The Halloween Horror Fest Don’t Die

The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

Wow – what a cast! Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Danny Glover, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits – amongst many others – star in this comedy horror from director Jim Jarmusch.

The Dead Don’t Die tells the story of a zombie apocalypse in a small US town, as we see events unfold from the point of view of two cops on patrol (Murray and Driver). Natural phenomena begins to go awry, and following the murder of two workers in the local diner, events escalate quickly. Soon enough, the police (together with Swinton’s samurai funeral director) scramble to retain control as hordes of zombies take over.

Although there are some wonderful performances in this film – Murray and Driver’s brilliantly understated cops being the best – this film doesn’t really succeed as a comedy or a horror film. The zombie arrival is very slow, and the conclusion seems rushed. The comedy is rarely laugh out loud hilarious, it’s mostly dry humour and deadpan delivery, and there’s a lot to enjoy in the approach that the movie takes.

The Dead Don’t Die follows it’s own path, avoiding the much more in-you-face approach of Zombieland. The film is an enjoyable and worthwhile watch, but it doesn’t quite achieve its potential. It’s more of an Indie arthouse spoof of the genre, but whilst it has it’s own peculiar charms, I was expecting much more. Maybe I should know more about Jim Jarmusch. Who is he, anyway?

7/10

The Mummy (1959)

Frankenstein? Check. Dracula? Check. Next on the horror hitlist for Hammer was The Mummy, and boy does it look great in splendid colour. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are, of course, on hand; as are Terence Fisher (director) and Jimmy Sangster (writer). You can’t go wrong.

It’s 1895, and an archaeological dig in Egypt finds the ancient tomb of of Princess Ananka. John Banning (Cushing) has a broken leg, and can’t enter the tomb, though it’s probably for the best. His dad Stephen does go in, despite the protestation of the Egyptian Mehemet Bey (George Pastell) and is driven mad by… something.

On returning home, Banning senior (Felix Aylmer) is in a nursing home, receiving care for the mentally disturbed. He becomes lucid enough to warn his son that he fears the mummy of Kharis, the high priest will destroy them all for entering the tomb.

Sure enough, the Mummy of Kharis (Lee) is awoken by Bey, and begins to take revenge for the disturbance. Will Banning be able to stop it’s rampage?

Predictably excellent work from Cushing here, as expected. And Lee is imposing as ever as Kharis, looking incredibly grim emerging from a swamp. The film does drag a little in the final third, but with the beautiful sets, a lush score and a decent story, The Mummy is unmissable for any Hammer fan.

8.5/10

Young Halloween Horror Fest

Young Frankenstein (1974)

For some reason, I thought I’d never seen this Mel Brooks comedy homage to the Universal monster movies, so I bought the DVD. Turns out, I have seen this film – I remembered it as I watched. Even so, the DVD (which cost a fiver) has turned out to be a good investment.

Seann Walsh plays Frederick Frankenstein – sorry, that should be Gene Wilder plays Frederick Frankenstein, or as he pronounces it, “Fronkensteen”. Grandson of the late Victor Frankenstein of monster making infamy, Frederick inherits his family’s Transylvanian estate.

Aided by a beautiful assistant, Inga (Teri Garr) and hunchbacked servant Igor (Marty Feldman, stealing every scene), the younger Frankenstein discovers his grandfathers secret manuscripts. Abandoning his previous scorn of his ancestors work, Frederick decides to resume the experiments and reanimate the dead…

Young Frankenstein turned out to be very enjoyable. It’s genuinely very funny – not every gag works, but there’s enough life in the script to generate some real laugh-out-loud moments. The cast are perfect – Marty Feldman is great, and Peter Boyle as The Monster has both comedy and pathos.

The black and white cinematography is gorgeous, and the sets and scenery make this film a great tribute to the old monster movies. Highly recommended for some light-hearted Halloween fun.

8.5/10

The Resident (2011)

It’s a Hammer film, and Christopher Lee is in it! What more do you need to know? This is the modern incarnation of Hammer, and good old Chris Lee is here to add a touch of class.

