Monday, October 26, 2009

31 DAYS OF FRIGHT: Post-Exhumed Report -- Alas, No Kinski

Got home about 24 hours ago from the 3rd Annual Exhumed Films 24-Hour Marathon and I think I'm returning to "normal". This was my third year in attendance and I have to say that while this year's rundown came awfully close to besting the first outing, it fell short ever so slightly.


Still no Kinski but this year's lineup was a winner...

CREEPSHOW: after kicking off the last two years with Carpenter flicks the organizers promised an A-list flick but no JC to start the event. I hadn't seen this anthology in 20 years or so and the stories still hold up nicely. Leslie Nielsen sorta steals the show in his segment and I was impressed by how much more involved "The Crate" was from what I remembered. A fun-packed way to start the festivities.

GODZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND: though I don't remember it a friend suggested to me that I actually had seen this Godzilla flick many years ago. Described by one pal in attendance as "arson porn" it's largely long monster mashes interspersed with some ludicrous plot about bug-like aliens taking over the earth.

THE FLY (Cronenberg): more bugs, this time in the form of Jeff Goldblum. While the program guide's clue about a "science fiction/horror modern classic" from the 80s had my hopes up for LIFEFORCE, I can't hold a grudge for showing this flick (plus I can rationalize a Halloween week screening on DVD). Great storyline, fabulous acting from the three leads, icky effects and the damn thing is paced like lightning.

THE OBLONG BOX: was one of the few flicks this year that made me feel "meh". Clues suggesting a "old school gothic horror starring two genre favorites" had me crossing my fingers for HORROR EXPRESS, but we got this AIP Poe adaptation with Vincent Price and Christopher Lee instead. Unfortunately, proper appreciation probably required me to pay more attention than I wanted to at this point. And, frankly, a lot of those British people look alike.

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 4: THE FINAL CHAPTER: here's where things really got rolling. This is easily my favorite installment of the F13 series and I had a smile from ear-to-ear during this one. "Teddy, you know where that corkscrew is?" THWACK!

RAW FORCE: definitely the highlight of the weekend and this coming from somebody whose favorite film ever made closed out the event. I'd seen bits and pieces of this on VHS but never imagined I'd witness what is easily one of the craziest pieces of cinema ever unleashed on an unsuspecting public on the big screen. Cannibals, zombies, kung-fu, inane dialogue, rampant nudity, Cameron Mitchell and the Asian Hitler all team up for what can best be described as a Filipino flick made by Troma. Amazing. Needs to come out on a special edition two-disc DVD from Criterion tomorrow.

THE NEXT VICTIM (aka BLADE OF THE RIPPER): another revelation for me. A stylish and fun Sergio Martino giallo with George Hilton, the scrumptious Edwige Fenech, Ivan Rassimov (described by a pal as the lovechild of Charlton Heston and Klaus Maria Brandauer). Nicely follows some of the great Eurotrash Maxims established through the years. Such as, "If George Hilton is in a giallo, he's guilty of something".

CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (aka NIGHTMARE CITY): not my favorite Italian splatter zombiefest, but one whose empty-headed plot plays better with a crowd than alone at home. Some great price-of-admission scenes but too much blah-blah-blah pessimism from the female lead for my taste.

HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD: a (mostly) beautiful print of this dreamy Bava flick starring Reg Park as Hercules and Christopher Lee as the villain. I'd seen this one on DVD and one viewing was probably plenty for me, but it was a nice 2 AM palette cleanser.

TRAUMA (aka HOUSE ON STRAW HILL): another first viewing, though certainly not as good as THE NEXT VICTIM. One friend informed me that the STRAW HILL cut is longer and sleazier than what we saw, which means more nude Linda Hayden and Fiona Richmond if that's possible. Too easy to figure out what's happening, especially after the challenging NEXT VICTIM. Being remade under one its other alternate titles, EXPOSE.

LADY TERMINATOR: to say I never, ever expected to see this on the big-screen would be an enormous understatement. Like RAW FORCE it's a crazoid blend of action, kung-fu and damaged creative forces, but the drawn-out gun battles are a little too repetitious to elevate this one to RAW FORCE level madness. Still, a gorgeous print of a flick I never thought I'd get to see in a theater.

THE CHILDREN: I'd have been impressed by this one simply because it had one of my buddies totally stumped for a good five minutes and he seems to know every 70s and 80s horror flick like the back of his hand. When a school bus passes through a radioactive cloud, the children are turned into murderous monsters (zombies?) who can deep-fry an adult with a touch of their hands. Though it drags a bit in spots, high marks for such a rare treat and for dealing with the taboo of subject of chopping kids' hands off!

PIRANHA: I'm a sucker for nature run amok horror so I would have loved just about anything they threw at me (GRIZZLY, ISLAND CLAWS, EMPIRE OF THE ANTS, etc.). Plus, I'd been awake for about 26 hours straight and had just watched 12 other movies so I was pretty mentally pliable. But this remains one of my favorite of all the post-JAWS rip-offs, with a great cast of genre vets, decent late-70s gore, a witty John Sayles screenplay and tight, fun-loving direction from Joe Dante.

RE-ANIMATOR: what can I say? Not just my favorite horror film but quite literally my favorite film ever made. A near flawless blend of dark comedy, relentless gore and nudity that perfectly capped a great weekend of trash cinema.

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