Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

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Wooley
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:39 pm

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Wow.
Did that suck.

I've heard that this was on ok slasher. But it was not. It is a poor film all over the place, from script to direction to performances, it's a real slog requiring actual willpower to make it to the inevitable reveal-scene at the end.
Virginia is sort of the sensitive one out of a group of rich prep-school kids and there's apparently some history/trauma involving her mother or something around that that will eventually sort of matter to the plot, which makes little sense anyway. The kids, played by actors almost uniformly in their early to mid 30s, start getting murdered by a mysterious, black-gloved killer that they seem to know and trust. All of them are complete one-dimensional assholes anyway and it's impossible to care about any of them, especially as most of them behave really inconsistently thoughout making it hard to even have a sense of what they are supposed to be like. One "character" in particular, Rudi, was as baffling to me as any I've seen in a movie. Is he the testosterone fueled jerk who wants to fight? Or is he the her-athlete? The romantic lead? The weirdo with a penchant for old horror movies and a truly sick sense of humor? Well, over the course of a little over an hour, he is all of these. Because the script is garbage and no one here cares except maybe Melissa Sue Anderson who is trying to establish a film career but lacks the talent to do so. One wonders after watching this how she got work in the first place. And of course, you have Glenn Ford, the legendary Glenn Ford, slumming it here for some reason (money problems?) in a role that also makes more or less no sense as Virginia's experimental psychiatrist.
Anyway, kills occur, because Friday the 13th made money, and it ostensibly builds to a climactic scene with a reveal, as these things must. Of course, the reveal is utterly unearned, like as much so as any thriller you'll ever see, and is also completely and utterly implausible, even for this genre, so if you slogged it out this long just for this moment - which I had - you're going to be pretty disappointed that you spent an hour and forty-five minutes of a reasonably viable Saturday on this.
It is worth mentioning that the director was actually a well-known Hollywood veteran who had actually been nominated for many awards including Best Director because the film seems so amateurish so often. It's like he doesn't know what to do with the camera in this genre so he does like everything with it. Fucking thing never stops moving. Drove me crazy. I wanted to punch him in the nuts.
You can really see the influence the Italian "Giallo" genre had on American "Slashers" during this time, there are so many movies with anonymous killers with some reveal at the end, but unfortunately no one involved with this film had any idea what to do with that influence.
Anyway, this film is poor, at best and is for completionists only.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Captain Terror » Sat Sep 12, 2020 10:05 pm

I find myself in the rare position of defending a slasher film. Can 2020 get any weirder? :)

I'll be honest I watched it a couple of years ago and don't even remember what I'm talking about here, but this is what I had to say back in 2018.
Captain Terror wrote:
Sun Oct 28, 2018 12:34 am
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981)
After watching this one, I've come to identify one of my problems with the slashers I've been watching, which is that very few of them "feel" like horror movies to me. Besides every human's desire to not be stabbed, there's been precious few scares or disturbing elements in the ones I've seen. Halloween is one that manages to get under my skin, of course. But while HBTM is no classic, this one did manage to feel like a horror movie. The final birthday party was macabre in a way that Mutilator, for example, isn't. The climax is based on a completely absurd premise that I won't spoil, and it's a device I've seen in other films and it's always dumb, but in a movie where people are murdered via shish kebab, I'm not gonna sweat something like that.
And because this is from the director of Cape Fear, the overall sense of quality film-making was a welcome departure from all the terrible acting and visible mic booms I've been subjected to this month. Thanks to Takoma for suggesting this one.
So I'd have to actually re-watch it in order to defend anything I said there, but sounds like I didn't hate it. But I also didn't hate The Prowler, so we're obviously on different wavelengths when it comes to Slashers.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Sat Sep 12, 2020 11:06 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 10:05 pm
I find myself in the rare position of defending a slasher film. Can 2020 get any weirder? :)

I'll be honest I watched it a couple of years ago and don't even remember what I'm talking about here, but this is what I had to say back in 2018.



So I'd have to actually re-watch it in order to defend anything I said there, but sounds like I didn't hate it. But I also didn't hate The Prowler, so we're obviously on different wavelengths when it comes to Slashers.
That's an interesting take. I was actually going to expound a bit on my comment about Giallo influence on this one, because to me, it is a pure, if shitty attempt at Giallo and I was gonna say, not a Horror movie at all and therefore totally fair and fitting for my September rules.
And also that thought the movie I thought the filmmaking seemed so amateurish and silly and when I saw who the director was and did some homework on him all I could think of was, "Well, he was just obviously totally out of his element trying to make an American giallo so he just threw everything he could think of at the screen".
Oh well, we have much in common in movies but clearly not this.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Captain Terror » Sat Sep 12, 2020 11:27 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 11:06 pm
That's an interesting take. I was actually going to expound a bit on my comment about Giallo influence on this one, because to me, it is a pure, if shitty attempt at Giallo and I was gonna say, not a Horror movie at all and therefore totally fair and fitting for my September rules.
And also that thought the movie I thought the filmmaking seemed so amateurish and silly and when I saw who the director was and did some homework on him all I could think of was, "Well, he was just obviously totally out of his element trying to make an American giallo so he just threw everything he could think of at the screen".
Oh well, we have much in common in movies but clearly not this.
I did some reading to refresh my memory and
how many times have I seen the "it was really so-and-so wearing a mask" reveal? And why do screenwriters think that realistic latex masks that can fool loved ones for weeks is a thing that normal people can go out and get? How did this become a cliche? Then again, maybe I'm just watching the wrong movies. :)
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Sun Sep 13, 2020 6:00 am

