Like every Hooptober, the first week brings in some of the best films…and some of the worst. On one side of the spectrum you have the emotionally punishing Lynchian warp of Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession and the beautifully fragile horror fantasy of Issa Lopez’s Tigers Are Not Afraid. On the other hand you have, well…Hobgoblins. In between there are various levels of good (and bad) with both Deliver Us From Evil and Dracula’s Daughter, but in the end I have to once again call it a crap-shoot.
So come on in and check out the week’s wares for Hooptober 2019. Watch the creaky step and the things that go bump in the night.
Finding some balance between David Lynch, Igmar Bergman and the histrionics of Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a film that charts the dissolution of a marriage via the dream logic of alien monsters, serial killers, secret government agencies…There’s little point to try and find a linear narrative in Żuławski’s bizarre layering of the end of his own relationship… instead marvel at the performances of Adjani and Neill, the exceptional camera work of Bruno Nuytten, who turns the camera into a living, breathing witness to the chaos. Best of all gasp and giggle in delight at the insane creature FX conjured up by Carlo Rambaldi, who just a year later would go from the twisted sexual monstrosity of Possession to the adorable candy loving E.T. (full review here).
I wish Deliver Us From Evil was the film Scott Derrickson made before he moved onto Sinister. It would make more sense, because that film is a tight, terrifying exercise in our attraction to the horrible, featuring great performances and a lack of cliche, while Deliver Us From Evil features hammy, cliched performances and possibly the most distracting New York accent I’ve ever heard from Eric Bana, an actor I have a lot of respect for otherwise. And yet…the final set piece is truly thrilling, with enough unique elements and effects that it can stand apart from easy reference The Exorcist and sit comfortably as a thing unto itself (full review here).
…a disaster from beginning to end, although that doesn’t mean there isn’t some joy to be had watching the ripped from a 3rd generation VHS tape copy that’s currently available on Amazon Prime. There’s a truly bizarre and hilarious fight scene between lead Kevin and army hump Nick using gardening tools that foleys in musical crashes with each strike, some truly inspired fighting with stuffed puppets, and a third act confrontation featuring nunchucks…The creatures themselves look terrible in a way that borders on hysterical, and I still can’t figure out why they had to arrive in a spaceship, since we never actually see it or them fly (full review here).
Weaving folklore, fantasy and stark realism in striking detail, Issa López captures the fear and magic of childhood in Tigers Are Not Afraid, creating a sharp allegory and portrait of the horrors of living in the middle of the cartel wars in modern Mexico City. By refusing to mask her subject in period settings there’s a vibrant immediacy to the horror that distinguishes itself from the more subtle deceptions crafted by Guillermo del Toro, whose work it’s impossible to not compare this with. That it compares at all is a compliment, but the film goes above that to forge a unique and thrilling identity all its own. Yeah…I really dug this (full review here).
All the erotic subtext and luscious eyelash batting can’t save Dacula’s Daughter from being a weaker, anemic sequel to Browning’s original classic. Which isn’t to say that the ’31 film doesn’t have its share of problems, only that this sequel from 1936 hasn’t aged well, despite a solid performance from Gloria Holden as the titular character…taking place almost immediately after the original, Van Helsing is arrested for the apparent murder of Dracula and Renfield. he calls upon his former student, renowned psychologist Jeffrey Garth to help clear him of the crime, but suddenly the body of Dracula is stolen, and in walks the Countess Marya Zaleska, who is desperate for the doctor to help cure her of certain…cravings (full review here).
Next week we travel all over the globe, hitting a French zombie apocalypse, an Australian monster terrorizing the outback, a wicked modern French Canadian take on the giallo, and some good old fashioned slasher frenzy starring some dude in a hockey mask.
Until then, keep it Blood Red.