28 Days Later (2002) When I first saw this on the big screen, it was like having a dose of adrenaline. I kept thinking that I had too many windows in my house (that usually comes to mind with zombies of any kind). Another thing that struck me was how much I cared about the main group of four characters (Jim, Selena, Hannah, and Frank-I remembered their names without looking it up). I was anxious about their safety, and when one of them (if you know you know) was infected by a drop of blood in the eye, I wept because I was so invested in the survival of this, created by circumstances, family. It did give me nightmares about rage infected people chasing me down for several weeks after watching it.
The Orphanage (2007) I do not think this movie ever came to a theater close by, so I saw it on DVD back in the olden times when Netflix sent physical DVDs to your house. This one stayed in my head for a long time after viewing it mainly because of the crushing sadness when Laura (Belén Rueda) discovers what actually happened to her adopted son, Simón (Roger Príncep), who went missing early in the movie. I cried and cried over that particular reveal. But overall, this one has a great creepy atmosphere that sticks with you. I’m also a sucker for creepy sack masks like the one Tomás wears. If you like haunted house flicks, give this one a try, but be sure to have a box of tissues handy for the ending.
The Strangers (2008) This one I also watched at home and not in the theater. This one really got under my skin. Home invasion flicks really freak me out because it is something that could actually happen. In fact, I wrote a post about The Strangers about ten years ago (HERE). I still have not rewatched this one, and I'm not sure I'm brave enough to do it.
Sinister (2012) I went to a late showing of this creepy flick opening weekend, and then I went home to my empty house. This was not the best idea. I ended up turning on all the lights in the house. Professor and Princess, my two cats, thought I was nuts. I don’t know why I was so freaked out. I don’t have kids, and the big baddy in the flick was using kids; however, my logic doesn’t work very well in a dark, empty house. I vowed never to go to a late scary movie again. In fact, if I’m watching something scary, I usually chase it with something funny and light hearted. It makes for a more restful night’s sleep.
Skinamarink (2022) After all the buzz surrounding this one, I had to see it. So the weekend it hit Shudder, I watched it with my husband. This experimental horror movie had me on edge the entire time. I cannot quite pinpoint why. My husband got bored and wanted to go to bed, but I made him keep watching because I was too unnerved to watch the rest alone. Perhaps it brought back the time in my life when I was about Kevin’s age (Lucas Paul), and I was too scared to be alone in the house. My mom would go outside to hang up the laundry, and I would wedge myself between the screen door and the main door into the house to avoid being in the empty house. So, the thought of being trapped in the house with my parents missing took me back to being a frightened four-year-old. After watching the movie, I spent weeks pouring over reaction and analysis videos on YouTube about Skinamarink. I don’t know if I can ever watch it again. Oh yeah, f#%k that Fisher Price phone!
George Romero's long lost educational film commissioned by the Lutheran Society in 1973 has been found and restored. Upon viewing the finished product in 1973, the Lutheran Society found it too disturbing to be seen. I guess the truth of how the elderly are treated was too much to bear. Luckily for us, the George A. Romeo Foundation restored this lost film, so it can be viewed by the public, if you dare to watch it. Don't get me wrong, this is not a horror film per se, but it is a highly upsetting and depressing depiction of the mistreatment of the elderly. This depiction comes in the form of a surreal, dreamlike (nightmare) experience Lincoln Maazel's unnamed character has at "The Amusement Park." Many will remember Maazel's performance in another Romero film, Martin (1977). He is the only "real" actor in the movie. All the other "actors" were volunteers, which makes this all the more impressive.
Maazel introduces the film and speaks again at the end. He implores viewers to have empathy and also be cognizant of the fact that they too will be old one day. What happens in between is something everyone should watch and consider. It is quite powerful, and I wish the Lutheran Society had been brave enough to use it back in the day.
Maazel starts his day in the park by encountering himself in a room of white. The beaten down version of himself warns that there is nothing out there, but the freshly dressed and hopeful version wants to see for himself. And boy, does he ever see! Each portion of The Amusement Park has vignettes illustrating how the elderly are systematically degraded. The only exception to this rule comes in the form of a wealthy older man who is treated with great respect because of his wealth. Sound like real life? Yeah, I thought so too. There is even a sequence where a young couple goes to the fortune teller's tent to see if they will be together forever…the vision is NOT what they were expecting! Elders losing the right to drive, check! See the bummer car sequence! There is even a part with two carnival barkers that made me think of "reverse" mortgages! Romero was ahead of his time! Throughout, a masked "grim reaper" can be seen lurking in the background. For the most part, all the the elderly people in this film are ignored and at worst, pushed around by the younger people at the park, but there is one exception. This exception is the breaking point for Maazel's character. A young girl is kind to him and wants him to read to her (she even shares a piece of fried chicken with him), but as this sweet exchange is taking place, viewers can see the cruel action that is about to befall Maazel. After this, he is utterly defeated, and as a viewer, I was too.
At 54 minutes, this educational film is a heartbreaking critique on aging in America. The Lutheran Society picked the right person to critique society, but they just didn't have to guts to let this scathing examination see the light of day. It is sad to me that this film remained lost until Romero, who has a cameo in the bumper car sequence, was deceased. I wonder what he would think of his "lost" educational film finally seeing the light of day?
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).
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."
On a whim, I decided to watch Day of the Triffids on Tubi TV (it is also on Amazon Prime). I watched parts of it about 17 years ago, so I wanted to see all of it. As I watched, I noticed that film makers must have been inspired by this movie. Specifically, directors of the zombie genre were clearly inspired by this film. Take a look at how Day of the Triffids compares to some zombie movies and a zombie show.
