#321- The Black Cat

Quick recap: Young lovers, Brad and Janet Peter and Joan, get caught in a horrible rainstorm and take refuge in Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s mansion Hjalmar Poelzig’s ultra modern fortress.

pretty sure this guy would break his neck trying to do the Time Warp

Fun (?) fact: Despite Edgar Allen Poe being credited as a writer for The Black Cat, this movie has nothing to do with his story.

The absolute opposite of terrifying for me

My thoughts: So, here we are, once again, at the end of Horrorfest. I’d say it’s been a wild ride but that’s not true at all. Having given up on scaring myself, I chose The Black Cat because one of my favorite podcasts, You Must Remember This, is devoting several episodes to Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Seeing as how both of them star in this film, it seemed the perfect choice to close out October.

I’m going to go ahead and spoil an 80 year old movie by telling you it wasn’t the cat behind all the evil. I mean, that’s what they want you to think, but it’s totally the creepy guy everyone suspected all along. Then again, it’s hard to tell what is going on most of the time. Poelzig is some sort of sorcerer but also an ultra modern architect. He claims Dr. Vitus Werdegast’s wife died naturally but then he suspended her body and married her daughter so………….. yeah. Totally natural. Poelzig also has his sights set on Joan, the newlywed who wanders into his house. There’s a ceremony at the end when I think he tries to marry a whole harem of women, but then there’s also this scene which reminded me of Rocky and Dr. Frank-N-Furter:

Is this movie creepy? Totally. The accents alone paint an ominous picture but then you add in the score and weird house and you end up with a film that sticks with you longer than it should. On the other hand, the cat only appeared for less than 2 minutes and for a movie that bills itself as The Black Cat, I expected more.

Final review: This would’ve been a complete classic had it featured more cat. Because of this, I’m dropping it to a 2/5

Up next: Rear Window

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#320- Don’t Look Now

Quick recap: After losing his daughter in a drowning accident, John starts to have visions which may or may not be trying to warn him of danger.

A big fat nope that scene was

Fun (?) fact: Julie Christie ( who plays Laura) and Donald Sutherland ( who plays John), had never met before shooting the film and the first scene they did was the infamous sex scene.

Look it up yourself if you are dying to see this man naked

My thoughts: Although my primary goal in Horrorfest is to work my way through the list, my secondary goal is find something terrifying. Save for some recent horror films ( shout out to It for still giving me nightmares in my 3os), I haven’t found much in this book that really got to me. Don’t Look Now was supposed to be that film. Real life situations scare me (versus monster movies) but those involving dead children go straight to the top of my list.

I want to go ahead and mention that there is a twist of sorts at some point in the movie and though the film is over 40 years old, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who might want to watch it. I knew what was going to happen thanks to gifs I’ve seen and I think that took away from the horror a bit. There were still a few creepy scenes though, that got me going. I posted one above that occurred within the first 10 minutes of the film and I thought was a great way to portray the death. There are several parts of the film that are like this: utterly creepy without overdoing it. Many refer to Don’t Look Now as ‘gothic horror’ and I tend to agree with the label. There aren’t any things that jump out or do anything horrifying. It’s more of a sense of dread throughout the movie and a reticence to find what might happen next.

Overall, though, this movie just didn’t do much for me. Maybe it was the slow moving plot, the droning on and on about the same things, the weird sex scene, or maybe it was just that I couldn’t keep this gif of Donald Sutherland out of my head:

Whatever it is that did it, I’m disappointed. After doing some research I have a better appreciation for what the film did and I especially love all the symbolism. The fact that so many well known people love this movie also speaks to its greatness, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Final review: 2/5

Up next: one more movie left in Horrorfest!

#319- Young Frankenstein

Quick recap: Young Frankenstein is nothing like his grandfather, until he becomes him completely.

Fun (?) fact: Steven Tyler, of the band Aerosmith, wrote ‘Walk this Way’ after watching a screening of the film.

My thoughts: After my experience with Blazing Saddles, I was a little weary going into Young Frankenstein. I think Mel Brooks does great work and I can see how his gags are considered funny, but it’s just not the humor for me. However, I already have a director beef with Robert Altman so I think I need to tone down my feuds a little. Bill Paxton can remain, however. He may have passed on but I still wish I could’ve punched him in his face just one time.

Young Frankenstein was a family viewing event because my husband assured me it was totally appropriate for children. Like, squeaky clean entertainment. Considering he said the same thing about the Hamilton soundtrack, I should’ve known better. Thankfully, almost every innuendo went over our kid’s head, except for the last scene with Inga in bed and she starts singing. That was a fun one to tiptoe around. Anyway, I think my son mostly enjoyed the film, although later he admitted that he didn’t find it as funny as we had built it up to be. I agreed with him because gags just aren’t really my thing, although this is just personal preference. Honestly, my lack of love for this film comes down to the Princess Bride effect, something I just this second made up. The Effect is that had I watched this movie when I was younger, I would’ve embraced it completely but since I’m seeing it as an adult, I am only meh.

All that being said, I loved the concept for the movie and it makes me long for more like it. The humor was clever, although overwhelming at times with jokes being lobbed left and right. And of course Gene Wilder was wonderful. If anything, this list has taught me to appreciate his work even more than I did before.

Final review: 4/5

Up next: Hopefully more Horrorfest!

#318- Night of the Living Dead

Quick recap: Surviving hysterical women and zombies, a black man still can’t manage to get a break. 

Ben knows he’s on his own keeping these idiots alive

Fun (?) fact: Night of the Living Dead is ripe with amazing facts, from the chocolate sauce used for blood to Reader’s Digest warning watching the movie would inspire cannibalism. My favorite, however, is that the word zombie is never used in the film. Not even once.

My thoughts: I typically only fear zombies on a case by case basis. Fast moving ones? nope. Super decomposed ones that groan and like to fight plants? not really. Lumbering ones who look like they have just died and their only purpose is to devour you? Totes. And that’s what Night of the Living Dead had, which is why it worked so well for me. I saw the movie years ago but I don’t remember it having the same impact as it did when I rewatched it this time. Maybe it’s these trying times we are currently in or maybe it was the fact that my cat chose to bite my finger during a particular jumpy scene, but Night of the Living Dead got to me.

So, a few stray observations:

  • I know that almost every horror movie draws inspiration from this film but the opening scene is just like Rocky Horror Picture Show, except that Johnny will never be as annoying as Brad.

Dammit, Johnny

  • Ben is a much nicer person than I would’ve been to Barbra. She was useless the entire time, which I get because of the whole ‘brother eaten by zombies’ thing, but still it made it hard to really root for anyone but him.
  • Zombie children are adorable but they use their cuteness to be absolute savage. Judy never stood a chance

I love how low budget this film is, yet it makes its point so clearly. The scene where the zombies chowed down was gross but it was the scenes where they just stood there hanging out that really bugged me. For something that unnerving, you don’t need millions of dollars to tell a story. The true punch, though, came at the end when Ben is gunned down by police. Those final still shots of the police taking his body using hooks is beyond chilling. If I had watched only that scene, I wouldn’t have been able to tell whether I was watching a horror film or a documentary on police brutality. Director George Romero might not have meant to make such a powerful statement about race, but he did and that’s why this is film is such a true classic.

Final review: 5/5. Essential viewing

Up next: More Horrorfest!