Tuesday, October 29, 2013

So I have been doing pretty well at keeping to my plan to watch horror movies every day in October. Not that I've been writing here about them.
I've been sticking to watching stuff I haven't seen before... so not counting stuff like The Haunting, which played on TCM a few weeks back.
I watched a bunch of older stuff I'd been negligent about... like White Zombie (great atmosphere but the background music needs to shut up)... and I finally watched The Conjuring... which, much as I suspected, just annoyed me with it's Christian-babble.
I don't get why I can watch stuff like The Exorcist, with all its Catholic magic and not be bothered... but add in some Bible-thumpers like the Warrens and I just lose all tolerance. The Conjuring has some stuff that would otherwise strike me as ghoulish fun... but the Warrens (real or acted) just put me right out of the mood.
I don't think it's a flaw with the movie... it's a flaw with me... surely something to do with my previous life as a Christian and subsequent coming to my senses about it all. Kinda like an ex-smoker who becomes an anti-smoking zealot.
Not that I was ever 'super christian' or even a fundamentalist (though I did attend some very fundamentalist churches).
Anyway... enough with my self-analysis.
The two movies I've liked the most so far are kind of similar in that they both feature cute psycho girls on a rampage.
The Love Ones was more from the victim's point of view... but boy, was that driller killer a cute mess of a murderess. I was rooting for her right up to the bitter end... hoping against all likelihood that she and her latest boy-toy would work out their differences and find true crazy love in the Outback.
My other fave is Alyce Kills... which has a slow build up to some solid bloody rampaging in the last quarter hour. Again, the crazy girl is hot stuff... as acknowledged by everyone around her.
I'm not necessarily a fan of woman-on-a-rampage films. I did like Ms. 45 but that was mostly because of the way it looked, the sleazy urban mood it dished out.
The Loved Ones has a cheerfully gruesome thing going on... a bit in the EC end of the pool with it's head drillings and loboto-zombie filled basement.
Alyce Kills is a bit more like Ms. 45. It's got a similar vibe. Even though it's not really a revenge story there's a certain note of justice involved in the killings... and the dark philosophizing of the drug dealer guy is some of my favorite bits. I'm thinking the ending was a bit too cute though... or at least cuter than I wanted it to be.

Hopefully I'll get around to watching the Insidious sequel and Escape From Tomorrow before the month is out.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hey! It's October!

So I'm once again going to try, and most likely fail, to watch a horror movie every day of October and come up up with some lame insight based on what I watched.

Yesterday, October 1st, I went looking for something to start off with...
I had some criteria.
I wanted to start with something somewhat decent, hopefully classic.
I also wanted to watch something I'd never seen.
It's kind of hard to hit both... I've seen most of the good old stuff... that I know of... that's available to be seen.
What I settled on was Dr. Cyclops. I'd never seen it all the way through, it's something of a classic in that it gets name-dropped in several other genre films.
Too bad my internet crashed at the last minute and I couldn't get to it...

So, instead I ignored my rules and just shoved in Undead, the Australian zombie/alien movie from a few years back.
Now, I hadn't seen Undead, so at least that box got checked... but it wasn't 'classic'.
I'm still not sure if it was 'decent'.
For one thing, I went in not knowing it was a comedy. A fairly broad comedy at that. It reminded me a bit of Peter Jackson's early films... though not nearly as gross or funny.
It's definitely one of those movies where people/zombies are big bags of red juice... waiting to be split asunder by any handy implement of destruction. Fists go through heads, a man is split in half by a steering wheel lock, a head is knocked off by a weaponized zombie-arm. All of that in the first several minutes of the movie.

