Scary Movie Challenge 2017: Part 8

Only a couple of days left of the challenge as of this post. I’m also back to work soon, so I think there will be one last Scary Movie Challenge post after this one.

The House of Seven Corpses Poster
384 10/25 The House Of Seven Corpses (1974) 2/5   A film company shoots a series of deaths in the original, haunted location and weird stuff happens. Slow moving and not much happens in this one.

The Lair of the White Worm Poster
385 10/25 The Lair Of The White Worm (1988) 3/5   An excavation on a family estate awakens the white worm of legend. I can see people wanting more from a Ken Russell and Bram Stoker collaboration. It’s all a bit silly, but silly Ken Russell is better than nothing. More stylish and silly-sexy than scary, but still worth putting your eyeballs on.

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386 10/25 Serial Mom (1994) 4/5   The shocking true story of America’s favourite serial mom! I love John Waters and I think this one might be his funniest film. Kathleen Turner and the rest of the cast are all perfect and it plays like a Douglas Sirk film only completely hysterical with everyone acting at a fever pitch.

Ghoulies Poster
387 10/25 Ghoulies (1984) 3.5/5   Probably the worst of the Gremlins knockoffs (I thought so prior to seeing Hobgoblins which is probably a Ghoulies knock off…), I’ve always had a soft spot for this one. A group of kids get mixed up in some demon hoodoo, and poor Jack Nance is along for the ride. The Ghoulies are pretty shit puppets and none of the gags work, but I like it anyway and you can all go chase yourselves.

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388 10/25 Multiple Maniacs (1970) 3.5/5   Divine runs a freak show scam and goes completely off the rails. I think this might be John Water’s first film with sync sound, it’s full of the filth and depravity you come to love in a Water’s picture. Divine and David Lochary are perfect in this, and you get a giant lobster monster.

Ghoulies II Poster
389 10/26 Ghoulies II (1988) 2/5   This time the Ghoulies are at a going broke amusement park. It’s not fun and no one should be surprised at the step down in quality.

The Void Poster
390 10/26 The Void (2016) 4/5   Lovecraftian horror in this one. Really liked it. Lots of style, great effects and a new approach.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe Poster
391 10/26 The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) 4/5   A father and son morgue team has to stay late to autopsy a mysterious body found at a crime scene. This one managed to spook me, which is saying something. Both Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox are perfect and carry the show. The film has great atmosphere and manages to keep making sense despite how strange the mystery is.

The Ghoul Poster
392 10/26 The Ghoul (2016) 2.5/5   An ambitious idea and approach to a noir type film that I think sounds better on the page than in the film. I found it more frustrating than interesting to watch.

The House on the Edge of the Park Poster
393 10/27 House on the Edge of the Park (1980) 3/5   David Hess from the superior Last House On The Left gets his boogie on and terrorizes a house party. Starts off strong but I find that it goes for a bit of a wander. Not to mention the out dated and problematic depictions of assault.

Night of the Comet Poster
394 10/27 Night Of The Comet (1984) 4/5   I don’t know if this is a cult classic but it should be. I’ve loved it since it’s VHS debut. A couple of girls are the lone survivors after a comet has wiped out the earth’s population, aside from turning some into zombies! The leads are great, the film is fun, and movie crush Mary Woronov is one of the baddies so there’s lots to like in this.

Manhunter Poster
395 10/27 Manhunter (1986) (directors cut) 4/5   The first crack at turning Red Dragon into a film is still the best one. Michael Mann adapts the book into an incredibly tight and dense film, the performances from William Patterson and the rest are perfect. You could make the case that Brian Cox is even scarier as Hannibal Lecktor since he seems so normal, yet not. Anyway, it’s tense and a fantastic procedural as well.

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Mooooveee a day!: Immortal Epic

Thin week this week, film fans. Been going through the extras in that Twin Peaks boxset and catching up on other things, but if you read to the end you will find an absolutely fantastic documentary series that recently aired on PBS/BBC4.


