Saturday, October 31, 2009

Horror Fest IV Day Three: Terrorvision and Blood Car

Instead of recapping two movies I've already talked about, I thought I'd share an essay in photos:

Forgive the poor quality of Terrorvision photos. The pictures come from a VHS copy and there's not much available online. We pick up in the middle of the film, after the alien has consumed Grandpa and two swinging adults!

Swinger's Night Goes Awry.

Pincher to the chest. Works every time!

OD (John Gries) and Suzy (Diane Franklin) are back from... uh, whatever it is they do.

I don't really have a caption for this. I just thought I'd share the color palette of Terrorvision with you.

Medusa has a special message for Sherman.

And here's Medusa taking a hot phone call.

Don't ask what's in the hot tub. You don't want to know. Oh, and Sherman is holding a real machine gun.

Food, glorious food!

The next two are from Blood Car. Both should give you some idea of what kind of movie this is.

I kid you not; he's talking about Tarantulas.

Guess how this ends.

Up next, another photo essay on Night of the Lepus, plus some hot Dr. Re-Animator action!

Horror Fest IV Day Three: Hillbillys in a Haunted House and Shark Attack 3: Megalodon

The votes were in, the movies were set, and we started "Fan Favorite Night" with a whimper bang! Hillbillys in a Haunted House remains the jam, even if everyone tells you otherwise. (it's because they're afraid of how excellent the film is)

What the Cap'n loves about Hillbillys is the fact that they promise you a Haunted House and a Nashville Jamboree and deliver both in 85 minutes. In fact, you get four songs in the first fifteen minutes, and we haven't even made it to "Gowns" at that point:



Then, in rapid succession, we get two more hot performances, and for you gripey types, things calm down and focus on the Three Queens, a Drunk, and a Gorilla for a bit, before the super sweet Nashville Jamboree, which makes up the last fifteen minutes of the film. Win!

I really can't understand how none of you love this movie. Seriously.

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What does Shark Attack 3: Megalodon have that Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus have? Gravitas. And maybe authenticity.

Okay, so the authenticity comes from a liberal dollop of footage from Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, but footage of actual sharks eating something is more palatable than the same digital shot of a shark and octopus fight.

The dubbing was classy. I'd genuinely forgotten that the movie was made in Bulgaria, and none of the Mexican cast members were actually Mexican. They fooled me, and everybody else, but the end credits had more "V"s than a college Freshman field trip to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The pick up line, aside from one involving tacos in Blood Car, remains as good as it gets.

Up next: Terrorvision and Blood Car!

Horror Fest IV Day Two: Trick r Treat and Scream Blacula Scream

Finally, we come to the late-night portion of the show. I waited until just after midnight to put on Trick r Treat, so we were officially watching it on Halloween.

Trick r Treat works just as well on a second viewing as it does in the first. In fact, it's easier to pick up on all of the interconnected elements once you know how they tie together, and Michael Dougherty really succeeds in making the four stories feel like part of a larger canvas.

Part of the reason Trick r Treat works so well is that it addresses, in varying fashions, what Halloween means and what it used to represent. As a horror movie, Trick r Treat gives real stakes to characters disregarding the "rules" of Halloween, and also consistently subverts "horror movie" expectations. A number of times during the film, folks in the room thought they had the story pegged, only for Dougherty to zag when they thought he'd zig.

For an anthology film, the twists and turns are well constructed, and time is played with well enough that it is possible not to catch the ways Trick r Treat sets things up before they happen, which is actually pretty rare. If you haven't guessed, I'm a big fan of this film, and it's a shame it never got a fair shake theatrically. I really hope the dvd sales are good enough for another Trick r Treat film, because the way this anthology is designed could keep them coming for years and not retread old horror tropes.

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Scream Blacula Scream is something of an oddity. For those of you who haven't seen Blacula, it's about an African Prince or something like that who Dracula turns into a Soul Brother Vampire, and then he gets ashed. Scream Blacula Scream is, I think, about the struggle to take over a Voodoo Family, and for some reason this dude named Willis brings Blacula back from the dead by burning his skeleton.

I think Willis wanted Blacula to kill Pam Grier, who is taking over the Voodoo family (it's like the mob but they very rarely practice voodoo in the film), but instead Blacula turns Willis and everyone else he meets into a vampire, including two pimps, a honky, and a sassy woman who keeps trying to undermine Blacula's rule.

Of course, Blacula gives her a "bitch, back off" stare, and that settles thing. I think. It's weird, because all of Blacula's vampires look like zombies. They move like zombies, and they don't really bite people. It's silly.

Some other things happen that don't really make sense. Mostly some cops try to stab Blacula's vampires with fence posts, and Pam Grier tries to use voodoo to turn Blacula human again. Instead, Blacula kills everybody and then starts screaming because she stabs a voodoo doll of him in the heart. Here's where things really don't make sense.

See, Scream Blacula Scream doesn't actually end. Blacula is screaming in pain from being stabbed by the voodoo doll and then the film freezes and goes to credits. Maybe they were hoping for a cliffhanger ending for a third Blacula film, but since that never happened we won't know what happened to poor Blacula. Damn jive turkeys at American International Pictures.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Horror Fest IV Day Two: The Stepfather and The Monster Squad

After an episode of Tales from the Darkside called "Halloween Candy" (which set up Trick r Treat nicely for later), we sat down to watch the recently arrived on dvd copy of The Stepfather. While Adam and Cranpire are considering seeing the remake because of its Nip/Tuck associations, the rest of us were excited to see a pre-X-Files, pre-Millennium, pre-Dinosaur Island Terry O'Quinn doing what he does best: being a seemingly nice but secretly menacing psychopath.

Jerry Blake is just that man. He spends most of the movie being disappointed by the worthless families he marries into, so he kills them and then moves on. It seems fair: all Jerry wants is the "perfect family", and they constantly fail him. On top of that, these obsessed losers keep trying to track him down and expose his serial killer ways, so Jerry's constantly being barraged by the inane and the unworthy. It's really no wonder he beats people to death with a 2X4.

The Stepfather starts out with some great suggested brutality, while simultaneously giving audiences and idea of how Jerry operates. The camera follows Jerry as he shaves off his beard, cuts his hair, and sets off on his new life. Only as he's walking out of his old house, whistling "Camptown Races", do we see the indication of what happens when a family fails to live up to his standards, specifically the shot of a very dead child.

He sets up shop near Seattle with Susan (Shelley Hack) and her daughter Stephanie (Jill Schoelen). Stephanie is suspicious of Jerry, not only because he's her new stepfather, but also because she witnesses Jerry having a freak-out during a party. Unfortunately, she's kind of a troublemaker; Stephanie is constantly getting in fights and being kicked out of school, so her word is a little suspect, especially considering how "perfect" Jerry is.

