My Favorite Older Horror Discoveries Of 2017

All in all, I had pretty great luck with newer horror films during 2017, as I wrote about in a post last week. When it comes to older films, especially horror ones, I tend to have lower — or at least different — expectations. If a movie’s off-the-wall bonkers, but made with effort, I’ll probably love it. That accounts for about half of the movies on this list. However, I also discovered a few that I now very much consider new-to-me classics that I hope to watch again and again. To find out which ones, you’ve got to hit that jump!

Continue reading My Favorite Older Horror Discoveries Of 2017

Halloween Scene: The Burning (1981), The Mist (2007) & From Beyond (1986)

The Burning Scream Factory Halloween’s the best you guys! I’ve been able to watch more horror flicks than I expected considering our toddler staked her claim on the TV long ago. Still, I’ve been able to go back and watch some old favorites and also check out a few new films like the amazing Sinister.

A few weeks back, after earning a few extra bucks at NYCC, I decided to splurge on some Scream Factory Blu-rays. I snagged The Burning and From Beyond on sale. A subdivision of Shout Factory, Scream is a horror centric imprint that goes all out when it comes to special features, extras and great looking transfers. Continue reading Halloween Scene: The Burning (1981), The Mist (2007) & From Beyond (1986)

Halloween Scene: Dawn Of The Dead (1978) & House On Haunted Hill (1959)

Dawn Of The Dead is one of my absolute favorite movies, not even just horror. There’s something about it that used to draw me to it constantly in college. I bought a VHS of it on accident, thinking it was Day Of The Dead on a trip to a going out of business video store in my college town and watched it over and over. Eventually, I found the four disc set with the theatrical, extended and European versions of the movie as well as a whole disc of extra features. I used to even put the movie on when I was sleepy because there’s all that rad action in the beginning and then it cools down for a little while in the middle. That mix of action, horror, comedy and honest human reactions to extraordinary events make this, in my mind, one of the best all around movies, specifically because it hits all those bases. I love Usual Suspects for a lot of the same reasons, but it doesn’t have heads getting chopped off, now does it?

The movie, of course, is not perfect though. Director George Romero claims he wanted a comic book feel to the movie, which explains the bright red blood and pastel-to-neon complexioned zombies. None of that bothers me. What DOES bother me, though, is the sound effects. When one of our heroes punches someone, it sounds like something out of a Streets of Rage game for Sega Genesis.

Aside from that though, I think I’m firmly in love with this movie. We could talk about different aspects that someone might not like (it’s long, it goes back to that whole “humans are the real bad guys” motif that Romero and other zombie movie makers seems obsessed with), but I don’t think anyone could sway my opinion and, if I’m being honest, I’d probably think a little less of you for not liking the movie.

Speaking of those two potentially negative aspects of the film. This is one of the few slow burn type movies I really like. All those scenes of them playing in the arcade and going through the bank could be cut as far as the action goes, but all those little moments help to tell the emotional story. These are people living in a world that’s completely flipped the script on them. The dead don’t stay dead anymore. Can you imagine how that would change the way you think? Roger tries to ignore it, letting his bravado get in the way of his safety and he pays for it. Francine lets it overwhelm her at times, but she’s also a planner who’s smart enough to learn how to defend herself and more importantly fly the helicopter out there. All of them finding a refuge inside a mall isolates them for the shit going on in the rest of the world and gives them a place they could theoretically stay until things get better, they die or someone comes to save them. Once save inside their cocoon, they try to live the lives they’ve always wanted to live with every material thing they could ever want just a short walk away. But they’re not really happy. Without getting into it too heavy handedly, Romero deals with isolation and–corny as it sounds–the idea that money and objects don’t really make you happy. There’s a lot more going on here than simply “man is the real evil!”

I could talk about this movie all day and considering I still need to write up the next movie, I should probably move on. Oh, one last thing, I think Roger might be one of the most tragic characters in horror. He’s got a Madam Bovary vibe to him, though he romanticizes heroics instead of, well, romance.

I believe that House On Haunted Hill was not only the first Vincent Price movie I ever watched, but also one of the first old horror movies. We weren’t exactly early adopters in my house growing up, so it took a little while for us to get a DVD player, but once we did, I hopped on eBay and spent some of that glorious teenaged disposable income on DVDs. I got a four pack that included two double sided discs. This one has Hill and Satan’s School For Girls, which isn’t nearly as interesting as it sounds. I don’t remember what’s on the other disc because, for whatever reason, I left it at home when I consolidated my DVD collection into a binder before moving out to New York. I know there was some Christmas-themed movie with a bunch of people in a house being hunted by a deranged man on the holiday. I think he used to live there and escaped from an asylum.

