The Movie Weekend That Was

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

Karloff and mad science go together like peanut butter and jelly

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 (2009)
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

Sinister (2012)
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

27 Comments

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27 responses to “The Movie Weekend That Was

  1. aleksa

    I love that your parents hadn’t exposed you to “Child’s Play” because it was stupid. That was pretty awesome.

    • Ha… there was a lot of that. It also applied to a lot of sitcoms. I couldn’t get caught watching Alf because it was too stupid. It was mostly my mom. My dad appreciated the world of “too stupid” as long as it was comedy and not horror.

  2. Craig

    Apollo 18 is abysmal. Truly awful.

    Expected as much though because we have a rule in the UK: if a film is primarily and heavily advertised on the side of a bus, it is awful.

  3. goregirl

    Never even heard of Apollo 18 or Sinister. I am brutally out of touch with new horror stuff. I always thought Child’s Play would have been much better as pure campy horror-comedy…and than they did make it into a horror comedy! I have taken a lot of flack for loviing Bride of Chucky over the years. I make no apologies, that film freaking cracks me up and Jennifer Tilly was born to play Tiffany. TDRO is one of my fave Hammer flicks-I absolutely love it. COB – need I even bother commenting? I think you know how I feel about Boris Karloff. VOH is fun. I highly recommend checking out the anthology BLACK SABBATH (Mario Bava) it is absolutely top notch!

    • I definitely looked at Child’s Play as campy horror… and kind of loved it for that reason. Of all the 80s slashers, it’s been my favorite so far. I’m almost positive I’ll be checking out the other Chucky movies now.

      It’s been awhile since I saw Black Sabbath, and given my newfound lust for anthologies, it’s probably worth a re-watch. I’m pretty sure the last time I watched it was at the end of 2 months solid of horror and I was ready for a breather.

  4. Damn, that’s an ambitious weekend. I can’t wait to see Sinister.

  5. SOunds like my perfect weekend…. NOT!!! HAHA

  6. I watched “The Devil Rides Out” on TCM as well. Great film, the image of the devil has been lingering in my head since my viewing. Creepy as hell! I am looking forward to going on a Terrence Fisher, Christopher Lee and Hammer Films binge! I have became infatuated with Lee ever since i saw him in an amazing episode of “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour
    called “Sign of Satan”, i highly recommend it. Although its incredibly hard to find any episodes of that show, thankfully Encore Suspense airs it every week night at 8pm. Also a friend of mine bought Apollo 18 when he was with me, i strongly advised him against it, but said if he got it i would watch it with him. Horrible! I would have rather watched one of the Madea movies. I am very much looking forward to the found footage genre fad to fade off. I think they are now shooting films that have no reason to be found footage. I am not opposed to all found footage, i enjoyed “The Blair Witch Project”, “Cloverfield” if that’s even considered found footage, i don’t know. “REC.” was good and i didn’t mind “Quarantine”. Also i was wondering if you had any Christopher Lee recommendations and, heck why not, some found footage films?

    • The funny thing about Christopher Lee and my weekend was that he was also in Corridor of Blood but I didn’t realize it at the time. I watched two Lee movies and didn’t know it.

      For found footage, the two I’ve seen in the last month are great places to go- V/H/S and Sinister. Both feature found footage prominently and do it very well. After four movies, there’s started to be some backlash against Paranormal Activity, but I enjoyed the first and third in the series. Trollhunter was a blast. And the ones you mentioned are spot-on.

      For Christopher Lee… you really can’t go wrong. If you haven’t done The Wicker Man, do that. That’s my favorite.

      • I caught the last 30 mins of The Wicker Man on IFC about a year ago or so and it messed with me a little. It had a very realistic feel to it. I am kicking myself because i have seen the abysmal Neil Labute/Nic Cage Wicker Man so i hope that doesn’t take away from the original when i get around to seeing the whole picture. Also i am looking forward to catching up on your other suggestions.

        • I haven’t seen the “remake” but I can only imagine how awful it is. If you’ve seen my “Don’t Watch It!” series, that’d be a candidate.

          • Oh it’s a great candidate for “Don’t Watch It!”, if i had only 1 recommendation to give you for your “Don’t Watch It” series it would be the craptastic “The Island of Dr. Moreau” directed by the great John Frankenheimer, starring a really fat Brando, a pissed off Val Kilmer and David Thewlis that i feel very sorry for after learning about the story that went on behind the camera which is almost as comical as this film.

  7. I agree with tour assessment of Sinister. I just posted my own review. The music and images really created a feeling of dread. I was scared and that’s what makes a great horror film.

    • Those images- the grainy images… Wow. And I love the names for them all. “Barbecue”, “House Painting”, “Hanging Out”, “Pool Party”, “Sleepy Time”… all so innocuous until they’re executed.

  8. Nice! Always fun to see a batch of mini-reviews. Can’t say I have seen any of these except for Child’s Play, which I haven’t watched since I was a kid. That’s a shame about Apollo 18. It actually has a promising concept, so it’s disappointing to hear it’s so bad.

  9. Now searching for: The Devil Rides Out
    That one sounds really awesome

  10. Pingback: Ranking the Classic Slasher Icons |

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