Category Archives: Movies & TV

Tuesday Terror: The Legacy (1978)

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When I was a kid, I had a daydream that one day someone would show up with a letter declaring that I was the long lost relative of an insanely rich person who lived overseas. It would be the start of a great adventure that would end in me swimming through gold a la Scrooge McDuck.

Lucky for me, that did not happen. Horror movies prove that being called off to foreign lands to claim your rightful inheritance can be deadly.

In the Legacy, Maggie Walsh (Katharine Ross) is an architect hired to work on a castle/mansion in the countryside. When she arrives with boyfriend Pete (Sam Elliot) in tow, she discovers there is no job—just a weekend gathering of some of the wealthiest people in the world. Her would-be boss is on the brink of death.Those gathered are waiting to see which one of them will inherit his vast fortune.

When the assembled start to die off under strange circumstances, one has to wonder if there is a killer among them or if a supernatural hand is pulling the strings.

This is a fun movie. All of the prospective heirs have committed evil acts in the past. What’s (another) murder or two if it means coming into the ultimate fortune? Maggie and Pete are the only innocent guests in the batch but innocence is no protection against fate.

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Pete is a very interesting character. He wants to take care of and protect Maggie; the “we need to get out of here” instinct kicks in pretty quickly. Yet, he can’t make a great escape happen. He’s worried but manly. Circumstances that would scare others don’t bother Maggie too much.

The staff of the castle isn’t put off by the deaths at all. They’ve seen the process so many times before…

Tips:
1) Be careful when you make a deal. The devil is in the details.
2) When you inherit something, you get the history/horror/baggage that comes along with it.

Tuesday Terror: Death Bed – The Bed That Eats

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The Death Bed is about a demon possessed bed that kills people in dramatic, long drawn-out fashion. This is such a bad movie. I watched in disbelief. When you think the movie has hit rock bottom, lo and behold, there is another layer of schlock.

I imagine that it was a fun concept on paper that the filmmaker didn’t have the coins to pull off. And the story is just…

There are so many other angles the writer could have explored. For example: Laying all night in a nest of evil, what would that do to a person’s mind? But no, our bed has to physically demolish people with bad effects.

If you are looking for a so bad it’s good experience, this isn’t it. In the words of Queen Bey, don’t hurt yourself. You need a nap? Watch this snippet.

Tip: Set your alarm before watching.

Tuesday Terror: The Guardian (1990)

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A yuppie couple hires Camilla to look after their newborn. Little do they know, their new nanny is a Druid who kidnaps babies to fuse/sacrifice them to a special tree (the kids become wood carvings). There are wolves…and a killer tree. Yeah.

Unlike other family centered horror movies, it’s the father who knows something is wrong almost immediately. He’s having weird dreams, etc. However, he doesn’t act until evidence puts itself squarely in his ear. Though she is skeptical when first confronted by the truth, it doesn’t take long for mom to get on board.

There are also some nice horror moments (killer tree! wolves!) leading up to the “we have to get our kid away from her” scene. Just when you think the movie is going to whimper out with a weak ending, it turns into a weird 4-way battle royal for the soul of the child.

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This movie has an interesting class element that doesn’t really get fully explored. Because our villain is a nanny, her victims are the sons of upper middle class to rich folks who can afford her. I believe she is only after male children. There is something about the affluence of the parents that make those kids “the best” to offer-up.

You know what else is missing? The police. The tree is full of baby carvings; our nanny has been at this for a few years. It’s really hard to believe that a rash of newborns snatched from a well-to-do neighborhood doesn’t have a special police task force dedicated to solving the mystery.

It would be interesting to see this movie remade. Then again, the updated version would probably have Camilla (Cami, for short) be a teen eco-witch who has uncovered a ritual that, through time, would literally let her become one with nature. Nevermind.
Though a tinge slow in spots, It’s enjoyable overall.

Tip: If you are calling a woman’s name and she is ignoring you take the hint. Definitely don’t intrude on her tree time.

Stray thought: What if Camilla had been the nanny for Rosemary’s baby?

