Friday, October 31, 2014

The Killing Kind

The Killing Kind is a 1973 horror film of the serial killer type and has a heavy element of unhealthy mother/son relationship. The convicted rapist (played by John Savage) returns home to his mother (played by Ann Sothern) after a 2-year prison stay, and bad things happen. Cindy Williams, Luana Anders, Ruth Roman (who was in Hitchcock's Stranger on a Train), Marjorie Eaton (who had small parts in many well-known films and TV shows and who was also a painter), and Peter Brocco (who has a Star Trek connection and Superman credits)  also star. Curtis Harrington directs.

This is worth watching, a very sad movie.

via youtube:


1000 Misspent Hours says, "it really is a highly effective and often genuinely disturbing film." DVD Talk has a positive review. Gore Girl's Dungeon calls it "more of a psychological drama with some horror elements" and highly recommends it.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

We Have Always Lived in the Castle


We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a 1962 novel by Shirley Jackson, her last novel. It was published 2 years before her death from heart failure at age 48. It's hard to call it "horror" and yet I often see it categorized that way. I'd call it Gothic. It focuses on the treatment of those who are "other" in small communities and explores what families do to each other when they do too much for each other.

from the back of the book:
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is Jackson's most subtle work, a studied and compelling rendering of insanity that achieves its effect in part by drawing readers into the strangely routine world of its heroines before revealing the full horror of their existence.
There's not actually much in the way of reviews or analysis online. The narrator is unreliable, and the true tale of what has led up to the present moment is revealed slowly. This is an eerie, sad tale. People are evil and stupid, and bad things happen. Maybe the road to Hell really is paved with good intentions.

My favorite quote:
The last time I glanced at the library books on the kitchen shelf they were more than five months overdue, and I wondered whether I would have chosen differently if I had known that these were the last books, the ones which would stand forever on our kitchen shelf.

The image at the top of the post is  from Wikispaces and is of a house that brought to my mind the house in this book.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Missing Guest

The Missing Guest, a Universal film, is a 1938 horror/mystery starring Paul Kelly and Constance Moore. It opens at the morgue, and is a traditional haunted house mystery. There's a nicely handled sense of humor. I enjoyed this. It's nice to see some of the older horror movies.

via youtube:



"The only spirits in this house are in the wine cellar, and they are very good, too."

TCM has an overview.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Tea Chronicles

This is the last T(ea) Tuesday in October, but I've enjoyed finding tea and coffee in some seasonal videos. The Tea Chronicles is a comedy/psychological horror short directed by Charlie McDonnell and Khyan Mansley.

via youtube:



Comedy TV Is Dead discusses McDonnell's career, says this film is "damn good" and says,
The humour is dark, clever, and extremely entertaining. McDonnell’s own charm and niceness are used then subverted in a very smart way, and he himself proves to be a very capable actor. I’m loath to describe anything as flawless, but I can’t find anything negative to say about this short film.

Please join the T(ea) Tuesday party over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog, where Elizabeth has photos of a beautiful botanic garden.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Bride

The Bride (or A Noiva) is a 2007 horror short directed by Ana Almeida. This plot synopsis is from imdb:
Deep in the Douro river there is a legend about the ghost of a dead bride, who haunts the area. Regardless, a couple of lovers goes to an abandoned house near the river, where they are attacked by the undying bride.

via youtube:


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Night of the Demon

Night of the Demon is a 1957 horror film directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Dana Andrews (always a draw), Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis, Maurice Denham, Athene Seyler, Liam Redmond (who was in an Elvis movie), Reginald Beckwith, Ewan Roberts (who was in The Man in the White Suit and The Day of the Triffids), Rosamund Greenwood (who was in Village of the Damned in 1960 and The Witches in 1990), Brian Wilde (who was "Foggy" Dewhurst in Last of the Summer Wine), and Percy Herbet (whose many films include One Million Years B.C.). Cut to 83 minutes (or maybe 81?), it was released in the U.S. as Curse of the Demon.

This is a classic eerie-not-gory horror film and well worth watching:




DVD Talk has a review of a disc that includes both versions and says, "Night of the Demon is the version to watch". DVD Journal says it's considered a classic and that it belongs "on any list of Top 10 Favorite Understated Scary Movies". Time Out calls it "One of the finest thrillers made in England during the '50s" and describes it as "immensely gripping". Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says,
Even now there is little doubt that Night Of The Demon packs a powerful punch despite featuring no gore or, demon excepted, much in the way of special effects. Actually, it is the film's atmosphere of calm, almost twee, post-war British normality which works so well. Tourneur cranks up the tension as Holden — and, in turn, the audience — comes to realise that horror can lurk in the most unlikely places.
Rotten Tomatoes has a 100% critics score.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Everville


Everville is a 1994 horror novel by Clive Barker. A stand-alone novel, it's also 2nd in The Art Trilogy. I've read the 1st book, but the 3rd hasn't been written. I think it's safe to consider this a stand-alone. It makes perfect sense by itself. I like Barker's writing and enjoyed this. Reality & imagination combine to explore the depths of human emotion.

from the publisher:
On the borderland between this world and the world of Quiddity, the sea of our dreams, sits Everville. For years it has lived in ignorance of the gleaming shore on which it lies. But its ignorance is not bliss. Opening the door between worlds, Clive Barker delivers his characters into the heart of the human mystery; into a place of revelation, where the forces which have shaped our past —and are ready to destroy our future— are at work.

Quotes that struck me:
...patience was easy if it was all you had; and it was.
...
"I think sometimes there's two different people in the world. The people who understand and the people who don't. And if they don't, it's no use trying to explain, 'cause it's just beyond them, and it always will be."
...
"What's the big deal about stories?" she said.
"You love them," he said, his gaze leaving her face and slipping down to the water. The glowing forms she'd seen rising from below were within a few fathjoms of the surface now. The water was beginning to simmer with their presence. "You do, don't you? he said.
"I suppose I do," she said.
That's what the connections are, Tesla."
"Stories?"
"Stories. And every life, however short, however meaningless it seems, is a leaf-"
"A leaf."
"Yes, a leaf." He looked up at her again, and waited, unspeaking, until she grasped the sense of what he was saying.
"On the story tree," she said. He smiled. "Lives are leaves on the story tree.
Kirkus Reviews has a scathingly negative review. Publishers Weekly says, " this novel confirms the author's position not only as one of horror's most potent and fertile minds but also as one of modern fiction's premier metaphysicians."

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Brood

The Brood is a 1979 David Cronenberg horror film. It stars Oliver Reed (who died of a heart attack during the filming of Gladiator), Samantha Eggar, and Art Hindle. Madness and strange goings-on with children. I see the word "disturbing" used in reviews, and it does have some moments....

trailer:



with Spanish subtitles:



"I could look you in the eye if I wanted to, Daddy, but I don't want to."

Moria says, "The Brood was David Cronenberg’s first great film, the point where he can be identified as someone who is not merely an interestingly perverse B-movie director but someone whose movies bristle with a dazzling intelligence." 1000 Misspent Hours calls it "a real masterpiece" and says, "If you like your movies queasy and disturbing, The Brood is one of the great highlights of 70’s horror." Empire Online gives it 4 out of 5 stars and calls it "Genuinely disturbing horror but with Cronenberg producing a slightly deeper edge in his portrait of a troubled family." Time Out says it's "worth seeing for its latently political story and its gory special effects." The Terror Trap calls it "A horror version of Kramer Vs. Kramer". Roger Ebert calls it " a particularly nasty little number. ...an el sleazo exploitation film, camouflaged by the presence of several well-known stars but guaranteed to nauseate you all the same." Rotten Tomatoes has an 80% critics score.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Toy for Juliette


A Toy for Juliette is a horror short story by Robert Bloch. It's in the collection Dangerous Visions, which is around here somewhere, but is also online here to give you a taste of his writing. In it, Jack the Ripper is brought into a future post-apocalypse by Juliette (a sadistic young woman named after the Marquis de Sade's Juliette) and her mysterious grandfather. The story begins with this:
Juliette entered her bedroom, smiling, and a thousand Juliettes smiled back at her. For all the walls were paneled with mirrors, and the ceiling was set with inlaid panes that reflected her image.
It is quite short and well worth reading, and then you'll want to seek out more by him.

The photo at the top of the post is from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Possession (film)

Possession is a 1981 French/West German horror film starring Isabelle Adjani (Adele Hugo in The Story of Adele H.) and Sam Neill (Captain Vasily Borodin in The Hunt for Red October, The Piano). Andrzej Żuławski directs. It's the story of a marriage gone horribly, horribly wrong. There is an awful lot of screaming.

via youtube:



"I'm the maker of my own evil."

Moria gives it 1 sad star, opening its review with this:
This bizarre oddity was a film that nobody knew what to make of it when it came out but one that has steadily been gaining ground as a weird headspace cult classic ever since. Exactly what it is about could be anybody’s guess. It is filled with bizarre events that are delivered at a pitch of histrionic melodramatics.
Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 4 stars and says,
Divisiveness and duplicity are at the heart of Żuławski's notorious cult film, and Possession's dramatic structure is almost as schizoid as its protagonists, married couple Mark (Sam Neill) and Anna (Isabelle Adjani), whose relationship inexplicably comes apart
1000 Misspent Hours calls it "two hours’ worth of an incoherent and often ludicrous mess". 366 Weird Movies says, "This movie is long on style and short on decipherable substance, suitable for the LSD crowd, though with it’s schizophrenic script and cinematography, Possession on top of a dose of LSD would be redundant." Michał Oleszczyk's review at RogerEbert.com says, "It's all like a fast-forwarded Ingmar Bergman film on bad acid; "Scenes from a Marriage" as played in a home-made abattoir." Rotten Tomatoes has an 81% critics score.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In a Cup of Tea

In a Cup of Tea is one part of the Japanese film Kwaidan, directed by Masaki Kobayashi. In this story, a man keeps seeing a face in his cup of tea. Here's a trailer:

Watch the entire segment by clicking on this link to LikeTelevision, or you can see it embedded here:
I watch the DVD of this complete film every year. It's not the usual run-of-the-mill horror movie but tends more towards a ghost story feel. It's more eerie than scary. I like the other parts of the film, too. They work together nicely. I've never seen a face in my tea. Most likely the other T(ea) Party-goers over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's weekly gathering aren't doing scary things. But I'm sure there are seasonal offerings of some sort there.

Monday, October 20, 2014

He Dies at the End

Startle Alert. He Dies at the End is a 2010 self-explanatory short film directed by Damian Mc Carthy. I saw it first at Short of the Week.

via youtube:



Sunday, October 19, 2014

What's the Matter with Helen?

What's the Matter with Helen? is a 1971 thriller/horror movie starring Debbie Reynolds (as Adele) and Shelley Winters (as Helen) as the mothers of 2 young men convicted of murder. Their sons are spared the death penalty. After the mothers receive a phone call threatening to make them pay for the sins of their sons they pull up stakes, change their names and move to Hollywood to make a fresh start opening a dance school for kids. There's a subtle homosexual subtext as Adele is courted by a man in California and Helen's jealousy causes a rift.

Curtis Harrington directs. Also in the film are Dennis Weaver and Agnes Moorehead. And some poor little rabbits.

There's really not much to this. I've never been a fan of Shirley Temple, so the extensive musical numbers featuring child star imitators put me off. (You can see an example here.) I found the child singing, "Oh, You Nasty Man" ala Mae West to be actively offensive. Sheesh! That was horror enough for me.

via Youtube:



Slant Magazine gives it 2 1/2 out of 4 stars. DVD Talk calls it "a pre-sold 'crazy old actresses' project with a predictable script that the stylish Harrington did his best to enliven and embellish." Roger Ebert says, "I guess you folks who watch the movie of the week on TV know more about these plots than I do." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 33%.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dead Until Dark


Dead Until Dark is the first in the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris. They were the inspiration for the True Blood HBO series, which I haven't seen. This book is fun. Nicely written, clever, with well-drawn characters and an interesting plot. Elvis has a small part to play towards the end. I already have the next 4 in the series and will read them.

from the back of the book:
Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of "disability." She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome -and Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life...

But Bill has a disability of his own: He's a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of -big surprise- murder. And when one of Sookie's coworkers is killed, she fears she's next...
Sookie is a little delicate about public displays of affection. That has never bothered me -not sure why- and I found her squeamishness odd. It does solidify her character, though, as "virginal" in several ways. I found myself being a bit irritated at the numerous well-described sex scenes, and then I thought perhaps I was being delicate myself. Maybe. It did change the tone from horror/mystery to Romance, though, which made it less attractive to me. If the series keeps tending towards the Romance genre, I won't continue reading the books.

SF Site found it predictable. Tor's review calls it "one of the most popular urban fantasy series around". Love Vampires loves it and calls it "fast paced" and "a joy to read".

