Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Shock (1977, Mario Bava)

Even though Shock opens slow and operates as mostly a slow burn ghost story mixed with crazy person and possession tale as well, it’s a decent and satisfying conclusion to Mario Bava’s career. We can thank his son Lamberto for that, as he helped make the movie along with his dad, a nice final touch.

Daria Nicolodi gives one of her best performances as a woman convinced her son is being possessed by her dead husband. This leads to a lot of crazy stuff happening, particularly coming from her son, who begins as harmless and turns rather evil midway through the movie. Honestly the movie only really becomes interesting in the final act, yet I still dig it as one wild movie with a pretty good ending.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Phenomena (1985, Dario Argento)

Jennifer Connelly had a busy year with both Labyrinth and Phenomena, both strange films although only one is a Dario Argento horror film. This is one of the stranger Argento movies, even by his standards, because in this film Connelly’s Jennifer has the ability to communicate with insects. This ability is established early on when a bee lands on her finger and does not sting her, as if it has become her friend. Of course this film also opens with a typically horrific and startling Argento style murder, and in a way this film reminded me of Suspiria since both movies take place at boarding schools for young women. Naturally both involve the supernatural, too, something that Argento also touched upon in Inferno and some of his later movies, too.

Not only do you have horror icon Donald Pleasence playing a professor stuck in a wheelchair but you also have Argento veteran Daria Nicolodi as Jennifer’s chaperon. Plus there is even a ridiculously smart chimp named Inga, who assists Pleasence and proves to be important later on in the film. You have numerous nasty murders, Jennifer summoning up insects after the students foolishly mock her, and a cool traveling sequence where Jennifer puts her bug powers to investigative use. All set to a wicked soundtrack featuring Goblin and songs by Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Bill Wyman and Andi Sexgang. Even though some of the movie doesn’t quite work (a few of the scenes come off as silly, not magical or creepy) this is still a wonderfully eerie and well made film. Oh and I’m naturally biased in favor of movies with a monkey as one of the main characters for some reason. Perhaps they amuse me.

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