Thursday, June 14, 2018


OK, I like a killer rat movie as much as the next cat. And I don't know what I was expecting from OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN but it wasn't this! Very pleasantly surprised. Peter Weller plays a yuppie (it WAS 1983) who is bucking for a promotion by over-achieving on a super-important case at work. His wife and kid are off to the grandparents' house so this should be a golden opportunity for him to ace it. Except for the apparently golden retriever-sized rat that chooses Peter Weller to mess with!
We only get fleeting glimpses of this rat but I'm telling you, it looks fantastic! And director Cosmatos (who brought us RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II, COBRA and LEVIATHAN) even manages to give this psycho rat it's own strong personality; it toys with Weller and seems to be having great, spiteful fun with him throughout the picture by eating the backs out of pillows so that Weller is engulfed in feathers when he opens the closet door.

The film is a great snapshot of obsession as the anal-retentive Weller character slowly slides from chastising his son for knocking the hall rug askew to bashing every square inch of his home to smithereens. The rat (who is a she, by the way) goes from playing playful-ish pranks on Weller to fiery-eyed vengeance when, at one point, Weller dumps her newly-born baby rats down a basement drain. For Weller and the rat . . . it's now personal!!! The uber-rat is obsessed with gaining vengeance on the murderer of her babies while Weller's character is obsessed with eliminating this destructive intruder. At one point, a beautifully-telling piece of dialogue occurs when Weller's assistant shows up outside and Weller shouts down from an upper window for her to "just leave them alone". The only relationship Weller is now concerned about is between him and the rat!

Here is a movie that really is like a rollercoaster ride in that the first two-thirds find us cranking, cranking, cranking methodically up to the top. Once the peak of the rollercoaster is reached, the final third of the film careens wildly down into unhinged mayhem! Rat and man are at each others' throats. What a great, fun thrill-ride!

Monday, February 12, 2018

VENOM [1981]

This movie has NO business being as good as it is!  One would be forgiven thinking this is just one more "deadly snake on the loose" movie -- until, that is, you get a look at that cast!  Sterling Hayden, Klaus Kinski and Oliver Reed:  three of the biggest hellraisers in movie history all together in one film.  Mix together the superb Nicol Williamson, Susan George, Sarah Miles and a genuinely vicious-looking black mamba snake and this is my kind of party!  

Directed by Piers Haggard (who brought us BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW), VENOM is the story of an English Peter Billingsley clone with asthma left alone by his twitchy mother with his grandfather and a couple of servants.  The boy loves animals and has his own menagerie/zoo in the house.  Ex-gamehunter grandpa (Sterling Hayden) soon discovers the faithful maid (Susan George) and chauffer (Oliver Reed) are in league with an international criminal (Klaus Kinski) to kidnap the boy and hold him for ransom.  Naturally as these things go, the boy has just been to the pet shop to pick up the pet snake he's ordered; however, he is accidentally given the most poisonous snake in the world that had been ordered by the local toxicology laboratory.  Nobody knows this, of course, until the box is opened and the truly vicious-looking black mamba leaps out and bites Susan George.  After Oliver Reed impetuously blows away a police constable who's come by to inquire about the snake, the local cops show up led by Nicol Williamson.  The street is cordoned off an toxicologist Sarah Miles is sent for to bring anti-venom in case something nasty happens with the snake.  From here on out, you've just gotta watch the movie.
Merlin wants his cup of coffee!

This is the second time I've watched VENOM and I enjoyed it even more this time around.  The cast is just so darn good and watchable and the film moves along at a nice clip.  The shots (many in close-up) of the beautiful but frightening black mamba snake are exemplary and the cinematography is top notch throughout. 
With all the acting fireworks going on inside the house with Kinski, Reed & Hayden, it's easy to forget how wonderful Nicol Williamson's performance is; with his tetchy acidity and Scots burr commanding the street outside.  Oh yes, and good ole Michael Gough also has a small role as another snake expert/toxicologist who is called to the scene when . . . . ah, that would be telling!  Truthfully, the only interest I had in this film is that Sterling Hayden stars in it (I try to see every movie of his and he's even top-billed) as well as the presence of Kinski and Reed --something that doesn't happen every day.  Imagine my surprise at how great the film turned out to be!  VENOM is just so much fun to watch and it's one I'll revisit again and again.  Oh yeah, terrific poster too!   I seriously can't recommend this one highly enough.  A great popcorn-muncher!



Must admit to being totally perplexed at the consistently high ratings this derivative, cliched and rather dull film is getting.  The battle scenes are like watching a video game with no sense of danger or suspense attempted.  The film's internal logic doesn't make any sense.  For one example: during the first 5 or 10 minutes of the film, it's endlessly established that Tom Cruise's character has been appearing on apparently every television news program as the face of the war's propaganda initiative selling the war to the public.  Cruise's character has been the go-to interviewee for the previous several years.  But when the General dumps Cruise's character into the frontline troops with the cooked-up story of being a deserter -- NO ONE RECOGNIZES HIM.  This guy who has been the public face of the war's propaganda initiative is not recognized by anyone.  

Then we get to the endless cliches and outright steals from any number of better movies.  The cliches are running almost non-stop; from the ridiculous "finding the car keys in the visor" scene to the "explosion lands the heroine face-to-face on top of the hero" scene, it seemed to me like every scene in EDGE OF TOMORROW is taken from another (and better) film.  From J Squad wanting soooo much to be like the platoon from ALIENS (even going so far as casting Bill Paxton) to placing the secret maguffin underneath the Louvre's I.M. Pei pyramid (THE DA VINCI CODE, anyone???) to the boldface lifting of the alien mimics directly from the MATRIX movies, this film is like an arcade claw game; plucking scenes from movie after movie in a vain attempt to make something of itself.  This is one dopey, lazy, ingenuous excuse for a film.

EFFECTS [1980]

The fictional filmmakers in "EFFECTS" make a film called "DUPED"; and that's what must've happened to everyone giving this film a good rating!!!  The entire first hour (of this hour and 24 minute film) consists of a handful of -- I hesitate to call them actors -- meandering aimlessly about reciting inane, bland dialogue.  Apparently, the script to this film WAS actually written but it sounds improvised (NOT a compliment).  It's the misapprehension usually held by filmmakers who have seen too many Cassavettes films that improv is better than a well-crafted script; it's almost never true.  The unbelievably dopey and boring dialogue is spoken by a cast with absolutely no screen presence inhabiting the roles of non-characters who are less developed than your average 30 seconds TV commercial.  Sitting through scene after scene of the dumbest, dullest and most-unrealistic dialogue I've ever heard is seat-squirmingly embarrassing for all involved.  

I've seen "EFFECTS" described as a "slow burn" film; now, I love slow burn films but this is not one of them.  This is a damp squib floating in a pan of used dishwater.  Another comment about this film is that the characters are
meant to be deliberately unlikable.  This is also not true.  In order to dislike a character, one must at least a mile interest in them; none of the characters evoke even the mildest interest on the viewer's part and, even when a character does something which is supposed to be unlikable, they have registered on the viewer's consciousness so little as to only evoke a suppressed yawn.

The greatest sin a movie can commit is to be dull and "EFFECTS" is a film which is mind-numbingly dull for the entire first HOUR of it's short running time.  There is a difference between slow-moving deliberation and a film devoid of all interest.  "EFFECTS" is in the latter category. 
When something finally does happen after the one hour mark, the viewer is long past caring.  The interesting premise of the "twist" in the final reel has been so ineptly set-up that the supposedly anticipated shock effect just isn't there.  For a movie called "EFFECTS" with Tom Savini hanging around, the film has zero effects; except for one where the fictional filmmakers demonstrate a prop razor effect on a prop leg sitting on a table.  And after all is said and done, the final event of the film is just downright silly -- not shocking or disturbing in any way.  I actually laughed out loud (NOT a compliment); my laugh was only a  disdainful scoff at a pretty good film premise so ineptly mishandled.



I enjoyed this quite a bit more than I did when I originally saw it over 15 years ago.  This is just a fun, fun movie.  

From 2000 to 2006, I worked at Borders and in the break room we had one of those combo TV/VCRs on which to watch the silly employee training videos.  Of course, when no trainee was imminent, we used to play video tapes on an endless loop.   A retired high school teacher and bad horror movie fan named Stephen worked there for a couple years and brought in his favourite craptacular bad horror movie triple feature consisting of STUFF STEPHANIE IN THE INCINERATOR, NEON MANIACS and BLOODSUCKING PHARAOHS FROM PITTSBURGH.  I must admit NEON MANIACS didn't make a huge inpression on me but I did enjoy it.  Watching it all these years later (and on a crystal clear dvd print instead of the muddy VHS tape) made all the difference.  

