Tuesday, October 20, 2015
OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE CHALLENGE (10/18 - 10/19)
Challenge Totals to Date:
Movies Watched: 3
Total Movies Watched: 63
Total First Time Views: 31
Scare-A-Thon Donations: $1701.00
Remember, if you would like to make a pledge toward Scare-A-Thon 2015 (benefiting PLANNED PARENTHOOD and GREENHOUSE SHELTER) at any time, drop me an email at email@example.com to say how much you would like to pledge. Your donation is tax deductible and, seriously, even a penny per film helps.
The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962) d. Green, Joseph (USA) (3rd viewing) 82 min
Brash young surgeon (TV mainstay Jason Evers, billed as Herb at the time), having developed a serum that keeps human tissue alive even after being separated from the body, decides to run off with his fiancée’s head following a tragic auto accident. He props it up in his out-of-the-way country lab for safekeeping until he can find another host body (preferably a hot rockin’ one) to stick it back on, hitting up various strippers (Bonnie Sharie, Paula Maurice) and models (Adele Lamont) along the way. Jan in the Pan (Virginia Leith) doesn’t cotton much to these shenanigans and, armed with newly found telepathic powers, enlists the aid of a homicidal mutant collection of limbs (Eddie Carmel) secreted away behind the thick basement laboratory door. An admittedly goofy premise, writer/director Green plays it straight and Leith’s arc from moaning disembodied victim (“Let me die... let me die”) to snarling disembodied avenger is quite enjoyable, as is Ever’s slippery smooth amorality. Great bluesy brass soundtrack.
The Killer Shrews (1959) d. Kellogg, Ray (USA) (3rd viewing) 69 min
Relegated to bargain bin status due to its ubiquity on many a “public domain” box set, this low-budget effort about a disparate group trying to fortify their isolated island refuge against repeated attacks from dog-sized rodents (Kellogg used actual canines in shrew “costumes”) still holds up pretty well as a taut little suspense yarn. Twilight Zone regular James Best, later immortalized as bumbling Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard, anchors the piece as the reluctant sea captain hero, while producer Ken Curtis serves as his human antagonist, hell-bent on making every bad decision a flakey coward could make. Ann Goude is the Swedish eye candy damsel in distress, onscreen daughter to well-intentioned scientist Baruch Lumet (father of Oscar-nominated director Sidney). The shrews’ unmistakable growls (kudos to Milton Citron’s twitchy, jangling sound design) will linger in your ears for days.
King of the Zombies (1941) d. Yarbrough, Jean (USA) (1st viewing) 67 min
A trio of Americans crash-land on an island where a German doctor (Henry Victor) is turning the locals into somnambulists whilst prying classified secrets from a captured Allied forces admiral. Due to its surface non-PC treatment of black characters, modern audiences might be reluctant to admit to enjoying this star vehicle for funnyman Mantan Moreland. However, considering that all of the white characters are evil and/or dim and Moreland’s manservant role, incessantly bantering in the face of terrifying situations, is the cleverest and most resourceful onscreen, one could argue that the film actually breaks ground with a minority hero. (Even if the promoters didn't bother to put any people of color on the poster.) Regardless of politics and race relations, this is a witty, enjoyable horror/comedy that holds its own against Abbott and Costello’s Universal monster encounters.