Friday, October 17, 2014

Opera

Opera is a 1987 Dario Argento horror film. It's typical Argento. There has to be a better way to keep someone's eyes open.

plot teaser from Wikipedia:
The film centers around young, insecure opera singer Betty (Cristina Marsillach). After the lead in Verdi's Macbeth is injured in an car accident, Betty is reluctantly thrust into the role in the opera. During her first performance, a murder takes place in one of the opera boxes. Mysterious murders continue throughout the film...

trailer via youtube:



Moria says, "Opera astounds in its sheer ferocity and perversity." Slant Magazine gives it 4 stars and a positive review. Horror Review says, "Argento provides his audience with a barrage of engaging ideas which are brought to the screen with equally powerful visuals." Gore Girls Dungeon says, "Argento’s stylish and inventive visuals, great elaborate murder scenes and an absolutely amazing setting certainly make it an entertaining watch." DVD Talk says,
Opera contains some of the best thrill sequences in Argento's career. The camerawork is amazing, going from extreme close ups of crow eyes, knives, Betty's eyes, exacto blades, to the contrasting wide open spaces of the opera house, the fitting room, and Betty's apartment. The camera moves, across huge wonderfully designed sets, and in gliding point of views (from the killers, Betty's, to the flying crows over the opera audience)- just great cinematography and use of Dario's distinctive, wonderfully cruel, and beautifully brutal, imaginative eye.
Rotten Tomatoes has an 83% critics rating.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Wendigo


The Wendigo is a 1910 weird tale by Algernon Blackwood. It's based on a monster from Algonquin legend. You can read Blackwood's story online. You can listen to it here while a video of a campfire plays. It begins easily enough before descending into horror. If you're tired of the gore or maybe never could get into gory horror, this story and others like it might suit you well.

Here's the first paragraph:
A considerable number of hunting parties were out that year without finding so much as a fresh trail; for the moose were uncommonly shy, and the various Nimrods returned to the bosoms of their respective families with the best excuses the facts of their imaginations could suggest. Dr. Cathcart, among others, came back without a trophy; but he brought instead the memory of an experience which he declares was worth all the bull moose that had ever been shot. But then Cathcart, of Aberdeen, was interested in other things besides moose—amongst them the vagaries of the human mind. This particular story, however, found no mention in his book on Collective Hallucination for the simple reason (so he confided once to a fellow colleague) that he himself played too intimate a part in it to form a competent judgment of the affair as a whole....
and from a bit further on:
The two men lay down, without undressing, upon their beds of soft balsam boughs, cunningly arranged. Inside, all was warm and cozy, but outside the world of crowding trees pressed close about them, marshalling their million shadows, and smothering the little tent that stood there like a wee white shell facing the ocean of tremendous forest.

Between the two lonely figures within, however, there pressed another shadow that was not a shadow from the night. It was the Shadow cast by the strange Fear, never wholly exorcised, that had leaped suddenly upon Défago in the middle of his singing. And Simpson, as he lay there, watching the darkness through the open flap of the tent, ready to plunge into the fragrant abyss of sleep, knew first that unique and profound stillness of a primeval forest when no wind stirs ... and when the night has weight and substance that enters into the soul to bind a veil about it.... Then sleep took him....
Tim's Book Reviews recommends it saying, "If you have read Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley and are looking for more authors of their ilk, look no further than Algernon Blackwood." Weird Fiction Review includes this story in its discussion of Blackwood.

The photo at the top of the page is of Blackwood and came from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Devoured: The Legend of Alfred Packer

Devoured: The Legend of Alfred Packer is a 2005 horror film referencing the story of prospector and purported cannibal Alferd Packer, who was convicted of manslaughter in 1886 and sentenced to 40 years in prison. This Troma production actually has little to do with the Packer events and focuses on murders that happened long after his time. This film is dreadful, fully deserving its 0% (yes, 0%!) rating from Rotten Tomatoes. I didn't finish it, and I rarely refuse to finish a film.

via youtube:


I'd never heard of Packer, but he's been the subject of several pop-culture treatments. It's mentioned in a conversation in Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man. There are a couple of songs about him. One is a humorous song from Phil Ochs -"The Ballad of Alferd Packer"- which tells the tale:


"That county had 6 Democrats until he did arrive. Well only one lives on today; he ate the other 5."

