Tuesday, October 31, 2017

DIARY OF THE DEADED: HALLOWEEN HORROR MOVIE HALFWAY POINT

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.

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