Tuesday, May 31, 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?

Monday, May 30, 2016

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 freeze...you 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).

Sunday, May 29, 2016

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 the scene instead. It's a scene I think impacts without much dramatic pomp or circumstance but is quickly taken care of before the next zombie shows up...Peter, like others in Romero's Dead films, have little time to dwell on the enormity of being placed in the position of shooting two up-and-moving dead kids trying to chew the flesh from his person.

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 public, and becoming obsolete as it seems information regarding how to stop the hungry dead and find safety from them is not finding the proper channels. To believe and act accordingly is undermined by the shock and awe of the unprecedented situation: the walking dead is tough to fully comprehend and accept upon initial introduction.

Friday, May 27, 2016

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 this building you will find them. I have given them the last rites. Now you do what you will. You are stronger than us. But soon I think they be stronger than you. When the dead walk, señores, we must stop the killing...or lose the war.
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's a liability than help, while another officer is so ill at ease he shoots himself. But two of the principle cast members (Ken Foree and Scott Reiniger) are from the SWAT so not all are entombed by the apartment complex and it's dead with the munchies. Romero would take it further with the military in the third Dead film, but the SWAT here certainly isn't altogether cast in a favorable light.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"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 movie off. He takes us right into the crises as a news station is under duress. Those responsible for content and presentation are so at odds, the effort of an expert to tell the public what needs to be done in order to stave off apocalypse is met with him being cursed, insulted,  mocked, and mistreated. What he says is accurate, but it isn't what they want to hear or accept. His interviewer tries to conduct a dialogue, but the commotion of those behind the cameras and throughout the studio, as attempts to uncover safety locations are becoming unsuccessful, interferes and impedes upon their conversation. The uneasy situation inside the station was an inside look at one location, but it's clear that hysteria and distress at such a hard-to-comprehend development isn't confined to here.

Francine (Gaylen Ross), a station producer, is told by a camera operator that fleeing with a chopper pilot of her news employer (boyfriend Stephen, played by David Emge) is encouraged as they are about to shut down. The chaos of trying to organize rescue efforts and failing has rendered the news station obsolete.

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 ditch as the war is concluding, and if he doesn't do so, ten among the number would be shot--really sets up the message that is of serious significance to Schrader: how does a man of God continue telling others that their deity is a loving and caring father when so much horror exists that is hard to deny? That spiritual unrest and "bump in the road" (called a "sabbatical" in the film) holds Merrin back from truly being able to conquer a very real evil most certain to be a scourge if not culled.

I just wish this film had an evil that sent me chills like "Howdy" in The Exorcist
(1973). In Schrader's Dominion (2005), I was never truly unsettled or held in a firm grip of unease. I think it is because Schrader had the budget for the location, church, and cast, but not for special effects which could give form to Satan and make him a real menace. Crawford, to me, even with colored eye contacts and mangled teeth, just never truly left me bothered or unnerved. He just wasn't scary. I think I personally needed to feel that in order to seriously consider Merrin's adversary a major menace that gave me a throat gulp. And I think because of that the film never really resonates or remains with me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

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 his solemnity and spiritual doubt, having to address the uprising evil possessing a diseased kid (Billy Crawford; which heals his body even as a guide of supposed holy effect), contend with an aware lust for a nurse (Clara Bellar), and witness an eerily similar situation involving the military and local people whose lives are at risk (Ralph Brown is the Sgt Major who seems to react hostilely when two of his men attempt to steal jewels from a statue inside a church buried under rock that is the focus of an archeological dig and are found murdered similarly to Peter and John, the Baptist).

The church discovered and it's architectural design, with the angel statues guarding the evil force hidden by the rock that surrounded and covered the structure and it's confines is my personal favorite part of the film. A marvel that impressed me a great deal. We get a good look inside, too.

Special effects, which were a product of Schrader getting little support from the studio, the worst part, I think. Harlin got better support in that regard.

The story centers its aim towards evil and it's effects and how God is questioned for not intervening. Schrader deeply cares about this and it shows. Linda Blair pea soup puking, head turning around, and jaw dropping possession madness not on the agenda, here.
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.

