Friday, October 26, 2007

last year's Halloween viewing

Late as usual but might as well add this:

Cannibal Apocalypse (Antonio Margheriti 1980) - Saw this some twenty-something years ago under the title Invasion of the Flesh Hunters and remembered it as a pretty nifty zombie thriller. Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong. It's sloppy, lax and mindless; the kind of film where a guy way inside a building shoots a shotgun and blows out the window of a police car in the parking lot. There's not much apocalypse and few cannibals and little of note. I was very interested in the DVD bonus about shooting locations since I recognized the Decatur courthouse and I thought another spot or two but the bonus was mostly a botch. Should be very easy, just show the locations in their current state and talk about them a bit but instead there are some "what were they thinking" comedy bits and other misguided bits.

The Invisible Ray (Lambert Hillyer 1936) - Without Lugosi & Karloff this would have faded into obscurity or at least as obscure as any horror film gets. Opens with some almost competely nonsensical sequence about viewing Earth from space before eventually moving to a routine mad-scientist/killer story where nearly all the bad stuff happens off screen (save fx budget). Duller 'n dirt.

The Brides of Dracula (Terence Fisher 1960) - Moderately effective Hammer film with Cushing as Van Helsing, a girls school, an overbearing vampire mom, a castle, frightened villagers, etc.

Saw (James Wan 2004) - Quite dumb and shows filmmakers who didn't really have a good idea of what they were trying to do. That's until perhaps the most mindbogglingly stupid surprise ending since Pieces. You just wonder what Fulci might have done with this premise.

How to Make a Monster (Herbert L. Strock 1958) - Mild behind-the-scenes film about a make-up man seeking revenge.

Sisters of Death (Joseph Mazzuca 1977) - This kind of film fascinates me. It's not good, not even in a "so bad it's" way, and looks like a tax shelter effort that nobody expected to see theatres until co-star Claudia Jennings appeared in Playboy. I could be wrong but that's what it looks like. There's a meandering story and for a film of that era very little visible violence or sex (perhaps they were going after the TV market?). You can almost imagine some guys with a couple of weeks and some film stock deciding they'd make a movie which would account for the home movie feel of some scenes and the limited locations.

Dust Devil: The Final Cut (Richard Stanley 1992 & 2006?) - Fairly effective, almost-surreal outing about a woman in southern Africa who picks up a hitchhiker who may or may not be The Devil or a devil or a demon or something. The original release had most of the supernatural elements removed so this version is considered the director's final say.

Oasis of the Zombies (Jess Franco 1981) - Almost completely worthless but hey what else would you expect from a Franco film? Even by his standards this is tedious and poorly done.

Homecoming (Joe Dante 2005) - The political point is heavy-handed and even for an hour-long film Dante hasn't completely thought it through but still it's a decent addition to his filmography. When he's not on the main point, Dante has a good satirical eye (I particularly like the preacher who has a different opinion of the zombies when their true purpose is revealed) and the skill to keep it moving.

Pick Me Up (Larry Cohen 2005) - Cohen pits two serial killers against each other in a tight and pretty interesting story, marred primarily by a murder scene that seems mostly misogynist.