Michael Hartford

writer, photographer, programmer, dad

Tag: movie (page 2 of 4)

Daily Horror Movie: The Innkeepers

The Innkeepers

The Innkeepers

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.

Daily Horror Movie: Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

Death Bed

Death Bed

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.

Daily Horror Movie: The Corpse of Anna Fritz

The Corpse of Anna Fritz

The Corpse of Anna Fritz

When a beautiful starlet mysteriously dies, an orderly in the hospital where her body is taken invites his friends to the morgue to ogle her. Ogling turns to more than ogling, and things take increasingly dark turns.

Really dark, but a really satisfying ending. Part of me feels a little bad for Pau, the orderly, because he’s rather weak and ineffectual, but only a very, very, little bad. There are some very tense scenes, and a real race-against-time feel throughout that helps the suspense build. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s enjoyable (at least after the icky beginning …), and it’s nice to see people get what they deserve.

Daily Horror Movie: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

A group of young people stumble across a houseful of cannibals in the Texas countryside. Things go pretty much as you’d expect.

This contains exactly what it says on the package: there’s massacring, there’s Texas, and there’s a chainsaw. Leatherface’s chainsaw dances are kind of sublime in their ridiculous grace. The screaming in the last half hour is intense, and quite understandable given the situation, but it loses its impact pretty quickly and becomes just background noise.

As one of the first slasher movies, this is certainly an historically important movie; and as a feat of film making, it’s pretty impressive: the tone is perfect, the effects are restrained but scary, and the pace is fast. I’m not convinced it holds up–I would say it’s definitely showing its age more than “Night of the Living Dead” does–but it’s certainly no worse than its countless imitators, and often much better than some recent attempts to tap into the “Chainsaw” vibe.

Daily Horror Movie: Hush

Hush

Hush

A deaf woman living alone in the woods is terrorized by a psychotic killer.

This felt a bit like a gory version of “Wait Until Dark,” with a deaf rather than blind protagonist trying to find a way to flee, hide, or fight. The killer is never explained, and a few of the close calls are a little too close to be believable, but overall this was a good, intense, scary movie.

Daily Horror Movie: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

Something is stalking the dregs of Bad City. Something dark, pretty, lonely, and stylish.

This is an Iranian-American art house vampire movie. Indeed, it’s probably THE Iranian-American art house vampire movie, as I can’t imagine it could be confused with any other movie. It’s very stylish, very odd, with a lot of layers to unpack: it’s a feminist commentary on Iranian culture, a table-turning horror movie where we sympathize with the monster and loathe the victims, a fantasy in which men fear the night and women walk boldly in the shadows. Though it veers into kitsch at some points with its extremely stylized scene setting, it’s a wonderful and sometimes frightening movie. It’s certainly not a jump-scare horror thrill ride, but it is a quietly brooding and disturbing variation on a classic tale.

Daily Horror Movie: It Comes At Night

It Comes at Night

It Comes at Night

A family hiding from a deadly plague reluctantly welcome another family into their home. Things go badly for all involved.

This is a grim, quiet, paranoid movie, a zombie survival tale without zombies. There’s a current of distrust running through every relationship, and even warm moments turn dark. And in the end it just doesn’t matter … I liked it despite (because of?) its nihilism.

Also, is this the same house where “A Quiet Place” and “Hereditary” were shot? It seems that the wood-paneled-house-in-the-forest is the new Victorian mansion or Dutch Revival home of the modern horror movie.

Daily Horror Movie: Spider Baby

Spider Baby

Spider Baby

Relatives seeking control of the family estate invade the strange solitude of the last generation of the Merrye family, three siblings afflicted with a regressive disorder that has made them morally and intellectually stunted, overseen by their kindly but ineffectual chauffeur Bruno. Things don’t go particularly well for anyone involved.

If John Waters had directed a Universal monster movie, something like “Spider Baby” would have been the result. Though soaked in camp–creepy cobwebs, spiders, rats, and horrific things in the basement–the cast plays it mostly straight, without the knowing winks of so many horror comedies. (Though the references to the Wolfman are a nice touch, given that Lon Chaney, Jr., plays the apparently harmless Bruno.) The performances of the three “children” are over the top and unhinged while frighteningly believable. This is a weird, fun little movie that deserves its cult status.

Daily Horror Movie: Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead

Seven people are trapped in an isolated farmhouse during a zombie apocalypse. As deadly as the shambling, hungry dead outside are, the real danger comes from themselves.

I probably haven’t seen this movie for 30 years, but I felt that it still held up. Its choppy, grainy look gives it a kind of timelessness, and while the acting, special effects, and premise are fair to preposterous, the core ideas are solid; every zombie movie since “Night of the Living Dead” is in some way a response this wonderful, horrible, thoroughly original film.

Daily Horror Movie: Malevolent

Malevolent

Malevolent

A brother and sister have a good scam going, pretending to be paranormal investigators who can banish the ghosts from their clients’ homes. But then they come across a home, and a client, who are not what they expected.

Meh. There were some good things about this movie: I liked the nightmare of the eyeless mother, the character of the alcoholic Scottish grandfather (who disappears from the film pretty early on), the creepy schoolgirl ghosts, the conflicted heroine. But it was largely predictable from the start of the scenario. Good production and decent acting in service of a forgettable story.

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