Friday, October 14, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/13


Corpses (2004)
(1st viewing) d. Kanefsky, Rolfe (USA) 90min
Star Tiffany Shepis and writer/director Kanefsky teamed up again after banging out The Hazing earlier the same year for this quickie undead comedy. Zombies recruited by ill-tempered funeral home owner Robert Donavan to rob jewelry store. Headliner Jeff Fahey stars as a police captain dealing with the complications of rebellious daughter Shepis and Donavan’s hot-pants ex-wife (Melinda Bonini). Kanefsky’s tried-and-true formula of blood and boobs is in full flower here, and really, if you’re not up for that and some mindless yuks and yucks, keep on moving down the line.

Cyrus: The Mind of a Serial Killer (2010) (1st viewing) d. Vadik, Mark (USA) 87min
Shepis plays the no-goodnik mom of the titular psycho here in a pre-credits cameo and couple brief flasbacks, but it’s not really her show. Instead former Charmed regular Brian Krause plays our “Highway Hunter” as a damaged POW with intimacy issues. Writer/director Vadik’s occasionally uneven script has Henriksen (doing his usual solid gruff work) unfolding the story to Danielle Harris’ reality TV scandal-monger. Perhaps not the most plausible of devices, but within the flashbacks there are numerous disturbing, gory and graphic scenarios and imagery, courtesy of effects supervisor Cat Bernier. (There’s also a plethora of female nudity – but it’s hardly shown in titillating fashion.) Cameo-heavy with second-tier celebrities (Ray Dawn Chong, anyone?) amidst the rest of the fresh-faced supporting cast. Doug Jones pulls off his “expert authority” character with intelligence and grace.


Devil's Nightmare, The (1971)
(2nd viewing) d. Brismee, Jean (Belgium) 95min
I’ll admit it, all I remembered from my initial viewing years ago was the extended lesbian lovemaking sequence. But thanks to a glowing essay in Chris Alexander’s Blood Spattered Book, I felt compelled to revisit the premises of a strange German castle owned by somber baron Jean Servais. Each of the guests (a wayward group of lost tourists) represents one of the seven deadly sins, with justice meted out over the course of one dark stormy night for their “crimes.” Gorgeous headliner Erika Blanc is the mystery guest, strutting around in seductive, belly-and-cleavage exposing outfits. Dripping with atmosphere and sensuality, and hey, any film that kicks off with a Nazi general burying a blade into his newborn daughter earns serious points, no? Dreamlike score by Alessandro Alessandroni.

Satan’s Slave (1976) (2nd viewing) d. Warren, Norman J. (UK) 86min
Even more overlooked by American genre audiences than Pete Walker is his brother-in-arms, Norman J. Warren – one of the few British directors who kept the horror flame alight during the post-Hammer 70s. Known primarily for his 1981 Alien rip-off, Inseminoid (aka Horror Planet), Warren managed to bring plenty of gore and T&A to an audience bloodthirsty for more. The first of his horror efforts, Satan’s Slave, teamed him with a script by Walker-regular David McGillivray and featured Candace Glendenning (Tower of Evil) as an innocent lass who witnesses the death of both her parents in a car accident en route to visit her mysterious uncle (Michael Gough). As he takes her in to recover from the shock, it becomes increasingly apparent that Gough has plans for her that involve altars, sharp knives and reincarnations of long-dead spirits. Ah, family reunions are so much fun. While not a classic, Slave offers some effective jolts from the well-worn human sacrifice plotline and there’s plenty of flesh shown and blood spilled.

Witches' Hammer (1970) (1st viewing) d. Vavra, Oktakar (Czechoslovakia) 103min
The magic of witch trial movies is that no matter how many of them you’ve seen, they still manage to infuriate and devastate provided the acting is competent and the injustices given appropriate weight. Alongside such classics as Witchfinder General, The Devils and Mark of the Devil, we can now file this grim Czech exercise in cowardice and corruption. The requisite notes are played – superstitions are observed by church officials, casual talk of witchcraft leads to a magistrate being brought to town to judge the wicked from the righteous, names are named (under torture, of course), accusations are thrown, a showdown is foretold between the one true good man in town and the ever-growing power of the tribunal…and it doesn’t end well. Dark and unforgiving, leaving the viewer’s faith in their fellow man shattered. Happy happy joy joy.

First Time Views: 29
Repeats: 29
Total Films: 58

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