Monday, October 22, 2018

The Haunting of Hill House (2018)

I love HILL HOUSE in all it's iterations.

The films to date have been solid. Two out of three were fantastic. One was a train wreck, but still fun to watch. The books are fantastic. The concepts in all are fun and engaging. So, when I heard that they were doing another version I was super excited. That is, until I saw the trailer.

"What?! Gawd damn it - they changed everything.'s about a family now? Bet it'll be packed with jump scares, clowns, nuns, and dolls. Stupid people changing a great thing. Just give me the Jackson or Matheson book. BOO!"  And, I stomped off to sulk.

But...holy cow....this is a fantastic vision for the Hill House legacy. Complex and super engaging, this new version had me talking and talking about the show and wanting to just sit and watch the whole thing in one sitting!

Do yourself a favor - Don't watch any trailers for this. Don't Google-up any images. Just watch. The images I have in this post are spoiler free. 

Avoiding spoilers....
The story is about a family. Not ghosts, but a family. I believe that's what makes it so strong. The parents move into homes, redo them and get them looking grand, then sell them for profit. The kids are used to the whole show and are eager to get the Hill House done so they can move on to their final new home - a dream home they will never have to move from again. This is the big score, the Hill House. Once it's done, they'll be all set. But as is the case with films when people start talking about the bright snd shiny future, things have a tendency to fail and not go the way plans state.

As the children grow up and face their adult dramas, they remember life in the Hill House and see how it's affecting their adult selves.

Now, that seems simple and very Little House on the Prairie, but it's not. My simple breakdown of what's happening has been super simplified. The storytelling here is complex and smart. We see present day all the way back to the first day they moved in. Non-linear scenes blend timelines and story arcs expertly as the stories - both past and present, unfold. We're shown, not told which I completely loved! Basically, Mike Flanagan's writing says, " are the players. Let's go. Keep up, ok?" and it leads you forward flashing back and forth in a beautiful dance. The story moves along going from the present day back to various stops in the past to tell the tale and I never once felt lost or confused. It all just makes sense the way it's laid out.

Am I making this sound like I loved it? Oh, that's only because I did love it. With my whole heart. :) 
The acting really made it here. The kids and their adult selves feel like they really are matched perfectly. Using Henry Thomas as the young father Hugh Crain and Timothy Hutton as the older Crain was amazing. They both take on little character traits that make the transition perfect. Carla Gugino is mesmerizing. The entire cast is rock solid and never feels like they are going to far over the top dramatically, but they nail every emotion throughout.

Ghosts from one scene in the first episode
And ghosts. There are some amazing ghosts in here and they all have grand looks. My wife saw one scene (she's not a horror lover) and her comment was, "Jesus....that's...just so scary..." before leaving the room with a BYE tossed over her shoulder. hehehe . And the fun thing is that there are hidden ghosts throughout the Hill House moments that I completely missed on first viewing. ((I've started it over again from the beginning)) I'm keeping more of an eye out now as I watch and I'm literally muttering "How the hell did I miss that the first time?" as I watch. It's a fantastic game that makes a rewatch even better.

The look and feel of the house is amazing as well. There are family scenes that are light and bright in the day - nothing to fear. But, the night scenes.... whew....those are a different story all together.

I'm not going to say much more. I don't really want to let anything slip about this series.

If you love a good drama, great storytelling, and some fantastic, gothic chills, you're going to want to drop everything, head over to NETFLIX, and fire up The Haunting of Hill House ASAP. It's a fantastic journey.

GIALLOctober: The Killer Reserved Nine Seats (1974)

GIALLOctober continues with THE KILLER RESERVED NINE SEATS from 1974

A fantastic WHO DONE IT giallo mystery.

Sadly, due to a few real life situations, GIALLOctober wasn't as big as I thought tit was going to be. I still have a few videos in mind to take on, but I'm not going to be able to do the lineup I had originally wanted. Ah, life. :) a special bonus...a silly little BEHIND THE SCENES vid! :)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

GIALLOctober: EYEBALL (1975)

GIALLOctober Video Series - EYEBALL (1975)

The video series keeps rolling along as I talk about EYEBALL from 1975. What a wild film this was. I really dug it.

Comments welcome!

