12 Riffs of Christmas DIO and Iommi- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

tumblr_mf7kqzjsan1qdev51o1_1280Dio & Tony IommiGod Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (from the compilation We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year, 2008 Armoury Records) Perhaps the the last couple of legends that come to mind when you think of Christmas songs, Ronnie James Dio and Tony Iommi bring us the finest in Yuletide metal. These former Black Sabbath and Heaven and Hell mates made heavy music what it is today, so of course they have every right to do what they like regarding Christmas. I have had the honor and pleasure of seeing these amazing men in concert. The late, great Dio had one of the best voices in music. God rest, ye merry Gentleman. One of a kind.

T.

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31 Days of Halloween Day 31 – Halloween (1978)

31 Days of Halloween – Day 31

“Black cats and goblins and broomsticks and ghosts,
Covens of witches with all of their hosts
You may think they scare me, you’re probably right
Black cats and goblins On Halloween night”

Halloween (directed by John Carpenter, 1978) Typically, October 31st is the day we reserve on the calendar jack-o-lanterns, candy and costumes, and fun. Little ghosts and goblins roam the streets, going door-to-door for sweets. But in Haddonfield, Halloween took on a whole new meaning. Instead of tricks-or-treats, terror and fear fill people’s hearts. You see, October 31st is the night he came home. On Halloween night, 1963, a young boy named Michael Myers was left under the care of his older sister, Judith. Dressed as a clown, Michael climbed the stairs up to his sister’s room, pulled his mask over his face, and stabbed his sister to death. Fast forward fifteen years to Smiths Grove mental institute, where Michael has been a patient since the murder of his sister. Myers manages to escape, and returns to Haddonfield. Dr. Sam Loomis, Michael’s psychiatrist, heads to the town to try and intercept the now-adult psychopath. Loomis knows that what lies behind Michael’s dead eyes is pure evil, and realizes that the residents of Haddonfield could be in danger. After stealing an expressionless mask from the local five-and-dime store, Michael is now at large and disguised. Laurie Strode is a typical teenager, and along with her friends Annie and Lynda, become the targets of The Shape (the name given to Michael by the writers). Laurie heads out to her babysitting job, unaware that she, or the other girls are being stalked by the faceless killer. She soon discovers that her life is in danger, and must fight to survive her attacker. Dr. Loomis pieces together Michael’s intentions, but will it be too late? Can he save Laurie and stop The Shape from claiming one more victim on Halloween? This film is a study on how to get more from less. From the shoestring budget, to the minimal use of gore, to the simple story, John Carpenter’s Halloween is a home-run. The suspense and atmosphere are second to none, aided by a soundtrack that is as much part of the film as any other character. The violence is subtle, but realistic and believable. The Shape is the perfect villain. He does not stand out, he is emotionless, and becomes part of the shadows. He speaks no dialogue, remains masked, and does not command any sympathy from the audience what so ever. This makes us more sympathetic to Laurie, as she flees from the monster. It is not until Halloween II that we learn the whole back story of Michael’s family tie to Myers. The story of Halloween leaves a lot open for interpretation. We are unsure of Michael’s motives, or why he targeted these particular babysitters. The character of Dr. Loomis is important because his dialogue paints a picture of Myers as a calculated killer, and helps make Michael loom even larger. Jamie Lee Curtis is perfect as the girl-next door, all-American teenager. Halloween was her big screen debut, and she nails it as Laurie. The accomplished Donald Pleasence made great use of limited screen time, but became a horror icon as Dr, Sam Loomis. John Carpenter has brought to life numerous classic horror and sci-fi films, and Halloween fits right into that category. Numerous sequels have been made, but the only one that matters is Halloween II, which continues the story immediately after Halloween ends. If you are going to watch one film on Halloween, don’t you think it should a movie named after the occasion? There are scarier films, but there is something special about this one. To me, it encompasses everything a horror movie should be. I love Halloween because of Halloween, and vice versa.

