Friday, October 26, 2012

October Movie Challenge 2012 (10/25)

Remember, if you would like to make a pledge toward Scare-A-Thon 2012 (benefitting FRIENDS OF CHILDREN) at any time, drop me an email at to let me know how much you would like to pledge per film. Your donation is tax deductible, 100% of goes directly to aid the kids, and seriously, even a penny per film helps. Thanks in advance!

Night Monster (1942) (1st viewing) d. Beebe, Ford (USA) 72 min.

Fun if silly thriller featuring a house full of colorful characters – including Lionel Atwill and Bela Lugosi, though both of them are ill-used here – with a crazy crippled old man (who may or may not be wreaking vengeance on the doctors) who failed to cure him and his loopy paranoid sister feeding the narrative fires and mystical magical Hindi sorcerers materializing skeletons right and left. Never heard of it before, but found it on the same YouTube channel as Murders in the Zoo and I liked it.

Terror at Tenkiller (1986) (1st viewing) d. Meyer, Ken (USA) 87 min.

If I’m watching an Oklahoma-lensed no-budget slasher and there’s no suspense to the identity of the killer and the "performances" are dreadful and the sound is terrible and the dialogue is absolute crap and the kills are so-so and I was warned about all of this from the get-go by my pal Chris (who sold it to me for a dollar), do I really have any right to complain? Yeah, didn’t think so. Special mention for the incredibly grating Casio (with realistic high-hat sound!) soundtrack.

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) (1st viewing) d. Joost, Henry/Schulman, Ariel (USA) 88 min.

As someone who has been enjoyed (to varying degrees) all three previous chapters of the PA franchise, it is with deep regret that I report this latest installment directed by Catfish co-directors Joost and Schulman to also be the least. (When the guy at the box office asks you, “Are you sure you want to see that?” it’s never a good sign.) Not only is it a serious case of the seen-it-befores, but it serves up some of the flimsiest “reasons for filming in the first place” already problematic to its found footage premise. Turning Katie Featherstone into Jason Voorhees was also a big serious misstep. And that ending? Seriously? If that was the best anyone could come up with, then it’s time to hang up the iPhone, camcorder and laptop.

Sinister (2012) (1st viewing) d. Derrickson, Scott (USA) 110 min.

While it admittedly goes on a little long, for a mainstream horror release I was pretty impressed with the creep level of this story about frustrated true crime writer Ethan Hawke who has recently relocated his family to a new home…one where the last residents met grisly ends (a fact Hawke hopes to exploit in a new book). An 8mm snuff snippet of the previous family’s demise opens the film and it sets the grim tone that Derrickson dutifully follows, as more of these doom-laden reels reveal themselves in surprising fashion. There’s a reason for the solid word of mouth on this one – maybe it’s no modern classic, but it’ll definitely serve the turn.

Frankenweenie (2012) (1st viewing) d. Burton, Tim (USA) 87 min.

This dark-hued, warm hearted animated tale is everything I wanted ParaNorman to be: it’s clever, it’s smart, the characters aren’t obnoxious, the jokes aren’t easy, and the “monster kid” homages are sly and plentiful without being on the nose. It’s also probably my favorite Burton film in a decade.

Zombies of Mora Tau (1957) (1st viewing) d. Cahn, Edward L. (USA) 70 min.

For some reason, I had it in my head all this time and would have laid money that this was included in both The Golden Turkey Awards and The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made. I would have lost money on that bet. Turns out I was avoiding a flick that, while surely no piece of stellar cinema, is actually a quite entertaining programmer with lots of waterlogged undead protecting a cache of cursed diamonds and a snarling supporting performance by the late great Allison Hayes (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman). Live and learn.

Total Movies: 79
First Time Views: 79
Money Raised for Friends of Children: $814.49

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