Halloween Countdown – October 23

Never, ever fuck with 1970s trailers.

1973, Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz- the writers of American Graffiti (and later of Howard the Duck and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) wrote and directed this hyper-surreal horror pastiche. Equal parts Lovecraft, Romero, and bugfuck crazy- Messiah of Evil is a weird one, with infamously bizarre sequences unconnected to others. Basically, it is the US version of an Italian horror film from the 70s.

So I think we should check it out! What do you think?

Residents of Quaint Eventide (1)

There is a saying that running beneath a ladder is bad luck.
Alice Jay has heard people say it all her life.
Grown-ups are always telling her things that they seem to think are important.
But they also seem to be always laughing at her while they do it.
Don’t let a black cat cross your path, don’t spill salt without sprinkling it over your shoulder, don’t throw the hair from your comb into running water, don’t step on a crack.
Alice Jay thinks grown-ups are crazy.
Especially her parents, since the day she ran into the ladder in front of the movie theater.
Her dad has been up in the attic, muttering to himself and going through old trunks and dusty boxes.
Alice has put plates of toast and mugs of tea at the top of the ladder for him, but they just got ignored.
She found a mouse eating the butter from one of the pieces and stopped bringing the meals.
Her mother has been in the back yard, digging up the garden with her bare hands.
Alice tried to help her- it looked like fun- but mother just snarled at her and hurled her hamster, in his plastic ball, over the garden wall.
Grown-ups are crazy.
Alice doesn’t want to go back to her house anymore.
Her parents have left her alone, ignored the kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms.
Alice watched a lot of TV the first day.
She ate a lot of cereal, toast, and peanut butter with apple.
But all night long she could hear her father muttering and stomping in the attic and her mother grunting and scrabbling in the garden.
Alice spent part of the next day in the Village Green playing at the gazebo.
Nice Mister Quint, who doesn’t seem crazy at all, let her help him snip weeds around the edge of the white structure.
But the winds got bad and some rain came and Mister Quint told her to go home to her parents.
She didn’t want to tell him that her parents were crazy.

Halloween Countdown – October 22

Sally Hardesty. Laurie Strode. Alice Hardy. Nancy Thompson. Buffy Summers. Sydney Pescott. Taylor Gentry.

I love the trope (and the myth) of The Final Girl in horror.

I like the idea of a movie (or series) that plays with it.

Tyler Shields’ directorial debut is called Final Girl, and this is one of its trailers:

Well.

Lets start from the beginning: having the director introduce the trailer might be cute. It also might be presumptive as all fuck, since the most infamous example of this would be Hitchcock’s brilliant trailer for Psycho.

Shields is a former pro-skater (inline), and a photographer best known for violence juxtaposed with sexuality.

The trailer itself seems to be full of intended irony- the use of the William Tell Overture over the flashes of imagery tells us nothing, but detach us from the movie.

The movie stars Abigail Breslin, Wes Bentley, and Alexander Ludwig.

I kind of hate this trailer.

And then there is this trailer- far less self-congratulatory and douchey.

Er, be warned I suppose: the entire fucking plot including (all? some? most?) plot twists are given in this trailer.

From too little information, we now have too much.

I love- I sincerely love- the idea that the Prey becomes Predator. But I feel like this trailer doesn’t just put its cards on the table, it pulls all the cheats out of its sleeve and parades them around with a Bronx Cheer. The tables turn- great, love it. But show me all if it? Show me the protagonist’s entire fucking history before you even give me the plot? Goddamn, Tyler Shields.

Oh, and the THREE men who were needed to come up with the story. Seriously? Did one come up with “girl” one come up with “psycho entitled rich boys” (presumably by looking around the room) and one come up with “Uh, training! Like Buffy!” while Tyler Shields got super excited about how the sets should be SO fake looking, and the lighting SO hyper-realistic.

Now that I rewatch it, this trailer looks like this movie is trying to edge out the entire oeuvre of Eli Roth to make Tyler Shields the king of douche-horror mountain. Even his name screams of blase douchebaggery: Tyler Shields.

