HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!! Hope you’re all doing something special on the coolest holiday of the year. We wanted to share with you our final horror flick pick for this month.
So, for Halloween week, we actually went with two connected films. The original The Amityville Horror from 1979 and the new documentary about the real family involved called My Amityville Horror…which was amazing! Pete and I had never seen the original movie so I’m happy we can finally check that off our list. But, I have to say it was very strange and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why. Was it the odd editing choices, the over the top acting performances or just the transitional confusion that happens in pop culture at the end of every decade? I’m not exactly sure but I am certain that unless you know some of the history of the actual real life murders and the Lutz family you won’t really get it. But, if you want to observe some 1979 times with awkward sex scenes and many shots of James Brolin’s package then this is the horror flick pick for you.
However, we do STRONGLY SUGGEST you watch the 2012 Documentary My Amityville Horror. It is SOOO GOOD! I love it when documentary’s surprise me and turn out to be nothing like what you expect and this one does exactly that. It takes you into the edgy and unsettled mind of Daniel Lutz the son of George Lutz, who was the man that chose, in 1974, to move his family into a house where, a year prior, another entire family was brutally murdered in their beds. Why would he do that you ask? Watch this intriguing documentary and find out! It’s one of the best I’ve seen in awhile.
So, I guess what we’re suggesting is to go ahead and skip the 1979 Hollywood movie altogether…unless, like Pete, you’re a big Josh Brolin fan and want to be freaked out how much he favor’s the 1979 version of his father. Otherwise, opt for what turned out to be, a disturbing scary tale about a totally messed up family with many confusing layers of personal truths.
James Brolin and Margot Kidder in front of one of the Amityville House. 112 Ocean Avenue Long Island, NY
Week three’s Halloween theme was corn. We celebrated this with a visit to McKee’s corn maze near our house in Rougemont, NC and we thought it appropriate to follow that up by watching Stephen King’s Children of the Corn. We both prepared ourselves for the worst, knowing that most of Stephen Kings movies (besides The Shining because it was Kubrick…which ironically Stephen King was quoted as “hating”) embody all the “amazing”qualities of a low budget made for TV movie…and to his credit most of them did have low budgets and were made for TV. :) But, preparing for the worst really ended up doing the film justice….it turned out to be not as bad as expected. I hadn’t seen this movie since I was a kid and I only remembered a few things about the way it made me feel, like never wanting to go to Nebraska, the character Isaac being very creepy and the special effects at the end being terrible. And, turns out, my adult feelings about the movie are about the same. A few good things about it….We liked the pace, slow moving which was nice, the acting wasn’t quite as bad as we expected either (I mean, no oscar worthy performances but still…), we like the year it was made (1984), and there were these cool altered jesus paintings hanging though out the town that were quite nice. Other than that, it was typical Stephen King….there was too much build up eluding to a monster which turned out to be a vague interpretation of evil pulled off with bad special effects. So, if your looking to watch something for Halloween that isn’t very scary, has a nice slow pace, and enough unintentional comical content to keep you entertained….this is the Halloween flick pick for you!
Ok, so this week’s pick was another one of my favorites that I consider a must watch!
