Children Shouldn’t Play With My Halloween Movie Repertoire!

The decay of sweet sugar strangely acquired besets the teeth of masked boys and girls, and the blazing orange and red leaves tumble like cast off flesh from the skeletal boughs that claw across the white face of the autumn moon. Ah yes, it’s my favorite time of year. Every shadow is a pregnant dread, every stir of brush or snap of twig a presage of doom. Halloween season’s upon us!

Regular followers will know every year I embark on a quest to watch as many horror movies as I can (used to be 31 movies for 31 days, but that began to feel like a paltry number). They have to be first time watches but they can come from any era.

Off to the races!

#1 – The Incredible Melting Man – An astronaut on a mission through Saturn’s rings is bathed in cosmic energy. Instead of gaining stretchy powers, his flesh begins running like snotty molasses and he develops an inexplicable craving to kill and (I guess) consume his victims. Plodding and unfocused as its goopy subject, but the Rick Baker FX and gore are top drawer. A shot of a severed head tumbling down a waterfall and bursting open on some rocks is particularly memorable. I loved the charming old couple who get punished for stealing ‘hot oranges.’ I’m almost positive the NASA control countdown dialogue during the launch is sampled in Trent Reznor and 10,000 Homo DJ’s cover of Supernaut by Black Sabbath.

#2 – Smile – When therapist Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) observes the bizarre suicide of a patient first hand, she finds herself subjected to a hallucinatory series of increasingly homicidal visions which may not be a product of her own trauma. Scattered neat visuals and a truly great, goosebump-inducing score by Cristobal Tapia de Teer kind of go to waste on a pretty predictable story dosed with a plethora of cheap if effective jump scares. A lot is overexplained, not much left to the imagination.

#3 – Orphan: First Kill – Leena (Isabelle Fuhrman), a psychotic 31 year old conwoman afflicted with a rare disorder that makes her appear around 11 or 12, escapes from an Estonian criminal psychiatric detention center and poses as Esther, the lost daughter of a wealthy American family. We’re in very familiar territory for the first quarter of this thriller and I wasn’t sure how it was going to play as a prequel, knowing the ‘twist’ from the get-go. But the twistier twist of THIS movie actually manages to pull it off and I was grinning as the plot unfolded. I won’t spoil it, but it was a fun watch.

#4 – Red Riding Hood – A village lives in a state of truce with a gigantic man eating wolf. When the wolf decides to break the truce, young Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) finds herself trapped between a megalomaniacal priestly werewolf hunter (Gary Oldman) and the beast itself. Part Twilight part In The Company of Wolves. A little bit too much of the former. Interesting setting and feel but ultimately pretty tame.

#5 – The Munsters – Rob Zombie’s take on the classic 60’s TV show follows Herman (Jeff Daniel Phillips) from his creation to marrying his beloved Lily (Sheri Moon Zombie), finding Spot in the Parisian sewers, and moving into 1313 Mockingbird Lane with Grandpa (Daniel Roebuck – here, the Count, because no Eddie yet). I guess I could see how if you never liked or watched the original show you might hate this, but growing up loving it as I did, this is a delightful recreation of the source material, even bringing in Igor (played in human form by the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy), Lester Dracula (Tomas Boykin) and Uncle Gilbert (Renata Kiss)! The humor is appropriately corny, back of a Count Chocula box-stuff, the period sets are beautiful and pop with brilliant color, and there are deep, loving references to the show, its creation, and the culture surrounding it, peppered liberally throughout (from the Car 54 Where Are You joke to the Leave It To Beaver excerpt – and Cassandra Petersen/Elvira, Pat Priest/Marylin, Butch Patrick/Eddie, and Dee Wallace all show up in cameos ). There’s not much of a story or conflict, true, but sometimes it’s just fun to watch characters be characters. A brilliant, goofy, orange pumpkin bucket ‘o fun watch, perfect for the season and the best thing I’ve checked out so far. I did miss Marylin, the Koach, Dragula, and the cat. Hope there’s a sequel/spinoff at some point. Wouldn’t mind revisitng this cast every October under Zombie’s capable and reverential hand.

