2021 Halloween Challenge

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Bay of Blood, 1971

A wealthy, elderly woman named Federica (Isa Miranda) is killed in her home, staged to look like a victim of suicide. The mystery as to the killer's identity is short-lived, but as he admires his handiwork another killer shows up to take him out. Soon, these two murders escalate into a flurry of bloodletting and betrayals as locals, family members, and (naturally) some sexy teens get caught up in the mayhem.

For the first half of the film, I was only medium feeling this one. The initial murders are staged with style and substance, but then there's a lot of passive-aggressive conversations between different characters. There's also an overly-long sequence of some teens hanging out at the house. Both their conversation and the lingering, leering scene of one of the women swimming naked dragged for me. Not just because it's such an inelegant example of the Inescapable Horniness of a lot of horror films, but because the characters aren't developed and so it's kind of boring to spend so much time with a group of people who are obvious canon fodder.

But then the second half of the film kicks in and my appreciation went up several notches. Federica's step-daughter and her husband show up to investigate their disappearances, and we begin to understand--through a series of layered flashbacks--the role that each character played in the initial murder and what came after. This is just good and satisfying mystery stuff---the relationships between the characters are complex and overlap, and we come to understand that someone who is innocent of one thing may be very guilty of another. This all leads to a very darkly funny final scene that brings the film to an appropriate (albeit very unexpected!) conclusion.

Bava displays his flare for strong visuals. I particularly liked a shot of an octopus tentacle slowly reaching out from underneath a tarp.

But speaking of the octopus, my only other complaint is that this film includes several incidents of unsimulated animal mistreatment, including an impaled insect and the handling of the aforementioned octopus. That always knocks a chunk off of any rating I give a film, especially as it's a dealbreaker for ever wanting to rewatch it.

A solid horror with an engaging second half that more than makes up for a slightly underwhelming first half.

Yes the second half is by far better.





Bay of Blood, 1971

A wealthy, elderly woman named Federica (Isa Miranda) is killed in her home, staged to look like a victim of suicide. The mystery as to the killer's identity is short-lived, but as he admires his handiwork another killer shows up to take him out. Soon, these two murders escalate into a flurry of bloodletting and betrayals as locals, family members, and (naturally) some sexy teens get caught up in the mayhem.

For the first half of the film, I was only medium feeling this one. The initial murders are staged with style and substance, but then there's a lot of passive-aggressive conversations between different characters. There's also an overly-long sequence of some teens hanging out at the house. Both their conversation and the lingering, leering scene of one of the women swimming naked dragged for me. Not just because it's such an inelegant example of the Inescapable Horniness of a lot of horror films, but because the characters aren't developed and so it's kind of boring to spend so much time with a group of people who are obvious canon fodder.

But then the second half of the film kicks in and my appreciation went up several notches. Federica's step-daughter and her husband show up to investigate their disappearances, and we begin to understand--through a series of layered flashbacks--the role that each character played in the initial murder and what came after. This is just good and satisfying mystery stuff---the relationships between the characters are complex and overlap, and we come to understand that someone who is innocent of one thing may be very guilty of another. This all leads to a very darkly funny final scene that brings the film to an appropriate (albeit very unexpected!) conclusion.

Bava displays his flare for strong visuals. I particularly liked a shot of an octopus tentacle slowly reaching out from underneath a tarp.

But speaking of the octopus, my only other complaint is that this film includes several incidents of unsimulated animal mistreatment, including an impaled insect and the handling of the aforementioned octopus. That always knocks a chunk off of any rating I give a film, especially as it's a dealbreaker for ever wanting to rewatch it.

A solid horror with an engaging second half that more than makes up for a slightly underwhelming first half.

My controversial opinion is that this is my least favourite Bava from the ones I've seen. Stylish as he's ever been, but just one unlikable character after another being offed. Give me one of his Gothic horrors or Hatchet for the Honeymoon any day.



My even more controversial opinion is that I much prefer Friday the 13th to this movie.



