Monday, October 31, 2016


Challenge Totals to Date:
Movies Watched: 4
Total Movies Watched: 31
Total First Time Views: 16
Scare-A-Thon Pledges: $1045.63
Scare-A-Thon Donations: $355

Remember, if you would like to make a pledge toward Scare-A-Thon 2016 (benefiting THE GREATER CHICAGO FOOD DEPOSITORY) 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.

Narco Satanico (aka Terror, Sex, and Witchcraft) (1968/1984) d. Portillo, Rafael Mexico (1st viewing) 90 min

A wild slice of soul-possessing programming from south of the border, with a backstory as convoluted as the one onscreen. Prolific director Portillo (the Aztec Mummy movies, among others) shot an occult thriller known as Captive of the Beyond back in the late 60s, then returned to the footage 16 years later to spice it up with sloppier gore sequences. The original story concerns the nefarious dealings of a scorned woman seeking revenge on the man who rejected her, only to get more than she bargained for when his spirit possesses the body of his brother (both played by Carluis Saval), who then sets out for some payback of his own. One can only guess how things concluded in the 1968 version, but the souped-up redux has the murdered man rising from the grave and shredding a firing squad’s commandant’s chest to pieces with his bare hands. There are also a lot of dancing, polygraph tests, moody scenes of seduction, and fake mustaches.

Folies Meurtrieres (aka Deadly Madness) (1984) d. Pellissier, Antoine (France) (1st viewing) 47 min

Five stalk-and-slash vignettes make up this 8mm celluloid nightmare which challenges rational thought despite being shot in a fairly naturalistic style. We’ve got bleeding walls, bleeding cars, and bleeding animal skulls stashed inside refrigerators. We’ve got a killer who shows up on the scene and, despite having usually brought a perfectly good murder weapon along, decides to play found-object exercises with predictably messy results. Each of the female victims has a close encounter with the same male corpse before meeting her own demise, and cinematography, soundtrack, and editing are all clearly amateur hour (it was Pellissier’s directing debut). While the “who” and the “why” are kinda sorta explained at the end, it’s more about the journey than the arrival. Mileage may vary.

Hotel (2004) d. Hausner, Jessica (Austria/Germany) (1st viewing) 83 min

This chilly offbeat thriller – about a young desk clerk who comes to work at the eponymous Austrian vacation spot – cultivates an enormous amount of dread-filled atmosphere... and then cuts to black and rolls credits without delivering the coup-de-grace we’ve been waiting for. It’s one of the more ballsy moves in recent memory, and while it forces viewers to fill in the blanks for themselves, it’s also counting on said viewers to be invested enough to do so. The performances are all lovely (particularly our central turn by fragile blonde Franziska Weisz) and the production elements impeccable, but the final moments will likely not satisfy the tastes of average horror fans, or even many open-minded ones. Though it’s hard not to appreciate the brio with which Hausner brings things to an understated close, it’s a little like 90 minutes of amazing foreplay followed by a kiss on the cheek and a closed door.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010) d. Craig, Eli (Canada/USA) (3rd viewing) 89 min

Decided to wrap up October by introducing the femalien to this joyously funny and inspired riff on the “hillbilly” survival subgenre, which pits two unwitting backwoods good ol’ boys (Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk) against a fun-loving bunch of co-eds who mistakenly interpret circumstances and appearances, leading to a number of incredibly splattery and hysterically funny episodes. There’s not much not to love about this feature directing debut by sometime actor Eli Craig, with smarts, blood, heart and laughs slung about by the fistful. About halfway through, the missus turned to me and asked, “Are there other Tucker and Dale movies?” which is as ringing an endorsement as one could hope for.


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