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).

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 22: Totally Killer (2023)

I watched Totally Killer because it was popular on Letterboxd (follow me!) and getting good user reviews, and I was pleasantly surprised by it. It's basically Back to the Future meets Scream, which is a combination that I'm surprised hasn't been done before. (I guess the Deathday movies might come closest?)

Kiernan Shipka plays Jamie, a modern teen who is thrust back to 1987 where she has the opportunity to prevent the murder of her mother. And let me just say that it kind of blows my mind that 1987 was over 35 years ago, while in Back to the Future, Marty only goes back 30 years. HOW CAN 1987 BE 36 YEARS AGO?????

Of course Jamie has many amusing moments realizing how wild the 1980's were, with completely lax security measures basically everywhere, high school girls who act like high girls in 1980's movies usually act (which is to say, like total b-words), and "problematic" behavior at every turn. 

There are some genuinely suspenseful moments, as far as slasher movies go, even if the ultimate totally killer reveal isn't totally killer. It may work better as a comedy than as a horror movie, but it's still a combo that's definitely worth watching.

Totally Killer is streaming on Prime Video.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 21: Bedlam (1946)

This year's Val Lewton production I haven't yet seen is Bedlam, starring Boris Karloff as the master of an 18th century insane asylum.

I went into Bedlam thinking I'd be bored by it, as I feared 18th-century setting would result in a stodgy production full of powdered wigs. I was wrong! Bedlam is actually a lot of fun, and I was really taken with the director Mark Robson's attention to little details (like the aforementioned wigs) and the film's camera work, which you can see an example of in the clip embedded below.

Boris Karloff, as always, is both creepy and amusing as the headmaster of an insane asylum badly in need of reforms he's promised to make, but has no desire to follow through on. And Anna Lee is great as the headstrong woman fighting for that reform, albeit not from the comfortable position she starts out from.

I watched Bedlam on DVD, but it is available as a rental from Prime, Apple TV, and Vudu.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 20: Dual (2022)

I'm not sure you can call Dual a horror movie, it's more sci-fi with some thrills, and comedy, and a little horror mixed in. (Once again, that horror involves the accidental killing of a dog. Why does this countdown include so many dog deaths???)

If you've ever wondered what Nebula may be like should she exist in the real world, Karen Gillan in Dual may provide that answer, as she plays both Nebula and Dual's Sarah much the same way: deadpan, emotionless, and a little confused by it all.

Set in what may be the near future, or just...Canada, the basic plot centers on Sarah, who has just found out she has a Terminal Illness (not defined beyond that) and if she wants, she can create a clone of herself to help her loved ones deal with the loss. She agrees to it but...things don't turn out as planned.

The plot is really similar to the 2021 Apple TV+ movie Swan Song, though that one was a straight up drama, and this one veers into the realm of comedy more than once. They'd both make a great double bill, and you can decide which one is the clone of the other.

I watched Dual on Hulu.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 19: Evilspeak (1981)

Is Evilspeak a shockingly prescient story about the forthcoming dangers of personal computers and the Internet? Or an all male Carrie rip-off with killer pigs instead of pig's blood?

OK just kidding, it's totally a male rip-off of Carrie. The movie even begins with a high school outcast being tormented during a practice game of soccer, and then dealing with even more teasing in the locker room after the game. Clint Howard is the outcast, a dorky orphan named Stanley Coopersmith who attends a military school built on top of an ancient Satanic temple, as those places usually are. He decides to use his computer skills to translate an ancient Satanic text, and all hell breaks loose. Literally! Also breaking lose are some man-eating pigs that happen to live on campus. Those bullies don't have a chance!

For the most part this movie is dumb fun but I'm going to spoil something for you here: that cute puppy named Fred does die, and it's a total bummer of a scene. So, maybe just skip that part when you see it coming.

Finally, the film has one bit of casting I found amusing: Charles Tyner plays some kind of colonel at the military school, and if he looks familiar its because he played a very similar role ten years earlier in Harold and Maude, albeit with one less limb.

I watched Evilspeak on Shudder.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 18: Deadstream (2022)

What kind of horror movie countdown would this be without at least one found footage horror movie? So how about three!

