Monday, October 18, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 18: Daniel Isn't Real (2019)

Daniel Isn't Real is the second film in this countdown to include an imaginary childhood friend who turns out to be a malevolent monster (the first one was Malignant). I'd say of the two, Malignant is definitely more "fun," just because it ends up being pretty nuts. Daniel Isn't Real takes a little more serious route, as its hero Luke (Miles Robbins) has to figure out if Daniel is in fact, not real, and merely a result of his inherited mental illness.

Daniel is played by Patrick Schwarzenegger (three guesses whose son he is!) and he's pretty good as the nightmare friend, an alpha male fashion victim who would either be best friends with Patrick Bateman, or murder him the moment they met. I also appreciated seeing Mary Stuart Masterson pop up as Luke's schizophrenic mother.

But ultimately this isn't a film that really stuck with me, and despite only watching it about a week ago, I still had to read a synopsis to remind myself exactly what happens in it. There are some good visuals, and performances, but as far as imaginary friend horror goes, I'll take Malignant.

Daniel Isn't Real is available to stream on several platforms including Amazon Prime and Shudder.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 17: The House That Dripped Blood (1970)

I had always assumed The House That Dripped Blood was a Hammer production, being that it's a British horror movie, and Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are both featured players. How dare I! But no, it's in fact an Amicus Production, another British studio that made a series of "portmanteau" horror films, a fancier term for horror anthologies.

Robert Bloch wrote the script, based on several of his own short stories. The story that wraps the film concerns a missing actor, and the cursed house he was last seen in. And of course, many terrible things happened in that house (although, dripping blood was not one of them), and those terrible things make up the film's four central stories.

The best story is the third, starring Christopher Lee as a cruel father who hires a private tutor for his young daughter, whom he is convinced would be a danger were he to send her to a real school. My least favorite was the second one, starring Peter Cushing as a retiree who visits a creepy wax museum. 

It's the rare anthology film where all the stories are winners (can you even think of one?), so three out of four ain't so bad!

The House Dripped Blood is available to rent from Amazon Prime. I watched it free via Kanopy.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 16: The Broken (2008)

I have no idea how The Broken ended up on my radar, but I do know at some point a long time ago I added it to my Netflix DVD queue and then forgot about it. When I was picking films for this countdown, one of my methods was culling that insanely long Netflix queue (I think it was over 200 long!) deleting movies that are now available to watch online, and adding some of those that were horror films to this countdown. (I've got that DVD queue down to a more manageable 56 now.)

The Broken has a very intriguing set-up, with Lena Headley's character seeing what looks to be her double driving her car down the street, a set-up that reminded me a bit of Robert Altman's 1972 psychological horror film Images. After a car accident she tries to figure out who her double is, and then things start to delve into possible Invasion of the Body Snatchers territory. And then...

Well, that's the ultimate problem with this film, and this is going to be spoiler, but I don't care because I don't think it's worth anyone's time to watch this. There is no resolution. None. There is absolutely no explanation, or anything even resembling an explanation, as to why the things that happen in the film happen. I mean, I would have even been happy with some kind of bullshit ambiguous "Is she crazy or did this stuff really happen?" ending, but The Broken doesn't give us that. What happens in the movie happens. And we never find out why. It's a textbook example of a film being ruined by its ending.

But if you really feel like you need to see this one, it's available to stream or rent on several platforms. I watched it for free on Peacock.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 15: Night of the Creeps (1986)

For some reason I never got around to seeing Night of the Creeps back in the 80's which is weird because it's actually pretty good. Did I hear some bad review of it somewhere so skipped it at the theater? Was it always checked out at the video store? I may never know!

And right from the start it's promising, with an opening featuring giant naked baby aliens, and a prologue filmed in black and white that takes place in the 1950's, mashing up an alien invasion story with an urban legend-esque mad slasher on the loose on lovers' lane.

The rest of the movie is very firmly 1980's, with two nerdy college boys trying to get dates with popular sorority girls who are seemingly beholden to frat boys. It's very clearly a comedic film from the very beginning, but it's when I started to hear the characters' last names--Cronenberg, Carpenter, Hooper, Romero, Raimi, Bava--that I knew this film was coming from a place of reverence, and not just send up. Horror movie veteran Tom Atkins is just the icing on the cake, and a cameo from Dick Miller as, yes, Walter Paisley, is the birthday candle on that cake. Lit with a flame thrower.

Night of the Creeps is available to rent from several online platforms including Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 14: Mother of Tears (2007)

Mother of Tears, the final entry in Dario Argento's "Three Mothers" trilogy, has one thing going for it, and that's an evil monkey who's a total asshole. Aside from that, it's a disappointing finale for a trilogy that, while not perfect, at least included some of the most striking imagery ever seen in horror. Mother of Tears fails in that respect too. (Although, if naked witch boobs is all you really want in the way of "striking imagery," I supposed you could deem the movie a success.)

Truth be told, I never really paid much attention to the mythology behind the trilogy, and just what's up with those Three Mothers, because like I said, I was too busy being awed by the look of those first two films, Suspiria and Inferno, to pay much attention to any explanations there may have been. So maybe Mother of Tears actually does make some sense to people who are less distracted by pretty pictures than I am. And maybe it would have benefited from a viewing immediately following the first two. But as it was, I pretty much gave up trying to figure everything out at about the time Udo Kier shows up as a priest.

