H… 2021 A to Z Horror Movies #AtoZChallenge

Hello, and welcome to my 2021 A to Z April Blogging Challenge! This year, I’ve decided to list all the horror movies Alec and I have seen so far over the course of the pandemic, with notes. Today, I have 18 movies to talk about. I’m going, for my own sanity and yours, to try to keep each entry pretty brief. If I mention a movie here that you feel should get a more ample treatment, please feel free to provide that treatment in the Comments section.

Oh, and feel free to just skim this post for movies that interest you, and comment on that basis. There will be no quiz.

Without further ado…

Hack-O-Lantern (1988)

USA

Director: Jag Mundhra

This one is fun. And very, very, very set on Halloween. There are jack-o-lanterns and costume parties and Satanic rituals and everything. I… yeah, I recommend this one. Low-budget fun. And full of crazy, which is a thing I go in for in a pretty big way, as long as it isn’t too terribly “crazy on purpose.” That… may make me a hipster, actually. I’d have to check.

 

Halloween (1978)

USA

Director: John Carpenter

If you haven’t seen Halloween, you might hesitate to try it now. With so many imitators on the market, you might worry that the movie will be no longer able to frighten, that it may have been rendered inaccessible to you by the layers of other similar movies. And I get that, but… I was pleasantly (or do I mean unpleasantly?) surprised. As a first-time watcher in the year 2020, I still found myself impressed by it.

 

Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)

USA

Director: Tommy Lee Wallace

Also really, really good. Sad that people didn’t like the concept of an anthology-style series, and so this movie got into trouble with fans for not having Michael Myers in it. Or so I’ve heard, anyway. Gosh… we’re three for three, so far, Halloween-setting-wise. Not that that’s surprising.

Tom Atkins stars in this one.

 

The Hanging Woman (La orgía de los muertos)(1973)

Spain, Italy

Director: José Luis Merino

Paul Naschy plays a gravedigger in this one. I remember being pleased with this movie, and thinking it was “out of its goddamned mind” (which is praise, in the context of this list), but I remember very little else. It is set in 19th century Scotland. There are zombies. And mad science. And a decent amount of atmosphere.

 

Happy Death Day (2017)

USA

Director: Christopher Landon

Yes. We both loved this one.

It’s Tree Gelbman’s birthday. It is also the last day of her life, because someone kills her. Then, she wakes up, and it is her birthday, and then someone kills her, and then… etc. It is the same sort of time-shenanigans that happen in Groundhog Day, only here the main character has to solve her own murder in order to break the repeating cycle.

Tree’s character arc throughout the movie has lots of charm. She goes from a mean, terribly flawed, vapid human being (though hilariously watchable, and never, I felt, too-too horrible to bear) to a nicer, better, happier person, over the course of the film. Anyway, she learns a lot, and is wonderfully funny, during this blast of a movie.

 

The Haunting (1963)

UK

Director: Robert Wise

Hey look, it’s an unrecognizably young Russ Tamblyn (who played the freaky psychologist guy in Twin Peaks).

Based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. A classic. Well-done.

 

Hellmaster (1992)

USA

Director: Douglas Schulze

Wow. What? This is a very odd movie. John Saxon is in it. He’s a former professor of the college at which this movie is set. His work involves zombie-people. He made some of them in the movie’s deep background; he’s made some more quite lately. I sort of despair of explaining this one to you further, partially because it doesn’t actually make that much sense. It is an odd mix of unpleasant and wacky. I can’t say I recommend it, but if you’re desperate for something a little different (but not too different) in the horror line, I guess you could try it.

 

Hobgoblins (1988)

USA

Director: Rick Sloane

We saw the Mystery Science Theater 3,000 version. That helped. However, I’ll just say this: I’ve seen worse movies. Much worse. People say it is one of the worst movies ever. This could not be true. It’s really not that bad. I wasn’t bored, and parts of it were even fun. And I love Club Scum. I’d go to a Club Scum, if it wasn’t a fictional place, and if we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic. Or maybe I’m just nostalgic for going places. Maybe that gives Club Scum a glamor.

 

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988)

USA

Director: Fred Olen Ray

This is fun. It is, as far as I have been able to determine, the only good movie Fred Olen Ray ever directed. If I am wrong–if he has directed some other good ones–let me know, and I’ll be delighted to have a look at them.

One of the things that makes this movie fun is the typical Private Eye-type narration–and how it is often flatly contradicted by the action on the screen. Also, Linnea Quigley is in this movie, gamely brandishing a chainsaw several sizes too large for her. Michelle Bauer is also in it. Two scream-queens! There may be a third in there somewhere, too. Not sure. Anyway, it is fun. It is also only 75 minutes long, and so it is over before it outstays its welcome.

The IMDB Trivia page for this movie makes especially entertaining reading.

