October 13 – Halloween Countdown

You can tell me that Julia Leigh’s Sleeping Beauty isn’t a horror film.

I won’t believe you.

That is an unnerving trailer, to say the least. A deeply pervasive atmosphere of fear- of unease.

This might be a movie about sex workers, about male fantasy, about female submission- I really am not sure.

What I do know, is that Sleeping Beauty is a movie starring Emily Browning from 2011, played some festivals.

What I do know is that no one speaks on-camera during the trailer. She is hired to cater to the male gaze. The organization is very secretive.

And just how long does she sleep for? And what happens while she does?

Yeah. You could tell me that this isn’t a trailer for a horror film.

But you’d be telling me you don’t think that women are often put in a very scary place by the male gaze.

October 12 – Halloween Countdown

Australia. Oh Australia. Never change.

Every few years there is a low-budget, ballsy zombie movie (see the Spierig Bros Undead, also from Australia) that plays with zombie methodology, origin, nature. Looks like Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is the latest entry into that particular raffle.

I love the energy of this trailer. SO MUCH ENERGY. It is a gonzo kid-of-any-age hopped up on caffeine and sugar, bouncing around their room, combining George Romero with George Miller.

YES PLEASE. MORE LIKE THIS.

How many movies are in this trailer? The poignant, tragic end-of-civilization movie? Check. The giddy, silly, survivor comedy? Check. Full on action madness? Yep. Lady with mad eyeliner and wicked powers? Sure! That too!

The full feature can’t maintain the absurd joy of the trailer. But for some, Wyrmwood is a road well traveled.

October 11 – Halloween Countdown

I usually enjoy horror that enjoys itself- not entirely self-congratulatory (I’m looking at you, Hatchet, you aren’t half as cool or funny as you think you are), but with a wry awareness.

But a well-balanced, serious horror film is a treat because it is easier to feel fear, to feel concern for the characters if they aren’t winking at the camera. Think of how seriously the peril in Near Dark is played.

There has been a steady trickle of serious, somber, high quality horror coming out of rural New York/Pennsylvania the last few years. Larry Fessenden, Jim Mickle, Nick Damici, to a lesser extent Ti West- these are names to consider in regards to this. Mickle and West have both moved their settings westward with recent films, but a sort of Atlantic Northeast horror exists.

Somber. Serious. Atmosopheric, and a good cast. Kevin Durand isn’t playing a thug sidekick! Director Jack Heller seems to be using Durand’s natural sensitivity, as opposed to his large frame. Lukas Haas is soulful and sad. Nick Damici is rugged and knowledgeable of animals!

Small town beset by strange goings-on of a possibly supernatural nature is one of my favorites. I like this trailer- it is probably better than the movie, but hey- that is trailers.

October 10 – Halloween Countdown

How much do you like and appreciate Giallo?

The Italian 60s/70s slasher/thriller films? (let’s avoid the literature discussion for now, regardless of the word giallo directly referencing the quality of paper the books were printed on)

Did you recognize that about a quarter of Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz was actually a Giallo film, not just a cop/buddy spoof?

If so, then The Editor might be for you.

The music, the barrage of images (sex, violence, black gloves!), the mustaches- this teaser trailer for a modern film looks to capture a lot of what Giallo once was. Whether The Editor is anything more than a period spoof, or a loving homage- or even a mean-spirited “Ironic” one, I have no idea.

But the trailer hits a sweet spot.

October 9 – Halloween Countdown

THIS TRAILER!

Short & Sweet!

BEWARE the gratuitous cook butt! MARVEL at the FANTASTIC opening voice-over and animation! THRILL to the sequence of not-very-fast motorboating!

The kind on the water. Perv.

Sleepaway Camp is a special slasher for a lot of people. As a movie, it is ok at best. Perhaps a movie for connoisseurs of the lesser 80’s entries into horror. It’s final moment is legitimately surprising (if it does raise some pretty uncomfortable questions, in our progressive modern world, for non-assholes)- but does that make a whole movie worth sitting through?

Probably not. Fun trailer though!

October 7 – Halloween Countdown

Now here is something kind of funny about looking at horror movies by decade- it isn’t a very good system.

Oh sure, a hand-wave can say “Well, the 1930s were the age of gentile monsters and scientists, the 40s were the continuation of that, the 50s were Atomic Science and Terror from the deep black of space, and the 60s-” but it is all kind of relative, and not even accurate in purely academic terms.

Look at the 00s. “A rise in psychological horror” (The Others, etc), the “emergence of torture porn” (the Saw series, among others), “The gory-goofy splatter films” (i.e. Eight-Legged Freaks), “70s style throwback horror” (like the Wrong Turn franchise-starter), and both long-gestating sequels to franchises that should have stayed dormant (The Exorcist) as well as fresh continuations on old familiars (Bride of Chucky).