C.W. McCall wrote "Comin' Back for More" about Packer:



"It was Al Packer's legendary, coronary, fast-food cannibal bar and buffet."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Black Coffee

This video is of a lovely fire burning in a fireplace (a perfect setting for a creepy tale) while the narrator reads you the story "Black Coffee":


You can read along here at the Chilling Tales for Dark Nights site. The story begins:
I’m sending this email to warn you it is in the coffee. I knew something was wrong when I took the first sip. There was something spicy about it.

Oh, no! It's too late! I've already had my coffee!

Perhaps the folks participating in Bleubeard and Elizabeth's T(ea) gathering are staying away from coffee and will be safe. Check on them just to make sure.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fisheye

Fisheye is a 1980 short horror film directed by Croatian animator Josko Marusic. Turn about is fair play, perhaps?

via youtube:


The Paris Review calls it "an inspired blend of the macabre and the mundane." Animation Blog says, "If one doubts that animation can horrify let me warn you that the whole experience is a chilling one."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pulse

Pulse is a 2001 Japanese horror film directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. It's a type of ghost story, and I like these much better than the splatter- and gore and torture-filled horrors that seem to have become more popular. I have to say, though, that I didn't experience this as a horror movie. It was one of the saddest films I've ever seen, a picture of loneliness and isolation.

trailer:



There was an American remake, which I haven't seen, in 2006.

Slant Magazine opens its review with this:
During a Kiyoshi Kurosawa film, one sits in anticipation of the horrors lingering just outside the frame, and there's a profound sense of unease in those moments of stillness and indecision. Existential dread is an easy catchphrase to toss around, and has become the label for many a psychological terror tale dabbling in the fragility of the human condition. Kurosawa's movies have a genuinely unnerving effect on the viewer because they deal with the kind of loneliness that exists in an overcrowded world.
Moria says it "offer is a great deal of haunted atmosphere, which almost compensates for total confusion about what is happening." Empire Online gives it 3 out of 5 stars and says, "While not exactly reaching Ring-levels of terror, it’s certainly one for connoisseurs of the weird." DVD Talk says, "this is the kind of film that symbolizes what's so special about the sudden emergence of Asian horror. With very little gore and an overabundance of atmosphere, this is a strikingly thoughtful, Highly Recommended take on humans and their place in the universe." Horror News says, "if you are into the ghostly side of J – horror really like RINGU and JU – ON and still have not seen PULSE it is definitely worth your money and time". It has a 73% critics score at Rotten Tomatoes.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Black Cat (1934)

The Black Cat is a 1934 Edgar Ulmer Universal horror film starring Boris Karloff and Béla Lugosi. It also stars David Manners, and has John Carradine in an uncredited role. The story moves slowly, but if you like those old 30s-era horror films this is a good one.

from the Internet Archive site:
Honeymooning in Hungary, Joan and Peter Allison share their train compartment with Dr. Vitus Verdegast, a courtly but tragic man who is returning to the remains of the town he defended before becoming a prisoner of war for fifteen years. When their hotel-bound bus crashes in a mountain storm and Joan is injured, the travellers seek refuge in the home, built fortress-like upon the site of a bloody battlefield, of famed architect Hjalmar Poelzig [who was Verdegast's rival for his wife before the war]. There, cat-phobic Verdegast learns his wife's fate, grieves for his lost daughter, and must play a game of chess for Allison's life.
The music is intrusive, in my opinion.

via Internet Archive:


Slant Magazine calls it "one of the neglected jewels in Universal Studios's horror crown" and says, "Ulmer's deeply elegiac film is a grief stricken work, a spiraling ode to overwhelming loss, both personal and universal." Filmsite calls it "a classic, enigmatically disturbing horror film" and notes "It became Universal's top-grossing film of the year." Moria notes it's "regarded as a classic" but considers it over-rated. 1000 Misspent Hours has nothing good to say. TCM has a page on the film. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 86%.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Eye (2002)

The Eye is a 2002 Hong Kong horror film. The Pang brothers, who made 2 sequels, direct. I like the style. It's slow developing, but it doesn't have any trouble maintaining your interest. I found this movie extremely sad. I cried during this one.

