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Victim of The Night
Public Service Bulletin

Wooley is turning 50 (zoinks!) at midnight on Halloween.
Therefore, this year's movie selections will mostly be a Greatest Hits, if you will, an opportunity to watch the best or nearly the best (I give myself some leeway) of what I've seen over my first 50 Halloweens.
So don't expect to much adventure from my half of the thread. I don't feel like I can afford to take chances watching something bad or, even worse, mediocre this month, so it's really only gonna be films I am very fond of, with one or two exceptions to pick up movies that were always recommended to me that I never saw.
So, with that said, I will kick off with a film from probably the shortest list of Horror Canon there is.

Be right back.



Well, in fairness, neither the original Wolfman or Mummy are particularly that great either.


Not without their moments. But.........compared to Frankenstein, or Creature, or Invisible Man...they are kind of third tier. Even Browning's underwhelming Dracula is better.


I need to get around to Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, as it is probably the biggest blind spot I have in my horror watching. I actually don't think I've seen any version of this before.



I thought The Wolfman was sort of unfortunate but not without certain charms. I thought Benicio Del Toro was the perfect choice to play Larry Talbot given that Talbot will always be defined by the hang-dog pathos of Lon Chaney Jr.... and Del Toro can do that just a lot better than Chaney.
I genuinely liked The Invisible Man. I feel like it's almost unfortunate that it has to exist in the same "universe" as the other mis-steps Universal has made so far.
I love gothic horror and The Wolfman fits. Anthony Hopkins is always amazing. Benecio delToro did a great job. Hugh Weaving is amazing as well.

The Invisible Man, I like Elizabeth Moss, hate Oliver Jackson-Cohen and am a huge fan of Leigh Whannell. I thought it was a unique take on the story.

The Mummy, not a huge fan of Tom Cruise, only really like Risky Business and Legend. Not much of a Russell Crowe fan either other than Gladiator. With this rewatch, I have gained a bit more respect for the film. Plus I love Ancient Egypt and Mummificatiin.

I did a presentation in trade college on Mummfication.



Victim of The Night
Well, in fairness, neither the original Wolfman or Mummy are particularly that great either.


Not without their moments. But.........compared to Frankenstein, or Creature, or Invisible Man...they are kind of third tier. Even Browning's underwhelming Dracula is better.


I need to get around to Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, as it is probably the biggest blind spot I have in my horror watching. I actually don't think I've seen any version of this before.
Fair point.

My favorite Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is actually the 1920, John Barrymore version. After that, it's probably a bit of a toss-up for me between the Fredric March and Spencer Tracy versions. I actually thought Tracy seemed like a terrible mis-cast for this but he does a surprisingly good job, particularly when he and and Ingrid Bergman lean pretty hard into the dynamics of an abusive relationship later in the picture (I think this theme was present in all three versions).



Victim of The Night

For a period in my teens, A Nightmare On Elm Street supplanted The Rocky Horror Picture Show as my favorite movie of all time. Not favorite Horror movie. Favorite movie.
I remember my older brother, who was already developing a reputation as a dangerous badass at 15, came home from the theater shaken. He couldn't go to bed, my mom had to go sit with him for a while, and he slept with the light on for several days. And this was a guy who was known for beating peoples' asses and carrying a gun.
And then it came to HBO and I got to see it. And I stopped counting how many times I watched it at 24. No joke. It was so imaginative, so completely out of left field, and so damn scary, I just couldn't imagine anything quite like it. In that way, it was like Rocky Horror.
Like a lot of movies I loved when I was younger, this movie stopped really working for me when I hit my late 20s to early 30s. But the last time I saw it, I was reminded that it was a helluva thing. But it's been at least 5 years.
So here we go.



For starters, I think it might be the best title in Horror Movie History. I remember when it came out and there was something just so matter-of-fact about it that gave everyone the chills just hearing its name.
And honestly, I think the opening scene is a mini-masterpiece and is better than the opening of Scream and itís not close. There I said it.




The simple, grimy, DIY way that this total stranger (you don't get to see anything but his legs and hands in the scene) makes this terrifying new murder-weapon, which obviously has only one purpose, is such a grim and gritty way to start the film, especially the way the picture is framed smaller within the larger frame-size and then expands out to film the frame at the end.
And you don't know that you're in Tina's (who you haven't even met yet) dream so the sudden appearance of a bleating lamb in the dark, wet hallway...