Captain Terror wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 11:27 pm
I did some reading to refresh my memory and
how many times have I seen the "it was really so-and-so wearing a mask" reveal? And why do screenwriters think that realistic latex masks that can fool loved ones for weeks is a thing that normal people can go out and get? How did this become a cliche? Then again, maybe I'm just watching the wrong movies. :)
Nah, the whole reveal in this one is just terrible. It's that, as you've said, with
the whole latex mask that fools her actual father, her doctor, and all her close friends for at least a week, but then it's also who the killer actually is, you're like, wait, did this person have a conflict at any point in the movie? Is this person's entire bullshit explanation for why they are the killer, is any of that actually grounded in the movie anywhere at any time really or do they just do an almost completely out of left field exposition dump reveal, "Aha! I am the killer and here's reasons that barely tie into the movie at all!"
It was a fail on a movie that, while it had some suspense at times, also had all the flaws. People being almost killed but not actually running away from the killer when they get free. People acting completely opposite to what their character was like in the last scene and what it will be like in the next one. Pointless plot beats. Bad acting. Bizarre camera-work. Actors who are literally double the age of the characters they are playing. It just blows.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Sun Sep 13, 2020 6:19 am

Happy Birthday to Me is one fun flick specifically because of its giallo influences and that climax is one of the most gleefully wackadoo endings in all of slasherdom.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Sun Sep 13, 2020 6:44 pm

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 6:19 am
Happy Birthday to Me is one fun flick specifically because of its giallo influences and that climax is one of the most gleefully wackadoo endings in all of slasherdom.
If you say so. Woof.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:38 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 6:44 pm
If you say so. Woof.
Embrace the silliness, Wools.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by crumbsroom » Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:43 pm

Worrying about the plot logistics seems out of place in a film as dopey as Happy Birthday to Me. I've always been more bothered by how dull and lifeless it is.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:47 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:43 pm
Worrying about the plot logistics seems out of place in a film as dopey as Happy Birthday to Me. I've always been more bothered by how dull and lifeless it is.
Dull and lifeless are the opposite of the climax. One could argue that it’s a slog getting there (I think it’s fine on an 80s slasher scale as the kills are spread pretty evenly throughout) but the climax is a blast and it’s very much a film that ends with an exclamation point.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by crumbsroom » Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:50 pm

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:47 pm
Dull and lifeless are the opposite of the climax. One could argue that it’s a slog getting there (I think it’s fine on an 80s slasher scale as the kills are spread pretty evenly throughout) but the climax is a blast and it’s very much a film that ends with an exclamation point.
It's not a movie I think is awful or anything, just one that I'm surprised to find has its cadre of fans. It's a mid tier slasher with a big ending. But not big enough to rinse out all the middling stuff that comes before.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by crumbsroom » Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:54 pm

Doesn't help that I had desperately wanted to see it ever since I was about six and went and saw History of the World at the drive in. Happy birthday was playing on the screen behind us and I watched the end of it through the back window of the car. From that vantage point it seemed great. When I finally found a copy to watch properly though, it hardly lived up to that vague and soundless viewing from all those years before
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:56 pm

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:47 pm
Dull and lifeless are the opposite of the climax. One could argue that it’s a slog getting there (I think it’s fine on an 80s slasher scale as the kills are spread pretty evenly throughout) but the climax is a blast and it’s very much a film that ends with an exclamation point.
I'm curious what was a blast about it? It was just nonsense.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by crumbsroom » Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:12 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:56 pm
I'm curious what was a blast about it? It was just nonsense.
City of the Living Dead is utter nonsense but would be considered a blast by anyone worth considering. But Fulci applied style and a unique perspective to elevate his nonsense. Birthday treats is nonsense soberly. And boringly. A grave misdeed for nonsense like this
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:12 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 8:56 pm
I'm curious what was a blast about it? It was just nonsense.
It being nonsense is precisely what’s a blast about it. I’ve never seen a giallo or a mystery slasher (ala Prom Night of Terror Train) end with such transcendent, Scooby Doo On Crack, gusto. It tips the film into satirical/parodic territory which enhances the film overall.

I also remember being struck by the strong use of color, especially in the finale.

When you and Crummy watched this, what kinda transfer were you watching? I was rather impressed with the Blu Ray release but can imagine the much more available VHS pan/scan may impact the experience negatively.

