2011 October Horror Challenge
Thursday, October 13 was a very good day in the October Horror Challenge. It's highlighted by something I was hoping I'd be able to make happen, but wasn't sure of it. The day actually started with the end of "Let The Right One In" (2008). I counted it as being watched on the 12th, but actually had to finish it up on the morning of the 12th. Eve so, I was still able to add four movies to the list. As an aside, I was glad that the 13th of October fell on a Thursday and not a Friday. While a Friday the 13th would be perfect in the month of Halloween, I do tend to get a little nervous whenever a Friday the 13th rolls around. See My Own Personal Superstitions for more on that side of Monster Dad. And now, on with the Challenge...
Item No. 16: MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND
For some reason, I'm not able to access Netflix through out Roku box at the moment. This is causing a bit of concern--as I was counting on using this service for a lot of movies through the rest of the month. But even without Netflix streaming I still have access to plenty of movies in my DVD collection (as well as some stuff on VHS, stuff available from libraries and free movie channels on the Roku). I decided to tap into my DVD collection for this item. A couple years back I saw my first Al Adamson movie, "Horror of the Blood Monsters" (1970). It was an absolutely horrid movie that I barely managed to make it all the way through. Now I like bad movies, but this one was especially bad (and not in a good way). It made no sense that I could discern. Well, believe it or not, after watching it I ended up...watching it again! It had a commentary track by producer Samuel M. Sherman that I thought might shed some light on the mess I just witnesses. Turns out it was one of the most interesting and entertaining commentary tracks I've ever listened to. I learned that the movie was actually made up of two or three separate movies spliced together in an ineffective attempt to make one complete movie. It even had footage of a couple of the actors from the film shot quite a few years later, and they were obviously quite a few years older in that footage--making it even more senseless!
Through the commentary track I learned quite a bit about the movie from Mr. Sherman, and I found myself wanting to watch more of his movies (or at least those that have DVDs with his commentary tracks on them!). A few months back I ordered two more of them (and bought "Horror of the Blood Creatures" too--believe it or not). I got "Mad Doctor of Blood Island" (1968) and "Beast of Blood" (1971). Turns out that these movies are parts two and three of the so-called "Blood Island Trilogy". Even though I haven't seen the first part, "Brides of Blood" I had a feeling that I wouldn't be missing out on much by watching these two out of order. On the 13th of October I watched "Mad Doctor of Blood Island" and was rather disappointed by it. No, not because it was so bad, but because it didn't measure up to the total badness that was "Horror of the Blood Monsters". Yes, it was still a pretty terrible movie, but it actually seemed to make some sort of sense on some level (unlike "Horror of the Blood Monsters"). I still have to watch it again with the Sam Sherman commentary. Hopefully that will give me a deeper understanding of "Mad Doctor of Blood Island".
Item No. 17: THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Talk about perfect timing. The Little Monster made a request on the 12th to see "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993). She saw it for the first time last year and went through a little phase where she watched it pretty much every day for a while. I was glad that she enjoyed something that I had enjoyed so much myself, and was able to share it with her. She hadn't seen the film in many months, and I was pretty proud of her for suggesting it just in time for the Challenge, without any prodding from her dear old Monster Dad. I let her watch it on the 13th. I watched a good part of it with her (and the Littlest Monster too), but have to confess that the "Dad" part of Monster Dad took over for a bit--I missed some of the movie while preparing dinner for The Little Monsters. When I apologized for not watching all of it with her, The Little Monster replied "That's okay Daddy, you've seen it before." Fair enough. I still think I saw enough if it to count it toward the Challenge.
Item No. 18: ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN
This was the highlight of the day (and possible the month so far). The Little Monster saw "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948) for the first time during last year's October Horror Challenge. I was very glad to see that she enjoyed it. As a kid I grew up watching Creature Double Feature on Saturday afternoons on WLVI Channel 56 out of Boston. But after watching those two monster movies from 1:00 to 4:00 PM I got to indulge in another tradition--Channel 27 out of Worcester would play an Abbott and Costello movie at 6:00 every Saturday during the same period. If you were lucky enough to have a really cool 4:00 movie on channel 56 (or WSBK TV38 for that matter) you could conceivably have an entire day of fun TV watching, starting with Saturday morning cartoons, continuing with Creature Double Feature a good 4:00 movie, and finishing it all off with an Abbott and Costello movie at 6:00.
Of course "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" was always a favorite of mine. It was always special when one of their Classic Universal Monsters tie-in movies was on, and "A&C Meet Frankenstein" was the best of all. As it turns out, this film is a perfect way to introduce kids to the classic monsters from early Universal Horror movies (namely Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and The Wolf Man). True, the original movies that featured those monsters mostly came out in the 1930s and 40s and might seem pretty tame compared to the monsters and special effects in the movies of today. But for a kid with a good imagination and ability to pay attention to an old film, they can still be pretty scary to this day. Starting in the 1940s Universal decided to mine its monsters for a series of films featuring Abbott and Costello. While it might seem like a bit of a disrespectful way to treat those monsters--by putting them in comedy movies for laughs rather than scares--the fact that they were being made relatively close to the time of the originals, and the fact that they were being made by Universal actually make them pretty good--especially for fans of Abbott and Costello (like myself).
This movie was also the perfect way to introduce all those classic movie monsters to The Little Monster without being traumatizing. It's so great to be able to experience a favorite movie of mine like this through her eyes. Regardless of the fact that it's obviously a comedy, and the fact that it's hard to see it as anything but that as an adult, I love that The Little Monster can actually get a bit scared during a few scenes (like when A&C are delivering the crates that contain Dracula and Frankenstein's monster). It's a great way to get back in touch with how I would have felt watching the movie as a little, imaginative kid.
So what made watching "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" such a special event this year (especially in light of the fact that she's already seen it before)? Well, besides all the great stuff mentioned above, this year we were able to see the movie outside our house. Our local library had a screening of the movie on the 13th. The Little Monster and I went to see it there. Yes, it was only a DVD projection, but going somewhere to see it on a semi-large screen was still a pretty cool thing! The biggest disappointment of the night was that only four other people bothered to come out for the movie (and they all left well before it ended). It did end almost an hour after The Little Monster's normal bedtime, but sometimes you have to make exceptions, right?
There were a couple additional bonuses for me too. First, I was surprised (but amused) to hear that The Monster still calls Dracula "Drac-Lea". Also, when we were leaving the library she told me that "Seeing Count Drac-Lea reminded me of that cereal." She was referring to the fact that I introduced her to the General Mills Monster Cereals last October (Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Boo-Berry). Add in that she found a few scenes scary enough that she had to sit close to me and even hide her face behind a napkin made the night all the more special!
Item No. 19: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
Believe it or not, that's not all for October 13. The Littlest Monster had a cold and was having a tough time sleeping. Since I was up late trying to get her down anyway, I decided to check out Tom Savini's 1990 remake of "Night of the Living Dead". While a big fan of the original, and a fan of Mr. Savini, I had never gotten around to seeing this version. At first it seemed so much like the original I kind of didn't see the point of making it. Then it took off in some interesting slightly different directions. It was a pretty good movie, and you just know that the make-up effects would be special, with Tom Savini behind them!
Monster Dad - 19
October - 13
To be continued...