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 Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018 
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Takoma1 wrote:
A horror film with a number in its title (not a sequel number): The 400 Tricks of the Devil (1906)

This is a silent film by Melies (and available on YouTube).

The film follows a man, Crackford, who wants to go on a quick trip around the world. An alchemist (Satan in disguise) sells him some magic pills that grant wishes. Crackford signs a contract for them, not realizing he's sold his soul to the devil. As Crackford tries to go about his work, he and his manservant are tormented by devils and other mysterious happenings.

This film is basically a series of well-staged on-screen magic, and I loved it. There's something consistently entertaining about the way that devils pour, clown-car like, from different unexpected places. I also liked the weird movements of the puppets employed, especially the skeletal horse pulling a carriage.

This was a really fun film, but it also had some creepy parts, like with the horse or a part where Crackford's family is seemingly killed and he just shrugs it off. Highly recommended.


Have you seen other Méliès shorts?

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Thu Oct 04, 2018 9:53 pm
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I've seen several of Melies' shorts before. They can be fun to watch at times if you're into surrealism.

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Fri Oct 05, 2018 12:38 am
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Thief wrote:

Have you seen other Méliès shorts?


I feel like I've seen a few (Trip to the Moon for example). Silents aren't always my thing.

But you guys should definitely check this one out--very available on YouTube.


Fri Oct 05, 2018 7:12 am
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Takoma1 wrote:

I feel like I've seen a few (Trip to the Moon for example). Silents aren't always my thing.

But you guys should definitely check this one out--very available on YouTube.


Several years ago, my wife bought me a boxset with 100+ of his short films and I saw a good bunch of them, but I don't think I ever saw that one. Anyway, I asked because being a magician before, most of his shorts rely on that kind of routines.

On a sorta "horror" related note, I liked his 1901 short of Bluebeard. Pretty solid.

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Fri Oct 05, 2018 10:30 am
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A horror exploitation or B-movie
A classic horror film you've never seen
A horror cult classic film
A film from the 1970s



The Last House on the Left (1972)

Geez, this was so bad in so many ways. Cheap and amateurish no matter how you look at it. Bad acting, cheap execution, poor script, choppy editing, awkward use of music. I didn't even find it particularly gory, just tedious through most of its first two acts. The last act really didn't feel cohesive and felt equal parts silly (with the parents setting up booby traps and whatnot) and equal parts exploitative (yeah, I know it's supposed to be an "exploitation" movie, but it just doesn't work). Mandatory viewing only for extreme cinephiles or Wes Craven completists.

Grade: D

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Fri Oct 05, 2018 10:40 am
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Thief wrote:
A horror exploitation or B-movie
A classic horror film you've never seen
A horror cult classic film
A film from the 1970s



The Last House on the Left (1972)

Geez, this was so bad in so many ways. Cheap and amateurish no matter how you look at it. Bad acting, cheap execution, poor script, choppy editing, awkward use of music. I didn't even find it particularly gory, just tedious through most of its first two acts. The last act really didn't feel cohesive and felt equal parts silly (with the parents setting up booby traps and whatnot) and equal parts exploitative (yeah, I know it's supposed to be an "exploitation" movie, but it just doesn't work). Mandatory viewing only for extreme cinephiles or Wes Craven completists.

Grade: D


I thought it was very good. But I also never want to see it again.

Here's Roger Ebert's 3 1/2-star review of it from 1972:

"Last House on the Left is a tough, bitter little sleeper of a movie that's about four times as good as you'd expect... What does come through in Last House on the Left is a powerful narrative, told so directly and strongly that the audience (mostly in the mood for just another good old exploitation film) was rocked back on its psychic heels. Wes Craven's direction never lets us out from under almost unbearable dramatic tension... The acting is unmannered and natural, I guess. There's no posturing. There's a good ear for dialogue and nuance. And there is evil in this movie."
(Full review: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/last-house-on-the-left-1972)

I don't post this to contradict you but only to engender discussion.


Fri Oct 05, 2018 10:52 am
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Thief wrote:
A horror exploitation or B-movie
A classic horror film you've never seen
A horror cult classic film
A film from the 1970s



The Last House on the Left (1972)

Geez, this was so bad in so many ways. Cheap and amateurish no matter how you look at it. Bad acting, cheap execution, poor script, choppy editing, awkward use of music. I didn't even find it particularly gory, just tedious through most of its first two acts. The last act really didn't feel cohesive and felt equal parts silly (with the parents setting up booby traps and whatnot) and equal parts exploitative (yeah, I know it's supposed to be an "exploitation" movie, but it just doesn't work). Mandatory viewing only for extreme cinephiles or Wes Craven completists.

Grade: D


I have a complicated relationship with this film. I watched it alone at college, the period in my life when I was most becoming independent and being far away from my family for an extended period of time. It was the first time in my life that I was really able to watch whatever I wanted. It made a pretty strong impression on me. In fact, it's the reason I joined Rotten Tomatoes back in 2002 because I wanted to talk about it with somebody. (I was like "So this movie is really something, right?!" and MASSIVEminiature was very nicely but firmly like "No, it is garbage."). I will grant the film that it is disturbing. I think that it appealed to me in the very brief stint where I was indulging in cynical, extreme-seeking late teenagerhood. I doubt I could watch it today.

I think that what I like least about it is the weird celebratory tone that some fans and people involved with it have about its more gross elements. For example, I have now read in three different places that one of the actors playing a villain told one of the girls that if she messed up in the scene he would rape her "for real" and that no one would stop him because they would think it was just them acting. All three places I read this reported it like a charming little anecdote.


Fri Oct 05, 2018 10:56 am
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Wooley wrote:

I thought it was very good. But I also never want to see it again.

