Wicked Wednesday: Black Christmas (2019)

Christmas is a time to spend with loved ones. And if you’re spending them with your family, it’s also a time where conversations inevitably get political and you have to leave the room.

The 2019 reimagining of one of my absolute favourite movies, 1974’s Black Christmas, was incredibly controversial when it came out. I saw a lot of anger that was overwhelmingly negative, and it scared me away from watching it. Not that it didn’t sound like something I’d maybe enjoy, but there were too many opinions flying around, and I knew my viewing experience would be affected by that.

That being said, it’s two years since its release, and that’s what I still attach most to this movie: the anger. So I’ve watched this movie, sat and thought about it and even discussed it with a queer friend of mine. I let my views have time to “ferment” if you will.

And after a few days of mulling over it, I think my issues with the film only grew.

Without the controversy surrounding the negative reviews upon its release, I don’t think there’s anything much remarkable about this film. We’d have forgotten about it if it hadn’t made a certain group Very Mad.

The 2019 version of Black Christmas strays even further from the original than the 2006 remake. But the bare bones are there: a group of sorority sisters are killed off at the start of Christmas break. This time, writers Sophia Takal (who also directed) and April Wolfe give the story a spin about being a sexual assault survivor. If the script had stopped there, I think we may have had something really special.

Instead, the movie spirals into this bizarre plot about a fraternity that discovered a bust of the university’s founder. And that bust gives them power over women? I mean, don’t they already have that without magic.

Riley (played by an uncharismatic Imogen Poots) was sexually assaulted by a fraternity member when she was younger. When she and several of her sisters perform a reworked version of “Up on the Housetop”, they publicly call out frat houses’ rape culture. Riley’s more social-conscious sister, Kris, gets the girls women into trouble when the video goes viral.

This seemingly triggers a number of attacks on sorority sisters around campus. The violence is nonexistent here. It had a PG-13 rating, which the director wanted in order to appeal to a younger crowd (which I get, but I don’t think was successful). But the ladies all win in the end because we’re badass.

And hooray. The women win. But this doesn’t feel like much of a win.

As someone who has been assaulted, like nearly every single one of my friends, this movie was nice to see, but it didn’t really feel like I took anything from it. I didn’t feel vindicated. But if it helps anyone out there, I’m so glad it did.

But by making the villains supernatural, it no longer felt like someone fighting my demons on screen. It was a fantasy no longer rooted in reality. Laurie Strode’s PTSD in Halloween (2018) felt so much more to me. That film really addressed the aftermath of trauma so well.

I felt betrayed by the messaging that this was going to be a modern, updated version of Black Christmas, which itself tackled feminist themes of abortion rights and stalking. The diversity of this film was paraded around like something to be impressed with. There weren’t any queer characters. At all! From anywhere on the spectrum! And Hollywood has an issue with never casting dark-skinned Black women. That’s 100% the case here too.

This whole movie shouted white feminism to me, and I couldn’t get past that. It centers a white woman and is about a white woman’s problems. I get it. Almost all horror is! But I’m bored of that being called “brave” and “controversial”. Nothing about it felt fresh or challenging. Maybe we’ve already changed a lot two years on.

And the film’s message takes center stage. The “horror movie” part takes a back seat. There’s no suspense or real horror. The 1974 version still makes me scream and squirm, and I’ve seen it 100 times. To be honest, though, that’s completely fine if that’s what the filmmakers wanted. I think it could have been much more effective it wasn’t trying to squeeze into the skin of another movie.

All of that being said, I thought this movie was okay. This was just a lot of fun to dissect. I wouldn’t talk anyone out of watching it. I would probably even watch this again and enjoy it still! Though I saw my low rating of the 2006 remake, and I’m wondering if that deserves a rewatch and reassessment too.

I loved the little nods to the original and the 2006 remake (the crystal unicorn, the icicle murder). And there’s even a shot paying homage to the great Exorcist 3. I also enjoyed when the plastic bag murder was turned on its head, even if it wasn’t pulled off with any great success (remember that PG-13 rating?).

And most of all: we love seeing horror created by women. There will never be too much of that.

