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 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 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.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 22: The Manor (2021)

For the second year in a row, Amazon Prime has released a quartet of horror movies from Blumhouse productions in time for Halloween. Last year on this countdown, I featured two of them, Black Box and Evil Eye. This year, we have The Manor. (I also reviewed two others on my other site, Mulling Movies, if you'd like to learn about those!)

What a lot of these Amazon/Blumhouse productions feature are pretty standard horror stories, but starring nonstandard casts, which often helps the films rise above their somewhat mediocre material. The Manor is no different. There's nothing terribly surprising about its horrors, but at the center of the film is a really good performance from Barbara Hershey, playing Judith, a former dancer who is still a spry woman at 70, but who recognizes she may not be for long, so she voluntarily decides to start living in an old age home.

Of course spooky stuff starts happening, but because of her age and possible mental decline, no one believes her. And then her roommate dies....I won't say anymore, although like I said, there isn't really anything that surprising to anyone who has ever seen a horror movie, at least until the end. I appreciated which route they took with that.

The Manor is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 21: Blood Diner (1987)

Shockingly, at least to myself, I had not heard of Blood Diner, or its female Asian American director Jackie Kong, until I saw her in In Search of Darkness: Part II, Shudder's continuing documentary series about 1980's horror movies. In it she talks about being the only female minority director at the time directing cheap, often comedic horror movies, and she's an amusing interview to be sure. I was intrigued.

I decided to start with Blood Diner as it was the fourth film she made, and I figured by that time she had a bigger budget, and probably worked out all those young director kinks. I'm not sure I chose wisely's not good. I mean, it's very clearly intentionally bad; the film started out as a sequel to Herschell Gordan Lewis's Blood Feast, another movie that's intentionally bad, even if it seems like it's trying to be good. But it just never seems to stick the landing, with jokes that aren't funny, gross out effects that are not outlandish enough to be amusing and so instead just remain gross, and save for one moment where a naked woman busts out karate moves, it never seems to subvert the sexist horror movie cliches it depicts.

Not sure I'll give any of her earlier films a try, although the cast of her first film, The Being, which includes Martin Landau, José Ferrer, Dorothy Malone, and Ruth Buzzi certainly has me curious, so perhaps it will make it to next year's countdown.

I watched Blood Diner free on the Roku Channel. The print was really good, and unedited, but you do have to sit through commercials several times throughout the film.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 20: The Vigil (2021)

When it comes to demons, there are plenty of horror movies based on the Christian concept of a "demon," but not many that delve into the Jewish version. The Vigil is one of them.

The setup reminded me a lot of one of my all time faves, The House of the Devil, with both protagonists taking on sketchy last minute, late night "babysitting" gigs because they need the money. In The Vigil, Yakov (Dave Davis) is still settling into life outside of the Orthodox community he left after a traumatic event, finding it hard to find work, and even figure out everything his cell phone can do. When he's offered a five hour gig as a Shomer, keeping vigil over a dead man's body until dawn, he initially turns it down, until he's able to negotiate and raise the pay to $400.

It's a pretty classic horror movie scenario, but director Keith Thomas is able to do a lot with a little. Most of the movie takes place in one place, and dark corners are used to very scary effect. It relies a bit too much on typical horror movie jump scares, and I could have done with less of the intrusive score, but for the most part I liked getting a glimpse into a less familiar culture's horror mythology. Veteran actress Lynn Cohen, probably best known for her role as Miranda's maid Magda in Sex and the City, is also great in one of her final screen roles, as the dead man's widow.

The Vigil is streaming on Hulu and is available to rent on several online platforms, including Amazon Prime and Apple TV.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 19: Family Plot (1976)

Last year I admitted I had not seen every film Hitchcock had ever made, and this year I caught up with another one of those missed movies, his final film, 1976's Family Plot. While definitely not one of his best, I will say I enjoyed a hell of a lot more than I did Frenzy, mainly because it's far less...rapey.

The best thing about it is definitely Barbara Harris as Blanche, the sham psychic, who, with her cab-driving boyfriend George (Bruce Dern) stumbles upon a missing person type mystery that brings them in contact with a pair of kidnappers/jewel thieves, played by Karen Black and William Devane.

I've always found Barbara Harris to be a delightful screen presence, ever since I saw way back when in Freaky Friday, trading places with a young Jodie Foster. She's definitely the comedic relief in Family Plot, a film that is supposed to be a comedy, but very rarely hits as far as laughs are concerned, at least not intentional ones. (The very, very bad rear projection used in the driving sequences may cause some unintentional ones.)

While the film never really says where it takes place, it was filmed in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, and I was delighted to see some locations close to home, like the Fairmont Hotel, Grace Cathedral, and a house just a few blocks from me. Nice to see Hitch's love of the Bay Area was there until the very end.

Family Plot is available to rent on Amazon Prime.

