This is the homestretch for reviews of the October horror movie marathon we’ve dubbed 31 Nights …
Welcome to Part 2 of my 31 Nights of Horror movie marathon!
For the 11th night I selected a story of things that go bump in the dark — but in Spanish. And nothing screams creepy, scary and terrfying than a dark, gothic building that was once an orphanage! “El Orfanato (The Orphanage)” introduces us to Tomas, an invisible friend to Simon who with his Mama and Papa are now living in the old orphanage. Soon the presence of the former inhabitants start to make their presence known creepily. Very difficult to watch this one alone and in the dark!
We continue along the ghost story vein with a classic from 1980. The late great George C Scott delivers big as a writer recently befallen by tragedy and tries to find solace in a huge, gothic mansion. That won’t end well. Of course he finds out soon that it is haunted. The frights are expertly crafted and the horror movie finishes as a mystery drama, but well worth it to watch for the scares.
What else could I watch on night 13 of my 31 Nights of Horror but the classic slasher piece, “Friday the 13th”. The one that introduces us to many iconic kills but the iconic killer of the franchise does not yet have a hockey mask. Still, this is the one that introduces many classic horror tropes, over sexed summer camp counslers meeting awful deaths in the woods! Gory deaths thanks to that master horror FX guy, Tom Savini and an expertly crafted creepy atmosphere that masked what was a poor script. Hey is that Kevin Bacon?! ‘Ki ki ki, ma, ma, ma’
It was time for a modern movie. Hoping for a new tale but told in the classic way, building slowly, I checked out “It Follows”. A new horror film from 2014. The movie narrative could be used as a ‘scare off’ to teenagers on why to stay away from sex. But this mess can’t scare anybody. Very weak scares and a convoluted story really kept me from enjoying this. Slow should not mean boring, which this film was. Oddly it has a following as the online movie sites’ ratings and reviews show, but for me, it Stinks.
Night 15 is Throw Back Thursday. Time for a classic monster movie, or more precisely, a-scientist-experiments-and-it-goes-wrong-and-he-becomes-a-monster” movie. Here we have the fabulous Vincent Price as the brother of the ill fated scientist that becomes, “The Fly”. With very little in the way of special effects but with great makeup work, an original script and tension building all the way to the horrific reveal, this film is a must see for every modern horror fan. And it doesn’t end there, a final twist with a terrifying voice that will haunt your dreams. “Help meeeee. Heelp meeeeeeeee!”
On night 16, I queued up another Double Feature Friday night. Where the villains in last week’s Double Feature promised to ‘tear apart my soul’, these were poised to ‘swallow my soul!’ A double dose of Sumerian demons, released into a cabin in the woods by the incantation read from the Necronomicon, a book of the dead. That was the plot for both “Evil Dead” and “Evil Dead II”. Wonderfully over the top, dark and scary, campy and gory, this small budget labor of love debut from Sam Raimi gave horror fans a film that worked best when not taken seriously. Gore fans got the most abused hero in Bruce Campbell’s portrayal of Ash, spattered with blood and bile until the very end. Then six years later and with a larger budget, Sam Raimi takes us back to the same cabin, brings back Ash and basically gives us the same movie. More blood, more gore, more laughs and quotes. “This is my Boomstick!” Oops, that was from the still later, “Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness”
Its Saturday Night and night 17 of my 31 Nights of Horrror. G’day mate, tonight its a dinki-di boogeyman flick from the land down under, “The Babadook”. Holy-dooly is it frightening! This poor sheila is struggling with widowhood and a troubled little boy. One night she reads him a night time book. No worries right? Crikey! The Babadook is released. This is a tension building, highly creepy haunting story. Even with minimal appearance of the boogeyman called the Babadook, the chilling feeling of its presence really gets under your skin. But just like the other horror movie of 2014, “It Follows”, this movie has horror fans divided into “love it” and “hate it” camps. No middle ground. But for those that loved it, BA BA BA DOOOOK!!!
On night 18 of 31 Nights of Horror its time for some hillbilly slaughter nonsense! No film does back woods murdering bumpkins better than 1980’s, “Mother’s Day”. Addley and Ike will do anything to please Mom. And what makes Mom happy is torture, dismemberment and gruesome death!? With an obviously low budget, this classic early slasher film answers the question of what to get momma for her day, a severed head of course.
Time for a mind bender on Night 19. Next up Joss Whedon’s “Cabin in the Woods”. A simple film based on the title. A common premise of five good looking young people ready to frolic in the woods, a creepy harbinger of doom and a cabin. The stage is set. But this is a Joss Whedon script and there are twists galore up ahead. I can’t say too much without ruining the plot and fun. For the horror and gore fanatics, this does not disappoint. The final act is drenched in enough blood to rival the entire “Friday the 13th” franchise. We are also schooled in the difference between Zombies and Zombie Redneck Torture Family. “It’s like the difference between an elephant and an elephant seal.”
For Night 20, a nice round number and a nice round villain in the shape of a flying, silver sphere. In Don Coscarelli’s 1979 uber cult favorite, “Phantasm” the sphere isn’t the only villain. There are grave robbing dwarfs from another dimension, a killer fly and of course The Tall Man. In a role that could only go to Angus Scrimm, an actor born to be a horror villain, The Tall Man is the ageless demonic undertaker and best deliverer of a single word line that gets under your skin and keeps you up at night.
We leave the demonic mortuaries of “Phantasm” behind to prowl through an abandoned church with a secret on night 21. A strange canister that holds the big dude from way, way down below. It’s John Carpenter’s 1987 return to pure horror, “The Prince of Darkness”. Not content to give us demons, zombified folks and a scary Alice Cooper, Carpenter dabbles with a story that threatens to release The Devil himself upon the Earth. A truly creepy story (did I mention Alice Cooper?!) in a very underrated film. One that I will not re-watch again with all the lights out.
That’s it for now. Join me tomorrow for Part 3!