It’s definitely a 2nd tier slasher but I think that’s still a sign of quality within the genre, especially when you get to your Slaughterhouse and Mad Man.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by crumbsroom » Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:15 pm

I had it on an old VHS so the transfer would have been dreadful

I think I liked Mad Man which I probably watched around the same time. But memories of that are almost non existent

Pretty sure Slaughterhouse sucked
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:37 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:12 pm
City of the Living Dead is utter nonsense but would be considered a blast by anyone worth considering. But Fulci applied style and a unique perspective to elevate his nonsense. Birthday treats is nonsense soberly. And boringly. A grave misdeed for nonsense like this
But CotLD is bizarre, surreal fever-dream shit the whole way, it doesn't act like it's a realistic narrative for an hour and 35 minutes and then suddenly become nonsense, and it still makes more sense. You stab the priest in the nuts with a 4-foot crucifix to close the Gate Of Hell. Makes perfect sense.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:38 pm

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:12 pm
It being nonsense is precisely what’s a blast about it. I’ve never seen a giallo or a mystery slasher (ala Prom Night of Terror Train) end with such transcendent, Scooby Doo On Crack, gusto. It tips the film into satirical/parodic territory which enhances the film overall.

I also remember being struck by the strong use of color, especially in the finale.

When you and Crummy watched this, what kinda transfer were you watching? I was rather impressed with the Blu Ray release but can imagine the much more available VHS pan/scan may impact the experience negatively.

It’s definitely a 2nd tier slasher but I think that’s still a sign of quality within the genre, especially when you get to your Slaughterhouse and Mad Man.
I didn't feel any of that. Watched the HD transfer.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:58 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:38 pm
I didn't feel any of that. Watched the HD transfer.
It’s all good. I didn’t feel Final Terror even slightly. It happens!
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:52 pm

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:58 pm
It’s all good. I didn’t feel Final Terror even slightly. It happens!
:up:
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Apex Predator » Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:15 am

I enjoyed Hell Comes to Frogtown because I embraced its silliness. Then again, I liked Surf Nazis Must Die so my opinion might be more of a wipeout.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:59 am

Apex Predator wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:15 am
I enjoyed Hell Comes to Frogtown because I embraced its silliness. Then again, I liked Surf Nazis Must Die so my opinion might be more of a wipeout.
Nah. It’s among the best Mad Max rip-offs. Rowdy Roddy Piper was the man!
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Apex Predator » Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:44 pm

You see, I did watch movies sometimes on Up All Night (Frogtown was a staple there).
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:04 pm

My apologies for the lack of content, I started dating somebody new and then I went on vacation. New stuff a'comin' presently.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:09 pm

Apex Predator wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:44 pm
You see, I did watch movies sometimes on Up All Night (Frogtown was a staple there).
God I used to love Up All Night, basically never missed it, except apparently when Hell Comes To Frogtown was on. I had it so bad for Rhonda Shear I can barely even talk about it. Rhonda for President.

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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Mon Sep 21, 2020 7:18 pm

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Here's one that's been on my back-burner for so many years and I'm glad I got around to it finally. It's a fucking grim little movie. And while it's maybe not as successful as it might have been and certainly wasn't at the box-office, I have to admit I'm holding it to a pretty high standard for 70s Australian Cinema and that maybe it's exactly as good as it should have been.

The movie is the story of a seemingly well-to-do couple in maybe their early 30s who are both just wrapped up in their myopic view of life and the world and despite their privilege, or perhaps because of it, their world is nearly crumbling around them. In this context, they decide to take a trip to camp at a secluded beach (or rather Peter does, dragging Marcia, who would rather stay at a fancy hotel). The tension between them is thick from the get-go and will continue to ramp up as the story progresses. Because, as they go, their disregard, particularly Peter's, for the world around them seems to upset Mother Nature and ensures that they're in for a ...
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Starting with a Blair Witch-like situation involving an arrow carved in a tree pointing down the only road yet always ending up back at the same spot, they are forced to stay the night in the car. Yet they find in the morning that the beach was somehow just another minute down the road... Meanwhile, as they flick cigarettes, spray insecticide, chop a tree and fire gunshots for no reason, a subtle sense of menace seems to build around them, represented by nothing more than leering wide-shots of nature acting perhaps slightly more aggressively than it should.
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And this is how the film manages to build and maintain tension for most of its run-time, with these long, uncomfortable wide-shots of nature getting pissed off to unsettling music, punctuated by the occasional animal attack with synth stab, or a haunting, mourning howl somewhere in the distance... but not as far off as one would like. Otherwise, most of what happens in the film is the unravelling of the tenuous relationship between the two main characters, a husband and wife who have been through something, some relationship crisis, perhaps some illness, something unsettling that likely was the result of nothing more than who they are as people. But as neither of them is a particularly good, or in Peter's case...
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... even decent person (honestly you just can't wait for this fucker to die), and they are put under more and more strain by the circumstances they perhaps bring on themselves (?), they are unlikely to come to any agreeable resolution... even if Nature allows them to survive the... Long Weekend. (Cue music stabs)