Admittedly, when Jerry isn't being a psycho, he really is a great dad. All he wants is a happy family, and he works to keep them happy even when things invariably fall apart. But Stephanie's psychiatrist is trying to blackmail Jerry and this other drifter is also trying to smoke Jerry out, so he has to kill them.

Terry O'Quinn is great a Jerry Blake for many of the same reasons he works so well elsewhere. He seems perfectly nice and normal, if a bit "off", but when that switch turns on and psycho-Jerry shows up, the shit hits the fan and you do not want him to be angry at you. No sir.

Adam identified with Jerry a lot, which is kind of scary. Just ask Phillippi.

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I don't have much to add about The Monster Squad, other than the fact that Dracula really does come off as just some dude in a fancy suit who loves dynamite. You only see his fangs once, and most of the time he tools around in his car or periodically becomes a bat. Adam really didn't like The Monster Squad this year.

Horror Fest IV Day Two: Matango and See No Evil

We kicked off Friday with a double dose of not-goodness by watching a one-two punch of Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People and See No Evil. Both were, shall we say, underwhelming.

If there's anything to be gained from Matango, a movie where nothing happens until the 75 minute mark (and the mushroom monster doesn't appear until nearly the 45 minute mark), it's that the producers of Lost may have borrowed from its playbook. Allow me to explain: at first, Matango looks like a Japanese Gilligan's Island, but once their schooner crashes and they land on Dinosaur Island Mushroom Island, they spend the next hour debating how to survive, they find a crashed vessel from long before, and there are flashbacks.

Eventually you see the smoke monster Matango, and people go crazy eating the mushrooms and then (SPOILER ALERT) becoming mushrooms themselves! The one survivor makes it back to Japan and is in an insane asylum. At the very end it turns out he too is turning into a mushroom person. (WHAT A TWIST!)

The only thing See No Evil has that Matango doesn't is more violence in roughly the same running time, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Oh sure, there are some decent kills, and maybe the gimmick of a hulking brute with a hook and chain that steals peoples' eyeballs could work, but not in this movie.

For some odd reason, See No Evil thinks it would be funny to let the characters you like the least live until the end, and everyone else dies. The twist involving a character you can see coming a mile away had most of us saying "well, duh" when they finally got around to the reveal.

I guess WWE Superstar Kane isn't that bad, but since all he has to do is skulk around and drag people, there's not much room to gaffe it up. The direction is a mess: Gregory Dark, a former video and porn director steals liberally from the Saw camera tricks playbook. Alas, if you've seen one speed ramp, ill placed jump cut, and "attached to character" cam, you've seen pretty much all you're going to.

Oh well, things are headed to an upswing next, as we watch Terry O'Quinn in The Stepfather.

Horror Fest IV Day One: The Haunted World of El Superbeasto and Night of the Creeps

It's kind of tricky updating after the movies this year because one of the beds is next to the computer, and Cranpire is awfully lazy. At any rate, let's quickly discuss the two movies that followed last night's field trip to Zombieland:

1. The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is maybe not a solid on a second viewing, although something curious happened. The beginning of the film, which I found to be a bit tedious in the theatre, was slightly more amusing. The ending, however, felt like it took forever to get to (not such a good thing for an 80 minute movie) and wasn't quite as much fun this time around. Oh well, at least a few people saw it for the first time.

2. Night of the Creeps, on the other hand, was excellent. I hadn't seen the movie in years, so it was a nice pleasure to rediscover the film, even as I was struggling to stay awake. For a horror-comedy, it strikes the right balance of laughs and spooks, and Tom Atkins owns most of the film. One of the questions that came up, however, was whether the alien subtitles during the beginning of the film are representative of their language, or if they exist for another alien species watching Night of the Creeps. Curious...


On a side note, we put on a disc called Monsters Crash the Pajama Party, a collection by Something Weird video of truly random horror related ephemera. In addition to a seemingly endless reel of text ads, there were a number of short films about strange hippies being scared by monsters, a "Mad Doctor", and a Gorilla doing all sorts of stupid things.

We also saw the worst 3-D footage ever. Note to people including 3-D footage on your dvd: if you want to really use the gimmick, it's better not to use washed out images that make the three dimensions look awful. Additionally, the menu on Monsters is so cumbersome and confusing that I couldn't actually tell you how to get from one set of footage to the other. Seriously.

Oh well, the next round of Horror Fest IV: The Final Chapter begins in about an hour. We have a good night lined up, and already watched Child's Play with the Chucky commentary. Classy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Horror Fest IV Day One: Zombieland Field Trip

I have to say that waiting the better part of four weeks to see Zombieland was totally worth it. While not a horror movie in the strictest (or really any) sense, it does manage to create a world populated by the 2004 Zack Snyder Dawn of the Dead "fast" zombies and keep things snappy and entertaining.

While I did enjoy Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin, Woody Harrelson really walks away with the movie as Tallahassee, the walking talking Id of zombie killing. I shan't be the one to blow the celebrity cameo that at this point 90% of you know about, but half of why it's so funny is Harrelson's reaction to meeting "the cream of the A-list crop".

That, and I don't think the Twinkies subplot doesn't really get the love it deserves. The rules are great, particularly the revisions, but Woody Harrelson really manages to stretch out a one-note joke through the entire film.

Not that Zombieland is very long film, and it moves at a pretty brisk pace. I personally wouldn't mind a sequel, especially if it means less of the following turd sandwiches stinking up the joint:



I mean, UGH!

Up next: The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, Night of the Creeps, and Basket Case.

Nice.

Technical Difficulties

Greetings, folks! The Cap'n is experiencing Internet related difficulties and is presently unable to update the blogorium from home. Hopefully this will be settled before Zombieland tonight, and he looks forward to seeing you folks tonight. In the meantime, we apologize for a lack of posting last night.

See you tonight

- the blogorium team

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Horror Fest Forum #1: Your First

It's a simple question, but I'd like to open up the floor to you folks:

What was your first horror movie? Which film brought you into the genre, and why did that experience keep you coming back?

The Winnahs!

On Saturday Night, we'll be watching the following films:

Black Sheep

Blood Car

Hillbillys in a Haunted House

Night of the Lepus


Shark Attack 3: Megalodon

Terrorvision

There were... a lot more votes than I was expecting. It looks like a fair chunk of you REALLY don't want to watch Hillbillys in a Haunted House again, so I'll promise you that it has the Matinee slot. Accordingly, I will try to find places for Slither, Drag Me to Hell, and Teeth elsewhere in the fest.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Spooky Doom: Slaughter of the Vampires

Previously on Cap'n Howdy's Blogorium:

I started but haven't finished watching Slaughter of the Vampires, which is a nice slice of Italian Cleavesploitation (no nudity, but lots of nubile young ladies in very tight bodices for no reason whatsoever) and I guess a vampire. I mean, there is one, but I'm not far enough in to see what his plan is, other than finding a new vampire bride (the old one was left behind and staked by angry villagers).