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.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 8: The Boy Behind the Door (2020)

The Boy Behind the Door
is a tough movie to recommend because it's a tough movie to watch. I mean, how can you in good conscience recommend something that features more than one scene of a kid being tortured?

I think you can as long as it doesn't feel exploitative, and as long as it's well done, and The Boy Behind the Door succeeds on both those fronts. This is definitely one of most intense suspense stories I've seen in a long time, even if some of the characters do exactly the things in horror movies that make you want to yell at the screen, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! DON'T DO THAT!"

There's nothing supernatural here, just the real life horror of the kidnapping of two boys, Bobby (Lonnie Chavis from TV's This Is Us), and Kevin (Ezra Dewey, who impressed me earlier this year in his role as mute boy in the indie horror film The Djinn). One boy is able to break free but doesn't escape. Instead he stays behind, trying to rescue his friend from the kidnappers, resulting in a nail-biting 90 minutes of creeping, fleeing, fighting, and, yes, some gouging.

This isn't a "fun" horror movie, but it's a very effective and often surprising one; I'm glad I watched it. But I'll probably never watch it again...

The Boy Next Door is currently streaming on Shudder.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 7: Alligator (1980)

I think it's officially become a tradition that every year for this countdown I pick a film that is annoyingly difficult to find. Last year it was Possession. This year it was Alligator.

Which was surprising to learn since it did get a DVD release in 2007 with extras that included a commentary track from director Lewis Teague and star Robert Forster. Alas, that DVD is now out of print, and the bootleg copy I bought off of eBay (I know! I know!) was a pan and scan version. The horror!

It's not streaming on any service either, so I resorted to watching a version that is available on YouTube which is at least in the correct aspect ratio, and during brightly lit scenes, looks pretty good. It's too bad roughly half of the movie takes place in dark sewers!

On the surface, Alligator seems like your run of the mill Jaws ripoff, this time one inspired by the urban legend that pet baby alligators that were flushed down the toilet when they lost their cuteness eventually grew up in the sewers to be man-eating monsters. (Turns out, some of that is not entirely legend, and this awesome NYT article delves into the truth.)

But this one was written by John Sayles, who also wrote another above par Jaws ripoff, 1978's Piranha. And similar to that one, what sets this one apart are the performances (Robert Forster is great); a good sense of humor; and some moments that do nothing to further the plot, but are just fun to watch. (My favorite is a scene involving an old guy in a tuxedo talking about how to grill meat.) 

If you can get your hands on the DVD release, that's how to see this, otherwise the only streaming option is the above linked-to YouTube option.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 6: Kindred (2020)

Rosemary's Baby is one of my favorite films of all time, horror or not, and though it has influenced countless films, it's a rare film that can even come close to its brilliance.

Kindred is not one of those films. 

I'd also say it's just barely a horror film at all, although the situation Tamara Lawrence's character Charlotte finds herself in is pretty horrible: When her partner dies just after she learns she is pregnant, his family takes an unhealthy interest in her and her coming child.

Fiona Shaw stars as the overbearing and cruel grandmother to be, and per usual whenever she's required to play evil, she does it quite well. But throughout the whole thing I felt like the movie was trying to straddle the line between drama and horror, with the horrific flourishes feeling tacked on and not fleshed out. It also builds up to an ending that should pack a punch, but falls oddly flat.

So, can't entirely recommend, despite excellent performances all around...

Kindred is currently streaming on Hulu.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 5: C.H.U.D. (1984)


I had always thought I had seen C.H.U.D. mainly because without any hints I can immediately tell you that "C.H.U.D." stands for "Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers." But turns out, I was wrong!  

If I had seen it, I would have remembered that the cast is kind of amazing. John Heard is the lead, Daniel Stern is also one of the film's heroes, and John Goodman and Jay Thomas have small rolls as a couple of cops who sexually harass a diner waitress before getting ripped to shreds by some C.H.U.D.s.

The movie tries to toss in some commentary on homelessness, government corruption, and toxic waste, but doesn't quuuiiiiiitttte work as political satire. It does however nicely capture early 1980's NYC grittiness, a time in the city's history when it wouldn't have been that unbelievable to learn that there were cannibals living in the sewers.

C.H.U.D. is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 4: Malignant (2021)

You guys, Malignant. This movie!

I watched it the night it premiered on HBO Max knowing little about it aside from the fact that it was directed by James Wan, who is no stranger to horror movies, having co-created the Saw franchise (blech), the Insidious franchise (meh), and the Conjuring franchise (his only series I've actually partially enjoyed).

And while Malignant gets off to promising start, once the prologue ended, I wasn't too hopeful about what I was seeing, as the villain, or monster, or whatever you want to call it, just looked like so many malevolent beings have looked ever since the Ring movies came out.