Chilling. Plus, one thing I really enjoyed was how Craven sort of subverts the slow-running-victim trope because it's a nightmare and Amanda Wyss (Tina) really exaggerates it so the way she runs in the dream, like her legs donít work right or she can only take tiny steps, reminds one of like what happens to me when I try to run in nightmares, where I canít seem to get good traction and canít run nearly as fast as I should be able to and need to. ****ing terrifying. He nailed that.
Now I will make another bold statement: The scene from 12:12 to 18:25 is the scariest scene in movie history or Iíll hear what is. I remember the first time I saw it, it was like I couldn't believe what I was seeing. People who came to this movie later, especially after they'd seen one of the sequels, have no idea what they missed, how shocked everyone was by it. From the very subtle moment when the stranger (at this point in the movie, neither the victims nor the audience have any idea who Freddy Krueger is) tossing rocks at the window to get Tina's attention tosses the last one with such threatening intensity that he cracks the window like a bullet...


... to cutting off his own fingers just to show her how helpless and hopeless her situation is...


... and concluding with one of the most violent, seemingly impossible deaths in movie history. It's one for the ages. And let's not forget that this (practical effect, no less) happens during that same scene...


And the music during this scene is unbelievably frightening... and then when itís silent instead!!! Aigh!
Yet another bold statement that I'll stand behind: Iíll stack this score up against Carpenterís Halloween score any day of the week. Iím telliní ya, this score.
By the time the movie actually slowed down a bit, I wondered, "Jesus, does this movie have literally three maybe even FOUR of the scariest scenes in movie history? Is that possible? And I checked and I was only like 45 minutes in.
The good news is, the fun doesn't end there. The movie keeps going and really is just brilliant. The scene where she goes to sleep and Depp is supposed to watch her is just so clever from start to finish, the way Craven has conceived it and then executes it, I actually had to think about all the parts of it and how flawlessly they worked.
I also thought a lot of the writing in general was very good. For example, after Nancy has the dream where the Hall Pass Monitor turns out to be Freddy in disguise, when she wakes up screaming and says she'll go right home, the teacher (Lin Shaye! I love that she's in this!) hesitantly says to her, ďYouíll need aÖ a hall pass.Ē Just so clever.
And after Freddy tells Nancy, "I'm your boyfriend now", a genuinely sinister quip that would end up being turned into the silliness of the mid and later films of the franchise but is just mean-spirited here, we see what has to be another of the most spectacular death scenes in film history, again in the same film.
ďYou wonít need a stretcher up there, you need a mop.Ē
(The blood dripping down through the ceiling? Are you kidding me?)
ďWhatís the coroner got to say?Ē
ďHeís been in the john pukiní since he saw it.Ē

And I've hardly hit on all the incredibly imaginative, creative, and terrifying scenes in this film.
Like Nancy's best friend calling to her from inside her own body-bag!


Or Freddy coming for Nancy when she just nods off in the bathtub for a moment.


The movie is just chock full of imagination, creativity, and terror.
I'll drop a few of my notes here and then summarize:
John Saxon was such an underrated actor.
On the flip side, what the hell happened to Ronee Blakley? She was lauded by critics after Nashville, nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe yet in this film her performance is so poor it cheapens the picture.
Evil Dead on the TV?!!! How have I missed this as many times as I've seen this movie?!
Oh my god, the actress who plays Nancy (who is supposed to be 17) has a line in the movie where she sees herself in the mirror and says, ďOh god, I look twenty years old.Ē This was an in-joke by Wes Craven because Heather Langenkamp was, in fact, twenty years old.
Iím definitely gonna have to move Heather Langenkampís Nancy way up my Final Girls list. While an early scene that is completely dubbed makes it seem like the acting in this film is bad, that disappears (other than Blakley) once the movie moves indoors and they have mics, and Langenkamp really does give a helluva performance of resilience for a Horror movie. She belongs in the conversation.

Finally, I think it's worth mentioning that this movie came out of nowhere, made by the creator of Last House On The Left and The Hills Have Eyes (two rough films) for $1.1M. And you get a movie that is simultaneously as frightening and violent as any movie up to its time and also incredibly imaginative, creative, and well-executed.
This is one of those movies, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Halloween, thatís stamped in time for good reason. So creative, so imaginative. A Nightmare On Elm Street is dozens of times better than any of its sequels.
Freddy is so much more malicious and terrifying in this (and in Freddyís Revenge) than he is in all the other silly-ass movies. Itís night and day. And I feel sorry for anyone who saw those first, because here he is, without a doubt, the most vicious killer in Horror history, not a wise-cracking clown.
So. Is A Nightmare On Elm Street the scariest Horror movie of all time?
It certainly makes its case. And I'll certainly hear it. I can tell you that I came away feeling that it was as seminal as ever and a major god in the Horror pantheon.


