It's August, and while for many people that means it's still summer, still time for barbeques and swim parties and trips to the beach, I find myself looking ahead to fall. Most people -- normal people? -- are still enjoying summer vacations, but I am taking pleasure in the year's long, slow decline towards the Day of the Dead, and one of the biggest parts of that pleasure is setting the schedule for the Cavalcade of Filmic Horrors 2008, or CoFH (pronounced cough), as it is affectionately known around here. It's Norman's and my annual festival of horror films, because we cannot live on noir alone.
A couple of years ago, in discussing our selections for CoFH, I wrote, "Clearly, our tastes are all over the place and we have no standards." That has not changed. The only thing that has changed, in fact, is that by now we have seen most of cinema's major horror offerings and quite a few of its more minor efforts. I wouldn't say we're scraping the bottom of the barrel, but in trying to create a program that's interesting and not just the same old things, our list this year is, by necessity, eclectic. Between the two of us, I think we've seen everything already, but I'm still excited about our new CoFH entries:
The Omen. Not the recent remake but the original. Gregory Peck slumming (and taking the whole enterprise so seriously that he elevates it to A-film entertainment). Harvey Stephens as quite possibly the creepiest child actor ever. Baboons on the attack. "Look at me, Damien! It's all for you." This movie ranks up there with Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist as one of the great scary films of all times.
Maniac. Here's what Leonard Maltin's film guide says about this flick: "Unrelenting exercise in nihilistic gore about a cretin who murders women and then scalps them so that he can dress up his mannequins. Although an excellent character actor, coscriptwriter-producer-star [Joe] Spinell bears most of the blame for this claustrophobic, sickening film." C'mon! Who doesn't want to see that?
Island of Lost Souls. Eerie retelling of H.G. Wells's novella, The Island of Dr. Moreau. Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi star in a story that inspired not only an Oingo Boingo song ("No Spill Blood") but also Devo's entire raison d'etre. The movie plays fast and loose with Wells's story and, as I recall, improves it. This one is showing at the Egyptian on August 20th on a double bill with Kongo -- maybe we'll see you there.
Trilogy of Terror. More Karen Black than may be possible to humanly tolerate in a single film! She plays four different roles in this movie anthology that I saw years ago and can't remember a thing about.
Peeping Tom. Again, Mr. Maltin: "Sensational film -- denounced in 1960 -- went on to develop a fervent following; personal feelings will dictate your reaction to story of psychopathic murderer who photographs his victims at the moment of death." Does it say something about Norman that he owns a copy of this movie?
Diabolique. Again, the original. I don't know if this really qualifies as a horror film, but it just sounds so good. Most of the pictures I've found feature Simone Signoret's unsettling stare -- perhaps that's what landed it on people's horror lists.
Near Dark. Whoohoo! Redneck vampires! Raw and funny and violent, a fantastic movie; I'm way overdue for another viewing. Yeah, that's Bill Paxton, the Big Love patriarch, on the far right in the poster.
M. Sean and Curtis are huge fans of this movie and got me to watch it years ago. Again, it's been so long that the details are hazy, but I do know that this story of a German child molester and the mob that wants to string him up is dark and powerful. Again, maybe not actually "horror" -- but it's horrific.
The Fly. And again, the original. (Although I watched the David Cronenberg recently and was impressed by both the acting and the script. Great writing.) Yeah, the whole "Help me, help me!" thing is kinda funny, but I find the French-Canadian setting oddly endearing.
And, for the first time ever, we are considering watching something other than Halloween on Halloween. I'm a bit nervous but excited to see what we come up with.