Horrorfest 2017 Presents: The Bride of Frankenstein (1935, James Whale)


Everyone knows about The Bride of Frankenstein, widely mentioned as that rare sequel to equal or be superior to the original film, and its a shame I have taken so long to finally watch it. Luckily for me my local library had a blu ray copy, and it had not been too long ago that I had seen the first film, which is also a classic in its own right. There are certain things about the sequel that I prefer to the original, most notably the addition of a key member: Dr. Pretorius (a wonderfully flamboyant Ernest Thesiger). The good doctor is the driving force that makes Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) proceed to create a new monster, one to be a mate for the Monster (the legendary Boris Karloff), who of course survived the mob attack depicted in the previous installment.

This film begins the trend of horror sequels depicting previous events so new viewers would not be left behind, and it is also more brutal than the original film. Karloff starts off by murdering a poor couple who had the misfortune to investigate if he was dead or not, and yet in this film he begins to discover his own humanity. The Monster even learns how to speak, and it is this film where the poor blind man (hilariously parodied in Young Frankenstein) befriends the creature, only for others to drive the poor beast away. I also am amused that the titular creature is hardly even in the film, saved away for a wonderfully dramatic and intense moment near the film’s end. This movie also has a surprisingly amount of comedy, which Whale perhaps inserted to dull some of its more harsh edges.

While I am not sure if this is better than the first film, I still love it just as much, seeing as Universal wisely brought back the original cast and crew that made the first film so great. Too bad the rest of the sequels did not involve James Whale, although I still want to seek them out as well. I have an odd fascination with horror film series, and Universal deserves both praise and disdain for giving birth to them in the first place.

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Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Mother! (Darren Aronofsky)


There are many other horror films that Mother reminds me of, Black Swan and The Shining being two of them. Darren Aronofsky has engaged in psychological matters before, and he goes even further with his latest. Metaphorically, this is a trip into the outrageous, and I refuse to go looking for online answers. Its more satisfying to figure out what a movie is trying to say, even if you end up being wrong.

Also its nice to see Jennifer Lawrence being a part of a non blockbuster film again. I remember discovering her in Winter’s Bone, and she once again displays a naturalistic charisma that makes Veronica one of her best performances. Javier Bardem rivals her, embodying Him as a sort of wonderful grizzly bear of a man. The two are perfectly matched up together, and the struggles that result between them are both captivating, and later on, insane. My patience was rewarded with a last act which I cannot further elaborate on.

Oh and there is a cameo from the last person you would expect to be in this madhouse of a film. I love that Domhnall Gleeson is bent on being in every movie he can possibly appear in, plus Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris might as well be an older version of the main duo. I saw this in an empty theater, and was enthralled by almost every moment. This might be Aronofsky’s masterwork, a film that cares only about what he is trying to accomplish. No wonder audiences hated Mother!

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Blair Witch (2016, Adam Wingard)


You would think people would stop wandering around in the woods after countless horror movies, but no…someone goes blundering in. At least in both the original The Blair Witch Project and the newer one, Blair Witch, offer a reason why people head into the forest. In the first, it was three people hunting a legend. Now its a group of friends led by man hunting for his lost sister.

However both films suffer from characters that I did not relate to, and the newest flick takes way too long to become interesting. Once things spiral out of control I was creeped out, and I liked how I was unsure of what would happen next. I much prefer the orginal, yet the latest entry is still decent. I have not viewed Book of Shadows, and I have no plans to do so.

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: The Black Torment (1964, Robert Hartford -Davis )


Made during the height of Hammer Studios The Black Torment feels like a lost film from them, and it has some of the grace notes of Hammer films. One thing I enjoy about the 1960s is the number of period horror films, many of them well done and entertaining. The Black Torment has ghosts, a sword fight, class issues and some good creepy scenes. The main cast is full of people I did not recognize, yet I felt that added a degree of intrigue to the movie, since I would not be able to guess what happened next.

One of the film’s highlights is Sir Richard Fordyke (John Turner) riding after a ghost! Who then manages to chase after him, in eerie and suspenseful fashion. The movie’s gothic horror aspects are its strongest features, and overcome some weak melodrama early on in the film. Heather Sears as Lady Elizabeth is excellently cast as Richard’s wife, and she more than holds her own in the film.