These . . . zombies or whatever they're supposed to be . . . live inside a tower of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and venture forth to murderlize everybody . . . unless it's raining then they go back inside because their kryptonite is water.  At no point are we meant to take this seriously; it's meant to be fun and it is.  The Neon Maniacs all have their little personae/costumes:  one's a samurai, one's a Native American warrior, one looks like an escapee from Dr. Moreau's House of Pain, etc.    There's a little bit of a WARRIORS vibe in this respect a la the themed gangs like The Lizzies, the Baseball Furies, etc.  Only they're zombies instead of gang members.  The Neon Maniacs are just adorable and are just screaming out for an action figure line!  Our monster friends cause quite a few fun kills before our heroes (two high schoolers and a geeky underclassman) learn their water weakness.  As the Neon Maniacs infiltrate the eighties-est school dance ever filmed, our heroes have passed out water pistols to all the kids and the final melee ensues.  The ending of the film sort of peters out in some respects and leaves me hungry for a sequel that never came.  Too bad.  NEON MANIACS is an entertaining hoot.

Saturday, November 25, 2017



Oct. 16th  -  Halfway through the month of October and what to watch what to watch . . . ?  How about a rewatch of the classic 1922 NOSFERATU on my new(ish) Kino 2-disc blu ray?  The best I've ever seen F.W. Murnau's classic vampire film look!  Gorgeous! 
My very first viewing of the film was back around 1983(ish) in my college days; on the drive home (quite a commute from Glassboro State College) I stopped into the Echelon Mall and picked up the Kino VHS of NOSFERATU in the old clamshell videotape case and that is the first time I saw the film in its entirety.  I still have that damn video tape and I'll probably never get rid of it because of the nostalgia value of it; owing to a particular dark and stormy weekend afternoon a little while later.  Cable TV's USA Network (as I recall) was going to be showing two movies I wanted to tape and I was all out of blank VHS tapes.  Luckily I remembered that there was quite a bit of blank tape remaining at the end of the Kino NOSFERATU VHS; I think the film only occupied the first half of the available video tape!  Well, recording at slow speed, I was able to tack on HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS and the 1970s documentary IN SEARCH OF DRACULA starring Christopher Lee at the end of NOSFERATU.  What a triple feature for me to enjoy until the age of DVD! 
Back to the present day, I followed up my viewing of NOSFERATU with the 2008 documentary THE LANGUAGE OF SHADOWS (which focused on the life of director F.W. Murnau and his early films).  The day's movie watching was hardly over yet, though.  Next I watched Colm McCarthy's one and only film OUTCAST (2010):  a ravishingly original and interesting film which combines the witch movie with the werewolf (sorta) film.  Fergal is an Irish lad whose mother Mary is wildly overprotective of him and discourages any form of social interaction.  Fergal's teenage attention is soon rivetted by Petronella (half Scottish/half Romany . . . or gypsy in the old-time parlance) who tries to open up his world while his mother tries to close it down.  Oh, did I mention that there's a werewolfy beast loose killing people (including a pre-DOCTOR WHO Karen Gillan) . . . oh, and Fergal's mother Mary is a powerful sorceress . . . oh yeah, and also there are a pair of magick-wielding Irish beast-hunters on the monster's trail?  The magick in this film is not of the Harry Potter variety but done with a gritty realism that makes you believe.  What Mary does to a clipboard-toting social worker is chilling!!!  After that, I rewatched Terence Fisher's very minor alien invasion effort
THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING (1964) which is quite a bit quieter than its title implies!  An English village with empty streets and only a few survivors (among them Dennis Price and Thorley Walters) facing off against killer robots.  Then I ended the day with an even lesser movie:  THE STRANGE WORLD OF PLANET X aka COSMIC MONSTERS (1958).  We're back in another English village this time with Forrest Tucker, some magnetic field experiments, a mysterious stranger named Mr. Smith and some giant bugs.  Mostly forgettable.

