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Blake I. Collier | The Dirty Deacon

Contributor for Mockingbird | Co-creator of Son of Byford | Contributor for Christ & Pop Culture
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Halloween

Pulled together a Halloween costume based on Alice Morgan’s getup in BBC’s Luther, Series 3, Ep. 4.  I scared all of the kids at the church fall festival.  I am such a mean person.

October 31, 2013
House of Usher (1960)
Directed by Roger Corman
79 min.
Key Scenes:
Vincent Price, for all of the stereotypes and one style of acting, steals every scene in this film.  His bleached blonde hair is enough to make him a formidable antagonist…outside of the house, of course.  
Most of the creepiness from the film is initiated by four people alone in a huge mansion.  Many rooms, doors, windows, etc, that can be shut, banged, hidden in.  A seemingly unexplainable force that is after the life of Madeline’s gentleman caller.  Or is it just Roderick Usher himself wanting his sister all for himself?  There are strange interplays of ancestral relations and forbidden love that are implied in both the story and in this adaptation of the story.  This time in the century would have still been too soon for those types of stories to be front and center, but the suggestion is there.  
Corman does a good job of atmosphere and sound effects to bring out the empty spaces of the old creepy mansion.  The thing I love about older films is the laid back nature of the direction.  They don’t feel like everything must be explained.  They are okay with leaving the audience questioning the very sanity of the writers and director of the film.  Atmosphere and space are so lost in recent horror films.  Say what you want about these older films, but they had more of a handle on real horror than anything past 1980.

October 31, 2013

House of Usher (1960)

Directed by Roger Corman

79 min.

Key Scenes:

Vincent Price, for all of the stereotypes and one style of acting, steals every scene in this film.  His bleached blonde hair is enough to make him a formidable antagonist…outside of the house, of course.  

Most of the creepiness from the film is initiated by four people alone in a huge mansion.  Many rooms, doors, windows, etc, that can be shut, banged, hidden in.  A seemingly unexplainable force that is after the life of Madeline’s gentleman caller.  Or is it just Roderick Usher himself wanting his sister all for himself?  There are strange interplays of ancestral relations and forbidden love that are implied in both the story and in this adaptation of the story.  This time in the century would have still been too soon for those types of stories to be front and center, but the suggestion is there.  

Corman does a good job of atmosphere and sound effects to bring out the empty spaces of the old creepy mansion.  The thing I love about older films is the laid back nature of the direction.  They don’t feel like everything must be explained.  They are okay with leaving the audience questioning the very sanity of the writers and director of the film.  Atmosphere and space are so lost in recent horror films.  Say what you want about these older films, but they had more of a handle on real horror than anything past 1980.

Favorite Horror Moments

Day Thirty-One - Halloween (1978) - The Whole Film.

I can’t pick a single scene from this film. So I pick…the whole film.

October 30, 2013
The Tingler (1959)
Directed by William Castle
82 min.
Key Scenes:
With an essential element of the whole movie experience not present in this viewing—the vibrating theater seats that would go off when the tingler escapes into the movie theater in the film, there are certain things that the modern viewer misses that the older views may have experienced.  Still this movie beats most of the creature flicks ever made.  
There are two scenes that stick out in my mind.  The first is when the “deaf and dumb” wife of the movie theater owner is drugged by Price and sent into a hallucinogenic state where she is chased by a knife-wielding, burnt-faced serial killer and goes into the bathroom to a tub full of blood, blood that is colored and a hand starts to reach out of the bloody bath.  The only color display in the whole film is the blood of the human body.
The second is when Price extracts the tingler from the back of the “deaf and dumb” wife of the movie theater manager.  The first sight we have of the creature comes from behind a medical curtain and the pulling out of the creature is all done in shadows.  We see the centipede kind of creature in shadow only at that point and the audience starts to wonder, what in the world is going on!
This is a wonderful little film that deals with the nature of fear itself.  Why do we fear and if we could create a cure where we wouldn’t need fear, would we actually want to take it?  The Tingler was a way to control fears, but it also took over the whole being of the person and made them perish faster.  Well worth the hour and 22 minutes that it runs and another film to consider for the top films of the month.

October 30, 2013

The Tingler (1959)

Directed by William Castle

82 min.

Key Scenes:

With an essential element of the whole movie experience not present in this viewing—the vibrating theater seats that would go off when the tingler escapes into the movie theater in the film, there are certain things that the modern viewer misses that the older views may have experienced.  Still this movie beats most of the creature flicks ever made.  