Plus there is a staircase scene that reminded me of The Shining, which makes me wonder if Stanley Kubrick got the inspiration for one of his film’s most infamous moments from The Black Torment. Every Horrorfest I uncover a hidden old gem, and I eagerly recommend this film to everyone looking for solid entertainment.

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Bite (2015, Chad Archibald)


Do not watch Bite while eating, as the film roughly 40 minutes in becomes gross. I have viewed a lot of body horror film and yet I still find this movie disgusting. Which is clearly what those who made it had in mind, while channeling other films. Modern horror does that a lot, and unfortunately too much familiar territory is covered as a result.

The cast mostly helps this film, although Jordan Gray is bland as Casey’s boyfriend.  Elma Begovic is rather sympathetic as Casey, despite turning into a monster. Denise Yuen and Annette Wozniak play her friends: one who cares about her, the other does not. Things get out of hand quickly 40 minutes in, and the body horror elements were the film’s strongest.

I did not care for the found footage style opening, and the movie took a bit too long to really get moving. Still Bite is not all bad, and it was not a complete waste of time. Oh and bugs creep me out, just like everyone else. Yet they can also be oddly fascinating. From a distance, behind glass.

Horrorfest 2017: Dead Can Dance!


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Go Zombie Michael, Go!

Okay enough Friday the 13th homage titles. If you have not listened to the band Dead Can Dance, do so. Anyways its time for more horror films, as I have fallen into the old habit of viewing them every year. Plus writing reviews, which I plan to do much faster this time. My public library (three separate branches in town) has enough to get me started, and I am finally making the switch to Blu Ray after years of slumming it with DVD’s. So for my few readers, time to get scared…again.

Public Library Edition Planned List (in alphabetical order):

1. Bite (2015, body horror)-http://wp.me/pRBID-2ec
2. The Black Torment (1964, gothic horror)-http://wp.me/pRBID-2eo
3. Blair Witch (2016, duh)-https://wp.me/pRBID-2ey
4. Blood For Dracula (1974, duh again)
5. Bram Stroker’s Dracula (1992, DUH)
6. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935, creature feature)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2017/10/21/horrorfest-2017-presents-the-bride-of-frankenstein-1935-james-whale/
7. Crawlspace (1986, crazy people)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2017/11/07/horrorfest-2017-presents-crawlspace-1986-david-schmoeller/
8. A Cure For Wellness (2016, crazy people)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2018/01/17/horrorfest-2017-presents-a-cure-for-wellness-2016-gore-verbinski/
9. Drag Me To Hell (2009, demons)
10. Flesh For Frankenstein (1973, creature feature)
11. Final Destination 2 (2003, DEATH)
12. Fright Night (2011, vampires)
13. The Girl With All The Gifts (2016, zombies)
14. Green Room (2016, crazy people)
15. The Horror Show (1989, evil spirit)
16. Krampus (2015, duh)
17. Legion (Exorcist III Director’s Cut, 1990, demonic)
18. Leviathan (1989, creature feature)
19. Lights Out (2016, evil spirits)
20. Little Shop of Horrors (1986, creature feature)
21. The Neon Demon (2016, crazy people)
22. Prison (1988, evil spirits)
23. The Quiet Ones (2013, evil spirits)
24. The Ring (2002, pissed off spirit)
25. The Tall Man (2012, urban legends)
26. Wrong Turn (2003, cannibals)
27. 31 (2016, seriously crazy people)

Other:

28. Night Monster (1942, creature feature)
29. Mother! (2017, crazy people)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2017/10/17/horrorfest-2017-presents-mother-darren-aronofsky/
30. The Manster (1959, creature feature)
31. Raw (2017, cannibals)
32. The Satanic Rights of Dracula (1974, yep)
33. Urban Legend (1998, slasher)
34. It (2017, Pennywise the Dancing Clown!)
35. Pieces (1982, giallo)
36. Alice, Sweet Alice (1976, giallo)
37. Jennifer’s Body (2009, demonic)
38. Salem’s Lot (1979, vampires)