Here's Roger Ebert's 3 1/2-star review of it from 1972:

"Last House on the Left is a tough, bitter little sleeper of a movie that's about four times as good as you'd expect... What does come through in Last House on the Left is a powerful narrative, told so directly and strongly that the audience (mostly in the mood for just another good old exploitation film) was rocked back on its psychic heels. Wes Craven's direction never lets us out from under almost unbearable dramatic tension... The acting is unmannered and natural, I guess. There's no posturing. There's a good ear for dialogue and nuance. And there is evil in this movie."
(Full review: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/last-house-on-the-left-1972)

I don't post this to contradict you but only to engender discussion.


I disagree in pretty much everything he said. I would say the film is the complete opposite of nuance. I can forgive the technical failures, considering it was Craven's debut and, as far as I read, most of the crew were rookies in the business. But in times when there were other debuting filmmakers doing impressive stuff, there's no excuse for bad writing or just bad execution. This failed to impress me. Heck, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre touches similar notes in terms of bluntness and plot but the execution is far more superior than this.

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Fri Oct 05, 2018 11:02 am
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I've spent way too many posts going to bat for Last House while claiming simultaneously that it's not very good. Basically I think the clash of tones it goes for (cheerful innocence vs grim violence) is interesting in concept but horrendously executed. Here's what I wrote about it a few years back when I saw it in a theatre. (If I remember correctly, I actually ran into Crumbsroom during my viewing.) I think Ebert's wrong (both about this one and Straw Dogs which he also brings up in his review), but I think he's onto something when talking about the impact of its most harrowing scenes: "...told so directly and strongly that the audience (mostly in the mood for just another good old exploitation film) was rocked back on its psychic heels."

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Fri Oct 05, 2018 11:32 am
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Rock wrote:
I've spent way too many posts going to bat for Last House while claiming simultaneously that it's not very good. Basically I think the clash of tones it goes for (cheerful innocence vs grim violence) is interesting in concept but horrendously executed. Here's what I wrote about it a few years back when I saw it in a theatre. (If I remember correctly, I actually ran into Crumbsroom during my viewing.) I think Ebert's wrong (both about this one and Straw Dogs which he also brings up in his review), but I think he's onto something when talking about the impact of its most harrowing scenes: "...told so directly and strongly that the audience (mostly in the mood for just another good old exploitation film) was rocked back on its psychic heels."


That's a great blog post and I pretty much agree with 90% of it (the bad/uneven acting, David Hess being an exception, the shifts in tone, the bumbling sheriff/deputy). The part I more strongly disagree with you is in regards to the last act, which I already mentioned in my above post. As a matter of fact, I have the same issues with the last act of Nightmare on Elm Street, where Craven spends a good amount of time following his lead star preparing silly booby traps.

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Fri Oct 05, 2018 11:43 am
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Between those two movies and The Hills Have Eyes, it's a shame Craven never made a Home Alone movie.

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Fri Oct 05, 2018 11:46 am
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Rock wrote:
Between those two movies and The Hills Have Eyes, it's a shame Craven never made a Home Alone movie.


Can you imagine Macaulay Culkin putting a chainsaw through Joe Pesci?

I can.

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Fri Oct 05, 2018 11:48 am
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Thief wrote:

Can you imagine Macaulay Culkin putting a chainsaw through Joe Pesci?

I can.

Last Home Alone on the Left

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Fri Oct 05, 2018 11:50 am
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Thief wrote:

That's a great blog post and I pretty much agree with 90% of it (the bad/uneven acting, David Hess being an exception, the shifts in tone, the bumbling sheriff/deputy). The part I more strongly disagree with you is in regards to the last act, which I already mentioned in my above post. As a matter of fact, I have the same issues with the last act of Nightmare on Elm Street, where Craven spends a good amount of time following his lead star preparing silly booby traps.

Well, Wes Craven is a Third-Act disaster possibly greater than Nolan.
Consider the third act of ANoES, Red Eye, Last House. In many ways, these are actually the exact same with the protagonist(s) setting traps for the villain(s) in a weird final-battle that doesn't really work compared to the rest of the movie(s). Like if he just kept doing it over and over again he might get it right. And the climax of Scream was actually the weakest part of that film as well, also true of Scream 2.
I don't know why but that really was his (greatest) weakness.
It's hard to believe he directed Meryl Streep.


Fri Oct 05, 2018 11:53 am
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Wooley wrote:
Well, Wes Craven is a Third-Act disaster possibly greater than Nolan.
Consider the third act of ANoES, Red Eye, Last House. In many ways, these are actually the exact same with the protagonist(s) setting traps for the villain(s) in a weird final-battle that doesn't really work compared to the rest of the movie(s). Like if he just kept doing it over and over again he might get it right. And the climax of Scream was actually the weakest part of that film as well, also true of Scream 2.
I don't know why but that really was his (greatest) weakness.
It's hard to believe he directed Meryl Streep.


I had never connected those dots, but you're right. I would add New Nightmare to the list.

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Fri Oct 05, 2018 11:59 am
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Thief wrote:

I had never connected those dots, but you're right. I would add New Nightmare to the list.

I thought about it, but my memory of that one was a little fuzzy.


Fri Oct 05, 2018 1:24 pm
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Rock wrote:
If I remember correctly, I actually ran into Crumbsroom during my viewing.


