All right, so, that's the general overview of the franchise horror series, where they've been, where they went, how bad they got, and the antidote.
Far from complete list, but that all lays down a nice bed of lettuce for me to stack on more bits and bobs in future Halloween lead-up months.
So, with all the major ones out of the way, and with three days left 'til Halloween (Sil-ver Shamrock!) time to bust free of franchises, and just be more free, and breezier, and just plain list horror/Halloweeny movies I've liked/loved over the years.
These are organized (roughly) by year, and fluctuate wildly in tone, but they all relate to the season in one way or another.
Well, to quote a friend " . . . it's like the contents of your trick or treat bag! You got your mini-Snickers, your Reeses, your candy corn (yerk), your Bottle Caps . . . your apple with razor blades in it . . . It's all good".
So, let's dig into the bag, and begin...
Mad Monster Party
Rankin & Bass's one and only (as far as I know) full length feature featuring their "puppetoon", process.
The plot involves, well, pretty much what the title says.
A monster mash of all the classic monsters, which up 'til then was pretty much everyone from the Universal pictures.
Also...Phyllis Diller. Huh.
All right then...
The biggest star of course, is Boris Karloff as Dr. Frankenstein, with his puppet as a dead on likeness.
And Gale Garnett is Francesca, and sings a couple ditties, and she's got a good little set of pipes on her.
Oh, why be glib? Her voice is rich and creamy, and floats you around like like a cartoon character smelling delicious food.
Do any of the MTV pop princesses sing like that today?
Could they, if given the material?
Be fun to see an update of this with Freddy n' the gang in the pantheon.
Or, not, I dunno.
Can any humans left even do stop-motion anymore?
I dunno why this ain't a bigger classic than it is, but, at least basic cable still plays it around this time of year.
Basic cable keeps this alive, and this is where I've seen it, oh...since I was 10...that I can remember.
I really need to own this.
Man, I need to win the Powerball to buy all the movies I desire.
A Clockwork Orange
Told you these would fluctuate, didn't I? :)
You've got a Dystopian future, a rapist anti-hero, and a throbbing synth-Beethoven score by a tranny, what's not to love with this one, eh?
By my reckoning, the perfect movie.
Can you believe, it actually offends some people?
(Et tu, Ebert, et tu? Tch, sissababy)
I bought an old 70's MAD magazine at Shady Dave's (man I miss that place), and it had a Clockwork Orange parody (A Crockwork Lemon) and my jaw dropped. Even through the haze of parody, I was like "what fucked up movie is THIS, and why have I never heard of it???".
Years later, Saturday Matinee, a CD and VHS place that used to be in the mall, had it, and I bought it, and it was better than I dreamed.
Ever since seeing it, I keep spotting cultural references to it.
Simpsons writers really seem to be big fans.
What with imitating the eyes pried open aversion therapy scene with Santa's Little Helper, and having Bart dressed as Alex for one of the Halloween episodes.
That's kinda messed up.
And of course, there are a gang of Droogs in the Tenacious D movie, and another in "Batman And Robin".
Anyway, I exposed my cousin to this flick when he was the same age I was when I saw that MAD parody..and...I think he's all right.
*Eyes dart back and forth guiltily*
Last House On The Left
Man, did Wes Craven ever explode onto the scene with this one eh?
So, basically, two dumb teenage girls go out to see some rock concert, try to score some dope from some sleazebags, and end up kidnapped, raped, and murdered.
Rather realistically, in a gritty 70's home movie style.
(Similar to how Chainsaw 1 was shot)
The rest of the film revolves around the parents finding out, and taking bloody revenge.
This one, like so many other great old horror flicks, has been remade.
And, like so many other shitty remakes, I won't touch it with a ten foot pole.
Fuck these heartless, ballless, indolent corporate goons.
My Ma told me about this in my teens, and how fucked up it was, and how it gave her nightmares when she saw it at roughly my age.
HAD to see it after that!