The movie, then, is obviously pretty slow. One might like to say "deliberately paced", and that would be fine since I was never really bored, but really it is an exercise in how long you can build dread without anything actually happening and still maintain the interest of the audience.
And in the end, I'm gonna have to say that I ended up liking the movie a pretty good bit because it actually succeeded for me. Every time I thought they needed to get on with it, the film would feed me just enough new tension, perhaps in the form of a small animal attack, perhaps in the reveal of some new ugly detail of their relationship, perhaps in some disturbing discovery made along the beach, to keep me signed on. It did not hurt that the cinematography is pretty good (if you like long wide-shots, which is my favorite thing in cinematography) and the acting is very convincing (star John Hargreaves was recognized with a Best Actor award from the International Critics' Jury). I mean, you really fucking hate Peter by maybe halfway, at most 2/3 through the movie, but without him stretching credibility in the least. And while you may not what Marcia to meet any cruel fate from Nature, you can see that she is no Mother Theresa, either. Perhaps best of all, the story is kept vague for most of the run-time, working in favor of all the suspenseful elements of both the relationship deterioration and the mounting dread of their fates.
Writer, De Roche, says he specifically wanted to avoid any specific creature even acting as the main antagonist to sidestep any Jaws comparisons and the script was originally written with Peter being given a last chance to survive by Nature, which he ignorantly declines, sealing his fate, but they found it too hard to film.
So really, a very interesting movie, perhaps too slow or too low-budget for some, but I think I've convinced myself during the writing of this review that it is ultimately a winner for me.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Mon Sep 21, 2020 7:49 pm

Wooley wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:04 pm
My apologies for the lack of content, I started dating somebody new and then I went on vacation. New stuff a'comin' presently.
Hey, congrats, Wools!

Also, looking forward to some more write-ups in here. I always like reading them.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:15 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 7:49 pm
Hey, congrats, Wools!

Also, looking forward to some more write-ups in here. I always like reading them.
Thanks! I expect October to be more heavy-laden. I'm actually going out of town again this weekend and I have another date this week so I'll be lucky if I get to 10 movies for the whole month that I had planned to be a good 20-25 movies. Almost feel silly for having made a thread out of it.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Gort » Wed Sep 23, 2020 4:04 pm

Wooley wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 12:47 am
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I came across this kinda by accident, but I’m always game for an older black and white film that has found a way to hang around, so I gave it a spin.
And I really, really liked this movie.
Not necessarily something you need to rush out and see but certainly something I can’t imagine any appreciator of old thrillers would be disappointed in.
Joining in really late, but I read this far and wanted to say that I love it when this happens! Never heard of a certain film, it shows up on streaming or in a search list somewhere and I decide to give it a whirl, and it doesn't disappoint me at all! I haven't seen this one, but I'll take it as a rec.

As for the discussion on shark movies, which I undoubtedly haven't read all of at this point, I bought a 3D shark movie entitled Bait within the last 18 months. Now there's one to watch only if you're bored out of your gourd. It might put you to sleep. It possibly won't make you feel any emotion other than wishing it was over, or that the remote you'd need to get to to turn it off is too far away.

Now I'll go see if anyone else has already admitted to seeing that one.
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I had fun. Thanks for reading!

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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Gort » Wed Sep 23, 2020 4:12 pm

Wooley wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:39 pm
Image
Wow.
Did that suck.

I've heard that this was on ok slasher. But it was not. It is a poor film all over the place, from script to direction to performances, it's a real slog requiring actual willpower to make it to the inevitable reveal-scene at the end....
Anyway, this film is poor, at best and is for completionists only.
Agreed. Or if you're suckered in by a lauding blurb and order the Blu-ray with no other information. So it's in my collection, but the one watch was more than enough.

I don't recall being shocked or surprised by anything in the movie.
Gort/YTMN left the forum due to trolling on August 25, 2018.
I had fun. Thanks for reading!

"The wealthy and powerful always remind us that cream rises to the top.
What they fail to acknowledge is that pond scum also rises to the top.
And there is a lot more pond scum in the world than there is cream.
If you become rich and powerful, I hope that you will be cream rather than pond scum." --YTMN

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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:50 am

Gort wrote:
Wed Sep 23, 2020 4:12 pm
Agreed. Or if you're suckered in by a lauding blurb and order the Blu-ray with no other information. So it's in my collection, but the one watch was more than enough.

