A scary thing happened on the way to the Movie Forums - Horrorcrammers


It was kind of fascinating how these two or three guys (it was mainly a small handful of people really pushing this point of view) read the film.

For example, in order to further exonerate Goodman's character they had this whole theory about how
WARNING: spoilers below
Emmett was actually the one who had killed the previous girl in the bunker. You see, Emmett knew the bunker was there. So Goodman just had the girl over in a friendly way sometimes, then Emmett took her there without Goodman knowing and killed her and then cleaned it all up. Emmett was the killer all along and he was probably even going to kill Winstead's character. He was trying to win her over to get her on his side against Goodman so that he could make her his.

And when you'd point things out like the fact that it seemed really unlikely that Emmett could do all that stuff in the bunker without Goodman's character knowing, or that it would be pretty weird for Goodman to be pretending that a random girl was his daughter, they would sweep it aside, saying Goodman was eccentric but harmless and that the scheming Emmett had played him for a fool. What about her finding the bus ticket in his wallet, a nod to Emmett being truthful? Well, maybe Emmett was telling the truth about the bus, but he's still a murderer!

It was such a strange (to me) reading of everything in the film. Going as far as to suggest that she should have agreed to be in a sexual relationship (or whatever it was that he was angling at with her) out of gratitude for being saved by him. Arguing that Emmett needed to be killed because HE was the unstable element in the bunker.

Point out that she didn't ask to be saved and would have willingly left the bunker? Well, if he lets her out then she'll lead the aliens right back to him!

Truly a bizarre conversation. If it was trolling, it was very meticulous trolling! And the main poster was the kind of person who refers to women as "females", so, you know . . .hard to take seriously.
That's crazy, but I guess I'm not surprised anymore by the lengths that some people would go to justify things.
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That's one of the reasons I prefer smaller forums. There's less of a chance of having toxic people you have to deal with. I stopped commenting on YouTube a while ago.

My rating for the film was one popcorn less, but it's probably due to the different style of giving ratings (I'm extremely stingy by nature even though I'll actively try to change that a bit - the latest reminder of my issue has been the making of my top-25 movie list for the countdown and realizing that less than half of my current list has received full 5 stars). I mostly agree with that you wrote though.

For reasons unknown, I had very high expectations for this and it sat on my watchlist for years until I finally managed to see it. It ended up being a disappointment, but it has its clumsy charm. It's positively unpleasant to watch at times and that one murder is truly brutal. I think it's worth seeing even while it isn't especially good.
I hadn't even heard of it before watching it the first time. This was a second viewing and it seemed even more unfocused and amateurish this time round. Clumsy is a good work for it. It still has its grotesque charms though, even if its appeal is somewhat limited.

I hadn't even heard of it before watching it the first time. This was a second viewing and it seemed even more unfocused and amateurish this time round. Clumsy is a good work for it. It still has its grotesque charms though, even if its appeal is somewhat limited.
I think I've liked all of Bogliano's films to varying degrees. I gave this one 4 stars but I don't remember anything beyond the premise of the two kids disappearing on the hill. I'll give it another look one day
Captain's Log

(This film has absolutely no relation to the Poe story, and the poster has no relation to the film. )

Poe's short story is about a guy on an ocean voyage, trying to determine the contents of an oblong box he's found in the hold of the ship. The movie is about African witch doctors, crimson-hooded killers, body snatchers and premature burials. And zero ocean voyages.

This one is from 1969, so the tone is more serious than Corman's films, the murders are bloodier, and there's an occasional boob. So a much different vibe from the earlier films in the unofficial series, but still worth a look. Unfortunately, Lee & Price only share the screen for a brief moment, but there's a decent story here with some nice twists and turns. Amazon's print is a pan & scan, so I just rewatched my old dvd, but if you can overlook that I recommend this one.

Also, RIP to leading lady Hilary Dwyer who was a COVID victim earlier this year.
(A whopping 34-year age gap between Dwyer and Price, who are engaged in the film. For perspective: Vincent starred in The Invisible Man Returns five years before Hilary was born.)

