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Author Topic: October 2019 Horror Movie a Day  (Read 987 times)

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Offline Edward J Grug III

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Re: October 2019 Horror Movie a Day
« Reply #45 on: October 14, 2019, 04:19:13 PM »
14 Phantom of the Opera (1943) (First viewing) - A bit of a weird mishmash of tones - Some very goofy comedy and a lot of long opera scenes. It's a weird one, but it's also quite entertaining, and also lovely to look at. Great sets.
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Offline Johnny Unusual

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Re: October 2019 Horror Movie a Day
« Reply #46 on: October 14, 2019, 07:40:20 PM »
14. The Body Snatcher

Another Val Lewton movie.  I notice a lot of these are more horror adjacent than actual horror but they are also all really good so I can't really complain.  Actually, this is the weakest of the Lewton movies I've seen thus far.  But its still a good movie.  Based on the Robert Louis Stevenson short story, it is about a grave robber who works for a doctor.  However, it quickly becomes clear that the power dynamic is vastly in the grave robber's favor and that they actually have a shared past.

The other Lewton movies I've seen were directed by Jacques Tournier and Mark Robson so I was surprised to see that the director was neither man but instead Robert Wise, who would go on to great things.  This is merely a good thing.  More than a lot of the Lewton films, this one does feel very Hollywood, both in good and bad ways.  There's some cheesy music that tells you how to feel about a poor girl who can't walk.  That's not so good.  But there's some great sets and good use of music (a singing girl in particular) that can fool you into thinking its more than a B production so its no wonder Wise would become a big deal.

I'll start with the bad: OK, so the movie takes place in Scotland but only half the cast is doing accents.  Fine, whatever.  But the "lead" is saying "laddie" and "Ed-In-Bore-Oh" with a plainly American accent (not even trans-Atlantic) and it becomes immediately apparent that this character both on the page and with assitance from the actor, is a complete "dull thud" of a human being.  The actor is really weak and is constantly surrounded by much more talented people.  The was also the non-evil lead in "The Ghost Ship" from two years earlier, which I discussed.

I remember his character also not being great there, but at the time I felt the problem was purely on the page.  Here, he just sucks and doesn't jibe with the rest of the film at all.  The on-the-page problems are very similar: he comes off as an easily-manipulated rube who is eager to please whatever authority figure gives him a pat on the back and usually forgets to have a conscience in the process but then occassionally acts righteously indignant about shit he's been party to for a while now.  In the Ghost Ship it half-makes sense: he's trying to impress the captain and learn from him and starts to realize he was learning the wrong lessons.  Here he... sucks.  There's little subtext to this character.  I don't even know why they bothered with text.  When the movie is over, it really feels like he walked away from the experience learning jack shit.  And you can make that work but the movie doesn't try.  He is a complete void of screen presence.

The little girl in the movie isn't that good either but she isn't Russell Wade, so I hope she realized sometime in her lifetime.

Now the other actors are fine.  Henry Daniell is good as the doctor who hires the grave robber, Mr. Gray.  Bela Legosi gives a small but decent performance as a foolish assistant who tries to blackmail Mr. Gray.

Robert Wise lets certain shitty actors shit all over the screen with their poop.  One in particular.  Russell Wade.  He cannot fix the problem and the schmaltzy scenes with the little girl are pretty bad.  But there are some great scenes, like one where Mr. Gray's cab follows a singing woman into the shadows and suddenly the singing stops.  He does well with the light and shadow stuff and while were aren't at the man who would make The Haunting yet, it's some good stuff.