I don't recall being shocked or surprised by anything in the movie.
Your agreement has set me to thinking about the moving-standard that we all have that allows us to enjoy different types of movies.
I think this is particularly true of "genre" films, for whatever reason, meaning that whatever it is that allows me to fully enjoy Cherry 2000, Battle Beyond The Stars, or The Sword And The Sorcerer, is indubitably the same thing that allows some people to enjoy Happy Birthday To Me.
But I think that sometimes we actually move that standard too low and I think that is the case with people who like Happy Birthday To Me, The Prowler, and Prom Night. Because those movies fail to clear even a very low bar. I mean, April Fool's Day, for example, legitimately works if you're willing to lower your bar on certain things, I mean it works well. You can lower your bar the right amount to make Flash Gordon and Buckaroo Banzai minor cult-classics or make Lifeforce worth watching for something other than Mathilda May's boobs.
But we have to draw the line somewhere. We just have to.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Captain Terror » Thu Sep 24, 2020 4:51 am

Wooley wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 3:50 am
the moving-standard that we all have that allows us to enjoy different types of movies.
My brother's taste in movies occasionally intersects mine, but he does not share my interest in the underbelly of cinema, so as a result he seems to think I just spend my days watching garbage. (He likes Kubrick. Isn't he interesting?? :) ) So it's always a source of amusement for him when he hears me ranting about a film I hated. "THAT'S the movie you hate? That's where you draw the line?" I have to admit it makes me laugh too.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Fri Sep 25, 2020 2:28 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 4:51 am
My brother's taste in movies occasionally intersects mine, but he does not share my interest in the underbelly of cinema, so as a result he seems to think I just spend my days watching garbage. (He likes Kubrick. Isn't he interesting?? :) ) So it's always a source of amusement for him when he hears me ranting about a film I hated. "THAT'S the movie you hate? That's where you draw the line?" I have to admit it makes me laugh too.
So, what is a film you hate? Or a couple. I mean, preferably in our genre here of thriller, suspense, sci-fi, psychedelic, slasher, or we might as well even go with horror too since we're barreling down on October.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Fri Sep 25, 2020 2:58 pm

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Well, I didn't really know what to expect from this fairly-lauded little film and I pretty much got what I expected.
For those ignorant to this film, as I was, this is a movie about a mild-mannered trombonist (funny that everywhere else playing the trombone is kinda played for laughs while, in New Orleans where I live, Trombone players are considered total badasses), played by Anthony Edwards, who meets the girl of his dreams. She's a quirky, somewhat punk-looking waitress played by Mare Winningham (who seems oddly cast for the look but it all works once she get to acting) and they are likely to have some quirky 80s misadventure in L.A. That's how it opens, that's what it seems like you're getting when he misses his date with her and walks into her diner with a bouquet of roses to make it up.
Until he casually answers the pay phone that keeps ringing outside of the diner where she works.
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From that moment on, nothing is the same as the other end of that conversation launches a series of events that seem absurdly off-base at first but escalate to more and more menacing as the film progresses. The film does turn into a misadventure in L.A., yet the tone is decidedly different from what one might expect. One could even call it jarring as we quickly go from quirky 80s movie to "wait is this really going this way?" Edwards is convinced that it is and before long, his misadventure descends into urban chaos while begging the question (in an earned way), did he actually cause the chaos himself?
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And this is what makes the film so interesting, and it is. A completely jarring shift in tone, one that wasn't appreciated by all critics actually, goes from somewhat off-putting to deeply engaging in the matter of about 30 minutes. What feels almost like WarGames-type 80s in the first 40 minutes turns into something similar yet ultimately very, darkly different in the final 40. I actually went from being a little disinterested, feeling like this was a cuter version of After Hours combined with WarGames, to being completely engaged, especially for about the final 20 minutes of the film. There are some moments that just really caught me off guard. I'd also add that I thought the acting, directing and cinematography were far better than I expected. Winningham is a bit diminished but delivers when she's on-screen. Denise Crosby is really the only poor actor in this fairly low-budget film, so that's a kind of a win. But the film ends up having a feel almost a bit like an Abel Ferrara movie or at least something gritty like Angel, yet with a lot of 80s mixed in. Really worked for me. And I don't want to give anything away to anyone but...
that ending.
I'm glad people here at Corri turned me on to this, I cannot fathom how I missed seeing this in the 80s and I'm not gonna say this is some great film, but it definitely earned its place in this month's pre-Horrorthon and totally surprised me in the process.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Fri Sep 25, 2020 3:02 pm

Also, I wanted to put this somewhere and since this thread is about suspense, I thought this interesting New York Times piece on Brian DePalma would fit here.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/24/movi ... s-way.html

As a fan of both Blow Out and Carlito's Way, and given that they are probably actually my two favorite DePalmas, I was pleased at this.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Captain Terror » Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:51 pm

Wooley wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 2:28 pm
So, what is a film you hate? Or a couple. I mean, preferably in our genre here of thriller, suspense, sci-fi, psychedelic, slasher, or we might as well even go with horror too since we're barreling down on October.
Well, there's my well-documented disdain for Slumber Party Massacre II, but I was probably discussing something like Silent Hill or The Grudge 2 with my brother. It's just that in his world there's no difference between those films and, say, Terror-Creatures from the Grave. The idea that I love one but hate the other is amusing to him, and me too when I'm confronted with it.

