Month of Horror 2016: Genre Exploration – Gothic Horror: Black Sunday

Editor’s Note: The links within all point back to the original sources.  Perhaps one day I will fix them but more than likely I will keep them as is to honor the past (and because it is so much easier).  Links to the AVC are likely off due to the Kinja switchover.

10/31/2016 – Gothic Horror: Black Sunday (1960)
Directed by Mario Bava

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It feels strange for me to just be talking about the gothic horror genre now considering how many films in the genre I’ve already watched and how much I’ve already discussed it. The genre originated in the novel form with 1764’s The Castle of Otranto and typified in horror by Frankenstein and Dracula. As the prevailing horror genre of the era as film started to come to be, it was only natural that it would transition to film. In addition, adaptations of those novels among others would prove so influential that as it’s in many ways what we think of horror, especially classic horror. The castles and churches of the gothic and the gothic revival architecture served a perfect setting. They were huge, foreboding, dark, and frequently disrepair which often reflected the personalities of their inhabitants. While there’s usually an element of psychological horror, for the most part it is a genre of setting (usually, though not exclusively, 1800s Europe) and mood, something hard to discuss but easy to recognize. The darkness, the fog, just everything conjured up by the word “spooky”.

I’ve already discussed some of these, the Universal (who is largely responsible for popularizing it) and Hammer Horror, as well as many of the Poe adaptations so I will refrain from reiterating it too much. As with horror itself, the genre largely arrived with the Georges Méliès titles we previously looked at and various early adaptations (including Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeNosfearatu and other German Expressionist films also drew heavily from the genre and could even be said to be a part of it.

Early non-Universal sound titles include The Ghoul (starring genre mainstay Boris Karloff), Gaslight (which may not have been horror but it’s such an important influence on psychological horror I’m counting it but make sure you see the far superior 1944 version), The Beast with Five Fingers, and The Body Snatcher. The ‘60s saw a gothic revival with Mario Bava’s Black SundayBlack SabbathThe Whip and the BodyKill, Baby, Kill, as well as other classics including Eyes Without a FaceThe HauntingCity of the DeadThe InnocentsKwaidan, and Rosemary’s Baby with the era representing perhaps the pinnacle (especially visually) of the genre.

Color really did a number on the genre since it really is perfectly suited for black and white though Hammer did a good job modernizing it at least visually. All the fog and shadows just do not look near as imposing in color. So while gothic horror slowed down considerably, there were still examples such as the Czech madeMorgiana and Italian giallo-ish Suspiria. The most recent revival however dates back to the late 80s and especially 90s. Tim Burton’s basic style is basically a combination of German Expressionism and gothic horror with the latter being typified perhaps with Sleepy Hollow. We also received The Woman in Black (and it’s remake) and the vampire films (inspired by the gothic Universal DraculaBram Stoker’s DraculaInterview with the Vampire, and Shadow of the Vampire.

The works of Guillermo del Toro are also heavily influenced by the classics and frequently fitting into the genre with The Devil’s BackbonePan’s LabyrinthCrimson Peak, and The Orphanage which he produced. From HellThe OthersBlack DeathThe Awakening, and Penny Dreadful maintained the period association with gothic horror while films such as Silent Hill and Let The Right One In brought its influence to the modern era. There’s plenty more depending on how loose you want to get with definition which is really easy considering how much it has permeated nearly every facet of horror. I’m also not even getting into the gothic romances or related non-horror gothic films.

Black Sunday (not the one with the terrorists and the blimp) is loosely based on the short story “Viy” whose 1967 adaptation I watched last year. It starts much like that year’s City of the Dead with a woman accused of witchcraft about to be killed only for her to curse the town. This time however the woman is branded and her face covered with a “Mask of Satan” with nails on the inside which is bloodily smashed into her face and her curse is actually successful in generating a sudden storm to extinguish the attempts to burn her. She still dies, but it was certainly more effective in the moment.

We are then brought to the “present day” (sometime in the 19th century) as a carriage in Russia goes down a mysterious path and stumbles upon the chapel where the woman has been buried, finds her tomb and removes the mask from the lady’s face. One of the two doctors traveling through spills a drop or two of blood on her which is of course enough to resurrect her. Because see this is a vampire story in all but name complete with the ability to scare them off with a cross and the attempts by a woman to obtain the blood of a local woman (also played by Barbara Steele) who lives in a castle with her brother and father. Barbara Steele’s wide eyed performance in both roles, especially the witch is great and she steals the film.

For help, she raises the man killed with her telepathically, he still wears the mask until he rips that sucker off and it is truly an awesome mask even if it has the problem of causing death when worn and leaves behind gruesome holes. SPOILERS She also hypnotizes the older doctor to help her kill including the father in anotherDracula like twist. She is able to slowly turn from young to old with merely a touch (a great effect) as she steals the life force of her doppelganger only for the weakness to the cross gives her away. I found myself rooting again for the witch especially with everyone laughing as she dies burning at the stake. Your ancestors made this monster you creeps. END OF SPOILERS

The film looks fantastic even by the standards of graphic horror. It’s also filled with great effects beyond the mask and aging. I love seeing the witch freaking bursting from her crypt. Multiple characters have some impressive looking decaying flesh on their faces and at one point the woman exposes her chest and all that’s left is a wonderfully fleshy skeleton bringing me fond flashbacks to Hellraiser. Also watching that man’s head melt (which I know looks real fake) but damn if it wasn’t still impressive looking to me. It’s a great film and I’m glad I held out for the restored blu-ray.

Bonus Episode #41 – Post-Apocalyptic: Refuge (2013)
Directed by Andrew Robertson

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The end doesn’t have to be the end. Sometimes in film, even when civilization as we know it comes to a close, something presses on. While far from exclusive to horror and probably more frequently the realm of sci-fi. That’s not to say horror can’t do it, and in fact horror can lead to an implied apocalypse, it’s just surprisingly rare for a horror film to be then set in that world. The most common form of these are the ruined worlds caused by an outbreak of zombies. Examples of this include the Dead sequels Dawn of the Dead and especially Day of the Deadand Land of the Dead with each one representing the world at Zombieland28 Days/Weeks Later, and The Walking Dead with Night of the Comet offering an alternative in the comet causing both the apocalypse and the zombies. Related is the world ruined by vampires as in the adaptations of I Am Legend (The Last Man on EarthThe Omega Man, and I Am Legend), Daybreakers, and Stake Land. The last category is just the miscellaneous with the horror set in a world ruined by a virus (The Stand), random creatures (Pitch Black), an ice age (The Colony), etc.

Refuge goes for the ruined by an escaped bacteria that has killed everyone in weeks. We follow a small group of survivors in this low budget The Road wannabe. Our lead starts as a member of a gang of indistinguishable bearded white people in a world filled to the brim with them as well. After a home invasion that is actually occupied for once (and known as such ahead of time), the man goes on the run with his family from the sadistic leader and his gang.

Most of the time it looks like it was made for about five dollars with the poor handheld camera work and lousy acting. Only the occasional wide CGI shots showing a ruined world does it seem to be otherwise but even that is hardly enough. The film is short and pretty standard, but it’s more than a little dull. It’s like watching a random episode of The Walking Dead minus the zombies and poor American accent to liven things up. Even hours later, I’m struggling to remember anything that happened in it, it’s just so forgettable.

Bonus Episode #42 – Rape and Revenge: I Spit on Your Grave (1972)
Directed by Meir Zarchi

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Screw it, might as well finish off all the most notable classic controversial horror movies this year (I’ll get to The Devils one day when it gets a full, proper release and Nekromantik and Snuff probably never). If the other titles at least have their prominent defenders (often deservedly so), I Spit on Your Grave lacks that. You’ll get the random take that it’s a feminist film but for the most part it’s considered misogynistic, poorly made trash. I’ve taken the piss out of Roger Ebert here quite a few times but his assessment that the film is the worst movie he’s ever seen is not unique one.

Before we get to this film however, a quick look at the rape and revenge genre. As is hardly shocking considering the first word of it, the genre has generated quite the controversy especially during its peak period in the 1970s. The genre generally follows the three steps of 1) Rape 2) Recover 3) Revenge (by either the person raped or their family) especially in the purest examples. Despite its reputation, the genre dates back to Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (admittedly one of his least regarded works) and in film to Ingmar Bergman’s rightfully acclaimed The Virgin Spring. The ‘70s (though preceeded by 1967’s Riot on Sunset Strip) however brought this to the exploitation market with films such as The Last House on the Left and Thriller – A Cruel Picture though more mainstream action and thriller films such as Straw DogsDeath Wish, and Sudden Impact and foreign titles (Lady Snowblood) also took advantage of it.

Starting in the ‘90s, something shifted and it became okay for such films to be critically acclaimed. Partly because they were often far better made but also because they escaped association with a market known for attracting viewers with boobs and blood. Sleepers and the adaptation Titus were released while Quentin Tarantino included nods to the genre in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. The 00’s continued this trend even further with Irréversible (which did the genre in reverse owing to its format), Sin CityHard Candy, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with actual horror titles coming in the form of ShutterTeethAmerican Mary, and I Saw the Devil.

The plot of I Spit on Your Grave is the rape and revenge film at its most basic. Four men, one of whom is a stereotypical mentally challenged person of the era (who goes along to make “friends”) rape a visiting woman once, they seemingly let her go but nope, that’s only the start as this process repeats itself for a half hour. She’s covered in dirt and blood, beaten and nearly killed surviving only because they send the mentally challenged man in alone to finish her off but he spares her then lies and says he did. One of the film’s biggest undoings is just how stupid its characters are. I know country rapists aren’t exactly the brightest tools in the shed, but the film is only allowed to continue because they repeatedly act in the dumbest possible manner and not even in a believable way.

After the woman washes herself off she sets out to get her revenge. SPOILERS She lures the mentally challenged man into the woods wearing a pure white nightgown (and just for a second the film started to resemble a far superior and stylish movie), seduces him, and as he is having sex with her she ties a noose around his neck and hangs him. Next she seduces the second guy (and really, are you that fucking dense) and cuts off his genitals, she listens to classical music as he screams in pain and struggles to escape the locked bathroom as the film again threatens to be something more than it is. Finally, she waits for the other two to come to him, pushes the one off the boat and circles around him a bunch of times before killing the other with an axe she steals from him and killing the one she pushed off the boat with her outboard motor (what idiot grabs the freaking motor after you know she has already killed the other three people). END OF SPOILERS They are so aggressively stupid that it dulls the impact, the revenge scenes stretched out forever and leaving me constantly checking the clock.

I do think the film has good intentions, it just fails completely. It’s pretty ineptly made with the visuals equivalent to that of any exploitation film of the era. The couple times it nearly becomes something better wind up feel incongruous in the end. While, it does have the scene where the rapist tries to justify himself by saying she was asking for it, a disturbingly a real occurrence to this day, for the most part it just plays as female wish fulfillment movie that doesn’t fulfill. I can’t say I hate it, it’s worse, I just dismiss it as it’s tedious to watch. It’s Last House on the Left without the awkward comedic bits (that’s good) and without the talent (that’s bad) and filled with so much padding that it has become more padding than movie. I feel like I should offer a defense for it from its contemporary critics but frankly it’s not worth it.

Bonus Episode #43 – Silent: The Monster (1925)
Directed by Roland West

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It’s far from a well-known title, but The Monster is quite the forerunner to a lot of genres. It’s an early horror-comedy though generally more horror in tone. Like The Cat and the Canary it’s humor largely comes from a comic relief protagonist but this time he’s of the hacky, bumbling comic relief type which infects so many silent films. It’s also perhaps the first “old dark house” movie (predating The Old Dark House) taking place in an old mostly abandoned asylum which is the films main selling point. It’s also an early “mad scientist movie” though predated by Frankenstein and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari with Lon Chaney Sr. as the pale, creepy mad doctor giving an at times Boris Karloff like performance while other times really hamming it up.

