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2018 horror movie challenge -- preparations

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  • #76
    I just saw that Children of the Damned has finally seen Halloween. I would have bet (and lost) good money that he's seen it before. That was very surprising.

    I've viewed nothing but new horror movies so far this year for the challenge. Most of them have been surprisingly good. Netflix makes some pretty decent new horror flicks, and I've finally checked into some classics that I've seen in video rental stores going back 20-30 years (Copycat, Dolls, The Stepfather, etc.). Holly Hunter fine in the 80s-90s. Still ain't half bad.

    The Stepfather was the latest film; I can't believe it's taken me all these years to watch it. Terry O'Quinn, the movie's killer, is one of the very few semi-famous people I've ever met. It was at the Minneapolis airport, right around the time Lost was nearing the end of its run. I smiled at him and he just gave me a small nod, like he knew that I knew who he was. But I didn't say anything because I didn't want to attract any attention to him. He looked like a dude who just wanted to be left alone.

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    • #77
      October 17th

      64. The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971)

      When a break-in occurs at a secretive genetics institute, blind puzzle-maker Franco Arno (Karl Malden, TV’s The Streets of San Francisco), who overheard an attempt to blackmail one of the institute’s scientists shortly before the robbery, teams up with intrepid reporter Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus, Beneath the Planet of the Apes) to crack the case. But before long the bodies begin to pile up and the two amateur sleuths find their own lives imperiled in their search for the truth. And worse still, Lori (Cinzia De Carolis, Cannibal Apocalypse), Franco’s young niece, may also be in the killer’s sights.

      I’m not well-versed in the world of Dario Argento and much of his filmography is new to me despite seeing many titles that are inspired by his creations. What I have read is that most of his fans consider this his lesser result from his earlier work. If that’s true, I’ll go out on a limb and say I’ll likely enjoy the rest of his pre-90’s filmography.

      This plays like an Italian episode of The Streets of San Francisco what with Malden and a young protégé. I enjoyed it, but I can understand why anyone would say it’s the lesser of the two when compared to Bird. There’s some great editing between scenes and when the killer is about to strike with that close-up of the eyeball, but everything else feels like it has less flair and it plays it rather straight. Same goes with the reveal at the end. It’s not shocking like it was in Bird. There is an element that I think works better in Cat and that’s the chemistry between the journalists. Suzy Kendall’s character in Bird offered so little and it was just the leading man solving the mystery. Here, you’ve got two characters that are both dependable.

      How Cat holds up on a rewatch will be interesting since I know how it all plays out. For a first time viewing, however, I greatly enjoyed it.


      65. The Satanist (1968)

      A writer recovering from a nervous breakdown moves to the country with his wife for a rest cure that turns into a nightmare when the two become unwilling participants in an ancient Satanic ritual and a wild bacchanal of the flesh. Directed by Zoltan G. Spencer (Terror at Orgy Castle).

      I’m guessing that the filmmakers didn’t have the capabilities of recording sound while filming. If so, that explains why the writer to narrates everything on screen, from the fantastic to the mundane. Anyway, this is a sexploitation flick with a horror coating. The cult doesn’t do much other than have an orgy. Before that, various people have sex. The upside is that at least the female cast is attractive for a change with the likes of Pat Barrington (Orgy of the Dead). Is this what Black Philip meant when asking about living “deliciously?” Honestly, there’s no downside to joining the cult as shown here. Anyway, this is more of a curiosity for me, but I can’t complain because it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

      There is a commentary by Chris Poggiali and Ashley West on the disc that I’d love to check out next time before viewing the second feature: Sisters in Leather.


      66. Slaughter High (1986)

      Marty (Simon Scuddamore) was the kid all the students teased, taunted, and tortured mercilessly. One day, things went too far—one of their jokes backfired, disfiguring Marty for life. Now, five years later, Marty has arranged a special reunion for all his high school “friends.” The prom queen (Caroline Munro, 1980’s Maniac), the jock, the class clown, the rebel, and a few select others have been invited… and it’s going to be a gala of gore!

      First off, watching the blu-ray of this is a revelation compared to that old VHS transfer I’m used to seeing. It doesn’t help the weirdness of the movie make more sense, but it’s damn nice to be able to understand what I’m looking at. Slaughter High is weird because of how many things are so offbeat. This is England’s version of what an American high school is like. Not just how the kids act, but the look of the school itself.

      Then you have Caroline Munro who was 37 and couldn’t pass for 18 in the slightest. The complaint can be lodged against all the actors, but Munro really sticks out. Speaking of the characters, this must be one of the of biggest groups of assholes that an audience can’t wait to see get slaughtered. There isn’t a redeeming factor in any of them. The entire time, I’m all for team Marty.

      Also, the notion of what these kids can get away with is as absurd as Jesse from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 following his coach back to school to do laps in the gym. Never mind the obviously dangerous laboratory with random shelves in the middle of the room that sway with the slightest touch, but that an authority figure of any kind would shrug off most of the shenanigans.