There are two scenes that stick out in my mind.  The first is when the “deaf and dumb” wife of the movie theater owner is drugged by Price and sent into a hallucinogenic state where she is chased by a knife-wielding, burnt-faced serial killer and goes into the bathroom to a tub full of blood, blood that is colored and a hand starts to reach out of the bloody bath.  The only color display in the whole film is the blood of the human body.

The second is when Price extracts the tingler from the back of the “deaf and dumb” wife of the movie theater manager.  The first sight we have of the creature comes from behind a medical curtain and the pulling out of the creature is all done in shadows.  We see the centipede kind of creature in shadow only at that point and the audience starts to wonder, what in the world is going on!

This is a wonderful little film that deals with the nature of fear itself.  Why do we fear and if we could create a cure where we wouldn’t need fear, would we actually want to take it?  The Tingler was a way to control fears, but it also took over the whole being of the person and made them perish faster.  Well worth the hour and 22 minutes that it runs and another film to consider for the top films of the month.

Favorite Horror Moments

Day Thirty - Signs (2002) - Alien on TV.

October 29, 2013
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Directed by William Castle
75 min.
Key Scenes:
This was the first Vincent Price film I ever watched and, to this day, it is still my favorite.  Part of my love for this film stems from it’s misdirection.  
*Spoilers Ahead*
The beauty of this film is how it is wrapped up in the atmosphere, tone and pretense of a haunted house horror film.  Visitors come to a house that is supposedly the dwelling place for vengeful spirits at the request of an eccentric millionaire and his wife of the year for a party where they get a generous $10,000.00 check if they make it the whole night through in the house. 
At the end of the film, it turns out that all of the elements of horror and the “ghosts” are largely at the behest of the murderous spat between millionaire and wife.  It turns out the wife is cohorts with one of the guests and is attempting to off her husband before he offs her.  The other unfortunate guests get caught in the middle of it all.  Throw in some creepy caretakers and a old blind lady and most of the effectively scary scenes are explained.  
Every scene is embroiled in the unknown of what exactly is going on.  Is it haunted? One of the guests had stayed in the house before and almost been killed in the process.  Is there something insidious outside of the marital hatred between the hosts?  One is never quite sure and William Castle doesn’t always make it clear what is natural and what is supernatural…even to the very end.  And THAT is why I love this film.  Castle didn’t feel like he needed to explain everything to us, but instead let us wonder about it as we went to bed or drove home.

October 29, 2013

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Directed by William Castle

75 min.

Key Scenes:

This was the first Vincent Price film I ever watched and, to this day, it is still my favorite.  Part of my love for this film stems from it’s misdirection.  

*Spoilers Ahead*

The beauty of this film is how it is wrapped up in the atmosphere, tone and pretense of a haunted house horror film.  Visitors come to a house that is supposedly the dwelling place for vengeful spirits at the request of an eccentric millionaire and his wife of the year for a party where they get a generous $10,000.00 check if they make it the whole night through in the house. 

At the end of the film, it turns out that all of the elements of horror and the “ghosts” are largely at the behest of the murderous spat between millionaire and wife.  It turns out the wife is cohorts with one of the guests and is attempting to off her husband before he offs her.  The other unfortunate guests get caught in the middle of it all.  Throw in some creepy caretakers and a old blind lady and most of the effectively scary scenes are explained.  

Every scene is embroiled in the unknown of what exactly is going on.  Is it haunted? One of the guests had stayed in the house before and almost been killed in the process.  Is there something insidious outside of the marital hatred between the hosts?  One is never quite sure and William Castle doesn’t always make it clear what is natural and what is supernatural…even to the very end.  And THAT is why I love this film.  Castle didn’t feel like he needed to explain everything to us, but instead let us wonder about it as we went to bed or drove home.

Favorite Horror Moments

Day Twenty-Nine - Psycho (1960) - Shower Scene.

October 28, 2013
Curse of the Demon [aka Night of the Demon] (1957)
Directed by Jacques Tourneur
95 min.
Key Scenes:
The giant demon running after poor saps in the film moved and looked like something straight out of a Trojan Horse/Monty Python parody sketch.  While still effective it was a little hokey and the sound effects didn’t exactly help as they often sounded like someone was inside the demon causing its gears to move.  Nonetheless, there were also scenes that would be copied in later horror films.
One such scene is when Dr. Holden is outside his partner’s hotel room and he hears a tune which quickly turns into a cacophony of distortion right before stopping on the head of a needle as the partner opens the door.  
Also the scene where the crazy man is put under hypnosis and freaks out about midway through the hypnosis only to run around and leap through a window and fall to his death.  It is small disturbing scenes like this that give the move some motion and steam otherwise it would suffer greatly from some rather dull pacing and too much atmosphere and not enough interesting and foreword-moving plot.  

