Saturday, November 05, 2011

What I Watched In October

I watched 37 movies in October. Wow. I knew I was racking them up but I wasn’t counting as I barreled through the month. I guess it shows what you can do if you’re a lazy, movie-loving freak with the desire to see some horror movies before Halloween night. And by ‘some’ I mean as many as possible.

Among the rewatches were some favorites of my youth and a few mid-level titles I’ve grown to cherish over the years. I showed my girlfriend the second Kolchak TV movie THE NIGHT STRANGLER and really enjoyed her reaction to it. She liked the original NIGHT STALKER better but she loved the character and when she saw my favorite episode of the follow up series ‘The Ripper’ she was hooked. I’ll have to show her more of the series in the future.

Seeing the original FRIDAY THE 13TH on Blu-Ray was a revelation. I’ve liked the movie for years without thinking of it as much more than a cheap cash-in but the sharpness of the new disc made me appreciate the real beauty of the film. The movie looks fantastic and the enhanced clarity actually made me think better of the entire affair. Later in the month I rewatched PART 6 of the series with a buddy and for the first time realized that it and JASON X are the most fun of the sequels. They have a similar playful tone making light of the mad ideas that are being used to advance the crazy story of this immortal killing machine. I’ve often heard hardcore fans claiming that JASON X is a terrible film because of the humorous tack it takes but 6 uses the exact same tone of winking at the hopefully knowing audience right from the beginning. How else do you rationalize the amusing James Bond parody in the opening credit sequence? Both movies are a lot of fun and while delievering on the scares and thrills also manage to poke fun at the silliness of the concept.

Via NetFlix streaming I watched a few films including the newly released to Blu THE NESTING (1980). This is an interesting movie but sadly it isn’t particularly good. The story about a supposedly haunted house is nothing special but the setting makes it a curiosity for anyone fascinated by old country homes with unique architecture. While the actors are certainly trying their best they are mostly an over-eager group of under-talented people that might have needed a few more takes or a better sense of how ‘big’ their performances were playing onscreen. It’s not a bad film but it hasn’t got enough for me to recommend it either.

DARK TOWER (1987) is a film that was started by director Ken Wiederhorn but finished by legendary cinematographer/director Freddie Francis. Francis directed the movie as a favor to one of the movie’s producers but took his name off the released cut because they removed all the things that made him willing to participate at all. This meddling is evident throughout the movie as story elements are dropped randomly and new characters are introduced with little reason. The removal of a key final scene makes Michael Moriarity’s performance ridiculous as the reason for his odd reactions to the strange ghostly goings on have been chopped away. It’s a mess and not even my desire to stare at Jenny Agutter could make me enjoy the ride.

MY DEAR KILLER turned out to be a good giallo that I’m sure I’ll rewatch in the future. I finally caught up with SEVERANCE and really enjoyed it even if there is one scene that should have been left out of the movie. The director’s follow up movie TRIANGLE is a better film and the one I would recommend seeing first. Having now seen 1986’s NEON MANIACS I can state that my avoiding of it for decades was a sign of correctly judging a film by its poster art. It was easily the worst film I saw the entire month and that is truly impressive when you realize that I also finally saw the incredibly bad SLEEPWALKERS in October as well. Those two would make a ‘worst double feature’ list for nearly anyone.

STAKE LAND (2010)- 7 (solid post-apocalyptic vampire tale)
THE NIGHT STRANGLER (1973)- 7 (rewatch)
CORRUPTION (1968)- 6 (interesting if not great)
FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)- 6 (rewatch)
FINAL DESTINATION 5 (2011)- 5 (about the fifth best of the series)
I SAW THE DEVIL (2010)- 8 (vicious Korean revenge film)
MIMIC (1997)- 8 (director’s cut improves a good film) (sort of a rewatch)
THE ROAD (2009)- 7 (well done, downbeat post-apocalyptic tale)
I MARRIED A WITCH (1942)- 7 (fun supernatural romantic comedy)
EDGE OF THE AXE (1988)- 6 (Spanish made slasher)
THE NESTING (1980)- 5 (tries hard but just can’t manage to be what it wants to be)
DARK TOWER (1987)- 4 (not vey good American made film set in Spain- great cast)
THE RESIDENT (2011)- 6 (pretty good thriller with a strong cast)
FACE OF MARBLE (1946)- 5 (fun, nonsensical Poverty Row combo of mad science & voodoo)
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. RX (1942)- 6 (rewatch)
ROGUE (2007)- 8 (rewatch)
THE MAD GHOUL (1943)- 6 (rewatch)
BERZERK! (1967)- 5 (the ending makes no sense but OK until then)
THE FLY (1986)- 9 (rewatch)
THE FLY II (1989) – 6 (rewatch)
THE THING (2011)- 5 (prequel works for a while but then fails when they board the alien craft)
MY DEAR KILLER (1971) – 7 (solid, satisfying giallo)
SEVERANCE (2008)- 7 (good stalker film with a touch of humor)
HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1980) – 7 (rewatch)
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 6: JASON LIVES (1986)- 6 (rewatch) (silly, knowing slasher fun)
SLEEPWALKERS (1992)- 2 (mind-bendingly bad – the combo of King & Garris remains one of the worst possible)
THE MUMMY’S HAND (1940)- 7 (rewatch)
NEON MANIACS (1986)- 1 (stupid, incompetent and dull)
TRICK ‘R TREAT (2009)- 9 (rewatch)
FRIGHT NIGHT (2011)- 7 (remake actually works really well – the R rating helps too)
THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTIEN (1942)- 6 (rewatch)
ZOMBIE (1979)- 8 (rewatch on the big screen!)
SQUIRM (1976)- 6 (rewatch on the big screen)
HUSK (2010)- 6 (killer scarecrow tale)
BROTHERHOOD OF BLOOD (2007)- 2 (lame low budget vampire tale)


Kev D. said...

'Zombie' on the big screen... SWEET!

Rod Barnett said...

It was great to see in 35mm. The print had a rough patch at one point and one reel had a reddish tinge but it was amazing to see on the BIG screen. I love The Belcourt!

Mr. Ghoul said...

Wow, so you did finally subject yourself to the jaw-dropping glory that is SLEEPWALKERS. I've been saying for years that this is the worst of all King's awful scripts...quite an accomplishment to say the least. I swear, the attempts at humor in that film fall so hard they actually leave dents in the floor. Such a waste of the glorious Alice Krige too...I've always meant to bring SLEEPWALKERS to Turkey Night but I'll wait a few more years so you don't have to suffer again so soon.

Rod Barnett said...

I'm considering bringing SLEEPWALKERS to Turkey Night this year just to spread the pain around. I never thought I'd find a King script worse than MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE.