October 1st-Creature from the Black Lagoon from 1954 (Director: Jack Arnold, Writers: Harry Essex and Arthur A. Ross with Story by Maurice Zimm, Stars: Richard Carlson, Julia Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno, Runtime: 79 min)
Okay, so one of the classic monster films from Universal. Scientists are deep in the Amazon looking for a strange fossil. Their investigation starts getting knocked off by the gill-man monster. The film is… okay… It looks good. I was surprised at how nice the underwater sequences came out. The creature looks pretty decent too. The acting was strong among all the leads, there was an energy even if you did not care for the characters. The basic flow of the film and story make sense but other than that, I found it kind of boring. The creature attacks, and kills, and those scenes are shrug worthy. Overall, rather lackluster was to kick things off.
October 2nd-The Neon Demon from 2016 (Director: Nicolas Winding Refn, Writers: Mary Laws, Nicolas Winding Refn, Polly Stenham, Stars: Elle Fanning, Runtime: 117 min)
What a stylish, beautiful looking movie with a great score. Performances that ran from subtle to creepy to disturbed. Now the negatives, pretty much everything else. I seriously can’t say anything for the story. The actual story itself is pretty thin and the film could have used some more violent edge or psychological terror. A young aspiring model played by Elle Fanning is making heads turn, and some are seething with jealousy. Other stuff goes on. This is a beautiful film, one of the best looking of the year but as a film I give it a passing grade, glad I saw it, probably never recommend it.
October 3rd-I Drink Your Blood from 1970 (Writer/Director: David E. Durston, Stars: Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury and Lynn Lowry, Runtime: 90 min)
Interesting ideas that never work. Starts out as one film-a hippie Satan cult and turns into a film about blood infection, precursor to movies like Rabid and the Crazies, all co-starring Lynn Lowry who was in this film. Another piece of trivia, one of the first films to earn an X rating for violence. Does not change the fact this film was pretty boring. Some interesting ideas, the fact the kid infected the Satanists to get abc them was morbid. But overall the film was a hard pass. I can imagine this was an amazing piece of work in its day but now its just bland looking, annoying music, barely passable performances, and not enough scares or gore to really mean anything.
October 4th-Night of the Comet from 1984 (Director/Writer: Thom Eberhardt, Stars: Catherine Mary Stewart, Robert Beltran and Kelli Maroney, Runtime: 95 min)
Welcome to the 80s apocalypse! Interesting scifi/horror film. A comet does something tot he Earth, most people evaporate into dust and others become pseudo-zombies. Two sisters and some other dude talk, wander around and occasionally fight some baddies. The biggest bads though are the Think Tank scientists who were hiding away when the comet flew by. Look, there is a good film in here somewhere. The lead has spunk, attitude, kinda geek. Her sisters annoying but a good sounding board. Loved the Girls Wanna Have Fun montage in the mall. The think tank as the bad guys is smart. However it moves slow, not enough action, not enough zombie creatures (though there was one pretty interesting on in the mall sequence) and some of the performances were thin. That said, stuck the landing. Overall a fascinating cult classic, glad I saw it, would be prime for a remake. Or a good base for a TV show since thats all the rage too…
October 5th-Carnival of Souls from 1962 (Director: Herk Harvey, Writers: Herk Harvey and John Clifford Stars: Candace Hilligoss, Runtime: 84 min)
The movie that wouldn’t die? That’s what a documentary calls Carnival of Souls, which is included on the Criterion collection. A documentary made in ’89. Made by makers of industrial and educational films. This is a film about a woman who survives a car wreck. She moves to Utah to work as an organist at a church but appears to being stalked by a weird man, all while growing curious of an abandoned carnival (Saltair). The film is strange, atmospheric, and like a nightmare in parts. Some of the performances were lousy, editing and sound at times is a little off, but… Its good. Candace Hilligoss delivers a strong performance with a character who is not a Church woman (working for a Church is just a job) and even states she has little interest in a boyfriend (though she does get a little involved in with a neighbor but maybe more for security). I can see why this was one of those underrated gems, and its interesting the film gained a second life through late night TV and reissues in 1989. In that year the film got media coverage, which is cool. The documentary reveals that a processing error messed up a reel of film with a scene the director liked. I bought this film last Christmas and had not seen it but now watching it, I feel I didn’t waste my money. Glad I got it.
October 6th-The Little Shop of Horrors from 1960 (Director: Roger Corman, Writer: Charles B. Griffith, Stars: Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles with Jack Nicholsan, Runtime: 73 min)
The film the inspired the musical that inspired one of my favorite musicals. The story about a man who raises a man eating plant at a floral shop. Yep… This movie really could use some songs, I was waiting for Audrey Jr. to kick out the jams. But seriously, a good looking film with a good cut of humor. Whether Dick Miller (a Corman regular, and star of Bucket of Blood, which was filmed just prior to this), Jack Nicholson (playing the masochist at the dentists), or the two cheery school girls who need flowers for the school float. Its a black comedy after all. Overall, glad I saw it, it was cool but can’t touch the musical.
October 7th-Hush from 2016 (Director: Mike Flanagan, Writers: Mike Flanagan and Kate Siegel, Stars: John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco, and Kate Siegel, Runtime: 81 min)
Damn. God damn! Excellent film, best of what I seen this far. Simple, direct, and tense. A deaf writer finds herself matching wits with a serial killer trying to get into her house. He finds out she’s mute and takes pleasure in toying with her. There are much more details about the actual plot but I went in with little knowledge other than the lead was mute and that the reviews were very good. The directing is on point, while never flashy it is quite effective. Kate Siegel does a pitch perfect performance. The killer is an asshat that you want to die. A lot to love about this film and high marks all around for this genius thriller. Thanks Brandy for the recommendation.
So week one is wrapped up and only one film I’d consider a clunker, even though it had some interesting elements to it. How would I rank the films thus far?
2. Little Shop of Horrors
3. Tie: Neon Demon and Carnival of Souls
4. Creature from the Black Lagoon
5. Night of the Comet
6. I Drink Your Blood