Anyway, I really loved this movie the first time I saw it and still do. Price’s character is just so wonderfully manic and kind of an asshole. He’s in most of the scenes, which is exactly how I like my Vincent Price movies. The story behind the movie is basically the exact plot of every ghost investigations show: a bunch of people get locked inside a supposedly haunted house and get scared by things. In this case, however, the people have a chance to win some big money if they last the night. Oh, also, there’s a murder plot a foot.

The movie has lots of twists and turns and not a few still-good scares. The old woman popping up out of nowhere looking like Nosferatu’s uglier, older sister gets me every time. The skeleton rising up at the very end really stayed with me too, for some reason from my first viewing, though I guess that’s because I didn’t already know the story.

SPOILER TIME. The house isn’t really haunted, though it is pretty damn creepy. Most of the things we’ve seen that give us the willies are either staged acts (the hanged woman) or just strange occurrences (the creepy old lady, she’s just creepy, not a monster). I’m still not 100% on the plot because I was doing some work while watching today, but the murder plot as a double and then, I believe, triple cross in there with Price walking away on top in the end. I like this movie even in spite of it having two traits I don’t really like: the haunted house and the “everything you knew is wrong” themes. As it turns out the house isn’t haunted, but even if it was, they’re still trapped in a big old house and go through this stuff in a short period of time, so they’re not staying in a place they could easily leave for months on end (which is what I hate about modern haunted house movies). The “what you thought is wrong” aspect is done in more of a Usual Suspects way than a High Tension way, which means you didn’t just waste your time watching something that doesn’t matter, but that you were being tricked along with the people in the movie, which I actually think is pretty rad. I should give this one another view in the near future to see how it plays with the twists fresh in my head.

These two movies aren’t really related other than the fact that they’ve both been remade. I’ve definitely seen the Dawn remake and don’t really remember it much, but would definitely see it again (love zombies movies AND Zack Snyder). I don’t think I’ve seen the Hill remake, though I always get it confused with The Haunting which I believe is a remake of the very similar sounding The Haunting Of Hill House. The real reason I paired them together is that they’re favorite horror films of mine, though very different that I wanted to give another look at and write down some thoughts. Hope you guys enjoyed it and let me know what you think in the comments section.

Halloween Scene: Halloween (2007)

I’ve been avoiding Rob Zombie’s Halloween reinterpretation for a while now. When I first heard that Halloween was being remade I was skeptical to say the least. This is one of my all time favorite horror movies and probably on most other horror fans’ top 10 (at least). It’s a near perfect movie. So, why remake it? If anything, why not make a new sequel?

After it came out I didn’t hear any good things and figured it’d be best if I just left it alone. So, why did I watch it? It was in my house. It was sitting around for a while before I finally popped it in the old DVD player and was not impressed.

I’m not going to say that Halloween is a bad movie, but I will say that it seems to completely miss the mark on Michael Myers as a character and what makes something really scary. I know I’m not the first person to say that I don’t need to see Michael Myers’ crappy life to understand why he’s a psycho killer. What exactly is that point of showing us SO much of Mike’s childhood? All it does is kind of make us feel bad for him. But only kind of because that kid they got to play young Michael is way creepy. Just get to him being a huge killer killing people already. To paraphrase Patton Oswalt, I don’t need to see where the things I like come from, I just like them.

I’m going to switch over to my Live Blogging notes from here on out. To be fair, I was much harder on this movie than I would have been on a movie called Hallows Eve or something else, but hey, that’s what you get for recreating the BEST HORROR MOVIE EVER! Most complaints are in reference to the original movie.

*Oh, he has a shitty life? Thanks, I get it.

*Little Michael looks like a girl, he’s also too old.

*The bully looks like Shia.

*The principal looks like a zombie.

*Haha, now they’re saying Loomis was around before Michael went crazy? Ugh.

*The point of Michael Myers is that he’s just pure evil, showing him as an abused child (even a crazy one who kills animals) elicits at least a little sympathy. Also, I like the Michael just snaps in the original, it’s not a decline into madness it’s an elevator plummeting into the depths of hell.

*How is the bully letting himself get beat to death? Just get up! In real life, I feel like he’s try and get up.

*The blood looks like chocolate syrup.

*Why is his mom with that ass? I get making him a jerk, but seriously, what’s the point? There’s no explanation.

