2020 Halloween Challenge

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28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Buffy The Vampire Slayer




Not much to say about this one, it has some charms to it, but with more and more rewatches, the charm kind of fades. I LOVE the show, it's my favourite show of all-time and it's interesting to go back and see the lore change a bit from the film to the series.

The performances are hit and miss, I think Kristy Swanson does a good job in the role and Luke Perry (RIP) is particularly funny, something you don't normally see from him. Paul Reubens gets some laughs and David Arquette does a decent vampire, the rest kind of suck (no pun intended). Yes, even Rutger Hauer fails to generate any genuine fear or terror.

The dialogue is pretty on point with the tongue in cheek comedy, self-aware attitude. I do wish Donald Sutherland added some kind of flare, he seems to be sleepwalking in the role a little. The fight sequences are a little slow and the vampires just kind of fall to the ground. It's an okay movie to watch around Halloween time and nostalgia will help this film stay alive, good or bad. My rating clearly shows that I'm wearing those biased nostalgia glasses.
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Suspect's Reviews








October 10th - 29. A Witchcraft/Satanic Film


Black Sunday by Mario Bava might be his best film, visually it's a remarkable piece of gothic horror. We get the opening scene where the Witch is established and then the rest of the film takes place in a Castle. Barbara Steele plays a duel role as hero and villain and she's really good in both parts.



Many of the scares here are viseral and minor which makes them hit harder to me. This one qualifies for four different picks (Witchcraft, Vampire, Bava, Screen Queen).









October 11th - 14. A Linnea Quigley/Jamie Lee Curtis/Barbara Steele film


Silent Scream(1979) came a year after Halloween and it features scream queen Barbara Steele as a woman renting out her home to college students. It really shouldn't work it's got a no-name director and it's a ripoff but I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. The film focuses on mystery interweaves flashbacks and gives us the audience some nice twists. I won't reveal the killer but they turn out to give a hell of good performance and generally left me unsettled and unnerved.






October 12th - A French Language horror film


Climax (2018) Gasper Noe understands horror as he unleashes his latest nightmare and yeah you're going to need to watch this film several times to get everything that happens. A Dance Troupe ends up getting spiked with LSD and what follows is a nightmare inducing 30 minutes of realistic hell. Noe breaks as many taboos as possible and even though you can't really keep the characters straight that just adds to the rewatch factor. The hardest thing about the film is how grounded the drug trip feels...you don't get these huge set pieces or a clear narrative. What you witness is chaos...and it's glorious..












October 13th - An Edgar Allen Poe Adaptation


Whats better than one Edgar Allen Poe adaptation...but three Adaptation from acclaimed filmmakers Louis Malle, and Federico Fellini (and Jane Fonda had a friend do another one). Spirits of the Dead(1968)


Each of the directors took a different approach to the work. Fellini was more inspired by Poe so made a number of changes placing it in a contemporary setting. It works really well as a short and makes me wish Fellini would have made more shorts because he can take a single idea and create this incredible world with fantastic imagery.



Malle gives what feels like the strictest adaption of the story where a man kills his twin. It feels very poe-ish but it's not a particularly good story. Alain Delon and he's a good looking lead.


The first one is just a Jane Fonda doing a Roger Corman version of Poe. It's fine for what it is...you've got these teases of sexuality that feel riskier than they really are. The story falls apart at the end.


I'm a little surprised Criterion made this one but I guess for the visuals I'd give it a C- very skipable.





October 12th - A French Language horror film


Climax (2018) Gasper Noe understands horror as he unleashes his latest nightmare and yeah you're going to need to watch this film several times to get everything that happens. A Dance Troupe ends up getting spiked with LSD and what follows is a nightmare inducing 30 minutes of realistic hell. Noe breaks as many taboos as possible and even though you can't really keep the characters straight that just adds to the rewatch factor. The hardest thing about the film is how grounded the drug trip feels...you don't get these huge set pieces or a clear narrative. What you witness is chaos...and it's glorious..


I thought some scenes in the first half dragged, but I really liked it overall.



I'd have a problem with the first act if it was 2hr movie but it was only 97 minutes. You need to introduce the characters some way and that was the best way.





The Pit and the Pendulum, 1961 (A Vincent Price film)

I quite enjoyed this deeply suspenseful mystery/horror. A man named Francis (John Kerr) goes to a far-flung estate to understand the death of his sister, Elizabeth (Barbara Steele). He meets the sister's distraught widower, Nicholas (Price), Nicholas' sister Elizabeth, and a doctor friend of the family. The question hanging over the film is: is Elizabeth really dead?

There are two layers to the film. The first is Francis trying to understand his sister's death and slowly gleaning more and more information from the residents of the estate. The second is the tenuous mental health of Nicholas, who having suffered from some serious childhood trauma (related to his father's work as an Inquisitor) is not taking Elizabeth's death well at all.

It's a well-worn trope in horror films to slowly watch a woman go insane--it was kind of interesting to see a gender flip where it is a male character who is grappling with reality and portrayed as being more fragile. The film drops just enough hints and moments of ambiguity to make you wonder if it might be an act, and it adds a nice level of tension.

The movie itself looks fantastic--with very dramatic sets (the torture chamber being the obvious standout) and costumes. The actors all do a really good job. Francis might be a bit bland--mainly serving as an audience surrogate to the more interesting residents of the castle--but you are invested enough in his mission to root for him.

I haven't read the original short story, and so I can't comment at all on the film's fidelity to the source material. But despite knowing roughly the major set-piece toward which it was heading, I was very engaged by the twists and turns in the plot. Also, this is the second film in a row with Barbara Steele facing down possible premature burial! I basically have no complaints. This was a great October movie!

