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

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Village of the Damned - I saw this shortly after it came out on video and it barely registered with me. I don't recall hating it or anything, it just exists and paying any attention to it seems optional.


Vampires - I hated what I saw of this, which was about half. It didn't even feel like a John Carpenter movie. It felt like some terrible 90's television show about vampire hunters. I'm almost surprised the cast of Dawson's Creek didn't make an appearance in it. As for Woods, I agree wholeheartedly both with the fact that he is a disgusting pig of a person, but one of the most magnetic screen presences of the 80's. I love him as an actor as much as I hate him as a human being.


Ghosts of Mars - I didn't think this is quite as bad as most people say. It's just really bad, not the end of the world. While I was watching it, I felt John Carpenter almost didn't want people to like it. It feels intentionally boring. It is also incredibly ugly to look at. But I did sort of like some of the ideas in it. I think if he had made this concept into a movie during the early to mid 80's, it would probably have been a mid tier Carpenter. As it is, having made it when his soul had already turned to dust, it is one of his worst.


The Ward - Haven't seen it.



#youshouldregretit

I'll forgive you for recognizing how Woods' real life sliminess makes him so authentically slimy in film that he's all too watchable.

I just recently watched the Onion Field and that may be his finest and sleaziest hour.
I'm a Salvador fan.



Since we're tossing out Carpenter viewpoints on a few titles:

Village of the Damned- Decent remake of a better film. If Hamill had played the lead instead of Reeve, it could've been a contender.

Prince of Darkness- Its ambition and ideas go a long way in what is perhaps Carpenter's slowest build up. I wouldn't blame anyone for disliking it but it's just such a neat, atypical and weird flick. Alice Cooper stabs a dude with a bike!!!

Vampires- Woods, Baldwin, Lee, a bloodbath and a novel idea for how to slay vampires in the opening act. I recall it fizzling but I want to rewatch it.

Ghosts of Mars- Ridiculous, sloppy, miscast and verges on self parody. I have a lot of fun with this one and think Carpenter was too.

The Ward- Bleh plot with an okay sounds on a tired plot, but entertaining due to Carpenter's craft and the cast.

I don't think there's a single Carpenter film I outright dislike. Still need to see Elvis and Pro-Life to completely finish his filmography though.



I'm a Salvador fan.
I've added it to the docket.

Have you seen The Onion Field? I'd not even heard of it (bad title holds it back, I think) but he and the movie blew me away. I'd place it alongside Casino, Videodrome and Hercules as peak Woods.



I've added it to the docket.

Have you seen The Onion Field? I'd not even heard of it (bad title holds it back, I think) but he and the movie blew me away. I'd place it alongside Casino, Videodrome and Hercules as peak Woods.
Oof, The Onion Field is so intense.



It's been ages since I've seen The Onion Field, but I remember thinking his performance was much better than the movie around it.



I've added it to the docket.

Have you seen The Onion Field? I'd not even heard of it (bad title holds it back, I think) but he and the movie blew me away. I'd place it alongside Casino, Videodrome and Hercules as peak Woods.

Salvador is definitely a keeper.


As for OF, funny you mention the title not being good, because I remember it was the title that made me annoyingly demand to see it as a child. There was just a plainness to it that seemed almost mysterious. Like, what could possibly happen in an onion field that you would name your movie after it?



Guys, so many quality James Woods spasgasms: Against All Odds, Best Seller, Cop, The Boost, Diggstown. It's like the 80s were meant for him. He's slippery as an eel, twice as electric, just as vicious.


Of the self-parody years, I like The Hard Way where he parodies his Cop role, and he's even funnier in the less-intentional knee-slapper Ghosts of Mississippi. Casino is perfect, peak Woods. All you have to do is look at him with that thin mustache and you know exactly who this Lester is supposed to be before he even oozes a single purr. Hercules, however? Stale, Olive Garden-level imitation James Woods. Yuck. Send it back.


Honestly though, even though I can't think of a decent James Woods role since, I dunno, Any Given Sunday (another one where all you need to know is in the first glace at his flashing teeth), I have been tempted to check out his role as Rudy Giuliani. I'm sure it'll be sincere, and doubtlessly more hilarious than John Lithgow.