      Slaughter High is like some weird nightmare version of high school as perceived by aliens. As illogical as it is, it mostly works. By only actual beef with the movie is that annoying as hell synthesizer tune that’s used in the first half. The rest of the music being reused from Friday the 13th Part V is fine and works well enough, but that lousy synth music makes my ears bleed.


      67. Blood Sisters (1987) (Commentary by Joe Bob Briggs)

      Eight beautiful, sexy sorority girls attempt to brave the night in an abandoned haunted whorehouse. Unbeknownst to them, their boyfriends have rigged the house to scare the ladies witless. However, the old house seems to have a mind of its own. Our heroines face a triple-threat, the increasingly more dangerous practical jokes, a psychotic murderer, and the brothel itself! Directed by Roberta Findlay (Lurkers).

      “Beautiful” and “sexy”? Ummm…

      Not the greatest of slasher movies. Definitely not the best of the sorority movies, either. It’s dumb, makes no sense and has serious editing issues. Yet it’s stupid fun mostly due to Briggs’ commentary. I’ve laughed at the movie without listening to him, but he makes it so much better for moments when he expresses the same confusion I do at certain scenes. My favorite is when a girl is watching ghost hookers through a magic mirror. Briggs is in the middle of a sentence when he realizes the interior scene cuts to the night sky of a full moon and then back to the interior scene of the woman still watching the ghost hookers via a magic mirror. Why is there a shot of a full moon at that point?

      Other great moments involve trying to figure out the plot. Why are there so many dead hookers when the opening shows only one being killed? Why do the hookers dress like they’re from the 19th century? How come the one hooker killed and appears later as a ghost doesn’t actually do anything of importance?

      The pacing of the movie is off the charts. It takes about 57 minutes before the first kill (excluding the opening). Then the cast is taken out fast. Four people are gone in a few minutes. Like there’s only two speeds: crawling and oh-shit-let’s-wrap-this-up!

      Blood Sisters is stupid, but sometimes it’s nice to watch something only to laugh at. If you check it out, make sure to listen Joe Bob’s commentary as well.


      68. The Fan (1982)

      Teenager Simone (Desiree Nosbusch, Good Morning Babylon) appears to be like any other young pop fan. But soon her fixation on the band’s lead singer “R” takes over her life. She walks out of school, breaks off with her friends and parents and somehow finds herself waiting for her idol as he appears on a TV show. Simone wants nothing more than to love and be loved by “R”, but he uses her with machine-like coldness. When he walks out on her to join his friends, she plots her revenge. She plans the ultimate sacrifice of her god on the altar of her madness, a ceremony as exalted and romantic as it is horribly wonderful.

      From silly to serious!

      Good lord, Nosbusch is so perfect in the role of a person whose delusions falls apart because of reality and the true nature of obsession and one-sided love. You can’t help but feel for the poor girl after her heart is broken even when she later goes to extreme, and fatal, measures. There’s not much I can think of to compare it to other than Audition in that it feels like a romance / drama for the first half before spiraling into madness. I really dig the music as it has that Glass Candy vibe. There are so many things to go into like her aversion to sexual advances with the driver versus with R as well as her lack of appetite earlier in the story paralleled to her later actions. But that’s all for another time.

      I fall in love with this movie a little more each time I see it and would highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t given it a viewing yet.
      People hyping up latest comic book movie to be the GOAT and I'm like "psshh, you guys must not have seen Bigfoot rip off a man's dick before in 1980's Night of the Demon."

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      • #78
        October 18th

        69. Disconnected (1984)

        Alicia (Frances Raines, The Mutilator) has been receiving strange phone calls in which loud and ghastly sounds echo through the receiver. Her relationship with her boyfriend, Mike, has hit a dead end and Alicia fears he’s having an affair with her twin sister, Barbara Ann (also played by Frances Raines). And all the while, a psychotic slasher is murdering young women with the police powerless to stop him. But then Alicia meets kind and nerdy Franklin (Mark Walker, The Vindicator). Will he be the man she’s been searching for, or will his own dark secrets destroy their newfound happiness? Directed by Gorman Bechard of Psychos in Love.

        Just one for this evening, but that’s ok as everything about this movie rocks! The lead character, played by adorable Frances Raines, is so likeable and does a commendable job as twin sisters. Maybe part of what makes the character so appealing is because she also works at a video store? I can relate to people coming up to the desk and inquiring about porn tapes, but that’s for another topic. The cop segments are funny and never out stay their welcome. Then there’s the Repulsion and David Lynch elements with the strange telephone calls. I could never tell if Alicia was simply losing her mind or if it was the work of someone. Thinking about it, I guess it’s more of an Alfred Hitchcock influence as Lynch hadn’t built up a filmography of weirdness yet outside of a few things.

        What’s up with Franklin’s decorations? He’s got strange ceramic figures, Groucho Marx dolls, and then there’s the crucifix. There’re also the black and white photos hanging above his bed of a man walking. It certainly reflects his mental status. Speaking of mysteries, what about the old man that just vanishes at the beginning only to reappear at the end? Was he the cause of the noises heard? That ending sequence just keeps playing over in my head with that rockin’ tune.

        I must mention the music as it’s easily a highlight with the way it’s interwoven with the visuals through editing. Best comparison I can think of is The House of the Devil. Continuing that idea, much of the movie’s aspects (the look, the use of 16mm, the music) remind me of that in a good way. You can tell this was filmed on location from the use of the strip mall to the interior home designs that involve wood paneling. It’s all authentic.

        I’m so glad I took the plunge on this considering it’s only available (on disc) through Vinegar Syndrome’s website. I’m definitely picking up the director’s other feature, Psychos in Love, this Black Friday from them along with several other titles. This may be the year I finally cave and just go for the yearly package deal. Also, I just learned that she’s the grand niece of actor Claude Raines.
        People hyping up latest comic book movie to be the GOAT and I'm like "psshh, you guys must not have seen Bigfoot rip off a man's dick before in 1980's Night of the Demon."

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        • #79
          We need a second like button on that post so I can like it again.

          Frances is quite obviously stunning but she shows a brilliance here that isn't even hinted at if you only know her from The Mutilator or Breeders. I wish she had gotten more parts where she could show it and more directors capable of bringing it out of her. She's just incredible in this film and this isn't an easy role to pull off (well, make that roles). The whole movie hangs on her performance and she kills it.

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          • #80
            Absolutely, especially in the last half hourSPOILER when it kicks into [B]Repulsion[/B] mode. To be honest, I didn't even notice she played both of the sisters until halfway through. >_< Something I couldn't figure out is, did she own the video store or was she its only employee?

            Such a terrific little movie that's part slasher, part psychological horror wrapped up in an early 80's blanket. I'm making a stack of titles that I'm going to back through after the month is over and check out the bonus material and this is right on the top of it.
            Last edited by Chex; 10-19-2018, 11:19 AM.
            People hyping up latest comic book movie to be the GOAT and I'm like "psshh, you guys must not have seen Bigfoot rip off a man's dick before in 1980's Night of the Demon."

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            • #81
              October 19th

              70. The Final Girls (2015)
              A young woman (Taissa Farmiga, TV’s American Horror Story) grieving the loss of her mother (Malin Akerman, Watchmen), a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself pulled into the world of her mom's most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film's maniacal killer.

              This was way more fun than I expected. It’s tongue in cheek yet treats the genre with respect all at the same time. The characters were likeable, and the story was entertaining. My only gripe is that it needn’t to go a little more distance to fully embrace the slasher genre when it came to the kills. Those were somewhat weak. I’d like to go more into it at another time and topic.

              Great for an easy evening of viewing after a long day.
              People hyping up latest comic book movie to be the GOAT and I'm like "psshh, you guys must not have seen Bigfoot rip off a man's dick before in 1980's Night of the Demon."

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              • #82
                October 19



                2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning


                I like this movie better than the remake from 2003 (I don't like the 2003 remake). I think this is a superior movie to the 2003 remake in many ways. I would really like this movie, but my problem with it is that... it's a different family. I wish they had kept the characters of the original movie, the Sawyers, rather than creating new ones. That is the sole reason I will always prefer "Leatherface" (prequel) and "Texas Chainsaw 3D" over the New Line Cinema remake + prequel. But ignoring the fact that this movie has no connection with the original "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974), it is actually pretty good. Brutal. Suspenseful. Frightening. Solid direction.

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                • #83
                  Originally posted by Monkey View Post
                  I just saw that Children of the Damned has finally seen Halloween. I would have bet (and lost) good money that he's seen it before. That was very surprising.
                  Oh no, that was just for a theatrical viewing. First time I've seen it theatrically. Ha ha, I'm sorry if I wrote it wrong. I've seen Halloween many times over the years, one of my absolute favorites!
                  "We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all." -- Andrew Clark, The Breakfast Club (1985)

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                  • #84
                    October 20th

                    It’s Bela Lugosi’s birthday and, since I have the day off, I figured I would celebrate it by catching up on some of his films with some additional new viewings. Here we go!

                    71. The Thirteenth Chair (1929)

                    Although his murdered friend was by all accounts a scoundrel a true "bounder", Edward Wales is determined to trap his killer by staging a seance using a famous medium. Many of the 13 seance participants had a reason and a means to kill, and one of them uses the cover of darkness to kill again. When someone close to the medium is suspected she turns detective, in the hope of uncovering the true murderer. Stars Leila Hyams (Freaks) and Bela Lugosi (The Raven).

                    Early talkie in Lugosi’s career that’s less of an old dark house and more of a plodding murder / mystery that spends most of its time in one room. It’s nice to see Lugosi throw himself in the role of the inspector, but he’s rather miscast somewhat. Remember the psychiatrist in Psycho and his long speech? Imagine Lugosi giving something like that, but for 40 minutes. It doesn’t help that the other characters have rapid-fire dialogue while Lugosi is trying his best to enunciate each syllable. On the other hand, he’s the most fascinating part as he feels like he belongs in an entirely different movie. He speaks Dracula while trying to put together the pieces of the murder puzzle which makes for a strange performance.

                    Directed by Tod Browning, supposedly he cast Lugosi as a way to get him hired for Dracula.

                    72. The Phantom Ship (1935)

                    During a horrific storm at sea, the crew realizes that there is a murderer among them who is killing them off one by one.

                    Essentially a ten little Indians story set on a ship full of terrible people. There really isn’t one likeable person on vessel including the leads or the wife character. Lugosi is on his A game here as he comes off creepy, possibly dangerous, yet seems to hold onto his ethic and morals more than most.

                    It reminds me of Producer Val Lewton’s Ghost Ship, but with way more dead bodies. Thinking about it, it’s like a precursor to Jason Takes Manhattan: a ship full of characters I don’t care about all getting slaughtered. It just needed Lugosi in a hockey mask to wrap it all together. As is, it’s a tight little movie with a unique location.


                    73. The Ape Man (1943)

                    A crazed scientist (Lugosi, The Devil Bat) accidentally turns himself into a half ape, half human creature, and scrambles to find a cure by using a gorilla as his murder accomplice. Also stars Wallace Ford (Freaks).

                    Another new one for me. This is definitely a Monogram picture as a few sets are used with sparse decorations, but damn if they don’t look nice while cast in shadow. In this, Lugosi looks like a cross between Ygor and the creature he played in Island of Lost Souls. He really does have a diverse range between the monstrous and they sympathetic that he never gets credit for. I feel bad for the poor guy here as the character screws up and transforms himself into a beast to which he fully realizes his mistake. I mean, after he goes on a killing spree I can’t root for the fella, but at least it makes sense.

                    It’s a typical story of a scientist killing to stem a problem only temporarily before he’s gunned down. What made it worth a viewing is Lugosi in the major role as he shuffles down a sidewalk with a killer gorilla at his side.


                    74. Night Monster (1942)

                    A horrific tale filled with strange characters, secret passages, dark storms and a murderer who’s mastered the art of “mind over matter.” Stars Lionel Atwill (Fog Island) and Bela Lugosi (The Raven).

                    When talking about Universal horror films from the 40s, The Mummy, Wolf Man and Frankenstein franchises are what get all the attention. Night Monster is criminally overlooked as it stands up against many of those and holds its weight. It has a similar production design with shadowy sets filled with fog as many of the others, but also interesting and entertaining supporting characters. The villain is also unique and the story features plenty of red herrings. Lugosi’s role is mainly subdued, but it’s certainly more than what he’s provided in 1941’s The Black Cat and arguably more than in The Wolf Man.
                    People hyping up latest comic book movie to be the GOAT and I'm like "psshh, you guys must not have seen Bigfoot rip off a man's dick before in 1980's Night of the Demon."

                    Comment


                    • #85
                      75. Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

                      The diabolic mind of Edgar Allen Poe meets Lugosi (White Zombie) as a lunatic scientist scouts Paris for a bride for his pet gorilla. Blurring the laws of evolution, he injects his female victims with gorilla blood and discards their ravaged bodied through a trapdoor in his sinister laboratory. When he finally finds the perfect mate, it is a race against time for her fiancé (Leon Waycoff, Tora! Tora! Tora!) to save her.

                      Time for the Lugosi “Poe” movies!

                      Every time I watch Murders, I find himself liking it more and more. That’s mostly due to the direction of Robert Florey who would later direct several great episodes of TV shows like Thriller and The Twilight Zone. The shots of the city have slight suggestion of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari which is fitting considering the story. C’mon, Lugosi is playing a character that is pushing bestiality by infusing women with a gorilla’s blood! What always catches me off guard is how he breaks down at his test subject dying from the process before dispatching the corpse into the river.

                      There’s an edit of this floating around on the ‘net in which the movie is rearranged in a way to reflect the script. It sounds like it flows better as it starts off with Lugosi picking up the street woman at the beginning, then the experiment, then the show at the circus. It sounds like a much stronger movie because the street scene is reminiscent of Dracula and how he entices the flower girl. Think of it with a 1932 mindset and all you know if Lugosi from his vampire portrayal the year prior. The movie opens with a similar sequence and you’re set up for a surprise that he’s not a vampire, but someone just as sinister.


                      76. The Black Cat (1934)

                      Honeymooners Joan (Julie Bishop, Sands of Iwo Jima) and Peter Allison (David Manners, The Death Kiss) are stranded and forced to spend the night at the home of sinister Herr Poelzig (Boris Karloff, Son of Frankenstein). They soon learn they are being held captive in the mausoleum and that Poelzig is the high priest at Black Mass. He has chosen Joan to be the Devil’s bride. Peter races to save his wife from Poelzig’s unspeakable treachery in an unforgettable climax.