*shudder*

At least Roth is a smart filmmaker. Say what you will, he can shoot, he can edit, and he knows what he is doing behind the camera; he’s just an entitled douchebag who makes movies about entitled douchebags.

We’ll see about your abilities, Tyler Shields.

Robust Agriculture of Eventide Village

There is a small canyon at the edge of Stinkwood.
It lies between two of the low grey hills west of Eventide Village.
It is several miles west of the stone path that winds through the wood.
It is further west than Roy Pepper’s spread, Letitia Thatch’s cabin, or the hunting lodge sometimes used by the Barlowe family.
The canyon is lined by a thicket of hardwood trees, hemlock, and lies along the Mori Brothers apple orchards.
Ken and Umeko Mori left California in January of 1942, ahead of Executive Order 9066 by a month.
Somehow, and quite by accident, they ended up in Eventide Village
Martin Williams owned the orchards at the time and was in waning health, he hired the young Mori couple to help run the place.
Their grandsons, Jirou and Goro, own the orchards and cider mill.
They specialize in cider apples, primarily Harrison apples and a variation on the Foxwhelp that Goro calls the Foxyelp.
Unlike the Foxwhelp, which ripens early in September, the Foxyelp is ready to harvest in mid-October.
Ken Mori (strong forest) Hard Cider is a prime seller along the local shore, and can be found in specialty shops as far away as California.
The Mori brothers also have been successful in cultivating a Fuji orchard as well as two Honeycrisp orchards to cash in on weekend tourism “self-pick” business.
There were five Mori children of their generation, two left Eventide as adults.
Jirou runs the business side of thing, Goro is the master of the apples.
Goro has seen a skulk of foxes gathered at the hemlock canyon several times in his life.
Their cry led him to the naming of his prize-winning cider apples.
Jirou has also seen the skulk gathered amidst the hemlock.
He remembers when their eldest brother, Ichiro did not come back from the forest.

Halloween Countdown – October 21

In every neighborhood, there is that house…

Wes Craven’s The People Under The Stairs is a criminally forgotten movie that had a LOT of angry politics in it. It makes sense. Craven fled a fundamentalist religious upbringing to work in film, and got to purge some of his angry-young-man politics during the 1970s with a pair of movies that hit audiences like a 2×4 in the face.

1972’s Last House on the Left was a full-horror retelling of Bergmans (already pretty horrific, but Arty!) The Virgin Spring. The ugly side of the crash that followed the summer of love. In the aftermath of the LaBianca-Tate murders, the scary, charismatic counter-culture freaks as murderous sex-fiends seemed dangerously real. Last House is uneven, but the raw power in some of the sequences is undeniable.

1977’s The Hills Have Eyes was almost satire at it’s core- a retelling of the Sawney Bean legend with a cannibalistic clan of outsiders attacking a red-blooded, ‘Merican nuclear family. Only the All-American family fights back more savagely than the monsters and wins- but at what cost?

With A Nightmare On Elm Street Craven hit on a sort of detached “sins of the father” haunting- where the parents were all damaged, cut off from their kids- strung out on tranquilizers and guilt. The kids had to fight the demons their parents had wrought on their own.

And in 1991 The People Under The Stairs was a scathing inditement of Reagan/Bush era slumlords and social injustice.

Sadly, the movie seems as topical today as it did 23 years ago.

Ving Rhames! Bill Cobb! Everett McGill and Wendie Robie together again, probably during their hiatus on filming season 2 of Twin Peaks! And tiny Sean Whalen!

Eventide Village – strong weather advisory

There were complications over the weekend.
Alice Jay’s pet hamster, in it’s clear plastic ball, was found running down Maine Street Thursday morning.
It was pursued by a black cat that no one remembered seeing before.
Constable Weary was called out to Roy Pepper’s hog farm Thursday evening.
Bud Miller, drunk and hopped up on pain medication, somehow drove his truck off-road through the low-grey hills west of the village and smashed into one of Pepper’s swine, a pregnant sow, killing the animal.
Nadine Forster, a biologist with a terrible limp, is staying at the Rusty Anchor motel.
The Gale Winds warning from the NSW was upgraded to a Storm Warning.
By Friday the 17th, Eventide Village was windswept and soaked.
The rehearsal for the destination wedding was meant to be on the 18th.
After deciding on the picturesque Lighthouse as a backdrop for wedding photos, the bride and groom were disappointed that inclement weather and peculiar tides made this impossible as a location.
The courthouse has been chosen for the actual ceremony, being rather more splendid in appearance than the chapel on Maine Street.
The rehearsal had to be called off.
The betrothed’s trusted officiate missed the parking lot at the courthouse entirely and drove well past it, and off the pier and into the channel.
The volunteer fire department pumped more mud out of his lungs than water, and the unfortunate pastor had to be transferred out of Eventide to the city.
The betrothed took a somber dinner with their attendants at the village diner as the storm raged.
Around dusk they watched, dumbfounded, a baker’s dozen of the older residents of the Village, wrapped in oilskins and clutching umbrellas gathered at the gazebo in the pounding rain.
After assembling, the group of waterlogged elders sloshed north towards That place for their nightly vigil.
The middle-aged counterman, Lulu Rothstein, shrugged and busied himself at the grill when questioned.
“Well they ain’t going to play Bingo,” he muttered.
The groom has been afflicted with insomnia, and stayed up during the storm, staring out the window of the b&b while his self-medicated bride-to-be (herself suffering from chronic nightmares, hence the cognac) snoring heavily beside him.
With the wind battering at the eaves, he felt like the roof was going to blow off.
The whoops of old Maevis Bottin- “Whooo-weeee! She’s blowing strong tonight!” did not help.
Nonetheless, the groom-to-be must have slept some, as the clocktower chiming midnight awoke him suddenly.
Startled, he went to the window and looked outside.
He saw a huge black animal, like a horse, striking it’s hoof on the pavement in front of the movie theater.
He was so discombobulated that he turned on the bedside light before returning to the window.
Now he could only see the wind-shorn rain droplets beading on the window.
That and his own reflection…
And something else.

Halloween Countdown – October 20

Ah, Giallo.

Except this isn’t an Italian horror film from the 60s or 70s, it is a US piece that comes out later this years.

From the black leather glove to the lurid lighting, period clothing and hairstyles- the trailer oozes giallo style. The music is perfect for a piece like this.

But it is just a teaser. And writer/director team Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy are part of the ultra-low budget, DIY film boom that includes movies like Manborg and Father’s Day (the Troma distributed one, not the one with Robin Williams) that embrace full-on “Camp for the sake of so-bad-its-good” and ironically shitty special effects and staging…

But from the teaser, at least, The Editor looks a cut above the earlier efforts.

Editor… cut above… oh. Oh yes.

Halloween Countdown – October 19

My buddy Paddy Breathnach made a movie called Shrooms

I feel like there are some terrific creepy visuals- and I wish more of them were in the trailer.

The trailer focuses mostly on the first two-thirds of the movie- which might be wise.

So half-face guy from Boardwalk Empire takes a bunch of ‘Mericans into the Irish wilds for a Shroom pilgrimage, and not-Kristen Bell and her friends have a bad trip…

And a terrifying 16th century hooded creature stalks them? This is why I just drink.

Paddy sort of shrugged and the ludicrous nature of the premise when I teased him about it.

I think the mechanics involved- hallucinations and fear- are solid, if silly. There are some great visuals in Shrooms and a couple of good perfs. I think I’ll re-watch it- it’s been nearly eight years! It is on Netflix streaming…

you wanna watch with me?

Halloween Countdown – Trailer Free Oct 18

Sorry I didn’t post a trailer yesterday, I was busy cleaning the apartment prior to hosting an anniversary party for Annika and I- ten years legal!

If you are an Angeleno, you are familiar with the existence of New Beverly Cinema- a great revival movie theater with a storied past.

I’ve been to the New Bev maybe three times in the last 14 years, because I am fucking terrible at going OUT to movies. Annika and I saw a double-feature of Evil Dead and Dead Alive there once (it was awesome, but the seats killed our asses) and my buddy Bri and I caught The Cabal Cut of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed a few years ago… I think that is it?