The film is dubbed but it's not such a bad thing. I don't honestly know how watchable it would be with subtitles, and horror is the universal language, y'know? Besides, I'm pretty sure that the vampire is a German gentleman and perhaps this was a multilingual shoot, like those Spaghetti Westerns.

For some reason, this movie was released stateside as Curse of the Blood Ghouls, which is admittedly a better title, but it doesn't set you up for any vampire slaughter. I like it when the movie promises you something and then kinda delivers on it in the first three minutes. Hopefully there's more slaughtering to come.

Here's the trailer, which looks much worse than the dvd picture does. Kudos to Dark Sky Films for cleaning this up, I suppose.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming:

I'll give Slaughter of the Vampires this: it's a more appropriate title than Curse of the Blood Ghouls, but just barely. Technically speaking, three vampires are killed, so it earns the plural quotient, and at least one of them is stabbed pretty viciously, so I'll count that as "slaughter". Otherwise, there's not much about the trailer or the title of the film that would be considered "accurate".

Most of Slaughter of the Vampires is about talking. And waiting. And talking about waiting. There's some momentum at the beginning, when the Vampire (he has no actual name, just Vampire, but is played by Dieter Eppler) and his first vampire bride (not sure who) are running like crazy from angry villagers. After he escapes and she doesn't, Count... uh, Vampire rides like crazy in a carriage to a castle. It's not really clear how he knows about the castle or if he lived there, but he moves into the cellar.

The castle belongs to Wolfgang (Walter Brandi) and Louise (Graziella Granata) and assorted servants. The Count takes a liking to Louise and decides to make her his new vampire bride. Very. Slowly. So slowly that Wolfgang has lots of time to talk about it with the servants and a Doctor and then to travel out of town to visit Dr. Nietzsche (Luigi Batzella). They talk some more and eventually get around to hunting down Louise, Count Vampire, and Louise's inexplicably vamped out servant maiden (also don't know the name. IMDB is a little vague).

As I said before, the movie is 79 minutes long. During that time I fell asleep three or four times, woke up, and rewound the dvd only to discover I'd missed nothing. Typically, it was a shot of Wolfgang 0r Dr. Nietzsche waiting for something to happen, followed by a shot of the vampire or Louise with "dramatic" music, except that they were also waiting. There's a lot of waiting for a movie where almost nothing happens.

I will say two things kept my attention, and neither one of them were the abundant cleavesploitation of Louise (who spends 80% of the movie in a low cut nightgown):

1. Count Vampire's main theme is played on a Theremin, which has the exact opposite effect they were intending (rather than mysterious and creepy, it's pretty silly).

2. The dubbing is done the same way many Japanese films are dubbed, so you get lots of overexplained sentences in order to match the mouths of characters. For example, Wolfgang says "Here comes the Doctor who was a good friend of mine in school. He will help you out he is a good Doctor. He does not bother you, does he little girl, you are not afraid of Doctors."

For a movie with a gratuitous bath scene (I mean, there is absolutely no reason for the bath, unless you really need to argue re-introducing a character late in the film) which is less suggestive than Louise's nightgown, Slaughter of the Vampires is pretty lackluster. I should have known better than to rewind after nodding off, because I probably stretched the running time into actual 90 minute territory as a result, and this movie doesn't deserve it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Troubleshooting

I've noticed that it's tricky to vote for some of the polls because of the stupid embedding by Youtube, but I have a reasonable solution for this:

If you scroll down to "Theatres, Audiences, and Horror" and click on the title, it takes you to a separate page where the polls are perfectly accessible. Most of them seem to be tied now, which is not a good thing. Unless you're all willing to stay all day AND all night so we can watch all twelve. I'll do it if you're really down for it.

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Liz asked some very good questions in yesterday's post, so I'll attempt to answer them here:

1. If by the "old" version Slither, you mean Night of the Creeps, then yes - provided I can find a copy when it hits dvd and Blu-Ray for the first time on Tuesday. If it's voted in, then we'll watch the "new" version of Slither, simply entitled "Slither", on Saturday.

If you meant this Slither, then no. We will not be watching that.

2. I haven't really decided which version of Drag Me to Hell to show if it wins. I hear the differences are not radical. Apparently the unrated cut has more blood and the cat scene is a little longer during the seance. We'll put it up to a vote on Saturday, provided it makes it through semi-finals voting.

3. This should be sufficiently informative, as details go. You might also want to check my old myspace for the event information, which also has details.

More sufficient technical info goes thusly: every night starts at 6pm.

There are two showings for Zombieland at the Grande: one at 6:35, and one at 9:10. I'd prefer the 6:35, but if most of you have to work, then we'll watch something here and meet there on Thursday night.

If anyone has any other questions or technical concerns, please contact me here or by phone, if you have the Cap'n's number.

Spooky Trailers of Sunday Doom!


Werewolf of Washington


Dracula (1979)


Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks


The Black Cat


The Haunting


Plague Town


Haute Tension

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I Swear to You This is the Last Time I'll Talk About Voting.

Hey gang. We're down to the final, this-time-I-promise-no-more-voting round to voting. They're all going up late tonight when I get back into Greensboro, but here's what you have to narrow down from twelve to six:

Black Sheep
Blood Car
Chopping Mall
Drag Me to Hell
Dead Alive
Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter
Hillbillys in a Haunted House
Night of the Lepus
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Slither
Teeth
Terrorvision

I tried to make the match-ups fair, so all you have to decide is "which of these movies is going to be more fun with the other movies I [meaning you] chose?" Truthfully, any combination of them would be a hell of a fun night, and I may have my own personal preferences, but it's up to you. You'll have until Monday afternoon to decide, but please take all of your choices into consideration with each other. Animals gone amok? Zombies of different shapes and sizes? Demonic possession? Generally fucked up movies that scrape 80 minutes?

On Saturday, starting at 6pm, I will take the selections and put them in the order that makes the most sense for a great night. If some non-winners have high votes, I may institute a "matinee" showing of one or two of them. And of course, there's always a chance you'll see runners up elsewhere in the fest. Vote prudently.

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I was surprised at just how well The Wrestler lent itself to being recut as a Grindhouse slasher-palooza. See for yourself:



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Based on a very special request by Dr. Adam Bomb, I am willing to consider Basket Case as a candidate for Horror Fest. It's all a matter of where it fits in best.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Never Seen's, Double Features, and the Living Bread...

