Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 28: Whistle and I'll Come to You (1968)

A friend recommended the short film Whistle and I'll Come to You, which I had actually never even heard of before. It was produced for a BBC television documentary series called Omnibus, and is not a documentary, so don't ask me to explain that, and is instead based on a short story by M.R. James. 

Centered on a middle-aged professor vacationing on the English coast, the film is absolutely worth watching for the performance of Michael Hordern as Professor Parkin, as he putters around his room, the coast, and local graveyards, muttering to himself and arguing against the existence of ghosts with a fellow traveler.

Ghosts! Preposterous. 

It's available to view on YouTube, and embedded below.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 27: Coherence

Coherence would make a good double feature with The Invitation. Both deal with dinner parties that turn weird and deadly to the good looking Los Angelinos in attendance, though Coherence is more of a mind fuck than The Invitation was, and veers more into science fiction than horror. (Ultimately, I think The Invitation is the better movie)

The cast is largely unknown, save for Nicholas Brendon, if anyone was wondering what he had been up to since the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (aside from, uh, getting arrested and stuff). He plays a character that's basically himself, which adds an even extra level of meta-comedy to the whole thing, once the premise of the film reveals itself...let's just say, will the real Nicholas Brendon please stand up?

Also, if you plan on watching this one, I'd wait until after the Election.

 Coherence is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 26: Black Box

Black Box is another Blumhouse Production which premiered on Amazon this month, and I liked it a fair bit more than I did the previously reviewed Evil Eye, even if it feels a bit like a Black Mirror episode you might criticize for being too long.

The main draw for me was lead actor Mamoudou Athie, whose performances I've enjoyed in every film I've seen him in, (particularly Patti Cakes and Uncorked), and this one was no exception. Here he plays a young husband and father who survives a car crash that kills his wife, and leaves him with amnesia and short term memory loss that is making it hard to work, and parent. When he's offered experimental treatment to restore his memory, he reluctantly accepts, and...well. This is a Blumhouse picture. Things don't go so well.

The parts centered on identity are better than the parts with the "scary monster," which I won't give away, but if you've seen any horror movie in the past 20 years, particularly anything from Japan, it's far from novel...

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 25: The Burning

Shudder is currently streaming a four hour documentary on 1980's horror films called In Search of Darkness, and really, it's less of a documentary than it is a horror movie version of those VH-1 I Love the [Pop Culture Era/Thing] shows that ran in the early aughts. 

In the "doc," each year is represented, with horror fans and creators talking about key horror films released in that given year, and for the year 1981, The Burning is one of the films talked about fondly as a precursor to Friday the 13th, with effects make-up by Tom Savini, and a cast that includes Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens, and the guy who played "Ratner" in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

And sure, it's a hoot seeing George Costanza as a "teenager," but in all, the movie is just OK. I didn't think it did anything better than many of the slasher movies that came after it, but I guess it deserves props for doing some things first.

Strangely, it's not readily available to stream or rent, even on DVD, but there is a pretty good print available on YouTube, which is how I watched it. It's embedded below.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 24: The Seventh Victim

The Seventh Victim, another Val Lewton production, doesn't deal with the supernatural as many of his films did. Instead, nihilism--in the form of a group of upper crust satanists--is the monster.

Needless to say, its New York setting, and satanists who are not what you would consider an exciting group of people, immediately made me think of Rosemary's Baby. I've no doubt a young Roman Castevet and Abe Sapirstein are lingering in the background of that party scene. There's also a moment in a shower that is a clear predecessor to another famous horror movie shower scene you may be familiar with.

The movie is a bit if a slow burn, and at times narratively confusing. But it builds up to an ending that is quiet, and yet immensely shocking for its time.

 The Seventh Victim is available to rent on Vudu.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 23: Dolls

After the trauma of Martyrs I needed a return to silly horror, and Dolls was just the ticket. Made in 1987, it's a much more straight-forward comedy than director Stuart Gordon's previous two films, From Beyond and Re-Animator, due in large part to the performance of Stephen Lee as Ralph. (Sadly he died in 2014 at age 58 of a heart attack.)

Several years ago a friend and I came up with a concept for a killer doll movie that's so good I don't want to even share the premise here lest someone STEAL IT. Thankfully, Dolls, aside from the, you know, killer doll aspect, doesn't have much in common with our idea, just like Chucky, which came out a few years after Dolls, can't be accused of stealing from Dolls. I'm sure.