I have really had a fun time over the last month writing about the films I consider must see Halloween viewing. I made it my mission to watch every film, whether I have watched it a couple times, or twenty five times. There were things I noticed about each film I never noticed before, and realized that there are moments that still make me cringe or give me a shiver down my spine. This is why I love these movies. I hope you can cherish them as much as I do. Thank you for reading. It has been a pleasure.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III
  • Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)
  • Day 25 – The Blair Witch Project
  • Day 26 – The Shining
  • Day 27 – Trick r Treat
  • Day 28 – An American Werewolf in London
  • Day 29 – The Changeling
  • Day 30 – The Exorcist
  • Day 31 – Halloween (1978)

T.

31 Days of Halloween Day 30 – The Exorcist

31 Days of Halloween – Day 30

The Exorcist (directed by William Friedkin, 1973) It seems improbable that a film with this subject matter could gain the critical and commercial success that The Exorcist has over the past forty years. Film goers in the early seventies were not quite as desensitized as we are in current times. Mainstream cinema had its fair share of chilly movies; Psycho, of the Dawn of the Dead, Rosemary’s Baby and Night of the Living Dead had seen wide distribution, and were all fairly successful. These movies, while considered scary for the time, could not prepare audiences for what was released on December 26, 1973. Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair), a young spirited girl, and her actress mother Chris (Ellen Burstyn) are taking residence in Washington D.C. while Chris is there for work. During their stay, Regan begins to exhibit strange behavior; anxiety, aggression, physical abnormalities. These symptoms are accompanied by strange noises and physical disturbances in the house. After a battery of tests is performed on Regan, it is determined that there are no physical sighs to indicate a cause. Regan’s condition becomes dire, and Chris becomes desperate to find help for her daughter. At the suggestion of a doctor, Chris turns to the church for help. She seeks out Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller). Karras himself has been questioning his faith because of his mother’s death. After an initial visit with the afflicted young girl, Karras decides to help the family. Whatever is inside Regan is making claims to be the devil, and knows things that the twelve year old would not know? Father Karras enlists the help of Father Lancaster Merrin (Max Von Sydow), who has experience in the field of exorcism. The ensuing battle between good and evil is shocking and intense, and has dire consequences. The Exorcist is one of those films that have a lasting impact on the viewer, whether positive or negative. The film is polarizing, but undeniably brilliant. It is the type of movie that you think twice about watching alone. The are some first class shocking moments in this film, all delivered by an amazing performance by a young Linda Blair. These scenes would not be half as messed up if an adult was doing the blasphemous things that are taking place. The actors are all great. Max Von Sydow and Jason Miller are convincing servants of god, fearless in the face of the subject matter. Director William Friedkin (French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A.) took something that would seem almost laughable in a story of demonic possession, and created a film that shocked and terrified, but most importantly, changed horror cinema forever. Not only did audiences take notice, but critics also saluted the film. Multiple Academy Award nominations and two Oscar wins were well earned. Possession films are a dime a dozen now, and none of them are really that good. The Exorcist set the bar so high that it will never been duplicated. There will come a time when Hollywood will try to remake this beauty, but they will fail miserably. How do you improve on perfect? This Halloween, watch The Exorcist. The power of Christ compels you.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III
  • Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)
  • Day 25 – The Blair Witch Project
  • Day 26 – The Shining
  • Day 27 – Trick r Treat
  • Day 28 – An American Werewolf in London
  • Day 29 – The Changeling
  • Day 30 – The Exorcist

T.

