Another year down, and right on the day itself. Let’s not waste words: there were some great films (Malignant, The Devil Rides Out) and there were some, uh…not so great films (Jack Frost 2, Halloween Kills). But we ended with a cool anthology in The Field Guide to Evil; a really strong blaxploitation movie that overcomes its limitations (J.D.’s Revenge); a Hammer facsimile with both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in The Skull, and a fun short from Cartoon Network in The Scooby-Doo Project.
Five more down…only four movies left. This is the penultimate Blood Red for 2021, and I’m surprised that there’s still some fuel, some drive to watch more horror. It helped that I put some emphasis this week on Hammer, one of my favorite horror studios. If you thought the studio was just the home for reimagining of some of the classic Universal monsters, then I humbly offer two fantastic films that stray from that path. Both Captain Clegg (aka Night Creatures) and The Devil Rides Out take a very different path, and also feature very different roles from two of the greatest horror performers of all time: Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Nowadays the Indonesian film industry is getting its just credit with some incredible genre films, but if you want an early slice that feels like if Evil Dead met the work of the Shaw Brothers, check out Queen of Black Magic. And while I can’t in good conscious recommend Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman, I will tell you that I did laugh out loud a couple of times. Plus you get some really demented scenes featuring a snowman, so if that’s your jam, go for it. Finally, all that Hammer put me in the mood for some old fashioned monster love, so I checked out Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell and was entirely satisfied.
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.