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Glynn Avenue Massacre

Horror Movie Reviews

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May 2016

Midnight Madness Double Feature: Fright Night/Fright Night II

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Ladies and germs….welcome to the new throat-ripping category here at GAM! In this series of posts, I’ll be checking out two films of the same style, sub-genre or a film and its one sequel to see if they play well as a double feature. Are you with it? I hope so. Let’s rip this thing open and dive in with two films that beckon to be watched and adored.

Fright Night (1985) and Fright Night II (1988)

When it comes to vampires, I’m partial to the Hammer films. Christopher Lee comes to my mind when the name Count Dracula is mentioned. No disrespect to Bela Lugosi. He is the original Dracula and his role as he Count is brilliant. There is just something about Lee. Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Horror of Dracula…the list goes on and on. Even Jess Franco’s Count Dracula from 1970 when Lee sported a monstrously badass handlebar mustache; he always brought a certain swagger to the character that grabs your attention and beats you over the head with it.

Nowadays, I’m sorry to say, that’s all gone. I’m honestly disappointed with 90% of the vamp flicks that meander onto my living room television screen. There is, however, that 10%. The stylistic A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, the clever Only Lovers Left Alive, the hilarious What We Do In the Shadows, and the brilliant Let the Right One In; these films almost make up for the dozens of bland, not so entertaining films that are being made monthly.

The 1980s. Now that was a decade for vampires. The Lost Boys, Near Dark, Vamp, Lifeforce, My Best Friend is a Vampire, Once Bitten…all astounding in their own way. Then there were two films. These two, in my opinion, defined vampires in the 80s. Their legacy would carry over into the 90s. And to this very second, are two of my favorite of the vampire films.

Fright Night tells the story of Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale), a regular teenaged boy with a love for vampire movies; more specifically, a horror show hosted by Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowell), the vampire slayer. A new neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) moves in next door and Charley quickly becomes convinced that he now lives across the lawn from a blood sucker. His girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) and friend Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) don’t believe him, naturally, so Charley enlists the services of Peter Vincent to take the vampire down. As a whole, the film delivers in every aspect. It’s just about as flawless as an 80s fright flick can be. In his directorial debut, Tom Holland (a master of the genre) delivers a center field bomb Sammy Sosa style that began his ascent into horror icon status. It’s funny, cleverly written, superbly acted and frightening with some amazing set pieces that put a grin on the face of the harshest critics.

I immediately wanted more. So I popped in my VHS copy of Fright Night II. As I said earlier (POTW) this was my first time watching this film. Back in the golden day, I remember seeing it on the shelf at Video Warehouse (represent) but never rented it. The film picks up on the same story, years later. Charley (Ragsdale returns) is now in college and has attended therapy for his unbelievable adventure into the depths of what goes bump in the night. Peter Vincent (McDowell) is still hosting his horror show, but his ego has flown over the moon, as he can now say he is a legit vampire hunter. Brewster is convinced now that the neighbor was just a good old fashioned murderer instead of a creature of the night. That is, until a mysterious new tenant occupies a room in his building; the alluring Regine and her motley crew of ragamuffins.

Charley is infatuated with Regine. Vivid nightmares, sensual daydreams, complete loss of basic motor skills when she speaks to him; the whole nine. One night, she enters his apartment and lays a bite into his neck. Now Charley is turning. The only one who can help is his trusty partner in crime, Vincent and love interest Alex (Traci Lind). The two films tie together in a nice little package when we learn that Regine is the sister of Jerry Dandridge, and she is hellbent on revenge for the death of her sibling.

As far as “which is a better film”, hands down, the award goes to the original. Fright Night is one of those must see classics that has been on everyone’s list and will continue throughout the end of time. Fright Night II is more of a surprise, though. Usually, you’ll hear nothing but grief about sequels to classics. For what it’s worth, Fright Night II delivers on entertainment, gruesomeness and creature effects as much as its predecessor. Fright Night is a better movie, but II is right on its heels. Tommy Lee Wallace (director of Fright Night II) is pretty well known in the genre, as well. Not saying he deserves Holland praise, but Halloween III is fantastic and It…I mean, everyone knows Pennywise.

My final verdict is this: Yes, this works great as a double feature everyday of the week. I could watch this two films again right now. If I had to choose one or the other, I’m picking Fright Night. However, if I were to put together a best of 1-off sequels, Fright Night II would be high on that list.

That’s all I have for right now, creeps. Go find copies of these films and make it happen. Let me know what you think. Grab some buds and make it a party. Smash that like button, follow me for more horror fun and we’ll see you next time. Keep it creepy and stay spooked.

I Got 5 On It! Top 5 Horror Films of 1980

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Welcome back, fright fiends! We’re back with a new installment of I GOT 5 ON IT! This week, we’re diving into the start of, what I believe, the best decade period for horror films. That’s right, folks….the 1980s. Horror cinema really took shape and became the undying entity that it is today during the 80s. A decade that cemented legends, pushed the boundaries for directors and writers and just downright rocked socks. So, here at Glynn Avenue Massacre, I thought we’d honor the beginning by counting down my top 5 favorite films to be released in the golden year of 1980. Here, we, go.

Honorable Mentions

When I decided to tackle this list, I thought to myself, “Self, this list is already made for you”. Huge, big named, classic films that people adore to this day came out in 1980. Then, I started the research. Gathering information about all the fright films that were released this year and I ran into a little bit of a pickle. Narrowing it down to 5 was a lot more difficult than I originally thought. So what’s the best way to cheat? To have a top 5 list and also mention a few extras? Honorable Mentions. Now, I enjoyed all of these films and I really hated leaving them off of the list, but when it comes to the TOP 5, I’m thinking about the films that I could watch over and over again, whether for a good time or to spot something new…or to quote from beginning to end. Let’s get started.