The story concerns a wealthy man goes missing and the attempts of an amateur detective, our pathetic lead, sets out to look for him. This leads to the asylum SPOILERS where the inmates have taken over. END OF SPOILERS There’s a nifty shot of a woman grabbed by hands and slowly lowered into the ground with one of those lifts they use for coffins. You don’t come to me for silent film reviews, but The Monster isn’t one of the better titles out there. It has atmosphere and not much else. There’s also a very obvious and prominent blackface/body performance which constantly pissed me off.

Bonus Episode #S-7 – Psychological: Laura Panic (2008)
Directed by Adam Wingard

Bonus Episode #S-8 – Psychological: Cerebella (2009)
Directed by Adam Wingard

Bonus Episode #S-9 – Psychological: Her Name is Laura Panic (2009)
Directed by Adam Wingard

 

 

Adam Wingard is responsible for two recent great horror movies in You’re Next and The Guest even if by most accounts his Blair Witch film was a bit of a misfire. He also contributed to the first to V/H/S films. Before he made those films however, he made a handful of low budget shorts and features including this trio of shorts comprising the “Forgot My Meds” trilogy.

The first short is narrated by a girl stalking a man she has a crush on and seems convinced that this is the start of a beautiful relationship while simultaneously denying what she is doing is stalking. After she’s caught by his roommate she murders him and never breaks he cheerful, sweet narration, believing this to just be one more funny story in the quirky tale that is their life.

The second continues the almost juvenile sounding narration. She has her own hotel room and while first everything seems perfectly charming, it’s slowly revealed that time is slipping away from her as she keeps from falling asleep. She keeps up the giggling narration even as her body and mind clearly deteriorates. It’s all very vague as we never get why she is there or who this weird looking dude who picks he up is, if she’s actually happy to see him or if that’s just part of the gimmick and I don’t know, it’s just pretty unsatisfying.

The third ties back into the first one in the lead character (though not especially plot wise) who is convinced he boyfriend is from outer space. This time we also get to alternate with the male’s narration to confirm how weird and mysterious she is. The visuals are even more so now seemingly pulled just right out of an indie romance. She really is just pure quirk.

All three shorts look really good and they aren’t long, but they just aren’t especially fulfilling. It’s basically a one note joke and not a great one at that. Still, they are worth a look if you are a Wingard fan if only to see the early inklings of something special.

Bonus Episode #S-10 –Supernatural: The Sandman (1991)
Directed by Paul Berry

It’s not often horror gets nominated for an Oscar so we have to celebrate when something like this animated short breaks through. Using beautifully grotesque stop motion and drawing from gothic and especially German Expressionist horror (particularly in all the hallways and windows that seem to exist at strange angles), the short tells of a normal child filled with fear of the night being stalked by the titular creature. It’s fun, suspenseful, and weird and a great watch.

Bonus Episode #44 – Body Horror: Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)
Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto

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Splatter films may depict the copious liberation of blood from the body, body horror offers something far more grotesque. They truly destroy the body or change it into something that should not be. While dating back to the murderous hands of the oft-adapted The Hands of Orlac and later examples including The BlobThe Fly, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it was the ‘70s where the genre got its real start.

David Cronenberg is the patron saint of body horror, his films finding truly disturbing ways to fuck with the human body starting with his 1975 film Shivers.Videodrome with its stomach vagina and the merging of a gun and hand, The Fly in it’s genuinely unnerving transformation of Jeff Goldblum into a human-fly hybrid (including that damned fingernail scene), the surgeries of Dead Ringers, and the shameful fact that I haven’t seen eXistenZ. As vaguely hinted before, the works of <lovecraft> inspiring body horror classics such as AlienEvil DeadThe ThingRe-AnimatorFrom Beyond, and Event Horizon. In case you didn’t notice already I love this stuff and the 80s was packed to the teeth with it (though this skips obvious 70s choices like Eraserhead, the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and the garbage The Incredible Melting Man), additional films including Altered StatesHellraiser (a series that runs on pure body horror), AkiraBrain Damage, and today’s film Tetsuo: The Iron Man.