171 06/12 The Immortal Story (1968) 3/5   This one was Orson Welle’s final completed fiction film, and his first in colour. Technically it’s perfect like all his films. It starts strong but I found the story wandered a bit halfway through.


172 06/14 Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (2014) 3.5/5   A collection of deleted scenes edited by Lynch is pretty interesting stuff and a great compliment to the main film. That said, this isn’t a film in it’s own right. It fleshes out some ideas but the main draw is that it catches up with a bunch of the cast from the TV series that didn’t make it into the film. If you’re a fan of the film and series, it’s worth a watch.


173 06/15 A Slice of Lynch (2007) 3/5   This one finds Lynch sitting round table with actors Madchen Amick, Kyle MacLachlan and producer John Wentworth as they discuss all things Twin Peaks. It’s fun and interesting, but also slightly awkward. I would have preferred solo interviews.

174 06/16 Return To Twin Peaks (2007) 2.5/5   Another short found in the complete mystery boxset is about the fan convention. It is what it is.


175 06/17 American Epic (2017) 4/5   This is a four part series documenting the birth of American Music. In the 20’s, record recording left the big cities and went rural, and by focusing on artist as diverse as The Carter Family and Charlie Patton, the story is told. Part four features Jack White and T-Bone Burnett bringing in artists to record sides on the only surviving machine. It’s fantastic stuff, but I am biased since I have loved this music since discovering The Anthology of American Folk Music 20 or so years ago.

Movie A Day!: Master Falstaff Peaks

Last night I had a dream that I went to the secret Chinese food restaurant at West Edmonton Mall. Secret because it’s where the old China Town part of the mall used to be. Just down from Bourbon Street, and to get to it you had to go through double delivery doors beside the Fuji Banana Frosty stand. The restaurant is much nicer than it sounds, with classy, modern decor. This is the third time in about 16 years I’ve gone to the restaurant. The same guy is running it and pulling customers through the delivery doors like a club hawker, leading them down the maintenance hall to the restaurant proper. The food is good, though I can tell they are on hard times. The visibility is terrible after all. You have to look for it. The wait staff were sneaking pieces off of my plate. I left without paying. None of this is real, none of this existed in the past, but I have strong memory of it. My brain takes this as “Happened”, not “Dreamed”.

Thin on the movies this week, for reasons apparent in the reviews.


167 06/09 Twin Peaks Season 2 (1991) 4/5   People consider this one as going downhill compared to the first season but I really enjoyed it this time round. It’s true, it goes for a bit of a wander once the Laura Palmer stuff winds up, but once the Windom Earl plot ramps up it’s just as good as that as what came before. The final episode is one of the best in the entire series that absolutely drips in an almost Lovecraftian horror.


168 06/10 Chimes at Midnight (1965) 3/5   I’m really torn with this one. I’ve been wanting to see it for ages, one of the final fictional films Orson Welle’s completed and a Shakespeare adaptation to boot. Technically it’s wonderful, the acting it perfect, Welles is fantastic in the lead as Falstaff. The look of the film, shots, editing, all what would expect from Welles and not hurting from a limited budget. Halfway through the film is one of the best medieval battles I’ve ever seen. The problem is I couldn’t understand it. It took me three sessions of watching, backing the film up to re-watch, I just couldn’t follow the plot. I don’t know if it’s the time of night I was watching or I’m just too dumb about Shakespeare but I couldn’t tell you anything about it plot wise. I’m giving it three stars since I think it’s better than I found it and I will give it a second chance some day.


169 06/10 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) 4/5   Time has been kind to this one. I remember how hated it was when it came out and looking at it now, I’m guessing it’s due to not being fun. Instead it’s a terrifying look at the last days of someone suffering from serial abuse from a parent and the film looks at it while asking “What if the evil that men do was an actual entity that could control us?” It’s more horror film than anything else and the only sour note I have is Chris Isaak is way over his head in the opening scenes.

170 06/11 MasterChef Canada Season 4 (2017) 2.5/5   More of the same. The nice guys finished first.

My Letterboxd profile is currently caught up and reviews appear their first now. I’ll probably shutter this blog. Be sure to follow there if you are interested in movies.

