Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hallowe'en Horror Movie Round Up 2010


The Rolling Stones caused a sensation on their first tour of Japan

A quick roundup of horror movies I watched during the annual Hallowe'en horror movie watching season:

Martin - Romero's vampire movie is surprising. There's a dry wit to it that's very different from his zombie films. I'd never seen this before, very enjoyable.

Night of the Creeps - This is the most 80's movie I've ever seen. It's like the whole decade distilled into one cheesy horror movie. You look at it and you go "How much more 80's could a movie be?" And the answer is "None. None more 80's."

An American Werewolf in London - Watched this for the 9,000th time. This is one of those movies I closely associate with Hallowe'en. I was struck this time by how quickly this thing moves--by the time he ends up in the porno theater, you're like "Oh, we're here already?" I think the secret to it's success is not just that it's a lean movie, but that there is enough interesting stuff going on to keep you engaged throughout: the scenes at the pub in the beginning, the nightmares, the visits from his dead friend, all before the first transformation and the various kills. So many horror flix, especially from that era, have nothing interesting happening except the kills.

Black Sabbath - I had watched this several years ago, and didn't like it, but I decided it deserved a second chance. For one thing, I wasn't really familiar with Mario Bava and his style then. I had seen Black Sunday, and assumed this would be more or less along those lines, and didn't even realize it was an anthology when I sat down to watch it. So I gave it another chance. I liked it better the second go-round, but still not really a favorite. I kinda got more enjoyment out of the art direction than the story (which is probably not that big a negative among Bava fans). A bit uneven, too, because the segment with Karloff really works better than the other two.

There were a few more in there, but here's what went down on Hallowe'en night:

Ginger Snaps - I hadn't watched this in years, and I really forgot how good it is! When this came out, I associated it in my mind with two other contemporary films, Donnie Darko and May. All three are horror themed films with big doses of teen angst (and all three reach their climax in a Hallowe'en setting). Ginger Snaps is the most traditional horror movie of the bunch, and maybe that's the key to it aging better. I think most people will agree that Donnie Darko is not quite as amazing as it seemed 10 years ago, while Ginger Snaps really seems more impressive than it did at first. Good script, GREAT casting, the central characters are (I think) a bit more interesting than the tired Holden Caufield riff in Darko, and the gore effects are fairly impressive (not crazy about the werewolf design, but that's a hard thing to pull off). Seriously, this movie needs to be rediscovered.

After that, we watched Near Dark, another perrenial, along with a couple thematically chosen Warner Bros. cartoons, then proceeded to the climax of the evening, House (the 1977 Japanese film, not the 80's movie with Bull from Night Court). Lots of hype on this as being the sort of inspired lunacy that one gets from the Land of the Rising Sun, which indeed it is, but it left me cold. Nothing to hold on to. I think you could watch the YouTube clip that started circulating a couple years ago, and really get as much out of that as you get from watching the whole movie. My reaction is probably best summed up by this screengrab:




After that, we finished everything off with the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode with The Shinning. It's been a long time since I've watched the Simpsons, but boy, those 90's episodes are SO crammed with great gags. Finally, we turned on to Fox Movie Channel, catching the last of their 24 hours of continuous screenings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. There's a lot I could write about this. I think Stangl got a lot of the appeal correct, in that RHPS is a movie that functions more as a rock album, or concert, or a drag show, than as a traditional film. And this is how midnight audiences experience it (Bobbie found herself frustratingly unable to refrain from reciting the audience participation lines). And of course, the success of this is largely the result of Tim Curry being such a fucking rock star! Seeing him here, he really could have been a success if he had chosen that path (although I guess he did make at least one album, which was not much of a hit, so maybe I'm wrong).

One last one, because the DVD didn't come out until two days after Hallowe'en: Splice. I've heard mixed reviews of this, but it really worked for me. In fact, maybe my favorite in the Bad Seed genre (a subgenre that I don't really like much), and a great riff on Frankenstein at the same time. This film worked for me because it made me feel things other than fear. I really got emotionally involved in the story, which pushed a lot of uncomfortable buttons. And it still had some good scares, and nice creature design. Adrien Brody continues to be a better actor than I expect him to be. For some reason, I keep underrating him.

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