Yes, I was there, thankfully not alone as per usual because going to such a movie as this by yourself is just such a creep move (as one might feel going to Salo solo...I will assume). I got roped in because a friend wanted to see it regardless of how shit I told him it was. The big dummy had to see it for himself (even though I also informed him he already had years before)

I've watched it an inexplicable number of times for a movie I (at very best) grudgingly tolerate. Having seen it the first time much too young, in the company of my father, it is indelibly scratched on my brain as one of the most uncomfortable viewing experiences of my life. So I think this is part of what keeps drawing me back. I'm a masochist, after all, and like to relive terrible memories. As many times as I've seen it (6, 7...8?) I never convince myself to like it though. But like yourself, I will sometimes chime in to defend it when someone trashes it, regardless that it is pretty clearly an uneven movie, with much more not working than working. And much of what doesn't work is absolutely terrible. The worst. Other problems with it are it is unpleasant in ways that it doesn't justify by the end. Not that a movie has to justify its ugliness, but I feel Craven was attempting to do so, and considering how badly he flubs the final reel, I always end up irritated by the whole thing once it finishes.

It does have legitimate menace though. The scene in the convicts apartment is genuinely claustrophobic and the performances feel authentic here. There is also the scene I always mention where the villains feel remorse after one of their horrible acts. Camera pans across the victim. Dirty and grass covered hands in close up. Faces staring at what they've done, blankly. A slow march to the edge of a lake. An execution that plays out as grimly inevitable. A woman silently disappearing beneath the surface of the water. Craven would never direct something so powerful again, which is unexpected considering it is not a movie that one would expect to have any kind of emotional finesse whatsoever.

Regardless of this though, ten minutes of quality filmmaking are not nearly enough to qualify it as anything worth watching much beyond 'historical importance'. Hills Have Eyes is the go to Craven for me. It is the boobey trapped finale that Craven actually manages to nail.


Fri Oct 05, 2018 11:15 pm
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crumbsroom wrote:

Yes, I was there, thankfully not alone as per usual because going to such a movie as this by yourself is just such a creep move (as one might feel going to Salo solo...I will assume). I got roped in because a friend wanted to see it regardless of how shit I told him it was. The big dummy had to see it for himself (even though I also informed him he already had years before)

I've watched it an inexplicable number of times for a movie I (at very best) grudgingly tolerate. Having seen it the first time much too young, in the company of my father, it is indelibly scratched on my brain as one of the most uncomfortable viewing experiences of my life. So I think this is part of what keeps drawing me back. I'm a masochist, after all, and like to relive terrible memories. As many times as I've seen it (6, 7...8?) I never convince myself to like it though. But like yourself, I will sometimes chime in to defend it when someone trashes it, regardless that it is pretty clearly an uneven movie, with much more not working than working. And much of what doesn't work is absolutely terrible. The worst. Other problems with it are it is unpleasant in ways that it doesn't justify by the end. Not that a movie has to justify its ugliness, but I feel Craven was attempting to do so, and considering how badly he flubs the final reel, I always end up irritated by the whole thing once it finishes.

It does have legitimate menace though. The scene in the convicts apartment is genuinely claustrophobic and the performances feel authentic here. There is also the scene I always mention where the villains feel remorse after one of their horrible acts. Camera pans across the victim. Dirty and grass covered hands in close up. Faces staring at what they've done, blankly. A slow march to the edge of a lake. An execution that plays out as grimly inevitable. A woman silently disappearing beneath the surface of the water. Craven would never direct something so powerful again, which is unexpected considering it is not a movie that one would expect to have any kind of emotional finesse whatsoever.

Regardless of this though, ten minutes of quality filmmaking are not nearly enough to qualify it as anything worth watching much beyond 'historical importance'. Hills Have Eyes is the go to Craven for me. It is the boobey trapped finale that Craven actually manages to nail.


I agree with pretty much everything. I was reading that the last shot of the victim floating in the lake was inspired by a painting, which is the kind of little things that somewhat shows that there was something here beyond the general "unpleasantness" and clumsy approach of the rest of the film. But it also serves to highlight the fact that the rest just doesn't work.

As for The Hills Have Eyes, I need to see that one. It's one of those films I'm pretty sure I saw when I was a kid/teen, but I don't remember at all. I kinda liked Aja's recent remake, though.

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Fri Oct 05, 2018 11:21 pm
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A horror comedy film:
A horror film starring someone you dislike: (Bill Maher)
A horror film under 90 minutes long:
A horror sequel:
A horror film from the 1980s


HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY

A baby pterodactyl was not something I expected from my Thursday evening, but here we are.
(Half-joking about the Maher thing. I'm generally on his side politically but he's just so smug. And I've yet to see a film that was improved by his presence.)

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Sat Oct 06, 2018 12:53 am
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If you didn't somewhat like Religuous (the Bill Maher documentary on religion), then you may be right on him not improving anything he's in. Will agree with the general smugness.

The Last House on the Left is a poor man's Virgin Spring. The 1972 Wes Craven film deals with some uneven acting, some gaping plot holes (um, how were they able to figure out the people weren't who they claimed to be?), and almost takes glee at the sadistic climax (this was made about the same time as I Spit on Your Grave, hmm). At the same time, there's also some power in the scenes in the middle and end of the film at times that it manages to compel as it also repels.

The 2009 remake is a lot slicker. Acting has improved, the writing is a touch clearer at times. But they made some big mistakes.

Such as having the teen daughter survive, but be wounded. While you bought the efforts of the parents in the original film to get catharsis by killing those who killed and defiled their daughter and her friend, in this version you keep wondering why one of them just doesn't bother taking her to the hospital considering her physical condition. If she dies, it would be the parents' fault as much as it would be the gang of thugs.


Also, I'd argue the slickness works against the film, putting a layer of inconceivability into the mix. The original's feel of grittiness and low budget, in contrast, makes what happens on screen feel more legitimate.


