This October I’m going to try to take a big chunk out of my to-be-watched movie queue and check out 56 horror movies I’ve never seen. Here’s the list.
*The Boy (2015) – David Morse tries to hold onto a dying roadside motel business while his lonely young son Ted only wants to go to Florida to live with his mother. Barring that, he’ll befriend and sneak off with any of the few guests who check in. But when they reject him, watch out. A good little movie.
Night Of The Devils
End of The Line
* JeruZalem – Found footage horror movie set in the streets and catacombs of Old Town Jerusalem as a couple of Jewish girls wind up witnessing an uprising of demons during Yom Kippur (all through a Google Glass). A fascinating concept and a very unique and interesting setting and presentation, but the rules of the monsters don’t make a lot of sense, nor sometimes, do the actions of some of the characters. Still worth a watch.
* Blood Diner – Hilariously weird movie about a couple of brothers who run a popular diner dedicated to resurrecting an ancient goddess via cannibalistic human sacrifice, all under the tutelage of their long dead uncle, a bad tempered brain in a jar. Nude cheerleaders are machinegunned down in the middle of taping their aerobics video, the rival restaurateur consults with a strange looking bug-eyed talking dummy and nobody bats an eye, and in the middle of it all there’s a wrestling bout with a Nazi wrestler called Jimmy Hitler for no apparent reason. I really enjoyed it.
* When A Stranger Calls – Deservedly legendary opening sequence unfortunately gives way to a middling remainder. Should’ve been a short.
*Black Christmas – Canadian slasher picture with Lois Lane from the original Superman movie and Olivia Hussey as dorm sisters dealing with an increasingly psychotic series of phone calls and disappearances over the Christmas holidays. Good movie, and it seems like the gimmick from When A Stranger Calls is used her to better effect and a couple years earlier.
* Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein – Watched with the family and was happy to see the kids eat up Costello’s antics as if they were brand new. Very funny movie. Awesome to see Chaney and Lugosi onscreen together and Glenn Strange return as the Monster from Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman. The onscreen animation effect of Drac turning into the bat is great, there’s a funny Vincent Price cameo, and the last ditch dive of the Wolfman leaping off a balcony to bring down the escaping Dracula-as-bat made me sit up and go “WHOA!” Very enjoyable.
Abbot and Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff
*Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy- Not quite as funny as their first outing, but still has some good bits. Costello’s expressions and the pitch of his voice are out of the park. Lots of familiar faces including the lovely Mary Windsor of The Killing, Michael Ansara (Kang on Star Trek) and Richard Deacon from Leave It To Beaver. Suffers from the lack of monsters, of which its predecessor had a plethora.
These Are The Damned
*The Haunted Palace – Vincent Price in a mishmash of Poe and a lot of stuff from Lovecraft. I wish it was better than it was. Didn’t really hold my interest.
Masque of The Red Death
House of Usher
The Invisible Man Returns
Pit and The Pendulum
The Premature Burial
*Lights Out – A girl and her little brother are terrorized by mom’s best friend, an old pal from the mental institution who was light sensitive and died there, and somehow managed to come back as some kind of vengeful, possessive super-ghost. Remarkably vanilla.
*The Prowler – Really great FX work, a singular looking killer, and good cinematography don’t quite save this slasher from the blandness of the characters. A bit plodding.
*My Bloody Valentine – Stellar FX work, cringeworthy kills, and a completely original setting with a classic urban legend type story that nonetheless feels extremely fresh thanks to the appeal and strength of the story and performances.
*Sinister – Intriguing premise about a slightly unscrupulous true crime writer giving his all for another hit and concealing a series of disturbing snuff films found in his own attic in the hopes of breaking a big story. Some good jump scares (some not so good). The central story of the father wrestling with his own hubris and being affected by the nature of the films he’s watching was interesting, but the mythology of the critter felt slapdash. And Mr. Boogie (ugh. Awful) just looks like the wrestler Sting to me. The bit where he was wandering through the dark house and the creepy kids were darting around outside his field of vision was good.
*Long Weekend – Intense little Australian flick about the mental and emotional deterioration of a married couple camping on a secluded beach, as represented by various and increasingly more savage encroachments by the surrounding flora and fauna. Interesting, but not quite what I had in mind for the season. Beautifully shot. Sort of like a cross between Wake In Fright and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
*Phantasm: Ravager -The capper to the series is even more dreamlike and stream of consciousness than Oblivion, with our heroic ice cream man Reggie existing in multiple realities. Is he battling the Tall Man in a post apocalyptic wasteland, or is he slowly dying in a sanitarium. I dunno. Watchable for its enthusiasm and craziness, but not as great as the others.
*Werewolves On Wheels – One day they’ll make a movie as great as this title aspired to be. This ain’t it.
*Psychomania – Neat British movie about a hell raising group of bikers whose leader Tom had his soul promised to Satan (his mother’s butler) as a babe. When Tom rides off a bridge to escape police he comes back to life because he believes he can, and his buddies all commit suicide in various outrageous ways to follow suit. Soon The Living Dead MC are terrorizing the English countryside. Fun stuff.
