Monday, 16 October 2017

31 Days of Horror: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Jay and I have spent a lot of time talking about the movies on our 31 Days of Classic Horror list over the past month or so. When we came back to An American Werewolf in London (1981), we almost changed our minds. For about the fifth time.


The problem that we had - that we're still discussing, actually, is whether An American Werewolf in London or An American Werewolf in Paris deserves to be here more. It's almost impossible to decide.

Well, to be honest, I thought 'An American Werewolf in Paris' was made in the 2000s, which would have put it past our cut-off date, which was one of the main reasons we picked 'London' over 'Paris'.

We knew that we would choose one of the American films over all the other werewolf films that made it to our shortlist. There weren't as many as you'd expect, strangely. Wolf came pretty close to making the list but, as good as it was, it fell just short of being a classic.

The thing that made 'American Werewolf in London' stand out so much was the transformation scene. It was only about a year before 'The Howling', which also had an amazing transformation scene - but they were very different, one American and one British. Both very good films, of course, for different reasons but 'American Werewolf in London' was the better of the two. 


I love the transformation scene! There's something kind of ironic about the juxtaposition of the cheesy romance song playing over David's anguish that made the moment even more enjoyable. Man, that looked like a painful transition.

It certainly was a groundbreaking transformation. But you don't see the werewolf itself much; they leave it to your own imagination, which is where horror lives. That moment you do see the wolf, in the Underground, is well worth the wait.


That's a great scene. I like it for the camera angle, though. It really makes you feel like you're running with that poor schmuck...

There was a huge gap between runs of werewolf films. 'American Werewolf in London' came in the glut that followed. My friends watched it on video in about 1982. Luckily, no one paid much attention to the ratings on videos in those days...

Seems like there was so much more horror coming out in the Eighties. Or, maybe it was just more mainstream at the time? Of course, it could just be that all the best horror movies were made in the Eighties, while their remakes are being made now and totally stinking up the genre.

Well, there is that. Not that it applies to 'An American Werewolf in Paris', which was an excellent film in its own right. 


It's not really a remake, I think. I wouldn't call it a reboot, either though. I think it's more of a... continuation. Same world, different characters. If An American Werewolf in Moscow came out tomorrow, I'd be there to see it.

Back to London, though...

It's kind of surreal and strange, isn't it? Especially when his friend is talking to him.

And the Nazi zombies. Don't forget the Nazi zombies...

Yes, and them. Very strange.


An American Werewolf in Paris does a better job of explaining that. London just lets the weird shit happen and expects you to understand why. In Paris, they tell you that it's part of the change, which makes the movie flow better.

One of the things that both movies have in common, which is pretty uncommon as far as werewolf films go, is the whole undead victims thing. It's so clever that the victims of werewolf killings can't pass on until the last werewolf in the line dies. I don't remember ever seeing or reading that anywhere else.

'An American Werewolf in London' is so quintessentially British. British people will even recognise some of the locations in the movie, which is always a plus. Then, there's the cameo from Alan Ford as taxi driver. So typically British. Oh, and the porn theatre, where some of the funniest bits take place. You don't see those anymore. Never went myself, of course. 

Of course.


I do love the casual way that the werewolves victims introduce themselves to David. How surreal (which is probably the best way to describe the movie.) I think my favourite comedic bit, though, is when he wakes up in the wolf enclosure. You don't want to think too much about that one!

Definitely my favourite part. It's hilarious that he has to find his way home, stark bollock naked. And snatching the kid's balloons...

That's one of the really great things about An American Werewolf in London, the comedy. It's absolutely laugh out loud stuff. But, it's also really sad. I'd forgotten what happened to David at the end until I watched it again the other day. The feels.

When I was talking about the cameo earlier, I forgot to mention my favourite cameo in the movie, Rik Mayall. Did you notice him at The Slaughtered Lamb? 


You get those weird locals in horror a lot. But you know... when you go into the villages, they are a little strange. A little off. They don't mean to be, they just don't live like the rest of us. It's creepy but also very familiar. 

You say "them" like you've never entered a weird ass pub in the valleys and heard, "Where you from, butt?"

Different kind of creepy. 

Finally, did you know that 'An American Werewolf in London' lead to Michael Jackson's "Thriller", which remains one of the most recognisable music videos ever? 


You can totally see that, too. There are definitely hints of the transformation scene evident in the music video.

Thanks for stopping by, folks. Come back tomorrow for another great movie. See you then.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

31 Days of Horror: The Evil Dead (1981)

Day 15 of our 31 Days of Classic Horror feature belongs to The Evil Dead (1981).


