Friday, October 7, 2011

2011 October Horror Challenge (Part 2: Day 2-6)

First off, it seems worth mentioning that "The October Horror Challenge" might not be the best title for this little project. After all, like I mentioned earlier, I admit that I'm using a rather loose definition of "horror" for it. Because I'll be watching at least some stuff with my Little Monster some of it dies have to be family friendly. Basically anything that seems to be in the spirit of Halloween in some way is eligible for inclusion. "31 Movies in 31 Days" might have been a better title, but some of the things that I might watch and count might not actually be movies. Not only that, but "31 Movies in 31 Days" is already being used by others, so I wanted it to be a little different. Maybe next year I'll manage to think up a better title...

Anyway, onto the updates. After a very successful Day One of the October Horror Challenge (three movies watched), Sunday (Oct. 2) was an off day. Due to other commitments, no movies or other horror-related material was watched. Luckily, the New England Patriots beat the Raiders rather handily and didn't provide a horror show of their own like they did the previous week when they had a total second half meltdown against the Buffalo Bills, but that's another story...


Item No. 4: THE FLY

Monday brought an opportunity to watch Vincent Price in the original "The Fly" (1958). I was a big fan of David Cronenberg's 1986 remake, but the the original is a classic. I don't remember the last time I even saw the original--in fact I'm actually wondering if it's even possible that I may have never seen the entire movie before at all. I remember seeing the climatic scenes as a kid on some show on TV about monster movies that showed clips from some of the great ones. The scene with the fly in the spider web at the end pleading for someone to "Help Me! HELP MEEEEE!" left quite an impression on me back then. I enjoyed finally being able to see the whole movie--possibly for the first time (?). The Little Monster didn't watch it with me, but I did let her see the scene where the scientist's wife first pulls the towel off his transformed head. I wasn't sure if she was ready for it or not, but she assured me "No don't worry Daddy, this isn't scary." ...Of course later she was in tears about it--not because she was scared, but because she felt sorry for both the scientist and his wife. Oops. Well, at least I didn't make the mistake of letting her watch the final fly-in-the-spider-web scene--despite her protests.


I also managed to watch the recent remake of "The Crazies" (2010) on Monday. Before it was released I watched George Romero's original version from 1973 for the first time. I guess I thought I might get a chance to see the new one in the theater and figured I should have a frame of reference to the original. Well, I never got around to watching the new version until now. Turns out it was worth the wait! Despite fears of it stinking since it was yet another in a long line of unnecessary remakes (and "reboots") that are the current trend in Hollywood, I thought it was a very serviceable horror movie. It kind of took the idea and went in its own direction without having to soil the memory of the original by pretending to be an original idea that simply rips off the title of the source material to make a few bucks on it. It ended up being better than I expected!


Item No. 6: EEGAH

Tuesday brought more rainy weather to our area. After picking up The Little Monster at the bus stop after school I figured it was a good time to settle down with one of our favorite father-daughter movies: "Eegah" (1962). I first fell in love with this movie back in the 90s when I saw Mystery Science Theater 3000's treatment of it. In fact, I had never even heard of "Eegah" before that. To this day it's still my all-time favorite episode of MST3K (though I haven't seen all of them). While I originally only thought of it was being watchable in the MST3K format, I now enjoy watching the movie by itself too. Today we did watch the MST3K version though. I introduced The Little Monster to "Eegah!" a few years back, and it was one of her first favorite movies for a period of time back then.


Our local multiplex theater chain has bargain Tuesdays, where tickets to all movies are only $6.00. I was lucky enough to get a chance to go tonight and ended up seeing the new Steven Soderbergh infectious disease movie "Contagion" (2011). It's not really a straight-up horror movie, but I think it's close enough for my list. I'd imagine that it would most certainly be considered a horror movie by anyone who's a germophobe though. Either way, I got a semi-rare opportunity to go out to the movies (for cheap too!) and this was the closest thing to a horror movie that was out that I had interest in watching. I thought it was pretty danged good too! In general I'm not a huge Soderbergh fan, but this really was a very entertaining film.



