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For Halloween, I purchased Spirits Of the Dead, a 1968 "horror" anthology based on Edgar Allen Poe works and starring Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon, the Fondas (Jane and Peter) and Terence Stamp. (I didn't get around to watching it until this past week.)

Directed by Roger Vadim, Metzengerstein stars Vadim's then-wife Jane Fonda as a debauched baroness who indirectly causes the death of her cousin (played by her brother, Peter.) Soon enough, a mysterious black stallion appears on her property. Is the stallion the reincarnation of her dead cousin??

Jane Fonda is spectacularly beautiful in this and also spectacularly miscast as a baroness from the Middle Ages. The costuming does her no favors either as many of her costumes look like rejects from Barbarella (filmed around the same time.) Nothing scary about this segment (or even particularly macabre) but the shots of the western coast of France (?) are breathtaking.

William Wilson, directed by Louis Malle, is better and is the most "Poe-like" of the three segments. Starring Alain Delon and Brigitte Bardot, William Wilson tells the tale of a sociopath whose attempted misdeeds are constantly thwarted by a look-a-like alter ego (also named William Wilson.) How will the "bad" William deal with the "good" William? And should he even try??

Delon is not known for his emotional range but his mask-like face actually works to great effect here considering he is playing an emotionless sociopath. He and Bardot make an effective team in an increasingly high stakes poker game and Wilson's set piece actions are the most unsettling things in the entire anthology. You can see the ending coming a mile away, though.

Federico Fellini directs Terence Stamp in Toby Dammit (very loosely based on Poe.) Middling Poe but very good Fellini, Toby Dammit is a tour-de-force for Stamp, who plays an alcoholic British actor trapped at a nightmarish Italian awards ceremony. And just who is the little girl with bouncing ball? Nothing scary about any of this but the ending is suitably creepy.

Overall, I would be hard-pressed to describe Spirits Of the Dead as a horror film (as post-Halloween horror has conditioned us to think of horror.) All three films are really more like Euro art films with the occasional horror aspect grafted on for kicks. Still, worth at least one viewing.

Overall grade: B-

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Thanks for reviving this thread, miliosr. Anthology pictures in general tend to be a mixed bag in my experience. (In 1968 Fonda, Delon, and Stamp were at peaks of gorgeousness so it sounds as if the movie is worth checking out on the eye candy factor alone.)

It is true that the definition of horror film has changed considerably. It would certainly be fair to call The Wicker Man a horror movie and yet it's nothing like what we expect of one today.

I don't know if I mentioned it earlier but I did get around to seeing the Halloween remake and it's just as you described it. All the backstory seemed to me to be completely superfluous and in a way it detracted from the spook factor - it's much more interesting when we have no idea why Myers does what he does.

I also saw the original Village of the Damned with George Sanders recently. Really enjoyed it and the brisk pace was a blessing.

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There is one horror film so far unmentioned called Death Line, about people coming to bad ends on the London underground system. As a child I was frightened of the big dark tunnels at the end of the platforms and that may be the reason this film struck a chord with me - confirming that there was something awful in the dark. I found a good synopsis of the story here: http://www.britishhorrorfilms.co.uk/deathline.shtml and this is a good informative site about British horror films in spite of the typically naff English writing style. The complete list of British horror movies is very good, though I question whether Mother Riley Meets the Vampire was ever a horror flick in the true sense of the word. I have a special fondness for all the Hammer films though perhaps their ability to frighten was limited.

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I also saw the original Village of the Damned with George Sanders recently. Really enjoyed it and the brisk pace was a blessing.

Slightly :off topic:, but if you really want to be creeped out, read the original novel (The Midwich Cuckoos, by John Wyndham). As I recall, the film stuck pretty close to the book, but as soon as those children showed up in the movie with the silly hair most of the horror dissipated for me. With the book (any book, of course) you can imagine what's most horrible for you; much more effective. Sanders was great though.

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I also saw the original Village of the Damned with George Sanders recently. Really enjoyed it and the brisk pace was a blessing.

Slightly :off topic: , but if you really want to be creeped out, read the original novel (The Midwich Cuckoos, by John Wyndham). As I recall, the film stuck pretty close to the book, but as soon as those children showed up in the movie with the silly hair most of the horror dissipated for me. With the book (any book, of course) you can imagine what's most horrible for you; much more effective. Sanders was great though.

Not off topic at all, PeggyR. I agree that the blond wigs for the children are off-putting (this is true for both movie versions).

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(In 1968 Fonda, Delon, and Stamp were at peaks of gorgeousness so it sounds as if the movie is worth checking out on the eye candy factor alone.)

Funny you should mention this because, as I watched the three segments, I couldn't help but think that there was an unintended battle going on between the leads as to who was the most attractive. Truly the standard of attractiveness in a movie is high when Jane Fonda would place no higher than fourth in the competition! (And, curiously, young Terence Stamp bears a striking resemblance to Jude Law.)