This is definitely a movie that was a target of much more hatred than it deserved. I was honestly really waiting for something shocking to happen, but it never did. It’s a fun Christmas slasher with a message about women protecting women. We love to see it.

Maybe certain people are just a bit more fragile than they think they are.

🙂

Wicked Wednesday: Crawlspace (1972)

Somehow, even weeks later, am still in a big movie slump. I have turned my mind to cotton candy by watching endless amounts of trashy television instead. But if there’s one thing I will never say no to, it’s a made-for-TV movie.

I have a big fear of people being inside my home without my knowledge. At night, I think about the Daniel LaPlante case all too much. One of my sisters lives in one of those older houses with the attic door inside the house and it terrifies me. If you stay quiet, you can hear rattling up there. It makes me run like a little girl every time.

When I saw the synopsis for Crawlspace, I was expecting something more sinister. Something that would only fuel my nightmares. But instead, this made-for-TV movie is more about the players in the tragedy.

Alice and Albert Graves are an older couple, recently moves to the countryside from the city. They’re a lonely pair, so when they meet their handyman Robert, they invite him for dinner one night.

A few nights later, they realise that Robert is living in their crawlspace below the house. The odd man initially keeps his distance, but Albert and Alice continue to try and coax him out. They begin to see him as a son they never had but always wanted.

At Christmas, Robert eventually accepts a second dinner invitation and arrives in a suit bought just for him. The Graves are pleased, and they welcome him into their home, even though he still prefers his crawlspace.

When Robert is spotted around the Graves’ homes, the locals begin to talk. The local sheriff stops by, warning the Graves that Robert isn’t to be trusted. But Alice and Albert ignore the warnings, insisting that Robert is just a misunderstood boy.

It’s unclear what exactly is wrong with Robert if anything (though he does sort of look like the Wolfman). His odd behaviour seems to be enough to fuel the locals’ distaste for him.

Things escalate with Robert and the locals as they begin to egg each other on. Robert vandalises a store. Some local boys begin harassing the Graves at their home in return.

But it’s after this that things begin to get really tragic. The movie is hardly a horror movie. It’s really just a sad tale about a group of people who make a lot of really bad choices in the name of protecting each other.

I wish we got to know a little more about Robert’s background. There are a few hints in the objects we see in his crawlspace. As he’s not much of a communicator, there’s never a real chance for him to explain his life. Despite my desire to know more, I do think that having a mystique around him does mean that it’s up to the viewer to decide whether or not Robert was acting in good faith.

This was a nice, sad little TV movie. I think it’s not very flashy by any means, but it does tell a good story and has a great cast. Arthur Kennedy as Albert and Teresa Wright as Alice were both so compelling and believable.

If you really want to ruin any holiday cheer in the air, this is a great, stark tale with a bit of a wintery feel.

Wicked Wednesday: Death Line (1972)

I love movies made in the 70s and 80s that show off the seedier sides of their cities. The Warriors, An American Werewolf in London, Basket Case. These all show a gritty, neon-lit version of either New York or London. The cities become menacing characters themselves.

Death Line shows off a beautiful, yet sick side of 1970s London. Everything here is so brown and sad, yet beautiful: and I love it.

It was a Twitter thread about favourite Donald Pleasance roles that pointed me towards this film. And really, Pleasances absolutely steals every scene he’s in as the cynical Inspector Calhoun.

One day, Calhoun gets assigned the case of a missing gentleman, an OBE last seen at Russell Square tube station. The couple to last have seen him were students Patricia and Alex. The couple had found the man unconscious on the platform steps. When they returned with help, they discovered the body missing.

Calhoun suspects the young couple of trying to rob the man and brings them in for questioning (in Alex’s case, repeatedly). During his investigation, Calhoun learns the urban legend about a group of people who were trapped in the underground during its construction. The people trapped supposedly survived, the descendants living there still.

Low and behold: they still do live. And they love human flesh.

As Calhoun continues his investigation, Alex and Patricia get separated on the underground one night. Patricia immediately gets kidnapped by the last-remaining cannibal. It’s up to Alex to save her (well, and eventually the police).

