HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: THE FOG, THE EVIL DEAD and THE HOWLING!

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For Halloween Favorites today we have not one but three must watch favorites of mine for the Halloween season. I’ve covered these three classics before as part of Tomb Of Nostalgia so, instead of reposting all the reviews, all you have to do is click on the film’s title and the link will take you back to our original post! So enjoy a look back at The Fog, The Evil Dead and The Howling for this edition of Halloween Favorites!

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THE FOG (1980)

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THE EVIL DEAD (1981)

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THE HOWLING (1981)

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HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)

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THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)

Partially inspired by true life serial killer Ed Gein, this is the original teens v.s. redneck cannibals flick and still the best and most effective. 5 friends travel to checkout stories that the gravesite of bother and sister Franklin (Paul A. Partain) and Sally’s (Marilyn Burns) family has been vandalized and on the way to their family’s abandoned property, they encounter a bizarre hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) who seems to mark them for something by leaving a bloody smear on their van. That something turns out to be an encounter with his fiendish family of backwoods cannibals including the hulking, chainsaw wielding Leatherface (Gunner Hansen) and the disturbed family matriarch (Jim Siedow) who runs the twisted clan. Now one by one the young victims are murdered by this deranged family who have found a horrifying way to keep their kitchen and BBQ business filled with meat now that the local slaughter house is closed. Will any of them escape or will they all become lambs for the slaughter? Director and co-writer Tobe Hooper makes every frame of this classic fright flick give you the willies and saturates this tale of teens and cannibalistic rednecks with dread and tension from the first frame to the last. From the opening scene at the cemetery, to the fateful picking up of the bizarre hitchhiker, to arriving at “the house” this film has us on edge for the full duration. Hooper takes his teens on a nightmare roller-coaster ride that will not end well for most and his disturbing visuals and frantic explosions of deadly action, take the audience along with them. Added to his visual assault is a very disturbing soundtrack of strange sounds and music that give the film a really unsettling feel even in it’s quieter moments and truly unique production design complete with furniture made from bones. The film oozes dread and Hooper adds just enough of a twisted sense of humor to keep us from being numbed to his horror show and make us even more uncomfortable for giggling at his demented family while they horrify and torment their prey. The film is obviously bloody, though not nearly as gory as it’s reputation suggests or any of it’s sequels would become. Hooper ultimately creates one of the greatest horror flicks of all time and one of the most iconic horror characters in Leatherface. He also gets good work from all his cast from the likable young victims to the crazed cannibal clan, it all combines to make a terrifying and unforgettable horror flick. A text book example of how to make a low budget horror film. Also stars Allen Danziger as Jerry, Teri McMinn as Pam and William Vail as Kirk, who are among the 5 intended victims of Leatherface and company’s wrath. A great horror and a true classic.

4 classic chainsaws!

Texas chainsaw rating

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HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)

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FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)

Fright Night is a fun 80s horror flick written and directed by Child’s Play‘s Tom Holland. The story is simple…teen and avid horror movie fan Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) gets a new neighbor next door, the charming and handsome Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon), who Charley quickly comes to believe is a vampire, but obviously, no one believes Charley. As he tries desperately to convince his girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) and weird friend “Evil” Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) of his neighbor’s deadly nocturnal activities, he also turns to horror movie actor Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), who is the closest thing he knows to a vampire killer. But even if he can convince them, can this motley bunch stop a real vampire before he turns his fangs on them? Obviously it’s no spoiler to say that Sarandon’s Dandridge is quite the bloodsucking fiend and Charley and Co. are in for the fight of their lives…and a fun and suspenseful fight it is.

