Sunday, October 31, 2010

Get Dead.

And one more thing...

Happy Halloween from Cinema Du Meep!

31 More Days Of October Terror: 10/31

Day Thirty-one:

Halloween II
A Universal Picture
Original Theatrical Release Date: October 30th, 1981

Halloween II is a sequel that is better than it ever has any right to be. While it's primary incentive was to cash in on the slasher craze that the first Halloween set off, and which Friday The 13th punctuated, John Carpenter and company ending up making a real good time at the movies.

With it's creepy Hospital setting and the constant threat of Michael Myers stalking your every move, the picture has a potency a lot of the throwaway films of the times lack. Carpenter & Alan Howarth's entirely synth score also contribute greatly to the proceedings. For me this is what a horror sequel should be like... one that adds to the mythology and doesn't skimp on the thrills and fun... But just to be safe, make sure not to babysit today under any circumstances, and always check all your candy for razor blades.

Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. 
Drugged and poorly wigged here, but still the best scream queen of them all.

And the TV trailer for the first Halloween's appearance on network tv. Love this one. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

31 More Days Of October Terror: 10/30

Day-thirty (Halloween eve!)

The Tenant
From Paramount Pictures
Original Theatrical Release Date: June 11th, 1976

The Tenant is my favorite Roman Polanski film. Even more than the unsettling Rosemary's Baby, this picture packed more of a wallop for me. Like the best of his work, this film dives deep into the realms of paranoia, and here he himself stars as a man who is unraveled by it's mystery. What I also really dig about the film is it's utter defiance in being a straightforward genre piece. As Polanski is covering themes he's dealt with before, he's freed himself up to take them in very strange places.

Through all the horror and sense of impending doom there's also a current of comedy. And as pitch black as the comedy is, it really gives the film another level to play on. Polanski never lets the film become so somber or so grim we're we can't have any fun with it. He hooks you in and takes you on a sometimes very bizarre, but also appropriately dark and enjoyable ride. Plus the film co-stars the ever hot Isabelle Adjani. You can't go wrong there.

One of the scariest moments ever in film history... Roman Polanski in drag

Friday, October 29, 2010

31 More Days Of October Terror: 10/29

Day Twenty-nine:

The House On The Edge Of The Park (La casa sperduta nel parco)
An F.D. Cinematografica production/Bedford Entertainment release
Original Theatrical Release Date: November 6th, 1980 (Italy) February 1985 (USA)

Who wouldn't want to have a house on the edge of the park? Especially one that could be found in the suburbs of New Jersey (though it magically transports you to Italy) where you go to dance and party all night (who needs the city?) Maybe play some poker with bald women, take a dip in the pool or have a really long hot shower in front of someone.

I'm a big fan of this crazy exploitation picture. For a review I wrote of it with a fellow blogger, please check out this posting.

NEVER mess with a chick with a side ponytail.
Especially if you dress like this.

Hot Diggity!

A face only a mother could love.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

31 More Days Of October Terror: 10/28

Day Twenty-eight:

The Stuff
From New World Pictures
Original Theatrical Release Date: June 14th, 1985

Enough is never enough, The Stuff! Larry Cohen's satire on blind consumerism is the decade's wittiest horror-comedy. It's also the kind of movie I can return to time and time again and still come out with a wide smile afterward. It may not be the kind of movie that's a shock a minute, but it's the kind that stays with you. Cohen and company are having a ball here, and it really shows. They sure don't make 'em like this anymore!

The Stuff tastes even better in 3D! Just ask the Bloom Brothers.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

31 More Days Of October Terror: 10/27

Day Twenty-seven:

An Evil Dead Double Feature!

The Evil Dead
A New Line Cinema Release
Original Theatrical Release Date: October 15th, 1981

The first Evil Dead long stayed with me for many years. I remember catching it for the first time and being utterly terrified by it at some points. That scene where the pencil gets stabbed into someones ankle especially shook me up.

The Evil Dead started shooting in 1979, the filmmakers ran into financing issues and then shot it over time for about 2 years before it finally made it's debut in 1981 (where Stephen King's subsequent endorsement really helped get the film noticed). Sam Raimi spent a long time with this movie, and the hard work really paid off. He has come a long way since this film, but he hasn't made another anywhere near as terrifying. It was a tough act to follow, but in 1987, he managed to top himself in a different way...

Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn
A DEG/Rosebud Releasing Corporation Film
Original Theatrical Release Date: March 13th, 1987

What Evil Dead 2 lacks in genuine scares really makes up for it with a distinct ingenuity that forever changed the Horror Film landscape. Countless films and filmmakers to this day have been inspired by the madness of Sam Raimi's work here, and you can totally understand why. It's high comedy mixed with pitch black darkness and the tone somehow really works for the film. Evil Dead 2 is sometimes considered a cult movie, though it had some success at the box office. But that term is absolutely right for a film like this.

Although some of the effects may now seem a tad dated (ah, the late 80's to early 90's obsession with latex!) there's no denying that this movie show, with the genius of Bruce Campbell's go-for-broke nuttiness at the forefront, is a completely fun ride that you can take over and over. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

31 More Days Of October Terror: 10/26

Day Twenty-six:

From American International Pictures
Original Theatrical Release Date: March 27th, 1973

Brian De Palma over the years has taken many the beating by some critics who called him out to be a Hitchcock clone. Over time the more astute film paramour has realized that De Palma's tributes to the suspense master to be less a clone, but rather a fully realized love affair with that director's work. While such a great number of directors make their fortunes by sneakily and quietly ripping off other filmmakers, De Palma has always been front and center about his inspirations. His films (a lot like some of the masters themselves) reference other films of the past, and they make no apologies. So suck it, American critics. The French have been right all along.

Sisters is De Palma's first real dive into true Horror. And terrifying it is. A lot of what makes the picture work is it's offbeat charms (there's an early stretch which has the characters on a hidden camera show) and Margot Kidder's beguiling dual performance. She's lovable, she's crazy, she has a strange french accent. They only thing I don't recommend is to buy her a birthday cake. She's really not in the mood to party.

 Would you like a slice of my crazy pie?

We're gonna score tonight.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Night Of The Horror Movie Show Trailers

Night Of The Creeps:

Night Of The Comet:

Night Of The Hunter:

Night Of The Living Dead (1990):

31 More Days Of October Terror: 10/25

Day Twenty Five:

Sleepaway Camp
A United Film Distribution Company Release
Original Theatrical Release Date: November 18th, 1983

Who needs to go to an actual summer camp when one can watch movies about summer camp? This city raised boy never went, but I had Meatballs, Friday The 13th, Little Darlings, and Sleepaway Camp to tide me over. And boy does this one ever do that! Clearly there are superior films about the subject, but Sleepaway Camp was the only one bold enough to mix a story about actual kids and blood and guts. So suck it movies about teenagers played by 30 year olds!

Always alternating between dark & sleazy and mischievous fun, Sleepaway Camp is a giant Doritos's bag of heavenly contradictions. Not the least of which is that boffo, what the f! ending. We all walked out of the theater, or at the end of the tape in either complete shock or totally grossed out.  Definitely a moment in film history that could never be repeated again.

Angela went on to be quite the slasher movie icon (and played by Bruce Springsteen's sister no less!) in the crazy, fun next two sequels. Those always teetered on high comedy, but how could you not follow up this movie with anything but? Sleepaway Camp is a true one of a kind.

Archery is always fun to play at camp.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

31 More Days Of October Terror: 10/24

Day Twenty-four:

Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark
A Lorimar Production
Original Air Date: October 10th, 1973

The American Broadcast Company aired Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark in the early 70's just in time for Halloween and a generation was immediately scarred for life. I didn't catch it until repeats later on in the early 80's but man did it effect me! In retrospect it's probably not the scariest movie to ever come out of the Seventies, but it was unusual and creepy enough to have a profound impact. The scenes with Kim Darby being dragged to her possible doom into the vent in the basement have really stuck with me over the years. I think a lot of what makes a movie like this work is the fear of the unknown. It's the things you simply don't know about and the things you create in your head because of that uncertainty that absolutely terrifies you.