But the "soul of the business" in the words of Mr. Gray is Karloff as the title character.  This is my fourth Karloff performance I've seen and yet again he's great.  Here's is absolutely sinister but also rather charming at Mr. Gray.  They literally come out and say it at one point but I prefer them just telling us through his behaviour that this guy loves keeping the doctor he works for under his heel more than anything else.  He's unflappable and the character and the actor dominate every scene they are in.  Karloff is quickly becoming one of my favourite actors.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/eG1MvCjJffE" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/eG1MvCjJffE</a>
« Last Edit: October 14, 2019, 07:44:35 PM by Johnny Unusual »


Offline Edward J Grug III

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Re: October 2019 Horror Movie a Day
« Reply #47 on: October 16, 2019, 04:34:32 PM »
15 Rifftrax Presents - Scared to Death (1980) (First viewing) - A solid nothing of a movie - 50% of it is people walking slowly in the dark. Very good riff though, really enjoyed it. One we will return to for sure.

16 Beyond the Gates (2016) (First viewing) - Spooky Jamunji. I really wanted to like this more, but it was just passable. A few good ideas, but a clunky script and some pretty terrible acting.
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Offline Edward J Grug III

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Re: October 2019 Horror Movie a Day
« Reply #48 on: October 17, 2019, 10:05:22 PM »
17 The Invitation (2015) - This is an excellent and very effective indie. Hesitant to say much about it though, as it is best to go in blind (This was a rewatch and it holds up even knowing how it plays out though).
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Offline Johnny Unusual

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Re: October 2019 Horror Movie a Day
« Reply #49 on: October 18, 2019, 04:25:36 AM »
16 Beyond the Gates (2016) (First viewing) - Spooky Jamunji. I really wanted to like this more, but it was just passable. A few good ideas, but a clunky script and some pretty terrible acting.

Yeah, I really didn't like this one.  It tries a few things I appreciated: it clearly wanted to be a character-based horror movie and there's a specificity to it (evil VHS board game).  But it certainly wasn't scary, as mentioned the acting is bad and it really doesn't utilize a lot of the ideas it sets up.  I mean, on the board itself, you can see which rooms people are in.  The feels like it should matter in a suspenseful scene but it never really comes up.

As for me...

15. Coda - A short animated film on the Criterion Channel in which a man who recently died meets death.  They filed it under horror but I wouldn't put it there.  Quite beautiful, though.

16.  MST3k - Terror from the Year 5000 (Cinema Edition) This one must be out of print, as the only copy this guy had has a 90s/2000s era sci-fi watermark on it.  There's also a scene with a mutant cat that I don't actually think was in the episode.


Offline Charles Castle

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Re: October 2019 Horror Movie a Day
« Reply #50 on: October 19, 2019, 06:40:32 PM »
Although the real world caught up with Videodrome (1983, directed by David Cronenberg) a long time ago, in the late 2000-teens, it seems especially prophetic. What is the work of Russian bots and Cambridge Analytica and Fox News but the exact same "philosophical" signal as the one behind Videodrome? The Videodrome conspiracy is a right wing authoritarian fantasy made flesh as gooey cyberpunk hallucination. The real world version is, perhaps, even scarier and more insidious, one that has already wormed its way into every corner of the world's media. One lone assassin is never going to take it down, though our real-world Videodrome continues to manufacture assassins all its own. Sometimes on a daily basis.

The story follows one Max Renn, the president of a fly-by-night television channel that specializes in porn and exploitation. In order to compete with bigger media, he's scouting around for something rougher and more basic than the arty porn his suppliers are trying to sell him. His pirate technician may have stumbled upon what Max is looking for: an S&M video feed called "Videodrome," allegedly from Malaysia but actually maybe from Pittsburgh, that's nothing but torture and murder in a room made of red clay. Max wants it for his channel. Meanwhile, Max meets kinky talk radio host Nikki Brand on a television talk show about media violence, and Marshall McLuhan-ish video prophet, Brian O'Blivion, who only appears on television on television. Max hits on Nikki and they end up together back at his apartment where they watch the taped sample of Videodrome. Nikki is into it. Eventually, she wants to audition for it. Max has reservations. He's begun to experience hallucinations, and his grip on what's real is beginning to slip. He seeks answers from Brian O'Blivion, who he is told is related to Videodrome, only to find out that he is dead. His daughter, Bianca, continues to run his Cathode Ray Mission so the homeless and dispossessed can continue to plug into the world via television. Max is eventually contacted by Barry Convex of Spectacular Optical, who are behind the Videodrome signal, and want to turn Max into their remote control creature. They "program" him to be an assassin with a bio-mechanical tape inserted into a newly grown slit in his stomach, and send him out to do his bidding. His first target, Bianca O'Blivion, is ready for him, and she has other ideas as to what purpose Max Renn and his new flesh should serve.

