Posts Tagged ‘Undead’

Media Update 10/4/18

October 4, 2018

Graveyard Shift (1990)

I remember reading this one when I was living in New Jersey, finding it on the shelf of used books the theater I worked at kept for sale or for people to read while they waited for the house to open. It was a dark tale (as you would expect) but it was interesting enough. I kind of forgot about it until I watched this adaptation. The movie expands on the short story a bit, adding in more story and background and kind of fleshing everything out. A lot of the movie felt like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds but with rats instead of birds. The tension of humans being around so many fearless rats (an animal that usually skitters away in fear) was unnerving. Later, it takes on a more Lovecraftian feel. It also features a lot of people working on older industrial equipment which looks incredibly dangerous. While it is a fairly simple movie, I feel like they made it more memorable than the original story. Part of that is the corrupt factory owner played by Stephen Macht who brought a kind of simmering insanity to the role. Also, my boy Brad Dourif plays an unnamed exterminator who has some great monologues delivered as only Dourif could manage. The effects were great and just cheesy enough for this grim little tale. I recommend it as I think it deserves a much higher score than it got on Rotten Tomatoes.

1922 (2017)

This was adapted from a novella that I did not read nor did I even know it existed. Frankly, there are so many Stephen King books, collections, and novellas that it is hard to keep track much less keep up. It is a shame that King already had a book named Misery because that was such a key theme in this movie. The idea is that one wrong act can curse your life and lead to so many other immoral decisions. Doing something unspeakable can cloud your mind and, for lack of a better term, darken your soul. Everything you do comes back to that one act and it follows you around until you die especially if you keep it secret. This was so excellently paced as it relied on psychology instead of outright scares. Once again rats were used but in a more subtle but also more supernatural way. Thomas Jane plays the lead and also the villain of the movie and he is so good at it. He became this dark character who has reasons and justifications for everything he does but irony keeps biting him. The supporting cast is so good as well. Dylan Schmid was spot on as Jane’s nervous son who begins to have doubts about what they did. The production team painted such an ugly but captivating world around the characters and it helped draw me into the story. This was foreboding and creepy but it was also a sad movie. I definitely recommend this one as well.

Sometimes They Come Back (1991)

This is the goofiest of the movies on this list but it was fun all the same. This is adapted from another short story from Night Shift (the same as Graveyard Shift). This one is about a teacher who experienced a traumatic event that led to the death of four people including his brother when he was little. The fun part of the movie for me is that it was easy to wonder if actual supernatural stuff was happening for a little bit because of the psychological trauma. The movie starred Tim Matheson as the likable but rattled teacher. He played the PTSD-like symptoms well and it played well with nobody believing him. The villains, played by Matt Nolan, Robert Rusler, and Bentley Mitchum are creepy but kind of funny in a campy sort of way. One of my favorite parts is how they interact with their old buddy played by William Sanderson and how it shows how people grow up. This movie felt like it was approaching the same kind of idea that 1922 did but in a less dramatic way. It felt like more of a popcorn horror movie or a television movie. Still, I would recommend it for the weird story alone and the sinking feeling I got while watching it.

Next Week’s Halloween Spooktacular Schedule:

October 8 – Terrifier (2017)

October 10 – Deadly Friend (1986)

October 11 – Media Update – More Killer Clowns
Bedeviled Killjoy 2 The Funhouse

October 12 – The Void (2016)

October 13 – Aftershocks: Playthings Pt. 2

Halloween Music of the Week:
Ministry – Everyday Is Halloween

The Hellfreaks – Boogie Man

Black Moth – Blackbirds Fall

Teen Witch – Top That

Digital Daggers – The Devil Within


Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Stephen King” or “Rats and the Undead”
– I watched more Once Upon a Time Season 7
– I finished Bojack Horseman Season 5
– I watched more Blacklist Season 5
– I watched more Iron First Season 2
– I watched more American Vandal Season 1
– I watched more The Good Place Season 2

Re-Animator (1985)

October 10, 2016

I discussed last year that HP Lovecraft is a legendary writer. However, unlike a lot of other classic writers, I never really read any of his stuff. I am familiar with his mythos and the basic ideas he put out there but I never read an HP Lovecraft story from beginning until the end. I have never even touched a copy of one of his stories. His works were often published in short story form. In fact, his short stories and poetry far outnumbered his few novels. Most of his stories speak of powers beyond the control of man. They speak of ancient gods and monsters sleeping in the deep places, waiting to wake and return and reclaim or destroy the Earth. You know, whatever floats their boat. Due to movies, television, the internet and some really awesome cooperative board games, Lovecraft is making yet another comeback almost one hundred years after today’s story was first written. His work has also inspired other supernatural and science fiction franchises, giving them that epic feeling that his work seems to hold. Yet again, I am going by the few glimpses I have had of his work.

I have a problem. I know this is Halloween and it is my month of celebration but I want to briefly hit the pause button to discuss a relevant little roadblock I have hit recently. I have heard that HP Lovecraft was pretty racist. Considering he wrote a lot in the twenties (that’s the 1920’s for any future generations), it is unsurprising that he might have been racist. Lovecraft was American and born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1890. While he had been born in the north after slavery had been abolished, our country was far from the civil rights movement. Hell, people are still racist today. I decided to do a little research as I wrote this to confirm the charges because evidence is important. I can confirm that the man was racist. He felt that whites and specifically WASPs were superior to every other human on the planet. This has been confirmed by quite a few scholars and that includes crazy hobo Alan Moore. Thankfully that racism has not affected the enjoyment of films based on his works so far.

One of the first things I noticed is that even during the more mundane moments, there is a really good sense of dread throughout. You can just feel that something bad is going to happen and it’s just a matter of when. Most horror movies have this but a lot of them pour it on thick with music cues and camera angles. This movie uses lighting and almost casual gore (in its appropriate, non-horror hospital setting) to foreshadow the horror that is to come. I absolutely hate hospitals and these scenes had me squirming a lot. It is funny that I can easily watch a werewolf graphically devour someone but I cannot stand watching medical procedures. I should have known that this was set in a medical school but I gathered my courage to sit through a lot of the medical stuff to get to the horror gore. Of course, eventually they use the old familiar tricks like music cues but early on the movie is dreadfully mundane in the best ways.

The Netflix description for the movie said that it was “campy”. After watching The Raven, I disagree. I would better describe the acting in this movie as melodramatic. I had never really heard of most of the actors in this movie but Herbert West himself was in The Frighteners in a completely different role. In this, he was appropriately creepy by playing it straight as an earnest but misguided medical student. Bruce Abbott is really good as the protagonist of the film, swept up into madness before he can even think. Barbara Crampton, who has been in a ton of horror movies that I have not seen, was excellent as a rational character that, of course, nobody listens to. There were many in the movie who could apply the word “villain” to but I would definitely pick the excellent David Gale. Everybody’s acting was actually really great despite their often melodramatic line readings. Melodrama is often schlocky and out of place in a lot of situations but killer zombies kind of have a way of excusing melodrama. Speaking of killer zombies, the ones in this movie are really great. I know I have complained about zombies before but I guess I just did not see the right ones. This movie has zombies that are so horrible because I actually feel sorry for them. The expressions and movement of the zombies are some of the best that I have seen.

Overall, I really liked the movie. The movie is apparently a very loose adaptation of the first half of the original “Herbert West, Re-Animator” story that Lovecraft wrote. They obviously mixed in quite a bit of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and its familiar message against the arrogance of assuming control over life and death. However, it definitely keeps the body horror that Lovecraft’s works usually inspire and the general creepy and mysterious feelings contained in Lovecraft’s works. The gore also definitely flows and I love a horror movie that is not afraid to have fountains of blood in it. Still, there is more darkness in the movie than just the main plot. That darkness has more to do with human nature and the abuse of power and I really liked that element as well. There were a few bits of dark comedy but most of it was pretty spooky but not really outright scary. I definitely recommend this if you are a fan of good Eighties horror (or bad Eighties horror since your milage may vary).a

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