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Victim of The Night


“It’s all true. The Boogeyman is real. And you found him."

A group of young people stop at a gas-station that doubles as one of those road-side attraction curios, in this case run by a redneck clown and dedicated to Horror, including a "Murder Ride".



When their curiosity is piqued over local-legend killer Dr. Satan, they decide to go in search of the tree he was allegedly hanged from. And when a kooky-but-sexy hitchhiker tells them she can take them to it, it turns into the worst - and maybe the last - night of their lives.
You pick up a hitchhiking young woman in The Fog, you have sex and look at her drawings. You pick up a hitchhiking young woman in House Of 1,000 Corpses, you get vivisected.

Honestly, the first like minute and a half of this movie just scream "Wooley!" at the top of their lungs. Man, Zombie throws absolutely everything at the screen I can imagine. And I guess I was his audience.


I think the thing I like about this movie is that Rob Zombie goes all the way, before anybody else was really doing it again (torture-porn wasn't really a thing yet), and he goes there full-bore and full-tilt. Many try to dismiss the film as “derivative” but, for me, this movie breathed a new life and an electric jolt into the micro-genre of its inspirations. It gets weird immediately, it doesn’t hide any of its cards, it just has more decks than you think could really happen, at least in 2003. I mean, half an hour in, so much crazy shit has been on-screen and the movie hasn’t really even taken off yet.


I will admit that the third act doesn't feel quite as self-assured, nor is it as garish and striking, as the first two, but I like the even weirder turn it took, so I gotta let it slide.

"It is ugly—in the distinctively washed out, grainy, slightly burned manner of low-budget '70s films—gory, and single-mindedly mean, none of which is a criticism since that's exactly what it wants to be.” - TV Guide
"House of 1000 Corpses is a messy film—veering this way and that across the genre map with no discernible destination. But viewed less a movie and more as an experience, the film offers a certain degree of inspired insanity and a healthy dose of carnival-like madness”. - IGN
I think that latter, especially, speaks to me and is exactly the reason resonated so much with me when I first saw it almost 20 years ago and still amuses me so much today.




Post Script - Honestly, for me at least, when watching this movie, one wonders how Sid Haig was not a bigger star. He is SO good as Captain Spaulding it’s really surprising. I was actually kinda disappointed that
WARNING: "eek!" spoilers below
he turned out to be one of the bad guys and that he’s so much grittier and meaner in the subsequent films
, but then again, if you (Zombie) had that performance you’d lean hard into it too. Given that I just watched him give a startlingly realistic portrayal (for 1964) of a severely developmentally delayed man-child in Spider Baby (which was obviously one of Zombie's inspirations), I am just really, really high on Haig right now. Interesting to read his story and again, I just find it surprising that, with his charisma, he didn't find more mainstream success.



Many try to dismiss the film as “derivative” but, for me, this movie breathed a new life and an electric jolt into the micro-genre of its inspirations. It gets weird immediately, it doesn’t hide any of its cards, it just has more decks than you think could really happen, at least in 2003. I mean, half an hour in, so much crazy shit has been on-screen and the movie hasn’t really even taken off yet.
Yeah, I've only seen this a couple of times so I can't speak with a lot of authority here, and somebody can probably easily provide contradictory evidence, but this was one where I felt like Zombie had created his own thing. He's certainly going for a grindhouse vibe, but his combination of the horror bits mixed with the bizarre carnivalesque humor impressed me as being a pretty original vision, even if I wasn't sure I liked it the first time I saw it. I can watch Devil's Rejects or Roth's films of the era and recognize various influences, but I don't watch Ho1KC and think "oh, this is like insert 70s movie title". Influenced by grindhouse films, yes, but too much its own thing to be considered derivative, imo.
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My Collection



Victim of The Night
"Sometimes I feel like if you just light things in deep blues and reds and greens and purples, you can pretty much take my money." - Wooley



So after spending the past week looking at vampire boobies, this weekend I found myself retreating into a cocoon of G-Rated childhood nostalgia. This was not by design but just sort of happened, so maybe I should talk to a therapist about this.



