Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Happy Halloween!

Looks like we made it to the end of another fabulous Countdown! Happy Halloween all you boils and ghouls! 

This is the sixteenth year I've participated in the Countdown to Halloween, in one form or another, and I can honestly say, doing so makes the Halloween season even more fun. I've enjoyed checking out the other blogs that have been partaking, and want to thank everyone who has stopped by. It's always appreciated.

As a treat (maybe, ha) here's a little peek into my process. 

I keep track of all of these movies via spreadsheet, marking when I've watched them, when a post is written, and when it's posted. But I also keep track of some data points I'm always interested in when I watch horror movies. So, for fun, here are the totals for those:

Female Protagonists: 18
Gratuitous Nudity: 7
Sexual Assault: 7
Women Are Primary Victims: 4
Diverse Case: 4
Supernatural: 13
Slasher: 11
Zombies: 2
Vampires: 0
Monsters: 3
Sci-fi Horror: 2

Finally, below is a list of all the films I watched, in chronological order, along with links to their posts. I hope some of you will seek out some (but not all, haha) of these films, maybe now, or maybe when spooky season rolls around again. In the meantime, have a great Halloween evening, a happy holiday season, and a wonderful 2024!

Killer’s Delight (1978)

Slotherhouse (2023)

Beyond the Door (1974)

The Resident (2011)

I Saw What You Did (1965)

I Trapped the Devil (2019)

Alone in the Dark (1982)

No One Will Save You (2023)

Eaten Alive (1976)

You Won’t Be Alone (2022)

Phenomena (1985)

Evil Dead Rise (2023)

Murder By Phone (1982)

Saint Maude (2019)

The House on Sorority Row (1982)

Influencer (2022)

Massacre at Central High (1976)

Deadstream (2022)

Evilspeak (1981)

Dual (2022)

Bedlam (1946)

Totally Killer (2023)

The Devil Rides Out (1968)

Talk To Me (2023)

From Beyond the Grave (1974) 

The Boogeyman (2023)

Home for the Holidays (1972)

Jethica (2023)

Cure (1997)

The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

The Royal Hotel (2023)

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 31: The Royal Hotel (2023)

I always like to end this Countdown to Halloween with something brand new, and for the past two years, it's been the latest entry in David Gordon Green's Halloween franchise. Thankfully, we do NOT have another one of those this time around. Instead, I watched a film that's been getting a lot of good buzz: The Royal Hotel.

I'll come out and say, this is not really a scary movie, but if you've seen writer and director Kitty Green's last movie, The Assistant, also starring Julia Garner, you know she has a knack for tension and dread, of which much can be found in The Royal Hotel.

Garner co-stars with Jessica Henwick as Hannah and Liv, two American women, pretending to be Canadians (because, according to Liv, "everyone likes Canadians") on a trip through Australia. When they run out of money, they sign up for a work travel job at a pub in a remote mining town, where they must deal with a drunk boss (played by an unrecognizable Hugo Weaving) who never pays them, and an almost entirely male clientele that loves to rile them.

The two women find themselves constantly trying to weigh the micro aggressions from the macro aggressions, which in itself creates ongoing anxiety. Is one of these guys going to get violent? Will they take no for an answer? And the majority of the time, Hannah is the one having to both ward off potential threats, while also keeping a much less cautious Liv out of trouble.

While there are several scenes that had me tensing up as much as I would during the scariest movie, The Royal Hotel is definitely not a horror movie in the strictest sense of the word. But it certainly captures the too frequent potential for horror women, both travelers and those just trying to exist in this world, have to guard themselves against seemingly every damn day of their lives.

I rented The Royal Hotel via Prime Video and it is available on most VOD platforms.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 30: The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

I'm not entirely sure why I decided to skip The Midnight Meat Train back in 2008-09. I know it didn't get a wide release, but I feel like it's the kind of thing I would usually seek out on DVD. I have a feeling it had to do with the fact that it was based on a Clive Barker story, and Clive Barker has just never been my jam.

And you know what? I was right. This movie was so not my jam.