Monday, May 23, 2016

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 by with this. Would go well with Tales of Terror or The Raven or both, I think. Good Monday viewing for me personally.
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 sugar to takes away his medicine (Price is always trying to poison Karloff's milk!). The sugar gag derives from Karloff lost in his dementia thinking his shrewish, voluptuous daughter (married to Price) is asking for it!

"We shall kill two birds with one pillow."
---Waldo Trumbull (Vincent Price)

"There must be a more honorable way to conduct a funeral business."
---Felix Gillie (Peter Lorre)
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!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

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 with Leave it to
Beaver's Hugh Beaumont as his sidekick. Nestor Paiva is a third member of the archeological team who receives a nasty slash down his chest. Paiva was the delightful boat captain in Creature from the Black Lagoon. He doesn't fare so well in this film, running into a rather unfriendly and hostile moleman. I enjoyed the design of the mask and claws. The decision to turn them into heroes actually pleased me...their treatment by the whip from the albino soldiers is cruel and inhumane. The women don't fare any better, as the lovely Cynthia Patrick as blonde female slave gets whipped because she dropped mushrooms on the floor! On-screen no less. Agar and Beaumont spare themselves from being destroyed (due to be "intruders") by scaring the people with a flashlight because they are photophobic. The light of Ishtar holds off these bozos for a while but Napier connivingly plots to take it. Agar and Beaumont align themselves with the mole people when they rescue them from persecution and there is a great revolt where the enslaved combat their torturers.

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.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

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 performances do the deed successfully.

Ray Milland looks so comfortable and at ease in the role of the pianist, a pleasant fellow with an appealing temperament that is refreshing. Too often Milland is bookmarked as a crotchety, barking, griping jerk. He can be much more as seen in this film. Ruth Hussey is much admired and there's a reason why when you watch her in The Uninvited. Wholly appealing and charming to a fault, she can talk her brother, Milland into pretty much anything. Look how Milland folds almost immediately to a convincing sister with just the right words to urge him into buying the Windward with her. To leave behind London and a music critic job to freelance as a pianist, writing his own work instead. She soon charms a country doctor who lives in the area (Batman's Alan Napier, bringing that elegant English voice and tone), and Milland falls for a twenty year old Gail Russell (it was this film that initiated her alcohol addiction which would claim her liver and life at age 36; sigh), the granddaughter of Windward owner, Commander Beech (Donald Crisp). Gail is so fresh faced and young...gah, to know her too soon death ravished such a lovely woman, it is such a bummer.

Restless spirits, one of warmth and another of ice and cold chill, want either to inflict harm to Gail or hug her. The death of Mary who plunged off a cliff while Carmel, a Spanish gypsy, suffered pneumonia which seemingly took her life, have differing effects on Gail. She nearly perishes off Mary's cliff twice, and a séance awakens a Spanish line of dialogue from Gail's voice which could inform us that what has been told throughout her life wasn't altogether accurate. Miss Holloway (Cornelia Skinner), Mary's closest friend (and possible lover) who runs a sanitarium could be heavily involved. I couldn't help but think of Rebecca (1940) as Holloway worships at the giant portrait of Mary. She has built Mary into an idol she holds high above anyone else. The mental breakdown at the end where Holloway's secret is out and she accepts satisfactorily her role in possibly sending Gail's Stella to her doom certainly recalls Hitchcock's Rebecca to me.

I was surprised to see that The Uninvited is available on YouTube if you want to watch it at any given time but I suggest catching it on Turner Classics when it shows the film again. I had the lights off and went for the optimum viewing effect. It was on the other night as TCM was running a Ruth Hussey marathon. I set the DVR for just the right night which was tonight. Always welcome on my television set, indeed.

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 devastating. She is always smoking some joint or plying herself with booze to deflate the enormity of the loss of her truest friend and potential end to the romance with the man she loves. Her end, as she unknowingly accepts possible cheap sex with a friend in a lizard costume (which reminded me of the monster Capt Kirk combats in "Arena") in a sleeping compartment shielded by a thick curtain, is the unfortunate close to a character who never really deserved her fate. Like Alana, her Mitchy was a willing accomplice in a prank that eventually encouraged psychosis. She was a tragic beauty. I would like to know more about the actress. I see that she was in Curtains (1983) which I've only seen once. But all I know is that she died in 1996. Her fatal beauty in Terror Train didn't just fly away into the fade, as I can see her now, Mitchy trying to steel her resolve as the man she loves seems to be betraying her.

