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Execproducer

Halloween Havoc : Season of the Witch

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Okay, I have to admit I laughed at

Necro: Everyone has seen Cube

My review: I've never seen Cube.

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5 hours ago, nate said:

My favorite Vinnie triple threat is House on Haunted Hill, House of Wax, and Abominable Dr. Phibes.  My desert island choices.

I'm totally down with having those three but Masque of the Red Death is hovering right there next to them. The only one I could throw off is House of Wax but who the fuck would want to throw that off?

Also, I haven't seen all of Cube, just somewhere from the middle to end.

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I don't know if I will ever watch the Cube series.

The Pit I'm watching ASAP. @jaedmc, glad you enjoyed Tower of London.  I always wonder if my picks will end up in the hands of someone who will appreciate them. So far, so good.

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And we are down to the last four reviews. Two for tomorrow, two for Halloween.

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I really enjoyed the movie I reviewed, but I am a little bummed that I didn't get either Tower of London or The Pit.... which is okay since Execproducer probably assumed correctly that I'd already seen both of them... which I have... several times...

I agree with Fowler.  I really liked Cube, but Cube Zero was a bit of a let down.  The human dynamic is what makes Cube so interesting in addition to the weird quantum geometry edutainment that kicks in during the middle act. 

If Cube weren't so violent, you could show it in a college science course about hyper-constructs or number and string theory.

Cube Zero is all about the construct killing people, so the Cube becomes the masked killer in a slasher movie and random murder is only fun for so long.  It is even less fun when unlikeable characters are introduced that you want to see die horribly as soon as possible.

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6 hours ago, Execproducer said:

 I always wonder if my picks will end up in the hands of someone who will appreciate them. So far, so good.

You have an uncanny knack for putting the right movies in the right hands. :)

6 hours ago, Curt McGirt said:

Also, I haven't seen all of Cube, just somewhere from the middle to end.

Cube is one of those movies that nearly everyone has only watched one or two times all the way through.  I think I caught it every other day when it debuted on Showtime back in the day and I caught it in bits and pieces.  

Then I did the same thing when it was on heavy rotation on the (then) Sci-Fi Channel which is now Syfy.

 

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Twiztor, I'm glad you liked my pick.

 

I had never even heard of the Cube series before this thread.

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Since I will take absolutely any opportunity to mention this: I have been directed by the director of Cube.  (when I was an extra in his segment of ABCs of Death 2)

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"What, man! defy the devil: consider, he's an enemy to mankind"
William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
 
"The devil, my friends, is a woman just now.
'Tis a woman that reigns in Hell."
Lord Lytton
 
"Don't you know there ain't no devil, there's just God when he's drunk."
Tom Waits, Heartattack and Vine.
 
 
Film: Blood on Satan's Claw
Chosen by: odessasteps
 

The Blood on Satan’s Claw

1971, directed by Piers Haggard 

Retroactively, we now have a sub-genre called folk horror, loosely defined as stories set in the countryside, usually in a historic time period like Victorian England or earlier. The “unholy trinity” of this genre come from roughly the same time period: Witchfinder General (1968), The Wicker Man (1973) and The Blood on Satan’s Claw.  

Set in 18th century England, a village is beset by a series of events involving beastly body parts and demonic (possessed) children.  

Viewed in 2018, the film certainly has issues that have aged well, including a sexual assault during a type of black mass and a nude scene by a then 17 year old actress. The violence and gore, on the other hand, perhaps shocking at the time, would likely not generate much controversy nowadays. 

British genre fans would also be interested to see two Doctor Who notables in the cast: Wendy Padbury, following her time on the show during the Second Doctor era, and Anthony Ainley, a decade before playing the Master in the 1980s. 

 

For more on the film, check out the history of horror documentary by Mark Gatiss made for the BBC (52:00)

 

Reviewed by: Execproducer

The Blood on Satan's Claw is a fantastic example of what would become known as the folk horror genre. In 18th century England, a farmer named Ralph Gower (Barry Andrews) turns up animal like skull fragments while plowing a field. Probably nothing out of the ordinary except for the fact that this skull has what appears to be a human eye staring back at him. Bringing the local Judge (Patrick Wymark) to the site, he finds all traces of the skull gone and the Judge doubting his story. Meanwhile, Peter Edmonton (Simon Williams) returns to the village with his fiance, Rosalind (Tamara Ustinov). They go to the home of his aunt, where the Judge is also staying, and are met with open hostility at the idea of their impending union. Auntie and Judge force Rosalind to spend the night in the attic, though Peter tells her he will come after everyone is asleep. But the Judge likes to drink and talk, so it promises to be a long night.