1: When Bill Masen (Howard Keel) wakes up to take the bandages off his eyes (he had eye surgery that kept him from viewing the meteor shower the previous night), he stumbles upon a seemly empty hospital that looks as though it has been turned upside down. This immediately reminded me of 28 Days Later (2002) and The Walking Dead (2010). Jim (Cillian Murphy) and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) both wake up confused in seemingly empty hospitals unaware of the devastation that has occurred, while they were unconscious.
2: After people who viewed the comet go blind, society begins to quickly crumble. This mirrors practically every zombie movie/television show. People have as much to fear from each other as they do from the triffids or zombies. The train station scene where Bill Masen saves the little girl Susan (Janina Faye) from a man after the train crashes illustrates this idea. This is shown again when Bill finds a group of drunken convicts having their way with some blind women. He has to rescue Susan and Miss Durrant (Nicole Maurey) from this disturbing scene. In 28 Days Later (2002), Jim rescues Selena (Naomie Harris) and Hannah (Megan Burns) from the soldiers who lured them to their base under false pretenses. During season 4, episode 16 of The Walking Dead, Rick rips out a dude's (Jeff Kober) throat with his teeth to save Carl (Chandler Riggs), not from zombies, but from a group called the Claimers. One Claimer was about to go all Deliverance (1972) on Carl, so Rick had no choice, but to go rippy rippy with his teethy teethy.
3: Sound attracts triffids the way sound attracts zombies. When Bill discovers the connection between sound and triffids, he uses the music in an ice cream truck to draw the triffids away from his group. Sound has been utilized as a tool for distracting zombies. Dawn of the Dead's (1978) Peter (Ken Foree) and Roger (Scott Reinger) use the department store music to distract zombies, while they explore the Monroeville Mall for supplies. Shaun (Simon Pegg) makes noise and runs from zombies in front of The Winchester to save his friends in Shaun of the Dead (2004). Unfortunately, jukebox music attracts zombies to The Winchester later on in the film.
4: Smart people try to solve the problem. In Day of the Triffids, married biologists Tom (Kieron Moore) and Karen Goodwin (Janette Scott, from the Rocky Horror Picture Show lyrics) spend most of the movie trying to discover how to destroy the triffids. At the end of the movie, they discover that sea water kills them. With this knowledge, the world is saved from those pesky triffids. In Night of the Living Dead (1968), the reporter on TV shares how to destroy the zombies (a blow to the head), so the general public knows how to protect themselves. In Day of the Dead (1985), Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty) attempts to train zombies to be non aggressive by using positive reinforcement. Remember Bub (Sherman Howard)? The company, Zomcon, utilizes domestication collars to turn zombies into house servants in the black comedy Fido (2006).
I rest my case. Day of the Triffids is a zombie movie even though it doesn't have zombies.
Like everyone else, I am spending more time at home watching movies (in between e-learning with my students). So over the weekend, my husband and I were looking at all the choices on Amazon Prime, and we found The Uncanny. I love a good anthology horror film, but when that anthology features Peter Cushing AND cats, it is even better.
Wilbur Gray (Peter Cushing) wants Frank Richards (Ray Milland) to believe that he has evidence that cats have control over humans, but I argue the evidence shows humans committing some of the seven deadly sins and paying the ultimate price via feline angels of death. After examining the evidence, I think you will agree the cats are completely justified in their actions.
Story one "London 1912" is about the backlash of unbridled greed.
Miss Malkin (Joan Greenwood) has cut her greedy nephew out of her will and replaced him with her clowder of cats. Unbeknownst to Miss Malkin, her maid, Janet (Susan Penhaligon), is in cahoots with her nefarious nephew, Michael (Simon Williams). Janet destroys the lawyer's copy of the new will and plots with Michael to nab Miss Malkin's copy in her bedroom safe. What Janet fails to realize is Miss Malkin's kitties are constantly watching her every move. When Janet suffocates Miss Malkin after she catches her red-handed raiding her safe, the cats take vengeful action.Â
Story two "Quebec Province 1975" is about the perilous path of envy.
Poor Lucy (Katrina Holden) has lost both parents and is forced to go live with her uncaring aunt and nasty, jealous cousin, Angela (Chloe Franks). Her one saving grace is her loyal cat, Wellington and some interesting books on witchcraft. Well, Angela is jealous that Wellington wants nothing to do with her and Angela's father (Donald Pilon) shows kindness to the orphaned child, so she starts blaming things on Wellington as well as Lucy in order to make her mother, who already hates the cat, take Wellington away. Her underhanded scheme works and Wellington is carted off. To make things even worse, Lucy's aunt (Alexandra Stewart) burns her books, except for one that Lucy saved. Too bad for Angela, the book Lucy saved is just the thing she needs, along with Wellington making his way back, to take revenge on her bratty cousin.
Story three "Hollywood 1936" is about the negative repercussions of lust.
The aptly named Valentine De'ath (Donald Pleasence) is tired of his actress wife and co-star, Madeleine (Catherine Begin), so he sets up an on the set "accident" which kills her quite gruesomely, think "The Pit and the Pendulum" style. He then has his mistress, Edina (Samantha Eggar), take his deceased wife's place in the film. When Valentine so rudely brings Edina home to fool around, Madeleine's cat is not happy. Even more horrifying, Valentine murders the cat's kittens by flushing them down the toilet (Um, that really pissed me off). Well, it turns out that hell hath no fury like a kitty scorned. Kitties can orchestrate "accidents" too!
As the film wraps up, Wilbur Gray leaves his evidence with Frank Richards before making his way home with numerous cats following closely behind. Now, I still assert the people in those stories got what was coming to them. The cats were completely justified in their actions. Let's just call it kitty karma.