It does have a good cast, though, and that kept me invested. Bradley Cooper stars as a photographer looking to break into the art world, trying to capture gritty city scenes worthy of a gallery wall. Leslie Bibb is his woefully underdeveloped girlfriend (and there are a few really creepy sex scenes between them; just....why?). Brooke Shields is a high profile gallery owner. And a silent Vinnie Jones is the midnight meat butcher.

There's something about the mythological worlds that Clive Barker creates. They're both too silly and too disgusting for me to get behind, and The Midnight Meat Train is certainly both, although the silliness doesn't really show up until the very end. Until then, it's definitely one of the bloodiest horror movies I've seen, and while director Ryuhei Kitamura imbues the film with lots of camera flair and trick shots, it too often falls into the realm of torture porn for me to truly enjoy it. I will admit to screaming and laughing out loud at some of the carnage though. I'll give it that.

I watched The Midnight Meat Train on Showtime.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 29: Cure (1997)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Cure is a mesmerizing serial killer movie both in plot and in execution. Set in a Tokyo devoid of the color and bustling life its known for, the film center on detective Kenichi Takabe (Kōji Yakusho) and his investigation into a series of grisly killings. Victims are found with large X's carved in their fronts, while the murderers are found nearby, completely unaware of what they've done.

Meanwhile, a young man with amnesia is wandering around the city, perplexing strangers with his inability to answer any questions about himself, while also asking puzzling questions of them. 

The way the murders are filmed, often in longshot, with no edits or build-up, ends up being some of the spookiest violence I've ever seen on screen, and I had to watch the final scene three times because I found it so eerily effective in its simplicity. I had never heard of this movie until this year, but now I'm going to be sure and seek out more of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's work!

I watched Cure on the Criterion Channel.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 28: Jethica (2023)

Jethica is somewhere between a horror movie, a comedy, and quintessential indie drama. At times that last aspect annoyed me, but since it's a short movie, it didn't annoy me for long, and I ultimately appreciated its unique approach to a ghost story.

After a traffic accident, Elena (Callie Hernandez) is hiding out in the desert, staying in her late grandmother's trailer. By chance she meets an old friend, Jessica (Ashley Denise Robinson), who has also come to the desert to escape. In her case, it is to get away from a stalker named Kevin (Will Madden). Soon, they both realize it's even harder to get away from an abusive man than you would think...

I won't give away more than that as it's fun to learn, along with the characters, the logic the film eventually places into the situation. It's an odd little movie, but definitely worth seeking out.

I watched Jethica on Tubi.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 27: Home for the Holidays (1972)

I am not entirely sure how Home for the Holidays, a made-for-TV "horror" movie, made it on to this list, and whether I had meant to add it to some kind of Christmas movies list instead. But on the list it was, so watch it I did. 

First, this is not to be confused with the 1995 Jodie Foster directed Home for the Holidays, which remains my favorite Thanksgiving movie. No, this one is an Aaron Spelling production starring--get this--Sally Field, Julie Harris, Jessica Walter, Eleanor Parker, and Walter Brennan! And while it's often referred to as a "slasher" movie, it's really just a whoddunit, because the only real difference between a slasher movie and a whoddunit is the amount of blood, and this being a TV movie means there's none of it.

The plot centers on four sisters who are summoned home over Christmas by their dying father. He insists his wife (played by Julie Harris) is poisoning him to death since she was accused of doing the same to her first husband several years prior. I mean, it makes sense, right? But soon some of the sisters meet untimely ends, and while all clues point to the possible poisoner, it can't possibly be that simple, right?

There's nothing particularly memorable about the movie, aside from its cast, but I always find it kind of fun revisiting these old TV movie thrillers.

I watched it via a not-great print available on YouTube (see below). But it is also available with a better print as an episode of the new Creature Features here.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 26: The Boogeyman (2023)

The Boogeyman is the second Rob Savage film featured in this year's countdown, and while I liked it more than Dashcam, it's ultimately a pretty standard monster movie that misses the mark on what made the original Stephen King story fun. (It's the ending, but I won't say more than that.)