This movie is bleak – very much a contemporary Swaney Bean story. There’s nothing pretty about it – you get some nice, lingering shots of chewed-on finger bones. The design for the cannibal character is pretty nauseating to look at. I know because I tried eating dinner while watching this.

I did find certain finer details unclear to me. So I found parts of the story disappointing. But I blame it on the quality of the video. I watched Death Line on the Plex streaming app. And I’m starting to think there’s a major issue with the app. Otherwise, I seem to only be watching movies that have the worst sound mixing ever. It was difficult to hear what was going on at times, and subtitles weren’t an option. I’d certainly watch this again with a treatment that is more kind.

The underground scenes were all filmed in Aldwych station. As long as I’ve lived here, it’s been closed. But it was a working station at the time of filming. It’s a rather creepy station to walk by these days, all gated up and graffitied. The station is the perfect place for cannibals to live.

But really, we’re all here to watch Pleasance chew the scenery. He even has a short (and maybe pointless?) scene with Christopher Lee, who plays an MI5 agent. He gives the movie a lift of comedy to stop the story from feeling one-note. He was truly one of the great, and this is definitely one of his great roles.

Wicked Wednesday: Savage Weekend (1979)

I’m still very much in a movie hangover following The Challenge. Savage Weekend is the only horror movie I watched all week. And honestly, I had to force myself to watch something.

Probably didn’t help things that I watched what felt like the world’s slowest slasher film.

Now maybe that’s not completely accurate. But this sleazy soap-opera-like movie is incredibly bloodless and boring. But it does have some intense banjo tunes.

Maria is recently separated from her husband, Greg, following a political scandal. She, her sister Maria, friend Nicky and new bf Robert head upstate to a farmhouse in the countryside.

Along the way, the group gets up to shenanigans, including beating up homophobic hicks and buying stupid masks. You know, the usual road trip must-dos!

When they arrive, Robert’s friend Jay is there. Jay gets roped into helping build Robert’s new boat, which is meant be put together by local eccentric/possible murderer Otis.

There’s not much else that happens here. Marie gets turned on by local lumberjack Mac. But she ends up rejecting his advances later. I would explain why, but I’m not exactly sure why. I think it’s because she’s with Robert, but you could have fooled me. Marie and Robert are supposedly in a relationship but barely act like it until the final act of the film.

As everyone prepares for a nice dinner one night, everyone realises that Jay has gone missing (spoiler alert: he’s dead). The group split up and yes, everyone gets attacked and eventually dies bar Marie.

It’s really unsurprising when the killer takes off his mask. It’s grumpy Greg! I think he might have explained his motive, but the audio was so incredibly bad, that I couldn’t really hear what the actor was saying (he was mumbling). And honestly, I don’t really know if I care what his motives were!

That’s probably the main issue with this movie. It was so weighed down with relationship drama, but nothing I felt invested in. So when everyone died, it didn’t seem too big of a deal.

I did appreciate that the characters were older and that Nicky was gay. I did wonder why Nicky could kick so much ass in the beginning but was taken down so easily by the killer. Seemed like one of those scenes was unnecessary.

Anyway. I’m sorry Savage Weekend. I didn’t like you. This might be an “It’s me, not you” situation. My brain is fried, and the last thing I needed was drawn-out drama and pointless scenes of intimacy. If we’re going to have this in a horror movie, you might as well cover it in blood.

Wicked Wednesday: 100 horror films in 92 days, wrap-up #3

I did it! I watched 103 new-to-me horror movies from August to Halloween, beating the 100 horror films in 92 days challenge. I feel very accomplished, but now… I know of don’t know what to do with myself.

This month, I managed to accomplish my goal of watching some Asian films. Now I can safely say that I’m eager for more. I’m seeing Hausu, which looks joyously bonkers, next week at the cinema. And I haven’t even looked at the BFI’s programme for Japan 2021 yet. Please send along any recommendations.

Will I be doing this challenge next year? Hell no! But I’m glad I did it.

As someone who loves rewatching old favourites, this challenge is exactly what I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone. That being said, I’m feeling very burnt out. There have been many romantic comedies on the TV in the aftermath of Halloween.

