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Monthly Archives: October 2013

October Horror Day 30

Horror journal

In the 70s the devil was a big hit in the cinemas thanks to these three films. They are almost too famous to need much more than a quick summary

The Omen

This film is directed by Richard Donner and isn’t set in one location but has much more open feel. It is based on Christian mythology but takes many liberties with that mythology. It is interesting the influence this film has had on the fringes of Christianity especially with millennium cults. It seems that no-one could be an important figure in show business or politics without some cultist declaring  that there’s some sort of numerological evidence that they are the antichrist.

Robert Thorne (Gregory Peck), an American diplomat, is attending the birth of his baby in hospital but when he is told the baby died he agrees to secretly adopt another baby and raise him as their own without telling his wife Kathy (Lee Remick).

Five years later a crazy priest Father (Patrick Troughton) tries to warn Thorne that the child Damien is the son of the devil Thorne dismisses his raving but a seed has been planted.

Damien’s nanny kills herself very publically at the boy’s fifth birthday party. She is replaced by the imposing Mrs Blaylock who seems too willing to go beyond the call of duty to protect Damien and is willing to defy the Thornes when she sees fit.

When Father warns Thorne that Kathy is pregnant but Damien will kill the baby then kill Kathy he starts to listen to him. After the priest dies and Kathy loses the baby in a fall Thorne heads off to Italy with a photographer called Jennings (David Warner) and then to Jerusalem to confirm the priest’s terrible story.

Though it has a lot of supernatural elements this film feels a lot more like a mystery thriller than horror story. It’s a big dumb film and without the performances of the grade A cast it would look every bit as silly at as the story really is.

Rosemary’s Baby

This Roman Polanski film has a very claustrophobic feel to it with almost all it set in a couple of apartments in a New York apartment block.

A young couple Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) and her husband Guy (John Cassavetes) move into new apartment. Guy is a struggling actor but they want to start a family. Their new neighbours are Minnie (Ruth Gordon) and Roman Castevet (Sidney Blackmer). Minnie is a pushy woman who regularly won’t take no for answer, taking advantage of Rosemary’s politeness and more withdrawn personality to push into her house. Minnie invites Rosemary and Guy to dinner and while Rosemary has a tiring evening with Minnie Guy seems to be genuinely fascinated by Roman and often spends nights talking with him.

When Guy lands an important acting role they start to take the idea of starting a family seriously and Guy even has Rosemary’s most fertile part of her cycle circled on the calendar. On that night they have romantic meal followed by a dessert made by Minnie. Rosemary doesn’t like the dessert and dumps it when Guy isn’t looking but she still feel dizzy and tired so Guy puts her to bed

Rosemary has a very strange dream that night that starts very relaxing but it turns nightmarish when she sees large bestial figure raping her and she’s certain it’s no longer a dream. Next day Guy tries to claim that he had sex with her while she was passed out. Rosemary notices a different mood in Guy and he seems to avoid looking at her.

Rosemary is delighted to discover she is pregnant and so is Guy. Minnie is really excited too and insists on helping her out. Roman and Minnie insist that Rosemary uses a friend of theirs who is a famous obstetrician. As the pregnancy goes on Minnie pushes her way into controlling Rosemary with kindness and her special herbal vitamin drinks

When Rosemary sees her old friends they are shocked at how ill she looks especially when she tells him that she is in constant pain. They convince of what she already suspects, that something is badly wrong. Another old friend leaves a book about modern satanic cults for her before his mysterious death. This helps to explain a lot of the strange things happening and Rosemary is certain they mean to harm her baby in a ritual. Even worse she knows Guy is part of them.

Rosemary dumps the food and drinks made by Minnie and starts feeding herself. She tries to get another obstetrician to help her but Rosemary doesn’t seem aware of how crazy she sounds so it is no surprise to anyone except her that he calls Guy.

The Exorcist

I remember hearing the buzz around this film when it came out but I was far too young to see it in a cinema. William Friedkin has created a masterpiece in slow burn horror that builds to a climactic battle between good and evil.

The headline plot is well-known: 12 year old Regan McNeil (Linda Blair) has a sudden drastic change in personality accompanied by strange things which can only have supernatural explanation. After exhausting the best minds of medical science a doctor recommends an exorcism

To get an exorcism Regan’s mother Kathy (Ellen Burstyn) turns to Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) who is also a fully qualified psychiatrist. The film is actually just as much about Damien Karras as it’s about Regan. Damien is even more sceptical about an exorcism than the doctors. He tries to dissuade Kathy but Kathy is desperate so after confronting the demon he agrees to try to get permission. The church agrees with his recommendation but want someone experienced to carry it out. They bring in Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow), an archaeologist, to perform the ritual.