Eventually, Peter makes his way to the attic just in time to hear his beloved scream in terror, waking the household. He tries to enter the attic only to be prevented by the Judge. Auntie goes in and decides that the best way to calm the poor girl down is the liberal use the palm her hand upside the head, a method the Judge also employs on a frantic Peter. Bad move, Auntie! She stumbles out of the room with a face full of scratches and Judge orders the door boarded up until the guys from the nuthouse can come fetch Rosalind in the morning.  As she is led away, all crazy eyes, only Peter seems to notice her new set of claws.

Meanwhile, the village youth, led by Angel Blake (Linda Hayden) begin to act a little bat-shit crazy and bodies start to drop.It seems some evil force is harvesting limbs and skin from the locals to build a body of it's own. If you suddenly have some unsightly hair growth, you've got a much bigger problem than public embarrassment.

The Blood on Satan's Claw was originally conceived as a portmanteau film in the vane of Amicus films of the era. It was meant as three stories set in different time periods, but director Piers Haggard opted to conflate them into one story. Often, the stitching shows as characters shift from foreground to background and back again, have their arcs abruptly ended, or simply just disappear. The Judge is huge in the first part of the film and is so sinister you expect that maybe he is somehow connected to the evil doings. But then, he is off to London and doesn't return until late in the proceedings, only now he one of the heros of the piece. The character of Rev. Fallowfield (Anthony Ainly) is positioned as the nemesis of Angel and her cult and is set-up for a fall but once his innocence is established, bye bye Reverend.

There are issues with the film that might have been daring in 1971 that many are going to find unacceptable in 2018. There is a still quite brutal rape/murder that takes place about midway through. It could realistically be argued as integral to the film, showing the escalating pagan madness and devotion to the evil infecting Angel and her crew, but a lot of people won't want to hear that. There is also the attempted seduction of Rev. Fallowfield by Angel that involves full-frontal nudity by the 17 year old Linda Hayden. By that point, she was already a veteran of screen nudity, having made her film debut at 15 in Baby Love. Yeah, it was a different time.

Despite that, there is a ton of good about this movie. Shot in the countryside around Pinewood studios and other locations, you really get a sense of the period. And every time you're  indoors, you can see the grime on the walls and the dirt in the corners that must have been nearly impossible to keep at bay if you didn't have an army of servants. Cinematographer Dick Bush employs a lot of low-angles and frames shots through branches and windows so that you feel like you're eavesdropping on life. There is a fantastic scene where the cultists play with a victim at the site of some ruins. As the hand-held camera moves in a circle around cultists and unsuspecting, blindfolded victim, Angel appears in the background twice, in a separate part of the ruins, patiently waiting for the poor sap to be guided to her. The use of the landscapes by Haggard and Bush can't be praised enough. For all of the issues with turning three narratives into one, it still manages an interesting story.

The score is great. Appropriately rustic in the countryside and appropriately eerie when needed.

The casting is nearly perfect. Character actor Patrick Wymark, who would die before the films release is very good as the Judge. As are Barry Andrews, Anthony Ainely,  Wendy Padbury (Cathy Vespers), Charlotte Mitchell (Ellen Vespers), James Hayter (Squire Middleton) and Howard Goorney as the doctor that maybe you don't want to see when you're ailing. Michele Dotrice is fantastic as Margaret, a cultist that shows up midway through, who Ralph attempts to save. And Linda Hayden is simply magnetic. With just a handful of scenes, she dominates the whole film. Her career would ultimately be about more horror, sex comedies, and TV, which is fine if you're a connoisseur of the low-brow, but too bad for her. She could have been a contender. 

 

 

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I like how we manage to spell Anthony Ainley's name 3 different ways. :)

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"Even after killing ninety nine tigers the Maharaja should beware of the hundredth."

