Sunday, November 1, 2009

Thus Endeth the Horror Movie Binge of '09

I hope everyone had a great Halloween weekend. I did. Up until Minnesota started embarrassing the Packers again (this time in their own house) and I decided I'd rather do a post than watch this debacle. I'm still convalescing so I haven't drawn squat. I'm frankly surprised at how long my incisions are taking to heal compared to when I had my gall bladder out five or six years ago. Back then, I was practically running laps again in two weeks. Now, not to be too gross, I'm still spotting my bandages. And the itching is driving me insane. But my surgeon assures me all is well so I'll stick it out. I just really miss my lunchtime workouts. It was all that was keeping my weight in check. Now that Halloween (and the ubiquitous candy) is over, I'm going on a hard-core diet, starting tomorrow morning. I know there are people who hate the whole skinny-is-better attitude but, in my case, it's true. Whenever I get heavy, I just feel miserable. So better to nip it in the bud, as Barney Fife liked to say.

I really overdid the horror-movie thing this Halloween, if that's possible. Thanks to NetFlix, Walmart's $5 bin and Best Buy's Halloween sales, I rediscovered some old favorites (FRIGHT NIGHT, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH), found some new ones (the surprisingly underrated DEAD SILENCE, TRICK 'R TREAT) and satisfied my curiosity on some utter crap (the original PROM NIGHT and the remake of BLACK CHRISTMAS.)

Inspired by my friend Don (who called me at exactly the wrong moment during DEAD SILENCE and almost made me poo in my pants), I've started the yearly tradition of buying myself a classic horror movie. Last year it was Universal's WOLFMAN Legacy Collection and this year I followed it up with the FRANKENSTEIN set. I'm embarrassed to admit that, up until now, I'd not seen any of these classics. I always wanted to but they were never shown on TV when I was a kid and by the time I was old enough to track them down, I was more of a modern horror guy. Now that I'm older, I'm better able to appreciate how truly awesome these movies are and I'm really grateful to Universal for putting out these sets. Highly recommended.

I've also rediscovered a love of all those 80's slasher series like HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13TH and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Sparked by the recent (inferior) FRIDAY remake and subsequent high-quality DVD rereleases, I started picking up all the FRIDAYs. Though the series is a textbook case of the law of diminishing returns, I have to admit a strange affection for these things. They're all basically the same (dumb) movie but it's fun watching the fashions and hairstyles change with each entry. (And Manfredini's nutty techno theme over the end credits of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3D is NOT to be missed.) And, with FRIDAY and ELM STREET, at least, there's a cartoony charm to the characters that keeps the movies from becoming the gross, grimy torture-porn that so many of the remakes have become.

In the case of HALLOWEEN, I was never that big a fan beyond the first three films (including SEASON OF THE WITCH, a true guilty pleasure that I love) but BEST BUY put a bunch of the series on sale for $4.99 and I couldn't resist picking up a couple, specifically 4 and 5. I remember back in 2007, I was spending Halloween week down in Durham, working on Mike's house to get it ready for sale, and was fairly miserable. Halloween night, AMC was running a marathon of horror flicks, including HALLOWEEN 4 and 5. Though I have a huge horror movie library, I love watching them on TV, commercials, editing, dubbing and all. Watching them as they're broadcast makes it feel more like I'm taking part in an event. So, there I sat, munching on the candy that no kids showed up for and watching these flicks only to fall asleep before the end of 5. So I just had to have these so I could find out what happened. Part 4 was actually pretty entertaining with solid performances all around, particularly the ultra-precocious Danielle Harris (who was, I think, 10 at the time.) Part 5, on the other hand, despite the continued involvement of Harris and the always-dependable Donald Pleasance, was just horrible. Resorting to the old series-in-decline standby of "the psychic girl", the movie ends with the most head-scratching climax of all time. Probably the biggest WTF? moment of all the slasher series.

Only my steadfast refusal to pay full price for anything has kept me from buying TRICK 'R TREAT (not groundbreaking but a helluva lot of fun) and the newly released NIGHT OF THE CREEPS. Experience has shown these will be in the discount bins before next Halloween and I can wait.

Don brought me the Midnight Movies double feature DVD set of TALES FROM THE CRYPT and HAUNT OF HORROR when we met up at the Carpenter Center in Richmond last week to see R. Crumb speaking with Fran├žoise Mouly (which was interesting but not worth a post.) That one was a lot of fun. Sadly, I'd hoped to have a movie night with Don and Christian to watch the BLACULA set I picked up. I've been dying to watch it but so are they and I don't want to spoil the anticipation. We just haven't been able to coordinate our schedules.

And that's about it except for the jack-o-lanterns Suze and I carved. She was more ambitious than I and went for the witch-face. I'm a traditionalist and did a more simple design. Now we're officially into the holiday season.



Josh said...

The Wolfman Legacy Collection would be especially interesting to me.

todd said...

ha! i just bought--and was gonna send you one of them--two copies of "let's scare jessica to death!" on ebay. that was gonna be your halloween present. now i'm screwed! (thanks for the awesome card, by the way--sharon and i loved it and feel so bad that halloween just came and went so fast in our house...)
did YOU recommend 'jessica' to me? somebody did--oh, yeah, it was someone on coast to coast! i've never seen it but can't wait. the other dvd i bought and will send you (but you probably already have it...!) is newer, but i've heard good things about that too. we'll see. if you've got it, give it to christian.
anyway, hope your incisions heal up--maybe you need more candy? i heard that helps the healing process. : )

Warren said...

I think Lon Chaney Jr.'s performance in the Wolfman is incredible. He plays the role with such suffering!

Bride of Frankenstein is the Universal Monster movie that I'd recommend the most. It has some amazing effects (especially for its time) and a villain who is truly evil! James Whale was a genius. (Have you ever seen Gods and Monsters? It's a great movie Ian McKellan plays Frankenstein director James Whale and there are some truly scary scenes.)

I remember going to see the original Halloween with Jamie Lee Curtis when it first came out. I think we went to a drive-in to watch it. I thought it was pretty good until like the fifteenth time she killed him and he got back up, after that it was kinda silly to me. But then, I'm not a big fan of slasher flicks. The only one I'll still watch is Psycho.

Have you ever seen Night of the Hunter? It's one of those Robert Mitchum movies where he's just incredibly scary. Lots of creepy moments in that movie also.

Went to see Paranormal Activity last week. You should go see it. It are sceeery.

Brian said...

While I am a hugh fan of the Universal Classic Monsters, I must admit that I prefer the more faithful to the book versions of Dracula, starring Jack Palance, than the original with Bela.