Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Just Before Dawn

The 1980's saw the explosion of the slasher movie genre and of all the films released some are more well known than other.  Until recently I had never heard of this one but I read a few good things about it and once I had the chance to pick it up for five bucks at this years Monster Mania Convention I decided to give it a chance.  The film stars Chris Lemmon (son of the great Jack Lemmon), Gregg Henry (a character actor who has appeared in film and television for forty years,  Jamie Rose (Falcon Crest and Lady Blue), and George Kennedy (Cool Hand Luke, Airport, and The Naked Gun series) who are the only actors you've possibly heard of before with the rest of them not doing much other than this film.  Jeff Lieberman ( Squirm, Blue Sunshine, and Satan's Little Helper) directed and wrote the screenplay.  He claims he was heavily influenced by Deliverance while he was writing it and it definitely shows in the final product.  The movie was called Survivance when it was released overseas to try and cash in on the fact it resembles Deliverance which was still very popular in Europe at the time.

 While most of the cast does a serviceable job here the best performances come from Katie Powell, John Hunsaker, Hap Oslund, and Barbara Spencer who play the hillbilly mountain family that the group of twenty somethings run into while camping in the Oregon woods.  The other best part of the film is the scenery which is captured beautifully by cinematographers Dean and Joel King.  Also setting the creepy atmosphere is the music which is supplied by Brad Feidel who also did the score for the first two Terminator films, Fright Night, The Serpent and The Rainbow, and Gladiator just to name a few. 

Some of the films best moments come when the killer laughs which he does throughout the film.  It sets a contrasting creepy feeling to the kills and it gives the same effect that the "dahhh-dum" piano notes do when we know Jaws is about to eat another victim.  There's also some creepy whistling that can be heard in the soundtrack as well that gave me chills whenever I would hear it.  Not to be confused with the horn Chris Lemmon blows, well  that thing was just annoying.  Mostly everything else is forgettable or at least there's nothing new here so it doesn't offer a memorable viewing experience but it good enough for a $5 special.  So with all that being said I can string together 3 Rope Bridges out of 5 for this one.        

"You can't kill the boogeyman!" ~ Tommy


Here's one that while not a Halloween song it has a great video that fits right in:

The Time Has Come.

I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil. 


You do the math:

The Many Deaths of Michael Myers:

Death has come to your little town, Sheriff. ~ Dr. Loomis

Back in the 1970's I had some sort of movie player that had a bunch of short movies that I could watch whenever I wanted. One of the movies I had and still love to this day was Lonesome Ghost by Disney. In it Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy are troubled with ghosts.   Now, some 40 years later here I am posting it one a blog. 

Here's another Disney Halloween cartoon

And another this one slightly before my time from 1929 called The Haunted House

And finally a more modern day Mickey Mouse cartoon called Ghoul Friend

Dr. Terror's House of Horror 1965

In 1965 Amicus Productions released the first of it's horror anthology Dr. Terror's House of Horror.  It was the first of seven horror anthology films that Amicus would release over the next decade.  The film was written by Milton Subotsky who was one of the founders of Amicus.  He wrote the screenplay with the 1945 anthology movie Dead of Night in mind which is a horror classic and one of the best horror anthologies ever made.  Freddie Francis directed but is better known for his work as a cinematographer for which he won two academy awards for Sons and Lovers and Glory. 

The wraparound story takes place on a train where five passengers are joined by Dr. Schrenk (Peter Cushing) who tells the other men his name in German means "terror".  He reveals a deck of Tarot cards he calls a "house of horrors" so now you know where the title comes from.  Dr. Terror is joined by Christopher Lee (of course!), Neil McCallum, Alan Freeman, Roy Castle, and Donald Sutherland.  This was Sutherland's third credited film role of his career and he was paid just 1,000 pounds for his work which would have been about $2500 dollars at the time.  I really can't tell you the titles of the five different stories as they were not given titles as much as they were labeled with the subject or situation happening in each story.  I liked the stories in order of how they are presented in the film meaning my least favorite is the first story and they improved from there with Lee's and Sutherland's being the fourth and fifth stories and the best two of the film by far.

There comes a time when an actor or actress is able to transcend films and roles and no matter what is going on around them they are still able to put in a remarkable performance.  We have that here especially from Lee, Cushing, and Sutherland.  Not that the rest of the stars are not good it just seems they also happen to be there.  If this was a Star Trek episode the others would be wearing red shirts.  The first story is boring, the second one is more funny than anything, the third is typical and I found it hard to pay attention to them.  The final two stories as I said were the best as well as the wrap around story which I also enjoyed.  Cushing is surprisingly creepy here which is something I am not used to as he is usually the one playing the straight man in horror films.  Thankfully the film is more fun than anything else and that's fine but I really had my heart set on something better as I've heard so many good things about this one.  I liked it but I wanted to like it more.  The film is worth watching for Cushing's work and the final two stories alone.  Three out of five tarot cards for this one.  The Horror Honey was not as kind and gives it two and a half.

I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil.

Here's a couple for the really little fans of Halloween:

Happy Samhain

It's A Halloween Free For All