-Kalki Krishnamurthy, The Tiger King

"Khrushchev reminds me of the tiger hunter who has picked a place on the wall to hang the tiger's skin long before he has caught the tiger. This tiger has other ideas."
-John F. Kennedy

"Four legs good, two legs bad."

-George Orwell, Animal Farm

 

Film: Burning Bright

Chosen by: Marty Sugar

"Submitting Burning Bright (2010), which is basically "What if Jaws was a Tiger?" Fun film"

Reviewed by: J.T.

Burning Bright (2010)

a review by JT

I kinda figured out from the title that a tiger played heavily into the plot of this movie.  After all, as a high school student, you're forced to analyze The Tyger by William Blake ad naseum.  You're inclined to hate it as all kids that are force fed "the classics" usually do, and them something clicks and you find yourself agreeing with you old fogey teacher.  This poem is good shit!

Burning Bright has a lot of moving parts, so let's dig in.  First, we have our protagonist, Kelly (Brianna Evigan) who is the epitome of the woman on the edge.  She yearns to have a life of her own, but her current orbit is captured by the strong gravitational pull of her caregiver status to her autistic brother, Tom (Charlie Tahan).  Kelly loves her brother very much, but his condition holds absolute sway over her own future.  She even has a nightmare in which she murders her brother by smothering Tom with a pillow, because deep down inside she feels that only Tom's death will provide the catalyst for liberty that she desperately craves.

Normally, this would serve as a tool of vilification.  How dare she see her brother as the albatross around her neck!  However, I empathized with Kelly's situation, as I am currently living through a similar ordeal myself.  My father has Lewy-body dementia; an awful malady that I would not wish on my worst enemy and everyday, I watch in abject horror as I see the ripple effects of his condition take its physical and emotional toll on my mother and nearly everyone in my immediate family.

Anyway, this sets the table for one of the best tales of survival at any cost that I have seen in a motion picture. 

Just as Kelly has decided to leave her troubled brother with her estranged father (played by the extra slimy and talented, Garret Dillahunt, whom some may recognize from his role as the demented killer, Simon, on the popular USA show, Burn Notice), Kelly finds herself in a life and death struggle against a tiger which has mysteriously been set loose in their home.  The windows and doors have been boarded up, trapping Kelly and Tom inside.  Obviously, the father has set this all up for some unfathomable reason, but you can forgive the blatant telegraph because of the harrowing experience you are about to witness.  The claustrophobic set piece is the perfect stage to once again partake of the age old story of man versus beast.

I don't want to give too much away, but the journey and the satisfying conclusion are all worth your time.  Cliché though the premise may be, this is a movie that is tension filled like no other.  I was literally on the edge of my seat until the final credits rolled.

I wish that director Carlos Brooks had done more to incorporate the central theme of Blake's poem into the plot.  Throughout her experience, Kelly constantly weighs her own survival against the survival of both herself and her brother.   The Tyger is about the appreciation of the melding of beauty and ferocity, and I was a little bummed that given Kelly's feelings about her brother, she never really dwelled on how the animal trying to kill her might also deliver her.  She has sacrificed so much of herself for the sake of her brother and now here is the opportunity where his sacrifice would break the familial bonds that have burdened her for so long.

I suppose this was probably a road too far and Brooks did not want an audience to completely despise Kelly, despite the fact that someone might have a similar battle of conscience if they ever found themselves in a desperate battle to save their own neck.

There is literally a genre of movies and prose where animals serve as the "monsters" in a movie that could technically be placed in the Horror genre but this one like Jaws or Primeval or The Ghost In The Darkness or the Stephen King short story, Here There Be Tygers, feels so fresh and primal.  To paraphrase myself, it is easy to check your fear at the door when you go to see a monster movie because vampires and ghosts and werewolves do not exists.

However, if the antagonist is a psychotic serial liller or a vicious animal, it is impossible to invoke your usual movie privilege of suspending your disbelief because these threats are as real as you are.

Madmen and tigers and bears.

Oh, my.....

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16 minutes ago, Execproducer said:

Lol I'm glad that was your big takeaway from that post.

I could have written "we made the same points independently of each other." :)

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I would never have guessed that Marty picked that one.