It's hard to imagine anyone who hasn't seen The Evil Dead - and even harder to describe it to those people in a way that would make them want to watch it. I'll give it a try, though.

A group of friends fight for their lives when they accidentally unleash a horde of demons.

That description really doesn't do The Evil Dead justice. I'll let Jay try.

Some kids read a book they find in a cabin and accidentally summon a demon. 

Yeah... The Evil Dead is so, so much crazier than it sounds.


It really is. Stephen King described 'The Evil Dead' as the most ferociously original horror film. From about twenty minutes in, it's an assault on the senses. There are, seriously, gallons of blood. 

But, as gory as it is, The Evil Dead doesn't feel like a gorefest. It's... I dunno... more fun? Maybe that's just its age or maybe that's just Raimi's style?

'The Evil Dead' is a student project that literally revolutionised the horror genre. I had never seen horror like that. It's an incredibly visceral film. When Cheryl changes and drops to the floor and you see her hand moving... You can imagine it, you can feel it. You know what it's like to accidentally jab yourself so to have a pencil buried in your flesh.It's horrific. 

I guess it's a different kind of gore. Or, a different age of gore? Gore in 1981 was definitely different than it is today. I'll take The Evil Dead gore over Saw gore, any day. We have better effects now and, in general, a better knowledge of the human body so it's only natural that gore has evolved too. Of course, that doesn't make The Evil Dead any less effective.


'The Evil Dead' was a strange film because it came out on video before it came out in the cinemas. That should give you an indication of how popular it was. 

It was down to word of mouth. People in school were talking about this film they'd seen called 'The Evil Dead' and it scared the shit out of them. When they finally had it at our local video store, we had to book it because it was much in demand. I think we finally got it on a Wednesday or Thursday afternoon and piled down to my friend's house to watch it. 

The room was full of eight teenage boys so you know we were buggering about and generally being assholes. You always knew that a film was good if the room went quite and we started watching. For the first ten minutes or so of 'The Evil Dead', we were pretty rowdy. But, once they get to the cabin, we really started paying attention.


It really grabs your attention, doesn't it? It's such a simple technique but when that swing stops on its own, all the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Bad shit's about to go down.

You knew it was bad because a couple of the boys went home. Funny how they could hear their mums calling them home for their tea...

Hah. It certainly has jumpy bits.

But Raimi is a bastard for not going for the obvious jump. You expect the scare to come from one place but it always comes from another. 

The bit that always gets me is when Linda starts singing. I'd never seen anything like it. She's sitting there with these white eyes, telling you that she's going to kill you. That's scary shit.


That bit always got me too! It's really creepy, that sing-song voice combined with pure homicidal malice. Terrifying. The other part that bothered me, especially as a kid, was the bit with the tree...

Absolutely. I played a lot in the forest so the idea of the trees grabbing a hold of you was terrifying. Raimi was clever there because he didn't show the creature. Instead, it showed the demon's point of view instead.

It was worse than that for me, being a girl. I was too young, really, to understand the concept of rape when I first watched it so seeing a girl being invaded - and by nature at that - was beyond words. It still bothers me, actually. But, anyway...


Because The Evil Dead was a student film, took a long time to finish. Three years, I think.

That's right. And they couldn't always get the same actresses so sometimes you see a random woman they picked up at the bar in a really bad wig. 

But you don't really notice because the movie is so good. I never noticed, anyway, until it was pointed out to me.

You know, it's really not that well acted. The effects, by today's standards - even eighties standards, actually - are hokey but it didn't detract from the effectiveness, the tension, the sheer fucking terror of the film. 

So, it had everything working against it but still ended up being a masterpiece of the horror genre?

Exactly.

'The Evil Dead' was one of the movies banned in the UK. The whole video nasty thing was a joke anyway; just the government trying to find another way of controlling you. There were worse films out there but this one went mainstream, which made it more threatening to the government. 

The Evil Dead 2 fixed that, I guess. It was basically the exact same movie, with all the horror removed. How pointless.


Don't even talk to me about that movie. I hate, hate, hated it. The series, 'Ash vs the Evil Dead', which is still gory but has that humorous element that comes from 'The Evil Dead 2' and Ra'mi's determination never to make anything as scary as The Evil Dead again. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

'Army of Darkness' (Or, 'Medieval Dead' - which I thought was the better title.) Again, you've got comedy with scares. I didn't realise that there were different endings. For awhile, I only ever saw the one ending. Then, when I finally did see the other ending, that was the only one I saw for ages. I prefer the ending where he's overslept. I guess that's the nihilist in me. Or, because it's just that it's the one I saw first. 

The ending where Ash oversleeps is the first one I saw too. I think that's my favourite.

Can we both agree that the recent remake of The Evil Dead sucks balls?