#6 – The Black Box – Suffering from crippling memory loss after sustaining a major brain injury in a car accident that claimed the life of his wife, a man (Mamoudou Athie) agrees to radical virtual memory-infusing brain treatment at the hands of a brilliant doctor (Phylicia Rashad) in order to regain his lost life and better care for his daughter (Amanda Christine). The horror comes in both the imagery the always brilliant Athie experiences in his induced dream states (lots of bone crackling contortionist stuff in the main) and in the ultimate twist, which is a good one. Not bad at all. Neat to see the practically ageless Rashad in a genre role like this.

#7 – Werewolf By Night – A group of monster hunters gather outside a labyrinth for the honor to hunt a mysterious creature and earn the right to bear the powerful Bloodstone artifact, but soon find themselves unexpectedly facing two monsters. I have a deep history with the Werewolf By Night comics from the 70s. I was an awful student growing up and in the mid 80’s and I was enamored by the TV show Werewolf. To spur me on to academic achievement my mom bought a slew of Werewolf By Night comics from a flea market. I was allowed one issue a week as long as my grades and progress remained above board. I loved the weird tales of reluctant werewolf Jack Russell, his buddy Buck Cowen, and his sister Lyssa, cursed to become a werewolf herself on her 18th birthday. They tangled with colorful villains like The Hangman and Dr. Glitternight, and heroes from the greater Marvel universe like Moon Knight, Brother Voodoo, and in the last episode, Iron Man. So, to say I was underwhelmed by this MCU Halloween special, in which Jack is basically entirely sidelined by Man-Thing and a parade of dull, disposable characters is in itself an understatement. In terms of being an adaptation of WBN the comic character, it fails. But even putting that aside this just wasn’t very interesting on its own. I didn’t care about the bland, cliched hunter characters or the Bloodstone, and the action was not innovative and became snooze inducing. There was no real horror to speak of, and I don’t know why this was presented in black and white with a cheap ‘filmic’ filter to mimic scratches and changeover marks (maybe to mask the amount of CGI? But when Man-Thing was shown in full color at the end he still looked pretty good…). Even if the title card emulated the Classic Universal horror films, such comparisons end there. There’s nothing in this to suggest those classics, thus the conceit feels gimmicky and unearned. This feels like a well dressed pig. Strip away the filters and the neato title sequence and there’s nothing much to admire.

#8 – Mad God – Phil Tippet crafts a dialogue-less stop-motion/live action cyclic hellscape wherein a gear swaddled assassin descends through nightmarish sublevels of a post apocalypse on a mission to destroy its apparent progenitor. The sheer scope of imagination and craft on display is enough to recommend this allegorical Dante’s Inferno, part ‘9’ part ‘Fantastic Planet.’ To catalog its thirty years’ worth of memorable imagery might possibly take another thirty years to examine and relate. It’s an exercise in grotesquerie and misery, but there’s nothing like it. It’s definitely worth a watch.

#9 – They/Them – A masked killer stalks a conversion therapy summer camp. A really unique concept with an appealing young cast of queer actors guided by a winsomely menacing Kevin Bacon. The weighty subject matter is extremely difficult to deal with at times, both in the spoken, real-world homophobic rhetoric and in the tortuous physical application. Watching it with my gay teen made the horror all the more real, but it also made the denouement more affecting. It’s not a great horror movie, but not bad.

#10 – Grimcutty – As a Slender Man-type internet meme begins to go viral, panic descends upon the overprotective parents of a young ASMR (AMR-er?) video maker and her little brother (Sara Wolfkind and Callan Farris). I didn’t expect much from this by the trailers, but the evil entity was unique (and practical!) without being overly explained, and the story ended up a nice metaphor for mass-hysteria ad the importance of communication between parent and child (on both sides). I genuinely loved the method of defeating the monster.

