Horrorfest 2014 Presents:  The Wicker Man (1973, Robin Hardy)


Due to it being a really old movie the twist near the end was unfortunately spoiled for me. However The Wicker Man still packs quite a punch and exists as a classic example of English folk horror that has stayed with me and others ever since. The casting sure helps, particularly as Christopher Lee gives one of his best performances in a long line of great ones, Edward Woodward as the policeman investigating a mystery, plus Britt Ekland and Ingrid Pitt in a smaller role. This movie fully embraces paganism and uses it as a horror movie device, similar to later horror films that this movie helped inspire. Considering how the film ends much of the movie has this eerie sense of foreboding, as if the audience and most of the characters know how it all ends save for one particular individual who is unaware of the dangers they face.

I don’t know Robin Hardy’s movie would be as effective if it was not made in the 1970s, as the movie fits in with the decade’s overall horror aesthetic. Woodward is both arrogant and yet likable as the police sergeant who thinks he knows what is going on but has no idea. Lee’s Lord Summerisle is both welcoming and clearly hiding many secrets. The Wicker Man seems to be a duel between religion and logic, although the island’s inhabitants would argue that both are intertwined and exist in the same sphere. I’m reminded that despite being a Christian I am fascinated by pagan beliefs, particularly ones concerning nature and the harvest.

Oh and Hardy makes the film into a bottle episode type movie of sorts, as all of the action takes place on the island and Howie (Woodward) is unable to leave in what is now a typical horror movie cliché. Never venture to an island without any backup, although I’m not sure it would have helped in this case. The Wicker Man also has one of the best uses of blasphemy ever in the “Oh Jesus Christ!” line, which is probably what the audience was thinking to at that part of the movie. The credits scene part which thanks the island’s residents for their cooperation was a nice touch, very cheeky indeed. Shudder has this movie as part of their folklore collection, and so a second viewing is in order. I believe I viewed this movie back in 2014 thanks to Netflix, when their horror movie collection was a lot better. What a picture.  

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Halloween: Resurrection (2002, Rick Rosenthal)


Since I last saw this film years ago I revisited back in 2018 in time for the Blumhouse take on the series. In a nice Blu-ray box set that I got from Walmart. Man do they know how to take your money. Everyone hates Halloween Resurrection, yet I’m not one of them. Look I know it’s cheesy and that what the film does to Laurie is not cool, stoll I kind of enjoyed this movie. I dig that a bunch of dumb people decide to do a found footage style broadcast in Michael Myers’ old house. I mean how insane do you have to be to want to film at the childhood home of a mass murder!

Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks headline the group of young adults who foolishly enter Myers’ domain in search of Internet webcam glory. Thomas Ian Nicholas, Sean Patrick Thomas and Bianca Kajlich are the main stars of the younger cast. The only thing that was really dumb was old Mikey managing to cut off someone’s head with a carving knife. Pretty sure that’s not possible haha! Rhymes yelling “Trick or treat motherfucker!” and trying out kung fu moves on an unstoppable serial killer was hilarious and I’m guessing that part was supposed to be intentionally funny.

Look I don’t loathe any entries in the series except 5 which was pretty dumb and very unnecessary. 6 wasn’t good but it had some decent moments and a solid atmosphere at least. Maybe it’s for the best that both Rob Zombie and David Gordon Green choose to ignore all of the sequels when they made their own entries in the franchise.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Visiting Hours (1982, Jean-Calude Lord)


The hospital setting is a pretty good one for Visiting Hours, which has a cool poster and a good trailer. Alas I was left mostly unimpressed by this early 1980s slasher, which bugs me since this should have been in my wheelhouse. The cast makes up for some of the weaker elements however-Lee Grant and Michael Ironside are both great in this movie-and it even has William Shatner randomly popping up later on.

The final act is really intense and quite brutal, yet most of this film is too slow and the scenes outside the hospital drag at times. I’m not sure if this movie is a feminist driven piece or if the director doesn’t like women considering the awful things Ironside’s serial killer puts the movie’s female characters through. I didn’t hate Visiting Hours, still I didn’t really like it either. This is sometimes the case with horror movies and cinema in general.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Black Sabbath (1964, Mario Bava)


Years later I finally viewed this movie thanks to Shudder (I believe it was in 2018, maybe). Black Sabbath is probably Mario Bava’s best film although a few others do qualify, and this also inspired a certain famous rock band that I am a big fan of as well. Black Sabbath is easily one of the best anthologies ever made, and although one of the stories is weaker than the other ones all of them are still pretty great and make the film a quality viewing experience. Bava wisely sticks to only three stories, and has the legendary Boris Karloff narrate and star in the film as well. The title of the three tales are The Drop of Water, The Wurdulak, and The Telephone.