Tuesday Terror: Tintorera (1977)

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A killer tiger shark chomps on tourists and playboys off the coast of a Mexican island. Sounds like a run-of-the-mill Jaws rip off, right? Tintorera has something I didn’t expect—lots of (soft core) nudity.

You don’t see the sex, but there are plenty of “next morning” shots of naked bodies (ass cheeks up!) stretched out. Somehow, these folks will go skinny dipping at the drop of a hat, yet the sun has tanned everything but their bottoms.

Between the first and 2nd shark attacks, the movie transforms itself into an interesting love story. A business man, vacationing on a huge yacht, becomes friends with a buff playboy when the woman they had been “dating” seems to ditch both of them. Together, they meet and seduce other ladies – until they find a special woman that suggests the three of them form a triad. Then, there’s a lovely montage of their joyful threesome (outside of the bedroom).

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Andrés García / Susan George / Hugo Stiglitz

Eventually, the Tintorera gets jealous that he’s getting so little screen time and shows up to break up their happy home.

Once this becomes a full out “kill the shark” movie, the fire dies out of it. The actors were having great fun partying on the beach and running around the yacht in the buff. When it’s time to hunt the killer shark, dude sounds like he’s looking into the dead lights.

This is a romance/free-love tale forced into a lackluster shark attack film. I liked it though.

Tip: Don’t take the love(s) of your life shark hunting for kicks.

Get Out

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(Slightly spoilerish…but you’ve seen this already, right?)

After I saw the first trailer for Get Out, I had no intention of seeing it in the theater. I thought, “I’m not going to spend two hours watching a black guy being terrorized.” Then, it came out and the reviews made it clear that I had the wrong impression of the flick. It’s a horror satire with a few laughs here and there.

So, I finally made it out to the movies and it’s as great as all of the reviews made it out to be. For me, it was great to identify with the main character; that’s rare for me with horror movies. Having someone to root for is awesome.

Anywho, some thoughts:
1) I bet Chris didn’t bring Rose around any of his friends. She wouldn’t want that anyway–so no one could point a finger at her when she went missing. I wondered if he tried though.
2) Perhaps because Georgina-Grandma keeps admiring her new body, the real Georgina inside still catches glimpses of herself (even though she is in the sunken place). Maybe this is why real Georgina struggles to come to the surface even without the benefit of a camera flash. Real Georgina first tries to emerge when she spills the iced tea. She next struggles to come out when the tears stream down her face.
3) A think piece on class in Get Out could be interesting. (Working Class Rod and Creative Class Chris.)
4) The Armitages are the type of people who would be offended if you called them racist while they are violating you. (I imagine Rose all over twitter, alternating between anger and crying over the insult.)

And some lessons:
1) Don’t mistake desperation for love, forgive yourself/see about healing childhood trauma and always have your own ride. Always.
2) All of your skin folk definitely ain’t your kin folk.
3) Listen to your ancestors. (If you can’t hear them, that’s a whole different problem.)

Lessons From: Blair Witch 2016

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I need to treat new horror movies like iOS updates – wait a week and see how it all shakes out. But, alas, I have wasted my money. Don’t waste yours.

Anyway, the lessons:

  • Don’t go camping with strangers.
    • Don’t go camping with people who make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Don’t go into haunted woods were people have been murdered, have disappeared etc without some kind of plan for survival. Don’t treat it like you are spending the night at Jellystone.  True, the plan probably won’t work, but at least have one.
  • If you get hurt at the beginning of the trip, go back to town immediately. Don’t let people convince you to keep going. They aren’t your friends.
  • LOUD NOISES ALONE DON’T MAKE A MOVIE SCARY!
  • Don’t write sequels to movies and have new characters act as clueless/naive as previous characters.
  • Don’t go camping. Play the Blair Witch Games instead.

Other notes:

  • This is the 2nd movie I’ve seen this year with a sibling going into the woods to find a sister. I enjoyed The Forest more.
  • In addition to Blair Witch, yesterday I also saw Iced (1988) and Island Claws (1980). The other two movies were more entertaining/fun.
  • One character mentions the house at one time was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The Blair Witch was “active” during the pre-civil war-maybe she was an accidental abolitionist? Whatevs.