The third act is all the exorcism of the demon possessing Regan By Merrin, assisted by Karras and much of it has passed in culture so even those have not seen the film know about what happens the prayers, the pea soup vomit, the head twisted right round, the extreme verbal abuse. Karras has to face his guilt and lack of faith to free Regan from the demon and though there is plenty of evidence of evil on display it is Karras’s sacrifice that saves the day.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2013 in Film

 

October Horror Day 26

Horror Journal

The evil killer doll sub-genre is always a good one for creeping out the kiddies and it is surprising how often you find adults even more creeped out by dolls than children. Dolls always have kind of creepy quality in the first place 

Dolls

This is a bizarre film from Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon and though it is quite cheesy but still violent manages to be violent and disturbing, like a violent modern fairy tale.

What can you say about film that two people get torn apart by a giant teddy bear? What is even more disturbing is that this is actually a little girl called Judy’s (Carrie Lorraine) fantasy. She is on a vacation with her father David Bower (Ian Patrick Williams) and his wife Rosemary (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon who is Stuart Gordon’s wife and meets a gory end as usual in his films). When their car gets stuck in the mud during a sudden storm they go looking for help and find themselves in a strange spooky old house with a sweet old man Gabriel Hartwicke (Guy Rolfe) and his lovely wife Hilary (Hilary Mason). The house is full of dolls and toys because the old man is a toymaker. Judy is delighted when Gabriel gives her a punch doll to make up for the teddy bear she was forced to leave behind in the car

Another three stranded travellers show up, Ralph (Stephen Lee) and two unpleasant English punk girls called Enid (Cassie Stuart) and Isabel (Bunty Bailey) that were hitch-hiking. The old couple show everyone to their rooms and are nice and patient no matter how unpleasant some of their guests are. As the night goes on Ralph and Judy discover that the toys are alive but they are okay because the like toys the toys like them. The others suffer a much more grisly fate at the hands of the dolls and the mysterious toymaker.

Curse of Chucky

This is the latest story in the series about the serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) known as Chucky who was trapped in the children’s doll by voodoo way back in the first film. It plays with the idea of being a reboot but as the film goes on it is clear that it is a true sequel

Nica (Fiona Dourif) is a young paraplegic who lives with her mother Sarah but Sarah dies not long after someone mysteriously send them a Good Guy doll, a creepy red-haired doll with a set of programmed catchphrases.

Nica’s sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) comes with her family to help Nica make arrangements for the funeral with Father Frank (A Martinez) the local priest. Nica gives the doll to her niece Alice (Summer H. Howell) who loves him right away. The doll is Chucky but he seems a lot less messed up than the last time we saw him and there is room for a bit of doubt.

This vanishes when we see Chucky put rat poison into a plate of chilli just before the meals are served and we have no idea who has the poison plate. It is obvious who it had to be for the sake of the structure of the story but the film pulls a couple of false scares before the surprisingly brutal death for a poisoning.

I liked that this film took a look into Chucky’s history so we get to see him as a real nasty living person. Chucky is not a physically strong character which is why his kills involve some element of ambush but there was a nice bit of tension created when the main protagonist is paraplegic making the showdown a battle of wits.

The ending was a nice little call out to fans of the earlier films though anyone not familiar with them will just be puzzled. The story starts slow but at the halfway point it picks up pace. One of the best things about these films is the effects which bring Chucky to life which are just great and I have no trouble believing that doll is an evil little bastard.

Puppetmaster

This film from Full Moon director Charles Band has a strange story that almost feels like a sequel. Although the puppets do play an important part in the film they are not the main villain but then the film is called Puppetmaster, not Puppets.

We see André Toulon (William Hickey) in his room at the Bodega Bay Inn in California putting the finishing touches to his jester puppet before infusing him with magical life. Two Nazi agents arrive at the inn looking for Toulon but Toulon hides his puppets away in the wall then blasts his brains out to stop his secrets falling into the hands of the Nazis. This intriguing start hints a back story that would take two sequels to reveal.

Cut to the present day (sometime in the 80s) and a bunch of psychics in different parts of the country get a strong psychic message from Neil Gallagher (Jimmie F. Skaggs) another psychic they all used to work with. They know he was searching for Toulon’s secrets and go to see him at the Bodega Bay Inn.

There they discover that he married the owner of the Inn Megan (Robin Frates) and that he is also now dead and they are not sure which revelation is more surprising to them.

Despite them all being psychic they seem shockingly unprepared when the puppets start killing them off and we see the puppets in action: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Leech Woman and Drill Sergeant.

The showdown is between Gallagher and Alex Whittaker (Paul Le Mat) but when Gallagher disrespects the puppets they turn on him and finish him off.

