100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Sixty-Eight - "The Crow/Horror Hotel!"

Wacky welcomes from a weird and wild Wednesday! WE LOVE ALLITERATION HERE AT THE "100 DAYS OF HORROR" BLOG!

Yes we do.

As we move into the fall season, I find myself just turgid with excitement at the approaching
month. It's almost guaranteed to be packed with
fun and exciting events, including some haunted hayrides, a microbrew festival and - of course - my Halloween party. And all this without the added bonus of a month-long list of top bill hard hitting movies! Not a turkey in the bunch! And that just adds to my mounting Halloween excitement!

About today's entry - originally, it was just "Horror Hotel," but as I was driving into work this morning, Nine Inch Nails' cover of "Dead Souls" from "The Crow" soundtrack came on and I was swept up in freakish nostalgia for the movie. And it definitely straddles the line between horror and action, which I will discuss in detail below. Rave on Readers and thanks as usual for playing along!

The Crow (1994): Directed by Alex Proyas. Starring Brandon Lee, Ernie Hudson, Rochelle Davis and Michael Wincott.

The Skinny: Based on one of the best-selling and most popular graphic novels of all time, "The Crow" concerns musician Eric Draven, who returns from the dead a year after his murder to avenge his death, and the death of his bride-to-be.

What's Good: Recently a friend of mine said he watched the movie on television and laughed at how much he used to like it. Granted he was considerably younger than I was when I first saw it - I was in my early 20s, he was probably five - and a might more impressionable. But in my opinion, 16 years later, this is one of the best comic adaptations out there. The drama is overwrought, to say the least - it's about a ghost avenging his death, after all - but its pulp and Gothic elements coalesce into something that transcends both the average horror movie and the average action film. And it's all cemented on a riveting performance by the late Brandon Lee, son of Martial Artist Bruce Lee, who died during the production when a technician neglected to clear a squib fragment from the barrel of a prop gun. As his alter-ego, the eponymous Crow, Lee is a mask of torment and anguish. Watch his face in the scene where he fights Tin-Tin in the alley, and Laurence Mason lands a punch on his chin. Listen to his voice as he tosses rings back at pawnbroker Gideon - "Each one of these is a life - a life you helped destroy" - and you'll take measure of a young actor at the cusp of his burgeoning prime. The entire movie is also richly lensed by Dariuz Wolski, who paints the cityscape in reflected light and shadow - reminiscent of the stylized landscape of Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner." And the soundtrack - not Graeme Revell's brilliant score, which also deserves note - is packed with early-90's darlings like Stone Temple Pilots, Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against the Machine.

What's Bad: Like I said, it's pulp drama mixed with horror elements. So if you're turned off by things like spiraling Gothic cathedrals, a bleak rainy landscape and shots of a graveyard by pale moonlight, then go watch a Jim Carrey movie. I don't care what anyone else says - this one got it mostly right.

Why We like It: Okay, it isn't for everyone. In fact, it's mostly for 14-year-old goth chicks who shop at Hot Topic and read Jhonen Vasquez comic s- and I just happen to have that inner 14-year-old goth. And she likes her romance bleak. She likes her heroes tragic and flawed. And she likes all the great elements of this movie - the soundtrack and score, the lighting, the cinematography - and the way they combine in the final product. I still tear up during certain scenes in this film, especially those moments where we see the remnants of the man behind the cycle of vengeance, shown to us in tantalizing glimpses by the talented Lee. This is one of my favorites because it lifts itself above genre and works its way into your heart if you left it. Love met with a tragic end is a staple of all my favorite artists, from Billy Corgan to Edgar Allen Poe. This one - and James O'Barr's original story - are no exception.

Memorable Stuff: The scene where Draven is defenestrated and his fiancee savagely raped and beaten and left for dead stands out for one particular reason - it's the one where Michael Massee (Funboy) fires the shot that killed Lee. Despite that fact, the scene stands out as being the visceral center of Draven's agony - it's all he can remember, except for brief teasing shots of a life filled with romance and beauty. It's also the scene which precedes his transformation into the sleek killer in the white facepaint. Great stuff. Forget the sequels and just enjoy.

Horror Hotel (1960): Directed by John Llwellyn Moxley. Starring Christopher Lee, Venetia Stevenson and Betta St. John.

The Skinny: Hundreds of years after the Burnings, a witch who has escaped the ravages of time needs virgins to survive!

What's Good: This is a definite classic. Filmed in moody black and white and starring the inimitable Christopher Lee, this is one that every fan should see once, if only for its mood and atmosphere. There isn't much to say about the shoestring budget or the lack of American actors in American roles, but like I said - it's a fun film with all the right elements.

What's Bad: It's no "Psycho," to which it has often been compared. But as previously mentioned, this one stands out because of Lee and because it has some of the best lines ever - even Rob Zombie uses pieces from it in several of his songs ("Superstition, fear and jealousy" and "Burn witch, burn witch, burn witch, BURN!").

Why We Like It: See above. The whole point of this thing is to celebrate cheesiness goodness, and this one has it in spades.

Memorable Stuff: The beginning flashback where the damned cry out their allegiance to Satan as they are strapped to the post and burned alive is just fantastic. If you can find this one, get a bowl of popcorn and sit back. It's a good time.