Happy Halloween!

Most everyone fears death. Probably because it isn’t really avoidable.

So Vampires are(were) Sex=Death (the vampire as STD allegory still works, even-especially in a post-Twilight world).

Werewolves can be Rage/Rape/Wrath=Death (the hidden beast within, werewolves, until Anne Rice came along, were the most guilt-ridden of monsters)

Ghosts are the past haunting us.

The manufactured revenant (see: Frankenstein and his monster) are really more of a Science-Fiction trope that has become associated with horror and falls into the “what Man Was Not Meant To Know” area of horror (see also: Pandora)

The human psycho/killer- whether solo or part of a crazed clan- tends to be the horror of random violence. You picked the wrong night/street/lake/bbq stand to be in on the wrong day.

The Zombie has certainly become, since 1968, one of the most powerful and lasting monsters in the cinematic pantheon of horror. George Romero created something new and infectious- it is hard to imagine a cinemascape without the legacy of the shambling, reaching, undead legions…

And of course that is the thing of post ’68 Zombies- they are us, they are death, they are all we have to look forward to. We can slow the tide, but we can’t beat them truly. The best the survivors can hope to do is prolong their time.

And Romero’s certainly got that right. A movie that has little jump scares, some pretty impressive grue (even still, and even though the blue-tinted zombies are kind of funny now) but most of all it builds that utter dread of the inevitability of death.

It is a great, great horror film. And this is its pretty great trailer.

I LOVE how much of the trailer is the usage of the talking heads- the opening 20 minutes of the movie astounded me as a teenager (where is all the cool stuff, why do we have all this TV station bullshit?) but I was a dumb kid and didn’t appreciate the feeling that EVERYTHING was going askew and the world was stumbling to a breakdown- I think the trailer sells that part very well.

And yeah, sure, the social commentary (consumerism!) is kind of heavy handed. But ferchristsake- its a fucking movie where UNDEAD HORDES will EAT YO FACE.

And that trailer, honestly, excites me to watch it again. Good thing I have the Special Edition dvd at home.

Happy Halloween, fiends, I’m glad you joined me for this walk through the trailer park.

Next year, maybe, we’ll do it again…

Halloween Countdown- day 30

We’re almost done with our dance through the lonesome October, my lovelies.

And why shouldn’t the macabre brilliance of Henry Mancini’s theme to Experiment in Terror waltz us up to the finale?

the last half of the trailer is pure early 60s schmaltz.

But the first few minutes? With just the Mancuni score?


Blake Edwards became famous for being a comedy guy, but he started out in horror.

The beats are the same, the tempo is similar. Horror and comedy.

GREAT trailer, love it. You?

Countdown to Halloween! Horror Trailer #29

“James Woods speciality is playing feral”- Pauline Kael, from a review of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In America

And finally, John Carpenter let him go apeshit doing his “speciality”.

Carpenter’s Vampires is a piece of crap.

But it is a piece of shit that comes dangerously close to being awesome.

The source material, John Steakley’s awesomely titled Vampire$ is also a piece of crap- in fact, the movie is vastly superior to the novel.

There is a big reveal in the novel (the M. Night Twist of the piece, if you will) that once someone becomes a vampire they have a letch to dress in velvet and a yearning to listen to opera. So when Jack Crow and his band of cash-hungry revenant stakers are listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan and drinking heavily, the master vampire doesn’t come in to kill them because the music upsets his head. Played for satire of the genre this could be hilarious, but Steakley plays is totally straight.

The tagline to the book always got my attention though- “What if vampires did exist? Dark. Stalking. Destroying. They”d have to be killed, wouldn”t they? Of course they would. But what kind of fools would try to make a living at it?”

