Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Chilling at Christmas/1984 Turns 30! A Retrospective: Two More from '84! Silent Night, Deadly Night (Charles E. Sellier, Jr.) & Gremlins (Joe Dante)

For my last post of 2014, another 1984/Christmas crossover... and this time it's a double! I've talked about these two briefly before (here and here) but wanted to explore them in a bit more depth, especially as it's still the festive season and all. I mean Christmas day is long gone now but hey, people still have their decorations up and we're still within the 12 days right? 

Besides both being (in wildly varying degrees) controversial Christmas movies, they're also two films that have grown on me exponentially this December. I mean I'd always liked them both but after re-watching them a few times each this year I'd have to say the like has turned to love. Why's that do you ask? All will hopefully become clear as we proceed...

The more controversial of the two by many miles, Silent Night, Deadly Night was famously picketed by angry parents, lambasted by critics and eventually withdrawn from theatres. The killer Santa wasn't exactly new by 1984 but apparently the appearance of the film during the festive season itself, coupled with what I imagine was probably far from subtle advertising... oh, and it's wide distribution (it was an early release for TriStar if memory serves)... so anyway, the above taken all together (and exacerbated by the media no doubt, who love a good moral panic) seemed to create the conditions for a perfect storm of controversy. All this was moot of course as the film was later re-released anyway (playing up the controversy card all the way in the ads... and why not?) and the opening aside, it all seems a bit silly when watched now. Which is not an attack on the film, I should add.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

1984 Turns 30! A Retrospective: 1984 Movie Music Megamix!

As an aural appendix to my previous post, here's a link to a Youtube playlist I made featuring 130 songs and snippets of scores from 1984 films. 

If I missed anything important, feel free to hit me up in the comments. Cheers :)

Here's a picture of Kevin Bacon (presumably listening to Kenny Loggins or Moving Pictures) to feast your eyes on while you listen. Enjoy! Or what you should really do is load the playlist and then (if you haven't already), read the aforementioned preceding post.

Coming up next year, a 1985 retrospective. And no, I'm not joking.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

1984 Turns 30! A Retrospective: 30th Birthday Moviethon Madness!

While writing my last post I noticed my next would be my 100th (yup, it certainly took me long enough!), so of course I felt compelled to mark it with something special. Anyone following this blog or that knows me via Facebook will know that to celebrate my 30th birthday in early October, I watched an insane amount of movies from 1984... well, 30 to be precise and over a period of 8 days (much as I was loath to, I had to go to work during some of those days!). So for this centennial post, it seemed entirely apt to give y'all a run down of the birthday moviethon shenanigans. As I've a lot of ground to cover, I'll be as brief as possible r.e. each film, especially if I've talked about it elsewhere on the blog. I'll offer a TV guide synopsis for the more obscure ones but I'll presume that's unnecessary for the more famous famous films. Without further ado then!

Friday 26th September 2014

20:00 - Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman)

I've spoken about this movie a couple of times before (here and here) so not much to say here but I knew I just had to kick of the moviethon with this one, it being, as I've said repeatedly, the gateway horror movie for me. Yup, I'm blaming Reitman, Ackroyd, Ramis, Murray et al for the sorry state I'm in today. Okay, so that's not really fair... there are many parties responsible for that and most of them are called Simon!

I was watching the old Blu Ray on this on the day in question, which I always thought was serviceable enough... I mean, this viewing alone I noticed one or two things I hadn't before... e.g. how the hell did I never notice Murray taking his Chinese food down the fire pole with him?! But a more recent viewing of the much more recent Blu (scanned in 4K no less) has revealed to me how much the old Blu and other prior home video incarnations left to be desired. If you love this movie, or are lukewarm about it and fancy reappraising it, buy this Blu Ray.

I've nothing to add for now but there'll be more Ghostbusters action on the blog before we leave 2014...

22:00 - Beverly Hills Cop (Martin Brest)

It's probably a good time to tell y'all I was basically winging it with regards to sequencing these movies. I had a start point, a vague idea of what to end with, and a huge stack of stuff I wanted to get to in between. But even this early in the 'thon, I was encountering dilemmas r.e. what to watch. So thanks to anyone who helped nudge me in the right direction here or there... case in point, my good friends Brad and Steve for convincing me to finally watch Beverly Hills Cop...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Carry on Screaming! British Horror Week - The Sequel!/Chilling at Christmas AND 1984 Turns 30! - Don't Open Till Christmas (Edmund Purdom, 1984)

Rounding off the British horror blogging, kicking off the Christmas content and also returning to that all important year of 1984, today's movie is already sitting at a crossroads of general awesomeness, so is a review really necessary? Assuming not everyone will simply be sold by the above, I better tell y'all a bit more about it...

Reversing a trope that's been used in a few Yuletide horror films (i.e. the killer Santa), Don't Open Till Christmas is a giallo/slasher hybrid about a serial killer knocking off anyone dressed as St. Nick. Edmund Purdom (of Pieces - which we'll come back to - Absurd and The Fifth Cord fame. He also directs, sort of... and therein hangs a tale for later) is Chief Inspector Ian Harris of Scotland Yard, the man tasked with putting an end this next level Scrooge's not so festive frenzy. Also embroiled are Kate Briosky (Belinda Mayne), whose father (Laurence Harrington) has been murdered (and now she "can't concentrate!", which might explain a few things that transpire later), her sometimes boyfriend and general arse Cliff Boyd (Gerry Sundquist), who becomes a suspect, and Sherry Graham (from Slaughter High, which we'll also come back to), a stripper who witnesses one of the Santa slayings and narrowly escapes the killer's clutches.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Carry on Screaming! British Horror Week - The Sequel! Three for Thursday - Bela Lugosi in Britain

As much love and respect as I have for Karloff, I've always gravitated more towards Lugosi for some reason. I'm not gonna say Bela is better than Boris of course, them being different actors, both adept at bringing particular things to the table (of course there's an element of overlap too). For whatever reason though, I'll watch anything with Lugosi in it... and I do mean anything. There's just something utterly wonderful about watching him throw himself into every role, no matter how potentially ridiculous it is (The Ape Man and The Devil Bat both spring to mind) and going for it with full body and soul, treating B movies as if they were Shakespeare. Now this isn't to say the silliness of some of these movies was missed on the actor (just check out either The Devil Bat or Mother Riley Meets the Vampire for evidence that he was sometimes in on the joke too), I'm just saying I feel like he played every part as if it might be his last.

We've looked at a couple of Karloff's British horror films recently (and there's one more we might discuss soon if time permits) so I thought it'd be good to also talk briefly about three of Lugosi's. They're the only ones Bela made in Britain that I'm aware of and a bit of a mixed bunch, but all worth checking out for fans I'd say. Anyway, enough pre-rambling, on to the films!

The Mystery of the Mary Celeste (Denison Clift, 1935)

Linking back to my last post, this first film is actually one of Hammer's earliest and probably the best of these three Lugosi pictures. I saw it courtesy of an upload on Hammer's Youtube channel under the title The Phantom Ship, which is shorter than the original version. Sadly it seems that full length cut is now lost but I suppose film cans are found all the time so fingers crossed!