Max Renn, as played by James Woods, is a deeply unsympathetic character. His appetite for sadistic entertainments and his pursuit of rougher and rougher content is skeevy enough, but he's the same kind of asshole who in recent years would have been the poster boy for the Me Too movement. He engages in sexual harassment in his own office, he hallucinates striking his girl Friday, he publicly hits on Nikki Brand while they're being interviewed on television. It's purely an accident that the character and the actor who plays him are so closely aligned, given that James Woods in our reality is a complete creep. This is synchronicity at work, something that the filmmakers could not have planned, but it's of a piece. As a right wing crank Woods appears to have succumbed to the Videodrome signal at last.

The visual textures of the film itself are a portrait of a society in collapse. Unlike Cronenberg's other films, where smart people spill their viscera in modernist spaces, this is a film that takes place in back rooms and dingy streets. There's a class consciousness in Cronenberg's depiction of Bianca O'Blivion's threadbare Cathode Ray Mission and the ornate private office from which she runs it. Even Barry Convex's optical trade show seems cheap. But by the time we get to that, we're inside Max Renn's hallucinations and there's no telling what's real. The film slips into alternate realities without announcing itself, and after the midpoint of the movie, it's difficult to point to anything that represents prosaic reality. After he's been "programmed" by Harlan and "reprogrammed" by Bianca, Renn's world has a quality of lucid dreaming. He can direct his reality to a point, such that his "video world" is a lot like the world of the kid in that Twilight Zone episode about the kid who can shape reality. Renn has a video imagination, so the incidents that form the second half of the movie are generic constructs. Renn is a lone wolf hero, or a political assassin a la Travis Bickle, and he moves through tableaux that are drawn from cartoons (Harlan's demise at the hands of a "hand" grenade"), musicals (the tacky Spectacular Optical show), medical shows (the "cancer" bullets Renn's cyborg gun fires into Barry Convex), and porn of course. The cascade of these shifting idioms made the film difficult to follow for its first audiences, and it's still a challenging narrative structure even today. The ending is drawn from television, too, inspired by Christine Chubbuck's on-screen suicide on a Florida local news telecast.

While the overall thrust of Videodrome is dour and positively despairing, this is one of Cronenberg's more playful films. He's always had fun with the names of his characters, and the anagrammatical nature of "Brian O'Blivion" should give you a hint that the movie is a sly satire hiding behind the gooey special effects. "Nikki Brand," too, who enacts her name on her own flesh. Nikki Brand is in many ways the central character in Cronenberg's output, in so far as her identity and her sexuality are encapsulated in her name and in the cuts and burns on her body: Identity is flesh and flesh is identity. The film's sexual nature is key to one of the central concepts of Cronenberg's cinema: what is the function of sex in a world where it is no longer necessary for reproduction and where, like every other element of human life, it has been and is being augmented by technology. We are a civilization of cyborgs, the film intimates, and that extends to our sexuality. The "New Flesh" of this film's famous catch phrase, is polymorphous, where new organs and new orifices suggest new sexual vistas to explore. The New Flesh is transgender, too, as reified by the vaginal slit in Max Renn's abdomen (and the phallus in Rose's armpit in Rabid, and the parthenogenesis in The Brood, and the sexually dimorphic names of the the Mantle Twins in Dead Ringers, and the new organs for rear entry installed in the gamers in eXistenZ, for example). While the director has intimated a sense of adventure inborn in the possibilities of the new flesh in interviews and commentaries, it's significant that the new flesh in Videodrome is mainly used without consent. The Videodrome signal is coercive. The insertion of pulsing organic things into Renn's neo-vagina begins as exploration, but is exploited through rape and domination.

