Friday, 10 November 2017

Thanksgiving Turkeys - The Longlist

Jay and I had so much fun doing our 31 Days of Horror list that we wanted to do it all over again. So, what now? How about 10 Thanksgiving Turkeys?

That's right, movies that we've seen that are so bloody awful that they're brilliant. Starting the list was kind of difficult but, once we got started, it was hard to stop! Here's our longlist of movies that are so bad they're good:

(FYI: We're not counting movies that we haven't seen or movies that just plain suck.)

Thanksgiving Turkeys - The Longlist

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978)
Bad Taste (1987)
Battlefield Earth (2000)
Brain Dead (1990)
Cannibal Women in the Avacado Jungle of Death (1989)
The Carrier (1988)
Caveman (1981)
Chopping Mall (1986)
Class of Nuke 'em High (1986)
The Devil's Rain (1975)
Escape from LA (1996)
Fido (2006)
Frankenfish (2004)
Freddy vs Jason (2003)
The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)
Howard the Duck (1986)
Jack Frost (1997)
Jason X (2001)
Killdozer (1974)
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (2002)
Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996)
Love at First Bite (1979)
Maniac (1980)
Maniac Cop (1988)
Masters of the Universe (1987)
Monster Man (2003)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Motel Hell (1980)
My Best Friend is a Vampire (1987)
Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge (1989)
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
Rawhead Rex (1986)
Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Satan's Little Helper (2004)
Shaolin Soccer (2001)
Snowbeast (1977)
Super Mario Bros. (1993)
Teeth (2007)
Thursday (1998)
Toxic Avenger (1984)
Waxwork (1988)

What do you think of our list? What's on yours?  What's your favourite turkey? Let us know!

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Castle Vanian Bonfire Night Playlist 2017

It's no secret that I'm no fan of Bonfire Night. I find the whole premise ridiculous and the fact that it's dangerous as shit doesn't help one bit.

Did you know that one Bonfire Night a few years ago, a firework actually hit the front of my house? Grah! Another, a firework went through the roof of my greenhouse. Never mind the fact that it terrifies my Blodwyn, which is an unforgivable offence.

On the other hand, I'll never pass up an opportunity to make a playlist. 'Cause #musicislife and all. So, here it is, our Bonfire Night Playlist. (Maybe if I play it loud enough, I can drown out the steady bang bang bang of fireworks?)

11 Songs to Fuel Your Fire
This Bonfire Night

What do you think of our playlist? What's on yours? Let us know in the comments!

If you want to listen along, check it out on YouTube: 

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

31 Days of Horror: Halloween II (1981)

There's only one horror franchise that could conclude our 31 Days of Classic Horror and that is, of course, Halloween. Picking the right Halloween movie for this list, however, isn't as easy. After much deliberation, we eventually decided that Halloween II (1981) is the best of the franchise and our very last film for the countdown.

Halloween II carries on directly from Halloween and takes place mostly in the hospital Laurie Strode is taken to following Mike Myers's attack. Turns out a hospital makes a pretty good location for a horror movie...

Time to pass things over to Jay to get his opinion.

What a film. People will argue about this one. Some will say you can never beat 'Halloween' but I preferred the sequel. Michael Myers was much more menacing in 'Halloween II'. The soundtrack was better and Mike Meyers's shape was more menacing. There's nothing you can say about Halloween 2 that was bad. It was a superb film. It didn't have the shock value of the first film but sequels never do.

'Halloween II' was a nerve-wracking film. The 'Halloween' films all were. They were good at building up tension. The 'Halloween's have been constantly well done. I loved 'Halloween H20'. Jamie Lee was back in that one but Donald Pleasence had died. She's faked her own death but can never get away from Mike Meyers.

 Halloween H20 almost beat Halloween II for me. There's something about going back while moving forward that really appeals to me. Michael is even more sinister in H20 than he was in Halloween II. I love the bit where he's lowering himself down from the ceiling with one hand. That's one slick psycho-killer.

Carpenter hated doing sequels, which is why he didn't direct 'Halloween II'. He did produce it, though. You know, I'm sure we talked about it before but Carpenter was good at "stings", which is when they have a sudden blast of music when someone comes on the screen. It's one of those very iconic soundtracks. The minute it comes on, people recognise it for what it is. It's very atmospheric and gory in parts. Very jumpy. 