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I have thought people (especially here) would recognize Dillahunt from Deadwood. 

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25 minutes ago, odessasteps said:

I have thought people (especially here) would recognize Dillahunt from Deadwood. 

I wasn't a big Deadwood watcher.  I immediately recognized him from Burn Notice, though.

And aw.  The embeded video cuts my Wizard of Oz reference in half. :(

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3 hours ago, J.T. said:

I would never have guessed that Marty picked that one.

Because...?

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“I can smell your blood now. I can smell it in every room of the house.”
Jolie du Pre, Litria
“I like stories about supervillains. They teach children that you can accomplish great things even when the whole world is against you.”
G.D. Falksen 
And I'm thinking about the old man. He'll be pounding on the glass right about now... or maybe not now. Maybe in a while. But he'll be pounding and... will there be blood? I like to imagine so. Yes, I rather think there will be blood. Lots of blood. Blood in extraordinary quantities.”
Alan Moore, Swamp Thing

 

 

Film: Hatchet
Chosen by: Brian Fowler
 
"As a lifelong fan of slasher films, finding good ones is rare. Finding good ones that were made this century is even rarer. Hatchet is both those things, and a love letter to this terrible but beloved by me genre."
 
Reviewed by: odessasteps
 

Hatchet (2006) 

Written/Directed by Adam Green 

A very passable throw back to 80s horror that has now spawned a number of sequels and whose antagonist has apparently become this century’s Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. 

A thrown together group of tourists go out for a New Orleans swamp tour: our nebbish protagonist, his cooler minority pal, two old folks from the mid-west, a Girls gone Wild type producer and two of his skanky stars and a quiet loner girl. Add in a rookie tour operator and what could go wrong? 

retro in style and feel, we get plenty of both gratuitous boobs and grisly deaths, courtesy from our Swamp Monster. Many of the gory deaths are so over the top you can’t help but laugh out loud. 

Some familiar faces have cameos here,: Robert England and Tony Todd make brief appearances early on. And one of the bimbos was played by Mercedes McNab, Harmony from the Buffy tv show. Genre devotees will know Kane Hodder, the man behind the monster Victor Crowley, as a longtime portrayer of Jason in the 80s through the 00s.  

Although a relatively compact film coming in under 90 minutes, it did drag a couple times, but nothing too horrible. The acting was fine, given the material was pretty straightforward. Everyone was playing it serious, even though there was a good bit of comedy.

 

A solid if not spectacular picture.

 

 

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“And how do you know that you're mad? "To begin with," said the Cat, "a dog's not mad. You grant that?" I suppose so, said Alice. "Well then," the Cat went on, "you see a dog growls when it's angry, and wags it's tail when it's pleased. Now I growl when I'm pleased, and wag my tail when I'm angry. Therefore I'm mad.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
 
“Maldonado's face was ghastly. 'That' she said, pointing below the bed where the cat lurked, 'and that' - pointing to what lay on the floor - 'prove it was no dream. Do dreams leave marks behind them?' 
Cornell Woolrich, I'm Dangerous Tonight
 
“There is love in me the likes of which you've never seen. There is rage in me the likes of which should never escape. If I am not satisfied in the one, I will indulge the other.”
Mary Shelley - Frankenstein 
 
 
Film: Spiral
Chosen by: Brian Fowler

"Weird being on this end

I choose Spiral (2007, dir J. D. Moore and A. Green)

A modernized Hitchcockian thriller with a deep but of psychological horror"

Reviewed by: Execproducer

Spiral was actually Brian's first pick, but it proved difficult for odessasteps to track down. Hatchet was the back-up. Since Brian ran this thing for so long, I felt like he deserved to have his first pick reviewed. My original plan was to make it an Adam Green triple feature, but I never got the review for Hatchet II.

Spiral is the story of a fella that meets a gal. Only this fella has severe social anxiety and other assorted mental issues. But, through sheer determination and somewhat stalker-ish behavior, this pixie of a gal manages to break through that heart of palpitating fear to make him a better man!

Spoiler

Until he kills her

Or does he?