I saw the re-make Naina last year.

from Wikipedia:
Blind since the age of two, 20-year-old Hong Kong classical violinist Mun undergoes an eye cornea transplant after receiving a pair of new eyes from a donor. Initially, she is glad to have her sense of sight restored but becomes troubled when she starts seeing mysterious figures that seem to foretell gruesome deaths.
via youtube:


DVD Talk says,
The Eye succeeds in simple quick scares heightened by some disturbing visuals that remain unsettling without turning to gore. The Pang Bros. definitely have that old school Robert Wise The Haunting sense of nightmarish eye cnady combined with perfect auditory fx to make you jump in your seat a little.
Scary Minds closes its review with this:
The Eye is a horror movie which understands exactly what that means. Firstly it has to try and scare the audience rather than grossing them out, and secondly it has to work as an actual movie, with plot, themes, character development etc. The Pangs deliver on all fronts and this film is more than highly recommended, it’s one of those elusive must see movies in the dark genre. If you don’t think ghosts are scary any more, then let the Pang Bros re-educate you on that point.
Best-Horror-Movies.com says, "The Eye starts strong and never lets up" and calls it "a highly effective and well made horror/mystery/thriller". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 64%, but the audience score is higher.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Great God Pan


The Great God Pan is a well-respected and influential horror story by Arthur Machen. Both H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King were influenced by this work. The story can be read online, and you can listen to it on Librivox.

It's an eerie alternative for you if you want something a bit creepy for the season but don't want to go the gore/slasher route.

The Guardian call Machen "the forgotten father of weird fiction" The Wales Arts Review says, "Machen won’t show you it all, he is not an explicit writer, where the horror is all described, splatter by splatter. Rather he nudges the reader forward with studied nuance and telling detail, setting his sentences like traps, like the blackest of spiders." The Edwardian Adventurer calls it "a masterwork of horror and dread".

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Moonchild

Moonchild is a 1974 film starring John Carradine, Victor Buono, Pat Renella, and William Challee. Definitely off-beat. It's slow and preachy, though, and a bit belabored.

As proof that I'm not the only one who found it a bit confusing, I offer the following two descriptions:
  1. Rotten Tomatoes offers this plot synopsis: "A young man finds himself trapped in a cycle of reincarnation, reliving the same twenty five years over and over, in this strange drama that was the master's thesis at USC for filmmaker Alan Gadney."
  2. Imdb offers this plot summary: "A young artists spends the night at a mysterious inn, where he meets a group of strange, sullen people, among them the innkeeper's beautiful daughter. What he doesn't know is that he has wandered into a kind of spiritual void, and the inn's residents are engaging in a battle over his soul."
Sounds like 2 completely different films to me.

I'm impressed someone could get stars with names I recognize to participate in his master's thesis!

via youtube:


Reviews are scarce. MSN has an overview and considers it a "thriller". ClassicSciFi.com says, "Primarily, the fun is Victor Buono. His flamboyant over-acting is the highlight of what would otherwise be a muddle of a movie" and, "Fans of New Age mysticism may find the film intriguing."

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Stay for Tea


Ah, October, one of my favorite months! -and not only because it has Hallowe'en. I watch more horror movies in October than at other times of the year. Like everything else in life, there's a tea connection. I'm pouring myself a cozy cuppa spice tea and watching a horror short film named Stay for Tea:



It's by Andrew Thompson and won Second Place in the Florida State University Midnight Short Horror Competition.

I'll bet there aren't any other horror movies playing at T(ea) Tuesday over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's weekly party, so feel free to skip my horror and just enjoy the sweeter offerings over there.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Lights Out

Lights Out is a horror short directed by David Sandberg. He won the Best Director award in the Bloody Cuts Horror Challenge 2013 competition.

via youtube:


NY Daily News says, "The Web is going wild for a minimalistic 2 minute, 42 second film that viewers say guarantees bedroom lights will be left on for good." Mashable says it'll "make you sleep with the lights on". io9 likes it.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Lyle

Lyle is a 1-hour long horror film described as "a lesbian Rosemary's Baby". It's a story of growing paranoia. I watched it online free, but it's no longer available. It is written and directed by Stewart Thorndike, and stars Gaby Hoffmann.

trailer:



Best-Horror-Movies.com concludes, "it truly is unsettling. It is raw. In the end, it is grimy. It burns a little bit in your insides. There’s some messed up business going on in this flick, and the ensemble does as strong a job of selling it as Thorndike does directing it." Fangoria notes that "LYLE debuted at the 2014 Outfest, where Hoffmann garnered the Grand Jury Best Actress Award." Dread Central says, "This isn’t one for the gorehounds, but if you like a chilling story that will make you think, Lyle is certainly one to check out."