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 costumes / masks of those he kills. The use of the train and cramped spaces of the killer and the identity of a magician's assistant. Maybe this isn't the greatest example of what a recommended slasher film could or should be, but I think you could do a hell of a lot worse. Just spending some time with a genteel Ben who effortlessly owns the screen he stands in front of as the train ride conductor should be worth giving this another look.

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 Jamie Lee Curtis will continue to attain an audience who looks to her as a type of standard bearer. In TT this film is particularly a good showcase for her. I think, in fact, this film gives her more to do. No doubt, though, she is probably is a bit more iconic--her image anyway--in Prom Night, whereas the train and good ole Ben Johnson add a lot of gravitas to Terror Train's rep.

I don't think this is as mediocre as others feel. Is it bloody enough or salacious enough? Well you get some tits--albeit briefly--from a girl wanting to get busy with Curtis' beau, and there's lots of blood even though not a lot of clear violence spilled on screen. Curtis is more involved in "protective action" in Terror Train than Prom Night as the killer aims for her in the former, attempting to avoid (obviously, for reasons later determined once his mask is removed) her in the latter film. I think of the characters she played during her scream queen era, Terror Train seems to give her a bit more to work with. She's a smart pre-med student about to graduate early and leave behind her gal buddy, Mitchy (the sexy and sadly diminished secondary character played by Sandee Currie). She is in a complicated romance with a guy named Mo (Timothy Webber), friends with fellow frat brother and med student, Doc (Hart Bochner). Doc and Curtis' Alana are at odds, mainly over the affections of Mo. Doc's attachment to Mo, for me, is damn near homoerotic in nature. Mitchy means less than Mo in the end to Doc. Alana spends quite some time running into dead friends, and fighting with Doc. Doc's morbid sense of humor and disregard for what his trick on Kenny Sampson caused the kid tells you all you need to know. The hiring of Copperfield wasn't of his doing and he spends a lot of time at odds with him as well...Doc wants to be the life of the party, in command, and so this charismatic and suave magician crashing his spot is met with discord. The Doc and Alana dynamic is fascinating as the two of them seem to be competing for Mo. Doc will do whatever he can to fracture Mo and Alana's relationship, including motivating her to find him with another girl! But the slasher film offered plenty of night terrors for Alana; Terror Train gave Curtis plenty of final girl prestige, including having to defend herself even after the killer yanked an earring off!

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.

Friday, May 20, 2016

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 in regards to this film. It might not hold its water with many slasher fans, and it's rep as a dull chore to get through seems to gain in number with each passing year, but that central emphasis on vengeance in the memory and honor of a little girl lost, stutteringly begging the kids to quit, as they close in to terrorize her (Gah, kids are cruel, aren't they?), with the end result an accidental flight out a rickety window into a fallen window on the ground stories below, remains quite resounding in its power. The ending, too, as Kim (Jamie Lee Curtis) holds her dying, mourning brother's head in her hands, realizing what he has done and that she is about to lose him; this is tragic stuff!

Because Eddie satisfies my "lovely lady and her drag from cancer stick" fetish.

Just because...

And the start of what I consider the best sequence in the film

As I was making plans to watch Terror Train (1980) early Saturday morning, I wanted to mention before it escapes me that I liked the idea in Prom Night (1980), made in a different part of Canada before TT, of the movie taking place almost entirely in one day--the day of the prom--for the exception of the flashback to the tragic death of the sister which functions as an albatross for Curtis' new boyfriend's conscience. He wants to tell her the truth but fails to. Someone else was there besides the four kids responsible for the tragedy and that plot development, significant in behind the motive that drives the murders, starts right in the morning, before school, and maintains throughout the day, into the late night, as the prom concludes. Hard not to think about Carrie (1976) when seeing the prom kids rushing out of the room in terror after Lou, umm, loses his head.
It's crazy but I realized while watching Prom Night (1980) that this week marks 20 years since I graduated high school! Crazily also is that I was pondering on the fact that this film is around 36 years old! As I was watching Jamie Lee Curtis strut her disco dancing stuff on that prom night dance floor, seemingly lost in her grooving, so young and alive, I hearkened back myself to that time of my youth, remembering how it felt to be 18 and the pressures of adulthood hadn't yet quite sunk their teeth in deep and sharp.