Well frankly, I’d like to read that book or watch that movie, too bad Steakley was a terribly novelist and too bad John Carpenter had his budget massively cut less with only a few weeks before principal photography began. The western vibe that Carpenter (the biggest self-admitted Howard Hawks fan of all time) brings to the genre was tasty, and would have resonated better if the movie’s Peckinpah inspired finale hadn’t happened off-screen (seriously, see above about the budget)

What if it was a HBO series, or Showtime, or FX, or… what if we were given a set-up of these mercenary gunslinger vampire-killers -including the great Mark Boone Jr, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, stunt actors Thomas Rosales Jr., and Henri Kingi, Tim Guinee who briefly seemed poised to become the next Fisher Stevens, Daniel Baldwin- who was good on Homicide: Life on the Streets so it isn’t like he didn’t have some potential, right?- and then given time to give a shit about their struggles?

Compelling stuff, man. Too bad the movie was borderline unwatchable.

Halloween Countdown: Day 28

“Wes Craven Presents” is very rarely something you want to see in front of a movie.

I am not here to bury Patrick Lussier’s Dracula 2000 though. That trailer still promises an exciting, fun update of the classic villain.

And the thing is, it delivers.

A terrifically weird cast (Christopher Plummer, Gerard Butler, Johnny Lee Miller, Danny Masterson, Jeri Ryan, Omar Epps, Shane West, Sean Patrick Thomas Jennifer Esposito, Coleen “Vitamin C” Fitzpatrick, blink and you’ll miss Nathan Fillion- and a very good lead performance from Justine Waddell) and solid special effects, a surprisingly interesting twist on the vampire origin myth (and a reason for silver, holy water/relics and sunlight to work beyond “magic”) this is a pure-fun ride of a “horror” movie. Far less scary and more fun, and certainly winged by the Brothers Weinstein insistence on meeting a 2000 release date.

The trailer, I think, certainly holds up.

Halloween Horror Countdown- Day 27

“If you were any thinner you wouldn’t exist.”

A lot of the hype surrounding Brad Anderson’s The Machinist was due to Christian Bale’s massive (and frankly terrifying) weight loss for the role.

The fact of the matter is, the weight loss IS horrible to behold. But the performance behind the skeletal frame is vintage Bale, ultra-centered and incredibly dedicated.

The Machinist isn’t my favorite of Anderson’s forays into the horror genre (that would be Session 9, sadly lacking a decent quality trailer on YouTube) but it is a very creepy, unsettling movie.

The trailer certainly sells that aspect.

Halloween Horror Countdown- Day 26

Sorry for the late updates, all 6 of you who read these. I’ve been fighting a bad cold. But better late then not at all, hmm?

Here is a trailer that just sets up pure creepy and the hits you with “the last thirty minutes are gonna be nutty!”

I remember getting excited to see this, back in 1990. George C. Scott? Brad Dourif? Scott Wilson? Nicol Williamson? Hell yeah! These are all actors who- while they have certainly taken “paycheck” roles in their careers, have never not delivered a strong perf.

But for some reason I didn’t see it at the time (or did I? Maybe in college: I have strong memories of a medium shot of a nurses station… and a thing whisking past the camera, and that isn’t in the trailer).

And now I want to see it once again- God knows The Exorcist III: Legion has better street cred than Exorcist II: Richard Burton vs. Pazuzuu.

Halloween Countdown, Day 25!

Wow, man, far out!

The Asylum of Satan has the grooviest score EVER.

It looks almost as awesome as The Zombies of Sugar Hill. (almost)

Man, when that wow-chokka-wokka guitar and horns kick in as the Satanic Klansmen come torchbearing out of the shadows… snakes, bad wolfman/demon masks, terrible wardrobe, sessy womens, cheesy-ass facial hair…

This trailer is my usual Friday night, man.

Halloween Countdown! Day #24

Don Coscarelli is not a prolific filmmaker- but I really doubt it is because he is lazy.

