After several busy weekends, I finally had a free weekend to sit down and really chew on a lot of movies. It wasn’t my intention at all but it wound up being an all-horror weekend with lots of variety. There was Karloff, Hammer horror, a trip to the theater, an Amicus anthology, and a double helping of a horror icon that I’d neglected for my entire life. This is the movie weekend that was.
Vault of Horror (1973)
As you know, I’ve been on a huge anthology horror kick lately, specifically Amicus anthologies. Enter Vault of Horror, a de facto sequel to Amicus’ Tales from the Crypt (1972). Like most anthologies, the wraparound was the worst part, but the rest of the vignettes were all pretty cool. My personal favorite was the short about a murderous piece of rope. It sounds ridiculous, but not so much so that it wasn’t a lot of fun.
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Corridors of Blood (1958)
October and Boris Karloff go hand in hand, and this was my first Karloff film of the month. The movie tells the tale of Dr. Thomas Bolton, who played a major role in creating anesthesia. But along the way, he experiments on himself, becomes an opium addict, and exchanges illegal favors with murderers to help conduct his experiments. It’s quite good, if not full-on horror. What’s fascinating to me is that the film closes with a placard dedicating the movie to the memory of Dr. Thomas Bolton, implying that the tale was true. A quick Google search is vague, so I’m left wondering if there really was a guy named Thomas Bolton who allied himself with criminals in an effort to invent painless surgery.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Grace focuses on a young woman who gives birth to a baby girl who, by some miracle, survives a car accident that was thought to have killed her. As the film progresses, the mother learns that her infant daughter will only consume human blood. After she makes this discovery, her world spirals out of control. The pacing is slow in a good way, and the film is riddled with themes of feminism and motherhood.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Apollo 18 (2011)
Understand that I don’t say this lightly- Apollo 18 is a contender for one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. The found footage is too jumbled to effectively build suspense, the characters are empty vessels to carry out a weak plot, and the film is a slow burn with a really bad payoff. There’s so much backlash against “found footage” these days, and it’s a pet peeve of mine. A good movie is a good movie, found footage or otherwise. And movies like this are the reason GOOD found footage films fight an uphill climb.
Rating: 1 star out of 5
Child’s Play (1988)
Believe it or not, I had never seen Child’s Play. My brothers exposed me to as much horror as they could but these kinds of movies generally weren’t allowed in our house. It wasn’t that my parents were worried that I’d be scared. It’s simply that these films were deemed “too stupid”. But I digress. I enjoyed Child’s Play quite a bit. It was a great blend of cheese and horror and Brad Dourif. The entire time, I couldn’t help but wonder how much better any of the Toy Story films would have been if Chucky had been one of the toys.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The Devil Rides Out (1968)
I’ve seen and enjoyed a lot of Hammer horror films but The Devil Rides Out is my new favorite. The depiction of Satanism and the devil was startling for 1968, with the devil taking on one of the more sinister forms I’ve seen on film. And the effects, other than a few misses here or there, were up to the task, making the film seem advanced beyond its 1968 release year. And it goes without saying that Christopher Lee is great, as always. Fun fact, per the Robert Osborne introduction on TCM- the American title of the film is “The Devil’s Bride”. They thought “The Devil Rides Out” would sound like a Western to American audiences. Actually, I agree with them.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Child’s Play 2 (1990)
Having already seen the first, I doubled down and watched the sequel. There was plenty about it that I liked less than the first film, but a few things that I liked more. Specifically, Jenny Agutter, of An American Werewolf in London fame is in it, and she’s great. Although flawed, there’s something inherently magical about a child’s doll growling “I’m gonna get you fuckers!” in Brad Dourif’s voice.
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
The horror critics I trust had all enjoyed this back at SXSW, so I anxiously awaited a chance to see it. My opportunity arrived this weekend. I walked away duly impressed. Sinister carries some of the creepier images I’ve seen in recent years in the horror genre, and there are a few scenes that are downright impressive in the way they build suspense- long, drawn out, 2 and 3 minute silent sequences. My minor gripe is that it spelled out an awful lot at the end. It’s just personal preference but I’ve come to really enjoy these kinds of horrors when they leave a little to the imagination. Still, it’s a minor complaint and a personal preference.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5