#11 – Hellraiser (2022) – A pair of recovering addicts (Odessa A’zion and Drew Starkey) break into the safe of a rich occultist (Goran Visnjic) and uncover the infamous puzzle box that calls forth the Cenobites. I lost track of this series somewhere around the private eye one (which I remember liking) so I’m not sure if this a soft or hard reboot, but the ‘rules’ of the puzzle box and its various configurations were explored a bit more than I remember happening in other installments, and the visuals were pretty striking, if not quite as stomach churning as the original. Neat third act twist. Worth a watch.

#11 – The Burning – Five years after a prank on a misanthropic counselor results in him being immolated, a series of grisly murders plague the same summer camp. Riding on the coattails of Friday The 13th and replete with some quality Tom Savini makeup FX, it doesn’t offer much new to the genre other than an avoidance of the classic ‘final girl’ trope. Jason Alexander and Fisher Stevens are campers, and apparently Holly Hunter too, though I didn’t catch her and I wouldn’t recognize Fisher Stevens out of his Indian/brownface makeup from Short Circuit.

#12 – Day Of The Beast – A Catholic priest (Alex Angulo) discerns that the book of Revelation is a gematria code that reveals the date the Antichrist will be born and teams up with the clerk of a heavy metal record store (Santiago Segura) and a television medium (Armando DeRazza) to commit as much evil as he can in one night in order to sell his soul and be present at the birth, so he can stop it. A fun concept and some funny moments, but for me, it abandoned its conceit too early and the end sort of failed in terms of consistensy of tone and logic.

#13 – Deranged – A misanthropic farmer, Ezra Cobb (the great Roberts Blossom in the only starring role I’ve ever seen him in), devoted to his ailing, elderly mother, develops strange attachments and compulsions upon her death. Basically a fictionalization of the serial murderer Ed Gein’s pervese antics with repurposing corpses, there’s a weird charm to this movie thanks to the central performance by the late, great Roberts Blossom (memorably, he sells the car to Arnie in Christine) and indeed, the entire cast of satellite unknowns, who ground the lurid events in reality by virtue of their straightforward portrayals. The whole thing is peppered with documentary-like commentary from a purported investigative journalist who pops in during the most repellent scenes to address the audience directly with his commentary. That, combined with Blossom’s talent, lend the movie an underlying dark humor that really makes it worth a look. There’s a bit where Ezra, who has been holding lengthy conversations with his dead mother throughout the picture, reacts dubiously to one of his intended victims when she claims to speak to her own dead husband that made me laugh out loud. Lucky thirteen!

#14 – Raven’s Hollow – A group of young West Point cadets, including Edgar Allen Poe (William Moseley), come across a butchered man in a field whose last enigmatic word “raven” directs them to a nearby village to investigate his fate. Sort of a horror version of Sharkespere In Love, giving supernatural inspirations for a few of Poe’s works, from The Telltale Heart to the titular Raven. A bit slow, but beautiful to look at, with an interesting antagonist, and dotted with references to the master’s works.

#15 – Hellbender – An eccentric mother (Toby Poser) and daughter (Zelda Adams) living in a remote house on a mountainside have their carefree existence disrupted when the daughter begins interacting with the neighbors and realizes she is not deathly ill and contagious as she has been told all her life. I l-o-v-e-d this flick. Boundlessly creative and imaginative with a very unique indie rock/feminine vibe and a totally fascinating invented mythos. Imagine Joan Jett wrote and directed a folk horror movie about woodsy witches with Stevie Nicks consulting. The entire production was an independent family affair. The Uncle character (John Adams) is actually the husband of the mother and the father of the two young female actors featured. The entire thing was shot during Covid at their house in the Catskills. A nice character study with some really memorable FX and a killer soundtrack. Top watch so far.

