31 Days of Horror Cinema

Hooptober Roundup: Double Time Recap

Between a glut of paying gigs, vacation, and holidays I’ve managed to stretch Hooptober into the Christmas season. That’s a first. Nobody’s reading because we’ve all moved on to the traditional “Die Hard is/isn’t a Christmas Movie” debate. That’s fine, too. I made a commitment to watch and review 31+ Horror Movies for the month of October. I’ve watched them all. Now here are the remaining reviews, told in hurried, one-paragraph fashion to satisfy your ho-ho-horror cravings.

#19. The Mummy (1932) – Karl Freund

the mummy 1932

Karl Freund’s wrangles light and shadow like he’s applying it with a paint brush. The love story that traverses multiple lifetimes gives this one its dramatic weight and Karloff’s undead love monster his humanizing baggage. I’d recommend The Mummy in any master class about using cinematography to cure all narrative ills.


#20. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) – James Whale

Elsa Lanchester in The Bride of Frankenstein
Elsa Lanchester as The Monster’s Bride in The Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

I’ve always thought that the people who don’t appreciate James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein don’t see the humor in The Bride of Frankenstein. It’s a tale skillfully told — but it’s Whale’s ability to comment on the genre from within (something he did more overtly in The Old Dark House) that makes the film such a brisk romp.


#21. The Mummy’s Hand (1940) – Christy Cabanne

Hooptober The Mummy's Hand (1940)

Universal’s Mummy series loved to cut narrative corners. This constant familiarity allows the viewer to embrace each film’s eccentricities or dismiss them entirely as hack regurgitations without creative advancement. The Mummy’s Hand borrows the setup and footage from Freund’s 1932 effort but adds enough padding to make it feel fresh (enough). Easy to enjoy. Easy to forget tomorrow.


#22. Captive Wild Woman (1943) – Edward Dmytryk

Aquanetta in Captive Wild Woman (1943)
Aquanetta, mid-transformation, in Captive Wild Woman (1943)

The Universal well had clearly run dry when they conjured this pathetic excuse to transform another human into another animal. But but but this time it’s a woman! The horror elements become secondary concerns. The movie spends an inordinate amount of time engaging in animal cruelty and disturbing racial connotations. If there were something here more worth watching we’d have something to discuss.


Liliane Montevecchi in The Living idol (1957)
Parisian-born Liliane Montevecchi thinks she sees Jaguars around every corner in The Living idol (1957)

#23. The Living Idol (1957) – Albert Lewin, Rene Cardona

Gorgeous-looking Aztecploitation, oozing in Technicolor and wide-format location cinematography, but lacking anything in the story department. A woman may or may not be the reincarnation of an Aztec princess and jaguars may or may not be coming for her. This loose remake of Lewton’s Cat People gives us just enough to keep watching but not enough to distract us from the backdrop. Co-directed by the Cuban-born Rene Cardona — a central figure in the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema.


#24. Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) – Dario Argento

Hooptober Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971)

One of the few prime-era Argento holdouts on my viewing resume. Some wonderful imagery, visually inventive flourishes and a memorable Ennio Morricone score undermined by a predictable twist. I’m itching for another viewing despite its flaws.


#25. All the Colors of the Dark (1972) – Sergio Martino

Hooptober All the Colors of the Dark

Sergio Martino directed perhaps my favorite mindf#ck giallo Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (also starring the perpetually vexing Edwige Fenech). I picked this up during the last Severin Black Friday sale and I’ve been waiting all year (for no especially good reason) to watch it during Hooptober 2019. Perpetually needy and terrified Edwige finds herself stuck in a mental state between fact and fiction, unable to escape the grasp of a Satanic rape cult. Don’t attempt to strangle narrative from this psychosexual satanic panic film told through the perspective of an unreliable narrator. Just let the misdirection wash over you like Bruno Nicolai’s score.


#26. Leptirica (1973) – ?or?e Kadijevi?

Hooptober Leptirica
Mirjana Nikolic as the “She-Butterfly” in Djordje Kadijevic’s Leptirica (1973)

Just another made-for-TV Serbian folk horror film. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. A vampire-like menace attacks people in and around an old mill. No explanations given. Awkward light humor and a haunting and singular score. A few truly memorable images give Leptirica aka The She-Butterfly her bite.