Yes, yes we can. Don't bother is about the best thing I can say. 

That's enough from us for the day. See you tomorrow? Don't forget to leave a comment before you go.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

31 Days of Horror: Psycho II (1983)

Today, on 31 Days of Classic Horror, we're going to take a look at the Alfred Hitchcock classic, Psycho II (1983).

This wasn't an easy movie for us to decide on, mostly because Jay wasn't thrilled about including a Hitchcock movie at all. According to him-


Hitchcock is a thriller writer, not a horror writer. He's overrated. I didn't even like him as a human being. I found him arrogant and pompous. He was like Johnny Speight, without the humour. 

While I, of course, disagreed. Hitchcock is one of the horror directors. Most of his movies are psychological horror - but still horror. I would have included The Birds, but since Psycho II was the only one I could get Jay to agree include... 

'Psycho' wouldn't have made the list. With the exception of the shower scene, 'Psycho' wasn't that frightening to me. I thought the sequel was such a clever idea, though, to bring him back 20 years later. 'Psycho' doesn't work but 'Pscyho II' does.

I remember that I went to the pictures in Brigend with my dad to see 'Psycho II'. We both loved it. My dad was older and remembered the original so he was surprised at how good the sequel was. It's one of those rare times the sequel is better than the original. The move from black and white to colour definitely helped.

You kind of lose something at the same time, though, when you switch to colour. Black and white movies, like Psycho, have a stark feeling that colour movies often fail to capture. There's more of a focus on shape and movement, since you have that missing element. 


The thing that I like about Psycho II is the way Bates is totally gone by the end. You're kind of with his tormentors, in a way, because he did kill their families. But, as the movie goes on, you switch allegiances because you realise that he really is cured. Until he's not. 


It works because you're never really sure that it's not Bates. You sort of wonder all the way through if maybe it is him. 'Psycho II' is a revenge story with a great pay-off. I love that, at the end, they'd driven him mad again and it starts all over. That end... 

It's stormy and you see the house on the hill with the silhouette of his mother in the window, then the motel light comes on. Perfect. The imagery is amazing.


Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates is superb. Bates is a brilliant baddie because he could be anyone. He's the every-man, the nice guy. He's polite - but that's just one of his personalities. Though I don't agree with the status 'Psycho' is given in the horror genre, I won't argue that the character of Norman Bates is iconic. No one else could have played it so well. Perkins is Norman Bates.

Sometimes being too nice can be creepy too. There's always something just a little off about Bates, even when he's not stabbing people to death. It's those buggy eyes, I think...


'Psycho II' is here based entirely on the strength of story. It's a truly inspired idea that's well-acted and an atmospheric score. If you're a true horror connoisseur, you have to watch 'Psycho' - and you can't watch 'Psycho' without watching 'Psycho II'.

Well said. I think that's about it for today and for Psycho II. We'll be back tomorrow. Don't forget to visit then. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

31 Days of Horror: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

Not only is it day 13 of our 31 Days of Horror special feature but it's also Friday the 13th. Only one movie we could have chosen for today.

Though, technically, there are twelve...

We knew that today would feature Jason Voorhees in some capacity so it was just working out the one we could agree on. It was surprisingly easy. After almost no bickering at all, Jay and I settled on Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981). Let's see what he has to say...


I first saw 'Friday the 13th Part 2' on video when we hired it from the video shop. It was maybe 1982 or 1983. I'd seen the first movie and wasn't really impressed but I'd been told that this was much better, much more frightening, so we gave it a go.

The problem with the first 'Friday the 13th' movie is that the only real jump is at the end, when Jason jumps out of the water. I found the sequel much jumpier. It's one of those movies where they don't go for the obvious scares. Take the scene where Ginny's hiding under the bed. You think he left the room but, no, he's hovering over her. 

I really like that about Friday the 13th Part 2. You're waiting for the scares the whole time. They do such a brilliant job of teasing you that you're on edge, anticipating horror the whole film. It's so well done.


Like the bit when you hear something and it turns out to be the dog. Everyone laughs and starts to relax then BAM, he's coming through the window. 

Right. And it mirrors that the bit at the very beginning, with the girl from the first film. The cat comes through the window, scaring the shit out of her. She relaxes and, what's this? Severed head in the fridge! The fact that the ending so perfectly mirrors the ending shows what a brilliant job they do of foreshadowing.


'Part 2' was pre-the mask. In this one, Jason wore a sack on his head, with a single eye hole. The image everyone knows became iconic when he got the mask but that didn't happen until 'Friday the 13th Part 3'. In 'Part 2', Jason was basically a hillbilly in a sack. The hockey mask, when it came, made him more sinister. 