 

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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October Horror Day 20

Horror Journal

I always enjoy a good anthology film. The mix of stories means that if one section is a bit weak it doesn’t last long. The shorter stories also mean that the stories are condensed to the bare bones

The House That Dripped Blood

The framing story here is the investigation the disappearance of a famous actor who lived at a large creepy house with a morbid history. The first three stories are all tales of the fate of the house’s previous occupants that the police sergeant tells Detective Inspector Holloway (John Bennett) about.

Method for Murder: A writer Charles Hillyer (Denholm Elliott) moves into the house with his wife Alice (Joanna Dunham) and starts working on his latest book. To help himself he creates a sketch of his main character; an ugly brutish killer called Dominick. When Charles starts seeing the man that he created he starts to think that he is losing his grip on reality.

Waxworks: Philip Grayson (Peter Cushing) moves to the house to retire for a quiet life in the country and to get over the recent death of the woman he loved. One day he visits a horror museum in town and is captivated by the figure of Salome. He is disturbed by his feelings and tries to stay away. Then Philip gets a visit from Neville Rogers (Joss Ackland), an old friend and love rival. They take a trip into town and Neville insists on visiting the horror museum where he too falls under the spell of the wax figure of Salome

Sweets to the Sweet: John Reid (Christopher Lee) recently widowed man with a young daughter moves into the house. He hires a nanny Ann Norton (Nyree Dawn Porter) to look after the daughter when he is away on business and to take of her education. Ann grows increasingly concerned about the cold hostile way John treats his daughter and is even more worried to learn that it is out of fear of the girl. This one of those tales with a truly horrifying ending that is only implied rather than show it in all its gruesomeness

The last story is told to inspector Holloway by the estate agent leasing the house as it involves the case that he is working on.

The Cloak: This is the cheesiest and lightest of the stories. A pompous arrogant actor Paul Henderson (Jon Pertwee) moves into the house because it is close to the studio where he working on his latest schlock horror film with his co-star Carla Lind (Ingrid Pitt). Paul is not happy with e low budget efforts of his producers and is especially upset by the tacky cloak they have for his vampire character so he buys one himself in an old costumiers shop

V.H.S. 2

The framing story here is a bit of an improvement over the thieving shits from the first film. This time we have a pair of private detectives looking into disappearance of a teenager by his mother. They go to house he was staying in and find piles of VHS cassettes all over the house. One detective goes to search the house while the other starts watching the videos to try and get to an idea of what is going on. Like the first film there are different uses of found footage to tell the stories

Phase1 Clinical Trials: This segment is about Herman (Adam Wingard), a man who has been given an experimental artificial eye that records everything it sees. He returns home and is having no problems until night comes and he starts seeing ghosts who also seem aware that he can see them. He learns from Clarissa (Hannah Hughes), a woman who recently had an ear implant, that he’s not he only one that this is happening to. The POV footage in this segment really worked nicely.

A Ride in the Park: An off-road cyclist (Jay Saunders) is wearing a helmet cam for his ride through the woods and he comes across zombies and rinds himself in ride of his life. This is really excellent use of the POV camera and I really liked this segment though it did feel short.

Safe Haven: A team of investigative journalists manage to convince a cult leader simply called Father (Epy Kusnandar) to let them film inside one of his compounds. They have normal large cameras and spy cameras so they can film anywhere Father doesn’t want them to. Father seems to have something big planned for their visit and what at first seems like a suicide cult turns out to be something much worse.

Slumber Party Alien Abduction: A teenager and his friends are bugging his older sister and friends with juvenile pranks which they film on their camcorders. One prank is putting a camera on their pet dog to film the sister with her boyfriend. While boyfriends is chasing them away they see lights over the lake and aliens arrive and you can probably guess what comes next just from the title of this segment.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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October Horror Day 13

Horror Journal

Day 13

Today it’s the day the aliens attack. These unconventional films all have a strong streak of dark humour

Grabbers

This is a really entertaining Irish film and is not the typical alien invasion film has a generous helping of the typical Irish sense of humour.

A small island off the coast of Ireland gets attacked by strange creatures that land in the sea next to the island. One of the creatures is caught by a drunken lobster fisherman Paddy (Lalor Roddy) The thing is all tentacles around a nasty big mouth and tongue that shoots out like a spear. The local police Garda Ciaran O’Shea (Richard Coyle) and Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) find a load of dead whales on a beach and next day several people have gone missing. After taking Paddy’s specimen to be examined by scientist Dr Adam Smith (Russell Tovey) they discover that the aliens are poisoned by alcohol. Lisa tries to get help from the mainland but there’s a storm on the way so they are cut off until morning.