I forgot Citizen Cohn, terrific film about likewise sleazebag Roy Cohn.


Also, The Onion Field was a great book worth reading on its own.



Honestly though, even though I can't think of a decent James Woods role since, I dunno, Any Given Sunday (another one where all you need to know is in the first glace at his flashing teeth), I have been tempted to check out his role as Rudy Giuliani. I'm sure it'll be sincere, and doubtlessly more hilarious than John Lithgow.
It's not a movie, but his voiceover role in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is very entertaining. Unfortunately, I bailed on the game soon after his appearance (those ****ing plane missions were unplayable).



Hercules, however? Stale, Olive Garden-level imitation James Woods. Yuck. Send it back.
I am SHOCKED, I say. SHOCKED!



cross posting because why not


Microwave Massacre (Berwick, 1979)



The movie opens with a vaguely sinister shot of a large, state-of-the-art microwave. Given the title, we begin to have our concerns about what exactly this device will be used for, but this is the closest Microwave Massacre will get stylistically to a conventional horror movie. As the opening credits start rolling, we get treated to extremely attentive close-ups of certain parts of a very pneumatic woman's anatomy undulating as she skips along. Now, I am not above enjoying movies for prurient reasons, but I appreciate if they try to maintain some semblance of dignity when delivering these elements. There is no such dignity here. (Michael Bay would blush.) Anyway, this woman finds herself in a construction site with her breasts pushing through a hole in the wall, which attracts the attention of some nearby workers. (In the first few months of the pandemic, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control recommended the use of glory holes as a way to practice relations while mitigating the risk of COVID transmission. My guess is that the hole here would likely not be regulation. But I also live in Ontario where no such guidance was issued as far as I'm aware, although I must note that I didn't pay too much attention as I can think of few things less appealing than hearing our Premier talk about such matters.) However, this hubbub does not attract the attention of our protagonist, who seems preoccupied by his unsatisfactory lunch, a crab prop wedged between two slices of bread ("The little critter just followed me here").

You see, his shrill, harpyish wife likes to experiment with her cooking (she fancies herself herself a "conno-sewer") and subjects him to the results (usually accompanied by horrifically mangled French), much to his dismay. One day he has enough and ends up beating her to death with a saltshaker. Later, after carving her up in order to dispose of the body, in the throes of a late night craving, he grabs something half asleep out of the fridge. Only problem is that it's her hand and now he has a craving for human flesh, which he proceeds to feed by murdering and cooking hookers ("I'm so hungry I could eat a whore") sometimes sharing the results with his coworkers. All of this could be played disturbingly, but the tone here is like a bad sitcom, with most of the proceedings accompanied by the lamest, most obvious wisecracks. A good example, from a conversation with his wife:

"Some men, you should know, still find me attractive."

"How would I know them? I didn't attend the braille institute."

And let us not forget his attempted confession to his psychiatrist, who confuses his cannibalism for an interest in oral sex. The humour is so unbelievably lame that it kind of crosses over into being pretty funny. I realize ninety percent of people will find this terrible (and that seems to be the consensus in my little internet circle), but I laughed often. Sometimes a movie breaks through your defenses.

That being said, I do think there's something to the way the movie frames its horror as stale comedy. I'm sure you can cite any number of sitcoms where the loser husband is antagonized by his monstrous spouse. (My primary reference point for this trope is Everybody Loves Raymond, which I consumed in large quantities during my early high school years as it was on syndication but stopped watching after a bad fever when the show's de rigueur shouting matches proved a bit too much for my feeble constitution. Also, I'm not much of a Family Guy fan, but it nailed the show's dynamic pretty nicely in a throwaway gag.) There is something ugly in the centre of these domestic situations, which the movie is aware of. Using the flat, almost cheerful style of these shows to depict a tale of uxoricide and cannibalism, it lays bare the misogyny embedded in that trope.