(Is it flawless, no. Is the positive so overpowering that the negative doesn't matter? Yes.)



Victim of The Night
PS - I do not intend for all of my write-ups this month to be this long but I have a long history with this film and I was really, really struck by how good it really is. I actually still didn't get to everything I had to say about it but if anyone asks I'll opine some more.



The trick is not minding
I remember ANoES when it was first released way back in 1984. I was 7 years old and just learning about movies, as it was the year Ghostbusters came out, which also captured my imagination. I was only just learning about horror, as I was learning about Friday the13th as well around that time.

After watching Freddyís introduction to the world, on vihs, I refused to go to sleep immediately afterwards. He was waiting for me, you see. Freddy. And that iconic glove. This was in Oklahoma at the time. I was convinced, finally, that people like Freddy didnít exist. So I begrudgingly went to bed, with one eye open of course

One year later we moved to Tallahassee, Florida, and learned about Ted Bundy there (he had struck there about 7 years prior at FSU, not more than a 20 minute drive from our house). 7 year old me going on 8 was then convinced that if Bundy, who for some reason was like this supernatural creature to me, existed, then Freddy had to as well. Just in time for the sequel.

After that, I refused to believe that Freddy couldnít exist and was terrified of him, Michael, and Jason, all iconic villains of their respective franchises that took up the bulk of my movie watching Experience in the late 1980ís. I couldnít separate the fact that fictional supernatural beings were in no way comparable to Bundy. *

Anyways, Itís a nostalgic favorite of mine.


* growing up in Tallahassee from 1985-1991, the town was still recovering from his attacks. My mother refused to let my older sister out late, and when he was finally executed, we were all gathered inside the living room watching everyone outside the prison holding up signs, including the famous ďFry Bundy, FryĒ sign that still remains locked in my memory. 11 year old me learned monsters did exist, but were actually quite mortal after all.



Victim of The Night
I remember ANoES when it was first released way back in 1984. I was 7 years old and just learning about movies, as it was the year Ghostbusters came out, which also captured my imagination. I was only just learning about horror, as I was learning about Friday the13th as well around that time.

After watching Freddyís introduction to the world, on vihs, I refused to go to sleep immediately afterwards. He was waiting for me, you see. Freddy. And that iconic glove. This was in Oklahoma at the time. I was convinced, finally, that people like Freddy didnít exist. So I begrudgingly went to bed, with one eye open of course

One year later we moved to Tallahassee, Florida, and learned about Ted Bundy there (he had struck there about 7 years prior at FSU, not more than a 20 minute drive from our house). 7 year old me going on 8 was then convinced that if Bundy, who for some reason was like this supernatural creature to me, existed, then Freddy had to as well. Just in time for the sequel.

After that, I refused to believe that Freddy couldnít exist and was terrified of him, Michael, and Jason, all iconic villains of their respective franchises that took up the bulk of my movie watching Experience in the late 1980ís. I couldnít separate the fact that fictional supernatural beings were in no way comparable to Bundy. *

Anyways, Itís a nostalgic favorite of mine.


* growing up in Tallahassee from 1985-1991, the town was still recovering from his attacks. My mother refused to let my older sister out late, and when he was finally executed, we were all gathered inside the living room watching everyone outside the prison holding up signs, including the famous ďFry Bundy, FryĒ sign that still remains locked in my memory. 11 year old me learned monsters did exist, but were actually quite mortal after all.
Jesus, man. That's pretty heavy.



Victim of The Night
Here is the scene I talked about earlier.
I would have preferred that this started with the part where he throws rocks at the window, but I didn't see one that included that.
Keep in mind, again, that at this point in the film, the world has not yet "met" Freddy Kreuger.




The trick is not minding
Jesus, man. That's pretty heavy.
Next Iíll go into watching the Challenger explode on television while in elementary school. They gathered us all into a room to watch it on the news. I canít recall if we watched the live launch and subsequent explosion, or if it was just being replayed constantly for us. I wasÖ.9? Imagine watching a space shuttle explode on TV and the teachers all being upset.

