What surprises were in store for us this time and how do they stack up? Well, rather than the usual seven films, we got a double-feature treat. So we are ranking eight movies this time around.
#8 – The Old Dark House
Not the best of the Universal Studios pre-code films, The Old Dark House is still a fun glimpse at an earlier era. The film follows a group of strangers who take shelter in an old, dark house during a flood. The film’s top billing goes to Boris Karloff, credited merely as KARLOFF, but the real stand out performance comes from Melvyn Douglas, playing a real roustabout and raconteur.
The film is more of a comedy than a straight horror film, but a lot of that humor fails to lick outside of the 1930s. Despite this, the film does play with some tropes of the then-burgeoning genre.
#7 – Satan’s Slaves
Satan’s Slaves is a modern remake-prequel of a 1980s Indonesian classic. Part of the Saturday night double-feature, this was the first Joko Anwar movie shown. The film follows a poverty-stricken family that is rocked by the death of their matriarch after caring for her for years. However, her death reveals a dark secret about the family and the larger world.
The movie is fine. It feels more style over substance, perhaps from it being locked into an existing story. Visually it’s quite impressive, but between this and Anwar’s Impetigore, the latter is superior.
#6 – The Monster Club
The Monster Club is a goofy anthology film adapting several stories by R. Chetwynd-Hayes. The film is largely known for Vincent Price, a goofy burlesque scene involving a skeleton, and a pretty fun soundtrack. Price’s vampire, Eramus, gets a blood donation from a fictionalized version of R. Chetwind-Hayes, played by the legendary John Carradine. The two then find themselves in a club for monsters, watching acts between stories about the monster world.
Only one of the segments feels memorable at all, honestly, and that is just for the ending. Otherwise this is a fairly forgettable movie outside of a few bright spots. The surprisingly punk-adjacent soundtrack is a lot of fun.
#5 – Patrick
Patrick is an Australian oddity that is a lot more fun than I expected it to be. Directed by Richard Franklin, the movie came with the first wave of Ozsploitation movies that swept the late 1970s and early 1980s. The movie follows a nurse, estranged from her husband, who takes a job at a hospital, ultimately caring for a comatose patient named Patrick. Patrick may not be as comatose as everyone thinks and his penchant for murder may be just as active.
It is an oddly mean-spirited little movie and a scene involving a frog feels particularly alarming, yet the people who should die ultimately don’t. Still, though, the lasting legacy of Patrick is less the movie and the fact it was a step towards Psycho II (directed by Richard Franklin) and inspired a moment in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill.
#4 – The Masque of the Red Death
Hoo boy, The Masque of the Red Death is a timely choice given everything going on in our world right now. This Roger Corman adaptation of the Edgar Alan Poe short story (with a bit of Hop-Frog thrown in) stars who else, but Vincent Price. The movie follows a party of the Satanic elite among the backdrop of a plague ravaging the countryside.
The movie is a fairly subdued Corman film, probably him at his best. There is plenty of cleavage to be had, of course, as his love of breasts is on full display. What is most interesting is how sexy the film is, particularly Vincent Price as the Satan-worshipping prince of the kingdom hosting the masque (at least, according tomy wife). The upside-down crucifix brand on the right breast of his concubine is also very stimulating.
Though perhaps not a great adaptation of Poe in substance, The Masque of the Red Death is still a treat.
#3 – Blood Quantum
I won’t dive far into Blood Quantum here, instead, I urge you to read my previously published review. The film still holds up well on my third viewing, for what it is worth. The movie follows a zombie outbreak in the 1980s on First Peoples’ land in Canada and makes for a unique spin on the zombie formula.
#2 – Impetigore
Impetigore struck me as the better of the Joko Anwar films in the double feature. It felt less beholden to existing in the confines of established work and let Anwar showcase a lot of fun horror, far more than Satan’s Slaves. The film follows a young woman who, after nearly getting killed, returns to her family’s ancestral village for answers, only to learn something truly horrific is going on.
The movie is very good and very creepy. What I found particularly interesting is that while it shied away from outright gore, the horror of implication was on full display and some gruesome, gruesome things happen in the story. Tara Basro, who seems to be Anwar’s good luck charm based on the number of collaborations they’ve done, puts in a very strong performance as Maya, the protagonist.
#1 – The Mortuary Collection
My selection for the best film of week six, The Mortuary Collection, I believe has the potential to start a franchise. This is an anthology title (again, another anthology…) that not only sticks the landing with most (if not all the short stories) but also has a solid narrative device that links them. The film follows a young woman who applies for a job at a mortuary in the town of Raven’s End, but we soon see the not everything is as it seems, even given the unusual appearance of the mortician.
The whole film is very stylish and I think there is a lot more that can be done with the community of Raven’s End. The film also spans several decades in its storytelling, starting with the 50s, telling a tale in the 1960s and 1970s, and framing the stories in the 1980s. Honestly, this might be one of the best anthology films on Shudder, maybe even up there with Scare Package.
So, what is on the agenda for the final two weeks of the 61 Days of Halloween? Shudder was kind enough to share the schedule on Twitter.