Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2016
The Auschwitz scene in XMen: Apocalypse with Magneto, (Fassbinder because this film is set in '83) given extra power by "the very first all-powerful mutant" to fracture deep within the earth and structurally wreak havoc, tearing it apart could very well be a therapeutic fantasy to be celebrated, a survivor renting a place of horror top to bottom...or is it bottom to top?

Is it not fascinating, though, that the face of Dawn of the Dead (1978) would appear in a door and be blasted away in seconds before the four leads ever make it to the mall?

And, so help me, to this day I still want to yell at the screen towards Gaylen Ross' Francine to pick up the fucking hammer and help her man, Stephen. I guess it is what some face when real horror appears and they have to just be in that place to understand.
"This was a very important place in their lives"

I won't tread familiar terrain so followed by many (and why not? It is a very fascinating topic, materialism and consumerism, which today are as relevant as ever), in regards to zombies and their ties to the mall they inhabit, the familiarity to the place. Clearly this is the most critical point, the major takeaway mentioned specifically, so it's importance can't be denied in Dawn of the Dead (1978).
Frank Darabont directed the pilot of The Walking Dead, and he immediately went for the jugular and shock factor by having the show's lead star, Andrew Lincoln, put down a little girl zombie. He didn't pull back by pulling the camera away. It was a way of saying that this show would impact you with subject matter that might be difficult. Dramatic music to build the moment into something significant is certainly Darabont's style. In saying all that, Romero introduced the horrifying dilemma of a child corpse emerging as a dangerous undead walking flesheater. In Night of the Living Dead (1968), Romero unleashed upon us a dying child bitten by a zombie soon becoming one herself, stabbing to death and feeding from her parents. In Dawn of the Dead (1978), Romero momentarily throws two kid zombies at Ken Foree's Peter when Stephen is filling up his chopper at a depot. Romero doesn't kill the kids on screen, allowing an anguished Peter's face as he fires his gun to sell…
What I like about Dawn of the Dead (1978) is how Romero develops this epic or novel of the zombie apocalypse where he provides chapters of the saga for a news chopper pilot (who can't shoot for shit), his girlfriend (news station producer who is pregnant with his child and seems unsure if this relationship is certain to be long term), and the two SWAT officers who meet up at the ghetto apartment (deciding to abandon their job for some safe haven elsewhere), concluding with their refuge (Monroeville Mall), desecrated and undone by unruly, disreputable bikers looking to loot and tear shit up, giving the undead free reign of the place. We aren't just given a preamble before the four are in the chopper together heading for the mall, but Romero gives us insight into just how the urban plight of 70s cities is inundated with further complications thanks to the infiltration of the dead's uprising. How news is undercut by the inability of those in charge getting it out to the publi…
On the Walking Dead, there's an emphasis on the moral quandary that those dealing with the dead find themselves. Even back in the television station, those inside had little tolerance for the doctor's recommendation on what to do with the dead. On Walking Dead a father kept folks he once knew in a barn without killing them. In Dawn of the Dead, the dead were held in an apartment complex basement. What to with the walking dead. To obliterate these beloved people no longer what they once were isn't such an easy task. So their bodies (or what is left of them) flopping about, with a few chewing on meaty bone, set to unnerving Goblin musical accompaniment and it is a chilling scene. All Roger and Pete can do is give them release and silence the hunger once and for all.
Roger questions in repulsion, "Why did these people keep them here?" Peter answers with some reflection, "Cause they believe there's some respect in dying."
There's a scene in the ghetto building where SWAT was sent to infiltrate  Puerto Rican bandits (one of which is Pittsburgh actor John Amplas, of Marvin (1977) fame) who had holed up there. There's this grizzly maze of crime and the undead as the innocents are caught in between. The movie lands us into the thick of hysteria where one officer is being mentored by Roger before engaging the bandits but a bullet hits him right in the forehead killing him instantly. Woolley, this bulbous maniacal racist with pent up rage and a machine gun--lethal concoction, for sure--goes right into shooting, not particularly caring where he aims besides ducking his fellow SWAT members. A head explodes when Woolley kicks open the door to an apartment shooting a man inside. Was it a zombie or just an unfortunate occupant?