Movie A Day!: Naked Alien Double

A day late posting this one. Were you concerned for my well being? Huh? No? FINE!

My dip into snooty Criterion land continues with a side journey watching some De Palma and a actual trip to a theater to watch a first run film! What a week!


160 05/28 Naked Lunch (1991) 4/5   David Cronenberg tackles William Burroughs classic and instead of trying to replicate the novel he uses it as a framework to tell the biographical story of Burroughs life. I think it makes for a better film, and it’s as much a sci-fi/horror hybrid about the creative process as it is anything else. Peter Weller is fantastic as “William Lee”, the Burroughs cipher for the film, and the practical effects remain gooey in typical Cronenberg fashion. It all adds up to making an inspired film.


161 05/29 The Hidden Fortress (1958) 3.5/5   I primarily knew this one due to it having inspired George Lucas to create C-3P0 and R2-D2 in Star Wars. (It’s true! He says so in a special feature on the Criterion disc!) When I first saw it it left me flat, re-visiting it I really enjoyed it. It’s basically about a couple of peasants obsessed with gold, and is more of a comedy adventure than a Samurai epic starring Toshiro Mifune that I was first expecting on my first viewing. It’s as well done as anything Kurosawa has directed and is a lot of fun.

Alien: Covenant Movie Poster
162 05/31 Alien Covenant (2017) 4/5   Ridley Scott is back, continuing the story begun in Prometheus. I really enjoyed this one. It’s exploring some big ideas, faith over science, creation over compassion, it’s a Frankenstein film in mirror image, and the action bits deliver too so it never got bogged down. I’m looking forward to revisiting this one.


163 05/31 A Man Escaped (1956) 3.5/5   Blind bought this one on the cheap since it was a Criterion Collection title and I really enjoyed it. Basic plot is a french resistance fighter is imprisoned in Vichy France and tries to escape. What makes this one special is it is all the prison escape, meticulously shown in all it’s stages with no fat to stretch it out. It’s lean, and worth checking out.


164 06/02 Dressed to Kill (1980) 3.5/5   Fun revisiting this one. Brian De Palma at his most Hitchcock-ian, it holds up well despite from really messy gender politics for modern times. Regardless, the films moves and Nancy Allen is really good.


165 06/04 Scarface (1983) 4.5/5   Easily one of the most over the top films ever made, it shouldn’t work as well as it does. I think it’s because everyone plays it straight. Pacino is legit brilliant as rage-monster lead Tony Montana, and updating the old gangster film to modern day (well, early 80’s now) Miami was a stroke of genius. The three hour run time breezes by and this might be De Palma’s most perfect picture.

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166 06/04 Body Double (1984) 3.5/5   De Palma is back in Hitchcock-Land with this Rear Window/Vertigo mash-up that takes place in Porno-Land LA. It’s not as sleazy as I expected it to be, and I’m rating it probably lower than I should mainly because I didn’t care for the lead. That said, it’s a clever thriller that’s as much about the fake-ness of movies as it is anything else.

 

Until next time.

Movie a Day!: Twin Outrageous

I’m still going hard at updating Letterboxd with my old movie lists. I’m currently entering 2014. What I wasn’t expecting was being able to track my dads illness though it. We would typically watch a movie each evening, and I can tell based on the movies watched in a week when he was in hospital. He passed in 2014, and anyway, it’s kind of weirdly emotional reliving it through my obsession with tracking movies. I like how Letterboxd works, I like how it tracks. When I catch up to this blog I might just continue on Letterboxd and drop this. It’s not like I’m selling clicks or have illusions that this is meaningful to others.

I continue to watch Criterion’s, and have started Twin Peaks as well.


154 05/22 Twin Peaks (Pilot) (1990) 4/5   Yeah, I’m late re-watching Twin Peaks prior to the relaunch. Revisiting this one after all these years was a bit of an eye opener. I was always a fan, but I found that this hit more emotionally than it did before. The hysterics are still funny, but an awkward funny since they kind of ring true in how messy they are. Anyway, it sets up things perfectly and doesn’t feel dated at all. The look and tone is beautiful and Lynch just completely nails the world. Looking forward to the rest of it.