I'm a big fan of Bigfoot, and "Bigfoot Lives" (2007) is the first BHM (Big Hairy Monster) movie of the month for me--though probably not the last. I had this one in my Netflix queue for some time and mistakenly thought I had already seen it. This one is a documentary-style film by well-known Bigfoot investigator Tom Biscardi. I have to confess to not being terribly familiar with Mr. Biscardi. There was a big, messy Bigfoot hoax a few years back and I recall Tom Biscardi being involved in some way. In the fallout after that incident I heard quite a few negative things about the man and the way he goes about his business. I also saw another documentary (which I mistakenly thought was this one at first) where he had some small involvement--in a negative way. Anyway, I thought that "Bigfoot Lives" was actually pretty good. It might sound like faint praise in this current age of crappy Bigfoot horror movies with terrible CGI special effects being churned out at a staggering pace, but for what it's worth, "Bigfoot Lives" is probably the best overall Bigfoot movie that I've seen since "Harry and the Hendersons" (1987), and the best Bigfoot documentary since the classic ones from the "golden age" of Bigfoot back in the 1970s.



Not to be confused with "The Thing" (1982) or "Teenagers from Outer Space" (1957), I watched a little semi-obscure film called "Teenagers Battle The Thing" (1958) today. It was one of the Public Domain movies offered on one of the free movie channels on our ROKU Box. I had never heard of this one before, but the plot (consisting of a group of students going on an archaeological expedition and finding an ancient monster that comes to life) sounded suspiciously familiar. It only took a few minutes for me to figure out why it seemed so familiar...


The makers of "Teenagers Battle The Thing" cashed in on the Bigfoot craze of the 1970s by taking their old movie, adding about a half-hour of new footage at the beginning, referring to the monster in the film as a Bigfoot instead of a mummy, and then re-released the movie as "The Curse of Bigfoot" (1978) to make some money off of it. I didn't know until today that the original movie was available to watch--or that it was even called "Teenagers Battle The Thing" for that matter. "Teenagers Battle The Thing" was in black & white and "The Curse of Bigfoot" is in (not very vivid) color. Believe it or not, I basically watched the same movie (under two different names) twice today. Once I saw "Teenagers Battle The Thing" and recognized that it was the basis for "The Curse of Bigfoot" I simply had to watch that one too. I actually have a bit of a history with "The Curse of Bigfoot" that goes back to the early 1980s when my sister let me watch it very late one night while sleeping over house as a kid. That incident is chronicled in the blog Movies My Sister Made Me Watch. In the early 1990s I bought the movie on VHS tape without realizing it was the one I had watched at my sister's house. Last year I bought it once again, as part of a double feature with "Cathy's Curse" on a DVD from Alpha Video (which is what the image above is taken from). It's not a very good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it was kind of fun to watch the original version by itself. It also gave me a good excuse to add another Bigfoot-related movie to the list!


"Mad Monster Party" (1967) is a movie that I had never heard of until a few years ago. A friend suggested it to me after watching it from Netflix. I put it in my queue and let it sit there for a couple of years until I recently saw a blog about the movie which reminded me that I should see it. The October Horror Challenge was the perfect excuse to finally go ahead and do so. I'd heard some different opinions about whether this flick was appropriate for kids or not and decided to check it out before showing it to The Little Monster. "Mad Monster Party" was produced by Rankin and Bass--the same folks that brought us "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and all those other great stop-motion Christmas specials. This pretty much means that it is perfectly fine for little ones. Like some of R&B's lesser-known and less-cherished titles this one could be faulted for going on a bit too long and being rather dull in a few spots. It's amazing to think about how much time and effort are required to make a stop-motion animated film and yet you can watch something like this and wonder about how they could have easily tightened it up and made better. Anyway, probably the only thing really questionable for kids is a short segment where Dr. Frankenstein's secretary and the monster's mate (voiced by Phyllis Diller) get into a cat fight--complete with dresses being ripped off and screeching cat sound effects (!). The Little Monster did end up watching most of the second half of the film with me when I finished watching it on October 7. She was kind of interested in it, but had missed the beginning. So it was understandable that she didn't seem to be able to sit still through it.

So, I'm glad that I was able to get ahead of the one-movie-per-day pace for a bit. We're going to be spending a couple nights in a cabin in the woods this weekend. That is perfect for thoughts of Bigfoot attacks and crazed slashers running around, but probably means that I won't be watching any good scary movies for a couple days. Until the next update...

Monster Dad - 11
October - 6


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