Halloween Horror Fest

Yes, it’s October – which means it’s time once again for Halloween Horror Fest!  Throughout the month on the run up to Halloween, Mrs Platinum Al and I watch some of the horror movies from our creepy collection, and I write a brief review of each for your evil entertainment.

It’s always out and out horror – so long as there’s a general spooky or paranormal element – or monsters! – then the movie is up for consideration.

This is the fifth year running we have attempted this mammoth task.  To keep everyone up to speed, here’s a list of the films that have been viewed over the last few years.

All are listed in alphabetical order.

28 Days Later
28 Weeks Later
30 Days of Night
The Addams Family
Alien
An American Werewolf in London
Big Tits Zombie
Bigfoot Wars
Blacula
Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb
Blood on Satan’s Claw
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter
Carrie
Carry on Screaming
Company of Wolves
The Corpse Bride
Countess Dracula
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Dark Shadows
Day of the Dead
Dead Snow
Dead Snow 2
The Devil Rides Out
Dracula AD 1972
Dracula Prince of Darkness
Ed Wood
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
Evil Dead
The Fog
Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman
Friday the 13th
From Dusk Till Dawn
From Hell
Ghost Ship
Ghostbusters
Halloween
The House That Dripped Blood
Lost Boys
Night Watch
Oupost
Para Norman
Paranormal Activity
Paranormal Xperience
Pet Sematary
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
The Raven
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Scream
Shadow of the Vampire
Shaun of the Dead
Silence of the Lambs
Sleepy Hollow
Taste the Blood of Dracula
Theatre of Blood
The Thing (1982)
Vampire Circus
The Vampire Lovers
The Wicker Man
The Wolfman (2010)
The Woman in Black
Zombie Strippers

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #9

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 4th November 2016

It was great to be back in Mold for another Bring Your Own Vinyl Night.  It’s been a long time since the last evening in the Queen’s Head, with summer holidays and whatnot getting in the way – so it was good to see the familiar faces and crank out some tunes.

The usual rules applied: each person got 15 minutes on the decks to play whatever they liked, genre free – vinyl only!

Adam went for it first, here’s an over view of his varied and very enjoyable set:

  • Voice of the Beehive – I Think I Love You
  • Grandmaster Flash – Whitelines
  • Queen – One Vision
  • Willie Nelson – On the Road Again

I am so jealous of that Willie Nelson single!

Halloween had just been and gone a few days earlier, so I was still in a spooky mood.  This time, my set went like this:

Monster Magnet – See You in Hell

One of the many stand out tracks from Monster Magnet’s classic “Powertrip” album, this is acid drenched stoner rock at its finest.  The retro sound is augmented by a churning organ that whirls around as the bass chugs.  Psychedelic wonderment from Monster Magnet that sounds like a forgotten late 60’s gem.  I’ve owned the “Powertrip” album for many years on CD, but recently acquired the new vinyl re-issue.  Money well spent.  A truly great, under appreciated band.

Donovan – Season of the Witch

This fantastic song was featured in the Tim Burton movie Dark Shadows, a film I’m a huge fan of (though it appears not many other people are).  Whilst the previous song sounds like something from the sixties, this one is.  It’s a mellow groover that manages to wander out of hippy territory and sound somewhat sinister… Love this track, I felt it was a suitable jam for a Halloween inspired set.

The Damned – Plan 9 Channel 7

Ah, the Damned!  Where would a Halloween themed set be, without a tune from these punk rock proto-Goths?  One of my favourite bands, one of my favourite songs – from the indispensable “Machine Gun Etiquette” album.  Every home should own this!  The song is, of course, written about a viewing of Ed Wood‘s infamous “worst film ever made” – Plan 9 From Outer Space – on American horror channel 9.  Vampira, James Dean, Hollywood after dark – it’s all here in a perfect slice of rampaging pop punk.

The Misfits – American Nightmare

Finally, more horror punk from the masters themselves – the one and only Misfits.  On this track, Danzig and pals abandon the usual Ramones inspired turbo punk and offer up a ridiculously catchy rockabilly number.  Complete with handclaps and Danzig crooning more like Elvis than ever, this track sounds like a lost piece of 50’s nostalgia.  Classic stuff.

There we have it ladies and gentlemen – another great night in Mold!  Thanks to the guys from Halcyon Dreams and VOD music – and Dylan who helped out with an extra turntable!  More soon…

The Halcyon Dreams blogspot is here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

The VOD music website is here.

