#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 17

0

image

After the last film, I felt completing the Gates Of Hell trilogy would be just the thing to get me back on track. I’ve already reviewed the film in my Let’s Get NASTY series ( http://wp.me/p3tjV6-mt ), so I won’t go back over old territory. I will however reiterate that this film still fills me with dread. There is something unearthly about the atmosphere and tone, something almost dream-like.

image

And of course, being a film by Lucio Fulci, it is dripping with Gore. Originally Fulci intended to make a non-linear haunted house story with the only solid plot element being that of a woman moving into a hotel that was built atop one of the Seven Gates Of Hell. This story focused on the dead leaving Hell and entering the Hotel, with little outside of the ensuing carnage to link the scenes together. Zombies were still popular in Europe and interest in Haunted House films was non existent, so Producers and Distributors persuaded Fulci to give them something more like his other Zombie films. Revisions were made to the final product such as adding Zombies, and completely changing the final act to include the Hospital shoot-out. What we’re left with is a fantastic film that I consider one of Fulci’s best. Full of dread, gore, shocks, and a rare dream-like incoherence.

image

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 31

1

Oct 31: Halloween III: Season Of The Witch(1982): http://youtu.be/RkN1Oh-RLBU

Image

Since just about everyone watches Halloween on the 31st, I figure that Michael Myers is getting all the love he deserves. Also, I feel that part 3, Season of the witch did not get a fair shake when it was released. Speaking from my own experience, for years i hated this film, simply because it was the Halloween that had nothing to do with Michael Myers. I felt cheated, and i knew plenty of other Fright Fans felt the same way. After the release of Halloween II, producers John Carpenter and Deborah Hill wanted to turn the franchise into an Anthology series, where each year a new Season-Themed sequel would be released. According to the director, Tommy Lee Wallace, “there are enough stories in All Hallows Eve that you could go on for years and years and years doing fresh ideas and stories about this phenomenon and this was supposed to be the first in a long series”, however poor box-office and critical reception registered the experiment as a flop, and the next installment saw the return of Michael Myers.

The story follows Dr. Challis, who is investigating the strange death of Harry Grimbridge, a man who was admitted to his care late one night. The man is babbling, saying “They’re gonna kill us all”, and is clutching a Silver Shamrock brand Halloween mask. The very same kind of mask that seem to be all the rage this year, and have catchy commercials airing round the clock.

halloween3-masks

After teaming up with Grimbridge’s daughter, Ellie, they both track Harry’s movements over the last few days of his life, and learn that something must have happened when he traveled to Santa Mira, to the Silver Shamrock factory. Also, a news report states that a large stone column from Stone Henge has vanished without a trace(remember that, kids). Travelling to the Silver Shamrock factory, Challis and Ellie find the town to be very odd, complete with curfew, and video monitoring, all controlled by the mysterious Conal Cochran. Jumping ahead a ways, we learn that Cochoran is a great big Irish bastard!

He has stolen a stone from Stone Henge, presumably using ancient Druid magic to get it to his factory, and is putting fragments of the stone into chips attached to all his Silver Shamrock masks. These chips will be activated when within range of a signal transmitted through tvs to all the children who are wearing the masks, melting their heads, and unleashing a plague of insects and snakes to kill everyone else within range.

halloween-3-season-of-the-witch

Why would anyone want to do this? Because, FUCK EM, THAT’S WHY! Well, actually it’s because Cochoran is apparently a centuries old Druid who has been tipped off by the alignment of the planets, that the time is right for the return of Samhain, and to usher in that change with a massive sacrifice.  Is it a brilliant concept? Of course not, but it’s still a pretty original idea, and manages to make for a fun film. Particularly funny is a shot of men in lab coats, chiseling pieces off the Stone Henge Column, while another lab-coated man watches from behind, glancing up and down from his clip-board as he takes notes. What the fuck is he supervising here? What could possibly be noteworthy?

Not only does the film have it’s own unique score provided by Carpenter, but it has a built in drinking game. Throughout the film, several references are made to the original Halloween film, some are subtle, some are painfully obvious. Drink when you spot em.  *hint, look (and listen) very closely*

Had this film been released without the Halloween moniker, simply as “Season Of The Witch”, it would have been judged on it’s own merits, rather than being known as the “bullshit Halloween Sequel”, but nonetheless, thanks to DVD and Blu Ray, it has found it’s audience. I, for one, would like to see the Anthology idea given another run, but to keep fans appeased, keep the film more closely tied together. Have them all take place within the same world as MIchael Myers, have minor characters appear or be mentioned in multiple films, make Smiths Grove Sanitarium a common location… could work!

Well, it’s been a slice, creeps! I hope your 31 days of Horror were as fun as mine. See ya next year!

