The Professor’s Fall Journal: Part 1: Before Fall Fall Fun

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Fall is coming.  This is the word on all of our lips since…well, at least since July. That’s when I started working on my Fall 2018 Horror Binge Plan. I checked the formula, I made sure I covered my bases with films I’ve either never seen or haven’t seen in longer time than some of you may have been alive. Will I make it through this list? You can check how I’m  doing on my 2018 Fall Horror Binge log.  Why two lists?  I will end up catching things not in the plan, and we never finishing all the films in my plan.  Who will be aid me in this plan?

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Well, it can’t be The Drive-In Mob, because October is when I meet with the South Shore Movie Guild every Thursday.  There’s also my old friends the Snork Maiden and Dr. Kimenstein, who are talking about schemes to Skype or FaceTime movies together. I also plan on haunting with my siblings at the Trail of Terror after a viewing of Halloween (2018) this year if all works out as planned.  Outside of films, MicroMort and I already built a scarecrow…my attempt at whimsy became folk horror fast. We hope to add more to the mix with a witch in one of our trees and a reproduction of Jack Pumpkinhead from the Wizard of Oz. I’m also always hoping to make a stack of lit pumpkins like I saw in the Joy of Cooking once, but we’ll see how much of this happens.

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Despite telling myself I wouldn’t start Fall Horror Binge before the start of Fall, the Fall has defeated my best efforts at self control once more. South Shore Movie Guild ended up at my house the last week of August and I couldn’t resist getting in some Summery chainsaw horror, so we had a double feature of Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 and Pieces.

Leatherface’s trailer embedded itself in my consciousness, but I never got to see it as a kid, and it proved surprisingly elusive (considering I never buy a movie I’ve never seen and rarely rent when I can usually borrow it from library sources) but I finally got a library to send me a DVD.  The movie is the closest to a straightforward horror sequel that’s been made for Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  The film features an unappealing quarreling lead couple but a great performance from the real hero of the film, Ken Foree.  Foree play’s a black Texan survivalist, and that phrase is more interesting than a thousand annoying couples on a road trip.  The film has a few tense moments, some interesting ones (the little girl member of the Sawyer family surprised some of us, it was nice having a matriarch for once, I enjoyed the traps and there’s real novelty in seeing Viggo Moretensen in this) but there’s a few too many deaths cheated by the end.  Brother  Grimm and I imagined how good the film would’ve been if it had focused on Foree and some of his buddies. Leaving their survival training camp, they run into he girl who escapes the Sawyers at the opening or realize she’s being held by the weirdos in the property next door and go in and quickly find the tables turned and in over their head.  You can make that one and just give me a story credit!

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Pieces…the Giallo where Lamont Cranston is the murderer!

Pieces just happened to be on Kanopy, the library database*, and I couldn’t pass up showing the guys the only chainsaw knock-off set in Boston.  Of course, it was really shot in Spain with only the tiniest amount of second unit scenes shot here, but the strangeness of seeing a late period Giallo shot in Spain by the director of infamous MST3K favorite Pod People (complete with the IT STINKS! guy in a major role) plus some real “WHAT THE HELL” moments mostly made the film worth seeing.

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via GIPHY

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I managed to hold-off horror movies again after this Night of Massacres until September 18th, which is actually damned close to my goal. What broke my will? Shockwaves, the 1977 underwater Nazi zombies movie I talked about way back when I reviewed Dead Snow. For years I thought this was made in Europe (probably because it has Peter Cushing…and maybe because I had it confused with Island of the Fishmen/Screamers).  Instead it was made in Florida by first time filmmakers on an extremely low-budget, and viewed through that context, it is an amazing combination of a scary sea tale and  a Pulp sci-fi horror about experimental, undead Nazi soldiers. The Toten Corps come straight out of an E.C. horror comic or maybe a more disreputable 60s men’s magazine and the eight or so guys they got to play them do some amazing physical attacking and really sell the menace.  The spare score and amazing locations and intelligent, spare use of underwater photography make this one hell of a mood piece, even if you are going to have to suffer through the dumbest cast of bad decision making victims I’ve seen in a while.  I would say though, cut them some slack, they are basically set up to never have a chance.  The film’s ending really reminded me of the ends of Messiah of Evil and Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, and it shares those films low-budget 70s zombies that aren’t at all what we think of as zombies and more aligned with older, spookier horrors.  This was a big pleasant surprise for me, and I recommend those patient with 70s low-budget quirks and tending towards the dumb and irritating characters in horror check it out.

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September’s South Shore Movie Guild Meeting included A Quiet Place.  I’m sure lot’s of others have already picked this one apart. It was more of a sci-fi horror film than I expected and more interesting than really scary, but it’s enjoyable if you don’t go in expecting the scariest film you’ve seen in years.

With that we reach Fall itself….and the fun really began.

*Kanopy is really good and you should check to see if you library subscribes.  Like yesterday.

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