Casting note: the creepy lady in the mansion is played by Hilary Mason, and she also played the creepy blind lady in Don't Look Now.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 22: Martyrs (2008)

I went into Martyrs not knowing too much about it aside from it being on some "Best Horror Movies of the 2000s" lists, and hearing it was extremely intense.

That last part is putting in mildly.

What I didn't really know is that Martyrs is basically my least favorite horror genre, torture porn, but with a better accent, and some high-falutin justifications for that torture. The thing is, it starts out terrific, with a young girl escaping a torture chamber, finding what she thinks is refuge in a girls home, only to find some evil entity has followed her there.

Then it jumps ahead several years, and becomes, for a bit, a home invasion horror film. And then the last quarter or so is just straight up torture that I kind of wish I had never exposed my brain to. There are some images you just can't ever forget.

I will give it this: at least there is no rape or sexual torture in it. I had also planned on watching High Tension, another of the "New French Extremity" films, but I think with Martyrs, I've had enough of that movement to last me a few years. At least.

Note: it was remade in the U.S. in 2015, and it sounds like that version is to be avoided at all costs, so if this is something you feel like you have to see, watch the original.

 Martys is available to rent via several streaming services. I watched it on Apple TV+.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 21: Ganja & Hess

The only thing I new about Ganja & Hess going into it is that it was the only other movie Night of the Living Dead star Duane Jones had a lead role in, and that it was also known as Double Possession, because the above ad for it is in The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film

But what really blew my mind was finding out Spike Lee remade the film as Da Sweet Blood of Jesus just five years ago, and I had NEVER HEARD of that movie! How is it possible Spike Lee made a Kickstarter-funded remake of a low-budget art house/black exploitation/vampire movie, and I had never, ever heard about it?

Well, I ended up watching both, and I think it's a worthy double feature. Ganja & Hess is very low budget, and very arty, and at times, it's kind of hard to completely follow what's going on. Spike Lee's version has some almost shot-by-shot replications, and uses much of the original dialogue (Bill Gunn, writer and director of Ganja & Hess, even gets a co-writing credit), but it's much more straight forward in its storytelling. In some ways. Lee's version is an improvement. But there are some moments in Ganja & Hess that are just so original and odd (I'm thinking of a moment in a tree), that the original version just can't be beat.

Ganja & Hess is currently streaming on the Criterion Channel. Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is available on Amazon Prime.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 20: Blood and Lace

I stumbled upon Blood and Lace while looking up a film I talked about last week, Blood and Black Lace, and what convinced me to watch it were two things: Gloria Grahame stars in it; and The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film called it "one of the sickest PG-rated films every made." Sold!

It's not that sick, actually, but, made in 1971, it was a definite precursor to slasher movies of the 1970's and 80's with an opening that I have to believe John Carpenter "borrowed" seven years later for Hallowen: a POV shot of a killer reaching into a kitchen drawer, pulling out a hammer, walking up some stairs, and then murdering people in a bedroom.

The majority of the film is set in a home for wayward teens, in which most of the "teens" are clearly in their mid-twenties. Grahame is the evil headmistress; Melody Patterson is the lead teen, in hiding from the hammer-wielding killer; Dennis Christopher is a fellow resident; Vic Tayback is a detective on the case; and Len "Uncle Leo!" Lesser is the evil handyman.

I watched a crappy copy of it on Amazon Prime, and it looks like that same crappy copy is available on YouTube as well. Enjoy?

Monday, October 19, 2020

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 19: Posession

Andrzej Żuławski's 1981 film Possession was for many years the stuff of legend. Filmed in 1981, it won lead actress Isabelle Adjani as Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival, and then was barely released before being banned, edited down from 120 minutes to 80 minutes, and then barely released again.

When putting together the list of films I would watch for this countdown, I was afraid Possession would be the one I wouldn't actually be able to see. It isn't available to stream, and DVDs are hard to come by, especially for rental. Luckily a friend in So Cal came through, lending me his DVD copy of the Mondo special edition of the original two-hour cut of the film.

How to describe this film without sounding like Stefan describing the hottest club in New York? It has everything: Cold War spies; doppelgangers; murder; a child named BOB. And just when you think the fun is all over, the tentacles come out.

And maybe that's making it sound kookier than it is; it's not a silly movie. It's very serious, sometimes too much so. The acting is often so overwrought you assume it's going for parody, but it most definitely isn't. It's like taking Cronenberg's The Brood, another body-horror movie that deals with divorce, translating it into German/Polish culture, and then back into an English language film. 

It's just wonderfully and unforgettably weird, OK? See it if you can.