My controversial opinion is that this is my least favourite Bava from the ones I've seen. Stylish as he's ever been, but just one unlikable character after another being offed. Give me one of his Gothic horrors or Hatchet for the Honeymoon any day.
I can see that. However, I kind of loved that
WARNING: spoilers below
everyone sucked and you were just slowly discovering how much as they killed each other off in a sort of "who will be last one standing" kind of thing.



The trick is not minding
About to start up Black Sunday. Also, went to my local movie store and rented Horror of Dracula and Near Dark.
Going to be a busy weekendÖ..



My controversial opinion is that this is my least favourite Bava from the ones I've seen. Stylish as he's ever been, but just one unlikable character after another being offed. Give me one of his Gothic horrors or Hatchet for the Honeymoon any day.

My even more controversial opinion is that I much prefer Friday the 13th to this movie.

Which Friday the 13ths? Because unlike other horror franchises, the first one in the series isn't the best one.


How do you feel about Blood & Black Lace?





Dave Made a Maze, 2017

Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) returns home one day to discover a large cardboard maze in the apartment she shares with her boyfriend, Dave (Nick Thune). But the maze is apparently a bit bigger on the inside. Actually, it's a lot bigger, and Dave is lost inside. Fed up, Annie ventures inside the maze with friends Gordon (Adam Busch) and Harry (James Urbaniak) who want to document the whole ordeal. But the maze seems to have taken on a life of its own, including a deadly minotaur (Josh Hennigen) who roams its cardboard hallways.

Yes, it's another horror-comedy.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this film. To begin with, its 80 minute runtime is the perfect length for the story it is trying to tell and the jokes it is trying to land.

But the main joy of this film is the maze itself. I enjoyed the creativity on display in terms of the different rooms and dynamics. One of the running jokes in the film is that everyone inside the maze is now living in some craft-come-to-life universe, so any gore is represented with crepe paper, streamers, puff balls, and (as Annie asks at one point) "Is this my good yarn?!". I thought that the visual look of the film was really fun and for the most part the film's timing feels correct in not letting any one setpiece overstay its welcome.

In the second half of the film, the focus shifts to the relationship between Annie and Dave. Dave has been flailing for years and, now in his mid-30s, finds himself in a bit of a crisis. The maze represents his desire to create something, but it's his desire to not show any vulnerability that makes the maze so deadly. Thune and Kumbhani have enough chemistry and gravitas to sell those later scenes, which is important because this is a movie where someone gets beheaded and the bloody stump sprays out streamers and yarn pieces.

If I had to be picky, I wasn't entirely sure what we were supposed to make of some of the elements of the maze. A lot of the rooms in the maze feel like they mean something, man, but given the theme of Dave's struggles, I wasn't always sure what they were supposed to be. And, hey, things don't always have to mean something. In one very funny sequence, a very, um, vaginal cardboard portal thing starts to lure all of the men in, and one at a time they must be held back. This could be a commentary about a lack of a healthy sex life between Dave and Annie, or it could just be a funny joke about a bunch of dudes drawn toward a big cardboard vagina like helpless horny moths.

I'm a little surprised that there's no acknowledgement or writing credit for Joe Hill, because some aspects of this story were VERY close to a short story he wrote about a child building a maze that's bigger on the inside to deal with a bully.

Anyway, this is definitely on the lighter and goofier side (despite the beheadings and other "gruesome" deaths).






Bay of Blood, 1971

A wealthy, elderly woman named Federica (Isa Miranda) is killed in her home, staged to look like a victim of suicide. The mystery as to the killer's identity is short-lived, but as he admires his handiwork another killer shows up to take him out. Soon, these two murders escalate into a flurry of bloodletting and betrayals as locals, family members, and (naturally) some sexy teens get caught up in the mayhem.

