Week three of Morb's continued plummet into the abyss takes into account those 3 accursed extra days in the month to make this a ten film rather than seven film post. Can your brain take it?!?! I'd, em, say it could. Maybe it's the law of averages or the power of Halloweeeen (law of averages) but there were quite a few gems this time round. So read on to discover, dear reader, read on...
OCTOBER 15TH - COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES
Like a double amputee, I really don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to complaining about this one. With a title like that, I mean, it's not promising Oscars. But, just like an idiot warned not to read aloud from a book of spells, I'll do it anyway. Continuing in that tradition of presenting criminal sociopaths as loveable rogues, this fetid crapbag tells of a scrappy (criminal) band of cheeky (criminal) chappies who rob a bank in order to prevent the old folks home that contains their cheeky (absolute bastard of a) grandfather from closing down. This is the kind of film that thinks the Krays were an asset to the community. The gang team up with the OAPs for survival when a zombie plague interferes with their plans. One wishes that they concentrated more on the zombies and less about the bloody East End as it spends so much time trumpeting about hometown superiority, it's the equivalent of sitting beside a drunken football fan on a bus. Pride in the location you live does not a film make, as Yoda might say. Still though, what did I expect, it's like complaining about there being sound and music in The Sound Of Music.
OCTOBER 16TH - CRIMSON PEAK
Probably more likely than this film to raise your hackles is this statement - I don't think Guillermo Del Toro has ever made a really good movie. Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy were fine, but nowhere near worthy of the praise heaped upon them. And as for Mimic, Pacific Rim and The Devil's Backbone, amongst others, - more like Guillermo Del Bore-o! Am I right?!
Anyway, it's more of the same super stylized, saturated, highly melodramatic affairs that promises a lot then outstays their welcome by a good half hour. The script manages to be both turgid and plodding, lifting rather than borrowing from greater films - the opening is a direct copy of The Innocents (one of the best ghost stories of all time). So much time and money was spent on production design, it seems like no one had five minutes to look over the script which seems to think people will come to the cinema to look at a house. It barely deals with a young woman romanced by a dastardly villain who moves into his huge, rotting, more than likely freezing, family home which comes complete with an oddball sister and the odd ghost. Despite some pretty, and pretty repetitive visuals, it all plays out like a long, depressing, bus trip - seeing as you know where it's going early on, there's nothing to do but sit and wait for it all to end.
OCTOBER 17TH - THE HARVEST
A housebound, invalid teenager shielded from the world by his worried and worryingly intense parents is forced to confront dark truths about himself when a new girl enters his life. Anyway, enough about me and my Barbie collection, let's get back to the countdown. With Samantha Morton and Michael Shannon as the parents and directed by John McNaughton, of Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer fame, is strange how much of a 'made for TV' vibe the movie has. Emotional impact is stunted by McNaughton's pedestrian direction which is a shame as once things begin to kick off, there are some very dark places visited. While I couldn't help but wonder why everyone signed up for it,(Oh yeah, cos Peter Fonda's in it as well!) it's not bad by any means, just think less Henry and more like a particularly dark episode of Diagnosis: Murder.
OCTOBER 18TH - OPERA
I tried to put myself in the position of one of the theatre goers in Dario Argento's Opera. If, during a performance, live ravens were released in the auditorium and lighting rigs crashed to the ground almost killing me, would I reclaim my seat after the ceiling had been brushed off it? The answer was - Yes, tickets are expensive! Apart from that, there'd be only slight reasons to suffer through this mess. Continuing Argento's insanely steep descent from his early Giallo triumphs into a series of muddled disappointments, this phantom-like horror has a psychopath fixing it for a novice singer to get her big break on stage. It goes of into wild tangents from then on including forcing the heroine to witness murders by taping needles under her eyelids so she can't blink (which is kind of genius) and finishing with a Sound Of Music tribute as she is chased down those very same hills, this time alive with the sound of screaming. It has its moments such as some hilarious dubbed lines but the insane genius that once powered Argento seems to have become the ramblings of a lunatic.
OCTOBER 19TH - HAUNTER
Like a bad curry, Abigail Breslin's day keeps repeating on her. A young woman and her family are trapped in a house and forced to relive certain events again and again by a dark presence, giving the concept of 'hell is repetition' a literal presentation in this middling little Haunter. Vincenzo Natali of Splice, Cube and Cypher fame goes the way of John McNaughton with an equally 'made for TV' ultra cheapo vibe, but, like, made for TV in the 90's. If you're going to force an audience to watch a day repeated, at least make it an interesting day, as one of the major plot points actually involves the lead getting in trouble over socks missing from the laundry. Slow down, Vincenzo, my heart can't take it. It kicks off towards the end but is so convoluted, like Abigail, you just want her day to end.
