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Entries from July 2020

Five Favorite Things:: Lovely Molly (2011) By Robstercraws

July 11th, 2020 · 6 Comments

Eduardo Sanchez is best known as the writer/director of the late 90’s phenomenon The Blair Witch Project but, for my money, it’s his film Lovely Molly that is his masterpiece…and one of the best horror movies of the last decade. For whatever reason however, this film was unheralded upon its release, remains criminally underseen by horror enthusiasts, and receives mixed reviews by those who have seen it. It’s not an easy film to watch by any means, both because of the harrowing subject matter and the ambiguity of it, which forces the viewer to REALLY pay attention and do a little dot-connecting to fully appreciate the story. Personally, I like some ambiguity in my horror films. Too much exposition, too much backstory, ruins any sense of mystery in a horror film. The ambiguous nature of this story might have been its downfall among those who are used to being spoonfed their storylines and having everything neatly tied up at the end. Hell, I love this movie and even I had to watch it 2 or 3 times before I fully comprehended everything (or rather came to my own conclusions). Anyway, here are my 5 favorite things about this great movie:

1: The Lead Actress

This was Gretchen Lodge‘s first film role and I still haven’t seen her in anything else….and that’s a damn shame because she is outstanding in this movie!! The film is about her character Molly first and foremost and she carries the movie. Everything is told mostly from her perspective. She starts the film as a happy newlywed, then slowly runs the emotional gamut from being cautiously afraid to frantic, terrified, traumatized, inconsolable, sultry, suicidal, catatonic, then outright insane. It’s a highly emotional part and complex in a lot of ways.

2: The House

Most of the movie takes place inside of one of the creepiest houses I’ve ever seen. It’s the house Molly grew up in and the one she moves back into after her marriage. It’s one of those old, vine-entangled country houses made of brick with narrow, badly lit hallways and an unfinished basement that looks like it’s just begging to be filled with corpses! The outside of it looks exactly like the house on the cover of Black Sabbath’s first album. Not a house I would personally choose to live in! It’s a perfect house for this movie though. Creaking (and slamming!) doors, moving shadows, and rattling windows all play a big part in the atmosphere of this movie, and the atmosphere is thick! Later in the movie when the violence starts, the basement is where most of the carnage happens. It’s a basement made for carnage if ever I saw one.

3: The Horse Imagery

Throughout the movie, we see images of horses all over the place. Molly’s dead father (who was a shitty human being, sexually assaulting Molly and her sister when they were children) bred horses and may have raced them at one time, so photos of horses are everywhere. Molly comes upon a strange shrine in the cellar with an engraved picture of a 2-headed horse on it. At one point, Molly flips through a family album and there are pictures of horses there too. Molly hears the clopping of horse hooves and the breathing of a horse before she’s assaulted by an “unseen force”. In the last shot we see of Molly, she’s slowly walking outside to her backyard to embrace a kind of “horse” (trying not to get too spoiler-y). Molly, a recovering addict, backslides into addiction when things get too terrifying for her (or, it could be she’s being forced back into addiction). Her drug of choice? Heroin (or “horse”). By the movie’s midpoint, the horse imagery becomes very sinister and takes on implications of what Molly’s traumatizing childhood was like.

4: The POV shots

In The Blair Witch Project, the whole film was “found footage” from the point of view of whoever was holding the camera at the time, but in Lovely Molly, Sanchez opts to make only certain aspects of the film POV shots. Aside from the wedding footage at the start of the movie, these are from Molly’s point of view as she records her meanderings around the house and the grounds. These shots always take place when something eerie is happening to Molly or when Molly is discovering something integral to the plot. Often, she is singing to herself while recording these shots (what else but the song “Lovely Molly”?), which adds a touch of eerie detachment to the scene. Is she fully aware of what she’s seeing and discovering or is there an entity guiding her, showing her what it wants her to see?

5: The Ambiguity

Like I mentioned before, there is a strong element of ambiguity to Lovely Molly that makes the whole movie interpretable in different ways.  Is it a movie about possession, mental illness…..or perhaps both?  Molly and her husband move into the house she grew up in, which is also where the childhood traumas involving her father took place.  Did this set off a chain reaction of events and memories that led to her using drugs again and thus causing her mental breakdown?  Or, as Molly insists, is her father alive again….taking form as a kind of horse demon that no one else can see…traumatizing her all over again…waiting to capture her body and soul once and for all?  Is Molly responsible for the deaths that occur in the film, or does she have a guiding hand in the form of her father…..showing her the way…urging her to kill?  I have my preferred interpretation, but it honestly could probably go either way.

