Happy Halloween to all of you nice people who visit here! I'm off to see CRIMSON PEAK as per the advice of our pals over at FASCINATION WITH FEAR but I hate to leave you with nothing to watch so here is a double feature of the classics THE HALLOWEEN THAT ALMOST WASN'T and WITCH'S NIGHT OUT ! Remember to eat tons of candy while watching!
If you follow these pages you already know that my best buddies are cats even though they are incredibly inconsiderate when I'm trying to sleep. If you don't have a cat make sure you get one and if you do have a cat, make sure it's neutered because there's nothing sadder than a homeless hobo cat especially in bad weather. In any case, here are a handful of movies that feature our whiskered friends…
SHADOW OF THE CAT (1961)
A cat that witnesses the murder of its old lady owner seeks revenge on the conniving creeps responsible! Yes, please! If you like old dark houses, BARBARA SHELLY who also starred in CAT GIRL (1957) or just the fact that most cats have no problem detecting a degenerate when they see one, this is for you!
HAUSU (AKA HOUSE, 1977)
Is it even possible to describe this movie? Once upon a time I think I tried to HERE. As I recall a bunch of teenage girls take a trip to one of the girl's aunt's house in the country and an avalanche of inexplicable events ensue. The insanity is somehow overseen by a painting of a big white fluffy cat that eventually shoots blood out of its mouth. This movie can also be watched on National Watermelon Day.
CAT'S EYE (1985)
Don't even get me started. General the cat is my hero and I will weep tears of joy when he turns on the record player while the troll is standing on it and sends him flying. You'd probably have to live under a rock to have never seen this STEPHEN KING-penned horror anthology directed by the guy who did CUJO (LEWIS TEAGUE) and starring the only human nearly as cute as a cat, the young DREW BARRYMORE. My younger self thought this movie was pretty good but my smarter older self knows it's beyond phenomenal. Why am I not watching it now?
THE UNINVITED (1988)
As I revealed to you HERE, my late great cat Gato Malo once starred in a movie with the legendary GEORGE KENNEDY and the result was high entertainment on the high seas! I have a theory that every night when God goes to bed he/she cries himself to sleep because he/she knows that he/she lacks the power and ability to create something as perfect as THE UNIVITED and it makes him/her feel like a slouch.
HOCUS POCUS (1993)
Here's my last choice and I know I had several EDGAR ALAN POE cats to choose from for this list but I'm going to ignore them because you never know when a cat in POE movie is going to get strangled or something (I'm looking at you, TOMB OF LIGEIA– and don't act so innocent TWO EVIL EYES). Besides, Halloween is just days away so let's say we again salute good ol' Binx shall we? I'm always astounded when I hear that black cats are the hardest for shelters to adopt because black cats are the best and smartest and most personable. Trust me! If you want to be superstitious about something be superstitious about Friday the 13th because that is the day Jason Voorhees comes out and shoots an arrow into your eyeball in 3-D. For real.
EXTRA BONUS DON'T WATCH: THE RETURN OF DRACULA (1958)
Ugh, what was wrong with people in the fifties? Were they Neanderthals? I had to turn this crap off when a little boy's cat got stuck in a pit in a cave and then the boy was like, "I'll be back to help you later!" (!!!) and then he left the cat in the hole OVERNIGHT and when he went to rescue him in the morning it was dead. What? Take a hike RETURN OF DRACULA, you suck.
It doesn't quite feel like Halloween unless I get some black-and-white films in my diet. I know y'all know to check out the classic UNIVERSAL stuff that includes all the usual suspects (FRANKENSTEIN, WOLF MAN, THE MUMMY, et al.) and I know you've heard me harp on and on about supernatural favorites like THE HAUNTING, THE INNOCENTS, BURN, WITCH, BURN, CURSE OF THE DEMON, THE UNINVITED and HORROR HOTEL. And certainly you know enough to salute any and everything within a seven mile radius of the name VAL LEWTON (GHOST SHIP, 7TH VICTIM, CAT PEOPLE and assorted kin) but here are five more glorious and nutritious mood setting B&W features that deserve a tip of the pointy witch's hat this time of year!
THE UNDYING MONSTER (1942)
I'll never forget the fine night I fell asleep in front of the TV and woke up to this gem and was instantly mesmerized. Somehow this one is known as a tag along B-flick but it could have fooled me with its incredible atmosphere and memorable visual flair (which includes a smoke-framed POV shot from within a fireplace). There's a gloomy, fog-dipped mansion on a seaside cliff (with massive stain glass windows), an ancient family curse involving a ferocious fuzzy beast and wall-to-wall off-beat characters trying to figure it all out. My only complaint is that it's too short!