With help from the local bar owner Brian (David Pearse) and the doctor (Pascal Scott) they come up with a plan to keep everyone drunk and in one place by having a lock-in. This plan goes great until they manage to drink the bar dry so Ciaran and Lisa have to take the creatures down

It’s a great fun film and it makes a big change that the only way that they can think of to beat the aliens creatures is to get everyone to come to a big drunken party. I know the some of the creatures are CGI but the effects looked pretty good especially when the big one was rolling over the countryside chasing them

Critters

This is the most conventional film out of these three and the Crites are aliens intelligent enough to steal a spaceship and fly it to Earth but they are savage and animalistic and they invade to reproduce and consume so it still kind of fits and the Crites are creepy evil little buggers.

A ship full of alien vermin called Crites steal a ship and escape from prison and land near the small Kansas town of Grover’s Bend. The alien authorities send two shape-changing bounty hunters to track down the Crites before they destroy the world.

The Crites land next to a farm where they first feed on the livestock. The farm is owned by Jay (Billy Green Bush) and Helen Brown (Dee Wallace) who have two teenage children April (Nadine Van der Velde) and Brad (Scott Grimes). The Crites are like extremely aggressive hedgehogs and they can shoot poisonous spines at their victims to slow them down.

The Crites kill April’s boyfriend and attack the family in their house trapping them inside, meanwhile the bounty hunters have wrecked the town in their search for the Crites. The bounty hunters finally get to the farm and a lot of property damage results but it’s Brad who has to eventually come to rescue and kill the Crites

This is a film that has the old traditional effect with puppets for the creature and they look pretty good though I can understand why they kept the larger Crites in shadow.

Attack the Block

I remember enjoyng this film when I first saw it but it got a lot of hate because the main protagonists mug a young woman at the start and it got released on DVD during a very troubled summer where people very like the characters in the film were rioting in in London

After mugging a young nurse called Sam (Jodie Whittaker) a group of young thugs led by Moses (John Boyega) kill an alien creature. When they take the creature’s body back to their friendly dope dealer (Nick Frost) to see if he can identify it they see many more alien creatures falling to Earth. They rush to get tooled up to take on the aliens but they discover this is very different kind. They are big hairy bear-like creatures with no eyes and mouths full of blue glowing teeth.

The boys realise they are in trouble are race back to the safety of the tower block where they live with the creatures on their tail. That’s when the police arrive to arrest them for the mugging Sam. Moses gets arrested and tries to warn the police about the creatures but they don’t listen and are ripped apart. The creatures attack the van but with the gang drive them off with fireworks and they drive away in the police van with Sam still inside.

As if having huge nasty alien after them wasn’t bad enough them Moses manages to smash the police van into the car of Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter), the criminal boss of the tower block, and he is pissed. Hi-Hatz really has no time for their talk of aliens and when his lieutenant gets killed by one of the creatures he blames the boys.

The boys just manage get back into the block but Pest gets bitten. They carry him inside and Sam is just getting to her flat so they barge in before she manages to get the door shut. Sam is justifiably angry at them and is not too happy to help them but she does, dressing Pest’s leg. One of the creatures smashes in through the door and Moses kills it with a sword.

Moses wants to lead them somewhere secure while Sam just wants to get safety but she decides it might be safer to stick with the boys who are least armed and ready for action. As they make their way up the tower block they suffer casualties and Moses comes with a plan to take out all the aliens and start to make amends for his mistakes and bad choices.

I still enjoy this film as much as I did back at the cinema and I have no trouble accepting such difficult protagonists and I warmed to them through the course of the action. There’s an element of social commentary but I don’t think the film is ever saying the characters are “cool” for what they did. I think the creatures symbolise consequences of bad choices which will overwhelm and destroy you if not dealt with. It’s a great creature feature with monsters that manage to look different and scary. The creepiest scene is the one where they can see the black shapes and teeth out of a window just before the creatures attack.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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October Horror Day 12

Horror Journal

Watching Clive Barker films gets addictive for me so tonight I’m going to watch a couple more adaptations of his Books of Blood stories.

Lord of Illusions

This is adapted from the story The Last Illusion. It’s the story of a private detective Harry D’Amour (Scott Bakula) who gets drageed into the middle of a battle between two magicians called a Swann (Kevin J. O’Connor) and Nix (Daniel von Bargen) and when I say magicians I mean in the casting spells and calling up demons kind. Nix taught Swann magic and gave him some of his power but Swann realised how evil Nix is and decided he had to stop him so with few friends he binds him with a magic iron mask then they bury him deep in the ground.