The mask is something important to mention because we didn't have those masks here in the UK at the time. We had some hockey teams, but they never wore anything like that. Giving Jason that mask made him even more... foreign for people like me, watching outside of America and, you know, anything foreign scares people. It makes him even more unusual, more unsettling. 


The thing that I love about Jason in Friday the 13th Part 2 is that they don't show him. For so much of the movie, all you see are his ankles and legs. Again, it's a way of teasing you. When are we going to see him? Why aren't they showing him? When you do finally get your first glimpse of Jason, you're kind of expecting him to look the way he did at the end of the first one. That sack on his head is a real shock. It's off-putting.

I want to take a moment to talk about the soundtrack to Friday the 13th Part 2 because that's also off-putting. The music is shrill, stabbing, and discordant. It sets your teeth on edge - which is, of course, exactly what it's supposed to do.

'Friday the 13th Part 2' is a nasty, jumpy, creepy movie for someone in their early teens. It seems tame compared to what's out there today but it's still a great film. The sequels... well...


The sequels just went too far. The fifth one, 'A New Beginning', barely features Jason at all. 'Friday the 13th: Jason Lives', when they dig up the coffin and the lightning strikes to bring him back was just silly. 'Jason takes Manhattan', though, was a cracking romp. I love that one. 'Jason X', that was an excellent film. What a clever idea. So ingenious. I thoroughly enjoyed 'Jason vs Freddy' because it didn't try to take itself seriously. Clever idea. 

Jason X is my favourite of the 'Friday the 13th' films. It's laugh out loud stuff. I especially love when Jason falls out of the cryo-chamber and accidentally cuts off the stoner's arm. Also, the robot having nipple-envy and her fake nipple falling off. It's dumb, but it's hilarious.


'The Friday the 13th' reboot essentially condensed the first three films into one. It was okay, but I preferred the originals. I assume they did the reboot that way because they wanted to get the mask in as quickly as possible. Like the reboot of 'Halloween', it was just okay.

We have very different opinions about the reboot of 'Halloween'. Mine includes the words "steaming", "pile" and "shit." Rob Zombie couldn't make a horror movie to save his life.

Down, tiger. 

Yeah, yeah. I'll save that rant for when we get to Halloween. I agree with you about the reboot of Friday the 13th, though. It was okay, I guess. Just kind of hard to get into because it moved so fast. It gets points for having Jared Padalecki in it, though.

Friday the 13th is one of those film franchises that we could spend the whole day talking about. Unfortunately, since it's actually Friday the 13th, we should probably spend that time watching a few of the films.

Come back tomorrow, horror fans, to see what we've got for you.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

31 Days of Horror: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Welcome to day twelve of 31 Days of Classic Horror. Today we're going old school on this sucker. Really old school. Universal monster movies old school.

Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is the follow-up to Universal's classic 1931 movie, Frankenstein. In Bride of Frankenstein, we learn that mad scientist, Dr. Pretorius, kidnaps Dr. Frankenstein's wife in order to force Frankenstein to create another creature, this time a woman. 

No way that could go wrong...


Jay here. I first saw 'Bride of Frankenstein' during the summer of 1976. It was my first ever horror double bill, 'Bride of Frankenstein', followed by 'Brides of Dracula'. I got to bed around half past two, which was the latest I had stayed up in my life (that far). 

My nan saw 'Bride of Frankenstein' when it was first released in cinemas. I remember her telling me about it, about the way she screamed in the cinema when he walked through the door the first time. She told me that she ran all the way home that day. 

I watched Bride again about three months ago and it's still a tremendous film. I could watch it a hundred times and enjoy it as much as that first time.


Funny, it must be my age because I actually saw Young Frankenstein, the spoof, before I ever saw Bride of Frankenstein. Brooks did such a fabulous job there.

Didn't he just? Here you have an example of how classics like 'Bride' have a long-reaching effect on everything that came after. Who can forget that scene with the hermit, which was taken from 'Bride'? 

Parodies aside, you'll notice that 'Bride' is on this list but 'Frankenstein' isn't. Of all the Universal films that came out during that period, 'Bride' is, by far, the best of them all. It's the pinnacle of the golden age of Universal horror.

We spent a lot of time deliberating over which Universal movies deserved to stay on this list and which ones didn't. Do you want to explain why we kept Bride of Frankenstein, when so many others were cut? 

For starters, there's nothing not to like about 'Bride'. It's atmospheric, with brilliant electrical effects. Did you know Mel Brooks used the exact same props when he made 'Young Frankenstein'?


I didn't but that's pretty awesome. 

Yeah, which is just one of the reasons why 'Young Frankenstein' works so well as a parody. 

One of the other reasons that 'Bride' won out over a lot of the other Universal films is that it's one of the very first movie sequels. It took them years to get the director back but it was worth the wait. He brought back a lot of the original cast. (Even Dwight Frye, who had to play a different character because he died in the original.) 

You mentioned the electrical effects before and I didn't get the chance to agree with you but they do work very well. In that day, with practically no special effects to speak of, the clever use of light flashes and sparks is really effective. It's still convincing, even now.


One of the reasons that I prefer Bride of Frankenstein to its predecessor is that it feels a little more like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which I read as a child. It always bothers me that The Monster is made out to be this mindless oaf when, really, in the novel, he was highly educated and articulate. 

That's right. The fact that the monster speaks is one of the many reasons the sequel is better than the original. A smart monster is scarier than a snarling monster any day. 

The only thing about 'Bride' that isn't better is Karloff as The Monster. In the original, Karloff was a starving actor. He'd been living the good life, though, in the years following 'Frankenstein' so when he returned to 'Bride', he wasn't as gaunt. It does affect the creepiness of The Monster. The Bride, though, phew.

Don't you mean "phwoar"?

Well, yes. Exactly. The Bride is just cool beyond, from the bird-like way she moves to that wild hair. She's the most iconic female monster ever. 'Rocky Horror' borrowed the look, you know, for Magenta. It's just so far out there. Punk was exploding when I first saw 'Bride of Frankenstein' and it's a very punk look. 


It is. You see the image of The Bride used a lot in rockabilly stuff too. It's great.

You used the word "iconic" before and I can't think of a better way to describe The Bride. Together, Frankenstein's Monster and The Bride make up the most iconic pair in horror history. It's also gotta be the best idea for a couple's costume ever...

Don't get any ideas. 

'Frankenstein' and 'The Bride' were both fabulous but the many sequels just get worse and worse after that. At the end of the day, 'The Bride of Frankenstein' just an unrequited love story. The Monster just wanted to be loved so you can really feel his pain when The Bride is horrified by him. It's kind of heartbreaking. 


That it is - but since the end of the book made me cry, I'm probably not the best person to comment.

Well, I think that's it for today. What do you think of our choices so far? Leave a comment and let us know.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

31 Days of Horror: Child's Play (1988)

Today, on 31 Days of Classic Horror, we're going to look at Child's Play which, at its simplest, is a movie about a mother who is so desperate to get her son the must-have toy that she's willing to buy one with dubious origins. Jay looks like he's got something to say about that, so I'm going to pass this over to him.


'Child's Play' tapped into that thing where parents will do anything to get the present their child wants for Christmas. This plays on that pressure, that fear of missing out. Think about Arnie in 'Jingle All the Way'. Same thing. You see it on the news every year, people getting trampled over some stupid toy their kid just has to have. That's the part of the movie that's terrifying for adults, I think.

I saw 'Child's Play' (as a young goth) in the cinema. Actually, I took a date to see it. Boy, I never laughed so hard. She'd never screamed so loud. 

You're kind of sick, you know that?

Yeah... 

This, from the same man who won't let me sit next to him when we see a horror film in the cinema.

Screaming is okay. Jumping like a little bitch and making me jump, not okay.

Ahem. Back to Child's Play...

One of my favourite moments in Child's Play is the moment Catherine Hicks's Karen Barclay sees Chucky come to life the first time. It's really clever, the way it's filmed, because they keep Chucky in the shot as Karen moves around the kitchen. Then, the batteries fall out of the box and you can see all kinds of aw, hell no in her face. She goes over to the doll, trying to convince herself that what's happening isn't happening. She opens the back and sees that there aren't any betters then, "Hi! I'm Chucky!" and he's gone. What a great scare moment.


The special effects really were excellent. You completely believed that little shit was alive! Imagine watching 'Child's Play' for the first time, you wouldn't sleep for a week, wondering if your Action Man would come to life. Who wouldn't be frightened of their doll coming to life?  You play with these dolls, making up lives for them, making them do stupid shit then, suddenly, they have a consciousness and they can get their own back on you. No one wants that.

Right? That fear keeps coming back in the film industry, always with a tremendous amount of success. There was Dolly Dearest in the Nineties and, more recently, the Annabelle movies. I think it's a universal fear. That's why the films work so well and that's why dolls that come to life are still scaring the pants off us.


You hit on an interesting point there. The 'Child's Play' franchise is still every bit as relevant today as it was then. Thirty years on, it's still part of modern culture. Go to any comic convention and you will see a number of Chucky dolls and probably someone dressed in Chucky cosplay. Here we are in 2017, awaiting 'The Cult of Chucky'. 