ARSENIC & OLD LACE (1944)
This FRANK CAPRA flick based on the popular stage play is a well-known classic of course but I don't think we've mentioned it enough around here. CARY GRANT should be more than enough to charm you into checking it out but if horror fans require more: it includes plenty of murder and mayhem; it takes place on a Halloween day littered with swirling dead leaves; and it features PETER LORRE and RAYMOND MASSEY doing a fine impression of BORIS KARLOFF, his costar in another B&W necessity, JAMES WHALE's THE OLD DARK HOUSE.
THE WOMAN WHO CAME BACK (1945)
Please don't act like you've seen enough movies starring THE BAD SEED's momma NANCY KELLY because you know you haven't. Here she stars as a lady who returns to her hometown after surviving an incredible bus accident (the special effect showing a toy bus falling over a miniature cliff is adorable) and begins to suspect that thanks to her witch hunting ancestor, she's living under a witch's curse and may be possessed by a dead witch herself. I certainly could do without the tacked on ending that explains all of the cool stuff we've witnessed away (boo, science!) but otherwise this is one highly entertaining and pleasantly spooky flick.
THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE (1946)
Exactly one year ago today on October 28, 2014, I was singing the praises of this movie so jump back in time and read all about that HERE.
SCREAM OF FEAR (1961)
This is another one we've talked about before (HERE) but I'm bringing it up again because it was just recently finally released on DVD (under the title HAMMER FILMS COLLECTION) thanks to the wonderful and generous folks over at MILL CREEK. I got my copy for less than 5 bucks and it includes four other movies for crying out loud! You can't beat that kids, not even with a broomstick!!!
Ack, can't we slow this October thing down? This weekend is Halloween and I'm not even properly spooked yet unless you include the other night when I had to get up to use the bathroom and I was super worried that I'd have a heart attack if I bumped into that scary plague doctor dude from that creepy Polish viral video.
To be honest, as much as I appreciate everybody's enthusiasm for the holiday, sometimes all the desperate commercialism and pumpkin latte caramel spice crap can dampen my fervor and that's when I need to go old school! In an effort to achieve the desired mood, the other night I realized that I had to find a super rainy movie with lots of howling wind and tons of hoary lightening sound effects. I'm comforted by the fact that nearly every stormy seventies TV offering features the same familiar cracks and crashes. If I'm especially lucky I'll stumble into something that sports the same stock footage of lightening that appears at the beginning of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND.
Happily I stumbled into the 1972 TV movie THE VICTIM starring ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY and holy crap, EILEEN (BAD SEED, BURNT OFFERINGS) HECKART!!! If you're keeping tabs that's a score, a score and a double score (I probably just lost some of our younger readers just then to whom I say buh-bye). MONTGOMERY plays a lady named Kate who visits her sister unaware that her sister was recently murdered. The killer decides that they might as well kill Kate too and the whole movie is her running around in an empty house in the middle of the night trying to avoid being murdered. It actually has a very similar premise as this Australian movie I just watched called LADY STAY DEAD (1981) but it also reminded me a bit of THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL with its minimalism and limited location.
The ending kinda sucks. I'll be real. It's even a little extra frustrating because it could have been easily saved by one line of dialogue. It sort of just leaves you hanging and even though I can't say it doesn't give you all the information you need, it certainly doesn't emphasize it in a satisfactory manner. But that's just the very end and I can't negate an entire song just because of one weak note at the close. Otherwise, I absolutely dig the mood and music of this baby and felt it hit the spot. Even though I never caught this corny creeper as a kid, everything about it makes me feel like I'm staying up late and braving the danger zone. If you are of a like mind check it out but I'd say wait till late at night and make sure to pretend your computer is a portable television set. It's not at all scary but it will put you in the mood to be scared and that tastes a lot better than cinnamon pumpkin spice gingerbread crap.
I picked up a VHS copy of NORMAN J. WARREN's TERROR a bunch o' years ago and for some reason, I never gave it a spin. The other night I finally decided to dust it off and give it a looksee and just when it was starting to get good, the darn thing konked out and went on the fritz! I know that sounds tragic but don't worry, there is a happy ending because that very same movie is contained on a compilation DVD I own from MILL CREEK called GOREHOUSE GREATS!
So I put the DVD in and instantly realized that I should have been watching it in the first place because the picture was all of the sudden sharp and lovely. Anyway, I just want to congratulate myself for learning the obvious lesson that sometimes VHS looks like crap and can't be trusted even though I know I'm destined to forget that lesson within a few days.
