Sunday, October 6, 2013

Day 5 of Brainsmoke's 31 Days of Halloween in 2013


Nightbreed was released in 1990 and is the second film directed by British horror author Clive Barker, following his 1987 film Hellraiser. I selected Nightbreed for Day 5, since October 5 is Clive Barker's birthday. The movie was adapted from Barker's own novel, Cabal, and is about a group of mutants and other non-human creatures who are trying to exist away from mankind, below a cemetery, in a vast underground city known as Midian. The story follows Boone, who begins having nightmares about the "monsters" living beneath the cemetery, and begins to question whether they are dreams or reality. He begins to feel that the creatures are calling him to them. His psychologist, Dr. Decker, has his own ulterior motives. The unhinged performance by David Cronenberg as Dr. Decker, is one of my favorite aspects of the film. Cronenberg, for those who may not know, is the director of such films as Scanners, Videodrome, The Brood, and Dead Ringers, to name just a few. Unfortunately, when Nightbreed was released in theaters in 1990, 20th Century Fox decided to cut a great deal of footage from the film to make it fit into a more standard horror format of the time. Barker's original print was more epic in nature (and gorier). So far, the theatrical cut version is the only one that's ever been officially released on home video. There was a really rough looking work-print that was circulating on bootleg VHS at one point. A more thorough work-print version, called Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut, has been screened at some festivals over the last few years. As of July 2013, it was announced that the owner of the distribution rights for the film, Morgan Creek, struck a deal with Scream Factory to fully remaster and restore the most complete version they can (depending on how much of the original film elements they can locate) for a blu-ray release, possibly in 2014. I'll be looking forward to that.

Went with this one for Day 5, since I watched "Nightbreed", and David Cronenberg played my favorite role in that movie as Dr. Decker (plus I don't have a Clive Barker shirt yet)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 4 of Brainsmoke's 31 Days of Halloween in 2013


Demons was released in its native country of Italy on this day, October 4 back in 1985. It was produced and co-written by Dario Argento, and directed by Mario Bava's son, Lamberto Bava. Definitely one of my favorite Italian horror films. Lots of action, lots of splatter and make-up FX (by Sergio Stivaletti), and a great score by Goblin keyboardist, Claudio Simonetti. It also has some great songs in the movie by Iron Maiden, Saxon, Billy Idol, Mötley Crüe, and Accept to name a few. The basic action of the film is much like a zombie movie, only it's demons instead of zombies that are attacking people, and then once infected they also become demons. A man with half his face covered by a chrome mask, hands out fliers to a free horror movie playing at a nearby theater. By the way, the actor in the mask is Michele Soavi, who became a director in his own right, with such films as Stage Fright, The Church, Devil's Daughter, and Cemetery Man. Anyways, once all the patrons are inside the theater, one of them plays around with a demon mask prop that is on display in the lobby. She gets cut by a barb inside the mask, which later becomes infected. The movie inside the theater starts and it appears to be a horror movie where some people find a manuscript and a mask, like the one on display in the lobby, in some ancient ruins. One of them puts on the mask and gets cut by the barb inside it. Of course, they become infected, turn into a demon and attack the others. This plays out inside the theater, as the girl who put the mask on in the lobby turns into a demon and starts attacking theater-goers, who in-turn become demons and so forth. The rest of the film is a game of survival, as they find out all exits and entrances to the theater are sealed up. Lamberto Bava's best film, in my opinion, but he does have some others worth checking out too - Macabre (aka Frozen Terror) and A Blade in the Dark...and a somewhat fun crap-tacular Jaws rip-off called Devilfish.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Day 3 of Brainsmoke's 31 Days of Halloween in 2013

Mad Monster Party?

Mad Monster Party? was produced by Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass and released in 1967. This is a nostalgic childhood favorite of mine, as it would air on TV around Halloween back in the late '70s and early '80s. It's stop-motion animation in the same vein as other Rankin/Bass-produced holiday favorites such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, among others. They made quite a few Christmas holiday favorites, but Mad Monster Party? was their only Halloween-themed production. It features the voice (and animated likeness) of Boris Karloff as Baron Boris von Frankenstein, who wants to retire from the "science" business (also, he has created a matter-destroying device that has the potential to annihilate the world, and he doesn't want it to get into the wrong hands). He sends out invitations for a party - a Mad Monster Party - where he will elect his successor. Those invited include Dracula, The Invisible Man, Jekyll & Hyde, The Wolfman, The Mummy, The Hunchback and The Creature (you know, the usual people you would want to entrust with a world-destroying device)...oh, and Dr. Frankenstein's nephew, Felix Flankin, was also invited. The reason I picked this movie for today is that October 3 is Harvey Kurtzman's birthday. Kurtzman created MAD Magazine in 1952, and he also co-wrote the screenplay to this movie, hence the "mad" in Mad Monster Party?.