  If you haven’t seen Lovely Molly, I urge you to.  But be aware that there are intense implications of addiction, mental illness,  and sexual assault and how they may affect the mind of a person.  Like I said….it’s not an easy or “fun” movie to watch, but to me, it’s Eduardo Sanchez‘s best movie.

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

July 10th, 2020 · 13 Comments

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Five Favorite Things:: One Dark Night (1982) By Unk

July 8th, 2020 · 6 Comments

1: The Setting & Premise

A trio of eighties era mean girls who call themselves “the sisters” convince Julie (Meg Tilly) to spend the night in a mausoleum as part of a group initiation, and plans to scare her become superfluous when an entombed psychic vampire utilizes telekinetic mojo to animate the corpses within. Who can resist such a setup? Ever since I was a wee lad I have loved graveyards, crypts, and mausoleums. My grandmother had a cemetery behind her house and I swear it was a playground as far as I was concerned. Did it creep me out? Yes, but it also contented me in a weird way. I can actually imagine taking up the offer to sleep in a mausoleum overnight. It seems more appealing than camping outdoors because I think I can deal with ghosts and dead bodies better than I can deal with insects (spiders are cute but centipedes and mosquitos have gotta go). The lovely graveyard in ODN (The Angelus- Rosedale Cemetery) may look familiar to horror fans as it was also featured in NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988), MORTUARY (1983) and a multitude of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE episodes.

2: The Cast & Director

ODN is Meg Tilly’s film debut and she shows off a lot of charm and talent as good girl Julie (even though she foolishly allows every bad thing to happen to her in this movie out of fear of being called a “pansy”). It’s wild to think that just one year later she’d be holding her own with the legendary Anthony Perkins in PSYCHO II (1983). Elizabeth (E.G) Daily of PEE WEE’s BIG ADVENTURE fame is sympathetic and adorable as Leslie, the lone “sister” who grows a conscience before the nightmare begins. Robin Evans is deliciously vicious as the group’s jealous and conniving leader Carol and Leslie Speights is memorable as her toothbrush gnawing henchwoman. David Mason Daniels has a Christopher Reeve-like quality as Julie’s stalwart boyfriend Steve and it’s a treat to see a post-BATMAN Adam West show up to unravel the supernatural happenings along with likable Melissa Newman. You even get a sprinkling of Donald Hotton (NIGHTWING, THE HEARSE). Director Tom McLoughlin would go on to gift the world with FRIDAY THE 13th Part 6: JASON LIVES, arguably the cleverest, surely the funniest, sequel in the franchise.

3: The Tom Burman Effects

Tom Burman doesn’t seem to get as much attention as his artistic contemporaries Tom Savini and Rob Bottin but he’s designed some of the most impressive and eye-popping work in his field. This guy had his hands in many of my all-time favorites like HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981), MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981), CAT PEOPLE (1982), THE BEAST WITHIN (1982), HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982) and he was even responsible for Sloth in THE GOONIES (1985). ONE DARK NIGHT allowed him to create a plethora of assorted rotting corpses in different stages of decomposition and it’s remarkable how much personality he brings to them. There’s a soldier with his face falling off, a child buried with a creepy doll, assorted slimy granny and grampy- types, the requisite bride buried in her wedding gown and finally the film’s emaciated psychic vampire villain who has a penchant for blasting purple electric disco sparks from his eyes.

4: The PG Rating

I saw a lot of R-rated films when I was underage because my older brother worked in a theater for a while and could sneak me in. Plus, it was always pretty easy to buy a ticket for something benign and then sneak into another picture altogether. Sometimes you’d get caught and end up having to go back to the PG movie you paid for and sit through AUTHOR! AUTHOR! (1982), but most of the time it worked. That said, I was kind of relieved that I didn’t have to resort to any shenanigans when I bought my ticket for ODN and could stroll into the movie without any fear of an usher giving me the stink-eye. I did not find ODN to be neutered or diluted in any way due to its rating and I always think of what a fun time I had watching it whenever horror fans complain that a movie isn’t rated R. What can I say? The idea of being pummeled by dead bodies is one that still discomforts me and I guess I cared enough about the characters that I could relate and empathize with their fear even if the situation never evolved into a gore-soaked bloodbath.