The priest who has seen crime, violence, brutality and the dead walk (and eat) offers his theory to Roger and Peter:

Many have died last week, on these streets. In the basement of t…
Seeing the SWAT officers coming unglued in the Puerto Rican apartment complex really felt like Romero further emphasizes how when set free into a maddening escalation where the dead are still roaming among with the living, as families have a hard time dissociating themselves from the loved ones now only engineered by the 'whatsit' causing the plague of flesh-hungry walking corpse uprising, perhaps law enforcement could wind up not being as reliable as anticipated. When you see fucked up shit like a dead husband tear away neck flesh with clinched teeth from his wife as gurgling, spurting blood pools from the open wound and moving severed bodies and body parts in the apartment basement there's no wonder the situation produced a hot-headed racist all gun-happy or a green kid who is just too incapable of mentally contending with what is happening right before him. So you have guns going off, few cooler heads prevailing, one officer just too unstable where bullets fly that he&#…
"Our responsibility is finished."

A world gone to hell. God, I feel this way sometimes. Romero is onto something. The nation I live has never been more divided or fractured. Just six minutes into the extended version of Dawn of the Dead (1978), I couldn't help but see where we are as a nation, I watched a city news station fraught with anxiety, fear, anger, confusion, infighting, bickering, shouting over each other, deaf ears, disorientation, and sheer angst. It is coming apart at the seams. No one, or pockets of folks anyway, seems to be on the same page, and proper communication and tone erode because differences of opinion trump coming together to solve a crisis. Sound familiar? Romero has the dead coming back to life, but they are just a mechanism to show us that when crises truly uprise among a nation of individuals unable to get along they light a fuse certain to devastate.

That's what I saw immediately as I was watching this.

What a way, though, to kick the mo…
I think this sums it up nicely for The Comedy of Terrors (1963)

One thing I hadn't realized before was how long Schrader's film was. To reach the church conclusion where Satan awaits a great battle with Merrin, I guess what we get was rather underwhelming. I guess we are just conditioned to expect this great "fire and brimstone" spiritual combat where a mere mortal is up against a fallen angel with cunning and devious chicanery. The devil (in a fully formed Billy Crawford, who was more than a bit worse for wear when first seen, now having command of his arm and leg, looking fit and trim) will attack Merrin with psychological warfare. Sure some giant insects fly from his mouth, but Sarsgard no sells their effects. By that point, Merrin was no longer in a state to be effected by such nonsense.

I think Schrader going with the awful hardship of Merrin at the beginning of the film--a cruel Nazi general ordering the priest to tell him who among the Jews in the village had put a knife in the back of one of his soldiers, found slain in a…
I have to kind of collect some thoughts and sleep on it, but after finishing Paul Schrader's Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005) I'm still a bit mixed about it. It's a quieter, more contemplative film than Harlin's (which I don't dislike unlike many who watched mainly because of Vittorio Storaro's cinematography), and I like how Skarsgard never decided to take the Father Merrin character into hysterics, maintaining a dignity, integrity, maturity, and poise despite the horrors he sees, has seen, and will see. Gabriel Mann was a bit stiff and bland to me as the young priest sent to Merrin as a pupil who has studied him and is Vatican approved. Because Merrin was "on sabbatical" and his faith (not surpringly) weak due to a terrible experience during the Holocaust, the Church felt the need to send a young whipper snapper to Kenya (with the Brits holding some strength in the African region) to see how he's spiritually holding up. The film follows …
When I watched The Comedy of Terrors yesterday I couldn't help but think of something I read not long ago while researching a bit about Price and Lorre. Also it was Rathbone's hand creeping from his burial coffin in his mausoleum that sparked Lugosi to mind. Anyone who visits here kind of gets that I hold a great fondness for Lugosi so Price saying Lorre commented about possibly putting a stake in his heart "just in case" during Bela's funeral kind of hangs there like a reminder of what their relationship might've been like. The kind of sense of humor these titans of horror must have had. I envision Price and Lorre standing side by side as Lugosi wore his cape, lying in the coffin, only a sense of humor to quell the enormity of the loss. It's that partnership that really summons the jollies of the funny bone's tickle.

