This year, due to all the horror movies that we wanted to cram into our annual horror-a-thon, we decided to start our viewing on September 1st. Yes, we need an entire additional month. And there are still movies we’ll have to skip.
We have many, many movies.
We (actually, Chris) have decided to help ourselves sort all of them out by having theme nights:
- Monster Mondays
- Terrible Tuesdays (I’m going to kill him for this one)
- When Animals Attack Wednesdays
- Stuart Gordon Thursdays
- Universal Fridays
- Stalk & Slay Saturdays
- Supernatural Sundays
I’m most looking forward to Supernatural Sundays as I have recently been able to watch truly scary stuff again – and it’s the supernatural stuff that’s always scared me.
Abominable is a little known Bigfoot movie that has some amazing suit effects, tension-building direction and even some Hitchcockian vibes due to the lead (Matt McCoy) being wheelchair-bound and having a passing resemblance to Anthony Perkins. It starts off a little slow but pays off in the end. It also contains excellent extended cameos by Jeffrey Combs and Lance Henriksen – a couple of household favorites here at the Mills homestead.
The plot isn’t too complicated. Preston Rogers (Matt McCoy) returns to his wooded cabin in hopes to come to terms with the accidental death of his wife six months previous but things don’t go as planned when a huge Sasquatch tears through the woods, taking out horses, dogs and finally, several pretty co-eds. Preston does his best to prevent more deaths but no one believes him until it’s too late.
The monster suit in this movie is pretty amazing, especially those freakin’ teeth. So big and so realistic. This bigfoot has some googly eyes but I can forgive that since it resembles Ron Swanson on a really bad hair day.
If for nothing else, watch this movie for the last shot. It’s creepy as hell.
Tuesday night was truly terrible. Not even Christopher Lee could save The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf. A direct sequel to the excellent The Howling (1981), this movie picks up at the funeral of Karen White, portrayed by Dee Wallace in the first movie and by a very forgettable Hana Ludvikova in this movie. The plot is pretty much nonsensical, there are images inserted into sequences that have nothing to do with what’s going on in the story, the actors portraying the protagonists (Jenny Templeton and Reb Brown) are just awful and even Christopher Lee seemed rather bored in many of his scenes. Vampire lore is substituted for Werewolf lore and the gratuitous nudity and sex scenes were eye roll-inducing.
Good thing I had some beading to do while we watched it. Yeesh.
I do not recommend watching this movie, unless you’re a fan of Sybil Danning’s admittedly impressive boobage. If you like those, you won’t be disappointed. Hell, just watch the end credits – it includes about 16 repeated shots of her removing her outfit over and over again.
Wednesday night we returned to decent fare with Alligator starring the always enjoyable Robert Forster and female lead Robin Riker – known by me for playing Amy’s witch mother in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer“. And I’m not name-calling. She played an actual witch.
This movie follows the life of police officer David Madison, a man scarred by the death of his former partner, who stumbles upon an Alligator in the sewers who has been feasting on the discarded remains of illegal test-subject dogs. These animals have been pumped full of a growth hormone causing the Alligator to have a few growth spurts himself. Unfortunately, moments after discovering the Alligator, his new partner (of about 10 minutes) is snatched away and eaten by the car-sized reptile.
No one believes Madison, blaming his delusion on the stress caused by losing a second partner. But after a reporter is eaten by Ramon (yes, he has a name, but you’ll have to watch to find out how we know it), taking pictures as it happens and the pictures are found and developed, the city is put on full alert.
In the end, Ramon goes on a city-wide rampage, ending up at the estate of the owner of the lab that pumped those poor pooches full of growth hormones and you can probably guess that sleazbag’s fate.
Alligator is an enjoyable Animal-on-a-rampage movie with good writing, better-than-average character development and impressive special effects, especially for it’s time.
So, in all, I recommend both Abominable and Alligator, but wouldn’t wish The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf on any discerning horror fan. It’s just not worth the pain.