5. The Tunnel Scene

About midway through the movie, there is a scene that always gets to me in which the three girls who have just dropped Julie off at the mausoleum drive home through a tunnel (2nd Street Tunnel in Los Angeles which also appears in the same year’s BLADE RUNNER). At this point, Leslie (E.G.) has a change of heart and bravely takes a stand and condemns the actions of her bullying pals. She is then rejected and cast aside by her so-called pals for speaking up and she is unceremoniously expelled from the car and dangerously left all alone at night in the tunnel to walk home alone. It’s beautifully shot with the lights of the tunnel playing off the hot pink satin of her jacket as she realizes her fate and begins to slowly stroll on alone. It almost looks like an eighties album cover to me and yet it’s filled with such pathos and the sad ramifications of not going along with the group. It breaks my heart a bit but it’s actually a good thing; because Leslie draws the line and decides to make her own path (rather than be a blind follower to her friend’s malicious whims) she gets to avoid hanging out with a bunch of smelly dead people. Good call!

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Five Favorite Things:: Fright Night (1985) By Mickster

July 6th, 2020 · 7 Comments

1:The high school drama (first love and best pals) At the beginning of the film, we learn that Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is tired of his girlfriend (Amanda Bearse) putting off his advances. He wants to go “all the way” until he spies a couple of men carrying a coffin into the basement next door. When Amy decides she is ready to go “all the way,” Charley is distracted. This causes a rift between the couple. A few days later at school, Amy serves Charley a Sloppy Joe in the kisser after being ignored by him once again. Charley’s best pal “Evil Ed” (Stephen Geoffreys) teases him with the classic line, “You’re so cool, Brewster!” Speaking of “Evil Ed,” he gives Charley tips on how to prepare against a vampire even though he thinks Charley is nuts (Why Charley doesn’t know this information already I will never understand since he watches so many horror movies). Amy and Ed are loyal to Charley and team up to help him. They assume he is delusional because he claims that his next door neighbor is a vampire.

2: The night club scene (It rules!) Even though Charley appears to live in a small town, Charley and Amy find themselves chased into a happening night club by Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon). While Charley is focused on a call with Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), Jerry seduces Amy on the dance floor. No woman could resist Jerry on the dance floor! Dude’s got a vibe that can be felt across a room! I’ve spent quite a bit of time, over the years, wishing I was dancing with the seductive Mr. Dandrige. Dang Charley for spoiling the entire moment!

3: The throwback to old horror films (Peter Vincent aka Peter Cushing plus Vincent Price) At the beginning of the movie, the audience meets horror movie host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowell) aka the Great Vampire Killer. He made tons of vampire flicks back in the day, and now he is reduced to hosting a late night horror movie show. Charley, of course, is a huge fan and attempts to get Mr. Vincent to help him dispatch his super suave neighbor who just happens to be a vampire. Unfortunately, Peter Vincent is a complete coward and doesn’t actually believe in vampires…until he is paid to pretend he does. His lack of faith, however, comes back to haunt him…”You have to have faith for this to work on me, Mr. Vincent!”

4: The small town feel (It looks like fall too!) Charley lives on a quiet street not too different from the one I grew up on except I never had a sexy vampire living next door. The last thing Charley expected on his quiet, idyllic street was a vampire and his daytime protector (Jonathan Stark) moving into the fixer upper next door (sounds like a new HGTV show to me…Dandrige and Cole’s House Flipping 101).

5: Jerry Dandrige…Of course! First of all, he is smoking hot! The sexiest vampire on film in my humble opinion. Charley’s mom and Amy are immediately charmed in his presence, and who could blame them? He is also a snappy dresser! Dandrige’s wardrobe is fantastic! No stuffy tuxedos or black capes for this 80s vampire! He has cool sweaters and a gray leather trench coat. He is charming too! Sure, he tries to kill Charley, but to be fair, he warned Charley what would happen to him, and those he loved, if he did not stop bothering him. He actually gave Charley a choice: stop harassing him, and he would leave Charley alone. Charley brandished a crucifix as a response…the moron! Jerry also has a great sense of humor. When Charley comes downstairs to find Jerry drinking a bloody Mary with his mom (Dorothy Fielding), the look on Charley’s face is priceless.

Bonus: Speaking of humor…
One of the things that sets this vampire movie apart is the use of humor (This was done again, with great success, in 1987’s The Lost Boys).