As you may have noticed, I put up the rest of the polls at once, to speed this along. We have a week left, and after you're done voting we have to narrow those 12 down to 6 movies for Saturday. It's going to get hard. Like, really hard. Just wait until you have to choose between Slither and Black Sheep, or Blood Car and Terrorvision...

Okay, I'm only going to do that if I feel mean. But seriously, we're at the point where very few selections are weak ones, so you've got a big week ahead. Look for the first two match ups this Trailer Sunday.

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This is probably shameful, but the Cap'n has never seen the Frank Langella version of Dracula. Sure, I've read about it, and I know what it is, but I've never seen it. I'm not even sure that I'd recognize the trailer for it if I saw that.

I guess that I just assumed it wasn't that great since you only occasionally hear about the film, but lately people have been speaking fondly about it, so now I'm kinda curious. It wasn't terribly expensive, so I picked a copy up, and if time permits, it'll be the third Spooky Doom entry (following The House that Dripped Blood and the forthcoming Slaughter of the Vampires).

I also picked up (inexplicably, I must admit) two of the Elvira's Movie Macabre double features tonight. The first has Count Dracula's Great Love and Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks, and the other features Legacy of Blood and The Devil's Wedding Night. If I'm reading the backs correctly, you can watch the movies with or without the Elvira host segments. It's not quite USA Up All Night, but it might suffice down the line...

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Finally, I was a little bored in the office and cooked these up. The first one is my favorite, and reminds me that I should put that short film up for you enjoyment...


And here it is: The original Night of the Living Bread

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Theory, Audiences, and Horror

Greetings, blogorium readers! Tonight I thought I'd share with you the large-ish paper I've been working on. Since last night's ran so long, I won't drop all fourteen pages on you, but since we're one week away from the Field Trip, there is a pertinent section of the article to share.

The paper is on movie-going as a ritual activity, which in and of itself was fun researching, but a healthy section is devoted to Horror films and the role they play in group catharsis, so I'll drop that knowledge on you, followed by a section devoted to the question: "Why do horror fans like $1.50 movie theatres?", in which I think you'll find the Cap'n comes to a reasonable conclusion.

Just a tiny forewaring: this is from a first draft, so if anything reads as dodgy or the sentences are awkward, I'll be adjusting them in ensuing drafts.

Horror Films
“Each of us experiences a film individually, and our different tastes in films demonstrate how unique our individual reactions are. Yet, what are we to make of those films that seem to have tapped in the collective fears of an entire generation?” (Phillips, 3)
Horror films repulse and terrify us, yet they remain financially, if not critically, successful. Noel Carroll poses the question “But – and this is the question of ‘Why horror?’ in its primary form – if horror necessarily has something repulsive about it, how can audiences be attracted to it?” (33) The answer may be that the genre presents us with escapist variations of real life anxieties. The genre of horror taps into our deepest primal fears, and coupled with the venue (total darkness), collectively audiences must overcome individual terrors.
Consider the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead, which tapped into mounting tensions about race relations and the Vietnam War through the lens of a zombie film. Kendall Phillips describes the reaction to Night thusly, “for many contemporary critics, the film was ‘cathartic for us, who forget about the horrors around us that aren’t, alas, movies’” (93). Similarly, films like The Exorcist or The Texas Chain Saw Massacre tapped into apocalyptic concerns of the mid-1970s, though less literally than atomic holocaust films. “Apocalyptic visions… need not express a literal end of the world but may entail a sense of the inevitable decay and demise of broad social structures and order” (Phillips, 111).
Horror manages to, in the words of critic Robin Wood, “respond to interpretation as at once the personal dreams of their makers and the collective dreams of their audiences, the fusion made possible by the shared structures of a common ideology” (30). Its role as a societal release is a more extreme version of cathartic theatre, one designed to explicitly face our fears in dark spaces, with the comfort of being able to safely walk away when we choose to. Linda Williams, in learning to scream, identifies a similar mechanism in horror films designed to help audiences gasp and scream together:
Anyone who has gone to the movies in the last 20 years cannot help but notice how entrenched this rollercoaster sensibility of repeated tension and release, assault and escape has become. While narrative is not abandoned, it often takes second place to a succession of visual and auditory shocks and thrills.” (163)
Despite its role in tapping into our collective experience, the horror film is not highly regarded by critics. Robin Wood describes the phenomenon:
The horror film has consistently been one of the most popular and, at the same time, the most disreputable of Hollywood genres. The popularity itself has a peculiar characteristic that sets it apart from other genres: it is restricted to aficionados and complemented by total rejection, people tending to go to horror films either obsessively or not at all. They are dismissed with contempt by the majority of reviewer-critics, or simply ignored. (30)
Horror is regarded as a “lesser” form of cinema, one that is frequently associated with “low culture” and is beneath contempt for cultural critics. Audiences, however, flock to this ritual of being scared half to death and walking out at the end. The ways that horror films function as a dual ritual of “movie-going” and “date” are also related to cultural norms. In her discussion of horror marketing during the “classic” monster-movie era, Rhona Berenstein notes the ways that male / female reactions during this ritual are performative:
Just as social mandates invited women in the 1930s to cling to men while screening horror movies, thus encouraging them to display conventionally feminine behavior as a means of garnering male attention, so, too, did the male viewer… use female fear, as well as his own traditional display of bravery, to disguise his terror behind a socially prescribed behavior. (137)
In fact, women were frequently the target audience during the “classic” monster movie era, for reasons that solidified gender roles in American society. Berenstein continues, “women were classic horror’s central stunt participants because they were thought to personify the genre’s favored artifact: fear. The upshot was that if women could survive the viewing or a horror film, and moreover, if they could respond bravely, then other patrons, meaning men could do the same” (143).
The horror film provides a number of valuable roles in maintaining the movie-going ritual: in addition to reinforcing cultural norms, it taps into collective fears and faces taboos, even at the chagrin of most critics. At the end of a horror film, no matter how traumatic or cathartic the experience, the collective returns to the daylight, capable of functioning as members of society. As we will see, the horror film provides for a different kind of engagement in the movie-going ritual based on what theatre an individual chooses to visit.
[...]
For many critics, the reputation of Horror as a “low culture” genre comes from these second run houses. Conversely, many Horror aficionados will also attend the Sedgefield of Blue Ridge Road theatres because they replicate the “Grindhouse” experience, based on one-screen cinemas in large cities, most of which no longer exist. The Grindhouse theaters were permissive of rowdier behavior, much of which is considered by aficionados as “augmenting” an otherwise marginal film. The most famous example of a Grindhouse film or “Midnight Movie” turned ritual experience is The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
[...]
As you can probably guess, the next section is on the history of The Rocky Horror Picture Show's midnight success and ritual aspects, but I'll save it for another night.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I wonder... I wah wah wah wah wonder...

