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."

Monday, September 27, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Sixty-Six - "Pet Semetary/Cat's Eye!"

Yes, you're truly missed another post yesterday, but I just had so many things to do and so many other movies to watch! Like, what can I say?

So as punishment, I will double up on today's selections - which will also continue the string of Stephen King adaptations that's been happening for days.

This coming month with truly be a challenge, because there are so many things going on, both personally and through work, and even though I love to watch horror movies this time of year in particular, it gets difficult. But I will continue on as much as possible, because believe it or not, I do enjoy the challenge.

Read on Ravers and thanks as usual!

Pet Semetary (1989): Directed by Mary Lambert. Starring Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Fred Gwynne, Miko Hughyes and Blaze Berdahl.

The Skinny: Based on Stephen King's 1982 novel, the titular "semetary" is actually one built on ancient cursed burial ground, and when newcomers the Creed family move to the Maine town of Ludlow, their lives are irrevocably affected by its call.

What's Good: This is a hard one to like, because other than Fred Gywnne (of Herman Munster fame), there are no real name actors in the movie. I keep trying to say something good here, but I am having a REAL hard fucking time. Better skip on to ...

What's Bad: There are almost as many King movies as there are books, because his work is both visual and visceral, sometimes playing on out basest fears. And of course, anytime you have a movie adaptation there are going to be displeased parties - usually those who swear by the written word and deny a different interpretation . Sometimes it works ("The Shining," "Apt Pupil") sometimes, it doesn't ... and we come to the case in point. "Pet Semetary" is probably King's most terrifying work. He delves deep into the mind of Louis Creed as he slowly unravels and decides to bury his dead toddler son in the cursed ground. The movie does not. And while that is a difficult prospect at best, director Mary Lambert doesn't even bother to try. She tries to startle us with cheap thrills - like a face rushing up out of the ground - when the reality from the novel was much worse - a gibbering, demonic face that embodied the true nature of the demonic force in the ground beyond. Even the final showdown between father and reanimated son play as silly when it should be the most terrifying moment in the movie, just like it was in the novel!

Why We Like It: I think mostly for nostalgic reasons, really; it was one of those horror movies I watched constantly on Cinemax when I was a kid, so it has a happy place memory for me. It was definitely scarier as a teen than it was as an adult, but time has not marred the terror of the novel, which I still read from time to time. I seem to be hating on this film, but in reality I do enjoy watching it on occasion. It's just fine if you haven't read the novel by the light of a streetlamp coming through the window while sleeping on your living room couch and had nightmares for weeks afterwards. Then it's just fine.

Memorable Stuff: The journey to the cemetery to bury the kid is creepy, but not as creepy as it could have been. The flashback scenes as told by Gwynne's Jud are also great, and Gwynne's performance in general is fantastic. He nails the northern Maine accent and truly embodies the character as presented in the book. It's just too damn bad his performance isn't echoed by the second rate actors around him.

Cat's Eye: (1985): Directed by Louis Teague. Starring Drew Barrymore, Robert Hays, Alan King, Candy Clark and James Woods.

The Skinny: Based on a series of Stephen King short stories - "Quitter's Inc.," and "The Ledge," and original story "The General" - this movie attempts to link the three stories by the presence of a cat who stalks in and out of various people's lives.

What's Good: Well ... shit. See, I like these anthology movies - I really do. They're short consumable bits of solid entertainment ... sometimes. This format was accomplished in a far more satisfactory format in "Creepshow," where the stories were linked via their presence in the comic book. Why they didn't stick with that format for this anthology is beyond me. Because the stories - while not terrifying - are still quite provocative and are classic 80s-era King. Not even James Woods can save this one, and who doesn't like James Woods? Even though his piece - "Quitters, Inc." - is the best of the bunch, taut with tension and paranoia, it doesn't save it from the final bad story and the stupid method of linking them together with the cat.

What's Bad: As far as horror movies go, none of the vignettes are particularly scary. And the last story - concerning the cat, a goblin and a little girl - is just plain stupid, despite great creature effects from Carlo Rambaldi. It just could have been better, and I blame hack director Louis Teague, who also butchered "Cujo."

Why We Like It: I don't. It's my least favorite of a long list of bad King movies. I'd watch "Maximum Overdrive" before I'd watch this ever again.

Memorable Stuff: When Hays comes back to the hotel to find his lover's head in a bag on top of money and forces Alan King's character to suffer the walk around the titular ledge of the second installment. And When Woods pokes an umbrella into his supposedly empty closet and instead hears a grunt from the agent hiding within to prevent him from smoking.