In the August of 1975, a patrolman arrested an unusual man who had been cruising around the suburbs late at night. The man had removed the front seat of his car and he had a bunch of conspicuous items, like a ski mask and handcuffs. But the man had an explanation for everything. Thankfully, Detective Jerry Thompson remembered a similar suspect and vehicle were described in a different case, and even though the man was released, Thompson began working with police in five different states to put everything together. Eventually they had enough hard evidence to put together a case and arrest the man, convicting him of dozens of murders and other heinous crimes. That man would escape prison and kill again, and eventually he was sentenced to death. His name was Ted Bundy.
I saw the first Night of the Living Dead in the Nineties, when I was just a kid, too young to understand any of the movie’s themes. I watched it with my family and mostly remember being excited about the second tape that came with the movie, the parody Night of the Living Bread. I didn’t see its sequel (and the remake of that) until I was in college. I watched a downloaded copy of Dawn of the Dead in my dorm room by myself and absolutely was all about its criticisms of consumer culture and message of hope beyond all reason. Now, all these years later, thanks to the advent of (arguably too many) streaming services, I have finally completed watching the three Living Dead movies that matter.
It’s hard to say what possessed me to choose the 1980 slasher flick Prom Night as one of my Shocktober picks. In fact, I don’t think I put really any thought into choosing it. I just saw Prom Night on Shudder, and saw that it starred a post-Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis and thought, “yeah, maybe that’ll be fun”. And was it fun? Well, it has its moments. Though it probably could’ve benefitted from a little more camp, and a little less trying to be a legitimately scary movie, which despite a few effective scenes, it isn’t. Continue reading
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.
Sometimes there are films that for whatever reason, despite having a lot going for them, don’t entirely work. After all, there is a lot to enjoy about John Carpenter’s second widely released feature The Fog: the stylish vibe of peak Carpenter, the effective synthy score (again courtesy of Carpenter), the intriguing locale of a sleepy California sea town, and the mother-daughter pairing of Jamie Lee Curtis and Janet Leigh. Though despite all this, The Fog just isn’t that scary conceptually. Which doesn’t by any means make it a failure, since as I said, there’s plenty here that makes it a worthy entry from maybe the best horror director of its era. Continue reading
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.
You don’t usually get the chance to ponder why anyone ever remakes a film, seeing as the answer is almost always “because money”. However, this isn’t necessarily the case with Werner Herzog’s remake of the 1922 silent horror classic Nosferatu. After all, Werner Herzog has never seemed like a director who has ever done anything for the money (including his head-scratching turn as the villain in Jack Reacher).
So why remake a genre picture? Especially when it seems so far removed from the kind of subject matter that typically concerns Herzog’s career-long search for “the ecstatic truth”? Well, for one, Herzog described F.W. Murnau’s original as the greatest German film ever made. So it says something that Herzog had the ambition to take on this very influential film, while also managing to make a film nearly as good. Continue reading