Misfits - "Evilive"
"Check into Horror Hotel This place is creepy and it's somber too And a little vampira wrapped on my neck, said Say something, say something You wanna start something with me"

Misfits - "Monster Mash"

This single by the Misfits was recorded in 1997 as a promotion for the release of Mad Monster Party? on DVD.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day 2 of Brainsmoke's 31 Days of Halloween in 2013

Blood of the Vampire

This is a British film made in 1958. It was first released in the UK in Aug. 1958, but saw its US debut in Oct. of '58. The plot of this little classic horror obscurity is that a (mad?) scientist, Dr. Callistratus, with the help of his hunchbacked assistant, Carl, is conducting experiments with the blood of criminally insane prison inmates. Turns out the Doctor has a rare "blood disease", and is thought by many to be a vampire. It's an atmospheric gothic horror/thriller with shades of Dracula AND Frankenstein.

             Blood of the Vampire looks and feels very much like a Hammer Films production, and there's a good reason for this. Hammer Films veteran, Jimmy Sangster, wrote the screenplay. Just prior to this film, Sangster wrote the screenplays to two very important Hammer films - The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 and The Horror of Dracula in 1958. These two films, along with the Italian I Vampiri in 1956, would spark a "gothic horror" renaissance across the world. Soon Italy's long-dead horror market would be reinvigorated. Following Riccardo Freda's I Vampiri, the film's co-director and cinematographer, Mario Bava, would go on to helm Black Sunday in 1960, followed by a string of other gothic horror successes. In the USA, Roger Corman was also riding the gothic horror wave with The Fall of the House of Usher in 1960 followed by a slew of other Poe-related films, many of them starring Vincent Price. Getting back to Blood of the Vampire, it was directed by Henry Cass, and is the only horror film he directed. He also directed The Hand two years later, in 1960, which has some horror elements but is actually a crime thriller. Another Hammer Films connection is actress Barbara Shelley, who plays Madeleine Duval in Blood of the Vampire. She would go on to play roles in several Hammer movies, including The Shadow of the Cat (1961), The Gorgon (1964), Dracula: Prince of Darkness and Rasputin: The Mad Monk (both 1966), and Five Million Years to Earth (1967).
             Finally, a note about this particular VHS release of Blood of the Vampire - it's one of the oldest tapes in my collection. It was released in 1978 by Magnetic Video Corporation, the first distributor of VHS and Beta tapes in the USA, and it has the distinction of being the first horror movie ever released on those formats; and quite possibly the first horror movie released on any home video format (as there were a couple of short-lived home video formats before VHS and Beta, such as Cartrivision).

Darkthrone - "Transilvanian Hunger"
Went with this shirt today to carry the "vampire/Transylvania" theme, since the movie pick was Blood of the Vampire...yeah, I know it's not a purely horror shirt, but heavy metal and horror go hand-in-hand \m/-

Bauhaus - "Bela Lugosi's Dead"

The first single released by Bauhaus on 12" vinyl in 1979. They also appeared in the 1983 David Bowie/Susan Sarandon vampire film, The Hunger, performing this song in a club at the beginning of the movie.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Day 1 of Brainsmoke's 31 Days of Halloween in 2013

All right my favorite month of the year has finally arrived! This post and subsequent posts in the Brainsmoke's 31 Days of Halloween 2013 is simple really. I plan on watching a horror movie each day in October. There may or may not be a certain significance for choosing a movie for a specific day. If there is a significance, I'll explain why. I also plan on wearing a horror and/or Halloween-themed t-shirt for each day in October that I'll post a pic of. In addition to this, I'll also post a song choice for each day, Halloween or horror-themed, of course. This should be fun. So without further ado, here is...

Night of the Living Dead

I picked George Romero's classic to watch today, as it first opened theatrically on Oct 1, back in 1968. Watching the opening shot, with Johnny and Barbara driving to the cemetery reminds me that I need to seek out that NOTLD soundtrack LP that's been floating around. I remember seeing it advertised in the pages of Fangoria back in the '80s. I've always loved Romero's choice of "library music". It compliments the atmosphere of the movie perfectly.
I also happen to love Tom Savini's 1990 remake of NOTLD. I thought it was really well done. The casting was great, Tony Todd as Ben and Tom Towles as Harry nailed there parts nicely. The lighting and cinematography were also well done. There were some cool zombie gags too, like the cemetery autopsy/zombie and the zombie that gets run over and twisted around at the waist.It's just too bad it came out when it did in 1990. There was a big crack-down on "splatter" and "slasher" films, with the MPAA being more restrictive at that time. I know there were quite a few gory bits cut out or trimmed to get the "R" rating. I used to have a bootleg VHS, that I purchased from Ultraviolent Video back in the early '90s that featured a lot of the cut scenes but it was a work print. If those original film elements still exist, then someone should release a definitive "uncut" edition, at least by 2015, which would be the 25th anniversary.

Night of the Living Dead
I happen to have an NOTLD t-shirt, so that was an easy choice for Day 1, since that was also the movie I watched. I don't have a shirt for every movie I plan to watch in October, but it will be a horror and/or Halloween-influenced shirt each day, of course.

