Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Crush (1993)

In 1993 I was a 14 year old girl just soaking up the grunge era. I did not care much for boys and when asked by friends, "who do you have a crush on" I randomly picked people from school. I did not have a crush on them but I was also a 14 year old feeling the peer pressure. I was far, far, more focused on music (almost entirely on music) and getting a perfect flannel shirt.

So it's funny to me that I would sit and re-watch, compulsively, movies like Poison Ivy, Lisa, and of course, The Crush - when I got home from school. I was fascinated by these stories. I felt like I connected with the girls in these films, age wise especially, but it was also like watching a train wreck happening before my ignorant eyes. Giiiiiirrrrrllll, what is wrong with yoooooooooouuu!!!?

I haven't seen The Crush in years, but I'm working on this year's 50 Films You May Have Missed List and added Lisa to it. The memories of this time in my life came flooding back.

Although, at the time, I struggled to develop a crush on anything besides music and the grunge scene, I did have a crush on Carey Elwes. Oh lordy, that made this film even more interesting for me!

I wanted this girl's life - her stuff, her looks, her house, her parents - I wanted what she had. Moody, angry, surprisingly and reluctantly responsible 14 year old me was All Over This. Top it off, Carey Elwes is living in her backyard. To be perfectly honestly, had I been in the same situation, I can not guarantee I wouldn't also spy on him a little bit too...

Here is where I'm once again promoting how pivotal time, place, environment - and age - impacts our perceptions of horror films. This film was a perfect storm for me at 14, and it left a severe (and unexpected) impression that I've never forgotten, one of the most predominate being: my introduction to mental illness in a way that I could understand it.

As much as I was fascinated by this villain, she also scared me - really, really scared me. She scared me because of my face value connection to her and yet she was not like me at all. There was something terribly, terribly wrong with the reasoning of my fellow teen. This film (much like Lisa and Poison Ivy), in no small way, introduced me to real world horrors that I should actually be afraid/aware of. Predatory behavior. Untreated, serious mental illness. Valuable information always, but at 14 with no prior understanding of it, invaluable.

In all, this film is about a young woman who develops a severely unhealthy attachment to a much older man. This is a scary story on multiple levels. To make it worse, this story was written and directed by a man who had experienced this situation himself - from an unhinged young woman when he lived in her parent's backyard. To make it even more terrible, that very family sued him when this film was released....

I'm not actually going to provide a really great review of the movie itself in this post - it's been too long since I've seen it and my judgement is seriously overshadowed by my history with it. Still wanted to write about it though, and I hope, to some degree, my little history will provide you with an idea of what it's about and how many boundaries it stretches across, making it a pretty great little horror film.

I think I might watch it tonight though. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Roar (1981)

My Husband, the non-horror movie fan, is on another trip out of town, so you know what that means!!!


Unlike last time, where my binge festival was cut short because I could not, would not stop watching Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, this time I'm serious about my horror movies, and well, I finished Kitchen Nightmares.

Like last time, I've started my festival with another random selection of movies from the local library. This place never stops surprising me.

It's hard to describe how I felt when I came across Roar. At first I thought it was misfiled and should have been in the Documentary section. No, no. It's a movie - and the tagline on the cover: "No animals were harmed in the making of this film. 70 cast and crew members were."

I'd never heard of this movie before, so I took a quick look through IMDB and the words that kept jumping out as I scanned the Trivia: "mauled", "madhouse", "hospitalized". "Gangrene" showed up at least once... Several reviews also included: "Have to See It To Believe It"

I whole-hardheartedly agree. My review won't do this film justice. You just have to see it to believe it.

Some would argue this is more of an action/adventure film (and it is) but it's also a bizarre horror show. Horror in ways I still can't quite put a finger on... Could be: The mauling is real.

This is a difficult film to watch. Difficult to see the lions attack themselves and others. It's also incredibly claustrophobic. The man living with these lions is crazy. Crazy in love with these big cats, but still crazy. Also, after what I've seen, I went ahead and nominated him for You're The Reason Your Friends and Family Have Ulcers award.

I live with just three cats and it's hard enough trying to keep them off me (and the counter) when I come home and it's dinner time. Now, imagine that with what appears to be 50+ lions, cougars, tigers, and panthers just wandering around in your home.

This film, in a word, is: insane. I watched most of it with my jaw dropped. Not because it's particularly good but because it's just that insane. I can honestly say that I've never seen anything like it.

Combine a healthy heaping of The Birds and Grizzly Man with innumerable cat videos on YouTube and scenes from Dog Soldiers (where they're running through rooms in the house) - boil it all down to a thick paste and then slather it on a large slice of the most bizarre yet heartwarming documentary you've ever seen. Serve your friends and family with a piping hot - sometime bloody - dish of: Roar.

Through all the film's madness, I have to give it's ending a lot of credit. It absolutely surprised me. I maybe even teared up a bit.

Although there won't be a Roar 2, Tippi Hedren, along with husband and co-star Noel Marshall, started the Roar Foundation so these big kitties and others are taken care of and protected.

This film is an *experience*. 

Watch with gutsy family members - human and four legged ones. My cats were fascinated with this film. FASCINATED. Pairs with anything cats won't eat.

I rented this film from my library. Use the Find It. Watch It. links on Horror Habit's side bar to locate where else you can find this very, very unusual film.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Onibaba (1964)

My husband was going to be out of town for a week so, planning ahead, I picked up about 20 horror movies from the library. I had a vision.

All set.

Chosen at random (couldn't decide!) the first film I watched was the absolutely stunning Japanese film, Onibaba.

This is a mesmerizing and emotionally haunting film where a mother and her daughter-in-law try to survive (physically, mentally, and emotional) during a civil war-torn Japan. Living in crippling poverty and starving, they take to some desperate measures to survive. 

And then there's this mask....

I saw one reviewer on IMDB call this film 'poetry', and I agree. It takes a very talented hand to turn the reeds and grass surrounding the womens' hut into such a unique realm for horror. A knot in your throat kind of horror.

It's also takes talent to relay, despite the story's full embrace of *desperation*, how lusty this film is. Vigorous, sensual, vivid - wild. 

This is a beautiful film, poetic, jarring, and chilling. 

Although it moves quickly, this film requires your full attention and patience. Watch in a dark, silent place with no interruptions and preferably alone. Pairs with water.

On a closing note, I can't help but feel there is social commentary tucked away here, buried deep beneath the dirt floor these women sleep on. I honestly can't put my finger on it but my bones tell me it's on age and aging women in particular. Seeing as the literal translation of the title is Demon Hag (according to IMDB) - and I didn't know that before I saw the film - I was surprised by how much I ended up thinking about the mother, and the real life horrors she would face if she didn't have her daughter-in-law there...

I rented this movie from my local library. Use the Find It. Watch It. links on Horror Habit's side bar to locate where else you can see this bone-chilling moral horror tale.

Now back to more films!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Wraith (1986)

I've been on an '80s movie kick lately. I could blame my recent, first time introduction to Die Heard last month but that wouldn't be entirely true.

Now, although I've just seen Die Hard and Lethal Weapon (with RoboCop coming up on the viewing schedule), I've considered myself pretty familiar with 1980's horror films at least...

So you can imagine I looked like I had just seen a ghost (aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh, so BAD) when I stumbled across the *unknown* classic: 1986's The Wraith.

Soak this bad ass poster image in for a minute. Slather your eyes with it. And now, gather around fans of the High Plains Drifter because do I have a story for you! Tell me if you've heard this one before:

A stranger drifts into a small town and challenges the local bullies - To The Death!

Keep your High Plains Drifter wild west stories at home for The Wraith, however (although it does take place in the rural, dusty west). Never mind that pack of bad boys in Drifter who steal and torment the locals (okay, well, that's exactly what happens here too...). Leave the ghost stories to the campfire - wait, forget it. This story IS the High Plains Drifter but now in the 1980's instead of the 1880's and super decked out cars are involved.

In all, this is a fun, fun film. Fun in the only way 1980's action/adventure/horror can be: with crazy explosions, car chases, absurd realities, quirky character's, and gut-chuckling groan-worthy dialog. This little interaction being one of my favorites:

  • Gutterboy: Skank! 
  • Skank: Yeah? 
  • Gutterboy: Who is that guy? 
  • Skank: I don't know, but whoever he was, he's weird and pissed off!

And oh yes, who can forget:

  • Murphy: [Looking down at an intensely flaming car wreck] You think he made it? 
  • Stokes: You gotta be kiddin' me. Local kid? 
  • Murphy: Used to be.

Staring Charlie Sheen, Sherilyn Fenn, Randy Quaid, and Nick Cassavetes, this is movie night gold. Get that popcorn ready (piping hot and covered in butter), greasy burgers will do too. Grab a six pack, some friends (or watch alone - it's fun ride alone too), and prepare for a film to satisfy that question: "I'm in the mood for an '80s horror film but I don't know what...".

I watched this one on Shudder, but if you don't have a subscription, it looks like it's currently available on Tubi TV for free. Or, use the Find It! Watch It! links on Horror Habit's side back to locate where else you can find this pre-tiger blood gem.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

This film came highly recommended from multiple friends, and that's rather rare for me - to have the same praised independent film come up in conversation from my different social avenues. The only other film that comes to mind in a similar scenario is The Audition, to give you an idea of how cool my friends are.


The Autopsy of Jane Doe wastes no time with tossing you into a bloody cringe binge festival. Chances are pretty good that things are going to get pretty bad when the film opens with a slow pan through a murder house...

It should come as no surprise that a majority of the film takes place in a morgue, and it also shouldn't come as a great surprise that the autopsy is done late at night during a storm. 

What may initially come off as a typical spooky story (dark, stormy night, dead bodies, etc.) - a nice tactic to get into the classic spooky mood - quickly spins you on your heels as the autopsy progresses and you learn about this woman.

We know the dead physically speak, but this film takes it to a whole new level and I, for one, was completely blown away by the final reveal. Incredibly gross, jarring, uncomfortable on so many levels, and surprisingly original in its sinister twists, this is a great film for a dark, stormy night. 

In fact, check out the trailer. It will provide you with a good idea about the film's atmosphere and a tip of the gigantic creeptastic iceberg that is just lying in wait for you.

A great film that although appears currently underrated, I suspect will build momentum and appreciation in the coming years.

Pairs with a cold brew (or honey mead....), sad looking snacks that somehow still bring comfort or possibly just a cold bologna sandwich. Watch alone or with one other person, again, on a dark stormy night.

I rented this film from my local library, or use the Find It. Watch It. links on Horror Habit's sidebar to see where else you can find this stone cold and unappologetic horror thriller.

PS: I'd like to add that the director of this film, André Øvredal, also directed Trollhunter. I like this film even more than Trollhunter.