Thursday, October 13, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/12


Lunacy (2005)
(1st viewing) d. Svankmajer, Jan (Czechoslovakia) 118min
Animated sequences featuring renegade disembodied beef tongues, entrails, and other fleshy bits running amok trade turns with live action scenes of Marquis de Sade (an unhinged Jan Triska) tormenting grieving mourner/asylum incident Pavel Liska. The haunting and repetitious calliope refrain keeps the mood light in the face of such transgressions, the final result feels inspired if a little disconnected. But then again, considering the subject matter, who’s going to complain?

Deranged (1974) (2nd viewing) d. Gillen, Jeff/Ormsby, Alan (Canada) d. 82min. “Ezra Cobb – murderer, graverobber, necrophiliac, perhaps, or as you may remember him from those stories of long ago, the Butcher of Woodside.” This docudrama of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein, as presented by our narrator/newspaper reporter “Tom Sims” (Leslie Carlson) in sport jacket and horn rimmed glasses, features shades of Psycho with our protagonist talking in his deceased mother’s voice, and berated for any sexual inclinations. The late, great Roberts Blossom gives us an Ezra that is creepy and cute, sympathetic and sinister, harmless and homicidal, and his parade of female victims is equally memorable: Lusty, chunky faux mystic Marion Waldman, brassy barmaid Micki Moore, and all-American hardware store attendant Pat Orr (whose nude death scene – with snow still on the ground – deserves some sort of special recognition). Deliberately paced, but the realistic matter-of-fact tone lends to the chill. Tom Savini assisted Alan Ormsby with makeup chores (his first official credit). Carl Zitterer, who provided the memorable score for Bob Clark’s Black Christmas the same year, yields a spare but effective soundtrack here.


Gargoyles (1972)
(1st viewing) d. Norton, Bill L. (USA) 74min
Demonologist/anthropologist Cornel Wilde and photographer Jennifer Salt discover the mysterious skull of a winged creature in the desert, only to find that there are more than a few live specimens still wandering about. Stan Winston and Ellis Burman designed the gargoyle suits and masks which are a step or two up from Star Trek monster shop, especially impressive considering their TV-movie budget, but there’s no denying the cheese factor on display. (Shooting the monster scenes in slo-mo is a pretty ineffectual, threadbare cinematic device.) Bernie Casey, covered head to toe as the main creature, suffers the further indignity of having his voice dubbed into a high-pitched, modulated tone beyond all recognition. Scott Glenn appears in an early role as rebellious motocross rider, while the 60-year-old Cornel doffs his shirt…and looks damn good doing it.

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010) (1st viewing) d. Nguyen, James (USA) 90min
The meta-magic of Nguyen’s Hitchcock homage is that it keeps the audience guessing, “Was it supposed to be this bad?” Personally, I fall into the camp of believing it to be a genuinely earnest failure, while others suspect it to be an elaborately staged hoax. Either way, fans of ineptitude will thrill to the bungled sound mix, clunky line readings, shaky camerawork, environmental preaching and, of course, those amazing, straight-out-of-a-videogame animated winged beasties. Exhausting but you’ve never seen anything like it before.


First Time Views: 26
Repeats: 27
Total Films: 53

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