Showing posts from January, 2021

January 11 - Cold Prey

              Ah, yet another horror movie to encourage me to stay in the comfort of my home. A group of five obnoxious snowboarders, two couples and a fifth wheel, are enjoying some off-the-beaten-path sporting when the fifth wheel suffers a gruesome injury. Our hyper-capable final girl Jannicke takes charge, and the gang take shelter in an abandoned hotel that, of course, turns out to be not so abandoned. Murder ensues.             Disclaimer – my enjoyment of Cold Prey was seriously impeded by the fact that the digital copy I rented was dubbed. This was the worst dubbing I have ever seen, and I watch a lot of Italian movies. The words never match the characters lips, the characters never sound afraid, and the whole thing led to some Troll 2 level dialogue. I actually quite liked the film’s end, when it finally makes use of its chilly setting to offer up some symbolically-charged imagery, but it might have just been because no one is talking at that point and the dub cannot distr

January 10 - Zombi Child

              Shy and contemplative, young Melissa is the only Haitian and only Black student in her elite girls’ boarding school. She attracts the attention of her classmate Fanny, who invites her to join her literary sorority. To gain entrance, Melissa quotes Rene Depestre (I think) and tells them about her family life, her dead parents and her loving Aunt Katy, who happens to be a mambo. Fanny’s ears perk up at the mention of voodoo, and after suffering heartbreak she, like white horror movie characters before her, decides that fucking around with Voodoo to solve her personal problems is a terrific idea. This does not go well.             If this sounds like the voodoo version of The Craft , I hate to disappoint you. This slice of French arthouse from Bertrand Bonello places what would be the inciting incident in your typical horror film at the very end of the movie. The boarding school setup is interspersed with the story of Melissa’s zombified grandfather. And Bonello loves a long

January 9 - Nosferatu the Vampyre

              Let’s oversimplify things a little and say that the Dracula story has two halves, two main locations. The first is Dracula’s castle, where the unsuspecting Jonathan Harker, after a long journey and much harbinging, arrives. Here, Dracula is in his element, with his shadows and his vampiric brides, and poor Jonathan is increasingly adrift and preyed upon. In act two Dracula arrives in London, where he mingles with wealthy English society, suave and charming, his monstrosity unobserved, concealed beneath a strange sort of sex appeal.             It’s not that the novel is split into these two halves, but rather the pop culture adaptations that made Dracula’s reputation, and provided much of the raw material for cinematic horror, tend to choose one or the other. The Bela Lugosi Dracula chooses the latter – Renfeld pays a visit to Dracula in his castle, but this occupies a comparatively brief span of the runtime – we do not even meet our heroine until Dracula arrives in Lo

January 8 - The Stepford Wives

       Few films have entered the cultural lexicon quite like The Stepford Wives . Even if you’ve never seen the film, you can probably conjure up an image or two from it, of fembots, regressive gender roles, and frilly ‘70s fashions. I worried that my own familiarity with the plot would make The Stepford Wives a bit of a bore, but knowing the twist didn’t keep me from getting swept up in the action. I found The Stepford Wives to be a finely-tuned thriller with hardly a wasted moment.             Though largely remembered as an allegorical story about the patriarchy of the suburbs and backlash against feminism, The Stepford Wives is also a story of one woman’s paranoia and persecution. Joanna Eberhart is an aspiring photographer who moves from lively New York City to quaint Stepford with her husband and kids. Her husband, Walter, claims they agreed on the move together, though Joanna doesn’t quite remember it that way. Joanna is determined to preserve her individual identity in th

January 7 - The Hills Have Eyes

              I was a wee tot when the remake of The Hills Have Eyes hit theaters and vague, terrifying posters peppered my local multiplex. I was haunted by the title for years, speculating with my friends as to what it could possibly be about. I maintain that it’s an all-time great title – evocative, baffling, eerie, promising an inescapable horror at the level of environment, something that surrounds. I actually put off watching the original for a long time because of that title. Like most things, it was better in my head.             The Hills Have Eyes shares a lot of DNA with Texas Chain Saw Massacre , but it’s not the straight-up rip-off I feared. Our setting is the Nevada desert instead of Texas, our victims-to-be are a family instead of a group of kids, and our villains have knives not chainsaws. We start with the Carter family, some of the most unlikable horror normals I’ve ever seen (and I just watched House of Wax !) Patriarch Bob is an ex-cop who is surely a parody of

January 6 - The Seventh Victim

              A young woman in an all girls’ boarding school discovers that her tuition has not been paid in six months, throwing the stability of her life into question. But fortunately, this isn’t Picnic at Hanging Rock , and this woman’s headmistress is much kinder, even offering to pay her way to New York to track down the missing check-signer, who in this case happens to be the woman’s sister. As the woman turns to leave, one of her teachers follows her and tells her to not come back; it is time for her to be in the world, making me think that I’ve missed some important context about girls’ schools in the ‘40s. So begins The Seventh Victim , one of the strangest and darkest horror films in the catalog of early American cinema.             Young Mary’s search of New York for her missing sister, Jacqueline, is more noir than horror. She encounters shady characters, an ineffective police force, and a parade of men who I honestly found hard to keep straight. The plot is dense for it