Since we're nearly a week away from Horror Fest (get used to it, because I'll be talking about it a LOT until November 2nd) the Cap'n decided to test a theory. I often tell people that horror is not all I watch, am interested in, and write about. I think the blogorium in months not ending in -ctober bears that out, but as we've learned, numbers rarely lie.

I went over to my DVD Aficionado page (feel free to make fun of me for having one) and created a separate page for "Horror" as closely as it resembled my Horror Shelf, then dumped everything that fit in there.

Out of a little over 1,000 dvds/Blu-Rays, around 300 are Horror by that definition. We can look at this two ways:

1. Horror makes up 1/3 of all of the movies I own, ergo the Cap'n likes Horror the most.

2. It was a lot less than I thought it would be, and if you go to an actual disc count, it's a whole lot less than what I actually own.

However, I can't really deny the power of argument number one. As a genre, it dwarfs practically every other shelf (which are mostly broken into genre) and based on the titles, I've probably seen all of nearly all of them.

Since I don't really know where I'm going with this, I thought we could play a game instead. Take the following list of Horror movies and... uh, highlight the ones you've seen. You can post it as a comment or in your own blog like one of those memes, however you want to do it. In your own time, because this is quite a list...

28 Days Later
30 Days of Night
An American Werewolf in London
The Horror of Dracula
Dracula has Risen from His Grave
Taste the Blood of Dracula
Dracula A.D. 1972
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
The Alligator People
An American Werewolf in London
Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper
The Antichrist
Army of Darkness
Baby Blood
Bad Taste
Basket Case
Bay of Blood
Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Black Cat (1934)
The Raven
The Invisible Ray
Black Friday
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
Black Sheep
The Blob (1958)
The Blob (1988)
Beware! The Blob
Beyond Re-Animator
Black Sheep
Tombs of the Blind Dead
Return of the Evil Dead
The Ghost Galleon
Night of the Seagulls
Blood and Black Lace
Blood Car
Blood Feast
Two Thousand Maniacs
Color Me Blood Red
Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Bride of Re-Animator
The Brood
C.H.U.D.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
The Cabinet of Caligari (1962)
The Call of Cthulhu
Carnival of Souls
Carnivorous (aka Lockjaw: Rise of the Kulev Serpent)
A Cat in the Brain
The Cat O' Nine Tails
Cat People (1982)
Cemetery Man
Cheerleader Camp
Children of the Corn
Child's Play
Chopping Mall
The Church
City of the Dead (aka Horror Hotel)
City of the Living Dead
Clownhouse
The Company of Wolves
Contamination
Count Yorga, Vampire
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Revenge of the Creature
The Creature Walks Among Us
Creepshow
Critters
Curse of the Devil
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Day of the Dead
Dead & Buried
Dead Alive
The Dead Hate the Living
The Deadly Spawn
Deathdream
Demons
Demons 2
Demons of the Mind
The Descent
The Devil's Backbone
The Devil's Rejects
Dr. Giggles
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde
Dog Soldiers
Dracula (1931)
Dracula (Spanish Version)
Dracula's Daughter
Son of Dracula
House of Dracula
Dracula: Prince of Darkness
The Satanic Rites of Dracula
Drag Me to Hell
The Entity
The Evil Dead
Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn
The Exorcist
Exorcist II: The Heretic
The Exorcist III: Legion
Exorcist: The Beginning
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist
Faceless
Faces of Death
Fade to Black
Hell Night
The Fall of the House of Usher
Faust: Love of the Damned
Fear No Evil
The Fearless Vampire Killers
Feast
Fido
Fiend without a Face
Flesh Eaters from Outer Space
Invasion for Flesh and Blood
The Fly
Return of the Fly
Curse of the Fly
The Fog
Four Flies on Grey Velvet
The Lodger
The Undying Monster
Hangover Square
Dr. Renault's Secret
Frankenstein
Bride of Frankenstein
Son of Frankenstein
Ghost of Frankenstein
House of Frankenstein
Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell
Frankenstein Created Woman
Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed
Freaks
Freddy vs Jason
Friday the 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th Part 2
Friday the 13th Part 3
The Frighteners
From Beyond
From Beyond the Grave
From Dusk Till Dawn
Garden of the Dead
The Gate
The Ghoul
Ghoulies
Ghoulies 2
Ghoulies 4
Ginger Snaps
Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed
Ginger Snaps Back
Grindhouse Presents: Planet Terror
Halloween (1978)
Halloween (2007)
Halloween II
Halloween III
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
The Haunted World of El Superbeasto
The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll
Curse of the Mummy's Tomb
The Gorgon
Scream of Fear
Brides of Dracula
The Curse of the Werewolf
The Phantom of the Opera (1962)
Paranoiac
Kiss of the Vampire
Nightmare
Night Creatures
The Evil of Frankenstein
The Hand
The Haunting (1963)
Haxan
Hellraiser
Hellbound: Hellraiser II
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Hillbillys in a Haunted House
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
The Hitchter
Hostel
Hostel Part II
Interview with the Vampire
Mark of the Vampire
The Mask of Fu Manchu
Mad Love
The Devil-Doll
Doctor X
The Return of Doctor X
Horror of the Blood Monsters (aka Vampire Men of the Lost Planet)
Horror Rises from the Tomb
House
House II: The Second Story
House of Wax (1953)
Mystery of the Wax Museum
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
The House that Dripped Blood
The Howling
Human Beasts
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
The Hunger
I Bury the Living
In the Mouth of Madness
Incubus
The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man Returns
The Invisible Woman
The Invisible Agent
The Invisible Man's Revenge
It's Alive!
Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer
The Walking Dead
Frankenstein 1970
You'll Find Out
Zombies on Broadway
The Last House on the Left
The Last Man on Earth
Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part III
The Legend of Hell House
Let the Right One In
Don't Torture a Duckling
Maniac Cop
Martin
Martyrs
Matango
May
The Mist
The Monster Squad
The Mummy (1932)
The Mummy (1959)
The Mummy's Hand
The Mummy's Tomb
The Mummy's Ghost
The Mummy's Curse
The Mummy's Shroud
Plague of the Zombies
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
My Bloody Valentine (2009)
Near Dark
New York Ripper
Night of the Demons
Night of the Lepus
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Night of the Living Dead (1990)
Nightmare City
A Nightmare on Elm Street
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: The Dream Warriors
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4: The Dream Master
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5: The Dream Child
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
Wes Craven's New Nightmare
The Ninth Gate
Nosferatu (1922)
Nosferatu: The Vampyre (1979)
The Oblong Box
Scream and Scream Again
The Old Dark House (1932)
The Omen
The Orphanage
The People Under the Stairs
Phantasm
Phantasm II
Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead
Phantasm IV: Oblivion
Plague Town
Prince of Darkness
Prom Night (1980)
The Prowler
Pumpkinhead
Re-Animator
[REC]
Repulsion
Return of Swamp Thing
Return of the Killer Tomatoes
Return to Horror High
Return of the Living Dead
Return of the Living Dead Part 2
Return of the Vampire
Rogue
The Gian Claw
Creature with the Atom Brain
Zombies of Mora Tau
The Werewolf
Scanners
Scars of Dracula
Scream, Blacula, Scream
Seed of Chucky
Session 9
Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye
Shadow of the Vampire
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Shaun of the Dead
She Demons
The Shining
Shocker
Silent Night, Deadly Night
Slaughter High
Slaughter of the Vampires
Sleepaway Camp
Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers
Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland
Sleepy Hollow
Slither
Splatter University
StageFright
The Stepfather
Stepfather 2: Make Room for Daddy
Strangler of the Swamp
Student Bodies
The Stuff
Suspiria
Tales from the Crypt
Vault of Horror
Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight
Tales from the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1973)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2
Them!
The Thing (1982)
The Tingler
To the Devil, a Daughter
Trick 'r Treat
Troll
Troll 2
Two Evil Eyes
Uncle Sam
Undead
Revolt of the Zombies
Hard Rock Zombies
The Black Cat (1941)
Man Made Monster
Horror Island
Night Monster
Captive Wild Woman
Urban Legends: Final Cut
Cat People
Curse of the Cat People
I Walked with a Zombie
Body Snatcher
Isle of the Dead
Bedlam
The Leopard Man
The Ghost Ship
The 7th Victim
Vampire Hunter D
Vampyr (1932)
Village of the Damned
Children of the Damned
Tales of Terror
Twice Told Tales
The Abominable Dr. Phibes
Dr. Phibes Rises Again!
Theater of Blood
Madhouse
Witchfinder General
The Virgin of Nuremberg
Waxwork
Waxwork 2: Lost in Time
Werewolf Shadow (aka The Werewolf vs the Vampire Woman)
Willard (2003)
The Wizard of Gore (1968)
The Wolf Man
Werewolf of London
She-Wolf of London
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
Wrong Turn
Zombie
Zombi 2
Zombi 3
Zombi 4
Zombie Holocaust
Zombie Strippers