Nix won’t stay buried thank to the efforts of one of his loyal followers Butterfield (Barry Del Sherman) who has an undead skinhead with shark’s teeth helping him. Thirteen years have passed while Butterfield taught the himself the skills to resurrect his master. D’ Amour gets involved when he accidentally comes across Butterfield torturing and murdering one the people who helped Swann. Swann is now a very rich famous illusionist with a Criss-Angel-style show. Swann’s wife Dorothea (Famke Jansen) is worried when she reads of the man’s death and hires D’Amour to watch her husband but that job doesn’t last long when Swann appears to be killed in an accident on stage the next night. When D’Amour tries to investigate he comes up against the problem that no-one will tell him anything about Nix so he goes to the Magic Castle, the not very subtle illusionist club-house. There he finds out about Nix and his relationship to Swann

D’Amour discovers that what everyone thought they saw is another illusion and Swann is alive and faked his death trying to protect Dorothea from Nix’s vengeance. This is futile because Nix knows the truth and Butterfield has kidnapped Dorothea as a gift to Nix on his resurrection from the grave forcing, Swann and D’Amour to confront him for the last time.

This film is expanded quite a lot from the short story and Nix is a really great character. The special effects have not dated very well but the rest of the story is good enough to forgive them

Candyman

This film has grown to be one my favourite films and that is thanks to fantastic performances from Virginia Masden and Tony Todd, the score by Philip Glass and Bernard Rose’s direction that all make the film the hits well above the level of many other horror stories.

Helen Lyle is a graduate student who working on a PhD thesis with her friend Bernadette. Their subject is urban legends and they record a first year student telling a story about the Candyman – if you say his name into a mirror five times he appears and with his hook for a hand he rips you open. One of the cleaners hears it and gets her friend to tell Helen what she knows about Candyman. There was a woman called Ruthie Jean who was murdered in her apartment in Cabrini Green Projects by a killer who came through the walls but the locals all say it was the Candyman.

Helen manages to work out how the killer got into Ruthie Jean’s apartment and she goes to Cabrini Green with a terrified Bernadette to check it out. Cabrini Green looks like a genuinely dangerous place to visit but an even worse hell to live in. The local gangs mistake them for cops which has the benefit of making sure they are left alone to explore. In Ruthie Jean’s apartment Helen finds out that’s she’s right and the killer came through the bathroom wall through a medicine cabinet connected to the empty apartment next door.

Helen and Bernadette meet one of the locals Anne-Marie who is a single mother with a baby and a huge Rottweiler. Helen comes back to Cabrini Green alone to visit Anne-Marie but she’s out so she asks a boy called Jake about the Candyman. Jake shows her a disgusting public toilet where a young boy was killed. Helen goes inside to take pictures and is attacked by a thug carrying a hook who has his gang with him. The police response to Helen’s attack is to sweep the block which contrasts starkly with the lack of response to Ruthie Jean’s murder but the cop says it’s Helen’s willingness to testify that makes the difference.

Once Helen has recovered and is feeling good about putting the thug in jail she gets a visit from the real Candyman, the vengeful spirit of a murdered artist who exists on the stories told about him “I am the whisper in the classroom, the writing on the wall,”  Candyman’s existence is threatened because Helen has damaged their faith in him and now he must take terrible action to resurrect his legend. Candyman wants Helen to choose to be his victim and promises that she too will live on in legend. Helen doesn’t accept his offer and isn’t even sure he’s real.

Helen wakes as if from a dream but what she wakes up to is a nightmare: lying on a kitchen floor covered in blood with a beheaded dog next to her and the sound of a desperate woman screaming for help. She is in Anne-Marie’s apartment next to her dead dog and the baby is missing from his bloody cot. Helen is arrested and quickly discovers that the police are much less pleasant to a suspected child killer than to a mugging victim. She gets released because there’s no trace of the baby yet.

Helen’s freedom doesn’t last long because when Candyman kills Bernadette in front of her and she tries to tell the police who did it she gets admitted to a psychiatric hospital. After a couple more appearances Candyman has left Helen nothing except him and she accepts his deal in exchange for freeing the baby. Candyman betrays her and she dies rescuing the baby from the flames of a bonfire. Her heroism has made her a legend just as Candyman promised and her unfaithful husband gets his comeuppance at the end.

 

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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October Horror Day 7

Horror Journal

The theme for tonight is adaptations of the stories of Clive Barker. I’m a big fan of his writing and especially the short story collections called the Books of Blood with its strange mixture of supernatural tales, some comic, some gruesome and others both gruesome and comic

Midnight Meat Train

This story is definitely one of the gruesome tales and this adaptation has gallons of the fake red stuff both physically and unfortunately CGI The story is fleshed out quite a bit from the short story, giving its protagonist Leon (Bradley Cooper) a job, a fiancé and some friends.

Leon is a struggling photographer who gets told by an art dealer that his work isn’t quite gritty enough and he‘s told to get deeper and stay longer when trying to capture the dark heart of city life. He photographs a bunch of thug who are about to rape a young woman in the subway and frightens of the attackers. The woman gets on a train and is murdered by Mahagony (Vinnie Jones) a silent killer who hunts for his prey on the late night trains. His weapon of choice is a huge meat tenderiser

Next day in the newspaper Leon reads that the woman has gone missing and tries informing the police who don’t seem interested his evidence. Leon seems constantly drawn to subway and to Mahogany and starts following the man and eventually witnesses him in the act of butchering another passenger. And that is literal as he prepares the bodies for consumption and hangs them on meat hook ready for consumption by something strange and bestial hidden down a disused art of the subway.