My intention was to just watch Deadstream, but once I did, I remembered two others I had been meaning to watch for a few years, and I ended up watching Spree and Dashcam (not this one) the same day. And while I don't necessarily recommend doing that, it was fun seeing how all three dealt with the same theme of social media and "living online."

I'll come right out and say Deadstream is the best and most enjoyable of the three. Imagine a (better) Evil Dead sequel as a found footage horror movie, and you've got Deadstream. It was written, produced, and directed by the husband and wife team of Joseph and Vanessa Winter, with Joseph Winter also starring as Shawn Ruddy. Shawn, a YouTuber known for taking on dares and performing pranks, was recently "cancelled," losing all sponsorships, and attempts to make a comeback by spending the night in a supposedly haunted and abandoned house.

Shawn places several motion activated cameras in and around the house, and has several bodycams as well, thus allowing the film to include "editing" while Shawn's livestream (deadstream, livestream, get it??) is taking place, and this is perhaps the film's best conceit, as it allows for a more dynamic multi-camera experience than many found footage horror films. 

You probably have to enjoy the character of Shawn to get real enjoyment from Deadstream, but I found Winter's performance hilarious, resulting in one of this year's funniest entries in the countdown.

Neither Spree nor Dashcam end up being nearly as enjoyable because of their central characters. In Spree, Joe Keery (best known for playing Steve on Stranger Things) plays Kurt Kunkle, a young man desperate for online fame who decides to livestream a killing spree as he poisons passengers in his rideshare (which is called "Spree" instead of Uber or Lyft). Kurt is such a pathetic character, with preposterous goals, but the intended satire just never really hits. (I will say, however, that seeing Lala Kent from Vanderpump Rules, and Ariana Grande's brother, Frankie, get murdered is kind of...satisfying. Applause for that casting.)

Dashcam centers on Annie, a singer and songwriter with a channel she streams from her car, where she creates songs live, based on comments from her followers. It's set during the pandemic, and Annie is probably the least likable protagonist of any horror movie in recent years, unless you happen to agree with her anti-vax, conspiracy fueled views, in which case, you may indeed root for her. But when I found out that Annie Hardy is basically playing herself in the movie, it just confused me. We're supposed to be repulsed by her, right? Right??

I really liked director Rob Savage's first found footage horror movie, Host, but this one just fell flat for me, and it suffers from probably the biggest sin of found footage horror: characters who never seem to drop the damn camera, so half of the film is just a shaky cam blur. I found the whole film so annoying (and gross) that I couldn't even begin to tell you if it even makes any sense. Found footage horror can still be fun, (see above!) but Dashcam is definitely not.

I watched Dashcam and Spree on Hulu, and Deadstream on Shudder.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 17: Massacre at Central High (1976)

I don't think you can categorize Massacre at Central High as a horror movie, although plenty of people die in it. There's no mystery as to who is doing the killing, and the entire film has a kind of "afterschool special" feel to it, albeit with a lot of gratuitous nudity. I think the movie's ultimate point is to deliver some kind of message about bullying, and fascism, and complacency, but the message gets a little muddy amongst the gratuitous nudity and violence.

That said, it's definitely a unique take on the high school horror story, even if most of the so-called high schoolers look like they've been legally able to drink for a decade or so, (including Robert Carradine who would still be playing a teenager eight years later in Revenge of the Nerds). Maybe that's why, until the very end, there are no "adults" to be found at Central High, or anywhere near it. It would be too hard to tell them all apart!

For me, the most the most entertaining fact about this movie is that the Italian version was called Sexy Jeans and included several edited-in scenes from porno movies. I'm dying to see how THAT worked.

I watched Massacre at Central High on the Criterion Channel.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 16: Influencer (2022)

Influencer was the movie I decided to watch instead when I was having a hard time getting through Eaten Alive, which is funny as they both kind of center on people ruining and/or ending the lives of tourists.

Madison, a social media "influencer" is on vacation in Thailand, alone, because her boyfriend decided to bail at the last minute. She befriends CW, another young woman who seems to know a lot of "secret" spots in the city, thus giving Madison more content for her feed. But then Madison's passport is stolen, and she loses her cell phone...

The credits for the movie don't actually run until about 25 minutes into its running time, which is an interesting choice, though fitting, as the film starts out one way, and then heads in a different direction. It's not a groundbreaking movie by any means, but I enjoyed its female villain, and that it includes plenty of tropical vacation scenery porn is an added bonus.

I watched Influencer on Shudder.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 15: The House on Sorority Row (1982)

Maybe I was wrong about the year 1982 and slasher movies, because here's another one that seems to hold a fairly positive reputation, though I am not entirely sure why. Still, I maintain that when the majority of that year's movies have to live in the shadow of E.T., Blade Runner, and The Thing, among several other classics, the majority of those movies are going to be forgotten.

And truthfully I wouldn't have bothered watching The House on Sorority Row if Eileen Davidson wasn't in it since she was a big presence in my life as a teenager when she was on The Young and the Restless, and then later in life when she was on a few seasons of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. (Spoiler alert: she shows her boobs. In the movie, not on Housewives!)

It's a pretty standard slasher, done better many other times, and but it's watchable because of the presence of some actresses, like Davidson, who went on to better things. Like Harley Jane Kozak who was in When Harry Met Sally and Parenthood. And Kate McNeil who was in....Monkey Shines. OK. Maybe Eileen Davidson is the movie's biggest draw. That and a party band called "4 Out of 5 Doctors," which is just a great band name.

I watched The House on Sorority Row on Shudder.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 14: Saint Maude (2019)

When you get right down to it, aren't most stories about the origins of saints kind of....horrible? I mean, I'm no expert, but I think you probably have to at least have some suffering in your life to get to saint status, right? Maybe not "burning at the stake" (but that's definitely one way to go) but definitely not a life of quiet comforts.

So, perhaps the story of Saint Maud isn't so odd. Maybe a modern saint really would need to make some..."sacrifices" to reach sainthood. Or -- and I'm just tossing this out there! -- perhaps a lot of history's saints were, actually, just crazy motherfuckers!

OK, probably not going to reach sainthood with that comment. And I'm not entirely sure the "heroine" in Saint Maud does either, but it's definitely an interesting watch, although it probably fits more into the realm of art film than horror film. An art film with some horrible moments? I wanted a little bit more from it, but I appreciated how it stuck the landing, and it kind of reminded me of a fave, The Rapture, another movie that asks, what if some of the horrible things in the Bible are not metaphors, and actually, literally, true?

No thank you!

I watched Saint Maud on DVD, but it is also available on Prime Video.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 13: Murder By Phone (1982)

It took me a minute to figure out why I decided to put Murder By Phone on my countdown list in the first place, but then I remembered it was because of this little blurb in Trashola, a horror movie zine I used to read way back in the 1980's:

This is a bit of a forgotten movie, lord knows I don't remember ever seeing anything about it, aside from the above, but when I looked it up and saw the cast, I figured why not give it a shot. Richard Chamberlain stars as Nat Bridger, a professor and environmentalist who stumbles upon a possible murder when a former student dies after answering a public phone in a subway. Police rule it a heart attack; Bridger suspects something more. John Houseman (!) also co-stars as a colleague of Bridger's, who makes a big point of separating his trash, which seems pretty progressive for 1982! The movie also has a score by John Barry, and was directed by Michael Anderson, whose Around the World In 80 Days won the Best Picture Oscar in 1957.

All of this makes it strange that Murder By Phone is not available on DVD or Blu-ray, so the only version I was able to watch was on YouTube, and this version was obviously ripped from an old VHS copy. Of course, it's not exactly a great movie, but it's certainly no worse than plenty of 1980's horror flicks that have gotten the Blu-ray treatment, and the phone "murders" are also worthy of something out of Cronenberg.

If you want to give it a look, you can watch it via YouTube, below!

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 12: Evil Dead Rise (2023)

At this point I don't even remember if I ever saw the 2013 remake of The Evil Dead, so if I did, it wasn't memorable. Pretty sure I'll say the same thing about Evil Dead Rise if you were to ask me about it ten years from now.

This sequel totally overlooks what made the first three Evil Dead movies memorable: they were fun; they were funny. And they had Bruce Campbell. This one is has zero laughs, only a teeny, tiny bit of Bruce Campbell (in a voiceover), and just an all around downer feel since the majority of the people in peril are children.

