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Old 09-16-12, 11:04 PM   #73
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Re: The 8th Annual "October Horror Movie Challenge" (10/1 - 10/31) ***The List Thread

10-07-2012: Added titles 1-8
10-15-2012: Added titles 9-17
10-21-2012: Added titles 18-23
11-01-2012: Added titles 19-39; Added reviews
11-03-2012: Added reviews
11-04-2012: Added reviews
11-05-2012: Added reviews
11-06-2012: Added reviews
11-07-2012: Added reviews

The 8th Annual

October Horror Movie Challenge

LAST YEAR: 38 films

All films are DVD format unless noted.
Bold indicates a first-time viewing.
* = Wildcard selection
  1. Faceless (A.K.A., "Les predateurs de la nuit") - A pitch-black horror-comedy about a surgeon going to insane lengths to restore his sister's face when she's accidentally scarred by one of the doctor's unhappy former clients. The doctor and his bisexual accomplice kidnap a fashion model (Caroline Munro) for use in his highly unorthodox procedures, and the model's father (Telly Savalas, TV's "Kojak") hires a detective (Chris Mitchum, son of Robert) to get her back in a series of unneeded scenes (which may be the result of no less than five writers, including director Jess Franco, being credited with the script). The whole film is a parody of medical melodramas like Magnificent Obsession, as well as a nod to Franco's earlier work (notably The Awful Dr. Orloff). At one point in the movie, a fugitive Nazi war criminal unironically lectures the doctor and assistant on ethics! An unsatisfying ending blunts the film's satirical edge.
  2. Double Exposure - A professional photographer gradually becomes unhinged when the models he murders in his recurring nightmares are found dead in reality. The acting in this film is highly uneven, with some scenes delivered off-the-cuff while others are played up to the rafters. The cast includes Cleavon Little, Seymour Cassel, Sally Kirkland and Victoria Jackson. This may also be the first slasher film where the protagonists are middle-aged. The actors playing the cops look like they should be the ones on the run from danger! There's an especially ridiculous kill involving a plastic trash bag and a rattlesnake. The oft-nude Teressa Macky ought to have done more movies.
  3. A Quiet Place in the Country - A successful painter (Franco Nero) grows frustrated with modern life in the city and becomes fixated with an old manor in the Venetian countryside. His art-dealing lover (Nero's real-life paramour Vanessa Redgrave) buys it for him, but strange things begin happening once Nero moves into the estate. He eventually learns that a young woman had died during World War II on the property, and Nero grows maddeningly obsessed with uncovering the truth behind her death. Director Elio Petri draws multiple parallels between inspiration, the supernatural, and madness without spelling anything out for the viewer. Easily one of the most challenging films that I've watched this month. The title credits are absolutely fantastic! Music by Ennio Morricone. Paintings by modern artist Jim Dine.
  4. Island of Lost Souls - A shipwreck refugee is dumped on the island of a sadistic doctor (played by Charles Laughton) and his monstrous experiments in this adaptation of H.G. Wells' novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau. The entire cast gives stellar performances-- especially Laughton. The beastmen (led by Bela Lugosi) boast some remarkably good-looking makeup effects. The beastmen's refrain, "Are we not men?" has become a part of pop culture due in no small part to Devo.
  5. The Green Slime - From my 2011 Drive-In/Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge:
    A team of astronauts (led by Robert Horton and Richard Jaeckel) is sent on a mission to drill and plant nuclear charges beneath the surface of an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. While Michael Bay took over two hours to tell the same story, Kinji Fukusaku and company do it in a half-hour. As an added bonus, they give us the story of a space station overrun by rubbery, tentacled aliens. Richard Delvy immortalizes it all in the greatest theme song ever recorded. Luciana Paluzzi has the unenviable task of playing the third point in a love triangle between herself, Horton and Jaeckel.
    I don't know how it's possible, but the movie gets more and more ridiculous every time I see it. Still, it's a childhood favorite that I just can't resent for its many, many shortcomings.
  6. The Deadly Mantis - Broadcast television, part of Svengoolie. A giant praying mantis thaws from the Artic Circle and heads for the United States, making brief stops to chew on Eskimos and other unsuspecting victims. Only the vigilance and might of America's armed forces can stop the insect threat. The whole thing seems like thinly-veiled propaganda designed to reassure Cold War audiences of the United States' preparedness in case of invasion by enemy forces. The mantis effects are pretty good, but I would rather watch Tarantula if given the choice between the two films.