This is one of my favorite horror/sci-fi films. It was released in 1982, and like many respected movies, it was not properly recognized until years later. There are many theories as to why this movie wasn’t successful at the box office. The most popular and probably best explanation is that it was released too close to Steven Spielberg’s ET and people had trouble transitioning from viewing aliens as friendly and lovable to seeing them portrayed as monstrous and terrifying. Either way, it did finally get the respect it deserved, even if it was years later. There are many things I love about this movie…..first, is the way the stage is set by that beautiful opening sequence featuring the wolf/sled dog (Jed, which was actually a Malamute-wolf mix and was quite wild….Jed also stared in White Fang) running through the snowy tundra of Antarctica (really British Columbia). It’s a haunting scene that captures the landscape beautifully and sets the stage for the what’s to come. Second, I love where the movie is set….at an American Antarctic research station Outpost #31(filmed in Stewart, British Columbia). The cinematography (by Dean Cundey) in this white, snow covered setting is beautifully done. This setting also helps nurture the isolation and paranoia, the unraveling thread as the movie progresses. Third, my absolute favorite “thing” about this movie is the special effects created by Rob Bottin. The analog process, that special effects artists of that time were limited to, was unbelievably creative. More so than it could ever be with the unlimited possibilities of computers these days. The monster “the thing” takes many shapes throughout the movie, based on the concept that it could be anything…. an ambitious idea for a special effects artist. But, Rob was in his early twenties at the time . Some people may watch this movie now and critique the effects as not holding up, but as we watched it last night I was still blown away by the craftsmanship. And what’s great is that John Carpenter really hangs on these monster shots so that you can properly digest and appreciate the creation. So, If you want to witness a cultural marker in the world of special effects art you must see this movie! Or if you just want to be entertained by dated technology (chess wizard , Blair’s computer projection, high tech VCR’s and boom boxes) or Kurt Russell/MacReady’s practical arctic wardrobe choices….this is a must see Halloween flick for you. And if you rent the collectors edition on DVD there is a great making of “Terror Takes Shape” documentary as a special feature.
Above: Beautiful matte painting by Albert Whitlock
So, because of my love for classic horror movies, October is one of my favorite months of the year. I look forward to not only the beautiful weather but the many nights I spend cuddled up with Pete forcing him to watch my favorite horror classics. My interest in the genre may have been sparked by the breakthrough make up and effects that were happening during my formative years in the early 80′s or could be due to the fact that my dad loved to scare the shit out of me as a child. But either way, you could not ignore the quality of the horror genre in the 70′s and 80′s. Artist like Rick Baker and Rob Bottin were doing things that had never been done before. So much so that in 1982 the academy awards introduced a new category for make up and hair style because of Rick Baker’s creation in American Werewolf in London. I don’t know how many kids my age waited, tuned in to MTV all day to see Michael Jackson’s Thriller (also Rick Baker makeup magic) but I can imagine it was a lot. Now, unfortunately quality has been replaced with quantity as is the case in many beloved art forms these days. but, this doesn’t stop me from getting nostalgic every October and stopping to appreciate the heyday of the genre.
So, this month we thought we would share our watch list with you. Some are old classics I revisit almost every year and some are new to me, things I’ve been meaning to see for many years. Each week this month we will be posting one or two new horror movies we highly recommend.
This first one was totally new to us, a classic we’ve been meaning to see for years. It was released in 1968 but was very under appreciated until it became a late night cult classic years later. It could be because maybe during that time people couldn’t handle that the lead actor, the hero and smartest man in the script is played by a black man, Duane Jones. (Spoiler alert!!!) He is by far the best actor in the movie and just when I started to get my hopes up that this may be one of the few horror films that defies the stereotype of the genre and lets the black man live, I stood corrected by the abrupt and shocking ending. We still highly recommend this horror classic….you can tell, in many different frames, how this movie was so influential in film making, not just in the horror genre but all across the board. And those of you who have jumped on the zombie craze band wagon these days, should definitely check it out to see how it all began. (it’s streaming on Netflix by the way)
I can not say enough good things about this movie. It is in my opinion, the absolute must see! The quiet pace and the tension building that happens for the first hour really sets the mood for all hell that breaks loose for the last half. If you do rent this one, I highly recommend renting the 25th Anniversary version. It has all kinds of amazing special features, including deleted scenes, alternate ending and a great documentary on the making of the film, revealing all the crazy shit William Friedkin put the actors through in order to capture the most realistic performances. This movie is THE GREATEST!!!
After a show in DC last spring Pete and I had the opportunity to visit the Exorcist steps and see the outside of the home in Georgetown where the movie was filmed. I was star struck!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!!!