Maybe it’s the copy I viewed or the Wikipedia page is wrong (shocker!) yet the version I watched had The Drop of Water story first. This tale is utterly terrifying and has an marvelously creepy finale that works incredibly well. A woman foolishly steals a ring off of a dead woman’s finger and discovers too late that you should never rob from the dead. The dummy featured in this movie is pretty freaky looking, and this story is a great exercise in unbearable tension. I feel this one was the best of the bunch honestly, and shows that Bava was a master of the supernatural, a strong element of most of his movies.

The Wurdulak is Bava making a vampire story that is one of the best vampire stories ever put to film. Planet of the Vampires also shows that Bava has a knack for vampire films, and it’s a shame he didn’t make more of them. Karloff appears as the head of a family that has a serious and very unique vampire problem. There’s plenty of bite in this one hehe, not to mention those who end up becoming the undead turn on their own family members. Many consider this tale the best of the bunch, yet I feel it’s not as scary as Water is although the gore factor is certainly featured in this one pretty well.

Finally there is The Telephone, which although is the weakest of the bunch is still very suspenseful and well crafted. Michèle Mercier is a woman who is haunted by her former boyfriend, who she believes was in prison but has in fact broken out and is seeking revenge. It just occurred to me that each of the stories are very bottle episode in nature, as all of the characters are limited to one particular location. How this one concludes is rather bleak, although that can be said of all of the tales in this movie.

Although I’m not sure if Bava should have featured a wrap around story, I’m fine with how this works as a book style movie with different tales featuring new people each time. Black Sabbath is easily one of the best horror films of the 1960s, and is easily in my Top 100 horror movies.

Music Log 2022


It’s that time again!

  1. True: Avicii by Avicii, Avicii (2014, Public Library)-5.5
  2. The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind, Ben Folds Five (2012, Public Library)-9.0
  3. Electriclarryland, Butthole Surfers (1996, Public Library)-7.0
  4. No Jacket Required, Phil Collins (1984/2016 re-release extra edition, Public Library-9.0
  5. Bottle It In, Kurt Vile (2018, Public Library)
  6. Filoxiny, Skinshape (2018, YouTube)-9.5
  7. Night Drive, Timecop1983 (2018, YouTube)-9.0
  8. VHS, CASTLEBEAT (2018, YouTube)-9.0
  9. Closer To Grey, Chromatics (2019, YouTube)-8.5
  10. Dawn FM (2022, YouTube), The Weeknd-9.5
Continue reading “Music Log 2022”

Movie Log 2022


You know the drill.

January:

  1. Return of the Street Fighter (1974, Ozawa)-82, Tubi
  2. Santa Sangre (1989, Jodorowsky)-91, Tubi
  3. The Guns of Navarone (1961, Thompson)-94, Netflix Instant Viewing
  4. The Witch Who Came From the Sea (1976, Cimber)-94, Shudder/Tubi
  5. Ichi The Killer (2001, Miike)-91, Shudder
  6. Dream No Evil (1970, Hayes)-60, Shudder
  7. Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood (1973, Speeth)-70, Shudder
  8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979, Wise)-75, Hulu
  9. The Matrix Resurrections (2021, Wachowski)-86, Theater Viewing
  10. Dark August (1976,  Goldman)-80, Shudder
  11. Winterbeast (1991, Thies)-80, Shudder
  12. Fatal Exam (1990, Snyder)-71, Shudder
  13. The French Dispatch (2021, Anderson)-100, RedBox
  14. Beyond Dream’s Door (1989, Woelfel)-83, Shudder
  15. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009, Sommers)-54, Netflix Instant Viewing
  16. Carlito’s Way (1993, De Palma)-96, Tubi
  17. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021, Watts)-93, Theater Viewing
  18. Eternals (2021, Zhao)-60, Disney+
  19. Encanto (2021, HowardBush), Disney+
  20. Massacre In Dinosaur Valley (1985, Tarantini), Shudder

Those aren’t pillows! (Planes, Trains and Automobiles 1987)


Having Steve Martin and John Candy star in a 1980s John Hughes comedy drama was probably a no brainer. The two have great chemistry together and are present for a series of funny and entertaining mishaps that accompany the pair as they attempt to return home to Chicago. The road trip movie was very much a thing by this point, yet Planes, Trains and Automobiles is definitely one of the best road movie comedies I’ve ever seen.