OCTOBER 20TH - THE INVITATION
It's almost giving the game away to describe this one as a horror film as it confirms something horrific will eventually happen, but, if there's one service I like to provide, it's a disservice. A man reunites with distant friends at a dinner party thrown by his ex wife and slowly begins to question if she has ulterior motives beyond catching up. Like a damp body thrown on a bonfire, this is a very slow burner. As the hugely uncomfortable evening progresses, small, unsettling hints of wifey's intentions are inserted sporadically, keeping us on edge whilst giving ample time to character and background building. The awkward and disturbing events play out like every god damn disaster of a party I've ever tried to god damn throw leading to an inevitable and satisfyingly dramatic conclusion, unlike every god damn party I've ever had. Unlike my god damn parties, this is an invitation to be accepted.
OCTOBER 21ST - HOWL
Full moon. A late night train breaks down in the middle of the forest and the trapped commuters are stalked and attacked by a werewolf pack. Don't know about you, but this kind of stuff certainly makes me howl. Werewolves might get short shrift quality film wise, but when it's done right, (Dog Soldiers, American Werewolf, The Howling) there's no denying what a terrorific monster it can be. While this relatively low budget British horror doesn't scale those highs, it's a headstone solid monster movie with superior dialogue and performances. Thoroughly entertaining throughout, with a long red tongue planted in its hairy cheek, this is a confident creature feature done well. Have about four pints before hand and lock the toilet door and I guarantee you'll either piss yourself laughing or with fright. Because you'll piss yourself anyway. Now, clean yourself up, you mucky pup and enjoy!
OCTOBER 22ND - TORMENT
As a child (teenager/adult) my mother would frequently say to me 'You're a torment', as I charmingly, continually, pestered her. It was obviously said as a term of endearment. Right? Unfortunately I couldn't bring myself to feel that same affection for this Torment. A newly married couple experiencing teething problems with the husband's son from his previous relationship head up to a remote farmhouse in order to, oh, whatever. They're soon set upon by masked intruders, chasing them up, down and around the gaff in order to, oh, whatever. It's a heap of nothing new atop a hill of seen it all before. Listen, how about I come over to your house instead and chase you up and down the stairs? It'll be just as pointless and exhausting but certainly won't last an hour and a half. Afterwards you can look at me with loving, panicked, eyes and pant - 'You're a torment'. You're welcome.
OCTOBER 23RD - DEATHGASM
Play certain heavy metal records backwards and you supposedly hear demonic chants and satanic summons. The same can be said for playing Irish country and western records forwards. Deathgasm straddles the link between metal and horror as a group of teenage outcast rockers bring forth a demonic apocalypse by performing a cursed track during band practice. Displaying an energy and wildness absent from American horror since the heydays of Sam Raimi, this New Zealand schlocker blows the speakers with its mixture of gore and comedy. Sadly it becomes obvious just who the target audience is as females are there to either be rendered topless or come between bro's. (The main character gets a dream sequence where he plays guitar on a mountain with a topless girl clinging to his leg. The female lead gets a dream sequence where she plays guitar on a mountain with two topless girls clinging to her legs. And kissing) Hmm, maybe the deluge of penis jokes should have given the game away earlier. Still, even though it runs out of steam towards the end and gets a little too juvenile, for the majority it's a welcome blast of blood that the right audience would have no problem lapping up.
OCTOBER 24TH - GOODNIGHT MOMMY
Horror is a fear of the unknown. Which is why I close my eyes and stick my fingers in my ears when the trailers are on. If I'm really looking forward to a new movie, I'll make someone else watch the trailer and watch them watching it. With my fingers in my ears. Which is a long winded way of saying I deliberately knew very little about Goodnight Mommy beforehand. And boy was it the better for it. The bare bones of the story concern twin brothers in a remote house who feel something's amiss when their mother returns from an undisclosed treatment with a bandaged face. If you can keep your blinkers on before going in, the genuine creepiness and mounting dread can't but disturb you. While the ending may be a little familiar to genre buffs, it's such a bizarre, scary, triumph that the hands over my ears nearly made their way around to cover my eyes.
So at the torso section of the human centipede of October, Goodnight Mommy may be by far the creepiest and best of the bunch but The Invitation, Deathgasm and Howl are all definitely worth a peep through the fingers and a finger, indeed, is what some of the others deserve.