WILTW: The Hitch In The Witch

(Disclaimer: Not a review of the new movie.)

I was excited to learn a few weeks ago that a horror movie called The Woods was actually a new Blair Witch movie in disguise.  The first lucky folks to see it walked into a film festival expecting to check out The Woods. They didn’t realize it was a new Blair Witch the movie until it started playing. When the movie was over, all of posters in the theater had been changed to Blair Witch. This kicked off the marketing machine and a franchise that people thought had died in 2000 was back.

In prepping for the revival, everyone is talking about the first 2 movies. What I learned this week is how  the success of the first Blair Witch did not trickle down to the original trio lost in the woods: Heather, Josh and Mike. A movie with a $75K budget, made $250M. They got to go on a few talk shows to promote the movie and fruit baskets.

Because the actors used their real names in the movies and those characters belong to the studio, any/all kinds of merchandising could be done without the actors getting a cut…

Heather Donahue recently wrote about the experience in The Guardian. Beyond not getting a share of the wealth, the trio got little credit for their part in making it a success:

It’s a strange thing to get no credit where credit is deeply due. By strange I mean shitty. We were supposed to be really scared, so we weren’t actors (all of us are formally trained). We improvised all dialogue from an outline, but we weren’t writers. We shot it and independently provided the impetus for many of the scenes you see in the film, but we were not directors. While this work became record-breakingly profitable, what we were was dead.

In other BW news, I didn’t realize that Blair Witch 2 – Book of Shadows started out as a decent (or at least better) film. The 1st Blair Witch was done independently and then picked up for distribution. The studio was involved with Book of Shadows from the beginning–and made a mess of it:

The whole Exploring Series done by GoodBadFlicks is pretty good.

Well, I’m off to the movies.

WILTW: Werewolves In Cabot Cove

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What I Learned This Week: Many of the guest stars in the Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble episode of Murder, She Wrote (1989) were also featured in 80s horror films.

I used to watch this show with my grandmother on, I think, Sunday nights. She recognized many of the stars and I was proud of myself when I started figuring out who did it before Jessica did.

Watching the series now as an adult (via Netflix), I’m picking up on lots of themes that were over my head. For example, there are quite a few episodes that feature a younger man/older woman romance. Also, what’s interesting to me is how Cabot Cove changes through the series. It goes from being a quiet coastal town to a place where rich/affluent outsiders will call you out of the blue willing to pay a small fortune to buy your home.

Anywho, the series itself was just good, murderous fun. In Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble, the ghost of a witch who had been burned at the stake has returned to Cabot Cove. Also, the author of a book about that witch is in town to drum up publicity. Hmmm, I wonder if these two events are connected…

Guest stars include:
Brad Dourif (Child’s Play)
Roddy McDowell (Fright Night / Fright Night 2)
Christopher Stone & Dee Wallace Stone (The Howling)
Russell Nype (The Stuff)
John York (Night of The Creeps)
There are probably more that I didn’t catch.

Here’s a clip showcasing Brad Dourif:

 

Through The Looking Glass and What Helen Found There

Candyman Candyman Candyman Can-

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Don’t worry, you have to say it 5 times for the ultimate Sugar Daddy to show up. 🙂

I’ve been thinking about Candyman lately. Quick recap: Candyman was the son of a slave who fell in love with a white woman–who’s father showed his disapproval by gathering a posse to kill him. The lynch mob cut off his hand, covered him with honey and chanted “Candyman” as the bees stung him to death. Residents of Cabrini Green housing project believe that if you call his name 5 times, he shows up and kills you.

Actually, I haven’t been thinking about Candyman so much as I’ve been thinking about Helen–the one who calls him. She’s a white grad student studying urban legends who hears about the Cabrini Green version of Candyman from older, black janitorial staff at the college. Unlike the other “call the killer in the mirror and he will kill you”  stories, it’s tied to a current, unsolved murder and Helen is intrigued. Immediately, she goes into urban archeologist/explorer mode. Helen is going into Cabrini Green (interact with the actual residents) and introduce the story of Candyman to academia.

