Saturday 4 October 2008

October is Terror-ific! - Basking in the Cesspool of Filth #1

Though I enjoy a good horror film pretty much anytime, the last few years I've been packing in my viewings during October - it makes for a fine excuse to catch up on the many many films of the genre that have eluded me so far. I'm woefully under schooled in the ways of Bava and the Hammer folks (though I plan to take crash courses in both this year) and there's tons of cheesy 80s slashers I haven't seen yet. So I've begun my long yearly slog through the disgusting putrid slime and immoral wasteland of horror movies I've yet to see. And it's already too much fun...

But first, I have to note some other bloggers that are taking the entirety of October to recognize the beauty of the blood-curdling scream:

  • Looks like 'Werebogast' (or is it 'Arboghastly'? ) has taken over the place for the month over at Arbogast On Film. The recurring "31 Screams" feature looks to be one of my faves.
  • The October Kill Fest has begun at Cinema Styles with different banners every day.
  • Final Girl hasn't posted anything yet, but it's kinda always October in her neck of the woods anyway...
  • Jeremy's got a thing for those Halloween girls over at Moon In The Gutter.
  • The Kind Of Face You Hate is focused on horror fiction all month - which is pretty damn cool.
  • Row Three is doing 31 Days Of Horror with a new review each day from a variety of scary films.
  • And finally, I'm a bit worried about Piper...Evil Clown seems to have totally trashed the place over at Lazy Evil, Sinister, Blood-Shot Eye Theatre.

But now, back to me. My deluge of Horror began with the following films:

Dead Of Night (1945 - Alberto Calvacanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer) - A mid-40s Ealing Studios Horror compilation. Not bad by any stretch, but it loses steam towards the end with two longer stories that don't quite work - a silly tale of two golfers battling over the love of a woman that was more humourous than scary and an overly long ventriloquist tale that didn't spook very much and ended kinda where you thought it would. Still, the linking story and some of the earlier shorter stories were pretty entertaining with decent, if not wholly original, ideas. Then again, this was 1945, so maybe they were more original than I'm aware of...

Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972 - Robert Fuest) - Not as fun as the first film, but still a production designer's dream...Some creative kills by Phibes and funny bits from the British cops, but strangely enough this one suffers from too much Vincent Price - not his appearances, but all those speeches he gives while using his special speaking device slow things down too much...It's a pretty great looking film though.

Exte: Hair Extensions (2007 - Sion Sono) - I've already reviewed this at Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow, but I'm still not sure what the hell to think of it. Part self-referential tweak on the black hair ghost aspects of many J-Horror films, part sad commentary on the need of women to focus on their looks, part warning of organ harvesters kidnapping young women, part tale of child abuse...A few creepy moments to be sure, but also some over the top crazy effects (reminded me of Uzumaki at times) and a number of funny moments. It was directed by the same guy that did Suicide Club - another film that I didn't quite know what to make of. It was good to see something different though.

The House That Dripped Blood (1971 - Peter Duffell) - If you like those great Amicus compilation films (Tales From The Crypt, Vault Of Horror, etc.), you'll probably like this one. Via the main linking story of a police investigation, we hear about the history of previous tenants of the house - each of which ran into what you might call really bad luck. The house doesn't seem to have much to do with any of the stories (they all had previous outside issues that were brought in), but who cares? Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Denholm Elliott and Jon Pertwee play the central characters in the four stories and it's all great fun with terrific sets. Even when it's a bit slow, there's never a moment where it's dull. The ravishing Ingrid Pitt keeps Pertwee company in the final story and I immediately moved both Countess Dracula and The Vampire Lovers up my queue...

Going To Pieces (2006) - A fairly by the book documentary looking at the slasher films of the late 70s and 80s which led up to today's horror movies. It's not overly probing or insightful, but it's very entertaining and zips at a good clip through a whole raft of classic to not-so-classic movies. Interviews with many of the directors (Sean S. Cunningham, Paul Lynch, Amy Holden Jones and a bunch of others that would rarely get a chance to talk about their films) and other contributors and fans of the genre are usually pretty entertaining, though the almost constant background music starts to annoy after awhile. The funniest segment is the uproar that the marketing campaign for Silent Night Deadly Night caused. Parent groups protested the use of Santa Clause in the ads and distributors caved in...Huge fans of the genre likely won't learn anything new and casual fans are likely to run into a couple of huge spoilers for some of the lesser known films.

The Skull (1965 - Freddie Francis) - Yeah! Just awesome set design and atmosphere created for this tale of a man obsessed with owning the skull of The Marquis De Sade. It's a bit of a high maintenance artifact though - unless you don't mind committing murderous acts every so often. I'm not sure if the skull-cam or the flying skull are my favourite bits, but I do know that I love the collections of occult and scary items throughout both Peter Cushing's residence as well as Christopher Lee's (who has a much smaller part here). Freddie Francis does a really fine job of direction using all sorts of spiffy angles. I'm assigning classic status to this one.


PIPER said...

I have promised Piper that I'll clean up everything when October is over.

Hair Extensions looks creepy good. Again, with the J-Horror. Why am I always surprised when this looks so good?

Bob Turnbull said...

Yeah, Hair Extensions might be up your alley...It's a huge mish-mash of a number of things, but just don't take it all too seriously and I think you'll find a lot there.

By the way E.C. (can I call you E.C.?), are you purposely trying to blow the size of your masthead by adding a new words every day? I'm curious to see how big the damn thing is gonna get...

PIPER said...


How long have we known each other?

Two, maybe three hundred years?

Of course you can call me E.C.

I'm planning on adding a word a day and we'll see what happens.

Anonymous said...

The Skull is one of my favorite Amicus films! With Freddie Francis directing you can't go wrong.

I'm really curious about Hair Extensions. I saw some posters for it a few years ago but I totally forgot about it until now. I've become a bit weary of modern Japanese horror but maybe I should give this a look too.

Bob Turnbull said...


>Two, maybe three hundred years?

Yeah, and I think you still owe me a couple of dubloons...Not sure what the exchange rate is on those suckers, but the interest is gonna kill ya when I figure it out.


As for modern Japanese horror, it's pretty much like other "genres" - some good, some total crap and a lot in the middle. Hair Extensions was different enough that it sits in the first camp for me.