Thursday, August 20, 2009

Horror for Breakfast

With a big day of reading and writing ahead, I woke up at 4:30 and couldn't go back to sleep.

So, at 5:05, I showered, prepared my usual oatmeal with pineapple and cranberries, then plonked City of the Living Dead into the DVD. I like a breakfast horror feature.

I hadn't seen the film for ages.

At 6:55, I decided that I never want to see the film again. I had a similar experience with The House By The Cemetery a couple of weeks ago.

I guess I've changed. While enjoying the wonderful gore and ghastliness, I used to tolerate the ludicrous, puerile drama that was sandwiched between the gore scenes. I must have overlooked the (mostly) terrible acting, too. And then there's the pacing. These films are just pasted together. There is no finesse in the cutting. No rhythm. The music, which is often sensational, often cuts out abruptly between scenes. The zooming is non-stop.

Zombie is definitely my favorite Fulci horror film. It's the most coherent. The score is hypnotic, the action moves quickly, and the special effects become more graphic as the horror intensifies. The images of the undead throwing their worn, torn bodies against the wooden doors of the hospital are evergreens.

The Beyond isn't perfect, either. More bad acting. Uneven pacing. Shitty English. Still, it has enough classic moments to be deserving of its status.

I discovered a great piece of news last night -- Denny Harris's Silent Scream ('80) is finally coming to DVD in November.

Sold and remembered as a slasher movie, it is more accurately a haunted boarding house movie.

I saw it when it was first shown in Australian theaters and was very impressed with its deliberate pacing, strong lead performance from Rebecca Balding, a stellar supporting role from the wonderful Barbara Steele, and a terrific turn from Mason Engels, who plays the chief nutbag son of a very nutty family.

It does have some unnecessarily soapy moments and a sax solo, but it's a nice throwback to a more restrained, moody type of horror film.

I'm hanging out to revisit it.

I caught up with District 9 and loved it.

There's no point me adding words to the millions already written about it.

I'll just say that it was one of the saddest films I've seen in a long time.

A solid achievement, and a smart, grounded piece of science fiction.

TM Wright's Blue Canoe with cover art by the author.

I've just been sent the new TM Wright novel, Blue Canoe, and I'm aching to get into it.

Mr. Wright is one of the most original voices in fantastique fiction, and I'm always bowled over by his talent.

Some words on that in a day or two once I've participated in and processed the journey.


  1. I can agree on City of the living dead. It's his (very, very) weakest of his classics, but I still think House by the cemetary works very fine.

    Looking forward to Silent Scream. Heard good things about it!

  2. Ninja -- fair enough. I just found the drama intolerable. The gore and atmos was effective, though. I appreciate your opposing view.

    Silent Scream is a quiet achiever.

  3. If City didn't have that great bit where Radice gets a drillpress through the ear I could barely think of anything good to say about it. Can't even say that much for House by the Cemetery.

    Zombie is aces though. I'm not majorly enamored with zombie films in general but the score, the ace, the cinematography, locations, and the underwater shark fight make it a cut above.

  4. I feel just the opposite about City of the Living Dead. It grows on me more and more as years go by. I hated it when I first saw it over 15 years ago. I can't disagree with your assessment of it though, because it's all true. I've never been able to defend my love for the film and I rarely recommend the film to's as if it has a subconscious effect on me. As far as other Fulci films, Zombie and The Beyond are great horror flicks, but I lean more towards Don't Torture a Duckling and A Lizard in a Woman's skin, more than his splatter era films.

  5. d -- Yes, Zombie is definitely aces.


    Rev -- I understand the subconscious effect it has on you. I have always been partial to it because of its kinda Lovecraftian atmosphere. The town scenes are very good. It's just that this morning I really focused on the stuff that didn't work and it cast a pall over the stuff that did.

    Torture and Lizard are definitely more substantial.

    I am a big fan of Contraband, however.

  6. I also have to admit that the ending still bugs the hell out of me.

    Contraband is great, I really need to do a review of it someday.