Monday, October 08, 2012

31 Days of Horror - Day 7 & 8: Deadly Friend + Pumpkinhead

Confession time! So last night I didn't actually watch a horror film. I didn't watch any film at all truth be told. Today was Thanksgiving in Canada, so last I was hanging with family and was nearly comatose from the amazing turkey dinner we had. However, I feel I still am on the full 31 Days of Horror roll as a few nights in the past week, Kat and I have done some double billing that will make up for the absence of horror cinema last night in our lives.

On Friday we check out a title that is usually dropped from when folks talk about Wes Craven's legacy of horror, Deadly Friend (1986). While there are moments of Craven branded bloody nightmare sequences (originally cut to avoid an X rating from the MPAA but , but restored on DVD),  over all the film has too much of the Short Circuit-esque cute robot hijinks to be ranked on par with his other horror works. There is however, this outrageous death scene that makes the film worth watching just for sheer WTF awesomeness. Oh yeah, also starring a young Khristy Swanson.

Warning: Cute robot ahead!!!

Now that I have confessed my sin of a night of no horror, our viewing pleasure this evening is one that I've seen, but that Kat hasn't - Pumpkinhead (1988). I remember when this film was announced, all the folks into horror were super excited and eager to see it since the director was acclaimed special effects and make-up artist Stan Winston, whose most notable works are always cited, so I'll mention some of his lesser ones such as The Entity, Dead & Buried, The Hand, The Exterminator, the TV movie Gargoyles, Dracula's Dog, Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde, The Monster Squad, Invaders from Mars, The Vindicator, the Manimal TV series, White Dog, and Parasite. Unfortunately, United Artists really didn't know what to do with the film so there was a muddled marketing campaign (as displayed in the first poster below) and a spotty release of the film. Sadly it is the only big feature that Winston did (and he passed away in 2008), but its grim homourless tone, Lance Henrickson in such a great role and superbly designed creature, all done with real practical effects, has gained the film a loyal following (bet UA never anticipated Pumpkinhead action figures) and surprisingly enough, three sequels. Haven't seen those, but we have them on standby in case Kat wants a marathon!

Above: The Turkish poster


Saturday, October 06, 2012

31 Days of Horror - Day 6: Curse of the Demon

Tonight we go back to Britain for a film I consider a must see in the horror canon, Jacques Tourneur's Curse of the Demon (1957) aka Night of the Demon. Based on the story "Casting of the Runes" by M.R. James which had previously been adapted into a radio play for the program "Escape" (you can listen to it here at the Internet Archives). Tourneur had already proven himself as a master of "less is more" horror with I Walked with a Zombie and Cat People and had originally planned to shoot the movie without directly showing the monster, but the studio pressured him to add it for commercial reasons towards the end of filming. It was released in the U.S. as the lower half of a double bill with Hammer's The Revenge of Frankenstein.

Trivia tidbits from the IMDB:

• This is the movie that the line "It's in the trees! It's coming!" was sampled from for the opening of Kate Bush song "The Hounds of Love".

• This film was mentioned in the opening song from The Rocky Horror Picture Show ("Science Fiction Double Feature"): "Dana Andrews said prunes gave him the runes, but passing them used lots of skill".

Friday, October 05, 2012

31 Days of Horror - Day 5: The Skull

Time to sample from Amicus Productions with The Skull (1965)! Got to give Kat a rundown on just what horror creeped onto the screen thanks to Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky (the masterminds behind Amicus) such as Dr. Terror's House of Horror, The Torture Garden, The House That Dripped Blood and Tales from the Crypt. We just might need to watch some of these fine productions in the nights to come! And of course, this is directed by Hammer star helmer, Freddie Francis, who was also cinematographer for David Lynch's The Elephant Man!

When the Skull strikes you'll Scream!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

31 Days of Horror - Day 4: Double Bill!

Just watched The Stone Tape, a BBC Two television play by Nigel Kneale, best known as the writer of Quatermass. Love his work and wish he did more.

Next up is Nothing But The Night. All I know is that it stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee...

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

31 Days of Horror - Day 3 - Part 2: SLUGS!

Okay. So Detention was NOT a horror film, but rather a pop culture comedy that in a post-Scott Pilgrim world, wears out its welcome early on. Smart jokes and some slick and snazzy execution, but an overload. It wasn't the fright fest that Kat and I were looking at so... DOUBLE BILL!

Popping on the Spanish/American co-production Slugs (aka Slugs, muerte viscosa) by Juan Piquer Simón (aka J.P. Simon) who directed Supersonic Man and Pieces!

I began writing this just as the credits are starting and had to pause after learning that Slugs was based on a book. A quick Google search sent me peering into a rabbit hole when I learned that the prolific author, Shaun Hutson, just might be the inspiration Garth Marenghi (as suggested in this Jonathan Ross interview). Wonder what the most lurid of his works are? I always thought Marenghi was based on Guy N. Smith...

Anyways, back on track and about to start Slugs. Been ages since I've seen this, but remember it delivering on the gore and being surprisingly earnest when I first watched it. Time to get slimy!


if only more contempory film posters could be this cool - V/H/S

31 Days of Horror - Day 3 - Detention

Last night's choice of Let Sleeping Corpses Lie was a big hit with Kat ("The dead in this film are remarkably intelligent!"), but now on to a film that she picked and one that has slipped through my viewing lists surprisingly enough - Detention. I missed it when Toronto After Dark presented it in the summer (I did catch V/H/S when they ran it at The Bloor), so time to catch up with the cool kids!

NO! Not that Detention! THIS Detention!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

31 Days of Horror - Day 2 - Let Sleeping Corpses Lie

Day 2 of this countdown to Halloween and ever since my "Cent une tueries de zombies" project last Saturday at Nuit Blanche, Kat has been asking about the clip of the redhead walking towards the car with the zombie off in the yard. That would be Let Sleeping Corpses Lie aka The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue aka Don't Open The Window. As a kid, this one was a rarity and I had only seen a few stills, so when I came to Toronto and was introduced to the underworld of VHS tape trading, it soon found its way into my hands and did not disappoint. Now if Kat likes it enough, we might just have to track down a copy of the recently out of print green vinyl soundtrack LP issued by Death Waltz Recording

Luke Insect's artwork for the green vinyl soundtrack LP issued by Death Waltz Recording


Monday, October 01, 2012

31 Days of Halloween - Day 1: THE HAUNTING

The Haunting poster by Toronto's own Phantom City Creative
I watch lots of horror films regularly, for work and pleasure, so it might not be much of a change of viewing habits, but for 31 days straight...? Now that is a change. I'll be doing this with my wife, Kat, who is quite the movie fiend, but hasn't seen some of the films that I consider to be on the canon of horror. Tonight, a classic... Robert Wise's The Haunting, based on Shirley Jackson's novel, "The Haunting of Hill House".

Hopefully, I'll be able to keep on this run with a new film every day, culminating with a 35mm screening of Creepshow preceded by an on stage conversation with George A. Romero at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Nice way to round it all off!