If someone says to you, "Hi, I'm Chucky and I'm your friend 'til the end!", you know exactly which movie it's from. Chucky earned his place as a horror icon. 

It's not a bad cast, either. But then, you were never going to go wrong with Chris Sarandon, were you? I'm sure this isn't the only time we see him during our countdown (or was it up?) to Halloween.

I'm sure it isn't. You're forgetting Brad Dourif as Charles Lee Ray/Chucky, though, and that's a big mistake. Brad Dourif had been around for a long time, always playing creepy roles, but he's probably found the most success in his career as the voice for this bloody doll. Bet he loves that!


I dunno... I wouldn't mind knowing I helped give children nightmares!

That explains a couple of things.

Like what?

Like why you're a horror writer and why we don't have children?

Ouch, dude.

Anyway, Child's Play is here because it's the start and it introduced us to Chucky and, yes, it's also probably the best of all the Chucky movies. You know what, though? They're all good. Every movie in this series has made me either jump, or laugh, or both. Usually both.

Yes, 'Child's Play' is a fun, laugh out loud horror and the rest of the movies in the series keep that up. I loved 'Bride of Chucky' and 'Seed of Chucky' but none of the other movies in the series could compete for a spot on this list. Once you see that doll, you never get the same shock value again. 


That's all from us today. What are your thoughts on Child's Play? Drop a comment below to let us know!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

31 Days of Horror: Creepshow (1982)

Welcome to day ten of 31 Days of Classic Horror. Today, we're going to be discussing a movie from two of the darkest minds in horror history, George A. Romero and Stephen King. That's right, today's featured movie is Creepshow (1982). While I flip through the eerily gorgeous Creepshow graphic novel, I'm going to let Jay start things off.


'Creepshow' is the only anthology on this list. I've always liked anthology movies. They're great because no, every story won't be your cup of tea but, as long as it's done well, something there will appeal to you. A good anthology feels like several full movies, rather than just ten or fifteen minute segments. You do see some anthology movies still (like 'Trick 'r Treat') but it's a format that's underused now. I'd like to see more. 

I agree! I love horror anthologies! Bite-sized terror, ya gotta love it. It's a good thing this list only goes up to 2000 because if we'd had to choose between Creepshow and Trick 'r Treat, you'd have had a real fight on your hands.


Heh. Picking 'Creepshow' was hard enough. I was forced to choose between 'Dr. Terror's House of Horrors' and 'Creepshow', which was agonising. Creepshow gives us five stories ranging from silly, to repulsive, to terrifying. You have "Father's Day" (scary), "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" (silly), "Something to Tide You Over" (creepy), "The Crate" (terrifying), and "They're Creeping Up on You" (repulsive). My favourite is... hard to choose. It's between "Father's Day" and "The Crate", both for their final scenes. 



I actually liked "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill", even though it was kind of dumb (okay, very dumb.) It gets extra points for starring Stephen King. I hated "They're Creeping Up on You". Eww. Just eww. "Something to Tide You Over" lost points for me because Leslie Nielsen just does not belong in a horror movie. (Though the ending is amusing.) I agree with Jay (it does happen). "Father's Day" and "The Crate" are the best of the stories in this anthology.

So, I finished reading the Creepshow graphic novel just now and I have to point out something interesting here. Throughout the graphic novel, you've got the Creep talking to you, laughing and cracking jokes. The movie version of Creepshow lacks that.

You do have The Creep, though, with the story surrounding the comic book. He just doesn't speak. The movie version is great because, at the end, when you see the boy with the voodoo doll and his father having chest pains, you realise there's been another story going on the whole time. It's a brilliant way to tie the stories together. 

That kid is hella amusing. And evil. Very evil.I think we all got a little glimpse of what Stephen King must have been like as a kid. Actually, the kid (Billy, I think he's called.) is the horror author, Joe Hill, who's Stephen King's son. So, in a way, I guess we do get a tiny glimpse of what Stephen King was like as a kid.

Next year, we have to include modern horror because Joe Hill's Horns needs to be included. But, before I go off on a tangent, let's get back to King...


Let's. This is a Romero and King collaboration, two absolute masters of horror. With the two working together, you just couldn't go wrong. The cast, the lighting, the special effects - it's all done beautifully. Speaking of the score... 

The Christmas of 82/83, while all my friends were getting Iron Maiden records, I was getting the 'Creepshow' soundtrack. I still have it, too. It's creepy as shit; a hissing score, daring you to listen. If you want the best horror soundtrack you'll ever hear, put on 'Creepshow'.



Creepshow is exactly my kind of horror. It's funny yet terrible, which appeals to my dark side.

Exactly. The poster says "The most fun you'll ever have being scared!" and it's accurate. You'll smile as you're watching Creepshow, even as it scares the shit out of you.

What are your thoughts on Creepshow? Get in touch and let us know!

Monday, 9 October 2017

31 Days of Horror: Horror Express (1972)

Welcome back to 31 Days of Classic Horror on Wondra's World. Some movies are on this list because I love them and some are here because Jay loves them. Horror Express is one of Jay's so I'm going to let him take over for awhile.


I saw 'Horror Express' on Boxing Night in 1980. I stayed up late with my Dad to watch it and it frightened the shit out of me. I remember my father saying, "You staying up for the horror film tonight?" Me? Stay up for a horror movie? Uh... yeah! My parents gave me an Irish coffee that night - very weak, of course - but it made me feel all special and grown up.

The thing that make it even better was that we had a massive amount of snow that night. Because so much of 'Horror Express' was set on the trans-Siberian express, I couldn't sleep and, when I did, I had awful nightmares. My father had to threaten not to allow me to watch any more horror films to get me to settle down. 




'Horror Express' (also known as 'Panic On The Trans-Siberian Train') is a little known screen gem made by a Spanish company about a fossil that comes to life on a train. It's set during the turn of the century but stil holds up incredibly well. Of course, you can't go wrong with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Christpher Lee actually played a good guy in this one (for a change.)

Okay. I'm going to butt in here, for just a moment. You mentioned that Christopher Lee played a good guy in Horror Express and I think it's important to talk about that. Lee just looked evil so it's not surprising that he was so often cast as the baddie. Even as a hero, though, Lee is so intense that he comes across and foreboding and intimidating. Not exactly the kind of guy you'd go to for a comforting hug but definitely the kind of guy you'd want protecting you.

Lee and Cushing were always good foils for each other. Did you know, though, that Peter Cushing was only in 'Horror Express' because Christopher Lee forced him to get off his ass and do it. Cushing's beloved wife, Helen, had only died a few weeks before filming started and you can see the pain in his face. 

Anyway, Lee and Cushing never got enough credit for what they did for the horror genre and the British film industry. Fact of the matter is, if I know those two are in a film, I'm making a beeline for it. They're my two biggest film heroes. Christopher Lee because he frightened the shit out of me and Cushing because I wanted to be him. I always admired the way Peter Cushing was and the way he behaved. He was a gent. They both were. They were chivalrous, with immaculate manners. The world is a lesser place without them in it.





"But what if one of you is the monster?"
"Monster? We're British, you know."

Don't forget about Telly Savalas. Any movie has to be better for having Telly in it. That guy was just cool as fuck. He definitely brought the humour to 'Horror Express' as the Cossack, Capt. Kazan, stomping around like he owned the place.

Capt. Kazan was just awesome. So over the top. So hammed up that it makes the film superb. A vodka-swilling, gun-pointing, no-nonsense Cossack. I wouldn't call his role comedy, necessarily, but his entrance invigorates what could have been a heavy film. Telly Savalas was such a great actor. Although he's only in 'Horror Express' for fifteen or twenty minutes at the end, it's worth the wait.



Finally, there's Alberto de Mendoza as the mad monk, Father Pujardov. Again, he was over-the-top. The monk was the only one who insisted that there was something evil in the crate that housed the creature where the alien/monster dwelled and he's the one who serves it.


Father Pujardov wasn't a very good monk, was he? The first time he sees what he perceives as the Devil and he worships it. The thing that I like about Pujardov, though, is that he's so obviously a jab at Rasputin. You've gotta love a movie that goes there.


"But what if the monk is innocent?"
"Ahhh, we got lots of innocent monks!"

It's the imagery that makes 'Horror Express' great to watch. The poor actor(s) who played the alien/monster all had to wear contact lenses that lit up - contacts with actual lights in them. It was incredibly innovative in its day. It worked so well but they had to be hell to wear. The victims had to wear white scleral contact lenses, too, and none of them were comfortable at the time. It created a hell of a look, though.

The glowing red eyes are really good effects but I love the reason for the white eyes. It was so clever, the way that the eyes would go white because the monster (or alien, whatever) stole their memories, their knowledge, so that it could learn about us. Wiping their brains, that's a really great idea. I also love the pseudo-science that allows them to see the last image that the victims saw. It's an interesting premise and it's also a great way to move the story along.


Like I said, 'Horror Express' is a forgotten gem. The ending was a little rushed, maybe, but you forgive that because the movie was so good throughout. It also has a great score, which was very different for its age. Unforgettable. Oh, and there are even zombies, if that's your thing. You really have to give this movie a shot. You won't be disappointed. 

