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What Are You Watching This Halloween Season?


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I kicked off my Halloween viewing season by watching director John Carpenter’s atmospheric ghost tale, The Fog, which was his follow-up to his 1978 smash, Halloween.

 

[Spoilers Ahead]

 

Filmed in the spring of 1979 and released in February 1980, The Fog is set in the fictional coastal town of ‘Antonio Bay’ in northern California. As the town prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary, uninvited party guests in the form of undead sailors who died 100 years before arrive for the celebration; seeking vengeance. What comes to light is that the sailors were actually lepers who wanted to form a community north of the town. Six town members tricked them into crashing their ship on the rocks during a dense fog and then stole the gold the lepers had amassed in hope of building their community.

 

The Fog is a well-told ghost tale that is all the more effective because much is left to the imagination. The undead pirates appear mostly in shadows or thick fog which aids the believability of the central tale. Also contributing to the overall atmosphere is Carpenter’s deliberately slow pacing. There are only a few shocks in the movie’s first 60 minutes before the action really gets going in the last 30 minutes. The sense of mounting dread makes the final mayhem more effective (although young audiences of today may find the build-up too slow.)

 

Several Halloween alumni appear in this, including Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Loomis and Charles Cyphers. Joining the fun are Adrienne Barbeau and Tom Atkins, who would become important members of the repertory company of actors moving from one Carpenter film to another during this period. (Barbeau, Atkins, Cyphers and Curtis (uncredited) would join Halloween vets Donald Pleasance and Nancy Stephens in Carpenter’s next film, Escape from New York, and Curtis, Pleasance, Loomis, Cyphers and Stephens would all return for the Carpenter written and produced, Halloween II.)

 

But the biggest star of the movie is the northern California coastal setting itself. The remoteness of the locations and the vastness of the Pacific Ocean add a lot to the overall mood. Special mention must go to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, which serves as the radio station from which Adrienne Barbeau's character makes her nightly broadcasts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Reyes_Lighthouse

 

The Fog isn't the scariest of movies and it isn't especially gory (by late-70s/early-80s standards) but, if you like ghost stories, this is a very satisfying one.

 

Edited by miliosr
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I haven’t seen that and you make me curious to do so, thanks.

Movies I like to watch around this time of year:

 “The Haunting,” even if I prefer the book’s ending. (Out of curiosity I saw the remake with Liam Neeson, et al. – I didn’t think it could be worse than I expected, but there you go.)

“The Legend of Hell House” 

“At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul”

“The Shining,” natch.

"The Omen" - original w/ Peck & Remick. I was hoping “The Omen: The Final Conflict” would be good bad fun, which it wasn’t, and even watching Sam Neill was insufficient compensation.

“Carnival of Souls”

“The Abominable Dr. Phibes” 

TV: If you have the Decades channel or Amazon Prime, there’s the original “Dark Shadows.”

I’ve never gotten around to seeing the 2000 reissue of “The Exorcist.” I may try that if it's available.

miliosr, how do you rate the follow up “Halloween” pictures?

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7 hours ago, dirac said:

“The Legend of Hell House” 

miliosr, how do you rate the follow up “Halloween” pictures?

The Legend of Hell House is an unsung classic. It has a great cast (Pamela Franklin, Roddy McDowall) and is very faithful to Richard Matheson's book.

As far as rating the Halloween movies, here goes:

  • Halloween (from 1978) is a true horror masterpiece and remains influential to this very day.
  • I have a strong liking for Halloween II (from 1981) with its hospital setting, ominous mood and slow build-up. (For better or for worse, you can also see the impact the Friday the 13th franchise had on the Halloween franchise with the increase in gore in Halloween II.)
  • Halloween III exists outside the Laurie Strode-Michael Myers continuity so I have no strong feelings about that.
  • Parts IV-VI (w/ Donald Pleasance but without Jamie Lee Curtis) start out OK (Part IV) and end up as terrible (Part VI).
  • H2O from 1998 (w/ Jamie Lee Curtis returning to the franchise after 17 years) has its moments but the tone is uncertain (LL Cool J in a Halloween movie?)
  • H20's immediate sequel, Resurrection, is awful but for the beginning with Jamie Lee Curtis' character Laurie duking it out again with Michael.
  • The two Rob Zombie "reimaginings" from the 00s should be avoided at all costs -- they are repulsive.
  • Last year's Halloween, which set aside all continuity from Halloween II onward, felt more like a series of set pieces from the other movies strung together rather than an actual movie. Curtis was fantastic in it, though, as she returned to her signature role after 20 years. (Be warned: The body count is astronomical in this movie.)