We also saw the big boom of remakes begin in earnest come the 00’s, especially from Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes shingle. Nostalgia is a dangerous thing, friends.

And in one case, we saw a long rumored clash of the titans.

It was a throwaway joke, the final sting in 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday– Jason’s iconic hockey mask is grabbed by Freddy Krueger’s equally iconic glove and pulled down into the ground, sinister laughing, cut to black. New Line had acquired the Jason Vorhees character and wanted to make him their own- but mismanaged and mangled the process so badly that this 9th installation in the franchise was the only entry during the 1990s.

But fans kept clamoring to see what The Final Friday had hinted at, and in 2003 they got the chance.

And it was generally pretty underwhelming.

Trailer is pretty fun though! Who the hell needs plot? Two titans of terror! Monster mayhem! Some other alliteration!

October 6 – Halloween Countdown

Ah, Anthony Hickox.

“When you first used Solomon’s locket you opened a door–”

In college we called this movie Lost Sword In Sword Time.

I love the original Waxwork it is fun, creepy, imaginative- and also very very cynical and satirical about the 80s. When the 90s rolled around, the sequel was… weirder. But it also had great cameo perfs from George “Buck” Flowers, Martin Kemp, Bruce Campbell, Marina Sirtis and Drew Barrymore… and a confused performance from David Carradine.

A lot of the horror of the early 90s was trying to apparently distance itself from what came before. While the original Waxwork was spoofing (but also in homage to) the classic Universal and Hammer types of horror (mostly the latter, but you can’t have Hammer without Universal), Waxwork II: Lost In Time runs the gamut from classic horror (Frankenstein) to neo-classic (The Haunting) to fully (at the time) modern (Aliens, Dawn of the Dead and Evil Dead 2 are all referenced heavily) tied together by a bizarre Time Travel/”God’s Nintendo” mechanism, and an extended visit to a low-budged Fantasy Kingdom featuring John Ireland as King Arthur. Because why not?

Indeed, the 90s, Because Why Not?

October 5 – Halloween Countdown

“A small town, not much different than any other in Main Street, USA”- oh, was that a location in 1983?

Ah, the cultural dissolution of the baby boomers, must be the 80s!

Good thing Martin Landau is there to tell us that dumping toxic waste won’t produce monsters. I was getting worried.

Apparently Ruth Buzzi is in The Being. Can’t believe they didn’t play that up in the trailer! “Come for the yuks, stay for the YUCKS!” would have been a great tag-line. Written and directed by Jackie Kong (who had a nice run of exploitation and Z-grade horror on her resume) and produced and starring her then-husband, Bill Osco (billed as Rexx Coltrane for his performance- giving away his background, perhaps, as an erotic film director/producer), The Being is generally forgotten- as are most of Ms. Kong’s movies.

But while Z-grade horror was a dime a dozen- even in (especially in) the 1980s, Ms Kong’s output stood in rare company, as her movies showed a sly/silly sense of humor missing from a lot of the mainstream fear flix. (Her later movie, Blood Diner was pretty great in a very bad way).

“Don’t be afraid of toxic waste contamination, fear porn!” says Martin Landau. Glad to know politicians haven’t changed much.

Was it about 80’s awareness of waste dumping? Small town politics? Idaho? Who can say! Sadly not available in any streaming formats.

October 4 – Halloween Countdown

The 1970s hit horror cinema like a bowling ball into crystal… stuff. Italy erupted with blood and sex, and slow-motion daggers plunging into photo-realistic body parts. Spain did the same, but with more nudity. In the US grindhouse cinema exploded- sometimes literally- with extreme violence. By the mid-70s, even the blockbuster was awash with the sticky red stuff with Jaws feasting across genre-borders while creating the summer blockbuster.

The 70s saw myriad changes in films of all genres, none perhaps more so than the Horror Film. Within the same decade there was sensationalist sleaze, overwhelming violence, and tightrope tension. Sometimes even in the same movie. And sometimes all of that, but with really crummy effects.

A lot of American horror was suffering from a late 60s hangover. The Summer Of Love was washed away by the blood of the Manson Family, and escalation in Vietnam and Cambodia.

In 1971 Leatherface and his family were still living in the heads of Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel. Last House on the Left was still in production, so that particularly nasty wake-up call hadn’t hit yet.

And few noticed, or even remember, Simon: King of the Witches

simon_king_of_witches_poster

Andrew Prine would have made a great Doctor Strange back in the day, wouldn’t he?