Monday 13 October 2014

October Horror 2014 - Chapter 3

Let's dig into a few more tasty horror treats...

Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (Bob Clark - 1973) - I'm not sure how this "let's get our friends together and make a movie" movie didn't completely collapse into itself, but it somehow stayed afloat even if about 70% of the frame at any given time seems to be complete blackness. Fortunately director Bob Clark (Black Christmas and a c.v. of films almost as diverse as Robert Wise) wisely decided to clad his group of friends in brightly coloured clothing for their night time adventure through an island cemetery for fun & games and inspiration for their play. None of them seem to like each other, so calling them "friends" might be a stretch, but they all seem to follow the egotistical and nasty director who performs a number of rituals over the graveyard. Without really meaning to, he ends up accidentally waking a whole assortment of dead folks. The last 20 minutes of the movie actually work quite decently with the troupe trying to battle and escape the zombies, but it's a bit of a challenge to get there.

The Monster Club (Roy Ward Baker - 1980) - Yet another of those great horror compilation films, this one has the huge bonus of having both Vincent Price and John Carradine in the wrap-around story. The club of the title is where Price's vampire brings his recent victim (Carradine) to regale him with a few tales of monstrous behaviour. The film gives itself a bit more room to stretch its stories by including only three of them and fortunately they all hit the mark nicely and retain the right tone of dark humour with their horrific situations. The Monster Club itself falls victim to some early 80s cheese in the form of the performing "rock music" acts, but it serves to keep things hopping. Price is just a joy to watch and you really wish there was more of him, but when has that not been the case?

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (Charles B. Pierce - 1976) - As a mix between narrated docudrama, slasher and low-rent comedy, this is an odd film...The murders in the film are apparently based on true events from the mid-40s and which were indeed committed by some hooded phantom stranger around the Texas-Arkansas border. Those crime sequences are handled reasonably well with a strong sense of menace and an imposing killer. The rest of the film, though, has little consistency with occasionally glacial pacing, completely useless details and a bumbling patrolman who is used at all the wrong times to bring unnecessary levity to the story. It's still of interest and I'm curious about the new version of this coming out soon, but this could have been a classic 70s thriller instead of a curio.

Gurozuka (Yoichi Nishiyama - 2005) - It's hard to be fully invested in a movie when the characters continuously act stupidly - something that is pretty consistent throughout Gurozuka and almost pulls the whole movie down with it. Fortunately, there are enough moments of creepiness and even genuine frights to keep things going. 7 young female film students go to an abandoned house in the woods to investigate and recreate what happened there 7 years previously. It's a shame that you essentially give up on the logic of the story and any attachment to the characters, but a solid atmosphere, good sound cues and those damn Noi masks (especially when they're bloody) managed to keep me, if not involved, at least curious what would happen.

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