#16 – Speak No Evil – A Danish couple (Morten Burien and Sidsel Siem Koch) and their daughter (Liva Forsberg) are invited to spend the week with an outgoing Dutch couple (Fedja van Huet and Karina Smulders) and their mute son (Marius Damslev) after meeting in Italy. What begins as a series of increasingly awkward scenarios between the polite Danes and the obnoxious and abusive Dutch breaks down into absolute depravity. This reminded me of the movie Compliance, where in the staid philosophy of simply not rocking the boat when dealing with forceful personalities leads to unbelivably awful circumstances. I say unbelievable because the wishy washiness of this couple might strain some people’s credulity…but again, having seen Compliance, and knowing that was a true account, I was not nonplussed by the events of this movie. I did find the ending jaw droppinginly shocking in its brutality. My daughter and I were kind of laughing through most of it until that. Then we needed a palette cleanser.

#17 – Sissy – When cutesy, inoffensive internet influencer Cecila (Aisha Dee) reunites with her old friend Emma (Hannah Barlow) and accepts her invite to come along on her weekend ‘hen party’ (an Australian bachelorette party), she also reaquaints herself with an old tormenter Alex (Emily De Margheriti) and both women find themselves reliving and reacting (most extremely) to their mutual shared past trauma. This movie was biting the side of your cheek while chewing bubble gum and having your mouth fill with blood. Whereas They/Them was a gay horror film that relied heavily on its identity, Sissy is sort of refreshing in that while (I believe) nine tenths of the characters are gay and it definitely has a gay sensibility, these matters are somewhat inconsequential. It’s just a pretty good slasher movie with gay characters. Sissy deflty and joyously sidles the line between slasher and camp in a way that reminded me of Knife+Blood, one of my favorite watches of a couple years ago. It’s a rioutous send up of the slasher genre that pokes fun at the narcisissitic Tik Tok/Twitter/Instagram set and the bitchy mean girls trope, and delivers some hugely entertaining gory bits. Really a fun watch and Aisha Dee is supremely charming.

#18 – Blood For Dracula (aka Andy Warhol’s Dracula) – Count Dracula (Udo Kier) and his servant (Arno Juering) travel to rural Italy in hopes of finding virgin blood for his finicky pallette. The idea that Dracula, needing only virgin blood and seducing his way through an aristocratic family’s various daughters only to find he has been misled feels like the setup to a dirty or anti-Italian joke. The marginally interesting conciet is really just used as excuse for softcore pornography – lots of torsos rubbing together, stilted acting, and Joe Dallesandro’s Mario, the Marxism-spouting field hand, comes off like Swan from The Warriors if he went to college. Udo Kier is an interesting Dracula, done up like a silent movie star, and the end is crazily over the top.

#19 – Saloum – A trio of legendary Senegalese mercenaries called Bangui’s Hyenas (Yann Gael, Roger Sala and Mentor Ba) smuggle a Mexican drug dealer (Renaud Farah) and several bricks of gold out of Guinea-Bissau and make a forced landing which diverts them to a remote commune north of the Gambia led by an enigmatic patriarch (Bruno Henry). More than one of the characters are holding back dark secrets. An arresting crime/caper movie really sharply written with deft camerawork and exciting action editing that, like From Dusk Till Dawn, takes a supernatural turn midway that may or may not work for you. To me, it felt like there was enough of a story just following these badass characters, and losing the central villain early on sort of made the entire second half feel like the epilogue scenes of the Lord of The Rings movies. The supernatural stuff was neat enough, if the mythology was a little assumed and dense to this outsider. I was still rapt. Good stuff.

#20 – Popcorn – A murderer stalks a college schlock horror movie festival. The nifty homage flilms-within-the-film, to 50’s stuff like The Deadly Mantis and Them and the callbacks to William Castle audience scare-antics aside, this is a pretty by the numbers slasher with not too much else to recommend. My attention wandered. I did really like seeing Ray Walston (Poopdeck Pappy from Popeye) and Tom Villard (of One Crazy Summer).

#21 – After Midnight – A man’s (Jeremey Gardner) girlfriend (Brea Grant) disappears for several weeks and every night in her absence, a monster attacks his house and tries to break in. I’m not really fond of the recent spate of ‘monster’ movies where the creature or the supernatural threat is a metaphor. This is one of them. A nice relationship movie, but not what I was in the mood for.