Curtis is certainly the name that the film has routinely benefited from in all its releases since 1980. I still think of this film as an ensemble, not as much a Curtis showcase. Interestingly this came after The Fog (1980) where she's a young woman hitchhiking to wherever, and so her stepping back into that teenage role considering Halloween (1978) was two years prior fascinates me. Prom Night is indeed kind of sandwiched among a series of horror thrillers before stepping out in Trading Places (1983), eventually putting the genre behind her for some time. After Prom Night is Terror Train (1980), Road Games (1981), and Halloween II (1981). She clearly cashed in on Halloween (and I don't blame her, because her name had value to it), and Prom Night (I can't help but just look at her pose in the prom dress, with the roses and ax in hands, and think that those behind it were spot on in marketing her image that way. I love it). I was just thinking that perhaps--I don't know this for sure because I've never read or seen an interview with Curtis that says one way or another--Curtis was living in that moment when on that dance floor (she was around 21 when filming this movie), as if 18 and celebrating her fictional teenage moment as if it were the real thing. At any rate, I can just imagine disco kids that were actually in high school around 1980--and perhaps celebrating their own prom that year--holding this movie a bit more to their heart than millennials today who have no clue what makes it so appealing. Trust me, I read it all the time, "I don't get it! Why doesn't this film just die already???" I guess you just had to be there.
Seriously, though, Eddie Benton (Anne-Marie Martin) has to look back at the film and think to herself, “I looked pretty fab, didn’t I?” That red dress: if Jamie Lee Curtis wasn’t her rival, she might have knocked the socks off the guy she was going after. Loved that car, too!

She’s a devious minx, though. Conniving and territorial, if she wasn’t such a cipher she might never have lost her man. Still, her chase death sequence is my favorite in the entire film. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, Eddie did whatever she could to try and get away. There was no saving herself, however.

Her role in the death of Curtis’ sister at the beginning was initiating the cover-up which led to an innocent man being considered the culprit, resulting in bodily harm and asylum stay. He wasn’t exactly a saint, as his sex crimes past put him on the police’s radar. He would escape, kill a local woman, and eventually be caught fifty miles away from the prom. The quintessential red herring. Meanwhile Eddie was running around in a fleeting attempt to keep from being on the receiving end of a chopping axe. To no avail, Eddie wasn’t running from her past. Nope.

Wendy’s (Eddie) plot to humiliate Kim (Curtis) using a school louse known to sleaze around and make daily malfeasance, giving him a rotten reputation, Lou (David Mucci), paints her as a bit insidious, wanting to ruin what should be one of her rival’s most important nights of her life. So Wendy is the perfect candidate to have the lengthy flee-the-killer-only-to-be-cornered-and-caught-with-nowhere-else-to-run sequence. Wendy has perhaps the most colorful part in the film along with Mucci who is a rather skuzzy nuisance.

Will he or won't he call???
Eddie and that dress. And the hair. And the scowl.

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!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

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 Jessica to Death, was Kinderman's wife! It is always cool to notice something even after numerous times watching a movie.
The carp. Lemon drops. Late to the movie is Kinderman with Father after rather irked at him, stating that there had been four Popes elected and a lot of white smoke he's been waiting so long! Kinderman discussing Macbeth and antisemitism with his beleaguered cops who seem to have truly wore out his nerves. There's some humor to keep us from wallowing in the darkness.

Damien and the Gemini killer haven't left Georgetown, though.

I think Blatty knew all too well that periods of humor and snappy, smart dialogue were important considering what happens to innocent people in Legion (1990). Scott was always astute in handling characterizations modulated through a prism of anguish and sly wit. Often in Exorcist III, Kinderman is plenty of everything. There's a lot of meat on the bones. Anguish and suffering as he deals with cruel murders. The loss of his friend of thirty-odd years, Dyer, who is drained of his entire blood supply, paralyzed by succinylcholine perfectly, with his head severed, and a statue head of Christ put in its place! Similarly, another priest was paralyzed with succinylcholine while in a confessional, listening to the elderly sound of a woman describing guilt and the psychotic murder of a victim near Candlestick Park, with his vocal chords severed so he couldn't cry out for help. The audacious nature for how the killer(s) goes about the awful business of paralyzing victims (including an African-American youth, with racism added to the statue replacing his head, painted in black face with ingots in both eyes!) in places of Christian/Catholic influence (the church confessional booth, sidewalk located near a church, a Catholic hospital...) has significance later to be determined. Kinderman will be taken on quite a rollercoaster as he and his cops, gruelingly, investigate with heavy hearts and troubled souls.

