Saturday, October 17, 2015


Challenge Totals to Date:

Movies Watched: 3
Total Movies Watched: 55
Total First Time Views: 27
Scare-A-Thon Donations: $1344.75

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.

The Initiation (1984) d. Stewart, Larry (USA) (2nd viewing) 97 min

This not-bad slasher movie cribs plot devices from about five different films, but it basically boils down to 1) Kelly (Daphne Zuniga) has bad dreams, 2) she wants to be a sorority girl, and 3) her friends, enemies, and others keep ending up dead, dead, dead. For the first hour, however, screenwriter Charles Pratt, Jr. plods through voluminous dream therapy claptrap, criminally bad yuks, and a Hell Night prank that involves Kelly and friends (including Bold and the Beautiful mainstay Hunter Tylo [as Deborah Morehart] who provides gratuitous nudity and roller skate action in equal measure) sneaking into her dad’s (Clu Gulager) shopping mall, er, “department store.” (Gulager has the good sense to get himself killed off early; not so mom Vera Miles, saddled throughout with bad dialogue and a truly unfortunate red hat.) Thanks to a bungled dream sequence at the outset, you’ll have the film’s major “mystery” figured out before you knew there was one. Our unseen psycho utilizes a variety of implements (garden rakes, machetes, spearguns) and the fake blood is liberally tossed around, even if many of the special effects are limited to close-ups of cloth stretched over blood packs – the cinematic equivalent of stabbing a couch. Even as the body count rises, Pratt’s script continually breaks the tension with tearful confessions of childhood molestations and touchy-feely pillow talk that ends in bloodshed. (Character development? Now?) Zuniga’s acting ranges from inept to annoying, but she’s given little competition from others in the middling cast. The wacko “twist ending” is a big cheat, but it’s good for a smile.

I Dismember Mama (1972) d. Leder, Paul (USA) (2nd viewing) 85 min

Sadly, the juvenile title is the only inspired thing in this no-frills, no thrills, colossal bore about whiny psycho Albert (Zooey Hall) who fantasizes about killing his mother for locking him up in an institution. Why did she lock him up? Oh, because he tried to kill her. Hmph. Of course, he escapes, but since he never even gets close to her throughout the entire picture, there are no matricidal vivisections to be had. (Sorry, folks.) However, he does off his mother’s housekeeper (Marlene Tracy) after a prolonged, icky, and depraved humiliation sequence, then spends the rest of the film in a size-too-small fedora, pseudo-courting her young daughter (Geri Reischl). Thoroughly creepy, yes. Entertaining in the least, no. Meantime, his inept psychiatrist (Frank Whiteman) and inept mother (Joanne Moore Jordan) all sit around and do... well, nothing, while an inept detective (Greg Mullavey) eats a lot of hot dogs and makes a few pointless phone calls. The cheapo musical score is as bonkers as Albert is supposed to be, and if there is anyone who deserves to be taken apart, it’s Rocket Roden for penning the painful ballad “Poor Albert,” which is more horrific than anything else onscreen. (“Poor Albert can you tell me where you are/Poor Albert can you take your lover very far?”) Screenwriter William Norris went on to pen several 70s action vehicles for Burt Reynolds (White Lightning, Gator) as well as the quintessential eco-terror flick, Day of the Animals.

From the Dark (2014) d. McMahon, Conor (Ireland) (1st viewing) 90 min

A young Irish couple (Niamh Algar, Stephen Cromwell) road trip into the countryside, only to get lost (over-reliance on GPS will be the death of us all, so said old codger AC) and then stuck in the mud. Seeking help, they cross paths with a Nosferatu-like creature (Ged Murray) and his recently turned familiar (Gerry O’Brien), eager to shred them to pieces. The game of cat-and-mouse is on. I first heard of this chiller via my BIFFF pal Gert earlier this year, and then was reminded of it by fellow Scare-A-Thoner John Pata when he viewed it a couple weeks back. Both had good things to say, so I elected to dial it up on Ye Olde Netflixe. I don’t know that I’m as enthusiastic – it’s certainly a polished and well-performed indie effort, and a fair stretch above many of its brethren, with some genuinely memorable moments (dust pillar in barn chief among them). But it’s also saddled with a resourceful main character who isn’t nearly as resourceful as your average viewer, who will likely be shouting unheeded suggestions from the peanut gallery. Seriously, when dealing with a light-sensitive opponent, wouldn’t it make a lot more sense – rather than burning individual matches, the stock of which is running visibly low – create a torch, set other flammables alight, burn the fricking house down, etc.? It’s not as though Algar’s character is insufferably dim, since she keeps coming up with solutions to stay one step ahead, but she never seems to grasp the basic concept that SETTING OTHER THINGS ON FIRE WOULD BE A GOOD PLAN. A solid watch, but be prepared to be a little impatient.

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