31 Days Of Horror Movie Challenge: Day 18

Each day in October, three brave souls from our gang of Groovy Goolies (co-editor Paul Childs, Boardgames Master Aaron Nash and Ultimate Movie Geek Nathaniel Jepson) are watching horror films from around the world and across a wide spectrum of the horror genre, so expect slashers, ghosts, cultists, demons, vampires, cannibals, zombies, kaiju, aliens and more!

Paul’s Choice – The Wolfman (2010)

For my birthday this year, my parents got the amazing Universal Monsters Blu-Ray box-set. And here’s where I make a terrible confession…

Of all the films in it, I had only seen Frankenstein. I know.

I will hand my Horror Geek Card back in on my way out of the door. But first… Of all the films in the set, my favourite was 1941’s The Wolfman. We’re all familiar with the hairy imagery of Lon Chaney Jr’s lycanthrope, but it’s the story of that film which sets it apart from the others (I’ve got Bride of Frankenstein up later this month, which will also be my first time. Once again, I know…)

So on to last night’s choice. A film I had seen before, but was very tired and slept through some of it (not the film’s fault), so I didn’t really remember much. The YouTuber Grumpy Andrew recommended this in the W of his A to Z of Horror so I thought I’d give it another go. He also suggested I watch the extended version, which I did.

So, my thoughts: I liked it. Despite its obvious attempts to update the tale for the 21st century (increased gore, splashings of CGI) it manages to capture the melodramatic feel of the original. Performances are very good – especially Benicio Del Toro plays Laurence Talbot like someone who is already deeply troubled, albeit with his own personal demons, before the curse of the werewolf befalls him.

However, the increased action sequences do jar a little with the memory of the slow-burning original still fresh. The remake was already doing a fine job creating an oppressive atmosphere with its performances, beautifully shot scenery and moody music – Danny Elfman is clearly influenced by Wojciech Kilar’s Dracula score here. It’s such a shame that Rick Baker’s (of American Werewolf In London) Oscar-winning make up is “enhanced” by CGI – it didn’t need it!

So, a mixed bag, but if you can get past the occasional bloated CGI and excessive action scenes and gore (I lost count of how many arms and heads got ripped off) then there’s a good film in there.

Universal could have done much worse than use this to launch its ill-fated Dark Universe.

Aaron’s Choice – Videodrome (1983)

Videodrome is a hard one to explain. On it’s surface it’s a horror mystery where James Woods tries to track down an adult channel but quickly gets drawn into a world in which television images come out if the screen to seduce and videotapes are inserted into stomach cavities….. yeah I know…..well at least it’s original.

To say the film is weird is an understatement, but it’s a weird that makes sense in the context of the film. I think it helps that James Woods is totally believable in his character, thus helping make sense of everything he does. There are still those few moments where you are just confused but in those moments Woods also looks confused so it’s ok.

The production design and special effects are impeccable and just add to the crazy head trip.  At times it feels slightly futuristic but not in the usual shiny walls and flashing lights sort of way, more in the grim dank corridors filled with wires and piping. It’s beauty is in how in beautiful everything is. Some of the tv effects are just stunning to witness and most of all, pretty much everything holds up perfectly today.

The story keeps you entranced and wondering what will happen next as there’s always something new. It’s amazing really how well everything works. I don’t think any other director would have been able to create such a fascinating film that is both absolutely insane, while also being a stunning horror thriller. It’s rare for a film to feel truly original, but Cronenberg manages it here (As he’s done with many of his films over the years).

This is Cronenberg and film making at their darn-tootin finest. It’s near perfection in every department and is almost endlessly rewatchable. It’s a dark twisted vision into the human mind.

Nathaniel’s Choice – Event Horizon (1997)

Join our resident YouTuber as he ventures into outer-space to take on Paul W Anderson’s only good (other opinions are available) film: