31 Days Of Horror: The Shining

10 Years of FearToday is the 23rd so let’s take a trip to room 237. Stephen King might not have liked this adaptation of his novel but Stanley Kubrick’s film has stood the test of time.

Released in 1980 The Shining stars Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic who has taken a job as caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, a remote isolated hotel in the mountains. Jack brings along his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and his young son Danny (Danny Lloyd).
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31 Days Of Horror: King Kong

10 Years of Fear“And now, ladies and gentlemen, before I tell you any more, I’m going to show you the greatest thing your eyes have ever beheld. He was a king and a god in the world he knew, but now he comes to civilization merely a captive – a show to gratify your curiosity. Ladies and gentlemen, look at Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World.”

I love that speech in King Kong (1933) from Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) who introduces the beast to a captive audience, unaware of the horror that’s about to be unleashed.
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31 Days Of Horror: Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

10 Years of FearThere have been a lot of adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. There are currently over 100 filmed versions and the best of the lot is the 1931 version.

I would hope that most folks would know at the least basic plot of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Good Dr. Jekyll has been experimenting trying to isolate the good and evil in all humans. His experiments bring out his inner evil side, Mr. Hyde who wrecks all sort of havoc.
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31 Days Of Horror: Eyes Without A Face

10 Years of FearA woman drives alone by a river and dumps a body into it. Later Doctor Génessier (Pierre Brasseur) is asked to identify the body. He says that it’s the body of his daughter Christiane Génessier (Édith Scob) who was in a car accident and disfigured. The death is ruled as suicide.

Following the funeral Doctor Génessier and his assistant Louise (Alida Valli), who happened to be the woman who dumped the body, continue their work. You see Christiane is still alive and the good doctor wants to restore her face – by using someone else’s!
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31 Days Of Horror: The Fly

10 Years of Fearjournalist Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) meets scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) at a party. Seth claims to be working on the greatest invention known to humanity — an invention that will change the world. Curious, Veronica goes to Seth’s home/lab.

Seth has been working on a teleportation device. His telepods take an object and transport it from one pod to the next. The only problem is that Seth can’t transport living things. Yet.
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31 Days Of Horror: Mystery Of The Wax Museum

10 Years of Fear Lionel Atwill stars as brilliant sculpture Ivan Igor. Igor has a wax museum in London that is sadly unprofitable. Igor’s partner, Joe Worth (Edwin Maxwell), decides to burn the place to the ground for the insurance and when Igor tries to stop him, Worth knocks him out and leaves him to die in the flames.

Twelve years later Igor shows up in New York with a new wax museum. He survived the fire but is now confined to a wheelchair and his hands were destroyed. As a result, he no longer sculpts but has “assistants”, including the shady professor Darcy (Arthur Edmund Carewe) and silent Hugo (Matthew Betz).
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31 Days Of Horror: Quatermass And The Pit

10 Years of FearBefore Doctor Who there was Quatermass, which started off as a 1953 BBC TV serial. The show’s success lead Hammer Films to adapt it into a movie, The Quatermass Xperiment, which I’ve written about a couple of times (here and here). Creator Nigel Kneale wrote two more TV serials — Quatermass 2 and Quatermass and the Pit — which were both made into films by Hammer. That’s a lot of Quartermass!

Quatermass and the Pit was originally released in the United States as Five Million Years to Earth.

Professor Bernard Quatermass was played by American actor Brian Donlevy for Hammer’s first two outings. It was felt that Donlevy, a recognizable supporting actor from dozens of films and TV shows, had the stature to get the film theatrical screenings in North America. Kneale, whoever, disliked Donlevy as Quatermass because Donlevy played the character as kind of a huckster instead of a brilliant scientist. For the third film, Quatermass and the Pit, Andrew Keir stepped into the role. He was a perfect fit.
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31 Days Of Horror: The Invisible Man

10 Years of FearIt’s a dark and snowy night. A stranger covered head to toe in bandages arrives at the Lion’s Head Inn. He takes a room and asks for privacy. A while later, he falls behind on his rent and the landlords resolve to evict him. The stranger throws a fit and assaults the owner. The police are called. The stranger removes his bandages, revealing his secret to all present: he’s invisible!

H.G. Well’s fantastic novel was brilliantly adapted by Universal Studios in 1933. The film holds up extremely well today — even the 85-year-old effects.
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31 Days Of Horror: Alien

10 Years of FearI can’t believe it’s already the middle of the month! I’m halfway through 31 Days of Horror: 10 Years Of Fear. There are too many choices and not enough days.

Today’s pick is the classic 1979 sci-fi horror Alien. Written by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett and directed by Ridley Scott, this movie changed the face of sci-fi horror for ever.
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31 Days Of Horror: Re-Animator

10 Years of FearH. P. Lovecraft has influenced a generations of filmmakers but very few movies based on his work are actually good . Re-Animator is an exception. It’s based on Lovecraft’s story Herbert West–Reanimator. While it’s a very, very loose adaptation, it’s one of the best takes on Lovecraft’s work. It’s certainly the most fun.

Director Stuart Gordon made the most of a pretty low budget, delivering hilariously gruesome special effects and terrific over-the-top performances from his actors. Interestingly, Gordon had originally planned Re-Animator as a stage play, then developed it as a TV pilot (which is pretty hard to believe once you’ve seen the film). Fortunately for fans of ridiculous cult movies, it was made into a feature film.
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31 Days Of Horror: The Haunting

10 Years of FearThere is a new TV series on Netflix based on Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House. I’ve watched the first episode and it was good, but the 1963 adaptation from director Robert Wise is way, way, way better.