31 Days of Halloween Day 29 – The Changeling (1980)

31 Days of Halloween – Day 29

The Changeling (directed by Peter Medak, 1980) When I think of a haunted house, I do not think of skeletons crawling out of the basement, blood pouring out of the faucets, or ancient burial grounds. A Haunting is more effective when the occurrences are more subtle. Unexplained sounds, objects moving by themselves, and shadows are the things that fear are based on. The Changeling hits all the right classic ghostly spots. This is how a haunted house movie should be done. There are no over the top CGI, ridiculous looking specters, or bleeding walls. The film relies on good old fashion tension, a creepy mansion, and the theory that less is more. Grief stricken composer John Russell has recently lost his wife and daughter in a freak auto accident. Trying to piece his life back together, he takes a teaching job in Washington State, and subsequently takes residence in old mansion. Strange things begin to take place; taps turning on themselves, timed banging noises, and doors opening unaided. The discovery of a locked room in the attic has troubled the new tenant as well. After things begin to get worse, John has a medium come in the house. The results lead him to dig into the history of the house, and he discovers the eighty year old unsolved murder of a young boy. The ghost of the boy needs John to bring the secrets to light so his soul may rest, and the truth can be known. There are some really unsettling scenes in The Changeling. The murder of the boy, the medium making contact with the spirit, and the reappearing rubber ball are all haunting. If you have watched the film, you know exactly what I mean. George C. Scott provides a special performance, devastated by his loss, yet dedicated to solving the mystery of the mansion. He is a commanding screen presence. The mansion is vast and also gives a worthy performance as the vessel for the vengeful child spirit. I am not sure what age I was when I first watched The Changeling; maybe ten or twelve. But it took me a long time to watch it again. My greatest fear as a kid was ghosts, and this film scared the holy hell out of me. The effect has diminished, but it is still the measuring stick I use when comparing movies of the supernatural genre. Not a lot of films measure up to this classic haunted house story. Let this movie provide you with a worthy Halloween haunting.

Cool Fact: The Changeling won a handful of Genie Awards (the Canadian Oscars) including Best Picture, and Best Performance by a Foreign Actor (George C. Scott).

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III
  • Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)
  • Day 25 – The Blair Witch Project
  • Day 26 – The Shining
  • Day 27 – Trick r Treat
  • Day 28 – An American Werewolf in London
  • Day 29 – The Changeling

T.

31 Days of Halloween Day 28 – An American Werewolf In London

31 Days of Halloween – Day 28

An American Werewolf in London (directed by John Landis, 1981) Every time I watch An American Werewolf in London, I enjoy, and appreciate it, more and more. As far as horror goes, it is top notch. Amazing special effects (courtesy of legendary make-up artist Rick Baker), truly bizarre dream sequences, and a strong story are all present, but what really makes this film for me is the dark comedy. This should come at no surprise as John Landis (Animal House, Blues Brothers) wrote and directed the movie. Landis has a great knack for making audiences laugh. American Werewolf is a fine blend of terror and laughter. Two American college students are traveling through the Scottish countryside. During a brief stop at The Slaughtered Lamb for a pint, they are warned by the locals to “stick to the road and stay off the moors”. After ignoring the advice, they are attacked by a savage animal that leaves one traveler dead, and the other wounded. David, the survivor, wakes up in the hospital. He begins having terrifying dreams, and eventually is visited by his friend Jack’s corpse. Jack explains to David that he was attacked by a werewolf, and because he survived, David would become one as well during the next full moon. Is David losing his mind, or is this a true warning that he is now a man-wolf? As the moon turns, David, and most of London discover that the warning was valid. The beast runs wild in the city, resulting in some violent attacks, as well as some humorous situations. A scene in which a naked David wakes up in the city zoo is worth the watch, as is the first transformation scene. Rick Baker and his team did a masterful job. The effects were much better in American Werewolf than movies of the same time. David Naughton is great as the cheeky traveler David, and Jenny Agutter is charming and lovely as his love interest nurse Alex. The character who steals the show is Jack. Played by Griffin Dunne, Jack is David’s dead best friend who returns from beyond the grave to warn, and subsequently annoy, David. The scenes and dialogue between the two is genuine and funny. An American Werewolf in London is much more than a typical horror movie, but as far as films about shape-shifters are concerned, it may be the best all-around presentation of the genre. This classic should slide nicely into your Halloween line-up. And oh yeah, beware the moon.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III
  • Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)
  • Day 25 – The Blair Witch Project
  • Day 26 – The Shining
  • Day 27 – Trick r Treat
  • Day 28 – An American Werewolf in London

T.

