31 Days of October Madness – Part 3
Welcome to the third chapter of our October Madness feature! Here are five more titles I highly recommend visiting on your October movie nights.
Stay tuned next week for more, and be sure to share your choices with us in the comments section.
Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont’s Eighties’ remake of the 1958 drive-in creature feature The Blob marked an end of a decade that brought three horror movie updates that are arguably superior to their predecessors and had set a standard for horror movie remakes that has failed to be reached to this day. Like The Thing and The Fly that proceeded it, The Blob is a successful remake because it captures the essence of the source material without retreading it and finds the disturbing core at the center of the concept. In the case of The Blob, the focus is shifted to paranoia as the origin is updated from outer space monster to biological warfare created during the Cold War by a secret government organization. Not to say that Darabont and Russell’s update takes itself too seriously; this update still maintains the campy charm of the original but balances that ridiculousness with genuine tension and scares, not to mention excessive amounts of glorious gore. The Blob manages to embrace the ridiculous nature of its silly concept and make it fun without belittling the characters in the process. Kudos to the scene that features the menacing goo monster invading a movie theater and attacking the audience, which stands as my personal favorite.
It Follows‘ recurring nightmare concept lures you with a bleak absence of mundane logic and time. The atmosphere is abstract and unsettling, offering no release from director David Robert Mitchell’s surreal stranglehold. Mike Gioulakis’ cinematography is an unspoken character in this film, a voyeuristic guide that manipulates the narrative perception and incapacitates you to a vulnerable state of weakness. The entire score by Disasterpeace is a hypnotic trance that crawls under your skin with the best of John Carpenter’s offerings. Maika Monroe (The Guest) and Olivia Lucardi both show tremendous talent, and their work in It Follows proves that everyone should pay attention to what they do in the future. It Follows is beautifully crafted horror that’s equally elegant and unsettling.
It really takes some audacity to create a sequel to Hitchcock’s beloved masterpiece, and that’s exactly what screenwriter Tom Holland (Fright Night) and director Richard Franklin had when tackling Robert Bloch’s 1982 novel, whose cynical jab at Hollywood caused some disturbance among the movie community and ironically inspired this sequel to get made. Holland’s script wisely took a different route from Bloch’s book, which had Norman Bates escaping from a mental institution and traveling to Hollywood to stop the production of a film based on his life, and instead shifted the narrative to Norman being released from solitary confinement and returning to his old killing grounds, where he attempts to begin a new take on life. Unfortunately for Mr. Bates, his past comes back to haunt him and prove that skeletons never go away, no matter how deep you bury them. Psycho II is a clever sequel that maintains black humor and suspense, paying homage to Hitchcock’s Psycho without tarnishing the reputation of it and proved to be superior to Bloch’s novel by upping the emotional stakes and is adequately more frightening.
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead crafted a film that is haunting and beautiful; it seduces you with romanticism and lures you down a harrowing path into the unknown that slowly crawls under your skin. As the chemistry between the two leads slowly grips your heart, suddenly you find yourself drifting into a forbidden abyss that forbids you to escape its grasp. Unlike the tortured nocturnal creatures that occupy the previous work of Anne Rice, Spring is about a creature who enjoys and identifies with the morbid condition cursed upon it. People have compared Spring to Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise meets H.P. Lovecraft, and while that might be an appropriate description, I feel that comparison slightly undersells what this film really accomplishes. Spring is at the heart a love story of two damaged souls sharing their exploration of mortality and evolution with a foreboding undercurrent that will creep into your subconscious and stay buried there long after it’s over.
A good friend of mine who used to be a projectionist introduced me to Pieces, and no matter how many times I see it, I can never get enough of it. This bizarre exploitation slasher film from the sleazy drive-in era circa 1982 features a brutal killer that resembles The Shadow from the old pulp comics, random martial arts insanity from a Bruce Lee imitator, a sly detective that can promise to send you a box of lollipops, and best of all, Paul Smith as the chainsaw-wielding groundskeeper and prime suspect… yes, Bluto from Robert Altman’s Popeye movie. Pieces has absolutely no right to be as entertaining as it is, but whether you watch it alone or with a group of friends, nothing can hurt your sides like the ultimate awful goodness that is Pieces!