The interactivity of media and video was in its infancy when David Cronenberg made Videodrome. He saw video as a virus, carrying information to viewers in ways that could barely be controlled or foreseen by the creators of video content. He once speculated that he didn't care if the film ever made money, so long as the virus of his ideas was carried to, say, a man in Cuba via a bootleg video. In this respect, Videodrome is the grandparent of viral media of all kinds. The film is perfectly aware of the implications of the fusion of media and the collective massmind. Video, and media more broadly, shapes our perceptions of reality. The battles of the future will be fought in the video arena, the film tells us (the videodrome, as it were), and damned if that wasn't exactly what happened.
You know, if the space man puma thing turns out to be the correct religion, I for one will be very surprised.


Offline Edward J Grug III

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Re: October 2019 Horror Movie a Day
« Reply #51 on: October 19, 2019, 11:59:26 PM »
18 Scream 2 (1997) - Dunno if I just wasn't in the mood, or what, but I was mostly just bored this time round.

19 Rifftrax - Subspecies 4: The Awakening (1998) (First viewing) - Started out pretty well, but have to admit, by the end it was dragging. Not terrible, but not the best Rifftrax. The movie stunk, of course.
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Offline Edward J Grug III

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Re: October 2019 Horror Movie a Day
« Reply #52 on: October 20, 2019, 05:06:12 PM »
20 Event Horizon (1997) (First Viewing) - Actually really enjoyed this. Like, it's not amazing or anything, but it's a lot of fun. Sam Neill is great in it. And the effects hold up really well too.
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Offline Johnny Unusual

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Re: October 2019 Horror Movie a Day
« Reply #53 on: Today at 09:48:17 AM »
17. Cinematic Titanic Brides of Blood (S.O.S. Edition) - This was a first viewing.  It was fine.  That is all.
18. Rifftrax Live - Manos the Hands of Fate
19. Rifftrax - Psycho II
Most of these were just to keep up my daily intake
20. Cronos  I'd never seen this one before but I am a fan of Del Toro and this definitely sets into motion his style: dark fairy tales with horror elements.  Its a great movie that shows a kind of vampire we rarely see: almost exclusively focused on the detrimental aspects.  There's something about the cinematography this time out that actually reminds me, in scenes, of Cronenberg.  The bathroom scene in particular.
21. Sisters  I'd never seen this one before but it is a good one.  More of a Hitchcockian thriller, albeit one with a disturbing death sequence early on.  It does seem to be intended to be a feminist thriller focused on two women: one is one half of a set of twins who seems normal but is in fact under the sway of a creepy doctor and the other a reporter the authorities don't want to listen too.  I hesitate to say how effective it is in with that regard (maybe on a second viewing), but overall it works pretty well.  The best scene is the use of split screen that works very well in this one.  Also, a killer Bernard Hermann score.


Offline Edward J Grug III

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Re: October 2019 Horror Movie a Day
« Reply #54 on: Today at 05:29:33 PM »
21 Son of Dracula (1943) (First viewing) - Lon Chaney Jr plays Dracula in this, and he's not great, but the movie is quite smart in that it spends a lot more time with the creepy female lead. Really enjoyed the film, and it is directed by Robert Siodmak who went on to be a big noir director, and you can see the early stages of that here. She's definitely a femme fatale, and it has a nice bit of double crossing and comeuppance. Really enjoyed it.

22 Little Monsters (2019) (First viewing) - Fairly disposable, but fun Australian comedy. Worth a watch.
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