31 Days of Halloween Day 27 – Trick r Treat

31 Days of Halloween – Day 27

Trick r Treat (directed by Michael Dougherty, 2007) Since I was a young kid, I’ve always enjoyed horror anthologies. Blame it on my short attention span or not, whether it was Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye, Creepshow and Creepshow 2, or Twilight Zone the Movie, I like the fact that these films have four or five mini-films that make up the whole movie. Some of these movies have a continuous theme or element, such as a character or object; they connect each story to one another. This is the case with Trick r Treat. There are four interwoven stories that all take place in the same town on Halloween night; a school principal and his son who take jack-o-lantern carving to the next level, a “vampire” who gets more than he bargained for from a group of girls who turn out to be real party animals, a group of kids who enjoy playing mean pranks get the tables turned on them in haunted quarry, and an mean old man who gets to meet the true meaning of Halloween up close and personal. Each story has one common element; Sam. Sam (short for Samhain) is a demonic little pumpkin faced creature who is an enforcer of Halloween rules and traditions. Sam is always there when something goes bad. If you disrespect Halloween, he will find you. Sam has become somewhat of a new horror icon, a deservedly so. He is as cute as a button, and just has deadly. Each story is based on some sort of urban legend or twist on a fairy tale, and are well crafted and infused with some humor. My personal favorite story is the haunted quarry. Years earlier, a bus of mentally disabled and troubled kids is driven into a rock quarry and left to drown. Present time, some kids plan to play a mean trick on a girl. Their plans backfire when they are the ones that fall victim. Great eerie atmosphere and a spooky setting make it a great segment in Trick r Treat. The cast includes Dylan Baker (SpiderMan 3), Anna Paquin (TVs True Blood), Brian Cox (Manhunter), and Leslie Bibb (Talladega Nights). This film has become an annual Halloween watch for me. If you want to watch a charming little anthology with a little bit of everything, make sure to check out Trick r Treat.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III
  • Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)
  • Day 25 – The Blair Witch Project
  • Day 26 – The Shining
  • Day 27 – Trick r Treat

T.

31 Days of Halloween Day 26 – The Shining (1980)

31 Days of Halloween – Day 26

The Shining (directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1980) Jack Torrance, an out of work writer, along with his wife Wendy and son Danny, takes residence as the winter caretaker for the Overlook Hotel. Jack has had his struggles with alcoholism, and looks at this as an opportunity to write the book in peace and quiet. Son Danny sees things differently. A gift he has developed allows Danny to for see the danger that awaits them at the Overlook. The hotel has a horrific secret, and Danny can feel it. Over the course of their stay, Jack slowly descends into madness. The spirits that inhabit the hotel have plans for Jack; they require him to kill his family, and eventually himself. Snowed in and without radio communication, Wendy and Danny must survive to escape the doom that awaits them at the hands of Jack. There are many theories of what Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is truly about, and frankly, too many to discuss here. Let us take it for what it is on the surface. It is a ghost story, on a few levels. First, Jack is harboring ghosts from his past, in the form of alcohol and abuse. Danny is trying to live with the ghosts that speak to him (figuratively), and Wendy is just trying to keep it all together. The spirits of the Overlook Hotel prey on the family’s fragile psyche. I will leave the discrepancies between the Stephen King novel and Kubrick’s movie aside, because there are many, and the film is much different. This is a brilliant film, plain and simple. Right from the opening scene, Kubrick creates and ominous tone, and fills us viewers with an impending sense of doom. The opening theme was a perfect piece of music to open the film. The Shining gives us a sense of disorientation, using the vast hotel and hedge maze to make us feel lost. The winter setting is isolating and makes the situation claustrophobic and desperate. Kubrick meticulously crafted this film to be ambiguous; this is why there are so many ideas floating around as to what his true message is. Regardless, it is perfect. The horror is not in the gore or the violence. The horror comes through the psychology the director places throughout the film; the long hallway shots, the oppressive nature of the hotel, the mystery of Room 237, and the malicious nature of Jacks temperament . Jack Nicholson plays Jack Torrance with such an arrogance and madness that makes him terrifying. Shelly Duvall is great as Wendy. She plays a needy, helpless, and simple character, until the life of her son is threatened. She then becomes fierce, and would do anything to protect Danny. Young Danny Lloyd played his role of tormented, spooky child very well. His “Tony” voice is quite good. Scatman Crothers has a small, but important role as the hotel’s cook, but more importantly, he shares the “shine” with Danny. He also paints the hotel as a place that can be very dangerous. There are many memorable scenes in The Shining; Jack and Wendy’s encounters in the main hall and the kitchen of the hotel, Danny wheeling around the hotel and discovering the “Twins”, and Jack busting through the door with “Here’s Johnny”. My favorite scene, perhaps of any film, is the bathroom encounter between Jack and Charles Grady, where Grady explains to Jack that he must “correct” his family. Chilling is one word to describe the exchange. As I am sure a lot of people share the same sentiment, The Shining is number one for horror in my books. Thirty-five years later, it still provides more questions than answers. If you are brave enough to see what is behind the door of Room 237, make The Shining part of your Halloween regiment. You know what they say; “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy”. We wouldn’t want Jack to get dull.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III
  • Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)
  • Day 25 – The Blair Witch Project
  • Day 26 – The Shining