Halloween Horror Fest the 13th

Blacula (1972)

Blacula updates the legend of Dracula, placing it’s protagonist in early 70’s California.  African Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall) is visiting said Lord of the Undead, who curses him to become a vampire, known as Blacula.  After being entombed for a couple of hundred years, Mamuwalde is revived when his coffin is transported and opened in modern day USA. blacula

It’s a fun film, transposing many of the myths we’re familiar with from Hammer movies into a different setting.  As in other versions of the tale, Blacula is transfixed by Tina, who he sees as the reincarnation of his lost love.  Tina, played by the beautiful Vonetta McGee (dead ringer for Beyonce) falls for his deadly charms; whilst her friends attempt to stop the plague of vampirism from spreading.

Whilst undeniably dated, and wallowing in numerous stereotypes that are somewhat non-pc by today’s standards, Blacula offers some great entertainment.  There are a few scares, some incredibly groovy costumes and settings, and a cool funky score.  It’s a novelty rather  than an original, though transposing the Dracula story into the realm of Blaxploitation works a treat.

Recommended, especially for fans of Dracula AD 1972 and Dark Shadows.

7/10

Friday the 13th (1980)

We’re off to the realms of slasher movies next, for one of the all time classics of the genre.  I first saw this film when I was 17.  I’ve not been much of a fan of slasher flicks since. fr13

Friday the 13th knowingly raids all the cliches from the cupboard and displays them proudly on the wall.  Set at Crystal Lake summer camp, the young counsellors fit the required formula and are gruesomely picked off one by one in the classic manner.

And yet it works very well, with some genuinely well done gore (Tom Savini, take a bow) and real shocks that convince even after all these years.  This might not have been the first slasher flick,but it follows the Halloween blueprint faithfully and delivers with surprises and tension.

I’m still not a massive slasher movie fan, but this original Friday the 13th is well worth investigating.

7/10

Hallowe’en Horror Fest AD 1972

Dracula AD 1972 (1972)

1872: Count Dracula is locked in mortal combat with arch enemy, Lawrence Van Helsing.  The Count (Christopher Lee) is destroyed, though Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) also perishes from his wounds.  A disciple of the vampire collects some of the ashes, and Dracula’s ring; burying them at the site of a church.

1972: A group of young London groovers are persuaded to take part in a satanic mass “for kicks”.  Amongst the group is Jessica Van Helsing (Stephanie Beacham), grand daughter of Lorrimer Van Helsing (Cushing again) and descendent of the original vampire slayer.  Little do they know that one member of the group, Johnny Alucard (Christopher Neame), is himself a disciple of Dracula – and intends to resurrect the Count.  dracula_ad_1972_poster_06

Following a bloody ritual in a deconsecrated church, Dracula (Lee) is revived, and he begins to plan his revenge against the House of Van Helsing…

With this film Hammer attempted to drag their Gothic horror films into the modern era.  So in Dracula AD 1972, we’re presented with a Dracula in (then) modern day swinging London, complete with cars, rock’n’roll bands and hip young kids out for a good time.  It’s for this reason that the film is most often derided as silly, if not damn near sacrilegious.

The young hippies are given a look and slang that most surely must have been out of place by 1972.  Viewed now, the dialogue is sometimes hilarious.

Despite the harsh opinions held by many about Dracula AD 1972, I love it.  As a confirmed fan of all things from the seventies, I find it outrageously good fun to see Dracula in this anachronistic setting.  What we lose with the lack of traditional Gothic period setting, we gain in a campy, retro London with funky Blaxploitation style music and cool sets.Yes, the kids’ dialogue is ridiculous, but it’s also great fun if the audience just accepts it.

Draculaad1972

My VHS and DVD copies

As a glimpse of an imaginary 1970’s London, I find this film really enjoyable.  Part Hammer and part The Sweeney, if you will.  That it was an inspiration for Tim Burton on Dark Shadows is well documented, and hopefully means that Dracula AD 1972 is finally getting some recognition for it’s attempt to inject new blood (haha!) into the Count.

There are some bloody moments, but nothing too shocking for a modern audience.  What we do get is a great performance by Peter Cushing, who really embodies his role as occult expert with authority.  Lee, too, is imposing and majestic as Dracula, truly menacing and physically powerful.  It would’ve been great though to see the Count stalking around London for victims at night more, certainly a missed opportunity.

The youngsters give it a good go despite the atrocious (or funny) lines – Beacham and Neame are both great.  Plus Michael Coles as the Inspector gives us a character that is actually believable.