Sat Oct 06, 2018 2:36 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
A horror comedy film:
A horror film starring someone you dislike: (Bill Maher)
A horror film under 90 minutes long:
A horror sequel:
A horror film from the 1980s


HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY

A baby pterodactyl was not something I expected from my Thursday evening, but here we are.
(Half-joking about the Maher thing. I'm generally on his side politically but he's just so smug. And I've yet to see a film that was improved by his presence.)



I love that movie.

"Don't call me sir, I ain't no politician!"

Also features the greatest John Ratzenberger role in film history.


By the way, as far as 80's douchebags go, young Bill Maher takes the cake.

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Sat Oct 06, 2018 2:51 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
A horror comedy film:
A horror film starring someone you dislike: (Bill Maher)
A horror film under 90 minutes long:
A horror sequel:
A horror film from the 1980s


HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY

A baby pterodactyl was not something I expected from my Thursday evening, but here we are.
(Half-joking about the Maher thing. I'm generally on his side politically but he's just so smug. And I've yet to see a film that was improved by his presence.)

That movie is great fun, especially if you're high.


Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:38 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
If you didn't somewhat like Religuous (the Bill Maher documentary on religion), then you may be right on him not improving anything he's in. Will agree with the general smugness.

Right, I was referring to those films in which he was required to "act".

Death Proof wrote:
Also features the greatest John Ratzenberger role in film history.

Ratzenberger fills a very specific niche but he sure fills it well, doesn't he?

Death Proof wrote:
By the way, as far as 80's douchebags go, young Bill Maher takes the cake.

God, yes.

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Sat Oct 06, 2018 10:38 pm
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Captain Terror wrote:

Ratzenberger fills a very specific niche but he sure fills it well, doesn't he?



Image


Swear to god next time I need to get my business cards reprinted I'm adding "Adventurer" to them.

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Sat Oct 06, 2018 10:57 pm
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And in the words of Mortal Kombat, it has begun!

See a horror comedy
See a film that was made for under $5 million made after 1990 (190k-230k)
See a film under 90 minutes long (79 minutes)


Murder Party

The debut film of Jeremy Saulnier features a male meter maid who picks up an invitation to a "murder party" and finds himself up to his cardboard neck in a scheme by an artist collective to murder someone and turn it into art in exchange for some grant money. But things don't work out for them the way they're hoping for.

Although it's the least of Saulnier's works so far (haven't seen Hold the Dark yet), there's some pretty good laughs at work as the night goes on. Whether it's a bit of pumpkin bread with raisins which leads to unexpected consequences or the truth that comes out when everyone is injected with truth serum, it manages to entertain. And Saulnier doesn't skimp on the gore either.

Solid beginning.

See a documentary based on horror or horror movies
See a film with less than 5 major characters.


The Devil and Father Amorth

Landing somewhere between the opening of Al Capone's vault and a very special Dateline NBC episode, this documentary directed by William Friedkin spends the first ten minutes or so talking about The Exorcist and how it was supposedly based on an exorcism case in 1949. But it turned fictional when the family this belonged to wouldn't agree to tell their story to Blatty. Also, there's Friedkin at various sites for The Exorcist shilling a la Keith Morrison with uncredited written narration from Mark Kermode (egads!).

The story does turn to Gabrielle Amorth (the h is silent), a priest who fought with the Italian resistance in World War 2 and became a priest 10 years later. He's done almost 10,000 exorcisms over a 60 plus year career and combines some humor with his prayers. He also is apparently against Harry Potter, yoga, and thinks both Hitler and Stalin were possessed, but none of that makes the cut.

Friedkin makes like Robert Rodriguez and covers the ninth exorcism of a meek 35 year old architect who has been possessed years before. Over the following 15 minutes, Amorth does a full exorcism on Cristina that may or may not take. Afterwards, he discusses what happened with various medical and religious experts.

But from the audio uttered by Cristina that sounds like it has been suspiciously altered to the various pieces of scary music that come in mostly inappropriate times, one can't help but to think this documentary is about as fake as fool's gold. It manages to entertain for a while, but by the time we find out what happened to Cristina, we don't buy a single word that comes out of his mouth.

Bye.


Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:42 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
And in the words of Mortal Kombat, it has begun!

See a horror comedy
See a film that was made for under $5 million made after 1990 (190k-230k)
See a film under 90 minutes long (79 minutes)


Murder Party

The debut film of Jeremy Saulnier features a male meter maid who picks up an invitation to a "murder party" and finds himself up to his cardboard neck in a scheme by an artist collective to murder someone and turn it into art in exchange for some grant money. But things don't work out for them the way they're hoping for.

Although it's the least of Saulnier's works so far (haven't seen Hold the Dark yet), there's some pretty good laughs at work as the night goes on. Whether it's a bit of pumpkin bread with raisins which leads to unexpected consequences or the truth that comes out when everyone is injected with truth serum, it manages to entertain. And Saulnier doesn't skimp on the gore either.

Solid beginning.


I thought it was very medium. I found the lead funny, but a lot of the secondary characters more annoying than I think they were meant to be. I also found the critique of the art world kind of outdated (they think something real is an art installation--perhaps one of the most overused jokes I can think of).

Don't get me wrong--I didn't hate it. And I hadn't realized it was one of Saulnier's, so that explains some of the interesting, weird beats to the film and some interesting moments in how it embodied the main character's point of view.

Sir Lancelot the cat was my favorite character.


Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:06 pm
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A classic horror film you've never seen/A film from the 1920s: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

There have been many adaptations of this horror classic.