So, yeah, one time, me, Hyla, and Spencer were on a rare excursion together into in-town Portland, at this place called "Video-Port", hmm, wonder if that place exists anymore, anyway, I think the mission was to find "Clerks", because Nicely's didn't seem to have it, and Spencer wanted to see it, and then we saw all these other wonderful treasures that caught our eyes, but finally, we settled on "Clerks", and "last house on the left".
Might have even been by my recommendation, I dunno.
I think the final tally was, I dug Clerks, was fucked up by Last House, Spencer kept up an impenetrable air of ennui, and I can't remember what Hyla thought.
Geez, did he even see it?
I think I had to take it back before he even saw it or something.
So, yeah, that was in the 90's, I've seen it again recently, and I guess I've been desensitized by even sicker films, or something, because...man, everything that's not the infamous murder scenes...are fucking GOOFY!!!
The music is goofy, the bumbling cops are something right out of fucking Keystone Cops, there's a goofy frigging scene with a black lady with a truck full of chickens that goes on way too long, the parents are all over the top "Leave It To Beaver"-y at the beginning, silliness everywhere.
And the killers act goofy.
Up until they murder, they're almost comic relief!
They even have a goofy theme song with their fucking NAMES in it that plays on their car radio!
Dumb, dumb, DUMB.
...and then the murders happen, and it's a snuff flick..and then, back to goofy...
Wes was smoking something fancy back in them days, had to have been.
The boomers, they were an interesting generation before they became the fucking establishment.
Films like this remind me of it more than any hippie flower power shit.
Well, you all know this one, right?
Or, you know of it.
"Squeal like a pig!".
What was up with movies of the 70's, and rape, anyway?
Anyway, most people can reference the Ned Beatty rape scene, but...they also couldn't tell you what happens after, which tells me hardly anyone's actually sat down, and watched the fucking thing, which pisses me the fuck off.
How dare you pop-culture reference something you don't know first hand?
I've seen every fucking quotable movie at least once, if not twice.
Every goddamned one.
I put the work in.
If I can do it, you can.
Yes, life has homework.
If you people are gonna carry the banner of our culture, you'd better at least know it.
Watch this damned thing, dammit, it's a good film.
It's way more than the "squeal like a pig!", movie.
Scary thriller above everything else.
One of those stories you could easily see happening to someone.
"Misery", has that quality.
Eh, no special history with it, only seen it a handful of times, but have always dug it.
You all know this one too, right?
Spinning head, pea soup vomit, you know the drill.
Pretty fucking scary.
I like what John Landis said once (I paraphrase) "it says that Priests, when they're not out raping boys, are the only force between us and pure evil, and for two hours, it gets you to totally buy it!".
Rented it one summer in the late 80's, early 90's, and when Regan starts screaming shit about cocksucking, Ma had me shut the window so the neighbors wouldn't hear.
Oh, come on, Ma, the neighbors are pervs with filthier potty mouths than that.
I wish I'd said that.
Dawn Of The Dead
The Star Wars of zombie films, and indeed, of horror.
The grandaddy of this whole "survival horror", genre, as you kiddies call it nowadays.
Still holds up, it's a fucking epic.
And, screw the remake.
Another one I saw first with the fellers.
I own it now, damn, craving another viewing already.
By the time I'm done with this whole damned thing, I'll be too tired.
Well, basic cable plays this to death, and not just on Halloween, so...not much to say about this.
Oh, right, this is one of Stephen King's least favorite flicks based on his work.
Well, you're just objectively wrong, Stevie, because I say so, so there.
Your miniseries version you had total control of was weak sauce.
Kubrick's is immortal, it'll outlive our whole species.
Same as the rest of you.
Cable, tapes, and some of you have read the book.
Oh, here's another observation, the book shows us bits of the book Jack is actually writing before it disintegrates into the whole "all work and no play..", deal.
And it's fucking awful.
Jack is a hack.
I've noticed this, every time there's a character in the King-verse that's a writer, the thing they're writing is a fucking turd.