Juliet Devereau (Hilary Swank) is an ER doctor, who has split with her husband and rents a too-good-to-true New York apartment from Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). It doesn’t take long for Juliet to feel that something isn’t right. In fact, someone is stalking her, watching her every move, and her life is at risk…

Not supernatural in anyway, this film has more in common with the old thrillers that Hammer used to churn out. The Resident is actually a very suspenseful movie, slow burning at first, but accelerating through paranoia to a violent climax.

It’s great to see Christopher Lee, but the two leads are the real stars. In particular Jeffrey Dean Morgan in a pre-Negan role, showing his masterful ability to personify a charming psychopath.

8/10

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #4

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 2nd October 2015

For this month’s Bring Your Own Vinyl Night, I decided to have a theme for my set.  Although it was only early in the month of October, I decided to opt for a Halloween theme.  My music choices would have a horror element, or something dark and macabre.

If you’re not familiar with vinyl night, here’s the basic outline:

  • Hosted in the Queen’s Head pub in Mold, turn up and play a fifteen minute set of songs – vinyl only, no CD’s, mp3s, tapes or anything else.
  • Put your name on the list and wait your turn, have a few drinks, listen to the collection of tunes played by other vinyl fans.
  • There are two turntables plus mixing equipment to play your set, plus assistance if you need technical help.

Adam was first up tonight, his set list went as follows:

  • Amen Corner – (If Paradise is) Half As Nice
  • Los Lobos – C’mon Let’s Go
  • Jim Steinman – Surf’s Up
  • Guns’n’Roses – You Could Be Mine

Then it was my turn…

Bobby “Boris” PIckett and the Crypt-Kickers – Monster Mash

What better way to start than with this ghoulish classic?  I found this album a few months ago in a charity shop, and couldn’t believe my luck.  It was only a couple of quid, and worth the investment even though I don’t usually spend more than a pound!  This is of course the sixties gem that sound checks various monsters, with Pickett impersonating Karloff (and Lugosi too).  It’s great fun and essential for any Halloween party!

The Damned – Nasty

The first time I ever heard the Damned was when “Eloise” got to number 3 in the charts.  The second time was this fast paced, tongue in cheek ode to horror movies, on the brilliant Young Ones horror spoof episode “Nasty”.  The Damned appear and play this song in the Young Ones’ kitchen.  I was hooked straight away, saved up some money and bought an album with both tracks on it.  Given the exposure this song had, it constantly amazes me that “Nasty” was relegated to a B-side and hardly ever shows up on Damned compilation albums.  I’ve seen the band live more times than any other, but only saw this song performed for the first time a few weeks ago!  Anyway, the Damned are another essential for a Halloween theme.  Still a great song.

Danzig – Sistinas

Although not a horror related song as such, I couldn’t resist the chance to play something by the Dark Lord of rock himself, Danzig.  Instead of a more obvious bone rattling heavy rock number, I chose this incredible ballad that was hidden away on Danzig III: How the Gods Kill.  Glenn shows off his great vocal abilities here on a song that is more Roy Orbison than Black Sabbath.  Appropriately dark and wind swept, this is a morose beauty of a song.

The Misfits – Vampira

To be honest, I was spoiled for choices for a horror theme, there are tons of songs I could’ve played.  Despite risking a Glenn Danzig overdose, I just had to spin a Misfits song.  This band took the horror punk template established by the Damned, the Ramones and the Cramps and ran with it, off into a creepy cemetery populated by every 1950’s B-movie monster ever.  “Walk Among Us” is one of my favourite albums ever, and this short sharp song dedicated to proto Goth babe Vampira is one of their best.

So there you have it – another triumphant evening for Bring Your Own Vinyl Night.  There were old songs, new songs, obscure and obvious songs.  There’s always something to make you go away and research another band, that’s the beauty of these nights.  My personal favourite was hearing “Gut Feeling” by Devo!  Already looking forward to the next one.  A theme?  We’ll see…

The Halcyon Dreams blog is here, where you can find listed (very helpfully) all of the songs played on the night.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.