Filming has already begun on a sequel to the 2018 Halloween. Curtis returns as Laurie as do Kyle Richards (Lindsay) and Charles Cyphers (Sheriff Brackett) from the 1978 movie.

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Thanks. I saw the first of the Rob Zombie pictures - awful.

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The Legend of Hell House is an unsung classic. It has a great cast (Pamela Franklin, Roddy McDowall) and is very faithful to Richard Matheson's book.

Yup. I'd say The Haunting is slightly overrated and Hell House considerably underrated - although I have something of the same issue with book v. movie - I thought Matheson's original ending less simplified.

Come on, there must be someone else out there watching??

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I've caught my first Christopher Lee Dracula movie while channel surfing last week.  My heart still belongs to Frank Langella and Bela Lugosi.  A tiny little corner goes to an English production starring Louis Jourdan than was shown on PBS a gazillion years ago.

Edited by lmspear
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On ‎10‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 3:36 PM, lmspear said:

I've caught my first Christopher Lee Dracula movie while channel surfing last week.

Fun fact: John Carpenter offered the part of Dr. Loomis in Halloween to Christopher Lee but he turned it down! Later in life, Lee told Carpenter that turning down Halloween was one of the biggest mistakes he ever made in the business.

I have a soft spot for the two Christopher Lee-Peter Cushing 'Draculas' the two of them made together in the early-70s -- Dracula A.D. 1972 and The Satanic Rites of Dracula. Moving the Hammer 'Dracula' series from the 19th century to the early-70s was a novel idea. Not everything works but there are some genuine scares in both.

 

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Watched one of the greatest of all slasher films, Friday the 13th, this weekend.

Filmed in fall 1979 and released in 1980, Friday the 13th -- even more than Halloween -- ignited the slasher craze that overtook the horror genre (and the box office) in the early-1980s. Dispensing with any attempt at being artistic, Friday the 13th established many of the conventions that came to rule the genre -- the isolated setting (Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco in northern New Jersey), the sinister ambience, the local figure warning of doom (Crazy Ralph) who no one pays any attention to, the point-of-view being the killer's, etc.

[Spoilers Ahead]

Friday the 13th is still marvelously effective after all these years even when you know the jump scares are coming (and when the characters are being incredibly stupid.) The movie really hits its stride in the last 25 minutes when Betsy Palmer shows up as the deranged Mrs. Voorhees. Palmer plays the part with gusto and her performance has been rightly celebrated as a horror classic. Even though she was in her early 50s when she took the part (so she could buy a new car!), Palmer gives her all duking it out with 'The Last Girl,' Alice (played by Adrienne King).

And still one of the great shock endings in horror history!

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23 hours ago, miliosr said:

Friday the 13th is still marvelously effective after all these years even when you know the jump scares are coming (and when the characters are being incredibly stupid.)

There's also a brief shot of young Kevin Bacon's butt, for anyone interested.

SPOILER:

 

 

 

Why oh why did you let Mrs. Voorhees in, Alice? You’re supposed to be the SMART one !!!

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55 minutes ago, dirac said:

SPOILER:

 

 

 

Why oh why did you let Mrs. Voorhees in, Alice? You’re supposed to be the SMART one !!!

And that's not even the dumbest thing she does!

[Spoilers Ahead]

  • After Bill (Bing Crosby's son, Harry) and she find a bloodied axe in a bed, she goes to sleep on a couch.
  • Then she makes herself a cup of hot chocolate.
  • She also repeatedly drops the weapon she's holding or fails to pick up Mrs. Voorhees' weapons (until the fourth and final fight.)

I will say that my favorite scene in the entire movie involves Alice. After Crazy Ralph delivers his warning of doom to Alice and two other counselors, he races to his bicycle outside the cabin he was hiding in and cycles away. Alice is the only one to follow him out and it's such a creepy moment: the twilight, the wind picking up and, especially, the look of consternation on Alice's face. It's a great 'Last Girl' moment -- the most perceptive member of the group slowly realizing all is not as it appears.

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I made this spooky compilation of Lady Macbeth sleepwalking scenes and have been watching it. Callas, Gencer, Galvany, Verrett, Sass, Dimitrova, Serjan, Monastyrska, and Netrebko. I actually love all the renditions. Really surprised by Sylvia Sass. She wasn't someone that was ever on my radar but her sleepwalking scene is intense.