 

Horror Express (Pánico en el Transiberiano)(1972)

UK, Spain

Dir. Eugenio Martin

Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing play dueling anthropologists in this film, which is set on a transcontinental train voyage. One of the anthropologists (I forget which) has made a marvelous discovery: a prehistoric monster, frozen in the ice, possibly the Missing Link. All very exciting. He loads it onto the train, to the grumbling resentment of the other anthropologist. Trouble ensues. The thing thaws. It begins to mentally control the people on the train. Everything is bad. The audience knows who is responsible for the sudden chaos on the train, but the passengers don’t. Who has done these wicked things? Suspicion intensifies. Mistrust, already pretty rampant, runs through the compartments like wildfire.

Telly Savalas plays a military-type policeman called Captain Kazan, who joins the train to get to the bottom of the murders and so on. He bounces into the film and is breezy and splendid. This is the movie that made us love Telly Savalas. I only wish he’d had more screen-time in this one.

 

Horror From The Tomb (El espanto surge de la tumba)(1973)

Spain

Director: Carlos Aured

Long ago, a very bad wizard (played by Paul Naschy) was executed for wizardry and badness. Now, some poor idiots have found his head, and he is arranging his own resurrection. Fun! Also fairly similar in plot to The Thing That Couldn’t Die (which by the way is thoroughly mocked in one of our favorite Mystery Science Theater 3,000 episodes).

Horror From The Tomb is also the source of the Mystery Picture from yesterday. Here it is again:

 

Hot Fuzz (2007)

UK, France

Director: Edgar Wright

This is more of a crime-comedy than a horror-comedy, but there are plenty of horror elements. A top cop (played by Simon Pegg) from London, who annoys his co-workers because he is so irritatingly good at his job, is transferred to a small town, where, with the help of a  bumbling local constable (played by Nick Frost) he slowly begins to uncover a terrible secret. Lots of fun.

 

House (Hausu)(1977)

Japan

Director: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi

Usually, when I say a movie is “out of its goddamned mind,” I mean it as a compliment. But House goes a little too far down that path. It is about a bunch of girls going to a house and getting, for example, eaten by pianos. And I think I could have dealt with all the furniture-based death if the world they start out in didn’t seem so odd already. There is no contrasting normalcy against which to view the craziness of the haunted house. We enter a world that is so off-kilter already that maybe furniture is always eating people. So, though I’m glad I saw House, and I may see it again, I didn’t personally feel that it succeeded, for me.

This was an early-pandemic watch, and I talked about it last year.

 

House of the Long Shadows (1983)

UK

Director: Pete Walker

Another early-pandemic watch, which I talked about last year.

 

House of Usher (1960)

USA

Director: Roger Corman

Yet a third early-pandemic watch, which I talked about in this post. Scroll waaaay down, past the part of the post where I babble about Swinburne.

 

House on Sorority Row (1982)

USA

Director: Mark Rosman

It was adequate. A bunch of sorority sisters play a mean prank on an elderly lady, who is accidentally killed. How many movies start like that? I feel like they all do, right now, but I may be getting morbid. Anyway, they then throw a party and hide the body and stuff, and are terribly surprised when someone starts to pick them off, one by one.

 

The Howling (1981)

USA

Director: Joe Dante

A classic. Great movie. And Patrick Macnee is in it. He played John Steed in the fairly awesome TV show The Avengers.

I find, however, that I don’t have that much to say about The Howling, and practically nothing at all that wouldn’t constitute a spoiler. Because, I mean, that ending! Bad werewolf effect, just at the end, but otherwise, I love the note on which this film closes.

 

Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

USA

Director: Barbara Peeters, Jimmy T. Murakami

After we saw this one (and enjoyed it), we discovered that it was controversial. When it came out, people declared it to be anti-woman. And it is a movie about horrible fish-monsters who come out of the sea to attack and breed with human women. That’s a pretty common trope, but it is handled fairly explicitly here.

I didn’t have a problem, myself. I actually found some of the scenes empowering, because some of the ladies who are attacked not only fight back (a rarity in itself for this sort of movie), but actually succeed in defending themselves. In the sort of movie I generally watch, that barely ever happens.

There’s this one scene where a husband realizes his wife is home alone and likely to be attacked by the fish-monsters. He rushes home to protect her, only to find that yes, a monster attacked her, but she dealt with it. It has been very stabbed, and is now a disgusting pile of monster-parts, still slightly quivering, on the kitchen floor. She’s soaked in blood and freaking out, but otherwise unharmed, and all the big protective male gets to do for her there is give her a big, bloody hug (which I expect she appreciated). I cheered.

***

That’s it for today, folks! Have you seen any of these movies? What did you think? Feel free to tell me (or just say hi) in the Comments section!

…and I was going to give you a Mystery Picture, as usual, but my computer is misbehaving. I think I’m just going to publish this and then give the machine a bit of a nap. I will update this post with a picture later on.

UPDATE: hey, look, my computer is relatively cheerful again! Here is the Mystery Picture, as promised!