After watching The Comedy of Terrors (1963), I  think it is the perfect kind of "Halloween month setup" in September to get horror fans ready and prepared for the month ahead. I think think this would actually be a fun pairing with The Undertaker and His Pals (1966). You have the kind of actors synonymous with Halloween heading towards the twilight, getting the freedom to lampoon their horror personas. Rathbone even mimics Lugosi's creeping hand from a coffin scene, wields a chopping axe, quotes Shakespeare as he threatens Price and Lorre's lives, gives them chase, and keeps resurrecting when it appears he's kicked the bucket. He steals the film, really. Lorre and Joyce Jameson (playing Price's beleaguered wife for whom he verbally squabbles with constantly) romancing while Price boozes up. And Price getting not just a taste of his own medicine (ironically from Karloff!) but the whole bottle! Lorre and Price sword duelling even! There's a lot to be amused…
Jacques Tourneur, believe it or not, directed The Comedy of Terrors (1963), and Richard Matheson, confoundedly wrote the script. It's rare you see attempts at burying a man alive, suffocating another with a pillow, sneaking into houses, high pitched squealing replacing proper send off funeral singing for the "dearly departed", dumping bodies in dug cemetery plots and keeping the coffin as penny-penching strategy, and narcolepsy poked fun at so gleefully. Price and Rathbone especially appear to be having a grand old time, just tongue wagging in cheek. Lorre just always had the face for comedy, and the blacker and wicked, the better. But Rathbone refusing to die, with Price and Lorre trying to conceal him in the coffin with little success, is the film's main macabre bit of nonsense. If directed differently this could quite horrifying in the vein of darkest Poe.

I'm sitting here watching The Comedy of Terrors (1963), and Price and Lorre, undertaker and casket maker respectively (well, neither is very good at their job!), are off to bump off a Mr. Phipps. Basil Rathbone's property loan agent is threatening to kick them out on the street if the arrears of missed payments aren't forked over. The problem they have is that they can't seem to quit making noise... amazing thing is that despite the loud rustling about, they don't seem to awaken Phipps! The irony that the very man wanting the rent will be selected as the next body to be buried when Phipps' sexy young wife skips out on paying them for funeral services of her elderly husband says it all in this black, zany bit of comic wickedness.

Karloff's a senile old kook who once ran the funeral business during its more successful days, and he's always saying off the wall things like how Egyptians embalm their dead and wondering why the daughter he always passes the s…
I realize I wrote very little about Forbidden Planet yesterday afternoon but this won't be the last time it will be mentioned on the blog considering its my favorite science fiction film. It deserves plenty of blog posts, and I couldn't really talk about it enough!

I picked up the two volumes of the Universal Studios Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection and anticipated revisiting some and seeing others for the first time. I started with Tarantula (1955) just a few days ago and, no surprise, it was as fun as the last time (it came on Chiller channel several years ago when they were exploiting the Universal vault). The Mole People (1956) is a film I was unfamiliar with. It was a campy hoot with a kitchen sink plot involving archeologists discovering an underground civilization of Sumerian descent who worship Ishtar, enslave molemen who wear suits (!) and have humpbacks (!) to do their labor, and force their women to be subservient and sacrifice themselves for their god (and to keep the population down!). Alan Napier (yep, Alfred in the Adam West Batman (1966)), who I just watched last night in The Uninvited (1944), is a high priest of the people, always scheming and planning an overthrow of the current king.

