Friday, October 31, 2014

Twilight Time Triple Feature: The Blob (1988), Audrey Rose and The Believers

This October I had the pleasure of checking out a couple spooky movies for Twilight Time. I want to focus on all three today. In addition to The Blob (1988), Audrey Rose and The Believers, Twilight Time also released a remake of The Vanishing (remember that Dutch movie that was remade starring Hollywood’s finest?). There’s a varying degree of interest in each title, but I assure you that all of them meet the definition of October appropriate with dark themes varying from strange monster movie to supernatural horror based around reincarnation to voodoo horror.

In the reviews below we include links to where you can purchase each release exclusively at Screen Archives. The Blob 88 sold out. All are limited, but the fandom surrounding The Blob has made it even more sought after than the other October titles. Thanks to Twilight Time for making this a 5,000 edition run rather than their standard 3,000 run. That’s good for fans.

Audrey Rose

My experience with Audrey Rose has always been a positive one. My father had taped it off television when I was much younger, and, after realizing it wasn’t a “girl movie” because of the female name in the title, I watched it. I remember it fondly, admiring Anthony Hopkins’ performance. He was a favorite of mine long before I saw Silence of the Lambs as his performance in Magic is terrifying and thrilling. Audrey Rose allows Hopkins to portray a good guy for a change though not necessarily an overt one. You have to watch the movie long enough to figure out that he isn’t a stalker or a pedophile. One you understand his motivation and his passion, listening to him scream the name “Audrey Rose” over and over again at a little girl named Ivy becomes a cry for help and soothing rather than the wail of a madman. All the performances in Audrey Rose are stellar and it even features Moon Pie from Roller Ball ie John Beck (also recently released by Twilight Time… Review HERE).

This is a captivating movie that asks the viewer questions about what he believes happens after death. In that way it is challenging, more so because it deals with a child who is suffering. It isn’t exactly a feel good horror movie and one might be inclined to peg it as a supernatural thriller. It has moments of shock and then delicate moments, softer more touching scenes that really allow for the viewer to become sympathetic with our child victim (if victim is even the appropriate word).

The disc itself has an isolated score track which is simply gorgeous and haunting. It also features a trailer. The artwork on the outside cover is update, however the booklet that comes with it features the more traditional cover featured on the VHS and poster. I prefer the traditional cover art, but this original artwork does have points of intrigue on the tombstone for example. The booklets are instrumental in understanding these movies and really do substitute nicely in place of making of featurettes. They provide historical context and, in this instance, provide more in depth discussion of the career of Robert Wise, the man responsible for one of my favorite horror films of all time, The Haunting. This is Wise’s final work and truly is a fantastic way to send him off. Furthermore this disc is a fitting tribute to his passion for the supernatural. It looks appropriately grainy and rich.

Order Audrey Rose now on beautiful Blu-ray now. Limited to 3,000.

The Blob 88

I remember when the commercials hit for The Blob. I loved the original, but even more so I loved Son of Blob. This is a rather unpopular opinion to have apparently and after having watched it on 35mm at the Exhumed Horrorthon last year, I realized that this series, the original, sequel and remake are all damn fine monster flicks. They all get to me. Sure Son of Blob is campy at times, but there are some frightening moments especially for a kid who saw it on Commander USA’s Groovy Movies. The original is untouchable with perfect suspense and effects that really carry the movie. They feel real even though we’re looking at some very old stop motion animation. Now the remake, released in 1988… it goes for the GUTso (and not the gusto).

The Blob is a perfect 80’s movie with a intentional moments of comedy woven in with a keen sexiness that is completely vanquished by over the top practical effects that spill the guts and gore all over the screen. The look and color of the blob itself are perfect with a pink base and clear hues running through a gelatinous mass of acidic death slop. As the movie progresses, as the blob gets larger, there are moments where the look becomes something out of Harryhausen esque proportions including almost out of place stop motion that gives this thing a humorous look. You’d think that would detract from the movie, but it actually gives rise to great laughter and applause. It’s that part of horror that non-horror people simply don’t get, when horror becomes truly fun. This is a nearly perfect crowd movie where an audience simply must applaud each death even for moderately likable characters.

This has been a much requested Blu-ray by fans and it does the movie justice. The colors are brilliant which is essential because of just how vibrant this killing machine is. The disc features an isolated score track, audio commentary by Chuck Russell and Ryan Turek (Turek of Shock Till You Drop), the theatrical trailer that still haunts me and a Friday Night Frights at The Cinefamily feature that focuses on the introduction to a 35mm screening. The new cover art is as fun as the movie though I wish there had been an inclusion of the traditional artwork. The booklet also features some new artwork that is actually perfectly retro chic almost trying to bring The Blob 88 in line with the original Blob starring Steve McQueen.

This movie is what happens when fans of the horror genre get together and create a labor of love. Chuck Russell and Frank Darabount came together (post Nightmare on Elm St 3) and understood what made a fun horror film. That’s why Nightmare on Elm St 3 worked so well. They understood the audience and what made horror watchable. It isn’t bleak. It isn’t gross without being entertaining. It isn’t downtrodden and it plays on the tropes of 50’s monster movies presenting a necessarily battle against the bad guy. Of course the brilliance between The Blob and Nightmare 3 was that you simply couldn’t tell what happened NEXT in their respective worlds. Maybe you should be looking in your wash sink or in your toilet before you become sloppy acid gush.

I'm afraid if you haven't ordered you've missed out. Limited to 5,000 and sold out at Screen Archives. It deserves to be sold out.

The Believers

From Twilight Time:

Director John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy, Marathon Man) ventures elegantly into supernatural territory with The Believers (1987), the tale of Cal Jamison (Martin Sheen), a recently widowed police psychologist forced to deal with a series of ritualistic child murders apparently perpetrated by a malevolent rogue branch of a Caribbean cult religion. As the cult’s connections to corporate oligarchs begin to emerge, the lives of Cal and those around him—particularly his vulnerable young son (Harley Cross)—are put at terrible risk. Also starring Helen Shaver, Robert Loggia, and Jimmy Smits, and atmospherically shot by the great Robby Müller, cinematographer/partner of Wim Wenders, Lars von Trier, and Jim Jarmusch.

The Believers is a much slower movie than I remember though goddamn if that opening scene doesn't  really upset me. Martin Sheen screaming at the top of this lungs while his wife is electrocuted, their son watching helpless. I will tell you that this scene is phobia inducing. I am a fastidious dryer around my coffee maker and toaster oven. I also still wonder why Martin Sheen didn't bum rush this wife breaking the current between his wife and the wet electrified mess. I suppose this is how we get horror movies and not happy endings. 

It had been some time since I watched this but I often associate this movie with The First Power due to similar focus on voodoo and having a similar release date. The First Power actually just got a Blu-ray release from Scorpion to boot, so the association continues for me. 

While the movie is a slow burn, it's filled with plenty of gruesome moments and haunting sequences. Martin Sheen's performance is always over the top and built for horror. This is no exception. In my mind he's spent too many years as the head of state and commander and chief. We should be so lucky to put him in exorcism or supernatural horror pictures. I used to consider it the quintessential voodoo movie, but I have migrated to Wes Craven's Serpent and the Rainbow over time. It's better than most, eclipsing Angel Heart and The First Power. 

The disc features updated cover art and comes with an isolated soundtrack and trailer. 

No comments:

Post a Comment