October 20, 2016

Hudson Horror Show 14: 35mm Film Festival Announcement

"The Rules of Hudson Horror Show" Trailer:

Official press release:

Hudson Horror Show #14, the Hudson Valley’s only 12-hour 35mm retro movie marathon will take place December 3rd, 2016 at the South Hills Cinema 8 in Poughkeepsie, NY. Limited tickets are on sale now and are just $38.00 in advance and only available at www.hudsonhorror.com. We’ll have six movies, all projected off 35mm film!

The show just got far more brutal as we are proud and well a little scared to let everyone know that the latest addition to our fall show is… 1978’s horror/exploitation classic I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE!

Starring the beautiful Camille Keaton and produced and directed in 1978 by Meir Zarchi, this movie is so violent that it was still named by TIME in 2010 as one of their Top 10 Most Ridiculously Violent Movies ever! Critic Roger Ebert reviewed the movie and claimed it to be the “worst film ever made” and said that it was a “vile bag of garbage”. The vicious and stomach turning gang rape, the violent and brutal castration and murder scenes are so intense that the complete version of the film is still banned in England and Ireland to this day! Can YOU sit through it all?

We are very excited to be presenting a 30th anniversary screening of THE HITCHER! Three decades back this great little stalk and slash road picture didn’t make much of a splash at the box office, but it became a cable TV staple in the late 80’s and early 90’s. See Rutger Hauer and C. Thomas Howell (in whiteface) in their greatest roles!

The trailer at our last show was met with thunderous applause so we knew we had to track down one of the last know surviving film prints of the original DEATH RACE 2000! Forget the sanitized remake, nothing can compare to David Carradine, Sylvester Stallone and Mary Woronov running people over cross country in this futuristic sci fi classic!

Jordan Garren, that maniac from the B Movie Film Vault, presents one of our two fisted headliners, THE HOWLING! Directed by Joe Dante and starring Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee and Robert Picardo, THE HOWLING still stands tall as one of the greatest werewolf movies of all time. The special effects of Rob Bottin always looked great on TV, but trust us; the transformation scenes need to be watched on the big screen!

Our second headliner also features the wizardry of the Maestro Rob Bottin and that is 1987’s ROBOCOP! Yeah, we know all of the sequels and remakes sucked, but Director Paul Verhoeven’s cyborg movie is a five star masterpiece! Seriously, this movie is damn near perfect. You’ll run out of the theater yelling lines like “I’ll buy that for a dollar”, “I work for Dick Jones” and “Your move Creep”!

We will also have the ever-enigmatic MYSTERY MOVIE!! Will it be a slasher classic? Maybe we will show another terrible rubber monster movie? We are keeping tight lipped on this one, but we will tell you that is definitely, 100% a horror movie!

As usual, the two lobbies at the theater will be packed to the gills with vendors selling t-shirts, DVD’s, toys, posters and so much more. Interested in being a vendor? Send us an email to info@hudsonhorror.com. Tickets are not needed to shop the vendor’s area, but you will need a ticket to watch the movies.

Just like the last few shows, we will be booked in two different rooms in the same movie theater. One room is already long sold out; tickets are moving fast for the other. It doesn’t matter which room you sit in because both rooms will see the same exact movies, just in a different order. Get your tickets now at www.hudsonhorror.com. Just $38.00 in advance for 12 hours of 35mm movie madness!

We will see you on December 3rd, 2016 for Hudson Horror Show #14! Tickets on sale now at www.hudsonhorror.com.

October 4, 2016

Wuthering Heights (1939)

"A servant in the house of Wuthering Heights tells a traveller the unfortunate tale of lovers Cathy and Heathcliff."

It's very tempting to blog about "Wuthering Heights" simply to hit back at the "Jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none" movie reviewers who've tried to invade the horror genre (as they have done with various degrees of success over the last five years), and play them at their own game by intentionally reviewing some of their movies less than favourably, but I'm not going to stoop to their extremely low level by writing off this classic movie as nothing more than a great wraparound ghost story ruined by a load of soppy romantic drivel meant for repressed Victorian girls in the middle.

