Saturday, October 11, 2014

More October horror!

So... more with the October horror viewings... 

After The Whip and the Body I was in the mood for more Mario Bava... if I could find something I hadn't seen... so I remembered this:

Lisa and the Devil... which I think I must have skipped over because of the presence of Elke Sommer and Telly Savalas... which is of course silly of me. Did Telly start his lollypop thing with this movie or with Kojack (started the same year)?
I was never a huge Telly Savalas fan but I think he's just right here. Not too malevolent, not too comical. The lollipop thing is a bit distracting though.
I particularly liked the music and opening credits in this one, very 70s... and the atmosphere/sets are great. The plot is a bit of a mystery... reminding me both of Nightmare Castle and Carnival of Souls. I love anything that hints at old forgotten tragedies reaching out from the past... sad/tragic horror, which is what this is. The basic tale is pretty easily discerned but murky in the details... which I'm fine with and somewhat expect in Italian horror. My only real complaint is the location of the very end... which kind of takes it out of its otherwise solidly gothic mood.

Next up I watched:

I'd been wanting to see Deliver us from Evil for a while and finally got the chance. Its idea of a rash of demonic possessions had me thinking of Rec and Fallen... which I had liked a lot. Once it got started it was obvious they were going after the style of Seven... with near constant rain and darkness and filth... a theme of madness and corruption (one of the secondary characters even has the seven deadly sins tattooed on his upper back). It's an obvious 'homage' but they did it well and the first three quarters of the film are genuinely creepy.
Where I lost interest was in that last quarter when the mystery has been pretty much solved and the films shifts over into Exorcist territory. The Bible and crucifix come out for the big exorcism extravaganza we knew was coming. For whatever reason (maybe my not being Catholic) this sort of stuff never much works on me and I found it all a bit ho hum. Not scary... and fairly predictable.
Pretty good horror flick though. 

Last night I finally got around to watching:

I'd heard mention of Banshee Chapter in some of the darker internet holes I frequent. Probably in some vague connection to Slenderman and the Marble Hornets videos (which it kindasorta reminded me of). 
It's a weird/uneven movie, stylistically... jumping in and out of 'found footage' and traditional styles. It probably moves a bit faster than it should have. Obviously low budget but doing a lot with what its got. 
It made me jump at least once and set up a very creepy tone that lasted after it was over. A lot of that lingering fear was due to the wise choice of never defining or showing what exactly the threat was. There are various suggestions... and Lovecraft is pulled in at one point (the movie is basically a re-imagining of his story From Beyond)... but the extent and nature of the 'monsters' is left mostly to our imagination, which MUCH better for me than whatever CGI fest we would have gotten if someone had rained cash on the production.
I think the low budget really helped the atmosphere in general... many of the spaces feel quite real (because they are) and not like sets at all.
Outside of the atmosphere, by far the best thing going for Banshee Chapter is having Ted Levine along as a Hunter S. Thompson/William S. Burroughs avatar. His performance brought the whole thing up several notches for me. I've seen some folks complain that his character brought too much comedy... but for me it was the sort of humor that just makes the scary parts even scarier.
Uneven and quirky but I really enjoyed this one. 

Next up I'm going to try to get back to more gothic fare... my original plan was to stick to movies I hadn't seen and which exemplified atmosphere and ghoulish fun over gore and outright violence... Wolf Creek 2 was my only big step off that path so far... so no more serial killers.

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