So, lots of red on everyone.
The dialog is very 'wacky'. The characters are obvious archetypes.
I seem to remember reading a bit of chaff about this movie back when it came out... something about it doing a bait-n-switch on viewers by not being a 'real' zombie film. Having watched it though, I don't see how anyone could have gone further than a few minutes into it without it being obvious that some sort of sci-fi mumbo jumbo was going on... 'things from space' doing bad/weird things.
Maybe the complaints I read were about the ending... which does get pretty wild and weird, compared to the early bits of the film which are just kind of silly/dumb. Not that the ending is entirely opaque... but a lot of stuff goes vague or unexplained. It's never made quite clear what the 'aliens' are or what they're up to... what the 'zombies' were or weren't.
None of that bothered me though. I much preferred the second half of the movie over the first.
OK, two things I took from the movie...
First, I still like zombies. Despite the glut of zombie stuff from the past few years, on film I still like them as monsters. Yes, too much damn zombie crap being made... too much zombie merchandise... but when they're done well they make for great creepy monsters. (all of this goes for Cthulhu as well).
Second, despite my ersatz prejudices about Australians, they make some of my favorite movies. Just about always surprising and willing to shift around genres... a bit like Bollywood films in that.
One of my favorite movies is Muriel's Wedding. It's usually marketed as a wacky comedy... but anyone who's seen it knows that it shifts all over the couch... from slapstick to black comedy to tragedy... even a few moments encroaching on horror. It all comes together into something that's a bit surreal... and despite the feel-good ending there is a good bit of badness that remains under the carpet.
Undead has those elements as well... it shifts around. It's never really scary, but it has moments of weird and moments of sad.

Favorite bits:
The running grudge between the small-town beauty pageant contestants.
The scene late in the movie with the 'levitating' van.
The scene where the fisherman fights the zombie fish.

OK, hopefully I can get Dr. Cyclops to work tonight...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Something I Noticed...

I recently watched Lords of Salem.
I liked it.
It felt just a bit undercooked... like a bunch of scenes were missing that would have set up the protagonist as having more to her life than being witch-bait.
I think it wanted to be a bigger movie than the budget allowed for... I'd have spent less on the woman's braided hair and more on a few scenes that let me care what happened to her.

Still, I liked it 'cause I like scary witch movies.

Why do so many witch movies have 3 witches, is it because of Macbeth?

What was the blue guy?

Then, a few days later I watched The Golem. The old German silent horror film.

What I noticed is that the creepy 'Lords of Salem' music is part of the score of The Golem that is repeated in various places.

I could probably do some fancy thing to set up clips from both movies showing what I'm talking about, but I'm too lazy.

Am I trying to say Mr. Zombie is a thief for stealing that riff? Not at all, I'm actually a bit impressed that he chose to make a call out to a relatively obscure silent horror film. How many of his fans are going to pick up on that?
Most likely he did it for his own chuckles. (I'm assuming, of course, that he did it... mostly because he's a musician and a horror fan and how else did that happen?).

Anyway, does that maybe mean the blue guy was a golem?
What was the blue guy?

Thursday, March 7, 2013


I finally finished watching my way through the 7 seasons of Supernatural that are up on Netflix.
There was a love/hate reaction to it all the way through for me... but I want to focus on what I liked about it... what I took away from it and wanted more of.
My favorite moments were when the show evoked the desperate, lonely, tragic world of its 'heroes', the hunters. Their slow descent into paranoid nutjobs or burned-out drunks. The crimes they were willing to commit to further their secret crusade. I loved it when the show went beyond mere melodrama into full-on tragedy.
It was at it's best when it was small and personal... less about a world-threatening apocalypse... more about hanging around at night waiting for something... anything to happen. When it was about obsession and delusion as much as it was about monster hunting.
In my mind I want to mash it up with movies like 'Frailty' and 'Bellflower' and 'Snowtown'... though I'm not sure what the similarity is. 'The Witch Who Came From The Sea' is another. None of these is precisely a 'horror' movie... though all feature horrors of some sort. Maybe because all of them create a setting of almost surreal loneliness and despair... and link that with a sort of casual madness. There's nothing epic or supernatural about any of them... and I think my favorite moments of Supernatural shared that.
I guess it means I'm more interested in the sort of people who would go monster hunting, their lives... their slow corrosion... than I am about the monsters. All my favorite characters on Supernatural have been the freaks and weirdos existing on the fringes... at the bar where the hunters meet or in lonely shit-holes where they've retired to drink away what's left of their life.
It seems like, given my tastes here, that I'd have more interest in movies about drug addicts and their descents into personal hells... but for whatever reason I'm not... maybe because I don't see that as 'romantic' compared to the idea of becoming obsessed with trying to save the world or at least get some revenge.
I'd hate to think I'm just wanting to watch movies depicting poor/desperate/doomed characters and sudden bursts of violence. Then again, I do like reading Mickey Spillane and that's how many of his stories seem to play out.

I don't think I have a real point here... I'm just grasping at an aesthetic... narrow down what attracted me to keep watching the show... hoping I can find my way to a purer source of it and wondering if I'd really want to do that.