This film really revels in the gore and there’s a lot of it sloshing around when Mahogany butchers people with CGI eye flying at the screen from Ted Raimi’s head and somehow a hammer manages to take someone’s head clean off. This is the main point of the film and the plot that gets the characters involved was passable but wasn’t very convincing and there was only hint of an explanation of who the C.H.U.D.s were and why Mahogany fed them.

Book of Blood

This low-budget adaptation looks like it was filmed around my home city of Glasgow in the area of Glasgow University. The story is expanded a bit from the original and is framed inside an adaptation of the related story On Jerusalem Street. It works well and this film is kind of growing on me. It has a slow build to really neat climax that succeeds creating the tone of the Clive Barker story.

Mary Florescu (Sophie Ward) is some sort of academic working in the woo woo field of ghosts and has written books al about it but has never found verifiable evidence of the paranormal making all her study nothing more than a collection of strange anecdotes. She leases a house that has a grisly reputation thank to at least two nasty deaths apparently at the hands of ghosts who had written “Don’t mock us,” on the wall of the attic room. The earlier dead the was a fake medium called Tollington (Doug Bradley) and then there was the girl who dabbled in seances with her friends and get her face torn off for her offence.

One of her students is Simon MacNeal (Jonas Armstrong) who was said to have psychic powers as child. She wants him to spend time in attic room to see if they can get verifiable contact with the spirits. She believes Simon is the real thing but her assistant Reg Fuller (Paul Blair) never trusts him and is jealous that Mary is attracted to Simon.

It turns out that Simon is a fake but by the time Mary finds that out Simon is experiencing the ghosts for real and he can’t get Mary and Reg to believe him. He tries to contact them one more time and this time they make their presence felt. The house is an intersection between a highway of the dead and the living world and the dead are angry at the fraudsters that stop people listening to their stories. They decide to carve their stories in Simon’s skin so that Mary can translate them and put them into her books.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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October Horror Day 6

Horror Journal

Day 5 was cancelled due to a need to have a social life .After a night off tonight I’m relaxing with a couple of musicals. I’m not a big fan of most musicals but there have been a couple a films that did manage to get me enjoying them and even singing along. Both films are affectionate tributes to B-movie horror films and are adapted from the stage.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

This is the ultimate in cult films with a following that go along to join in the fun and become part of the film, joining in with costumes, props and heckles. It was adapted from a stage show created by Richard O’Brien who also plays Riff Raff the hunchbacked servant of Frank’n’ Furter in the film.

It’s the story of (the asshole) Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and (his slut) Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) who seem to be a pair of nice wholesome young people. Brad proposes to Janet after their friends’ wedding and they decide to go tell their old teacher Dr Everett Scott (Sieg Heil) (Jonathan Adams) but their car breaks down. They decide to go look for a telephone at an old castle they passed.

They find themselves at a bizarre party hosted by the mad genius transvestite Dr Frank’n’Furter (Tim Curry) for the birth of his new creature, a perfect physical specimen of manhood called Rocky (Peter Hinwood) that he has created for his own sexual pleasure.

That night Fran’n’Furter has sex with Janet and Brad separately making both of them question their sexuality, with Brad becoming more uncertain while Janet feels liberated.

When Dr Scott arrives at the castle this leads to suspicion and recriminations and Frank’n’Furter’s schemes come to an all-singing all-dancing musical climax with the cast all dressed in Basques, stockings and high heels performing a floor show.

This is like a pantomime for adults and this is especially true when at a live show or one of the midnight screenings. It’s so full of life and energy and always makes me feel good when I watch it. Tim Curry is just fantastic and I think it’s his performance that has made this a classic.

Little Shop of Horrors

This film from director Frank Oz is adapted from a stage show that is itself adaptation of a Roger Corman B-movie.

Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis) is a general dogsbody at a failing flower shop in skid row. His boss Mushnik (Vincent Gardenia) is about to give up and close the shop for good when Audrey (Ellen Greene) the other shop assistant suggests putting one of Seymour’s unusual plants in the window to attract customers. The plant in question is called Audrey II because Seymour is madly in love with Audrey. As soon as Seymour puts the plant in the window the customers flock in

Seymour learns that plant needs blood to thrive so he feeds it his own blood. The plant grows big and Seymour becomes famous with many promises of money coming his way, but as the plant grows it needs more and more blood and it talks Seymour into killing someone to feed it. The victim they choose is Audrey’s sadistic abusive boyfriend Orin Scrivello (Steve Martin) who is a nitrous oxide addicted dentist. Seymour goes to kill him but thanks to an unfortunate accident with his nitrous oxide mask Scrivello kills himself and all Seymour has to do is let him die.