You had a lot of the cast reprising their roles in 'Halloween II'. Donald Pleasence was such a great ham actor. He was always a ham actor but he was a great ham actor. He's next to Shatner, up there in the ham royalty.

And you can't argue with Jamie Lee Curtis's status at a scream queen. The scream queen, for me. It was nice that Nancy Loomis's Annie got a cameo, even if it was as a corpse.

'Halloween II' is very tight. It still holds up very well. I think this is because it's set in a hospital. It carries right on from that same night, even though it was film two or three years later. My favourite part is when he's dipping her head in the scalding water, because of the effects.

That's my favourite part too! What a terrifying death. Still gives me the creeps. I also love that moment when the nurse goes to call the doctor but he's already been killed and, as she backs away, you see Michael step out of the shadows. Great, visually.

Well, as it's Halloween and we've got some celebrating to do, we'll leave it there. What do you think of our countdown? Do you agree or disagree with our choices? Let us know!

Monday, 30 October 2017

31 Days of Horror: The Omen (1976)

Just two more days left of our 31 Days of Horror special feature! I can't believe it's almost Birthdayoween already! Have you guessed what tomorrow's film will be yet?

Today, we're going to be taking a look at one of Jay's favourite movies, The Omen (1976). There have been countless tales of the anti-christ told on screen but The Omen has to be one of the very best. (I think Jay would argue that it is the best. Let's find out.)

Of course 'The Omen' is the best movie about the anti-christ. Don't be ridiculous.

I saw 'The Omen' in about 1980. I was about eleven and much more aware of things by then. You start to think about things, to worry about things, at that age. By the time I watched 'The Omen' I could really understand it; it wasn't completely over my head. 

You know, I watched Damien: Omen II before I saw The Omen. I just thought of that. I don't suppose it's important, really, except that my parents must have preferred that one because it was the only one they kept on video.

The great thing about 'The Omen' is the cast. What a cast! It doesn't get much better than Peck and Remick, with Troughton and Whitelaw. Even Harvey Stephens as Damien was superbly cast. The director had seen hundreds of children and each time, they told the kid to go mental. When he told Stephens, the kid kicked him right in the nuts. Helluva way to land a gig.

It's a cast that works very well together. They click, which makes for brilliant performances, all 'round. Harvey Stephens - that's an evil fucking kid, man. And his nanny, Billie Whitelaw, is fierce. My favourite, though, is David Warner. I loved him in My Best Friend is a Vampire. Great casting.

Billie Whitelaw as Mrs Blaylock really was terrifying. Mia Farrow, in the remake, was like Mary Poppins compared to that. And the new Damien only had two modes, confused and scowling. They should have stayed well away from remaking 'The Omen'. They were never going to do it better.  

Oh, don't forget about Leo McKern as Bugenhagen. Only a cameo, really, from Bugenhagen but he's the linchpin in the sequel so it was very important. The Devil's always watching. 

I know we don't agree on our favourite satanic films. The Devil's Advocate is mine but The Omen is your choice, right?

Right. It is the religious film. This isn't just some demon, this is the son of the Devil himself. 'The Devil's Advocate' is really a thriller, while the 'The Omen' is terrifying. It'll always win, because of that. 'The Omen' made you wonder if religion was real. Could there be an anti-Christ walking among us?

I think the bit that unnerved me the most is when the ambassador and the photographer are in the priest's room. The ambassador says that it's his problem but the photographer shows him the photo and says it's his problem too. 

The Omen really does do a good job with foreshadowing. That feeling of dread as you're waiting for the ball to drop is powerful and propels the action forward. The 2006 remake tried to use dream sequences to do the same and it failed miserably.

The bit that really got me, though, was the bit at the party where the nanny hangs herself. The cheerful way she kills herself for Damien is scary. Mindless devotion is a terrifying thing.

God, the remake was fucking awful. The three sequels were good, though. 'Damien: Omen II' was superb. By the time they'd gotten to number 3, the cast wasn't that well known. The fourth was more television actors than movie actors but it still works. 

Omen IV: The Awakening doesn't get enough credit. It's actually a cracking film and so clever.

It's explained well, too. The first knife only exterminates physical life and that was the only one of the seven that was used. It left it wide open for more movies. 

Omen IV is quite sinister. Again, the foreshadowing is very well done and the deaths are inventive. Asia Vieira is creepy as shit as Delia, who carries her brother's life. Such a clever idea. Yeah, it was only a made-for-TV movie but it's much better than you'd think.