So flash forward 37 years later and we now have a remake penned by Guillermo Del Toro, starring the ever boring Katie Holmes slated for release sometime next year. Though they enhanced the film with CGI created creatures, a mini-Katie Holmes as they also prominently feature a child character and surely more overt thrills, it's highly unlikely the film will live with it's audience for as long as this one has. Though I'm sure they'll try to give it a good go.

Links: My Favorite Underrated Horror Movie Shows List

I was bestowed with the great honor to create a list of my favorite underrated horror movie shows for the awesome blog, Rupert Pupkin speaks.

You can find it over here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

31 More Days Of October Terror: 10/23

Day Twenty-three:

Death Proof
A Dimension film
Original Theatrical Release Date: April 6th, 2007

Death Proof arrived when the horror film was beginning a new resurgence, though unfortunately that resurgence was being led by stuff like the Saw Sequels and pointless fare like Hostel Part II. When Quentin Tarantino's half of his Grindhouse bill came around I couldn't have been more appreciative. I love a good slow burn and this film really does so very well.

While riffing on his idea of what a modern Grindhouse film should be, Tarantino blends his signature style of verbose dialog and unique characterizations with homages to female revenge movies, slashers and that distinctly 70's era of cars and stunts. For me it was a total blast to the past and I loved it from the very beginning to the kick-ass, or rather face stomping! ending. Death Proof wasn't going to please everybody with it's leisurely pace, but that's why it made a good double bill with Planet Terror... A lesser, but fun film who's energy would never rest.

Rose McGowan getting the ride of her life (literally) in Death Proof

Friday, October 22, 2010

31 More Days Of October Terror: 10/22

Day Twenty-two:

A Simcon Limited Release
Original Theatrical Release Date: March 4th, 1983

Another creepy Canadian picture makes my list this year. I mean seriously, I can never have enough of these kinds of movies. Curtains was a film that started shooting in 1980 and was plagued by many production problems. The director himself took his name off the movie. Cheekily the producers credited "Jonathan Stryker" as the director as that was the name of the director in the movie itself, and played to the hilt by John Vernon (Animal House) no less.

Curtains, though it has it's flaws, remains a favorite because it goes against the mold of the films of that era. Instead of teenagers we get a largely adult cast (who are all pretty good) and there's a certain sense of class on display here, rather than the crude. Yet, the film doesn't fail to shock. There are some standout moments here that people just don't forget. Just mention hag mask and ice rink to any horror fan and they'll know what movie you're talking about. Plus one of the plot devices uses one of cinema's most creepy dolls. You have to love a movie that utilizes a creepy doll to illicit some terror.

Thank you, and goodnight!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Links: TNUC's spotlight on Percy Rodrigues

For fan's of the 1980's, and specifically those for movie trailers, I urge you all to check out TNUC's wonderful posting which highlights the vocal work of Percy Rodrigues. A wonderful actor in his own right, he also was one of the best and most distinctive voices to emerge from the world of voiceover for movie trailers.

Read all about it here:

TNUC: Spotlight: Percy Rodrigues

31 More Days Of October Terror: 10/21

Day Twenty-one:

Visiting Hours
A Twentieth Century Fox/Canadian Film Development Corporation Film
Original Theatrical Release Date: May 28th, 1982

Lee Grant (Shampoo, Damien: Omen II) stars in this chilling 1982 Canadian slasher set mostly inside of a hospital. William Shatner (!) co-stars as her would-be savior, and most importantly of all, Michael Ironside as the best horror movie creep of the early 80's. With Lee as a laid-up in the hospital TV Show Host, the picture touches on some feminist themes, but it has the intelligence enough to never hit you over the head with them.