#27. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) – Renny Harlin

Hooptober A Nightmare on Elm Street 4

I feel like “perfectly capable” is a solid recommendation for any horror sequel with a number greater than or equal to 4. In this entry Freddy Krueger becomes a nightmare wielding clown, but still retains the menace that made the original such an effective horror movie. What The Dream Master lacks in thrills, it makes up for with inventive kills and set pieces. Lisa Wilcox gives us an engaging protagonist that helps smooth over some of the hackneyed plotting.


#28. Vampire’s Kiss (1989) – Robert Bierman

Nicolas Cage in Vampire's Kiss (1989)
Nicolas Cage going full bonkers in Vampire’s Kiss (1989)

What the hell is Nic Cage doing? What is this accent? What is this laugh? It’s almost as bizarre as his creative choices in Peggy Sue Got Married — but that was an otherwise straight movie. This? Bizarre performance, perversely entertaining movie. Crazy Nic eating cockroaches and chasing pigeons with fake vampire teeth. The movie plays so dumb you don’t see final narrative shift coming. Vampire’s Kiss gets “smart” — and works because Cage’s highwire histrionics provides the necessary smoke and mirrors.


#29. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) – Stephen Hopkins

Hooptober A Nightmare on Elm Street 5

Hopkins gives this entry some flair, but the series is running on fumes. The film’s set pieces have become completely disengaged. Feel free to admire the creativity, but these sequences fail to contribute horror or forward momentum. It all feels watchable but perfunctory.


#30. The Church (1989) – Michele Soavi

hooptober the church (1989)
Demon hankypanky in Michele Soavi’s The Church (1989)

Overdue rewatch of a Michele Soavi classic and unofficial third act of Lamberto Bava’s Demons. Demon sex, possession, creepy gothic imagery, Keith Emerson score, young Asia Argento, and choice bits of goo. Always recommended.


#31. Popcorn (1991) – Mark Herrier

Hooptober Popcorn (1991)
Tom Villard tormenting Jill Schoelen in Popcorn (1991).

Would-be cult classic riffs on the same gag for 90 minutes. The homage to William Castle stunts makes for fun viewing, but it too-often wanders into (uninspired) traditional slasher territory. The best bits take place in the films within the film that make up the all-night horror marathon. As they were shot by the film’s original director, Alan Ormsby, I can’t help but think he might have had a better grasp of the offbeat tone and pacing. That said, Herrier shepherded the film to completion or maybe it wouldn’t have existed at all.


#32. Innocent Blood (1992) – John Landis

Robert Loggia Innocent Blood
Robert Loggia in John Landis’ Innocent Blood (1992)

My favorite part of Innocent Blood takes place when a car chase enters the Ft. Pitt tunnel but comes out on the south side of the Liberty. Robert Loggia sucking the scenery of blood as a vampire gangster makes this a winner.


#33. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006) – Scott Glosserman

Nathan Baesel in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
Nathan Baesel in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

I liked Cabin in the Woods, but this meta-horror movie actually dissects the genre *and* manages to sustain a consistently unsettling tone before unleashing its own effective slasher film. It’s about time I got around to this one considering The Cinemonster and I discussed this on the Cinema Shame podcast two years ago.


#34. Horror Noire (2019) – Xavier Burgin

horror noire (2019)

Straightforward, talking-heads doc about the Black American connections to the horror genre (and Hollywood as a whole). Essential viewing for horror fans — but I’m not sure it captivates the average moviewatcher without a pre-existing love for the genre.

2019 @CinemaShame / #Hooptober FINAL:

#1. Shocker (1989) // #2. Etoile (1989) // #3. The Phantom of the Opera (1989) // #4. Blacula (1972) // #5. Scream Blacula Scream (1973) // #6. Jaws: The Revenge (1987) // #7. Blood Bath (1966) // #8. Friday the 13th Part V (1985) // #9. Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) // #10. Friday the 13th Part VII (1988) // #11. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) // #12. Pet Sematary (1989) // #13. Eaten Alive (1976) // #14. Friday the 13th Part VIII (1989) // #15. A Bucket of Blood (1959) // #16. The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) // #17. Revenge of the Creature (1955) // #18. The Creature Walks Among Us // #19. The Mummy (1932) // #20. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) // #21. The Mummy’s Hand (1940) // #22. Captive Wild Woman (1943) // #23. The Living Idol (1957) // #24. Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) // #25. All the Colors of the Dark (1973) // #26. Leptirica // #27. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master // #28. Vampire’s Kiss (1989) // #29. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child // #30. The Church (1989) // #31. Popcorn (1991) // #32. Innocent Blood (1992) // #33. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006) // #34. Horror Noire (2019)