I just think it's funny that we watch (and like) so many garbage films and yet we all still have our threshold. For you it's the Prowler, for MKS it's Slaughterhouse, etc. Like, try explaining that to a normal person. Try convincing a coworker that there's a giant drop in quality between Legend of Boggy Creek and Return to Boggy Creek. They'll think you're a crazy person.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Captain Terror » Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:51 pm

And Long Weekend and Miracle Mile are both being watch-listed as we speak. Good stuff
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Fri Sep 25, 2020 5:05 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:51 pm
Well, there's my well-documented disdain for Slumber Party Massacre II, but I was probably discussing something like Silent Hill or The Grudge 2 with my brother. It's just that in his world there's no difference between those films and, say, Terror-Creatures from the Grave. The idea that I love one but hate the other is amusing to him, and me too when I'm confronted with it.

I just think it's funny that we watch (and like) so many garbage films and yet we all still have our threshold. For you it's the Prowler, for MKS it's Slaughterhouse, etc. Like, try explaining that to a normal person. Try convincing a coworker that there's a giant drop in quality between Legend of Boggy Creek and Return to Boggy Creek. They'll think you're a crazy person.
Yeah, I go through this all the time.
When I recently tried to explain to my friends the upside of Cherry 2000 they were quite baffled and, when I told my genre-movie friends I had just watched Hell Comes To Frogtown, they actually, quite literally, just shook their heads.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Sat Sep 26, 2020 10:06 pm

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I was 12 years old the first time I got high (marijuana). I was 14 the first time I had a full-blown, near ego-death LSD trip. I was never the same.
By the time I was 15 or 16 years old, I fantasized about becoming, essentially, a full-time psychonaut. I didn't think about my future in terms of having a wife or kids or a house or a career or anything like that, I thought about breaking through barriers of consciousness and imagined myself as an adult as some (somehow self-supporting) sort of higher consciousness housed in an earth-bound body and maybe not even that for long.
This last sentence was in no small part due to the fact that saw Altered States.

Altered States is a film about a psychonaut, someone how is traveling beyond the perceived limits of the mind. A scientist in the 1960s named John C. Lilly, a neuropsychologist, was conducting radical and largely frowned-upon experiments using LSD in an isolation chamber, and not always just on himself. Lilly, like Timothy Leary and Ram Dass, was looking to break through the barriers of normal human consciousness and tap into something greater, older, and hopefully more meaningful. This film is about a man just like this, a wildly intelligent (even for an academic) scientist for whom the boundaries of the normal world are just too limiting, for whom everyday life is simply too mundane to bear, and who believes that there may just be away for the human mind to break away. This is his obsession, and he is truly obsessed, and nothing will prevent him from using whatever means he can to tread a path back through the history of the human mind to the Primal Man and perhaps whatever lies even beyond that.
The task of bringing this man's story to the screen fell, after Arthur Penn dropped out, to Ken Russell, who turns out to be exactly the right person for the job. And the right actor to portray this man was none other than William Hurt in his first film role.
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Hurt gets this absolutely right, his portrayal is so perfect I simply can't imagine anyone else playing this role nearly as effectively. That detached air that Hurt has about him plays so seamlessly into this character that it makes all of his obsession completely believable. When he tells Blair Brown immediately after the climax of their first sexual encounter that he is thinking about his father's death, it just sounds so perfectly normal coming from Hurt, like, oh, of course he is.
He and Russell take us on a journey through the possibilities of the mind, at least as screenwriter Paddy Chayevsky imagined them. Chayevsky actually insisted on having his name removed from the film, even though everything I can read says the script is pretty similar to his screenplay and book, and I suspect that it might have been because Chayevsky had written about someone who had used a lot of psychedelic/entheogenic drugs and Russell actually was someone who had used psychedelic/entheogenic drugs.
Having been there myself, having been where I couldn't tell my feet from the ground from the water and closed my eyes to see startling visions that made me long for (and believe I was experiencing) transcendence, I can say that, for 1980 and maybe even now, Russell gets it pretty right. I'm not saying his visuals are what a trip looks like necessarily but I would say that he absolutely captures the spirit of the thing and of a journey through the mind or maybe a journey of the mind through the history of not only its consciousness but consciousness itself.
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Obviously, I liked the imagery of this movie. Overall, I'd have to say I like it, period. It has a lot to say that resonates with me and maybe not that many other people but that's fine with me. But the movement of this man through his journey to find the true source and soul of mankind, regardless what the risks and his obsessive joy in that journey was really conveyed well here by Russell and Hurt and really by the supporting players as well, particularly Bob Balaban (who has to be one of the most underrated character actors) and Blair Brown (whose intelligence and empathy make her merely supporting character much more meaningful).

