Sunday, October 31, 2021

Happy Halloween!

And thus ends another Halloween Countdown, and it's been a blast. I can't believe I made it through 31 horror movies and only hit a few duds. And this was so much fun that I am already plotting out next year's list - it's already halfway full.

Today I decided to lounge around in my skeleton onesie watching movies I have seen before, and bingeing the British TV comedy Ghosts. (Recommended! It's on HBO Max.) I just wish I had some candy to really binge on.

I want to thank Dex and Michelle for hosting the Halloween Countdown again this year; it's been fun popping around the other blogs that have been participating. And I also want to thank everyone who's dropped by. I truly appreciate it. I definitely hope it all happens again next year, which will be my fifteenth! Yikes!

Finally, here's a complete list of the films I watched, with links to their entries. Have a great rest of your Halloween, and a safe and happy rest of 2021!

The Beyond
Blood Diner
The Boy Behind the Door
The Broken
A Classic Horror Story
Daniel Isn’t Real
The Dark and the Wicked
Death of a Vlogger
The Deeper You Dig
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark
Eyes of a Stranger
Family Plot
The Funeral Home
The Fury
Halloween Kills
The House That Dripped Blood
Isle of the Dead
The Keep
The Manor
Mother of Tears
Night of the Creeps
Spider Baby
Theatre of Blood
Tucker & Dale Vs Evil
The Vigil

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 31: Halloween Kills (2021)

Anyone who's followed this countdown for the 14 years I've done it knows by now that the original Halloween is my favorite Halloween movie, and I re-watch it every year. So I figured, what better way to end this year's countdown than with the latest sequel in that neverending franchise?

Mind you, just because I love the first Halloween movie does not mean I love all the films. In fact, I've limited my viewing of the sequels/reboots to those that Jamie Lee Curtis has appeared in (well, those and Halloween III: Season of the Witch). And I acknowledge those have been hit and miss. Halloween II is pretty disappointing, but it does have a nostalgia factor going for it at this point.

And in many ways, Halloween Kills owes much to Halloween II. Both relegate Jamie Lee Curtis to a hospital for the majority of the film, and both bring more townspeople into the mix than the previous film had, although in Halloween Kills, it's a lot more townspeople. Like, angry mob levels of townspeople. (Also, do not try to convince me that little Tommy Doyle grew up to look like Anthony Michael Hall, especially when he's standing next to the real Lindsay Wallace, Kyle Richards.)

Both films also amp up the gore and body counts, and both films share the fact that they are disappointing follow-ups. 2018's Halloween wasn't perfect, but it had Jamie Lee Curtis giving a strong performance at the center of it, and chose to take its themes seriously, focusing on how surviving a mass murderer could probably fuck you up for life, and how that trauma may affect that survivor's family for generations.

I supposed Halloween Kills thinks its addressing some equally heady topics, like mass hysteria, and mob mentality, and how that very rarely results in any good. But it also sidelines Jamie Lee Curtis, and spends most of its running time showing murder after murder after murder. Director David Gordon Green intends to make these sequels a trilogy, but at this point I'm really hoping he follows the original trilogy's trend and makes a third Halloween that's actually a story about a druid worshiping media mogul who wants to melt screen-addicted kids' heads on Halloween night.

Halloween Kills is streaming on Peacock, albeit the paid version of the service. But at $4.99 a month you can sign up, watch the movie, cancel, and still spend less than going to see it in a theater.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 30: Mandibles (2021)

I'll concede right off the bat that Mandibles is not really a horror movie, but it does feature a giant fly and that's close enough to monster territory to warrant inclusion in this countdown. In fact, I'd say of all the movies I've featured this year, this one comes closest to being appropriate for all ages.

Two very dumb criminals discover a giant fly in the trunk of a stolen car, and immediately ponder of the money-making possibilities. Perhaps you're thinking, but of course! Charging people to see this gigantic fly is a surefire way to make money. But no, what they want to do is train it. To steal money from banks. Like a drone that doesn't need batteries. What follows is a comedy of errors, mistaken identities, and bonding. I loved every second of its brief 77 minutes.

I had heard about Mandibles when it was released earlier this year, but I wasn't until I watched Deerskin for this countdown that I realized they were both directed by Quentin Dupieux, and now he may be my favorite French director?? I mean, this moment in the Tweet below has endeared me to this his work forever.