#22 – Flesh For Frankenstein (AKA Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein) Mad Count Frankenstein (Udo Kier) ignores his sister/wife (Monique Van Booren) and spends all his time in his lab trying to create the perfect sexual partners so as to propage a super race that will worship him as its progenitor. When he accidentally mistakes a monastery bound asexual (Srdjian Zelenovic) for his libidous buddy (Joe Dallesandro back again- I love this guy now, sort of an alternate James Remar) and winds up with an overgrown eunuuch, he sets out to correct his mistake. This was a step up from Blood For Dracula. The humor and camp are more pointed (and beware – extremely grotesque) and had me laughing out loud a couple times. Udo Kier seemed kinda shy and reserved as Dracula. As Frankenstein he goes full tilt insane, delivering gloriously over the top lines (“What are you waiting for?! Kiss him! Kiss him!” “Otto! To know life, you must fuck death in the gall bladder!”) and an amazing death soliloquy as a bloody bill hook transfixing his dripping liver bounces phallic-ly and his severed stump of a hand spurts a copious amount of blood. Sometimes I was agog at what I was watching.

#23 – Deadstream – An obnoxious and disgraced Youtube streamer (Joseph Winter) attempts to win back his audience (and monetization) by spending the night in a haunted house provoking the entities within. Fun conceit, it captures the feel of those internet ghost hunter shows so well that my eldest and I convinced my middle daughter it was a real Youtube show for the first twenty minutes or so. Gets into Sam Raimi-esque rubbery monster territory, which made it all the more fun. The side comments from his audience are often hilarious.

#24 – Shadow In The Clouds – An aviatrix (Chloe Grace Moretz) boards a B-17 Flying Fortress at the height of World War 2 to the vexation of the flight crew in order to safely deliver a top secret package, only to be beset by a real-live gremlin and flights of attacking Japanese Zeroes. Years ago I was very excited to watch a World War II horror movie called Overlord, but I ended up not being able to get past the fact that the Allied Army was integrated with zero commentary. I felt the writing was lazy, and missed a great opportunity to showcase the struggles Black combat soldiers of the time endured against their own compatriots. Shadow In The Clouds bends over backwards to explain why Grace-Moretz’s character is a combat pilot and on this plane (as well as Beulah Koale playing a Polynesian co-pilot) at a time when this was not the norm, and as a history nerd, it won brownie points with me. The crew is as crass and obnxious as you would expect a flight crew of 1940’s white guys to be towards a woman and a man of color, and it makes the latters’ competence in the face of all that adversity all the more satisfying. That aspect aside, this is a fun, pulpy monster adventure right out of a G-8 novel. For a good chunk of the picture we’re just watching Moretz alone in a bell turret reacting to stuff over the radio and on the other side of the glass, which is a clever way to extend the budget and a testament to her charm and craft. She looks like a bit of nose art come to life. The only other actor I’ve ever seen pull that off was Tom Hardy in Locke, where he’s just on his phone in a car for an hour and a half. When she does get out of that turret, the action kicks in hard – it often asks you to suspend disbelief, but I found its over-the-topness really engaging and fun. In my own writing I think grounding stuff in reality goes a long way towards making the impossible more palatable. I also really appreciated the actual footage of female WW2 pilots during the credits. Super-cool synth score too.

#25 – Slaxx – A trendy fashion store is beset by a murderous pair of one-size-fits-all designer jeans on the eve of a major promotion with an internet influencer (Erica Anderson). A while back I took a chance on a horror movie called Bad Hair with a very silly, very campy premise and was rewarded in full with an enjoyable B picture that had an interesting underlying social message. Slaxx tries really hard to accomplish the same thing with its send up of corporate hypocrisy and sweatshop labor, but it just didn’t arrest me the way Bad Hair did. The gore is crazy and the kills are inventive.

