Monday, October 10, 2016


Challenge Totals to Date:

Movies Watched: 4
Total Movies Watched: 10
Total First Time Views: 5
Scare-A-Thon Pledges: $304.80

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.

Carrie (1976) d. De Palma, Brian (USA) (5th viewing) 98 min

I’m not sure I can really offer much here that hasn’t already been said, but suffice to say that De Palma’s true breakout film (and the first cinematic presentation of a Stephen King story) still holds up incredibly well 40 decades on. Things that jumped out at me on this most recent viewing: What an incredibly clean and lean (with the exception of the guys’ tux shopping vignette – what the hell is that?) piece of screen storytelling by De Palma and writer Lawrence D. Cohen it is. How fully realized the supporting characters are considering how little dialogue or background info they are given. How funny and twisted the relationship between Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen) and Billy Nolan (John Travolta) is. Being reminded just how extraordinary Sissy Spacek (as the title character) and Piper Laurie (as her evangelical monster mom) are in their respective roles, and the ease with which they play their gorgeously rich and nuanced arcs which could have been cartoon characters. De Palma’s fantastic collaboration with cinematographer Mario Tosi, editor Paul Hirsch, and composer Pino Donaggio (the first of many with the latter). And so on.

Any fan of the film should immediately pick up Shout! Factory’s deluxe 2-disc collector’s edition, which actually lives up to its name with over four hours of supplemental materials on all things Carrie (including the ill-fated Broadway musical).

The Premonition (1976) d. Schnitzer, Robert Allen (USA) (1st viewing) 94 min

Quirky little supernatural chiller about a young woman Andrea (Ellen Barber) who gives up her baby after being institutionalized and, upon her release, seeks to recover the child (now five years old) from her adoptive parents Sheri (It’s Alive’s Sharon Farrell) and Miles (Edward Bell). She enlists the assistance of her former paramour Jude (an impossibly young Richard Lynch) and the two plot to kidnap the child, an act that so traumatizes Sheri that she begins to hallucinate visions of her rival appearing all over the place. It’s a delicate balance of “are we witnessing psychosis or psychic abilities” that Schnitzer pulls off fairly well, even if things do get a little boggy at times. Stalwart character actor and renowned acting teacher Jeff Corey lends strong support as the local badge trying to unravel the mystery. Available from Arrow Video and worth tracking down (see below).

The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976) d. Cimber, Matt (USA) (3rd viewing) 83 min

Director Cimber (Jayne Mansfield’s final husband and creator of the notorious non-starter Pia Zadora vehicle Butterfly) helmed this bizarrely atmospheric and unsettling horror flick with art house trappings. Millie Perkins, child star of 1959’s The Diary of Anne Frank who later appeared in such edgy fare as Wild in the Streets and Ride in the Whirlwind, radiates substantial off-kilter charm as the damaged and hedonistic Aunt Molly. Desperately seeking human connection, Molly dotes on her nephews during the day, then beds (and murders) numerous adult sexual partners after sundown, all with equal enthusiasm. Suffering from a multitude of delusions and flashbacks, our view of the world through Perkins’ eyes becomes increasingly dreamlike and haunted, yielding numerous lyrical and poetic images of truly horrific actions.

It’s no small wonder the film (scripted by Perkins’ husband Robert Thom) still has yet to find favor with a wide audience; it’s far too bleak and emotionally devastating to provide easy thrills for genre fans, while the narrative content – laced with episodes of incest, sexual disillusionment, drug and alcohol abuse, murder and castration – is hardly the type to attract favor with the smart set. To further complicate matters, Witch found itself on the BBFC’s “Video Nasties” list in the ’80s, making it a criminal act to own or distribute the already-obscure title. However, for the patient and adventurous horror fan, there are rewards to be mined here: The strong performances, ample bloodshed and nudity should keep viewers occupied throughout, with its daring subject matter and imagery providing fertile conversation afterwards.

Both Witch and Premonition are available from Arrow Video as part of their American Horror Project Vol 1. and deserve your attention.

Vampyres (2015) d. Mattellano, Victor (Spain) (1st viewing) 79 min

Oh, how I had hoped that this remake would capture even a fraction of the magic of Jose Larraz’s 1975 lesbian bloodsucking gem. Sadly, outside of a few softcore-ready instances of nibbling and dribbling, there’s really nothing to recommend, unless you’re jonesing for a whopping dose of stilted acting from the entire ensemble (including aging Eurohorror stars Caroline Munro and Lone Fleming) and a cringe-filled script by the late Larraz and Mattellano. Yes, there are boobs, so if you’re an 11-year-old hetero male and you’ve been banned from the internet, this might prove diverting enough. All others should immediately make a beeline for the original, which provides vicious scenes of violence and sexy Sapphic snuggling in equal measure, nested in a bed of dreamlike atmosphere.


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