As with the 1988 Child’s PlayHolland takes his story seriously, but gives us plenty of humor to go along with the chills and thrills, of which Fright Night has plenty, as we watch Charley first trying to out the fiend then incurring his wrath. This movie is so delightfully 80’s now, too, with it’s clothing, hairstyles and synthesizer filled music, but it is still a lot of spooky fun under Holland’s guidance and his cast is one of the reasons. Ragsdale plays the lead role perfectly, he’s a nerdy teen with the same urges and active imagination as most boys his age, but he finds the hero within when faced with a horror from out of one of his favorite films. The legendary Roddy McDowall couldn’t be better as cowardly horror star, Peter Vincent, who is forced to overcome his fears and become the vampire killer he’s played for years, to battle a frighteningly real monster and save himself and his new friends. Chris Sarandon makes a delightfully sinister, yet charming villain as the vampire next door, playing the role with equal parts sexy and scary. He is very convincing as a powerful and lethal predator, but you also have no problem believing he can charm Charley’s single mom, or his girlfriend Amy right out of Charley’s protective arms. And while on the subject, Bearse is fine as Amy being virginal and sweet at first and then getting to vamp it up under Dandridge’s influence. And Geoffrey’s is amusing as “Evil”  though he does go a bit over the top at times in a flick that’s played mostly straight. He does provide some comic relief and the character is endearing despite his overeager performance and by no means disrupts the film. The SPFX in this decently budgeted flick are top notch, as far as the abundant make-up and visual effects go and while the end is a bit overblown, it is in a Halloween spook-house kinda way and is an entertaining, if not slightly bombastic finish.

An entertaining horror flick that’s become a bit of a classic and now has some added 80s nostalgia to bring to the spooky mix and is a Halloween season favorite of mine as well. Spawned a Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween III) directed sequel in 1988 featuring Charley and Peter Vincent battling Dandridge’s vengeful sister, played by Julie Carmen. The sequel is pretty entertaining on it’s own, though, for some reason, was shown little attention by the studio and audiences when it was given a limited release before going to VHS and later DVD.

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) fangs!

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HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: WRONG TURN (2003)

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WRONG TURN (2003)

The original Wrong Turn is no classic, but is a solid entry in the “inbred cannibals in the woods” horror sub-genre. It is derivative of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Hills Have Eyes, but is well done and suspenseful enough to work despite being very familiar. The story has med student Chris (Desmond Harrington) driving through West Virginia and taking a back road to get to an interview after an accident clogs up the highway. On this dirt road he literally runs into five hikers whose vehicle has been disabled from some suspiciously placed barbed wire across their path. He, engaged couple Carly (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and Scott (Jeremy Sisto) along with tough girl Jessie (Eliza Dushku) head out to find help while stoners Francine (Lindy Booth) and Evan (Kevin Zegers) remain with the wrecked cars. It’s not spoiling anything to say that soon our attractive young city slickers encounter some deformed and very hungry inbred mountain folk and are running for their lives through the dense woods.

Wrong Turn is by no means original, but director Rob Schmidt is able to take Alan B. McElroy’s familiar script and create a well made and suspenseful horror/thriller out of it. Part of the reason it works is that he gets good performances out of his cast and they create very likable characters and so we care about what happens to them and some of them do meet gruesome ends. There are some gory deaths, as expected in a flick like this, that are not only well executed by the FX team, but since the victims are very likable and the villains very deserving of what’s coming to them, it adds to their effectiveness. While we never get to know the cannibalistic hillbillies here, like we do in the previously mentioned Hooper and Craven classics, they are quite formidable and lethal and they get the job done as far as being effective bad guys. The script also does set up some nice suspenseful situations to put our likable characters in, such as a chase through the upper branches of the dense forest and a really tense sequence early on with our young protagonists caught in the carnivorous country folks’ home.

So basically a good cast and a good director are able to take a familiar story and turn it into a good “Saturday night on the couch” horror flick and sometimes that’s all you want and need. Not quite a classic, but a well made horror that’s simple, back to basics and gives us enough of what we want from a modern horror flick to earn it a spot on the Halloween season view list.

Rated 3 (out of 4) damsel Dushkus!

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HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)

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A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)

Much like a dream…or a nightmare…A Nightmare on Elm St. is many things at once. It’s one of the quintessential 80s horror flicks…defining a decade where horror was quite prolific…it gave birth to the legendary icon that is Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund)…who now sits proudly among Frankenstein’s monster and Count Dracula in the halls of horror… and it certainly is one of Wes Craven’s best films, in a solid career of genre filmmaking. Most of all, it’s a damn good horror flick!

Wes Craven gives us a cast of likable teens haunted by the malevolent specter of a child molester that their parents murdered after he was freed on a technicality. Now vengeance comes when they are at their most vulnerable…while they sleep. And that’s what makes this work so well. We all know how vulnerable we are when we are sleeping and Craven uses that fear to not only draw the audience in, but present us with some unsettling and spooky dream sequences where Freddy torments and then finishes off his victims. Craven also crafts a spooky boogie man who is a very frightening figure in his first outing, before becoming an anti-hero of sorts in the later sequels that got more humorous and outlandish as they went on.

