Monday, October 16, 2017

The Horror of It All, 2017 (part 2)

As per tradition (and my natural inclinations) I watch as many horror movies and Gothic thrillers as I can in October. Here's the lowdown on the second week of morbid curiosities I've been parading before my eyes:

Transylvania 6-5000 (1985)
Tabloid reporters Jack Harrison and Gil Turner are sent to Transylvania with two choices: find the Frankenstein monster or find new jobs. But before the jumpy journalists can dig up their big story, they must first face the horrors of an extremely clumsy butler, a nymphomaniac vampiress and a semi-mad doctor, as well as assorted mummies, werewolves and more Transylvanian oddballs. Can these two bumbling heroes unravel this monstrous mystery or are they in for some very scary surprises?

I can't believe I'd managed to avoid this before now. Transylvania 6-5000 was a movie made to free a chemical company's frozen assets in Yugoslavia, and it shows. Not even Geena Davis in a vampy outfit can save this one.

The Asphyx (1972)
English country squire Sir Hugo Cunningham searches for immortality by literally 'bottling up' the Spirit of the Dead, or Asphyx.

Usually I'm a sucker for anything horror set in the Victorian era, but The Asphyx was truly soporific. Apparently the spirit of death looks an awful lot like Slimer's Fraggle-ier cousin.

Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968)
When his brother disappears, Robert Manning pays a visit to the remote country house he was last heard from. While his host is outwardly welcoming - and his niece more demonstrably so - Manning detects a feeling of menace in the air with the legend of Lavinia Morley, Black Witch of Greymarsh, hanging over everything.

A bit wobbly, but Curse of the Crimson Altar has the kind of atmosphere I like. Plus, come on, it has Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff, and Barbara Steele. 

Lore (2017)
From the executive producer of The Walking Dead and the executive producer of The X-Files, this anthology series brings to life Aaron Mahnke's "Lore" podcast and uncovers the real-life events that spawned our darkest nightmares. Blending dramatic scenes, animation, archive and narration, Lore reveals how our horror legends - such as vampires, werewolves and body snatchers - are rooted in truth.

I only watched the first episode of Lore...and it might have been the only episode I watch. Lore is a spooky history-themed podcast that has been turned into a television show by Amazon, just in time for the Halloween season. Unfortunately, the jump to a visual format has really been to the concept's benefit; it mostly feels like a podcast that has been jammed over top dodgy History Channel-style re-enactments.

And then there are the inaccuracies. Mercy Brown was not "America's first vampire." Mercy Brown's story was not the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula. (It may have been among his inspirations, but claiming it as the origin point for Stoker's novel avoids all the scholarship we have about his inspirations.) The phrase "saved by the bell" isn't actually a reference to people who were rescued from death by anti-premature-burial devices. (The earlier known usage of the phrase comes to us from the world of boxing.)

The Boy (2015)
An intimate portrait of a 9-year-old sociopath's growing fascination with death.

Not the one with the doll that looks like Jared Kushner, the one with Dwight from The Office. Slow-burn (hey oh!) about the makings of a future serial killer. Key word: slow.