It was a rainy Halloween here in Chicago so my usual program of manning the front door, blasting creepy sound effects records and watching old (mildly) kid-friendly horror movies was cut a little shorter than usual. I did manage to watch Mario Bava’s Baron Blood. Not his best work but it has its moments. If you think burnt pilgrims are scary, this is the movie for you.
I also re-watched Four Flies on Grey Velvet. This is another Argento film that gets better with every viewing (I gave it a 7 when I first saw it). The plot is full of holes and has a vital clue that relies on such phony, crap science that it’s hard to suspend disbelief at all. But this is another Argento that is filled with humor, stunning visuals and another great, experimental Morricone score. So, if I were to rank Argento films this is how I would do it:
The Bird With the Crystal Plumage
Four Flies on Grey Velvet
Cat o’ Nine Tails
The Stendahl Syndrome
Jennifer (from Masters of Horror)
Beyond these there’s just a bunch of forgettable garbage.
I managed to watch a couple more Halloween themed films this weekend. This included another Fulci film, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, whichI rank as his best along side The Beyond. Unlike most of his other work, this one is tightly plotted and suspenseful. It features a bunch of deranged hippies, surreal dream sequences, a fantastic Morricone score and a compelling performance by David Horowitz of TV’s Fight Back:
I got the entire family to watch the “Drop of Water” segment from Black Sabbath. This is Mario Bava at his best with loads of colored lights, sets that look like renaissance paintings and a super creepy corpse. I like the rest of the film too, but the slow pacing probably wouldn’t have kept the attention of the crowd that evening.
Each year around this time I always tell myself that I am going to watch a different horror movie every night in the lead-up to Halloween. I never seem to get around to it and end up cramming two or three films in at the last minute’usually Halloween evening while the rest of the family is out trick or treating. Well, this year I have managed to be a little more on top of things. Especially now since we have a DVD-ready laptop positioned in front of my treadmill. There’s nothing like a bit of Fulci close-up gore to motivate the fat burning.
Speaking of which, this evening I completed Zombi 2 which I gave a rather terse review some time ago. I forgot just how creepy the zombies are in that film. It’s very bleak and dread-filled and has some really gross and disturbing effects. Modern zombie films (even The Walking Dead) don’t seem to understand that it’s this sense of supernatural dread and hopelessness that makes the zombie apocalypse so frightening. Sure there is also a ton of cheese (um, shark vs. zombie) but this is still one of the best films in this overcrowded genre.
I also watched The Bird with the Crystal Plumage again. This is more a thriller than a horror film and it’s one of Dario Argento’s best. Stunning visuals, lots of tension and, at times, a genuine sense of humor that disappeared from Argento’s later films. Oh, and it has one of Ennio Morricone’s best scores.
My Halloween movie fun-run continues with Mario Bava’s Kill Baby, Kill. Not really his finest work, but it is memorable for the scenes of the ghostly child at the windows.
This is a very creepy still, but, in the context of the movie, it doesn’t come off as eerie as it could. I’m probably the 9000th person to post this screenshot on the Web, but any Kill Baby, Killpost must include it.
The film is filled with more great compositions such as this one in which a young girl is compelled to impale herself with a sconce.
Italians sure do love their spiral staircases. As a note to budding architects who work in cities with high counts of maniacs and vindictive ghosts: a simple straight flight of stairs is probably a bit better in emergency situations. Oh, and avoid the metaphysical endless room loops.