I was enjoying the new TV series so I was annoyed that they canned it. It had a lot of potential. It filled in the gaps that the movies missed out. I would have liked to have where they took the telly series. 

I didn't care much for the TV version. I thought it messed with the canon a little too much and was just too weird. You forgot about the music, though. The Omen has an awesome soundtrack.

The soundtrack was immense. For me, it's the best score I've ever heard. I only need to hear the opening bars of that thing and the hairs on my neck stand up. It's so invokative of the film. It's menacing. Bad shit is about to happen here.

'The Omen' is kind of timeless. They wouldn't dress like normal people because they're ambassadors. You rarely see any cars. What is there to date it? There was no bad language or sex. There's a little gore, but not much. The worst bit is probably when the photographer's beheaded or maybe when he's fighting with Mrs Baylock at the end. 

Agreed. It never needed to be remade because it still feels so relevant.

Okedoke, folks. That's it for us today. Come back tomorrow for our very last film!

Sunday, 29 October 2017

31 Days of Horror: Jaws (1975)

Welcome back to 31 Days of Horror on Wondra's World. There was some dispute over whether the next movie should be included on our list - whether it was more action/adventure than horror. The decision was made after this short conversation:

Jay: Jaws isn't really a horror movie.
Me: Did you ever go on the Jaws ride at Universal Studios?
Jay: No.
Me: Well, I did and it scared the shit out of me. Jaws stays.

Hard to argue with that logic, right?

Jaws (1975) is about a small coastal town that's struck by a series of bizarre shark attacks. The town's new police chief, Roy Scheider's Chief Martin Brody, tries desperately to keep people safe while the town's politicians fight him at every turn. Eventually, he joins a small team of intrepid - and possibly crazy - men (a marine biologist and a kooky old sailor) who go to sea to take the shark on.

Now that you've got the basics, let's go to Jay and see what he thinks.

I saw 'Jaws 2' before I saw 'Jaws'. I eventually saw them both on a double bill. My dad wouldn't take me to see 'Jaws' when it came out because he thought it would be too scary for me. He was probably right - I was about 6 at the time and Dr Who still frightened me. 

I nagged to go see 'Jaws 2' when it came out. I went with my family and best friend. My dad and my best friend both knew about the bit where the shark bites the boat so it was a great laugh for them. My mom and I just about took off.

You know, that's the part of the Jaws ride that nearly gave me a heart attack. I was about eleven or twelve when we went and a helluva lot cuter than I am now. The guy running the ride was clearly evil because he directed me toward the "best seat on the boat", which was exactly where he knew the shark would bite. Bastard.

I said I was cute. I never said I had fashion sense.

Hah. That's exactly the kind of thing I would have done. Of course the shark frightened me, too. I was about ten-years-old. The power of 'Jaws' was that it stopped people from going into the sea for a season. Peter Benchley, the guy who wrote 'Jaws', said that he wished he'd never written it, because of the long-term damage it did to the shark community. They should never try to remake it for that reason. The shark populations have never recovered from the fallout of this movie.

On one hand, that's utterly heartbreaking. It's hard to imagine a whole species of animals being impacted by the fear created by a piece of fiction. On the other hand, it's a testament to the effectiveness of Jaws as a horror film. That it could be so powerful. Incredible. Horrible, but incredible.

Exactly. And that's just part of the reason 'Jaws' is still as relevant today as it was back in '75. It doesn't really date, you know. Because it's set mainly on a boat - or on one of those quaint coastal towns that are always a little out of touch with modern times - it doesn't date. Yeah, the effects are a bit hokey with the shark but they don't show it much so it still works really well.

I wouldn't say that it's a horror, though, really. 'Jaws' is more of a good action/adventure film with lots of jumps and scares. It's also believable. There's nothing fictitious about the deadly power of a great white; it is a prolific man-killer. That just added fuel to the shark hysteria. As a movie, though, there's no part that didn't work for me. You've got a helluva cast, for starters.

In 'Jaws', you see a couple of actors at the beginnings of their careers and a couple of actors at the ends of their careers. Robert Shaw as Quint was the standout performance for me. Delightfully bat shit crazy. It was a great, iconic role, the shark hunter being hunted by the shark. 

Like a booze-soaked Captain Ahab? Hah. I like Richard Dreyfuss's Matt Hooper; the frustration of the young scholar who could save everyone if anyone would just fucking listen. That appeals to me. And the sarcasm, of course. That "Ha ha, they're all gonna die" moment. I also love the bit on the boat, where Quint and Hooper are comparing battle scars. It's followed by a beautifully dark moment that raises the hairs on the back of your neck. It's hard to balance humour and tragedy, but Jaws does it well.

Best not forget the theme. It's one of the most iconic theme tunes in the world. They use it in all the Jaws movies. It's menacing and foreboding, telling you something's coming - and it's instantly recognisable. Every schoolkid knows that sound, even if they've never seen the movie. That's a score that works.

Agreed. There's another piece of brilliance happening in Jaws, you know. The fact that Chief Brody isn't from Amity Island is important to the story. Coming from a small town, I can tell you that, no matter how long you've lived there, you'll be an outsider until your children have children. (And maybe even after that.) Small town mentality, man. And that's part of the reason no one will give Brody the permission he needs to close the beaches. What does this guy know, right? I mean... he's not even from here. (Well, that and good, old-fashioned greed.) I don't care what position you hold, no one is going to trust an outsider which, as Jaws shows, can have disastrous consequences.

'Jaws 2' was actually pretty good. You had a lot of the original cast back. Robert Shaw's character was dead and Dreyfuss didn't return but they're both mentioned, which is a nice touch. There's a nice nod to the original at the beginning, when the shark passes over the Orca at the bottom of the sea. Forget about the other sequels; they're absolute rubbish. 

You mean like Jaws: The Revenge? This time it's personal. *snort* Yeah... rubbish is a good word.

I think it's just about time we wrapped things up here... Do you agree that Jaws is horror? Get in touch and let us know what you think.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

31 Days of Horror: The Exorcist (1973)

Here we are, Day 28 of 31 Days of Horror and The Exorcist (1973). The Exorcist is about a mother, Ellen Burstyn's Chris MacNeil, whose daughter (Linda Blair's Regan) becomes possessed by a demon. Two priests are called in to assist and the demon is exorcised, at a high cost.

The Exorcist isn't one of my favourite horror movies so I'm going to sit back and let Jay gab at you awhile. I'll be back...

I saw 'The Exorcist' the first time on video and I didn't really pay much attention to it. About three years later, I caught it as part of an all-night picture show at the cinema. It was a lot different seeing it in the cinema. It's always better in the cinema because all you have to focus on is that screen in front of you. The second time I watched 'The Exorcist', I found it frightening. It's a very nervy, atmospheric film. 

When my dad went and saw it in '73, there were nuns and priests outside the cinema to talk to if the movie frightened you. In its day, it was a very frightening film. Britain was a much more religious country after the war. It didn't affect me at all on a religious level. I was always pretty un-religious, anyway. 

Funny, although I don't really dig this movie, it's exactly the kind of movie I love. If I have a choice between watching a movie about possession or a slasher flick, I'll choose possession any day. So why doesn't The Exorcist work for me? Well... It's so freaking slow, to start with. The whole bit at the beginning, at the dig? Felt so unnecessary to me. I'm normally the person screaming for backstory in a movie but backstory can not come at the expense of entertainment. It feels like the whole first half of the movie is nothing but backstory and that just doesn't cut it. Make your point and get on with it.

The other thing I don't like about The Exorcist (and, yes, I do know that it was intentional) is the complete lack of sound. The Exorcist is eerily quiet for nearly the whole film, with only the odd "Tubular Bells" to break it up. I find it unsettling - which, of course, is the point. In addition to making the film feel unsettling, though, it also makes the film feel longer, which isn't good.

You're absolutely right; the film was meant to feel unnaturally silent. Everything was done deliberately to unnerve you. For instance, it was filmed in a freezer unit. The fact that you could see their breaths the whole time added atmosphere. 'The Exorcist' is one of the few horror films that really deserves its reputation. Now, you can watch episodes of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' that are more frightening but, back in the day, 'The Exorcist' was a really scary film. 

'The Exorcist' is more than just a horror movie; it's an iconic horror movie. Just think of the movie poster, with the priest standing outside the house. You know that image, even if you're not a huge horror fan. And the musical score, "Tubular Bells", will never be forgotten. There are so many scenes in 'The Exorcist' that have been referenced or parodied in other films and TV shows. It's become part of our cultural literacy. 

