Monday, October 26, 2015
OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE CHALLENGE (10/24)
Challenge Totals to Date:
Movies Watched: 7
Total Movies Watched: 76
Total First Time Views: 34
Scare-A-Thon Donations: $2150.80
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to say how much you would like to pledge. Your donation is tax deductible and, seriously, even a penny per film helps.
All today's viewings courtesy of the Music Box Theatre's MUSIC BOX OF HORRORS!
Shock Waves (1977) d. Weiderhorn, Ken (USA) (2nd viewing) 85 min
Following a shipwreck, the passengers aboard crusty sea captain John Carradine’s pleasure cruise find themselves stranded on self-exiled SS commander Peter Cushing’s island, pursued by a tenacious band of watery, blonde-haired undead. In spite of its superb poster art and reputation as “the best underwater Nazi zombie movie ever made,” this curiosity item requires a fair amount of viewer generosity to soldier on through the padded plot and repetitive action. (The first time our goggled Aryan deadites rise up from beneath their wave blankets, the effect is stunning; the 51st, not so much.) Brooke Adams (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Dead Zone) is fetching in a yellow bikini amidst the ineffectual males (Luke Halpin, Fred Buch, Jack Davidson).
Child's Play 2 (1990) d. Lafia, John (USA) (2nd viewing) 84 min
Killer Good Guy doll Chucky is back in action, still chasing down little Andy (Alex Vincent) in the hopes of inhabiting the body of his “friend to the end” and freeing himself from his plastic prison. With Andy’s mom institutionalized following the events of the first film, the sequel places our young hero with a foster family (American Werewolf in London’s Jenny Agutter and Phantom of the Paradise’s Gerrit Graham), and provides him with a worthy ally in fellow orphan Kyle (Christine Elise). Bigger, nastier, and with more stinging one-liners for Brad Dourif to spout as Chucky, there’s a surprising amount of entertainment value to be found, especially amidst a primed beer n’ pizza crowd, with the memorably gruesome climax set in the Good Guy factory.
The Unknown (1927) d. Browning, Tod (USA) (3rd viewing) 63 min
“Man of a Thousand Faces” Lon Chaney eschews the makeup to assay the physically challenging role of knife-throwing circus act “Alonzo the Armless,” lighting cigarettes and scratching his head with his dexterous lower extremities. (Some of these stunts were achieved by having a second actor’s legs tucked into couches or below tables – no less impressive considering how well the separate bodies work in concert.) Working with frequent collaborator Browning, Chaney is truly captivating and chilling, particularly in the final reel, dizzy with love for fellow performer Nanon (Joan Crawford) whilst competing for her attentions with strongman Malabar (Phantom of the Opera/Hunchback of Notre Dame leading man Norman Kerry).
The Devil's Candy (2015) d. Byrne, Sean (USA) (1st viewing) 90 min
Tasmanian writer/director Byrne returns to the helm (following his much lauded feature debut The Loved Ones) with this atmospheric chiller about an artist (ripped Ethan Embry with a full Jesus ‘do) and his family moving into a new country home with a dark past. Pruitt Taylor Vince (Identity) is in his sensitive/scary element as the child-abducting psychopath who comes home to roost, with Shiri Appleby and Kiara Glasco excellent as Embry’s onscreen wife and daughter, respectively. Stellar use of heavy metal music and percussive underscoring, and while viewers are required to dismiss the laws of physics in the fiery final reel, the end results are satisfyingly dark and intense.
Frankenhooker (1990) d. Henenlotter, Frank (USA) (2nd viewing) 85 min
Following his zany comedy/horror outings Basket Case and Brain Damage, writer/director Frank Henenlotter unveiled this black comic parody of Mary Shelley’s classic tale. Crazed “bioelectrotechnician” Jeffrey Franken (James Lorinz, Street Trash’s improviser nonpareil) attempts to salvage body parts of his lady love after she’s mulched up in his experimental mowing machine. If he can just find donors for the missing pieces, he’s sure he can put her together again, leading to myriad hilarious hooker-recon missions in Times Square. Rampant with nudity and softcore sex (and a hilariously violent anti-drug message), this is bona-fide cult movie material, designed for those who enjoy gory horror and aren’t easily offended. In other words, Henenlotter fans! But the main attraction is reanimated “bride” Patty Mullen, an ex-Penthouse model who reveals herself — in more ways than one — to be an accomplished physical comedienne in what unfortunately remains her sole substantial role to date.
Ganja and Hess (aka Blood Couple) (1973) d. Gunn, Bill (USA) (2nd viewing) 110 min
Anthropologist Hess Green (Night of the Living Dead’s Duane Jones, bearded and bespectacled) is stabbed with an ancient ceremonial dagger by his unstable assistant (writer/director Gunn) and becomes endowed with the blessing of immortality and the curse of an unquenchable thirst for blood. When the assistant’s beautiful and outspoken wife Ganja (Marlene Clark) comes searching for her vanished husband, she and Hess form an unexpected partnership. One can only imagine what the distributors must have thought when they sat down to watch what they thought was a blaxploitation vampire flick and got an art film with experimental camera angles, epic gospel numbers, and hardly enough blood or sex for their intended audiences. Worth your time, but only with expectations fully managed.
Xtro (1982) d. Davenport, Henry Bromley (UK) (3rd viewing) 84 min
Sporting a muddled storyline, solid performances, and some truly outrageous gore and horror imagery, this nasty response to ET: The Extra-Terrestrial manages to survive on its own over-the-top insanity and effects. Little Tony’s (Simon Nash) father (Philip Sayer) is abducted before his son’s eyes by a glowing alien presence, then returns three years later via a notorious “rape and rebirth” scene that should leave most jaws among the Jujubes. Understandably, this throws his wife (Bernice Stegers) and her thoroughly unsympathetic new American lover (Danny Brainin) for a loop. Add in future Bond girl Maryam d’Abo’s delicious French delicacies on full display and suddenly, this twisted little film has a lot going for it. That said, the scenes with the boy’s clown doll and G.I. Joe action figures stretch both internal logic and viewer goodwill to the breaking point. Often counted as a Video Nasty, though never officially marked on the notorious BFCC list. Followed by two sequels.