For the first half of the film, I was only medium feeling this one. The initial murders are staged with style and substance, but then there's a lot of passive-aggressive conversations between different characters. There's also an overly-long sequence of some teens hanging out at the house. Both their conversation and the lingering, leering scene of one of the women swimming naked dragged for me. Not just because it's such an inelegant example of the Inescapable Horniness of a lot of horror films, but because the characters aren't developed and so it's kind of boring to spend so much time with a group of people who are obvious canon fodder.

But then the second half of the film kicks in and my appreciation went up several notches. Federica's step-daughter and her husband show up to investigate their disappearances, and we begin to understand--through a series of layered flashbacks--the role that each character played in the initial murder and what came after. This is just good and satisfying mystery stuff---the relationships between the characters are complex and overlap, and we come to understand that someone who is innocent of one thing may be very guilty of another. This all leads to a very darkly funny final scene that brings the film to an appropriate (albeit very unexpected!) conclusion.

Bava displays his flare for strong visuals. I particularly liked a shot of an octopus tentacle slowly reaching out from underneath a tarp.

But speaking of the octopus, my only other complaint is that this film includes several incidents of unsimulated animal mistreatment, including an impaled insect and the handling of the aforementioned octopus. That always knocks a chunk off of any rating I give a film, especially as it's a dealbreaker for ever wanting to rewatch it.

A solid horror with an engaging second half that more than makes up for a slightly underwhelming first half.

I'm glad to hear this because I stalled in the first half the last time I tried to watch it but I always felt I needed to go back and give it another shot.



I'm glad to hear this because I stalled in the first half the last time I tried to watch it but I always felt I needed to go back and give it another shot.
It gets better past the halfway point (literally when the step-daughter and her husband roll into town). Even without the animal cruelty stuff, I don't think I'd be interested in sitting through the first half again.



Which Friday the 13ths? Because unlike other horror franchises, the first one in the series isn't the best one.


How do you feel about Blood & Black Lace?
The first is my favourite, haha. I'd even take a few others over over Bay of Blood, but the comparison starts to lose meaning at a certain point.


I like Blood and Black Lace quite a bit, but I think that one is A) much nicer to look at and B) not quite as misanthropic.





The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, 1972

Sisters Kitty and Eveline are being raised by their grandfather, from whom they learn about a legendary figure called the Red Queen, who emerges every few years to kill seven times. 14 years later, Kitty (Barbara Bouchet) is all grown up and works as a photographer for a fashion house. Eveline has vanished under mysterious circumstances. And soon a strange figure in a red cape begins killing off those connected to Kitty and the fashion house. But who is the Red Queen?

After two comedy-horrors and the slightly underwhelming Bay of Blood, this one was a lot of fun. It's almost textbook gaillo with lots of "What are you doing here?!" moments as a mysterious killer takes a dagger to multiple victims.

The thing that I enjoyed most about this film was simply the use of color. Early on my attention was really caught by the way that they'd put makeup on the actress playing Kitty (a blue smokey eye to highlight her own blue eyes), and my appreciation for the color design stayed strong through the film. There's obviously the killer's bright red cape, but the costumes came in all kinds of bright colors.

The mystery of the killer's identity is also fun and twisty. Is this a personal vendetta? Something to do with the power struggles at the fashion house? Some mix of both? The film chooses to reveal a key piece of information early on, and this informs the way that the character behave as the story progresses. So many complaints that one might normally have about the way that characters act when there's a killer on the loose are neatly sidestepped by giving several key characters a secret to keep between them.

The settings are also pretty fun, alternating between the more modern homes of the characters and the more ancient mansion of Kitty's youth.

I wouldn't call this a great film. The plot was interesting bu the characters remain a bit aloof through the film. The ending is satisfyingly twisty and enjoyably UM WHAT?!




The first is my favourite, haha.
Now you're being crazy.



Guy who likes movies
#17. A film on Amazon:

Slashlorette Party (2020). Directed by Paul Ragsdale and Angelica De Alba, this horror film is about a co-ed bachelorette party where the guests start getting killed off. I enjoyed this a lot. It has a 80s throwback feel to it. There are entertaining kills, some laughs, and even a little nice nudity to spice things up. I thought the performances were fun too. My only complaint is the ending felt anti-climatic and could have been much better. Still, I had a pretty good time up until that point. If you like fun slashers, this is worth checking out. Currently streaming on Amazon Prime.