My personal favourite element of this film though is the wonderful, bewitching Caroline Munro.  Here Ms Munro appears in one of her most iconic roles as Laura Bellows, and she has never looked lovelier.  Good performance too, though it would’ve been great to see Caroline resurrected as a Bride of Dracula.

So despite some utter ridiculousness and a couple of wasted opportunities, I can only recommend Dracula AD 1972 as not only one of my favourite Hammer films, but one of my favourite films ever.  Cool soundtrack, too.

“Dig the music, kids!”

10/10 for me

9/10 for everyone else

Dark Shadows Playlist

Dark Shadows Soundtrack – Playlist

Recently I posted my Hallowe’en Horror Fest mini-review of the film Dark Shadows.  It’s a great film from Tim Burton, in my opinion.  One of the best things about that movie is the soundtrack.

The film is set in 1972, so the soundtrack consists of songs from that era.  Contrasting heavy rock, pop and a bit of soul, there are a few cuts that fit the Gothic mood; and others that are just cool.

I put together this playlist – utilising songs from my collection – meaning I didn’t need to buy the soundtrack album…

1. The Moody Blues – “Nights in White Satin”

This classic soundtracks the opening of Dark Shadows, chronicling Victoria’s journey to Collinwood Manor.  Sets up a moody(!) atmosphere.

2. Iggy Pop & The Stooges – “I’m Sick Of You”

I love it when Iggy gets some respect.  Cool tune, as heard in Carolyn’s room.

3. Donovan – “Season of the Witch”

Carolyn Stoddard plays this on vinyl.  Wish I had this on wax.  A Hallowe’en necessity.

4. Deep Purple – “Highway Star”

I can’t remember where this song appears in the movie.  It’s in there though, apparently.  One of the must-have Deep Purple tracks, find it on “Machine Head”.  Or any “Best of”, for that matter.

5. Curtis Mayfield – “Superfly”

Barnabas takes a walk through Collinsport, soundtracked with this mighty slab of Mayfield funk.  Not an obvious vampire tune, but so right for the era.

6. The Carpenters – “Top of the World”

“Reveal yourself, tiny songstress!”

7. Elton John – “Crocodile Rock”

Off to the pub we go, we might bump into Christopher Lee…

8. Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”

It’s the early 70’s.  It’s a dark film.  It needs, no – demands – Sabbath.  Timeless genius from the originators of all that is dark and heavy.  On “Paranoid”, of course.

9. Barry White – “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything”

The Love Machine’s tune is an apt choice for the scene it appears in.  What a song!

10. T.Rex – “Get It On”

So evocative of the time, a welcome airing for this track in the movie.

11. Alice Cooper – “No More Mr Nice Guy”

12. Alice Cooper – “The Ballad of Dwight Fry”

A special mention here for Alice Cooper, who has a cameo role as himself in 1972.  Two classic Coop songs are on this soundtrack.  “The Ballad of Dwight Fry” is possibly my favourite song ever from Alice, so it was great to hear it in the movie.

There you go, twelve songs and 54 minutes of music.  If Tim Burton chose these songs, he has great taste.  Except for that awful Killers song on the end credits.

I guess I’m a bit obsessed with this this film…

You can read my review here.

Hallowe’en Horror Fest Shadows

Dark Shadows (2012)

Tim Burton and – who else? – Johnny Depp bring us Dark Shadows, based on the cult late ’60’s TV show of the same name.  It’s a mix of horror, comedy and drama that is happy to lurk in Gothic darkness, but also offers a campy humour. dark

Barnabas Collins (Depp), heir to the wealthy Collins clan fortune, makes the mistake of spurning the love of Angelique (Eva Green).  Angelique happens to be a witch who curses Barnabas to become a vampire.  After being imprisoned for 200 years, Collins is awoken and finds himself in the year 1972.  A man – or vampire – considerably out of his time, Barnabas returns to the family home with the intention of restoring the Collins family to both wealth and harmony.  Aided by matriarch Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer), Barnabas faces Angelique once more; whilst also attempting to help his family and win the love of his life.

Does that sound like fun to you?  It did to me.  Which is why I’m surprised that some people didn’t dig this retro gem.  The mixing of genres may have confused some audiences, but to me Dark Shadows is a delightfully ghoulish confection in the spirit of the Addams Family and The Munsters.

I enjoyed the comedy elements, and there’s enough blood to tick the horror box.  Most of all though, I love the 1970’s setting – obviously inspired (again) by Hammer, there are cool cars and an exceptional soundtrack.  Alice Cooper even has a cameo as himself, for goodness sake – playing two classic Coop tracks!

Great cast, cool atmosphere – it all adds up to a winner in my book.

9/10