Sunday, 9 December 2018
More On Movies X
The Undertaker aka Death Merchant (1988/2010/2016)
Can I say Joe Spinell gets more demented than usual? Probably not after Maniac (1980). He's a loveable undertaker with more than that on his mind and perhaps his colleagues should look out. Sadly this was Spinell's last piece of acting caught on celluloid. You're gonna watch this if you're a Spinell fan (speaking of which here's a mini doc on his life) or just a little bit mental. It's not that bad considering it wasn't even released straight to video at the time. This unfinished movie finally got a semi-official dvd release with stupid added in footage in 2010 by Code Red. The 2016 blu-ray restores The Undertaker to its original form. This is another Vinegar Syndrome release that brings you the dregs from the depths.
Boring horror movie Netflix shit. Got 20 minutes in and that was it.
The Hearse (1980)
Funny and a bit crap but it tightens up a little towards the end. This is a haunted house/satanic/nightmare kinda thing where dreams and reality get blurred. The Hearse is probably loved because of its campy absurdity than due it actually being chilling or frightening. An inept film that seems to miss every beat. Quite a feat.
Don't Answer The Phone (1980)
Strange tone from the very beginning which is so sarcastic. A man who's fat, rapey and hysterical commits ritualistic murders. Very much wrong but somehow enjoyable. I can't believe the brilliant noisy electronic score is actually part of this movie. If you like what I just described you'll either say this is another Vinegar Syndrome winner or moan.
Delve into the minutiae of Alfred Hitchcock's shower scene from Psycho. This is a Netflix documentary that's not as boring as you might imagine. I guess if you don't know much about Hitchcock or Psycho this would be much more interesting ie. I'm very much aware of most of what is being repeated here by so-called horror experts. There were a couple of little bits of information I didn't know though. I always wondered how they didn't get water on the camera lens in the shot looking directly up at the shower head from underneath...in fact I'm still not quite sure how they did that. On the talking head front we could have done with a lot less Eli Roth and just way more Bret Easton Ellis!
Secret Ceremony (1968)
Bizarre. This is all about the clothes, the house, the interior design, the eerie, the perversion & the depravity. Not quite like anything else I've ever seen. This film has to be seen to be believed. Cenci (Mia Farrow) is a regressive 22 year old whose mother died when she was little but she finds a lookalikey in Leonora (Liz Taylor) on a bus one day. The strangeness then begins. Add to that a pervy stepfather named Albert played by Mr. Robert Mitcham. Secret Ceremony is an outlandish psychological horror film that is incredibly entertaining. I imagine this is a cult classic in many circles.
The Dead Zone (1983)
An excellent movie that nobody ever says is great. I would have thought people imagined a Stephen King story in the hands of David Cronenberg would have been rather bloody and brutal but Cronenberg tones down the gore here. It's his first time directing a film that he did not write himself. Fine performances from Chris Walken, Herbert Lom, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt etc.
Christmas Evil aka You Better Watch Out (1980)
This film's tone is all over the place. Christmas Evil had real potential but seems to have been put together rather haphazardly. However it's easy to see why it's gained a cult following. It's funny, it's got murder by christmas decoration and Santa is an anti-social outsider. Harry (Brandon Maggart) is a disgruntled toy factory worker who takes it upon himself to become a real life Santa who ends up murdering people who do wrong. Worth watching at least once for historical purposes as this is where the homicidal Santa began, isn't it?
The Hitcher (1986)
I know I watched and wrote about this recently but Emma had never seen it and it's just been issued on blu-ray. The Hitcher would be in my top 10 movies from the 80s. The film-makers just do not miss a beat in this film. I'm thinking that it is perhaps flawless. There is something mysterious about the relationship between the psycho hitcher John Ryder (Rutger Hauer) and Jim Halsey (C Thomas Howell) the kid who gives him a ride. Is there something telekinetic going on or possibly a homosexual subtext? Am I just imagining this? It's hard to tell giving this film an enigmatic aura.
The Stepfather (1987)
I can't believe this is not a TV movie as it just felt like one. ie. rushed script, direction, editing, one take acting etc. The Stepfather has a very similar premise to Michael Winner's 1984 film Scream For Help but it's nowhere near as compelling as that nutty piece of work. Worth a look for slasher completists and fans of psychotic fathers.
