trying to catch up on horror films in the lead up to halloween (anything from august onwards is basically halloween).
Emotion (1966) - nothing to do with david cage. short film by the Hausu director watched in an online screening of his early work. the first two movies in the screening were fine, kind of dutiful art films about pregnancies and love triangles and etc with some fantastical or nonlinear touches meant to show the character’s subjective impressions etc - this one was a lot more fun in that it puts chaotic visual sensibility first and then just leaves you to pick up on the traces of family dynamic happening underneath. also, at least part of it is a dracula movie and has many enjoyable sections of dracula hovering ominously around in a forest. after this they showed some of obayashi’s commercial work - apparently he directed charles bronson in an ad for an aftershave called “mandom”??
Blood & Black Lace (1964) - i liked this and especially the enigmatically lit fashion house full of mannequins, it’s kind of funny that it now plays more as “a giallo with a strangely played-straight plot” rather than “a thriller with strangely extravagent visuals” as i guess it would have at release. so on the one hand it’s mostly not as delirious as you’d hope but on the other there’s an unexpected creepiness in having a lucid, materialistic murderer in this context rather than another abstract slasher.
Bird With The Crystal Plumage (1970) - wonderful but special shout out to the art gallery’s newest installation, “enormous metal wall covered in jutting spikes”, from the tecmo’s deception school of plastic arts.
Dawn Of The Dead (1978) - sort of more punishingly paced than i remember, like, why show one zombie getting shot apart when you could follow it up with 7-8 additional shots of different zombies getting shot apart in the same manner? and long sequences of characters doing stuff we’ve already seen them do again - very point to point and procedural in a way i’m not as into. but i enjoyed the political stuff, esp as less of a general shot at consumerism than as something specifically playing on and set inside the steady rightwards drift of the mid-70s usa. everybody at the tv station knows to be on edge when government spokespeople start talking about lethal force and riot squads but they don’t really know how to respond beyond yelling and dumb pranksterish gestures, and meanwhile they’re all privately making their own quiet arrangements to flee the city to a farmhouse or something. The universe of the movie is largely divided into cops, yuppies, and menacing counterculture-coded bikers, and even outside the zombies sort of plays on the way this schema is inherently paranoid and depressing.
Shiver Of The Vampires (1971) - everyone has a different read on the fundamental allure of the vampire myth or whatever, i enjoyed this one, which is that it’s mostly about people wandering around decaying castles and occasionally encountering either sinister or lesbian dream imagery. favourite characters were the weird, giggling vampire hunters turned vampires.
Re-Animator (1985) - hadn’t seen this before but enjoyed. i like that the jeffrey combs character’s big secret plan at the end is to give the villain an “overdose” of the reanimator juice, and it doesn’t really have any effect beyond getting him strangled by an even more fucked looking special effect - i feel like most films would portray this as a good move, but this one is very committed to the dual theses of “injecting things with the juice absolutely never has any positive effects, and also, the only way these guys know how to solve problems is by doubling down on injecting them with juice.”
Phantom Of The Paradise (1974) - any shot with the bird guy glowering crazily at people from behind the mask is a delight but otherwise it’s maybe not as fun as a movie about committing elaborate revenge on an evil phil spector analogue should be… maybe i just didn’t like the songs (or realise how much of the movie was gonna be songs??). r.i.p. to the iggy pop surrogate character named “BEEF”. rest in beef.
Ascension Of The Demonoids (1985) - embracing Kucharmania by finally watching this, which is essentially 40 minutes of crazed overlay effects and library music applied to an enigmatic half-there story about UFOs. very slack and hazy but a lot of fun within that and many small pleasures - like the different repeating shots of characters having intense conversations while someone wanders into the shot in their underwear to get something from the fridge, or of people delivering plot exposition before breaking down into giggles, or people getting into a fight in a room with a very low ceiling lamp that constantly bumps into their faces. a lot of casually beautiful hypnogogic imagery.
Born Of The Wind (1964) - another Kuchar Bros short film but this time a relatively straightforward genre piece about a man who reanimates and falls in love with an egyptian mummy. kind of nondescript for most of the 20 minute running time but has a wonderful ending.