In this film, Dr. Jekyll is basically the Mary Sue of his social circle. He spends his days and evenings conducting scientific research between stints treating the sick and downtrodden. In his sparse free time he woos Millicent. Millicent's father, Sir George, is an A+ creeper who convinces Jekyll that he hasn't lived unless he's had enough "experiences." Jekyll is like "Hmm. Wouldn't it be nice if I could gamble, drink, smoke, and sleep with strippers, but without any consequences?" With this dubious motivation, Jekyll eventually finds away to split his good self from his evil self. But the incarnation of his base desires, Hyde, soon grows out of control.

I've read about this version of the Jekyll/Hyde story for several years now, usually with the emphasis on Barrymore's performances as the two halves of the main character. For the most part I felt like it really delivered. I was a bit worried, at first, with a few of the lines where men basically implied that women were causing men to be evil. But the film's main idea seems to be more that when we allow ourselves to do monstrous things, even if we imagine that we are compartmentalizing the evil, it will eventually bleed through to the rest of our lives.

My only real issue with this movie was that I didn't totally understand Jekyll's position. Hyde's base desires are rooted in Jekyll. Jekyll is sharing a body with Hyde, and thus essentially experiencing what Hyde experiences. I didn't totally get how this was supposed to let Jekyll off the hook for Hyde's behavior. Also, Jekyll after the split doesn't seem to change at all. That doesn't make much sense considering the way that it's explained is that the good and evil are being separated from each other.

But this is a minor complaint. I really liked this film, and especially a short but memorable nightmare sequence involving a giant spider. I watched this in HD on YouTube and it seemed to be a really beautiful print.


Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:55 pm
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Takoma1 wrote:

I thought it was very medium. I found the lead funny, but a lot of the secondary characters more annoying than I think they were meant to be. I also found the critique of the art world kind of outdated (they think something real is an art installation--perhaps one of the most overused jokes I can think of).

Don't get me wrong--I didn't hate it. And I hadn't realized it was one of Saulnier's, so that explains some of the interesting, weird beats to the film and some interesting moments in how it embodied the main character's point of view.

Sir Lancelot the cat was my favorite character.

I think I'm on the same page as you here. Highlighting the bolded because there are certain...demeanours, for lack of a better word, that I find really obnoxious in real life, so anytime a movie features those kinds of characters, I'm automatically a bit resistant. Aside from Macon Blair's character, who's portrayed as enough of a sad sack to rise above caricature, the other characters are fleshed out enough to overcome my initial annoyance.

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Sun Oct 07, 2018 2:31 pm
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Post Re: Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018

Takoma1 wrote:
A classic horror film you've never seen/A film from the 1920s: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

There have been many adaptations of this horror classic.

In this film, Dr. Jekyll is basically the Mary Sue of his social circle. He spends his days and evenings conducting scientific research between stints treating the sick and downtrodden. In his sparse free time he woos Millicent. Millicent's father, Sir George, is an A+ creeper who convinces Jekyll that he hasn't lived unless he's had enough "experiences." Jekyll is like "Hmm. Wouldn't it be nice if I could gamble, drink, smoke, and sleep with strippers, but without any consequences?" With this dubious motivation, Jekyll eventually finds away to split his good self from his evil self. But the incarnation of his base desires, Hyde, soon grows out of control.

I've read about this version of the Jekyll/Hyde story for several years now, usually with the emphasis on Barrymore's performances as the two halves of the main character. For the most part I felt like it really delivered. I was a bit worried, at first, with a few of the lines where men basically implied that women were causing men to be evil. But the film's main idea seems to be more that when we allow ourselves to do monstrous things, even if we imagine that we are compartmentalizing the evil, it will eventually bleed through to the rest of our lives.

My only real issue with this movie was that I didn't totally understand Jekyll's position. Hyde's base desires are rooted in Jekyll. Jekyll is sharing a body with Hyde, and thus essentially experiencing what Hyde experiences. I didn't totally get how this was supposed to let Jekyll off the hook for Hyde's behavior. Also, Jekyll after the split doesn't seem to change at all. That doesn't make much sense considering the way that it's explained is that the good and evil are being separated from each other.

But this is a minor complaint. I really liked this film, and especially a short but memorable nightmare sequence involving a giant spider. I watched this in HD on YouTube and it seemed to be a really beautiful print.

That is actually my favorite film version of that story.


Sun Oct 07, 2018 4:05 pm
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Rock wrote:
I think I'm on the same page as you here. Highlighting the bolded because there are certain...demeanours, for lack of a better word, that I find really obnoxious in real life, so anytime a movie features those kinds of characters, I'm automatically a bit resistant. Aside from Macon Blair's character, who's portrayed as enough of a sad sack to rise above caricature, the other characters are fleshed out enough to overcome my initial annoyance.


I think the characters are meant to be initially annoying. They are all archetypes of the despicably phony art gallery flunkies everyone should justifiably hate. Once we get to the sodium pentothol scene, we should be very resistant to liking them, but we now have a device which will allows us to pull the veil back on their pretensions. This scene, as opposed to anything to do with he kidnapping, is the center of the film. It is the moment that manages to change these pretty insufferable characters, and while not quite making them sympathetic, at least gives us a window into the insecurities that have pushed them into adopting such obvious 'misunderstood artist' masks to hide behind.

Now this movie isn't high art. It's not making any kind of grand statement towards the emptiness of gallery culture, or the people that props up such nonsense. It's at best just poking it with a stick for laughs.That's why I feel it can get away with such easy jokes as real life being mistaken for a piece of conceptual art. Saulnier is just using a silly world that provides cover for a lot of anti-social, narcissitic and ridiculous people. It can't help but provide a lot of material for a horror/comedy film. There is something both hilarious and horrifying to have these kinds of buffoons arguing over what kind of art movement will determine the fate of another human being.