Man. So much happened in Florida during those years.



I, of course, have never really consider Nightmare as a top shelf horror film. Certainly iconic. Certainly of lots of value. And certainly full of good moments. But it just doesn't cross that line for me. A solid 7/10, for those who think rankings matter.


And, I also of course, completely understand that for anyone who loves the original that the sequels are a sacrilege. Because of course they are. They puncture holes in the all too serious mythos of the first film. If I loved the original I would consider them the enemy as well. But, as it stands, what I like about the sequels is they make the original premise malleable to whatever kind of movie they want to make. And while absolutely none of them could really be considered as a serious horror film, they all had a solid template for weird imaginations to run wild.



For me Dream Warriors is always going to be unbeatable. It's very much the kind of horror film that shouldn't appeal to me. It is a definitely crowd pleaser. And it is basically what turned Freddy Krueger into the kind of icon that could have schilled for Kentucky Fried Chicken if they asked him to. But, maybe it was because of my age, my much more forgiving pre teen years, but this was the kind of junk I wanted from my trashy pulp horror at the time.


That said, it's probably been over five years since I saw the original. So I know it's time for a rewatch. And the likelihood my opinion will ever change is minimal, as I've been watcing this film irregularly since I was 8 years old. But its certainly no skin off of my teeth to do it again. And, as said, its not like I actually have anything against it. A 7/10 (whatever that means) is a more than respectible score (whatever that means) for me.



Victim of The Night
I, of course, have never really consider Nightmare as a top shelf horror film. Certainly iconic. Certainly of lots of value. And certainly full of good moments. But it just doesn't cross that line for me. A solid 7/10, for those who think rankings matter.


And, I also of course, completely understand that for anyone who loves the original that the sequels are a sacrilege. Because of course they are. They puncture holes in the all too serious mythos of the first film. If I loved the original I would consider them the enemy as well. But, as it stands, what I like about the sequels is they make the original premise malleable to whatever kind of movie they want to make. And while absolutely none of them could really be considered as a serious horror film, they all had a solid template for weird imaginations to run wild.



For me Dream Warriors is always going to be unbeatable. It's very much the kind of horror film that shouldn't appeal to me. It is a definitely crowd pleaser. And it is basically what turned Freddy Krueger into the kind of icon that could have schilled for Kentucky Fried Chicken if they asked him to. But, maybe it was because of my age, my much more forgiving pre teen years, but this was the kind of junk I wanted from my trashy pulp horror at the time.


That said, it's probably been over five years since I saw the original. So I know it's time for a rewatch. And the likelihood my opinion will ever change is minimal, as I've been watcing this film irregularly since I was 8 years old. But its certainly no skin off of my teeth to do it again. And, as said, its not like I actually have anything against it. A 7/10 (whatever that means) is a more than respectible score (whatever that means) for me.
Ya know, it's funny, when I went to see The Dream Warriors in the theater I was absolutely furious. Like insane with rage. I could not believe they had so utterly ruined a great thing.
I went and saw The Dream Master a few years later and it didn't really piss me off nearly as much because that ship had already sailed. I was saddened because I thought they might try to undo some of what I considered the damage that Dream Warriors had done. But they were embracing it.
Amusingly, I went back and watched like 4, 5, and 6 or whatever last Spring and I found them enjoyable on their own terms, which are to me, that A Nightmare On Elm Street and, to a much lesser degree, Freddy's Revenge are completely separate films from Dream Warriors and on. I consider it like a reboot or something and not anything that has anything to do with actual ANOES and therefore can be taken as a sort of amusing parody or something.
But I still can't watch Dream Warriors. I just get so angry.



Victim of The Night
Viy is in shudder, but dubbed. Is it available anywhere in its original language?
I would have sworn the Shudder version used to be subtitled. That's a shame, I guess they had to switch prints or whatever. Streaming's a bitch.



Even as a fan, I get it.


When I think about it though, I'm actually way more due for a Dream Warriors rewatch as I don't think I've seen it in over twenty years.



Victim of The Night
I mean, it's basically Evil Dead so... or wait, maybe Army Of Darkness.



The trick is not minding
Viy is the best. I also can't imagine that's one that would be horrible dubbed.
Yeah, youíre probably right. Iím just being picky, which is weird considering the amount of Giallo and Kaiju films Iíve watched dubbed.