I will admit that the conclusion the movie arrives at, which is really reasonably obviously where it is always headed, somehow still doesn't feel totally earned. The theme that the movie would ultimately like to rest on, and it is basically announced just before the screen goes black, just doesn't quite come together as smoothly as one would like. When it lands you're like, "Oh yeah, I thought you were going there but... do you think you could have tied it together a little more neatly?" And it doesn't seem intentionally vague or anything, it seems like it just needed to be earned on-screen a little more. And it's more than just a nit to pick because it is what the movie is ultimately all about.
Still, the movie is quite a ride and held me thoroughly interested and at times captivated for its run-time, and certainly left no doubt in my mind about the abilities of either the director or his star.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sat Sep 26, 2020 10:35 pm

Nice write-up. I like Altered States quite a lot. I agree that the ending was the weakest part though. It was kinda rushed and would've benefited greatly with more breathing room, but I did appreciate the journey getting there and certain visuals a decent bit. The multi-eyed goat man or whatever that thing was on the cross stuck out in particular. Overall, solid film.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Sat Sep 26, 2020 11:18 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Sat Sep 26, 2020 10:35 pm
Nice write-up. I like Altered States quite a lot. I agree that the ending was the weakest part though. It was kinda rushed and would've benefited greatly with more breathing room, but I did appreciate the journey getting there and certain visuals a decent bit. The multi-eyed goat man or whatever that thing was on the cross stuck out in particular. Overall, solid film.
Yeah, it's kind of a shame because the movie is kind of without any really noticeable flaws up to that point until you realize that
Blair Brown's character is suddenly important again when it felt like she was just gone and then you realize its because the main theme of the film is going to come down to whether or not his journey takes him to realizing that love is the ultimate in the human experience and what it is all ultimately about.
I also found this really interesting because the movie takes a character who
lacks the ability to make emotional connections and sends him on a journey, through the use of entheogenic experiences, to actually feeling. Many friends and I have wondered, in relation to my statement in the write-up about never being the same after my first full-blown trip, a sentiment echoed by almost everyone I ever knew who took one and everyone in the group discussing this, if we took someone like Mitch McConnell and gave them full dose of a drug like LSD or ayahuasca or mescaline (we agree that the effect of mushrooms is probably too short-lived) would they change? Can these experiences actually engender empathy in those who lack it, since it certainly advanced the sense of empathy that each of us had when we took it, the sense of connection to others and the world. Would they get it and could we actually "cure" heartless political positions and heal the nation if we just made everyone who goes into politics take a "journey"?
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Charles » Sat Sep 26, 2020 11:27 pm

All these images look like the stuff I live for in movies, but I remember next to nothing about the movie. I should probably watch it again.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Sun Sep 27, 2020 1:20 am

Charles wrote:
Sat Sep 26, 2020 11:27 pm
All these images look like the stuff I live for in movies, but I remember next to nothing about the movie. I should probably watch it again.
Couldn't hurt. It's certainly an interesting flick, whether or not you feel like it totally succeeds. And yes, the visuals are totally worth the run-time. I actually thought, during both this movie and the next one I'm about to write up, how sometimes the technological limits of the time a film is made in can actually make them more interesting. Some of the visuals in this might be considered painfully dated by modern standards but I actually thought it helped them seem even more surreal.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Charles » Sun Sep 27, 2020 1:24 am

Have you seen Lair Of The White Worm? It's also a pretty weird movie from the 80s with somewhat similar image composition style, though not as surrealist.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Sun Sep 27, 2020 1:57 am

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Well.
If you ever wondered what Bava In Space would look like, here ya go.
I thought I had long since seen this film, at least a decade ago, but it turns out I actually only saw a little bit of it. I was surprised when I really didn't recognize that much and I was pleased to settle in for an hour and a half of strangeness.
Really, this is just so up my alley it's hard to explain. The horror aesthetic of Mario Bava, which would influence so many future filmmakers, that bizarre Italian genre-film feel, but in outer space. I was born for this kind of thing. I can totally understand how some would find this downright silly, maybe even unwatchable. I found it strongly engaging and engrossing and just a whole lotta creepy fun.
The way the future was conceived in the 60s and 70s remains one of my favorite visual treats and the Star Trek-meets-60s-Italian Horror on display here gave me a sort of giddy pleasure.
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I mean, that's what a spaceship should look like. Buncha lights everywhere, weird globe-thingies. Like a Dark Universe version of Star Trek (which, by the way, came out a year after this film). And check out those outfits, no?
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I mean, really this movie just feels all in on its own vibe. It is totally unselfish-conscious, completely confident in its dated weirdness. And I love it.
And just when you start to get a feel for all that, then Bava starts introducing the suspense. At first it's just the eerie sense of isolation and dread on a faraway world that's less than inviting but certainly no less spooky fun for the genre fan.
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And all this is great. Space expedition lands on a strange planet, searches for lost-crew from the other ship, uncovers a mystery on a spooky world. Everything's going swimmingly until the other crew is all found dead. And until the dead start rising from the grave.
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From here the mystery launches into overdrive as the story and the world get stranger and stranger.
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And it all ends with a pleasing Twilight Zone resolution.
Really, this is just a super-fun flick, dripping with atmosphere and creepiness and low-grade awesome. If you can deal with the budget (like some of the miniatures are kind of laughable, although this also lends itself to some fun forced-perspective shots too), and you're a genre fan, you really should dig Planet Of The Vampires.

