So. The Winnie the Pooh slasher movie made enough money for a sequel. BUT! The Banana Splits horror movie did not. What does that tell us? Beside the fact that some people are so desperate for ideas they’ll try anything?
[MONSTER MOVIES] The Bloodthirsty Trilogy
This weekend I had the distinct pleasure of watching The Bloodthirsty Trilogy, three Seventies movies dealing with the Undead.
First it was The Vampire Doll/Legacy of Dracula (you’ll note a theme here). A man heads out to see his fiancée and never returns, mainly because she’s become a yellow eyed undead fiend. This one has less to do with Bram Stoker and more to do with another Gothic writer whom, if I mention his name, might spoil some of the movie. I didn’t see where this one was going and as far as I was concerned at the time, it made getting the collection worth the money for it alone.
Next was Lake of Dracula, where a past close encounter leads to heartbreaking danger for a young woman in the present. This is Grade A Vampire action here, with more yellow eyed Undead and a decent grasp of Vampire lore. The main Vampire, played by Mori Kishida, is great and I really think Kishida should be listed up there with Lugosi and Lee. He has a great presence.
Oh, and Dracula is only mentioned twice, in passing. And the Lake really doesn’t have much to do with things.
Finally there’s Evil of Dracula, where a new teacher at an all girl’s school learns that his charges are in dire danger from the Undead (and he’s not in any safe place himself). In my opinion the best of the three, it has Mori Kishida returning as a different Vampire. He seems to be having a blast in the part. Again, no connection with Dracula.
I don’t want to oversell these movies. They have their problems here and there. But they are delightful films, and not a one with sparkles.
Yes, I’m still irritated about that. Can’t be helped at this point.
[Month of Horror] Yokai Monsters: 100 Monsters
An evil landowner pushes his luck once to often and awakens the ire of the Yokai.
Here’s a fun little flick. While I was unable to ascertain whether the title was misleading or not, it does have plenty of monsters in it. Not the best special effects, mind you, but most entertaining nonetheless.
Watching this, I was reminded of Daimaijin, which perhaps isn’t surprising. Not only was this made by the same company, it was directed by the same guy.
Anyways, both this film and Daimaijin follow the same structure in terms of story. The bad guy has a host of henchmen who run rampant across the medieval Japan. They more or less have their way about things until they offend the local supernatural agency. Said supernatural agency then starts acting up, leading to the climax.
Of the two, 100 Monsters is probably the more kid friendly. The monsters are plentiful and come far more frequently than in Daimaijin, which not only has just the one but reserves him completely for the finale. It’s a bit dark. Not too much so, just enough to mention.
Were I to compare the two, though (as if I’m not doing so now), I’d give the win to Daimaijin. There’s an awful lot of padding in this movie, and no real rhyme or reason why which Yokai appears where. The finale, which is deeply satisfying in Daimaijin, doesn’t have the punch.
A tighter structure would have helped enormously. There are also two short stories buried in this movie that should have either been removed or made more a part of the over-all narative.
To summarize, it’s a good flick (1.5). I rather liked it (1.5) and will watch the sequels.
But there’s better variations on this plot out there.
3 out of 4
[Month of Horror] Vicious
Only one short tonight. Lost track of time.
A young woman comes home one night and finds something bad in her house.
A problem I’ve noticed with a lot of these shorts is lack of context. The protagonist encounters something weird seemingly without rhyme or reason and it’s never explained.
This might seem unfair. There’s not a lot of time to get into things in under, say, fifteen minutes. However, it can be done.
Take Trick or Treat! for instance. It isn’t much longer than Vicious, and yet you know why what happens to the protagonists happens. Oh, not the whole story behind what happens, sure. Enough, though, that it makes a degree of twisted sense.
Here, something bad happens. You don’t know why. And when dealing with the Supernatural, as you are here, an explanation of some sort would be nice.
Carping done. This is a very good short (2.0). My one complaint aside, it does everything right in terms of atmosphere, acting, and all. It was a pleasure watching it (1.5), though I don’t think I liked it quite as much as Trick or Treat! Which makes it feel a little strange that this has the higher rating.
Oh well. Never said the rating system was perfect.