                      One of the greatest horror movies to come from the 1930s-1940s as well as one of Lugosi’s finest performances. The things director Edgar Ulmer tried to get pass the studio heads and into a movie before the code authority took hold are crazy like satanism and necrophilia. One of the film’s strengths is how it plays on your expectations of Lugosi as the villain. He’s damaged, but ultimately still a kind-hearted man while Karloff as Poelzig is completely cold to the bone. The guy is responsible for over 10,000 soldiers being killed and then has his home built on top of their bodies, so he can sacrifice women to receive Satan’s power to (possibly) stay young. There are also the women he keeps preserved, presumably the women sacrificed, for his own sexual desires. My understanding is that this was fleshed out more in the script and much of the scenes filmed regarding it were discarded after the studio heads found out what was going on.

                      Anyone that shows any interest in the black and white horror movies, I always recommend The Black Cat and will continue to do so.


                      77. The Raven (1935)

                      Dr. Vollin (Bela Lugosi, Scared to Death) has a fetish for instruments of torture. After saving the life of a beautiful young girl, the doctor becomes infatuated with her. When he teams with an escaped killer (Boris Karloff, Bedlam) who needs a new identity, the doctor gets more than he bargained for.

                      The weakest of the trio of Lugosi / Poe films I’m indulging in today. It’s a lot of fun, but the campy dialogue from Lugosi knocks it down a peg. To his credit, Lugosi runs with it and seems to genuinely have a good time. Think of Vincent Price in later horror movies and you’ll get an idea. It’s also strange to hear Lugosi recite the lines to Poe’s “The Raven.” His moments of pause make it feel off yet eerie at the same time. It’s hard to explain.

                      As for Karloff, his character feels like a weaker version of numerous others he portrayed at the time. He’s so reserved while Lugosi is explosive that the dichotomy between the two makes it seem like one doesn’t belong in the picture.


                      78. Dracula (1931)

                      The ancient vampire Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi, Return of the Ape Man) arrives in England and begins to prey upon the virtuous young Mina (Helen Chandler, Daybreak). Also stars Dwight Frye (Dead Men Walk), Edward Van Sloan (Frankenstein) and David Manners (The Black Cat).

                      What can I say that hasn’t been said before? First 23 minutes are filled with a heavy gothic atmosphere and classic performances from Lugosi and Frye. Afterwards, the story drops off drastically and turns into a stage play.

                      Something I noticed this time around is how more fluid the camera is everywhere outside of the sanitorium. It’s only when we’re in Dr. Seward’s hospital does the camera remain stagnant. Also, one of the earlier drafts of the script had the Quincy Morris character in it. However, the character was written as a female. How would that have worked is a question considering how little Harker had to do.


                      79. Mark of the Vampire (1935)

                      When a nobleman is murdered, a professor (Lionel Barrymore, The Devil-Doll) of the occult blames vampires (Bela Lugosi and Carroll Borland); but not all is what it seems.

                      MGM shows that Universal did not claim sole ownership of gothic atmosphere with Mark of the Vampire. The production design of the dilapidated castle filled with cobwebs and bats as Lugosi and Borland (Scalps) roam the grounds as undead inhabitants. Also, talk about a memorable look for the vampires! Lugosi has a bullet hole in his head from when his character committed suicide while Borland epitomizes the gothic appearance with long, black hair and pale skin.

                      Why isn’t this as regarded as other horror films of the time? My answer would be the twist reveal. I don’t mind it as I try to keep a 1935 mentality when viewing it. By that, I mean I try to think of how the audience knows Lugosi by then as Count Dracula and from other horror roles so there’s no reason to doubt his character. Also, the ending becoming a bit “meta” may also be too on the nose for some. The story does fall apart when thinking about the film with the twist in mind much like Horror of Dracula does when you go back and rewatch the Harker scenes and are aware of his intent.

                      My advice is to go into this totally blind.
                      People hyping up latest comic book movie to be the GOAT and I'm like "psshh, you guys must not have seen Bigfoot rip off a man's dick before in 1980's Night of the Demon."

                      Comment


                      • #86
                        80. The Return of the Vampire (1943)

                        1918, Armand Tesla (Bela Lugosi, The Black Sleep), a 200-year-old Hungarian vampire, prowls the English countryside, feeding from the jugulars of the villagers. But Tesla’s reign of terror is interrupted when a pair of scientists, Lady Jane (Frieda Inescort, The Alligator People) and Sir John Ainsley (Roland Varno, Scared to Death), drive a railroad spike through his heart. The “un-dead” Tesla remains safely entombed for two decades until the impact from a stray Nazi bomb accidently releases him. Along with his werewolf servant Andreas Obry (Matt Willis, Swamp Water), the resurrected vampire now plots vengeance on the family that put a halt to his nocturnal feasting. Also stars Nina Foch (Sliver).

                        Part three of my trio involving Lugosi as a vampire. He’s almost Dracula in all but name. Unfortunately, he’s looking rough due to age and drug abuse. Still, he does command a presence. I like the use of WWII as a plot device to unleash Armand unto the world once more. It really is a story of its time.