Films #73-103

73 Muppets Haunted Mansion (2021) dir. by Kirk R. Thatcher

74 The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) dir. by Michael Chaves

75 There’s Someone Inside Your House (2021) dir. by Patrick Brice

76 The Haunting (1999) dir. by Jan de Bont

77 Yokai Monsters: 100 Monsters (Yƍkai Hyaku Monogatari) (1968) dir. by Kimiyoshi Yasuda

78 Nightbooks (2021) dir. by David Yarovesky

79 The Demon (1979) dir. by Percival Rubens

80 Under Wraps (2021) dir. by Alex Zamm

81 She-Wolf of London (1946) dir. by Jean Yarbrough

82 Halloween Party (1989) dir. by Dave Skowronski

A delightful SOV short about some kids at a Halloween party. Clearly just a group of friends making a movie together, and it’s pure magic. I’m desperate to know more about it. Watch it on YouTube here.

83 Rawhead Rex (1986) dir. by George Pavlou

84 All Hallows’ Eve (2013) dir. by Damien Leone

85 Hack-O-Lantern (1988) dir. by Jag Mundhra

86 Till Death (2021) dir. by S.K. Dale

87 Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare (Yƍkai Daisensƍ) (1968) dir. by Yoshiyuki Kuroda

88 Seance (2021) dir. by Simon Barrett

89 Alone in the Dark (1982) dir. by Jack Sholder

90 Sinister (2012) dir. by Scott Derrickson

I watched this movie in broad daylight, and it still managed to unsettle me a lot. After watching it, I had to watch four episodes of the Babysitter’s Club just to feel slightly normal again.

91 Psycho Goreman (2020) dir. by Steven Kostanski

92 Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (2004) dir. by Brett Sullivan

93 Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959) dir. by Bernard L. Kowalski

94 Brain Damage (1988) dir. by Frank Henenlotter

95 Halloween II (1981) dir. by Rick Rosenthal

96 What’s the Matter With Helen? (1971) dir. by Curtis Harrington

97 Mon Mon Mon Monsters (BĂ o GĂ o Lǎo ShÄ« ! GuĂ i GuĂ i GuĂ i GuĂ i WĂč !) (2017) dir. by Giddens Ko

98 Cat People (1942) dir. by Jacques Tourneur

99 Bingo Hell (2021) dir. by Gigi SaĂșl Guerrero

100 Dementia 13 (1963) dir. by Francis Ford Coppola

101 Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) dir. by Shinya Tsukamoto

102 Veneciafrenia (2021) dir. by Álex de la Iglesia

I watched this Spanish film during the Halloween FrightFest. This was my favourite movie I watched in October. A gorgeous giallo-inspired story that follows a group of Spanish tourists during their holiday in Venice. It ticked all boxes for me. Fantastic on the big screen.

103 Halloween Kills (2021) dir. by David Gordon Green

Recommendations for what to watch on Halloween (redux)

Back in 2017 I wrote a list of horror movies to watch for Halloween. And to be honest, looking back on it, it isn’t up to scratch. While a list of fun and great horror movie, I thought it just didn’t scream HALLOWEEN enough.

So here’s part 2. The redo. Movies that I’ll personally be watching over the next few days and on Halloween. This time, I decided to include some non-horror films. Because hey, not everyone wants that!

1. WNUF Halloween (2013) dir. by Chris LaMartina, various

A truly one-of-a-kind. This is found footage movie is done in the style of a VHS taping of a live news report on Halloween 1987. There are news reports, local commercials (that are repeated) and a Halloween special involving ghosts!

It’s cheesy and fun. But it also gets unsettling enough at the end to scare you. If you love low-budget magic with plenty of kitsch, this is the one to check out.

2. Halloween Party (1989) dir. by Dave Skowronski

When I saw little, my sister and her friends made movies using my dad’s VHS camera. They made horror movies mostly, the best of which was titled Pretty in Pink Turned Blood Red. They just made shorts doing the best that they can.

Halloween Party is a shot-on-video oddity that aired on Connecticut public television in 1989. It reminded me a lot of those movies my sister made back in the early 90s. It’s a group of friends making a horror movie about some kids getting killed at a Halloween party. It really has the feeling of the bored fun you’d have as a teen.

