Thursday, October 3, 2019

Thursday Movie Picks #273: Period Horror

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of Thursday Movie Picks, the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. We're into October, which means Halloween is coming, and everybody starts thinking about horror. So the themes for October are all horror-related, and this first Thursday in Octobr has the theme "Period Horror". Now, my first thought was of the scene in An Unmarried Woman where Jill Clayburgh is talking to her psychiatrist and talking about getting her first period, something that I as a guy have no desire to listen to. (Sorry ladies.) But that's not really what the theme means. Instead, we're looking for horror movies set in various past historical eras. I could have gone for simple stuff like Frankenstein, but I wanted to go for things that were a bit more out there, and came up with three:

The Pit and the Pendulum (1961). Roger Corman's take on the classic Edgar Allan Poe story, starring Vincent Price as a 16th century Spanish inquisitor visited by his brother-in-law (John Kerr) after Kerr's sister dies. Kerr wants to know what happened, and finds your typical horror tropes of hidden passages and the like.

Whoever Slew Auntie Roo (1971). A retelling of the Hansel and Gretel story, updated to the 1920s and starring Shelley Winters in the role of the evil witch. It's a relatively cartoonish horror so not overly frightening, but Winters' relentless overacting makes this one a lot of fun.

Häxan (1922). Swedish silent film (the name means "The Witch") that is also known as Witchcraft Through the Ages after an edit that added narration from William Burroughs. That latter title accurately states what the movie is about; various vignettes that look at how society has ever feared odd, unexplainable behavior and called it "witchcraft" -- and is still doing it today. It's just that what gets called "witchcraft" changes from one age to the next.


thevoid99 said...

Haxan... oh that movie is awesome.

joel65913 said...

LOVE your choices!

Oh the Corman oeuvre which I also dipped into! The Pit and Pendulum is a good representation of his stock in trade with Vincent Price giving one of his enjoyably florid interpretations.

Shelley Winters is such a case. Capable of beautifully deep and sensitive work when necessary she was equally adept at going totally over the top and though it could become overwhelming after a while it was often incredibly entertaining. That's the case with Auntie Roo.

Haxan is a fascinating silent, intense and compelling.

As I said I went to the Corman well for one of mine as well and two others that are a little more recent.

The Others (2001)-On the English coast during WWII Grace (Nicole Kidman), a young mother with strong religious beliefs lives mostly in darkness with her two children who suffer from a rare photosensitivity disease hoping to hear word of her husband who is missing in action. A sense of dread permeates the house as the daughter claims to see ghosts and ominous events continue to transpire. I’m not a fan of Kidman but she’s good in this solid creeper.

Interview with the Vampire (1994)-In a San Francisco mansion 200 year old vampire, Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) tells the story of his transformation at the hands of the seductive Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise) to reporter Daniel Molloy (Christian Slater). He spins a tale of bloodlust, domination and his attempts to break free only to be further enslaved by Lestat’s conversion of Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) a girl Louis holds dear. Cruise is miscast but not a bad adaptation of the book.

The Haunted Palace (1963)-In the 1760’s condemned warlock Joseph Curwen (Vincent Price) curses a New England village just before being burned alive. Jump forward a century and the kindly Charles Ward (also Price), Curwen's great-great grandson and his wife Ann (Debra Paget) arrive in town to take up residence in Curwen's old mansion assisted by caretaker Simon Orne (Lon Chaney Jr.). But before long the ancient curse overcomes Charles who is driven to evil deeds. Roger Corman directed pastiche of a Poe poem and H. P. Lovecraft novella is a boilerplate 60’s AIP release with Price chewing the scenery most enjoyably.

Birgit said...

Love the Roger Corman films and so many fit this week's theme. I really enjoyed The Pit and the Pendulum. I haven't seen the other 2 but Shelley Winters overacting? Hahaaa..she does when it is this type of film and she is always fun to watch.. I have not seen the Swedish film at all but I want to now.