Scott sells the torment of the job, dealing with spiritual woe and questions directed to Dyer about why God would allow what his Kinderman sees every day. He is a reliable actor for a part such as this. I have always been curious as to what Lee J Cobb might have done in the part, but Scott sure is a great replacement! He looks up at the sky and cringes at the sight of his friend under a sheet mutilated. He wipes across his eyes inside the confessional booth, contemplating just what kind of animal could do what happened to the priest. His description of the death of the kid to a mortified Dyer. This role puts Scott's Kinderman through quite a lot!
The man in Cell 11.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Legion (1990) to me was the inclusion of Jason Miller, returning as Damian Karris, the Jesuit psychiatrist who "was helped" out a window and down a flight of steps below the apartment room of possessed Reagan McNeil in The Exorcist (1973). Here he was a wandering nameless headcase, gradually descending into catatonia as electroshock therapy was used when he became too aggressive and uncontrollable. In Cell 11, Kinderman is alarmed to recognize the mental patient as Jarrad...but how can that be?

How the Gemini killer uses Karras' body to communicate to Kinderman and the use of mental patients suffering the likes of dementia and near-catatonia (Mrs. Celia, chillingly played by Mary Jackson, who has these piercing eyes which almost look dead, sometimes holding nothing alive behind them but a question of whether or not someone could fix her fictional radio) to follow his murderous MO are eerie and unsettling.

At one point, Kinderman looks as if he might collapse from exhaustion and stress as his three Gemini cases take a toll on him emotionally and physically. Kinderman trying to state his case to the Catholic hospital administrator while being berated by him, breaking down into tears shows this heavy toll.

Scott Wilson, one of the great character actors, has a hilarious role as a chain-smoking neurotic mental doc, damn near fit for the strait-jacket himself! He communicates to Kinderman the discovery of Karras' and is susceptible to his Gemini killer theory. Kinderman describing the Gemini killer facts to Wilson and the administrator, what was truth and what was fictionalized to the public adds extra creeps to the plot.

"Who are you?" - Kinderman
"I am no one. And many." - The man in Cell 11.

"I have dreams of a rose and falling down a long flight of stairs."

Brad Dourif, what an actor. Seriously, this guy is good. No, masterful. His emergence from Karras' body as Gemini, having a chat in his cell with Kinderman about his electrocution in the chair, caught in the void, with "the Master" allowing him to invade Karras' body as revenge against him for freeing Reagan of her possession. He "convinces" Scott Wilson's Dr. Temple to arrange a meet and greet between him and Kinderman just so that the Gemini would get his notoriety in the printed news.

Brad commands the screen with his interpretation of what perhaps urged the Zodiac killer to do his work. He talks of little Karen with her bow in her hair. His handiwork in her brutal death. The joy of possessing Karras' body and how it came about is expressed in great detail. He talks about the damage to Karras' brain and the limits he was stuck with. The "old ones" who helped him continue his work outside the cell while his body slept inside 11. The increase in brain activity when the murders were taking place. The threat to Kinderman's daughter through the catatonic body of Viveca Lindfors and a dangerously powerful pair of medical shears which nearly do the deed.

Dourif just knows how to summon the dark forces and apply a delight and revelry which further reinforces how truly insidious the Gemini is. A back story involving a religious zealot who tormented him during childhood, this father he tries to kill over and over through the Gemini murders is provided by Blatty. The tempo of his performance is conducted remarkably by Gemini's speech to Kinderman...his bragging and purposeful description of his misdeeds. All he has done and will do...Dourif has quite a part, a cow he milks to the uttermost.

