Friends! You are reading this post courtesy of my gently ball-busting friend Scott Madin, who asked if I was going to do a post-OHMC recap. Well, if he hadn’t said anything, I probably would not have, and this blog would go silent for months. Thanks, Scott!
I had a very good Challenge this year; overall, I watched just over the minimum requirements, and there were very few films that were less-than-enjoyable. There have been too many years where the Challenge is difficult due to not being able to find good films as first time views. I think there was only one film this year that I didn’t care for, and as luck would have it, it was the very first film I watched. Here’s a breakdown of everything I viewed for the 2016 October Horror Movie Challenge broken down by day, with a couple of mini-reviews thrown in for good measure:
Don’t Torture a Duckling (dir. Lucio Fulci, 1972, FTV) – Fulci’s first foray into adding gore to his films is largely dull and offers too many suspects to be coherent, but the ending is dynamite, featuring a hilariously sparking dummy falling from a cliff.
The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (dir. Dario Argento, 1970, FTV) – Argento’s first film is a knockout giallo; tightly wound and stylish in a way that he would expand on in his later films.
Goosebumps (dir. Rob Letterman, 2015, repeat)
House on Haunted Hill (dir. William Castle, 1959, repeat)
Mad Monster Party? (dir. Jules Bass, 1967, repeat)
Blood and Black Lace (dir. Mario Bava, 1964, FTV) – early giallo and proto-slasher from cinema’s gialli godfather, as weirdly and supernaturally lit as any other Bava piece. Starring Cameron Mitchell!
Godzilla Raids Again (dir. Motoyoshi Oda, 1955, repeat) – FYI: do not watch the English version of this; it has a terrible narration and edit that makes this film seem much worse than it actually is.
The Uninvited (dir. Lewis Allen, 1944, FTV) – I’d like to thank Past Anna for buying this a year ago and then leaving it unopened on their shelf, just waiting to be watched. A comic ghost story that balances a light heart with some very spooky chills. Ray Milland could get it.
The Innocents (dir. Jack Clayton, 1961, repeat) – “The Turn of the Screw” as told by Truman Capote, with some of the best cinematography in modern horror courtesy of Freddie Francis.
The X From Outer Space (dir. Kazui Nihonmatsu, 1967, FTV) – part of the highly recommended ‘When Horror Came to Shochiku’ Eclipse set, a sci-fi kaiju film in which a space spore spawns an enormous chicken-esque creature. A very silly film with a bitchin’ soundtrack.
The VVitch (dir. Robert Eggers, 2015, FTV) – profoundly unsettling tale of a Puritan family banished to the wilderness, barely eking out their existence while being targeted by a witch in the nearby woods. This is not a spoiler, but a kick-start for a series of increasingly disturbing events that plague and drive the family to destruction.
Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (dir. Charles Barton, 1949, FTV) – somewhat amusing mystery tale in which Boris Karloff barely registers as a phony mystic. Horror-adjacent enough for me to count it, and really only for a disturbing scene where Karloff tries to convince Lou to kill himself.
Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (dir. Charles Lamont, 1955, FTV) – needs more Karloff.
The Ghost of Frankenstein (dir. Erle C. Kenton, 1942, FTV) – the fourth of the Frankenstein films, in which the monster (Lon Chaney, Jr.) is revived from a very convenient sulfur pit by Ygor (Bela Lugosi). Not a terrible film, but it undoes much of the goodwill established in the superior previous film, Son of Frankenstein.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (dir. Roy William Neill, 1943, repeat)
Shin Godzilla (Hideaki Anno & Shinji Higuchi, 2016, FTV) – my thoughts here.
Color Me Blood Red (dir. Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1965, FTV) – giddy rip-off of Corman’s A Bucket of Blood AND The Little Shop of Horrors, in which a painter discovers that the only shade of red he can use for his art comes from human blood. Not quite as gory as Lewis’s other films, but enough to satisfy, since that’s really the only reason to watch his films. For what it’s worth, I laughed out loud several times while watching this.
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (dir. Jaromil Jireš, 1970, FTV) – dreamy and surreal, and hard to describe in terms of plot. Sexual awakening and fairy tale intertwine with strange imagery. You have to watch it to understand it, and even then, you might not understand it.
Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell (dir. Hajime Sato, 1968, FTV) – a truly bizarre film with aliens, ooze, vampires, forehead vaginas, and a complete apocalypse of the human race. What’s not to like? From the ‘When Horror Came to Shochiku’ collection.
StageFright: Aquarius (dir. Michele Soavi, 1989, repeat)
The Visitor (dir. Giulio Paradisi, 1979, repeat)
Shock Corridor (dir. Samuel Fuller, 1963, FTV) – a reporter fakes his way into a psychiatric hospital to uncover details on the murder of a patient there; what ensues is far more disturbing than he could have ever predicted. While technically a drama or perhaps a thriller, this film was profoundly upsetting to watch. Highly recommended.
The Living Skeleton (dir. Hiroshi Matsuno, 1968, FTV) – another from the ‘When Horror Came to Shochiku’ set, this part-ghost, part-mad scientist film is evocative and moody. Shot in soft black and white tones that lend well to the atmosphere, this is the least gonzo of the Shochiku films.
Godzilla (dir. Ishirō Honda, 1954, repeat)
The Curse of Frankenstein (dir. Terence Fisher, 1957, repeat)
The Revenge of Frankenstein (dir. Terence Fisher, 1958, FTV) – a solid sequel to The Curse of Frankenstein, in which the doctor (Peter Cushing) escapes the guillotine and goes undercover as a physician, garnering the attention of the local medical council and one young doctor in particular, who recognizes him as the mad scientist he is. The ending to this is incredibly creepy and proposes a universe in which Frankenstein can never die.
Horror Hotel / City of the Dead (dir. John Llewellyn Moxey, 1960, repeat) – eerie film about a young college student sent to a local village to research a history of witchcraft. Christopher Lee co-stars as her professor.
Horror Express (dir. Eugenio Martín, 1972, FTV) – loosely based on John W. Campbell’s “Who Goes There?” (also the basis for The Thing From Another World and The Thing ), an archaeologist (Christopher Lee) brings the frozen remains of an ancient alien being on a train and all hell breaks loose. Also stars Peter Cushing, and Telly Savalas eating the scenery as a Cossack officer.
Two Thousand Maniacs! (dir. Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1964, repeat) – Brigadoon, served Southern-style.
The Gore Gore Girls (dir. Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1972, repeat)
Night of the Creeps (dir. Fred Dekker, 1986, repeat)
World War Z (dir. Marc Forster, 2013, FTV) – so help me, I really liked this movie. Some kind of viral outbreak causes the world to rapidly be taken over by zombies, and Brad Pitt is tasked with finding the source and a cure. Mostly an action film, and some of it feels very like a video game, but it offers an interesting way to solve the zombie crisis.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (dir. Bill Melendez, 1966, repeat)
Arsenic and Old Lace (dir. Frank Capra, 1944, repeat) – this features one of the greatest gags ever written, which unfortunately did not come to fruition.
Something Wicked This Way Comes (dir. Jack Clayton, 1983, repeat) – my thoughts here.