For the next fifteen years the genre slowed though films such as Jacob’s LadderBraindead, the aforementioned Event HorizonAuditionIchi the Killer, and Cabin Fever were released all containing body horror to some degree. Since 2006 though, the genre has come back, if not to its peak, then at least a new boom. Films such as SlitherTeethRepo! The Genetic OperaThe RuinsSplinterThe Human Centipede (had to at least mention it), American MaryAntiviral (from David Cronenberg’s son), Under the SkinClownSpringStarry Eyes, and

have done so to a frequently impressive degree (I’ll leave it to you to guess which four of the first five films I liked).

Predating the recent Japanese horror boom by nearly a decade is this low budget cyberpunk horror film. Three minutes in and I’m already on edge with the stabbing of the leg, insertion of the metal rod (and accompanying maggots), and the running of the metal rod between the teeth. The man (who we’ll call the fetishist) runs out into the street and is hit, his body dumped and he’s left for dead by the lead character (who we’ll call the salaryman for clarity). The fetishist seeks to get revenge on him by turning him into the titular iron man all from the “comforts” of his indescribable metal filled set up.

The film is genuinely unpleasant to look at even beyond the obvious and I could feel myself just getting sick from the movement of the camera. It looks like someone taped off of a VHS recording two or three times of a ‘90s Nine Inch Nails video. It’s the original shaky-cam action film. When I make the comparison to a music video, it really does feel like an extended music video less than an actual film. Well maybe a student film at least. The film is real low budget in looks and incredibly stylized and arty making it really tough at times to tell what the hell is going on or now much is real.

It’s less a film of plot and more one of experience. A woman with a hybrid mechanical arm and controlled by the fetishist chases the salaryman. Metal starts growing out of his body out of his ankles, his arm, the side of his face… his pecker and he has dream about being brutalized by his girlfriend who has what can be best described as a metal tentacle dick. SPOILERS This same girlfriend is killed by his penis drill and more and more of his body is taken over by metal until he is more metal than man. The fetishist emerges from the body of his girlfriend chasing him until the two men are merged together and seek to destroy the world together and turn it to metal. END OF SPOILERS

I have no clue how any of this make sense but I’m not sure if it is even supposed to. People are frequently moving around by choppy stop motion as if Peter Gabriel has shown up only it is a driving industrial soundtrack. There’s very little dialogue not that what does exists helps clarify things. The effects are gruesome and pretty impressive especially considering the budget. It’s just a fun mess of a movie meant to be experienced, of course assuming you can take the often hard to watch body horror.

Bonus Episode #45 – Gothic Horror: Morgiana (1972)
Directed by Juraj Herz

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From the director of one of last year’s Month of Horror standouts The Crematorcomes this gothic horror tale. I would have watched another Gerald Kargl and Ingmar Bergman film to honor the director of the other top films of last year but Kargl never made another film after Angst and Bergman only ever made the one horror film in Hour of the Wolf so the solo honor falls to Herz. Also it feels only right that Herz led off 2015’s Month of Horror and helps close out 2016’s. Though he has directed films as recently as 2010’s acclaimed Habermann and a segment of 2014’s Slovensko 2.0), Herz is an often overlooked Czechoslovakian director (and also apparently an actor) that had his prime in the late ‘60s and ‘70’s with the horror titles The CrematorMorgianaBeauty and the Beast, and The Ninth Heart and the dramas Oil Lamps and Day for My Love.

Don’t go expecting another masterpiece here though. Morgiana is a tale of two sisters (and the name of the cat) both played by Iva Janzurová. She plays them quite differently buried under a ton of makeup (especially eye makeup), colorful clothing, and huge goofy wigs. The film lacks the typical appearance of a gothic horror but it has everything else associated with the genre. One inherits the family fortune while the other is consumed by jealousy and takes to slowly poisoning her. Things proceed pretty standardly from there with the requisite confrontations and blackmail SPOILERS until the sister ultimately takes off her wig and hangs herself, the ironic twist being that the poison she was using, while making her sister sick, wasn’t ever going to kill her. END OF SPOILERS It’s a fine movie but I just didn’t care for the visual style and it was a big letdown and stylistic diversion from The Cremator.