Next Of Kin (1982)
I became aware of this film many years ago as someone suggested that the soundtrack was fantastic. Being a fan of Mr Klaus Schulze I tried to find the soundtrack but to no avail. I recently discovered the soundtrack was never actually released but it was a bunch of his music complied from his classic LPs of the 70s and early 80s. Despite Next Of Kin's relative obscurity now, this movie must have been known to cinephiles, at least, because it appeared on the front cover of Australia's legendary film journal Cinema Papers (see above) in 1982. Next Of Kin is a fabulous piece of underrated film-making. Director Tony Williams is obviously influenced by Giallo movies, classic haunted House films and probably The Changeling (1980). The cinematography is stunningly beautiful. It's a good little story with spot on direction, pacing, acting, atmosphere and sound design.
The Alligator (1980)
Great fun When Animals Attack film starring the fabulous Rob Forster. Terrific little story written by John Sayles. Don't you love it when directors write scripts that they don't actually direct? ie. Quentin Tarantino, Terrence Mallick, Larry Cohen, Paul Schrader, Walter Hill etc. A pet baby alligator is flushed down the lou with dire consequences. Funny, bit scary and fine entertainment!
The Last House On The Left (1972)
Haven't seen this for years. Haven't seen Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring (1960) which this movie is based on since I was in my early 20s, you know, when you felt like you had to watch every bloody arthouse film ever made. Anyway this left me guessing right up until the end. The Last House On The Left is a nasty yet compelling exploitation/complex rape revenge movie. Wes Craven's not my favourite director but this is way better than his other major 70s effort The Hills Have Eyes (1977) and probably his best work. Ooh the VHS nerd nostalgists wont like that comment.
They'll Love Me When I'm Dead (2018)
If you're a cinephile, Orson Welles fan or just interested in history you will have probably already watched this on Netflix. It's a great doc about The Other Side Of The Wind, a film that never was. Many years ago there was a documentary on like five or six films that Welles never finished which I recall being very frustrating. However somebody has completed The Other Side Of The Wind. I haven't watched that yet but this doc makes you very excited about the prospect of, at least, seeing a 2018 version of this film.
The Exterminator (1980)
Was not aware of this movie until the Diablolique Website did a fantastic list of the best vigilante films earlier this year. Sure, The Exterminator's not the best film ever but there are some scenes to maybe make it worth watching ie. NYC cesspool, Viet Vets, cars that blow up immediately after crashing, burning people, meat grinders, flame throwers, death by rat etc. It's quite a convoluted plot in a movie that could have done with mucho editing.
Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987)
I guess you know to expect absurd vigilante action thrills by now as this is the fourth in the Death Wish series. It's unbelievable that Charles Bronson survived this film. We're Back in LA for Death Wish 4. Many baddies have many bad shots at Bronson so he survives to tell another tale. That's enjoyment of Death Wishes 3 and 4 now, perhaps I really am becoming a Charles Bronson fan. Bring on Death Wish 5.
The Changeling (1980)
Not as boring as I remember, actually it's quite the opposite. The Changeling is a brilliant, grim, brutal and ultimately sad haunted house story with a deliberately slow burning pace. I wouldn't say I'm a big haunted house movie fan but this one really gets you in. An incredibly well executed film with stunning cinematography and a great unsettling atmosphere.
Death Line (1972)
Although there are comic moments here this is one of the saddest horror movies ever. I became aware of this in the 90s due to its fantastic Will Malone score. An upper class Englishman goes missing late one night in a London tube station. An investigation ensues with very unexpected, strange and twisted results. Donald Pleasance plays the arsehole Inspector Calhoun brilliantly. Death Line is worth watching for that performance alone but The Man played by Hugh Armstrong is a haunting pièce de résistance of pathos.
Alfred Hitchcock is so adept at creating suspense it's ridiculous and er... masterful. Rope is set in real time and I enjoyed every reel minute. Two posh young gentlemen (could perhaps be read as 'preppy dandies') murder an old school chum as some kind of exercise based on the ideas and philosophies of Nietzsche and De Quincey. Will this murder be an act of brilliant supremacy or supreme idiocy? Much technical wizardry and an ace script based on a play from 20 years earlier.