Examples-
Evil Ed, “Yeah, then he’ll be able to suck his way through the entire town… not that it would be much of a loss…”

Evil Ed, “He got me, Charley! He bit me! You know what you’re gonna have to do now, don’t you? Kill me. Kill me, Charley… before I turn into a vampire, and… GIVE YOU A HICKEY!”

Detective Lennox, “Sure, and I’m Dirty Harry. Now let me tell you something kid. If I ever catch your ass down at the station house again, I’m throwing it in jail FOREVER!”

Peter Vincent, “Where is Charley’s mother?”
Evil Ed, “Oh, well, apparently she’s working nights. BUT!… she left a note.
Mmmmmm mmm! His dinner’s in the oven!”

Jerry Dandrige, “Welcome to… Fright… Night! For real.”

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

July 3rd, 2020 · 16 Comments

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Three Non-Horror Movies For Horror Fans:: By Eve Tushnet

July 2nd, 2020 · 2 Comments

1: THE SISTERHOOD OF NIGHT (2014)

This film looks like it’s gonna be a teen horror, maybe about witches??, and it is indeed about a secret club of high-school girls who meet in the woods to perform mysterious rituals. But this update of “The Crucible” uses wiggy costumes and snappy dialogue, not spells and special effects, to represent the apocalyptic emotions of teenagers. A girl dresses like a “David Bowie bird”; the sun glows, giant against the treeline, that golden edge-of-adulthood sun you’ll never see again. The girls come together to share secrets and cope with the painful family situations they won’t reveal to anyone else. Their club is more “personal with a dash of politics” than personal-political, but even so, this movie is the closest thing I’ve found to what it was like to be in Riot Grrrl. I have some criticisms: The movie repeatedly suggests that some of the girls will be gay, or will reveal experiences of sexual assault, but if memory serves those things don’t happen; that felt like a bait-and-switch or a lost opportunity. But mostly this is a beautiful film about teen girls in the age of Facebook.

It’s honest and touching and melodramatic. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry!

Plus it includes the graffiti, EMILY PARRIS IS A BLOG WHORE. Irresistible, no?

Recommended if you like: The Craft, Ginger Snaps, #horror (which, in spite of its ridiculous name, is a very fun movie).

2: BEYOND THE HILLS (2012)

This movie starts when a young woman arrives at a Romanian women’s monastery where her former best friend is a nun. The two girls grew up together in one of the notorious orphanages of Communist Romania; they protected each other, and in time became lovers, but now Voichita has found a refuge in the monastery and hopes that Alina will make her home there as well. No dice–Alina is an atheist and she’s come to rescue her ex-lover from the clutches of the church.

So begins a genuinely harrowing film based on true events. Seriously, this is a hard movie to watch, as hard as MARTYRS in its own way. The nuns begin to fear the influence of Satan, both on Alina and on the monastery as a whole. Evil portents seem to appear in the natural world, and hysteria begins to take hold. The monastery’s priest dismisses the idea of demonic activity for a while, but eventually the nuns persuade him, too, to see the cloven hoofprints… and then the movie’s real tragedy begins, as the nuns and priest show their willingness to destroy Alina in order to save her from the Devil.

The movie begins at a slow, meditative pace, with long quiet shots showing the hard manual labor of the monastery, then picks up speed; the climax is agonizingly tense.

Recommended if you like: The VVitch, The Exorcist, The Rapture.

3: THE FITS

Another, very different take on “The Crucible.” Toni is an eleven-year-old tomboy, a boxer in training, who becomes enraptured with the girls of the high-school dance team… just as those girls begin to suffer from an inexplicable fainting epidemic. Is it an environmental problem, something in the school’s water? Is it mass hysteria? Is it something beyond the realm of science?

Royal Hightower is amazing as Toni, taciturn and full of longing. THE FITS is gorgeous, and I love how it shows the characters’ physicality: the glitter dusting Toni’s fingertips, the blood on a boxer’s teeth, the tenderness of a newly-pierced earlobe. And its final sequence is genuinely sublime, as the film enters the realm of pure symbolism and dream. This is one of my favorite movies of all time and one of the best blends of realism and fantasy I know.

Recommended if you like: Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, Paperhouse, The Company of Wolves (or any of Angela Carter‘s writing).

Enjoy! (Or I guess, in the case of BEYOND THE HILLS, Endure!) I’ve written a few books but the most recent is my novel “Punishment: A Love Story,” which you can find HERE.

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Tags: Non-Horror Movies For Horror Fans · Uncategorized