31 Days of Horror Cinema

Friday the 13th Part VII – The New Blood: 31 Days of Horror

#10. Friday the 13th Part VII – The New Blood (1988)

friday the 13th part vii posterNature of Shame:
Trudging my way through the intermittent (and extremely relative) joys of the Friday the 13th series. Bring on Friday the 13th Part VII because it’s the next one and this time I’m actually looking forward to it!

Hooptober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1980’s
John Carl Buechler

For the first time in this Friday the 13th saga, I felt enthusiasm for viewing the next film in the series. How many times can anyone say that the 6th movie in a series made them a believer?

Seriously, though. Has anyone ever muddled through five films to enjoy the sixth? Police Academy? A Nightmare on Elm Street? I’m at a loss. This next entry arrived via Netflix DVD and here’s the little red envelope to prove it.

friday the 13th part VI netflix

‘Friday the 13th Part VII’ Elevator Pitch

A pscyhokinetic, guilt-ridden teenage girl named Tina inadvertently unshackles Jason from his water grave in Crystal Lake after a creep psychiatrist intentionally agitates her with the intention of somehow vaguely exploiting her psychic powers.

So how does he intend to exploit her? 

Uh. Well. He just intends, okay?

You have no idea.

Tina must then learn to harness her powers in order to subdue the rampaging supernatural prometheus before he kills and kills again.

friday the 13th part vii underwater jason

Maybe more of a Thursday?

At this point I’ve written more unnecessary words about the Friday the 13th series than just about anything else. I’m not part of the in-crowd; I prefer my slashers weird and Italian. And until just recently I wouldn’t have recommended any of the films in the series for anyone not already indoctrinated into the cult of Jason.

Since we’ve come this far, however, I’ve no qualms about saying if you tried Friday the 13th but gave up after a few entries, re-join the party with Part VI and Friday the 13th Part VII. Where VI aims for greater respectability and production value, Part VII feels indirectly inspired by the manic energy of Evil Dead II (1987).

Paramount Pictures had originally wanted Part VII to be a crossover with A Nightmare on Elm Street, bringing Freddy Krueger into the fold. The two sides failed to agree on terms, but screenwriter Daryl Haney instead came up with the idea of pitting Jason against a “Carrie” — a girl with telekinetic powers, apparently dead set on a monster vs. monster type crossover.

tina - friday the 13th part vii

Associate producer Barbara Sachs took this lazy premise, and according to Haney, aimed to win Academy Awards. Most unbelievably, the production team reportedly batted about candidates like Federico Fellini to direct Friday the 13th Part VII to show how serious they were about crafting high-minded schlock. When that Fellini thing fell through (shocker), Sachs had to settle for John Carl Buechler — who also had a unique vision for Jason, even if it wasn’t especially tied to certifiably insane goals like Academy Awards for Jason Voorhees.

Friday the 13th Part VII: The Ultra-Violent Terminator(?)

Despite Oscar intentions, Friday the 13th Part VII feels tonally schizophrenic from the very beginning, consisting of maybe a dozen partially-thawed frozen turkeys. There’s a bite from Jaws when Jason drags a skinny-dipper down underwater. The ghouly, maggoty Jason — especially after the removal of the mask — takes a page right out of the Evil Dead makeup effects. The Carrie elements and the shady psychiatrist (played by Terry Kiser aka Bernie Lomax) feel completely tacked onto the standard Jason-murders-a-houseful-of-horny-teens script. They just happen to live next door!

