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

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So what's all youse opinions on the Paranormal Activity franchise? I just rewatched the first one and, even though it's better than I remember (C instead of an F,) it's not crazy good. I know it's polarizing, and I'll watch the entire franchise again to see how it works when you look at it as a series, but I'm wondering what's the 411 right now on it all.
I liked the first Paranormal Activity enough, probably because I had very low expectations. I never saw any of the others because I felt like what worked in that film was exactly enough to sustain one film that the trick would only work once on me.



What serious Vincent Price horror movies do you recommend? I say serious because I've seen The Abominable Dr. Phibes, The Raven and Comedy of Terrors, each of which I liked, but I'm ready to see him in scary mode rather than funny mode. I have seen House on Haunted Hill.
While Price usually has a degree of camp in his horror that avoids "serious" as entirely accurate, these are my favorites that aim for horror more than comedy:

House of Wax
The Fly
House of Usher
Pit and the Pendulum
The Haunted Palace
Masque of the Red Death
Tomb of Ligeia
Witchfinder General
Scream And Scream Again
Theatre of Blood





The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw (2020)

My fellow folk-horror enthusiasts are encouraged to check this one out. Sort of a Rosemary's Baby-on-the-prairie kind of thing. Liked it a lot. There's one element of the plot that seems completely unnecessary and I've struggled to determine why it's in there, so I'd be interested to hear what others think. Not anything problematic or offensive, just an odd choice. Good stuff nevertheless.

(On Prime.)
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My Collection





The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw (2020)

My fellow folk-horror enthusiasts are encouraged to check this one out. Sort of a Rosemary's Baby-on-the-prairie kind of thing. Liked it a lot. There's one element of the plot that seems completely unnecessary and I've struggled to determine why it's in there, so I'd be interested to hear what others think. Not anything problematic or offensive, just an odd choice. Good stuff nevertheless.

(On Prime.)
Well, I can't watch any horror until the end of April but I'll put this on the Horror list.





The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw (2020)

My fellow folk-horror enthusiasts are encouraged to check this one out. Sort of a Rosemary's Baby-on-the-prairie kind of thing. Liked it a lot. There's one element of the plot that seems completely unnecessary and I've struggled to determine why it's in there, so I'd be interested to hear what others think. Not anything problematic or offensive, just an odd choice. Good stuff nevertheless.

(On Prime.)
Trying to pull another Final Exam, I see.



Trying to pull another Final Exam, I see.
hee hee!
I should also point out that the Letterboxd average is 2.9/5 so it seems I'm slightly more enthusiastic than my fellow film-lovers, as usual.



Trying to pull another Final Exam, I see.
Actually, it's not a spoiler so there's no harm in discussing it here. The premise of the film is similar to The Village, in that these are modern-day folks who've decided to withdraw from society and live off the grid, complete with archaic wardrobe / horse & carriage and so on. This is not a plot twist, it's explained in an opening crawl. So although it feels very much like a period piece, it's actually set in 1973 or something. And for the life of me I can't figure out why that choice was made. The year is not ever relevant to the plot as far as I can tell. Weird.





THE STUDENT OF PRAGUE (1913)

I've heard this described as the first feature-length horror film but "horror" is kind of stretching it. There's a Faustian bargain and a sinister doppelganger (see photo), which sort of recalls Poe's William Wilson, but there's very little here that anyone would consider "scary", not in 2021 anyway.
It's not quite as "stagey" as I was expecting, given the year, but it's still early days for cinema so there's no closeups and definitely none of the cool camera tricks of Nosferatu or wacky set design of Caligari. Expressionism was definitely a thing in painting by 1913 but I guess it hadn't quite made it to cinema yet. Even a scene shot in a cemetery manages to be completely non-spooky. So, interesting for historical reasons but I can't recommend it to the casual fan.

I've now got my eye on the 1926 version starring Conrad Veidt and directed by Henrik Galeen (writer of Nosferatu), which promises to be more interesting visually, at least.




Now THAT'S more like it!



So what's all youse opinions on the Paranormal Activity franchise? I just rewatched the first one and, even though it's better than I remember (C instead of an F,) it's not crazy good. I know it's polarizing, and I'll watch the entire franchise again to see how it works when you look at it as a series, but I'm wondering what's the 411 right now on it all.
Paranormal Activity: B-
Paranormal Activity 2: C-
Paranormal Activity 3: C

I think the first one was decent in that you can identify with the leads and what they're going through. But it felt like a franchise that shoulda stopped at one movie.





I used my Christmas money to buy some Paul Leni Blu-Rays, as one does. Waxworks and The Man Who Laughs are old favorites, but this was my first viewing of The Last Warning, and what a blast. Sometimes blind-buys pay off. Very similar to Leni's The Cat and the Canary and other "old dark house" films, but in this case it's an "old dark theater". An actor is murdered on stage during a performance, forcing the theater to shut down. Many years later the new owner decides to reunite the original cast to perform the same play, but sinister shenanigans soon begin. This was released in 1929 and Leni died later the same year which is a shame because his films are so FUN, especially compared to his fellow Germans of the era. Take a look at the trailer above to see what I mean.