Oct. 18th  -  Started the day with a dud called SATANIS:  THE DEVIL'S MASS (1970):  a documentary {?} focusing on Anton LeVey and his Church of Satan (which consists of mostly dull and flabby Satanists trudging about their Satanic rituals in as boring a fashion as possible).  Watched mainly as a curiosity piece and it fails even on those low expectations.  After such a damp squib, I'd better find a real slam-bang horror film to lift my spirits.  And I did.  PYTHON (2000) is a delightfully-entertaining cheezefest with a laughably-bad CGI 60-foot python menacing the town of New Haven, California.  Ed (TRUE ROMANCE) Lauter and Marc (SUPERMAN THE MOVIE) McClure are two dippy pilots who insist on peeking into the huge crate they're transporting and release the huge snake, crash the plane, and let loose the monster on the unsuspecting town.  The cast is peppered with familiar faces like Robert Englund, Wil Wheaton, Casper Van Dien (who?!?!?!) and Jenny McCarthy (when she still allowed herself to be funny).

Oct. 19th  -  The sole horror film I watched today was Daniel (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT) Myrick's 2008 film THE OBJECTIVE which I appreciated if not totally enjoyed.  The film is set in a desert region of Afghanistan where a US military unit is dispatched to find the source of strange radioactive readings.  As the unit goes deeper and deeper into the uncharted desert mountains, some strange force manifests itself and slowly begins picking off the soldiers.  Is it some occult force or some extraterrestrial shenanigans?  While I did find the premise original and absorbing (I've heard some reviewers call it like an "Afghanistan Triangle"), I have a hard time drumming up interest in movies featuring military units in a light-beige desert setting so the film didn't grab me as much as it could have.  Mildly recommended.

Oct. 20th  -  Today I thought I'd experience the joys (!) of Terrorama with GUESS WHAT HAPPENED TO COUNT DRACULA? (1970); a film I was mildly interested in seeing ever since it appeared on the cover of an issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland.  Not expecting much, I wasn't disappointed.  This goofy (but not goofy enough) movie finds Count Dracula calling himself Adrian (!) the proprietor of a Los Angeles nightclub with a haunted house decor.  Annnnnnnnnnnnnnd that's about it.  Almost watchable starring nobody in particular.  My favourite review of this film I found on  Kyle Bragg gives his one sentence review of GUESS WHAT HAPPENED TO COUNT DRACULA as "If you guess nothing, you are correct."  The next two films I watched today were the result of my (mostly) weekly visits to the Cheeks Movie Club where we watched FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III (1982):  Steve Miner's unremarkable but serviceable second sequel of the franchise which is remarkable solely for the introduction of Jason's now-famous hockey mask (which apparently was "inspired" by the rapist's hockey mask in ACT OF VENGEANCE (1974) almost a decade earlier. 
ACT OF VENGEANCE (1974) . . . he look familar???
Shout out to Moodz616 for bringing this earlier film to my attention.)  The second half of our double feature was Paul Naschy's umpteenth Waldemar Daninsky werewolf movie NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF (1981).  This time a witch resurrects the "blood countess" Elisabeth Bathory to complicate Paul Naschy's day.  Not bad.

Oct. 21st  -  A heckuva marathon movie day!  Starting off with MORNINGSIDE MONSTER (2014) which sprang from the deep, dark recesses of my Horror Pack.  A slasher film which puts more than the usual stress on characters, this was above average and features Tiffany Shepis once again showing some nice acting chops.  Also, props for taking place in my native New Jersey.  After that, I once again popped in one of my all-time favourites:  John Carpenter's THE FOG (1980).  My umpteenth viewing of this classic this time was on my new limited edition blu ray steelbook.  I can and do watch this film a LOT! 
Next, Italian giallo meets German krimi in this odd little Edgar Wallace movie SEVEN BLOOD-STAINED ORCHIDS (1972) directed by Umberto Lenzi (who sadly just died this month).  "The Half-Moon Killer" is going around menacing the ladies in this one.  Not spectacular but good.  I'm a big fan of Lenzi, gialli AND krimi but this one feels a little subdued; as if it's not quite sure which tack it wants to take.  Still worthwhile, though.  And no, we're still not through with my mini-tribute to the late director as I then watched Lenzi's 1975 giallo EYEBALL.  This one is pure giallo and succeeds more because of it.  John (BLACK SUNDAY) Richardson is among the Italian cast which finds a killer in a red hooded raincoat killing tourists on a bus trip to Spain by extreme eye trauma!  While Lenzi's ORCHIDS felt oddly restrained, EYEBALL is off-the-hook bonkers.  Good stuff! 
So, the day's movie watching MUST be finished by now, right?  Not on your nellie!  Next I rewatched BLOODBATH AT THE HOUSE OF DEATH (1984); a horror comedy I haven't seen since I rented it on VHS in the mid-1980s.  Comedian/DJ Kenny Everett (THE KENNY EVERETT VIDEO SHOW) and Pamela Stephenson (NOT THE NINE O'CLOCK NEWS) star in this send up of 80's horror/video nasties which also features a funny comedy turn by none other than Vincent Price himself as "The Sinister Man"!  Come on, you really don't need a plot synopsis for this one . . . just watch it and enjoy the fun . . . of course, that's if you can find a copy to watch since it's not currently available on dvd!  (Teeth gnash teeth gnash!).  OK, that's gotta be it for the day.  Oh no, there's ONE MORE MOVIE I watched.  MIRRORS (2008) directed by Alexandre (HIGH TENSION) Aja.  Looks great, less filling.  Meh movie with Kiefer Sutherland as an ex-cop and full-time screw-up who takes a job as a security guard in a burned out old department store which has evil ghosts in its mirrors.  Good idea squandered.