 

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As a youth, I enjoyed watching The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries with Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as The Hardy Boys and Pamela Sue Martin as Nancy Drew. The episodes that stuck with me over the years were the two-parter that opened the 1977-78 season. The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew meet for the first time in these episodes and head to Transylvania, where they encounter Count Dracula -- or do they?

I thought these episodes were so spooky when I was young and I was impressed that the episodes were taking place at Dracula's castle in Transylvania. Watching them again this month is a hilarious experience because the episodes aren't especially scary and "Transylvania" is obviously the Universal Studios back lot, where The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries were filmed. Still, both episodes are a lot of fun in a very 70s way.

The entire two-parter is online but the best parts are Nancy Drew fighting a fake-looking vampire bat:

And Shaun Cassidy singing:

And if any Ballet Alert members want to buy me a pair of those boots Dracula is wearing, I will be happy to provide my size!

Edited by miliosr
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On 10/7/2019 at 4:46 PM, miliosr said:

I kicked off my Halloween viewing season by watching director John Carpenter’s atmospheric ghost tale, The Fog, which was his follow-up to his 1978 smash, Halloween.

 

[Spoilers Ahead]

 

Filmed in the spring of 1979 and released in February 1980, The Fog is set in the fictional coastal town of ‘Antonio Bay’ in northern California. As the town prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary, uninvited party guests in the form of undead sailors who died 100 years before arrive for the celebration; seeking vengeance. What comes to light is that the sailors were actually lepers who wanted to form a community north of the town. Six town members tricked them into crashing their ship on the rocks during a dense fog and then stole the gold the lepers had amassed in hope of building their community.

 

The Fog is a well-told ghost tale that is all the more effective because much is left to the imagination. The undead pirates appear mostly in shadows or thick fog which aids the believability of the central tale. Also contributing to the overall atmosphere is Carpenter’s deliberately slow pacing. There are only a few shocks in the movie’s first 60 minutes before the action really gets going in the last 30 minutes. The sense of mounting dread makes the final mayhem more effective (although young audiences of today may find the build-up too slow.)

 

Several Halloween alumni appear in this, including Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Loomis and Charles Cyphers. Joining the fun are Adrienne Barbeau and Tom Atkins, who would become important members of the repertory company of actors moving from one Carpenter film to another during this period. (Barbeau, Atkins, Cyphers and Curtis (uncredited) would join Halloween vets Donald Pleasance and Nancy Stephens in Carpenter’s next film, Escape from New York, and Curtis, Pleasance, Loomis, Cyphers and Stephens would all return for the Carpenter written and produced, Halloween II.)

 

But the biggest star of the movie is the northern California coastal setting itself. The remoteness of the locations and the vastness of the Pacific Ocean add a lot to the overall mood. Special mention must go to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, which serves as the radio station from which Adrienne Barbeau's character makes her nightly broadcasts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Reyes_Lighthouse

 

The Fog isn't the scariest of movies and it isn't especially gory (by late-70s/early-80s standards) but, if you like ghost stories, this is a very satisfying one.

 

SPOILERS:

 

TCM showed this a week ago and I taped it. Very nice ghost story, as you say, with an effective cameo by John Houseman (took me a minute or two to figure out that it was really him).  Some bad decisions were made, as is customary in this genre - personally, if a scary fog surrounded my house and a mysterious figure started pounding ominously on the door, I would not open it and wander out onto the porch. Just saying. I did wonder if Carpenter saw DeMille's The Ten Commandments and the deadly mist that trails through the streets. 

There are a lot of plot points, insofar that there is a plot, and happenings with no follow up or explanation.  This may bug you or it may not (it didn't bother me, but I would find it understandable it it bothered others). The actors are engaging and the Point Reyes locations are gorgeous. I will say that the ending is not as scary or boffo as it might be, and the timing is a bit off - the buildup seems to go on for too long, and then the movie ends too abruptly.  Still very enjoyable.

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3 hours ago, dirac said:

SPOILERS:

There are a lot of plot points, insofar that there is a plot, and happenings with no follow up or explanation.  This may bug you or it may not (it didn't bother me, but I would find it understandable it it bothered others). The actors are engaging and the Point Reyes locations are gorgeous. I will say that the ending is not as scary or boffo as it might be, and the timing is a bit off - the buildup seems to go on for too long, and then the movie ends too abruptly.  Still very enjoyable.

The plot holes and inconsistencies in The Fog don't bother me much as I don't watch this type of movie for rigorous logic. But the holes and inconsistencies are noticeable. John Carpenter himself has said that, when he assembled his rough cut, he realized that the movie didn't work. The Fog wasn't scary, lacked gore (relative to the competition) and had too many dead (no pun intended) stretches. Carpenter went back, reshot portions of the movie and added new scenes (such as the intro with John Houseman). I think you can see the stitched together quality of the movie as there are parts of it which make little to no sense:

[Spoilers Ahead]

  • At the beginning of the anniversary day, the undead sailor is about to kill the Tom Atkins character but the clock strikes 1:00AM and the sailor disappears. And yet, supernatural activity continues throughout the day. Who is causing it and why?
  • At the coroner's office, how does one of victims killed by the undead sailors get off the table? (I wonder if Carpenter added this sequence because he found the middle part of the movie to be too slow.)
  • Why do the sailors attack Adrienne Barbeau's character at the lighthouse when they've already killed 5 of the 6 people they need to achieve their revenge and the sixth -- Hal Holbrook's character -- is waiting for them at the church?
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There’s also a fuss over the Sea Grass and its doomed crew being covered in sludge, as if it and they had been underwater for weeks, and then we never hear about this again.

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Why do the sailors attack Adrienne Barbeau's character at the lighthouse when they've already killed 5 of the 6 people they need to achieve their revenge and the sixth -- Hal Holbrook's character -- is waiting for them at the church?

Well, having a woman alone in an isolated location is a classic threat situation for a horror film and given the central role Barbeau and her radio station play in the story, I’m guessing Carpenter felt the need to have something more happen at the lighthouse. Or maybe the sailors just lost count. :)

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Because of his makeup and the masks his followers wear,  I expect Joaquin Phoenix's Joker to be a popular Halloween character this year,  although it's not a Halloween movie per se.  I was mesmerized by Phoenix's dancing. If he had decided to dance instead of act,  he would have been one of the greats.

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I've never see The Fog, but now I'm going to seek it out based on this discussion :)

I noticed that TCM Canada (no commercials!) has a bunch of classic "horror" films lined up for the week of Halloween. I really like those black-and-white Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi/Vincent Price films at any time of the year, but especially in October.

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On ‎10‎/‎21‎/‎2019 at 11:30 AM, dirac said:

Well, having a woman alone in an isolated location is a classic threat situation for a horror film and given the central role Barbeau and her radio station play in the story, I’m guessing Carpenter felt the need to have something more happen at the lighthouse. Or maybe the sailors just lost count. :)

Or maybe because she was Mrs. John Carpenter at the time and this was her feature film debut!

Seriously, though, Barbeau's part in the movie is unique because she has no face-to-face scenes with any of the other primary cast members and only has phone conversations with Tom Atkins and Charles Cyphers.

 

On ‎10‎/‎24‎/‎2019 at 3:25 PM, On Pointe said:

Because of his makeup and the masks his followers wear,  I expect Joaquin Phoenix's Joker to be a popular Halloween character this year,  although it's not a Halloween movie per se.

I don't know how I feel about the Joker movie. Does The Joker really need an origin story? For me, The Joker is best with no origin story at all: Bruce Wayne creates his Batman persona and this brings The Joker into existence.

 

6 hours ago, kylara7 said:

I've never see The Fog, but now I'm going to seek it out based on this discussion :)

If you go into it without too many expectations regarding the coherence of the plot, you should enjoy it. The isolated northern California setting is very atmospheric and Adrienne Barbeau became a genre favorite in the early-80s because of her performance in this movie. (She would go on to work with her husband again in 1981's Escape from New York, with Wes Craven in 1982's Swamp Thing and George Romero in 1983's Creepshow.)

 

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22 hours ago, miliosr said:

I don't know how I feel about the Joker movie. Does The Joker really need an origin story? For me, The Joker is best with no origin story at all: Bruce Wayne creates his Batman persona and this brings The Joker into existence.

I'm not a fan of comic book movies as a genre,  and I've only seen one Batman movie,  The Dark Knight,  which is damn good.  I had no expectations of Joker when I went to see it,  but I was intrigued by the dissonance of the critics reviews vs.the audience reaction.  (The vitriol flung at this movie by some critics bordered on hysteria.). I didn't think of it as an origin story at all.  Young Bruce Wayne makes a token appearance,  but there is little to tie it to the Batman franchise.  More than one reviewer has noted similarities of  Joker to Boon Joon-ho's brilliant Parasite.  Both films are about the revenge of the underclass.  Maybe that's what scares so many critics,  although unlike Joker,  Parasite is savagely funny as well.