                        The weak leak is Andreas, the harmless werewolf. Columbia was probably looking at Universal and thought about how they could compete. To be fair, they did accomplish something the monster movie house didn’t: put a vampire and werewolf together. Even the House of films that came later from Universal failed to do so to this degree. The problem is that the werewolf (great design reused later in The Werewolf) is such a wuss. When attacked by two cops, he boxes them! He’s a werewolf—use those claws or bite or do something other than punch people! This isn’t a Rocky flick.
                        Another claim to fame is that Return has the best vampire death sequence out of the three with Lugosi.

                        Not the best vampire film nor is it Lugosi’s greatest portrayal, but it’s unique enough that it’s worth a visit.


                        81. Scared to Death (1947)

                        From a slab in the morgue, a dead young woman tells the bizarre tale of how she got there, through a maze of murder involving a hypnotist, a midget (Angelo Rossitto, Freaks) and a mysterious figure in a blue mask.

                        Oh man, I needed a laugh. Take a drink every time the dead woman takes the viewer into a flashback complete with sound effects, returns to the present, only to go into another flashback. The first time, it’s ok. By the sixth, it becomes hilarious. There’s also a reporter character that sounds like Steve Buscemi. Each time he spoke, I kept hoping John Goodman would show up and tell him he’s “out of his element.” No such luck.

                        What can I say? It’s a cheapie mystery filled with actors like Lugosi, George Zucco (The Mad Monster) and Angelo Rossitto. Speaking of Zucco, so many low-budget titles are made that much better due to his talent. He’s the Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing of the 1940s that doesn’t get enough respect.

                        Goofy flick with laughs that’s strange enough to be entertaining.


                        82. White Zombie (1932)

                        A young man (Robert Frazer, The Vampire Bat) turns to a witch doctor (Bela Lugosi, Bride of the Monster) to lure the woman (Madge Bellamy, The Great Hotel Murder) he loves away from her fiancé (John Harron who has probably the most uncredited roles ever), but instead turns her into a zombie slave.

                        Classic Lugosi with the offbeat charm of an independent studio in the first zombie movie created. There are so many strange moments like the vulture with the most horrendous sound to the convoluted practice of how to make someone a zombie. One of my favorite moments is when one of the undead falls into the mill and the others keep working. Their blank stares are damn creepy.

                        Then there’s Bela. I love how, much like in Dracula, he gets a strong focus on his eyes. That gaze is one-of-a-kind. That and those bushy eyebrows that go on for miles. Definitely top tier Lugosi as he’s at the height of his career.


                        83. Return of the Ape Man (1944)

                        On the verge of restoring a recently unearthed simian from its frozen sleep, Professor Dexter’s (Lugosi, The Ape Man) plans for the apesicle will have chilling consequences when he sets about transplanting a human brain into his frozen find. With unwitting (and unwilling) help from fellow scientist Professor Gilmore (John Carradine, House of Dracula), Dexter hopes to unravel the mystery of the “missing link.” Also stars Mary Currier (Joan of Arc), Michael Ames (From Hell it Came) and George Zucco (Voodoo Man).

                        Time to end Bela Lugosi day with another Monogram picture. Despite the title, this is not a sequel to The Ape Man. I can’t say I’m disappointed but am surprised as to why give this such a title then. At least Lugosi isn’t slumming it alone as he’s got Carradine and Zucco tagging along. There’s a great moment where Lugosi and Carradine wake up cave man Zucco and quickly must work together to overpower him. When I think of strong guys, thin Carradine and aging Bela are not who come to mind. Up to that point, it sticks close to other mad scientist movies of the time. Afterwards, it just gets silly. The Ape Man bangs on the bars of a prison cell and shakes the walls each time. The best is when Lugosi is trailing after the Ape Man down a city street while carrying a blow torch. It’s too stupid not to enjoy.
                        People hyping up latest comic book movie to be the GOAT and I'm like "psshh, you guys must not have seen Bigfoot rip off a man's dick before in 1980's Night of the Demon."

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                        • #87
                          Lugosi was like the Samuel L. Jackson of the 30s and 40s. Dude was in everything.

                          I'd like to see Halloween tomorrow, I have no idea what people think of it, how it's doing in the box office, etc. I want to be surprised.

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                          • #88
                            October 21

                            Final Destination

                            Got the DVD during a used DVD sale. I remember enjoying this movie greatly when it came out, but the original didn't feel as good as the sequel or part III, which I have watched today.

                            Final Destination III
                            I enjoy this franchise a lot. I think its premise is original and creative. I thought that Part III was fun, but not as good as part II. I wish I was able to get the other DVDs, but only parts I and III were available.

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                            • #89
                              October 21st

                              84. Night of the Demon (1980)

                              A professor and his students go on a mountain field trip to investigate rumors of a psychotic Bigfoot that’s supposedly on a killing rampage! They had no idea the horrors they would encounter when those rumors turn out to be true.

