Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Day 8: Tourist Trap (1979)

"I loved her very much. I wanted to keep her memory alive forever. This was the best way I know how. That's the whole purpose of wax museums, you know. Keep the memory of the past alive. And it's easier for me this way."
- Mr. Slausen

Starring: Chuck Connors, Jocelyn Jones, Jon Van Ness, Robin Sherwood,Tanya Roberts, Dawn Jeffory-Nelson, Keith McDermott, Shailar Coby

Directed By: David Schmoeller

Trailer: "God help those who get caught in the Tourist Trap..."

Premise: A broken-down Jeep leads to a group of young friends taking refuge in a wax museum, thanks to the owner, who tells them NOT to explore the house next door...

My familiarity with this movie: Never heard of it until I started looking into Joe Bob Briggs' series "The Last Drive-In" on Shudder.

Notes, opinions, general thoughts (beware of spoilers):
  • Speaking of "The Last Drive-In", that show was how I watched this film, so I'll be discussing that episode as well as the movie.
  • Nice to see Joe Bob hasn't changed much since MonsterVision. He's nearly 20 years older and can now swear, since he's on Shudder instead of TNT, but aside from that? He's still got the same sense of humor and encyclopedic knowledge of horror films, and even the show's format is the same, (though with the mail girl reading viewer tweets instead of letters) and even ending the episode with a joke.
  • You gotta love how not even five minutes into the movie, we got a dude killed by an iron rod through the back (and the blood draining out of the rod and pouring onto the floor like a pipe is a nice touch)
  • This film is a favorite of Stephen King's.
  • I was wondering if there might be something ghostly about the moving objects, like a poltergeist. Telekinesis didn't even cross my mind (no pun intended).
  • This is the first 80s slasher, according to Joe Bob, and I can definitely see where he's coming from. That said, the genre was still in its infancy, so there's a few classic slasher elements that aren't quite there yet.
  • Three beautiful women deciding to go skinny-dipping because they're bored? Classic. No actual nudity being shown? That's a bit unusual for an 80s slasher.
  • Mr. Slausen's carrying a rifle as a reference to Chuck Connors' role as Lucas McCain in the 1958-63 TV series "The Rifleman".
  • The movie's distinctive soundtrack was a fifth of the movie's budget.
  • That mask is HELLA creepy. So are the singing dolls and mannequins. Brr.
  • How does Mr. Slausen keep that Dr Pepper fridge so well-stocked?
  • Allow me to introduce you to Tina.
  • Goodbye, Tina. We'll never forget you.
  • Completely forgot about the blanks in the gun.
  • Well-executed twist with Mr. Slausen pretending to be his brother.
  • This film was originally released with a PG rating, for...some reason.
Since the Tally of Terror was inspired by Joe Bob's "Drive-In Totals", I'm gonna give those as well, when applicable.

Drive-In Totals:
  • 6 dead bodies
  • No breasts (half a star deduction)
  • 1 dead Jeep
  • zombie mannequins
  • vicious attack dolls
  • crockery smashing
  • arm ripping
  • bimbo dunking
  • psychopathic cross-dressing
  • random telekinesis by a guy who can't spell "telekinesis"
  • iron rod through the back
  • ball peen hammer fight
  • mannequin dogpile
  • armed-and-dangerous animatronics
  • designer scarf strangling
  • excessive window crashing
  • musical score by Pino Donaggio
  • axe to the neck
  • multiple bimbos in hot pants and cutoff shorts
  • gratuitous Dr Pepper dispensing
  • heads roll
  • arms roll
  • legs roll
  • eyeballs roll
  • crowbar fu
  • shotgun fu
  • tomahawk fu
  • creepy mumbling on the soundtrack
  • Three and a half stars. Joe Bob says "Check it out."
The Tally of Terror is much shorter, since the above covered a lot:
  • several singing mannequins
  • CUTIE ALERT: Molly
  • The other two girls are attractive as well, but they're more "sexy" (not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you). Molly is just ADORABLE.
  • 1 dead wife
  • 1 dead brother
  • several masks
  • 1 soup dinner
  • odd product placement
  • skinny-dipping
Best scare: Death by waxing, with "Davey" describing exactly what Tina's experiencing, AS it's happening to her.

