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Showing posts from October, 2012

A mildly horrific selection of October movies

Using the Grand Illusion Cinema's October programming to inform the selections for the October Horror Movie Challenge was not such a bad idea. In the third week of October, they were showing the 1943 Phantom of the Opera in a double feature with Arsenic and Old Lace. Therefore, it seemed like a good plan to see in 1925 Phantom of the Opera with Lon Cheney as the Phantom and I'm glad that I did as the two films were vastly different adaptations of the story.

The 1925 film I do not hesitate calling a horror movie. Both are set in the Paris Opera House, but in the earlier film, it is established that the Paris Opera is haunted. A mysterious figure moves through the Opera house and even has a box reserved for the performances. The ballet's chorus speak of the phantom on hushed whispers, which gives the film the slight unsettling quality of a ghost story. By comparison, in the 1943 version, with Claude Rains as the Erique Claudin, there is no phantom. Instead, Erique is a disg…

An October Challenge

Part of the reason that I sign on for the October Horror Movie Challenge is to guide my cinema consumption. While I've devoured innumerable hours of film for as long as I can remember,  the films tend to drift through genres, nationalities, subject matter. And because there is no disciple to my viewing practice, I've neglected too many essentials. So among the films chosen due to curiosity and whim, I've also used the October as an excuse to watch films that I might otherwise avoid. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer has none of the thrills, suspense or scares that I want in a horror movie. As expected, Henry was not a particularly enjoyable film, but probably an informative one.

Before watching Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, I hadn't really taken much time to consider what makes a horror movie tick. Henry is absolutely a horror movie, but it defies the expectations of a 1980s horror movie. There is a campiness to a lot of the 80s movies and quite a bit of humor,…

OHMC: On a lighter Note

Troll Hunter (2010) Dir. André Øvredal

Last week, the October Horror Movie Challenge took a turn towards much lighter fare. Actually, a couple of movies I hesitate to even consider for the challenge, although for my own personal rules for the month, I decided to include any of the Grand Illusion Cinema's Curse of All Monsters Attack programming and for the final weeks of October, the programing has become much more family friendly with more of comic tone. And while I do enjoy truly dark and psychologically troubling cinema, I cannot sustain a full month of movies like The Woman, Snowtown Murders, or even this month's viewing, Sheitan. I'd like to maintain some sanity.

 On an uncharacteristically sunny and warm fall afternoon, when scrolling through the netflix queue, Troll Hunter stood out as the type of movie that might be more of a lighter take on horror and thus, not diminished by the freakishly sunny Seattle fall. In this Norwegian mockumentary, a trio of students are …

October Horror Challenge, next installment

I've apparently reached the point in the challenge where I start to wonder if I like horror movies. Probably a result of seeing a ton of films that I wouldn't have otherwise, but sometimes it seems that my cinematic language is insufficient to talk about these films and my reaction doesn't jive with the consensus. That said, Friday was the late night screening of Sam Raimi's, The Evil Dead (1981) and it was presented in 35mm and a pretty good print. I thought this was the movie that Nate showed me, dismayed that I'd never seen it, that was a stylized and very comic horror movie. Must be getting old, because it wasn't The Evil Dead, but the sequel Evil Dead II, so I waited all movie for a kick-ass chainsaw battle scene that never materialized. Oh, well. My memory might not be so good and thus, more evidence than ever before that I need to write about the films I see as a back for my failing memory.

Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his 4 friends spend a weekend at an is…

OHMC: Raw Meat

Raw Meat (1972) Dir. Gary Sherman

Raw Meat, AKA Death Line, was not exactly what I was expecting form a movie that boasts "Beneath Modern London lives a tribe of once humans. Neither men nor women. They are the raw meat of the human race" on the poster. And apparently with increased availability of this film, it has caught others off guard as one probably wouldn't expect much from an early film from a director that gave us classics like Poltergeist III. On my quest to track down a few stills from the film, I've seen endorsements from critic Jim Emerson and Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. This allowed a sigh of relief because sometimes, I doubt my immediate impressions when it comes to horror and cult movies. In contrast to more jaded viewers, I do tend to be a bit more squemish and a lot more jumpy than most, but I found Raw Meat to be totally absorbing.

Raw Meat was not particularly scary, but functions mostly be buidling a sense of mytery about what is happenin…

OHMC: Of Gods and Monsters

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) Dir. James Whale

I saw the James Whale biopic Gods and Monsters in 1998, so why did it take me more than a decade to see The Brike of Frankenstein? And why was I taken by surprise by the tone, striking visuals, and humor?

The film starts with a conversatons between Lord Byron, Percy Shelly and Mary Shelly concerning her frightful morality tale about the monster and says that the story doesn't end with the fire at the mill. Not only has the monster (Boris Karloff) surived the fire, but the man who created him, Dr. Frankenstein also survives and is being nursed back to health by his betrothed so they may be married. But one night, the doctor is visited by his mentor, Dr. Petrorius and with a toast "to a new world of gods and monsters" Dr. Petrorius convinces Dr. Frankenstein that they must create a mate for the monster and thus, the plan to create the Bride is born.