Also, Alex is easily the best character in the film.


Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:16 pm
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crumbsroom wrote:

I think the characters are meant to be initially annoying. They are all archetypes of the despicably phony art gallery flunkies everyone should justifiably hate. Once we get to the sodium pentothol scene, we should be very resistant to liking them, but we now have a device which will allows us to pull the veil back on their pretensions. This scene, as opposed to anything to do with he kidnapping, is the center of the film. It is the moment that manages to change these pretty insufferable characters, and while not quite making them sympathetic, at least gives us a window into the insecurities that have pushed them into adopting such obvious 'misunderstood artist' masks to hide behind.

Now this movie isn't high art. It's not making any kind of grand statement towards the emptiness of gallery culture, or the people that props up such nonsense. It's at best just poking it with a stick for laughs.That's why I feel it can get away with such easy jokes as real life being mistaken for a piece of conceptual art. Saulnier is just using a silly world that provides cover for a lot of anti-social, narcissitic and ridiculous people. It can't help but provide a lot of material for a horror/comedy film. There is something both hilarious and horrifying to have these kinds of buffoons arguing over what kind of art movement will determine the fate of another human being.

Also, Alex is easily the best character in the film.


My basic issue was that all of the humor felt like something that I'd really like in a 15-minute short. But at feature length I just got tired of spending time with the characters. And even the truth serum scene felt a little too convenient. "And now we'll all reveal our inner thoughts!".

Again, I didn't dislike it. But I felt that there was very little for me to hold onto and I felt no emotional connection to any of the characters, aside from a vague desire to see the main protagonist survive. Case in point: I don't remember who Alex was.


Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:07 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
My basic issue was that all of the humor felt like something that I'd really like in a 15-minute short. But at feature length I just got tired of spending time with the characters. And even the truth serum scene felt a little too convenient. "And now we'll all reveal our inner thoughts!".

Again, I didn't dislike it. But I felt that there was very little for me to hold onto and I felt no emotional connection to any of the characters, aside from a vague desire to see the main protagonist survive. Case in point: I don't remember who Alex was.


Well, you certainly won't have me saying I found any connection to any of the films characters. I wasn't emotionally invested in it. It really hardly even plays the fate of the main character with any real tension. He's kind of just passively sitting there most of the time taking in their petty bickering and pleas for attention. It's a movie that I don't really think has much to say (I recently tried to write about it, and after spending two pages pointlessly gabbing on about the problems with much of modern art, I realized the film really had nothing much to say about what I was prattling on about, and so gave up) but I found funny, since I just generally find these sorts of people ripe for endless mockery. I also liked it's go for broke ending where it finally becomes a horror film almost by mistake, going down in an explosion of comical violence as the true nature of all of these characters begin to shine through.

As for Alex, he is the slimy guy who is offering the grant. He's the only completely unsympathetic character in the film, but he's a wonderfully surreal heel. He just seems to enjoy being unlikable so much.


Mon Oct 08, 2018 1:30 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
I also liked it's go for broke ending where it finally becomes a horror film almost by mistake, going down in an explosion of comical violence as the true nature of all of these characters begin to shine through.

As for Alex, he is the slimy guy who is offering the grant. He's the only completely unsympathetic character in the film, but he's a wonderfully surreal heel. He just seems to enjoy being unlikable so much.


I thought that the darkest and most successful element of the film was simply the apathy of the characters and the disconnect between the characters' emotions and their "artistic" expression. To me, this hits most powerfully in the very beginning when they are basically like "Well, were weren't actually going to kill anyone, because we didn't think anyone would show up, but now that you're here . . . ". For artists there isn't any passion, aside from wanting attention and wanting to be "right".

I also enjoyed the mayhem in the final act, but I didn't feel like what came before it added that much depth what happened in the end.


Mon Oct 08, 2018 1:48 am
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A horror film under 90 minutes long; A film from the 1920s: A Page of Madness

This film was excellent!

Now, I'll start by saying that I needed the Wikipedia page to understand the premise of what was happening. This is a silent film with no titles in between: so no plot exposition or dialogue. Apparently a significant portion of the film has been lost, and what is left runs just about an hour long.

The film follows a man who is working as a janitor in an insane asylum. His wife has been committed to the asylum. Some summaries say he's trying to break her out, while other summaries say he's just there to keep watch over her. In any event, the couple's daughter also works at the asylum. The longer the man is in the asylum, the more he loses his grip on reality. The second half of the film is mostly visions/delusions of the man with significance about how he is feeling.

There were many parts of this film that I simply did not understand-a boy chasing a dog, or an impassioned conversation between the father and the daughter. But in this case it really doesn't matter, because the visual and emotional impact of what is on screen is incredibly powerful.

There were two things that really made me like this movie. To begin with, I love how frequently the film goes into the point of view of the wife. She is delusional, and while that sometimes means that she holds a button and instead sees and apple, she also has several times where she sees the world around her in a kaleidoscopic blur. The actress playing the wife does a great job of portraying someone who lives in a world that is both beautiful and disorienting. I also loved the final sequence, in which the janitor ties happy-faced masks onto the inmates of the asylum. It's such a powerful image, not only because the masks are super creepy, but because it says something really insightful about how our response to pain and/or madness in others is just to want it to be better. That we sometimes prioritize our own comfort over the wellbeing and truth of others.

This is yet another film that I was able to watch through YouTube, and I highly, highly recommend it. It's a visual, impressionistic feast. I think that this would make a fascinating double bill with Shock Corridor.


Mon Oct 08, 2018 2:03 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
A horror film under 90 minutes long; A film from the 1920s: A Page of Madness

This film was excellent!