  7. Happy Birthday to Me - Strangely enough, I enjoyed this film more than the first time that I saw it. I remain convinced that the film was intended to be a slasher film parody.
  8. Killer Party - After a double-fakeout opening, the movie settles in to tell the story of three young coeds pledging a sorority which just happens to be holding its annual April Fool's Day costume party in the condemned frat house where a pledge died years ago. Trickery is a reoccurring theme in the film, but the filmmakers really go overboard with the tricks until it gets to where you half-expect them to reveal that the whole film has been some improbably elaborate hoax played upon one of the characters. It's not a particularly well-made movie. By my estimation, there appears to be three killers on the loose at one point in the film. One of the killers wears a deep sea diver's costume, which is actually a pretty cool getup for a slasher. Paul Bartel makes a brief appearance as a stuffy, bumbling professor.
  9. The Simpsons, "Treehouse of Horror XXIII"* - Broadcast television. I haven't watched this program in a few years, but i was pleasantly surprised to find myself still chuckling at times. Only one of the three vignettes really had anything to do with horror, though.
  10. The House on Sorority Row - A group of sorority sisters decide to celebrate graduating by holding a blowout bash, but they wind up accidentally killing their house mother when a prank goes awry. They find out the hard way why she wanted them out at the end of term so badly. Things don't really pick up until the final act. The scenes involving the girls moving the house mother's body seem to be an attempt at creating suspense but come off as lamely comic.
  11. Night of the Creeps - From my 2009 October Horror Movie Challenge:
    Slug-like extraterrestrial parasites crash on Earth, and it's up to a weird-looking kid and Tom Atkins to exterminate them. The script and direction by Fred Dekker is continually changing in tone, keeping the viewer pleasantly off-balance. An incredibly charismatic performance from Steve Marshall as J.C.
    What I enjoy more than the little nods to other genre filmmakers and self-referential dialogue are the quick, morbid visual gags.
  12. Night School - A killer is running around Boston beheading students from a women's college that are taking an anthropology professor's night class. There are some good, suspenseful kills, but things quickly fall apart by the end. It's all capped off with one of the cheapest of "cheap scare" endings. The yummy Rachel Ward makes a memorable film debut. Director Ken Hughes was also responsible for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!
  13. Final Exam - I was stunned when I learned that the actress that played the hussy Janet in this film also played the nerdy Vivia in Killer Party. It's odd how the undisguised killer in this film winds up being so anonymous. Conventional wisdom would say that having distinctively human features would make him more memorable. Joel S. Rice's performance as "Radish" is still my favorite part of this movie. "It's happening! The psychopaths are here!"
  14. Horror High - A dopey "Jekyll and Hyde" story about a nerd who is forced to take a formula of his own making, turning him into a homicidal maniac. Things get fairly bloody as he takes revenge on all his tormentors, but the only true element of suspense comes when it appears that filmmakers might try to paint the bully jock as some sort of hero before the film ends. The Mill Creek transfer of this film is one of the worst I've seen of any movie.
  15. I Was a Teenage Zombie - VHS. It's going to be a sad day when my copy of this film finally wears out.
  16. Prom Night (1980) - A mysterious killer hunts down a group of childhood friends on their special night in this incredibly Canandian '80s slasher film. Aside from Jamie Lee Curtis, the cast also includes future B-movie action star Jeff Wincott and Leslie Nielsen as Curtis' high school principal father. The disco dance sequence is literally showstopping.
  17. Decadent Evil - This story of a trio of female vampires really feels more like a bad television pilot than a film (even the end credits get "squashed" for a preview of "Decadent Evil 2"). There are a couple of tongue-in-cheek lines of dialogue, but the movie could have used something... well, more of anything. Ends on an especially classy note. Charles Band regular Phil Fondacaro plays a sawed-off vampire hunter.
  18. Meridian - "Beauty and the Beast" gets the late night cable television treatment by Charles Band in this story of a young woman (Sherilyn Fenn) who inherits an Italian castle. The story is less of a horror movie and more of a paranormal romance. It doesn't help that the "beast" looks a little like Harry from Harry and the Hendersons. Otherwise, the movie boasts pretty decent production values for a Full Moon picture.
