MikeyB's Movie Night: October Horror Movie Marathon Final Week: Oct 26 - 31

 Weeks one, two, three, and four are in the books so its time for the last write up of this year's "Horror Movie Marathon"! I always make a concerted effort in the final week to make the quota of "31 days, 31Films", and this year I'm happy to say I made it and then some. The three documentaries I started with definitely helped to inspire me to check out some of the classics in the genre, and that put me on the road to watch all the Christopher Lee starring Dracula films from "Hammer". After those it was just smooth sailing and I finished up with two haunted house flicks to close out the month. So without further ado lets dive right in!

Director: Jeff Herberger

 Plot: Part one of a documentary series, this part being a look back on Universal Monsters movies of the 30's and 40's.

 Opinion: Featuring some great archive footage of interviews of many of the films stars, this is a fun glimpse back at the making of and impact that these classic horror movies have had on the world of cinema. 

Director: Jeff Herberger
(No Trailer Available)

 Plot: The second part of this documentary series showcases the Science Fiction and Monster Movies of the 50's.

 Opinion: I have never been much of a fan of the Sci-Fi films that came out of the space craze of the 50's but this "Doc" is a fun look and those schlock films that filled cinemas at the time. 

Director: Jeff Herberger
(No Trailer Available)

 Plot: Part three of this series takes a look at the works of the "Hammer Film Productions" and "Amicus Films" studios in England.

 Opinion: My favorite of this series, but have to admit I am a bit biased because I grew up loving the films of Hammer Studios. I particularly love their version of Dracula starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing......speaking of which.

Director: Terence Fisher
Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough

 Plot: After his friend and college Johnathan Harker goes missing after venturing to find Dracula's castle, Dr. Van Helsing sets out to destroy the monster once and for all.

 Opinion: My favorite of all the "Hammer" horror films, this movie is a great take on the Dracula story. The set design, costumes, and color palette are absolutely out of this world gorgeous. Cushing and Lee play off each other perfectly and give some of the best portrayals of their respective characters ever brought to the screen. I have to say I think this film is superior to the Universal version in every way. Sorry Bela.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Gary Oldman, Winona Rider, Anthony Hopkins

 Plot: Bram Stoker's classic tale of Count Dracula and his voyage to England and subsequent conflict with the Harker's and Dr. Van Helsing.

 Opinion: Francis Ford Coppola's version of the Dracula legend is one of the very best, and faithful, ever filmed. Sure Keanu Reeves' British accent is atrocious, but that doesn't take away from all the other fantastic performances, or the fact that this is one of the most visually beautiful films ever made. From visual effects, to costume design, to score, this is one of the most astounding films in the genre. I love this movie more and more every time I watch it and can not recommend it enough.

Director: Terence Fisher
Starring: Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelly, Andrew Keir

 Plot: Set ten years after the events of "Horror of Dracula", the count is resurrected and preys upon four english tourists who stumble into his castle while on holiday.

 Opinion: I believe this was my first ever exposure to the "Hammer" Dracula series and while it is nowhere near as good as the first film, I still have an immense fondness for it. Lee is back and better then ever and so are those glorious sets and vivid technicolor blood tones.

Director: Freddie Francis
Starring: Christopher Lee, Rupert Davies, Veronica Carlson

 Plot: Taking place two years after the events of "Prince of Darkness", this time around Dracula is freed from his ice tomb by an unsuspecting Priest. He then sets out to take vengeance against the Monsignor who sealed his castle with a holy cross.

 Opinion: Lacking the beautifully crafted sets of the previous two entries, "Risen" nonetheless is a fun caper and Lee still owns the role of the bloodthirsty Count. Plus that hilarious "obviously" poster up there is one of my favorites of all time.

Director: Peter Sasdy
Starring: Christopher Lee, Geoffrey Keene, Gwen Watford

 Plot: Drac is back again! This time he's after a trio of well off english fathers and plans to get his vengeance by turning their own children against them.

 Opinion: A strange entry into the "Hammer" Dracula saga as it comes off as more of a slasher flick then a vampire one. Lee still knows what he's doing though and its a rather fun and entertaining romp all together.

Director: Roy Ward Baker
Starring: Christopher Lee, Dennis Waterman, Jenny Hanley

 Plot: After his bat buddy resurrects him, Dracula resumes his residency at his mountain castle and starts terrorizing the countryside again.

 Opinion: Another fun sequel with a much needed injection of humor in this entry. The more elaborate sets are back this time around, but the budget has dropped so they look cheap in some spots. Although Lee's mastery of the role and a brisk pace make up for any budgetary restraints.

Director: Alan Gibson
Starring: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Stephanie Beacham

 Plot: Set in London in 1972, Dracula is raised from the dead, again, and this time sets out to destroy what remains of the Van Helsing bloodline.

 Opinion: Full of 70's fashion, music, and attitude, this fifth sequel in the "Hammer" Dracula series is a surprising amount of fun. Lee is still crushing it but the big delight here is Peter Cushing's return to the series. The one complaint I have is that they really missed an opportunity for some culture shock for Dracula needing to adapt to the "modern" age.

Director: Alan Gibson
Starring: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Michael Coles

 Plot: Dracula is back for the final time. His plan though now is to unleash a new plague on the earth and destroy the entirety of humanity. 

 Opinion: This final film in the series is probably the weakest. Set again in "modern times", 1974, it lacks the fun of the previous entry and suffers from far too little screen time for Dracula himself. Instead it focuses on a cult he has started to help him bring about the apocalypse and the government agency that attempts to stop it. It's nice to see Lee and Cushing play against each other one last time though.

Director: Jack Clayton
Starring: Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde, Meg Jenkins

 Plot: A women is hired to be the governess of a rich man's orphaned nephew and niece at a sprawling estate in the British countryside. Soon though she starts to see and hear strange things an suspects that the children may not be as innocent as they appear.

 Opinion: This stunningly gorgeous gothic ghost story is one of my favorite films I have watched for this years marathon. Honestly the black and white cinematography is simply stunning. A true champion of restraint and the idea that "what is not seen is often scarier then what is", which works so well because the characters are developed so well. The twists and turns kept me enthralled from the very start and I loved seeing all the influence that this film has had on filmmakers to this very day. A true classic in every sense of the word.

Movie #34: Poltergeist (1982)
Director: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight

 Plot: A family starts experiencing paranormal phenomena in their new house, but what starts as harmless activity like things moving on their own, turns deadly serious when one night the youngest daughter is abducted by the spirits and taken to their realm.

 Opinion: Poltergeist takes the exact opposite approach than The Innocents. Showing us every spook and specter, brought to life with spectacular special effects. The reason it works just as well as the latter though is the same reason: well made characters. At this film's heart is a wonderful and utterly believable story of family. Every single member is fleshed out and developed so well that we care intensely about everything happening to them. Every time I watch it I am blown away by JoBeth Williams and her performance as the emotionally wrought mother. Honestly though there isn't a bad performance to be had in this film, and with each viewing I'm reminded why it is one of my favorites in the genre.

 Well that wraps up the whole marathon! I will be back in two weeks with a wrap up of my experience at this years Vancouver International Film Festival, and after that we will be back to business as usual. So I'd like to say, once again, thank you for reading and I'll see you next time!