Bonus Episode #S-11 – Silent: Byt (1968)
Directed by Jan Švankmajer

Speaking of acclaimed Czech directors, Jan Švankmajer is usually one of the first listed. He’s known for his surreal Gilliam and Brothers Quay inspiring work which frequently makes use of claymation. I mentioned him before with his Marquis de Sade influenced Poe adaptation Lunacy his other most well-known film is his 1988 Alice in Wonderland adaptation Alice. Yet the reason I chose this one was instead out of a chance to see Juraj Herz act (and the fact that it is a very short watch). To be fair, Herz is barely in the film, but it counts.

Here a man tumbles into a room and follows some arrows on the floor, exploring the room with all its surreal properties. The film’s rather funny is a dark almost cruel sort of way as we watch the room conspires against him. It’s almost Wile E. Coyote like in the way the room keeps snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The film is silent and filled with frequent stop motion which I’m always a fan of it serves the humor well here.

Bonus Episode #S-12 – Sci-Fi: The Captured Bird (2012)
Directed by Jovanka Vuckovic

I will admit that I don’t pay too much to gender when it comes to directors, but it’s hard to deny that even compared to other genres, horror is an especially male dominated field. Heck, this is the first film/short/whatever with a female director of the month for this feature. That’s not to say there aren’t female directors making horror movies such as Claire Denis (Trouble Every Day), Kathryn Bigelow (Near Dark), Rachel Talalay (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare), Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary), Antonia Bird (Ravenous), Mary Harron (American Psycho), Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s BodyThe Invitation), the Soska Sisters (American Mary), Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night) Julia Ducournau (Raw), and Jennifer Kent (The Babadook) but the fact that I can list every prominent one and film is pretty sad.

Still, there’s always time to change that though and so I chose this recent title. A girl (Kira from Orphan Black) sees some water flowing up from the ground and follows it up to an impressive looking castle. I know I wouldn’t have turned and ran the hell out of their if I saw maggots spilling out of the drain pipe but maybe I’m just a wuss. The inside is filled with tentacles in the ceiling, blood dripping down the walls, unsettling looking, floating aliens and it’s all really impressive visually. There’s not much to the story, just some nice special effects and a nice build.

Bonus Episode #46 – Psychological: Emilie (2015)
Directed by Michael Thelin

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It’s going to be hard not being spoiler-y here but I’ll try to hide the relevant details. Starts with the kidnapping of a young woman SPOILERS later “revealed” to be the real Anna. If your title is an obvious spoiler, maybe you are doing something wrong movie. END OF SPOILERS Then again, let’s net pretend the film is trying to hide anything. The film concerns a babysitter taking care of three kids cutting back and forth to scenes of the parents at dinner. I’d say that the scenes with the parents bring the film to a screeching halt and never builds to anything but that’s implying that the rest of the movie ever gets any pace going. Instead of slowly building things up with how trustworthy the babysitter is, they just dive into her convincing the kids to play with things they aren’t supposed to, eat too many cookies, draw on the walls, feed the pet mouse to the pet snake and forcing the daughter to watch, force them to watch a video of their parents having sex, giving them a gun to play with.

END OF SPOILERS The babysitter apparently had a kid who accidently died because of her but is unable to biologically have another kid so she plans to steal the youngest kid and the whiny oldest son has to find a way to fight back. Emelie is supposed to be the next fun psychopath but there’s nothing special about her and she’s not fooling anyone. END OF SPOILERS When she tells one of the kids to come into the bathroom with her and while she is sitting on the toilet asks him to fetch her a tampon, it’s the only time her actions get vaguely uncomfortable. The movie is just one long wait for when she finally breaks, and it’s far from worth it. I’m not afraid for these kids, they are far too stupid to matter.