3.5 out of 4
[Month of Horror] Night Visions: Now He’s Coming Up the Stairs/The Gate/The Backwater Gospel
Now He’s Coming Up the Stairs
A psychiatrist with the ability to absorb the illnesses of his patients comes upon a situation that may be more than he can handle.
Yes, I cribbed that summary from the show’s Wikipedia page.
Yes, I am ashamed of myself.
One confession done, here’s another.
At some point I grew tired of TV shows. Could not force myself to watch them. Told myself something had to give between the reading, the tv, and the videogames, might as well be the TV.
Watching Now He’s Coming Up the Stairs, it occurs to me this apathy started around the same year this series came out.
There is something entirely too familiar about this story. The acting, the direction, I don’t know what. It just felt too much like something I’ve watched a thousand times before. Or struggled to watch a thousand times before.
How bad did it get? Well the episode comes with two stories and I’m only talking about one. How bad do you think it got?
I had a similar problem earlier in the month. I tried to watch an episode of Ghost Story staring Jason Robards (of all people) and I didn’t make the halfway point. Too dull.
Or seemingly dull. Same thing, though, when push comes to shove.
All of this might seem to point towards me carping about Now He’s Coming Up the Stairs. And I did have problems. The script could have used a rewrite, maybe even shortening. Certain parts to my mind didn’t add up. There was entirely too much Luke Perry.
Those, though, might be considered Cullen Carps and discarded. The moment Our Hero begins his latest attempt to help someone on is gripping stuff. Well worth the wait getting there.
In other words, it does it’s job. Maybe not a great episode, but certainly a good one (1.5). I kind of like it (1.5) and might seek out some more. Especially the ones directed by the Great Joe Dante and Not Really That Bad Toby Hooper.
Though I’m not finishing the episode Now He’s Coming Up the Stairs belongs to. That story just ain’t clicking with me at all.
Oh, and Henry Rollins as Rod Serling? Really? Nothing against the guy, but really?
3 out of 4
A couple of kids open up a gate to Hell. Typical weekend, actually.
This is yet another one of those films I can slip on and watch anytime and still get a kick out of it. Yeah, the effects can be lame, and yeah, the acting is only just adequate. Watching it this time I thought it would have worked better if it was a wee bit shorter.
And more Italian leaning. If you catch my drift.
But you know what? When it works, it works. It’s funny most of the time, and it has more than a few truly nightmarish moments. The final monster is one of cinema’s best.
It’s a good movie (1.5) that I love (2.0).
Oh, and the Dark Gods as malicious pranksters? I can almost see that.
3.5 out of 4
The Backwater Gospel
An agent of death comes to a backwaters town.
I didn’t like this cartoon short the first time I watched it, and I can’t now say why. It’s perfect, nasty in the way Horror should be nasty.
Great stuff (2.0). But do I love it? Yeah, maybe I do. (2.0)
Oh, and the Undertaker’s smile? Yeesh.
4 out of 4
[Month of Horror] Last Bus Home/Trick or Treat
Last Bus Home
A young woman and a young man wait for a ride in the dark of night.
Same premise as with our previous subject, Waiting, with a young woman experiencing difficulties while waiting for a bus. Short, well acted, but not particularly scary.
Good (1.5), but I didn’t get the same kick as the earlier film. So maybe a meh (1).
2.5 out of 4
Trick or Treat
A couple faces a persistent Trick-or-Treater.
This one, though, is a delight. Well acted, decent story, it made me wish it was longer. Not scary but creepy, very creepy.
I’ll say good (1.5) and liked (1.5)
3 out of 4
[Month of Horror] School Tales: The Series: 7AM
One might think I’m pushing it including TV episodes. However, the rule here is that whatever show I discuss has to be an anthology. Thus mini-movies.
So Tales From the Darkside gets a pass, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer does not.
Sound good? Great. Knew I could count on you.
School Tales: The Series
student goes to class early to bring his classmates a vital message.
I stumbled over this series on Netflix while looking for something to watch. Here was a series from Thailand done by Thai Horror directors. Too tempting to pass up. This happens to be the first episode.
To give a little more meat to my summary, the student, Q, goes to school to take a picture of a chalkboard. There’s a book title written there, and any student who doesn’t have the book by 8 is killed by a ghost. The other school mates forget about the hapless student, but there are reminders that someone is missing.