It's also the second horror movie in this countdown in which a teenage girl is grieving over the death of her mother. Sheesh. Moms just can't get a break this year! (And similar to Talk to Me, the so-called friends of the grieving girl treat her like crap. What the hell is that all about?)

Chris Messina plays the psychiatrist father of teenage Sadie and young Sawyer, and they are all dealing with the loss of mom in their own ways. Sadie is clinging on, while dad just wants to forget. The proverbial darkness that has fallen over the family is the perfect opening for the Boogeyman, a monster that feeds on misery, and survives in the dark.

Savage does a good job with the scenes that dwell on those universal fears of the monster in the closest, or under the bed. They are legit creepy! But the end devolves into pretty standard "the monster must die!" action, and the ultimate feeling that this whole thing could have been avoided if the family just invested in some good battery powered lanterns and flashlights.

The Boogeyman is streaming on Hulu.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 25: From Beyond the Grave (1974)

From Beyond the Grave is a anthology horror film from Amicus Productions in England, a studio that released seven such films between 1965 and 1974. (It's also the third film in this countdown to feature Donald Pleasence!)

The stories all start out with a visit to an antique store run by a spooky dude played by Peter Cushing. If a customer cheats the owner in any way, say by lying about an item's authenticity, or swapping price tags, then you can be sure those customers will pay another price in some way.

There are three main stories in the movie. The first features David Warner, who turns into a serial killer (perhaps practicing for his role as Jack the Ripper in Time After Time a few years later?) after buying a mirror. 

The second story involves a stolen medal, Donald Pleasence as a war veteran selling pencils and matches on the street, and a businessman in a loveless marriage. (Donald Plesence's real daughter, Angela Pleasence, plays his daughter in this story.)

The final story involves an ornate door that opens up into an occultist's world, trapping souls inside. (It's probably my least fave of the three.)

I watched From Beyond the Grave on TCM, and it is also available as a rental from Prime Video.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 24 : Talk To Me (2023)

Talk to Me has been hyped as one of the best horror movies of 2023, so I've been both excited to see it, and a little skeptical that it would live up to the hype. I'll say for the most part, it does. Not because it is excessively scary (although it definitely has moments that made me want to turn on the lights) but because along with the scares, it has an emotionally charged heart.

Mia (played by Sophia Wilde, who gives an electrifying performance) is an Australian teenager still reeling from the death of her mother two years earlier. She has a rough relationship with her father, so spends a lot of time with her best friend Jade, and Jade's younger brother Riley. This includes going to house parties where the latest fad is...communing with the dead via a mummified severed hand. Kids these days!

And they don't just "commune;" they become possessed, albeit for a very limited time. The rules of the "game" dictate that if you keep that spiritual door open for more than 90 seconds, bad things will start to happen.

Bad things start to happen.

My favorite parts of the movie are those party scenes, where this supernatural communion is treated like the ultimate high, with the teens wanting to take hit after hit from that freaky white hand, and Mia's grief plays a big part in her, essentially, getting hooked. The rest of the movie never quite reaches the level of those scenes, but it's still definitely one of the better horror flicks I've seen this year.

I watched Talk to Me via a Prime Video rental.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 23: The Devil Rides Out (1968)

The Devil Rides Out (aka The Devil's Bride, in the U.S.), is a Hammer horror movie directed by Terence Fisher, starring Christopher Lee, that is not about vampires. Instead, he plays a Frenchman (in name only, it seems) investigating a possible Satanic cult in rural England.

Set in 1929, it's one of those period pieces that makes absolutely not effort to look like the period it is taking place in, aside from the cars. Most of the women's costumes are straight up 1968, not to mention the hair. I've heard this excused, at least for this movie, as being a benefit, because it results in a weird, timeless feeling. Maybe for some. For me, it's just a distraction.

But aside from that, this film has some really spooky moments! And the Satan and the Angel of Death cameos are straight-up gems, overcoming the limitations of the era's visual effects.

I watched it on Blu-ray, and it is also available to rent via Amazon. And if you have TCM, it will be airing on October 30th (as The Devil's Bride).