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Well, Helen is naive on two fronts.
1) Turns out that someone else in academia had already done Candyman research. Lucky for the movie, this doesn’t deter her.
2) As a young, educated white woman, she thinks her status/place in society is secure–and she is untouchable.

The real horror of Candyman isn’t the murders – it’s Helen learning how easy and quickly one can lose perceived place/status/privilege.

The first reveal of this comes early on when Helen learns that the very condo/apartment building she is living in was originally built to be a Cabrini Green like housing project. Because of the location of the building, the powers that be decided to put wallpaper over the cinder block, upgrade the lighting, and charge unsuspecting yuppies and arm and a leg.

bernLike peeling back wallpaper, Candyman just pulls back the fancy exterior of Helen’s world/life. Over the course of the movie, she gets sucked into the criminal justice system, institutionalized and, in one way or another, loses everyone she loves. (Alas, poor Bernadette.)

Helen doesn’t feel the full brunt of these systems – their money does have some influence – but it’s still devastating.  She goes from arrogantly walking into Cabrini Green feeling no one would dare touch her because they think she’s a cop* to being pursued by the cops.

What’s interesting about the movie is that her redemption comes in not giving in to despair. Though her life has been devastated (good bye marriage, potential career, freedom, etc), she’s still willing to save someone else. If this movie were made today, Helen would somehow magically get back everything she’d lost. But it wasn’t, so she doesn’t.

Helen sacrifices herself and becomes a saint of sorts. Just don’t say her name 5 times.

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Lesson: In the wave of a hook, you can go from being one of “us” to being one of “them”.
or
What you summon in the mirror is really what you are calling forth from yourself.

*She’s actually wrong about this, too.

Freaks & Outlaws

Had a relaxing week in Toronto and spent a lot of time looking at the skyline, water and sunsets.

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One day, we wandered around the entertainment district and discovered Queer Outlaw Cinema – a free exhibition running until August 17th at TIFF.

Featuring Derek Jarman, Isaac Julien, Scott Treleaven, Ulrike Ottinger and Bruce LaBruce.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Derek Jarman, a British filmmaker, artist and activist who was outspoken in his fight against the (anti-gay, etc) policies of Margaret Thatcher. The exhibition features one of his super 8/experimental films, Imagining Octobera dreamlike meditation on art and politics in the final years of the Cold War.

Imaging October is a mixture of images and film clips interspersed with politically tinged slogans. For example:

English bobbies in the street
protect the rights of them they beat.

Dungeness by Isaac Julien and Picture Yourself In A Burning Building by Scott Treleaven were inspired by Jarman’s technique (tributes to him, really) but, for me, lacked the “rebel” edge of the other exhibits. Both Julien and Treleaven have done work which would have better fit an outlaw narrative.

Superbia Still

Still from Superbia

The best part of QOC was being introduced to the work of Ulrike Ottinger. First we saw a short film, Superbia – The Pride (1986) – a political procession that is part parade, part military exercise and all corruption. One of my favorite (translated, of course) lines: “Only the banks can survive hari-kari.”

20140709-203620-74180929.jpgInspired by Virginia Wolff’s Orlando, Freak Orlando traces the journey of the main character’s reincarnation and transformation through 5 points in history. There are lots o’ themes present:

  1. Outsider as side show attraction, for the amusement of others
  2. Outsiders relegated to a certain place in society or face destruction if they refuse to play the role.
  3. The attempt to annihilate outsiders through assimilation
  4. Outsiders living together in community–you’d think it would be a paradise but the effect of repression/suppression is there (with a tip of the hat to Todd Browning’s Freaks).
  5. What does it mean to be accepted/integrated into society if it’s the same establishment (who is still making the rules). Even in “freak positive” world the deck is still rigged…
  6. And lot’s more- sacred shopping! the bearded woman nailed to the cross! the self-flagellating army of leather clad Tom of Finland types! Outlaw beard stroking!
  7. This movie is just ripe for film analysis/social commentary essays.

We didn’t really spend any time at the Bruce LaBruce exhibit (a door warns you that it’s x-rated!) featuring two films Offing Jack and Pierrot Lunaire.

We had no problem with the content, but we had spent so much time with the Ottinger rooms we were ready for dinner. 🙂

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