When Audrey hears that Scrivello has gone missing she is upset and blames herself for secretly wishing it but Seymour confesses how much he loves her and Audrey admits she feels the same about Seymour. Seymour is finally happy and making plans for his future with Audrey but unfortunately Mushnik witnessed him chopping up the body and he too becomes plant food.

In the original theatrical release the climax led to a showdown with Audrey II where Seymour rescues Audrey then confronts the plant and destroys it. The director’s cut has a very different ending where things don’t turn out the same.

This is another really fun film and it had great music and over the top performances from a large cast. I especially love the scene between Steve Martin as the sadist frustrated by the perverted pleasures of an enthusiastically masochistic Bill Murray. The creature effects on the plants are still pretty good and it really looks like it is singing with voice of Levi Stubbs.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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October Horror Day 4

Horror Journal

Tonight it’s the turn of the wolves and there really couldn’t be a more obvious double bill than these 80s classics. They are different stories but both have a modern perspective on the the old legends

An American Werewolf in London

This film is a modern update on the old Wolf Man story with generous doses of John Landis’s sense of humour and love of music. Two American tourists David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are attacked by a werewolf while hiking through the countryside of northern England. Jack is killed and David is badly injured. While David recovers in a hospital in London he is plagued by graphically violent dreams. Then he gets a visit from Jack who tell him that he is now a werewolf while Jack is an undead spirit cursed to walk the Earth until the werewolf bloodline is severed when David dies. David convinces himself that he’s still just dreaming

When David gets discharged he goes to stay with Alex (Jenny Agutter) the nurse who took care of him in hospital and is now interested in taking care of him some more. Jack tries to warn him again but it no use and when the full moon comes out Jack is painfully transformed in an enormous savage wolf which slaughters its way across London. Everything comes to violent and tragic end in an alley off Piccadilly Circus.

This film is very well-known for the special effects work by Rick Baker especially during the transformation scene but what brings me back to this film is the characters, the humour and the way John Landis goes out of his way to stick as many moon songs into the soundtrack, using three different version of the song Blue Moon.

The Howling

Joe Dante and John Landis were both working on their werewolf films at the same and I read that Landis stole Dante’s special effects artist Rick Baker so they got Rob Bottin and I think that his work would have been hailed as the best werewolf effects ever if the other film didn’t exist but at least it got Dante and Bottin the Gremlins gig.

Karen White (Dee Wallace) is a news anchor at a large TV station who agrees to help the police catch a killer, Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo). Something goes wrong and Karen finds herself alone in a porn booth with Eddie who seems to be transforming. A couple of police arrive looking for Karen and Eddie gets shot apparently dead.

Karen is traumatised by her experience so her psychiatrist Dr Gorge Waggner (Patrick Macnee) sends her to a retreat he runs in the country called the Colony. It turns out that the Colony is really a pack of werewolves that Waggner is trying to civilize, with little success.

The werewolves in this film are very different from the one in American werewolf. They are more anthropomorphic, walking on two legs, and they don’t have an amnesiac split personality but have the same consciousness when in human or werewolf form. They also look terrifying.

The humour in this film is present but not as upfront as in American werewolf. I really liked Dick Miller’s occult shop keeper character and there’s a few werewolf film references in a few of the characters names, It’s a good film with plenty of creepy moments though I will say that the wookie at the end is still more comical than scary

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2013 in Film

 

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October Horror Day 3

Horror Journal

 

I’ve only got time for a double bill tonight so I decided on a little vampire special with two very different modern takes on vampires bother released in 1987. They do share another important theme and that is family but their tone is very different.

Near Dark

This film is a dark gritty take on vampires from Kathyrn Bigelow and there’s no glamour and not much magic about this itinerant “family” of bloodsuckers. Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) is a country boy who meets a young woman called Mae (Jenny Wright) and they get talking but as they talk through the night Mae gets worried about getting home before sunrise. Caleb doesn’t take her concerns seriously and tries to get Mae to give him a kiss. Mae agrees and then bites him on the neck before running off down the road. Caleb is confused and feeling a bit strange. He’s been turned into vampire and he walks across a dusty field in the morning sun he starts burning badly. Mae is part of a small gang of vampires and they drive up in camper van and bundle Caleb inside. The plan is to kill him to stop him describing them to the authorities and Severen (Bill Paxton) is ready to that right away but Mae pleads for his life. Their leader Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen) agrees to give Caleb a week to adjust to being a vampire or they will kill him. At first Mae gets away with feeding Caleb herself but Jesse insist that Caleb has to cross the line and kill to feed himself or he’s dead. Meanwhile Caleb father’s Loy (Tim Thomerson) and younger sister Sarah are making their way across the country hunting for him

