October 12, 2014

Diary Of A Movie Watchin' Madman, Vol. II, Part 1 - Bride Of The Madman

     Like almost everyone, I make a special effort to watch even more genre movies than usual during the month of October.  Last year, this post chronicling my Pre'Ween viewing schedule was a standalone at the end of the month.  This year, however, my notes on all the movies I was watching started to get out of hand.  Here, then, is the first part of the Pre'Ween 2014 Diary Of A Movie Watchin' Madman.  The second part drops at the end of the month.  Speak up in the Comments below.  Since most of these are newer movies, I'm anxious to compare notes.

a messy toilet bowl from Septic Man (2013)
(10/1) Septic Man (2013)  - Tony Burgess wrote Pontypool (2008), one of the best genre movies of the last decade.  He also wrote the recently released Septic Man, the tale of a sewage worker transformed into something hideous by toxic sewage.  You can imagine how excited I was to find it streaming on Vudu for only ninety-nine cents on the very first day of Pre'Ween.  After watching, I think I know why it was on sale.

     Although it held my attention throughout, Septic Man is a hard movie to watch.  Viewers are treated to the graphic rendering of a projectile vomit/projectile diarrhea twofer in the movie's first few minutes, and then it never really gets any less gross after that.  I know.  What did I expect?  It's all right there in the title.  I could have been okay with the crudity, though, if only there had been anything going on beneath the shitty surface.

     Though ponderous and oozing with portent, the shit in Septic Man is never really as deep as director Jesse Thomas Cook obviously wants us to believe it is. To be fair, he does make solid use of Nate Kreiswirth's pulsing, synthesized score to convince the viewer something is happening even when it's not.  Still, the vague narrative and willfully obtuse storytelling of Septic Man ultimately sinks it even if you can stomach the nastiness. This was a less than auspicious start to my Pre'Ween viewing.  (First Watch)

Invasion Of The Bee Girls (1973)
(10/4) Invasion Of The Bee Girls (1973) - I have no recollection of watching this.  I did, but my attention wandered almost immediately.  A movie about women killing men by fucking them to death should've been more compelling.  Invasion Of The Bee Girls was chock full of naked women, bizarre dialog, and bad acting, but those elements just didn't jell into the silly soft-core camp fest I was anticipating.  (First Watch)

Michael Gough in Horror Hospital (1973)(10/6) Horror Hospital (1973) - Michael Gough owns it as the evil Dr. Storm, a wheelchair bound nut job who uses his "Hairy Holidays" health farm to lure wayward hippies to the country to be lobotomized.  The mad doctor has also made a pretty nifty modification to his Rolls Royce.  Did I mention his dwarf manservant Frederick?  It's all here, folks, and it's all just as loopy as it sounds.

     Though I'll cop to being a tiny bit disappointed by Horror Hospital (its reputation led me to believe it would be a little more over the top than it actually was) I can't say I didn't enjoy it.  How could I not be tickled by Frederick the dwarf methodically stacking unconscious bodies on top of one another to reach a lock at the top of a door?   (First Watch)

Killer Adam Lynch in Sledge (2014)(10/8) Sledge (2014) - Unfortunately, this low budget slasher from writer/director/star Kristian Hansen pushed my Pre'Ween movie binge back a few steps.  Hansen attempts to be meta by having us watching someone else watch the movie Sledge on a television program called Assly's True American Horror, but the conceit leads to little more than an obvious final scare.

     You see, the movie-within-a-television-show-within-a-movie entitled Sledge stars a killer named Adam Lynch, who believes himself to be the star of a movie/video game.  His victims are just ducks in a shooting gallery as far as he's concerned.  Of course, his victims in the movie feel differently.  There's potential here, but the tone swings wildly from the humorous (Lynch's stream of consciousness patter as he takes out his victims) to the oddly sober (a laboriously structured love triangle that strains to build viewer empathy for Lynch's victims, though it seems clear from the tone elsewhere that Sledge is only spoofing the sub-genre it emulates).

     In fairness to the filmmakers, I feel obliged to note that reviews of Sledge from around the internet are mostly positive.  I wasn't wowed by Sledge, but a lot of other horror fans were.  Since the production was obviously crafted from limited resources - and makes decent use of said resources - I don't want to be less than charitable in my own assessment.  I can at least acknowledge that I saw potential here, and there are worse ways to blow a few bucks of your streaming budget than supporting an earnest attempt by fledgling filmmakers to do something a little different with a limited budget.  Sledge didn't do much for me, but you may love it.  (First Watch)       

Ted Levine in Banshee Chapter (2013)
(10/10) Banshee Chapter (2013) - Here at last is my first pleasant surprise this Pre'WeenBanshee Chapter had been lurking in my Netflix queue for a long while, but I kept jumping over it because I assumed a narrative revolving around the CIA's nightmarish Project MKUltra would be overwhelmingly depressing and bleak.  It turns out Banshee Chapter plays more like a previously un-produced episode of The X-Files, with plots and conspiracies woven together to create a more traditionally creepy horror flick than I expected.