And we can't skim by it, it can't be casually mentioned, or outlined, he crams it right down your guts.
Whole punishing chunks of these horrible fake books.
I like you buddy, I'm just sayin...
Oh, yeah, wait, stop, rewind....
When this came out, I was about as little as the kid in this, and the ad campaign had like, Danny riding around on the Power Wheels, and the twins girls I think, and ended with the poster above with the weird face.
And that weird face had nothing to do with the flick, but I didn't know.
Oh, yeah, and that weird trumpet honking when things in the film were about to get scary and/or weird, that was all through the ad.
That trumpet honking, and the weird face alone gave me the goosebumps.
And then, that poster art was on the movie re-issue of the novel, and the novel was being sold at the checkout counter of the grocery store, and re-creeped me out every time we got groceries.
Ma consoled me with some bullshit about "it's a movie about a bad little boy, and the bad boy is blowing the trumpet".
I guess the weird face was the bad boy too.
Y'know, that'd be funny as shit to see now, a deformed kid who rides around blowing a trumpet, and that's the whole fuckin' movie.
Every now and then, he gets spanked, and he cries, and we're like "yeah!! That'll show him to blow a trumpet!!",
But then he's just bad again.
Wait...come to think of it..that's the whole fucking "Fudge", series by Judy Blume.
Except without the trumpet.
I think there was a drum though....
So, yeah, Ma calmed me down by essentially making up an elaborate lie that "The Shining", was Fudge with a trumpet.
Fudge with a trumpet being chased by Nicholson with an axe would fuckin' rock.
Fuck movies, this has to be a series!
Shit, this culture has coarsened enough to watch shows like "Breaking Bad", and "The Walking Dead", why the hell not?
Or, hell, make it a "very special episode", of "it's Always Sunny In Philadelphia".
Devito would do it.
Devito is up for anything, but chasing Fudge with an axe, he'd be all over that shit.
Okay, I have to force myself to stop now, there's a lot more of these to get through....
An American Werewolf In London
Another great required classic.
Go see it.
Or, Torrent it, I really don't care how it gets to your eyeballs, frankly.
I remember all the review/preview shows spoiling the everliving fuck out of the transformation scenes.
That, and Griffin Dunne's zombie makeup.
Jesus, let me see the fuckin' thing and be surprised, wouldja?
Well, nowadays, it's even worse, trailers now tell you the whole fucking story of a film practically.
The "Last House On The Left", remake trailer pretty much gave away the rape, the revenge, the whole guts of what it was all about.
What the fuck do people even go to movies for anymore?
"Oh, I'd like to see that particular scenario play all the way out while I told my pee!".
Well...people don't go to movies...they're really seeing a 6 month ahead of time preview of what Redbox will have.
Anyway, to end this one on an even gloomier note, I mourn the John Landis career that could have been if not for the stupid fuckin' "Twilight Zone", accident.
What a great fuckin' decade the 80's were for film, I mean, just year after year of these flat out classics that just warm the cockles of your heart.
Anyway, yeah, King, Romero, anthology, great lines "I want my cake", "just tell him to call me Billie!", "meteor shit!".
Love it, love it, love it.
That's it, tomorrow, "Return of the Living Dead", "Dawn of the Dead", "Creepshow", first thing I wake up, the DVDs go in.
Oh, shit...can't gobble up too much of the day, I got another one of these to do...ah, there'll be time...
This is another one along with the first "Nightmare", that the whole universe conspired to stop me from seeing it.
Steve (he of many an anecdote now) described this one to me in excruciating detail.
I demanded it.
Thankfully, he remembered it in excruciating detail.
And he loved to gab.
Thanks to his initial outline, and my exhaustive questioning, I got every detail of this film into my mind over the course of about three weeks.
It was the foundation of our friendship.
Quite disturbing later that the kid who saw Creepshow a million times was busted up by Freddy, but...eh, Jason got to me with part 4, so....
