31 Days of Horror Part 2: You Can’t Piss on Hospitality. I Won’t Allow It!

I’ve watched a bunch more horror movies this month. I realized I didn’t actually post a list last time, so this time I’ll start by listing the ones I talked about last time, and then start fresh with the new ones. So here you go.

1. Leviathan (1989)
2. Eyes Without a Face (1960)
3. Trollhunter (2010)
4. Dracula (1931)
5. Dracula’s Daughter (1936)
6. Headhunters (2010)
7. Soultangler (1987)
8. Slime City (1988)
9. Hour of the Wolf (1968)
10. Landscape Suicide (1986)

That brings us to now. I’ve watched fifteen more horror movies since then. Some of them were great, some of them were not so great, and some of them were pretty terrible. I’ll start by listing the order in my list, the title, and then I’ll give you a little bitty mini-review. Because I’m a member of the itty-bitty-review-committee. I plan to break this up into smaller collected chunks so you don’t go crazy or lose interest. From here on out, I’ll probably be alternating between this format, where I discuss lesser movies or give itty-bitty reviews, and a longer format, where I blather on at length about movies that I particularly liked (or maybe disliked). Here are the first six, in a shorter format.

11. Sweet Home (1989)

This movie was so weird. Strange Japanese horror, released in the late-1980s in conjunction with an NES video game. Like, literally, that trailer plays right before the movie starts. The tone of this thing was all over the place– over-the-top, Noh-style Japanese slapstick, and then some of the most horrifying things you can imagine. Then back to the bouncy, goofy-music slapstick. The most unsettling and terrifying part about this movie was that someone thought pairing super-bouncy goofy music with horrible, horrible terror was a good idea. It really heightens the “what the shit” factor.

Also, there’s a great face-melting scene.

12. Troll 2 (1990)

I’d never seen this one before. It’s one of the worst horror movies of all time. I’d seen Best Worst Movie, which is a documentary film all about Troll 2 and how terrible it is, and about how people love it in spite of it being terrible. Honestly, after watching the documentary, I felt like I didn’t really need to see Troll 2 itself. But what the hell, right?

It was… it was pretty bad. I enjoyed it thoroughly all the way through.

The acting is atrocious, the dialogue is straight-up laughable most of the way through, the costumes were trash, and the editing is questionable at best. I enjoyed it all the way through.

No screenshots necessary or recommended.

13. Dead Ringers (1988)

I’d already watched this one, but I’m giving myself a few passes this month to break up the mysterious new horror flicks. This is one of Cronenberg’s best, with Jeremy Irons giving one of his best performances in a double role as twin gynecologists, one of who slowly spirals into drug addiction and madness, pulling his brother with him.

I cannot stress how incredible Jeremy Irons is in this movie.

Highly, highly recommended.

14. Deranged (1974)

I’d heard about this movie for a long time. It’s a dramatization of the story of Ed Gein. It’s from the 70s. I had always assumed that it came out after “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” as sort of a low-grade effort to cash in on that movie’s success.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This movie came out in 1974, the same year as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it came out first. Also, the movies are trying to accomplish entirely different things. Where Chainsaw is aiming for– and providing– balls-out horror and dread for nearly the full running time, Deranged is much slower and creepier. It follows the actual criminal history of Ed Gein much more closely than any other fictionalized account that I’ve seen, and it does it with style and panache. It was filmed mostly in Canada, and the bleak, snowy filming locations provide a fairly accurate representation of what it’s like to experience an upper-Midwestern winter.

Roberts Blossom plays “Ezra Cobb,” the Ed Gein stand-in, to perfection. A little slow, a lot creepy, and he even manages a Wisconsin accent fairly well. He plays Ez perfectly, displaying that steely, midwestern work-ethic resolve, except instead of farming, his work-ethic is devoted to taxidermy, grave robbery, and murrrrrrder.

The set design is also spot-on. It seems like they must have scouted locations and just straight-up entered a late-70s rural farmhouse.

And that makeup. Woo, that makeup.

About halfway through the movie, I became so impressed with the makeup that I actually broke out my phone and looked it up. Turns out this was one of Tom Savini’s early efforts. You might recognize Savini as the makeup / SFX guy from Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Friday the 13th, Maniac, The Burning… he’s famous for a reason, and his talents are on wonderful display here.

I can’t recommend this enough. Four out of four hatchets.

15. Killer Party (1986)

There’s a subset of horror movies, of which I am a huge fan, devoted to Rock ‘n’ Roll Horror. I’ve got about fifty rock horror movies in my collection. Most of them are… not good. There are a few gems. Killer Party is in that collection, but it’s on the periphery. This movie is famous for, among other things, a ten-minute fakeout opening sequence, featuring a movie within a movie within a music video. It’s pretty hilarious and weird, and I’ve watched that ten-minute sequence more than once.

I figured that’s close enough to “never watched” to count.

Killer Party is a pretty straightforward 80s sorority slasher flick. It does some things really well.

Fun enough, when you’re in the mood for an 80s slasher flick.

16. Deliver Us From Evil (2014)

Eric Bana, Joel McHale, Edgar Ramirez. All dudes I like. This movie came out and sank like a stone. I wanted to see it in the theater, but I somehow missed the brief run, which is unfortunate. I’m glad I got a chance to see it on VOD.

This is a pretty well-directed possession / exorcism movie. Everything’s staged and shot beautifully. Some of the acting is hit-or-miss, however; Eric Bana drips authenticity until he opens his mouth and uses a Brooklyn accent. About every fourth time, I got flashes of Doug Hutchison as “Loony Bin Jim” in Punisher War Zone, which is to say extremely campy. I don’t think Bana’s playing it for laughs, and it’s fairly easy to suspend disbelief, but it is a definite factor to keep in mind when watching this movie. Joel McHale is incredible as his partner, a smartass cop who prefers knifeplay. That said, I like Joel McHale in just about anything, and I think he was underused in this movie.

I watched this late at night, which helped in terms of enjoyment, and lowered the eye-rolling quotient. The plot is fairly by-the-numbers, as possession / exorcism movies go, and the fun is the same as watching ballet or a complicated dance routine, just being able to see where individuals add flair, how well they execute particular moves, and where they fall down flat. Maybe I’m just inured to horror movies of this type at this point in my life– I am an old man– but there weren’t many scares in this movie. I did enjoy the execution, however.

Solid six out of ten. I didn’t bother taking screenshots.

And that brings this edition of “31 Nights of Horror” to a close. Please join us tomorrow, when I’ll spend twelve hundred words discussing titties, the paintings of the old Dutch masters, and the painful existential horror of being alive.

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