Notice that Kinderman never sees Gemini, just Karras', but we do. Kinderman's faith is so nonexistent he fails to see and hear the one who has gleefully adopted Karras' body as his own.
Personally Jason Miller's involvement, requested as a means to tie Legion (1990) to The Exorcist (1973) by Morgan Creek, was preferred by me. Maybe this isn't popular to some, including Blatty who felt this need for commercial reasons corrupted his vision, but I found the additional story quite compelling. The main mood produced by Blatty in the cell as Kinderman visited, hesitantly, Karras and learned of Gemini's existence is sinister and grim. Light peers through two windows, producing bleak awareness of an only minimal sun, its existence outside the cell slightly recognizing a freedom unattainable. Faint, obscure, and muted, light in this cell, accompanied by occasional drips from a sink faucet which pool into a blob of water, paints quite a merciless picture of doom for Karras if Kinderman can't assist in his spiritual rescue. Making his face extra cadaverous, hair disheveled and body contorted in the strait-jacket, Karras is a funereal sight. I just thought it worked. And Karras getting to avenge his demise, stop Gemini and the Master supporting him, and have the chance to encourage Kinderman to act on his spiritual behalf when given momentary access to his body; Karras' inclusion seems effective even if inconvenient to Blatty who had other creative plans undermined by the movie picture studio system.
It is funny. After watching Legion (1990) last night, I just have to get my Scott fix in on The Changeling (1980), a film made suitable to my "haunted house" tastes.

First thing, though, I was inspired to revisit Ghost Story (1981) again this year after a recent post on the IMDb horror message board returned it to my attention. I noticed that I watched it in June or July of last year according to netflix. Whatever the case, a pair of films focusing on spiritual unrest due to crimes committed that have went unsettled seems ideal before the hot sets in here in.

Legion (1990) was a really good revisit. It resonated with me a great deal, even if this isn't the film Blatty intended to give us. I see how Father Morning (Nicol Williamson) and his nearly unsuccessful exorcism feels rather "square peg in round hole" in the film. You can tell, I think, that it almost feels shoehorned into the movie. But I will reiterate that I thought the inclusion of Miller suited my fancy. I liked his look and the idea that his Father Karras' body being used by the Gemini, and how Dourif sells the "kicks and giggles" of the irony in this being where his evil spirit inhabits. Dourif really sets this movie off, to me, while the early part of the film gives us some well needed witty banter between Dyer and Kinderman considering the shroud of darkness that surrounds the film. You can understand Kinderman's spiritual disillusionment. When Kinderman talks of all that exists that is evil and foul, both to Dyer and later when seemingly at the end of his rope as Gemini's power, provided by "his Master", appears to be too great, it is painfully true. So Kinderman's position is recognized and can't truly be refuted.

I really like the ending where Karras is finally allowed to rest in peace. He can be properly buried and his soul is freed from its unrest. After all the darkness that Kinderman experiences in the day to day, getting a chance to see his beloved friend eased into a death all right and proper feels fitting.
The nurse's station scene is highly regarded in Legion (1990). It deserves to be, I think. I liked how Blatty doesn't use music, and how he holds the camera at a distance only to pull us in when Gemini has a patient under his power kill a nurse, whose name was specifically told to Kinderman by him in Cell 11. The melting ice in a glass clinking, the annoyed doc trying to catch some shut eye loudly verbally accosting the nurse following the sound of the ice, the security guards away from the station just for a moment, and the patient from Room 411, pointing her head-decapitating medical shears right behind the neck of the nurse who is unaware of her impending doom. It is carefully shot and the sound design purposely heightens the silence so that any noise, no matter how minute, is amplified and eerie. There's this recognition while the scene plays out that something bad is about to happen. The wait is on and when the killer emerges in a nurse's habit, it is a knockout.

If I did a Fab Five of my top five scenes, this would be about third on the list. It is the kind of scene that is carefully orchestrated for optimum effect.

A little more assertive in its desire to knock your socks off Blatty opened the film with reintroducing the flight of stairs, a Georgetown Catholic cathedral with a Christ statue with eyes that open, and the doors bursting open as street debris intrudes God's supposed domain... Blatty meant to grab you. The POV following to a kid with a rose. He is later shown, the victim with the Jesus statue head in black face and eye ingots...the blasphemy tells you all you need to know about the Gemini.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

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 burned in a fire that ruined a lot of the lab...a tarantula got free. And it is a giant, eating cattle, horses, and people!