So, no, not technically a horror movie, it's more of a straight out comedy, but it's definitely one of the best movies I've watched for this countdown, and I highly recommend you seek it out. It's available to rent via most VOD platforms. I rented it via Amazon Prime.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 29: Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010)

I really have no idea why it took me ten years to finally watch Tucker & Dale vs Evil, but maybe it's better that I didn't see it when it came out. I feel like separating my viewing by years from the somewhat similar Cabin in the Woods was a good thing, as I probably would have judged Tucker & Dale too harshly in comparison. (For the record, I loved Cabin in the Woods the first few times I saw it, but I rewatched it recently and....I do not think it aged well!)

Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine are perfect as the misunderstood rednecks, Tucker and Dale, a couple of guys who just want to refurbish their vacation cabin in the woods in peace, but instead have to deal with some college kids who can't stop dying on their property. The above gif is from my favorite gag in the film, and while there are plenty of outrageously gory slapstick scenes in the movie, I think the funniest moments are the exchanges between Tucker and Dale, and Dale and Allison. Now, where's Tucker & Dale vs Evil Pt II?!

I watched Tucker & Dale vs Evil on Amazon Prime via a free trial of Cinemax.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 28: Death of a Vlogger (2019)

Death of a Vlogger is combination found footage horror movie and mockumentary about a Scottish vlogger who records what may or may not be some kind of haunting in his flat, and the resulting viral fame and backlash that ensues.

It reminded me, for different reasons, of two movies I featured in last year's countdown, Host, and Lake Mungo, though thematically, I imagine it's closer to Lake Mungo, as it includes your usual documentary talking heads trope, as well a back and forth narrative around what's real and what's fake. 

I won't say what side Vlogger ultimately falls on, but some of its scares did make me jump, while others made me moan, "Oh man. Another Asian 'ghost' with hair covering her face? Isn't there some Scottish ghost cliche they could have used instead?" Ultimately what's most interesting about the film is not the supernatural horrors, but the real life horrors surrounding internet fame and public shaming that befall the hero.

I watched Death of a Vlogger free on Tubi, unedited, but with commercial interruptions.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 27: Spider Baby (1967)

Like several movies in this countdown this was one I thought I had seen, but turns out I hadn't.

I was pretty sure I had seen Spider Baby or The Maddest Story Ever Told back in the 1990's when it had a rediscovery partially fueled by Quentin Tarantino's fondness for the movie. I definitely knew the theme song by Lon Chaney Jr., but maybe I was just getting the movie confused in my head with this moment from Father Ted?

 (Just kidding. I just wanted an excuse to post that clip.)

But when I started to watch Spider Baby during a recent episode of Creature Features, I didn't recognize anything past the opening credits, and believe me, the movie is definitely memorable. It's like if Freaks and The Old Dark House had a baby...a SPIDER baby.

(By the way, that episode of Creature Features is worth watching for the interview with Beverly Washburn, who plays Elizabeth in Spider Baby, but don't watch the movie via that episode; big chunks of the film are edited out for time.) 

Anyway yeah, Spider Baby is the best kind of nuts, with Lon Chaney Jr. giving a truly heartfelt performance, Carol Ohmart inexplicably spending the second half of the movie wandering around in lingerie, and Sid Haig dressed as Little Lord Fauntleroy. But the standout is really Quinn Redeker, as the hopelessly optimistic Uncle Peter. (Did you know Redecker eventually went on to win an Oscar for co-writing the screenplay for The Deer Hunter? That and other fun facts can be had at the official Spider Baby website.)

Spider Baby is one of those movie that can be streamed in multiple places, most for free, including YouTube (see below). Prints vary in quality, so choose wisely. And if you can, try and find a DVD copy, which includes commentary, and making of shorts.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 26: The Dark and the Wicked (2020)

I feel like a lot of modern horror movies are tackling the topic of aging, both the horrors of aging itself, and how hard it can be to face the aging of the ones you love. Two such films have appeared in this countdown over the past two years: The Manor, and Relic, and today brings another, The Dark and the Wicked.