                              Get some friends together when viewing this as you’re in for a wild ride. Sure, it’s low-budget and takes a while to really get going. Once it does, it never lets up. Think of a regional slasher movie from the late 70s that uses the Friday the 13th template on how to structure a movie. That means some bloodshed every so often to keep it entertaining. That’s before the climax when the movie transforms into a Night of the Living Dead scenario and the characters try to board themselves in a house as the Bigfoot shrieks and pounds his way in. The filmmakers must have also been fans of Dawn of the Dead as the kills are graphically gory. One of the best, and somewhat hilarious, moments out of several is when the creature cuts into one of the characters, reaches into his stomach, pulls out his guts and begins slinging them around at the cast all while in slow-motion.

                              I can’t watch this movie and not have a great time. The Code Red DVD is the best presentation that’s out there and is watchable, but it would be great if Vinegar Syndrome or someone could rescue it further.


                              85. Christine (1983)

                              Christine—a red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury whose unique standard equipment includes an evil, indestructible vengeance that will destroy anyone in her way. She seduces 17-year-old Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon, Dressed to Kill), who becomes consumed with passion for her sleek, round chrome-laden body. She demands his complete and unquestioned devotion and when outsiders seek to interfere, they become the victims of Christine’s horrifying wrath.

                              I’m not as familiar with this as I am on Carpenter’s other movies. This may only be the third time I’ve seen it. It’s good stuff, no question about it. I wish there was more between Arnie the nice guy and Arnie the possessed.

                              Something that did stick out to me is how awesome the score is. There are several moments in it that remind me of the music in Halloween III: The Season of the Witch.
                              People hyping up latest comic book movie to be the GOAT and I'm like "psshh, you guys must not have seen Bigfoot rip off a man's dick before in 1980's Night of the Demon."

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                              • #90
                                October 22nd

                                86. Halloween (1978)

                                Fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night 1963, Michael Myers (Nick Castle, director of The Last Starfighter) escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the small town of Haddonfield to kill again.

                                Hmmm. I don’t know what else to say about this that I haven’t seen before. It epitomizes the horror season perfectly besides being the template for the slasher subgenre.


                                87. Halloween (2018)

                                Well, I’ll be…they pulled it off! Mostly. I’ll just throw down some random thoughts on this while my brain continues to process it all. There are going to be SPOILERS. Don’t continue if you want to be totally in the dark about things. This is ramble with SPOILERS popping up all the time. You’ve been warned. Last paragraph has the cliff notes version.

                                Is this the best movie in the franchise? Pffft, no. That would still be the original. Is it the best sequel (with Michael Myers)? Quite possibly. I need to give it some more time and to revisit it to make sure. However, I also don’t think as highly of the sequels as I once did. I like Halloween II less each time I see it. Everything the hospital sucks the energy out of the film and Laurie feels like an afterthought. I still enjoy Halloween 4, but there are few aspects to it that I can’t ignore. 5, 6, and Resurrection are worse yet. H20 has strong elements, but not enough to fill out an entire movie as seen by its fleeting runtime. What I’m saying is that the competition isn’t all that strong.

                                Just as suspected when seeing the trailer, this looked like it borrowed heavily from the other films. It does. Why do I think Halloween ’18 may take the title of best sequel? Because it takes the best elements of the other entries and (mostly) improves upon them. Laurie’s still in fear of Michael like in H20, but rather than hide in terror, she seeks to fight it head on. It’s the flipside of Keri Tate, basically. This helps make her family interactions more interesting, especially since there are now 3 generations of Strodes affected by the events of 1978. Again, different than H20.

                                By the way, anyone that can’t get over the fact Laurie’s this messed up after the 1978 events needs to move on. There’s a brief explanation, but if you’re still that hung up on it, then skip this. You won’t be satisfied and, honestly, you’re already disappointed before the film starts.

                                Best moment in the movie, possibly in the franchise, is Michael’s return to Haddonfield. It’s an incredibly long tracking shot of Michael stalking the streets of suburbia and slaughtering the residents, just as Loomis once predicted. It just keeps going and going. It’s refreshing to finally see Michael get to cut loose like the force of evil he’s been described as for so many decades. Oh, and I was shocked at Michael’s first onscreen kill. Easily a defining moment in which the movie visually states it’s not screwing around.

                                The podcasters at the asylum is better than it was in the trailer. The checkerboard ground is still dumb, but whatever. I liked how the inmates all react once the mask is revealed. It’s as if they sense Michael’s evil begin to stir, like an animal sensing danger. Kind of creepy now that I’ve seen it in full context.

                                About the podcasters, seems to me that they’re a stand-in for past writers and fans who try to figure out what makes Michael tick. Clever without hitting you over the head. Best of all, it’s that they never get their answer other than what’s been offered before: he’s just evil.

                                The group I was with was surprised that the dick boyfriend, Cameron, survived. Honestly, I figured he would once it was mentioned that Lonnie (now a cop, of course) was his father. If that bully bastard survived Michael, then it’s not a surprise his douche of a son did.

                                Gotta say, it almost looked like Laurie was seriously going to bite it when she and Michael first tussle. I’ll hand it to the filmmakers for upping the suspense in that scene. I figured she would break out of the hold, but then the situation got worse. And then more so. And more so.