The Good:
  • Being an early example of the slasher film, the genre conventions haven't really been established yet, and thus the plot keeps twisting in unexpected ways, but it never feels like a cheat.
  • The soundtrack is FANTASTIC. The distinctive strings and the creepy singing of the dolls and mannequins is just phenomenal.
  • Chuck Connors as Mr. Slausen is just terrific. He's geuinely creepy and unsettling, and really puts it all into the role.
  • Props also go to the lovely Jocelyn Jones as Molly. She had great potential to be a scream queen, though I don't think she did much more horror besides this.
The Bad:
  • An entire generation of horror flicks have since used some elements from this film, intentionally or not. There's some future cliches here and there (the innocent blonde is definitely gonna be the Final Girl, for example). Though that's only a problem in a modern mindset, since they really weren't cliches at the time.
  • The writing is rather flat and clunky at times, not helped with the wooden performances of some of the cast.
Conclusion: Moody, stylish, unsettling, and weird. Not particularly gory and there's no real nudity, but the movie's still a lot of fun. Recommended.

Day 7: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

"People are being duplicated. And once it happens to you, you're part of this... thing. It almost happened to me!"
- Elizabeth Driscoll

Starring: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, Nancy Bellicec

Directed By: Philip Kaufman

Trailer: "SLEEP...SLEEP...SLEEP"

Premise: A health inspector and his colleague discover that humanity is being replaced by alien duplicates, devoid of emotion.

My familiarity with this movie: I've heard of it, and I've seen images of the movie's final shot, but never decided to watch it until my friend Aaron Long suggested it.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

31 Days of Horror, Day 6: Se7en

"There are seven deadly sins, Captain. Gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, pride, lust, and envy. Seven... You can expect five more of these."
-Detective William Somerset

Starring:  Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, John C. McGinley, R. Lee Ermey, and (SPOILER ALERT) Kevin Spacey

Directed By: David Fincher

Trailer: "Let he who is without sin try to survive"

Premise: Detective David Mills has been reassigned to a crapsack city to replace the retiring Detective Somerset, and as his first case, the two of them find themselves on the trail of a serial killer whose murders are based on the Seven Deadly Sins.

My familiarity with this movie:
Watched it in a film class at BCTC when I was a student there. I loved it.

Day 5: Rosemary's Baby (1968)

"What have you done to him? What have you done to his eyes, you maniacs!?"
- Rosemary Woodhouse

Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans, Ralph Bellamy, Charles Grodin, Patsy Kelly

Directed By: Roman Polanski

Trailer: "Pray for Rosemary's Baby"

Premise: A young couple, Guy and Rosemary Woodhouse, move into an apartment with a sordid and supernatural past. After becoming pregnant, strange things begin happening to Rosemary, and she starts fearing for her baby's saftey...

My familiarity with this movie: Heard it mentioned in an episode of Seinfeld, and picked up a few other references to it in the years following. Unfortunately, this means that the twist was kinda spoiled for me already...

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Day 4: Blacula (1972)

"You shall pay, black prince. I shall place a curse of suffering on you that will doom you to a living hell. I curse you with my name. You shall be... Blacula!"
- Dracula

Starring: William Marshall, Denise Nicholas, Vonetta McGee, Gordon Pinsent, Thalmus Rasulala, Emily Yancy, Lance Taylor Sr., Logan Field, Ted Harris, Rick Metzler

Directed By: William Crain

Trailer: "Dracula's soul brother..."

Premise: In 1780, Prince Mamuwalde of the African Abani tribe, and his wife, are sent to Count Dracula to ask his aid ending the slave trade. It...doesn't go well, and Mamuwalde is bitten by Dracula and cursed to be a vampire himself. Nearly 200 years later, in LA, Mamuwalde is awakened by two interior decorators, and begins his reign of terror...

My familiarity with this movie: As a teenager, I learned that the Dracula from "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy" was an homage/parody of this movie, though I never watched it until now, having since developed a taste for blaxploitation and 70s horror.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Day 3: The Descent (2005)

"I'm an English teacher, not fucking Tomb Raider."
- Beth O'Brien

Starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, MyAnna Buring, Saskia Mulder, Nora-Jane Noone, Oliver Milburn (the only man in the cast!), Molly Kayll
Directed By: Neil Marshall
Trailer: "Claustrophobia. Disorientation. Hallucination. Fear."

Premise: A year after losing her husband and daughter in a car accident, Sarah's friends take her spleunking...unfortunately, there comes a cave-in, and the ladies soon discover that they've got bigger problems than claustrophobia.

My familiarity with this movie: None. Did a Google search for "best horror movies", and this one came up as one I haven't seen.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Day 2: Dawn of the Dead, Director's Cut (1978)

"What are they doing? Why do they come here?"
"Some kind of instinct. Memory of what they used to do. This was an important place in their lives."
-Fran and Stephen

Starring: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger, Gaylen Ross
Directed By: George A. Romero
Trailer: "The night of the Living Dead has ended. The Dawn of the Dead begins..."