Wednesday, October 7, 2015
OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE CHALLENGE (10/6)
Challenge Totals to Date:
Movies Watched Today: 4
Total Movies Watched: 25
Total First Time Views: 11
Scare-A-Thon Donations: $393.75
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 Dungeon of Harrow (1962) d. Boyette, Pat (USA) (1st viewing) 86 min
Shot in San Antonio, TX, this earnest independent attempt at the Roger Corman/Vincent Price AIPoe gothic thrillers blends elements of House of Usher, The Most Dangerous Game, and Dr. Faustus to middling effect. Following a shipwreck, Lord Fallon (Russ Harvey, who also produced) finds refuge on an island lorded over by the twisted Count Lorente “de Sayde” (as it is pronounced here), played with soporific abandon by William McNulty doing his best Boris Karloff. Of the community theatre-level cast members, only Lee Morgan as the unfortunate sea captain managed to make more than one other screen appearance (which accounts for his “special guest star” billing in the credits). Classic exchange of dialogue co-written by Henry Garcia and director Boyette: “That explains why the count is a little deranged.” “Worse than that, he’s insane.” If only the giant spider puppet had been given more face time.
The Werewolf of Washington (1973) d. Ginsberg, Milton Moses (USA) (2nd viewing) 90 min
Dean Stockwell plays Jack Whittier, the assistant press officer to the White House who gets sent to Budapest where he is bit by – did you read the title? Okay, then. These “foreign” scenes very much recall Universal’s 1941 Lon Chaney classic, and there are numerous little touches throughout that tell us that writer/director Ginsberg knows his references and has a reasonable sense of humor. Regrettably, there are far too many other issues at play that keep his novel little idea from truly taking flight, almost all of which fall at MMG’s door: The shot composition, pacing, performances, and bits that go on waaaaaaaaaay too long (most of which concerning Biff McGuire’s oblivious POTUS). It’s too bad, because this could have been a truly sharp little piece of satire – I even like Bob O'Bradovich’s lycanthrope makeup. While decidedly a product of its time (references to Watergate and Vietnam abound), this is a concept that, dare I say it, is ripe for a remake. Diminutive Wild Wild West star Michael Dunn (aka Dr. Miguelito Loveless) shows up for an amusing if pointless cameo.
Zombeavers (2014) d. Rubin, Jordan (USA) (1st viewing) 77 min
It’s exactly what it sounds like, but darned if it doesn’t work a treat. Three hot college chicks (blonde Lexi Adams, bespectacled Rachel Melvin, and saucy brunette Cortney Palm) head up to an out-of-the-way cabin in the woods, only to cross paths with a bunch of toxic-wasted undead flesh-eating rodents. Their idiot boyfriends (Hutch Dano, Jake Weary, and Peter Gilroy, respectively) inevitably show up to add to the body count, and as obnoxious and bro-tastic as they might be, the lads provide most of the funnier one-liners and physical comedy. Yes, this is that rare beast – a dumb high-concept horror/comedy that actually delivers both “hahahahahaha” wit and “OMG” practical effects splatter in equal measure. I liked this soooooooo much more than expected, and the Bill Burr/John Mayer truck driver cameos only sweeten the pot. Director/co-writer Rubin was a writer for Carson Daly, MTV, and the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards for years, and as far as I’m concerned, this guy deserves to make more movies. (And I’m not just talking the inevitable Zombeavers 2: They’ve Got Wood.)
The Thirsty Dead (1974) d. Becker, Terry (Philippines/USA) (1st viewing) 88 min
Well, they aren’t exactly dead, so the title is more than a little misleading. What “they” are falls more under the heading of “immortal blood cult,” residing deep in the jungles of the Philippines and kidnapping attractive young females off the streets of Manila to satisfy their sanguinary needs. Blonde Jennifer Billingsley, one of the recent abductees, turns out to be a dead ringer for a portrait of She Who Will Fulfill the Prophecy or something like that, but when she refuses to partake in the corpuscle guzzling, things get a little conflicted for tribal leader John Considine. Less an out-and-out horror flick than jungle adventure yarn, with skimpy outfits for the gals and skimpier bloodletting. Judith McConnell, later a regular on the long-running soap Santa Barbara, makes an impression as a sassy go-go dancer willing to do whatever it takes to survive.