Halloween Horror Binge: Week Four, Part I

Winding down this one-man festival and excited about watching something other than horror movies. I don’t think I’ve ever said that before.

Tormented (1960)


Perfect late-night B-horror classic, like a Vault of Horror or Vampirella story. I remember watching these kinds of films in elementary school late at night on the weekends. I love the voices, dialogue, sound design, the score, and I would love to find a nice transfer of this one.

A jazz pianist, played by Creature from the Black Lagoon’s Richard Carlson, becomes increasingly unhinged after a girlfriend, who tries to blackmail him, leans on a loose railing and plummets to her death. Is he haunted by ghosts or guilt? Either way there are some fun special effects here. Juli Reding is stunning.

Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972)


I’ve been wanting to see this for decades because of the title and because Lucio Fulci is the director. Considered his first giallo with gore effects, it doesn’t feel like other gialli. A main reason for that is that is takes place in the country, rather than the city. The setting feels like something out of Pasolini’s Accatone (1961), rather than the cities of glass and fashion in many of Argento’s films.

It’s got priests, detectives, the locals, their kids, a mentally-challenged peeping tom, a reporter, and police. And a witch. Oh, and the young, beautiful lady with a sports car visiting from the city.

Wow, there’s some bad expository dialogue and editing here. And more jointless dummies were harmed in this film than any other Italian exploitation film I can think of. Most of them had some form of googly eyes, too. I wish I could blame all the problems on dubbing and translation, but I can’t.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)


Early low budget slasher film starring a drove of Warhol’s Factory friends including Mary Woronov, Candy Darling, Ondine, and others.

Besides budget, the script is the main problem. It’s kind of twisty and silly, and ultimately feels unbelievable, even considering the circumstances that this is a drive-in horror movie.

The actors are mostly good, though there’s too much voiceover. There’s an attempt to do some interesting things with various types of color filming, but there’s sometimes aggressively bad editing to go along with it. For fans of Woronov and horror completists.

Don’t Go in the House (1980)


This one’s a mixed bag and I like it more than I should. It has a few tropes I am tired of: the psychoanalytic explanation for the killer and the alligator-in-the-toilet ending. However, I like the cinematography. For a low budget horror film, this must have had a talented or experienced crew. I loved the decor, the colors, and the lighting.

And the discotheque scene!

This makes no sense chronologically, but it seems like Dan Grimaldi was asked to play Norman Bates as Mark Linn Baker as Larry Appleton from Perfect Strangers, with a dash of dramatic Dustin Hoffman thrown in.

Def by Temptation (1990)


The Blacula films are some of my favorites. I was hoping that this one would be something like those. I don’t like Def as much as those movies, but I can appreciate its ambition.  James Bond III, as writer, director, and producer, wants to bring a little of everything into the movie: action, horror, sexy sax, smooth jazz, hip hop, philosophical and ethical discussion, and comedy.

That ambition makes the film feel silly and unfocused at times. Almost feels like Bond didn’t like horror movies, but watched a bunch of trailers of wacky Italian horror films like Demons, and honestly, it’s probably on par with something like The Church. Bond seems out-of-place as the lead, especially since he’s surrounded with really talented people. Though Cynthia Bond doesn’t have much to do besides play the femme fatale, she does everything she can with it. Kadeem Hardison, Bill Nunn (RIP Radio Raheem!), and Samuel L. Jackson are stronger than the material they’re asked to deal with here.

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