Already for a slasher of the time Visting Hours has carved out a nice blood line for itself with a good cast and smarts, but the film also delivers the scares. With it's great setting and diabolical killer, the film steps above many of the the rest and was certainly one of my most memorable movie going experiences. By the time you get to the final act with Ironside dressed in a bizarre get-up (see pic below) you'll be simultaneously saying What The F! and holding onto your seat. I know I did. Oh, and, dig the girl with the crimped hair (Lenore Zann from Happy Birthday To Me)

 The sublime utter creepiness of Michael Ironside in Visiting Hours

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

31 More Days Of October Terror: 10/20

Day Twenty:

The Innocents
A Twentieth Century Fox Film
Original Theatrical Release Date: December 25th, 1961 (USA)

Jack Clayton's 1961 British film is one of many adaptations of Henry James' Turn Of The Screw. And for my money, it's the best of the lot. This is psychological horror at it's best. The film was shot with a lot of deep focus and minimal lighting, and the style gives the film a rich atmosphere and eerie quality. This was certainly not being done much in cinema of the time. Cinematographer Freddie Francis would go on to direct some Hammer Films of his own, but he also was the Cinematographer on the equally exquisite The Elephant Man. He really was a one of a kind.

Star Deborah Kerr turns in a wonderful performance here, and we are right with her on her journey. The Innocents isn't the kind of movie that has any overt, jump at you scares, so it relies on the actors and the atmosphere. And it succeeds brilliantly. This picture's influence can still be seen in films today, some to varying success, but none more so than in Alejandro Amenabar's The Others from 2001.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

15 Directors Meme

The idea here, which initially started on Facebook and is now spreading through us nutty bloggers, is to list the first 15 Directors that come to your mind that have shaped the way you look at movies. And you can't take too long to think about it. I was inspired to make this list by this posting over at Radiator Heaven. Such a great blog if you haven't checked it out already.

In no real order:

John Carpenter on the set of his latest, The Ward.

 Alfred Hitchcock, master of suspense of silliness.

Brian De Palma with then main squeeze, Nancy Allen.

 Woody Allen posing with a statue of himself in Spain.

 Howard Hawks (left) learning some sweet moves from Gary Cooper.

Paul Mazursky (middle) with his family in the 80s
(though I'm sure you figured that part out)

 Quentin Tarantino at the New Beverly Cinema, a theater he helped save from closing.

 Paul Verhoeven as evil robot on the set of Robocop.

 Preston Sturges, courtesy of a great old LIFE portrait.

 Bob Fosse, unapologetic as always.

Sidney Lumet with Brando.
Like Hitchcock, Lumet has never won an Oscar for Best Director.

 John Hughes with his young stars of Sixteen Candles.

 Adrian Lyne with Jodie Foster, his star from Foxes.

 William Friedkin directing Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

Larry Cohen posing with some of his creature creations.

31 More Days Of October Terror: 10/19

A Cinepix/New World Pictures Release
Original Theatrical Release Date: April 8th, 1977

David Cronenberg's 1977 film Rabid (AKA: Rage) stars porn star Marilyn Chambers as a woman who gets into a motorcycle crash and is given experimental skin grafts and tissue which start developing into something positively creepy. Yes my friends, this is a movie about a woman with a killer armpit.

I've been a fan of Cronenberg's films since his feature debut with Shivers, and Rabid is an excellent example of David's obsession with the horrors of the human body. The style here is prime Cronenberg cold and sterile, and that really adds to the terror.  I also dig David's nod to Stephen King and fellow terror maker Brian De Palma by having a poster of Carrie be in the theater where Marilyn finds her prey. Word is the director originally wanted Sissy Spacek in the lead role for Rabid, but the studio wasn't keen on her accent. Oh well, too bad for them. Ms. Chambers herself turns in a very good performance, and it was a shame her legitimate film career never really took off after this one.

Have no fear, it's only Marilyn Chambers here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Movie Show Review: Hatchet II & I Spit On Your Grave (2010)

An Unrated Horror double feature!

Hatchet II
Directed by Adam Green
Original Theatrical Release Date: October 1st, 2010

I enjoyed Adam Green's first Hatchet film. It came at a time when horror was finding a new resurgence, and it's promotional material promised a return to "Old School American Horror"... That film wasn't so much a return to being "Old School" as much as it was just relishing in it's love for those films of genre. You simply can't be "Old School" by constantly paying tribute to "Old School". Regardless, the movie worked because it was gruesome yet fun. The characters were interesting enough to follow them on their journey into the swamps of Louisiana, and you kind of cared who might survive the night.