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 3-6

2

Oct 3rd: Pieces(1982): http://youtu.be/A97EOtxF2gA

Image

I think the original intention for this film was to have it loosely based on Ed Gein, but like most plans in the 80’s, it soon went to shit in hilariously sleazy ways. The opening scene shows a young boy putting together a puzzle of a nude lady, all while singing the Humpty Dumpty song “…all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t put the pieces together again”. He is caught by his Mother, who hits him, calls him a filthy pervert like his father, and then yells for him to get a plastic bag, so she can “Burn it all”. The film is dubbed from Spanish, so some of the translations are awkward and make the dialogue sound silly, which explains why plastic bags are essential to fire building. Instead of being obediant, the little boy decides to grab an axe and chop his porn-blocking Mother to pieces. As the boy finishes putting together his nudie puzzle, a friend of his Mother knocks at the door. Upon receiving no answer, she immediately fetches two police officers to break in and conduct a search. That escalated quickly! The crafty little sociopath hides in a closet and pretends that some random Man came in and committed the slaughter, and he is whisked off to a relative. The narrative jumps forward several years and we see the killer still in possession of his Mothers bloody dress, and the Nudie Puzzle, both now triggering his murderous urges to boil over and begin stalking a university campus. 

Image

 

This film has all the ingredients of a great slasher film, but it’s like the ingredients were assembled and baked in an easy bake oven. It’s slightly retarded, but you love it anyway. The dialogue is awkward, the acting is terrible, and the plot is baffling. A campus Cassanova is allowed to work closely with the police to help catch the killer, for virtually no reason, and then there is the random Asian Kung Fu attack. Watch it to see what i mean. This is absolutely a film that should be watched with friends and alcohol. A Bloody good time!

 

Oct 4th: Deep Red(1975): http://youtu.be/IO8dtFwvu-Q

Image

Dario Argento is one of the Masters of Horror. As much as i love his films, the scores by Goblin stand out to me the most, and this film may have the best score of all. The story opens with a public demonstration of a psychic using her skills to read people in the crowd, only to proclaim that someone in the crowd has “Killed before, and will kill again”. Soon this very same Psychic finds herself the victim of a bloody death which is witnessed by her neighbor, who begins investigate the murder in hopes of catching the killer. Keep in mind, he is not an officer of the law…he’s a Pianist. Of course. Argento crafts a truly eerie film by focusing on atmoshere and mood. Several elements stand out such as one eye of the killer peering out from the darkness of a closet, or a creepy mechanical doll running towards a soon to be victim, or the young girl who has a history of mutilating lizards and seems to take delight in it. I can’t help but think these are ideas Argento had that he wasn’t able to flesh out into full films, but felt they were too good not to include somewhere. The full film can be found here: http://youtu.be/CsLnaq1mAE4, As out-dated as it may be, it still doesn’t fail to illicit chills.

 

Oct 5th: Burial Ground (1981): http://youtu.be/ixxGww40-pY

Image

HOLY FAAAAAAAAK! This one is bizarre! A scientist is researching an ancient crypt underneath a Mansion, and decides to invite 3 Jet-setting couples to join him for the weekend. Before they arrive, the scientist manages to unleash an Ancient curse which causes the dead to rise and tear him apart, then turn their attention to the newly arrived couples and one small child. Now, as far as Italian Zombie films go, this is nothing out of the ordinary. The Zombie make-up looks decent, the zombie themselves even seem a bit more resourceful than usual, so where does it go weird? The sex? All three couples arrive at the mansion, and immediately go upstairs to fuck, only to get dressed, go to explore the grounds, and then fuck outside! Nope, that’s not where it gets weird…One of the Women has brought along her young son Michael along…and Michael is portrayed by an adult midget…

Image

 

This wasn’t done because the role called for any kind of sophisticated acting…It was done because there is an Incest angle played out between Michael and his Mother. During the Post-Arrival-Fuck-Fest, Michael walks in on his Mother, and appears very disturbed. Throughout the film he will not stray from her side and frequently holds her tightly. Eventually he becomes traumatized by the Zombie assault, and is taken into an empty room by his Mother to comfort him. It seems that Michael’s idea of comfort is to kiss his mother and play with her tits. She lets it go on for a brief moment before slapping him. Michael then yells “What’s wrong?!? I’m your son!” Pretty much just answered your own question there, lil fella. Later, Michael is killed, but rises as a Zombie. Deciding that the best way to welcome her son back to her is to pop a tit out and invite him to suckle, Michael’s Mother may have to most hilarious Zombie death of all time.

Image

Now, I know that incest-zombies may not be everyone’s bag, but this film has plenty more to offer. Like regular zombies, and sex, and a Midget!

