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, November 3, 2010

100 Days of Horror - Recapping the Fall - "The Mummy!"


Yes, the goddamn fact of it all is that I totally skipped out on the last few entries in this blog, despite the fact that I actually did watch the movies on the list. I just couldn't find the time to wind this thing up in the proper manner.

It sucks, but hey what can you do? Not read it, I suppose, just like 50 million other people ain't reading it.

Or you could indulge me and give me a chance to catch up and talk about the movies I've missed in the past few days. Because I was actually very excited to talk about these few films, since they're some of my favorites.

So if it please the court - now that I have the time, and despite the fact that the Spooky Season is officially over - I will blather on for the next few days about the movies I love ... starting with the 1932 classic, "The Mummy!"

Thanks again for your indulgence. I hope you can still play along at home.

The Mummy (1932): Directed by Karl Freund. Starring Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners and Edward Van Sloan.

The Skinny: When a group of archeologists disturb the tomb on an ancient, cursed king, they unwittingly unleash the damned Imhotep from his sarcophagi to seek his revenge ... and a replacement for his equally doomed bride.

What's Good: This movie is almost an experiment in existential film making. The way the shots are composed, the hypnotic nature of the performances (particularly Boris Karloff at perhaps his most spookiest) and the oddly paced dialogue all seem to be lulling us into a state that prepares us for the horror of possession and the coupling of the reanimated dead. For that's exactly what happens in this film (and its somewhat worthy remake with Brandon Frazier) - a resurrected, cursed priest returns to find his bride embodied in the lovely frame of Zita Johann. His task is to reembody the spirit of his departed Ankhsenamun into the body of Helen Grosvenor, reunited at last (and it feels so good!). Audiences may swallow that stuff now like cotton candy at the state fair, but back then - when it was taboo to even show unmarried men and women getting together - the sexual union of the dead was enough to make audiences faint. Is that why Freud, formerly the cinematographer on "Dracula" who was hired for "The Mummy" just days before shooting began - chose to create a fever dream that teases with his German Expressionism background? Who cares, it's effective and it works like a charm.

What's Bad: Again, as with "Dracula," the overall lack of a score is troublesome to my ringing ears and can sometimes detract from scenes where a little night music would suit us well. Other than that, it is an imortal classic and one that deserves to be in every collection.

Why We Like It: All the above, of course. It isn't your typical horror film and I love it for that alone. It seeks to terrify you on a deeply psychological level, like most of the classics did - simply because they were so limited in what they could actually do or say. They had to find other ways to imply the horror, or just give you a tantalizing glimpse of the true horror that lurks beyond the door, or the forest or, sometimes, the strings of sanity itself. And "The Mummy" might just succeed on all those levels above all others in its category. It is a mighty powerful film.

Memorable Stuff: There is an opening scene where a junior archeologist sees the risen Imhotep slip out of his tomb and shuffle away. We see only the mummy's stiff movements as he stirs, and then the tendrils of his wrappings as he disappears through the door. But we get to watch the archeologist break down into total maniacal hysteria, with a laugh that will haunt y0ur dreams for years to come and remind you of what horror truly is. Also, the scene where Ardeth Bey (Karloff) beckcons Helen to look into a pool and recall her past life as Ankhsenamun is absolutely disturbing, hypnotic and horrific all at once. Johann should have been nominated for an Oscar for that scene alone.