Started with Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) and Return from Witch Mountain (1978). Despite the presence of Donald Pleasence, Bette Davis and Christopher Lee, these were not the spook-shows my memory had convinced me they were. (Haven't seen them in 40 years). These were Disney films about a brother & sister with telepathic and telekinetic powers, and the bad guys who want to exploit them for nefarious reasons. To say more would spoil a plot reveal, but let's just say these were more sci-fi than horror, despite the creepy-sounding titles.





Next was The Watcher in the Woods (1980). This one was a spook-show, but one that I missed somehow back in the day. I only became aware of it in college when my future BFF declared it one of her favorite childhood movies. I'm sure she's shown me clips over the years but this was my first time watching it for real. So this is the sort of thing I would have absolutely devoured at age 9, but at age 50+ it's merely a pleasant throwback to a comforting era. This is your standard "The ghost wants me to figure out how she died" story, so it's not the most original thing, but there's a nice creepy vibe if you've got the patience for this sort of dated G-rated stuff like I do.

Those of you with children can tell me if I'm wrong but I feel like we don't make these kind of movies anymore. Safe for kids to watch without being traumatized, while also taking itself completely seriously. It seems that the kids' horror I've encountered recently is usually of the wink-wink variety because we don't want to scare the kiddos too much.



Victim of The Night


Next was The Watcher in the Woods (1980). This one was a spook-show, but one that I missed somehow back in the day. I only became aware of it in college when my future BFF declared it one of her favorite childhood movies. I'm sure she's shown me clips over the years but this was my first time watching it for real. So this is the sort of thing I would have absolutely devoured at age 9, but at age 50+ it's merely a pleasant throwback to a comforting era. This is your standard "The ghost wants me to figure out how she died" story, so it's not the most original thing, but there's a nice creepy vibe if you've got the patience for this sort of dated G-rated stuff like I do.

Those of you with children can tell me if I'm wrong but I feel like we don't make these kind of movies anymore. Safe for kids to watch without being traumatized, while also taking itself completely seriously. It seems that the kids' horror I've encountered recently is usually of the wink-wink variety because we don't want to scare the kiddos too much.
I saw this in the theater with my mother and my grandmother and we all enjoyed it quite a bit. I think I was 8 or maybe still 7 years old but I was already all about The Spooky. And for children that age, I feel like this movie is pretty spooky.





And finally there was my 1000th viewing of Arsenic and Old Lace. This has been a family favorite since I was a kid, so I've got it memorized and there's hardly any point in even watching it any more but I just love it so much. Recently got the Criterion BluRay on sale, so this was a perfect excuse to watch it one more time.

At the risk of sounding like a weirdo, there are parts of this film that make me watery-eyed, not because they're sad or touching but just because watching this movie makes me so happy. When I was a kid and one of us would say something dumb or act crazy, my late grandmother would say "Just the ladies?" If you know the line from the film, that means she was questioning our sanity. So this thing is just ingrained in my DNA at this point.

But if you don't have a 40-year history with the film, it's equal parts funny and creepy, and the humor is probably much darker than you're expecting from the 1940s. It takes place during Halloween, there's Boris Karloff jokes and Peter Lorre in his prime. Perfect October viewing.

My current favorite bit:

Officer O'Hara: "You know, my mother was an actress."
Mortimer: "Oh? Legitimate?"
O'Hara: (indignantly) "Of course she was legitimate, she was my mother! Peaches LaTour was her name..."



I saw this in the theater with my mother and my grandmother and we all enjoyed it quite a bit. I think I was 8 or maybe still 7 years old but I was already all about The Spooky. And for children that age, I feel like this movie is pretty spooky.
Yeah, I enjoyed the creepy vibe of it. It definitely left an impression on my friend that saw it back then.