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thanks to everybody who keeps coming in and voting. In order to speed up the process, I think once we hit four of five votes (the max seems to be six), I'll go ahead and put up the next poll. This time wasn't even a question: Teeth chewed up Michael Myers and spit him back out. We'll see how it fares when voting gets really tough.

Look for the new poll to be up by midnight tonight. I'll be pitting two horror icons head to head again, and this time you decide who wins!

---

In case anyone missed it, Cranpire is offering an alternative to his Saw VI coup: Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant. Something tells me he has a problem with watching Zombieland again.

Not to jump on the Cranpire or anything, but wasn't much of our early moviegoing experience based on watching movies we enjoyed over and over again? Even theatrically, I'm pretty sure we went back to the well more than once. Personally speaking, I saw at least two movies last year more than once, and... uh, well one of them was The Dark Knight.

I suppose this is neither here nor there. Cranpire put his counter-proposal on the table, so I'm sharing it with you folks. The Vampire's Assistant does have John C. Reilly, but I'm still leaning towards Zombieland, despite so many people already having seen it.

Personally speaking, I'm surprised a sales pitch for Paranormal Activity hasn't made its way into the comments. To be honest, I'm sticking to my guns with Z-land, so if you want to have your own Horror Fest on Thursday, options are available.

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alternate artwork for Ghoulface Killah:

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Finally, I found this funny. I don't really know why, because it feels like something you'd see on Family Guy, but it works on some level.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Spooky Doom: Aw, who am I kidding?

Sorry for the slackadasical posting today, gangerinos, but the Cap'n was a little burned out after spending five hours writing a ten page paper. I don't know whether two pages an hour is good or not... probably not. Well, there was a lot of digging through primary sources and... you don't even care, do you? You're slowly backing away towards the door. I see you! Ghoulface Killah lives behind that door!!!!

Bwaaaaaah! Now look what you've done!

---

Okay, so I started but haven't finished watching Slaughter of the Vampires, which is a nice slice of Italian Cleavesploitation (no nudity, but lots of nubile young ladies in very tight bodices for no reason whatsoever) and I guess a vampire. I mean, there is one, but I'm not far enough in to see what his plan is, other than finding a new vampire bride (the old one was left behind and staked by angry villagers).

The film is dubbed but it's not such a bad thing. I don't honestly know how watchable it would be with subtitles, and horror is the universal language, y'know? Besides, I'm pretty sure that the vampire is a German gentleman and perhaps this was a multilingual shoot, like those Spaghetti Westerns.

For some reason, this movie was released stateside as Curse of the Blood Ghouls, which is admittedly a better title, but it doesn't set you up for any vampire slaughter. I like it when the movie promises you something and then kinda delivers on it in the first three minutes. Hopefully there's more slaughtering to come.

Here's the trailer, which looks much worse than the dvd picture does. Kudos to Dark Sky Films for cleaning this up, I suppose.



When (if) I have time to finish this 79 minute movie, you'll get a REAL spooky doom about it. Until then, you're going to have to fend for yourself against Ghoulface Killah!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Touch, the feel of Trailer Sunday; the fabric of our lives.


The Evil Dead


The Horror of Dracula


Ginger Snaps 2


Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives


A Nightmare on Elm Street


The House that Dripped Blood


Halloween

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Horror Fest IV: The Final Chapter (official announcement)

October 29th - November 1st

Join Cap'n Howdy and friends for four days of non-stop horror movie action! This will be my last October in Greensboro, so I'm looking to give folks the best Horror Fest ever!

On Thursday night, we'll take a Horror Fest Field Trip to Zombieland, followed by more movies afterwards.

Friday is Cap'n Howdy's picks, a collection of movies hand picked by yours truly.

Saturday is Fan Favorite Night: vote on which past Horror Fest movies you want to see again, then sit back and enjoy a night of the best the Fest has to offer.

Sunday is is anything goes night!

New Films for this year's Horror Fest include:






Join us for any and all nights of the festival. I guarantee you'll enjoy it!

Hobo Bug Juice and Tripwire will be served to anyone brave enough to try them.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Spooky Doom: The House that Dripped Blood

Since it is October, and since Cap'n Howdy's Blogorium could be described as "horror themed" in its layout, I guess I should make with the reviewing horror movies that won't be a part of our annual celebration in two weeks. Fortunately for you, dear readers, I have a shelf full of horror flicks waiting to be discussed. We'll start this semi-regular column with 1971's The House that Dripped Blood.