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Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Stung (2015, Benjamin Diez)


Made in the fine tradition of killer insect movies, Benjamin Diez’s Stung is gross, shocking, outlandish and entertaining. Even if the main plot is kind of flimsy, the setting is great: two young people cater a party for an elderly rich woman at a creepy ancient mansion, and killer wasps show up. Well they are mutant wasps, of course, although the hilariously deadpan mayor played by the legendary Lance Henriksen doesn’t think it matters if they’re bees, wasps, whatever. Matt O’Leary as Paul and Jessica Cook as Julia happen to be the young folks trapped in a bad situation, and things just get worse from there. Because if you get stung or bit by one of those monstrous insects, you end up changing into one. And that is if they don’t eat you, first. I am reminded of several other, notable and more famous horror films, yet even I cannot overcome my disgust of bugs. Most people hate and fear insects, and often for good reason.

Despite Henriksen really being the only professional here, I did like both O’Leary and Paul, who had good chemistry together despite their characters ignoring it the entire movie. A good love story adds to the film, which is good since I was a tad disappointed at times, since the trailer builds it up to be way scarier. Also I think I am tired of horror films having an obvious “Supposed to be shocking” conclusion that pops up after the film should have ended. However, as modern horror goes this is still a fun popcorn flick, and I believe it is still available on Netflix.

Sometimes Second Chances Are Overrated


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Second viewings are part of watching cinema. Yet lately I’ve been neglecting them in an attempt to do more first time viewings and consume more media every year. So often necessary multiple viewings typically get ignored. Also I’m not as found of second viewings as I used to be, particularly since they often highlight key flaws. They also tend to make me doubt my judgement when I like or enjoy a movie even more after another viewing.

Yet it’s more because so many films don’t even deserve a second viewing, much less a first time watch. Too many films these days fit into the “Well that was fine, I guess,” and then I move on to another movie, one that may be far more interesting because its either really awful or a truly great film. Oh and movie marathons make second viewings even harder, as I usually watch a ton of horror movies ever year and currently I am going through MST3K, all 34 episodes on Netflix plus the ones that I can find at my local library or on the internet.

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Some films are easily more watchable, and I own movies I have seen endless times; recently I found that Big Trouble In Little China was on Netflix, and instead of using it to kill time and then moving on to something else, I proceeded to watch the entire thing. Maybe those movies that endlessly hold up to numerous viewings are the ones that should truly deserve our admiration, or perhaps moving on to the next film is the best policy.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015, Christopher B. Landon)


Ah the Scouting life. I am an Eagle Scout, something that depending on the people you talk to is either something cool, or something really dorky. I enjoyed my time in the Scouts fully, and I made some good friends along the way. Despite this movie being cheesy, way too focused on gore at times, and rather outrageous, I still liked its spirit and its heart. Also this film centered on a trio of friends, and these three guys help add to the film’s strong comedy elements, which outweigh most of its horror elements. I am also very heavily biased towards the zombie genre, and therefore am prone to liking many of the ones I watch every year. Ben, Augie, and Carter are a bunch of goofy Scout members who have been Scouting for years. Naturally two of them are thinking quitting (not really hard to figure out which ones), and they cannot bring themselves to tell the one who is very happy with the status quo. Having been young once upon a time its easy to identify with all three teenagers, and so even without the zombies this film has plenty on its plate already.

Oh and having David Koechner as their Scout leader is a great touch, especially since he kind of reminds me of past Scout leaders. What happens to him is both crazy and funny in a horrible sort of a way, and this humorous part along with the cause of the zombie outbreak sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Tye Sheridan as Ben proves to be a solid leading man for the film, and I actually liked that the young people in this movie, save for a few, actually look like they are in high school. Well that and also the main problem in many zombie movies: the military showing up, freaking out, and deciding that bombing the area is the solution. Also that having Scouts to defend you is a good thing, since they know how to build weapons and other things. This could be a new favorite of mine, and is recommended as a fun time at the movies. Sometimes fun is a good thing.

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