Interesting fact I learned: At one point, Universal's plan was to have Leni direct Dracula, with Conrad Veidt in the lead role. Ironically, Veidt turned down the role because he wasn't confident in his ability to deliver his lines in English. Then of course Leni died which ended that. Now, I can't imagine a world without Lugosi's Dracula in it, but man what a different movie that would've been. Leni's camera movements were damn near Raimi-esque at times



and Veidt was a maniac.



Let those two go wild on a Charles Hall-designed Universal set and I'm getting aroused just thinking about it. Would it have been "better" than Browning's film? We'll never know, but it's an intriguing "what if" to ponder.



Haxan (Christensen, 1922)



I have to admit that I often find it difficult to get into silent films, but I had warmed up to the whole thing by the end, even if that's probably the least interesting section of the movie. Using a medieval text on witchcraft as reference, the movie takes a semi-documentary structure to examine the history of witchcraft and beliefs in the occult, using a mixture of sober examination and feverish re-enactment. The most affecting section takes place roughly in the middle, where we see a group of monks trying to pressure a young woman into confessing she's a witch, which is the longest of the narrative sections in the film and the only time it really tries to get you to identify with any characters. The final section takes place in modern day, with the movie arguing that what was called "witchcraft" in the past was likely undiagnosed mental illness and that support systems for those with mental illness are still far worse than they should be. Its compassion here is admirable, but part of me wishes it had dropped any of this structure, as the film at its best has a found object quality to it that's somewhat undermined by Christensen's attempt to apply any rigour to his examination of the subject matter. The images he produces carry an aura of genuine evil, helped in no small part by the nighttime shooting, rudimentary production design and his crazed, sexual performance as the devil (if you want something done right, do it yourself).


(might kick it up to
after I sit on it a bit more)





THE INITIATION (1984)


I'll start with my obligatory "I'm not a slasher guy" caveat.

I don't think I've heard many people talk about this one but I didn't hate it. Definitely middle-tier and I wouldn't call this a strong recommendation but those of you who are willing to watch every slasher ever made should find this enjoyable, I'd think. But again, I'm not a slasher guy. I never know what you people are gonna like or hate.

Some sorority pledges are given an initiation task, which is to break into a department store overnight and commit some minor theft. Of course some of the local bros crash the party too. Sex and killings ensue. Also, this happens -





But yeah, it's not groundbreaking and it contains at least two of the most eye-rollingly unnecessary boob shots, but I found the characters likable at least and the reveal of the killer's identity managed to surprise me. The setting of the empty department store makes for some nice atmosphere as well. Credits say "Introducing Daphne Zuniga" so this is one of her first roles and she makes for an appealing heroine.

So does nobody talk about this because you haven't seen it, or because you have seen it and it's not worth talking about?

(currently on Prime)





I used my Christmas money to buy some Paul Leni Blu-Rays, as one does. Waxworks and The Man Who Laughs are old favorites, but this was my first viewing of The Last Warning, and what a blast. Sometimes blind-buys pay off. Very similar to Leni's The Cat and the Canary and other "old dark house" films, but in this case it's an "old dark theater". An actor is murdered on stage during a performance, forcing the theater to shut down. Many years later the new owner decides to reunite the original cast to perform the same play, but sinister shenanigans soon begin. This was released in 1929 and Leni died later the same year which is a shame because his films are so FUN, especially compared to his fellow Germans of the era. Take a look at the trailer above to see what I mean.

Interesting fact I learned: At one point, Universal's plan was to have Leni direct Dracula, with Conrad Veidt in the lead role. Ironically, Veidt turned down the role because he wasn't confident in his ability to deliver his lines in English. Then of course Leni died which ended that. Now, I can't imagine a world without Lugosi's Dracula in it, but man what a different movie that would've been. Leni's camera movements were damn near Raimi-esque at times



and Veidt was a maniac.



Let those two go wild on a Charles Hall-designed Universal set and I'm getting aroused just thinking about it. Would it have been "better" than Browning's film? We'll never know, but it's an intriguing "what if" to ponder.
Now you've got me aroused.

I'm always amused at seeing Veidt in later films (like Casablanca and The Thief Of Bagdad and some other movie that was on the other night I was like, "Hey, that's Conrad Veidt"; I think it was All Through The Night) when he's kinda like just a regular actor, after you see Caligari and TMWL first.