  19. Carnival of Souls (1962) (Director's Cut) - Along with Night of the Living Dead, it remains one of the best independent horror movies ever made.
  20. The House That Screamed (A.K.A., "La Residencia") - I had completely forgotten that I had already watched this film when I picked it out. Based solely on the title, I was expecting a "haunted house" story. First, it's not really a house; it's an all-girls boarding school. Second, the film is really a Spanish giallo with "reform school" and "women in prison" motifs. There are artfully shot, if scant, kills. The film is also light on bare skin, which makes some sense based on its Victorian period setting. There is a surprising amount of attention paid to the day-to-day operation of the school along with some really impressive set design.
  21. Haunted From Within (A.K.A., "Spirit Hunter: La Llorona") - The synopsis on the back of the case describes the film as a "modern retelling of the legend of La Llorona," but La Llorona is just a springboard for this dull, lazy, brain-dead movie. The actors are all clearly in this film just for the SAG cards. The final confrontation between the protagonist and La Llorona looks like a bad '80s new wave music video. There are some attractive Latina actresses in this film, though (Jim Carrey flips up Rina Fernandez's skirt in Bruce Almighty).
  22. The Brood - A man goes in search of his estranged wife (Samantha Eggar) when tiny snow-suited monsters begin killing people close to him and his daugher. Oliver Reed gives a mesmerizing performance as psychologist Dr. Raglan, the creator of "Psychoplasmics," an apparent stand-in for pseudo-scientific new age therapies such as Dianetics. The film contains some unsettlingly violent imagery in addition to David Cronenberg's trademark "body horror."
  23. Sugar Hill (1974) - When Southern mobsters beat her boyfriend to death, Diana "Sugar" Hill summons voodoo deity Baron Samedi and his army of zombie slaves to exact her revenge in this Blaxploitation-horror hybrid. The killings unfold in a series of vignettes, and it gives the film the feel of an old EC comic book with Baron Samedi in the "Uncle Creepy" or "Cryptkeeper" role. Marki Bey turns in an unbelievably hammy performance as the title character. One of the other problems that I had with the film is that for a revenge flick, Sugar doesn't really get her hands very dirty. Baron Samedi and his zombies (literal slaves!) pretty much do all the work for her. Director Paul Maslansky is probably better known for producing the Police Academy series.
  24. Dracula Has Risen from the Grave - I never really understood when critics or scholars would talk about the erotic subtext of bloodsucking in vampire stories. Then I saw Veronica Carlson in this film, and everything made perfect sense. There's some interesting use of red filters during the shooting of the Dracula sequences, and the Count is dispatched in a fairly gruesome fashion at the film's end. However, Peter Cushing's presence is sorely missed during the proceedings of the film.
  25. Taste the Blood of Dracula - Three middle-aged thrillseekers and a snot-nosed socialite unwittingly resurrect Dracula in a black magic ritual incorporating Dracula's powdered blood. Hammer would basically use the same setup with minor alterations for Dracula A.D. 1972. Dracula's death in this film is pretty lame in comparison to Dracula Has Risen from the Grave.
  26. Count Dracula (1970) (A.K.A., "Les nuits de Dracula") - Jess Franco's adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel is severely hampered by cheap production values and shoddy camera work, but a mustaschioed Christopher Lee gets to flex his acting muscle in ways that he doesn't as Hammer's Dracula. Although the cast includes the late Herbert Lom as van Helsing and Klaus Kinski as Renfield, none of the actors appear in the same scene together.
  27. The Vampire Lovers - Ingrid Pitt stars as a sexy vampire who poses as the daughter of an aristocratic family in order to prey upon the virginal daughters of the European nobility. In spite of being the piece's villain, Pitt still manages to infuse her character with a sympathetic note of tragedy. The film opens with one of the longest prologues that I've seen this month, but it gets the movie off to a good start. There's some surprisingly blunt lesbianism in the film. Also starring Peter Cushing.
  28. From Dusk Till Dawn - While I enjoy the jarring shift partway through, Robert Rodriguez simply cannot hold the film together by the time it ends. As weird as it sounds, Quentin Tarantino's mercenary script would have benefited from a polish. I do enjoy Tom Savini's character and would pay good money to see a movie about Sex Machine. I would also pay good money for a 90-minute version of Salma Hayek's dance. The supporting cast includes future Oscar nominee John Hawkes, Michael Parks, Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin (in three different roles!).