That's all for today. What do you think of our list so far? Drop us a comment below.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

31 Days of Horror: Carrie (1976)

You can't have a list of the best horror movies without Stephen King. Unfortunately, for this list, we had to leave out some of our King favourites like IT, Salem's Lot, and The Stand since they're not technically movies. It hurt but, after the bickering was done, we were left with King greatness in the form of Carrie (1976).

Carrie is one of my favourite Stephen King books. And, because I'm a book whore, you know what I'm going to say, right? The book was better. BUT, the film adaptation is absolutely brilliant and the book only just beats it because of the ending. I would so love to see the book's ending on the film. Let the whole frickin' town burn.

(Whelp, if you don't know much about me, you should probably know that I grew up pagan in a town with 13 churches. I guess you could say I identify with poor Carrie White.)

Right, over to Jay for his take on this King classic.


I was a teenager when I saw 'Carrie' but it had been out for a good few years already. We were a group of rowdy boys so we weren't really paying much attention at first. That quickly changed, though, with the nudity in the shower scene. The tits got our attention but we kept watching because the movie was so engaging.

Though the story is very good, 'Carrie' is kind of a slow-burner. It takes a lot of build-up to get to the ending, when she gets covered in pigs blood, but is one of the most iconic moments in movie history. Those last ten minutes, boy, you really sit up and pay attention to.

The prom scene is agonisingly drawn out and you know it's one of those moments that lasts forever. Carrie White's best and worst moments in life, only seconds apart. I don't know what it's like for a boy watching that scene but, for a girl, it twists your heart all up. You know what's coming, you have to, but you want to reach out and grab the rope. You want Carrie's moment to stay happy forever but, of course, this is a King film and that ain't gonna happen.


It's interesting that you should mention the difference between watching 'Carrie' as a girl versus watching as a boy. If you'd asked me, I would have said that a woman wrote Carrie because it's just so intimate, especially at the beginning with the tampons. You really get a glimpse inside the mind of a marginalised young woman. I don't know how King managed to pull that off . (I know I haven't figured out how to get inside a woman's mind yet. What does King know that the rest of us mortal men don't?)

There are two parts to that. Yes, it's absolutely a horror film that girls can identify with. Getting your first period is life-changing. Take that and compound it with the shock and horror Carrie must have felt because her mother was, well, a nut job who kept the facts of life from her and you've got great horror that will make any girl cringe. (Unless you're one of those girls who identifies with the bitches chanting, "Plug it up," in which case I direct your attention to the end of the prom scene.)


The second part is that 'Carrie' showcases how absolutely horrid girls can be to one another. I blame society for that. Women are constantly taught that they have to compete with one another over everything from beauty to boyfriends. Imagine the kind of movie 'Carrie' would have been if society taught women to lift one another up and support one another, rather than tear each other down.

You're right that 'Carrie' is basically a coming-of-age film, with a lot of death. And, it's definitely about bullying. There's more happening than that, though. Don't forget you've got Carrie's mother who is, for lack of a better phrase, bat shit crazy and is harbouring some seriously disturbed feelings toward the opposite sex. You've also got this innate psychic power that's never really explained but is brilliantly evoked through the use of things like cracking mirrors. Whatever else 'Carrie' might be, at the end of the day, it's still a horror film 



The movie is slightly dated, since it was set in the 1970s. In Britain, at the time 'Carrie' was made, we didn't really know about things like prom (although we do now), which made it more interesting. Anything "other" will always make you more uneasy. 

I think it's a bit more dated than Jay does, but I didn't grow up in the Seventies so it feels painfully Seventies to me. Not that its being dated or not makes any real difference to the film. Well, this film, anyway. The remake of Carrie was essentially a carbon copy, without any attempt having been made to bring it up to date. You really felt the awkwardness watching that version. Things that were acceptable in the original because, hey, it was the Seventies, weren't not okay in the 2013 remake, if that makes sense.


Be honest, the remake was just poor, as is so often the case. It was never going to be as good, anyway, without Sissy Spacek. Sissy Spacek was perfect for the role. She's not a conventional beauty, you know? She can look utterly amazing but she can also look creepy and bugged eyed. You really don't see her enough anymore. She's a fabulous actress. 

Agreed. That wide-eyed look of hers is essentially to making the prom scene work. When it cuts to split screen and you've got Carrie's wild eyes darting around the room, with the effects of her rage on the other side of the screen... damn. That's some freaky shit.


I think we could go on for a lot longer on this one but since we have plenty more days in the month, we'd better wrap it up. Don't forget to come back tomorrow to see which movie we've chosen to add to our 31 Days of Classic Horror list.