 

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16 Comments

  1. The Haunting is one of my favs, as is Halloween!!

  2. The 1963 The Haunting is the horror/ghost movie I recommend the most. It has stayed with me ever since I first saw it in the mid-’60s. Atmospheric, moody, anxiety-inducing, mysterious, enough jump scares that don’t overwhelm, and NO…
    Watch it. You’ll fill in that blank.

    The other The Haunting was a total piece of garbage. They went way overboard with the CGI and strayed far enough from the book & 1963 movie they should have just given it another name. Something like “The Dozing CGI Ghost With No Bite.”
    Ugh.

    PS: For Russ Tamblyn, this came soon after West Side Story hit the big screen. He’s the leader of the Jets if you don’t know. Not you, Melanie.

    • I don’t get it about the blank. There are lots of things that could go in there, but I don’t know which you mean.
      The Haunting is pretty darned good, isn’t it?
      I haven’t seen the newer Haunting, and it sounds bad.
      I didn’t know Russ Tamblyn was in West Side Story. Even though that cassette tape was a big part of my childhood. I knew all the words to all the songs, once. But yeah, I didn’t even know Tamblyn could sing.

      • WWS has a great cast (even though Natalie Wood had to have someone else sing her parts).

        Yes, it’s not a horror movie, but I do suggest you seek it out (unless you hate musicals. Which, by the cassette tape, I don’t think is the case).

        I sent you an email about the blank bit.

  3. No mystery picture for me today? Well, I don’t even need one, ha ha ha, because I have seen “Hot Fuzz.” That’s right, I can keep up with this horror movie nonsense any way you want to play it. Heck yeah, take that.

  4. The Haunting is a classic, I love Hot Fuzz, especially for Timothy Dalton and Halloween is a classic. Did well today – 3 of them!
    https://iainkellywriting.com/2021/04/10/the-state-trilogy-a-z-guide-i/

  5. Happy Death Day came out the same year as Russian Doll, which was a one season series about a woman who dies on the evening of her 36th birthday, and then wakes up on the morning of her 36th birthday. Her death is always accidental and never the same, and we have no idea why she keeps coming back. At the end of the series, she meets a guy who has also been dying and repeating the day, so there’s every reason to think a second season was planned. IMDb seems to think it’s already begun, but Netflix doesn’t know anything about it.

    I know I’ve seen The Haunting, and I remember it as being almost as good as the Shirley Jackson book. I didn’t care for the new version.

    Hot Fuzz is lots of fun and is perhaps more mainstream than I would have thought to see here. But if you’re going for Simon Pegg/Nick Frost movies, I hope you include Shaun of the Dead. I think it’s the best of their Coronet Trilogy, where it’s the first, Hot Fuzz is the second, and The World’s End is the third.

    Russ Tamblyn’s acting career began at a very young age, and like a lot of child actors, he took singing and dancing lessons and got stage experience before he got into films. Plus, he’s Amber Tamblyn’s father.

    • Ooh, neat! I’ve never heard of Russian Doll.

      I haven’t seen the new version of The Haunting, and I am getting the sense that I don’t want to.

      Oh, Shaun of the Dead is definitely on the list. Though it was an early-pandemic watch, and I may just link to whatever I said about it last year. “S” is going to be a massive post, and I’ll be cutting corners like mad. But Shaun of the Dead is great.

  6. Interesting thoughts and I learned about a few movies I need to watch if for no other reason than curiosity. Happy Death Day was a pleasant surprise. I’ve watched it several times and it still holds up great. I enjoy the sequel too. The Howling is awesome! The sequels….what sequels?!?!? LOL. Halloween definitely holds up. No questions asked. I’ve always enjoyed Halloween III: Season of the Witch. I think it would have been interesting for them to do an anthology type series but I have heard of the backlash. It could have worked. If something needed a sequel they could have returned for a sequel and then went back to another anthology entry. That would have been cool.

    • I haven’t seen the sequel to Happy Death Day, but I may have to check it out now! And yeah, The Howling is awesome. Um. I have a sneaking fondness for The Howling II…Your Sister Is A Werewolf, but I’m not saying it is an actually good movie, because it really isn’t. I enjoy it, though. Haven’t seen Howling III, but it sounds pretty nuts.

  7. Shaun of the dead is quite fun, but I have to say I prefer Hot Fuzz, not seen World’s End yet. Not part of the Cornetto Trilogy, and not really a Horror film, but Paul is pretty good IMO. Again, not really Horror, but the TV series Spaced has some elements, which is not really that surprising, given the Pegg/Frost partnership.

    I know I’ve seen the Howling, and I know what you mean about the ending, but I can’t really remember anything else.

    I’m going to keep a look out for Happy Death Day and Russian Doll – that immediately made me think of Doll House. Again, not really Horror per se, but has some elements, in a sense…maybe?

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