BETHANY BARICH

FILMMAKER | WRITER

Horrorcap: Week 1:

‘Tis the season for spooky things, and nothing is better than curling up at the end of the night and watching something scary.

My boyfriend, Tim, has a yearly “tradition” where he attempts to watch 31 new horror movies in October, and I find that to be really cool. I’m not that smart, so if it were up to me, I’d be rotating the same five movies until Halloween itself, where I’d watch Halloween.

Perks of dating someone creative, they spark your creative juices and get ideas flowing through your brain. Pair that with the desire to get back into writing, and boom, you’ve come up with the idea to briefly review every new movie you watch in October. The idea of writing full length reviews for each movie did cross my mind, but I like the idea of a weekly recap, or a horrorcap, cue some sort of chime for the quirky pun.

Enough chattering, let’s get reviewing.

1. Burial Ground (1981)

Burial Ground or better known by its original name, Le Notti del terrore or Night of Terrors, is a sexy and horrific Italian zombie flick directed by Andrea Bianchi. This weird roller coaster of a movie is about a professor, studying ancient ruins near his lavish mansion, who accidentally unleashes the dead. The professor knows how to time them too, because just after unleashing these slow walking boys back into society, seven people (three couples, and one incestuous son of a woman in the group) arrive at the mansion after being invited by the professor! As the tagline on the cover of the movie says, “The gates of Hell have opened,” the guests are in for one sex filled and bloody stay at the mansion.

The plot to Burial Ground is a little all over the place. There really isn’t a story, but don’t let that steer you away, because it is fun to watch. The acting isn’t superb. Peter Bark, who was 25 at the time, plays the creepy young son Michael, and Antonella Antinori who plays his mother, were cast perfectly and have some of the best performances of Burial Ground. The best part about Burial Ground, hands down, is the practical effects in the movie. The look of some of the zombies are good and creepy, and the kills, in true Italian style, are executed nice and are extremely bloody.

Tim and I made the mistake of watching the movie with the English dub, which could be a turn off during the movie, but we made it through and I enjoyed it a lot. If you find yourself craving this flick for your October, I’d recommend watching with subtitles.

Personal Rating: 3.9/5

2. Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)

This Japanese horror film was directed by Teruo Ishii, and is based off of two novels by Edogawa Rampo - Strange Tale of Panorama Island and The Demon of the Lonely Isle. Random fact, the movie was banned almost immediately after its initial release, and is still banned in Japan to this day. However, it’s not banned due to its graphic material but because of its exposure of deformities and the stigma that comes with the word “malformed.”

This erotic horror movie is about a man named Hirosuke Hitomi, a medical student suffering from a severe case of amnesia, who is locked away in an asylum even though he appears to be mentally sound. Being haunted by the tune of a lullaby, wanting to know about his past, Hirosuke escapes the asylum but ends up being framed for the murder of a circus girl he randomly meets on the streets. After escaping again, he discovers a news article about a recently deceased gentleman, Genzaburo Komoda, that bears a striking resemblance to him. Hirosuke decides to pretend to be Komoda resurrected and lead his life, successfully fooling everyone he encounters. While leading this double life, Hirosuke continues to be plagued with memories of a life he does not remember and that chilling lullaby. This leads him to travel to a nearby island where one’s deepest nightmares expose themselves, and his true identity is revealed.

The story in Horrors of Malformed Men is one that continuously unravels itself in such beautifully choreographed shots and horrific reveals. It’s a slow, and creepy film that picks up in the third really quickly. The acting in the film, especially by Tatsumi Hijikata who plays a delusional doctor, is phenomenal. Teruo Yoshida who plays Hitomi/Komoda does a really great job at portraying a man with a haunted past and brings a mental relief throughout the movie too. The visuals in Horrors of Malformed Men are both grotesque and beautiful, and the locations of it make this film truly a masterpiece to view.

Please add this to your list to watch in October. You won’t regret it, but you may have weird dreams.

My Personal Rating: 4/5

3. The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

This film, directed by Peter Duffell, is an interesting take on the haunted house genre. The House That Dripped Blood is a movie that is made up of four short segments - each revolving around someone living in the house that has caused a lot of pain and suffering.

Without giving too much away, the movie’s star studded cast do a fantastic job in each of their individual roles. My personal favorite was Christopher Lee playing a strict, fearful father of a young girl who has a natural incline toward the occult. While some of the segments can seem kind of boring due to their odd pace and slow development of the story, I would say to give The House That Dripped Blood a chance because of its traditional and simplistic approach of a haunted house.

My Personal Rating: 2.8/5