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Re: General Movie Discussion Part II
More "Halloween Appropriate" movies I've watched in the last few weeks!
House of Wax (1953)
It is hard to think of this or any film from the 1950s as a remake, but it is. The original film, Mystery of the Wax Museum, I have never seen, so I can't compare the two. What I can say is that I highly enjoy this film. Why? Because Vincent Price is at his fine creepy self here and he carries the movie very well. There are some problems, like the obvious obsession with the 3D gimmick and some bad jokes, but the creepiness of the set up and Price as the villain makes for a highly entertaining film. The climactic scene within the museum itself is appropriately unsettling and truly captures the full extent of the premise of the film. The idea of being killed just to have your corpse trapped within a wax sculpture is very creative and lends itself to some creept images. The statues themselves are creepy without knowning what lies underneath. This is one of those films about the obsessed artist or scientist that views himself as a visionary and take shis work too far that still carries into horror films today (The Human Centipede for example).
The original Japanese version of the first Godzilla film is a true disaster flick. Depite The King of the Monster's cheesy & child friendly reputation, the first entry in the series was nothing short of horrifying. It fully captures the scope of a disaster of any kind, nature or man made, and the title monster itself happens to be a combination of both. It is meant to be an allegory for the use of nuclear weapons, something Japan knows about all too well, but you could watch this film as being about a tornado, a hurricane, an earthquake, or any other natural disaster and the tone would be perfect. Unlike future Godzilla films, the large body count left in the wake of the city destruction is not only presented to the forefront, but dealt with the sense of despair that it warrants. It takes a cool monster and sets it in a realistic world with debates and reactions that would be expected with any other immense destructive force. The original Godzilla is a classic from its time and deserves to be praised as such.
The Creature of the Black Lagoon (1954)
Ah the Creature from the Black Lagoon. This one is a gem from the past. The story and set up is nothing special. A bunch of scientists go nosing around somewhere and come across a monster that kills them off one by one. We've seen that movie dozens of times, right? But where the movie shines is with the monster itself. The Creature or Gill-Man is very cool. He has a unique look that sets him apart from all the monsters that came before and him being able to attack underwater makes me an obvious stand out among the other classic Universal monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, & The Wolf Man. The characters themseves aren't bad either and provide some fun, if a bit indicative of the time period (reall macho heroes, screaming damsels, etc.). My one major knock on the film is the music score. It isn't that it is bad, but EVERY TIME, the Gill Man comes up on screen, they amp up the music really loudly. It gets a little annoying. As is those, this is one fun monster flick that, IMO, warrants a remake. When are we getting that one?
The Horror of Dracula (1958)
The monster movies from Hammer studios are a pure delight. I love them. They took the old classics and updated them with color, increased production values, and more violence. They are great, and The Horror of Dracula is my favorite. Not only does it possess the great atmosphere and production tha the other great Hammer films have, but it really pushes the Van Helsing/Dracula rivalry to the forefront and makes it one of the ultimate battles of good & evil. It helps to have a great performer like Peter Cushing as the hero and someone with the presence of Christopher Lee making a perfect villain (despite not having much dialogue). This is easily one of the key Dracula films for its more intense nature and all around great presentation. Its Hammer time!
Let me just get this out of the way right off the bat. This ending was probably the first truly memorable movie twist and served as the foundation of great twists to follow. I love how this movie starts off as a completely different film to what we are expecting with us following Janet Lee's character and her theft of several thousand dollars, and then about a half an hour in, it changes into a scary psychological thriller with a creepy setting. The movie is very memroable and very intense, especially once it reaches The Bates Motel. The shower scene alone is worth checking this film out for, but it is a classic film outside of that and one that is great to watch.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
This is the most infleuntial zombie flick of all time, and is one of the greatest examples of seat of your pants independent film making. What else is there to say? It took almost nothing and made it into a huge something. Every zombie film that has come out since this film owes credit to this classic for establishing most of the cliches and storypoints we associate with zombie films in general. There have certainly been better made zombie films, but few with the overall impact of this one. I love that the movie is in black & white too as that adds to the atmosphere and gives it the classic feel like the classic Universal monster movies.