The teens that Jason rips through like a fun size package of Cheetos have no life or individual flavor. They’re balloons just waiting for the POP. There’s some sort of nerdy-girl She’s All That makeover, some unreal mean girling, and a whiny sci-fi author that makes George McFly look more Rudolph Valentino.

friday the 13th part vii

To top it all off, Tina uses her vague and amorphous psychokinetic powers to see the murders before they take place — but her visions are totally different than the actual deaths. I don’t have any special powers of foresight but I could have told her exactly which characters were going to be dead by the credit roll, too.

And then we get to the extended Jason vs. Carrie climax of the film. I mean Jason vs. random psychokinetic Tina and definitely not Carrie the Stephen King property. I mean Frankenstein’s Terminator vs. Firestarter Tina. Just toss it all in a bingo wheel and see what shakes out.

Final ‘Friday the 13th Part VII’ Thoughts

And this is where I take this bl-g post in an entirely different direction. Friday the 13th Part VII is a disasterfest of misguided ideas, but in as much as it gleefully flaunts the standard “rules” for a Friday the 13th movie I can’t help but be entertained by this disconnect.

friday the 13th part vii

The climax of the film where Jason takes on Tiny takes on a life of its own. It’s a self-contained showcase of practical effects and makeup. Jason loses his mask and the scarred, maggoty face remains on display. Kane Hodder, the stuntmant playing Jason in this entry, endures a then record-breaking 40-second burn. He’s engulfed in flames for so long, I was convinced it had to be some sort of animatronic trickery. In this finale the film gleefully flaunts its B-movie status. There’s no attempt at high-minded entertainment. This is wacky C-grade schlock begging you to be entertained.

Yes — it’s clear that the more extreme moments of violence were cut to appease the MPAA. It’s also clear that the filmmakers behind this movie actually had no handle on the kind of movie or homage or rip-off that they wanted to make. I compare Friday the 13th Part VII favorably to the similarly unfavorable Part V. Both are heinous messes, but part VII remembers to have fun with the format rather than just trying to push the exploitative elements to the extreme.



friday the 13th blu-rayFriday the 13th Part VII is available on Blu-ray and DVD.

2019 @CinemaShame / #Hooptober Progress

#1. Shocker (1989) // #2. Etoile (1989) // #3. The Phantom of the Opera (1989) // #4. Blacula (1972) // #5. Scream Blacula Scream (1973) // #6. Jaws: The Revenge (1987) // #7. Blood Bath (1966) // #8. Friday the 13th Part V (1985) // #9. Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) / #10. Friday the 13th Part VII (1988)

31 Days of Horror Cinema

Friday the 13th Part VI – Jason Lives: 31 Days of Horror

#9. Friday the 13th Part VI – Jason Lives (1986)

friday the 13th part VI jason lives posterNature of Shame:
Trudging my way through the intermittent (and extremely relative) joys of the Friday the 13th series. Bring on Friday the 13th Part VI because it’s the next one. 

Hooptober Challenge Checklist:
Decade: 1980’s
6th film in a franchise

Complacency had set in. After the disaster that was Friday the 13th Part V, I was just going through the motions at this point. I had to get through #6 to satisfy the Hooptober “6th film in a franchise” requirement and I had to get through Part VIII for #Watch1989 because that’s the other watch prompt I’ve got going on. I’d been told better things were on the Friday the 13th horizon. “Keep going,” Twitter said. “Ugh,” I said to no one in particular. I’d scavenged the entire series on DVD from Netflix and my library so I might as well get these things watched so I can get these back into the library system/Netflix circulation to torture others. And hopefully, eventually, watch the other movies on my Hooptober list.

Something happened very early in Friday the 13th Part VI that brought me back into the fold, however. After a generic Jason-rises-from-the-grave pre-title sequence (featuring Ron Palillo, aka Arnold Horshack!), we’re treated to this little nugget: Jason riffing on the James Bond opening gun barrel by walking into his own dilated pupil and slashing the screen.

I’m normally skeptical of non-espionage movies that riff on James Bond. Without going too far down this rabbit hole, I’ll summarize my feelings by saying they just don’t “get it.” They don’t get what makes these 007 rituals so important to Bond fans — but Friday the 13th, on the other hand, does? Like James Bond, Jason has become an immortal cinematic icon. He cannot be killed. He will return. And he really really likes women. So when Jason steps into pupil, turns, and not-so-gently nudge nudge wink winks James Bond; I finally witnessed the kind of self-awareness necessary to survive, as a viewer, six movies into this franchise.