Oh, yeah, and his mom had the graphic novel, and one time during a sleepover at his place, I had the bright idea of getting the flick to my eyeballs in that form, but...it was packed away in a box somewhere, and we never found it.
I finally rented it at Nicely's in the early 90's.
Finally read the graphic novel at the high school library.
Geez, you'd think it was the most evil poisonous movie ever or something.
It's just FUN.
It fits me like a glove!
...well, maybe that's why.
The dummies back then with their dopey brainwashing theories of education seemed to think weird was a sickness that needed curing, and they probably thought it was trouble to encourage me with shit like that.
And they had my parents sold on it.
Or, at least, going along.
They really intruded in your life.
Oh, well, I like to think life punished those awful people so I don't have to....
So yeah, the DVD of this is a golden prize in my file cabinet.
It doesn't get loaned.
It doesn't leave my sight.
Harm it, you die.
Just the way it is.
Way it has to be.
You understand, don't you?
Wes Craven's film just before "Nightmare".
It's a good 'un.
Adrienne Barbeau is back in action right after "Creepshow".
This, Creepshow, Escape From New York, she was the sci-fi/horror queen for awhile.
Yep, she was the Milla Jovovich of her day.
And in between, it was Geena Davis.
Tch, I really miss her.
(Muzak version of "to all the girls I've loved before", plays in background)
Interesting story, Wes Craven was watching this with his preteen/teen daughter, and Adrienne Barbeau has that hackneyed scene in every horror movie where she trips and falls, and his daughter spoke right up, and says "dad, why do women always fall in these movies? We're not that clumsy and stupid".
Wes really took that to heart, and made Nancy in "Nightmare", the opposite of every scream queen that had come before, and made her a hero.
It was a feminist statement, y'know?
Fast forward to 2010, and the shitty remake, and guess what happens to Nancy?
Yeah, not just falling, but bimbo falling.
The whole "eew, yucky, it's Freddy, I'd better walk backwards, oof! I'm on my bum now, now instead of getting up, I'll walk on my cheeks", routine.
And that's another reason I despise that "film".
A deliberate slap in the face to the fans that really understand the original.
Way to make your money.
You proud of yourselves?
Prouda whacha did?
Anyway, yeah, Swamp Thing...um, aside from that one fall, Adrienne was pretty cool.
She was an even tougher customer in "Escape From New York", though.
Oddly, this I was allowed to watch!
Guess the leash was loosening finally.
Course, it immediately launched me into the comic books, and then, around that same period is when Alan Moore took over, and that had a MUCH more powerful and profound effect on me than a whole stack of Creepshows would have had on me.
(I tell that story here)
I think this is neck and neck with "The Shining", for being played to death on TV.
I think even fetuses have seen this somehow.
I think it's been released on DNA.
You're born knowing this movie now.
III think I saw this in HBO back then...I mighta puked at the crawling steak with maggots scene, and while I was puking, I missed the melting face in the mirror scene, which is just as well.
I've seen it since, of course.
Yes, I can be a militant non-believer, and like movies like this.
I think of them like thought experiments.
"What would the world be like if this bullshit were real?".
Turns out, really fucked up, and if it were happening all the time, everywhere, the universe would have an "out of order", sign on it.
And yet, another one being prequel-ed/remade.
Leave these films ALOO-HO-HO-OOOONE!
I was 7, I was out in the kitchen, this was on HBO, I devoured a whole cookie sheet of pizza rolls, I looked out in the living room, saw the dog scene, and barfed everything up into the trash.
Years later, I saw it over Steve's House.
I made a lot of bad Wilfred Brimley oatmeal jokes.
He pimped oatmeal before "diabeetus", see....
Best fuckin' vampire movie ever.
Wild, that Whitley Strieber wrote this shortly before going off his fucking rocker with the UFO bullshit, and inventing the anal probe.
Yes, kiddies, that's where that started in UFO mythology.
