The 2011 October Horror Challenge:
I've seen some cool stuff this month which hasn't quite qualified for the Challenge. This year's standards are just a wee bit tighter than last year's inagural edition of the Challenge. While I have counted "The Walking Dead", I have generally been trying to not count television show episodes this time. For instance, we just recently started receiving the channel MeTV. Over this past weekend they had a bunch great programming that I simply couldn't count. On Friday they had the "To Serve Man" episode of "The Twilight Zone" (1959-64). Last year I probably would have counted that classic episode, but not this time around. Saturday night I caught some of Svengoolie's presentation of "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" on MeTV. Of course that one has already been counted. It's okay to have repeats from last year's list (not too many though), but it just wouldn't be right to count repeats from earlier in the month. I've also watched various Halloween-themed videos and DVDs with The Little Monster that won't count. The one that might have counted last year is the all-time classic "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" (1966). We're also checking out a few of The Simpsons' "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween episodes too. Finally, I've been able to make it to National Amusements' Silver Screen shows the past two weeks. While they're featuring early Alfred Hitchcock films throughout October--and they're all thrillers of one sort or another--I just can't justify adding the ones I've seen: "The Man Who Knew too Much" (1934) and "The 39 Steps" (1935). They were both good films that I've never seen before, but they're simply not "horror" enough to count.
Item No. 27: LET ME IN
"Let Me In" (2010) is the American remake of the 2008 Swedish vampire film "Let the Right One In"--which I watched earlier in the Challenge. I figured I should check both of these out, and it seemed like a good idea to start with the original. The American version is a perfectly fine film. I think that if I had only seen this version I would have enjoyed it quite a bit more. The original was a very well made film and didn't really need to be remade so quickly (other than to cash in on a good movie and let Americans watch it without having to read subtitles). The new one is fine, but pretty much just tells the same story in the same way. They made a few minor changes which were okay, but it was still basically the same movie with different people and in a different language. I did like the fact that it's set in the early 1980s (like the original). It didn't really seem necessary to set it in the semi-recent past (and probably made production just a bit tougher with having to make sure all the clothes, vehicles and scenery were time-appropriate). The main benefit of this setting was the 80s soundtrack! I might have to pick that one up at some point.
Item No. 28: THEM!
After watching a very recent horror movie like "Let Me In" I wanted to check out a classic one. I chose one of the best of the 1950s desert-based giant bug movies, "Them!" (1954). It had been a few years since I've seen "Them!" and it's a great movie, so it was nice to spend some time with an old favorite. I still have never been able to find a young Leonard Nimoy in his bit part as an Air Force Sergeant in the film, but that's just something to try to figure out the next time I see it.
Item No. 29: CURSE OF THE FLY
I was happy to have managed to see the entire "The Fly" trilogy during this year's challenge. The last installment, "Curse of the Fly" (1965) was watched on the 21st. It's interesting that (unlike today's sequels) this three-movie series didn't feel the need to put numbers or Roman numerals after the title. It's also interesting that each sequel features characters from a generation after the previous film--yet all were filmed within seven years and they all seem to be set in what was the "present" at the time. The son of the original scientist who turned into a fly was a boy in the first film, an adult in the second and an old man in the third. The third one is also the first to not feature either Vincent Price or a fly. It was still a pretty good movie, but probably a good time to call it quits on the series.
Item No. 30: THE OTHERS
On the night of the 21st The Wife and I watched "The Others" (2002). This was the first film that we were able to watch together all the way through for the Challenge (after The Wife conked out halfway through "They Live" last week). I didn't think I'd seen "The Others" before this, but for some reason it seemed awfully familiar in places. Perhaps I had seen it? Strange that I could so completely forget a movie--especially one that wasn't bad. All in all it was a pretty good, spooky Nicole Kidman film with a genuinely surprising ending.
Item No. 31: CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE
Not to be confused with the recently watched "Creature from the Black Lagoon" (1954), "Creature from Black Lake" (1976) is a much less well known monster movie. This one is about Bigfoot (keeping with what has become a bit of a trend in this year's Challenge). In fact, "Creature from Black Lake" is one of my all-time favorite Bigfoot movies. October 20th was the anniversary of the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film. I wanted to watch something to commemorate that, but it took a couple days to get around to it. October 20th was also Bela Lugosi's birthday. I still haven't watched anything to commemorate that--but plan to before the end of the month.