As a younger person one of the first Poe stories I fell in love with was Hop-Frog. To my knowledge it's only been adapted to film twice. (If I'm wrong, hook me up!) First it was incorporated into Corman's Masque of the Red Death and then in 1992 Julie Taymor directed a version for the PBS series American Playhouse (under the title Fool's Fire). I had the good sense to record it back then and it's a good thing because I don't think it ever aired again and it hasn't been officially released anywhere. I even uploaded my recording to Youtube about 10 years ago, but it was taken down "at the request of Julie Taymor" according to the message I received. Over the years I tracked down a bootleg on dvd, but I'm happy to find that it's back on Youtube now. So if you're interested watch it while you can! (Link below)

Anyhow, this is mostly a straight retelling of the story, with a couple of embellishments. The only actors are the dwarf characters, everyone else is portrayed by puppets. There's some cool forced-perspective sets and the character designs are all great. I'm not a giant fan of Taymor's other films, but I'm sure we can agree that her visual style is on point. This is by far my favorite thing that she's done. (Haven't seen any of her Broadway stuff).

Back when it aired, much was made of the fact that it was recorded on High Definition Cameras. Not even sure what that meant in '92, but it's a shame that the only way to view it now is on a blurry internet file. But still, I've watched it a hundred times and highly recommend it if you're in the mood for something different.

The Werewolf - Low key 1956 B&W flick with a strong dramatic element. The lycanthrope in this one comes as a result of medical experimentation after two sketchy doctors "treat" a car accident victim. The film goes that extra mile to make him a sympathetic figure with a loving wife and young son. The small mountain town where the action takes place is also a different locale than is usually used. This isn't bad. Nothing substantial but decent enough. 75/100

Spent a lot of time at the old RT forums myself - mostly in off topic. Anyway, always good to see more horror fans.
What was your username there, btw?

Wrote a long-ish, rambling blog post about the Bela Lugosi movies I watched this month.

It’s a sad fact that Hollywood has never been very good in terms of diversity in front of or behind the camera (and still has a long way to go), and over the years has often limited opportunities or slotted actors in roles that play to their “otherness”. This weighed heavily on my mind as I watched White Zombie, as I don’t know if any actor has taken control of that otherness and used it to such unsettling effect as Bela Lugosi does so here. Lugosi’s presence is so distinct and his delivery so mannered that here as in Dracula, he seems not to be playing a villain so much as embodying evil and piercing through the artifice of the film around him. Lugosi’s performance also ties into the film’s racial politics, which are queasy as can be expected for a horror film about Haitian voodoo, but complex. A character decries local practices as “sins that even the devil would be ashamed of”, yet the plot centres on a foreign, colonial presence exploiting those practices, and it isn’t a stretch to read his act of turning his enemies into zombies as a metaphor for slavery.

The film exists in an eerie dream state between silent and sound film, and any imperfections only enhance that feeling. Dialogue and sound intrude jarringly into silence or music (particularly the shriek of a vulture, which never stops being unnerving), and any stilted acting brings to mind the zombies enslaved by the villain. The atmosphere is evocative and foreboding, with images that sear themselves into our mind. Victor Halperin would go on to direct a sequel, Revolt of the Zombies, which does not star Lugosi but recycles the same shot of his eyes. Lugosi’s absence is sorely felt, as is any semblance of the atmosphere or visual style present in this film, and its handling of race lacks the complexity offered by this earlier effort. The movie briefly perks up when the revolt in the title finally happens, producing a handful of interesting images, but for a movie that runs about an hour, it easily feels thrice as long.

I would be remiss to delve into Lugosi’s work without revisiting his iconic work in Tod Browning’s Dracula. I don’t know if I actually think the movie is any better this time around, but I did find myself more endeared by it. It’s hard to find interesting things to say about his work here, but while what we know of Lugosi’s life suggests that he probably wasn’t really a centuries old blood-drinking aristocrat, the lived-in quality of his performance might have you fooled. George Melford’s Spanish language version is a much more dynamic film on the whole (and is on the shortlist of my favourite vampire movies), yet there’s no denying Lugosi’s absence isn’t felt. (The wonders of modern technology have allowed the the transplant of Jim Carrey into The Shining and many of our beloved celebrities into hardcore pornography; I would argue that deepfaking Lugosi into the Melford Dracula is just as worthwhile an experiment.) It’s safe to say that he’s much better than the movie he’s in, the stage origins of which are apparent (characters are frequently shot staidly, centre frame; much of the action takes place in the same room with characters entering and exiting in lieu of actual incident), yet that stylistic stiffness yields great dividends when the action moves to Dracula’s castle, with those scenes having an aura of entombment.