#26 – Halloween Ends – Sheesh, I wish it would. I’m not a fan of this series (except for Pt. 3) or of Michael Meyers at all. I get that the original was seminal, but the character and the situations are dull and the genre it created is far better realized elsewhere. OK, in this one Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is trying to move on, writing a memoir (but still in Haddonfield) when her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) begins dating a town pariah (Rowan Campbell) who accidentally killed a boy he was babysitting years earlier, when Michael (James Jude Courtney) shows up again. This starts off pretty great, with a truly startling opening. The story of Corey (the babysitter)’s attempt to find redemption through Allyson and ultimate descent into madness when he stumbles across Michael hiding in a drainage tunnel and becomes his somewhat apprentice is honestly really engaging, but then Corey exits abruptly and we go back to the same old slash-slash-poke-poke between Laurie and Michael (are they still brother and sister, because here they keep saying she ‘teased’ him into his killings? I dunno). I guess, given the ending, the next one will be with a new set of producers and completely ignore the others a la Godzilla, unless they do something really radical like they did with Friday The 13th Part VI, but I doubt it.

#27 – Blood Moon – A mother and son (Megan Echikunwoke and Yonas Kibreab) arrive in a small town and begin making elaborate preparations against a looming date on the calendar, as the locals take an an interest in them. A very neat little horror story with a reveal that’s easily guessable by the title and ruined outright by the trailer, but which I’m still loathe to spoil here. Echikunwoke is lovely and does a great job and it’s cool to see veteran character actory and Warner Bros stock movie bad guy Marco Rodriguez in a more central (and sympathetic) role than he usually gets. An entertaining take on my favorite monster.

#28 – Barbarian – A woman (Georgina Campbell) arrives in the middle of a night at her reserved Airbnb rental only to find a man (Bill Skarsgard) aready staying there. He invites her to stay the night and a variety of increasingly bizarre and horrible events unfold. This is a movie whose strength lies in its continued, successful subversion of audience expectation. It could just as easily have been titled “AND THEN…” Keeps you watching just to see what the heck is gonna happen next. Justin Long is pretty hilarious as an awful, vacuous LA douchebag.

#29 – Blood Vessel – The allied survivors of a sunken hospital ship clamber aboard an apparently derelict German ship in the middle of the North Atlantic, and soon discover to their detriment what befell the Nazi crew. Another World War II horror movie, this one also takes full advantage of its single set. Not a bad cast or premise, but there just aren’t any surprises here and it feels overlong.

#30 – Juan of The Dead – When a zombie plague breaks out in Cuba, a group of entrepreneurial friends led by small-time hustler Juan (Alexis Diaz de Vellgeas) begin charging their neighbors to dispose of their undead loved ones. This horror comedy begins vibrantly and has some laugh out loud stuff, but like Day of The Beast, sort of loses steam and doesn’t quite know what to do with itself in the latter half.

#31 – The Descent Part II – Days after escaping the events of the first movie, a traumatized Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) returns the caves where her friends died at the hands of ravenous troglodytes in the company of a Sheriff (Gavin O’Herlihey) and a team of expert spelunkers to find out what happened to Juno (Natalie Mendoza) and the others with predictable results. Neil Marshal’s hand at the rudder is sorely missed in this inferior sequel. The cave is suspiciously well-lit this time out, and the moments where the team finds the video camera and relives the first movie really drives the difference in quality home. Feels a bit like a clip show at times (remember how good the first one was?). The twist is pretty neat and this picks up a bit in the second half. The denouement is a bit boggling. I hate when movies bank on a sequel that never materializes.

#32 – The Curse of Bridge Hollow – A Brooklyn family (Marlon Wayans, Priah Ferguson and Kelly Rowland) move to a small town obsessed with Halloween and accidentally unleashes an evil entity seeking to build an army out of animated Halloween decorations. Very inventive and funny family fare, a great watch for the season if you have kids.

