Friday, October 7, 2016


Challenge Totals to Date:

Movies Watched: 3
Total Movies Watched: 6
Total First Time Views: 3
Scare-A-Thon Pledges: $179.88

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.

You’ll Like My Mother (1972) d. Johnson, Lamont (USA) (1st viewing) 93 min

When Francesca’s (Patty Duke) husband Matthew is killed in Vietnam, she finds herself alone and pregnant. She makes her way to Minnesota to meet her mother-in-law (Rosemary Murphy) for a small amount of closure, but the blizzard conditions she encounters en route are nothing compared to the cold reception she receives upon her arrival. Stranded in the chilly confines by the storm, shades of Stephen King’s Misery creep in around the edges as Richard Thomas (yes, He Who Shall Forever Be John Boy) lurks in the shadows for the first half of the movie before showing his face as Murphy’s psychotic offspring, prepared to keep family numbers to a bare minimum. Sian Barbara Allen makes a strong impression as a mute serving woman who knows more than she can say, and Jo Heims’ twisty screenplay (based on Naomi Hintze’s novel) has a few surprises up its thermal sleeves. A wicked little unsung thriller, given the Blu-ray treatment by Shout! Factory last May, and worth your time.

I Saw What You Did (1965) d. Castle, William (USA) (2nd viewing) 82 min

Two adolescent girls and their young babysitting assignment spend an idle evening at home in the country, crank-calling the locals from the phone book. Unfortunately, one of their “victims” ends up being a man (John Ireland) who just happened to have murdered his shrewish wife! Even more unfortunately, the teens start playing phone tag with their quarry, finding him “exciting and sexy,” with the two parties drawing ever closer to one another. Joan Crawford, who starred in Castle’s Strait-Jacket a year before, headlines as Ireland’s neighbor with designs on the newly single bloke himself, but she comes off a little more desperate this time around (though not as much so as Berserk and Trog to come). Thumbs down for Van Alexander’s juvenile rollicking score, which undermines any real tension, and the smudge pots generating insanely artificial clouds of “fog,” but it’s still an enjoyable diversion if not Castle’s finest hour. Available now from Shout! Factory (minus any significant extras).

The Exorcist III (1990) d. Blatty, William Peter (USA) (3rd viewing) 110 min

Blatty, after publicly disassociating himself from the debacle that was Exorcist II: The Heretic, took it upon himself to personally direct this adaptation of his own novel Legion. Serving as a direct sequel to the 1973 classic, the story picks up 15 years later (shouldn’t that be 17?) with Lt. Kinderman (a taciturn George C. Scott, picking up the torch from the late Lee J. Cobb) investigating a series of brutal religious-themed murders, which resemble the M. O. of a serial killer executed the night of the original film’s exorcism. Doggedly pursuing a myriad of gory clues, Kinderman concludes that the spirit of “the Gemini Killer” (Brad Dourif) currently resides in the body of an institutionalized mental patient who strongly resembles Father Karras (Jason Miller) and can also possess outside individuals to commit further crimes.

Undeniably equipped with a moody, creepy atmosphere, and several shocking elements (the night nurse sequence is a wow), the theatrical release regrettably sinks into a muddy mire of far-fetched storytelling (how exactly were Kinderman and Karras “best friends” when they only met once in the original film?) and splashy studio-imposed special effects that reject legitimate terror for bombastic gross-out. Preferable to the Boorman effort or the mid-2000s prequels (in the way that a ham sandwich is preferable to broken glass) and it’s nice to see Let’s Scare Jessica to Death’s Zohra Lampert back on the screen as Kinderman’s wife, but it’s still a far cry from the original. I’m cautiously curious eager to see what Shout! Factory’s new Blu-ray’s “Director’s Cut” has to offer, and how much of Blatty’s original vision we are actually privy to.


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