I've made no secret of my love for anthology films, specifically those coming from Amicus Productions, so it was a surprise to me to discover that I'd never gotten around to watching The House that Dripped Blood. It turns out that House is a pretty good addition to their collection of supernaturally based horror films. The cast is great, the direction is atmospheric, and most of the stories work in context.

Like most anthology films, you get four stories with a bit of a wrap-around, and House that Dripped Blood covers most of your horror bases: Spectral Killers, Vampires, Witchcraft, and evil museums / shops of mystery. The stories, by Robert Bloch (author of Psycho) are:

1. A writer (Denholm Elliot) and his wife move into the house in question so he can finish his macabre masterpiece. When his creation, a mad strangler named Dominick, starts to appear in and around the house, he's convinced his grip on reality is slipping.

2. A recently retired businessman (Peter Cushing) moves into the house, and while wandering the nearby town, finds a wax museum of horrors. He becomes obsessed with a figure of Salome that reminds him of a long lost love, and when a visiting friend goes missing, the terrible secret of the museum comes to light.

3. A not-retired businessman (Christopher Lee) and his daughter (Chloe Franks) come to the house to get away from the city. When a tutor (Nyree Dawn Porter) begins to connect with the distant and sheltered child, her true nature comes to light, with terrible consequences.

4. An actor and horror-buff (Jon Pertwee) and his co-star (Ingrid Pitt) rent out the house while he's filming Curse of the Bloodsucker. Convinced that his cape looks too cheap, he visits the mysterious Theo Von Hartmann's shop and buys an authentic vampire cape. Maybe a little too authentic, as he discovers when he puts it on.

The wrap-around story involves a detective (John Bennett) investigating the disappearance of Pertwee's character. The owner of the house, Mr. Stoker (John Bryans) shares the mysterious history of the tenants. When Inspector Holloway finally goes to the house, he finds much more than he expected in the basement...

I think the third and fourth stories were my favorite. Admittedly, the Jon Pertwee story gets quite silly in the middle (especially when he puts the cape on after midnight and reacts hammily to his fangs and... flying), but it is salvaged by Holloway's visit, one that ties up the film nicely.

The first story, about the writer and his mad killer, suffers from a rushed ending, one that relies on you paying attention to a last second development based on a character you just met. The set up is wonderful, and most of the lingering architectural shots and creepy ornaments does soften the weak ending.

Despite the really trippy dream imagery in the second story, the ending just doesn't make sense. Something happens to the wax figure that, if what the owner says is true, would render it impossible to be fixed in time for the last shot. The final image, on the other hand, is a pretty good one.

Despite the fact that the film (rated PG) is virtually bloodless, there's plenty of atmosphere and suggested horrors to raise a bit of a chill. This is more evident in the witchcraft story with Christopher Lee, which relies entirely on suggestion for its gruesome finale. The House that Dripped Blood isn't as gory as Tales from the Crypt or From Beyond the Grave, and it might come off as a little tame compared to what was to come. However, taken with the much earlier Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, I think House fits the Amicus m.o.

Finally. the title is a little misleading, because while the film is about four tenants who died (separately) in the same house, at least two of the stories really have nothing to do with house as evil. They attempt to tie everything together with Stoker directly addressing the audience (something that seemed strangely familiar, although I'm convinced I've never seen this before), but if you're willing to put the misnomer of the title aside, it's a fun little spookshow you could probably scare children with - and not scar them permanently.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shameful... just shameful.

I wanted to start off tonight's blog with a correction:

Astute readers have pointed out to me that Zombies on Broadway (1945) actually precedes Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) and Africa Screams (1949), so the horrible jokes aren't really recycled as I claimed.. I suppose the question is then, Who's Stealing from Who?

Nevertheless, I'm standing by my So You Won't Have To ranking. There's nothing in Zombies on Broadway I feel is worth recommending: it's not funny, it's not scary, and Lugosi fans are going to come out of the film wanting more. If Zombies on Broadway were in any way entertaining, I'd probably overlook the fact that those lame jokes weren't stolen from better movies. But it's not entertaining, and the stolen gags are put to better use by Bud and Lou. So I apologize for the poor research, even though it doesn't change my opinion of the movie.

---

So that Terrorvision won't feel so alone in the VHS category of Horror Fest films, I picked up House of Death, a little ditty I read about here. I realize that's not what you'd call a "positive" review in the strictest sense, but if a slasher movie is both confusing and locally made (well, somewhere in North Carolina), then it has room at the Fest.

To prove to you that I didn't Netflix a dvd or find a cheap way out, here's a picture of the cassette tape (also purchased on Amazon from somebody in NC)


And a picture of House of Death side by side with Terrorvision.


And, for good measure, a picture of the reunited Brothers Shecklestein.

Pay no attention to the price tag on Yankel; reuniting brothers is priceless.

Well, that'll about do it for tonight.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Now Hear This!

I have been instructed by Cranpire to let all of you know that instead of watching Zombieland with the Cap'n for Horror Fest, you should instead join him and watch Saw VI on Thursday night. I call this Bore-Or-Fest, but he's convinced that three of you will peel off from the main group and join him, even though I've repeatedly told him that most of you a) don't like the Saw movies, and b) haven't seen the first five of them.

So here's your forum:

- in the comments, Cranpire is welcome to make his case why Saw VI is a better choice than Zombieland.

- also in the comments, you are welcome to discuss this with Cranpire and come to your own conclusions.

The Cap'n has already made it clear that I will not be watching Saw VI, but as the instigator of this coup, Mr. Cranpire has the right to sway the rest of you if he so chooses.


edit: I'm throwing a SPOILER ALERT in on the Comments section. It's not a major plot point in Zombieland, but I wish I hadn't known about it, because I bet it's a great surprise if you haven't heard yet.

Blogorium Review: Anvil - The Story of Anvil

I feel bad for Anvil. Steve "Lips" Kudlow and Robb Reiner were in a metal band that influenced just about all of the early 80s groups I listen to (like Slayer or Ride the Lightning-era Metallica), and yet until the documentary, the Cap'n (like many others) had never heard of Anvil. It turns out that's a damn shame, and the result is a compelling, if disheartening documentary about not knowing when to move on.

Not that it seems to be Anvil's fault; most of the talking heads early in the documentary - including Slash, Lars Ulrich, Tom Araya and Lemmy Kilmeister - lament the fact that Anvil never were as huge as the bands that followed them. Slash points out that what probably happened was "we all ripped off Anvil and left them for dead." Except Anvil didn't die.

Sure, all of the original members but two peeled off, but Lips and Robb continue to rock when they aren't at their day jobs. Being Anvil, despite the devoted fanbase, doesn't pay the bills, so Lips works for a children's food catering service, and Reiner works construction (I think - the movie isn't too clear about that). Their families wonder aloud when "enough is enough", and they'll finally give up on the dream of making it big in their fifties.

