OHC Day 8, part the second – Easy Cheesy

After the first half of 8 October, which was full of some amazing first time views, I decided to start with a familiar favorite…

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Poltergeist (1982)
Directed by Tobe Hooper

A family living in a new housing development comes to find that the area was built on a graveyard where the headstones, but not the bodies, were relocated. The youngest member of the family, little Carol Anne, becomes trapped in a kind of mid-zone spirit world after communicating with the restless souls of the people buried below. The rest of the film is a special effects extravaganza of objects moving on their own, skeletons popping up in the unfinished pool, and a tree that literally tries to eat the middle child. Brief scenes from this movie so terrified me as a child that it wasn’t until about three or so years ago that I could sit and watch Poltergeist from start to finish. I know it’s an ongoing discussion in the horror community, whether Tobe Hooper REALLY directed Poltergeist. I actually can’t come to a particular conclusion on this issue. There are moments, like the face-disintegration scene, that seem quite Hooper-esque, but on the whole the film looks and sounds like a Spielberg picture.

Four “Spielberg faces” in one shot, that’s gotta be some kind of record.

By the way, if you’re not familiar with the “Spielberg face,” you can learn all about it here, in a brilliant video essay by Kevin B. Lee (link includes transcript). Anyhow, Poltergeist – regardless of who directed it – it still a fairly frightening movie, largely in part to how believable the cast is. The small moments are the best ones; a particular stand out for me is the look on Craig T. Nelson’s face when Zelda Rubenstein says that Carol Anne will only hear her mother’s voice. Watch through to the very end of this clip to see:

It’s a significant moment. The movie is rife with them, but never so much that the film becomes cloying or overly sentimental. There is still a lot of horror happening here. The theme alone is enough to creep me out – Poltergeist is like a faithful friend…whose face is peeling off before your eyes.

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Black Sheep (2006) – FTV
Directed by Jonathan King

I don’t have much to say about this horror comedy/spoof on The Wolfman, really. It’s pretty goofy, with some great SFX from the always-reliable Weta, and it ends by lighting a massive fart…literally. You could do spend two hours on something worse, I suppose.

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Blacula (1972) – FTV
Directed by William Crain

Scream Blacula Scream! (1973) – FTV
Directed by Bob Kelljan

I quite liked both of the Blacula movies, much to my surprise. I was expecting a couple of cheesy flicks to end the night, but they’re both pretty decent blaxploitation films. The first one starts way back in the 1700s, with a Nigerian prince and his love bargaining with Count Dracula for his help in ending the slave trade. Little do they know that they’ve walked into a trap: Dracula turns the prince into a vampire, bestowing him with the name “Blacula” (which, admittedly, is pretty hokey) and leaves his woman chained to the prince’s coffin to mourn their fates for eternity. When Blacula is disturbed from his centuries-long slumber by what might be cinema’s first interracial gay couple, it’s the early 1970s, and he is determined to find his lost love. The movie shifts into a little bit of a riff on The Mummy when Blacula finds a young woman who is a dead ringer for his princess and he sways her into basically becoming his vampire wife. Naturally, his plan is foiled, and Blacula is turned to dust right before the end credits.

Hey, kids! It’s the King of Cartoons!

However, by some kind of movie magic, by the next film, his bones are available to use in a voodoo ritual that brings him back to life. The trade off for the arrogant young man who brings Blacula back from the dead is that he becomes a vampire, and a rather obnoxious one at that. Scream Blacula Scream! is an improvement on the first film, mostly by bringing in a better supporting cast, including Pam Grier as a voodoo priestess who attempts to assist Blacula in breaking the curse that made him a vampire in the first place. That’s probably what I liked best about the Blacula movies: ostensibly, he’s the hero here, so we’re rooting for him throughout both films, especially the second one. He’s just so likable! Not to mention his voice is awfully seductive. The Blacula movies might not be great cinema, but they sure are entertaining and a whole lot of fun.

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With that, I completed the Challenge requirements, and promptly took a break from horror films that lasted about a week. Whew!

Views so far:
23 FTVs
9 repeat views
32 total

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2 Responses to “OHC Day 8, part the second – Easy Cheesy”

  1. I had not heard of the phenomenon known as Spielberg face. Interesting stuff at that link!

    • Indeed! Lee’s video essay is very informative and well-researched. One of my favorite film-related essays out there.

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