Thursday, October 20, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/19


My Mom’s a Werewolf (1989)
(1st viewing) d. Fischa, Michael (USA) 90min
Frustrated wife/mother Susan Blakely gets nibbled on by dashing mystery man John Saxon and soon she’s sprouting fur and fangs in most inappropriate fashion. No way this dumb-dumb 80s comedy should have been this entertaining, but it breezily sails along thanks to the oh-so-very-game performances of Blakely and Saxon (the hand-licking scene alone, folks). John Schuck, Tina Caspary, Ruth Buzzi and Marcia Wallace all lend able support. No classic, perhaps, but surprisingly funny and good-natured, especially for fans of that decade’s particular brand of goofball laffs.

Night of the Howling Beast (1975) (1st viewing) d. Iglesias, Miguel (Spain) 94min
Paul Naschy stars in his fifth installment of the ongoing adventures of tortured lycanthrope Waldemar Daninsky, this time leading a Himalayan expedition which runs afoul of inclement weather, roving bands of marauders…and yetis. Naschy is bitten by a couple of nubile, scantily clad, cave-dwelling wolf women and transforms into his venerable wolfman character (shocker, that), which comes in handy when battling bloodthirsty cult members and abominable snowmen. (As the engaging adventure played out, I found myself wondering what might happen were a bigfoot to be bitten by a werewolf, and getting legitimately excited by the prospect. Sadly, the answer is not revealed here.) Enjoyably furry fare, directed by Iglesias under his “M. I. Bonns” moniker.


Cthulhu (2007)
(1st viewing) d. Gildark, Dan (USA) 101min
College professor and estranged son Jason Cottle returns to his small coastal hometown for mother’s funeral, where his father (Dennis Kleinsmith) leads a strange purple robe-wearing religious order that comprises seemingly the entirety of the village’s population. In addition to a well-developed paranoid atmosphere, director/co-writer Gildark deserves major points for introducing a strong, well-drawn gay character, successfully dealing with his protagonist’s sexuality within the story while never making it about his sexuality. Cottle eventually becomes the unwitting key player in a grand May Day scheme, the sinister mood admirably echoing Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man in its isolation and enclosed community conspiracy. Based in part of Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth, and though not slavishly loyal to its source material, there is great care taken in not showing the monsters, thereby leaving them to the viewer’s imagination – a decision that may frustrate some (as will the ambiguous ending), but which seems entirely in keeping with Lovecraft’s “unspeakable” horrors. Solid ensemble performances (including the unexpected Tori Spelling) sell the watery apocalyptic goods.

Exorcismus (2010) (1st viewing) d. Carballo, Manuel (Spain) 98min
Refreshingly well made, grounded possession feature, with rebellious teen Sophie Vavasseur falling victim to the demonic assault, which also manifests itself as attacks on her family and loved ones. Utilizing an superb all-English cast shot by Carballo’s Spanish crew, there is legitimate drama and tension created here, wisely steering clear of the shadowy grandeur of its 1973 namesake and staking out unique terrain both in atmosphere and theme. Vavasseur’s father Richard Felix (who resembles a younger John Hurt) and her priest uncle/“Father” Stephen Billington (who resembles a younger Jeremy Irons) wage war against supernatural forces, self-doubt and occasionally each other as they seek to free the lass from her unholy occupation. The snap-zoom camerawork gets a little old, but it’s easily forgiven considering the wealth of effective sequences that Carballo and cohorts crank out of this well-traveled material. Hellraiser stalwart Doug Bradley contributes a subdued but welcome cameo as Billington’s former mentor.

First Time Views: 39
Repeats: 43
Total Films: 82

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