Reliable B-movie star, Agar, is lead archeologist…
Seriously, Forbidden Planet (1956) plays on Turner Classics all the time, and I nearly can't resist rewatching it every time it does. Robby the Robot has went on quite a journey before winding up in William Malone's collection. His appearances after this were in quite a unique number of shows. But he's quite the star, quite a knockout prop. Those behind making have left behind quite the robotic icon. I can only imagine Anne Francis wasn't forgotten by many who left the theater. Pigeon head in hands over how his primitive subconscious set loose the id monster. The vast machinations of the Krell as Pigeon takes Leslie Nielsen and Warren Stevens on a tour, quite a knowledgeable guide thanks to the "brain boost". The ship as it nears Altair IV past an eclipsing sun, landing on this fantastic planet. The outline of the dangerous id monster as weapons and the laser fire from them are of no effect.

The Amityville Horror (1979)

A family moves into a house with a significant notoriety, and the evil that thrives within it cause them a lot of misery.

The Haunted House Overlooking the Cliff

Movies like The Uninvited (1944) fall under "old fashioned", "out of date", and "outmoded". In its time The Uninvited was a real scare, considered the kind to raise the hairs on your flesh. Most reading such now would scoff and raise an eyebrow while watching the film today. But watching it tonight again, a choice I'm glad I made, it all looks so fantastic thanks to the rich lighting, all imposing night, with the sea wind leaves shadowy and candles illuminating faces, hallways and stairs just enough so that the darkness still stakes its claim to the house with the ghosts occupying it during the minutes near dawn. Mimosa scent, faint white figures seemingly mist-like phantoms revealing themselves very seldom unless to make a point. The decision of the studio to show Mary's phantom emerge didn't persuade me away from the wealth of aesthetics The Uninvited offers, but maybe it was unwarranted and unnecessary considering the dialogue and performan…
Sandee Currie is the best friend for Curtis in Terror Train (1980) and I'd hate not to mention her in relation to the film if just in passing before moving on to the next film. Often movies return to the shadows of our attention, resurfacing when we decide to once again re-embrace them, welcoming their images playing out from start to finish before us. There's always a face or particular instance that holds us. Currie was it this time for me. She hadn't really before. For a majority of the film her character is flighty and high on life, seemingly okay with her place, not exactly happy that Curtis is leaving her side for a bright career ahead of her. Currie is attached to Bochner's Doc, and this look on her face as he walks away with another woman (the stunning Vanity) speaks on the disappointment and acknowledgement that he'll never truly devote himself to her. She discourages Curtis from looking for Mo because catching him in an uncompromising situation would be d…

All aboard!

I'd hate to leave any thoughts farting in the mist, chilling out unattended in the periphery so I just want to recognize Terror Train as a fascinating curio within the slasher universe if just for it being a way through the door for Copperfield to show what he could do, his shared glances with Jamie who wasn't oblivious to what he was saying to her with his eyes and how she posited her own flirty response, and his sinister presentation. Ben Johnson just being in a slasher film and escaping unscathed, unlike Glenn Ford who couldn't with his role as a psychiatrist in Happy Birthday to Me (1981). The film being directed by respected editor and photographed by a renowned cinematographer certainly helps its rep. Curtis really in quite a lot of danger within the claustrophobic confines of a moving train. Curtis trapped in a complex triangle between the young man she loves and his best friend who would prefer she was out of their lives. The killer disguising himself in the costum…

Night Terrors

Terror Train (1980) was a film I had been unfamiliar with until not long before its release on DVD around 2004. The slasher genre was receiving a renaissance after Scream (1996) went on a tear, and so a new generation was interested in what was to offer from the past. Curtis rode this fame train when she reappeared in the genre with her return to the Halloween franchise and Laurie Strode in Halloween H20 (1998). I'm one of those who loves to encounter new discoveries from the past, like a coal miner eking out from the tunnels the right ore. Still this film, Terror Train, wasn't a slasher film that set the world on fire in 1980. It made maybe 4 million of its bank back. In fact, despite what is considered a popular genre item from the same period, Prom Night (1980) didn't exactly hit the mother lode, either making about 7 million. Just the same, both will probably maintain exposure and eyes to them for the foreseeable future. That's all that matters in the end. And Jami…

