Finished out my Halloween viewing with the following over the 30th and 31st.
15. Carnival of Souls (1962)
: After surviving a car crash into a river, an organist named Mary Henry (Candice Hilligoss) finds herself haunted by a mysterious figure and inexplicably drawn to a nearby abandoned carnival.
This low budget horror classic chiller has some great moments of suspense and was arguably years ahead of its time with its clever twist. What really makes this film stand out though is the setting especially within the Saltair Pavilion. There's always something not quite right in this movie, something a bit "off". This movie feels very akin to The Twilight Zone but seems more low budget an effort. There are some problems here and there particularly with a cast of unknowns playing most of the roles but for what it is, it's extraordinarily good.
16. Dementia 13 (1963)
: The Halloran family are an Irish family who return home every year to partake in a morbid tradition, a remembrance ceremony in honor of the family's youngest daughter Kathleen who tragically drowned in a nearby pond as a child. Things take a turn for the unexpected this time around however when an axe murderer begins to target family members and those around them.
This murder mystery was also arguably years ahead of its time and definitely has slasher film elements we'd see turn up again years later such as leaving a body to be found and surprisingly gory murder sequences for the era if nothing compared to modern standards. What's best about this one is it has a great atmosphere and some fine acting performances what with William Campbell, Patrick Magee and Luana Anders on board for this one. Better than you might expect this early directorial effort from Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Roger Corman.
17. The Innocents (1961)
: Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) somewhat reluctantly becomes governess to two orphaned children named Miles (Martin Stephens) and Flora (Pamela Franklin) but feels something is amiss and "off" with the children. In time, she becomes convinced the grounds are haunted and begins to suspect something evil might be influencing the children.
This film is so amazingly good. It really leaves you guessing as to what's really, truly happening. Is the place really haunted or is this all the imaginings of a disturbed mind? Great acting and some unsettling spooky scenes and a great atmospheric setting that lends itself to chills, whether imagined or otherwise. Delivers the chills in a quiet unexpected way. Has surprising punch and power.
18. Trilogy of Terror (1975)
: This anthology movie describes three different tales of horror and suspense each starring Karen Black in a leading role. The first story "Julie" tells the story of a seemingly demure schoolteacher that becomes the target of a college student with a taste for the twisted only everything isn't quite as it appears. The second story "Millicent and Therese" tells the story of two twin siblings whose hatred for one another takes a murderous route only with an unexpected twist in the end. The final and by far the best story "Amelia" tells the story of a young woman with an overbearing domineering mother who buys a Zuni Fetish Doll as a surprise for her boyfriend but gets quite the horrifying surprise herself when the evil looking doll seemingly comes to life. The first two stories were O.K. but nothing really extraordinary for the era even though Black does quite well in her roles. The third story is what makes this film special and is undoubtedly one of most suspenseful, scariest conclusions to a TV movie ever.
19. Black Sabbath (1963)
: The anthology film adapts three terrifying horror stories. The first "The Telephone" is a suspense filled tale about an anonymous caller who seems to be stalking a terrified woman named Rosy (Michèle Mercier) in her apartment somehow knowing her every move. The second and I'd argue the best story is "The Wurdalak" which tells the story of a Russian Count (Mark Damon) who stumbles across a family who fears they might be cursed when their father Gorca (Boris Karloff) returns from tangling with a suspected vampire. The third story "A Drop of Water" tells the story of a young woman named Helen Chester |(Jacqueline Pierreux) who is called late at night to use her nurse's training to attend to a recently deceased woman whose corpse has taken on a gruesome visage.
The odd vibrant colors and atmospheric look of Black Sabbath is just so well done. This film has many downright chilling scenes and sequences. While the first story is more mundane (we've actually seen similar plots done quite often in modern suspense thrillers), the last two stories pack more of a punch. Particularly memorable as the chilling scenes of family members no longer truly living stalk the premises of those whom they loved most in life, staring in windows in scenes that could inspire nightmares. The final story has some great suspense although honestly it's never as fully convincing as I'd like it to be, the drop of water a great build to some terrifying surprises. On a personal note, I have to admit I actually enjoy the Americanized version of this more which I feel has a better placement of stories and it's just much more neat to hear Karloff's voice. I actually watched the Italian version in this case though.
20. The Woman in Black (1989)
: Arthur Kidd (Adrian Rawlins) is a likable young solicitor and family man who is sent by his law firm to settle the estate and affairs of a recently deceased old widow is the seaside town of Crythin. He soon begins to discover there was more than meets the eye to the story of this widow who friendless lived in an isolated, oft cut-off part of town which the townspeople seem to go out of their way to avoid. How does this all tie to the mysterious woman in black (Pauline Moran) seemingly sighted by only Kidd himself at the old widow's funeral?
This little TV adaptation chiller never fails to chill me to the bone especially it's big night invasion sequence which brings to mind the Old Hag visitation. The acting in this is quite good and the story builds leaving clues that eventually weave together, bits and pieces that eventually weave into a terrifying whole. Just a perfect choice for Halloween IMO.
21. Halloween (1978)
: Speaking of perfect choices, it wouldn't be Halloween without revisiting the story of Michael Myers who fifteen years after murdering his sister Judith as a young boy returns to Haddonfield, Illinois on a murderous mission.
As always, the suspense is terrific in this one which perfectly builds and builds to climax. There's so many scenes where Myers just stands in the background stalking and waiting for his moment to strike. For Halloween, this is to me the choice fright fest with Myers as the Shape seemingly representing the unstoppable force that is evil. Not saying everything is perfect here (the heavy breathing had Darth Vader-esque undertones at times and one wonders just why no one notices him before they do, still this works a lot more than it doesn't). Arguably spawned the whole slasher genre although clearly giallo and some 60s horror were inspiration.
22. Calling Dr. Death (1943)
: Dr. Mark Steele (Lon Chaney Jr.) is a doctor/hypnotist who fears that, during a weekend blackout in terms of his memory, he may have murdered his wife Maria (Ramsay Ames). However he's not the only suspect, his wife's lover Mr. Duval (David Bruce) is another. Steele decides to have his pretty young nurse/assistant Stella (Patricia Morison), also a possible love interest, to hypnotize him so he can finally learn the real truth. What this murder mystery investigation led by Inspector Gregg (J. Carrol Naish) eventually reveals takes us down yet another path.
This was a very enjoyable little murder mystery which some hypnotist hogwash thrown in and some clever twists here and there. Chaney is enjoyable as usual from this era even if this story really wasn't anything overly special. Morison and Ames also do quite well here. The most horrifying element here is the fact that acid was used to disfigure the murdered woman's face and the horrifying idea of not knowing whether you committed a murder or not. Enjoyable start to the Inner Sanctum mysteries.