Guts and Grog Tooned Up

Monday, October 7, 2013

Jeremy Gaulkenstein's 49 Days of Horror

               The 2002 49 Days of Horror is one of my fondest horror movie related memories.  I was living with Tromeric in a shitty, literally most of the time, basement apartment on north first st. in Yakima.  Our upstairs neighbors were morbidly obese, cockroach infested, prostitutes and the house next to us belonged to a youth pastor guy who always had Christian hipsters around who would come to our house to watch horror movies, drink, swear, and smoke cigarettes.  It was insane and fun and disgusting at all times for a while and we watched a ridiculous amount of movies.  The 49 Days of Horror was probably the height of my living there.  This was before all the video stores disappeared and VHS still had a really strong presence.  It was a fucking masters course in horror basically.  Every once in a while a random person would drop in but for most of it, it was me, Tromeric, Gabe Nye the Science Guy, and the late Jimmy Magguts.  It was simple.  From Friday the 13th til Halloween we watch as many horror movies as possible, tally, and review.  This year was the first year we had a Friday the 13th in September and we lost Jimmy this summer.  So it seemed right to give it another go.  Eric has kept up the stamina and momentum as far as watching and reviewing horror shit we used to have back then but I definitely haven’t.  I still love and watch horror movies religiously but have been really discouraged by the horror fare lately.  Not to say there hasn’t been a lot of really great horror movies since 2002 but these days I usually give a movie about 3 minutes before I decide to turn it off and watch The Thing or something for the thousandth time.   But I know there is tons I’m missing out on.  But to start I’ve been watching mostly old stuff.  Here’s the shit I’ve watched and written about so far.  More soon. 

Poltergeist –
Tobe Hooper

This was the first horror movie I remember seeing.  My parents would watch it over and over again because it was on HBO or something at the time.  It fucking terrified me and is one of the only movies that ever gave me nightmares.  Badass nightmares too.  I was five or so and would dream about a giant Freddy Kruger slashing up the houses in my neighborhood (I wasn’t allowed to watch Nightmare at five but I had seen the posters and thought of Freddy as the most terrifying thing in the world) and the pale dick priest guy from poltergeist would stand on my roof and scream “You’re gonna die in there!” and I would run inside and my living room would be a movie theater and my family would be watching static with 3D glasses on.  I had this dream every week until HBO changed their line up.  Despite it being terrifying I loved Poltergeist.  It is still me favorite haunting movie of all time.  Fuck Spielberg but he brought a financial and technical weight to the film that made it a perfect American horror narrative.  Toby Hooper was and is certainly capable of making Poltergeist alone.  Texas Chainsaw is still the greatest American horror movie to date in my opinion.  Spielberg just had to tap that.  And they made something wonderful.   But of course Steve never called…


My Amityville Horror –
Eric Walter

So this isn’t a horror movie.  It’s a documentary about the oldest kid from the actual Amityville Horror and how he’s been doing the last 35 years.  He’s not doing very well.  This movie is really intense and focuses almost exclusively on Daniel Lutz.  He seems to live in his garage and chain smokes, takes us to therapy, threatens the documentarians, and makes it very clear that his step-dad was a sociopath who abused him and his family and fostered an occult delusion that was perpetuated by the press, media, and mediums.  He doesn’t say this himself.  He defends his accounts of the haunting viciously.  Either shutting down or exploding if anyone asks an even remotely skeptical question.  This is all interspersed with his accounts of his relationship with his step-father( an abusive Vietnam vet, who jumped on the darker side of the occult band wagon in the 70’s)  and interviews with most of the journalists, parapsychologists, and psychologists involved with the case.  At first we get Lutz’ story and without anyone to contradict him he is pretty convincing.  But shit starts to get creepier and creepier the more we learn about how things really were in the Lutz house.  The creepiest interview is with famed demonologist/parapsychologist/ghost hunter/ whatever the fuck she’s getting paid to pretend she’s an expert on Lorraine Warren(the Tangina character in Poltergeist is based on this chic she’s just much more full of shit).  I don’t mean to insinuate that I think Warren is a total swindler.  But she spouts a lot of dangerous bullshit and vindicates a guy who is obviously severely traumatized.  At one point she presents what she says is a splinter of the cross Jesus was crucified on.  Before this she asks if anyone doesn’t believe in God.  Daniel freaks out when one of the camera man says he’s agnostic.  From this point we see the façade of some kind of spiritual warrior who had a show down with the forces of evil degrade into a very traumatized, damaged, and delusional man.  This is the reality of the “haunting” phenomenon and the place it holds as horror allegory.  There are many correlations between abuse and hauntings.  Just as there are with alien abductions.  It’s a lot easier for the traumatized brain to create an elaborate supernatural fantasy than to come to grips with the fact that their father came into their room at night and molested them.  And with excessive media attention and an endless supply or paranormal and religious “experts” to add fuel to the fire we end up with things like the Ritual Satanic Abuse cases of the 1980’s.   That’s why I like ghost movies.   They are allegories.  Just as Dracula was an allegory for sexual repression and deviance and Frankenstein represented the real horrors of society coping with a new wave of scientific discovery and progress, and Cthulhu is a big penis vagina, the ghost in horror movies is the specter of trauma and very real human evil. 


