Editor’s Note: These posts originally appeared starting here on the AV Club *stares off wistfully*. They are being reposted for completionist sake as this annual series continued onto the AVCAD and now here. Also, forgive the writing for I was younger and dumber and these were written to appear in comments so don’t include pictures and are far shorter and less thorough than the series is now. They have been preserved as they were.
Month of Horror: World Edition
10/15/2015 – Ireland: Grabbers (2010)
Directed by Jon Wright
For much of its cinematic history Ireland was more of a setting for films as oppose to a producer of films and largely being overshadowed by the British film industry. Even many of the directors associated with Irish film are actually natives of the UK even if they are of Irish descent (such as Martin and John Michael McDonagh and the director of today’s movie). Since the beginning of the 80’s however, there have been more quality films coming out of Ireland with the country turning out such directors as Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan. Horror though has not been so quick to come out of the nation with the films having a generally mediocre to poor reception with the exception of Wake Wood (a film I had never heard of until shortly before I typed this sentence) and Grabbers.
Grabbers is a monster movie horror-comedy which already puts this film at an advantage for me and at its most basic the film needs to be judged on each of those two components. The titular grabbers look good especially considering their CGI nature with a distinctive appearance and movement pattern to go along with clear but understandable differences between the male, female, and baby incarnations. The baby grabbers, especially in their invasion of the bar gave me a real gremlins vibe both in their actions and associated sound effects which is always a plus making the most of their comparatively smaller screen time.
SPOILER-Y DISCUSSION AHEAD The film features quite possibly the most Irish solution to a problem ever by staying in a pub and getting pissed waiting for the whole thing to blow over (no this doesn’t remind me of Shaun of the Dead, why do you ask?). Despite that very basic plot overview and the fact that both are horror-comedies, the two films are rather different in feel especially since it is actually a reasonable solution here. Ok, so both are set in the British Isles, switch to the defense of a pub midway through, have scene involving a jukebox turning on unexpectedly and playing tonally inappropriate music, and throw in a good amount of romantic comedy (easily the weakest part here especially considering it had every making of subversion of one only to play it lamely straight), but Grabbers is much more conventionally shot and maintains a much more even tone throughout which is pretty far on the comedy side of the horror comedy spectrum and brings us to the second half of what the film needed to succeed END OF SPOILERS. Without much horror past a couple good moments in the early going, the film lives and dies on its comedy which is generally well done if rarely laugh out loud funny. I appreciated the small little world they built, but there wasn’t much memorable to be had and there were times where I was just left wanting more. They were this close to having all the makings of a cult classic, but they came up short and instead just made an enjoyable but disposable film (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Month of Horror: World Edition
(Mini) Bonus Episode #6 – United Kingdom: Tower of Evil (1972)
Directed by Jim O’Connolly
Surprisingly this film isn’t a Hammer horror because it shares so much visually in common with it and many of the exploitation like elements of its later titles. This film alone probably has more T&A than the rest of this month combined with plenty of blood to go with it and I wouldn’t ask for anything more. The film is an early slasher featuring not particularly interesting archaeologists this time being gruesomely murdered. There is too much dragging in the middle sections to recommend and it far from a good movie, but it was an entertaining one and good for a number of laughs at its expense while appreciating what it sought to and successfully delivered to an extent.
(Mini) Bonus Episode #7 – United States: The Premature Burial (1962)
Directed by Roger Corman
Roger Corman is a hugely influential figure being behind over 500 films, helping to launch the careers of James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Joe Dante, Jonathan Demme, Peter Fonda, Ron Howard, Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese, and countless others, and directing 55 films himself. These films however are of a very mixed quality though more often than not, these films were very poor. Some of His best films though were frequently his (very loose) Edgar Alan Poe adaptations with the peak being his House of Usher (I have yet to see Tales of Terror which I will get to later this month) though all of these films are at least decent.
The Premature Burial is like many of these films in that it feels a bit to stretched out and would have made an excellent short film. There isn’t too much of a build in madness and much of the movie feels like it is just killing time until the titular event. Ray Milland though is great and keeps the film watchable until the final act where the film really makes itself. There was enough here to keep me reasonably satisfied, but still one of the weaker adaptations of his Poe cycle.
Up Next: Alexandre Aja’s High Tension representing France