Anyway, the first couple minutes of this play like an early 90's indie  A foot splashes a puddle on a rainy street as the camera pans up where, through a diner window, we see a waitress pouring a cup of coffee. Camera follows a phone cord on an apartment floor over the sound of coughing, then tighter shot of waitress. Phone cord and coughing again and close-up of waitress. Cut to close-up of man standing in rain, staring at waitress and clicking his teeth. Arm reaching across nightstand to pick up ringing phone as a male voice says "What?" Camera pans up on rain man, now curled up on apartment floor, wheezing "I did something." into phone. Quick cuts between the two men talking, close-ups of lips moving and cuts to a cracked bedroom door, way over lit from the inside that rain man keeps peeking around the corner at and yadda yadda yadda. If it had kept on like this, I'd have probably tapped out early. But it eventually settles down into something watchable and so I did.

Anyway, turns out the guy that rain man Mason (Joel David Moore, who also shares directing and writing credits) is talking to is his boss, Berkeley (Zachary Levi), who has clearly had these late-night conversations many times before. Why, you might ask, would someone's boss put up with that or be as involved with an employees life as Berkeley clearly is? Are they brothers? College friends? Possibly partners in serial killing?  The film is very slow to dole out info,  even of the basic sort and it isn't until the halfway point that you get a rough idea of their relationship and the source of Mason's issues. But it is a relationship that only makes sense in movies. In real life, a narcissistic misogynist like Berkeley would have left someone like Mason behind years ago.

The other relationship that doesn't make sense is the one that Mason forms with his co-worker Amber (Amber Tamblyn) who pursues Mason like he was George Clooney. He is not George Clooney. He isn't even George Costanza. He is so crippled with anxiety that he can barely navigate his way through an office to sit at his cubicle.He has never even been to a movie!  And he is just plain weird. They sort of try to portray Amber as a little mouse of a woman that no one notices. Nope! Tamblyn and Moore actually have a bit of screen chemistry but no way, no how do these characters work as a couple.

Anyway, before they become an item, Mason keeps having hallucinations of the waitress from the opening, posing for him in his studio. Yup! Besides selling insurance, Mason is a talented artist and Jazz connoisseur. Of course he is. And the waitress was his muse and girlfriend. Apparently, sad sack Mason has a long list of impossibly hot girlfriend/muses. But, once Amber enters his life, he discards those remnants of his past. Like the 20 or so portraits of the waitress that were hanging behind his couch. And that thing rolled up in a carpet that looks suspiciously like a body. He's got a new muse now!

Well, he does keep the dozens of sketchbooks with different women's names, all in the same poses, that Amber will  eventually discover. She will wisely decide that it is time to go their separate ways. But then she'll go back to his apartment to tell him face-to-face!

The whole thing ends on an annoying double twist. Second twist is created by first twist but in reality, it is what we have been watching play out the whole time! And it just creates more questions about what is real and what isn't in a movie that doesn't particularly care to answer them in the first place.

But I still liked it. I enjoyed the rainy Portland setting and the original jazz score and the central performances even if I didn't believe in the characters. Thumbs somewhere in the middle.

 

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Based on what I read about Spiral before being unable to find an easily available copy, I am happy I was given a straightforward and a little meta throwback slasher pick. 

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There's something funny about Spiral ending up a back up review.

Way back in the first time I ran this, I got extra choices from Jingus* and maybe JT. So I put out a call if anyone wanted to review a second film to make the last couple days bigger. Then I got more offers than I did extra films iirc, so I threw Spiral in (I think to @jaedmc) and it became a bonus review.

At any rate, nobody else ever seems to like "what if Hitchcock made an early 00's indie film' as much as me, but such is life. I found it exclusively because of Hatchet anyway. Moore went from starring in that to trying to direct this. At some point Green was added to directing because things weren't going great.

*I wonder whatever happened to Bryan. He vanished from here, Facebook, and the comments of the one film blog we both are regulars at.

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37 minutes ago, odessasteps said:

Based on what I read about Spiral before being unable to find an easily available copy, I am happy I was given a straightforward and a little meta throwback slasher pick. 

Yeah my bad. I didn't double check. Had no idea it was oop and not on any service.

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I was figuring on at least finding a used copy at 2nd and Charles, but they didnt even have one. 

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