Back on World Book Day (March 6), the World Book Day website listed their poll results of books that changed readers’ lives. Here’s that list for my own personal reference and an asterisk next to books that I have read.
Books that will scare you…
- The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
- The Rats by James Herbert
- The Shining by Stephen King *
- 1984 by George Orwell *
- Lord Loss by Darren Shan
Books that will teach you about love…
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Forever by Judy Blume
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte *
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte *
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank *
- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer * (They didn’t guarantee it’d change your life for the better)
- How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Books that will make you laugh…
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams *
- Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
- Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
- Geek Girl by Holly Smale
- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Age 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend
Books that will transport you…
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman
- Percy Jackson series by rick Riordan
- Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling *
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein *
Books that will change the way you think…
- Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
- A Streetcat Named Bob by James Bowen
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- The Book Thief by Marcus Zusack
Books that will make you cry…
- Before I Die by Jenny Downham
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
- The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
- My Sister’s Keeper by Jodie Picoult
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck *
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Books that will help you understand you…
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
- The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger *
- I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Books that will thrill you…
- A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess *
- City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins *
- Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
- Gone by Michael Grant
- Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
Norman Taylor (Peter Wyngarde) is a professor at a prestigious British college where he teaches psychology, in particular the psychology behind superstition and various belief systems. When he finds out that his wife, Tansy (Janet Blair), has been practicing witchcraft in order to protect them from what she believes are outside forces and attacks, he insists that she destroy all of her charms.
Almost immediately disaster reigns down on Norman and Tansy in the form of strange, hypnotic noises, lewd telephone calls, a near-death run in with a van and rape accusations. Norman shrugs it off as coincidence but as the strangeness continues he finds himself wondering if it was all true and if Tansy had been protecting them all along.
In the end it’s up to the audience to decide whether there was any real witchcraft going on or if it was all the power of suggestion.
Based on a novel Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber Jr. and a screenplay by Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson, this British black and white horror flick rises above the cheesy pre-credits sequence that American International slapped on it when it obtained the American distribution rights. Once Paul Fries finishes dispelling any evil spirits that could be caused by watching this movie, the film maintains a serious tone throughout and leaves AI’s attempt at camp behind.
Modern viewers may find this film slow and talky, but I found it to be a serious-minded, atmospheric examination of the power of suggestion and how easily it can be to be convinced of the supernatural when a person’s mind and body is stressed beyond endurance. The performances by Wyngarde, Blair and Margaret Johnston (as Flora Carr, a colleague of Norman’s) are top-notch and not once do they not handle the subject matter seriously.
If you’ve seen Night of the Creeps (1986) (and if you haven’t, you really should) then you know the plot of Slither. An alien comes to Earth via meteorite and takes over the first human who comes upon it. Eventually the alien spawns slug-like minions who roam the countryside, taking over any mammal it encounters and it’s up to the film’s heroes to figure out how to take them all out to save the world.
Prior to this year I had only seen Slither once and I remembered liking it quite a bit.
Upon re-watching, I’ll update that opinion to – I still like it, but not as much as I used to.
For one thing, I remember Nathan Fillion being in it a lot more than he actually is and I didn’t remember how low-key he plays the part. I had completely forgotten Elizabeth Banks is in it and that she’s pretty much the main character. I’m not saying that’s a problem – I like Elizabeth Banks – but I just forgot. Probably because I have Fillion-blindness – if Nathan Fillion is in it, that’s what I remember.
Sue me. I like Captain Tightpants.
The main thing I had forgotten though is that early in the film there’s a rape scene and later an attempted rape. Yeah, I know, it’s an alien transferring its slimy critters to incubate in another host and yeah, you could technically call the face-huggers in the Alien franchise rapists because they’re doing the same thing.
However, in Slither the incubation scenes are done with phallic appendages and it always involves a woman flat on her back, pinned down by her attacker. In the first scene, the woman even flails about rhythmically while alien-infested Michael Rooker sits by looking as if he’s really enjoying it. I admit to being hyper-sensitive to rape scenes so it left me uncomfortable for the rest of the movie.
However, Greg Henry is still a hoot as Mayor Jack MacReady and his over-the-top temper tantrum concerning some missing Mr. Pibb is a highlight of the film.
I can understand. Mr. Pibb is ‘da bomb.
Overall it’s an entertaining little creature feature with a nice sense of humor and heavy-handed with the gore effects. For some that’s a plus, for others a minus. It’s all a matter of taste.
After being found bubbling up from the ground at a mine, a white, creamy and apparently delicious substance is packaged and sold throughout America (and presumably the world) as The Stuff. Early on we, the audience, knows that something is a little off about The Stuff when young Jason (Scott Bloom) sees it moving around outside of its box in the refrigerator.
Undeterred by the fact that no one else in his family has ever seen it move, or anyone else that he knows, he’s hell bent on keeping people from eating it. At his local grocery store he goes on a rampage and destroys hundreds of containers of The Stuff.
But it really doesn’t matter because it’s everywhere – grocery stores, department stores, 24-hour specialty shops. Even at 2:30 in the morning there are lines around the building waiting for more of the ‘all natural, low calorie’ dessert treat.
Meanwhile, slimy Mo Rutherford (Michael Moriarty) is hired by a The Stuff competitor to find and steal the formula for the product so that his employers can make their own knock-off version of The Stuff.
Along with the help of The Stuff’s publicity manager Nicole (Andrea Marcovicci) and Chocolate Chip Charlie Hobbs (Garrett Morris), a candy company owner whose company was taken over by The Stuff’s parent company, Mo witnesses the truth about The Stuff – it’s a sentient, killing and very addictive substance that’s goal is to take over the world.
Through a series of misadventures and some very , very bad editing, Mo and his friends (which eventually includes Jason who barely escapes from his possessed, crazed family) track down a right-wing militant nutjob (Paul Sorvino) who happens to own some radio stations. Convinced that The Stuff is Communist, he sends out the warning to avoid The Stuff and to destroy it.
This movie has some interesting practical special effects (although the miniatures rarely match up with the full-size sets they’re supposed to model) and the acting is adequate and sometimes fun, but the poor direction and just plain awful editing often led me to stare at the screen and say ‘huh?’ I understood what was going on but it was often not clear how the characters obtained their knowledge.
This movie was entertaining enough and I think could have been a decent monster invasion film but it really needed a better director and an entirely new editing crew.
Last year we added to our collection with the purchase of You’ll Find Out (1940) which stars not one, not two, but three classic horror film stars – Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre.
However, the real star of the film is the now nearly-forgotten band leader Kay Kyser and his group, the Kay Kyser Band. Kyser was famous for his radio show “Kollege of Musical Knowledge” and the film actually starts with a radio broadcast of the show.
In the movie, Kyser’s band is hired to play at the 21st birthday party of the girlfriend of Kyser’s agent, Chuck Deems (Dennis O’Keefe.) It becomes clear quite early on that someone is trying to kill birthday girl Janis (Helen Parrish) and it’s up to Kay and the gang to figure this whole thing out.
The movie is full of self-aware corny jokes, over-acting, Scooby-doo type shenanigans and even a dog in a wig. Nevertheless, the séance scenes are genuinely creepy, the cast is enjoyable and it moves along at a nice pace. The character of Ish Kabibble (M.A. Bogue) is on-screen just a little too much considering how unfunny he is, but he was apparently quite popular at the time.
As for the main attraction for modern film-lovers, Boris Karloff is slimily sinister, Peter Lorre is apathetically aloof and Bela Lugosi creepily charming. All three of them are a delight to watch and one of the funnier conceits of the film is that no one suspects Lorre and Karloff of evil-doings until the last five minutes of the film.
If you’re a fan of these types of movies I highly recommend you try this one out. It’s a hoot and even has several very catchy musical numbers.