The Misfits - "Night of the Living Dead"

Since it is such a seminal film, and one of my favorites, I might as well keep the NOTLD theme for Day 1. Here's The Misfits with "Night of the Living Dead", originally released on 7" vinyl in 1979.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

VHS Index: The Initiation of Sarah (Worldvision Home Video Inc.)

Distributor Info
Title: The Initiation of Sarah
Distr: Worldvision Home Video Inc.
Year: 1985
Cat #: V 4013
Case: Large clamshell

Movie Info
Orig. Title: The Initiation of Sarah
Director: Robert Day
Year: 1978
Country: USA
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Subgenre: TV Movie

Box Synopsis:
           "Deep within the brain of Sarah Goodwin stirs an awesome and terrifying psychic power. And it's wise not to become her enemy. Kay Lenz stars as Sarah in this chilling suspense thriller about a college student with mysterious psycho-kinetic abilities. Sarah and her sister Patti (Morgan Brittany) are both excited about leaving home for the University, but the two sisters are as different as day and night. Patti is attractive and personable. Sarah is quiet and enigmatic. Patti is readily accepted into a campus organization, while Sarah is barred from membership by its beautiful leader, Jennifer Lawrence (Morgan Fairchild). Sarah then seeks out a rival group ruled by the strange Erica Hunter (Shelley Winters) who discovers Sarah's powers and plots to use them in an act of revenge. Realizing Hunter's plan, however, Sarah unleashes her devastating power in a truly shocking and startling climax!"

The VHS Index Main Page

The VHS Index: Worldvision Home Video Inc.

Total Titles: 41
Cat #:Title:Genre: Case Type:Year:
V 1003Top Cat (1976-TV)AnimationLarge clamshell198?
V 1035Top Cat: Volume 2 (1976-TV)AnimationLarge clamshell1984
V 1047Thundarr the Barbarian: Volume 2 (1980-TV)AnimationLarge clamshell1985
V 1069Dastardly & Muttley's High Flying Fun (1969-TV)AnimationLarge clamshell1986
V 1073Fangface: Spooky Spoofs (1978-TV)AnimationLarge clamshell1986
V 1106Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos (1986-TV)AnimationLarge clamshell1987
V 4001Hangar 18 (1980)Sci-FiLarge clamshell198?
V 4007Moon of the Wolf (1972)HorrorSlipcase198?
V 4011Breakthrough (1979)War/DramaLarge clamshell1983
V 4013The Initiation of Sarah (1978-TV)HorrorLarge clamshell1984
V 4018Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident (1976-TV)DramaLarge clamshell1985
V 4019The Dead Don't Die (1975-TV)Horror/ThrillerLarge clamshell1985
V 4022If Things Were Different (1980-TV)DramaLarge clamshell1985
V 4028Mr. Sycamore (1975)Comedy/DramaLarge clamshell1986
V 4035Snowbeast (1977-TV)HorrorLarge clamshell1985
V 4050Death Ray 2000 (1981-TV)Action/Sci-FiLarge clamshell1986
V 4058The Hunted Lady (1977-TV)Action/ThrillerLarge clamshell1987
V 6002Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978-TV)Music/FantasyLarge clamshell1986
1054Inch High Private Eye (1973-TV)AnimationLarge clamshell1985
1112Top Cat: The Cat's Meow (1966-TV)AnimationLarge clamshell1987
3015To Catch a Killer (1992-TV)Crime/DramaSlipcase1992
4019The Dead Don't Die (1975-TV)Horror/ThrillerSlipcase198?
4042The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald (1977-TV)DramaSlipcase1987
4064Remember Me (1985-TV)Horror/ThrillerSlipcase1988
4066Night Terror (1977-TV)ThrillerLarge clamshell1988
4105The Man Without a Country (1973-TV)DramaSlipcase199?
4114The Killing Mind (1990-TV)ThrillerSlipcase1990
4137Grave Secrets: The Legacy of Hilltop Drive (1992-TV)Horror/ThrillerSlipcase1992
4156Silent Motive (1991-TV)ThrillerSlipcase1991
4175God Bless the Child (1988-TV)DramaSlipcase1993
5003Tales from the Darkside (1983-TV)HorrorSlipcase1991
5037Tales from the Darkside: Vol. 3 (1983-TV)HorrorSlipcase1991
5044Tales from the Darkside: Vol. 2 (1983-TV)HorrorSlipcase1991
6006Blind Vision (1992-TV)Thriller/EroticSlipcase1992
6090The Lost World (1992)AdventureSlipcase1993
6105Return to the Lost World (1992)AdventureSlipcase1993
6117Trauma (1993)HorrorSlipcase1993
7007The Secrets of Dick Smith (1991-TV)DocumentarySlipcase1991
7008A Certain Sacrifice (1985)Crime/DramaSlipcase1985
8014Sebastian Star Bear: The First Mission (1991)AnimationSlipcase1991
9004Monsters: Jar / The Farmer's Daughter (1989-TV)HorrorSlipcase1989
9179-2The Addams Family: The Addams Family Goes to School... (1964-TV)Comedy/HorrorSlipcase1994
NONEHangar 18 (1980)Sci-FiSlipcase198?

The VHS Index Main Page