AKA, Bava In Spaaace... spaaace... spaaace...
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Mon Sep 28, 2020 12:57 am

I promised I would re-watch and re-evaluate this during this year's Pre-Horrorthon, so here it is:
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Some of y'all know I have blasted this movie as among the worst slashers ever made, possibly the very bottom, competing only with The Prowler among the many I've seen. I ripped it for padding its run-time, being extremely slow and boring, and for being pretty nonsensical even for a slasher.
Some have disagreed with me vigorously and felt that I needed to rewatch it. And I have.

The story is that a group of kids are playing a sort of hide-and-tag game and when young Robin who was not included sort of joins in she gets bullied and scares and falls out of a window, surviving for a moment before a large shard of broken glass falls across her throat and kills her. The kids decide to leave the scene and never tell what happened but before we fade out we see the shadow of someone standing over the body.
Six years later, it is Prom Night and the sex-offender who was charged and incarcerated for Robin's death has escaped and may be heading to town. The kids who killed Robin are all receiving phone threats and as the movie progresses, finding their yearbook pictures with a shard of broken glass across their throats. Meanwhile, Robin's sister has been named Prom Queen and her twin brother is in charge of the sound-system for the prom. Multiple potential killers are dangled before the audience, setting the film up as a bit of a mystery as well as a slasher. After an hour and two minutes of set-up the killer finally kills somebody. The stalking begins and the film actually benefits here from its desire to stretch very little actual movie over an hour and a half because the result is that unlike many slashers, the stalking, which is the scary part, actually takes a while and has room to build up some real suspense and have a few solid moments.
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From here out, the killer runs through his plan to kill the kids who killed Robin, starting out with the shard of broken glass motif, but then abandoning it completely in favor of a random axe picked up somewhere. Of course, the film climaxes, as it must, on the Prom floor and you know how these kids are on Prom Night, someone always loses their head.
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So, what is my verdict on re-watching Prom Night?
I was wrong. Based on what I watched last night, I think that two things were true. One was that I had a bad print of the film, this looked much better and honestly just made a lot more sense to me. Two, I must not have been in a particularly patient mood when I watched it, as this movie does try your patience, with an hour long setup, much of which is fluff, but I think I was done with the movie by the hour and two minute mark when something finally happens.
The movie is not bad. It's not great, but the last half hour is mostly successful. Mostly. Holy shit does this movie pad its run-time, stretching scenes out far longer than they have any reason to and really containing a lot of fluff, one of the stalk and kills that was working goes on so long it actually starts to drag, which is a shame, the red herrings really don't work at all (but at least they tried), some of the plot is not clear, the reveal feels unearned, the whole setup with the glass, which is harped on a LOT in the movie is completely abandoned late in the game, and there is still some stuff that doesn't make sense.
For example, him killing Slick and actually going through so much trouble to do it doesn't really make a lick of sense. He is theoretically only trying to kill the ones who were responsible for Robin's death (yet he actually kills almost as many people who had nothing to do with it as he does people who did), so why kill Slick? And if you wanna make the case that it was because Slick would get away and alert people then maybe it made no sense for this extremely calculated and methodical killer to kill her right in front of him. That whole sequence made no sense and was then punctuated by Slick's van bursting into catastrophic explosion after falling about 15 feet. Not good.
All that said, given that it's a slasher and we have to forgive a lot in slashers, I'm gonna let a lot of this slide. Jamie Lee Curtis mostly carries the movie as she can always do and it's actually kinda fun just to watch her do her thing, the movie has some good enough moments, and the whole disco thing is amusing too. I'm gonna say that this is a mostly competent, if painfully slow slasher that has some fun and even a little bit of style for the budget and rescind my assertion that it is the Worst Slasher. I would actually probably go with a C or maybe even as high as a C+ because of JLC.
It's no Terror Train but I guess I'll have to concede I've seen a lot worse.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Mon Sep 28, 2020 1:29 am

I too came around on Prom Night after getting burned by a lack of patience and a bad print.

Now rewatch the Prowler...
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Apex Predator » Mon Sep 28, 2020 1:32 am

Progress.

I think Leslie Nielsen kills it as the principal/father. Not even going to try to avoid playing favorites when the twin boy ends up in a fight with the school toughie.

I hope Z somehow doesn't come back and finish me off when I see and review TCM2 for the first time next month. :P
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Rock » Mon Sep 28, 2020 1:55 am

*deputizes Wooley into the Prom Night fanclub*

Planet of the Vampires has a lot of great imagery, but it never really sings for me the way Bava's best tends to do.
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Re: Wooley's September Pre-Horrorthon 3

Post by Wooley » Mon Sep 28, 2020 3:26 am

Rock wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 1:55 am
*deputizes Wooley into the Prom Night fanclub*

Planet of the Vampires has a lot of great imagery, but it never really sings for me the way Bava's best tends to do.
Aw. I really liked it a lot.
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