From Beyond the Halloween Horror Fest

The Omen (1976)

Widely regarded as a classic of the horror genre, I was never a huge fan of this movie when I first viewed it as a teen in the late 80’s.  Despite the high regard that The Omen was held in by my peers, I just didn’t find it that scary.

Watching the film again now, though, I was much more impressed by the clever story and formidable performances. 

Gregory Peck plays Robert Thorn, a US Ambassador in Italy.  When his wife, played by Lee Remick, has a stillborn child, Thorn is approached by a priest to adopt another baby as their own.  They name the child Damien, and following the family’s move to London strange things begin to happen.

A priest (Patrick Troughton) warns Thorn that the boy is the Antichrist.  Though sceptical at first, Thorn begins to investigate with a photo journalist (David Warner) also caught up in the case.  Death and destruction is always on their heels, but is it deadly coincidence or evil incarnate?

Excellent performances and a tight, fast paced narrative made The Omen far more interesting this time around.  The Director, Richard Donner, does a good job of creating a malevolent atmosphere and the chills keep coming.

Creepy rather than jump-out-of-your-skin scary, never the less The Omen stays in the mind long after the finale.  Far better than I’d given it credit for.

8/10

From Beyond the Grave (1974)

I remember first seeing this film years ago – a late night showing on TV when I got home from the pub!

From Beyond the Grave is another Amicus anthology movie.  Featuring four short stories, they are linked together by Peter Cushing’s antiques and curiosity shop, Temptations Ltd – which bookends all the events.

In the first segment, David Warner (again) buys an old mirror that brings an uninvited, murderous guest to his home.  The second, and best story, features Donald Pleasence and daughter in a weird tale of witchcraft.

The third instalment is more comedic, as a medium is involved in exorcising a demon from a business man’s life.

Finally, Ian Ogilvy and Lesley-Anne Down are confronted with a time travelling satanist in what is a far fetched, but very tense tale.

It’s all great campy 70’s horror fun, and I have a lot of love for this film.  There are several great British actors, all doing a fine job – and plenty of atmospheric chills. From Beyond the Grave is slightly dated but immensely entertaining.

7/10

Halloween Horror Fest Rides Out

droThe Devil Rides Out (1968)

Back to the Halloween Horror Fest reviews with this Hammer classic from 1968.  Based on the novel by Dennis Wheatley, Britain’s legendary film studio created a film to be proud of with The Devil Rides Out.

It tells the tale of a group of friends reunited to rescue one of their number from the clutches of a Satanic cult.  Simon (Patrick Mower) and Tanith (Nike Arrighi) are to be initiated into the evil group by their leader, Mocata (Charles Gray).  Old pals Rex (Leon Greene) and the incomparable Christopher Lee, as the Duc de Richleau, attempt to rescue their comrades from the forces of darkness.  There ensues a battle between good and evil, with our heroes very souls at risk.

Quite simply, this film looks superb – old houses, vintage cars and some fairly decent special effects amount to a successful production.  The various references to the occult – visual or spoken – seem creepily authentic, even if it’s all just entertainment.

There’s a rare good guy role for Christopher Lee – finally permitted some dialogue in a Hammer film, he delivers a confident and believable performance.  He’s nearly upstaged by Gray, however, whose portrayal of Mocata exudes a suave, sinister menace.

A fantastic film and one of Hammer’s best, it only falls down on a somewhat bizarre ending and a lack of the trademark Hammer Glamour.  Other than those small issues, The Devil Rides Out is a total success.  Such a shame that the studio never really capitalised on this with more of the same.

8/10

Random Skateboard Playlist

It’s been a long while since I shared a random playlist with you.

I recently went out for a skate, split between riding my Mindless longboard and spending some time on a classic old school Santa Cruz Street Creep.  Whilst skating around, I switched the iPod onto shuffle and these are the tunes I heard.

  1. Dead Kennedys – “Moon Over Marin”
  2. Steppenwolf – “Live Your Life”
  3. Little Richard – “I Don;t Know What You’ve Got, But It’s Got Me (Parts 1 & 2)”
  4. Motorhead – “Back At The Funny Farm”
  5. Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Gimme Three Steps”
  6. Orange Goblin – “Hounds Ditch”
  7. Rod Stewart – “True Blue”
  8. Wire – “I Am The Fly”
  9. The Wildhearts – “In Lilly’s Garden”
  10. Hypnos 69 – “My Journey To The Stars”
  11. Monster Magnet – “Slut Machine”
  12. Iggy Pop – “New Values”
  13. The Charlie Daniels Band – “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”
  14. Sisters of Mercy – “More”

Not a bad selection by the iPod there.

Hallowe’en Playlist

All these posts about horror movies, it’s about time there was a post devoted to music for Hallowe’en!

I have a couple of Hallowe’en compilation CDs, this playlist puts together various songs not on those collections.  Some of the choices are obvious horror themes (“The Number of the Beast”, “Nasty”); others are more tenuous (“Devil in Disguise”, “Hotter Than Hell”).  Other selections are related, directly or not, to great scary movies: you know where “Bad Moon Rising” is from, right?

Either way, there’s a variety of styles here – suitable for (most) Hallowe’en gatherings…

  1. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Bad Moon Rising”
  2. The Damned – “Nasty”
  3. Elvis Presley – “(You’re the) Devil in Disguise”
  4. Ramones – “Pet Semetary”
  5. Motorhead – “Hellraiser”
  6. Johnny Cash – “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky”
  7. Iron Maiden – “The Number of the Beast”
  8. The Misfits – “Vampira”
  9. Kiss – “Hotter Than Hell”
  10. Rolling Stones – “Sympathy for the Devil”
  11. Zombina & The Skeletones – “Nobody Loves You (When You’re Dead)”
  12. Ozzy Osbourne – “Mr Crowley”
  13. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – “I Put a Spell on You”
  14. GBH – “Horror Story”
  15. Van Halen – “Runnin’ with the Devil”
  16. David Bowie – “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)”
  17. The Cult – “The Witch”
  18. Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”
  19. Alice Cooper – “I Love the Dead”