The lead cast is fairly solid including spunky Heather Langenkamp as our heroine Nancy, Amanda Wyss as the ill-fated Tina, Nick Corri as Tina’s delinquent boyfriend Rod, the always good John Saxon (and I am a BIG John Saxon fan!) as Nancy’s sheriff father and a young unknown named Johnny Depp as Nancy’s boyfriend Glen…not to forget Robert Englund chilling our bones as Freddy in a role that would make him a horror film legend.

The film isn’t perfect, there is some very weak dialog peppered throughout and a few weak performances in the supporting cast especially Ronee Blakely who seems to be acting in another movie, or a soap opera, as Nancy’s alcoholic mother. Langenkamp has a few weak moments early on, too, but as Nancy gets stronger so does her performance. Flaws aside, the make-up and gore effects supporting our story are quite good and the dream sequences are visually effective and quite spooky, despite the limitations of a low budget. The film is loaded with chills and suspense and is still effective all these years and sequels later.

Another trend setting horror and a true classic that continues to find fans with each new generation. This series was a favorite of mine as the 80s horror franchises went, as the Halloween and Friday the 13th sequels just became redundant weapon of the month club features while the Elm Street films, even in their weakest installments, were continually inventive with their nightmare sequences. Also stars the Insidious series’ Lin Shaye as one of Nancy’s teachers. A classic!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 Freddys!

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HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: HORROR HOTEL (1960)

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HORROR HOTEL (1960)

The legendary Christopher Lee stars in this classic 1960 horror that is still as spooky and effective today as it was then and is one of my favorite films to watch during the Halloween time of year. This chilling horror… also known as City Of The Dead …begins with the burning of witch Elizabeth Selwyn (Patricia Jessel) in 1692 in the town of Whitewood, Massachusetts. We then cut to the occult studies class of professor Alan Driscoll (Christopher Lee) where eager student Nan Barlow (Venetia Stevenson) intends on writing her class paper by going to New England to investigate it’s occult history first hand. Driscoll suggests she go to Whitewood itself to do her studies and gives her the directions to find the small infamous town. Upon arrival in the spooky village, Nan stays in The Raven’s Inn run by the mysterious Mrs. Newless (also Patricia Jessel) and soon finds that the 300 year old legends of Whitewood may be all too real. When Nan doesn’t return from her research trip, her brother Richard (Dennis Lotis), followed by friend Bill (Tom Naylor), travels to Whitewood looking for her. Richard teams up with the granddaughter of the local reverend, Patricia (Betta St. John), who had met Nan and lent her a book on the occult. What they find is something very ancient, very evil and very deadly…something they may not escape alive.

John Llewellyn Moxey (The Night Stalker) brings loads of atmosphere and a great visual style to this B&W chiller about college students running afoul of Devil worshipping witches in an old New England town. He gives the film an almost non-stop tension and creates some frightening horror sequences and it’s all supported by a sometimes very haunting score by Douglas Gamely. With an almost 300 year old witch, fiendish occult ceremonies and ritual sacrifice, you’ve got a really old fashioned Halloween horror film treat. The graveyard climax is both bone chilling and contains some truly stunning horror film visuals that have stayed with me since I first saw this on TV as a little boy…and when I was a kid, this flick scared the heck out of me!

As for the cast…Christopher Lee is at his sinister best as the professor in occult studies who is far more involved in his subject than his students realize and just may be leading his eager-to-learn lambs to the slaughter. Patricia Jessel brings the evil witch Elizabeth Selwyn to vibrant life and Venetia Stevenson stands out as the inquisitive and ill-fated Nan. The rest of our young antagonists do well in portraying the horror of what they encounter and the film is peppered with some very unnerving supporting characters.

I highly recommend this to any horror fan who appreciates how it was done…old school and in glorious black and white! A wonderfully spooky and delightfully charming horror classic. Also stars Norman Macowan as Reverend Russell and Valentine Dyall as the mysterious Jethrow Keane.

4 (out of 4) classic Christopher Lees!

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Some examples of the powerful horror imagery from John Llewellyn Moxey.

