Sunday, October 11, 2009

Halloween Lead-in

Every year at this time, most bloggers with a heavy interest in either horror, or film, or both, usually do a countdown of favorite movies for the season... I'm not immune to that, but I tend to be lazy in either watching the films or writing about them. It's a heavy commitment to devote that much time to movie watching; try to balance 2 tv series, current discs for a review column, plus catching up on backlog -- no wonder most critics are weird.

Plus, I tend to not go for a lot of the tried and true -- I will bust out the original TCM; but there's only so many times one can watch HALLOWEEN or EVIL DEAD and really find something fresh; I may watch THE EXORCIST, but I don't pull that out on a regular basis... plus, it's NOT "The Version You've Never Seen", but the Theatrical Version (which I've never really seen - and with the good Friedkin commentary). I tend to go for the obscure and little known, because I tend to find some gems there... there's the just-out-on DVD TRICK 'R TREAT; I SELL THE DEAD and a nice little gem called THE BURROWERS that I found on Netflix, a horror-western that should find a wider audience; and ANTICHRIST, which kinda fits the bill under Weird Horror.

Because a lot of this stuff is so obscure, it's hard to make a recommendation to see it, when you can't even FIND it... even more frustrating is wanting to recommend things that don't exist on DVD. Like this -

If you'd seen this some 15 -18 years ago (as I did - in the Theater! - and other fans of obscurity also writing on the Net), you'd be wondering why the hell there is no legit DVD of this yet.... I mean, James Earl Jones and Brad Dourif --- plus, it's actually a pretty good film. If you don't catch the pun in the title, you're not gonna get this at all. When a travelling clerk and a bounty hunter share a camp overnight and pass the time swapping the aforementioned tales, you know that things are gonna get just a tad... well, grim. Not a lot of gore, but there doesn't need to be.
The humor is pitch black and the acting is way above average than what you would expect.
You'd probably like it... IF you could even find it, that is. Only on VHS and maybe laserdisc -- as good as this was, it was the director's only feature film. And even MORE obscure than this, is a supposed sequel, also with Dourif, but made by others called GRIM PRAIRIE TALES II: RESCUE PARTY, of which there's no info on, other than it was made in the late 1990's

And even more obscure than that is EYES OF FIRE:

Made in the 80's, some may remember this popping up on video shelves in the late 80's - essentially a ghost story set in the late 1700's, when the country was just being settled by Europeans, involving an exiled minister and his followers who unknowingly decide to settle in a area where even the local natives avoid -- and we all know what that means...
EYES OF FIRE is atmospheric - translate that into slow-moving. But hell, it's not supposed to be POLTERGEIST - when was the last time you saw a horror film set in the 1700's that didn't feature Vincent Price and/or Christopher Lee? This was also shot in Missouri, which was surprising... and despite the 'atmospheric' quality, it has quite a few jumps that were very nasty to endure, watching this late at night by myself... again, something that's a nice change from the usual - IF, you can find it, of course. This did get a DVD release, but only overseas, it seems.

Consider the above, "public service"...

I'll try to find a few more gems before the month is up; but a very good Halloween countdown is a tv series: ROD SERLING'S NIGHT GALLERY.

One of the most unsettling title sequences ever on television... it announced that they meant to scare the shit out of you - and even though it looks pretty quaint today, they mainly succeeded.

NIGHT GALLERY is usually thought of being a failed TWILIGHT ZONE, which does both shows a disservice -- TZ did occasionally skirt into horror, but was more concerned with social commentary under the guise of science-fiction and fantasy; and although Serling did have plans for GALLERY to follow the same path, he didn't have full control of the show - the producer was Jack Laird, and the show is as much his as Serling's.

2 years of the show have been released to DVD, but to start out, you'll want to get the second season - that's the one with most of the shows that people remember... the Lovecraft adaptations ("Pickman's Model" and "Cool Air"), "The Caterpillar", "Green Fingers", and a lot more. It's also the show that had the "funny" little skits... which have their own "charm", I suppose. But, some 35-4o years later, you realize that they were among the first that set the stage for 'horror-comedy'; and NG was probably the last, great anthology show that managed to last longer than 2 years, and was a big influence on a lot of people working today.

Both seasons are available on DVD; the third year hasn't been released yet (but it was the weakest year) - you can also watch episodes on YouTube.

One does need to cleanse the palate after an intense lineup, so I chose to finally watch a British picture I've heard about for some time, but never had an opportunity to see until now - PSYCHOMANIA - available on Netflix, and other places.

What is it? Let the following clip enlighten you: