A man travels from Rome to New York to investigate his sister’s apartment building, which she is convinced is related to a mysterious book, “The Three Mothers.” No mysteries are solved, but lots of weird shit happens.
This isn’t a holiday movie; it’s a followup to “Susperia,” a favorite of mine, and I decided it would be a better watch tonight than a creepy Santa Claus movie. And it was, even though it’s weirder than “Susperia” (which ranks in the top 10 of weird movies I’ve seen).
There’s not much of a plot, at least not one that makes any sense, and there are bizarre events that can only be described as dream-like. It’s more of a visual poem than a film, with echoing imagery of water, wind, fire, slamming doors, cats, and blood, interspersed with brutal murders and suspenseful chases. I’m sure there’s an underlying reason to everything that happens, but I found it was more fun to just accept it, as one might a strange dream, and go along for the ride. You’re in good, if not safe, hands with Dario Argento.
In 1974, young Terry commits a brutal murder and frames his twin brother Todd. Ten years later, Todd escapes the mental hospital and heads home for Thanksgiving, and Terry goes on a gore-splattered killing spree.
This movie is a total gas; there’s absolutely nothing to it except gore and skin and bad ’80s fashion (which is not intentionally bad, of course, just perfectly documented). The acting is abysmal, the effects are awesomely over the top (my favorite is the cut-in-half-psychiatrist), and the blood splatter is plentiful. Terry’s bloody romp through his mother’s apartment complex could be the structure for an anthropological study of late-’80s American suburbia, complete with Atari games, Izod shirts, tequila lessons, and Creme de Banana liqueur.
“It’s not cranberry sauce …”
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
An American corporation digging in a Finnish mountain unearth the grave of the real Santa Claus. He’s not quite as jolly as the stories have made out, and a group of intrepid local reindeer hunters have to battle his “little helpers” to save their children.
This is more of a fantasy–albeit a dark fantasy–than a horror, but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable romp. The Santa myth (with a Santa who resembles an overgrown Krampus) is horrifying, and the interpretation of Santa’s “little helpers” as naked, bloodthirsty brutes gives a dark edge to the suburban shopping mall versions. The reindeer hunters are equally hapless and charming, and the lead child’s growth from a timid little boy to a bold hero is nice. It was a delightfully dark Christmas tale, and definitely better than most.
It’s Halloween, and Michael Myers is coming home.
What better movie to close out my little project than John Carpenter’s classic “Halloween”? I think this one still holds up 40 years later; there’s lots of quiet tension between the intense kills, and the silent, unstoppable killer remains a terrifying figure. Though after seeing a few giallo movies this month, I’m also surprised by the lack of gore–these are very clean and bloodless kills; if Dario Argento had directed these, there would have been rivers of blood. The body count is also quite low by slasher standards–only four on-screen deaths and one off-screen (not counting the two dogs). This is really more a tension and suspense movie than a gore fest, and it’s darned good at what it sets out to do.
The Red Shoes
A woman leaves her philandering husband and moves into a drab apartment near the subway station with her daughter. She finds a pair of red shoes on the subway platform one day and brings them home, never imagining that they’re cursed by a history of jealousy, betrayal, vengeance, and madness.
My third Asian horror movie this month, and once again I am not disappointed. This is a stylish and creepy movie, with a surprising amount of gore and a ton of atmosphere. I liked the connection back to the Japanese occupation of Korea during World War II, and the blurring of dream and reality. Does it all hold together logically? No, not at all; it’s quite off the rails in more than a few places. But it’s an enjoyable ride.
Jonathan Davis goes to a small German village to look for his missing father, and hears the strange story of a meteor, madness, and an impossible color.
This was a solid adaptation of Lovecraft’s story. I liked the use of black and white, and the subtlety of the horror: this is a story of creeping dread, not leaping monsters, and the film captures that well.
When a high school girl survives a Satanic sacrifice gone awry, she becomes possessed by a blood-hungry demon and only her best friend can stop the carnage.
This is a fun little movie, with snappy dialogue and likeable characters; Diablo Cody’s writing really comes through. There’s a good amount of gore–I especially liked the projectile-vomiting-of-blood scenes–but the movie is played more for laughs than scares. There was also some decent metal in the soundtrack, despite the emo look and sound of the in-movie band Low Shoulder, always a plus. It doesn’t break any new ground in the horror-comedy genre, but it’s a great watch.
A mysterious killer is slashing the people around an American writer in Rome in ways that are reminiscent of his most recent bestselling novel.
This is peak giallo: more style than substance, lots of Technicolor blood (SO MUCH BLOOD!), jiggling breasts, a mystery with more red herrings than clues, some insane twists, and no piece of scenery left unchewed by the cast. Over the top and loads of fun in the way that only Italian slasher movies can be.
In the last days that the mostly-empty Yankee Pedlar Inn is open, two amateur ghost hunters search for the spirit of the jilted bride who is supposed to have killed herself in the honeymoon suite.
This is a good, though not great, ghost story movie. The characters, especially Claire and Luke, are likeable, and the atmosphere is spooky. There are few outright scares, but they’re effective when they happen. The tone overall is lighter than most contemporary horror movies, with lots of banter and teasing between Claire and Luke. I couldn’t help but notice the incidental music in the soundtrack, which gave the movie a 1980s vibe, which was enjoyable except in one crucial scene where it interferes with an important plot point–is that the sound of the piano in the lobby mysteriously playing by itself, or is it an intrusive bit of soundtrack?
Like most such movies, this one hinges on the characters’ willingness to plunge into unlit spaces like basements and attics in the middle of the night; my general unwillingness to do this probably means that I’ll never have a ghost story movie made based on my tragic demise. At least in this one we can explain it away by the consumption of Schlitz. I also have determined that even the cheesier ghost story movies are scarier for me than the most shockingly gory slasher movies.
A demon-possessed bed devours (with yellow foamy bile) anyone who lies on it. Its exploits are narrated by a ghost trapped behind a painting in the bed’s room.
This movie is a horror, but not of the kind it intended. I think it wanted to be a serious art house film, but the execution is so abysmal, and the premise so absurd, that it’s just barely watchable. I can imagine it being fun in a “Rocky Horror” kind of setting, but at least “Rocky Horror” has catchy music, this movie just has weird crunching and gurgling sounds.