John Agar, a B-movie icon to many of us creature feature fans, is the "hunky country doc" who has a great deal of perplexity in regards to the discovery of the first dead scientist's acromegaly body and won't let it alone although the sheriff gets tired of him questioning Carroll's diagnosis due to its improbability. How does one develop acromegaly so suddenly? Arriving is a biology student, Mara Corday, pretty but brainy, fitting the typical casting choice at the time: bun black hair, genie bottle figure with lucious hips, and sophisticated and chic costuming.  Agar and Corday eventually hop in a convertible and speed away, hoping to put some distance between them and the giant spider after it demolishes Carroll's mansion (and eats him!).

Jack Arnold has endured positive revaluation. His The Incredible Shrinking Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon are classics that have left lasting legacies. I think he also left behind fun secondary B-movies like Tarantula (1955) and Return of the Creature for us to enjoy just as Saturday sci-fi darlings with a bucket of popcorn. The big spider eclipsing large swaths of Arizona desert with its imposing shadow, as unlucky town folk stumble upon it or are tending to their livestock when it emerges is just a treat for me, an ever loving monster movie fan itching for the occasional "when abnormally huge earth creatures attack" fix. Agar's pleasant personality and on-screen charm offer an appeal to go along with that. The dialogue can be amusing to listen to as well, particularly when locals react to the spider.
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 spirit turns the machine on as a way to tell Kelly, as she awakens in bed from a good night’s sleep (for a change), the time spent together as a family has not been forgotten. She is granted the means (by the house’s “gift of sight”) to see her husband’s stepbrother orchestrating his murder, with one of his goons shooting out her family’s car tire while they’re driving. This revelation certainly spotlights Burke as a really sleazy dirtbag. If she turns over the house to him, it will be bulldozed and the land serves Burke’s boss for toxic waste dumping ground (yep, toxic waste once again factors into a plot). Not just that, according to the film’s spiritual rules, Roger’s soul would “be crushed with the house”. Kelly embarks on a mission where she tells Ezra she isn’t about to let Burke kill his brother in life and punish him in death.

The plot. It is what it is. I could scrutinize it and dissect it, but what you see is what you get, and according to the IMDb, the jury seems to convict this film of being a stinker. I’m on the fence about it. I like the lead actress, and I find Treas quite easy to focus my attention towards. The special effects and comic antics of the plot left a lot to be desired to me. I kind of think this was a decision in part to connect to the up and down tonal shifts that brings a level of continued interest to the first film. You followed Roger on quite a journey in the first film. He combats his own demons and usurps them by conquering them, through the rescue of his son (a dream many parents who lose their children aren’t allowed to live) and elimination of a tormenting guilt in regards to leaving behind his Nam buddy. Kelly, in House IV, is placed in the horrible position to turn off the life support as a burn-decimated Roger dies (in the flesh). She believes the car crash was her fault and he’s dead due to some failure while driving. Instead, she is put in a situation where the evil stepbrother, responsible for her loss, can be undermined of securing the house he so desperately covets. Different journeys, some silly developments along the way, but the outcome is resilient defiance of odds against them. Houses are involved, their influence on the congruence of events revolved around them.
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 off the rails big time when we meet Roger's brother, Burke's (Burkholder) Mafioso associates, including the boss, a midget with a phlegm problem requiring a machine that drains it. Yep, there is a nasty bit of business involving Burke being held down and force-fed such phlegm! Again, the film has its own share of tone schizophrenia!

Monday, May 16, 2016

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 clichéd 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 wheelchair and leaves the wife in emotional tatters. The plot ultimately includes a house with ties to some sort of blood oath and ancient spirits. There's a Native American named Ezra (Ned Romero), a friend of Roger's and his father's. He knows of the spirits which thrive in the home of Roger. Roger has a younger brother (Scott Buckholter) with nefarious ties to the Mafia (!), needing the house due to promises made to the crooks.

Ten minutes. Takes the wind out of the sails indeed. Not even enough time to establish his character. He's likable, but ten minutes just isn't enough time. I mean, come on! I guess he was hired for the name on the poster. Missed chance to really give this sequel a veteran presence. I mean, he was working on television mostly at the time, could the production not throw some coin his way? Was he so unwilling to participate to an entire film? Was there no intention to feature him from the onset of the sequel's genesis?




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The Boogens - Intro

While I must admit that as a monster movie, The Boogens (1981) doesn’t quite measure up (its monsters aren’t particularly menacing ...