I think I’ve hit that saturation point, folks. As of this writing I’ve watched and reviewed 25 films in 31 days. Nine more to go if I want to complete the entire run by Halloween. I think I’ll make it, but I won’t lie…the burnout is approaching. It doesn’t help when I’m as disappointed as I was finally seeing Halloween Kills after more than a year of delays. But there you go. I also wish I enjoyed watching Telly Savalas as a demon in the usually reliable Mario Bava’s Lisa and the Devil but alas, this late entry in the master’s filmography was a bit of a letdown (though nowhere near as bad as the latest go with Michael Myers). It wasn’t all bad, though: decades may have passed since I first watched it but I’m happy to say the original Evil Dead has lost none of its punch, and if anything has become even more lean and nasty than I remember. I also had a bunch of fun with the latest Amazon/Blumhouse collaboration Black as Night, a fun vampire film that I wish could have been a series instead. Great lead performance. And finally, holy crap – Suicide Club may hold the honor of freaking me out more than any other horror film in recent memory. It’s a massive middle finger to folks who shoot for gonzo and think that means kitchen-sink insanity.
By god we’ve done it. We’ve closed the 50% threshold and are officially well on our way to the other side. Hooptober continues to invade my every dream, dancing behind my eyelids and bringing visions of schlock and awe. And some times really odd nude dance sequences, as is the case with the bizarre and wonderful original version of The Wicker Man. After a lot of late misses from the marathon’s namesake it was great to see the spirit of Tobe Hooper really peeking through the fun Mortuary. On the conflicting side I’ll just say The Boy Behind the Door is super tense and terrifying, and an excellent film I’ll never watch again, owing to the content of child abduction. But if you can stomach it, the film is a near-flawless execution of a cat and mouse chase. Currently holding the trophy of my favorite film of the marathon this year is Shin Godzilla, the first film to really mirror the intent of the original 1954 classic, and a terrifying look at what a kanji attack would look like from the view of the government tasked to keep its country safe and running. Finally Evilspeak is a wild 80s horror flick that takes the then-burgeoning computer craze and marries it to satanic worship, possession, and a delightful Clint Howard performance.
It’s a shortened week for me, folks…heading out for Columbus weekend to take in the autumn and clear the brain of the demons dwelling within. As always, scan the summaries, check out the full reviews over on Cinema Dual, and I’ll see you in seven days…
We’re closing in on the halfway point with Week 3 of Hooptober, and it was a doozy of interesting films. really only one clunker, and I say that knowing full well that Christopher Smith’s Creep isn’t a bad film, just one that feel reply rote. But on the other side of things we get two really great debuts: Mulberry Street is the first film and collaboration from Jim Mickle and Nick Damici, and if you only know them from later great genre films like Stakeland and We Are What We Are you’re in for a treat to see their talent in a more raw form. Plus: were-rats! There’s also Jakob’s Wife from Travis Stevens, featuring a powerful performance by Scream Queen Barbara Crampton and a fresh take on vampires that does NOT skimp on the blood. Finally we hit the way-back machine for some much needed fun with Vincent Price and House on Haunted Hill before journeying back to the present to see the much anticipated and frankly excellent re-launch of Candyman by Nia DaCosta, co-written and produced by some new guy named Jordan Peele.
Week 2 sees us firmly in the clutches of horror, and not even the detour into Wong Kar-wai I’m doing for an upcoming Cinema Dual podcast has been enough to break the hold terror and fright has on me (it was close though – toots recommend jumping into the man’s filmography if you’re not familiar or only familiar with heavy hitters like Chunking Express or In the Mood for Love). This week brought the Clue-ish delight that is Werewolves Within, the most frightening 20 minutes of horror I’ve ever seen in When a Stranger Calls, a lost Romero classic in The Amusement Park, a wicked out surreal nightmare in the for of Uzumaki, an adaptation of a popular horror manga, and finally a creepy and fright-filled debut out of Ireland called Caveat.
I’ll say this for 2021: it’s a lot easier to access new releases, so week one of Hooptober is especially heavy on new films. And it works out pretty well: we have one bonafide WTF homage to giallo in James Wan’s Malignant that I adored, a Lucio Fulci pictures I can finally say I outright liked in The Black Cat, and with Kandisha it’s another successful left turn from Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, most known for their French New Wave of Horror classic Inside. On the other side of the coin I’m sorry to say that Stan Winston’s Pumpkinhead, long considered a cult horror classic left a lot to be desired, and the action/horror hybrid of Blood Red Sky was extremely compentent in that it was a film, but pretty forgettable except for how much better it could have been.
I’m already two films deep into week 2, and there’s a lot to talk about so let’s jump into those quick summaries and see if anything grabs you and drags you under the bed. This year you can read the full reviews over on Cinema Dual, the site I share with my buddy Jon…In the meantime, smoke ’em if you got ’em…