Hatchet II picks up exactly where Hatchet I left off, but this time replacing that final girl with someone a bit more "Old School"...Danielle Harris (Halloween 4 & 5, Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead, Rob Zombie's Halloweens) Much more so than the first film, the sequel really does want to conjure up those memories of watching some of those films of past. This might as well as be the bastard son of a later Friday The 13th or Leatherface. Not that this movie is as fun as some of those...

Scream Queen Danielle Harris washing away all the gooey goo-ness of Hatchet II. 
How you doing?

While 'ole Hatchet Part Deux is unafraid to give you buckets of blood and gore--This film is wall to wall squishy effects-- that's about all you get. Legions of fans have been grumbling over the last 10 years or so about all the shitty CGI effects we've been getting, myself one of them, and this picture is set to dazzle you with all the cool makeup effects we've been missing all these years. But it seems it's been in lieu of any real sense of fun.

This picture is just too over-the-top to be actually enjoyable. Tony Todd, naturally one creepy mutha, is ridiculous here. I guess they never yelled cut and allowed Mr. Candyman to make weird gestures and come off like he's making absolutely no sense. Perhaps they should have kept his role minimal like in the first film, instead of widening it to starring role? And as for the rest of the characters... Were there any? This film has quite a few people in it, yet everyone kind of seemed the same. Sometimes you can tell them apart from the lame dialog or jokes, most of the time the film was too preoccupied in it's gooeyness to care. Adam Green has an eye for settings and horror sequences, but he really needs to bone up on his scriptwriting (This year's Frozen also lacked interesting characters and dialog) Still... Danielle Harris. She's looking at you whilst in the shower. How you doing?

Definitely a let-down considering the fun of the first film, Hatchet II has it's place in the horror world and will eventually find it's home late at night when either you're too drunk or stoned to honestly care. Just pass the grue please, thank you.

I Spit On Your Grave
Directed by Steven R. Monroe
Original Theatrical Release Date: October 8th, 2010

The original I Spit On Your Grave from 1978 was one of my Grandmother's favorite films. I kid you not. We'd watch it countless times, to the point where I once entertained the notion of just throwing it away and pretending to know nothing about it. Over the years I've warmed back up to it. Even though it's a movie that is never subtle or particularly pleasing to watch, it's a genuine 70's Grindhouse movie that packs it's punch and doesn't apologize. The kind of movie that they really don't make in the mainstream anymore.

And yet cut to 32 years later and we now have the remake. And it's bummer. I went to see this in a positively empty theater in the East Village. I was excited as it was nice and quiet, a really big screen and good sound system. By the end of the movie I just kind of wanted to get out there.

It's not a completely terrible movie mind you, but it didn't do much for me at all. I was with the movie up through the rape stuff, and then the movie makes the egregious era of shifting points of view to the country bumpkins. These guys were not at all interesting and the actors playing them pretty much added nothing new other than being stock bad dudes. Unless of course you really think the chubby gay kid from Mean Girls is scary. I preferred The villains from The Last House On The Left redo, and I didn't even much like that movie.

The classic tub scene of the original retrofitted in I Spit On Your Grave.  
More torture, less penis cuttage.

Sure enough the biggest problem of the movie is it's direction. It's all hand-held nonsense with absolutely no sense of framing or real style (unless you count endless points of view from someone's video camera, style) The movie veers closely to Rob Zombie territory with it's head planted firmly up it's hillbilly ass, but I'd even give Zombie points for at least trying to incorporate some style into his movies. For a remake of a movie that was criticized for being crude, flat and without any real merits, they sure picked the wrong people to bring something to the table.

And then there's the revenge... We've seen it all before with the Hostel movies (especially part 2), The Saws and other recent lackluster stuff. It doesn't pack the wallop it should... When someone else does get their wang cut off, it just isn't the same. This really should have been a movie where you wanted to cheer when she finally gets revenge. That's what i was kind of expecting. She doesn't even say the line in the trailer "Forgive me father, for I will sin" What a gip.

I'm going to re-watching the original soon with my grandmother looking down on me from heaven (or up from hell, take your pick) I remember the DVD's commentary (by drive-in movie GOD Joe Bob Briggs) being utterly hysterical. It's the kind of pick me up I need after some bummer new movie shows.

Okay, he's pretty scary.

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