Witchfinder General –
Michael Reeves

This is my favorite Vincent Price movie.  He plays a guy named Matthew Hopkins, who was a real witch finder during the English Civil War in the 1600’s in England.  Basically shit was out of control in England and this guy rode around England finding people to extort and/or prosecute as witches.  He did the usual stuff witch finders did.  Torture, rape, murder, extortion, theft, fraud, and on and on.  He was able to make a lot of money and kill a lot of people until he was subjected to his own notorious “drowning test” by a mob of people who didn’t buy his shit.  The movie isn’t really an accurate historical piece, if anything it’s a really tame account, but is one of Price’s best performances and one he regarded as the best of his career.  So the story is about this chick named Sara’s dad is accused of being a witch by Price and he tells her, “Hey just slob my knob and he’s off the hook.” She does and of course Price kills her dad the next day.  Then he tortures and kills her for being a witch.  Her boyfriend who is fighting in the silly English war nobody understands comes back and is pissed.  So he devotes his life to chasing Price around.  Fucking great flick.  Slow in parts like the early Price occult movies can be but worth it all the way.  “You took him from meeeee!!  You took him from meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”


Troll Hunter

This movie is perfect.  Everything about it is perfect.  The trolls are more amazing and imaginative than anything that has been produced previous related to trolls and the plot is silly but not distracting.  Very refreshing fare from Norway.  Its about damn time someone do something with the really weird Norse mythology shit.  Non-stop horror fantasy. 


Pandorum –
Christian Alvart

One of the most neglected and terrifying genres of horror to me is space horror.  For a really long time the only truly great space horror flicks were the Alien franchise.  Not much else came close to touching the territory blazed by three of the best mainstream American directors in the last 30 years.  Event Horizon was great but in order to create the illusion of space and tap into all of the truly horrifying things about space and treasure trove or visual potential you needed a really really big budget.  Pandorum stepped up with an excellent both psychological and directly terrifying story of the first colonists who set out for the first habitable planet we’ve discovered.  Of course something goes wrong while everyone is in their and Ben Foster wakes up to find the ship’s power off, his memory hazy, and Dennis Quaid.  He tries to figure out what is going on and goes on an extremely dark and claustrophobic journey into the bowels of the ship.  It doesn’t take long for him to discover that the ship is infested with sadomasochistic mutants who pursue him as he tries to repair the ship.  I’ll stop talking about it there in case anyone hasn’t seen it.  Not that it is really dependent on twists or anything its just a really fun movie to experience as much in the dark as possible.  Definitely worth a watch. 


House –
Steve Miner

So Steve Miner has done a lot of crappy movies.  But he also directed probably the best croc movie of all time Lake Placid, kicked ass with Warlock, not to mention establishing the existing Jason mythology and personae with Friday the 13th 2 and 3, and Forever Young is pretty good.  But House is probably my favorite.  In the vein of the kind of sillier Full Moonish stuff I grew up on and loved House is about  Vietnam Vet/ horror novelist who moves into a house after his divorce.   He soon discovers the house doesn’t want him there.  Its not so much haunted as a portal to the beyond or something and he goes thru a lot of slapstick shit and pals around with Norm from cheers.  Great fun creature horror. 


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