And the movie ensures that we never really root for the main character by excising any potentially appealing qualities. As played by Jackie Vernon, best known for playing Frosty the Snowman in Frosty the Snowman, this is the most debased, sad sack, unappealing, total loser protagonist I can remember seeing in a movie. One look at this guy and you can feel the stale sweat and body odour wafting through the screen. Also, I don't mean to be insensitive, but he also looks like he might have a heart attack at any given moment, which the movie leans into. It is not a flattering performance in any respect, but just right for the movie. I've seen him compared to Rodney Dangerfield, who was the first choice for the role, but the key differences are that a) Rodney is funny and Jackie Vernon is not and b) Rodney delivers his jokes with a certain level of forcefulness while Jackie Vernon metes them out like air leaving a deflating balloon, as if he's resigned from any real semblance of humanity. There's a void at the centre of this movie, which gives it a power somewhat akin to a lowbrow Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (but, you know, not nearly as potent; I cannot stress enough how wide the gulf in quality between the two films is). Microwave Massacre isn't a terribly witty or energetic affair, and doesn't have the benefit of a charismatic lead, but these shortcomings arguably lend the material a sense of transgression a better made movie might not have.




It's not a movie, but his voiceover role in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is very entertaining. Unfortunately, I bailed on the game soon after his appearance (those ****ing plane missions were unplayable).
I think I might have that game. I have a couple of them. But I'm not really much of a gamer, and have never actually played them, per se. I just like walking around virtual worlds, and prefer games that allow me to ignore the "missions".



My friends who are emphatically NOT horror people let me pick a movie for a virtual horror night. Something without too much gore or the kind of stuff that would really put them off and something that wasn't too serious but also not too stupid.

Anyway, I went with new favorite Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker. I can't say they all loved it, but it, um, certainly held their attention.

This time around, the thing that really stood out to me was the way that the homophobic, awful detective around halfway into the film gets the full villain edit. I hadn't tuned into it before, but the type of close-ups used with Aunt Cheryl start getting used with the detective. And in the last third, the "villain theme" music that was only used for Cheryl starts getting played under the detective when he appears. There are also so many parallels between the two characters: their homophobia, their obsession with Billy, their notions of moral superiority even as they hurt others. And in some ways, the detective is more dangerous because he has the power of the police behind him. Aunt Cheryl has to hide her crimes, but the detective commits blackmail and a racially motivated hate crime out in the open with no fear of consequences.

So I enjoyed what is probably my fifth viewing of this film, and I think I like it more each time I watch it.



I think I might have that game. I have a couple of them. But I'm not really much of a gamer, and have never actually played them, per se. I just like walking around virtual worlds, and prefer games that allow me to ignore the "missions".

As soon as I discovered the pure joy of throwing a police officer off of his motorcycle and riding it full speed off a cliff, missions just seemed like too much work for me.



I think I might have that game. I have a couple of them. But I'm not really much of a gamer, and have never actually played them, per se. I just like walking around virtual worlds, and prefer games that allow me to ignore the "missions".


My favourite memory from the game is the time I stumbled in't Area 51 on a bicycle and had to evade a 6 star wanted rating.


I found the game ambitious but with a lot of badly executed mechanics. I greatly prefer Vice City with its '80s atmosphere and V, which has the sprawl of San Andreas but actual good execution.


As for virtual worlds, I think I preferred Red Dead Redemption and the Fallout games, which give you a greater level of moral agency.*(I'm one of those weirdos who likes to be a goody two shoes in these things.)



*stabs*


The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (Miraglia, 1972)




This review contains mild spoilers. It's regarding a key piece of plot information, but it happens quite early in the movie. Read at your own risk.

I don't know if I'd call giallo my favourite genre (I love horror of all stripes, picking just one strain seems a bit limiting), but it does seem to be the most indicative of my favourite things in movies. What other type of movie delivers a combination of stylish cinematography, great music, nonsensical plotting, attractive cast members, elaborate titles, sex and violence (the last two sometimes together) so consistently? I'm too lazy to do a proper mental inventory, but while my knowledge of giallo is far from encyclopedic, I struggle to think of one that I didn't find at least watchable. (It helps when the level of craft involved is part of the package, so to speak.) With that in mind, it was very likely that I would enjoy The Red Queen Kills Seven Times regardless of how good an example of its genre it might have been. Luckily, it happens to be pretty good, even if it hasn't landed among my favourites.