October 28, 2013

Curse of the Demon [aka Night of the Demon] (1957)

Directed by Jacques Tourneur

95 min.

Key Scenes:

The giant demon running after poor saps in the film moved and looked like something straight out of a Trojan Horse/Monty Python parody sketch.  While still effective it was a little hokey and the sound effects didn’t exactly help as they often sounded like someone was inside the demon causing its gears to move.  Nonetheless, there were also scenes that would be copied in later horror films.

One such scene is when Dr. Holden is outside his partner’s hotel room and he hears a tune which quickly turns into a cacophony of distortion right before stopping on the head of a needle as the partner opens the door.  

Also the scene where the crazy man is put under hypnosis and freaks out about midway through the hypnosis only to run around and leap through a window and fall to his death.  It is small disturbing scenes like this that give the move some motion and steam otherwise it would suffer greatly from some rather dull pacing and too much atmosphere and not enough interesting and foreword-moving plot.  

Favorite Horror Moments

Day Twenty-Eight - Phantasm (1979) - Mausoleum from Hell.

Favorite Horror Moments

Day Twenty-Seven - The Omen (1976) - Nanny Hangs Herself For Damien.

October 27, 2013
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Directed by Don Siegel
80 min.
Key Scenes:
I significantly enjoyed this entry into 31 Days of Horror.  The concepts, the execution and some of the questions brought out in the film are marvelous and still relevant today.  Alien life forms start taking over a small California town by recreating the people, “cell for cell, atom for atom” and stealing their memories and their mind.  The fake people are grown from alien pods as we come to find out.  These alien life forms intend to make a utopian world that does not experience pain or grief or anything negative because the life forms recreate people without emotions, without desires.  
Matter of fact, the best scene in the film is when we see the foam like bodies popping out from the broken pods as they begin to grow and form into characters in the film.  The special effects are stellar and actually quite frightening in their own right.  
The lead character in the film comes to the conclusion that pain, grief and all of the negative is part of the fullness of life and that being devoid of emotion and desire, whether good or bad, is not worth it.  There is a distinctly Christian element that weaves itself into the story and the concepts that shape the ethical quandaries that the characters face in the film.  
All of this to say, that this could easily be in my top five films for the month, thus far.  Terrific film that revels in its weirdness and captures the fears of a nation caught in the midst of Cold War struggles, a world that they cannot fully understand and the fears that flow from that uncertainty.

October 27, 2013

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Directed by Don Siegel

80 min.

Key Scenes:

I significantly enjoyed this entry into 31 Days of Horror.  The concepts, the execution and some of the questions brought out in the film are marvelous and still relevant today.  Alien life forms start taking over a small California town by recreating the people, “cell for cell, atom for atom” and stealing their memories and their mind.  The fake people are grown from alien pods as we come to find out.  These alien life forms intend to make a utopian world that does not experience pain or grief or anything negative because the life forms recreate people without emotions, without desires.  

Matter of fact, the best scene in the film is when we see the foam like bodies popping out from the broken pods as they begin to grow and form into characters in the film.  The special effects are stellar and actually quite frightening in their own right.  

The lead character in the film comes to the conclusion that pain, grief and all of the negative is part of the fullness of life and that being devoid of emotion and desire, whether good or bad, is not worth it.  There is a distinctly Christian element that weaves itself into the story and the concepts that shape the ethical quandaries that the characters face in the film.  

All of this to say, that this could easily be in my top five films for the month, thus far.  Terrific film that revels in its weirdness and captures the fears of a nation caught in the midst of Cold War struggles, a world that they cannot fully understand and the fears that flow from that uncertainty.

