Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Days of Horror: Day 4 "Last House on the Left"

I can suffer through most things that cinema conjures, but graphic rape scenes nearly always force me to look away. I've even refused to watch movies that have notoriously brutal portrayals of non-consensual sex. I have no idea why I decided to re-watch this film, but I'm not terribly sorry that I did. Maybe I'm just in a good mood, every Halloween movie seems to please me these days. This one had the saturated cinematography and synthy Gothic-style soundtrack of a low-budet Giallo and ending reminiscent of 60's Japanese horror films like Kuroneko... but unmistakably sadistic American undertones. Even better, it was populated by actors fairly new to the power of cinema, unencumbered and willing to do what it took to make this movie as real as possible.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 Days of Horror" Day 3 "Slither"

Summary: After being rejected by his young wife (Elizabeth Banks), a pretty buff older man is infected by an alien being while attempting a tryst in the woods. He goes on to infect others, giving them truly disgusting symptoms such as an insatiable need for meat and a desire to  physically meld themselves into one super creature.  The beings are spread through slug-like creatures that are all controlled by their host, who is obsessed with reuniting with his wife. The film is very gory. I think a Youtube commenter offered-up some sage words of advice:

"This movie seriously traumatized me when I was little. I puked watching. Reccomandation: have a strong stomach. Don't eat before the movie. During the movie. Or after. #nuff'said"
                                                                                                                       - mcmappleturnover 

This film is also very entertaining and a great re-imagining of the classic body snatchers genre.

31 Days of Horror: Day 2 "Burn, Witch, Burn"

Summary: An atheistic college professor becomes incensed after learning of his wife's daliances with the Dark Arts.

You know, I was always under the impression that this was one of those ultra-campy 50's horror movies that almost requires a flask, but actually this was a genuinely entertaining thriller. To be sure it's completely over-acted and definitely has some hilariously dated special effects, but still kept my attention and actually became an interesting talking point on feminism and the occult as reflected in popular media of the day. What? Yeah I just got serious there for a second. 

In conversation after the film, I found myself describing the lead character as a victim of the male-dominated society of the 50's. I don't think I'm forging a new path when I say that the pursuit and damnation of witches was a direct result and affront to the ever-growing power of women in society. This is a theme we see again and again in America starting fairly early with the Salem Witch Trials. I thought this idea particularly interesting when you look at the portrayal of witches in film and drama specifically the 1958 film "Bell Book and Candle," this film which was released in 1962 and the TV series "I Dream of Jeannie" which ran from 1965 - 1970. 

In both the "Bell" and "Burn" we find dutiful, intelligent, capable, desirable women who use witchcraft as they would any other household appliance, for their own betterment and ease. In "Burn," the viewer is lead to believe that the wife uses her magic primarily to better her husband's career. She keeps this a secret however, which is her ultimate downfall. The real villain is her selfish mentor, a woman who does magic for her own ends. The character in "Burn" stands in distinct contrast from Jeannie in the series "I Dream if Jeannie." Jeannie's threat is nullified by her extremely subservient role.

Enough. Here are some of my favorite stills:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Halloween Jukebox: Louis

31 Days of Horror: Day 1 "Dr. Phibes Rises Again"

Summary: Vincent Price resurrects his role as the grief-stricken, revenge-hungry Dr. Phibes bent on avenging the death of his beloved and bringing her age-less body back to life. Full disclosure, I didn't see the original. I have no idea why Phibes is unable to move his mouth while speaking and instead uses a Victrola-like apparatus connected to what I believe is his voice box via a large Frankenstein-esque plug in the side of his neck (yup). Apparently also just like the first film, he has a silent vixen named Vulnavia at his beckon call. I have no idea who she is or where she came from, but her outfits make me want to drape myself in pleating. One distinct highlight of the film was watching Terry-Thomas in his bit part as Lombardo. good. stuff.

Interesting fact according to IMDB:

The second part of a planned trilogy. The third film would have featured Phibes fighting a group of Nazis, or searching for the key to Olympus. The title would have been "Phibes Resurrectus," "The Seven Fates of Dr. Phibes" or "The Brides of Dr. Phibes". 

I cannot confirm nor deny the validity of that statement, but I truly hope it is true.

I can see how this film has become a cult classic. The premise is insane, cinematography amazing, Vincent Price is incredible and the sets and costumes are absolutely over-the-top. I have included some screenshots as evidence of this:

Dr Phibes Rides Again

Dr Phibes Rides Again

Dr Phibes Rides Again

31 Days of Horror: Scare Season

Unfortunately I was not able to start my 31 Days of Horror on time this year as I have been busy prepping for the season by vacationing in the most frightening place in the United States, a place where you're surrounded by deserted areas where no one can hear you scream, the inspiration of countless horror stories (never mind that they were all written by the same person)... Maine. Other than being terrified by unidentifiable woodland noises, I also was able to watch one horror movie: Cabin in the Woods, which is one of the better horror movies of last year. 

Summary: A group of college students vacation in a creepy old cabin in the woods... sound familiar? Well it is, but for a reason you'd never imagine. You spend most of the movie trying to figure out what's going on and I mean that in the best way possible. There is a great mix of humor, cliches and gore to keep the viewer entertained. Not the creepiest movie, certainly not the best horror movie ever made, but overall an entertaining film. The film owes a great debt to Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford for making an unbelievable plot fairly plausible.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

31 Days of Horror 2011: Day Seven "Santa Sangre"

Summary: An institutionalized man recalls his strange and grisly childhood in a circus before escaping and going on a bloody killing spree encouraged by his deranged arm-less mother.

When your mom is a jealous religious zealot/circus performer and your dad is a randy sequined hypnotic ringmaster, you KNOW you're gonna grow-up to be a psycho killer!

Our protagonist recalls his mother's brutal (and totally awesome) death at the hands of his father after she pours acid on her husband's penis upon catching him with another woman. His father, presumably figuring there was nothing left to live for after the loss of his junk, slits his own throat in front of his young son. The deaths put a wedge into the boys budding relationship with a deaf mute areal performer who's mother was the temptress which served as a catalyst to his parents demise... and that is just the set-up!

This movie was by far the best I watched in the month of October. Director Jodorowsky (el topo, holy mountain) perfectly choreographs off-kilter circus scenes, tracking his characters as they move through a surreal world complete with a dying elephant, a slutty knife-licking tattooed lady, a blood-obsessed religious cult, and an amazing mother+son performance in which he acts as her missing arms. I absolutely loved it!!