31 Days of Halloween Day 25 – The Blair Witch Project

31 Days of Halloween – Day 25

The Blair Witch Project (directed by Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sànchez, 1999) Whether you like it or hate it, The Blair Witch Project is a polarizing film. Being promoted as a “true event” found footage film, this is the first movie I remember using the internet as the main promotional vehicle. The story was mysterious, aided by a vague website and a television “documentary” to hype the release of the film in theaters. Being made for a modest $60,000 and raking in $250,000,000 world wide, BWP is a true independent film success story. Three students set out into the Black Hills of Maryland to film a documentary on a local legend, Elly Kedward, a “witch” who was banished from a village after being suspected of practicing witchcraft. Events over the next two hundred years have led the residents of Burkittsville (formerly Blair) to believe that the area is cursed by Kedward, who is now simply known as the Blair Witch. The students, Heather Donahue, Josh Leonard, and Mike Williams become disoriented and lost in the woods during their investigation. Each night, increasingly bizarre events take place, and the trio begin to unravel. The fear of what is in the dark takes its toll and the film makers, becoming more and more hostile to one another. After one of them vanishes during the night, the remaining members break down and lose hope. What happens on the final night of their nightmare journey is unexplained and shocking. Whatever opinion you take on this movie, it has undeniably made an impact on film making. Cheaply made, promoted expertly, and kick-starting the found footage genre, BWP has made it possible for anyone with a good idea and some editing software to produce a film. This is a great example of guerrilla-style film making at its finest. A lot of the acting is genuine reaction, as the directors only kept in contact through radio, and had the actors kept in the dark as to what would happen next. There are some really creepy scenes, such as the voices and shadows of children outside the tent during the third night, and the final sequence which leads to the abandoned house. The camera work is very shaky, and the actors do a lot of yelling, but if you can look past that, it really is an effective film. I buy into the theory that less is more when it comes to atmosphere and effects, and BWP is bare-bones in this aspect. It’s not what you see that scares you; it’s what you can’t see that you have to worry about. The film makers did a great job of leaning on this to create the unnerving nature of the movie. Fifteen years later we all know that the story isn’t true, and although it isn’t perfect, it is original and worth a little attention this Halloween.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III
  • Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)
  • Day 25 – The Blair Witch Project

31 Days of Halloween Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)

31 Days of Halloween – Day 24

The Evil Dead (directed by Sam Raimi, 1981) It is amazing what you can accomplish with a movie camera, a small budget, and a group of close friends when you put your mind to it. This is essentially how The Evil Dead was made. Director Sam Raimi (Drag Me To Hell), producer Rob Tapert and star Bruce Campbell (Army of Darkness), with some friends, made one of the most memorable horror movies on a budget of just under $400,000 (some films have a budget of over $150,000,000, and they suck). Creativity can go a lot further than money, and this film proves it. Five friends travel to a remote cabin for a little rest and relaxation. While they are there, they discover an ancient book and an old reel player. As they listen to the reel player, they discover that the book is called the Necronomicon, the Sumerian Book of the Dead. The voice on the reel recites some of the text as they listen, and the incantations awaken a sleeping evil in the woods. One by one, the characters are possessed. Can Ash (Bruce Campbell) survive the demons long enough to see the daylight, or will the evil swallow another soul? One thing I really enjoy about Evil Dead is the physical acting that takes place. The action, along with the campy nature of the film almost makes it seem like you are watching a demented episode of the Three Stooges. The last half of the film is basically one long, bloody action sequence. The make-up effects, while walking the fine line of being cheesy, are charming,and have a distinct look, and continue to do so through out the series. There is plenty of gore, dismemberment, sexual assaults by trees, screeching and laughing Deadites (possessed people), and most importantly, Bruce Campbell, to keep you entertained for the duration of the film. It is easy to see why the Evil Dead films, and Army of Darkness, have such an amazing fan base. If you manage to acquire a Blu ray copy, the transfer is very good, and makes the experience better. I loved my VHS copy, but it was shoddy at best.I have always been torn over which Evil Dead, 1 or 2, I like better. Evil Dead 2 is essentially the same movie with better effects, brilliant one-liners, and jacked-up insanity. While it is also a classic, I think I am more impressed with first film. It has a distinct “home-made” element to it that reminds me of being a kid, running around with my friends and a camcorder, making our own horror movies. I had not watched Evil Dead in sometime until this writing. I won’t make that mistake again. Please give the Deadites some love this Halloween. Just don’t read the paperback version out loud, unless you want to fight demons all night.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III
  • Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)

T.

31 Days of Halloween Day 23 – The Exorcit III

31 Days of Halloween – Day 23

The Exorcist III (directed by William Peter Blatty, 1990) When I first wrote out a list of the movies I would blog about for my ’31 Days of Halloween’ series, for day twenty-three, I had James Whale’s 1935 classic Bride of Frankenstein. Bride is probably the best of the Universal Monster movies of the 30’s and 40’s, but it just didn’t seem right to include it on this list. I wanted to give the spot to something that truly scared the hell out of me after seeing it for the first time. Friends and I went to the theater to watch the film, and it immediately had an effect on me. And if that wasn’t enough, no word of a lie, there was a storm and power outage that night. I had to sit in the dark and think about what I just saw, and if the devil was responsible for the lack of electricity on my street. This is why I switched in The Exorcist III as day twenty-three on this list. This movie still gets under my skin. Lieutenant Kinderman (George C. Scott) has been investigating a string of serial murders which share far too many similarities to those of “Gemini Killer”, who has been dead for fifteen years. The current murders contain evidence that only the police knew about during the original series of killings, but what is really puzzling is that the finger prints at each scene are different, making it seem that there are multiple killers at play. The trail leads Kinderman to a psychiatric hospital and what he discovers in Cell 11 will truly test his faith in all that is holy. Exorcist III should be considered the true sequel to the classic 1973 The Exorcist. The film has received average reviews, and admittedly seems to be appreciated more twenty five years later, but I feel it does not get the credit it deserves. The story is actually well crafted, and makes sense. True evil never dies; it just finds another body to hide in. The acting is great lead by George C. Scott, who was always a commanding screen presence. Jason Miller returns as Father Damian Karras, and the always charming Brad Dourif is scary and convincing as the Gemini Killer. The cast of elderly people, who play an important part of the story, are wonderfully creepy. The original is so shocking and blasphemous that it would be hard to even come close to duplicating, but this sequel tries to deliver some genuinely freaky moments. One of the best jump scares of any film, in my opinion, is a long hospital hallway shot that builds for quite a bit, but delivers a satisfying payoff. What frightens me most in horror films is the use of Catholicism and religious symbolism, or demonic possession (if done right), and Exorcist III is chalk full. This Halloween, if you want to see the film that made me (figuratively) wet my pants, watch The Exorcist III. If you do not get the creeps, you can laugh at me.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III