Channel Zero Series

The CHANNEL ZERO offerings are very solid and are filled with fantastic visual eye candy and creepy tales. The stories are based on "CREEPYPASTAS" which are basically online creepy tales created by online users. The lore is always something strange and creepy that is supposed to be based on true events.

Is that enough to support watching the episodes?


There are currently two series from the CHANNEL ZERO - Candle Cove and No-End House.

CHANNEL ZERO - Candle Cove
Now I thought this was the more solid offering between the two. A child psychologist heads back home to see if his twin brother's disappearance has something to do with this creepy show that used to reveal itself to children on seemingly blank TV screens. The parents never new what happened all those years ago when children started disappearing and acting ever so strange. What will this investigation unearth?

The story and characters here are grand. The complexity of the story and backstory and what the past does to those living now was really rather interesting. The creepy figures that make appearances in the show are really the stuff of nightmares. And, since both series are only six episodes long, CANDLE COVE doesn't overstay it's welcome.

In this one, the story revolves around a mysterious house that appears in various locations at random times for a few nights, then disappears. People are notified of it's location through strange videos that play randomly on phones and TVs. If you find the magic horror attraction, you'll be lucky enough to walk through six rooms that will change your life. But...what is the house and what are it's plans for you?

I had different feelings about this section. While the concept was great, I felt that it was a little too long and that it would have been a super solid, four episode series instead of the six episodes it took to tell the tale. The otherworldly feel of it also removed it from feeling like it could happen to you in your world, so some of the post viewing creep factor was removed. However, it did bring a lot to the table and was a far more emotional experience than Candle Cove for me, even though I found it lighter on the creep factor.

Both are currently running on SHUDDER here in the US at the time of this posting.

Well worth a viddy...AFTER you watch Netflix's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, that is!

Two new offerings are around on SYFY - CHANNEL ZERO:  Butcher's Block and The Dream Door. Butchers Block looks like it will be interesting, but I fear that it might substitute strange visuals for story. DREAM DOOR looks very creepypasta and seems to have more of the CHANNEL ZERO feel I dug from Candle Cove. We shall see.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Giallo A Venezia (1979)

If you like your gialli sleazy, naked, and gross, have I got one for you! GIALLO A VENEZIA from 1979 is all that and then some!

Jeff Blynn is the untra-hip Inspector Angelo De Pol and he just got a case that has him pealing eggs and waving his hands around like crazy. :::grin:::  I'm not sure what Jeff was up to in the film, but his character eats eggs throughout as he tries to sort things out. He's the only thing bigger than his constant hand gestures is his amazing hair. But...I digress.

Fabio (Gianni Dei) and Flavia (the stunning Leonora Fani) are found dead near a canal and there are several odd points in the crime scene that get the giallo crime gears moving. The story itself is rather straight forward when the film starts, but it takes a few grim turns that make this film a challenge to watch. See, we find out in flashback that ole Fabio is a bit of a pervert. He loves being watched when making love to his wife and the stakes keep getting higher and higher as he turns his flailing sex life around by acts of violence and swinging. Flavia loves him, so she plays along, but her enjoyment drops rapidly as the stakes are raised.

We're "treated" to some really sleezy and naughty sex scenes that reveal some of Director Mario Landi's sexy cinema movie stylings. A  failed sex attempt leads to a lengthy masturbation scene which dives RIGHT into rape. We have explicit wife sharing in a theater and a really, REALLY nasty murder scene involving a prostitute, a classic mirrored sunglasses killer,  and a pair of scissors that was one of the most sexually violent scenes I've seen. The film leans more towards a sex thriller, really.

The only thing that really made it worth a watch to me was the De Pol character and the madness that surrounded him. I mean...the friggin eggs all the time was a strange character highlight. It's just bonkers. And when he comes up with theories, he gesticulates and emphasizes with his hands so much it's a beautiful distraction. And lastly, it seems like he has one outfit that he wears all the time. Very wild.

