role plus Peter Cushing as the dashing and intelligent Van Helsing, the count's nemesis.

Sure Bela Lugosi was fine previously, but the problem was that he was really the only good thing about the 1931 Dracula, which was unwisely adapted from a stage play. Even though Fisher's movie also takes some liberties with the actual book, since his film sports more elaborate style and better pacing he easily gets away such trickery. That and the fact that his movie immediately gets down to business as the Count is quickly introduced (when he finally bears his teeth, dripping with blood, it is a highly fantastic and attention grabbing moment) and the battle lines are drawn. All resulting in a few other creepy moments that I rather enjoyed, some of which are actually taken directly from the book itself. Notably the graveyard scene where one of the main players almost becomes a snack for his undead lover.

Even though the movie changes up the ending and the last act happens so fast that the tension is somewhat lacking, it is very solid overall. Considering that Fisher was responsible for other Hammer Studios movies and other horror films as well I would like to view them, and compare and contrast those with the Universal Monsters movies that they payed homage to. Most notably Frankenstein as well, a great movie that I finally saw this month. 85

Scare Level=3.0

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Down A Dark Alley: The Best of Horrorfest

April is defiantly the right time of the year to feature horror reviews. Completely. Snark and joking aside, summertime is when so many horror movies actually take place-especially slasher films. Presented to you with no commercial interruptions will be write ups penned while spending the fall months viewing plenty of gory, violent, creepy or not so frightening depictions of terrifying events unfolding onscreen. Enjoy.

Breaking them down by decade, I'm going with the earliest horror film of the bunch I watched, a true classic featured on my Top 50 Horror Movies List, one that was penned a couple years back (and since then I have seen the Cushing/Lee remake, which is great also):

Among all of the Universal Monster movies, this one reigns supreme as being the best of the bunch, and rightfully so. Despite being rather short and to the point, Frankenstein manages to capture (with some changes thrown in) the essence of Mary Sheily's classic tale of a monster, his mad creator, and the problems that arise when one violates the laws of nature. Or simply good taste, considering Frankenstein's creature is a mismatch of body parts, someone else's brain, and he's forced to wear large and uncomfortable platform shoes.

Clearly inspired by the famous German Expressionist movement of the silent era 1920s, the movie is largely build up, with the payoffs scattered throughout. You have several incredibly iconic scenes ranging from the "Its Alive!" mad scientist moment, to the infamous little girl by the lake scene, and the usual angry mob of villagers wielding pitchforks and torches, seeking to destroy the beast and end its reign of terror. Whale handles all of this with a daft touch, trusting his actors and knowing very well that he clearly had a great story on his hands.

We'll never know if Bela Legosi could have pulled off the part of the Creature, and that is rather left for debate. All I know is that Boris Karloff does a fantastic job, using pure emotional responses and giving away what he's thinking purely through eye and facial moments. Its a tough task, but he pulls it off wonderfully, and as a result he passes into horror legend. I haven't seen the endless remakes of this movie, although I'm sure the Hammer Studios version featuring the duo of Cushing and Lee is a must see. 95

Scare Level (out of 10)=3.0

Oh and of course the listening of already posted ones is here, too.

*Frankenstein (1931)
*The Horror of Dracula (1958)
*Black Sunday (1960)
*The Haunting (1963)
*Blood and Black Lace (1964)
*Black Christmas (1974)
*Its Alive (1974)
*The Omen (1976)
*The Brood (1979)
*Altered States (1980)
*The Howling (1981)
*The Burning (1981)
*Scanners (1981)
*Videodrome (1983)
*Children of the Corn (1984)
*Night of the Creeps (1986)
*Near Dark (1987)
*Bad Taste (1987)
*The Jason Vorhees Collection:
 -Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
-Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
-Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
-Friday the 13th Part VIII: The New Blood (1988)
-Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
*Troll 2 (1990)
*Dead/Alive (1992)
*From Dusk Till Dawn (1995)
*Dog Soldiers (2002)
*The Call of Cthulhu (2005)
 *The Omen (2006)
*The Screwfly Solution (2006)
*Severance (2006)
*Let The Right One In (2008)
*Halloween II (2009)
*Zombieland (2009)