This movie is fantastic! Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson) wants to examine a real haunted house. He asks the current owners of Hill House — a notorious house out in the country — if he can conduct an experiment on the place to prove that ghosts exist. The owners agree, as long as one of the attendees is young nephew Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblyn). Other members of the experiment include Eleanor “Nell” Lance (Julie Harris) and Theodora “Theo” (Claire Bloom).
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31 Days Of Horror: Deep Red

10 Years of FearIt’s Christmastime in a small house and a children’s song is playing. Two figures struggle. A child screams. A bloody knife is dropped to the ground.

Many years later in Rome, the psychic Helga Ulmann (Macha Méril) is reading her audience’s minds, when she realizes that someone in the crowd is a murderer. Later, Helga is in her apartment trying to write down what she saw when someone breaks into her apartment and murders her. At the same time, Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) is taking his drunken friend Carlo (Gabriele Lavia) home and sees Ulmann being murdered. Marcus runs up to her apartment to help but it’s too late–and there’s blood everywhere.
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31 Days Of Horror: Doctor X

10 Years of FearI love pre-code movies — films made from 1929 to 1934, the years before the Motion Picture Production Code arrived to enforce mediocrity. It was kind of a wild-west time for movies. Nothing was too taboo. It was great.

Enter 1932’s Doctor X.

For the past several months when the moon is full, horrific murders have taken place. To make matters worse, the victim’s bodies have been cannibalized. The killer has been described by witnesses as as a monster. Reporter Lee Taylor (Lee Tracy) is trying to get a scoop on the story. Doctor Xavier (Lionel Atwill) is called into examine the latest victim but meanwhile, his university colleagues have been placed under suspicion. In order to avoid a scandal, Xavier convinces the police let him hold his own investigation.
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31 Days Of Horror: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed

10 Years of FearI have covered this one a couple of times but it’s easily the best of the Hammer Frankenstein movies.

It’s fifth of Hammer’s Frankenstein movies where they followed Peter Cushing’s awesome Dr. Frankenstein instead of the monster like Universal’s Frankenstein horror movies did. All of ones with Peter Cushing are fantastic – heck Revenge of Frankenstein might be better but it’s a close draw.
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31 Days Of Horror: The Devil’s Backbone

10 Years of FearToday is Guillermo del Toro’s birthday so in honour today’s 31 Days of Horror takes another look at his brilliant horror film El espinazo del diablo aka The Devil’s Backbone (2001).

Del Toro made The Devil’s Backbone after working on Mimic for Harvey Weinstein. Mimic was Del Toro’s first English language and American movie and he clashed a lot against Weinstein. Del Toro would later disown Mimic. The Devil’s Backbone gave del Toro a chance to make his own movie his way.
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REVIEW: The Wife Is Not that Into You

It’s hard to find a more reliable performer than Glenn Close. The six-time Oscar nominee (should have won for Fatal Attraction) can be equally believable as a take-no-prisoners lawyer, the head of intergalactic police corps, and Homer Simpson’s mom.

The Wife gives Close a different showcase, one that asks from her to repress her emotions until it’s not physically possible. It’s a stunning piece of acting, one than someone with less experience wouldn’t be able to pull off.

The beginning of The Wife is dream-like. Literary lion Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce), one of those American writers who think of themselves as gods, is awaken by a call from the Swedish Academy. He has been awarded the Nobel Prize, the perfect capper for a prolific career. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Wife Is Not that Into You”

31 Days Of Horror: Audition

10 Years of FearJapanese filmmaker Takashi Miike has made over 100 movies since he started his career in th early 1990s and is still making even more. Miike had already directed almost 30 films when he made Audition in 1999. The movie helped expose the world to Miike’s work.

It’s hard to talk about Audition without giving away too much of the plot. A husband and father Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) has his wife pass away while his son is still very young. Aoyama doesn’t remarry and works hard and raises his son himself. Seven years later his son is 17 and wants his father to remarry. Aoyama doesn’t know where to begin. While having drinks with a film producer friend Yasuhisa Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura), Yoshikawa suggests that they hold an audition for a wife.
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31 Days Of Horror: Black Sunday

10 Years of FearHappy Sunday! Today’s 31 Days of Horror is Mario Bava’s first official directorial debut. Bava had unofficially directed several films that he was working on as a cinematographer, 1957’s I Vampiri, 1959’s Caltiki – The Immortal Monster and also in 1959 The Giant of Marathon.

In all three films the original directors had left production half way and Bava had stepped in and completed the films but with no screen credit. His work on those movies lead Galatea Film to offer him the chance to make his own movie. Bava jumped at the chance and used a Russian novel by Nikolai Gogol called The Viy as the basis for his movie.
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31 Days Of Horror: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

10 Years of FearToday’s pick is always a tough one. Normally I hate remakes but there have been some excellent ones. And in today’s case the original 1956 film is a masterpiece as is the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Based on Jack Finney’s 1954 novel The Body Snatchers both films follow a doctor, Dr. Miles J. Bennell (Kevin McCarthy in the original) or Dr. Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland in the remake) who discovers that people have been acting not themselves because they have been replaced with pod people.
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31 Days Of Horror: Vampire Circus

10 Years of FearBack in the day Hammer Film Productions made a lot of horror movies. The studio’s most famous for their Dracula films — it made a ton of them with Christopher Lee as the Count. But for my money, their Dracula films pale next to one of my favourites: 1972’s Vampire Circus.

The movie has one heck have an opening act. A small-town Serbia vampire, Count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman), has seduced the school master’s wife, Anna Müller (Domini Blythe), and she steals children for him to eat. The town finds out what’s going on and a mob storms the castle. A massive melee breaks out and the count kills several villagers before the school master, Professor Albert Müller (Laurence Payne), manages to drive a stake through the vampire’s heart. The dying count curses the town and tells his lover to find his cousin.
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