As a giallo, Giallo A Venezia is not high on my re-watch list. I doubt I will ever watch it again. It's a fine mystery and the story is well done even if it's SUPER dark and disturbing. However, it does fit the gialli criteria for VIOLENCE and SEXUALITY, so if you have a strong stomach and like your crime giallo packed with sex and hip organ music, this is the film for you.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Death Laid An Egg (1968)

DEATH LAID AN EGG has to be one of the most odd of the gialli films. There's a special level for some of these films. They have all the aspects you'd expect to see in a giallo film, but they also have a few extra bits and bobs that push things into a very strange space. That's Death Laid an Egg for sure.

We have a group working on a sort of...super chicken project. They are trying to create the perfect chicken on this high tech chicken farm. We have the husband, Marco (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and wife, Anna (Gina Lollobrigida) - scientists working on the project. And they have a lovely little beauty staying with them - the alluring Gabrielle played by Ewa Aulin. Of course, a love triangle forms and things go off the rails rather quickly. However, there are other aspects of the film that come up that are just...bonkers. Chicken talk turns to wild ramblings about chickens in smoking jackets. The "perfect chicken" is created at one point, but it's a headless, legless, living chicken mass that's a mutant. Very odd. The music is odder still - discordant and grating. It really helps to create a on-edge atmosphere.

All the odd chicken madness aside, it's actually a rather interesting little mystery with a lot to offer. Big thanks to the DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS PODCAST for their coverage of the film in their three part, art giallo series FOOTPRINTS IN DELIRIUM: Exploring the Art Giallo! If you have not heard it, you owe it to yourself to check it out. It's fantastic. (linked above)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The House of the Yellow Carpet - La Casa del Tappeto Giallo (1983)

What an odd little movie this is. I think I liked it, but it's odd.

Running very much like a play with four actors, we meet Franca and Antonio and the titular yellow carpet. The two are trying to sell the massive carpet and they have someone coming to look it over. Antonio runs off to do something leaving Franca home by herself when the man in need of a carpet arrives. And then...things go sideways. I'll say no more about it.

Like I said, it runs like a three act play. There are only four characters in the whole of it and it takes place in an apartment that is rather small, so there's a claustrophobic feeling throughout the film that adds to the tension. It's a slow burn, but I really liked it.

All four actors are grand. Erland Josephson, Béatrice Romand, Vittorio Mezzogiorno, and Milena Vukotic were all super solid in their roles. That really needed to be the case here. If one or two of them failed, the whole film would fall to pieces. 

Carlo Lizzani's direction is grand here as well. The man has 73 director credits and another 48 writing credits. I'd love to see more of his work.

If you are looking for a giallo style mystery with less blood and guts and more story and acting, you'll want to check out The House of the Yellow Carpet! It's a great watch.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

GIALLOctober Episode II: Violent Giallo

Hey there Horror Fans!

GIALLOctober continues with a look at some more violent giallo films by Mario Bava, Aldo Lado, Sergio Martino, and Juan Piquer Simón.

You can also view this directly on YouTube or directly on Vimeo.

I'm so sorry about the keying quality. It turns out my new green screen location is not going to be so great. I have this episode and one more in the can already, but afterwards I'll be back in better form with less flickering on me!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Eye In The Labyrinth

Now this was a fun little giallo for sure! I'm not going to say a whole lot about this one for fear of spoiling it.

EYE OF THE LABYRINTH is the tale of Julie (played by the enchanting Rosemary Dexter) and her search for her missing husband. She follows a series of clues and the guiding hand of Frank (the awesomeAdolfo Celi of Bond villain fame)  that eventually leads her to a lovely beach house occupied by an odd little cast of characters including the curvy Sybil Danning (billed as Sybil Dunning) and SUSPIRIA's Alida Valli.

The film is a complex "who-done-it" that worked really well for me. Poor Rosemary Dexter is really put through the ringer on her hunt - slaps and unwanted affections abound. The story zips along and things unfold in a fun way. Trope upon trope is piled on to wonderful effect. Characters interact with each other in nasty and fun ways as the tensions build to the thrilling conclusion.

The look of the film is grand. We're treated some some lovely vistas and a fabulous beach house that I'd love to visit. The actors and actresses chew the scenery and move through the story in a highly entertaining way. All in all it's one of my favorite mystery heavy giallo films.

I definitely have EYE IN THE LABYRINTH on my re-watch list. It was a fun one.

Worth a viddy! Check it out!

Trailer does have some spoiler elements in it - be warned!