October Movie Challenge entry #1

Okay, I'm trying this thing (which you are welcome to try, too, although yer a little late) so I'll be posting reports from that over here... provided I can stand wrestling with this board's interface, which has already given me about an hour of screaming, cursing fits today 'cuz it won't let me create links anymore.  I'm trying the "new interface" to see if it's not completely broke-dick.*sigh.*  It allows the links, but it jerks me around if I try to add blank lines.

I'm falling so out-of-love with blogging...

Anyway, I'm going to fail horribly at watching 100 movies in 31 days... especially since I'm gonna eat up hours typing up the reviews, and then an extra hour dealing with the blogger.com's fouled-up interface.   (And then even more time bitching about it, right, Z, ya whiney bastard?  Yeah, I hear ya... )

Anyway, here goes... what I watched on October 1st.


Final Exam (C, 1981) Simpleminded slasher film that was nobody's favorite due to a lack of blood; a stabfest with no gore is like celibacy porn, nobody really gives a fuck.  It does serve as a reminder of how innocent the 80's were, though, because in one scene a fraternity stages a fake school shooting just as a distraction to let a guy cheat on a test.  The school's resident serial-killer-buff (a real goober named "Radish") thinks it's real and calls the cops, not knowing the main masked shooter was his incredibly stupid buddy "Wildman" (who's so wild 'n' crazy he's got "Wildman" written on both sides of his shirt, just so nobody'll miss that he needs attention and lots of it, stat!).   When the mean ol' sheriff shows up he doesn't do much but threaten everyone (and call Wildman "bulldog" a lot, like that's badass).  If you did something like that nowdays, CNN would talk about nothing else for a week, and it's probably still enough to keep this movie from airing on TV.  Anyway, amidst the fake killing, a real knife-wielding psycho (finally) shows up and starts waving his knife up and down.  It takes almost an hour for the killer to start doing his thing and then it's just weird because the guy's unknown and has no apparent motive whatsoever.  Slasher movies have worked in some ridiculous twists but this is the only one I know of that has no twist at all -- he's just a random no-personality knife-guy who kills with no gore.  He might as well be the flu.   So what you're left with are a bunch of sub-non-plots about a nice girl feeling whistful that the other girls seem to be having more fun (but slasher-film-101 tells you that she'll get to survive them all), Radish trying to convince the sheriff that there's real trouble on campus this time, and fraternity jerks tying their friends to trees with ice in their underpants.  Yeah, the imbecilic forced behavior of "Wildman" is kind of amusing, but it's not enough to compensate for a slasher college that's sorely in need of an anatomy class, and so little blood that if it was marinara sauce you'd be sending your manicotti back to the Olive Garden chef with a sharply-worded letter.  Maybe if he'd had a couple of sidekicks named Dickjerk and Corndog it could have made the grade.  As is, it's not boring but doesn't deliver the goods, either.  A product of Earl Owensby's studio.

Visiting Hours (C, 1982) Lee Grant is a reporter who's an advocate for battered women, which pisses off psychotic Michael Ironside.  His mother splashed his father with boiling oil for playing too rough and witnessing the incident gave Ironside a deep misogyny in general, but particularly an obsessive hatred of assertive women.  He’s already been stalking women, photographing them in the process of dying, and building a skull collage out of the photos, so when he sees Grant on TV, he’s already well-versed in what he thinks he should do about it.  He invades her apartment but she manages to escape him, with injuries that leave her hospitalized.  Ironside’s one driven bastard, though, so he goes after her in the hospital, killing some other patients along the way and targeting a nurse (Linda Purl) who’s a bit too together for him to tolerate.   He’s so determined to take out his target that he even smashes a beer bottle with his arm so he can use the injury to get admitted to the hospital as a patient.  The directorial style is a bit messy (you can tell director Jean-Claude Lord is trying to be “stylish” but doesn’t have a good sense of when art gets in the way of function) and the severe tone may have made some slasher fans uncomfortable; usually the people getting killed off are cardboard party-types while these victims are realistic people with backstories just trying to get through their day.  And Ironside is scary, cold, crazed with hatred, and almost never saying a word as he very-resourcefully and with unnerving determination goes about what he does.  He’s a predator to contend with.  The gore is restrained but the suspense is kept pretty high, so this one deserves another look.  Oh, and William Shatner is also on hand, which may be a factor for some.

Mad Doctor of Blood Island
(C, 1969) aka Blood Doctor, Grave Desires, Tomb of the Living Dead.  John Ashley is a pathologist who travels to Blood Island to help Angelique Pettyjohn find her missing father.  When they find him, he’s turned a dark green and is dying.  Crazy Dr. Lorca has been experimenting with chlorophyll and infected him... but he’s better off than Lorca’s other “patient,” who’s a full-blown raging monster who’s so crazy that the camera goes into nauseating pulsations whenever it tries to film him!  The green-blooded, rotting-with-chlorophyll monster is pretty great-looking and his victims are left in an amazingly gory condition, rendered to piles of bloody limbs and scattered organs.  The plot itself is slow-going and not very interesting, but it’s worth it just for the monster and his splattery attacks.  The effects are crude but reach Fulci-levels of graphic.  Movie goers were given vials of “green blood” to drink to protect them from becoming such a fiend; no report on how many may have contracted cancer from the dye used.  Ashley and Pettyjohn pad out the time between attacks with making out.  A similar monster (but even cooler-looking, and with a detachable head!) would be back in Beast of Blood.   The trailer - narrated by Brother Theodore - is a masterpiece.

Unborn, The (C, 2009)  Pretty co-ed Casey starts having weird dreams and seeing visions of (among other things) a creepy blue-eyed boy.  Another freaky little boy she’s babysitting tells her “Jambi wants to be born now” and smacks her with a mirror.  One of her eyes starts turning blue, her dad tells her she had a twin brother they’d nicknamed Jambi who died in the womb, and she learns her crazy mother (who committed suicide in an asylum) was saving articles on a Holocaust survivor, who turns out to be Casey’s grandmother.  As she researches her family history, things get creepier and creepier.  She learns a demon called a dybbuk that’s bothered her family before is back, and it’ll kill anyone close to her in its pursuit of Casey.  Plagues of roaches, crawling people and dogs with upside-down heads, homicidal children, and possessed friends all attack poor Casey, and finally a Jewish exorcist (Gary Oldman) and his friends try to drive away the dybbuk.  Some of it relies on jump-scare tactics and parts are derivative, but there are some really spooky images here, and though it’s no masterpiece it works pretty well for the most part and is worth looking for.

What Have You Done To Solange? (C, 1972) aka Cosa Avete Fatto a Solange?, Terror in the Woods, The School That Couldn’t Scream, The Secret of the Green Pins, Who Killed Solange?, Who’s Next?  Professor Fabio Testi and his mistress are making out in a rowboat on the Thames when his mistress witnesses the sex-murder of one of his students on the shore.  He won’t let her tell the cops because he’ll be outed as an adulterer, but eventually the mistress has to talk to the police because she remembers that the killer was wearing a priest’s robe.  Things get more complicated when more girls are found with a knife up their cooze, and the killer becomes aware that the mistress may be able to identify him and targets her.  Testi tries to track down the killer himself and discovers a secret society of schoolgirls and a key to the mystery in a mute girl named Solange (Camille Keaton of I Spit On Your Grave infame).  But more bodies will turn up before this one’s solved.  Brilliant giallo is one of the best in the genre, with a plot that’s actually compelling and a classy Ennio Morricone score (always a big plus), and a confident directorial style, quirky without drawing attention to itself, and the plot stays between the ditches more than most gialli. The gore isn’t graphic but given the nature of the killings it doesn’t need to be, and a bathtub drowning is pretty harsh for something bloodless.  The solution is damn twisted.  Must-see material here.

Haunted (C, 1976) aka The Glass Cage, The Haunted.  An Indian maiden is falsely accused of witchcraft, stripped to the waist, tied to a horse, and sent to die in the desert while a Neil Diamondish theme song makes her punishment ever so much worse.  She curses her accusers, and, sure ‘nuff, in 100 years she returns to take vengeance on their descendents... or, at least that’s what mean ol’ Aldo Ray thinks, but he’s crazy.  He and his blind sister-in-law and her sons live in a ghost town they’re maintaining.  The phone company -- for reasons no one understands -- installs a phone booth in the abandoned town’s cemetery.  As Ray gets crazier he starts getting calls on it.  A British girl’s car breaks down in the ghost town and Ray thinks she’s the reincarnation of the Indian maiden (it’s the same actress, anyhow).  The elder nephew, Patrick, wants to run away and be a folk singer or something, and has his blind mother put in a rest home and plans to abandon the ghost town.  This sets Ray off and he kidnaps the British girl and sends his nephew on a wild goose chase (in his badass AMC Javelin, which is the star of the movie as far as I’m concerned) to find her while Ray tries to burn her alive.  She escapes and Ray hunts her through the ghost town, trying to stab her with a pointy stick.  Yes -- a pointy stick.  This is a sloppy nothin’-happenin’ mess, but at least it does look like a movie, which is more than you can say for director Michael A. DeGaetano’s previous effort, UFO Target Earth.  Look close and you can spot a poster for that on one of the walls.

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