*Yeah, I get it, it’s the 70s, play something that ISN’T on the Dazed and Confused soundtrack. “Love Hurts”? Are you kididng me?

*Her boyfriend’s a douche “I want to do it with the mask on.” The MICHAEL MYERS mask? Ugh.

*Slits that mean bastard’s throat after taping him up. Pretty smart move for a kid.

*So, the boyfriend (steve) either is done banging the sister or is kicked out so he goes downstairs to make a sandwhich.

*Oh look, he’s hitting someone to death again. Inspired.

*Sis is next.

*Oh, also, killing everyone you know because you couldn’t go trick or treating is STUPID. this makes Michael seem like a bitch.

*Oh wow, he put on the MICHAEL MYERS mask. How prophetic. Blarg.

*Hey look, the baby we haven’t seen since the first scene. Will he kill her? OF COURSE NOT! Way to have no dramatic tension whatsoever. The people die in the exact order you think they would.

*Is that what an actual 10 year old looks like? I really have no idea. He seems older.

*So, he’s a normal-ish kid now in the asylum? Ha, and he’s oblivious. Perfect.

*Doesn’t remember what he did? Ugh. I hate this kid.

*YEAH, DANNY TREJO!!! Best interview I ever did.

*Danny tells him to live inside his head…wonder where THIS is going. CRAZY TOWN.

*He’s making masks. One of which is clearly Leatherface.

*HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE SILENT AFTER GOING TO THE INSTITUTION!!!!!! [I could definitely be wrong on this one, but I was not liking this movie pretty intensely at this point.]

*Woah, that nurse is a bitch. Also, probably dead soon.

*Oh no, the mom wants to kill herself. WHO CARES?!

*Old Danny Trejo!

*Why would they let him make all these masks?

*Tyler Mane DOES strike an imposing figure.

*Loomis isn’t supposed to LIKE Michael.

*Of course, the redneck guards are rapists.

*Why would you f**k with a GIANT?

*Michael just kills everyone now?

*The scene between Michael and Danny is tense (will he attack or won’t he?). Yeah, of course he does because this movie’s soulless.

*Why does Michael keep pulling Danny out of the water if he’s trying to kill him? A real murderer wouldn’t do that, it’s movie bullshit. Or he just wanted to smash him with a TV.

*Why does he zero in on this dude in the bathroom? There were a half dozen guys out there.

*Hey another knife kill. Wow.

*How is the jumpsuit not covered in blood?

*So, Laurie’s a crazy bitch? Awesome. [Introducing good girl Laurie with a lewd bagel/sex dance is a poor decision, first impressions and all that.]

*As if it needs to be said, we spend WAY too much time with Michael.

*How/when did he hide that knife and mask under the floorboards?

*DANIELLE HARRIS!!! I should have gotten an autograph when I saw her at Big Apple Con a few years back.

*Now they’re saying she’s Mother Teresa? After her weird bagel dance? Doesn’t jive folks.

*”Just keep the monkeyhouse locked until the monkey dies of old age.” – Loomis. This is great casting. I want to see him in a Halloween 6 remake, completely bat shit crazy.

*The girls are yelling shit at Michael. Why doesn’t he just kill them right there? That’s what this Michael would do.

*I’m still upset about the whole bagel thing too, mom.

*Micheal’s just walking down the freaking street! What happened to his stealthiness?

*Sid Haig, of course. I’m actually not afraid of him though for once.

*Why the heck are there title cards like “Trick or Treat?” After telling me it’s Hoddonfield and Halloween are these necessary?

*Haha, they party in the Myers house. Not a bad touch actually. Except he’s standing right there on the balcony!

*Michael’s killing yet another dude post coitus. A dude who wore a disguise of some kind. Yawn.

*Why do I recognize the gun store owner? [Can’t remember the character’s name by The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz is in this!]

*Holy crap, he just killed Laurie’s parents.

*Danielle vs. Michael, round 4, FIGHT!

*Cop’s face against the dooor as he gets stabbed looks pretty cool.

*Blah blah blah.

*He’s dead. Of course he’s not.

*Loomis: “What the hell?!” That’s a great line.

*Blah blah blah, she’s in the ceiling, they both go off the balcony.

*Empty that gun in his FACE! Aw, out of bullets. Of course. You should really check that ahead of time.

*Ken Foree was in this? Oh the dude in the truck stop.

*If it wasn’t called Halloween I think I’d be okay with it. You just can’t redo the classics.

