It's Mario Bava Night here at 32 Days of Halloween and we're watching Twitch of the Death Nerve (although it's shown here under the alternate title of A Bay of Blood). The film that launched a thousand slasher flicks--watch the murders in this film and you'll get the funny feeling you've seen them before. That's right: the old "Spear Through the Copulating Couple" (not a euphemism) trick started here. It apparently was way ahead of its time because although it flopped and flopped again, it's still got better makeup and dialogue than some of its progeny today. Go figure.
Written by: Simon Barrett, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, Glenn McQuaid, Nicholas Tecosky, Chad Villella & Ti West
Directed by: Bruckner, McQuaid, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, West & Wingard
V/H/S is a new horror anthology film (ala Creepshow, Trick 'r Treat, Black Sabbath, and everyone's favorite... Tales From The Hood) from a group of independent film writers and directors. The two biggest names involved are Ti West (who we'll get to later) and Glenn McQuaid (Stake Land, I Sell The Dead). I'm going to try to review this without spoiling it, but I'm not usually very good at that. So, if you feel the need to bail--even though you've probably made up your mind just by the cup rating above, I'll say it's worth a shot. It's well put together, but with some glaring flaws.
My chief complaint with V/H/S isn't its wonky premise, or even its inconsistency; that's just the nature of anthology films, really. There will always be hits and misses and there are certainly hits and misses here. It's more about its casting and characters. The film is comprised of about 90% douchebags. So when I say the phrase "white college frat boy douchebags" to you...you know that person you immediately picture in your head? There are about fifteen of them in this film. A few of the men depicted show redeemable qualities, but they are a small minority. And not only are their personalities the same, they look remarkably similar between the stories as well. The film has been criticized for being misogynistic. While some of the stories come off that way, I don't feel myself qualified to deem the entire film one way or the other. I can most certainly say is that none of the men shown here are people that anyone reading this will want to be around for long periods of time.
So Day 26 is when we usually pause and reflect on a bit of Italian horror that all makes us scratch our heads and say, "WTF was that all about?" Previous exhibit was the awesomely titled Don't Torture a Duckling. Now we come to the amazingly weird trailer for Mill of the Stone Women. Now, let me be clear: I'm not saying that the films themselves are incoherent parades of nightmarish images--I'm just terribly amused that a film that actually holds together (or at least as much as usually weird Italian horror films do) can be reduced to a trailer in which you really have no damn idea what's going on. There's a hanging woman! There's a dead body! Women are turning to stone? Wait, there's a musical number! Is it the ELO song "Turn to Stone"? No? What the hell is going on here?
Prepare for two minutes of a narrator struggling to try to get you to see a film in which he himself probably has no idea what's happening.
Since it's silent horror feature night at 32 Days of Halloween, we figure we'll take you back to 1925 and Wolfblood, which has been referred to as the first werewolf film ever made. I certainly haven't seen any earlier...you? Anyway, our protagonist Dick is the head burrito at a logging company. After a vicious attack, he's lost a lot of blood and in desperation--since no human will volunteer to give blood--the doctor uses the blood from a wolf. And you can...pretty much anticipate what is supposed to happen next.
Well, we had When Animals Attack as the theme previously for Day 25 of 32 Days of Halloween...but then I was seduced away from the path by The Giant Behemoth. But who can blame me? And now we combine giant monsters and killer animals and get a monstrosity that's half-man, half-walking catfish, all rubber suit. It's Zaat from 1972, raised from relative obscurity (under its alternate title of The Blood Waters of Dr. Z--which quite frankly sounds like a rap album) by our friends in MST3K. It is nothing short of amazing in its WTFery.
"How could it happen? No one knows. But it did." What, you mean the funding?
It's a free form night on 32 Days of Halloween, so we're going with the film that inspired a Tom Waits song. It's The Earth Dies Screaming from 1965. What happens when you get back from your flight and see that everybody's dropped dead? You go sidestep into what's essentially a one-act play set in a pub and every so often dodge some of the slowest moving robots in sci-fi history. If there was anything that ever screamed low budget sci-fi, it's this. It's Tuesday night cheeseball goodness.
So this time last year when we shared a twofer of Georges MÃ©liÃ¨s I was discussing how I was unaware of his forays into crazed horror flicks--an excellent genre for showing off his camera wizardry. But then I was also unaware that Hugo revolved around him and would showcase his talents for pretty much everybody.
We're going to start off with "The Haunted Castle," which as Wikipedia tells us (and it's always right) is considered to be the first horror film and first vampire film. Nice. It is from 1896. To help you out, in case you suck at math as much as I do--that's 116 years, people. So it's bloody amazing.
Then we go to the silently longer "The Haunted House" from 1908. Not much to say about this, but it makes the remake of The Haunting look like...well, the remake of The Haunting. Enjoy.
Movie Night No. 23 of 32 Days of Halloween has long been a place for something-or-other of the Zombies...and here we have Hammer's Plague of the Zombies. AndrÃ© Morell is absolutely brilliant as Sir James, and while it's at times a bit hokey (and that makeup is positively bonkers) it manages to be one of the creepier Hammer offerings of the 60s. Look for Hammer mainstay Michael Ripper as Sergeant Swift. Enjoy...
Episode #133 for Seven Psychopaths, in which our protagonist appreciates an intense yet non-violent Walken for a change, thinks some cinematic sandpaper might be in order but in the end--you can't hate a movie that has Tom Waits and bunnies. I mean, come on: Tom Waits and bunnies.
[[ More This Way... ]]
So, you know, growing up in the 1970s...sure, you didn't have the Internet. You didn't have DVDs and CDs. And you didn't have smartphones. But you did have friends who were zombies who would do you favors like terrorize your enemies.
What's that? Oh. Well, maybe that was just me and Rosalie, the titular character of The Child from 1977. Yes, it's Evil Children Day at 32 Days of Halloween and you can't get much more evil than dealing with the loss of your mother by siccing the dead on people. Well, I mean, you could...but it would take work. The director/editor doesn't have another credit to his name, but here's something fun: he apparently went on to play Professor Angell in the recent/badass H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society adaptation of Call of Cthulhu. Small world. Anyway, here's the trailer. Enjoy.