Besides end-of-the-grading-period insanity this week has included respiratory illness! Multiple flat tires! Root canals! Homecoming week!
With all of this going on, I’ve kept up with the horror movie marathon I mentioned previously. This week I realized that I have been watching horror films for over three decades. Yikes. A recap:
A Page of Madness (1926)
A Japanese experimental silent movie that reminds me mostly of films by Kenneth Anger and Maya Deren made decades later. There’s maybe some Murnau and Wiene influences, as well as Leger. Yeah, Leger’s Ballet Mecanique seems like a definite influence. Eisenstein? Takes place in an institution. Not traditional horror (then again, what was at the time?), but on the margins. I could watch films like this all day and, honestly, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. You can watch the entire movie below.
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) [Click the titles for trailers.]
O, Classic Hollywood! Of all people, Robert Anton Wilson led me to this one. Wilson liked Eastwood’s films and the connection here would be the meditation on a moral dilemma. Here we have eternal youth and beauty traded for heart and soul. Worth watching for George Sanders’s performance as Lord Henry, the beautiful cinematography, and a young Angela Lansbury. A classic, but certainly not what younger folks would consider a horror film. Hurd Hatfield’s performance as Gray is robotic at best, but I’ve read that he was directed to perform this way.
The Sadistic Baron von Klaus (1962)
Here’s Jess Franco working with classic elements of Gothic horror: the ghost story, the castle, the skeletons, the damaged aristocratic family, the swamp (instead of a moor). Franco’s films are always flawed–many cite money as a reason–well, maybe. It takes a particular kind of viewer to deal with the expectations and letdowns that any Franco film has with it. While you feel that he’s stretching material at times, you also get some interesting camerawork and spectacular music and sometimes thrillingly brilliant imagery. Franco was a musician himself and I’ve often enjoyed his musical sensibility. With Franco I’ve often felt he’s always on the verge of doing something incredible, but doesn’t. Like I said, this is for those peculiar masochistic viewers who know what to expect with Franco or are film junkies.
Kill, Baby…Kill! (1966)
Another in a long line of awesomely but inappropriately named Italian horror films. This one was directed by one of the Godfathers: Mario Bava. (I just found this doc!) This movie had a bizarre color palette and I couldn’t figure out if it was on purpose or not. Other than that, this is another Gothic film that is not too far from The Ring or The Grudge, albeit decades before those books or movies. This would be a good movie to watch with the kids when they decide they want to watch scary movies, but they’re not sure how they’ll handle them. Lots of midnight movie mood.