the assurance of the mask or Halloween movie fest pt. 3

Not too much news, but I will have a few installments of my first fright film fest this week. Click on the titles for trailers.

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 5.36.27 PM

X —The Unknown (1956)
Fun sci-fi horror that is basically The Blob before The Blob. A Hammer production, originally meant to be a Quatermass movie, X—The Unknown takes me back to late nights as a kid watching old movies. There are some fun effects in the film, including a melting man. I tried to research why the camerawork is so strange. The camera moves a lot, but there are a lot of jumps and the background is warped. Maybe it was an experimental lens or something. Several years ago, I attempted to watch the film list in Stephen King’s Danse Macabre, but I couldn’t find all of the entries, including this one. That’s changed a lot now. I watched it on YouTube.

Nightmare City (1980) (A trailer not for the squeamish!)
The only repeat so far in this personal film fest. This one is pure exploitation silliness. Irradiated “zombies” burst from the belly of a plane and begin killing and drinking blood. I call this an example of the Continental zombie (as opposed to the Pittsburgh zombie), one in a series of fast moving zombie films before 28 Days Later. These zombies aren’t afraid of hand-to-hand combat, even with fully-armed soldiers. And that’s just in the first ten minutes.

Possession (1981)
I don’t know where to start with this one. I don’t even know if I like it or not. At times, it reminds me of a bulky Repulsion mixed with the strangest moments of Lynch. A part of me wants to dismiss the madness and marriage plot—part of the possession of the title—as mere whining. I wanted to tell the main characters to get over themselves! But that tentacled-doppelganger-sex-beast–What?! A weird one, for sure.

The Thing (2011)
The Thing (1982) is one of my favorites, so I think this prequel was probably doomed from the start for me. I watched with excitement as the filmmakers took seriously the recreation of the doomed Norwegian camp from the 1982 film. And while I liked some of the elements, the movie felt too much like a video game for me to really enjoy. Much of the existential horror of Carpenter’s vision is gutted here, not only because we know the outcome, but also because of variations on the alien and settings that, like I said, seemed designed to sell a video game rather than scare on audience.

The Sacrament (2013)
Probably my favorite Ti West film that I’ve seen. The casting and acting are great and the narrative begins interestingly enough. I love that even as a found footage film, West rarely resorts to shaky-cam shots. I’ve never liked that aspect of the genre. As always, though, the found footage concept runs its course before the film is over. My only real complaint is that once I realized the movie was a nod to the Jonestown Massacre, I was disappointed, only because it felt so similar. If a viewer were new to the nonfictional events that the film is based on, then I think they would have a different experience. I wonder how many folks caught the disturbing allusion to another real event that made it into the film?

Gene Jones is fantastic as "Father" in The Sacrament. He manages to pull off helpless and menacing at the same time.
Gene Jones is fantastic as “Father” in The Sacrament. He manages to pull off helpless and menacing at the same time.
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