A lovely young woman named Julia Marchese has been part of the public face of the New Bev for as long as I can remember. I follow her on Twitter, she’s funny and smart and really loves movies.

The other day I read a great blog-entry that she linked to: Horror Forever. Check it out, I’ll wait.

*sips beer leftover from Anniversary Party*

We back?

Cool.

When she linked to the blog on Twitter, Miss Julia asked (I assumed hypothetically) “What made YOU the horror hound you are today?”

I started to form a 160 character response several times, but couldn’t make it work, couldn’t pull the trigger.

What DID make me a horror hound? Was it The Bride of Frankenstein when I was 8? Was it watching Evil Dead 2 as a fresh-faced kidlet in 8th grade? Was it shuddering through The Haunting when I was 15? (or was it 16?)

No, I think those dabbles made me aware but didn’t really induct me.

Watching the tv series Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show in ’89 might have contributed.

But what really cemented my love for Horror Films, was a shitty year of my life.

In 2000, Annika and I had separated, broken up, whatever. Thank GOD that didn’t take. But I moved out to LA in the summer of ’00, and tried to make a go of it (we got back together in ’01) on my own.

I had a time-intensive job as 2nd assistant to an A-List movie star/director/writer, so I didn’t have a social life.

I drank too much.

And I watched A lot of scary movies.

I mean, I had a good foundation; I had always loved horror fiction, I loved the above-listed movies, and in college I was introduced to some other strong entries. Every so often, my buddy Cliff and I would go to the movies and watch whatever started next- no matter what it was. We saw a lot of crap that way, including 1995’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers– I think we were the only people in the theater.

For years my best pal Shelby and I would spend New Years Eve together with food, drink, and movies- often horror or sci-fi films that we could make fun of (the entire Watchers saga).

But in 2000 I really started delving deep. I found some good critical blogs (The Bad Movie Report, Stomptokyo) and I broadened my horizons, horror-speaking. I gobbled up everything I could get at the video store (remember those)- often renting things that I remembered the box art for from my childhood video rental store visits.

I watched, on average, 3-6 movies a week. I watched screeners of movies that hadn’t gotten into the theater yet- Deathwatch, Sangre Eterna… I dove down the side-channels of J-horror, and Italian and Spanish 1970s fare. I rediscovered George Romero’s Of the Dead series and the Blind Dead series. I drooled over Dog Soldiers and Ginger Snaps (seriously, the early 00s were good for werewolves). My friend Chris Chaffin hooked me up with WEIRD and forgotten horror from the 60s and 70s, vile grindhouse fare and arty productions alike. I watched DTV shitpiles where Adrian Paul was a vampire cop in a world of vampires, or Michael Rooker was a hitman for the vatican who hunts demons and badly written ultra-low budget stuff that was full of genre hat-tips (characters named Carpenter, or Raimi! Not funny!)…

And on Halloween, 2001 (or 2002?) I caught a restored version of Tobe Hooper’s 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That was a big moment.

Going deep into horror taught me a lot about myself, about the genre, and about storytelling. And yes, frequently it was “what not to do”.

When Annika and I reunited, she accepted my raised interest in horror. She accepted it and even encouraged it (our early blog, Grumpy Critic/Angry Cook was based on her cooking a meal, my writing about it and the horror movie we would watch during digestion).

And in the 14 years since, as my twenties disappeared and my thirties have nearly run out the clock, I’ve remained a horror fan. It is a great, powerful genre.

And I love it.

Halloween Countdown – October 17

For the 17th I asked my reader(s) to pick a movie for me.

They didn’t, because it is Friday night and they have things to do. Me to- I should be cleaning the apartment.

Instead, I give you What We Do In the Shadows

Oh, New Zealand.

Now I do not care for Found Footage. It is often used as a crutch for mediocre direction/lighting.

In a comedy setting, it can be used brilliantly of course. And this- despite the presence of vampires – is most definitely a comedy.

IT STILL COUNTS GODDAMNIT. Vampires.

I really wanna see this.