Halloween Day!

All right, it’s Halloween day! I’ve taken the day off work and I’m going to try to cram in a bunch of horror films. In between, I’m going to go see my son’s Halloween parade at his school. Let’s get things started with one of the most recent faux-documentary demonic possession movies, The Devil Inside.

The Devil Inside

“I’ll tell you this, after all the years that I’ve been in the church, I’ve seen the devil way more than I’ve seen God. It’s just not the way it’s supposed to be.”

The Devil Inside (2012) Directed by William Brent Bell. Starring Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth, Suzan Crowley, Ionut Grama.

We’re not off to a great start with this one. The Devil Inside is a faux-documentary about a young woman, Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) whose mother, Maria (Suzan Crowley), has been held for years in an Italian mental hospital after having killed three people during the course of an exorcism that she was the subject of. Isabella travels to Italy to meet and reconnect with her mother. During the course of her visit she also talks with some students of an exorcism class. Two of them, Ben (Simon Quarterman) and David (Evan Helmuth), have been performing exorcisms on people the Vatican left behind, having decided they are not possessed. The two priests take an interest in Isabella’s situation and begin their own investigation to determine if Maria is possessed.

The premise has potential but the film falls apart near the middle. The exorcism scenes are average. The imagery is well done but the editing is choppy. There’s nothing here as good as what you’ll see in The Last Exorcism. I kept waiting to be scared but then… nothing. I was too aware of the “documentary” style to get involved. The director of the film-within-the-film, Mike (Ionut Grama) injected himself into the film too often. Immediately after the exorcism attempt on Maria, he comments to Isabella, who is in a high emotional state, “We got some great stuff.” Shouldn’t he be focusing on her state of mind instead? Also, there are far too many instances of people glancing at the camera with that “What are you doing here?” look we see too often in faux-documentaries.

Other quick notes: The demon jumps from one person to another so often that it becomes laughable. There is a scene during a child’s baptism that’s kind of hilarious in its ridiculousness. The ending also has a good setup but fizzles and then abruptly leaves you with the URL of a website to visit. Thankfully, the film is short so you don’t have to suffer very long. I say skip The Devil Inside and watch The Last Exorcism instead. 

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (19??) Directed by Robert Weine. Starring Werner Krauss, Friedrich Feher, Conrad Veidt, Lil Dagover, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski.

Next we have a silent classic of German Expressionism. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari has been one of those films I’ve been meaning to get around to but kept putting it off. Silent films tend to intimidate me. My concern is of any emotional detachment I might experience while viewing. Will I become absorbed in the story or will the old style keep me distanced?

Francis (Friedrich Feher) tells a story of a mysterious man, Dr. Caligari (Werver Krauss), who comes to a festival at the village of Holstenwall to display a somnambulist, Cesare (Conrad Veidt). When Francis and his friend Alan (Hans Heinrich von Twardowski) go to see the Doctor and his display, Alan asks Cesare how long he has to live. Cesare predicts that the young man will die just before dawn. Unfortunately for the frightened Alan, this turns out to be true when he is attacked and stabbed to death in the middle of the night. Francis determines to discover the identity of the murderer and ends up putting the life of his fiance, Jane (Lil Dagover), in danger.

I can’t say that I fully engaged with the film throughout, but there were periods that kept me fascinated. It’s probably the obvious thing to say about this film, but the set design is amazing, like little I’ve seen before. All tilts and angles with almost no perfect squares to be seen. The actors utilize exaggerated, dramatic movements that are almost startling. The story itself may have been original for its time, but it seems fairly standard now, including the “twist” ending. But it’s a beautiful film well worth studying if only for its incredible set design alone.

Dracula (1958)

The Horror of Dracula (1958) Directed by Terence Fisher. Starring Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, Christopher Lee, Melissa Stribling, Carol Marsh, John Van Eyssen, Valerie Gaunt, Olga Dickie.

Catching up on my Hammer films! Actually, I might have seen this one some time ago but I can’t be sure. I know I’ve seen one of the other Hammer Dracula films. If it was this one, I’m kinda lame for not recalling it because it’s excellent.

It’s a shame Christopher Lee’s screen-time is so minimal because he’s a fantastic Dracula, probably better than Lugosi. He commands the screen in every scene he’s in. Peter Cushing is an equally wonderful Van Helsing. Beautiful Hammer girls, lovely gothic sets, and a great death scene for Dracula. Check it out! Now on to…

Slither

Slither (2006) Written and directed by James Gunn. Starring Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker, Tania Saulnier, Gregg Henry, Brenda James.

Here’s yet another film I avoided because of my reluctance to engage in horror comedy. I found the DVD at a garage sale some time ago, thinking ‘oh, what the heck, I’ll give it a shot for fifty cents’. I’m glad I did because this was damned sweet.

A meteor falls to Earth and lets loose an organism that inhabits poor Grant Grant (Michael Rooker), transforming him into a monster who begins infecting the townsfolk of Wheelsy, South Carolina. Town sheriff Ball Pardy (Nathan Fillion) must protect those that remain, including Grant’s wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks). Heaps of goo and gore ensue.

Loved it! James Gunn takes the best of his experience at Troma (he co-wrote Tromeo and Juliet with Lloyd Kaufman) and creates a sick and hilarious b-movie. The slithering creatures may be taken right out of a hundred other b-movies but there are things in here I’ve yet to see in another film. Walls of flesh, gallons of blood, and other wonderfully disturbing things.

I may have been giving horror comedy too little credit. Perhaps I should give Troma another try…?

Hope everyone’s having a great Halloween! I’m about to take the Little Guy trick or treating. More to come!

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One Response to “Halloween Day!”

  1. Michael K. Vaughan Says:

    First off…NO, Don’t give Troma another try!
    And we watched Horror of Dracula years ago for movie night. We also watched Curse of Frankenstein. Good ole’ Hammer!

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