#33 – Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities – Normally I review Mike Flanagan’s latest October offering, but this year I simply couldn’t get into his adaptation of Christopher Pike’s Midnight Club. I just found it kinda twee, and more Pike than Flanagan. Plus, when I found out it was not self-contained, I gave up. Luckily Guillermo del Toro came along with this anthology series of weird horror stories, most Lovecraft inspired. I’m not over the moon about everything del Toro does, but when his passion is undeniable, and when he hits, as in Pan’s Labyrinth and Crimson Peak, he really hits. The quality of the episodes sort of follows the pattern of an EKG. It starts off really strong with Lot 36 (starring one of my favorites, Tim Blake Nelson, in which he inherits a bunch of occult Nazi paraphenalia in a storage unit and ends up loosing something awful – this is probably the all around best story), but dips in quality sharply with The Graveyard Rats. A guy tries to rob a grave and winds up fighting rats…I’ve literally written this story myself with The Akeldama Dig, and seen it done two or three times since – just some kinda shared weird writer concept I guess. It picks up a little bit with The Outside, in which Kate Micucci applies a bizarre mood and skin-altering moisturizing cream to try and fit in with her stylene co-workers, though this story packs a few too many concepts in (the taxidermy thing probably could have been excised). The Autopsy has F. Murray Abraham investigating a bunch of dead coalminers and making an awful discovery. Really gruesome, original, and grueling. Pickman’s Model is an interesting adaptation of the Lovecraft story about a painter (the wonderful Crispin Glover) whose art drives the viewer insane. Dreams In The Witch House, ostensibly also based on the Lovecraft story, has Rupert Gint trying to find a way to reconnect with his dead twin sister…so….not the Lovecraft story at all, and abyssmal and cliched – easily the worst offering in the bunch. As in Graveyard Rats (and The Descent Part Two, which I just watched above), a rat even crawls out of a corpse’s mouth. Ho-hum. The Viewing by Panos Cosmatos is a bizarro horror story about an eccentric millionaire (Peter Weller) showing off some kind of alien artifact to a bunch of hand picked artists and scientists. Everything goes to hell, but, this being a Cosmatos picture, everything is kinda already in hell to begin with. This one’s worth the price of admission. If not entirely coherent, it looks like a grown up movie alongside every other offering….except for The Murmuring, which is a measured, adult, if predictable ghost story about loss and the patterns of flocking birds.

#34 – Mark Of The Wolfman – A gypsy couple staying in an old castle revive a long dormant werewolf who then afflicts local nobleman Waldemar (Paul Naschy). Seeking a cure for his predicament, Waldemar calls on two experts who turn out to be vampires (Julian Ugarte and Aurora de Alba). I’d been meaning to check out Paul Naschy’s movies for a number of years and was not disappointed in this. A bit tepid at first, as the hapless Count Waldemar’s situation spiraled, I found myself loving it by the end. Naschy makes for a cool, tormented protagonist.

#35 – Terrifier – Art The Clown (David Howard Thornton) stalks a young woman (Jenna Kanell) and her friend (Catherine Corcoran) on Halloween night, then turns to terrorizing her younger sister (Samantha Scaffidi) when she arrives. Pretty bare bones slasher stuff with no subtext at all, and I don’t care for killer clown stories. However, this is elevated somewhat by the undeniable presence of Thornton and the quality of the filmmaking and well-done exessive gore FX. Couple flashes of good dialogue here too. Not meaty, but not dumb and never boring.

#36 – Wendell and Wild – A rebellious orphan (Lyric Ross) makes a deal with two pie-eyed demons (Jordan Peele and Kegan Michael Keye) to bring back her deceased parents, unaware they’re running (and being scammed in) a side hustle with a pair of unscrupulous prison magnates (Maxine Peake and David Harwood) and a wayward priest (James Hong). Beautifully macabre stop motion animation from Henry Selick of Coraline and Nightmare Before Christmas fame. Plot is a little bit convoluted but it’s as artful and entertaining as you’d expect of Selick, and has a hip feel with a glorious soundtrack of black alternative rock ‘n roll and punk music that had me on Amazon Prime looking for tracks. Loved the Fishbone and Living Colour.

And that’s that!

Top five watches this year – Hellbender, The Munsters, Shadow In The Clouds, Sissy, Flesh For Frankenstein

Published in: on October 3, 2022 at 11:57 am  Leave a Comment  

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