155 05/23 In The Realm Of The Senses (1976) 3.5/5   This one follows the story of a former prostitute that starts an affair with a fellow that gets more and more obsessed. An art-house hit and notorious for it’s explicit hardcore sex, it’s a pretty good film but despite the hand wringing in the essay included to distinguish this one from regular pornography, I don’t think it’s quite as cut and dry. Like the best hardcore films, this is a story that can only really be told with explicit sex, and I don’t think it should get a pass as a “serious film” just because it doesn’t titillate the viewer the way a similar film like The Devil In Miss Jones might. At any rate, it’s very good, if not feeling a little long, and it’s challenging of Japanese politics (I don’t think it’s been shown uncensored their to this day) is noteworthy.


156 05/25 Beauty And The Beast (1946) 4/5   Finally got around to watching the French classic and it did not disappoint. Superior to the Disney version in every way, it is completely enchanting and the special effects hold up wonderfully. A magical, dreamy experience, I really loved it.


157 05/26 Twin Peaks Season 1 (1990) 4/5   This is my 4th re-watch, and I’m impressed by how well it holds up. I remember when it first aired and it seemed so strange. Knowing where things end up and having seen Fire Walk With Me, watching it now, it’s still weird but surprisingly tragic too. The hysterics seem more real and ugly. It’s more hard to follow due to the massive cast and relationships compared to the Black Lodge weirdness and dancing dwarfs. Binge-watching this one is really the only way to view and appreciate it.


158 05/27 Repo Man (1984) 4/5   Seems weird that this one is part of my Criterion Collection binge that I’ve been doing this month, but here we are. It’s not held up as the the cult classic it used to be these days, but it still is pretty great. It’s punk heart and bonkers plot all work, and the soundtrack is to die for. One of the best of the 80’s and I’m surprised someone hasn’t tried to remake it.


159 05/27 That’s Outrageous (1983) 3.5/5   F.J. Lincoln directs this one in which Jamie Gillis is obsessed with getting two French sisters in bed. It’s a typical dopey plot for porn, but Lincoln treats it more dramatically than what is typically found, and it doesn’t hurt that much of it was shot in Paris. It all adds up to being better than average for the genre in the early 80’s.

That’s it.

Movie A Day!: The Red, Mad, Mad World

I’m a day late posting this thing this week. Sorry film fans, it’s a long weekend up here in the Great White North and it ends up that there is a never ending amount of plants and crap that need to be dug up, dug in, and replaced. I like the sun and outdoors, I’m not great at bending over so this weekend has been more chore than joy.  Here’s all the movies I watched up to this very moment since I finished the last one this morning.


145 05/15 The Red House (1947) 3.5/5   Edward G. Robinson stars in this one as the patriarch of an out of the way farm who absolutely does not want you mucking about in his woods and going near the Red House. The whole film is about what terrors may lie in those woods, and aside from some pacing issues it manages to be pretty tense stuff that fills you with a sense of doom and dread. Part country noir, part horror film, it’s certainly worth a look.


146 05/16 The Night Porter (1974) 3/5   I’ve been hearing a lot about this one for ages so it was nice to finally give it a look. Dirk Bogarde is The Night Porter, working in a hotel when he recognizes customer Charlotte Rampling as the women from the concentration camp he was abusing while working there during the war. It’s interesting and well done, but at the end of the day it’s really just an arty, serious take on “Love Camp 7” and all the other Naziploitation that was out at the time, just elevated with some fine direction from Liliana Cavani and the performances. It’s well done if not a little slow.


147 05/18 Monkey Kingdom (2015) 4/5   Disneynature hits it out of the park again with this one following a pack of macaque monkeys, centring on “Mya” and her journey from the lower class life. I knew monkeys had Alpha Males that ran the pack, but I had no idea it was a proper class system that dictated who could eat what. It was pretty bonkers and made the film even more interesting than it would of been since Monkeys are hilarious. Oh, and Tina Fey does a great job with the narration too.