I don't do lengthy write-ups.

The Criterion Channel has a Universal Horror movies collection going on. Since I bought a blu-ray collection of most of the core Universal Horror Monster Movies, I decided to go with the two in the CC collection not in that blu-ray set. Both Bela Legosi and Boris Karloff features.

The Black Cat (1934 film) - Edgar G. Ulmer


Bela Legosi plays Dr. Seeks-Revenge accompanying our young protagonists - or maybe more audience surrogates - on his quest to get revenge on the evil, hair-engineer played by Boris Karloff.



Look at what heinous experiments he subjects his worker's hair to!



WARNING: spoilers below

Anyhow, long story short, really, it's revenge for heinous slaughter Karloff committed to while presiding over a POW camp in the war (you know which one). Legosi was in that camp, though a few hours out, I believe it was as someone who worked for Karloff, but my memory has already lost that detail. Legosi lost his wife, revenge, revenge, daughter, revenge, daughter dead. Played a game of chess. Also, Karloff's evil. Did we mention evil? Well, he's a satanist as well. At some point his satanic soire doesn't notice he disappears off to be tortured and killed. The end.


I think the protagonists were traveling on their honeymoon through Hungary. They were getting on a train to Budapest at the end.

I think compared to some other horror movies of the era, I think the appeal of this one will be Karloff and Legosi chewing scenery. The Legosi revenge plot had narrative thrust, but tbh, I felt like not much else did in the film. Karloff was basically, "war criminal Evil" in this movie. And I'll be honest, I prefer something more fantastical in the Universal horror movies, either supernatural or science fiction. And a cat that survives death wasn't much of it (this also hurts the next film as well)

Second up:
The Raven (1935 film) - Lew Landers



I saw bits of this as a teenager and mostly remember Karloff had an eye painted on his eyelid (or patch over his eye). I must have not seen the first half then because I remember not knowing how this movie actually related to the Poe poem. They at least recite it in the first half. And there's some motivation on plot being obsession over the past leads to cruelty now.

This movie, like The Black Cat, starts with a serious injury to our heroine in a car accident, which I think is a recurring theme in all of Edgar Allen Poe's works, right?

I think the easiest way to summarize this movie...
WARNING: spoilers below

Most of the cast is in movie A, about socializing and a dinner party. Bela Legosi plays the Evil Dr. Ham, who seems to be in a different movie. One where no matter what creepy stuff he says, everyone mostly just kind of brushes it off. The female protagonist's father, Judge Thatcher, seems to be the only character to go, "Wait a minute. This elderly man seems obsessed with my daughter who is engaged. That seems creepy."
Also Boris Karloff shows up, gets his face disfigured, and can't talk much, serving mostly as Legosi's lackey.
There's a dinner party that happens with a lot of people that I can't remember if we're ever really introduced to, and some of whom are mostly irrelevant for the rest of the movie. But we do shift into the mad doctor luring people into his Poe-inspired torture to, well, torture them. Maybe he should have set the pit & the pendulum timer to be less than 15 minutes though.

As stated for The Black Cat, I prefer the supernatural themed movies more. Mad doctors with torture rooms are less my thing, though the throughline of the plot was at least more established here than The Black Cat.
Still glad to catch up with them, but if all other things were equal (i.e. I didn't have the rest of the universal monster movies in a collection somewhere, some still waiting to be watched), I probably would have gone with one of the other ones.

Side note, going to aim to keep the write-ups shorter than this.



My Bloody Valentine (1981) - George Mihalka



A perfectly adequate, date-themed, minor slasher film from the early 80s. I really don't know what to add to it beyond that, because that really does summarize all of the films strengths and weaknesses right there.

