1 Day of Horror Trailers!

Halloween. In the US, October 31st has become a night to embrace cheap scares, high-fructose corn syrup and slutty pumpkins. There are those who enjoy the macabre aspects of it, and some who even like to be frightened…

When it comes to movies, I like to be frightened.

And is there anything more frightning than Shatner? How about young Travolta (in his feature film debut, and playing a boy named “Danny”)? Tom Skerritt probably scares somebody. And really, when it comes to utter terror- how can we forget Borgnine?

Beware the Devil’s Rain.

Last Year: Happy Halloween…

12 Days of Horror Trailers!

I don’t know if there is anything redeeming about the original Toolbox Murders. Maybe the bathtub scene- and that is purely my 15 year old Boy brain rationalizing there. This is the sort of horror film that could appeal to the trenchcoat crowd that still had grindhouse theaters to go to, back in the day.

A sleazy, cheap-o, sensationalist skin flick with gratuitous violence. Or was it a sleazy, cheap-o sensational violence flick with gratuitous nudity? Hmmm.

Remade with a bit more class in 2003 by Tobe Hooper, with a much more creative concept than the original’s premise (all that is shared is a Hollywood setting, and the basic kill concepts) by screenwriters (and wonderful people) Jace Anderson & Adam Gierasch. A lot less 70’s era hot chicks take their clothes off in the remake. I think Angela Bettis and Juliet Landau are both terrific actresses (and both are quite good in the remake) but they are so… so not 70’s horror movie starlets. I kind of miss that look.

Last Year: Del Tenney movies are great stuff, even if they are lacking on the blood & boobies.

13 Days of Horror Trailers!

Phew.

Creature Features are a pet favorite of mine. Especially if I’m sick in bed. Then the rampaging monster sequences help me sleep. Joan Crawford probably wanted to be helped to sleep too while she made this. “Oh well,” she probably said to herself while pouring a bracer into her sippy cup, “At least Trog is easier to work with than that cunt Bette Davis”.

Director Freddie Francis made a number of horror films during the 60s and 70s, usually for Hammer or Amicus. He was never a solid director like some of his contemporaries. Actually, most of his films were on the lower rung of the Hammer and Amicus out-put (though I understand his Mummy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly is a wonderfully macabre sort of a UK Spider Baby, I haven’t seen it yet )But he was a great cinematographer, working on movies as diverse (and beautifully shot) as Elephant Man, and Cape Fear.

Trog was Joan Crawford’s swan song from the big screen. It also contains an infamous scene where she flatly repeats the creature’s name: “Trog! Trog! Trog!” over and over in an attempt at reaching the monster. I don’t think, though I could be wrong, there is ever a sequence where we are told why she would call it that, other than that it is the title of the picture.

Last Year: I wanna steak, cuz I’m Ravenous!

14 Days of Horror Trailers!

I don’t know if this is technically a horror movie, but…

…but it totally acts like one. What the trailer neglects to tell you is that the National Guardsmen who have invoked the wrath of the local Cajuns… only have ten live rounds between them… no radio, no map, no chance in hell…

A total man’s man of a movie- directed by Walter Hill- with Powers Booth, Keith Carradine, Fred Ward, Peter Coyote, Brion James, Les Lannom, Sonny Landham, and Lewis “Perfect Tommy” Smith.

Damn, that is a movie so manly that Predator saw it and asked it to smoke cigars and drink tequila with it…

Last Year: the birth of J-Horror… in 1964

And Last Year: Bonus (because I messed up yesterday), the classiest ghost story of all time: Look, I know the supernatural is not supposed to happen but it does happen…

15 Days of Horror Trailers!

It Was Always You Helen

Ask most people about Candyman and they remember Tony Todd- they remember “Candyman, candyman, candyman, candyman—- candyman!”

They might remember the bees, or the hook, or the cute blond that Ted Raimi gropes in the prologue (the screenshot above) but what else?

Bernard Rose wrote and directed a tight little psychological horror film that was marketed, and remembered, as a slasher movie- despite the fact that there are remarkably few deaths during the course of the movie. I think three, maybe four, and a dog.

Where to start with Candyman? That it is possibly the only horror film to actually tap into the fear of white flight, urban peril, and various racial themes in a non-exploitive manner? Or that it is a study of storytelling, of the life that the telling and re-telling of a tale gives to an urban legend?

Candyman is all these things. It is also, admittedly, a pretty good slasher film. And Virginia Madsen? Totally owns it. Her performance is pitch-perfect, and at the end of the movie you have to ask yourself: how much of what I saw was in her mind, how much was real? I’ve talked to people who remember the film as some sort of gothic romance- Candyman seeking a mate worthy of his hook. Could be.

When the tenants of Cabrini-Green visit the grave at the end, are they paying tribute to a hero who saved a baby, or are they passing the torch (or hook)? After all, legends never die, they only change over time with each telling.

It Was Always You Helen.

Last Year: Rory Calhoun knows that meat is meat, and a man has gotta eat!. (“it takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s Fritters!”)