Also let me say that TERROR (1978) is not such a great movie. I think it's about a witch's curse that ruins things for random people and there's some possession business taking place but mostly I had little idea what was going on (although maybe I should blame my cough medicine for that). I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt anyway because I was never bored and it looked pretty. The general vibe is agreeable and the death scenes stand out. It's like there's about a half dozen really cool horror vignettes that, taken in separately, really work but when they're strung together as a whole, they turn into a muddled mess. In fact, it left me thinking that if you just ripped out the annoyingly foggy plot, you'd be left with one awesome trailer and so I Googled that notion and yep, I was right, the trailer is fantastic…
But this is Sunday Streaming so I'm leaving you with the whole movie. Like I said, it doesn't all make sense or gel together but if you enjoy late-seventies supernatural horror mixed with some slasher elements, it's well worth checking out. There's a stalking scene mid-way through (featuring the guy who played Chewy McWookie in STAR WARS) that doesn't exactly pan out but is pretty nifty while it lasts and the climax, which apparently was inspired by the splashy, fluorescent visuals in SUSPIRIA is at least kind to your peepers even if it ends up feeling kind of detached and incidental. Oh, and there's some funny bits in this flick too involving the making of a trashy movie and wait, wasn't there a flying car too? Hmmm, maybe I liked it even better than I think I did. Yep, I guess so. It's kinda the perfect thing to watch from bed when you are high on cold medicine.
It's that time of year when I tend to watch every movie in the HALLOWEEN series and yes, that does include ROB ZOMBIE's 2007 stab and especially its profound 2009 sequel. With the news announced that the next HALLOWEEN installment will be a direct continuation of 1981's HALLOWEEN II, I guess I'll have to get used to the fact that I won't be seeing ROB ZOMBIE's HALLOWEEN 3 anytime soon.
That's just what you naysayers would like, isn't it? Well, it just so happens that I am not bound to the laws of your puny reality and in fact, I have already carved out my own dimension in which ROB ZOMBIE's HALLOWEEN 3 does indeed exist! What's more, it's standing right there under your pointy nose and it just happens to be called THE LORDS OF SALEM! You heard that right, from this day forth I'm just going to watch TLOS as if it were a very loose remake of H3:SOTW. Go ahead, try and sue me! No professional lawyer in his or her right mind would take your case! To be on the safe side though, let's look at the mountains of spurious evidence I've haphazardly compiled. Shall we?
Let's get the most obvious similarity out of the way first and that similarity is the overall lack of similarity! LORDS OF SALEM is to ROB ZOMBIE's two back-to-back HALLOWEEN films as H3: SEASON OF THE WITCH is to the original HALLOWEEN films in that they both feature a completely different storyline. Not for nothing, both movies directly focus on witchcraft and the pestilential use of black magic. And hey look… TLOS and SOTW have only one letter that differentiates them in the initials of their respective titles too! That probably doesn't seem like a big deal but when it comes to witchcraft, stuff like that matters. I think.
*Both films feature an actress who appeared in the first two installments (alive in the first, dead in the second) now playing a completely different role and sporting a hairstyle I'm not entirely on board with.
*HALLOWEEN 3 famously features a song that has the power to corrupt and destroy (The Silver Shamrock jingle) and yep, that's a pivotal part of TLOS too.
*Yikes! Silent, robot-like henchmen are seen roaming about!
*Look at these three darling ladies! They look harmless enough but that's not the case! They are wearing masks, so to speak, and should not be trusted!
Stand warned, troikas are powerful and the most powerful troikas fit a somewhat particular design. There is the grounding mother/boss (witch) symbolizing birth, there is the more jovial prankster (pumpkin) representing life and the final is the darkest, death (skull) representing conflict, closure and the proverbial kicking of the bucket. These three can be found in the duplicitous witches in TLOS and they appear in baser forms as H3's iconic Silver Shamrock masks. Here are some other examples:
(In some cases there may be overlapping characteristics here and there but you get the idea.)
It is important to note that in both the case of SEASON OF THE WITCH and THE LORDS OF SALEM, the nefarious plan to utilize witchcraft to trigger devastation can be deemed successful and that our heroes' attempts to alter the outcome are for naught. In one flick, the darkness seeps in thanks to a door left open by a nationwide addiction to consumerism and in the other, a more personal rekindled drug addiction is to blame… but what's the difference when the end result is pretty much the same?
Still not convinced? Neither am I! Oh well! What can I say; I enjoy a facetious fan theory every once in a while. I guess my point is that a fellow needs to watch something after they've finished the entire HALLOWEEN series and THE LORDS OF SALEM hits the spot for me because….witches! You can't do Halloween without witches! Nope, there's no replacing the one of a kind insanity-mobile that is H3: SOTW but I still hold strong to the belief that two films concerning witches scheming to cause mayhem on a massive scale can stand side by side in harmony! If witches have taught us anything it's that there's strength in numbers!
I have nothing very original to offer today BUT I don't mind reminding you that if you neglect to watch THE PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL right about now you are doing this entire month wrong, more wrong and super wrong.
Hey, today is the day that GOOSEBUMPS comes out! I can't go to the movies because the ceiling collapsed and movies are for people with roofs but don't let me stop you! Meanwhile, there are TEN differences in these two posters so use your eyes to find them!