Oct. 22nd  -  And my one and only horror movie for the day was NIGHT CLAWS (2012).  Now, Bigfoot movies usually suck (except for the great Bigfoot movie EXISTS).  NIGHT CLAWS, while it doesn't actually suck, isn't that great either.  It's OK.  Reb (SPACE MUTINY) Brown and Frank Stallone are in the cast.  And there's a killer Bigfoot messing up the town.  Not much else to say, really.  A nice enough time-waster.

Oct. 23rd  -  Started the day with the execrable P-51 DRAGON FIGHTER (2014) directed by Mark (HALLOWEEN NIGHT) Atkins.  Fun premise abyssmally botched.  It's World War II and the Nazis have unleashed their new secret weapon against allied fighter planes; they've gotten some witches to control some real-live fire-breathing dragons.  It's a shame the movie is so relentlessly dull!!!  Can any movie save me from this unending blah?!?!?!?  Yes!  It's GO GOA GONE (2013):  a zombie movie from India!  Now, Hindi horror movies don't have a zombie tradition and you don't see many zombies.  However, this cheeky (and cheekh-y) horror comedy is fantastic!!!!  Knowingly witty concerning the zombie movie tropes we've all seen 100 times, GO GOA GONE is laugh-out-loud funny for most of its running time.  A group of slacker friends (think the boys from IDLE HANDS . . . only speaking Hindi) decide to go to a rave on the island of Goa.  Sadly, the island then gets overrun by zombies and the slackers have to someone survive.  Fun fun fun!  Next up was RAZE (2013) starring the spectacular Zoe (DEATH PROOF) Bell as a woman who is abducted and wakes up in an underground complex where she is forced to battle other woman gladiator-style to the death for the entertainment of the idle rich.  Is this a horror film or is it not?  I kinda think so.  It's a horror film in the same way that BATTLE ROYALE (2000) is a horror film.  Who cares, it's awesome, that's all that matters. 
Another marathon movie day continued with James Whale's masterpiece THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932) which I rewatched this time on my brand-new blu ray edition.  The film looks like fried gold!!!!  Then I finished the day off with Hideo (RINGU) Nakata's 2002 creepyfest DARK WATER.  I rewatched this ghostly tale on my brand-new Arrow video blu ray.  Phenomenal.

Oct. 25th  -  Today worked out as a Peter Cushing double feature.  Freddie Francis' LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF (1975) was . . . not too good.  Despite the presence of the "gentle man of horror", Hugh Griffith, Ron Moody and a goofy Roy Castle cameo, LEGEND is pretty lackluster.  So I recovered by rewatching an old fave:  ISLAND OF TERROR (1966) directed by Hammer's maestro Terence Fisher and starring Peter Cushing, Edward (THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE) Judd, Carole (DEVILS OF DARKNESS) Gray, Niall (NIGHT OF THE DEMON) MacGinnis on an island overrun by deadly blob creatures.  This time I watched the film on yet another brand-new blu-ray edition.  I've always loved the autumnal leaves covering the ground in this movie and the blu-ray looks fantastic!