I did have one plot point question that I'm hoping someone can answer. MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS QUESTION!!!!!

WARNING: spoilers below
As Elizabeth is not dead, who was the screaming corpse in the coffin? Was that meant to be the body of Nicholas's mother? I was confused by that element.





I'd have a problem with the first act if it was 2hr movie but it was only 97 minutes. You need to introduce the characters some way and that was the best way.

I appreciated that the movie took some time to introduce the characters to us before the horror started. I just didn't like the way Noe introduced them to us as much as he did. For example, fading to black as you cut back and forth between the various characters during conversation is cool and all. I just didn't seem to find it as cool as Noe apparently did given how prolonged that sequence was. However, I still like the movie quite a lot and I'm generally a fan of Noe.



the film's fidelity to the source material.
LOL

I did have one plot point question that I'm hoping someone can answer. MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS QUESTION!!!!!

WARNING: spoilers below
As Elizabeth is not dead, who was the screaming corpse in the coffin? Was that meant to be the body of Nicholas's mother? I was confused by that element.
WARNING: spoilers below
You know, that has never occurred to me after a million viewings. Mom was walled up alive, so in order to retrieve her body they'd have to tear the wall down without Nicholas knowing about it. I guess it's possible they murdered a stranger and planted her there, but even so the coffin was walled up as well. Hmmm... I planned on re-watching this month, so I'll be on the lookout for any explanation, if there is one.

Anyhow, I just wanted to add that I really love that moment when Nicholas "flips" upon discovering Elizabeth is alive. One of my favorite Price performances.
Glad to hear you liked it. Probably my favorite Corman/Poe film, even if it's not the "best" one.
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Captain's Log





5. A French Language horror film
THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1964)

I coincidentally chose another adaptation for tonight's viewing. This is mostly faithful to the story and therefore runs a brief 37 minutes. Some excellent b&w cinematography and some gnarly rat-related moments. Good one.



Hey, we can't all be watching fancy French 37 minute faithful adaptations!

WARNING: spoilers below
You know, that has never occurred to me after a million viewings. Mom was walled up alive, so in order to retrieve her body they'd have to tear the wall down without Nicholas knowing about it. I guess it's possible they murdered a stranger and planted her there, but even so the coffin was walled up as well. Hmmm... I planned on re-watching this month, so I'll be on the lookout for any explanation, if there is one.

Anyhow, I just wanted to add that I really love that moment when Nicholas "flips" upon discovering Elizabeth is alive. One of my favorite Price performances.
Glad to hear you liked it. Probably my favorite Corman/Poe film, even if it's not the "best" one.
Glad I didn't miss something obvious.



Buffy The Vampire Slayer




Not much to say about this one, it has some charms to it, but with more and more rewatches, the charm kind of fades. I LOVE the show, it's my favourite show of all-time and it's interesting to go back and see the lore change a bit from the film to the series.

The performances are hit and miss, I think Kristy Swanson does a good job in the role and Luke Perry (RIP) is particularly funny, something you don't normally see from him. Paul Reubens gets some laughs and David Arquette does a decent vampire, the rest kind of suck (no pun intended). Yes, even Rutger Hauer fails to generate any genuine fear or terror.

The dialogue is pretty on point with the tongue in cheek comedy, self-aware attitude. I do wish Donald Sutherland added some kind of flare, he seems to be sleepwalking in the role a little. The fight sequences are a little slow and the vampires just kind of fall to the ground. It's an okay movie to watch around Halloween time and nostalgia will help this film stay alive, good or bad. My rating clearly shows that I'm wearing those biased nostalgia glasses.
It's true, this is a disappointment and that disappointment is magnified by the fact that we actually somehow get lameness out of the great Rutger Hauer. Also, Donald Sutherland famously hated making the movie and was difficult to work with on this one.








October 10th - 29. A Witchcraft/Satanic Film


Black Sunday by Mario Bava might be his best film, visually it's a remarkable piece of gothic horror. We get the opening scene where the Witch is established and then the rest of the film takes place in a Castle. Barbara Steele plays a duel role as hero and villain and she's really good in both parts.



Many of the scares here are viseral and minor which makes them hit harder to me. This one qualifies for four different picks (Witchcraft, Vampire, Bava, Screen Queen).


Big fan here. The dubbing is pretty brutal in this one but otherwise its visual charms are just too great to drag down. Maybe one should watch it with the sound off and some cool, spooky music playing on the stereo.



Black Sunday by Mario Bava might be his best film...
I think I prefer Kill, Baby, Kill but Black Sunday is #2 on my list. I also must admit that I haven't seen too many of his films.

And I guess I'll need to give Gaspar Noe another chance after you giving 5 stars to Climax.
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I think I prefer Kill, Baby, Kill but Black Sunday is #2 on my list.
And where does Blood And Black Lace fall on your list?

PS- I am also a big fan of KBK.





A system of cells interlinked
Up to seven films that don't qualify for the challenge categories. I am pretty terrible at the challenge this year. Once my wife and I get Stella to bed, I am usually pretty well toast for the night, and my wife has been choosing the flicks to watch. She doesn't seem to care about completing the challenge, and I am too tired to do battle over a film choice. Technically, this flick would qualify for a category or two

Watched Annabelle Comes Home last night. I dislike the first Annabelle film, but the sequels are pretty entertaining. A fairly large portion of this one is carried solely by the young actors in the film, and they all turn in good performances. In fact, the pre-credit opening with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga might be the weakest section of the film. The film makers also nail the period pretty well, and kudos for including the Badfinger song.

Annabelle Comes Home

Dauberman, 2019



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