When the movie opens, we meet two sisters and their elderly grandfather living in a castle. One of whom, a blonde named Kitty, seems relatively normal. The other one, a raven-haired little girl named Eveline, who is maybe not so normal. We learn this when she takes Kitty's doll and starts stabbing the bejesus out of it. Anyway, the grandfather thinks this is a great opportunity to explain the meaning of the creepy as hell painting they keep in their living room (or whatever the equivalent of a living room would be in castle). Turns out that many years ago, their ancestors, the red queen and the black queen, did not get along. The black queen put up with the red queen's antagonism for many years until she finally killed the red queen by stabbing her seven times. But joke's on her, the red queen seemingly came back from the dead and killed six people and then the black queen. This relationship anticipates the one between the sisters, as Kitty accidentally kills Eveline during a fight and covers it up. Unfortunately, someone has started murdering people Kitty knows, possibly while wearing a red cape like the one worn by the red queen in the painting. Could this be Eveline, getting her revenge from beyond the grave? You'll have to watch the movie to find out.

One of the things that stands out about giallo in particular is the way the proceedings take on a visual and psychosexual resonance beyond the motivations driving the plot. All the characters here are sinners and/or hiding a secret, which not only complicates the investigation but creates a compromised atmosphere. Even the heroine is implicated, and by extension the viewer. (That being said, the movie is perhaps softer on her than it could be, as it's clear that her crime was an accident. The queasiest example I can think of is how Lucio Fulci has us sympathize with a probable pedophile in the angry, disturbing Don't Torture a Duckling. Yes, I will gladly take any opportunity to talk about Fulci.) The fact that many of the characters look alike adds further intrigue. (There's a scene where they're seated beside a table while being questioned by the police. If you rearranged a few of them, they could form a neat spectrum of gradually darkening hair.) Are all of them extensions of the heroine?

Of course, the genre is greatly concerned with surfaces and this holds plenty of interest from that angle. The contrast between the modernist design present in the ad firm in which the heroine works and the characters' chic apartments with the rustic interiors of the castle place the film in a state of visual flux to match the psychological unease. In terms of wardrobe (another thing I will talk about any chance I get), the red cape worn by the killer has an undeniable visual impact, but so do a pair of truly hideous pieces (a pair of multicoloured checkered pants worn by a woman when she buys drugs, and a double-breasted blazer adorned with ungainly-coloured circles), which are visual repulsive in a slightly psychedlic way. Aside from these aesthetic qualities (which include the Bruno Nicolai score, which I don't have a whole lot to say about as I'm a musical luddite other than the fact it sounds real nice and parts of it reminded me of Fabio Frizzi's work on City of the Living Dead and The Beyond; let me stamp my Fulci punchcard, two more mentions and I win a free hot dog), the movie is involving on a narrative level as well. The premise ensures that it clips along nicely, as there is only so much time that can pass between a given murder so it better get a move on. And as the protagonist, Barbara Bouchet is not without her charms, which include her intensely spherical eyes, great for looking surprised and shocked at all the right moments. Would I have liked more scenes of Bouchet being startled by the red-caped killer? Yes, and the ideal version would consist of wall-to-wall capes and reaction shots, but alas, they don't let me make movies.




I watched The Wailing, a Korean movie about a town plagued by murders and suspicions falling on a Japanese man. Grisly, spooky, disturbing and also kinda funny. Not sure I 100% understand everything that happened in it but it was pretty good.



You may be embarrassingly wrong about Halloween Resurrection being better than Halloween Kills, but you're right on the money here.



I watched The Wailing, a Korean movie about a town plagued by murders and suspicions falling on a Japanese man. Grisly, spooky, disturbing and also kinda funny. Not sure I 100% understand everything that happened in it but it was pretty good.
A masterpiece.