It does have a good opening sequence that ends with a really excellent title reveal, but after that it just gets depressing. The story centers on a single mom and her three kids. They live in a condemned apartment building that's above a vault that contains....an evil book and some old recordings. One of the kids finds it. The rest is easy to predict.

The movie definitely doesn't hold back on the gore or the blood, with an elevator scene to rival The Shining's famous bloody lift. But it's not enough to save an instantly forgettable entry into the Evil Dead franchise.

I watched Evil Dead Rise on Max.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 11: Phenomena (1985)

I've watched a Dario Argento movie the last two years of this revamped countdown, and this year's choice was Phenomena, starring a young Jennifer Connelly as a teenager with a psychic connection to insects.

The setting, at a private all girls school in Europe, is a familiar Argento trope, but I won't fault him returning to that well because the setting this time is the Swiss Alps (or the "Transylvania of Switzerland" as more than one character refers to it), and it's absolutely beautiful. The perfect setting for horrible things.

Connelly's American teenager arrives at the school and immediately has an evening full of sleepwalking, which does not endear her to her classmates. Her self-professed love of insects also doesn't help. But luckily, there's a world famous forensic entomologist (Donald Pleasence) just up the road, and he thinks young Jennifer's abilities may be just the thing to help capture a serial killer that has been stalking town.

Yes, of course there's a killer about, this is an Argento movie after all, and the murders are as baroque as ever, this time often accompanied by Iron Maiden or Motorhead songs. (Goblin is also on board again with an original score.) Did I mention there's also a monkey nurse in this? And by that I mean a monkey who is also a nurse, and not a nurse for monkeys. And when I tell you this movie has one of the most insane endings ever, I am not being hyperbolic. I was literally sitting there with my mouth open in disbelief through most of it. Suspiria is still my fave Argento movie, but Phenomena takes a very close second.

I watched Phenomena on Shudder, but it's also available on Kanopy and Tubi.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 10: You Won't Be Alone (2022)

You Won't Be Alone is like a Terrence Malick movie meets the 2015 film The VVwitch, which is to say, it's probably not for everyone. But I was really entranced by its meditative approach to folky horror.

Set in 19th century Macedonia (director Goran Stolevski is Macedonian and Australian), the film follows a young woman who was cursed as a baby to live her adult life with the old "Wolf-Eateress," a witch who haunts the countryside and can shape-shift into animals or other people. The young girl is forced to learn how to survive on her own, and eventually takes on the identities of different villagers, ultimately learning what being human means. (In short, it means a lot of pain and heartbreak, especially if you are a woman.)

The majority of the dialogue in the movie comes in the form of voiceover from the young witch as she learns about the world. That, and the camera's lovingly lingering on the natural world, is what gives it that Malick feel. But don't go into it thinking there aren't some horrible moments, because there are (just how the witches are able to shapeshift is nothing short of disgusting). But at its heart I think You Won't Be Alone is a really interesting metaphorical take on gender roles and gender identity.

I watched You Won't Be Alone on Peacock.

Monday, October 09, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown- Day 9: Eaten Alive (1976)

Eaten Alive was Tobe Hooper's follow-up to 1974's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so I figured, as a horror fan, I should probably watch it. 

I was wrong.

I know there are some people who can't really deal with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre because it's too grimy, and cheap, and...unpleasant. Eaten Alive has helped me understand where they're coming from, because it is all of those things, but the one thing it does not have in common with Chainsaw is....it's not very good.

Chainsaw is definitely not a pleasant viewing experience, but it's so well-crafted, with a truly intriguing villain and a heroine you want to see through to the end if only because her survival seems so unlikely after all she goes through. But Eaten Alive really has none of that.

Set in the Louisiana bayou, though clearly filmed entirely on a sound stage, the basic set-up is a crazy hotel proprietor (Neville Brand) keeps a crocodile in the swamp behind his hotel, feeding it animals and guests, depending on his mood, which is usually batshit crazy.