  29. Rise: Blood Hunter (Unrated) - Lucy Liu plays a reporter who seeks out the bloodsuckers that turned her into one of their own. The unrated cut employs a nonlinear narrative structure that is completely pointless. There are meager snippets of clever dialogue, but the script (from the pen of of the man who helped bring you Snakes on a Plane) definitely could have used another rewrite. The supporting cast includes Cabin in the Woods' and Dollhouse's Fran Kranz, Robert Forster, Marilyn Manson(!), Nick Lachey(!!) and Mako in his final on-screen performance.
  30. Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde - Blacula director William Crain attempts to recapture Blaxploitation-horror lightning in a bottle but comes up short with this story of a brilliant doctor (Bernie Casey) who tests an experimental cure for liver disease on himself, transforming him into a superhuman albino. He's sort of like the Hulk in that way... if the Hulk drove around in a Rolls-Royce. Casey gives a performance far better than the material deserves before completely going off the rails at the end. The film features the early work of special effects legend Stan Winston and cinematographer Tak Fujimoto.
  31. Cemetery Man - Francisco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) is the caretaker of a small town's cemetery. The deceased have a hard time staying buried in this cemetery, so he and his mute assistant work to put them back in the ground. In many ways, this film presages the current pop culture bloat of so-called "zom-coms." Most of the broader humor falls flat, but the subtler bits of absurdist comedy hit the mark. The film boasts some pretty good production design. To top it off, you get the comely Anna Falchi in no less than three roles.
  32. Werewolf of London - Broadcast television, part of Svengoolie. When a botanist (Henry Hull) travels to the Himalayas to acquire a rare plant specimen, he receives a bite from a mysterious creature. It's only when he returns to London that he learns that he has also brought back the equally exotic affliction known as "lycanthrophobia" or "werewolfery" (which sounds like some sort of sexual euphemism). The film almost acts as a glimpse of better things to come from Universal and its Wolfman film series. Henry Hull is no Lon Chaney, Jr. Warner Oland appears in a pre-Charlie Chan role as yet another Asian character: Dr. Yogami ("Yogami" being a bastardization of "wolf" in Japanese).
  33. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Halloween" / Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Fear Itself"
  34. The Munsters, "All-Star Munster" / The Munsters, "Movie Star Munster" / The Munsters, " Lily Munster, Girl Model" / The Munsters, "The Treasure of Mockingbird Heights"
  35. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  36. The Dead Outside - A marginally better-than-average DTV movie about a mysterious outbreak sweeping through Scotland that turns its victims into crazed killers. One survivor seeks refuge at an isolated farmhouse, but he quickly learns that the farmhouse is inhabited by a young woman who is haunted by the horrifying steps she took in order to survive. I think. Part of the problem is the characters are tragically underdeveloped, and their motivations are never fully explored. The film has a bleak, desaturated look to it. However, the color desaturation often works against the film and makes it difficult to discern what is going on. The sound is also poorly mixed, with the score swallowing the dialogue. It makes it the already thick Scottish accents even harder to understand. Overall, the film plays like the director's audition for a 28 Days Later sequel.
  37. Slaughtered - A masked killer takes out the patrons and waitstaff of what must be the quietest, most sedate Australian pub. Simply put, this low budget slasher film is a mess. The characters all live in a world that operates without any sort of logic. The killer's visual appearance is a conceptual nightmare. The worst part is that it's dull. There's one decent physical gag, but it doesn't make up for all the lazy filmmaking.
  38. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown / Half in the Bag Episode 40: Sinister and Paranormal Activity 4* - Broadcast television / Youtube.
  39. Blithe Spirit* - A novelist (Rex Harrison) gets more than he bargained for when he invites a batty medium to dinner, and she brings forth the ghost of his late first wife. Unfortunately, he's the only one who can see or hear her, leading to many misunderstandings with his current wife. It gets screwier from that point onward in this supernatural comedy. Although David Lean and Noel Coward never cared much for this film, it remains a pleasantly diverting piece of fluff.

That's all for this year! Unpleasant dreams!


Last edited by nezumi; 11-07-12 at 10:42 PM.
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