Yes, I remember that I saw the parody, Repossessed, before I ever saw The Exorcist. That's messed up. Even though I'm not a fan, I would never try to negate The Exorcist's relevance or its importance to the future (and history) of the horror genre. One of my favourite movies of all time, Stigmata, could never have happened without The Exorcist. It basically gave birth to a whole sub-genre of horror, satanist horror. Like it or not, this is one film that's never going away.

There were five or six 'Exorcist' films in the end. Some were good and some were bad. Some just made you go, "Huh?" I hated 'The Exorcist 2: The Heretic'. It had no business being there. It was absolute rubbish, even though it had a great cast. That's always the problem with attempting to follow a seminal movie like 'The Exorcist'. You'll never live up to it. The first series of 'The Exorcist' TV show was very good, though, especially because it tied it in with the movie. The second series is shaping up well, too, because it moves away from the family. We'll see how that goes. 

We will. For now, though, we've gotta wrap things up and carve some pumpkins.

What do you think of The Exorcist? Let us know in the comments below.

Friday, 27 October 2017

31 Days of Horror: The Lost Boys (1987)

Wow. Is it Day 27 of our 31 Days of Classic Horror countdown already? Guess that means it's time to talk about The Lost Boys (1987). I'd like to say that I'm going to discuss The Lost Boys impartially but, truth is, I'm just going to do my best not to completely fangirl out. Here we go...

The Lost Boys is about a mother and her two sons who move to Santa Carla after a bad divorce where they meet an interesting assortment of people - most of which are either vampires or vampire hunters. Yup, a totally lame synopsis for the awesomeness that is The Lost Boys.

I'm going pass things over to Jay for a moment. Let's see what he thinks.

I saw 'The Lost Boys' the week it came out. I had bleached-blonde hair at the time, being a goth, which made people do a double-take. I'd bleached my hair that week in defiance so it was a happy coincidence (though not for my grandfather.) I won't lie, I liked the attention.

'The Lost Boys' came out very close to 'Fright Night'. 'Near Dark' too. There was a glut of great vampire films in the Eighties, which was a good thing. Horror does that; it goes in cycles. Vampire movies tend to be either cheesy eroticism, straight up comedy, or very dark. That's the secret of the lost boys - it has all three. You have the love interest in Star, you've got the darkness of David's lot, and the Coreys for humour. A bit of sexiness, a bit of a scare, and a bit of humour - a tried and tested formula. 

Right. The Lost Boys is just teeming with sexy teen angst but the comedy, mostly provided by Corey Haim's Sam, keeps it from becoming melodramatic in the way that some teen vampire films (we won't name names) do. The family bits are intersected by dark periods full of murder and blood. What more can you expect from a film?

'The Lost Boys' was Corey Haim's best film. He was superb and really made you laugh. I love the line, "Oh, shit. It's the attack of Eddy Munster." A joke like that resonated with people my age, having grown up with that show ['The Munsters']. I'd say that the comedy was provided by the Frog brothers, though. Most useless vampire hunters ever. 

I love the Frog brothers. They're just so ridiculous that all you can do is shake your head and laugh. Their greatest moment is when they enter the cave to kill the vampires. Big mistake but, as Edgar said, "It's not our fault, they pulled a mind scramble on us! They opened their eyes and talked!"

The soundtrack to 'The Lost Boys' was great. It was so Eighties. The whole feel of the movie embodied the Eighties. A superb film, very much of its era. I hope they never try to remake it. You'll never better it. It was unique to its time.

Agreed. Any attempt at remaking The Lost Boys could only be cringe-worthy at best. Even the sequels only managed to be okay. I hate to say it but the thing that made The Lost Boys so magical was that it was just totally Eighties. The hair, the fashion, the music - especially the music. The soundtrack was fantastic. It has to be said, though, that Seasons After covered "Cry Little Sister" for one of the sequels (The Tribe, maybe?) and they did it even better.

Which is interesting because the version of "People are Strange" that was done for 'The Lost Boys' was better than the original. 

'The Lost Boys' is one of those films that I keep coming back to, year after year. Of all the vampire films I've seen - of which there are many - 'The Lost Boys' makes the top 5.  

Same here. It's just a cool fucking movie. I couldn't say how many times I've seen it but I know I'll probably watch it again before the year's out.

And that's all we've got for today. Come back tomorrow for our next movie.