Two siblings (Marin Ireland Michael Abbott Jr.) return to the desolate Texas farm they grew up on to say their goodbyes to their dying father. Their mother, who has never been religious but who is now singing hymns and getting visits from a priest (who is played by Xander Berkeley, so you know something's not right from the start) had been caring for their father, but seems to be going off the rails. And then things start to get really weird.

The dark farmhouse setting certainly sets the primary mood for the majority of the film's scares, although its most shocking scene happens in a brightly lit suburban kitchen. That scene, and some subtler moments that take advantage of shadows and things just out of frame, left an impression, along with the strong performances from the entire cast. Just wish the whole thing ended stronger...

The Dark and the Wicked is currently streaming on Shudder.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 25: The Keep (1983)

I was sure I had seen The Keep back in the 1980's because I was a pretty big Michael Mann fan (and I was a Michael Mann fan because, duh, 1980's, but mainly because of his show Crime Story).

But turns out, nope, I had NOT seen it, because if I had, I would have surely remembered how batshit crazy it is. I'm not going to even attempt to summarize the plot here, so I'll just say it involves World War II Nazis, a "keep" housing an ancient monster known as Radu Molasar, and Scott Glenn as a Greek (!), all accompanied by a totally anachronistic (though still pretty awesome) score by Tangerine Dream. And Scott Glenn isn't the only crazy casting. There's also Gabriel Byrne as a Nazi, and Ian McKellan as a Jewish historian.

The special effects in it are some of the worst I've ever seen in a big studio production, and I guess that's partly explained by the film's troubled production. It should also be noted that a good print of the movie is pretty hard to find. It's not on DVD -- and certainly not on Blu-ray -- and the streaming version I watched on Amazon Prime, and paid $2.99 for, is TERRIBLE. It looks like a second generation VHS recording of a LaserDisc print, which it probably is.

As terrible as The Keep is, I'd still love to be able to see a pristine print of it with a remastered soundtrack, because while it's terrible, it's also all kinds of audacious, and if I could actually see more of the movie, I think it might even win me over.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 24: Deerskin (2020)

Deerskin has been marketed as a comedy and a horror movie, but it took me about 30 minutes before I could tell that it was either. Jean Dujardin stars as a Georges, a middle-aged divorcee who decides to buy a used, fringed, deerskin jacket of his dreams for the insane price of €7,500. The seller, perhaps feeling a bit sorry for the guy he's obviously scamming, also throws in a used digital camcorder.

George doesn't just love his jacket, he's obsessed with it. And the jacket talks to him. Together they decide to pursue a dream: that the deerskin jacket be the only jacket in the world. 

How Georges pursues that dream is where the movie delves into horror territory. As I was watching, I was reminded a bit of another French-language horror movie, 1992's Man Bites Dog; they both combine murder and verite film-making with very dark comedy. Director Quentin Dupieux also made the horror comedies Rubber (which is haven't seen; it'll be in next year's list for sure) and Mandibles (which just might make an appearance this year; stay tuned), so it's a fusion of genres he clearly has a fondness for. 

I think were Deerkskin any longer than it is--it's not even 90 minutes--it probably wouldn't work at all. But its brevity means you don't have time to think too hard about what the movie is even trying to say--one character, an aspiring film editor played by Adèle Haenel sums up a good possibility in one scene--before it's over, with an ending that borders on perfect.

Deerskin is available to rent from several online platforms. I watched it via Amazon Prime and a free trial of Cinemax.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 23: Theatre of Blood (1973)

You can't expect a Halloween horror movie countdown to not include at least one Vincent Price movie, can you? This year's is Theater of Blood, one of Price's favorite films, as it gave him the chance to perform some Shakespeare amongst the usual frightful mayhem.

And I'd say getting to see him recite soliloquies from plays like Richard the III, Titus Andronicus, and Othello is definitely fun, along with seeing just how the murders of the theater critics who wronged him will fit into those moments. (I think David Fincher must have seen this film before he wrote Seven. Prove me wrong.)  

Theater of Blood is a horror comedy, for sure, although it's a pretty dry one. Diana Rigg as Price's daughter, along for the revenge ride, is clearly having a ball in her various disguises, including a few moments of male drag. In all I'd say it's not quite as fun as some of Price's other films, and drags on a bit at almost two hours, but it's a definite must see for any Vincent Price fan. 

Theater of Blood is currently streaming on Hulu.