                                Oh yeah, the music! Carpenter is completely on point here. That tune that kicks in when Allyson (Laurie’s granddaughter) first meets Michael blew me away. Great to hear the main theme kick in at the best moments as well. Same for Laurie’s theme during the emotional scene when she breaks down.

                                Let me prattle on about the other actors for a moment. Will Patton still rocks, but damn if he doesn’t look rough these days. Is Sandy Johnson (Judith) going to get royalties from this movie? Show your tits in one movie and make bank for the rest of your life. Turns out this is a versus movie and we didn’t know it. C’mon, it has Michael Myers vs. Artie—THE STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD. Turns out we now know who wins. I didn’t recognize her or the voice, but according to the credits, PJ Soles plays the teacher talking about fate to Allyson and the class which also happens to be Laurie’s old classroom. The kid being babysat was the standout, especially when he suggested sending the guy to investigate the strange noise.

                                Speaking of, didn’t care much for that homage. I liked how Laurie shows up outside the window ala Michael only to show that she’s so defensive, she knows the exact whereabouts of her granddaughter. The reversal on the balcony reveal as well as the shadow reveal were nice touches. Good job on Laurie actually calling Michael, “the shape.”

                                Then there’s Dr. Sartain. You could tell something was off about him when Laurie calls him “the new Loomis.” Can’t say I expected a pen with a hidden scalpel. The twist is….I don’t know. On one hand, I like how he’s the anti-Loomis. On the other, it’s bizarre.

                                Some quibbles that come to mind are the odd dialogue placements with no lead up. One is Karen breaking into her backstory to Allyson out of nowhere. Another is Laurie talking to the cop while she was just talking to the doctor.

                                I don’t quite understand why there’s so much hoopla about Michael speaking. He doesn’t. Allyson only says Michael spoke to her when Sartain tells her he so desperately wants to hear Michael talk. She then tries to bargain with Sartain by exchanging what Michael said for her freedom, yet she fumbles over the negotiations because she’s clearly making it all up. Plus, we see the scene in question where she claims Michael spoke and he obviously didn’t.

                                A couple of oddities. First, why is there a bowl of pudding or cheese at a dance? The fuck was that? Also, why does Laurie have a model of the Myers house? I get wanting to put the house into the film, but as a model? I suppose it serves merely as a means to show how messed up Laurie is by wanting to know everything about Michael, but it’s not needed at that point. The Halloween III masks were a nice touch and the boom box Halloween II moment was fine. Turns out Mr. Elrod’s still living. That man is immortal. I guess it could be his son. No Ben Tramer reference? So he lives in the new timeline! None of the nods matter if you don’t get them. You’re not missing part of the story, for example, if you don’t realize Laurie is carrying the same gun as Loomis wielded in the original.

                                One thing I can say for certainty is that James Jude Courtney (along with Nick Castle) have the second-best portrayal of Michael. The look, the walk, and the actions are damn perfect. Nice touch on the eye damage he received in the first film.

                                Loved that opening with the original font as the as muck kicks in a reversal of a rotting pumpkin returning to form, as if to say the nightmare from 1978 is back.

                                About the ending, I read months back about the filmmakers wanted to shoot a sequel back to back with this but were told to wait to see how the first film performed. Knowing that, I knew Michael would survive. Sure enough, he’s not in the burning room and you can hear him breathe heavily at the end of the credits to imply he survived. Honestly, the sequel has the potential to outperform this. There are still other supporting characters left like the cowboy detective and Cameron (for those that just want to see him get killed). The situation is even better as the sheriff’s gone and so is Laurie’s 40-year-old preparations. It would be a survival game involving the three generations of Strodes while still having Michael cause havoc. Of course, it would continue from the end of this one.

                                Summary: Strong sequel that utilizes ideas from other films mostly in an improved fashion with a terrific score.


                                88. Psycho from Texas (1975)

                                A drifter/hitman (John King III, Alien Zone) is hired by a local business man to kidnap the local oil baron. The hitman had been reared in squalor, suffering the abuses of his whoring mama. When the baron escapes his assistant must chase him while the hitman takes care of a few loose ends. Linnea Quigley (Night of the Demons) pops up.

                                A regional horror / thriller that tells the viewer exactly what it’s all about right in the title. This may contain the longest chase sequence in a film. It must have gone on for about half an hour or so while intercutting with other scenes. Then there’s a 20-minute chase scene near the end. Of all the ways to cut from one sequence to another, using chase scenes as a device is a strange one.

                                Despite all the mayhem from running around, I found the beginning and end portions the strongest. John King III plays the role as wooden yet is quirky. You never know what he’ll do next. Sometimes he envisions killing some gal he just met while other times he terrorizes Linnea Quigley with beer for about 15 minutes before driving off with some fried chicken. That’s the beauty of regional horror: it’s off the beaten path. That, and you get to see some local places along with its residents to lend to that kind of charm.
                                People hyping up latest comic book movie to be the GOAT and I'm like "psshh, you guys must not have seen Bigfoot rip off a man's dick before in 1980's Night of the Demon."

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