Magic Tricks

Pop culture and all that, right? Ben Johnson, David Copperfield, and Jamie Lee all on the same train, in Terror Train (1980). Copperfield in his infancy, with all the showbiz pizazz already fired up. His coin/cigarette trick to wow Curtis, as Ben comments that he knows how Copperfield pulled it off but that they are "sworn to secrecy." Earlier, Ben came in contact with the trickster in Groucho mask before the med student got impaled with a sword and put under the train to be squashed. Copperfield and his card tricks and levitation showstopper...all within the cramped confines of a "party train", not particularly delighted that this is where his act is right now: amateur hour. The film even puts out the possibility that he could actually be the killer...ohh, but his magician's assistant might have something to say about that!

I always find such pieces of dialogue as seen below quite fused with the slasher genre. These films have some character say "We are about to have the time of our lives!" or "I'll remember this for the rest of my life!" In Terror Train (1980), these cats think the train ride which is to end their college experience will be one of great revelry and maybe a little naughty behavior. But it never quite goes according to plan...or ends well.

It all stems from a mistake. Made in jest. A bit of comic relief that wasn't intended, perhaps, to result in murder or psychosis. Oh, but the end result is murder and psychosis.
I meant to watch this three o'clock-ish this morning but sleep deprived that from happening!

Yep, time for Groucho to go a slaying! Okay, the psycho who was traumatized by a near dalliance with a corpse (believing her to be Jamie Lee Curtis!) at a frat/sorority bonfire shindig wears various disguises so Groucho doesn't get all the costume mask love. Still his image used for the posters and marketing has plenty of iconic rub to it.

I often find it rather amusing, though, as I contemplate how Groucho could never have imagined his image would be used for such a movie. The movie came out just three years after his death.

School's out...Forever!

"I'll remember this night for the rest of my life."
---says Jude (Joy Thompson) in the shag van with her man, Slick, right after taking a drag from a joint and right before the back door opens to reveal the revenge killer, stabbing her in the throat repeatedly in Paul Lynch's Prom Night (1980)

You know, it passed my mind that the moment when Wendy ( the delicious Anne-Marie Martin) is about to get the axe, the entrapment and slaying of Brinke Stevens in Slumber Party Massacre (1982) resurfaced. I wonder if Wendy's demise inspired Stevens'? The running in the halls, with doors chained / locked closed, and exits cut off...the similarities are noticeable.

Something about the very night when you are supposed to celebrate the end of your teenage years and beginning of adulthood, the close of one era into the dawn of another with such passage interrupted by death too soon, resulting from a horrible event when just all were children that has always resonated with me…

Sex, Secrets, & Betrayals (2000)

Maggie (Nikki Fritz) tries to settle gambling debt to a disreputable gangster, Carl (Dan Anderson) by offering her body for a period!

The Exorcist: Legion

You know I think William Peter Blatty truly does go unnoticed for his witty repartee in the (painfully) few films he's been involved with. Legion (1990) has a lot of darkness, but it also features clever exchanges and captivating subject matter. Yes, I agree that it seems to be a bit jarring due to its difficult production history, and the inclusion of Nicol Williamson (I know him as Sherlock Holmes in The Seven Percent Solution) as a priest with exorcism duties feels very much like an intruder. Just the same, I have always considered this a sleeper deserved of revaluation even if altered and imperfect due to Blatty's vision being given the shaft. Similarly Paul Schrader suffered a similar fate.

