I could hear Mia Goth scribbling notes when Bette Davis was on screen.
Back when I first started getting into collecting DVDs, I was importing a lot of the original video nasties from the US as they were easier to find uncut there than in the UK. When a new one showed up, I’d head round to a friend’s house to watch them with him. He was far from the world’s biggest horror fan but he was very indulgent of my enthusiasm and would sit there wincing his way through stuff like Cannibal Ferox. One night I went round there and he was like, right, I’ve got something to show you. It turned out to be …Baby Jane, which I’d heard of, but never seen before. Of course, I loved it and couldn’t help but admit that, in many respects, it was way more disturbing than all those gory films I thought I was so cool for having shown him.
Watched yesterday: An Amityville Poltergeist. Talk about truth in advertising. This is not set in Amityville and doesn’t feature any poltergeists. Say what you like about Amityville V!br@tor, at least its content matched its title. This sees a young man, Jim, take a weekend house-sitting gig to make some extra cash. The elderly woman who lives there normally has been experiencing some creepy goings-on in the house and warns him to be on his guard before she departs for the weekend. Soon enough, our hero is experiencing dreams within dreams within dreams of spooky girls climbing up the stairs and all sorts of other weird things ripped primarily from the Ju-on movies. This actually wasn’t all bad. It’s got a languid, doomy atmosphere that I found kind of hypnotic and which serves as a good counterpoint to some really effective jump scares. The performances aren’t awful, although I could have done with a lot less of Jim’s best friend, a perma-stoned idiot who ‘dudes’ and ‘bros’ his way through the entire film. After I’d finished with this, I listened to an interview on AYIH with the director, Calvin Morie McCarthy, in which he clarified a whole lot about how an aspiring filmmaker goes from making a film like this to getting it onto an actual streaming service like Tubi, where oiks like me can view it. In this case, it was pretty obvious that the film had virtually no commercial appeal under its original titles of No Sleep/Don’t Sleep, so McCarthy suggested retitling it to make it part of the Amity-verse. It’s clear from his comments that this is something of a deal with the devil and wouldn’t have been his first choice – of course, his film now gets seen, but he recognises that he’s pretty much been consigned to being the kind of filmmaker that only gets called when someone needs a director for films like Conjuring: The Beyond. Back to the film, it’s obvious that McCarthy has talent and knows how to film really effective scares. It’s just a pity that so much of the film is so derivative. Still, nice poster though, although as always, don’t expect the creature to show up anywhere near this film…
I was at Cineworld last night and the poster for this appeared on one of the video screens
Turns out it’s a new Eli Roth, his first since that woeful Death Wish remake five years ago. If it feels familiar it’s because this was also his fake trailer from the Grindhouse double feature all those years back.
Still, I love a holiday-themed horror, and “there will be no leftovers” is a pretty solid tag line…
Watched yesterday: Phenomena. If, for some reason, this is the last film I ever see, I can go to my grave knowing that I finally saw a film that I’ve been meaning to get to for years and that it was as amazing as I’d hoped it would be. Seriously, I absolutely fucking loved this. I’ve been slowly making my way through the Argento movies I’ve never seen over the past year or so and knew that this was the one I was most intrigued by. I’ve read so much about it (while still managing to have avoided too many spoilers) and seen so many images from it in books and magazines, that before I sat down to watch it last night, it felt like it would be near-impossible for it to live up to all that hype. But oh my gosh, it did and so much more. Of course, I recognize that there are probably a ton of flaws here, but none of these stopped me from loving this. Seriously, once the film moved into its final stretch (when Nicolodi takes Jennifer back to her house), I feel like I was either sitting there with my mouth open, just genuinely gobsmacked by the audacious ridiculousness of what Argento was attempting or with a big cheesy grin because he was managing to pull most of it off. So much to love here: the Swiss setting/scenery, Jennifer Connelly, Daria Nicolodi, Donald Pleasance, Dalila Di Lazzaro, the chimp, the insertion of Iron Maiden and Motorhead at insanely incongruous moments and that ending!!! I know there are much better Italian horror movies than this, but right now, if someone asked me to show them one to demonstrate why I love this stuff so much, this would be close to my number 1 pick.