Truth be told, I had to turn the movie off about 15 minutes into it after the third shot of a clearly dying monkey in a cage, and I kind of wish I'd never come back to it because what follows is the chomping of a puppy, which traumatizes the puppy's owner, a little girl wearing a polio brace. She basically spends half the movie trying to get away from both the crocodile and the crazy. And when I mean crazy, I don't just mean hotel owner Judd. Turns out her father is also a certifiable loon, and her mother (played by Chainsaw's sole survivor, Marilyn Burns) isn't much better.

Also, why in the world are Mel Ferrer and Carolyn Jones in this? And why does Jones look like she's wearing one of Leatherface's leftover masks in all of her scenes? Why does Marilyn Burns wear a wig for the first ten minutes of her screen time? Why do people even agree to stay at the Starlight Hotel the second they meet the owner and he starts talking about his pet crocodile? And where is that insane red light that permeates every scene coming from?

It's kind of astounding Tobe Hooper was able to come out of the gate with something as good as Texas Chainsaw because I really doubt Eaten Alive would have ever gotten him a second picture deal.

I watched Eaten Alive on Shudder.

Sunday, October 08, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 8: No One Will Save You (2023)

No One Will Save You starts like a movie tailor-made for me. A young woman in a vintage chenille robe chooses which 1940's day dress to wear for her day of sewing mid-century dresses in her remote home filled with miniatures. Is this a period piece? What's up with this chick and can I be her friend?

Pretty soon it becomes clear that this young woman lives in the now, but her existence is a lonely and sheltered one. Her neighbors turn away from her with seeming disgust when they see her, and she actively avoids interactions with people in town. Something obviously happened in her past, and that means when the aliens arrive, she's got to deal with them on her own.

Yes, this is an alien invasion movie, but it's an unusual one. The world may be under attack, but the story feels intimate and small. There are only two lines of dialogue in the entire film, but thankfully Kaitlyn Dever is the star, and she is more than up to that challenge. It also has one of the more unique endings to any alien invasion story I've ever seen. (It would make an excellent double feature with Nope.) I was pleasantly surprised by this one!

No One Will Save You is currently streaming on Hulu.

Saturday, October 07, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 7: Alone In the Dark (1982)

The 1982 slasher flick Alone In the Dark didn't hit my radar until recently, and I can kind of understand why. The year 1982 was a huge year for a lot of movies (it was such a pivotal year for me as a movie fan that I started a whole blog centered on rewatching every movie I had watched in 1982), but it was not really a huge year for slasher movies. Science fiction and supernatural flicks were the bigger hits that year, with Friday the 13th Part III and Slumber Party Massacre really the only slasher movies that made any lasting mark.

Alone In the Dark's biggest selling point is its cast, which is filled with some genre movie legends including Donald Pleasence as, once again, a psychiatrist who may be as loony as his patients. Those patients are played by Martin Landau, Jack Palance, and Erland Van Lidth (who is probably best known for playing the gang leader Terror in The Wanderers).

While the movie follows your basic slasher/home invasion horror plotline, it has some good twists, and an appearance by a punk rock band called the Sic F*cks. So really, what more could you want?

I watched Alone In the Dark on Blu-Ray as it is not currently available to rent or stream online.

Friday, October 06, 2023

Musty TV's Maniacal Movie Countdown - Day 6: I Trapped the Devil (2019)

I decided to watch I Trapped the Devil because some of its actors (A.J. Bowen and Jocelin Donahue) have been in indie horror movies I've loved, including You're Next and House of the Devil. But this one was just too much of a slow burn and I fell asleep probably three times as I was watching it. So, even though it's under 90 minutes long, it took me over two hours to finish it.

A man and his wife decide to drop in on his brother during the holidays. The brother is none too happy to see them, but reluctantly lets them stay. Slowly it is revealed that the brother has a man locked up in his basement, and he's convinced he's captured the devil himself.

I will give the movie this: It uses its Christmastime setting effectively, with colored lights casting an eerie glow on the proceedings. It got me wondering if I may have liked this a bit more had I watched it later in the year.

Of note: Fans of the TV show This Is Us will probably recognize the voice of the man in the basement. And if the plot sounds familiar it's because it's basically the same plot as a season two episode of The Twilight Zone called "The Howling Man."

I watched I Trapped the Devil on Tubi.