Hmm, Catherine Deneuve's vampire character is an ancient Egyptian, and this came out 2 years before "The Vampire Lestat".
So, Anne Rice didn't even come up with the Egyptian thing.
She invented nothing.
I finally saw this just recently for this review.
Thanks for the recommendation, Alexandra.
Okay, I finally get it now, this is why guys were so hot to trot for Susan Sarandon.
She was in this.
See, I've only ever known her for her shrill political activism.
Noooow I get it.
Hot lesbian macking in this guys, over here!!
Man...lesbian titty rubbing in an R movie in the 80's, this must have been a fucking revolution!
As suppressed as "Creepshow", and stuff was when I was growing up, I didn't even know this existed until my 20's, and even then, it's not something likely to jump out at you on a video shelf, sure as hell basic cable ain't gonna play it.
You can't censor the thing without gutting it.
To this day, it's a tough one to smuggle through.
You gotta go right to the video.
And you gotta be told about it, so you gotta know someone.
And it's weird its like that, cuz there's not a goddamned thing "offensive", about it.
13 and up, I'd let see it today.
But, I'm pretty radical.
More have seen this than "Poltergiest".
You're conceived knowing this one.
I could do 20 pages or more on my history with this film.
My love of this film has been a long wild ride.
I'll try to summarize it...
Saw it in the theater.
Was finally seeing good damned non-kiddie movies in the theater at last.
Then...non stop...HBO...the cartoon...the figures....the firehouse, the whole thing...
Got the flicks on DVD...need that big firehouse box with the whole animated series inside.
Yep, Ghostbusters has been there for me side by side with Freddy.
Been a helluva journey.
And...same non-believer stuff I said about "Poltergeist".
'Cept in this case, the results are awesome and funny.
Still hoping against all hope for part 3.
Gremlins (and 2)
Yeah, these are a matching set now.
Well, this one's easy, I'll just paste my review from here...
It starts off as a christmas-y movie, like something Capra might've shot, then it morphs into a monster movie complete with splattery blender and microwave oven kills.
...and they marketed this flick at KIDS.
There was plush toys, color books, a cereal, trading cards, candy...
I really don't think the marketing people genuinely understood what had hit them.
I dunno, maybe there were some boomers with some yippie subversiveness still left in them, and they were still kicking up silt in the man's machine.
It was this weird little period of rebellion for awhile.
I liked it a lot.
Shit, Speilberg was in on this as an executive producer, he knew what was going on.
What happened to THAT Speilberg??!?!
Now he turns guns into walkie talkies.
Man, what 20 years does....
Gremlins 2...flat out parody.
And yet, it fits.
It's really what the first one was doing cranked up to eleven.
Oh, man, I've got a weird story for this one I've NEVER told anyone.
The first teaser trailer for this was ambiguous as hell, and I had a dream about it, and...it's a trailer for a whole other movie.
It's called "Gremlins: The Skulls of Astaroth", and somehow, there's these skull necklaces, and the skulls are reddish orange, and waxy, and greasy, and alive, and they have evil magic inside that makes them alive, and somehow, I just know all this, and the scene in the "trailer", is these two kids wearing the necklaces, and the skulls are pulling towards each other by some magnetic sort of force, and the kids are fighting against it, and the skulls touch, and animate, and start to french each other, and as they do, goo starts oozing off them, and the necklaces get hot, and start burning the kids, with smoke coming off, and they start screaming, and bawling.
All of this within seconds, and a deep creepy narrator voice saying the title "Gremlins...The Skulls of Astaroth!".
I woke up thinking that was the real flick for a few split seconds.
I woulda watched that.
Even then, I kinda wanted to see it.
Sadly, the dream never came back.
Anyhoo, saw the real Gremlins film at the theater, and had to run to the bathroom to honk after the microwave scene.
I had a real weak stomach back then.
Now, I laugh off "Salo".
How far I've come.
Ahh, phew, so, that's part one, tomorrow, part 2.
I'll take us right up to the 10's.
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