Sunday, October 21, 2018

October Horror Challenge 2018 #61: "The Satanic Rites of Dracula"

When I was a kid, Dracula was the coolest. I loved the Bram Stoker novel, and I loved every movie version of Dracula that I had seen. I wasn't allowed to watch horror movies, but my mom considered the black and white ones as classics, so I was allowed to watch those. "Horror of Dracula" was my favorite,  and Christopher Lee was my favorite Dracula. He still is. He's who I think of when I first think of Dracula, even after all these years.

This is the last movie to feature Christopher Lee as Dracula. While his portrayal of Dracula is classic, it's generally agreed that the later Dracula films were perhaps not the best. In this movie, Scotland Yard stumbles across what they believe is a case of vampirism, and they call in a descendant of Professor Van Helsing to help them investigate. It turns out to be Count Dracula himself, disguised as a rich land owner and plotting to unleash a deadly virus upon the world. Dracula is getting lazy in his old age.

Even Christopher Lee himself wasn't fond of this movie, once referring to it as "a mixture of Howard Hughes and Dr. No" in an interview. It is pretty in your face, with its nude satanic rituals and far-fetched plot. I still enjoy it, though. I mean, Christopher Lee's worst movie has to be better than some people's best movie. While this is more weird Satanic rituals juxtaposed with long scenes of men in suits discussing the supernatural, but I still had fun watching it. Dracula is still the coolest, even in a cheesy movie like this one.

October Horror Challenge 2018 #60: "Shivers (1975)"

This is the first David Cronenberg movie I ever saw. I'd heard his name for years, and how he was supposed to be a great horror director, and I wanted to watch his films, but this is the first one I managed to see, even before I saw "The Fly." It's a micro budget movie, but it doesn't need a ton of special effects to tell its story. I've always thought it benefitted from it's more scaled-back approach. I tend to go back and watch it every few years now, so I've seen it many times. It's one of my favorites, and it always reminds me why I do this every year.

So this movie is about a luxury hogh-rise apartment, swanky and secluded, that touts itself as a gated community. It has an on-site dental clinic and health clinic, and now it's home to it's very own parasite! The creature multiplies and starts to spread from one resident to another, turning them into mindless drones who want nothing but sex. I know some people like that too.

Like I said, the movie doesn't have or need huge special effects. Simple things like a shot of someone walking on broken glass are effective enough. There's also a scene that takes place in a bathtub that makes me never want to take a bath again. It's creepy and icky and gross, and it definitely makes me side-eye my neighbors. I even had a nightmare about this movie once where I lived in the apartment building where it takes place, and I and some other residents escape and hide in the woods to survive the parasitic invasion. I guess the movie is in my head, but I wouldn't want it any other way.

October Horror Challenge 2018 #59: "The Brood"

I love this movie, I love this movie,  I love it so much. It's one of the horror movies Stephen King wrote about in his book "Danse Macabre," which I read when I was younger and vowed to watch all the movies he mentioned. Yes, I'm a fangirl, I accept that. Anyway, I didn't get to see this movie until I was in college, and I really didn't expect to like it much. It's so weird, I mean apeshit insane at times, but I couldn't look away, and it impacted me so strongly that I just fell in love. It's been years since I saw it, though, so I wasn't sure if the movie really was that great or if it was just the first time I'd seen a movie like this so I remembered it as better than it was. Either way,  it was high time I checked it out again.

This movie is about a father who's separated from his wife, and his young daughter has court ordered visits with her mother, who is institutionalized and under the care of a psychiatrist with contraversial methods. The man thinks his wife is abusing his daughter and wants to stop the visits because of the abuse, but the psychiatrist thinks this will be harmful for the mother. Meanwhile, we see that the psychiatrist's therapeutic methods are much stranger than we thought, and soon people around the man and his daughter start being horribly murdered. The man must find out what's going on and save his daughter before it's too late.

Samantha Eggar plays the mother, and she's just great. She's obviously nuts, but she's also charming and she has this vulnerability that almost makes you pity her and want to help her. It's not easy to pull that off, but she really does a fantastic job. Oliver Reed plays the psychiatrist,  and he's also obviously disturbed and yet somehow alluring at the same time. It's obvious that his therapy is doing more harm than good, but he's mad with power, so he won't stop. They're a great pair.

Art Hindle plays the hapless father, and he's clearly perplexed and just wants to protect his daughter. He's also probably still in love with his wife, at least in some way, and he's also afraid of her, which makes sense, because she's nuts. She clearly has problems with rage, which made her abusive and terrifying when she was mad, but probably also passionate and loving at times, which can be very confusing.  I've been in  abusive situations like that, so I know what it's like, and it makes me feel especially bad for the little girl, who is probably very confused and mixing up love with fear in her young mind in a way that's definitely not healthy.

I haven't really said what the movie is about yet, and I want to do that without spoiling anything, which is hard to do. Basically, the psychiatrist trains the woman to project her rage outward, which in her damaged mind makes her create "children of rage," sending them out into the world to get violent revenge on those she blames for her situation. If that sounds weird, trust me, it's nothing compared to actually seeing it happen onscreen, her rage taking a physical form. It's creepy and bloody, and leads to one of the most disgusting scenes I've ever seen in a horror movie. I can stomach a lot, but this scene makes me want to vomit. Icky.

I'm glad to see this movie is just as viscerally shocking as I remember. The aforementioned nasty gore, plus the plot is so messed up that it really is terrifying. Watching what happens to a teacher in front of her classroom full of young students is really messed up, and that's even before the big stomach-turning scene I mentioned earlier. I'm happy to report that the movie is as good as I remember. I might even like it more now that I'm older and have a better grasp of family dynamics than I did when I first saw it. Overall,  this is still one of my favorite horror movies,  and I'm so glad i got to check it out again.

October Horror Challenge 2018 #58: "Blackwater"

It's hard to find info about this movie. I expect since it's an ultra low-budget horror flick and it's got the same title as a bunch of other movies, it gets lost in the shuffle a bit. It's a shame, too, because this movie really isn't that bad. I mean, yeah, when it began and I saw how grainy it was, and how cheap it looked, like someone's home video, I was sure it was going to be terrible, but it ends up being much better than I expected.

The movie is about a group of four women who call themselves the Getaway Girls. They're old friends, and they meet up once a year or so to go on a girl's night out trip. This time, Angie, the tough girl of the group, got to pick the getaway location, so she signed them up for a secluded camping trip in the Everglades. Unfortunately for our characters, there ate some deranged men lurking in the swamp who want to tape and kill them. I hate it when that happens.

The opening scenes of this movie seem to suggest that these men have killed before, or at least been extremely violent, and gotten away with it. I don't think that's very plausible,  because there are laws, even in the swampland, and people would be missed. Whatever. Plus I mean it when I say this movie is ULTRA LOW-BUDGET,  I could have shot it in my backyard and it would have looked about the same quality.

What saves this movie are really the performances. The women are a bit awkward from time to time, and the script is a bit clunky every once in awhile,  but the women really do put a lot into their performances. I really believed they were friends and I cared what happened to them in spite of myself. This movie reminds me a lot of another ultra low-budget horror movie I like called "Five Across the Eyes," and this one has a similar "female empowerment vibe. Sue me, but I liked this one a lot more than I thought u would. I'm glad I checked it out.

Friday, October 19, 2018

October Horror Challenge 2018 #57: "The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Halloween"

Continuing to check out some kids Halloween movies along with my more grownup flicks, I was excited to see that the Cat in the Hat is still popular with today's kids thanks to movies like this. The Cat in the Hat and other Dr. Seuss books and movies were some of my favorites when I was a kid, and I still read and watch them from time to time (shut up, I'm young at heart).

In this movie, the kids need the titular cat to help them find costumes to wear for Halloween. The cat suggests they visit the Ookey-magoogy closet, which has costumes for every kid. They also check out some fun things along the way, like a spooky cave and a corn maze.