Somewhere amongst my disapproval of the faux "journalists" who've tried their hardest to destroy what little camaraderie was left in the various horror "communities" (which has resulted in hardly any true horror movies being made now), plus my added dislike of the confusing old books I was forced to read at school, the part of me which can still discern the good found a thoroughly engrossing gem in this adaptation of "Wuthering Heights".

To cut a long story short, I never finished reading "Wuthering Heights" when I was doing my English Literature A levels. The alien setting of the bleak Yorkshire moors, the ever increasing number of inconsistent characters, and the over-complicated style of this sprawling soap opera were even worse to me than reading some middle-English tripe such as Chaucer or the more nebulous poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Once given the opportunity to learn about a more straightforward book for the exams, I jumped at the chance by devouring "Pride and Prejudice" instead. I vowed never to read "Wuthering Heights" again (I've kept the promise to myself easily), and I had no interest in ever watching the movie until I started investgating the work of wartime directors as a possible theme for this month's "Hallowe'en Countdown".

What a delight awaited me when I discovered that this "Wuthering Heights" is an abridged version of only the best parts of Emily Brontë's tedious novel! The whole second generation of Earnshaws and Lintons (and God knows who else because that's where I threw the book in the bin) are absent, yet the tragic themes remain the same. Catherine's social climbing still wrecks her love affair with Heathcliff, Heathcliff is still a vengeful savage at heart, and the other characters are all moral weaklings trapped by their various finances, hereditary status, and genders in the class system.

As movies go, director William Wyler obviously did a fantastic job with this Samuel Goldwyn production, albeit with some disagreement about the ending. Behind the scenes, Wyler managed to beat most of the ham out of Laurence Olivier and even contain the disputes with Merle Oberon, although the surprising lack of physical chemistry between the leads is still noticeable until Cathy is on her deathbed.

It's almost possible to feel some sympathy for "milksop" Edgar Linton and his sister Isabella, due to the respective charisma of David Niven and frailty of Geraldine Fitzgerald. rather than wanting them to die horribly from the moment they first appear. Their very American period clothing is a little jarring for anyone seeking historical accuracy where there won't be any, but that's a minor quibble.

Even Flora Robson, known best to horror genre fans as Aunt Agatha from "The Shuttered Room" (1967), and possibly the lesser seen "Eye of the Devil" (1966) starring David Niven once again, comes across as far more human and defeated as the long-suffering housekeeper and narrator Ellen (or Nelly) Dean. Out of all the characters, she's likely to be more remembered than Laurence Olivier trying to pass for a Gypsy with highlights of Kiwi brown boot polish on his face.

Albeit a product of 1939 with affected speech patterns and stagey line delivery, "Wuthering Heights" is considerably more even in quality than Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca" (1940), and you won't find yourself cringing. After a few minutes, Greg Toland's Academy Award winning cinematography will make you forget that this is all in black and white too.

"Wuthering Heights" is a dark, brooding story with dark, brooding, and mostly unlikeable characters in its original form as a book, but with over half of it gone, the core works well as a tragic romance. It's not the same thing as reading the book, so you can't just watch the film instead of studying if you are unlucky enough to have it on your syllabus, but the subject matter has been rendered into an easily digestible work of art which is far more enjoyable than it really should be.

Thus, we have another movie for October which isn't something a "horror fan" would normally think of watching. Sometimes you just have to take a chance on something outside of your comfort zone, because life is too short to watch shit movies.

October 3, 2016

Rebecca (1940)

"A self-conscious bride is tormented by the memory of her husband's dead first wife."

Although I'm the first to admit that I'm not much of a Hitchcock expert, this Oscar winning gothic thriller seems ideal (at least atmospherically) for my second recommendation in the run up to Hallowe'en.

