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Spooky Time Discussion and Recommendations!

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
#5
Halloween 3: Season of the Witch
Everyone else can keep their Michael Myers - I would rather have Conal Cochran, his basic masks, his incredibly advanced androids and his batshit insane "practical joke" evil plan. Have a Happy Halloween, Silver Shamrock!♫ (And now that's stuck in my head...)
 
#5
Halloween 3: Season of the Witch
Everyone else can keep their Michael Myers - I would rather have Conal Cochran, his basic masks, his incredibly advanced androids and his batshit insane "practical joke" evil plan. Have a Happy Halloween, Silver Shamrock!♫ (And now that's stuck in my head...)
What about Tom Atkin's libido?
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
#4
Gremlins
Nothing quite matches how watching these nasty malevolent little assholes will make you howl in terror and with laughter.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
The Unknown

I wanted to keep with my habit of getting in a movie in a day so I went with a rewatch. If you haven't seen the Unknown with Lon Chaney, do. You are in for a tremendous time. It's kind of like a top tier Tales from the Crypt. And wait two years and it's going into the public domain.
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
#3
Creepshow
I have a fondness for anthology horror movies and Creepshow is the reason why. It is spooky and silly and scary and full of ham and cheese.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Just Before Dawn

I was running a little late and didn't have time to make decisions so I just picked one of the first things on Shudder. It described it as having a twist and surprisingly beautiful shots so I was like "Maybe this is an overlooked gem." It isn't. But it also isn't bad, certainly by the standards of the 80s slasher. It's got good and bad and it kind of evens out.

I'll start with the bad, because I like to end positive. A lot of it is pretty generic. I'm rarely the horror viewer who looks for "cool kills" but these were largely kind of vanilla, save for one (which I'll get to). The twist is just OK, and it's a nickel they spend early in regards to the antagonistic force and is both works in the sense that the other characters don't know and there is therefore suspense but we are also impatient to see more cool things done with it. The teens are not complete jerks but clearly enough to make them seem like they are punished for their foolhardiness and are thinly drawn. The biggest problem is the enemy is ridiculous looking. Obviously it's an unfortunate intellectually disabled stereotype but even beyond that offense, it's quite broad and silly. Remember the dumb aliens from Star Trek who can only steal other tech? Imagine that, except sillier and slathered in offal.

MV5BZmUxNDg1MGMtNTA0NS00NjU0LTljOGYtNzkzNzAzNTc3ZDg1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjUyNDk2ODc@._V1_.jpg


On the good: George Kennedy is in it and he's trying. Like, it's not amazing but he does a decent understated job. It's a bit of a slow burn movie in the middle, which I don't mind. Some of the movie is genuinely suspenseful and I think they have a few tricks they reuse but are still ones other Halloween imitators should have aped (like a protagonist not noticing a corpse made much more obvious to the viewer or having the more threatening action happening in the background of a shot. And the claim of beautifully shot is not wrong, though I think that comes down a little less to the competency of the cinematographer, who did a good job, and more the location scout, who found some beautiful places to film in. And the film doesn't let it go to waste. And finally, the final kill is something I've not seen in a movie before, in which the protagonist beats the villain by jamming her entire arm down his throat until he suffocates to death.

So not essential viewing but if you want to watch one of the better slashers of the 80s after you've gone through the more famous ones, this isn't bad. And it's from the director of Squirm, the killer worm movie that was on MST3k.
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
#2
Prince of Darkness
While full of lots of spooky and scary moments the pièce de résistance is the unsettling dream transmissions that feel like they could turn into nightmares at any moment. The film also has an interesting take on combining recent(ish) scientific findings with theological/spiritual concepts.

OK pals, come on, save it for Christmas!
Sorry, I just can't wait that long....
 
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Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
What Has Happened To Solange?

Another giallo mystery and one that is definitely problematic with its creepy eye towards women who are given little depth and are victims and/or having wild sex parties or something. Also, the victims are all killed with (spoilered for sensitivity) knives to the vagina. It feels very much preying on outlandish conservative fears (especially by the film's end) and also being salacious. So that's unfortunate. But there is good in the movie. Much of the movie is surprisingly understated compared to many giallo I've seen, which are all slathered in style AND it has a great main theme by the legend Ennio Morricone. But frankly, you do have to sit through a lot of trashy stuff in this one.

Finished watching the Creepshow TV series and it is WAY more miss than hit, sadly. The worst episodes are actually the ones that try to be the most fun but are stupid pandering wanks. Like, yes, you made a reference to a think people like. It doesn't make you any less annoying. Worse, some of them are just waiting for a jerk to get karmaed but the thing is to make that work, you need to make the rest interesting and the twists a fun, clever surprise and so few of these are even trying. I feel like a lot are an excuse for Greg Nicotero's team to make some monsters, which I respect, but I wish everything else was watchable. Even worse, the social message episodes are messy and stupid with their metaphors. The recent "Drug Traffic" seems to want to say something about medicine in America but instead has a murder immigrant while trying to seem on the sides of immigrants. It's politics are deeply mixed up.

Meanwhile, the best ones tend to be the ones based on pre-existing stories (and a couple of the Paul Dini-penned episodes). They have actual interesting twists and turns that the other episodes are often missing, though even some of those stumble on the finish line. But they get a little less broad and have a little more humanity that works with the karmic nature of most of the stories. I'll cherry pick the best ones for you.

Grey Matter
House of the Head (though a disappointing ending)
All Hallows Eve (easily the best one. Simple karmic story but also sort of sweet in a dark way)
Night of the Paw (disappointing ending)
the entire animated special (though the second story starts off a bit rough, it won me over by the end)
The Right Snuff (the right amount of cheesy archness)
Mums
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
#1
An American Werewolf in London
No movie I have ever seen has portrayed the physical horror and excruciating pain of transforming from a person into a wolf in such a gruesome and realistic seeming fashion as this one. On top of that there is also the movie showing the ever worsening decay of the best friend / first victim and the "Werewolves of the SS" nightmare sequence.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I felt "I'm watching some interesting horror movies but on the cusp of the day I need to watch ones I haven't seen and feel sufficiently Halloween-y" lately. So I watched Re-Animator for the first time. I was actually surprised how leisurely paced this movie was, since I assumed it wanted to get to the body horror fast but I never feels like it is stalling thanks to a virtuoso comic performance by Jeffrey Combs. Jeffrey is so fucking great in this, definitely an awful motherfucker but a delight to watch and... sort of root for. At least over his nemesis. I can see why fans wanted sequels because while the body horror comedy works extremely well, Combs is one of the great horror characters, completely embodying a character who came from what Lovecraft felt like was his worst serial.

Frankly, I think Shudder or some other service needs to make a Re-Animator TV series with Combs as sort of an amoral Sherlock/Doctor Who-type who solves the very problems he creates, but not before a lot of death happens and basically corrupting any poor soul who thinks they can be his assistant and keep their conscience clean.

 
I love combs. Watch the sequels. The second is quite good. The third is not so great, but def worth watching. It's on Tubi!
 
Combs and Crampton also teamed up for From Beyond, Castlefreak and Evil Clergyman. From Beyond is very good, but Re-Animator is in a class by itself. There are very few movies that are as fun as Re-Animator.

***
I'm planning on watching the Doctor Who Halloween episode as my treat for tonight.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Decided to watch some Halloween specials:

This year's Bob's Burgers Halloween was very fun but not nearly there best. A perfectly good mid-tier Halloween fun time but I'd recommend the episode "Full Bars" or the one where the kids get stuck in the secret fort. It's a Linda and Gayle story primarily and Bob and the kids in a fun b-plot about Bob having the worst candy, then getting the best candy in town and being overwhelmed. The Simpsons this year... not as bad as you might expect latter era Simpsons to be but not great. It opens with a pretty forgettable Barbie short, then a clearly lovingly animated parody of Parasite where the reveal is pretty much every low to middle income class member was hiding in the house, which is cute, but it spends a bit too much time pointing out "it's a metaphor, get it?" which gets tiring quick. The third has the Simpsons versus all the trees and it's pretty forgettable save for an eye-rolling "trans-plant" joke. Then we have a quick little pastiche of Edward Gorey (I think) and finally ends with a Ring parody. The Ring parody is forgettable but I like the last stage premise where Lisa makes friends with the evil ghost, then the ghost finds the love starved Lisa too clingy. I like that as a premise but I almost wish that was the majority of the story.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
Wrapped up my Spookytime viewing with Halloween (2018), which I liked a lot more than the original; this one actually sold the idea that Micheal is an unstoppable, completely evil wall of murder (as opposed to Donald Pleasance just insisting that’s the case and me questioning how he ever got a job as a psychiatrist).

Movies also vague about whether he’s just an implacable stabbing enthusiast, or a genuinely supernatural entity, and that’s intentional.

Also being attacked by a The Shape caused Jamie Lee Curtis to become Sarah Connor; which I completely loved
 
Combs and Crampton also teamed up for From Beyond, Castlefreak and Evil Clergyman. From Beyond is very good, but Re-Animator is in a class by itself. There are very few movies that are as fun as Re-Animator.

***
I'm planning on watching the Doctor Who Halloween episode as my treat for tonight.
From Beyond is, without a doubt, my fave.

Side note: the Castlefreak remake is good!
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Black Sabbath

I wanted to end my Halloween extra Halloweeny. I was going to have a double bill of Black Sabbath and White Zombie but the end of the former felt like the PERFECT place to stop watching Halloween music. It's not brilliant or anything but it ends with an undermining the artifice of film and horror and it felt just right to stop there.

The film is an Italian horror anthology hosted by a dubbed in Italian Karloff, meaning you are robbed of his familiar cadence (there is a dubbed version where he dubs himself) but it doesn't mean it isn't fun. The first story is the best and the most incongruous with the rest of the stories; The Telephone is an early Hitchcockian giallo with some lesbian undertones, where a woman is harassed on the telephone by someone who seems to know whatever she is doing and ends up calling an estranged friend to protect her. It starts tense as hell, then becomes a twisty-turny tale and remains compelling. The second story, the Wurdulak has few surprised but tells a pretty straightforward monster story. It has a great set up, though, and the first part is strong. Basically, in the 1800s, a rich outsider wanders into a small community and finds a body. Turns out the body belonged to a thief... who may have also been a vampire-like creature damned to kill the people he loves. Seems that spending too much time in the forest turns you into one and the family patriach, who was hunting the thief, may have spent exactly the right amount of time to become a monster, causing unease amongst the family when he returns. Like, not much really surprised me but in terms of mood, it's a beautiful piece. The last one, "A Drop of Water", is a proto-typical EC Comics-style story, as a young woman robs a hideous corpse of a woman who died during a seance, only to be haunted by the sights and sounds of the scene of the crime manifesting in her home (such as the titular sound of water dripping). It's the weakest story but it's short and fun and tries to do a lot with a little.

Definitely a nice way to end Spooky Season.

 
I watched Grave Robbers. It has a demented premise: A town run by a funeral home director lures prostitutes to the town and kills them. Then the people in town who are part of the scheme have sex with the corpse.

Its an odd film. The basic plot is dark; but the tone of the movie is pretty campy. The back of the box that I watched called it a black comedy.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Ready or Not was slightly oversold to me but it really is a fun movie. I think it clicked more when I saw it as a Joe Dante movie and took it more as an anarchic cartoon and less as another social commentary on class movie. I mean, it's in there and it's extremely unsubtle but it seems secondary to the silliness and the joy of scenery chewing.
 
I watched Schizoid which is a Cannon horror movies. Cannon films can be a lot fun. Some of my favorite Cannon films include Bloodsport, Deathwish III, Lifeforce, and Ninja III: The Domination.

Schizoid is not a great Cannon film. The film centers around an advice columnist who receives a death threats at her office. The film then introduces characters around her. There is her ex-husband who works with her at the radio station. There is a therapy group led by a chain smoking doctor. There is the doctor's daughter who blames the doctor for the death of her mother.

Members of the therapy group are killed and death threat letters to the advice columnist get more urgent. The ex-husband, doctor and doctor's daughter are all implied as the potential killer and the actual killer is revealed in the finale.

On paper this film sounds a lot more exciting than it is. I found Schizoid to be mostly boring in execution.

I did like the police in the film: Lady, you have a string of death threat letters. So what? Come back to us when a body shows up.

Reminds me of Chief Wiggum.

813011.jpg


💀💀1/2
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Cannon generally makes terrible films that are watchable in the dumbest way. Shame this one doesn't work.

The Cars That Ate Paris is marketed as a horror film and there are a few horror elements but more than anything it is an odd satire on Australian politics and the generation gap that outside of the broadest stuff has gone over my head. That's not a strike against it, just an acknowledgement that I feel I'm missing a lot of the themes. It's also the first film of Peter Weir.

The film is about a small Australian town called Paris where the citizens are killing random drivers on their way near town and basically harvesting every part of them and their property. No, no cannibalism but survivors are made into citizens, either through lobotomy and making them part of the local mental "health" center or being indoctrinated. Our protagonist falls into the latter and most films would be about him trying to escape or even being brainwashed. But it's not quite either. He's sort of feckless and makes some half-hearted escape attempts but he doesn't have a driving motivation like a lot of characters and I think that's a meaningful choice, if it means it alters the stakes a bit. But he wants to leave but even without overt threats ends up shrinking a lot in the face of some passive aggression. A lot of the film then becomes about the tension between the generations.

There are some interesting ideas and we see that the children are almost all scarred "accident" survivors. It's a wholly unique film and not quite a horror movie (save for a few early scenes and arguably the big nasty finale) but it's more of a weird, casually paced social satire.

 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
The original Universal Dracula was a choice based solely on it being short. Todd Browning does some great directing and it's easy to forget how... weird this take on Dracula is. It's the most iconic but when you break it down he's playing friendly then occasionally giving awful stares to people. But there's a lot of stageyness based on the fact that it was based on a play and really it compares unfavourably to Frankenstein. It's alright and there are some great performances (best Renfield still) but I almost think this might have worked better as an even shorter silent film.
 

Daikaiju

Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island
Two things this film does I really enjoy;
  • The opening flashback shows, that yeah they were dealing with shysters and con artists. That didn't mean they were any less dangerous.
  • The gang spends a good deal of the plot on the back foot. There's some obviously some internal turmoil about having to deal with legit paranormal threats. While they do adapt, they're obviously rattled throughout.
 
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Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Decided I needed something I wouldn't sleep through now that I'm turning into my mom apparently and for the most part The Funhouse did the trick. It's one of the lesser known Tobe Hooper movies and it feels a little slight but it is a lot of fun. I'm not sure but I feel like it might be, if not a comment, an examination of traditional monster movies vs. the then in vogue slasher craze. It looks like it's going to be the latter and it kind of is... except there's no slashing by people who aren't the protagonists. And it turns out in some ways, the villain is a mutant rather than a psychopath and is made to be similar to Frankenstein, a point made that when he first appears, he's shuffling around in a Frankenstein costume.

Kevin Conway is clearly having fun as three carnival barkers. In fact, he agreed to be in the film if he was triple cast like that.


This is also the only movie that the inciting incident is the monster coming early from $100 handjob.
 

jpfriction

A most radical pontiff
(He, Him)
Ready or Not was slightly oversold to me but it really is a fun movie. I think it clicked more when I saw it as a Joe Dante movie and took it more as an anarchic cartoon and less as another social commentary on class movie. I mean, it's in there and it's extremely unsubtle but it seems secondary to the silliness and the joy of scenery chewing.
I finally watched this last weekend too. I had it mixed up in my head with “You’re next” so was waiting for the protagonist to start acting like a navy seal or something but was a pretty fun and silly time.
 
Cross-posting from the reviews thread: Barbarian is banger popcorn horror with an excellent social commentary. Highly recommended for Spoopmas viewing.

That's all I'll really say, as it's best going into it knowing as little as possible.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Elvira's Haunted Hills probably seemed like a disappointment at the time when comedic tastes changed and Elvira's brand probably seemed a little old fashioned. But with some space, it really is tonally a perfect compliment to Mistress of the Dark. I still don't *love* either movies but they are pleasant and despite the double entendres and boob jokes, Elvira's brand seems weirdly wholesome in the same way Weird Al is (it's not surprising that it was a co-written by a dude who previously worked on Pee Wee Herman stuff). The film itself is a loving homage to the Roger Corman adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe with Rocky Horror's creator Richard O'Brien lovingly chewing scenery as the lord of the dark castle Elvira stumbles into. In fact, everyone is clearly having fun, including Scott Atkinson, a man without a wikipedia page, as a suspicious psychiatrist who is doing George Sanders. It's only a soft recommendation but it's sweet, cheesy comedy.
 
I watched Dario Argento's Tenebre. A horror author flies to Rome as part of a press tour. People start dying in the exact manner of his fiction and he is drawn into the mystery. The score, by members of Goblin, is bombastic and the movie is very stylish.

Suspiria and Deep Red are the best movies I've seen from Argento, but Tenebre is really good.

Argento is becoming one of my favorite directors.

💀 💀 💀 💀
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Yep... just... his stuff after a certain era though....

But yeah, Tenebre is very good. The tricky outline shot in the final act is very chef kiss.
 
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