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HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: DAY OF THE DEAD (1985)

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DAY OF THE DEAD (1985)

Day of the Dead is George Romero’s third film in the original zombie trilogy and was supposed to be a large scale movie that was to bring an end to the zombie plague and conclude the series. Despite the huge success of Dawn Of The Dead, Romero couldn’t get the financing he asked for and the film was scaled back to what was released in 1985. While it doesn’t quite live up to the first two films in this series, Day still has plenty to entertain for fans of these movies and is actually very underrated once you remove the post Dawn expectations.

Day is the first to be located elsewhere as it takes place in an underground missile silo in Florida where a group of soldiers and scientist are desperately trying to find an answer to the zombie problem which now has the Earth overrun and the last remaining humans in hiding. But as time goes on and desperation sets in, the two groups start to clash especially when the death of their commanding officer puts the tyrannical Capt. Rhodes (Joe Pilato) in charge and he has little understanding or patience for the scientists’ efforts. Even the scientists themselves are fragmented as Sarah (Lori Cardille) wants to find a cure for the rising of the dead and Dr. Logan aka “Frankenstein” (Richard Liberty) feels they can be domesticated…as long as they are fed. As hopelessness sets in, the group disintegrates and they begin to turn on each other with scientists vs the thug-like Rhodes and his soldiers and pilot John (Terry Alexander) and radio man Bill (Jarlath Conroy) caught in the middle….and let’s not forget about Logan’s “star pupil” Bub (Howard Sherman), a zombie Logan has trained and who is given reason to hate Rhodes and his men. It all explodes in a gore filled climax when the team not only battles each other, but the hordes of living dead that a deranged soldier lets into their underground compound. Will any of them survive?

It’s hard to say what Day would have been like if Romero had gotten the budget he had asked for. Zombie Bub is all that remains of the original script’s concept of humans in fortified cities training a legion of zombie soldiers to destroy the other zombies. But this is the film we got and it is a precursor to a film that never got made as the following Land Of The Dead in 2005 presented humans in fortified cities facing zombies who were gaining intelligence on their own. Day is what it is and it is actually a pretty good movie when not compared to it’s two predecessors. The film might be talky at times, but it is faster paced than Dawn and the gore and zombie FX by Tom Savini are the best of the series at this point. There is also a great electronic score by John Harrison that adds a lot of atmosphere.

The acting is a mixed bag with Cardille, Liberty, Conroy and Alexander being the standouts and Sherman doing a nice job giving Bub a personality without dialog and just using limited facial expression. On the downside, Pilato goes way over-the-top as the bug eyed psychotic Rhodes and sometimes is more laughable than threatening and some of the other supporting players are either overacting a bit or are just bland. The uneven performances does hurt the drama somewhat at times, but not enough to sink the film and Romero wisely punctuates the dialog sequences with some action or bloodshed, so the film is far from all talk and keeps us interested till the all out chaotic action/gore finale. It also helps that we like most of the non-military characters and the soldiers are set up as far more villainous than the zombies that lurk above and gives us heroes to root for and villains to boo. This is a theme that runs through all Romero’s zombie epics that sometimes man’s greed and selfishness is more of a danger than the zombies.

So, in conclusion, Day may be a letdown of sorts when compared to the film classics that it followed, but taken on it’s own, it’s an underrated zombie flick and is well directed by Romero and gives us a lot of gore and action despite some long dialog scenes. It may not have been the movie Romero wanted to make, or the one fans wanted, but it is a nice addition to the series and better than the three films that followed and has rightfully obtained a cult classic status of it’s own over time.

3 and 1/2 “Bubs”!

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HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

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DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

“When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth!”

George Romero’s sequel to his classic Night of the Living Dead is in itself a classic and much like it predecessor, is considered by many to be one of the all time horror movie greats. The story takes place with the zombie outbreak started in Night Of The Living Dead still occurring or having re-occured and this time we see the signs that the living are losing control of the situation and we are starting to be overrun by the flesh eating dead. The new installment takes place again in Pennsylvania with four survivors, helicopter pilot Steven (David Emge), newswoman and girlfriend Fran (Gaylen Ross), along with S.W.A.T. team members Roger (Scott Reiniger) and Peter (Ken Foree) taking to the air to escape the chaos and finding shelter and temporary haven in a massive abandoned shopping mall…abandoned by the living that is. They battle the dead to occupy their new home, but their victory and solace is short lived as they’ve lost one of their own, they begin to feel more like prisoners in their palace of consumerism and a vicious motorcycle gang arrives who “don’t like people who don’t share”.  This leads to an action packed and blood and entrails soaked climax where the 3 remaining survivors battle the heavily armed bikers and the legions of the flesh eating dead now released back into the mall.