I learned that the film had a complicated history involving alternate endings and reshoots and it turned into a bit of a mess. I found one of the alternate endings and I think it's way cooler than the one that was ultimately used.






And finally there was my 1000th viewing of Arsenic and Old Lace. This has been a family favorite since I was a kid, so I've got it memorized and there's hardly any point in even watching it any more but I just love it so much. Recently got the Criterion BluRay on sale, so this was a perfect excuse to watch it one more time.

At the risk of sounding like a weirdo, there are parts of this film that make me watery-eyed, not because they're sad or touching but just because watching this movie makes me so happy. When I was a kid and one of us would say something dumb or act crazy, my late grandmother would say "Just the ladies?" If you know the line from the film, that means she was questioning our sanity. So this thing is just ingrained in my DNA at this point.

But if you don't have a 40-year history with the film, it's equal parts funny and creepy, and the humor is probably much darker than you're expecting from the 1940s. It takes place during Halloween, there's Boris Karloff jokes and Peter Lorre in his prime. Perfect October viewing.

My current favorite bit:

Officer O'Hara: "You know, my mother was an actress."
Mortimer: "Oh? Legitimate?"
O'Hara: (indignantly) "Of course she was legitimate, she was my mother! Peaches LaTour was her name..."
I forgot I was supposed to watch that one this month. I'll see if I can fit it in.
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Victim of The Night


And finally there was my 1000th viewing of Arsenic and Old Lace. This has been a family favorite since I was a kid, so I've got it memorized and there's hardly any point in even watching it any more but I just love it so much. Recently got the Criterion BluRay on sale, so this was a perfect excuse to watch it one more time.

At the risk of sounding like a weirdo, there are parts of this film that make me watery-eyed, not because they're sad or touching but just because watching this movie makes me so happy. When I was a kid and one of us would say something dumb or act crazy, my late grandmother would say "Just the ladies?" If you know the line from the film, that means she was questioning our sanity. So this thing is just ingrained in my DNA at this point.

But if you don't have a 40-year history with the film, it's equal parts funny and creepy, and the humor is probably much darker than you're expecting from the 1940s. It takes place during Halloween, there's Boris Karloff jokes and Peter Lorre in his prime. Perfect October viewing.

My current favorite bit:

Officer O'Hara: "You know, my mother was an actress."
Mortimer: "Oh? Legitimate?"
O'Hara: (indignantly) "Of course she was legitimate, she was my mother! Peaches LaTour was her name..."
God I f*ckin' love this movie.





And finally there was my 1000th viewing of Arsenic and Old Lace. This has been a family favorite since I was a kid, so I've got it memorized and there's hardly any point in even watching it any more but I just love it so much. Recently got the Criterion BluRay on sale, so this was a perfect excuse to watch it one more time.

At the risk of sounding like a weirdo, there are parts of this film that make me watery-eyed, not because they're sad or touching but just because watching this movie makes me so happy. When I was a kid and one of us would say something dumb or act crazy, my late grandmother would say "Just the ladies?" If you know the line from the film, that means she was questioning our sanity. So this thing is just ingrained in my DNA at this point.

But if you don't have a 40-year history with the film, it's equal parts funny and creepy, and the humor is probably much darker than you're expecting from the 1940s. It takes place during Halloween, there's Boris Karloff jokes and Peter Lorre in his prime. Perfect October viewing.


My current favorite bit:

Officer O'Hara: "You know, my mother was an actress."
Mortimer: "Oh? Legitimate?"
O'Hara: (indignantly) "Of course she was legitimate, she was my mother! Peaches LaTour was her name..."

Arsenic and Old Lace is one of my all-time favorite movies. I've also seen it a countless number of times. It's one of those movies that if Hubby walks in while I'm watching it, he always says, "You're watching this again?!"