Halloween Scene: Brotherhood of Blood (2007)

2008-10-17
4:22:28 am

I figured my good luck with the Ghost House Underground flicks wouldn’t last. I’ve been watching Brotherhood of Blood for about an hour now and I just don’t really care what’s going on. The story needlessly jumps around in time, which I can accept, except the editing is a bit confusing and about half the acting is wooden (the other half darn good). The dialogue has about the same percentage of hit and miss.

It’s you’re basic team of vampire hunters against an old vampire and his clan. There’s some kind of plot about a dude whose brother may or may not be a vampire. Again, I’m being a bad reviewer and got distracted by the Internets, but there also hasn’t been much in the movie to make me take note and saw “holy cats!” It’s kind of like a Blade movie, but without the style or the budget. It also sets up an unfamiliar mythology and then tries to flip it on us like it’s something we’ve known since we were kids, but it just doesn’t work out all that well.

I have noticed that the movie looks more like an episode of Law and Order than a movie. I assume Dance of the Dead had a fairly low budget as well, but it looked a lot slicker than BoB. Another thing I noticed is that the young vampire hunter kid they induct into their group is pretty much an idiot. Not only does he try to unchain their vampire captive (played by Dawn of the Dead and Leatherface’s Ken Foree!), but he then later complains that the vampire is tied up to tight. JEEZ! The main vampire hunter chick actually does make a point about how stupid he’s being, but I question if anyone would react in such a manner after actually being around vampires.

But it’s not all bad. Like I said Ken Foree’s in it, which makes two movies I’ve watched with him in it this week! He looks kind of like a gypsy vampire, but I’m not really sure what his story is. It’s ALWAYS good to see my man again. (EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve never met Ken, but I feel like we could start a detective duo or a mystery solving rock band if and when we do eventually meet.) Sid Haig of Devil’s Rejects and House of 1000 fame also pops up. He’s the leader of the vampire pack. He tempers his usual over-the-top-ness with more subtlety than you might expect, but, like with Ken, he’s always a fun face to see in a flick.

Finally, I’ve got to give it to Victoria Pratt for giving her all in her roll as the main vampire hunter lady. You may recognize her from Cleopatra 2025 or Mutant X, but I didn’t. There wasn’t a single moment on screen where I thought she believed anything but the plain and simple fact that she was a badass vampire hunter. She really keeps the movie from completely toppling in on itself with all the little problems. She’s even responsible for most of the best gore pieces when she’s kicking vamp butt.

Overall, I can’t recommend this flick to anyone but huge vampire, Ken Foree, Sid Haig or Victoria Pratt fans. The story’s muddled, the acting, editing and script only so-so, the gore pretty good though there isn’t a lot of it and the big “twist ending” is just kind of eh, but you do get a slightly different take on the vampire mythos.

Halloween Scene: Leatherface The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)

2008-10-16
3:41:39 am

So, I watched Leatherface yesterday and have already forgotten a lot of stuff about it, but it was a pretty decent flick, even though it generally ignores the second movie and I’m usually a fan of continuity. But let’s be real, none of the TCM movies can ever really live up to the original, it’s a true classic that can’t (and shouldn’t) be replicated, though I’ve got no problem with new stories being told in that world. Which is kind of the route they took with TCM3.

This time, you’ve got a couple driving across country who get rerouted while the cops excavate a mass grave full of corpses. This brings them in contact with a creepy gas station owner who, you guessed it, has ties to Leatherface’s family. This time, though you’ve got a mother figure along with grandpa, a little girl and maybe some other people, I got pretty confused and I wasn’t really paying a lot of attention for different parts. Anyway, the couple end up in the woods with Ken Foree (from my favorite zombie movie of all time, Dawn of the Dead) who’s a survival dude who just happens upon the craziness.

You get the basic running through the woods, dinner and chainsaw scenes in this flick. Oh and a great performance by Viggo Mortensen who SPOILER plays Tex, a guy who fakes getting killed and then turns out to be part of the family. At one point he gives Leatherface this crazy chrome-plated chainsaw with “The Saw Is Family” carved into the blade. It’s kind of hilarious, but still creepy. Speaking of Leatherface, we get a pretty good version in this flick as he cuts a woman’s face off in the opening, nails a girls hands to a chair and just generally looks like he wants to murder you.

There’s some pretty cool gore effects in this one and the performances are all pretty solid. A higher death count would have been nice, but what are you gonna do? Worth checking out for slasher and TCM fans.