October 26, 2013
Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)
Directed by Jack Arnold
79 min.
Key Scenes:
The female lead, Julie, goes swimming in the lagoon and as she swims around with the grace of a synchronized swimmer—most assuredly a toss to the male audience—the creature in the lagoon swims below her, facing her without her ever seeing it.  It’s actually a pretty intriguing scene within the scope of the movie.  Strangely beautiful in how it was shot while still holding the tension of the chase between hunter and prey.  
A significant portion of the film was shot underwater and whoever the stuntman was had the important task of playing the creature as if it belonged in the lagoon, not some fake member of the environment and whoever plays the creature does a good job of doing exactly that.  The water has always been a symbol for chaos even back to the ancient Hebrews who told of leviathans and beasts in the water.  The creature in the black lagoon is no different except for it context in the 1950s world of sci-fi/horror films.  
The final, underwater fight scene between one of the researchers and the creature is wonderfully shot and actually quite intense.  The thing that makes this film move a notch above the rest of the Universal monster films is really the camera work that is largely done underwater.  Plus the stuntman who played the creature was an excellent job at not seeming like a fake movie prop and actually taking on a semi-frightening creature.

October 26, 2013

Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)

Directed by Jack Arnold

79 min.

Key Scenes:

The female lead, Julie, goes swimming in the lagoon and as she swims around with the grace of a synchronized swimmer—most assuredly a toss to the male audience—the creature in the lagoon swims below her, facing her without her ever seeing it.  It’s actually a pretty intriguing scene within the scope of the movie.  Strangely beautiful in how it was shot while still holding the tension of the chase between hunter and prey.  

A significant portion of the film was shot underwater and whoever the stuntman was had the important task of playing the creature as if it belonged in the lagoon, not some fake member of the environment and whoever plays the creature does a good job of doing exactly that.  The water has always been a symbol for chaos even back to the ancient Hebrews who told of leviathans and beasts in the water.  The creature in the black lagoon is no different except for it context in the 1950s world of sci-fi/horror films.  

The final, underwater fight scene between one of the researchers and the creature is wonderfully shot and actually quite intense.  The thing that makes this film move a notch above the rest of the Universal monster films is really the camera work that is largely done underwater.  Plus the stuntman who played the creature was an excellent job at not seeming like a fake movie prop and actually taking on a semi-frightening creature.

Favorite Horror Moments

Day Twenty-Six - Event Horizon (1997) - Stasis Nightmare.

October 25, 2013
The Beast With Five Fingers (1946)
Directed by Robert Florey
88 min.
Key Scenes:
We are finally starting to get into some of the more intriguing plots and the more interesting—or goofiest, perhaps—villains.  The disembodied hand of a deceased concert pianist goes around attacking those staying at the villa, those fighting over the estate and inheritance of the pianist himself.  Florey does a good job of concealing whether or not the hand was real or only the figment of the imagination of Hilary, Peter Lorre’s character.
All of the scenes where the hand is walking around without a body attached but have been exhilarating for audiences at this time.  The concept of blocking out the whole of the person except for part of their body is some pretty stellar special effects for the mid-40s.  
It doesn’t hurt that we get to hear that wondrously creepy voice of Lorre’s, as well.  His voice may have been more famous than the man attached to it, but, regardless, Peter Lorre was a staple for creepy, atmospheric horror films.  And, really, this one was no different.  With a title like that, one would expect a little more cheese, but what the audience receives envelops more atmosphere and mood, more in the vein of Mario Bava.  
This is a fun little film and one that actually does rise to the challenge of making the disembodied hand idea relatively frightening.

October 25, 2013

The Beast With Five Fingers (1946)

Directed by Robert Florey

88 min.

Key Scenes:

We are finally starting to get into some of the more intriguing plots and the more interesting—or goofiest, perhaps—villains.  The disembodied hand of a deceased concert pianist goes around attacking those staying at the villa, those fighting over the estate and inheritance of the pianist himself.  Florey does a good job of concealing whether or not the hand was real or only the figment of the imagination of Hilary, Peter Lorre’s character.

All of the scenes where the hand is walking around without a body attached but have been exhilarating for audiences at this time.  The concept of blocking out the whole of the person except for part of their body is some pretty stellar special effects for the mid-40s.  

It doesn’t hurt that we get to hear that wondrously creepy voice of Lorre’s, as well.  His voice may have been more famous than the man attached to it, but, regardless, Peter Lorre was a staple for creepy, atmospheric horror films.  And, really, this one was no different.  With a title like that, one would expect a little more cheese, but what the audience receives envelops more atmosphere and mood, more in the vein of Mario Bava.  

This is a fun little film and one that actually does rise to the challenge of making the disembodied hand idea relatively frightening.

Favorite Horror Moments

Day Twenty-Five - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) - Ending.

Rummaging... You Have Reached The Bottom Rummage Some More