My favorite scene is:

[Discussing the body count]
Jonathan Brewster: "You've done all that right here in this house, and buried them in the cellar?"
Dr. Einstein: (laughing) "That's wonderful, Johnny. We've been chased all over the world. They stay right here in Brooklyn, and they do just as good as you do. "
Jonathan Brewster: "What?"
Dr. Einstein: "Yea, You got twelve, they got twelve."
Jonathan Brewster: "I've got thirteen!"
Dr. Einstein: "No, Johnny, twelve — don't brag."
Jonathan: "Thirteen! There's Mr. Spinalzo, and the first one in London, two in Johannesburg, one in Sydney, one in Melbourne, two in San Francisco, one in Phoenix, Arizona..."
Dr. Einstein: "Phoenix?"
Jonathan: "The filling station..."
Dr. Einstein: "Filling station? Oh!"
[Dr. Einstein draws a finger across his throat]
Dr. Einstein: "Yes."
Jonathan: "Then three in Chicago and one in South Bend."
Dr. Einstein: "You cannot count the one in South Bend. He died of pneumonia!"
Jonathan: "He wouldn't have died of pneumonia if I hadn't shot him!"
Dr. Einstein: "No, no, Johnny. You cannot count him. You got twelve, they got twelve. The old ladies is just as good as you are!"
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Victim of The Night
Yeah, I enjoyed the creepy vibe of it. It definitely left an impression on my friend that saw it back then.

I learned that the film had a complicated history involving alternate endings and reshoots and it turned into a bit of a mess. I found one of the alternate endings and I think it's way cooler than the one that was ultimately used.

I have also read this. If there's one thing about the movie I remember not liking all that much it was the very ending. I mean, I think it worked ok but I would have liked something a little spookier and less wholesome.



Victim of The Night

Horror Of Dracula

Hammer fun time!
This was Hammer's reimagining of Dracula after The Curse Of Frankenstein was such a smash hit for them the year before. They decided to get gory and shocking and it paid off in a big way, so Terence Fisher and company are back to bloody up the Dracula story. Quite a bit is changed so that there's more death. Fangs are added (other than Nosferatu, cinema vampires did not have fangs until this movie). The underlying sexual implications of vampirism are implied much more strongly. And the blood is RED.


As I understand it, that was a bit of a coup by Francis and Hammer, as that was not done really before this.
As we've talked about elsewhere, Fisher really predates Bava and man does he love his intense primary colors, particularly, obviously, red. Every red matches almost perfectly. The inside of Harker’s bag is even a deep, intense red. Harker’s diary is bound-leather, bright red. And somewhere he even found deep-red chess pieces instead of the black (in Harker’s room). Which is, of course, symbolic, since Harker, in one of the major changes to the story, makes it clear he knows who Dracula is and has come to kill him.

You have to love Lee in this, he's been banging around in small roles and bit parts for 20 years at this point and he gets given Dracula. He was a real actor who took his work very seriously and he was not gonna mail this in, and how he approaches taking on such a famous character, especially after two iconic representations of it in Schreck and Lugosi, is very interesting. He’s very intentional about what he does, his facial expressions, and especially the way he moves. You may notice that he bounds down the stairs briskly, with athleticism, and goes back up them, carrying Harder’s suitcase, two at a time, establishing the physicality of Dracula subtly without having to lift up a table or something.

It’s was a real pleasure to just let myself get sucked into the period. I found Lucy’s staking pretty intense, even though I just watched House of 1,000 Corpses an hour ago. It's a really bloody film for its time.
It’s also funny that, as corny as these films may seem today, they were going for something much more like realism at the time and, according to critics, found it, with Variety saying, “the serious approach to the macabre theme...adds up to lotsa tension and suspense.”
This really does feel like it’s writing the language of Horror to come for decades.




Post script on Terence Fisher - From Wikipedia: “He was the first to bring gothic horror alive in full colour, and the sexual overtones and explicit horror in his films, while mild by modern standards, were unprecedented in his day. Given their subject matter and lurid approach, Fisher's films, though commercially successful, were largely dismissed by critics during his career. It is only in recent years that Fisher has become recognised as an auteur in his own right.”