There's not much I can tell you which you can't find out for yourself by Googling or reading Wikipedia, as it all seems fairly typical of an Alfred Hitchcock wartime film noir to me. "Rebecca" was Hitchcock's first American movie and his second adaptation of a book by Cornish author Daphne du Maurier.

Apparently, David Selznick wasn't happy with losing control as producer to the whims of Alfred Hitchcock and reshot several scenes, but I have no clue what they were or even if it matters that much. The movie ran way over budget for all kinds of reasons, and I don't think anyone involved was completely happy with it either during or after production.

Much like any other movie of the time, "Rebecca" is all very dated with mostly awful overacting and line delivery, and effects such as rear projection during the driving scenes are glaringly obvious. There's even what appears to be roadkill in the background of the second day out in Monte Carlo (actually California) with Maxim and the future Mrs de Winter.

"There will only be 8 planets left... after I destroy Uranus."

With several changes to the original novel by Daphne du Maurier, the standout amd most memorable character becomes the sinister housekeeper Mrs Danvers (as played by Judith Anderson) rather than the romantic leads. Danvers is quite the looker, hardly ever blinks, and has the worst kind of fangirl crush on the dead former mistress of the house. Weirdly, we never get to see the titular Rebecca de Winter in flashbacks, and have to learn nearly everything about her from the rose-tinted memories of her obsessed servant. But just like the novel, the new Mrs de Winter doesn't even get a first name.

The only big problem with "Rebecca" is that it's hard to care about any of the characters other than Laurence Olivier's cuckolded Maxim, and to some extent, George Sanders as the opportunistic adulterer Max Favell. A very young Joan Fontaine is simply far too mousey, awkward, and scared of her own shadow as she comes to terms with her new position among the upper classes to be a sympathetic character for modern audiences who have never encountered domestic service themselves. Except for period TV dramas such as "Upstairs Downsatirs" and "Downton Abbey", I'm glad to say that I've never had much to do with the antiquated British feudal system either.

What makes "Rebecca" worth watching for its two-hour duration is the set design for the interiors of Manderley, the atmosphere, and the anticipation of revelations with a twist. Getting there may not be worth the trouble for some people (including anyone who has seen or heard any of the remakes and clones), but as a precursor to "The Uninvited" (1944)—an equally dated ghost story which I've often recommended for Hallowe'en—it's certainly interesting to see how certain moral codes were only everso slightly more relaxed four years later.

Due yet another remake any time now, "Rebecca" is still worth checking out if you don't want to wait. A certain British newspaper gave away barebones DVDs of the movie several years ago (which you can now pick up for pennies on eBay), and of course, it's been uploaded all over the internet streaming sites (despite not being officially in the Public Domain as far as I know) for those who want to search for it.

As an old black and white movie, I don't know if there's any benefit in buying a blu-ray version, but I'm sure at least one exists. The existing DVDs have several grainy moments near the end which could be the result of an intentional effect shot through a piece of net (perhaps to simulate fog or smoke), but they are all good enough for most people.

October 2, 2016

The Birds (1963)

"A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people there in increasing numbers and with increasing viciousness."

Do you have ornithophobia? Do feathery things terrify you? No? Me neither, but there are some poor souls out there who would absolutely wet themselves at the thought of ever watching "The Birds", and not in a sexy way.

I've still got a soft spot for "The Birds" after reading Daphne Du Maurier's novella in one of the "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" collections at school. The written version is much more real than the film somehow, although in fairness, birds are usually quite harmless creatures, and you can't ever really imagine them turning against humans.

"The Birds" is almost as far-fetched as trees, grass, and other plants turning against people like in "The Happening" (2008), and I'm surprised that nobody picked up on M. Night Shyamalan's inspiration at the time. However, there's always a nagging doubt when it comes to nature or animals of any kind that they know something which we don't and will one day turn against us.