Cannibal Holocaust

The gritty, no nonsense mockumentary that is considered the Alpha of the extreme sub genre. It was hard not to put this film at #1, in all honesty. When it comes down to it, though, this film is definitely not one I could watch on a regular basis. To this day, scenes from this film straight up give me the chills. Deodato made one of the most powerful, gut-churning films of all-time and deserved recognition on this list for doing so.

Maniac

When talking about exploitation films, this has to be mentioned in the conversation. All in all, this is just a nasty film. William Lustig took a micro-budget and made this goop of disgust that will be talked about for years to come. It makes me want to take a shower after every viewing. Because of how this film sticks with you after watching, it was, again, tough to leave this off of the list, but once every few years is about all I need to watch it.

Motel Hell

I can’t help it. I really love this movie. Kevin Conner’s masterpiece (I use that term lightly) has moments of real dread…but it all comes out as pretty hilarious. An awesome film to drink to, but not an awesome film. Regardless…don’t f*ck with Farmer Vincent.

THE LIST

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5. The Children

This little nugget of gold takes me back to childhood. It’s a fun little B movie that is as great as it is cheeseball. A bus full of children drives though a cloud of nuclear waste caused by a leak at a nearby plant. The cloud turns the kids into little mutant zombies that proceed to hug the life out of adults. In the grand scheme of things, this film is far from brilliant. It’s just a fun, 80s, cake icing film.

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4. Friday the 13th

The one that started the legend; Sean S. Cunningham took a few kids into the woods to make a “killer at a camp” movie and came out with the beginning of an icon. Now, in my opinion, this is far from the best in the franchise (I’ll get to that later) but it has held up pretty well and worth the #4 spot by name alone. Pamela for life.

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3. City of the Living Dead

Gore, gore, gore. The films of Fulci make my face smile. The Beyond is a masterpiece. The House by the Cemetery is great. City of the Living Dead (The Gates of Hell) fits right in between. Not only is it one of my favorite zombie films (my least favorite sub-genre), but the last 15 minutes is so dreadful, it literally made me sick. That’s the kind of film that I can sink my teeth into. If you want a gorefest and don’t mind “nightmare logic”, then any of Fulci’s splatter films will do the trick.

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2. The Fog

As I get older, I’m finally settling into the fact that Halloween is not the only masterpiece of John Carpenter’s. Not saying I only liked Halloween for a majority of my life, but I’m beginning to really take notice of Carpenter as a director. The film that really made me take note of his genius was The Fog. It’s a ghost story that seems like much more than that. The remake…stay far away from the remake. Revisit this one if you haven’t in awhile.

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1. The Shinning

Carpenter is a genius. Kubrick is a god. All of his work deserves to be watched multiple times. The Shining deserves to be studied. This film is the definition of cinema. The small details, the theories, the obsession…films like this are what we as film lovers strive to find. I have my own ideas about this film (maybe I’ll write about it someday) but I could talk to twenty other film fans and none of us have the same thoughts. It’s an enigma. It’s a question mark. It’s a masterpiece.

 

Well, that’s all the time we have on the year 1980. Let us know what you think. Agree with the list? What are your favorite of the year? Are you a Death Ship fan and feel outraged that I left it off? Tell me about it. Until next time, keep it creepy and stay spooked.

Pick of the Week (4/25 – 5/8)

How’s it hanging, fright fiends? We’re back with a new Pick of the Week! I missed last week because I didn’t do any horror watching. This week, I’m posting two recommendations to make up for it. Strap yourself in. Let’s pop, lock and drop it.

This week:

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Let’s start with Shutter, the absolutely horrifying film from Thailand. Directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun and released in Thailand in September of 2004 (released in the U.S. at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival), this film scared the pants off of me in broad daylight with the lights on. Unfortunately, it spawned a dreadful American remake (damn you, Joshua Jackson) that put a bad taste in my mouth about seeing the original. I can admit when I’m wrong…and I was VERY wrong to sleep on this film for as long as I did. The jump scares are chilling, the make-up effects are gnarly (dead Natre are what nightmares are made of) and, even with a simple plot, the story holds you in your place. Granted, the remake is a retelling of the same story, Banjong does a better job of grasping the audience. Subtitles may put some people off, but it’s completely worth a viewing if you want some spine-cringing terror.

My Rating: 7/10

Next up is a film that I previously never heard of until Tuesday of last week. Right now, Shudder is in the swing of Movie Mayhem, where the great folks are posting a new film for every weekday of May. Seriously, subscribe to Shudder. Tuesday’s choice was The Baby, a 1973 horror-thriller directed by Ted Post. Post has directed a little bit of everything in the film and television world, including a few episodes of The Twilight Zone and the film Night Slaves that looks rather interesting.

The Baby tells the story of a mother, her two daughters and a grown man who has never developed into a man and still acts and is treated like an infant…named simply Baby. Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer) plays a social worker who becomes engulfed in the case of Baby and the Wadsworth family. This dirty little secret from the 70s is the type of film that has my name written all over it. It’s disturbing and tough to watch at times (some torture and incestuous situations), yet the film is all you think about for the next few days. And the ending is astonishing. Well acted, well directed, well written. Double thumbs up!

My Rating: 8.5/10

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