Item No. 32: I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF
"I Was a Teenage Werewolf" (1957) is a pretty rare film to find. Because of various legal and financial reasons it has never been legitimately released on DVD. But it was one of the classic films shown on Creature Double Feature when I was a kid. I was able to find it at the Rock and Shock show in Worcester a couple years back and had managed to put off watching it until now. The plan was to try to get together with some old friends to watch it, but that plan never came together. I figured that since I have the movie in my collection (and who knows when or if it will ever get a true DVD release) that I should just go ahead and watch it. It's a fun American International Pictures cheapie featuring a young Michael Landon as the titular teenager/werewolf. I hadn't seen this movie since I was a kid, and there was only one scene that I remembered from then--but I remembered it pretty vividly. It was the scene where Michael Landon is watching a gymnast practicing in the gym when a bell goes off near his ear--causing him to turn into a werewolf and attack the gymnast.
Item No. 33: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN
I introduced The Little Monster to Mel Brooks' classic "Young Frankenstein" (1974) last year. We watched it together again on the 23rd. This was another repeat from last year's October Challenge, but it's a great one. I was surprised by some of the things The Little Monster forgot, as well as some of the details she remembered. After watching it last October it became one of her favorite movies for a while and she watched it a number of times over the next couple of weeks. "Young Frankenstein" and "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" will probably be Halloween month traditions for us until she grows up too much to be my Little Monster anymore.
Item No. 34: THE DREADFUL HALLOWGREEN SPECIAL
Monday October 24th marked one week until Halloween. I bought "The Dreadful Hallowgreen Special" (2010) quite a few months ago, but have managed to not watch it until now. How appropriate to finally see it one week before the big day.
Penny Dreadful is the host of the New Bedford, MA-based Horror Host show Shilling Shockers. I've gotten to know her pretty well over the past few years--we were both among the thousands of kids permanently affected by Creature Double Feature back in the 1970s and 80s. The Little Monster has also met Penny (and her husband/co-star Garou the Wolfman) on a few occasions. See my blog Penny Dreadful's Shilling Shockers for more on that topic. Anyway, last year, Penny Dreadful hooked up with Nashville, TN Horror Host Dr. Gangrene (who I am not familiar with at all) to make this Halloween special. It was shown on public access TV last year and then released on DVD by Alpha Video. I bought it through the website oldies.com. Here's a link to the DVD at the site.
The special itself is pretty good and funny. Penny (and Garou) and Dr. Gangrene have to join forces to try to save Halloween from a mysterious shift that has caused the holiday to become all cuddly and lovable instead of dark and scary. In an interesting twist, the two hosts come to the realization that they both unwittingly had a hand in causing the problem before they ultimately figure out how to fix it. As an added bonus the special is itself hosted by yet another Horror Host, Count Gore De Vol. There are also a number of entertaining special features on the disc.
Item No. 35: CURSE OF THE DEMON
The Wife agreed to try to watch another movie for the Challenge with me. I wanted to show her a longtime favorite, "Curse of the Demon" (1957). It's the American release of the British movie "Night of the Demon" (1957) (which is not to be confused with the grisly Bigfoot movie "Night of the Demon" (1980)--which shares the name, but not much else). Some friends and I first discovered "Curse of the Demon" at Blockbuster back in the 1990s. None of us had ever heard of it and it looked like a fun B-movie to watch on a Saturday night. Well, it turned out to be a very good quality movie all around, and also genuinely creepy in parts. It has been a favorite of mine ever since. "Curse of the Demon" was released a few years back on a double feature DVD that also includes the original British version. While The Wife was a real trooper to agree to watch it, she did fall asleep some twenty minutes before it ended (just at the most exciting part of the film).
With one week to go I have already gone past the 31 movie goal for the month. Now it's time to see how this all ends and find out if I can surpass the 46 movies and shows watched in last year's Challenge. It will be tough to reach that total, but at least this year the Challenge has featured far fewer television show episodes than were counted last year. Stick around to see how it all ends...
Monster Dad: 35
To Be Continued...