Another reason this movie works so well is that everyone can see themselves in both of the characters. It’s very easy to be the uptight Neal and the easy going Del, sometimes all in the same day for many people. I relate more to Del if only because I also talk too much and I try to be likable and get along with people most of the time. On my worst days I’m Neal, completely annoyed with everyone and easily ruffled by random troubles that seem to pop up at every turn. This flick sure puts both men through the ringer, which in turn is both funny and melodramatic.

If looks could kill haha

In fact the comedic elements help set up the more serious parts, especially in a poignant hotel scene and a great train station part as well. John Hughes also wisely populates his movie with numerous character actors and even has three people from Ferris Buller’s Day Off making appearances. I had forgotten that Kevin Bacon is in this movie for a brief moment, and Edie McClurg has a scene stealing bit as a rental car agent. This makes the movie even funnier than it has a right to be, although the most hilarious part to me is the wrong way on the highway scene.

Other great moments include a freezing truck ride, the infamous classic “Those aren’t pillows!” bit and Neal’s very profane tirade at the car rental agency. I’ve seen this movie multiple times and it improves every viewing, which is the mark of a great movie. Shame that Martin and Candy never teamed up again, and the closest we’ve gotten to a flick like this may in fact be Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket, a movie that also wisely balances comedy and drama equally well.

Let’s Get Criterion Presents: I Married a Witch (1942)


I had a crush on Veronica Lake before I saw this movie, all thanks to This Gun For Hire. She is much better in I Married a Witch, as she is front and center and runs the show. Fredric March is the descendant of the people who burned her and her father at the stake, nevermind that the Salem Witches were hanged instead. Magically reborn, she seeks revenge yet makes the classic romantic comedy mistake of falling in love.

This movie is based strongly on wit, classy jokes and a good amount of silly moments that are delightful. The movie does coast a lot on its good charm, yet that was enough for me. Lake and March have solid chemistry together and I was left satisfied and with the feeling that I Married a Witch will grow on me during a second viewing. Perhaps even during a third. They still make movies like this, sure, however it is not quite the same.

Let’s Get Criterion Presents: The Phantom Carriage (1920)


The hues of the ancient silent screen prints for The Phantom Carriage are mostly blue and yellow, and it works for this movie. I liked how it is a drama rooted in the fantastic, working as a bleak tragedy that shows a man in desperate need of a course correction. He neglects his family and laughs at the notion of goodness, until he ends up faced with a most dire situation. I am reminded a bit of A Christmas Carol with the ghosts coming to tell Scourge to change his ways, however this take is more horror movie related to a point.

I loved the practical special effects showing death’s ride, a ghastly thing powered by skeleton horses and driven by a person cursed to serve. There is also a scene that clearly inspired The Shining’s infamous axe moment, and the film is centered in a clear sense of morality. A poor woman cares only to save a man’s soul, even as she fades away. Another woman lingers for her husband to be a better person, knowing that he may never achieve it. Oh and the jailhouse scene is a harsh wake up call that unfortunately only takes on its intended target for so long.

This film took me a while to get through, since it is a silent film and I am used to sound. However The Phantom Carriage is marvelous, a well constructed movie that clearly has been the basis for other, equally great, works. Also I was surprised that the movie got away with a suicide scene, although I guess 1920s Europe was much different than America.

Let’s Get Criterion Presents: Repo Man (1984, Alex Cox)


“The life of a repo man is intense.”

Alex Cox’s 1984 cult classic is one of the earliest Criterion movies I ever owned. I still have my DVD copy, and I recall lovely gazing at the packaging and admiring how cool the movie looked on DVD. I mean I had only seen some low grade copy of the flick on cable TV before, and this was the 2010s, before Blu-ray and streaming overruled everything else. Maybe one day I’ll bother to upgrade my copy but for now it will do just fine. I have watched Repo Man at least four, maybe five times and it’s one of my all time favorite movies. I don’t think anything else quite like it exists today, at least no movies that come to mind.

Having Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton star was a fine choice, and they are the duo from hell. Otto and Bud are both hilarious and marveling together, living on the edge and serving up fantastic one liners. I mean you have ones such as “Repo man’s got all night! Every night!” and “Only an asshole gets killed over a car.” Alex Cox is not content to have the film only focus on these two, tossing in numerous other eccentric and off the wall characters that populate a bizarre underground. It’s all very punk rock you see, 100% 1980s, centered at the heart of Reagan America.

Part of me thinks this flick is a masterpiece, some other part is fine with me just labeling it great. The rest is amused at how Alex Cox managed to smuggle this glorious bit of satire mocking the stupidity and futility of American life out of a Hollywod that was quite conservative. Or at least neoliberal to say the least, masquerading as leftist while serving both capitalism and their studio masters. God I love this film so much. Hail oblivion and the path one takes to get there.

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