16 Days of Horror Trailers!

Horror can’t be art, seems to be a common thought. It is too crude, too sensational…

Maybe. Horror fans often try to defend their favorite pieces, and will offer them up as examples of the genre that falls outside the usual dreck but- before I go any further let me ask you this: is there a single genre of movie that has only good product? Romantic comedy? Drama? Adventure? Go ahead and name a genre of film and then say that most of it’s output is above reproach. Horror is no different. There are certainly movies that fit within the horror genre that are simply great movies.

This is, regardless of the intentionally sensational trailer, one of them.

In fact, if you talk to serious horror fans, Val Lewton’s name will almost inevitably come up. There is a reason why movies like Cat People, and I Walk With a Zombie are always mentioned. Because they are just so damn good.

Former journalist, novelist and poet Val Lewton was given total control on his RKO projects by producer David O. Selznick as long as they came out for under 140k, and were made with the pre-approved titles that Selznick kicked down. Moody, somber, smartly written, excellently well-cast and terrifically shot, the 9 horror films Lewton made for RKO are well worth seeking out- especially this, the first, and the previously mentioned I Walked With A Zombie (my favorite of ’em).

Lewton was a class act, so I dedicate today’s trailer to my wife of five years, mother of my children, a class act herself.

Last Year: Oh God. The Beast of Yucca Flats

17 Days of Horror Trailers

This is a legitimately spooky trailer, in some ways-

And the movie itself is truly bugfuck crazy. Larry Cohen wrote and directed, and it stars Richard Lynch (I believe before the self-inflected burns to the face) as a religious cult leader who may or may not even be human. Former Golden Gloves boxer Tony LoBianco plays the devout Catholic NYPD detective who tries to figure out why people are committing horrible acts of violence and when questioned why, answering with the title.

The finale is truly out there. Alien Jesus Messiah wants his secret half brother to fuck him in his alien orifice up on his side beneath his arm in order to bring about a new world or something. I’m honestly not sure, and I don’t know if Larry Cohen was either.

Blink and you might miss Andy Kaufman as a police officer who meets Lynch prior to St. Patrick’s day…

Last Year: Fear Ruth Gordon!

18 Days of Horror Trailers!

First off, the trailer lies. It lies in the same way the first Hostel had some trailers that advertised it as “a film by Quentin Tarantino”.

Dario Argento produced and wrote the screenplay- or at least came up with the general plot, there are discrepancies. Somehow it is with Italian cinema most of all that the creative types publically fight over who did what and who contributed how much, and how much they hate the other guy. Argento protégé Michele (Dellamorte, Dellamorte- aka Cemetary Man) Soavi never had a falling out with his mentor that I know if. But it does seem unfair to advertise La Chiesaas a movie “by” Dario Argento. Especially since the film reportedly had eight uncredited writers working on it.

Young Asia Argento and young Hugh Quarshie (Captain Panaka in Phantom Menace, the good police detective in Nigthbreed) and Tomas Arana are among a group of people who are inside a cathedral that holds some sort of “great evil”. When that evil is activated, or released, or whatever (it’s an Italian horror film, it doesn’t make a lot of sense- this is true of most Italian horror films, they work on a dream-like logic that you just have to shrug and accept) the Church makes like a good puzzle-box or pulp tomb and goes all clockwork and spooky, locking those unlucky enough to be inside, inside.

Whatever, there are some amazing sequences in this film. Some beautiful imagery. Not for the squeamish (it’s Italian, so the gore is pretty explicit and lovingly detailed), or for Templar Apologists. Man, those guys really got a bad rap didn’t they?

Last Year: Carnival of Souls

19 Days of Horror Trailers!

This 1972 Docudrama was locally made, by locals, for $100,000 dollars borrowed from a local trucking company and shot in and around the areas of Fouke, Arkansas, where the infamous monster was reportedly sighted. It’s a damn effective trailer, and a smartly made horror film despite it’s primarily high school/community theater cast. Interspersing reenactments with talking head “well, thar I wuz when I heard this terrible yowl…” type interviews, the movie tapped into some sort of drive-in zeitgeist and made more than 20 million dollars.

The terrifically moody trailer probably helped sell the movie, the word of mouth: “Dooood, I heard Jimmy saw a movie? And it’s a documentary? With a Bigfoot in it and it chases this family!” definitely helped. The surprisingly tense final segment of the movie, a twenty minute siege of an isolated family by the barely-caught-on-camera crypto-homid, is a standout piece of horror filmmaking.

Last Year: May makes a friend.

20 Days of Horror Trailers

These days a lot of people seem excited by this TV show where people smoke, drink, and put product in their hair while listening to music best described as “Ultra-Lounge deep cuts”.

Well, for fans of Mad Men (I have never seen an episode, I have no feelings on the subject) may I suggest Bob Balaban’s pitch black Parents?

to the troubled question: “Dad, what were leftovers- before they were leftovers?”

Randy Quaid’s blank, plastic smile: “Why, leftovers-to-be, son!”

And if you want to check out the full movie (and you should) jump on over to Hulu– it’s up until January of ’10.

Last Year: Braaaaains!