And that’s all I’m saying about that.
7 AM has it’s problems. It’s central premise could do with some fleshing out. The forgetting part hampers thing. You see way too much of the ghost and learn too little about her. And, to make everything worse, there’s an over reliance on bad CGI.
That said, it’s a well done episode (1.5) that heads in a direction I didn’t see coming. I liked it (1.5) and no doubt will watch more of the series.
3 out of 4
[Month of Horror] Third Week Summation
What a week.
The Horror stuff I watched this week goes as follows:
- Sette Note in Nero/The Psychic (Italian Feature)
- Suspiria (Italian Feature)
- Joyû-rei (Japanese Feature)
- This Dark Thought (Animated Short)
- There’s a Man in the Woods (Animated Short)
- Homesick (Short)
- Glorious (Feature)
- Who’s Hungry (Animated Short)
- Leave (Short)
- Run (Short)
- The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (West German Feature)
So much for watching more features than shorts. Though it should be said the closest thing to a stinker in regards to the features was Dr. Sadism, and it wasn’t half bad.
Three perfects this week, and all at the start of the week. Christopher Lee makes an appearance on this blog (might be a first even considering the blog’s original run.)
As for the best by preference, I’m going to ignore Suspiria, because of course Suspiria wins, it’s one of my favorite movies.
With the remainders, the top three are as follows:
- Sette Note in Nero
- There’s a Man in the Woods.
Homesick and Leave take bottom place, though I think Leave should be slightly lower than Homesick.
Gratuitous misuse of H. P. Lovecraft’s goes to Glorious. The Elder God used in it is named after the son of Cthulhu, and is in no form like what’s presented in the flick. Homage? Let’s call it that.
[Month of Horror] The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism
The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism
The evil Count Regula seeks revenge and immortality.
Not nearly a gruesome as the title makes it out to be. And it opens with a guy getting a mask nailed to his face, then drawn and quatered.
Guy, hell. It’s Christopher Lee, sleep walking his way through the flick. It’s one of his European films, filled with bad dubbing. And, here, trying to channel Mario Bava’s vibes. Fairly well, truth to tell.
It’s not a great flick, and calling it good is probably pushing it. But I’ll do it any way (1.5). Loved my time with this one (2.0).
They don’t make ‘e, like this any more.
3.5 out of 4
[Month of Horror] Who’s Hungry?/Leave/Run
For the record, I also watched There’s a Man in the Woods again. Take that for what it’s worth.
A brother and sister run after the wrong ice cream truck.
This is a very charming little animate short. No dialogue, just action, and it really doesn’t waste time. I didn’t find it scary or particularly thrilling, but maybe it wasn’t supposed to be. I looked up Horror Short Anime Film and this popped up with the other suggestions that didn’t look like anime. It might have just been made to entertain.
Well it succeeded. It’s pretty good (1.5) and I rather liked it (1.5).
3 out of 4
A doomed tree grove takes steps to save itself.
This short shares problems with a lot of other shorts. All it is is a single scare, built up to, then executed. It feels more like the start of something rather than a complete whole.
Which would be okay, I guess, had it been scary. It wasn’t. Nicely shot, a little too dark, and one hopes the film makers move on to better things.
Two mehs. I dunno if I should put the numbers in or not. But you get the idea.
2 out of 4
A man goes into the woods in search of a missing woman.
Then there’s this flick.
It’s shot on a Go-Pro on a head rig and shows. It’s antagonist makes no sense; there are whole scenes that that make no sense. Is this something the man is actually seeing? A recording? What?
What dialogue it has is written out on screen. Not sure why. All it all, the whole thing has the feel of a Horror Walking Simulator. Just really kind of off putting, especially when the main character refused to move where my mouse told him to.
These are the jokes folks.
That aside, Leave is the better made film. By a large margin.
So why am I giving this a low good (1.5)?
Because Run, nonsensical as it is, does it’s God damn job.
Four freaking jump scares. One I saw coming a mile away and still jumped. It ain’t fine art, but it’ll do until something better comes along.
Seriously, I liked it (1.5) far more than it deserves. If I hadn’t rewatched There’s a Man in the Woods it would have been the best thing I saw today.
3 out of 4