It’s short. It’s sweet. It has a surprisingly effective mask. Come for some SOV greatness, stay for the “Monster Mash” dance at the end.

3. The McPherson Tape/UFO Abduction (1989) dir. by Dean Alioto

In my humble opinion, The McPherson Tape is one of the most effective found-footage movies. First of all, I really hate aliens. I believed they lived in the woods behind my parents’ house. So an alien movie that takes place in the woods? I’m done.

A family get together to celebrate the birthday of their youngest member. When the lights go out, some of the family go out into the woods to see an alien spaceship. The family must escape, but the aliens already know they’re there…

There’s apparently a 1998 remake. But if it isn’t as grainy and haunting as the original, I don’t want it!

4. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) dir. by Tommy Lee Wallace

The third instalment of this franchise is easily the most difficult to describe. “There’s a man, and he has bits of Stonehenge. And he’s putting the stone in microchips that go in masks that will make kids’ heads melt into snakes on Halloween night!”

Yeah. This movie is weird. But it also stars Tom Atkins, who’s ace.

When I first watched Season of the Witch, this was often considered by many to be the worst in the franchise. No Michael! But I’ve seen a lot of love for this in recent years. Its reappraisal is well deserved, I think.

5. Hell House LLC (2015) dir. by Stephen Cognetti

Apparently I’m big into found footage this Halloween. This one is easily the scariest on the list.

A group of friends running a haunted house go to an abandoned hotel for their newest tour. In typical haunted house fashion, the group refuses to leave despite all the sirens and warning lights. When things go south, it’s terrifying. But the build-up in this one is equally as uncomfortable.

I’d skip the sequels for this one. They’re convoluted and pale in comparison to the real scares this one has. I also: I don’t recommend watching this if you’re alone in your house.

6. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) dir. by Bill Melendez

A classic for a reason. Whether you’re young or old, this is the ultimate cozy tale of Halloween. I rewatch this TV special at least once a year. If children’s specials are your thing, I recommend listening to Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack. It epitomises the snuggly feeling of carving pumpkins and going trick-or-treating.

7. Night of the Demons (1988) dir. by Kevin S. Tenney and Night of the Demons 2 (1994) dir. by Brian Trenchard-Smith

If you want a Halloween double feature, these two classic slashers are perfect. Teenagers at a haunted house on Halloween night is always a winner. Throw in some iconic characters and possessions, and you’re set.

Both of these movies are quintessential examples of their era. Night of the Demons has lots of teens doing stupids things to Bauhaus. Its sequel amps up the bitchiness and adds more nuns. These two are lots of fun and always work a rewatch on Halloween night.

8. Practical Magic (1998) dir. by Griffin Dunne

I don’t think this ever comes across in this blog, but I’m a bit of a romantic and a big fan of fantasy. Alice Hoffman writes the perfect type of book for me. And this adaption of one of her most famous novels is a classic.

Practical Magic is the tale of the Owens sisters, whose family has been cursed. Anyone they fall in love with is doomed to die. The multi-generational family must stick together when Sally and Gillian get themselves into trouble with a dead boyfriend and a suspicious investigator.

While not strictly a Halloween or autumnal movie, there’s plenty of witchy business to give the right vibes. Plus the cast is absolutely perfect in this. Dianne Wiest and Stockard Channing steal the show. Watch this with your loved ones (this one means a lot to my sisters and me). Have yourself a midnight margarita while you’re at it.

9. The Sentinel (1977) dir. by Michael Winner

If you’re looking for supernatural horror in the same vein as The Exorcist or The Omen, but have already seen the classics, try The Sentinel.

Young model Alison Parker moves into a Brooklyn brownstone, thinking she’s found the perfect place. But the building is full of strange inhabitants, including a priest that is seemingly always looking out the window keeping watch over…something.

As Alison spirals, so does the film’s imagery, increasingly becoming more and more surreal and terrifying.

I get the feeling this isn’t a hit with most people. But every time I watch The Sentinel, I find myself scared as much as the first viewing.

10. Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1972) dir. by Bob Clark

When a theatre troupe head to a remote island, things go very wrong when the troupe’s leader performs a ritual to raise the dead. It’s dark comedy in Clark’s signature style, co-written by and starring Deranged director Alan Ormsby (who also directed the excellent Popcorn). For a low-budget movie, its effects are really effective. The atmosphere is perfectly eerie. It’s also very funny.

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things shows the promise of what’s to come from two horror icons. Perfect for exploring the early careers of both Ormsby and Clark.

Wicked Wednesday: The Demon (1979)

The Demon has to be the first South African film I’ve watch for this blog. In fact, outside of District 9, I’m not sure if I have seen any South African-made films before! Set is South Africa with foreign directors (ie Hollywood), sure, but that’s something else entirely.

This movie gave me big Day After Halloween vibes, which incidentally was also released in 1979. The Australian movie was linked to Halloween following the American slasher’s release. And here I saw many bits of publicity sayin that The Demon was a knock-off of Black Christmas. Now, Black Christmas is one of my favourite movies of all time, so any similar vibes were welcome. Alas, there isn’t much linking these two stores besides a few plastic bags.

There are nearly three entirely separate (and unfocused) threads through out this film.

The first follows a family whose daughter gets kidnapped from her bed one night. The parents hire Bill Carson, a psychic detective and former Navy man, to help them find their lost Emily. Or even to just learn if she’s still alive. Bill’s methods are unusual, including drawing the culprit, who has no face, and sitting in Emily’s room moaning.

The kidnapper is also a stalker, following the school teacher Mary.

Mary gets stalked, then gets stalked some more. She’s not very interesting but she’s out final girl, so just like her anyway.

Living with Mary is her younger cousin, Jo. The younger girl has a much less hesitant approach to life. She soon snaps up a wealthy American man to pamper her. Mary disapproves of the relationship, which is fine because both Jo and her boyfriend will get killed anyway.

The three stories seemingly come together when the killer attacks Emily’s dad, triggering a sequence of events including revenge killings and death by bathtub.

There isn’t much here that isn’t standard slasher fare combined with TV-movie drama. I was intrigued to see a South African film, but the shorts were so dark I couldn’t see much of anything. The cast had plenty of Americans in it, but I’m willing to allow it as one of them was Cameron Mitchell (Blood and Black Lace).

I think I would have felt less betrayed by the movie if its selling point was Black Christmas rip-off. Not that I can blame the movie itself for that.

There was one major different between the two stories. In Black Christmas, there were a lot of characters, but you knew who to care about and you cared about them! I was confused as to why so much of the screen time was dedicated to Jo’s love life in The Demon. You end the movie not knowing much about Mary at all other than she’s a teacher. She gets a surprise/convenient boy friend at the end of it, though.

Oh and there are no demons in this, by the way. Just in case you also get betrayed by this movie’s weird marketing.

WICKED WEDNESDAY: 100 HORROR FILMS IN 92 DAYS, WRAP-UP #2

Another month, and another 36 films were watched for the “100 Horror Movies in 92 Days“ challenge! I’m slowly crawling towards that 100 mark. Will I make it? Probably not! Will I keep trying? Sure will!

Since arriving in Texas a few weeks back, I haven’t watched many movies. Granted, I’ve seen My Little Pony: A New Generation about fifty times, but I’m not sure that fits the parameters for this challenge.

But it’s been nice not to watching movies for a bit. Shocking, I know. I felt like the challenge was making all the movies blend into one. That being said, writing up this list made me realise I watched a lot of very good movies in September.

Still didn’t watch any Asia horror this month, but I have a lot on the docket for when I return to the UK. There are lots of new favourites here – especially within the found-footage subgenre. Finally got around to watching a lot of the cornerstones. I continue to out myself as someone who always puts off watching the modern classics!

Films #36-72

36 Crawl (2019) dir. by Alexandre Aja

37 The Chill Factor (1993) dir. by Christopher Webster

38 Cuadecuc, vampir (1971) dir. by Pere Portabella

39 The Bloodstained Butterfly (Una farfalla con le ali insanguinate) (1971) dir. by Duccio Tessari

I was put off by Arrow’s hideous alternate artwork for this release. But I’m so happy I finally watched this, as this has to be one of the best gialli I have ever seen. Beautiful with a great, twisting plot.

