October Horrorshow: The Prowler, aka Rosemary’s Killer

Tom Savini is a horror legend. He’s every bit as important to the history of the genre as some of its greatest auteurs. Without Savini, George Romero’s 1970s and ’80s horror work wouldn’t have the same punch. It was Savini’s expertise that allowed Joe Pilato’s torso to be pulled to pieces in Day of the Dead, and Don Keefer to be dragged into a crate and mutilated by a Tasmanian devil in Creepshow. Savini is an artist in the medium of fake blood. And while his work elevated good horror movies, it also made obscure horror flicks, like Maniac, worth watching for the effects alone. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Prowler, aka Rosemary’s Killer”

October Horrorshow: Maniac (1980)

ManiacThis is not a horror movie for those looking for traditional scares. This is a horror movie for those who have become accustomed to the sight of a specter in a mirror or a zombie just around the corner. This is a horror movie with a killer of no less eccentricity than a vampire or a werewolf, only the killer in this film blends in. He’s a next-door neighbor or a familiar face at the neighborhood grocer’s. He’s one of us. And when he’s explored he’s not shown as some unholy or supernatural freak. He is, just like the title, a maniac.

Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Maniac (1980)”

October Horrorshow: Creepshow

I’m about to write something that will call into question my credibility as a reviewer of horror films. I believe Creepshow is the best film George Romero directed. Blasphemy! What has led me to such low depths; to such sacrilege against Romero’s groundbreaking classic, Night of the Living Dead? How could I possibly elevate Creepshow not just above the incredible Night, but also above Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead? It might have something to do with the writing. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Creepshow”

October Horrorshow: Alone in the Dark (1982)

A slasher flick starring Jack Palance and Martin Landau as murderous psychopaths? It would have been impossible for me not to seek this mother out, especially for an October Horrowshow viewing. Expectations were low. After all, despite the star power, this is an obscure movie, never a good sign. It’s a pretty simple formula. If a movie has stars, and you’ve never heard of it, there’s a chance it stinks. A great example of this idea is Robert Altman’s Quintet. That one had Paul Newman and Fernando Rey, two actors with gigantic reputations in a film helmed by one of Hollywood’s great directorial talents, and it was dreadful. Palance and Landau are no slouches, each having won Oscars for films after their roles in Alone in the Dark, but this film, like Quintet, was tough to watch. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Alone in the Dark (1982)”

October Horrorshow: From Dusk Till Dawn, or, a Tale of Two Movies

From Dusk Till DawnOctober has come again. It being the month of Halloween, we at Missile Test choose to celebrate by watching and reviewing horror films. Ah, blood. There just can’t be enough in October. Today’s selection has plenty of it, even though it’s mostly green. But what the hell, it’s all in fun.

Quentin Tarantino was riding high after the success of Pulp Fiction, a film that had a strong case for winning Best Picture at the Oscars the year it came out. Was it Tarantino’s youth which kept his opus from taking home the top prize? Who knows? Some of the competition were no slouches in their own right, but none broke any new ground, nor did they spawn a whole genre of imitations that crop up in cinema to this day (just like Alien and all its clones). And the winner that year, Forrest Gump, felt like little more than the Baby Boomers trying to justify their actions in retrospect by infusing their youths with blandness and innocence, when naiveté (with a sharp edge, at least) would have been a more apt description. This trivializes the profound role they played in turning public opinion against the war in Vietnam, but their role was not nearly as important as that played by the news media who brought home the images of war to the American public. The youth had always been suspicious, and were never onboard with the war policy from the beginning, but every other demographic in America couldn’t have given two shits if we had been winning the war instead of losing it. Anyway, I honestly can’t tell if that film was an apology to their parents or an apology to the directionless void of malaise left behind by their sudden thrust into real adulthood that was then passed on to their slacker Gen X children. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: From Dusk Till Dawn, or, a Tale of Two Movies”

October Horrorshow: Diary of the Dead

Diary of the DeadThe October Horrorshow rolls on here at Missile Test, when we devote the entire month of October to watching and reviewing horror films. The good, the bad, and the putrid all have a viewing. With this review we wrap up the run of zombie films made by George A. Romero. Sure, we’ve been reviewing them out of order, but it doesn’t really matter.

Diary of the Dead, from 2007, is Romero’s followup to Land of the Dead. For whatever reason, Romero regressed when it came to his budget with this film. Land of the Dead wasn’t exactly a blockbuster production, but it did recoup its $15 million budget three times over, yet Diary of the Dead was made with the paltry amount of $2 million. A cut in resources like this isn’t normally made by choice, but Romero did decide to make this an experimental film of sorts, so maybe it was on purpose.

Anyway, Diary of the Dead takes place on the eve of the zombie outbreak that began during Romero’s first zombie flick, Night of the Living Dead. With each of his Dead films, Romero has played fast and loose with the real world timeline when it comes to the zombie apocalypse, which is why the outbreak in his films occurs in the 1960s, ’70s, and 2000s. In that way, his story of the outbreak is timeless. Despite the intervening years between releases, all films take place within the same continuity. That’s only a flaw if one lets it be so. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Diary of the Dead”

October Horrorshow: Day of the Dead

The zombie hordes have once again invaded the October Horrorshow here on Missile Test. After a short interlude that featured an amorphous blob, a ghostly pedophile, and a village full of children with psychic abilities, we return to the realm of the undead with George A. Romero’s second sequel to his groundbreaking film Night of the Living Dead, 1985’s Day of the Dead. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Day of the Dead”

October Horrorshow: Dawn of the Dead

It’s October once again. The leaves are changing, the humidity is low, and the air is full of the smell of blood. That’s right, October is the month of Halloween, and also when film buffs the world over celebrate the greatest genre of film — horror. Missile Test has joined in the celebration, dedicating the entire month of October to watching and reviewing horror films. The good. The bad. The putrid. There’s no rhyme or reason here. If it bleeds, it leads. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Dawn of the Dead”

October Horrorshow: Land of the Dead

Cracked.com recently featured an article about surviving a zombie apocalypse. It concluded that all we know and all we’ve learned about surviving from zombie horror films is wrong. Tactics such as raiding the local gun store and fleeing from cities have become so imprinted on our psyches, Cracked argues, that everyone will have the same ideas, and those ideas will serve to create nothing but the world’s largest smorgasbord for the undead. They have a point. Well, they would, if the danger of a zombie apocalypse were real. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Land of the Dead”

October Horrorshow: Dawn of the Dead (2004)

The canon of the zombie genre is not set in stone, but it generally follows that George Romero’s films are the authority from which all subsequent variations derive. Not being based in fact, those variations are many. For instance, we all know that in order to kill a zombie, one must destroy the brain. That is, unless the film in question is Return of the Living Dead (a film that prides itself on being zombie apocrypha, as it were), where nothing short of total incineration can kill a zombie. Or 28 Days Later and it’s sequel, where the zombies (not zombies, according to the filmmakers) are not undead but still living, and can thus be killed by anything that’s lethal to a normal person. Or The Last Man on Earth, from before the genre had a rulebook, where a stake through the heart was used to dispatch the hordes. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Dawn of the Dead (2004)”