ADAM LEMKE'S HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE


This will be my second year taking Adam Lemke up on his challenge to watch a lot of horror movies in the month of October. Last year I watched 38, this year I plan to destroy that record (EDIT TO ADD: Um, yeah that was before I started working again). I will keep track of films seen here:

001. (Oct 01) ILS (2006, David Moreau & Xavier Palud)* 57
I love these cat-and-mouse horror films (THE STRANGERS and HAUTE TENSION are better recent examples of the genre) because it is easy to relate to someone being spooked while alone in a house, ILS excels in those early scenes where a dog is barking and the couple is awoken in the middle of the night. Moreau and Palud are not actually all that adept at slowing down time and creating tense moments, the actions all run into each other and they don't allow much space once the horror begins. Also, they bite off more than they can chew with this house, which is huge and features and incredible attic which is a whole extra haunted house in itself. Unfortunately, the gains of the first half are undone by the silliness of the last few minutes.

002. (Oct 01) WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967, Terence Young) 66
This is more of a thriller than a horror film but the last ten minutes or so are tense like a horror film and I think Mancini's score was very influencial on horror films in the 1970s.

003. (Oct 02) BODY BAGS (1993, John Carpenter & Tobe Hooper)* 45
The Breakdown:THE GAS STATION (John Carpenter) mixed

Shows how good Carpenter can be while nothing much is happening but also shows how lazy a storyteller he can be when he turns on autopilot.
HAIR (John Carpenter) mixed

Actually very funny until the left-field ending that doesn't work at all.
EYE (Tobe Hooper) con

An eye transplant leads to visions and headaches, you can fill in the rest - anyone could.
The wrap-around morgue stuff is really just TALES FROM THE CRYPT-lite.

004. (Oct 02) THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971, Robert Fuest)* 63

Ideally this would have been viewed with a full midnight movie crowd, just to feel an audience manuever through the art deco fussy, the Victorian camp, the nuanced tragedy of Vincent Price's Phibes and the silly grotesquerie of his murder schemes.

005. (Oct 03) NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968, George A. Romero) 89

006. (Oct 03) DAY OF THE DEAD (1985, George A. Romero) 58


007. (Oct 06) DON'T DELIVER US FROM EVIL (1971, Joël Séria)* 69

008. (Oct 07) SALEM'S LOT (1979, Tobe Hooper)* 52

009. (Oct 08) THE CHRISTMAS TALE (2005, Paco Plaza)* 62

010. (Oct 09) THE CHANGELING (1980, Peter Medak)* 79


011. (Oct 10) UNHOLY (2007, Daryl Goldberg)* 57

Astonishingly ambitious Direct-to-Video film that is so convoluted and twisty that it holds attention through some sloppy technical failings and increasingly silly plot elements. The twists end up undermining the emotional climax but the circular narrative is pretty clever.

012. (Oct 10) KURONEKO (1968, Kaneto Shindô) 60

013. (Oct 10) SEASON OF THE WITCH (1972, George A. Romero) 45

A battered 35mm print (from a personal collection) that ran about 90 minutes. This doesn't feel complete or coherent as a woman's melodrama or as a surrealist exercise but it does show that perhaps Romero had lofty goals post-NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and that he was a student of the European cinema of the time (especially Bergman's WILD STRAWBERRIES and Bunuel's BELLE DE JOUR). Not a complete failure but any means but this does feel like the shapeless film someone would make before achieving a masterpiece and not after.

014. (Oct 11) LORD OF ILLUSIONS (1995, Clive Barker)* 68
Second viewing of Director's Cut, third viewing of film. This is an underrated film, truly horrific bookends with a very entertaining neo-noir center section. Evidence here suggests Famke Janssen should be cast immediately as a femme fatale.

015. (Oct 11) QUARANTINE (2008, John Erick Dowdle)
52

The cast of recognizable character actors undermines the documentary conceit of the original and there is some unnecessary additional exposition about the disease that slows down the still minimum length from the breakneck pace of the original. I like what Jennifer Carpenter does with the opening scenes in the fire station, where she is less believable as a newscast member than Manuela Velasco but a more talented comedic performer that earns some laughs and keeps the mood light before the horror starts.

016. (Oct 12) FEAST II: SLOPPY SECONDS (2008, John Gulager)* 25
Sloppy indeed, I don't think I've seen worse blue screen work in quite some time than what is featured prominently in the second half of this film. The first film used its scant budget well, staying in a small space with few actors, this film looks to have spread its small budget far to thin and the resulting film is sub-Troma aesthetically and the fun invention from the first film has turned tired and conventional here. Hopefully Gulager will rebound but according to IMDB a third FEAST film is next up and one can only hope he has more to work with and finds his voice again.

017. (Oct 12) JOY RIDE 2: DEAD AHEAD (2008, Louis Morneau)* 51
Way better than should be expected from a straight-to-dvd sequel with much of the torture being purely psychological hazing (mostly variations on the forced streaking in the original film) which actually makes the situations more tense than the typical slash-and-run sequences that would be expected in this genre.

018. (Oct 12) FRONTIER(S) (2007, Xavier Gens)* 34

Walked out of this at TIFF07 because I wanted to get sleep for Rohmer new film at 9AM the next morning. It sure is violent and gross but who cares.

019. (Oct 13) HITCH-HIKE (1977, Pasquale Festa Campanile)* 74


020. (Oct 16) DANCE OF THE DEAD (2008, Gregg Bishop)* 29

Plays to and flatters its target audience to no end (the heroes are sci-fi nerds and awkward loud mouths who kill the zombies and get the cheerleaders) but fails on both as both horror or comedy and kept help reminding of all the better horror-comedy to run this gauntlet with more skill and intelligence. Also, it looks like ass.

021. (Oct 17) MONKEY SHINES (1988, George A. Romero) 69


022. (Oct 18) I SAW WHAT YOU DID (1965, William Castle)* 59

023. (Oct 19) THE HIDDEN (1987, Jack Sholder) 66


024. (Oct 20) STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER (1975, Andrea Bianchi)* 50


025. (Oct 24) BLAME (2006, Narciso Ibáñez Serrador)* 51


026. (Oct 25) THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE (1944, Gunther von Fritsch & Robert Wise) 62

027. (Oct 30) THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN (2008, Ryuhei Kitamura)* 61