31 Horror Films for October: Cat People, They Beyond, and Zombie.

October 4th – I enjoyed a few cups of coffee and watched Cat People (released in 1942).

Cat People is a Val Lewton production for RKO, and one of the things which separates these 40’s Val Lewton films from the rest of the B-movies of its time is the sleek lighting and quality cinematography. While this isn’t one of my personal favorites, the film features decent acting and an interesting subtext regarding the primitive subconscious and sexual desire.

Incidentally, Cat People was directed by Jacques Tourneur, whom I greatly admire for directing one of my favorite horror films of all time — Night of the Demon (1957).

Cat People

 

October 5th – The Beyond (1981)

Directed by the legendary Italian filmmaker, Lucio Fulci!

While The Beyond features inconsistencies in its plot, it may be adequately argued that this was intentional. The film plays off of surreal qualities, making it a sort of nightmarish hallucination. There are many moments of shock in this film, the most cringe-inducing perhaps being the scene were a bunch of spiders gang up on a guy and feast upon his flesh (even going to the extreme of biting a chunk out of his tongue and destroying his left eyeball).

Like I said, cringe-inducing. Also cringe-worthy, unfortunately, is some of the awkward dialogue which take place among characters. However, this awkwardness is about par for b-flicks, isn’t it?

Note: there is much symbolism to be found about eyes in this film. It seems to suggest that evil can make us blind.

The ending of this film is fantastic because it reveals something greater, more cosmic, more expansive than the land of the living — hence, ‘The Beyond’.

The Beyond

 

October 6th – Zombie (1979, released as Zombi 2 in Italy as a sequel to Dawn of the Dead). 

Zombie is the film which launched Lucio Fulci to cult stardom. It brings zombies back to their voodoo origins, yet retains their relatively contemporary flesh-eating nature. Now, I’ll take Romero’s Dawn of the Dead over Fulci’s Zombie any day, but one thing I’ll say about Zombie: The make-up on these zombies are highly original and unique, and far more provocative than the simplistic blue/purple faces of the zombies in Dawn of the Dead.

This flick has its share of bad acting and credulous dialogue, but remains very entertaining. The scene where a zombie battles a shark is fantastic — a scene, in fact, which was filmed without Fulci’s permission! I’m happy that it was.

Zombie

31 Horror Films in 31 Days of October

It’s now a contemporary tradition to watch a horror film for each day of the month of October in celebration of Halloween. This is what I intend to do, simply because I love horror films, I enjoy sharing horror cinema with fellow fans of the genre, and most importantly, because it seems like a fun thing to do!

Generally, I prefer watching old horror films from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. Yet I’ll be starting the month off with some more recent cinematic terrors.

For Day #1, I watched Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem (released in 2012).

I think The Lords is among Mr. Zombie’s best work as a writer and director. The film features a creepy, building tension which ends in quite an epic pay off at the end. The cast is especially great and the characters are relateable. For example, I felt much empathy for Heidi Hawthorne (played by Sheri Moon Zombie) and her increasing psychological disintegration and habitual relapse into drug-addiction. The actresses cast for the part of the witches were superb, namely: Judy Geeson, Meg Foster, Patricia Quinn, and Dee Wallace. The handsome Bruce Davison also plays a scholar on the Salem Witch Trials in this film.

With lots of vibrant cinematography, beautiful set designs, solid acting, and a plot with substance, The Lords of Salem really packs a creepy punch.

The Lords.jpg

 

For Day #2 – I decided to watch a Rob Zombie film I’ve never seen before, 31 (released in 2016).

Unfortunately, I don’t have much to say about 31, other than I didn’t enjoy it. It’s got plenty of gore, but zero substance. The characters were flimsy and I couldn’t find myself rooting for any of them. Maybe I did root for Sheri’s character to some extent, but that’s mostly because I’m a fan of other roles she’s played in other movies.

The plot is standard with nothing new brought to the table. The ending, too, was disappointing. The most interesting part of the film for me, was Richard Brake’s  intense opening monologue.

31

 

Day #3 – I spent a cozy rainy morning watching The Blair Witch Project (released in 1999).

What I find intriguing about the Blair Witch is that we never really see the witch, and there is no gore in the film. Yet make no mistake, this is one creepy flick. The sound effects are very effective, allowing the audience to want to lean in, and, much like the three main characters, ask, “What the hell was that!?”

The actors are especially good in performing as average, young Americans attempting to make a documentary about a local legend. The performances seems so natural and effortless that it makes the film seem very real. In fact, the marketing for The Blair Witch Project utilized this element (is it a film, or is it really found footage from three missing documentary filmmakers?) previous to its release in theaters — with great success. The first film to be wide release and marketed on the internet, Blair Witch grossed $250 million dollars worldwide on a $60,000 dollar budget!

Blair Witch