This film was so unique in many ways when it was made which takes a more realistic view of vampires and makes them more human but no less brutal. The scene in the bar where they kill off the patrons while laughing and dancing is tense and brutal. The shoot-out at the motel is another memorable scene with the vampires actually burning in the sun with flames coming from their bodies and not some sort of melting special effect. I admit I neglect this film a bit when it comes to re-watching films but then it really isn’t a feel-good film and I like being reminded how good this film is when I do get round to it

The Lost Boys

This is another one of my favourite films and every time I see it I just fall in love with the characters, the setting, the look the music all over again. Lucy (Dianne West) and her sons Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) moves back to stay with her father (Barnard Hughes) in the town of Santa Carla on the Californian coast. Sam meets two boys Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Allen (Jamison Newlander) Frog who claim to be vampire hunters working in their parent’s comic book store. Sam doesn’t take them seriously at all until Michael comes down with a bad case of vampirism after hanging out with a group of vampire bikers led by David (Kiefer Sutherland). His only chance of rescuing Michel is to find the original vampire and kill him but that isn’t going to be easy, leading to a climactic showdown with the bloodsuckers.

This is much lighter in tone than Near Dark and it’s bright and full of humour. Though you don’t really see them doing it the vampires in this film can fly and they do it all the time. It’s just so full of what was good about 80s horror films and is an essential part of my Halloween viewing

 

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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October Horror Day 2

Horror Journal

Today I’m going to watch three films based on the stories of H.P. Lovecraft all directed by Stuart Gordon with screenplays by written by Dennis Paoli and produced by Brian Yuzna.

Re-Animator

This is a gory blast of H.P. Lovecraft that captures the spirit of the Herbert West Re-Animator short stories. Jeffery Combs is amazing as the highly-driven egotistical mad scientist with the nasty sense of humour. He is determined to conquer death and his research has led to him to develop a reagent that when injected into the dead brings them back to life.

Herbert has many impediments standing in the way of his research but he takes care of them with ruthless efficiency. I like the way he ensnares Dan Cain into his schemes then just keeps dragging him down further. The climax is just a pure blast of the over the top tastelessness with body parts flying around, graphic nudity and sexual abuse by headless corpse. It’s not for everyone but it’s one of my favourites

From Beyond

While I never had any trouble getting a copy of Re-Animator the company who owned this seemed to be in no hurry to put this out on DVD so I’m glad they finally got round to putting it out on Bluray. Barbara Crampton and Jeffrey Combs are back but in very different roles that are almost a reversal of the characters they played in Re-Animator. Jeffrey is Crawford Tillinghast a physicist who was assisting mad scientist Dr Pretorious to develop his resonator, a device designed to see beyond the normal dimensions of space and time. The experiment succeeds but Pretorious ends up dead with his head twisted off and Tillinghast is locked away in a psychiatric hospital for telling the police what he saw. He is taken back to the house by psychiatrist Dr Katherine McMichaels, played by Barbara Crampton, to show her what happened to Pretorious and they are accompanied by a very large cop called Bubba Brownlee played by Ken Foree. Crawford shows them.the resonator in operation and proves his innocence but McMichaels becomes obsessed by the resonator, putting them all in danger From Beyond.

In this film it is Jeffrey Combs who plays the innocent caught up in the madness of Barbara Crampton’s obsession. I liked the little touches of humour in the film, especially from Ken Foree but there are also things like the chalk outlines by the police being a little too accurate. The creature design is very reminiscent of The Thing.

Dagon

This is does have some Dagon references in it but the story is actually a pretty faithful adaptation of the story A Shadow over Innsmouth. There’s a much large gap between  this than the other two films and it clearly been made in cooperation with a Spanish production company, explaining the relocation of the setting to Spain  Paul Marsh (Ezra Godden stading in for Jeffrey Combs) and his wife Barbara are holidaying on a yacht owned by their friends Vicki and Howard just off the coast of Spain when a storm drives the yacht in a reef. Vicki is trapped and injures her leg so Paul and Barbara take the life raft to the nearby coastal town of Imbucco to get help. There they find the residents are all hostile to strangers and many are strangely deformed. Barbara goes missing and Paul finds himself pursued by the locals in a town that seems to always wet, with the rain falling constantly and many houses flooded. He finds out what’s going on from an old drunk out refuses to believe it until he comes across the strange woman who has haunted his dreams and discovers his destiny lies in Imbucco.

The film has a really intense atmosphere with constant heavy rain – Ezra Godden was almost always wet. The make-up effects were pretty good but the CGI near the end was not very good and I’m glad it was used sparingly. Francisco Rabal is great at the old drunk Ezekiel

 

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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