Perhaps this approach was an extension of Browning’s view of the genre. Many vampire movies emphasize the sensual, striving to demonstrate the erotic allure of the condition; Browning’s film argues that the living dead lead a pretty dismal existence. “There are far worse things awaiting man than death.” An arguably dismissive attitude towards vampirism could be read into Mark of the Vampire, which reunites Lugosi and Browning. The movie is at times quite atmospheric, particularly when Lugosi is onscreen, yet in a way that feels fairly divorced from the energy of the film as a whole. (He also unfortunately has no dialogue until the end, although he makes the most of it.) If Dracula suffers in comparison to the stylishness of James Whale’s Frankenstein movies, then Mark of the Vampire could have used some of the tongue-in-cheek energy Whale brought to The Old Dark House.

The Devil Bat finds Lugosi working with a much smaller production by Producers Releasing Corporation, a Poverty Row studio. It’s not an especially dynamic work, featuring a not terribly convincing bat puppet and a scene where his character awkwardly confesses to his crimes and schemes up a murder on the fly to cover his tracks, yet his professionalism can’t be denied and he’s quite good in the role. Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla, which has a technically accurate but misleading title, finds his career in more obvious decline. Your enjoyment may depend heavily on your tolerance for Jerry Lewis style shrillness, yet once again Lugosi treats his role as serious as a heart attack. This movie is also of interest to fans of Duke Mitchell, showing him well before he developed the vulgar charisma of his wannabe Godfather characters in Massacre Mafia Style and Gone with the Pope. Towards the end of his life Lugosi came into the orbit of Ed Wood, considered by many to be the worst director of all time. The extent of Lugosi’s role in Plan 9 From Outer Space is well known, but his last speaking part came in Bride of the Monster. Neither film did much for me (Wood’s distinct brand of badness has little effect on me for whatever reason, and Bride didn’t seem all that worse than some of the other films I’ve seen this month, to be honest) but Lugosi makes the film just a bit more engaging whenever he’s onscreen.

Going back to his prime years, Murders in the Rue Morgue finds Lugosi on stage at a carnival sideshow, pleads with an unappreciative audience, and by extension, the viewer (“Heresy? Do they still burn men for heresy? Then burn me monsieur, light the fire! Do you think your little candle will outshine the flame of truth?”). There’s a sense of resentment here, of doing great yet unappreciated work in squalid conditions, that I suspect might have resonated with him over the course of his career. The out of place aristocracy he brings to the role makes him all the more magnetic and, at the same time, undeniably creepy, which makes the relatively explicit (by 1932 standards) content resonate. (A gruesome knife fight and a sexually charged torture scene are among the highlights spicing up the first act.) The movie definitely loses a little whenever Lugosi isn’t onscreen, yet Robert Florey’s visual direction, heavily influenced by German expressionism, is dynamic enough to always keep things engaging. This is the movie Lugosi made after walking away from Frankenstein, and while there are similarities in visual style, Lugosi’s performance here couldn’t be more different from Boris Karloff’s in the other film.

It’s hard to discuss Lugosi without mentioning Karloff, that other titan of early sound horror films. Karloff’s career ended with more dignity (his last film, Targets, offers a reflection on his career, the horror genre and violence in ‘60s America), yet going head to head in The Black Cat, Lugosi wins. Karloff is great, giving an eerily mannered, subtly monstrous performance, yet Lugosi is able to create a character that not only is implied to have the same capacity for monstrous behaviour, but get us to empathize with him. There’s an early line delivery that might be one of the best I’ve ever heard with its mixture of menace and deep psychological wounds. (I will quote it, but hearing it delivered by the man himself will send chills down your spine. ”Have you ever heard of Kurgaal? It is a prison below Omsk. Many men have gone there. Few have returned. I have returned. After fifteen years... I have returned.”) He grounds the twisted headspace that the movie inhabits, which Edgar G. Ulmer evokes with a bold visual style and uncanny art direction. The cumulative result is the best horror film I’ve seen in quite some time.

I watched The Lie, about a teen girl who kills her friend and her parents cover it up. Aside from some damn fine acting this was a pretty bland thriller with a really really stupid ending.

I also watched Driven, about an Uber driver who picks up a guy on a mission to kill demons. This low budget effort takes place completely in and around a car. And when I say low budget I mean couldn’t put a uniformed police officer in a police officer’s uniform kinda low budget. The writer and producer is also the star and she does a fine job but her male counterpart is terrible at comedy. Look, comedy is tough you guys. You can’t just write witty banter and call it a day. You gotta find an actor who can do comedy and editor who can get the timing right. This had neither of those things. I kinda felt bad because they were trying so hard.