Wednesday, 9 October 2013
October Horror 2013 - Chapter #2
You know, I think Peter Capaldi is going to be just fine as Dr. Who...
Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (Victor Fleming - 1941) - It's not that there's anything wrong with this version of the classic tale (after all, Lana Turner AND Ingrid Bergman grace the screen in all of their soft focus glory), but just that it pales somewhat in comparison to the 1931 Mamoulian version I had just watched a few days earlier. I suppose it's not that it pales so much as it is almost the exact same - not just in story, scenes and pacing, but also in set design (Jekyll's laboratory, Hyde's mistress' apartment, etc.). That's overstating it of course (the lab this time around has a spiffy expressionistic entrance to it) as there are numerous nice touches, but there's an energy to the earlier version that puts it several rungs up and gives it a stronger sense of dread. Still, a great story well told.
Cat's Eye (Lewis Teague - 1985) - This compilation of three Stephen King stories is actually reasonably entertaining and moves at a decent clip. It's just that it isn't, you know, very good...It feels like it's had its legs cut out from under it as it gets far too goofy for its own good and never really builds any real concern or curiosity for its characters. Each story has a moment or two where things can go really dark, but they never give into it. James Woods is very James Woods in the first story (a good thing) and it's kind of fun to see the almost 30 year-old special effects (the obvious miniature cars, the dark outlines showing superimpositions, etc.), but it was all far too tame. I don't need gore or violence in a horror film, but the threat of something bad happening would have helped. Also (and I'm getting picky here), the references to King's books (Cujo, Christine, Pet Sematary) were just a little too obvious. That cat is awesome though - he's either very well trained or they followed him for years to get the right footage.
The Lair Of The White Worm (Ken Russell - 1988) - There's a moment in this movie (right around 23:25) when it suddenly becomes readily apparent that this is a Ken Russell film. That moment is when things turn batshit crazy. It only lasts a minute or so and it's a hallucination of sorts, but it comes out of nowhere after a young woman touches a cross which has been sprayed with snake venom from another woman with fangs. OK, so there had already been a bit of craziness beforehand, but the great thing about the film is that it can take these insane segments and fit them in ever so perfectly with the rest of the story. As much fun as I had watching it, I think Amanda Donohoe must have had even way more fun filming it as the owner of a large estate looking for a virgin to sacrifice to the titular creature (she'll even go after boy scouts). Hugh Grant and Peter Capaldi (as Angus Flint - how great a name is that?) are having a high old time as well and it translates across to the audience.
Warlock (Steve Miner - 1991) - It's not quite the "superbly crafted thriller" the DVD case says it is, but Julian Sands and Richard E. Grant combine to make this a fun ride. Oddly enough they both do it by remaining completely serious throughout the somewhat cheesy early-90s vibe the film gives off. Sands is a Warlock transported 300 years to the future in an effort to find all the pages to a book that will help "uncreate" everything God has done, while Grant chases him to the future to avenge his late wife (and save the world if at all possible). Lori Singer is an odd choice for the comic relief, but fortunately things never get too broad and never bog down in dull details or backstory. The film was released two years after its completion, but still managed to spawn two sequels - both of which I now need to track down.