After a pair of early movies (a coming of age drama and a coming of age comedy, respectively) Coscarelli launched himself into the Horror pantheon with his eerie, meditative, nightmarish coming-of-age fantasy Phantasm. And I do believe that the Phantasm series, including the first movie, are almost more fanasy than horror. They take place (mostly) in our world, but the stakes and the inerpersonal relationships (and the quests, gathering of heroes/equipment, setbacks etc) all mirror classic epic fantasy (or even just plain old epic adventure, with undead tall dudes and weird little goblin-dwarves and shiny metal spheres of death).

I also really liked (against my better judgement) his 80s “Gung-Ho Survivalists vs. Outward Bound Troubled Kids” movies, Survival Quest.

For better or worse, the man also gave us Beastmaster

It has been a while since Bubba Ho-Tep, and a while since his episode of Masters of Horror, so it is nice to see Coscarelli return to the playpen with what looks like it might be a horror-comedy (like all of his horror films, really) with a certain amount of Matrix and more importantly They Live type shennanigans going on.

The movie is based on the novel of the same title, written by Cracked.com writer/editor David Wong.

Clancy Brown, Paul Giamatti, Doug Jones, weird masks, skull crushing, strange drugs, off-kilter laughter. Yeah, ok. I’ll check out John Dies at the End

Countdown to Halloween! Horror Trailer #23

Last night Miss Twist was over for dinner and we were trying to remember horror trailers that left an impression on us from our youth. She especially recalled this one:

I’m guessing she remembered it because it was on the VHS for Monster Squad. I thought I remembered the trailer, but it turns out I didn’t- I have a hazy memory of watching a VHS of The Unholy when I was 19 with a lot of beers. My friend Phil, as I recall, was a big fan of this movie- tempted priests and “DAAAMN YOUUUU!!!!” type stuff always appealed to him.

Having little to no memory of the movie itself, I can watch this trailer and say: “Oh wow, Ben Cross, man! I remember him!”

“Hey, its that guy!” (in this case, TV everyman William Russ, see Deadwood, Crime Story, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., Wiseguy and oh yeah, he was in that weird B-caper ensemble Disorganized Crime!)

“I bet this movie has some boobies” (if it doesn’t, my inner 15 year old would weep)

“Wow, Trevor Howard and Hal Holbrook!” classy guys gotta eat too. I’m not saying Ben Cross (the 90s reboot of Dark Shadows‘ Barnabas Collins, and possibly the bad guy in that Richard Gere/Sean Connery King Arthur movie that I have blocked out of my mind) and William Russ aren’t classy guys, just that they aren’t Trevor Howard or Hal Holbrook.

“The devil doesn’t live in New Orleans”.

Hasn’t father Ben Cross seen ANY horror film EVER? But then, horror protagonists rarely have- otherwise they’d GTFO right straight.

What trailers do YOU remember as scaring you from your misspent youth?

I might feature it- “the days are getting shorter” (“the nights are getting longer”- worse exchange of dialogue in one of the best vampire movies ever, Near Dark) and our waltz through the Lonesome October is coming to an end soon…

Halloween Countdown- Day 22!

“The night no one comes home…

That tagline is, of course, a nice play on “The night He came home” which was the tagline for John Carpenter’s 1978 movie- the movie that launched the first truly iconic solo Slasher on an unsuspecting cinematic world- Michael Meyers.

Yet, Halloween III: Season of the Witch doesn’t have ole’ pasty-face in it, does it? No Virginia.

There is a long and interesting story behind that, but we’re not here for stories, are we! No-no, we are here for the trailers.

“But you did an essay on New French Extremity cinema yesterday!” chirps Virginia happily.

Why, that little #@$@#!

Ok, so I LOVE the trailer for HII: SotW it has Tom Atkins and Dan O’Herlihy and… um…

Ok, look: it isn’t a good trailer. But it has explosions, and silly halloween masks and- well, full disclosure:

When hit theaters back in ’82, I remember the TV teasers- and at least in my memory of being 7, the teasers were just the witch mask zooming in towards the viewer… with bugs and snakes crawling out of it’s mouth and nose…. and eyes.

Bleargh. That is some awesome teaser trailer right there!

Silver Shamrock, everybody!