Oct. 26th  -  THE HORROR OF IT ALL (1983) is a documentary I first saw on my local PBS station probably in that very year.  Narrated by the velvet-voiced Jose Ferrer, the documentary traces the history of horror movies from the silent era up until then-present day.  I have this on a VHS tape I bought back in the day but this Wombat Production film desperately needs a dvd/blu ray release!  Then it was back to India for the Ramsay Productions super-smash hit PURANA MANDIR (1984) featuring a cursed family menaced by the blood-thirsty demon Samri (nicely played by Anirudh Agarwal in a career-defining role).  I liked it; I didn't love it.  A little overlong (as any respectable Hindi film should be) but not as pleasantly bonkers as I expected.  

Oct. 27th  -  Today we venture in Corman Poe-land with THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961) -- and, of course, I watched it on the Scream Factory Vincent Price Collection blu-ray box set.  What can you say about this classic?  Vincent Price, the great Barbara Steele, Luana (DEMENTIA 13) Anders, Antony (CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA) Carbone and John (SOUTH PACIFIC) Kerr having diabolical fun with ole' Edgar!  And I ended the day with AU SECOURS! (1924) directed by Abel (NAPOLEON) Gance and starring early silent comedy superstar Max Linder.  This is a late film in Linder's career and occurs after his service in the trenches of World War I which changed him so drastically.  The first 2/3rds of the film is typical Max Linder comedy as Max accepts a bet that he can stay in a haunted house for one hour between 11pm and midnight.  However, the final third of the film suddenly morphs into something quite frightening and disturbing.  It's really something to see and quite unexpected after the rollicking comedy antics seen thus far.  

Oct. 28th  -  One of my favourite films of all-time starts this day:  THE COMEDY OF TERRORS (1963) -- also, of course, from my Vincent Price blu ray box set.  Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Jacques (CAT PEOPLE) Tourneur directing, music by Les (HOUSE OF USHER) Baxter and Rhubarb the Cat -- from American International Pictures.  The story of a funeral parlor that makes its own customers.  One of the best horror comedies of all-time!  While in the comedy vein, I chose to watch the Little Rascals short WHEN THE WIND BLOWS (1930) which, while not an all-out horror comedy has quite a few horror elements to it.  Young Jackie Cooper (later to play Perry White in SUPERMAN THE MOVIE) gets tired of doing his homework on this dark
and windy night and chucks them out the window.  When he eventually climbs out to retrieve his books, the window slams shut and he's locked out.  His various attempts to get back into the house without his parents seeing him (or he'll be punished) result in many mistaken scares all through the neighbourhood.  The other "Our Gang" kids featured are Allen "Farina" Hoskins and Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins while Edgar Kennedy (of the slow burn) plays a befuddled cop.  Next was the shockingly excellent remake of MANIAC (2012) starring Elijah Wood as the slasher/serial killer originally play by Joe Spinell in the Bill Lustig original.  This remake had no right to be as good as it is!  The film quite rightly chooses not to ape the original but to go it's own way while remaining true to the spirit of the earlier film.  Elijah Wood couldn't be more physically different than Joe Spinell but both give vivid performances in their respective versions of MANIAC.  A huge pleasant surprise!

And that, I'm afraid, is that for horror movies watched in October.  Due to work etc. I wasn't able to really watch anything for the rest of the month.  But hey, Halloween doesn't stop at November 1st.  Halloween is 365!  And I continue to watch horror movies all year 'round!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


WELL, WHILE I HAVEN'T BEEN POSTING MONSTER MOVIE REVIEWS OR OFFICIALLY WATCHING A MONSTER MOVIE A DAY {AS I'VE DONE ON PAST COUNTDOWNS}, I HAVE {SUPER}NATURALLY BEEN WATCHING HORROR FILMS THIS MONTH {AND EVERY MONTH, NATCH!}.  As we are now at the end of October already (hokey smokes!!!), here's a brief gore-card of the more interesting films I've been watching during the Halloween Countdown. 

Oct. 1 - I started off October with a horror anthology lent to me by Cheeks (curator of his OWN Countdown to Halloween over at The Man Hole -- in case you haven't already been following it) called SOUTHBOUND (2015).  A pretty solid little low-budget horror portmanteau.  My favourite section is probably the one where a man hits a pedestrian in his car and carries her to a creepy, abandoned hospital.  Then I continued the first day of the month with a Hammer Frankenstein double feature:  THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958) and FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969); both starring "the gentle man of horror" Peter Cushing.  Not a bad way to begin my Halloween Countdown horror-watching.

Oct. 2 - Today I ventured towards THE BEAST FROM HOLLOW MOUNTAIN (1956); but luckily for myself I chose to watch the new Mystery Science Theater 3000 version as the original movie starring Guy Madison (RETURN OF DJANGO) and Patricia Medina (BORIS KARLOFF'S THRILLER: THE PREMATURE BURIAL) is probably unwatchable!!!  As the robots are fond of saying during the programme:  "Where's the beast!" as the dinosaur/monster doesn't appear throughout 98% of the movie!

Oct. 5 - DIARY OF THE DEAD (2007) was George A. Romero's follow-up to LAND OF THE DEAD and the second part of his, for want of a better phrase, 21st-century zombie trilogy.  I quite enjoyed LAND so I finally got around to giving DIARY a try.  Now, DIARY has gotten a lot of bad press . . . and I'm afraid it's kinda deserving of it.  The script is quite bad and the acting is shall-we-say uneven -- which is a shame since Romero was given almost complete control in the making of this movie.  

Oct. 6  -  I began the day finally watching Peter Jackson's THE FRIGHTENERS (1996) which wasn't what I expected.  I quite enjoyed it, mind you, but it had the Hollywood gloss of a Spielberg movie or POLTERGEIST (which some say IS a Spielberg movie).  The second film of the day was MAY (2002)
which was also lent to me by Cheeks; and it was just as delightfully disturbing as I'd heard.  What turned out to be a marathon movie-watching day continued with THE DEVIL'S CANDY (2015); the second feature by Sean Byrne (THE LOVED ONES) and a terrific film.  "The Devil's candy", as explained by Pruitt Taylor Vince in a fantastic acting turn as a serial killer, describes why he is compelled to kill children by Satan-- the murdered children taste like candy to the Devil.  Ethan Embry (of the astonishingly-soulful eyes) heads a marvelous cast in this tense and scary film.  Continuing on with POPCORN (1991) which is a PHANTOM OF THE OPERA-type story in which a burnt-out movie theater hosts a horror movie marathon while a maniac is bumping off the entire cast.  An enjoyable little film with familiar faces Dee Wallace, Tony Roberts, Ray Walston and Tom Villard peppered throughout the cast.  And the finally horror movie of the day was Jag Mundhra's 1988 schlock-fest HACK O'LANTERN which, somewhere amongst it's bonkers carnival of padding, features a Satanic cult.  

Oct. 7 - Today was another quadruple threat with 4 horror films watched!  First was Herbert L. Strock's AIP drive-in classic HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER (1958) which also has something of a PHANTOM OF THE OPERA vibe to it, come to think of it.  Something of a sequel (sorta) to I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF and I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN, the film uses both monster make-ups; and while Michael Landon doesn't reprise his teenage werewolf role, Gary Conway reprises his Teenage Frankie.  A movie studio (very much like AIP) has new owners who decide they're going to stop making all those silly monster movies and lay off their long-time makeup man -- who then concocts a mind-control potion which he uses on his two teenage actors to send them out on his personal revenge killings wearing their monster make-ups.  This was actually much better than I thought it'd be.  A fun extra treat is the make-up man's studio which has a lot of Paul Blaisdell's actual monster masks from previous films like INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN and THE SHE DEMON lying around!  Next was another first-time watch: Dan Curtis' 1973 made-for-TV FRANKENSTEIN starring Robert Foxworth as Frankenstein, Susan Strasberg as Elizabeth and Bo Svenson as the monster. 
This was surprisingly really good!  It's actually quite faithful to Mary Shelley's novel and Bo Svenson, whom I've never considered that much of a thespian, really shines as the Monster.  Watch for a young child actor named Willie Aames as Frankenstein's kid brother.   Next up was another first-time watch:  1408 (2007) with John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson.  I enjoyed this one quite a bit as well -- a lot of fun.  I then ended the day with my umpteenth rewatch of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) which never disappoints.  I watched it this time on my recently-acquired blu-ray.  Oddly enough, I now have NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and DAY OF THE DEAD (1985) on blu-ray but, my favourite film of the trilogy DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) I only have on dvd.  What's up with me?!?!?!?!