Romero again deftly mixes social commentary with savage violence as the zombie uprising started in the first film has returned (or has it been ongoing?) and is spiraling out of control. Now the living are being overrun by the flesh eating dead and there’s nowhere to run and writer/director Romero paints a bleak and desolate picture of a world being taken over by a nightmare. We get some truly chilling shots of streets, fields and parking lots filled with the walking dead and the meager forces of mankind making a last stand to remain the dominant species on the planet. He paints a grim picture of a human race who are too busy fighting each other over superficial and political reasons to unite and save itself from extinction. Romero takes a satirical look at American consumerism as well, with our survivors battling the dead and the bikers not for survival, but for the spoils represented by the product filled stores in the mall and the notion that the dead return to the mall because “It was an important place in their lives.”. Dawn is presented on a much larger scale than Night and there are literally hundreds of zombies this time and they are everywhere. Again Romero gets good work from his leads and the make-up and gore FX from master craftsman Tom Savini (who also plays the biker gang leader and did stunt work) set a new standard and made him a legend in the film FX world. Add to that a haunting score by the Italian rock band Goblin (Suspiria) and the gigantic Monroeville Mall, which under Romero’s lens becomes a character of the film in itself.

While the flick has a bit more of a satirical sense of humor then the original, it is still horrifying in it’s own way and presented zombies on a scale never seen before up till this time. A sequel that equals and in some ways surpasses the classic original.

A classic 4 zombies!

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HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)

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NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)

What can be said about George Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead at this point that hasn’t already been said, it’s one of the greatest horror films ever made and has lost none of it potency even today. Romero may not have invented zombies, but he turned them into their own genre and is responsible for inspiring almost every zombie flick or TV show we see today and created the template for the flesh-eating, shoot-em in the head characteristics that almost every zombie media follows.

Night starts out with siblings Barbara (Judith O’Dea) and Johnny (Russell Steiner who also produced) driving from Pittsburgh into the country to place a wreath on their father’s grave. In the graveyard they are attacked by a seemingly deranged man (Bill Hinzman) who kills Johnny and then chases the terrified Barbara, who finds shelter in an abandoned farm house. A man named Ben (Duane Jones), who is also fleeing a similar attack, then arrives as do more of these apparently deranged people. Soon we find that not only are the dead returning to life and eating the living, but a group of terrified people, including the Coopers, Harry (Karl Hardman), wife Helen (Marilyn Eastman), daughter Karen (Kyra Schon) and local boyfriend and girlfriend Tom (Keith Wayne) and Judy (Judith Ridley), have been hiding in the cellar right beneath their feet. Now the group must somehow fight off what seems like an army of the undead and each other, as the arrogant Harry clashes with the strong-willed Ben over who runs the house and gives the orders.

George Romero has created a horror masterpiece that is filled with dread in every shot thanks to some incredibly moody black and white photography. The film is shot much like one of the classic Universal horrors from the 30s and 40s or the silent Nosferatu with it’s stark and ominous shadows creeping into the frame or creating dark patches where any horror could inhabit. Romero also creates thick tension not only from the terror that lurks outside the house waiting to get in, but the conflict between those who fight for control inside the besieged home, because they can’t control what’s going on outside it. We share the occupants dread as the dead multiply and every chance to escape is dashed and hope dwindles while their fear grows. It tears them apart and soon the danger inside the house is no lesser then what awaits outside. Romero increases the horror when we see an escape plan go awry and it costs the lives of a few of the survivors. The rest get to finally witness what they’ve only heard about on TV as their housemates are devoured in graphic detail by the army of carnivorous corpses. The FX in this low budget film are good with the zombie’s looking quite nightmarish and the entrails they devour very effective…maybe more so…in shadow drenched black and white.

Romero also gets very effective performances out of all his cast, especially Jones as the tough and resourceful Ben and Hardman as the slimy and devious Harry Cooper. These are now considered classic characters in horror film history and Jones’ Ben is also boundary breaking, being the first black man to be cast as a horror film lead especially in the middle of the civil rights movement of the time. There are so many classic scenes as well, that still frighten even today with a proliferation of graphic zombie flicks, zombie themed video games and a weekly TV show. And Night also remains one of the most quotable horrors of it’s kind as well…“they’re dead, they’re all messed up!”…for delightful example. It’s controversial ending still has power even after all these years and multiple viewings.