148 05/19 O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) 4.5/5   The Coen brothers take on Homer’s Odyssey and it couldn’t be better. Setting it during the great depression and filling it with folk music is a stroke of genius. George Clooney is perfect in the lead, the comedy rings true and the film flies by. I love this movie and it’s soundtrack. Highly recommended.


149 05/20 Walk The Line (2005) 4/5   Bio-pic on the life of Johnny Cash tracks his story from childhood to his success with the “Live At Folsom Prison” album, but it’s really the love story of Johnny and June Carter falling in love. Joaquin Phoenix does as great job as Cash, and Reese Witherspoon is a whirlwind as June. They also sing the songs and are flat out great despite nobody being able to truly mimic Cash’s voice. Get past that and this one is a real winner.


150 05/20 Pussycat Ranch (1971) 2.5/5   Star power can’t elevate this one above being pretty standard adult fare for the era. Billy the Kid needs a hideout and Mama needs cash for the ranch so they team up and turn it into a brothel. It’s played for laughs, and it mostly works, it’s just not that interesting.

151 05/21 Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961) 3.5/5   I’ve been avoiding this one. The poster art and pictures of Audrey Hepburn and that stupid long cigarette holder bugged me, and I knew Mickey Rooney portrayed a horrible Asian stereotype. Ends up that this one was a pretty enjoyable romantic comedy. Hepburn and George Peppard are enjoyable as the leads and the only issue I had is it felt a little long. That said, there is no possible excuse for Rooney. That this kind of portrayal of a Japanese man was once considered even remotely acceptable is horrendous.


152 05/21 Here Comes The Bride (1978) 2/5   The second feature on the Vinegar Syndrome’s Peekarama disc is also by John Christopher and is even more unexceptional than Pussycat Ranch. This one finds a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary and the wife remembering all the guys she was with while pretending to be a virgin to her husband. It’s draggy and if not for legendary star Samantha Fox it wouldn’t have gotten even 2 stars.


153 05/22 It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (Extended Edition) (1963) 4/5   First time watching the roadshow version and I enjoyed the film even more. Most of the footage that was cut from the Roadshow to the general release is lost, so the fact that they were able to restore it to this level is remarkable. That said, it is a bit of a mess with photo’s and subtitles subbing in for some of the lost footage. I didn’t find it as distracting as I expected to find it and on a whole it’s really improved the flow of the movie. It’s truly “kitchen sink” film, completely jam packed with jokes and cameos, it’s well worth checking out regardless of the version you can get your hands on.

 

There it is.

Movie A Day!: Imitation of Jacks

Another mixed bag of a week. Sort of. I decided to watch some un-watched Criterion Collection discs this month, which lead me to watching all my David Lynch titles that are not in boxes in prep for re-watching Twin Peeks before the new series. Despite only two of those Lynch titles where from Criterion. Mix that up with some oldies and a cheeky Vinegar Syndrome title and it’s not a bad week at all.


136 05/07 The Incredibly Strange Film Show: Russ Meyer (1988) 3/5   A very well done biography on Meyer hosted by Jonathan Ross that manages to hit all points of his career included his start as a combat photographer in WWII. It also shows a clip of a possibly 8 hour documentary that Meyer was working on his own life that would of been amazing but was apparently never finished. A real shame. I would love to see a proper feature length doc on this man.


137 05/07 Imitation of Life (1959) 4/5   Lana Turner stars in this soapy melodrama from Douglas Sirk about a struggling, mature actress in New York who befriends a black housekeeper, Alice (played by Juanita Moore, and she is fantastic) and together they find success. Well, sort of, they stay in their roles based on race and that’s really what this movie is about. Alice has a real struggle with her rebellious, white passing daughter that is far more interesting than the trials that Turner has that leave her in a near constant state of helpless hysteria. You can clearly see a through-line from these style of Sirk pictures to John Waters since his characters are always in the same state hysteria. Anyway, this was pretty great since you don’t think of these sort of topics in 50’s films. Also, Sirk really is great at this stuff. He has a workmanlike sense of direction, but it’s pretty perfect.