Yes. Yes, it is.

As Wiki probably told you, the film was assembled from a print found in a basement, and since the director had long lost his screenplay, it was put together somewhat randomly, which adds to the confusion of losing a significant portion of the footage. Since we'll never know what Japanese audiences saw in 1926, I think that the result is delightfully dreamlike and surreal. Madness, if you will, but with sinister method.


Mon Oct 08, 2018 2:21 am
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I should have checked Wiki myself. Reading up on the Shinkankakuha movement now.


Mon Oct 08, 2018 2:26 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
Yes. Yes, it is.

As Wiki probably told you, the film was assembled from a print found in a basement, and since the director had long lost his screenplay, it was put together somewhat randomly, which adds to the confusion of losing a significant portion of the footage. Since we'll never know what Japanese audiences saw in 1926, I think that the result is delightfully dreamlike and surreal. Madness, if you will, but with sinister method.


Given the highly subjective nature of many of the shots and the theme of madness and disorientation, this is one instance where missing footage probably doesn't do nearly the damage to the narrative that it normally would.

Wikipedia references a plot point of the daughter wanting to marry a guy, but the dad being worried the boyfriend will find out the mother is mad. I would never have gotten that from what I watched, but it was enough to see the anxiety of the interactions between the father and daughter.


Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:16 am
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crumbsroom wrote:

I think the characters are meant to be initially annoying. They are all archetypes of the despicably phony art gallery flunkies everyone should justifiably hate. Once we get to the sodium pentothol scene, we should be very resistant to liking them, but we now have a device which will allows us to pull the veil back on their pretensions. This scene, as opposed to anything to do with he kidnapping, is the center of the film. It is the moment that manages to change these pretty insufferable characters, and while not quite making them sympathetic, at least gives us a window into the insecurities that have pushed them into adopting such obvious 'misunderstood artist' masks to hide behind.

Now this movie isn't high art. It's not making any kind of grand statement towards the emptiness of gallery culture, or the people that props up such nonsense. It's at best just poking it with a stick for laughs.That's why I feel it can get away with such easy jokes as real life being mistaken for a piece of conceptual art. Saulnier is just using a silly world that provides cover for a lot of anti-social, narcissitic and ridiculous people. It can't help but provide a lot of material for a horror/comedy film. There is something both hilarious and horrifying to have these kinds of buffoons arguing over what kind of art movement will determine the fate of another human being.

Also, Alex is easily the best character in the film.


Will cosign to a lot of this. I think the truth serum scenes are designed to show them what they are really like without all the pretensions. Not sure if the film had this at its center, though.
Maybe when the truth is revealed about Alexander and the grant money?


Murder Party isn't high art, totally agreed. It's another one of those variations of how everyone is borderline inept when it comes to doing things. Such as when Macon sneaks up behind Richard with the axe only to have it caught in the light cord. Or how Richard tries to hide only to have his watch alarm give him away. This is something you find done better in both Blue Ruin and Green Room. But Saulnier is able to make this work for laughs and gore (he definitely didn't skimp on it).

Sir Lancelot did make the most of both scenes, didn't he?


Mon Oct 08, 2018 4:01 am
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A horror film with a color in the title; A film from the 1930s: Black Moon (1934)

In thinking about how to approach this month's challenge, I was worried about finding older films that would fit the categories. So I decided to base my viewing on a chronological system, starting in the 1900s and working my way forward. That way as the number of categories narrows, I'll have more contemporary films to choose from (thousands instead of dozens).

That brings us to the 1930s. Dialogue! Sound! And boy was this an interesting one!

Black Moon follows a woman named Juanita. As the film opens, Jaunita sits with her daughter, playing a rhythm on island drums over and over. Her concerned husband talks to the family doctor, who says there's nothing physically wrong with Juanita, and that she's got some mental block she needs to work through.

Soon enough, Jaunita (along with her secretary, Gail, and a nurse for her child) returns to the Caribbean island where she was first raised. The native on the island seem overly fascinated by Juanita, and soon the sound of drums fills the night and mysterious deaths begin to pile up. Gail sends for Juanita's husband, Steven, but by the time he arrives on the island, things have gone too far.

To begin with, there's no getting around the overt racism of both the plot and the characters. There are only a handful of white people on the island (literally Juanita's uncle and a white overseer) and they are openly scornful of the black natives. Juanita's uncle physically manhandles several of the natives (including a religious leader), and threatens to have them whipped. There are several matter-of-fact discussions about how there can only be peace on the island if the black natives are afraid of the white overseers. Juanita's associations with the black natives are used as a sign that she has become tainted and evil. I did read an interesting note about the film on TCM's site, that talks about the difference in how the Caribbean natives are portrayed versus how a black American (called Lunch, *sigh*) is shown. Lunch is a step above the horrible trope of the wide-eyed Black comic relief. While he does speak in a more stereotypical dialect, the actor brings a lot more to the character. I agree with the TCM site's observation that when Steven and Lunch talk to each other, it is more as equals than you would expect (to a point--because Steven definitely still tells Lunch what to do).

The film itself is wonderfully creepy. Gail and Steven both want Juanita to leave the island, but horrible things tend to happen whenever the effort is made. After Gail sends her message to Steven that he should come to the island, Gail and Juanita round the corner to find a man hanged. "The wireless operator," Juanita observes, flatly. Shadows/lighting are wonderfully used to evoke the fear of Steven and Gail as they realize that they are powerless in the face of the forces that want to keep them on the island.