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Smoke Ghost


Smoke Ghost is a 1941 short story by Fritz Leiber. I read it online here. It begins with this:
Miss Millick wondered just what had happened to Mr. Wran. He kept making the strangest remarks when she took dictation. Just this morning he had quickly turned around and asked, "Have you ever seen a ghost, Miss Millick?" And she had tittered nervously and replied, "When I was a girl there was a thing in white that used to come out of the closet in the attic bedroom when you slept there, and moan. Of course it was just my imagination. I was frightened of lots of things." And he had said, "I don't mean that traditional kind of ghost. I mean a ghost from the world today, with the soot of the factories in its face and the pounding of machinery in its soul. The kind that would haunt coal yards and slip around at night through deserted office buildings like this one. A real ghost. Not something out of books." And she hadn't known what to say.
I've read that it's considered influential and that it stands at the beginning of the modern urban fantasy genre. It places the ghost in a distinctly urban, industrial setting.

SF Signal calls it "quaint". Weird Fiction Review discusses "Grit and Social Dynamics" in the story, with special attention to the growth of the city, to the power of the female, and to racial issues. The Mythopoeic Society says that "Leiber modernized the horror story".

I have a list of horror stories and novels here that I'm trying to keep updated.

The photo of Fritz Leiber at the top of the page can be found scattered all over the internet, including at Fantascienza.com

Friday, October 03, 2014

Galaxy of Terror

I'm spending this month focusing on horror movies. There are a lot of them! Galaxy of Terror is a 1981 science fiction/horror film starring Edward Albert, Erin Moran, Ray Walston (who has a Star Trek connection), and Taaffe O'Connell. Robert Englund is also here. I had never heard of this 'til I ran across it online. Bizarre.

This is the story of a rescue mission sent to recover any survivors from a lost ship. There is much screaming.

Via Youtube:



Here's a trailer:



"I live and I die by the crystals." Yeah, right. I guess we all know how that'll end.

Moria says,
the film does create a constantly eerie atmosphere – the ever-present suggestion of something enigmatic and mysterious waiting inside the pyramid. The production design adds to immeasurably to this, creating a marvellously gloomy, perpetually dark atmosphere.
Oh, the Horror says, "it’s a movie that knows what it was created to do, and it does it. The effects are magnificently realized, and the set design (helmed by James Cameron when he was merely the king of second unit directing) is impressive". DVD Talk says, "it's an entertaining one that delivers the goods, crammed as it is with gruesome makeup effects, an indescribably outrageous alien-rape sex scene and, for its budget level, extremely imaginative art direction and Star Wars-style visual effects." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 36%.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Lottery

The Lottery is a short story by Shirley Jackson, who also wrote The Haunting of Hill House. It can be read online. It's considered a classic among American short stories; although it received negative attention when it first appeared, including hate mail and cancelled subscriptions to The New Yorker magazine which had published it.

The lottery process starts the night before with pieces of paper and a list of all the families. Once the slips are finished, they are put into a black box, which is stored overnight in a secure location. The next morning the town residents gather and the heads of the households draw papers until every head of household has one. Each member of the "winning" family then gets to draw a paper in order to select one individual person.

It has been much analyzed and studied, but I haven't researched or read any of that. I'm just reading the story for the shock value and because it's the month of Hallowe'en. It seems to fit the mood.

The story has been dramatized for radio (you can listen to it here), for television and for film. The 1969 short film is a faithful adaptation and features Ed Begley, Jr. in his 2nd role. That one can be watched on youtube, divided into 2 sections. part 1:



part 2:


The 1996 full-length television adaptation, which can be seen online at youtube here, is much more loosely based on the original story than the 1969 version. I suppose when they expanded it, they needed to fill in all that time. The story is better suited to the short film time frame.

A 2007 version is a short film and remains fairly faithful to the original (tho not as faithful as the 1969 version), but the music is heavy-handed.

via youtube:



I wonder what Shirley Jackson would've written as an older woman. She died in her sleep when she was just 48.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Bedfellows

As I get in the spirit of Halloween, I'm watching more horror. I've been surprised to see how many horror short films there are there. This one will discourage you from taking too much for granted:



Bedfellows is a 2008 film directed by Drew Daywalt. It's a Fewdio film, and you can learn more about them here.