40 Primeval (2007) dir. by Michael Katleman

41 Scare Package (2019) dir. by Noah Segan, Emily Hagins, Baron Vaughn, Aaron B. Koontz, Chris McInroy, Anthony Cousins, Hillary Andujar, Courtney Andujar

42 Phantasm II (1988) dir. by Don Coscarelli

43 The Wasp Woman (1959) dir. by Roger Corman

44 Creep (2014) dir. by Patrick Brice

45 Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood (1973) dir. by Christopher Speeth

46 Alligator (1980) dir. by Lewis Teague

47 Man Beast (1956) dir. by Jerry Warren

48 Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1972) dir. by Curtis Harrington

49 Prom Night (2008) dir. by Nelson McCormick

50 Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1981) dir. by William Asher

A bizarre, queer horror story that completely took my by surprise! An incestuous aunt, a fake homosexual love triangle and in over-the-top corrupt cop. It’s like it the script was written by Stefon. *But actually, this is very, very good.

51 Monstrosity (1963) dir. by Joseph V. Mascelli

52 Mass Hysteria (2019) dir. by Jeff Ryan, Arielle Cimino

53 Lake Michigan Monster (2018) dir. by Ryland Brickson Cole Tews

54 Creep 2 (2017) dir. by Patrick Brice

A rare beast: a found-footage sequel worthy of its predecessor!

55 The Descent (2005) dir. by Neil Marshall

56 Malignant (2021) dir. by James Wan

My god. I LOVED this beauty. I cannot wait to watch it again! This is going to be a new favourite. An incredible final act unlike anything I have seen made by a major studio in the last thirty years (if ever).

57 Bloodbath at the House of Death (1984) dir. by Ray Cameron

58 Dead Silence (2007) dir. by James Wan

59 Parents (1989) dir. by Bob Balaban

60 The Mutilator (1984) dir. by Buddy Cooper

61 Superhost (2021) dir. by Brandon Christensen

62 The Touch of Satan (1971) (MST3K edition S9E8 – 1998) dir. by Don Henderson

63 The Ape (1940) dir. by William Nigh

64 The Outing (1987) dir. by Tom Daley

65 Polaroid (2019) dir. by Lars Klevberg

66 Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974) dir. by Brian Clemens

67 The Tingler (1959) dir. by William Castle

68 The Bat (1959) dir. by Crane Wilbur

69 [REC] (2007) dir. by Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza

I hate myself for not watching this earlier. What a masterpiece in the genre! One of the few movies I’ve watched for this that truly scared me – seemingly a rare feat these days.

70 Bluebeard (1944) dir. by Edgar G. Ulmer

71 The Unholy (2021) dir. by Evan Spiliotopoulos

72 The Mini-Munsters (1973) dir. by Gerard Baldwin

Wicked Wednesday: The Mini-Munsters (1973)

Children’s spooky stuff is a treasure. Trying to get my nephews to agree with this sentiment has been a challenge. How do you get kids to watch spooky things?

I guess the answer is: you don’t. My nephews had zero interest in watching anything horror-related with me this week. I explained that, no we can’t watch Nightmare Before Christmas. And no, Vivo and Minecraft don’t count for Auntie Krista’s blog.

So I ended up watching my children’s TV movie all by myself this week. A reboot of a favourite of mine, The Munsters, in animated form.

The Mini-Munsters is set sometime after the original Munsters show. Eddie is a petulant teenager here.

When his family get a letter from a Transylvanian relative, they learn that the cousin twins Igor and Lucretia are visiting. Eddie is convinced it’s going to be a drag, until he sees that they’re his age and totally groovy (my words, not his).

The three cousins start a band. They annoy the family, especially as the kids seem to do nothing but play. Herman gets them to finally stop once he mentions that Eddie gets to get a car for his sixteenth birthday. He picked out a hearse, much to the delight of his father.

Once the kids are out in the car, they quickly realise they’re out of gas…and the car is haunted by a funeral director. They play some music (because…they’re waiting?), and the car gets rolling.

Grandpa reveals to the family that his latest invention seems to be powered by music. It allows cars to run on fresh tunes instead of gasoline.