I don't know if I mentioned it earlier but I did get around to seeing the Halloween remake and it's just as you described it. All the backstory seemed to me to be completely superfluous and in a way it detracted from the spook factor - it's much more interesting when we have no idea why Myers does what he does.

Don't even get me started on how badly Rob Zombie bungled the remake of Halloween and its sequel!

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Horror is not my genre either, but in my younger days, there were three that I found spine-tinglingly frightening. Rosemary's Baby tops the list. Farrow's air of vulnerability is what makes that movie. I'm not sure it could've been as frightening with anyone else in that role. I think, though, that another reason for my reaction to it was that Catholics were banned from seeing it! I was right at the point of questioning everything Catholic, so I simply had to see that movie to find out what the Catholics were trying to hide me from. :devil: Turns out that the end had nothing to do with my shakiness, but the path along the way sure did.

An earlier film that frightened me when I later saw it for the first time at the ripe old age of 16 was 1963's The Haunting with Julie Harris. I thought it was deliciously frightening.

Probably the horror movie that scared me the most (besides the monkey scene in The Wizard of Oz, which my kids loved to mock me for) was one I don't know the name of. Maybe someone here - it'll have to be someone over 50, I fear - will supply it. I saw this film several times as a very young child. All I remember is that people were turning into zombies. Hopefully, I'm not mixing a couple movies up, but I think they went out into the desert somewhere and the ground swallowed them up (yes, quicksand was an ever-present reality in my youthful thoughts!) and then they turned into zombies. You knew it by what looked like an ash stain at the nape of their necks. The most frightening scene, one that supplied me with a couple years of nightmares, in that movie was when the little boy (and girl?) are seated in the back seat of their car and realize that both their parents had that mark! :wallbash::sweatingbullets: For a few weeks after that, every time my parents seemed unreasonably irritable, I'd check the nape of their necks just to be sure.

Dear Vagansmom: I think the movie starts out with a boy looking out at sanddunes, when he sees a spaceship go right into the sand. I think it is called "Martian Invaders" I was about 7or 8 when I saw it. Creeped me out! The sand beneath a victim would be blasted by a special ray gun being aimed by the martians at the roof of one of the tunnels the martians dug. The Martian leader was a head without a body that would be carried in a glass container. They would use a special drill to insert a mind control device into the nape of your neck. They brought in the military to deal with the aliens. The real creepy part is at the end of the film the boy wakes up and realizes it was all a dream...until he really sees a spaceship do the same thing it did in the dream!!!! By the way the zombies were humans captured and drilled with the mind control devices.

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A bit :wallbash: but Dan O'Bannon has died. He wrote the screenplay for the great sf/horror movie, Alien, among others.

The day 'Alien' opened in San Francisco I happened to be off work, so I decided to go and see it the opening show; at that point, nobody knew much about it except it was about a monster loose in a space ship. After it was over and the shattered audience was leaving the theater, a grown man walking behind me said plaintively, "I want my mommy!" RIP Mr. O'Bannon.

Here's the NYT obit.

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Well, I saw the reboot of Friday the 13th today!

I would give it 9 machetes out of ten. My only disappointment was that (SPOILER AHEAD -- stop reading if you don't want to know) the producers couldn't find room for actress Betsy Palmer (the deranged Mrs. Voorhees in the original) in some kind of small role.

miliosr,

They did actually ask her to be in the reboot and she refused.

Some really good horrors are the 70s "exploitation" flicks such as "Cannibal Holocaust" and "I Spit On Your Grave", which despite their rather sensationalist names are actually very good, well made low budget shockers with actual messages.

For the depravity of human behaviour and the depths man can sink to, though it's not technically a horror film, Pasolini's "Salo, 120 Days of Sodom" will have you squirming.

Rami's "The Evil Dead, 2" which is actually a big budget remake of his original low budget shocker "Evil Dead", is pretty vile with a sick sense of humour and his recent film "Drag Me To Hell" is brilliant, a high camp, gross out, brilliantly made horror film.

And of course if you want a nasty bit of horror/torture porn, you can't go wrong with Eli Roth's "Hostel".

And I think I've said far too much about my depraved psyche for one night.

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Well, I saw the reboot of Friday the 13th today!

I would give it 9 machetes out of ten. My only disappointment was that (SPOILER AHEAD -- stop reading if you don't want to know) the producers couldn't find room for actress Betsy Palmer (the deranged Mrs. Voorhees in the original) in some kind of small role.

miliosr,

They did actually ask her to be in the reboot and she refused.

Ah, too bad. It would have been fun to see her as the old woman who Jared Padelecki (sp?) talks to during his quest to find his missing sister:

Padelecki: "My sister's missing."

Old Woman: "She ain't missing. She's DEAD!"

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And of course if you want a nasty bit of horror/torture porn, you can't go wrong with Eli Roth's "Hostel".

I'm afraid I thought "Hostel" was bad, on its own terms. I'll go along with the "nasty" part, though. (Given Eli Roth's terrible performance in "Inglorious Basterds," I'm not sure if we're worse off with Eli behind the camera or in front of it.

I do agree with you re "I Spit On Your Grave."

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