I haven’t seen it since my first watch over a decade ago, need to line it up again clearly!
This sounds like a must see! Just watched the trailer off the back of your write up, it looks astonishing.
I completely acknowledge that my critical faculties are all over the shop with the amount of Amityville nonsense I’ve been subjecting myself to of late but even with that qualification, astonishing is the word for this. Let us know what you think if you do check it out, I know @sarahispi posted upthread about it last week I think and didn’t seem to like it that much, so it’s clearly not going to do it for everyone…
Oh I missed that, I love this thread but I can tend to leave it a long time between looking in, when somebody posts something that’s interesting to me I’ll want to go away and watch it or read more then by the time I come back everything’s moved on, I ought to organise myself better basically.
I’ve only seen a few Argento (Suspiria, Deep Red, Bird With The Crystal Plumage) and this looks like it’s got the really striking style I enjoyed about them plus a great cast and whole load of fun weirdness.
Not seen this one but that’s going straight on my watchlist
Edit: obviously I’m singing the title in my head to this…
Its on Mubi, leaving in 9 days
Watched a few bits this week…
Sweetheart - the title and the poster art for this are really doing it a disservice. If I hadn’t read a number of positive reviews then I would have definitely skipped it. As it is, this is a great updating of a classic Universal monsters creature (I won’t say which one but you can probably guess). This has a single location and a micro cast, which these days usually means that it was a pandemic production but this was actually made in 2019. Makes the most of its constraints and Kiersey Clemons is great in the lead as a pleasingly resourceful final girl. 8/10
Piercing - somewhere between a body horror and a film noir, this feels like a mashup of various bits or Cronenberg and Lynch. The best thing in this is Mia Wasikowska in the lead, who coincidentally was also the best thing in David Cronenberg’s rather messy Maps To The Stars. This is based on a Ryu Murakami novel, who also wrote the source book for Audition - while this isn’t quite as wince inducing as that, there are still plenty of ouch moments on screen. Slightly uneven tone throughout, but builds to a pleasing finale in only 80 minutes. 7/10
Tattoo - been aware of this film for decades but never got round to watching it. Made in 1980, this couldn’t look more like the 70s if it tried. Featuring a trademark wired performance from Bruce Dern and Maud Adams between her Man With The Golden Gun and Octopussy Bond outings, this starts out as a stylish and interesting look at glamour and obsession, before lurching to a disappointingly creepy/exploitative finale. Interesting as a time capsule, but overall something of a tonally nasty film. 4/10
Got Tattoo on my list because its discussed on the Royle Family
I didn’t know that beforehand, but it has its own section on Wikipedia
Also got around to rewatching ^this. Still lovely stuff, even when you know where the story is going. Think the only thing that stops it being a bona fide classic is that the finale is the weakest part of the film compared to the other sections which are so engrossing. Still an absolute ride however
started 31 days of Horror early due to being in Japan for half of October. Just did a wee run of Japanese horrors.
The Happiness of the Katakuris (Takashi Miike): Black comedy musical about a family who run a guesthouse in rural Japan whose guests keep dying. Obviously made on a budget of about 500 yen and the blessings of the local tourism agency but so much fun.
Kwaidan (Masaki Kobayashi): Anthology horror featuring a series of ghost stories. Quite interesting to learn about the traditional Japanese ghost stories as their horror films show how much they love them. There’s some really good visuals but struggles a bit with pacing.
One Cut Of The Dead (Shinichiro Ueda): Had even more fun watching this the second time around after catching it as part of a horror all-nighter years ago. Great to watch with people who’ve never seen it before (especially the person who started clapping the first time the credits rolled)
I’ve seen this, I’m pretty sure it appeared on the BFI Player in the Japan season they did in 2020. Absolute delight.
My memory is a little hazy but I seem to remember
Someone climbing through a window over a door and falling into a room full of barbed wire for some reason
The chimp hiding in purple oaty gunge
Motörhead or Accept or some properly daft metal soundtracking someone brushing their teeth
Do any of these things happen? Might need to watch it again
Think that first one is Suspiria as I remember that (unless it’s in more than one film)