But Lips just won't give up. He's an eternal optimist, convinced that no matter how shitty things get, Anvil is just one break away from finally making it. But boy, do things get shitty. Anvil is booked dates all over Europe, sometimes to sold out crowds, sometimes to (literally) six people. Their manager, the new guitarist's girlfriend, is incapable of doing right by the band: they miss trains, get lost, aren't paid for shows, and have terrible advertising. She's trying, and the guys seem to understand that, but watching Anvil on tour is like a real-life This is Spinal Tap.

Worse still are the metal festivals Anvil goes to, where it's painfully obvious that most of their contemporaries have no idea who Lips is or why they should. Kudlow bops around like a starstruck fanboy, but the best he can get is a "remember when" from one of the members of Twisted Sister. From the footage earlier in the film, you can tell that once upon a time, Anvil was a band to be reckoned with, but now they can barely get members of Vanilla Fudge to recognize them.

It hurts to watch this movie, because everyone except Kudlow and Reiner believe firmly that Anvil's days are done. Even a loan from Kudlow's sister to help pay for their thirteenth studio album (with the same producer from 25 years ago) is more of a gesture of pity than a belief that "this time will be their big break." Their boundless optimism in the face of totally embarrassing and repeated failures only makes it worse.

Still, Anvil: The Story of Anvil is a very well put together documentary. Director Sacha Gervasi is a long time fan of the band and clearly wants the best for them, even as things collapse over and over. VH1 Films, who footed the bill for Anvil, has been behind a pretty serious marketing push to get Anvil their due, so the sad story may have a happy ending yet.

As awkwardly funny and unbelievably sorry things get, I have to say that Anvil: The Story of Anvil, is absolutely worth watching. I sincerely doubt that Anvil or Tyson will be showing up during next year's Academy Awards ceremony, but I highly recommend you check both out.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Relying on Your Expertise

The announcement of a new film by John Landis (The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London) is generally cause for celebration, even if this one is tinged with curiosity. Landis is casting Burke and Hare, two nineteenth century serial killers / grave robbers. So far, we only know who he tapped to play Hare and Burke, but it's pretty good: Simon Pegg and David Tennant.

Why this is so curious to me is that the timing of this comes awfully hot on the heels of I Sell the Dead, the Dominic Monaghan / Ron Perlman / Angus Scrimm movie I meant to watch on Video on Demand but never got around to. Films tend to do this every now and then; a run of two or more movies about roughly the same thing, like Deep Impact and Armageddon, or The Illusionist and The Prestige. Still, 19th century grave robbing isn't really in the cultural zeitgeist in the same way that asteroids or evil babies or messed up European torture porn are. Maybe turn of the century magicians though.

I guess it isn't a gripe so much as an observation. Teaming up David Tennant with Simon Pegg is a great idea, and John Landis has always had a knack for the funny which he supplements nicely with the scary from time to time.

---

Arriving on the old digital versatility disc and Blu-Ray isn't an acronym for anything are four horror movies, two of which I'm keen on and the other two I'm asking for your input on. Believe it or not, I don't have time to watch everything, and I haven't seen everything. In fact, the last day or so I've been not watching movies and playing too much Fallout 3. Seriously, that game is dangerously open-ended...

Where were we? Oh, right! New release Tuesday. Stay frosty.

- After last July's field trip, it was a foregone conclusion that I'd pick up Drag Me to Hell when it came out on Blu Ray. Sam Raimi served me a heaping helpful of "WRONG" for doubting his ability to make a new horror movie, and PG13 at that. For everyone not named Cranpire, DMTH is a clever balance of shrieks and laughs, designed and executed to ratchet the tension all the way up, subvert the "shock" scare, and then hit you when you least expect it. It's also funny in a way Raimi hasn't been since Evil Dead 2. Not that Army of Darkness isn't funny, but it's more jokey than scary. Drag Me to Hell brings them both, and I'll happily eat crow on its behalf.

- I also wasn't going to hesitate picking up ordering The Stepfather online (cheap local stores aren't carrying it). I already ordered, watched, and enjoyed Stepfather 2: Make Room for Daddy last week, and I haven't seen the original Terry O'Quinn as unbalanced-psycho-dad-from-hell since the glory days of Carbonated Video.

For some reason, I never connected him from The Stepfather to The X-Files or Millennium until the first X-Files movie, and even then it was "That guy". Of course most people know him now as "that dead guy impersonating Locke from Dinosaur Island", so it'll be much more fun to watch than when Neil and I watched Saw to see "Ben Linus from Dinosaur Island" as Jigsaw's patsy. True story!

Okay, there are two movies I know very little about. I have been reading an inordinate amount about them online, and at least one of them sounds like a genuine "cult classic" that slipped through the cracks, so I'm reaching out to anybody that's seen them.

- I swear I'd never heard of Hardware until three weeks ago. Ever. No Dylan McDermott / Lemmy Kilmister / Android-Cyborg-Killing Machine whatever movie existed, as far as I knew. I was living in the ignorant bliss of Chopping Mall, but now there's this movie from 1990 by Richard Stanley that reviewers are calling a lost gem or better than you'd think, so my interest is piqued.

Plus, Severin put the dvd and Blu-Ray out, and if you haven't heard of the company, they're responsible for those very nice editions of The Psychic and Nightmare Castle dvds. They also put out The Inglorious Bastards (with an "A") and call themselves "The Criterion of Smut"! How can you go wrong with that? Okay, plenty of ways, but I have good reason to trust them.

My question is, has anyone seen this? It's been around for almost twenty years, so I'm guessing one of you must have seen it. I mean, Major Tom had seen Terrorvision, and I'd never heard of that until last summer. Get back to me.


- Happy Birthday to Me is a title I'm more familiar with, but it's one of those slasher movies I just never got around to seeing. If I understand the premise correctly, the movie is trying to mimic the Italian giallo style, and promises bizarre and memorable kills. The guy with a barbecue skewer in his mouth on the cover is certainly promising, but I've seen my share of slasher movies that promise a lot (like Splatter University's "Get a Higher Degree... In TERROR!") but then rarely deliver.

What I'm really asking is, am I going to get The Burning or Visiting Hours if I rent Happy Birthday to Me? I like the former, but was bored to tears by the latter. On the other hand, if the kills are really good, I will sometimes give a lesser movie a pass (like the original My Bloody Valentine), so what's the word hummingbirds?

Have you heard about Hugo and Kim?

---

Tomorrow: a review of Anvil: The Story of Anvil, another excellent documentary that won't be nominated for anything next spring.

Also, Shecky's brother, Yankel Shecklestein, is out of prison and reunited with his brother. Pictures of the reunion to follow.