Tag Archives: Monster

In a ‘Horror’ble Mood

It’s October again and for the husband and me, that means it’s time for horror movies galore! We watch them year round, but in October we try our best to watch one a night when possible.

We started a little late this year – we didn’t watch our first until the 2nd of October (we’re such slackers) but we’ve stayed on target ever since.

It wasn’t intentional, but we stumbled upon a theme for our two movies this past weekend – the consequences of fear and ignorance in extreme situations.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Bubba Ritter...he's all messed up

We started out pretty low key with a made-for-tv movie from 1981. Otis P. Hazelrigg (Charles Durning) leads a group of weak-minded characters who are literally looking for any excuse to torment the local mentally deficient man-child, Bubba Ritter (Larry Drake).

After brutally shooting Bubba down while he is hiding inside his mother’s scarecrow, they find out that Bubba is innocent of the crime they were chasing him down for – the death of his only friend, little pre-pubescent Marylee (Tonya Crowe).

But that doesn’t really matter. They weren’t chasing him down for what he did – just for what he was – something they didn’t understand or, in Hazelrigg’s case, something they envied.

At the trial, where all four men are found innocent of murder, Bubba’s mother warns them that there are different kinds of justice and that someday, they will pay for what they did.

They find out that Momma Ritter is right when one by one, they are tormented by the presence of a new scarecrow in their fields – one that disappears when they gather their friends to check it out. Tension levels and panic rise as each are struck down in turn until only one is left and running for his life.

Being made for television, there is very little gore in this movie amounting to a little blood and some gunshot wounds. All violence is implied except for the brutal killing of Bubba and by today’s standards even this is pretty tame. However, the emotional impact has a chilling effect.

This kind of movie just doesn’t work without a strong cast and this movie definitely has that. Charles Durning, a steadily working actor from the 1960’s to the present, will no doubt be familiar to almost any viewer and his performance makes this film.

I recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys atmosphere, a little mystery, strong characters and a solid story.

The Mist (2007)

The Mist

On the run from monsters

Sunday night we re-watched The Mist for the first time since purchasing the DVD back when it first came out. Remembering how good the movie was, I wondered why we hadn’t watched it more than once. Halfway through the movie I remembered why.

This movie pisses me off. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great movie. It’s a very good adaptation of Stephen King’s novella by the same name, and even improves on some plot points that I really didn’t like from the original source material. The cast is top-notch and the direction superb.

I’ve just gotten to a point in my life where I can’t sympathize with ignorance any longer and especially the use of ignorance to generate fear and even more the use of religion to perpetuate that ignorance and fear. The character of Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) is a loathsome woman who does more damage to the survivors of the mist than the actual monsters now roaming the world.

I realize that this is the point of the film – that letting others use fear to control us is even more dangerous than letting the unknown frighten us out of our wits. By the end of this movie, the few rational people left dare to face the very real monsters outside the store rather than deal with the even more dangerous monster that is now human society.

Perhaps this is why my husband has such a problem with the movie’s ending – which does differ from the source material and not in a necessarily better way. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but I think I have to to make my point here. Our few heroes brave the unknown but it still ultimately destroys them. The only survivor has to kill all that he has left, including the personification of innocence, only to find that it was completely pointless.

So, yeah, if they had kept the original ending from the book, my analogy here would have been much more uplifting. And maybe that’s ultimately why I’m not going to be able to watch this movie more than once every few years.

The Mist

Less scary than fanatics

Still, I highly recommend the movie. So many of King’s horror stories have been butchered by Hollywood and director Frank Darabont does a marvelous job adapting this tale for the screen.

If you get the special edition, I do recommend watching it as intended – in black and white. We watched it in color this time and while it still works, the black and white photography lends more to the alien atmosphere outside the store and reinforces the metaphor of opposing factions inside the store.

Purchase Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Purchase The Mist on Blu-Ray

Time…she slips through the fingers

Well, so much for my horror movie a day plan. I don’t want to do the whole making excuses thing because I really don’t have one – other than life.

Instead of doing another dedicated review, I thought I would make a list of horror movies I have seen and enjoyed and little blurb as to why they made the list. That way, if I flake out again, you’ll have a few movies to take a look at and maybe rent for yourself.

Mr. Sardonicus (1961)

From the back of the DVD box: Desperate to retrieve a winning lottery ticket, a greedy baron unearths his father’s corpse. An enormous jackpot is his reward, but not without a price: his face is frozen permanently into a hideous grin. He enlists his fiendish one-eyed servant to help him lift this horrible curse, but their schemes fail. Finally, he turns to a noted neurosurgeon – and his wife’s former lover – to cure him.

Based on a novella by Ray Russel and produced and directed by the legendary William Castle, master of ballyhoo.

I have only seen this movie once and it was a few years ago but I do remember that despite it’s simple shooting style and story, it is quite effective and the make-up for the grin still gives me the willies. (I won’t post a picture here. You’ll just have to see it for yourself.)

Purchase Mr. Sardonicus

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The Wicker Man (1973)

A creepy, understated horror flick about a small community of druids lead by Christopher Lee and investigated by Edward Woodward due to a missing child that the community claims never existed.

I didn’t bother to see the remake. Subtlety isn’t common in modern film-makers’ vocabulary and I doubt this film would work without it.

Purchase The Wicker Man

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Horror Express (1973)

This would be a typical ‘stuck on a train with a killer/monster’ movie but both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are thrown into the mix which instantly makes it a horror classic. Besides, it has one of my favorite Peter Cushing lines of all time which means nothing out of context.

And for all you Kojak fans, Telly Savalis appears as the arrogant Captain Kazan. Who loves ya, comrade?

Purchase Horror Express

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The Changeling (1980)

The Changeling is a chilling tale of the ghost of a wronged child haunting the house in which he was murdered. George C. Scott gives a splendid, understated performance of a man who, after losing both his wife and daughter in a car accident, moves into the large house and attempts to help the spirit find peace.

The ending of this movie can seem a little goofy, but the film up to that point is genuinely scary and just a touch heart-wrenching.

This movie has no overt special effects and relies on story, performances and sound effects to scare you and does so to great effect. I never thought I could be afraid of a little rubber ball, but apparently, I can.

Purchase The Changeling

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Legend of Hell House (1973)

Huh. It’s starting to look like 1973 was a good year for horror movies, eh?

Based on Richard Matheson’s novel Hell House – and fortunately, the screenplay was also written by Matheson – this film is about a group of investigators visiting a house that is no doubt very haunted. The leader of the group believes he has invented a machine that can de-haunt it. I doubt that it’s any great spoiler that it doesn’t work.

You can’t stop ghosts. You just can’t.

Purchase The Legend of Hell House

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Okay, there’s five movies for you sink your teeth into if you haven’t already. And if you have – enjoy them again!