I particularly like George C Scott's Detective Kinderman and Ed Flanders' delightful Father Dyer together. They clearly amuse each other. Credit to Blatty's words and how these two get the most out of them. I had never realized this but Zohra Lampert, of Let's Scare Jes…
I just enjoy little sci-fi movies dealing with matters of how science, even when used to benefit mankind, can ultimately result in danger to the public at large. In Jack Arnold's Tarantula (1955), there is a positive, not negative, intention by the scientists to help a food/hunger shortage certain to inflict harm on a growing world populace in the future. However the impatience of two of three scientists, taking it upon themselves to inject a type of nutrient created by the trio to combat hunger, with help from a radioactive isotope, into their bodies produces horrible, deadly consequences: the onset of acromegaly. Malformation in record time, even inducing psychosis, with psychical side effects quite devastating. When the second of the two dying scientists attacks Leo G Carroll with the nutrient, he awakens to find their lab partially destroyed. What he doesn't realize is that not all his large animals, with affected pituitary gland resulting in their increase in size, were b…
I didn’t really mind House IV. I think it reeked of the stupids at times. It sometimes wanted to be taken seriously, particularly when Roger’s soul and his murder’s resolution is involved. Yet, I would be taken right out of it when there was a talking pizza or a dog lamp literally turning into a protective canine marching towards Burke’s two goons trying to scare the mom and daughter off the property of the Cobb house. The house kind of has a personality—it does look cool in its dusty, decaying wood and boarded up windows, its rotting structure and dying frame revealing its age and lack of care. It is a towering relic in need of serious repair. Not quite worthy of the wrecking ball but in dire need of compassion and support.

I bitch and gripe about Katt’s limited involvement, but, truthfully, this wasn’t the Roger Cobb of House (1986). He doesn’t seem to have a son or be a popular horror novelist. He’s working on an old home movie camera (“he fixes things”), and later in the film, his…
When there's a critique on the tone problems of House (1986), I just tell them to watch House IV (1991). This film has something like a 3.3 on the IMDb for a reason. There was an incentive it seems to dick around with whether or not to seriously look at a wife's dilemma dealing with devastating loss, a stepbrother of her late husband turning the screws on selling the property, and trying to understand why there are surreal events plaguing her. Ezra talks of white man's poisonous progress which resulted in his people being devastated while informing Kelly her husband's soul is trapped between two worlds, restless and in need of absolution due to a death committed by another...and it isn't necessarily his wife.

A pizza that talks, leading to Kelly combatting it, using the garbage disposal. A hand reaching out from urn ash. A faucet with brown goo. Shower of blood. A bed that sucks in her daughter. These are delusions which torment Kelly.

Then you have the film going …
Terri Treas, as Roger's wife, Kelly, is very pretty and her daughter is a sweetheart, and there is Dabbs Greer, of all people, picking up a paycheck for a few minutes work (longer than Katt really) as Treas' pop, begging her to sell Roger's house and move back to Texas. But leaving behind her husband's memory is difficult.

The third House movie (The Horror Show isn't a sequel I recognize in this series, no matter what other distributors might think) goes the clich├ęd Haunted house route. Blood from showerheads and faucets, odd sounds, etc.

Melissa Clayton, as the daughter in the wheelchair, reminded me of Haim in Silver Bullet. There's a scene where she looks on at a couple of girls jumproping, yearning to walk again.

Manfredini's score is thankfully different than the similar sounding Friday the 13th strings and melody. It is melancholic and tragic, other times harmonious and idyllic in its sound. I quite liked it.
I think many of us might can recall at some point an anticipation for a film that had been hard to find or possibly unattainable for years. A sequel which our excited minds amp up or build to an exagerratingly heightened degree. This film often couldn't possibly live up to it. Often this film, which had a returning actor and another possibly ghoulish house offering plentiful thrills and chills, simply can't carry such a weight, an anvil of certain poundage, and deliver. Well, for me House IV  (1991), seemed to be that in the mid 90s.

Katt was so much fun in what was a difficult part, considering the tonal aftershocks of the first film. Here, I was looking forward to seeing what Roger Cobb might be stuck with as he has a wife and child in this sequel. I was wondering if the family would be encountering otherworldly monsters in rooms throughout the ancestral home. Instead we get Katt for ten minutes! He's offed in a car explosion due to a crash which puts his daughter in a w…