‘Friday the 13th Part VI’ Elevator Pitch

So Jason wasn’t Jason in Friday the 13th Part V, but we’ve had enough of that nonsense. Stop being cute. Jason’s back, baby. Poor Tommy Jarvis, trying to end the hallucinations plaguing him since his last encounter with Jason, ventures to the graveyard with his friend Allen (Horshack!) to cremate Jason’s corpse. As he opens the casket, flashbacks strike Tommy and he panics, stabbing the rotting, maggoty corpse with a piece of metal fence. Lightning strikes the post, reanimating the corpse and bring Jason back from the dead. Jason punches a hole through Allen’s chest, Tommy flees, and Jason Lives!

friday the 13th part VI

The Best Friday?

I’ve not been shy about shrugging away the popularity of the Friday the 13th films. I watched the first one for a Cinema Shame podcast episode two years ago and I’ve been on a two-per-year diet. They occupy a particular place in horror film history and I’ll never deny the budget-conscious effectiveness of the original Friday the 13th construct. Despite some affection for Part II, it wasn’t until this entry, however, that I found the Friday the 13th that proved to be more than its very mechanical, lumbering parts. Part VI has a defined identity and a purposeful sense of humor about itself. Humor had been a component of the series, but it had always taken itself just a little too seriously. Even as the characters kept getting dumber and more deserving of a machete attack, the films as whole failed to embrace humor beyond lazy stereotyping and broad stabs at humor. (Get it? Stabs?)

So Tommy’s not a very good Tommy. We can get over that. John Shepherd, despite his reservations about the role, rendered Tommy as a fully-formed, Norman Bates-like scarred psyche. This Tommy (Thom Mathews) is just a Tommy. He’s dismissed as a quack and subsequently charged with the new Jason murders based on zero evidence. His supposed crimes provide more depth to the film. In order for Tommy to stop Jason, Tommy must also outwit Sheriff Mike Garris and his patrolmen. I didn’t suggest profundity, mind you — just an extra layer of conflict that also introduces Tommy’s love interest in the form of the Sheriff’s daughter Megan.

friday the 13th part VI

Friday the 13th Part VI: The Ultra-Violent Prometheus

Director Tom McLoughlin intended to deliver a different kind of Friday. The producers resisted his efforts. Unlike other Friday the 13th films in which editors had to remove graphic sex and violence to avoid an “X” rating, producers asked McLoughlin to add more. He also changed the momentum of the series heading into Part VII. The reborn Jason has now become an indomitable supernatural force — and in certain ways McLoughlin has rendered him as a modern Frankenstein’s monster. A scene early on depicts him discovering this power as he rips an arm off of a corporate paintballer. The resurrection via a bolt of lightning certainly inspires immediate comparisons to the birth of Mary Shelley’s creation.

friday the 13th part VI jason

I can’t say that the parallels continue beyond those few moments. This is still the sixth entry in a series of low-budget slasher movies, after all. Top to bottom, however, there’s just more interesting filmmaking decisions to pick apart. Add in a smattering of Alice Cooper tracks and Friday the 13th Part VI becomes its own thing — an oasis on this cruise through the endless hordes of routine slashing and stabbings.

Final ‘Friday the 13th Part VI’ Thoughts

It took me six tries, but we got there — the Friday the 13th movie that would make me a “fan” of the series. I just needed that one to put me over the top. There’s enough surprises and purposeful filmmaking decisions in Friday the 13th Part VI to make this something more than your average cavalcade of 80’s sex and carnage. I salute this new direction and hope that some of this carries over into Part VII.



friday the 13th blu-rayFriday the 13th Part VI is available on Blu-ray and DVD.

2019 @CinemaShame / #Hooptober Progress

#1. Shocker (1989) // #2. Etoile (1989) // #3. The Phantom of the Opera (1989) // #4. Blacula (1972) // #5. Scream Blacula Scream (1973) // #6. Jaws: The Revenge (1987) // #7. Blood Bath (1966) // #8. Friday the 13th Part V (1985) // #9. Friday the 13th Part VI (1986)