We have a late substitution. Originally, I had planned to review the 1980 Australian film Harlequin today but it would appear the film has been removed from Shudder and off the face of the Earth. Luckily, I have backup, the enigmatic 1980 thriller The Ninth Configuration written and directed by Exorcist scribe William Peter Blatty. Let this review also stand as a tribute to the star of The Ninth Configuration Scott Wilson who passed away four days ago at the age of 76. You may remember Wilson for his roles in the 1967 drama In Cold Blood and as Hershel Greene on The Walking Dead. Though after watching The Ninth Configuration. I believe this is the role Wilson should be remembered for.
No one shoots a kill scene better than Dario Argento. We’ve reviewed six Argento movies on Mildly Pleased now and it never fails to amaze me how much work goes into the demise of an Argento character. Here’s an example in today’s film Inferno. A woman after being attacked takes shelter in a neighbor’s apartment. She tries to relax in a sealed bedroom and puts on an opera record. As the music plays, we cut away to a pair of gloved hands—a classic Argento touch—making children out of paper and then cutting their heads off with scissors, we cut to a pet lizard eating a moth. We cut back to the woman as the power in the apartment goes off and on, the music cutting out with each flicker. She hears a noise and opens her door. Her neighbor friend enters with a knife lodged in his neck. The unseen gloved figure then proceeds to stab the woman repeatedly in the back to the tune of the opera music. That’s how you do it.
I have never felt this uncomfortable watching a film. Which is quite an accomplishment. Faces of Death sets out to do exactly what it does, disturb the fuck out of you with death. I don’t know what part of me thought I might enjoy this film. I think more than anything, I watched this film for its notoriety. As a horror movie completionist I had to know if Faces of Death had earned its spot in the most notorious echelons of the genre. It has earned that spot.
“What’s it like having sex with David Cronenberg?” That’s how I was going to start this review. The reason being that so many of Cronenberg’s films are about scary sex. Cronenberg’s first film, Shivers was about sex-crazed zombies, Naked Lunch and Videodrome were full of phallic imagery and things going in and out of various orifices, and don’t get me started about Crash. Not the Matt Dillon film. I’m not that twisted.
When I found out Cronenberg’s second film, Rabid was about a young woman played by a famous porn star with a bloodsucking hole in her armpit, I was sure I was going to see a healthy dose of triple X terror. I was going to dive into what makes Toronto’s number one provocateur tick. Instead, I watched a film that was a typical monster film. It’s a well made and well-acted monster movie, but it’s not perverted, it’s not even that explicit. If you ranked all of Cronenberg’s films I imagine Rabid would be right square in the middle? So what is the middle? More importantly, why did I still open my review talking about sex with David Cronenberg? Let’s find out.
At a glance, Daughters of Darkness looks like a trashy exploitation flick. Us horror buffs know the type. Your dime-a-dozen euro-horror (usually Italian) bloodsoaked booboramas with bad dubbing but for some reason an amazing soundtrack. Well, Daughters of Darkness does have an amazing soundtrack but it’s also not an exploitation flick. This is a classy affair better suited for a spot in the Criterion Collection than a midnight showing at a sleazy grind house theater.
This movie is metal as fuck. I mean it must be, right? If not for this film we wouldn’t have the greatest metal band of all time. Birmingham’s best would still be “Earth” and everyone knows the Earth is not metal. Except that is it 35% iron, 15% silicon, and 13% magnesium, but it doesn’t rock. Though it is a rock, but I digress.
So why did Earth become Black Sabbath? The band had their pick of the litter of badass Mario Bava titles; Black Sunday, Blood and Black Lace, Planet of the Vampires. The story goes the band saw Black Sabbath playing on a marquee across the street, noticed more people were seeing the movie than their show and thus changed their name to Black Sabbath, and thank Satan they did. Black Sabbath is one of the best band names on the face of this non-metal Earth. There’s a classiness to the word “Sabbath” and yet it feels gothic and evil. Like a Holiday for demons. In fact, the name is so good it’s actually better than the movie its attached too.
Welcome to Shocktober! The annual Mildly Pleased marathon where we will review 30 horror movies in 30 days with a surprise on the 31st. This year’s theme is “Shuddertober” meaning we will only be reviewing films available on the fantastic streaming service, or should I say “Screaming service”? Shudder. For the schedule and full list of films CLICK HERE . Or if you want to be surprised than just wait and it will come. There isn’t any actual reason to write the post it’s just a tradition. So kick back, eat a Snickers chocked full of razor blades, and let us entertain you. Or should I say, enter-PAIN? No, entertain is better.