Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

What Are You Watching This Halloween Season?


Recommended Posts

I treated (hohoho) myself to a Christopher Lee-Peter Cushing "double-feature" this Halloween season by watching Horror Express, which, like Dracula A.D. 1972, came out in 1972. (In fact, they were both released in September of that year.)

Horror Express has that Hammer Horror period feel to it even though it wasn't a Hammer Studio production and instead was filmed in Spain. Lee and Cushing play rival scientists travelling through tsarist Russia on the Trans-Siberian Express. Also on board is the discovery Lee made in Manchuria -- a primitive human who has been frozen for millions of years. Before long, the missing link escapes from the baggage car and begins committing a series of murders.

Horror Express starts out as a conventional horror movie but soon morphs into something else entirely as a science fiction element comes into play regarding the ancient human's powers and motivations. The premise is outrageous but only in the most entertaining way. The movie is also marvelously claustrophobic as the passengers on the train are stuck inside the various train cars with a killer on the loose and no where to go even if the train stopped. (They are in the middle of Siberia during the Russian winter.)

What really adds to all the supernatural/sci-fun is the appearance of Telly Savalas as a Cossack officer (!) who boards the train late in the movie. His performance is so different in tone from the other performances that it's almost as if he was beamed into this movie from one of the spaghetti westerns he was making in Europe around this time. But what the movie loses in period accuracy it gains from that unique Telly Savalas presence!

Recommendation: A worthwhile viewing on a quiet night due to the audaciousness of the plot (mixing horror and sci-fi elements), the chemistry between Lee and Cushing, and Savalas' antics as the Cossack captain.

Edited by miliosr
Link to post

I moved on to something "lighter" this Halloween season with one of my favorite Charlie's Angels episodes, "Haunted Angels" from Season 3 (original air date: 10/25/78).

Synopsis: When wealthy Claire Rossmore's nephew, Martin, was killed in a motorcycle accident on her estate, she turned the estate into the 'Rossmore Institute for Psychic Research' in the hope that a team of psychic researchers could make contact with him. The team does make contact but only after Claire gave them an ultimatum that she would not fund the institute for more than another year unless they reached Martin.

Claire's friend happens to be Bosley of the Townsend Detective Agency and he enlists the Angels to investigate what he believes to be a con. The Angels infiltrate the institute with Kris pretending to be a graduate student in parapsychology and Sabrina posing as her subject, a medium. But what starts out as simple fraud investigation turns into something else entirely when another medium at the institute, Kathy Wade, is murdered during a sitting even though she was in a locked room and all of the potential suspects were in view of the Angels. Confounding matters further is that Martin's voice is heard by all in the run-up to the murder!

I remember being scared by this episode as a kid, especially the poltergeist attack on Kelly and the "ghostly" motorcycle rider riding around the property at night. As an adult, the episode isn't scary but it is a nifty little mystery that keeps the audience guessing until late in the episode as to who -- or what -- is behind all the supernatural goings-on. In many Charlie's Angels episodes, the culprit is obvious from the get-go. But not this one -- the Angels and Bosley have their hands full with six separate suspects; one of whom may be a ghost.

Recommendation: A fun little episode from a more innocent time in television history that isn't particularly scary but does have a decent mystery.

Edited by miliosr
Link to post

Next up on my viewing list this Halloween season was the 1981 slasher film Just Before Dawn. Truthfully, though, Just Before Dawn isn't exactly a slasher film even though it came out at the height of the slasher craze in 1981. It has more in common with a movie like Deliverance than it does with something like Friday the 13th.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Synopsis: Five college-age campers decide to go camping in a heavily wooded mountain area. Despite warnings from forest ranger George Kennedy (whose ranger station is the last outpost of civilization) about not entering this remote area, the campers forge ahead and travel up and into the mountain range. There, they get much more than they bargained for including two inbred twins who begin murdering the campers one-by-one. Like many horror films of this era, the "Last Girl" has to duke it out with her tormentors.

Just Before Dawn is a nifty little thriller that only occasionally lapses into slasher territory. (The movie has an ending that has to be seen to be believed -- or disbelieved.) The best thing it has going for it is its location. The Silver Falls State Park in Oregon doubles as the supposedly uninhabited mountain area. The visuals are tremendously atmospheric and unsettling. Anything can be (and often is) lurking in the dark woods.

Adding to the atmosphere are composer Brad Fiedel's unsettling whistling theme, the subhuman noises made by the two inbred twins and the sheer silence of the woods. This is a nice change of pace from the typical horror movie which uses the score to telegraph the horror from a mile away.

The five young actors playing the campers are above average and George Kennedy adds a certain heft (literally and figuratively) to the action.

Recommendation: Less well known than many of its contemporaries (Friday the 13th, Part 2, Halloween II) from 1981, Just Before Dawn is worth a viewing and deserves its "unsung classic" of the genre status.

Edited by miliosr
Link to post

It's well known that characters in horror flicks make bad decisions, but "The Birds" is something special in this regard. A hostile flock of birds attacks a children's party? Do we hurry the children into that pretty imposing looking building and board up the place until help arrives or the birds disperse? No, we march the kids outside so Angry Birds can have another go at them.  Smart thinking, Suzanne and Tippi!

This season I saw Joe Dante's "The Howling" (1981) for the first time. This was the picture that revived the filmic fortunes of lycanthropy. A TV anchorwoman fears she is being targeted by a serial killer and is freaking herself and everyone around her out. It is suggested by her celebrity shrink, (Patric Macnee) that she take the cure at the Colony, a mental health spa in a rural setting, which proves to be not so relaxing for Karen, given the howling dogs that raise the roof every night. The special effects by Rob Bottin wowed at the time and are still effective, if dated. The picture is chock full of genre in-jokes (Look! Roger Corman!) that it's helpful, if not essential, to get. 

Another one new to me: "It Follows" from 2015. An interesting variation on the "bad things happen to teenagers who have sex" aspect of the genre, and by no means a Cautionary Tale. Also with some killer shock effects and a real atmosphere of unrelenting dread; the heroine has no place to run and no place to hide.

Link to post
On 10/30/2020 at 10:52 PM, cubanmiamiboy said:

My picks. 🙃

 

Anyone seen the 1963 The Haunting based on The Haunting of Hill House?  Netflix series? https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057129/   Some developed an aversion to homes with similar architecture after Amityville Horror.  https://www.theloop.ca/the-amityville-horror-house-is-up-for-sale/

At auction-clawfoot tub, beamed ceilings, original millwork/floors, some exposed brick inside, white kitchen, view, 4 sides brick:

https://derosaexchange.com/auburncastle

Link to post
4 hours ago, maps said:

Anyone seen the 1963 The Haunting based on The Haunting of Hill House?  Netflix series? https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057129/   Some developed an aversion to homes with similar architecture after Amityville Horror.  https://www.theloop.ca/the-amityville-horror-house-is-up-for-sale/

At auction-clawfoot tub, beamed ceilings, original millwork/floors, some exposed brick inside, white kitchen, view, 4 sides brick:

https://derosaexchange.com/auburncastle

Thank you for the link, maps, that's great.

I have seen the 1963 movie a couple of times. I think it is as good as its high critical reputation, although I prefer Jackson's book. It's very well cast - Julie Harris is just right for Eleanor and Claire Bloom makes a very saucy lesbian. Richard Johnson and Russ Tamblyn would have more horror flicks in their future although they probably didn't think so at the time. The direction and cinematography do a great job of disorienting the audience's view of the house. 

I regret to say I also saw the remake with Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, et al., and I've managed to erase it from my brain cells. I don't remember anything except that it stank.

I haven't seen the Netflix series, which I understand wanders far afield from Jackson. 

Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...