Halloween Horror Movie Marathon: ‘Let Me In’ and ‘Black Sabbath’

Let Me In poster

A remake of one of my new favorite movies? It seems like a doomed proposition from the start but I’d heard lots of good things so I made sure to catch it in the theater. It turns out that Matt Reeves’s adaptation of the fantastic Swedish vampire movie Let the Right One In stands up quite well on its own.

Let Me In is, once again, the love story of two teenagers, one of whom happens to be a vampire. Here the boy’s name is Owen and Kodi Smit-McPhee’s performance brings his isolation and sadness even closer to the forefront. He avoids the surreal, dreamlike tone Kåre Hedebrant adopted for something more straightforward but no less effective. Chloë Moretz is also fantastic as Abby, the vampire. She comes across as more mature and more frightening than Lina Leandersson.

The American version is more intense overall and not just in the performances of the children. The attack scenes are less distant and haunting and instead they evoke a feeling of terror. Unfortunately they’re marred by some truly awful cgi. It’s also worth noting that the final setpiece that was so incredible in the original is handled in a completely different and, in my opinion, far less effective way.

Let Me In‘s exploration of the bullying theme in the story also resonated more with me than in the Swedish film. Having been bullied myself in my childhood, I often find a deep, emotional connection to such stories. Again, performances have a hand in the differences. Dylan Minnette plays the main bully angrier and more resentful than the actor in Let the Right One In. You get the impression that he isn’t just picking on the weakest prey as a demonstration of power but he completely detests Owen, perhaps resenting him for being weak.

To discuss the film much more would give away many of its secrets which would best be left to discover. I’ll stick by the original as the superior film, based on style alone but Let Me In is equal to the original in many ways. I only wish it were faring better at the box office. I strongly urge you to see them both; they’re a couple of the greatest horror films of this century so far.

Black Sabbath

I realized I hadn’t been watching enough older, classic horror films so I put this one at the top of the Netflix queue. Well rewarded, I was! Black Sabbath is fun and scary little film from Italian horror master Mario Bava.

Boris Karloff handles the introduction for the three tales in this film. It’s a crazy set he’s standing on with some rocks lit purple and a blue background with moving shadows. Also kind of jarring is the dialogue; he’s speaking English, his voice is dubbed in Italian, and there are English subtitles. This continues throughout the film with many of the actors. It’s weird and I don’t know why it’s like this, but I’m sure there’s some logical explanation. Maybe the commentary will reveal what lurks beneath this bit of oddness. Here’s a quick rundown of the stories.

“The Telephone” stars the lovely Michèle Mercier who is tormented by a caller on the phone who threatens to kill her. It’s the shortest and most mediocre story of the bunch but watching young Ms. Mercier is fun.

“The Wurdalak” is a vampire story set in 19th century Russia. Vladimir Durfe (Mark Damon) encounters a family in a cottage on the countryside and soon finds himself involved in their battle with a local vampire. In spite of the strange dubbing, Boris Karloff is fantastic as the father, Gorcha. His family must decide, has he defeated the wurdalak or has be become one?

“Drop of Water” is the scariest tale of the bunch. A nurse (Jacqueline Pierreux) visits a home to prepare the body of a  deceased psychic. She steals a valuable ring from the corpse and, in the tradition of countless other horror tales, is haunted by the its previous owner. Fantastic lighting and the eeriest corpse I’ve ever seen in a horror film help to make this a frightening little story. The face on this lady would be comical except for how damned freaky it is!

It’s a colorful film with little gore, hot ladies from the Sixties, vampires, and a walking, leering corpse. There are no deep, emotionally powerful themes to explore. It’s a great, simple horror flick any genre fan shouldn’t miss.


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