Thoughts while watching this movie:
1. Valentine's Day and mining aren't two things I really associate in my mind. Though this was about 5 or 6 years after Harlan County, USA was winning the oscar for best doc. I feel like there were other narrative films that were centered around coal mining at this time. Was this peak coal-mining movie era?
2. I wonder how much they played up the whole first Friday the 13th, to be followed by February the 14th in the marketing tag lines.
3. Boy, they were really setting this up for a sequel and a franchise.
4. Did this movie technically pass the Bechdel test on the cart ride down?



I guess spot saved for keeping track of my progress on the challenge.

I'll use pipes for deliminators (in case some of the titles have commas or other punctuation). I'll eventually bold and underline the movie I choose for the challenge. Movies that I've seen before (and are in memory) so I won't count them towards the challenge, I'll put in red. Movies I've seen before, but it's been so long, I don't really remember them, I'll put in... TBD, but I will count those. Movies I've only partially seen before, I won't bother labelling.

Part 1 (What's in a Name)
1. A horror film with 1 word

2. A horror film with 2 words
The Intruder

3. A horror film with 3 words

4. A horror film with 4 words
Eye of the Devil


5. A horror film that is a complete sentence
God Told Me To

Part 2 (All about the franchises)
6. An original franchise
A Chinese Ghost Story

7. A sequel to a franchise (can be a different franchise)

8. A reboot, remake, or prequel to a horror film

9. A late sequel (past part four)
Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell

10. An obvious cheap ripoff of a major horror franchise

Part 3 (Trip to Europe)
11. A film from UK
Censor

12. A film from France

13. A film from Germany
Angst (Austria, so a bit of a cheat)

14. A film from Italy

15. A film with someone traveling to a European country
The Black Cat


Part 4 (where to find it)
16. A film on Netflix

17. A film on Amazon

18. A film on Hulu
My Bloody Valentine


19 A film on Shudder
Pyscho Goreman


20. A film on a different streaming site(Youtube, HBO MAX, Tubi, etc)
The Raven (Criterion Channel)


Part 5 (It's not the size of the horror)
21. A horror short film under 30 minutes

22. A classic B film that is just over an hour

23. A VHS era film that is around 90 minutes

24. A major Hollywood horror release under 2 hours
Jennifer's Body

25. A horror epic that is over 2 and half hours

Part 6

26. A horror film released in October of any year

27. A horror film that was economically the biggest one of the year

28. A horror film released in 2021
In the Earth

29. A horror film released in October 2021
Titane (official US release date is 10/1/2021 according to IMDB, but it was clearly showing in theaters here the week before that)

30. A horror film that is on the Movieforum list.
Onibaba

31. A horror film on the Time Out top 100 horror film list
Black Sabbath (83)


All movies:
The Black Cat
The Raven
My Bloody Valentine
Titane
Black Sabbath
Pyscho Goreman
Angst
Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell
Eye of the Devil
In the Earth
A Chinese Ghost Story
Jennifer's Body
The Amityville Horror (no conditions)
Onibaba
God Told Me To
Censor



The Black Cat (1934 film) - Edgar G. Ulmer
"Have you ever heard of Kurgaal? It is a prison below Omsk, near Lake Baikal. Many men have gone there. Few have returned. I have returned. After fifteen years... I have returned."


God tier Lugosi performance in this one.



Oh, and in contrast to the two Universal picks I did choose (lest my jestful summaries feel dismissive), I feel The Old Dark House (not on the CC Universal Collection, but I think is still on Shudder), is really solid and I concur with other people endorsing it. My only quibble is the reveal doesn't live up to the build up, but I don't know how much that's just my preference for certain genres or not.



Now you're being crazy.
I recognize there are better made movies in the franchise, but with slashers I don't think polish necessarily makes them "scarier". I periodically allude to this whenever I bring up first wave slashers, but the first one has an almost documentary quality thanks to its low budget and small scale that gets under my skin much more than the slicker entries in the series.



Iím with Rock. Original Friday the 13th is the best of the series and it really isnít that close.