Mother of Tears is available to rent from Amazon Prime and Vudu.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 13: Isle of the Dead (1945)

I've seen most of Val Lewton's RKO horror movies, but there are still a few holdouts, and Isle of the Dead was one of them. It was an interesting movie to be watching right now, as it's about a group of people who have to quarantine on a Greek island because of a breakout of septicemic plague. But aside from a general recommendation to "not gather in groups," they don't actually do much to prevent the spread. I kept thinking, "Put a mask on! Don't talk so close to each other! WHY ARE YOU TWO MAKING OUT?!"

There's a reason it's not as well known or loved as other Lewton films like Cat People and I Walked With a Zombie - it's pretty slow. But it does have Boris Karloff, and a final act that includes some really cool and creepy imagery. Turns out there's a lot you can do in a black and white movie with a spooky woman in a flowing white dress.

Isle of the Dead is available to rent on most streaming platforms.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 12: The Deeper You Dig (2019)

The Deeper You Dig is a memorable little indie horror film, written, directed, and starring the Adams family (yep, really). They're husband John Adams, who co-wrote, co-directs, and co-stars, wife Toby Poser, who also does all of the above, and daughter Zelda, who co-stars. (They also have another daughter, Lulu, who has appeared in previous films from their production company Wonder Wheel Productions but is not in this one.)

The story centers on mom Ivy (Toby Poser) who is a psychic who may or may not be completely fleecing her customers, her gothy teenager daughter, Echo (Zelda Poser), who goes missing after a night of sledding, and Kurt (John Adams), the neighbor up the road who definitely had something to do with it.

It's a slow burn of a movie. There's no real mystery as to what happened to Echo, both to the audience, and to her mother. Ivy's pretty sure Echo is dead, but she has a desperate need to find out just how it happened. Towards the end, there are some very surreal scenes that don't always hit the way I think they're intended to. It's like they're going for something Lynchian, but can't quite fully commit to the tone. But aside from that, it really lingered with me, and I will be seeking out the rest of this family's films. (Their latest, Hellbender, will stream on Shudder in 2022.)

The Deeper You Dig is currently streaming on several platforms, including Amazon Prime, Shudder, and Vudu.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown- Day 11: Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

Yep, prior to this month, I had never seen the Elvira movie. And here's why: Elvira was never my favorite horror movie host (that would be Bob Wilkins), and I'm not even sure her show was syndicated in the Bay Area when I was a teenager. If it was, I never watched it. Of course, she was kind of culturally pervasive, so I knew of her and her shtick, and I appreciated it. I was just never a mega-fan, and never felt the need to watch her movie.

And yet, I still felt compelled to read her memoir when it was released earlier this month, and it wonderfully illustrates that Cassandra Peterson is much, much more than Elvira, and if you ever doubted it, I suggest you read the book too. It's filled with enough crazy stories to fill up ten memoirs. 

But back to Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. It's quintessentially Elvira, filled with corny puns and plenty of boob jokes. It's also got a casserole creature, a punk rock poodle, and Edie McClugh, and that's enough to recommend it right there.

Now tell me, is it worth watching the sequel, Elvira's Haunted Hills?

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is available to stream on several platforms including Amazon Prime and Shudder.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 10: The Funeral Home (La Funeraria) (2020)

The Funeral Home is an interesting little horror film from Argentina, released online earlier this year. 

A funeral home isn't actually the main setting of the film; it's the house behind the funeral home, where the owner lives with his wife, his stepdaughter, and a few ghosts. What makes the premise immediately interesting is how casually the family seems to take the presence of ghosts in their home, kind of how you'd take living with giant insects you can't kill. You hate them, you want to get the hell out of there if they won't, but until then, you deal with it as best you can.

I will admit it took me watching the ending twice to really understand what was happening, which was a bit of a bummer. And there is also one plot point so subtle that it is literally "blink and you'll miss it." (I know this to be true, because some reviews I've read did indeed completely miss it.) But, even if it was a bit confusing at times, it still managed to put me on edge with its consistently odd tone.

The Funeral Home (La Funeraria) is currently streaming on Amazon Prime and Shudder.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 9: The Beyond (1981)

After watching Malignant and seeing it compared in many reviews to classic giallo horror films, it made me realize I need to watch more giallo, as the main thing I think of when the term is brought up is Dario Argento and his lurid use of color and gore. Of course, there's a lot more to it.

Another director who has delved into the giallo genre is Lucio Fulci, and while I'm not sure The Beyond is technically giallo, it's definitely...Italian. Which is ironic as it was set and filmed in Louisiana, and seeing 1980's New Orleans in some scenes may be the highlight of the film, as the rest of it doesn't make hell of a lot of sense. There's a curse, and a hotel, and...zombies? I mean I think they're zombies? But why they're zombies is a little confusing.

Also, even though most of the cast speaks English, most of the dialogue is still dubbed, as tended to be the case with almost all Italian horror movies, and that can be a little disorienting. Still, as with any giallo (which, maybe this is one??), there are some beautiful moments, and some insanely gory moments. Who cares if half the time you don't know what the hell is going on? (Although I think it may literally be hell going on.)

The Beyond is available to stream on Shudder.