While this is great news for the environment (and Grandpa’s pockets), but it doesn’t bring joy to a group of local gangsters who own an oil refinery. The leader, Mr Murdoch, learns of the invention and challenges the kids to a race. Because the 70s.

During the race, the usual shenanigans and hijinks ensue. Cars in lakes. Cars stuck in high places. Cars running on music.

The win gets Grandpa’s invention publicity. It becomes a hit, and soon everyone’s cars are running on the music. Murdoch begins plotting his revenge, and ends up kidnapping the Munsters’ pet, Spot, for ransom money.

The kids find Spot eventually but are locked in a shed with him. They manage to escape (with the power of jokes!), but not before Grandpa destroys his invention to stop Murdoch’s evil plan. The kids become stranded in a tugboat, heading towards a falls. It’s up to Grandpa to fix his invention in time and save the day.

The pilot TV movie for The Mini-Munsters aired on ABC in 1973 as a Saturday Superstar Movie. Its life ended there, though, as it wasn’t picked up for a series. And it’s kind of easy to see why. On the surface, this has everything: Scooby-Doo meets Josie and Archie. Crime solving with music and monsters. Sounds perfect.

This story is a bit half-baked. Adorable animation (reminded me of Schoolhouse Rock on Halloween), definitely, but I found myself bored throughout most of this.

Also, where was Marilyn? A mistake to leave her off, for sure! But I was glad that Al Lewis’s likeness and voice was used here. He lifted everything. That man was seriously a treasure and already has an animated face in real life.

The Mini-Munsters will probably only be really interesting to completionists who want to watch all-things Munsters. This is definitely a cute idea, and it would be great to see it tried again. We can ax the band and focus on what makes us love this IP to begin with: the family.

Wicked Wednesday: The Lamp/The Outing (1987)

Howdy from Texas, ya’ll!

This is my second time visiting the Lone Star State. Man. It’s really it’s own country. Culturally feels so different to anywhere else I’ve been to the US (and absolutely not a toot like Wisconsin).

I haven’t spent much time here, so I can tell you only two things that are true about Texas. 1) Texans really do love being from Texas. There are reminders everywhere. 2) They really do say “ya’ll” a lot.

And both of these are very much true in this 1987 paranormal slasher movie The Lamp. Especially that first point. This movie reminds you that this is set in Texas a lot.

The Lamp is similar to a lot of slasher movies of this decade. A group of kids spend the night in X place and end up killed. Just like in The Initiation, The Funhouse, Chopping Mall, Sorority Babes… – even the first Night of the Demons would count. Kids just love breaking into places! This is a subgenre I love.

However, we get a fun supernatural twist with the introduction of a jinn.

In 1893, a group of passengers are all killed aboard a ship from Iraq to Galveston. But one little girl escapes with a lamp and a bracelet. In the present day, the woman is very elderly and bedridden. A trio of criminals break into her house, looking for her money.

But when they discover the lamp and bracelet hidden in the wall, one of the criminals awakens the jinn. They kill the elderly woman, but in turn are murdered viciously by the jinn.

The lamp and bracelet are discovered by police, who turn it over to a local museum to be studied. Alex is the daughter of the archeologist involved with the study. She immediately becomes intrigued by the lamp. When she puts on the matching bracelet, she finds she can’t take it off.

When Alex’s class visit the museum for a class trip, she can’t help but visit the lamp again. But with the bracelet on, she becomes possessed by the jinn. She convinces her friends to spend the night in the museum.

And, of course, this is the time for killing! The third act is fairly predictable, but the deaths are inventive and fun (and can be really brutal). The death of the two creepy bullies is particularly satisfying. And the design of the jinn is fun – pays off to wait to see him until the very end. The “be careful what you wish for” theme is pretty standard with jinn territory, but I think it plays out well in a heart-breaking way.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Lamp. It’s story is quirky, and the museum setting is interesting. The middle, where we’re setting up Alex and her father’s story, gets kind of slow, but it clips along nice and fast in when the jinn finally lets loose.

Yee-haw and all of that to Texas movies. Thanks for keeping it weird.