138 05/07 Blue Velvet (1986) 4/5   After Dune floundered, David Lynch somehow got the chance to make a film closer to his sensibilities first explored in Eraserhead. It was interesting watching this one on the back of Imitation of Life since they have a pretty similar world of 1950’s like innocence, only Lynch’s small midwest town is a perverted nightmare. Jeffrey, played by Kyle MacLachlan, finds and ear in a field and becomes obsessed with solving it’s mysteries that leads him to a world of pain. Dennis Hopper is absolutely brilliant as the force of nature Frank, Isabella Rossellini is fantastic as the damage nightclub singer Dorothy and Laura Dern manages to hold her own as the symbol of everything good, the girl next door. It’s aged very well, and still holds all it’s power to remain one of Lynch’s best films.


139 05/09 Wild At Heart (1990) 4/5   David Lynch does the Wizard of Oz as a bonkers Elvis inspired road movie with Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern starring as Sailor and Lula who spend most of the film either ruminating or fucking. It has no business being as good as it is. Lynch went genuinely weird with this one and it completely works. Willem Dafoe is unforgettable in his small role and it’s fun to see legends Harry Dean Stanton and Diane Ladd go a bit bonkers. Crispen Glover, man, priceless. I’m too much of a Lynch fanboy to call this one my favourite, but it just might be.


140 05/11 Champion (1949) 4/5   Kirk Douglas takes the lead in this boxing noir about a guy and his handicap brother who is on the skids so Kirk gets into the fight game for the money. It starts off pretty standard, but soon Douglas’s mercilous ambition creeps through and the emotional bloodletting eclipses what’s in the ring. I don’t think I have seen Douglas more unlikable in a movie. This one was a real treat, and recommended.


141 05/11 Mulholland Dr. (2001) 3.5/5   David Lynch’s Neo-Noir about an actress caught up in a mystery is considered a classic, but I just can’t get into it. It’s gorgeous, everyone is on point, it’s delightfully “Lynch-ian” and I can’t knock a thing about it. I have just never warmed to it. Maybe I’ll “get it” the next time I watch it.


142 05/12 Funny Face (1957) 4/5   I really enjoyed this one. Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire star in this musical about a frumpy beatnik girl that gets whipped up into the world of high fashion. Hepburn is far too adorable to be frumpy, but she’s surprisingly good in this musical and manages to steal the film with her avant-garde beatnik ballet sequence in a cafe that’s supposed to be played for laughs. Astaire more than holds his own and it’s all looking spectacular under the direction of the legendary Stanley Donen, who also directed one of my all time favourite films, Singing in the Rain. It’s crazy that it’s taken me this long to watch this one.


143 05/12 Her Wicked Ways (1983) 3/5 Jesie St. James stars as a gold digging heiress who has just inherited a billion dollars and Joanna Storm is the daughter trying to get the money back in this adult romp directed by The Lewis Brothers. It’s not the greatest adult film you’ll ever see but it’s just so well done compared to the regular fare in the period that it it ends up being pretty fun. Storm is a real scene-stealer and definitely helps to keep the film moving. The Peekarama DVD from Vinegar Syndrome is a real winner.


144 05/13 One-Eyed Jacks (1961) 4/5   The only film that Marlon Brando directed is this western. I think it’s just me but I think it’s weird that his only directed film is a western. Seems weird, right? Anyway, this is a typical vengeance tale with Brando’s Rio seeking out old partner Karl Malden’s “Dad” Longworth who ditched him during a bank robbery. It’s a gorgeous film and done with the naturalistic acting style Brando was known for and just completely works. There’s a feeling of distance and brooding that is tricky for films to nail, and the support cast featuring Ben Johnson, Slim Pickens and Katy Jurado are all perfect as well. Recommended.

One-Eyed Jacks also ended up being the last film shot in VistaVision so I managed to watch two VistaVision films over the weekend. You just never know what’s going to happen when you blindly watch stuff.  Isn’t the world marvellous?

Hold your loved ones tight.