My Thanksgiving Horror Picks: Ravenous and The Witch

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Poor Thanksgiving! Not only is it jammed awkwardly between two larger, more ornate holidays, both of which are chewing away at it from top and bottom, but it doesn’t have much in the way of a horror movie tradition. Halloween, of course, is wall-to-wall with horror goodies—it’s the only movie genre that has its own holiday!—and the winter seasonal horror film has developed into its own subgenre, offering everything from family friendly thrills (Gremlins) to gruesome slasher flicks (all those Silent Night, Deadly Night films; please note this is not a recommendation).

Thanksgiving is the official holiday for The Twilight Zone and Mystery Science Theater 3000, so it has that going for it. In fact, I’d prefer to drop the whole “Thanksgiving” business and think of the fourth Thursday in November as MST3K Day. Discard the turkey and family and football and replace it with pizza and the Satellite of Love. I’m not excited about turkey, too much family gets stressful, and I hate football.

But I do have two horror film picks that are good matches to the season. Once the kids are in bed, the adults can release pent up tensions and guilt about the holiday with The Witch (2015) and Ravenous (1999).

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The Pit and the Pendulum: You Need Vincent Price Each October

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Happy October! I’m resurrecting horror movie articles from my old blog and revamping them. This article is reworked from a 2013 post.

Although Peter Cushing is my favorite horror movie actor—because Peter Cushing is my favorite actor, period—I bow to the popular wisdom that no performer better fits Halloween season thaN Mr. Vincent Price, whose elegance of evil combined with the reassurance of an old friend is the right flavor of fun n’ fright that marks the best of October.

When I first wrote about The Pit and the Pendulum, it was for the release of the first Vincent Price Blu-ray set. We’ve since had a second one, making it easier to indulge in the glories of Price during Halloween.

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Hammer Country Concludes

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John Carson in The Plague of the Zombies

The end of another October crammed with articles about horror films from Britain’s great beast of the genre, Hammer Film Productions. Like last year, I did a Hammer horror-post-a week for Black Gate. This month’s selections:

As I did last October, I mixed up the periods and the qualities of the movies and saved the best for the last slot: The Plague of the Zombies is underseen for such a great film in this horror subgenre. Thankfully, there’s a North American Blu-ray coming from Shout! Factory in January. Two of the films are from Terence Fisher, Hammer’s great horror practitioner, but The Phantom of the Opera and The Man Who Could Cheat Death are among his weakest. Apologies for that, Terence, but I did two of your best last year. Hands of the Ripper is, hands down, (sorry) my favorite of Hammer’s 1970s output. I think I’ve watched it every October since I bought the Blu-ray.

I’m not sure yet if I’ll do Hammer October again next year. I still haven’t run out of titles, but I may do the Hammer Frankenstein movies as an article series once I finish my John Carpenter retrospective, and that will more than fill up the Hammer bill for the year.

The Black Cat ‘34—This Is the Black Cat Movie You’re Looking For

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I teased you with the movie version of The Black Cat that you weren’t looking for, the 1941 semi-comedy and barely entertaining one from Universal. But no teasing this time. Universal’s 1934 movie The Black Cat is a stone-cold, brutal classic of early horror cinema—and it features the first and best pairing of legends Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.

The first Universal horror cycle had already used Poe for material with a loose adaptation of Murders in the Rue Morgue in 1932, which starred Bela Lugosi as a mad doctor with a killer ape. Director Robert Florey, who was originally slated to helm Frankenstein (along with Lugosi as the monster), give Murders in the Rue Morgue plenty of expressionist visual flair, but it’s only a tiny scratch compared what Austrian director Edgar G. Ulmer pulls off in The Black Cat.  

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Night of the Lepus, The Killer Bunny Flick

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Happy October! I’m resurrecting horror movie articles from my old blog and revamping them. This article is reworked from a 2011 post, and it seemed appropriate since Red Letter Media
recently covered this movie on their “Best of the Worst” program.

I’ll disclose the Star Trek trivia for this movie up-front: Night of the Lepus stars both Paul Fix and DeForest Kelley. Paul Fix played the Enterprise’s Dr. Mark Piper in the second pilot for the original series, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” and DeForest Kelley replaced him as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy for the rest of the run. Two Enterprise doctors in one movie! And they share scenes together! And none of them are interesting!

I should love Night of the Lepus. I should adore it. But it won’t let me. It won’t let me laugh at it. It won’t let me admire it. It won’t entertain me on any level. A Western-set monster flick from the ‘70s about titantic flesh-eating rabbits failing to entertain me. I’m thankful Tremors exists, because it gives me the same movie—but good.

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This Is Not the The Black Cat Movie You’re Looking For

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Happy October! I’m resurrecting horror movie articles from my old blog and revamping them. This article is reworked from a 2013 post.

One of my favorite discoveries in my college library was the volume Universal Horrors: The Studio’s Classic Films, 1931–1946 by Tom Weaver, Michael Brunas, and John Brunas. The 1990 book was one of the first to look at the entire canon of Universal’s horror and mystery pictures from their Golden Age and treat them as something more than the “kiddie TV entertainment” they were once relegated to. I grew up watching these movies on weekend afternoons, but until Weaver et. al I knew little about the behind-the-scenes tales of their making.

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Pass Those Runes, Please: Night of the Demon

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Happy October! I’m resurrecting horror movie articles from my old blog and revamping them. This article is reworked from a 2008 post.

British Horror doesn’t begin with Hammer Film Productions, as much as it might seem to. The same year Hammer released their Gothic breakthrough, The Curse of Frankenstein, another influential UK horror film reached screens and helped ignite the British terror flood: Night of the Demon (released in the US in a edited version as Curse of the Demon).

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