Alfred Hitchcock never explained why the birds attack, but everything seems to centre around Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and her relationship with Mitch (Rod Taylor). This has lead at least one reviewer to suggest that the birds are somehow telepathically controlled by Mitch's mother Lydia (Jessica Tandy) due to her anxiety about losing her son to another woman. I think that interpretation is clever, but it's reading far too much into subtle points within the film. The way "The Birds" is structured mirrors the romantic subplot, but there's no suggestion of telepathy in the original short story.

There are several things which stand out in "The Birds" including Tippi Hedren's beauty, an early appearance by Veronica Cartwright, and how amazingly well thousands of real birds (and nearly 400 trick shots) were used. It's a good thing that Alfred Hitchcock never listened to the advice about working with children or animals, especially as it is well documented that he disliked birds himself.

Unfortunately, "The Birds" is becoming quite dated now, and the stagey dialogue is often extremely cringeworthy. In fact, the only member of the cast who seems to be able to act without affectation is the late Rod Taylor. Tippi Hedren and Suzanne Pleshette are only slightly more tolerable than the horrible overacting from Jessica Tandy, although there are unintentional laughs to be had at everyone's expense for a modern audience.

The special effects are, sadly, also not that great anymore. Some bird attack scenes look as if they belong to a bad 3D version of the movie rather than being the groundbreaking Disney Studios work they actually were, and of course, any blood is bright red like paint.

Platinum Dunes were once going to remake "The Birds", but thankfully, they seem to have given up on that idea. What would have even been the point? There's already a sequel, "The Birds II: Land's End" (1994), which should be more than enough for anyone wanting to watch badly made crap instead of the original.

If you are looking for something other than yet another slasher to watch on the run up to Hallowe'en, you could do far worse than break out this or any other Hitchcocks you might own. It may be impossible for the virtue signallers to ignore the director's alleged obsession with Tippi Hedren behind the scenes, but "The Birds" still stands as one of Alfred Hitchcock's more entertaining movies.

October 1, 2016

Three in a row for the first day of October 2016

Here we go again. It's going to be another October where horror reviewers fall over themselves to watch as many movies as they can, and nobody will read their blogs because they are all too busy writing their own.

I usually take a break from blogging around this time every year because Americans yawping on about the Hallowe'en non-holiday get right on my tits, but owing to the fact that I've hardly watched anything new at this point, I may as well join in the circle jerk.

I'm not sure whether to label these three movies as horror or thrillers, but I watched them and moatly enjoyed them. You might like them too.

Hush (2016)

"A deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window."

A bit of an updated version of "Wait Until Dark", "Mute Witness", "Blink", "Blind Terror", "Julia's Eyes", and a plethora of others where an attractive but disabled woman gets menaced in her own home.

There's a cat in it named "Bitch" who survives, so that's a point in its favour, but the Apple product placement is blatant for those of us who notice such things.

Nothing new here, and one scene apes "The Collector", but it's a nicely done home invasion movie. I believe that Blumhouse produced it (which usually is the kiss of death) and Netflix are distributing it.

The Good Neighbor (2016)

"A pair of mischievous high school kids create the illusion of a haunting on an unsuspecting neighbor. While keeping his every reaction under surveillance, they see much more than they bargained for."

As much as I hate writng "neighbour" in the misspelled American way, this is an American film, so I'll leave it alone.

Not much to say about this other than the leads are pretty good, the twist is unexpected, and the story managed to keep my attention until the end. In some ways it reminds me of "Killer Net" (1998) at the beginning, but the story soon heads in a very different direction.

Another cat has an important part to play in the denouement. How interesting.

Don't Breathe (2016)

"Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn't as helpless as he seems."

If you've already watched the previous two movies, there really is nothing original in this one. It's yet another home invasion featuring a disabled "victim" with a secret. No cat this time though.

Out of the the three, this is easily the weakest, not least because of its setting, obvious SJW panderings, and the huge mistake of trying to make anyone feel sorry for the thieves. Personally, I wanted all of them to die.

A lot of younger movie enthusiasts think this is good, and if you haven't seen anything like it before, I suppose it's okay.

Hopefully, I'll have something much better for you tomorrow.