Bonus Episode #47 – Sci-Fi: Village of the Damned (1995)
Directed by John Carpenter

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What better way to close out a month of horror movies than John Carpenter? Well maybe by not picking Village of the Damned as that movie but the only other horror film of his I haven’t see is The Ward and that’s even less promising. The original Village of the Damned is a classic and hugely influential movie (that I will always imagine its title being recited by Jessica Stevenson) of the creepy kid variety and it even spawned a great sequel in Children of the Damned. Combined with the director of such classic horror movies as HalloweenThe FogThe ThingThey Live, and the previous year’s In the Mouth of Madness there’s no reason to suspect that the film would be any different even as an Americanized remake.

Filling out the cast with Christopher Reeve as the doctor, Kirstie Alley as the scientist, Mark Hamill as the priest (who barely does anything), and a young Thomas Dekker is certainly the first indication something’s up though. The basic plot is very similar to the original but instead it just kept reminding me how much I’d rather be watching that film. A blackout knocks out every living thing in town for hours and in the interim ten women become pregnant. They all progress at the same rate and give birth at the same time to nine kids (one mother miscarries) are blond (almost white) haired with psychic powers. They get more and more powerful causing fatal “accidents” to anyone who annoys them and keeping the town in fear, with the government and especially Alley keeps an eye on them SPOILERS as it is revealed that this is not the only occurrence around the world. END OF SPOILERS They all pair off except for one whose intended was stillborn and shows some signs of individuality and emotion. SPOILERS I think there was supposed to be some ambiguity with his ending but it just seemed like more than anything someone forgot to turn the camera off. END OF SPOILERS

The psychic effects on the kids are fine, they just have to stand there after all, but the adults frequently take the opportunity to overact when they are possessed, especially the terrible Reeve. The film does its best when it plays things subtly, thought the badly burnt body from falling on the grill was a terrific shot, less so when it is flinging cars into gas tanks. The film threatens to get interesting with what appears to be a self-autopsy but of course it can’t show any of it and end about 20 seconds in.

The film is tedious to watch as we see so many stupid people being stupid. You fucking know they have the power to make people do things against their will, why do you keep provoking them by making fun of them and going after then slowly with melee weapons. SPOILERS Why is the fucking army here when they are about to blow up the town (well besides the obvious answer of they wanted a bunch of senseless shooting for the climax)? END OF SPOILERS What the heck is Christopher Reeve doing with his face? What is Kirstie Alley going for in her performance? Why do they keep them under direct observation instead of doing something more despite knowing they have these powers and are responsible for various deaths?

Well we’ve come to the end of another exhausting freaking month of horror movies. Considering my word document has a total of 122 pages and 68066 words as opposed to the 64 pages and 31,399 words of last year (which I called then “a bit depressing”, I may have bitten off more than I can chew this year. I also managed to watch in the horror genre (I refuse to disclose the non-horror films on the grounds that it may incriminate me) 78 films, 12 shorts, 1 TV episode, and a miniseries up from 62 films, 3 shorts, and 1 TV episode. While it is largely because this year’s theme was genres (of which the completely arbitrary total comes to 40) and not nations, the number of representatives this year was down sharply to 8 from 38 countries the year before though we had one new nation in Cuba gets its day in the sun. I’m determined to do better next year and hopefully pick up that last 11 to get to 50.

Thank you to everyone who read and commented, you gave me a reason to pretend the hours a day I spent writing was worth it. As stressful as this could be at times, I guess I should give the universe credit for allowing me to stick pretty damn close to my schedule and only missed a few films I had seriously planned on getting to (ran out of time before getting to the remake of I Spit on Your Grave and the other 1928 version of The Fall of the House of Usher, TCM went and lied about playing Lars Von Trier’s Epidemic, I found out Varan the Unbelievable was dubbed and noped out of it, and I got about five minutes into Microwave Massacre before realizing I had seen it before). Without any further ado, here are my top and bottom five of the month.

Five Best
1) Bone Tomahawk
2) Kuroneko
3) Hush
4) Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival
5) Piranha

Five Worst
1) Voodoo Woman
2) The Rage: Carrie 2
3) Leprechaun 2
4) Leprechaun 3
5) The Brain Eaters

Complete Schedule