Oct. 8  -  Started with a double feature (and first time watches) of PHANTASM II (1988) and PHANTASM III (1994) by Don Coscarelli.  I had only ever seen the first PHANTASM before but recently got the box set containing the entire series . . . but it looks like I won't get them ALL watched before Halloween.  Then I rewatched the unfairly-maligned THIRTEEN GHOSTS (2001) which I've always enjoyed.

Oct. 12  -  HAUNTERS:  THE ART OF THE SCARE (2017) is Jon Schnitzer's documentary on Halloween haunted house attractions.  Sadly, I kinda hated this film.  More than 75% of its running time is given over to the so-called "extreme" haunted house attractions with most of THAT running time given over to the execrable McKamey Manor.  These so-called haunted houses do things like actually duct-taping you to chairs, waterboarding and feeding you your own vomit if you happen to throw-up.  Whereas it requires a lot of skill and talent to scare people without touching them (as in traditional haunted house attractions), any idiot can dunk somebody underwater or tie them up and simulate rape.  It seems these people need to look in a dictionary and see the difference between the word "scare" and "torture".  There is no "art" in these idiots.  To get the bad taste out of my mouth, I rewatched two favourite:  TRICK 'R TREAT (2007) the classic modern anthology with our boy Sam and then the magnificent timey-wimey horror treat TRIANGLE (2009).

Oct. 13 - Hey, it's Friday the 13th!  You know what THAT means!  No, it doesn't mean I watched any of the FRIDAY THE 13th franchise; how predictable is THAT?!?!?!  I started the day just after midnight by watching THE RUINS (2008); a movie personally recommended to me by Stephen King.  All right, maybe not personally but in his new forward to his book DANSE MACABRE then!  A Lovecraftian-feeling film featuring some touristy twits finding horror in a Mayan temple.  Pretty good.  Then I watched Charles Band's ZOMBIETHON (1986) which is actually a collection of movie clips from zombie movies like Fulci's ZOMBI etc. 
Next I went over to my friend Cheek's house for our frequent Friday horror movie double feature.  This time we watched THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW (1983) -- not so hot -- and DEVIL TIMES FIVE (1974) -- a wonderfully-entertaining bad movie!  In the sumptuous cast, we have top-billed Sorrell Booke (THE DUKES OF HAZARD's Boss Hogg himself), Gene Evans (Samuel Fuller's THE STEEL HELMET) and child actor Leif Garrett {!}.  All I can say about this marvelous movie is that I have a headache, a back ache and a toothache . . . and I feel an attack of the gout coming on!

Oct. 14 - Double 7's dawned with, of all things, the SyFy movie ZOMBIE NIGHT (2013) starring Daryl Hannah, Anthony Michael Hall, Alan Ruck and Shirley Jones {!} battling an umpteenth zombie apocalypse.  Unremarkable.  This was followed by a rewatch of BEAST IN THE CELLAR (1970) starring grande dames Flora Robson and Beryl Reid as two sisters who have kept their feral/homicidal brother locked in the cellar for 30 years.  I've always been drawn to this particular movie either because I saw it when I was very young (possibly but not certainly) or else because I've always associated it with the tantalizing story from DC Comics' PLOP! called "The Locked Door of Harkness House" (which I ALSO bought and read as a youngster and which I was going to post here for the Countdown to Halloween but was unable to dig out my copy in time).  The comic book story (from PLOP! # 14) follows pretty much the same storyline and almost certainly must've been based on this film.  Next I watched Carol Morley's (DREAMS OF A LIFE) very intriguing 2014 film THE FALLING which features a fainting epidemic at a girl's school and intimations of "magic with a k".  

Oct. 15 - Smack dab in the middle of the countdown, I rewatched (for reasons which escape me now) Damiano Damiani's mostly lackluster AMITYVILLE II:  THE POSSESSION (1982) with Burt Young (ROCKY) and Diane Franklin (TERROR VISION) which is a prequel featuring a thinly-veiled and monstered-up telling of the DeFeo family massacre in the Amityville house pre-Lutzes.  After this, I went with the tried and true classic horror comedy monster-fest ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948).  I saw what I saw when I saw it!

Well, that's the first half of October's monster movie watches (waaaaaaaaaaay late) and I'll be posting the second half of my Halloween countdown viewing (waaaaaaaaaay later) shortly.