Unlike in Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein paints a very different p…

OHMC: The Bunker and Prince of Darkness

The Bunker (2001) Dir. Rob Green

Another disappointing challenge entry and this one looked promising and came with a strong recommendation, too.

Actually, The Bunker starts strong, with seven German soldiers holed up in a bunker in an attempt to survive an attack from American troops while protecting their position at the Belgian-German border. They are running low on ammunition and sleep. Some of the men want to explore the tunnels in search of supplies or an alternate escape, but there are stories about the underground tunnels "and stories don't last for hundreds of years without reason". Some of the men ignore the Sergeant's orders to stay out of the tunnels, claiming those are just ghost stories, but once in the dark isolation of the tunnels, the men start to see and hear things and their actions become driven by fear and madness. This created a very intense atmosphere for a horror tale, but unfortunately it wasn't a memorable or compelling one.

I really str…

OHMC: The Thing & Crawlspace

The Thing (1982) Dir. John Carpenter

It is always awesome to watch a modern horror classic with an audience on film. This time last year, I had the opportunity to see Alien and my favorite of the alien franchise, Aliens. This year, my most anticipated screening at All Monsters Attack was John Carpenter's The Thing. The screening I attended was introduced by John Carpenter expert and author Robert C. Cumbow who reminded the audience that the Thing was a remake of the Howard Hawks co-directed 1951 film, the Thing from Another World. I have not yet seen the 1951 film, but Cumbow shared some fascinating observations. He states that in the Hawks film, as was common of a lot of films in the 1950s, the team had to work together to survive and defeat the monster. But Carpenter's film is a more modern take on the monster movie. Since the Thing can imitate any life form, it causes the Antarctic team to distrust one another as anyone could be the Thing at anytime. Thus it is a more isola…

OHMC: The Screen at Kamchanod & Possession

The Screen at Kamchanod (2007, Thailand)

 I finally took a gamble on a movie found on netflix. A few years back, Scarecrow video started categorizing their horror selection based on country and while it wasn't unexpected to find a Japanese horror section, the Hong Kong and Thailand horror sections peaked my curiosity. I never did get around to seriously delving into the films that were placed in those sections, but I have found several Thai directors that have become favorites and I started to wonder whether the things I enjoy about Pen-Ek Ratanaruang and Apichatpong Weerasethakul's might be general feature of Thai cinema. So when I read that the Screen at Kamchanod was more atmospheric than downright scary, I took this as an attribute. Sadly, atmosphere was all the Screen had going for it.

Dr. Yuth (Achita Pramoj Na Ayudhya) hears about a mysterious event that happened at a film screening at a temple at Kamchanod. As the projectionist ran the film, no one was gathered to watc…

October Horror Movie Challenge: Häxan

Finished off my silent horror movie private film festival with the 1922, Swedish documentary, Häxan. I see this film in the Scarecrow Video, special October movie section every year and every year, I decide not to rent it simply because it is a documentary. I'm happy to report that I didn't let that stop me this year.

I watched the Criterion release, which is quite a bit longer than other versions (104 min) and includes portions that were censored for the theatrical release. It begins by detailing the beliefs of the universe in the Middle Ages and then spends a lot of time showing artistic renditions of hell. I couldn't help, but to smirk to myself at the number of times the text pointed out nude figures in wood cuts. This was the first clue thatin 1922, watching Häxan must have been a bit like going to the ballet in the 1600s or documentaries on indigenous peoples when I was growing up. Yes, this must have been an example of how it is more socially acceptable to watch …

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Golem (1920)

Continuing with the quest to watch more early horror, I selected the 1920 German silent film, The Golem. Paul Wegener's film recounts a legend from Jewish mysticism where a creature is formed from earth and brought to life in order to protect the Jews of Prague from a frightening prophesy.

The film begins with Rabbi Loew with a sequence depicting the stars as round lights hovering above the sharp angles of mountains as he reads the prophesy. With the look of the opening, I wrongly assumed that The Golem was animated, until the Rabbi returns to his home and build the Golem. These scenes while still very high contrast, they were more obviously created with a motion picture camera.  The film was also tinted in reds, greens, and blues.

The plot is somewhat generic and despite not knowing much about Jewish folklore, the tale of the golem was a familiar one. Shortly after the Rabbi warns of the danger seen in the constellations, the Emperor orders the Jews to leave their Praque ghetto a…

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Unknown

With the whole problem of not having a job, I have time to participate in the October Horror Movie Challenge this year. I've never actually completed the challenge, but came damn close the year I was stuck in bed with a broken ankle. I was only 2 movies shy of watching a horror movie a day for the month of October. Seemed like this would be a good year to try again. Even if I were to only see the movies playing at the Grand Illusion during October, that is still 21 movies, most of which I haven't seen before.

The biggest challenge for me is that I want to blog about the movies I watch. This has become difficult. I've lost confidence when it comes to writing about film since I no longer trust that my brain is in working order. And I worry that with the cognitive issues I've been having, that I'm not making sense. Must remember to proof read. 

I started off strong with The Unknown, the 1927 film from Tod Browning. In preparing for All Monsters Attack, I'm consi…