October Horrorshow: Ghost Stories

Adapting their own successful stage play, writers and directors Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson have crafted a ghost flick that is, at times, among the most frightening that has been made this decade, and at other times is a cataclysmic rush to an uneven finale.

From 2017, Ghost Stories is somewhat of an anthology film, but the three separate tales that make up the film are bound together by a wrapper story in such a way that it can be considered a single narrative, as well. Nyman plays Professor Phillip Goodman, the presenter of a British reality show that debunks psychics. In an early scene, viewers see Goodman expose a spirit medium as a fraud. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Ghost Stories”

October Horrorshow: King Kong Lives

What a gloriously stupid movie. Today’s movie is the movie I was looking forward to seeing the most for the October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow. It’s a movie of such shitty grandiosity that I was, in fact, giddy at the prospect. It’s not the easiest movie to find for viewing, either. As of this writing, none of the popular streaming services has it for rent or purchase. The only bootleg streams I could find were not in English, and even trying to find a torrent was fruitless. In the end, I had to buy a used DVD from eBay. It cost thirty-five bucks. That’s a lot of money for a shitty movie. Alas, it was worth every penny. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: King Kong Lives”

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 reading “October Horrorshow: The Prowler, aka Rosemary’s Killer”

October Horrorshow: Q — The Winged Serpent

Larry Cohen has had prolific involvement in cheap horror throughout his career. His credits include the screenplay for Maniac Cop and writing and directing credits for both The Stuff and It’s Alive. He was one of the directors featured in the anthology television series Masters of Horror. He also flew by the seat of his pants when it came to making movies. According to the internet, so it must be true, Cohen was fired from his job directing the Mike Hammer flick, I, the Jury, after one week of shooting because of cost overruns. Instead of sulking about losing the gig, Cohen put together a shooting script and a production for a new movie in six days. That movie, lord help us, was Q — The Winged Serpent. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Q — The Winged Serpent”

October Horrorshow: The Cured

Should a filmmaker decide to make a zombie flick these days, they will have to contend with oversaturation and viewer weariness. The 21st century has been awash with zombie flicks. And should film not sate one’s desires to see the undead tear apart human flesh, there is the media juggernaut that is The Walking Dead, still lumbering along after fifteen years. That franchise has done more to make people tired of zombies than anything else. The degree of difficulty for a filmmaker to make something interesting in the zombie subgenre of horror, then, is very high. There are basically two options. One: come up with a new idea that shakes up the unwritten rules of zombies. Two: go conventional, but do it well. Both of those are easier said than done. The Cured, the 2017 zombie flick from writer/director David Freyne, tries to do a combination of both. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Cured”

October Horrorshow: Empire of the Ants

It’s a melancholy day for the October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow, for this is the last film of the month from giant monster auteur Bert I. Gordon. His peak days as a filmmaker were in the 1950s, but while Gordon’s pace of work slowed, he never went more than a few years without directing something. In 1977, that something was Empire of the Ants, also written by Gordon, loosely adapting the H.G. Wells story of the same name. Something of a follow-up to Gordon’s Food of the Gods, Empire of the Ants tells the story of a Florida real estate pitch gone wrong. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Empire of the Ants”

October Horrorshow: Blood Feast

Herschell Gordon Lewis was a trash filmmaker. None of his films was ever an attempt at producing art, or even quality. A Chicago ad man by trade, Lewis got into filmmaking as a way to make a quick buck. His films exploited gaps in the market to bring in high returns on a small investment. When enforcement of the Hays Code began to slacken at the start of the 1960s, Lewis filmed cheap nudie-cuties that only had the barest threads of competent filmmaking. When returns on those flicks were hurt by nudity moving into mainstream films, Lewis turned to horror. Like the good marketer he was, he found an opening in horror flicks he could exploit. That opening was gore. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Blood Feast”

October Horrorshow: King Kong (1976)

The 1976 remake of King Kong might be peak Dino De Laurentiis. The legendary Italian producer’s films whipsaw back and forth between the grandiose, the absurd, the exploitative, and the just plain shitty. King Kong is a prime example.

Clocking in at an interminable 134 minutes, this King Kong is meant to be an epic retelling of a cinema classic. Everything about this film, directed by John Guillermin, seems meant to showcase how film has improved and grown in the forty years since the original film was released. The original King Kong was severely limited by what was possible at the time, yes, but it never felt like a failing. Nor is this film an indictment of what came before. But this film does live and die on an implied promise that it will be a better technical film than that which came before. Other than making money, there really isn’t much more reason for this film to exist. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: King Kong (1976)”

October Horrorshow: A Dark Song

Horror films work quite well when they embrace spectacle. Over-the-top gore and special effects are a hallmark of the genre. But splattering blood all over isn’t the only way to make a horror flick. Sometimes a filmmaker goes for the soul underneath the flesh, and makes something disturbing.

A Dark Song is the feature film debut from writer/director Liam Gavin. From 2016, the film tells the story of two people carrying out occult rites in an isolated house in Wales in order to contact a guardian angel. This is no lightweight ritual, either. As occult expert Joseph Solomon (Steve Oram) explains to the woman who hired him to carry out the ritual, Sophia (Catherine Walker), it will be months before they know if it’s working. During that time, the two will not be able to leave the house, nor will they have any contact with the outside world. Nor could they, as there isn’t any power in the house. Or heat. Did I mention this house is in Wales? Because one would not want to live in an unheated house in Wales. All of this makes the stakes quite a bit higher than something one would see in an old Hammer flick. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: A Dark Song”

October Horrorshow: The Food of the Gods

This is an important day for the October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow. The featured auteur of this month of reviews has returned. For the seventh time this month, a review features a film by Bert I. Gordon. Yes, a filmmaker that showed mastery at failing to master the art of filmmaking is back. Today’s film, from 1976, also shows that although more than twenty years had passed since Gordon’s first movie, he stayed true to his unique abilities as a filmmaker. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Food of the Gods”