Sunday, November 1, 2015


Challenge Totals to Date:

Movies Watched: 4
Total Movies Watched: 100
Total First Time Views: 34
Scare-A-Thon Donations: $2830.00

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 to say how much you would like to pledge. Your donation is tax deductible and, seriously, even a penny per film helps.

Splinter (2008) d. Wilkins, Toby (USA) (2nd viewing) 84 min

This thoroughly entertaining creature feature succeeds on two big counts: 1) serving up a monster that viewers have never seen before and 2) casting talented relative unknowns to flesh out the intriguingly scripted characters. Two young lovers on vacation (Jill Wagner, Paolo Costanzo) are taken hostage by an outlaw couple on the run (Shea Wigham, Rachel Kerbs), then cross paths with an alien parasite that infects through its spines. Upon being pricked, the unfortunate host’s body is then used in a variety of painful ways (transport, weapon), which should have audiences howling in sympathetic throes of agony. This terrific low-budgeter is hindered only slightly by visual FX man-turned-director Toby Wilkin’s excessive shaky-cam masking techniques (a la Feast), but the strength of the performances and effects carry the day. Definitely worth seeking out.

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) d. Barton, Charles T. (USA) (6th viewing) 83 min

Combining the comedy hijinks of Bud and Lou with a smorgasbord of Universal monster mashing turned out to be a winning formula, providing a satisfying final note for the aging series. Though the goofy plot (Wolf Man Lawrence Talbot attempts to thwart Dracula’s plans to transplant freight handler Costello’s brain into the Frankenstein monster) is less than inspired, it provides ample opportunity for A&C’s particular brand of slapstick and verbal jousting. The coup of returning Bela Lugosi to the role he made famous (as well as Lon Chaney, Jr. reviving his tortured lycanthropic soul, and Glenn Strange as old Flat-top) adds a sense of legitimacy to the affair, although the monsters are played much more buffoonishly to allow for broader comedy. Chaney’s plentiful man-to-wolf transformations (that’s a lot of full moons) still manage to be effective, even in their abbreviated state. (This film marks the first time Jack Pierce’s remarkable, but time-consuming, makeup efforts were discarded in favor of rubber appliances.) The animated vampire-to-bat transformations are handled well, though there is one notable goof where Lugosi casts a very un-Dracula-like reflection in the mirror while putting the bite on sexy doc Lenore Aubert. The success of Barton’s crowd-pleasing entertainment set the stage for future installments of the comedy duo encountering Universal’s beloved spookers. This, however, remains the best of the A&C horror spoofs, and is one of the team’s best efforts, period.

Housebound (2014) d. Johnstone, Gerard (New Zealand) (2nd viewing) 107 min

Sentenced to eight months house arrest at her mother’s home, troubled wild child Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly) is saddled with an ankle bracelet, trying to co-exist with her amiable jabberjaw Mum (Rima Te Wiata), her barrel-chested ankle bracelet-supervising security officer, Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), the creepy possum-skinning neighbor next door, and a restless spirit that seems to be residing within the walls of the family home. Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of this Kiwi horror/comedy from rookie Johnstone is that it delivers honest laughs without diminishing any creep n’ scare elements. From the first sequence detailing an ATM heist gone hilariously wrong, the writer/director displays a terrific knack for tension and release, eliciting giggles born of discomfort and tension, as well as an array of snide biting comments from the various characters which happily feel more like organic responses than premeditated punchlines. Even the occasional gore moments (witness the inspired use of a cheese grater) emerge from a genuine dramatic scenario rather than pure shock effect.


Oldboy (2003) d. Park, Chan-wook (South Korea) (3rd viewing) 120 min

This stunning tale of isolation, redemption, obsession, vengeance, and love is a true original, one whose taboo-tempting plot elements and bone-shattering violence make it an instant cult item not easily digested by the mainstream viewing public. Their loss, because Park is a filmmaker at the peak of his powers and his star, Min-Shik Choi, delivers an energetic, emotionally raw performance that ranks among the best of the decade.


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