31 Days of Horror: 2016 Shame-a-thon

For the past few years, I’ve gathered the fearless masses during these pre-Halloween weeks, encouraging them to indulge in a horror movie shame-a-thon, sponsored by Cinema Shame. The notion was simple. List 31 unseen horror movies you feel obligated to watch and tackle as many as you can during the month of October.

It may seem impossible, but October’s creeping up on us all yet again. I know this, you see, because it’s my birthday tomorrow and my birthday is a harsh reminder. The whole end of summer, end of one more year of existence combo-malaise. Pumpkin picking, hay rides, apple cider, arguing about costumes with small people… and then Halloween.

This year, I’m again following my Cinema Shame method, but adding a new twist. Fellow Pittsburgher @ElCinemonster has been organizing his Hoop-Tober Challenge on Letterboxd.com for three years now. Each year he lays down some challenges to help guide the viewing of his monstrous minions. Anyway, that’s been a smashing success, and I’ve enjoyed watching the event from afar. This year I’ve decided to combine my Cinema Shame Horror Shame-a-thon with @ElCinemonster’s Hoop-Tober Challenge to create the most unwieldy title in the history of movie blogging and watching.

Welcome to the 2016 CinemaShame/Hoop-Tober Watch Pile 31 Days of Horror Shame-a-thon

31 days of horror 2016

So let’s lay down the laws, shall we? Continue reading

Day 1: Dementia 13 (1963)

borg

As John Haloran rows across the lake on his family’s Irish estate, he teases his wife Louise (Luana Anders). If he drops dead, Louise will inherit none of the Haloran wealth. Pro tip: Never annoy your wife in a rowboat…if you have a bad heart. The always resourceful Louise dumps John overboard, packs his suitcase, and tells the family he went to New York on business. She’ll stay at the Haloran castle and get to know them while John’s away. Psst…it’ll be a while. It doesn’t take long for Louise to see just how nutty the Halorans are. Richard (William Campbell) solders bad art and scowls. Billy (Bart Patton) walks around in a fog telling people about his dreams. Lady Haloran, fixated on death and grief, holds funerals to commemorate a funeral. Creepy Doctor Caleb (Patrick Magee) tells everyone they’re doing it wrong in a ‘Get into my van. I have candy.’ kind of way.

creepy
“…and then I crushed its head.”

They’re a fun bunch.

funeral
Weeeeee!

Louise, ever the multitasker, figures she’ll push the already dotty Lady Haloran over the edge using a few props from the nursery while insinuating herself into the family and the will. Her simple plan runs into a snag, however and then the fun really starts.

monkey
If you see this, you have gone too far.

Francis Ford Coppola (yes that one), wrote and directed Dementia 13 with some tweaks by Jack Hill (The Bees, Coffy). Coppola gives the film a creepy quality by using odd camera angles and off-kilter close-ups and filming so much of it at night. The look reminded me of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). Even the dim day shots look dismal and give the black and white film an eerie atmosphere.

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Eavesdropping on the funeral.

What’s missing is dialogue and character development. What dialogue there is works, but the characters need more to say to help us get to know them. More realistic conversations might also decrease the tendency toward exposition. Also, for a film set in Ireland, I found the lack of Irish accents from almost all the lead characters somewhat baffling. According to articles on the making of Dementia 13, producer Roger Corman assigned Coppola to make a gory Psycho on the cheap so he dashed off a script and went into production. In spite of this and the fact that this marked Coppola’s non-porn directorial debut, it’s a good gothic horror film with a creative plot and some genuinely scary moments. The nifty chamber music by Ronald Stein enhanced the mood as well. I understand why this has become such a cult favorite and I’m glad I finally saw it.

quality
A sure sign of quality

shame

I’m @echidnabot on twitter.

31 Days of Horror

 

 

 

 

skully

I love Halloween. I decorate every room in my house and fill my yard with skeletons, gravestones, and disembodied heads. I am the only one in my neighborhood who does it. I know I’m not the only one in the world though. Many adults with kids get a kick out of Halloween. They love seeing the cute costumes and the reaction of their children to spooky decorations. Well, my kid is seventeen now and I’m still doing it. For years I made her costumes and helped her make invitations to her yearly Halloween party. Did I do it because I’m a good mom? Possibly. I think it might also be that I love making skull cookies and punch with an ice hand floating in it. I love using toilet paper dowels and glow sticks to fill my bushes with glowing eyes. I also love horror movies. I’m a big fan of psychological and atmospheric horror, but I welcome gore as well.

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This year, I plan on watching a horror film every day in October. I will write a little something about each film. I won’t write tomes, just short posts consisting of impressions or highlights of each film. I’ll post links on twitter and use the #31DaysofHorror

Since I’m planning to watch some horror films I’ve never seen before, I’ll post on cinemashame.wordpress.com and my own blog prowlerneedsajump.wordpress.com throughout the month.

I’m @echidnabot on twitter.

1-Eyes Without a Face (1960)
2-The Man Who Cheated Death (1959)
3-The Savage Bees (1976)
4-In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
5-Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)
6-The Cat and the Canary (1939)
7-Suspiria (1977)
8-The Innocents (1961)
9-The Fog (1980)
10-Vault of Horror (1973)
11-Kill, Baby Kill (1966)
12-The Deadly Bees (1966)
13-Equinox (1970)
14-The Legend of Hell House (1973)
15-Mark of the Devil (1970)
16-Wolf Creek 2 (2013)
17-The Devil’s Rain (1975)
18-Carnival of Souls (1962)
19-Terror Out of the Sky (1978)
20-Dementia 13 (1963)
21-Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
22-Black Sunday (1960)

I’ll admit there are a few on this list I’ve always wanted to see and a few I just haven’t seen. I thought I’d throw them on this list for fun. For instance, I’ve wanted to see Suspiria, Black Sunday, and The Innocents for ages. The Slime People, not so much. That’s ok. I have to lighten it up too.

Since it’s 31 Days of Horror and not 22 Days of Horror and 9 Days of Annoyance, here are the other 9 films I plan to watch. I’ve seen these before, but they fit the parameters. Boo.

Torture Garden (1967)
Homicidal (1961)
The Uninvited (1944)
The Creature From the Black Lagoon 3D (1954)
The Thing (1982)
Poltergeist (1982)
C.H.U.D. (1984)
Tales From the Crypt (1972)
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Shock (1946)
Wait Until Dark (1967)
Let the Right One In (2008)
Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

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