A true horror masterpiece that is one of the greatest horror flicks of all time and a must watch during the Halloween season. It inspired countless other like films and made a horror legend out of Romero, who added to the zombie pantheon with five more films in the series to date. I was fortunate enough to see NOTLD in a theater during the early 80s at a revival screening at my beloved Oritani theater in Hackensack, N.J.

-MonsterZero NJ

A classic 4 zombies!

Night rating

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HALLOWEEN FAVORITES: THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)

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THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)

The Blair Witch Project is now regarded as a bit of a modern horror classic and while it has it detractors, I think it’s a wonderfully spooky and clever minimalist horror. The premise is simple, in 1994 three college students travel to Burkittsville, Maryland to film a documentary on a local legend, The Blair Witch. The witch is said to haunt the woods surrounding the town that was once called Blair and may be responsible for some bizarre deaths such as the murder of seven children whose killer claims she forced him to kill. The three students disappear and a year later their footage is found and the film is an assemblage of that footage. The filmmakers cleverly promoted the film as real and at the time, did have many fooled such as the teenage girls sitting by me in the theater back in 1999. The documentary style flick follows college film student Heather (Heather Donahue), cameraman Josh (Joshua Leonard) and sound tech Mike (Michael C. Williams) as they head into the small town interviewing the locals about the legend and some of the strange deaths that go along with it. They then hike into the woods to find and document some of the locations these horrid events were said to occur. But, something supernatural may indeed haunt these woods, as soon the three are plagued by strange noises in the night, disturbing constructs of stone and stick found about their camp when they awake and the sudden inability to find their way back out to their car. The incidents become increasingly intense and the longer the three stay lost, the more afraid they become that something is following them… and the more the three unravel and turn on each other. Is this some kind of malicious prank by some of the locals?… or are these three truly destined to become part of the Blair Witch legend.

From the premise of writers and directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s film, we know the three aren’t going to make it out of these woods and the suspense is more going along for the creepy ride to find out what happens to them. Will they fall to some supernatural horror or will they be the victims of some malevolent and very human element. It’s the anticipation that makes this work along with the increasingly strange activity that follows our doomed trio. Sánchez and Myrick give us simple noises and voices along with some unsettling found objects and let’s our imagination concoct the origin. And our imaginations can come up with things far more horrifying then anything the filmmakers could give us. The fear and increasing terror our three leads feel also draws us in. The actors successfully create the illusion of three real people and by letting them improvise a good deal of their dialog, they say things real people might say in a weird situation like they are in. This helps create the illusion that we are indeed watching actual footage and it lures us in and we share their fear while creating some of our own. By the time the film climaxes in an abandoned house in the middle of the woods, we are so on edge, that it’s simple conclusion becomes very unsettling and we leave the film shaken despite it’s subtlety. And that’s the whole aspect I like about Blair Witch is that it achieves a lot on some very subtle trigger events making our imaginations work against us. Having been in the woods at night and done some  exploration of abandoned structures, I know how it feels to hear things whose origin cannot be determined and what your mind imagines as it’s cause. The film maintains an atmosphere of dread even before things start to get weird because, the premise let’s us know before the film even begins that our young protagonists are doomed and as the opening credits appear, our minds are already imagining their fates.

The film is not perfect. The acting is weak at times and the bickering can get a bit annoying and so can the characters. We do like them but, Donahue’s over confident wannabe director can be a bitch but, that is part of the character and Williams’ Mike can be a bit too much of a whiner. Leonard’s Josh is the more laid back, level headed one and the fact that he is the most likable of the three, makes it all the more effective when the unseen force seems to target him first.

All in all Blair Witch is a very spooky and effective film that gets under your skin with very little effort and while it’s not perfect, it is a damn creepy little movie if you go with it and let it convince you that what you are watching is real. It also had one of the greatest promotional campaigns in horror movie history which had you creeped out before you even bought your ticket. Sadly followed by an interesting but, very flawed sequel (click here for my review) which ditched the found footage format for a straight narrative. Another favorite of mine to watch during the Halloween season!

A solid 3 and 1/2  horrified Heathers!

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