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Watching Barnabas and his primary ally, Dr. Julia Hoffman, in their first months on the original show is a real eye-opener. You wonder how the characters became so popular because they do some horrible things -- like Barnabas killing Julia's medical school friend, Dr. Woodard, when he deduces Barnabas' secret, Julia hypnotizing the governess, Victoria Winters, to recoil from Barnabas, and Barnabas trying to gaslight the young boy, David Collins.

Barnabas and Dr. Hoffman gave the show some much-needed zip (sorry, Joan Bennett), and it helped that Jonathan Frid and Grayson Hall were so good. I imagine they were quite the contrast to the customary daytime drama fare at the time. Hall’s Dr. Hoffman is really amazing – so much for medical ethics.

Anyone curious can see the show on the Decades channel or Amazon Prime.

Watched Poltergeist again for the first time in a long time. It holds up pretty well, although someone will probably have to explain to younger viewers that back in the day broadcast TV used to play the national anthem and go to dead air in the wee hours of the morning, which is why little Carol Anne hears the mysterious voices via static instead of a Cindy Crawford infomercial. The shotgun marriage between the sensibilities of Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper works out as well as can be expected. Spielberg dominates – nobody in the movie gets killed or even hurt very badly (you’d never guess, from most of his later work, that Spielberg once cheerfully and graphically depicted people getting chomped by a shark) while Hooper makes his participation known with some whopper scare effects. That’s my guess as to the division of labor, anyway. Poltergeist also benefits from better casting than pictures in this genre often get, with Jobeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson as the parents and Beatrice Straight as the parapsychologist. Hooper veteran James Karen plays the real estate honcho.

I love Williams’ initial reactions when her furniture starts moving around of its own accord (she actually jumps up and down in glee).

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On 10/14/2019 at 4:05 PM, dirac said:

There's also a brief shot of young Kevin Bacon's butt, for anyone interested.

SPOILER:

 

 

 

Why oh why did you let Mrs. Voorhees in, Alice? You’re supposed to be the SMART one !!!

There's an ad for Geico insurance that plays on all the horror film stereotype, with the terrified group of young people trying to find a place to hide -- "Can't we just get in the running car?  Are you crazy -- let's hide behind the chain saws..."  Cracks me up every time I see it.

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Posted (edited)

I've started my Halloween season by rewatching Hammer Studio's Dracula A.D. 1972.

This is the seventh film and sixth sequel in Hammer's long-running Dracula series, primarily starring Christopher Lee as the title character. The innovation with this entry is that most of the action is set in the then-contemporary London of 1972. Thinking that Dracula movies set in the 19th or early 20th centuries had run their course, Hammer jumped forward in time in an attempt to rejuvenate the franchise -- with mixed results.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Dracula A.D. 1972 has a dynamic start with Dracula (Lee) fighting his nemesis Van Helsing (played by Peter Cushing) on a runaway carriage in the Hyde Park of 1872. The movie then leaps ahead 100 years to 1972 where a group of clueless hippies inadvertently resurrect the Count, who is seeking vengeance on the descendants of the original Van Helsing, including Lorimer Van Helsing (also played by Cushing) and his granddaughter Jessica (played by Stephanie Beacham, who would have great success in the 1980s as Sable Colby on The Colby's and Dynasty.) The movie ends as it began with Dracula and Van Helsing again duking it out to the death.

Hammer deserves full marks for trying something different with this franchise although the results are wildly inconsistent. The hippies are the worst part with their dated "hip" talk and fashions. The first 20 minutes (or so) set in the present with them are excruciating and unintentionally hilarious. Viewers would be forgiven for thinking they are watching Austin Powers Meets Dracula.

But around the 30 minute mark, matters take a turn for the better as the hippies bring the Count back to life and then the movie carries on to its high-spirited finale. Highlights include Van Helsing having to take on Dracula's vampiric second-in-command, Johnny Alucard (get it?) and Dracula and Van Helsing fighting to the death in an abandoned church.

Christopher Lee's screen time is actually rather small in this but he is as commanding as ever as Dracula. Cushing keeps pace with Lee throughout and reveals himself as a lively action/adventure hero, considering he was close to 60 at the time. Beacham is always a pleasure in anything she does. (Also on hand for the fun is genre favorite Caroline Munro in one of her first acting roles.)

Recommendation: The early parts with the hippies are tough-going but, if you stick with it, the movie improves dramatically during its last hour.

 

Edited by miliosr
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