Oct 6th: Warlock(1989): http://youtu.be/FmmYDGknX-U

Image

I can’t remember how old i was when i first saw this film, but I do remember that it was on VHS, and that it was right around then time when i became aware that i really liked being scared. Looking back on the film now, I can appreciate the subtleties that led me to find it so frightening. The story concerns a Warlock, played by Julian Sands, who is swept forward in time by Satan to track down and assemble the Grand Grimoire so he may un-make creation. He is pursued by a Witch-Hunter named Redferne, who chases him across modern day America in an attempt to put an end to to Warlock once and for all. The score is truly creepy, and Julian Sands paints a foreboding figure. Little things like a brief shot of an attic door hanging slightly open, followed by the hook of the score, and the realization that the Warlock must be hiding within, somehow managed to terrify me as a child, and even now give me a chill. I also enjoyed that exposition is kept to a minimum. We accept that magic and hexes and curses work, and we don’t need to dumb things down with explanations. Ultimately, it’s a decent film that still holds up (kinda) to this day, for what it is…just avoid the sequels. AT ALL COSTS!

 

Hidden Gem at the Mountaintop (a.k.a. How The Fuck Did Everyone Miss This?)

1

Image

Thanks to the double wonderful Jen and Tom P for throwing this one my way! I got WAY more out of this than I expected! This 1986 film by Jim McCullough Sr. received mostly negative reviews upon it’s initial release, but found it’s way under the “Cult Classic” Umbrella. On the surface, it is an un-pretentious slasher film. The story concerns Evelyn, a widowed mother who is also a former mental patient. After losing her temper, Evelyn accidentally kills her young daughter Lorri, who just so happens to be invoking spirits in the hidden tunnels beneath the Motel. Yes, you read that right. I’ll come back to this. Evelyn drags the body topside and tells police it was a freak gardening accident, no charges are laid but at the funeral, Evelyn’s spiral into madness continues as she hears the accusing voices of the mourners in her head. Opening the Motel for business will not allow life to return to normal, as Evelyn is haunted by the voice of her Daughter, urging her to kill her guests, which she does, using the underground tunnels to slip between rooms undetected, first tormenting her guests with snakes, insects and rodents then dispatching her victims with a sickle. Straightforward low budget Slasher flick, right? WRONG! Back this shit up!

At the beginning of the film, we see Lorri in the tunnels invoking spirits, and praying to her dead father, she has rodents and snakes for pets (familiars), has an Ouija board in her room, and has done several drawings depicting the transformation from man to horrific beast, and of devils. Young Lorri has been dabbling in the Dark Arts! *cue Harry Potter music* How long has this been going on? How did it start, and for what purpose? Did this have anything to do with her Father’s death? After doing a little digging into other reviews, I haven’t found anyone else who clued into this angle, so I’m either brilliant or bonkers. Fuck it. If we take what we have learned from movies and TV, we can assume that Lorri has opened the door to the spirit world, whether she knew what she was doing or not, and the rest of the film is the result of her meddling. My Theory is that She was trying to contact her deceased father and something else crept through and possessed Evelyn. Historically, before we knew about things like mental illness, these maladies were chalked up to demonic possession. Was Evelyn mentally ill before the possession? Or was it the possession that prompted her stay in the Mental Hospital? Who knows. When Evelyn attempts to stop her daughter’s invocation, she loses control and ends up killing her daughter. I saw this as the demon seizing an opportunity to silence the one who called it up, thus preventing it from being banished again! Hearing the voices is how the Demon torments and influences Evelyn, driving her to commit murder! *throws record with Harry Potter music far off into the distance, then cues up Exorcist soundtrack, sits back in rocking chair by candle light and lets this all sink in*

At one point, as some soon to be doomed guests are driving up to the Motel, a large White dog appears out of nowhere, darts in front of their vehicle and causes them to swerve. was this an omen to turn back? As Evelyn kills a priest, she shouts “Out, Devil”. On the surface, this is the outburst of a disturbed woman, but I saw it as Evelyn struggling to regain control of herself. She tries to stop herself from killing by commanding it out, but she is not strong enough. Take a close look at Evelyn’s face in the final tunnel scene. Doesn’t she look far more sickly and haggard than she did mere moments before?

Image

Didn’t the same thing happen to Regan in The Exorcist? As the survivors leave the Motel, a brief glimpse of Lorri can be seen watching them leave, then vanishes without a trace. Is this her spirit now relieved to be at piece? Look closer. Her features are dark and ghoulish, I think it is the Demon that possessed Evelyn manifesting in it’s last form, searching for a new host. I could be waaaaaay off base with all of this. Maybe it is just a simple slasher film. Watch it again, and decide for yourself.

4/10 sickles, 7/10 hidden demons.