    Even better, the always amazing Ted "Buffalo Bill" Levine steals the show as writer Thomas Blackburn, a thinly veiled riff on gonzo counter cultural icon Hunter S. Thompson.  Levine seems to be channeling the late Thompson, and his performance elevates Banshee Chapter from decent to noteworthy.  This was the most fun I've had with a horror flick in a long while.  First time director Blair Erickson mines the dark corners of the frame for all the spooky atmosphere possible, and he wields those vast expanses of inky blackness throughout the movie like a weapon.  There are plenty of well-earned jump scares to keep the viewer on edge, and Erickson scares more by virtue of what he doesn't show than what he does.

     It's worth noting, too, that Banshee Chapter borrows many of its creepy narrative conceits from H.P. Lovecraft's "From Beyond", a connection I wasn't aware of prior to viewing.  That being the case, Banshee Chapter stands as one of the better adaptations of Lovecraft that I've seen, as well.  Recommended.  (First Watch)

Horns (2013) poster
(10/11) Horns (2013) - Last but not least in my first wave of Pre'Ween viewing is director Alexandre Aja's pleasingly odd horror fantasy Horns, an adaptation of Joe Hill's novel of the same name.  Star Daniel Radcliffe works hard to put a little distance between himself and Harry Potter, and he largely succeeds.  Aja evolves a bit, too, tackling a story dependent upon both tragedy and humor to maintain its unique tone.  It's a tough balancing act, and Aja pulls it off admirably.

     Since this is a new release, I'm going to refrain from delving too deeply into the details and say only that I had high expectations, being both a fan of the source novel and of director Alexandre Aja's previous work.  I was not disappointed.  Horns is funny, dark, touching, and wholly unique.  While it probably should not be your first choice if you're looking for a traditionally scary horror movie this season, I'm certain most genre fans will find a lot to like about it when in a more reflective frame of mind.  Fittingly, Horns is a movie to curl up with just as you would a good book on a chilly autumn afternoon.  Recommended.  (First Watch)                  



  1. The only film on the list that I'm sure I've seen is Invasion of the Bee Girls. It was a fun campy little time waster if you've got nothing better to watch! I'm very much looking forward to Horns, which I may watch tomorrow. I'll probably give all the rest a try as well because....well...that's what I do! I think I may have seen Horror Hospital.....but I'm not positive.

    1. I could easily imagine someone having seen Horror Hospital and not remembering it. It was enjoyable enough, but I doubt I'll rush to watch it again any time soon.

  2. I just gave two movies a viewing this weekend--The Lords of Salem and Fright Night (80s).

    Lords came off flat and un-scary on the second viewing, but the film appears to be Zombie's homage to Kubrick (symmetrical framing, steady pans, etc). If Rob Zombie would have just taken out some of his wife's naked ass and put in a little more fright, he would have had a bona fide hit.

    Fright Night has such an amazing premise and so many ties to 80s teen vampire flicks that I will need to bust out an article on the subject. Chris Sarandon rocked as Jerry Dandridge. Horrible vampire name, but great delivery.

    I will need to watch Horns due to the positive word of mouth and convenience of being on demand!

    1. Lords Of Salem was an ambitious departure for Zombie that ultimately falls prey to many of the same shortcomings that derail most of his productions. As lovely as Mrs. Zombie's ass may be, it's kinda creepy how much her husband wants everyone else in the world to gawk at it. She turned in a better performance than I expected, though.

      Fright Night is one of the only vampire movies I really like. Better he be Jerry Dandridge than Dr. Acula. Horns is VOD, but be aware that it's "pre-theatrical", so you're probably looking at about a ten buck rental.

  3. oooh Horns I want to see because of Juno Temple. Alexandre Aja looks like a good choice for director because he can make serious horror and off the wall ones. This looks like a good combo of serious horror and off the wall ones. This looks like a good combo of both

    1. Juno Temple is there, and she's lovely and even a little bit nekkid here and there. There's still a disconnect in my mind insofar as Harry Potter getting all the hot tail. lol


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