But I was wrong. What the movie turns into is some crazy shit, and reminded of some particularly favorite 1980's grindhouse fare, but to say which ones would be to spoil the film's surprises. So, if you haven't been spoiled yet, and still haven't watched Malignant, get to it, as you only have a few more days. It leaves HBO Max on October 10th.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 3: Eyes of a Stranger (1981)

The only reason I decided to watch Eyes of a Stranger is because it was Jennifer Jason Leigh's motion picture debut, after she appeared in a number of TV shows and one TV movie. (That TV movie was The Best Little Girl in the World, a film about anorexia in which she dropped her weight to under 90 pounds, thus turning a story that was supposed to be about the dangers of anorexia into something girls with eating disorders would watch for inspiration. But that's a story for another post.) 

Here she plays a deaf, blind, and mute teenager who lives with her newscaster sister, played by Your Cruise Director herself, Lauren Tewes. They are both surprisingly good in a movie that never rises past mediocre. It's a hodgepodge mix of slasher movie, rape revenge drama, and Rear Window ripoff, where there's no mystery as to who the killer is: it's the neighbor across the way who looks like Meatloaf in a business suit. 

Tom Savini did the splatter effects, though most of them were cut out of the original release of the film. I believe they have since been added back and that cut is what was released by Shout Factory earlier this year on Blu-ray. (I watched a crappy version available to rent on Amazon Prime.)

Saturday, October 02, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 2: A Classic Horror Story (2021)

A Classic Horror Story is classic in the sense that it incorporates many classic American horror movie conventions into its Italian production, while also blending in some European folklore, ala Midsommar. I'm sure horror fans will recognize plenty of references, from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, to Blair Witch, to an explicit shout-out to Sam Raimi and the Evil Dead films. It's fun to spot the influences.

But the movie is not just a pastiche of classic horror movie tropes. It's also a meta commentary on the genre, and I'll say no more than that. It's that aspect of the movie that may turn off many, and I'm not sure its entirely successful (the final few minutes add absolutely nothing to the point the movie hopes to make, for instance), but in all I'd say it's not a wasted watch. It just may be a divisive one.

A Classic Horror Story is currently streaming on Netflix.

Friday, October 01, 2021

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 1: The Fury (1978)

Welcome the first day of the countdown! Let's ease into this month-long marathon with something...ridiculous.

I think Brian DePalma has only made one movie I can say I genuinely love, and that's Carrie. Still, the fact that I have not seen all of DePalma's earlier works itched at the completist part of my brain. Can you really say a director is terrible if you don't see the majority of his work?

Yeah, you probably can. But I still decided to watch The Fury.

And It's bad. Like, maybe one of his worst? DePalma uses everything in his usual arsenal: slo-mo; a Bernard Herrmann-esque score; awkward attempts at humor; acting that is just The more I see of his other films the more I wonder if Carrie is only saved by the presence of Sissy Spacek who, for whatever reason, managed to give a purely human performance in a film surrounded by scenery chewers. She balances it out, so it all works.

But every performance in The Fury is just...nuts

It's almost saved by the most insane ending ever, a 'splosion caused by telekinesis, something David Cronenberg would do a few years later in Scanners. Wow, for once DePalma did something first!

 I rented The Fury on disc, but it's also available to rent online from several platforms.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

I'm Heeeeeeere!

Hello all you boils and ghouls, and welcome to the 14th year of Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown!

And what a year it's been, huh? If you had told me twelve months ago that come October 2021 I'd still be working from home, wearing masks indoors, and freaking out every time my throat got sore, I'd have said, "OK fine, but is there a vaccine yet?" And then when you said yes, I probably wouldn't have believed you. 

But there is! So this October definitely feels a little better than last October did, and for that I am thankful. And really, the pandemic has nothing to do with my desire to sit home most evenings in October watching scary movies; that's always been my thing.

When I started partaking in the Countdown to Halloween oh so many years ago, my focus was highlighting scary movies or Halloween fare that was airing every day on TV. But last year I decided to change it up a bit, instead taking the opportunity to watch 31 horror movies I had never seen, and writing about them every day. And I've decided to do the same thing this year.

I have seen many, many horror movies in my lifetime, but there are still so many classics (and not so classic!) I haven't seen, and so many more that get released every year. So starting tomorrow, this countdown will be a combination of older films that, for whatever reason, I never got around to watching, and movies that have come out more recently. Most will be available to stream online in some form or another, and I'll include the ways you can view them at the end of every post.

My to-watch-list is almost full, but if you have a film you'd like to recommend, please do so in the comments, and I just might add it to the queue. And as always, be sure to check out the many other blogs that are partaking in the Countdown to Halloween for what's sure to be a lot of fun tricks and treats. A complete list can be found in the sidebar of their homepage.

I'll leave you with a clip from a movie I saw six times the summer it came out in 1982. And I love this clip mainly for the moment when mom changes the channel on what Carol Anne is watching. 

See you back here tomorrow!