Haxan (Christensen, 1922)



I have to admit that I often find it difficult to get into silent films, but I had warmed up to the whole thing by the end, even if that's probably the least interesting section of the movie. Using a medieval text on witchcraft as reference, the movie takes a semi-documentary structure to examine the history of witchcraft and beliefs in the occult, using a mixture of sober examination and feverish re-enactment. The most affecting section takes place roughly in the middle, where we see a group of monks trying to pressure a young woman into confessing she's a witch, which is the longest of the narrative sections in the film and the only time it really tries to get you to identify with any characters. The final section takes place in modern day, with the movie arguing that what was called "witchcraft" in the past was likely undiagnosed mental illness and that support systems for those with mental illness are still far worse than they should be. Its compassion here is admirable, but part of me wishes it had dropped any of this structure, as the film at its best has a found object quality to it that's somewhat undermined by Christensen's attempt to apply any rigour to his examination of the subject matter. The images he produces carry an aura of genuine evil, helped in no small part by the nighttime shooting, rudimentary production design and his crazed, sexual performance as the devil (if you want something done right, do it yourself).


(might kick it up to
after I sit on it a bit more)
Yeah, I agree the nightmarish qualities of the film, which are many and excellent, are a bit undermined by some of the later stuff. Like you, I would prefer if the whole thing was just a structureless nightmare.





THE INITIATION (1984)


I'll start with my obligatory "I'm not a slasher guy" caveat.

I don't think I've heard many people talk about this one but I didn't hate it. Definitely middle-tier and I wouldn't call this a strong recommendation but those of you who are willing to watch every slasher ever made should find this enjoyable, I'd think. But again, I'm not a slasher guy. I never know what you people are gonna like or hate.

Some sorority pledges are given an initiation task, which is to break into a department store overnight and commit some minor theft. Of course some of the local bros crash the party too. Sex and killings ensue. Also, this happens -





But yeah, it's not groundbreaking and it contains at least two of the most eye-rollingly unnecessary boob shots, but I found the characters likable at least and the reveal of the killer's identity managed to surprise me. The setting of the empty department store makes for some nice atmosphere as well. Credits say "Introducing Daphne Zuniga" so this is one of her first roles and she makes for an appealing heroine.

So does nobody talk about this because you haven't seen it, or because you have seen it and it's not worth talking about?

(currently on Prime)
I've been considering watching this movie for at least a decade and I remember when it was around when I was a teenager (though I don't think I watched it), but I've just never pulled the trigger on it. I'll add it for either May or September.



Now you've got me aroused.

I'm always amused at seeing Veidt in later films (like Casablanca and The Thief Of Bagdad and some other movie that was on the other night I was like, "Hey, that's Conrad Veidt"; I think it was All Through The Night) when he's kinda like just a regular actor, after you see Caligari and TMWL first.
hee hee...Yeah I went down a rabbit hole of what-ifs when I read about the Dracula thing. Assuming a Veidt/Leni Dracula would be much livelier than Browning's, and popular enough to spawn the '30s horror boom, what would that mean for Universal horror afterward? Safe bet that things like The Mummy would have been less dreary, for one thing. And forever after we'd all put on a fake German accent when pretending to be a vampire, instead of the Lugosi thing. And what would their Renfield have been like??? Fun to think about.



hee hee...Yeah I went down a rabbit hole of what-ifs when I read about the Dracula thing. Assuming a Veidt/Leni Dracula would be much livelier than Browning's, and popular enough to spawn the '30s horror boom, what would that mean for Universal horror afterward? Safe bet that things like The Mummy would have been less dreary, for one thing. And forever after we'd all put on a fake German accent when pretending to be a vampire, instead of the Lugosi thing. And what would their Renfield have been like??? Fun to think about.
God, I remember the first time I sat through the 1932 The Mummy all the way through as an adult and you are right, it is dreary.
I mean, I was like, is this it? Really? Where's the ******* Mummy? Where's anything?



God, I remember the first time I sat through the 1932 The Mummy all the way through as an adult and you are right, it is dreary.
I mean, I was like, is this it? Really? Where's the ******* Mummy? Where's anything?
Yeah, that sinking feeling when you realize the film is almost over and you've seen all the mummy footage in the first five minutes.



Yeah, that sinking feeling when you realize the film is almost over and you've seen all the mummy footage in the first five minutes.
I'll never get over it.


The Hammer The Mummy may be kinda hammy and **** but at least they gave you a ****ing Mummy.
The Universal Mummy movies weren't that great, either, The Mummy's Hand particularly pissing me off, but I thought The Mummy's Curse was pretty good and, honestly, Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy was as good as most of the other Universal Mummy movies but also funny.



The Universal Mummy movies weren't that great, either, The Mummy's Hand particularly pissing me off, but I thought The Mummy's Curse was pretty good and, honestly, Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy was as good as most of the other Universal Mummy movies but also funny.
I have to confess I've watched the Mummy sequels far more times than they deserve to be watched. You're right, they're not great, but they're comfort food for me.
My favorite moment out of the entire series doesn't even involve a mummy, in fact. (Curse, when the dead girl crawls out of the swamp.)