Along the way they also learn some good lessons, like always ask your mom for permission before you go on an adventure, and always wear your seatbelts in the car, sometimes it'sok to be afraid, and lightening is cool and thunder can't hurt you. This would be a fun way to instill values like this in your kids' heads, along with the fun story. This movie was a lot of fun. It would be a fun way to help introduce your kids to Halloween.  Remember: you can't be brave unless you're afraid!

October Horror Challenge 2018 #56: "The Lost Tree"

This is another cool movie poster, and a title that sounds intriguing. How does a tree get lost? Maybe that's why the last movie I watched sucked so bad, the movie poster was terrible, and all the other movies I've seen today had cool movie posters. Lesson learned. Only cool looking movie posters for me from now on.

This movie is about a man whose wife is killed, and his life kind of falls apart, so he decides to spend some time in a secluded house to get his bearings and find himself again. The house is beautiful, as is the location, but there seems to be something odd going on, since the last family that stayed there left all their stuff behind when they went away. He doesn't seem to see anything weird about this at first,  but soon he's hearing strange noises, seeing creepy things,  and discovering that the house seems to have a dark secret.

The main character isn't very likeable. I won't spoil why, but suffice it to say he didn't have the perfect marriage that everyone seems to think he had.  A lot of the movie is flashbacks of his memories, and while I like this because I get to see more of Claire Kramer, who plays his wife, and she'sa good actress, it annoys me a bit that he seems to only remember the good bits, almost like he's lying to himself about their relationship being perfect, too.

A lot of the other reviews for this movie say he's riddled with guilt, but he doesn't seem to feel guilty to me, he just seems to feel sorry for himself, which I guess is normal, but it annoys me that he wallows in self pity more than worrying what's wrong with his creepy ass house and getting the hell out of there. It's not like he's trapped, so I wonder why he doesn't just leave. He also talks to himself a lot. Now I talk to myself too, but this guy seems to think he's narrating his own life, which of course he is, to those of us viewing the movie, but it doesn't seem like something a real person would do, so it feels forced, like lazy filmmaking. Don't bother to build nuance and character development into your plot, just have your main character tell us everything like he's reading the script aloud.

In case you can't tell, I'm not enthused by this movie. It drags way more than such a short movie should drag, the main character narrates everything that happens like the filmmakers thought we were too stupid not to realize what was going on, it feels like nothing happens for hours while the dumb guy in the movie focuses on the wrong things (who cares about a stupid tree? Get out of the house! No, don't buy a camera, GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!) And then suddenly OMG EVERYTHING happens in the last 20 minutes, like the plot escapes from wherever they were hiding it and just EXPLODED all over the movie. It's kind of interesting, but it's too little, too late. It frustrates me, because this movie has promise, but it doesn't know what to do with it.

October Horror Challenge 2018 #55: "The Psychotronic Man"

All good things must end. Especially when we do something stupid like say in a movie review "gee, all the movies I've watched today have been good!" That's right, folks, my streak of good movies came to a screeching, boring halt with this movie. It's described as a "cult horror/sci-fi film from the 70s" but it's hard to imagine a cult actually wanting to watch this movie, unless maybe they want to use it as a weapon to bore people to death.

So this movie iui s about a man who has weird dreams and experiences blackouts, then one day he discovers he has the power to kill people with his mind. Well, that's what it's SUPPOSED to be about. It's  really about a guy who works as a barber who drives around aimlessly, gets drunk, fights with his wife, and tries to convince his doctor that there's something wrong with him.

I just made it sound like something actually happens in this movie, when really all that happens is this guy drives around while annoying music plays in the background. I'm not joking when I say that over half of this movie's running time is us watching this guy drive around (I checked). The acting is pretty bad, the characters are all unlikable, and the script is really boring. We dont even get to see the guy kill any of his victims,  he just glares at them, then the camera starts to shake, and people throw themselves out a window or through a wall (again, I'm not joking, one guy throws himself through a wall! Not that I blame him; this movie made me want to throw myself through a wall too). Seriously, this movie was boring and pointless, and I kept wishing I could doze off and dream myself a better movie. Just trust me and skip this one.