Friday, October 30, 2015


Challenge Totals to Date:

Movies Watched: 3
Total Movies Watched: 92
Total First Time Views: 34
Scare-A-Thon Donations: $2603.60

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 People Under the Stairs (1991) d. Wes Craven (USA) (2nd viewing) 103 min

Writer/director Craven’s urban haunted house yarn, structured on legitimate fairy tale elements (poor young protagonist tries to save his family by stealing treasure from ogre-like monsters) seems to take itself seriously at first. But as the movie grows increasingly cartoonish, it becomes impossible to take at face value and while some viewers may go along for the ride, the majority will simply glare at the screen in annoyance. As the young hero named “Fool,” Brandon Adams does his best, but is never quite up to the task of carrying the movie. Ving Rhames has a small part as the thug who engages Adams to burglarize his landlord’s house and steal a rare coin collection. The lion’s share of the work is left to Twin Peaks alumni Wendy Robie and Everett McGill, whose demented brother-sister team (calling themselves “Mommy” and “Daddy”) whoop it up a lot. A little of their grotesque, high-decibel caricatures goes a long way, and by the time McGill dons a leather S & M suit and starts blasting away with his ever-loading shotgun, you’ll be looking for the remote. On the plus side, the house itself is an impressive creation with endless pathways within the walls and doors that lead every which way. Though Craven’s depiction of life in the ghetto never comes anywhere close to “da ‘hood,” the attempt at ethnic diversity in horror is admirable. The cinematic equivalent of having your obnoxious older brother constantly hiding around the corner shouting “Boo!” While it may occasionally startle, it never really scares and gets really annoying very quickly.


I, Madman (1989) d. Tikacs, Tibor (USA) (2nd viewing) 89 min

Aspiring actress Virginia (Jenny Wright) loves books, but her latest read might prove too engrossing for her health... or that of those around her! The mysterious titular tome, written by the even more mysterious Malcolm Brand, unfolds the tale of an obsessed admirer who slices off his own facial features and then replaces them with the ears, hair, etc. of his victims. Unfortunately for Virginia, Brand’s book is listed in the “non-fiction” section, and the author seems intent on recreating his tale for her benefit. An enjoyable body-count flick filled with game performances, gooey latex makeup effects, and a brief smattering of stop-motion monster action. (Randall William Cook not only plays the insane patchwork killer, but served as the film’s head of visual effects!)


Antiviral (2012) d. Cronenberg, Brandon (Canada) (2nd viewing) 108 min

Considering that we’re probably not going to see Daddy David return to his horror/sci-fi roots any time soon, it’s somewhat heartening to see his offspring picking up the mantle in such an unabashed fashion. That the subject matter lives and breathes in an identifiably Cronenbergian realm almost goes without saying, but it’s a brave gesture to embrace it so fully – knowing the temptation would exist for comparisons, BC opts to meet said criticisms head on by showing us what his version of body horror looks like. Caleb Landry Jones gives a fearless and physical performance as a sales rep for a firm that peddles celebrity germs and infirmities, the latest rage in superstar worship, as well as infecting himself to unload black market versions of same to underground dealers. When his latest acquisition turns out to be more active than usual, it opens a dark, swirling cesspool for both Jones and the industry he serves. A stinging indictment of society’s elevation of their peers above them, simply because the media tells them to, as well as a fascinating glimpse into the glamour of the grotesque.


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