The Witch Who Came From The SEa
*Don’t Breathe – Pretty well done suspense flick about a blind man getting the better of a trio of burglars. Goes a little off the rails when the turkey baster comes out.
*Noroi/The Curse – Really engrossing, deliberately paced found footage movie makes great use of the conceit, building the horror as it unravels its complex mystery using everything from super 8 to J-pop talk show video sources. Seriously one of the best of the genre. A great watch.
*Night of The Comet – A comet passes overhead and reduces everybody watching it into dust, infecting the survivors. A girl and her sister hold out with a guy at a radio station. Most of the contention is with other survivors. 80’s goofiness. Not terrible, but unmemorable.
*Izo – Mesmerizing, surreal journey of an executed samurai raging through time and space, experiencing the six Buddhist realms and attacking the gods themselves in his unending wrath. Strange, dream-like, at times amusing, very political. Not a Halloween movie at all. Haha.
Encounters Of The Spooky Kind
Here Comes The Devil
*Phantasm IV: Oblivion – I can’t begin to tell you what it’s about, but the magnetism of Angus Scrimm and the utter alienness of Coscarelli’s Phantasm mythos kept me watching, along with a couple memorable FX scenes. Interesting to see Scrimm ‘natural’ pre-Tall Man.
* The Happening – I skipped a lot of M. Night flicks after the awfulness of Lady In The Water….but I really didn’t think this was that bad. The mystery of what was going on kept me attentive and the denouement didn’t bother me. I thought the idea of Mother Nature ‘weeding’ us out to protect itself was interesting, and the emotion/plant stuff was intriguing (don’t know a thing about the viability of the science and don’t normally tend to care about that stuff anyway – I dig Night of The Lepus). Wahlberg was a bit goofy at times, yeah. But I liked this fine.
Eye Of The Devil
*Train To Busan – The movie to beat this October so far. The best zombie movie since Shaun of The Dead – immediately jumped to my top five of all time. Relentless, eye-popping, thrilling, brings that old frantic dread back to the genre with the added bonus of well rounded characters whose various demises are alternately gut-wrenchingly lamentable and wonderfully delectable. There’s a brilliant subtext running through it as well as the main character is confronted by the embodiments of the best and worst parts of his self in the actions of the other passengers. I never in my life thought I would cry during a zombie movie, but this one did it. Fantastic.
Tombs Of The Blind Dead
*The Creeping Flesh – Evil can be contained in a serum, and rain reanimates a monstrous skeleton, causing the flesh to grow. Was it all in Peter Cushing’s mind or did Christopher Lee manipulate his half brother and throw him in his asylum? Silly, but fun.
Spirits of the Dead
*Lust For A Vampire – Plenty of eye candy in this, one of Hammer’s Karnstein vampire trilogy. A teacher at a girl’s school falls for the latest iteration of Carmilla (the lovely Yutte Stensgaard. The flaming ceiling beam through the heart was pretty amazing. I’ve got a soft spot for these, but the other two are superior.
Curse of the Crimson Altar/The Crimson Cult
*Imprint – Takashi Miike’s entry in the Masters of Horror series for Showtime is easily the most genuinely horrific thing I’ve watched so far this month. Billy Drago returns to a remote Japanese brothel in search of a favored prostitute and hears the tale of her ultimate fate from her friend and fellow consort, a physically deformed woman with a tale of her own to tell. Kind of a dark Sherehzade story, layers of truths gradually revealed, each more unsettling than the last. I guess because it was Showtime Miike had to have all the Japanese actors speaking English, which results in a lot of phonetic acting at times. Still, pretty great.
*Southbound – Interesting anthology horror whose best selling point is its unique bookend device and the transitions from story to story. I wish the vignettes themselves were more appealing.
Dead of Night
*Last House On The Left (original) – An unpleasant slog peppered with scenes of weirdly inappropriate music and dumb comedy. I felt for the girls, but watch The Virgin Spring instead.
*Blood On Satan’s Claw – A Wicker Man/The Witch type story about a local cult in service to Satan and the 16th century farmers combatting their doings. Biggest thrill I had was recognizing red headed Hatchet from Psychomania as a nameless cultist.
*Poltergeist 3 – Oof. I don’t know whose absence this movie suffers from the most – Craig T. Nelson/JoBeth Williams or Jerry Goldsmith. The cheesiest elements of the big 80’s are in full effect, from unlikable yuppies to sushi heavy post modern art galas and a bad score. Some of the in-camera FX are cool, but the mirror stuff quickly becomes overdone. The psychiatrist and a couple of the other supporting actors are awful. Fun to see Lara Flynn Boyle erupt from the dessicated corpse of Zelda Rubinstein though.
*Tag – A schoolgirl and her friends are put through increasingly bizarre and violent ordeals. An amazing opening sequence gives way to a surreal but ultimately hollow series of contrived scenarioes that are explained by a frankly silly ending. Waste of time.
Allowing for weekends (when I don’t watch a lot of movies) and unexpected title unavailability, I think I can do it at a rate of two or three flicks a day. I may update this list with a brief one line review next to each title.