Something that I think is a bit unfortunate (but that's interesting to watch), is the way that the film has no hope of Juanita being saved. And the strongest evidence of this is the relationship between Gail and Steven that develops from the moment he hires her. She tells him she broke up with her boyfriend because it turned out she was married. "I won't live in sin with a married man," she tells him, adding, "Mostly because he never asked me to." Wink. Through the rest of the film a strong and obvious sexual attraction builds between the two: Stephen touches Gail more often than he touches his own wife. In one sequence she leaves to put the child to sleep and he literally watches her walk away for a long, lingering few moments. Like I said, it's interesting to watch, but it also frustrating that it seems to imply that Juanita was always a lost cause, and that once she has been tainted by the Black islanders, there's no redemption for her. As such, the film never bothers to explore what's really going on with Juanita (whose own parents were killed in a voodoo ritual). She just . . . does creepy stuff and I wish that more of her point of view had been explored.

In terms of 1930s "scary voodoo" films, I actually preferred this one to the classic White Zombie.


Mon Oct 08, 2018 4:40 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
A horror film with a color in the title; A film from the 1930s: Black Moon (1934)

Yoink!

(Happy to see it has the NRA's endorsement)



Mon Oct 08, 2018 4:45 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
Yoink!

(Happy to see it has the NRA's endorsement)


It's literally a film about white plantation owners living in a gated tower, using guns to hold off all the black people who want to kill them, ie NRA catnip.

And, yeah, the version I watched on YouTube was a lovely print.


Mon Oct 08, 2018 4:59 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
And, yeah, the version I watched on YouTube was a lovely print.

Is that a different clip from what you saw? I plucked it because it came up first and seems fairly new, posted about 3 months ago.


Mon Oct 08, 2018 5:19 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
Is that a different clip from what you saw? I plucked it because it came up first and seems fairly new, posted about 3 months ago.


The one you posted is the same one I watched, uploaded by SRM818. I thought it looked great (Watched it on my TV).


Mon Oct 08, 2018 5:25 am
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A horror sequel: The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

I watched this film years and years ago, and while I try to watch only new films for these challenges, I realized that I really didn't remember much about it aside from a sense that I'd quite liked it.

This is a film that is more of a thriller than a horror film, but it's still notable from some neat horror-ish moments.

A disgraced police officer calls his former colleague to report that he's discovered the identity of a criminal mastermind. But before he can name the suspect something happens and the man goes insane from fear, singing nonsense anytime someone looks at him. The captain begins an investigation, partly based on scratches etched into the window of the insane man.

In an insane asylum, a man studies the case of a man named Dr Mabuse, a criminal mastermind/hypnotist who has retreated into his own mind. Mabuse's hands move on their own, and when he's provided with paper and pen, he writes out fiendish plans for horrible crimes. One of the doctors studying Mabuse begins to experience strange visions, in which he sees an apparition of Mabuse. The apparition eventually merges with the doctor's silhouette and Mabuse's evil plans are set in motion.

Most of the film feels like a thriller, as the police captain races to find the criminal organization, and also to solve the murder of a man who was assassinated on the street. The horror element emerges in the scenes in which the mind of Mabuse possesses the doctor. The doctor, with his strange eyes, makes for a frightening apparition.

This is a really solid crime thriller with a fun supernatural twist. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it.


Mon Oct 08, 2018 8:26 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
A horror film with a color in the title; A film from the 1930s: Black Moon (1934)

In terms of 1930s "scary voodoo" films, I actually preferred this one to the classic White Zombie.

And, sold.


Mon Oct 08, 2018 8:28 am
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Wooley wrote:
And, sold.


Now coming from me, that means I feel like it was more character driven and more . . . existentially creepy? There aren't really many scenes of zombies or voodoo magic. There's a lot of implication. But I found a lot of it really conceptually disturbing. It was one of the last films released before the more strict enforcement of the Hays Code.


Mon Oct 08, 2018 8:39 am
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Takoma1 wrote:

Now coming from me, that means I feel like it was more character driven and more . . . existentially creepy? There aren't really many scenes of zombies or voodoo magic. There's a lot of implication. But I found a lot of it really conceptually disturbing. It was one of the last films released before the more strict enforcement of the Hays Code.

Hey, I can dig that, one of my favorites is I Walked With A Zombie and I really liked Curse Of The Cat People.


Mon Oct 08, 2018 8:47 am
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Saying Black Moon is better than White Zombie is a bold move.

I think the NRA stood for National Recovery Act back then; it was also in front of Duck Soup.

Making my way through Director's Cut. Ironically, I think it needed a few more bouts with the editing and writing rooms.


Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:32 am
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A classic horror film you've never seen
A horror film famous for its twist/ending
A horror film under 90 minutes long
A horror film with either a RT score above 95% or from the IMDb Top 250
A horror film from the 1950s



House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Fun and entertaining, although not particularly scary. The best thing is the atmosphere and the performances of Vincent Price and Carol Ohmart as the bitter couple hosting the creepy party. The supposed lead hunk is a blank slate and the lead girl, although better, is not written particularly well. I won't deny the fact that I was expecting something a bit more creepy and scary, but I don't regret watching it.

Grade: B

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Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:24 am
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Thief wrote:
A classic horror film you've never seen
A horror film famous for its twist/ending
A horror film under 90 minutes long
A horror film with either a RT score above 95% or from the IMDb Top 250
A horror film from the 1950s



House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Fun and entertaining, although not particularly scary. The best thing is the atmosphere and the performances of Vincent Price and Carol Ohmart as the bitter couple hosting the creepy party. The supposed lead hunk is a blank slate and the lead girl, although better, is not written particularly well. I won't deny the fact that I was expecting something a bit more creepy and scary, but I don't regret watching it.

Grade: B

It's fun.
I always got a good jump outta this:

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Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:31 am
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