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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Horror and Cult Movies for the Seasoned Fan: Resurrection, Pt. 2

By Zachary T. Owen

Back for more? Here's six more movies to check out for Halloween that you may not have seen! For part one, click here.

Mirror/Mirror (1992)

A rarity for 90s horror, and really the genre as a whole until more recently—Mirror/Mirror is a movie written by, directed by, and starring women. It's also part of the “evil mirrors” sub-genre (The Evil WithinOculusMirrors). For my money, this is the most entertaining entry in said sub-genre. We've got the great Karen Black turning in a kooky performance as a batty but lovable mom and Rainbow Harvest playing a character very similar to Beetlejuice's Lydia Deetz. Mirror/Mirror is a bit of a teen drama in addition to being a horror film, but it doesn't totally give itself over to high school stereotypes! There is–gasp–a jock boyfriend who is actually sympathetic and likable. Additionally, the special fx are simple and effective. I was surprised how well this movie has held up. Mirror/Mirror is long overdue for a cult following.

Nightmare on the 13th Floor (1990)

Anyone who really knows me is aware of my fondness for made-for-television horror movies. Most of the winners in that sub-category of horror are from the 70s, but there are scatterings of great TV titles from the 80s and 90s, and Nightmare on the 13th Floor is definitely one of them. Virtually bloodless (aside from one fairly gruesome scene...at least for 90s television) but well-made, chock full of fun characters, and well-paced, Nightmare is a nifty little horror-thriller about the old superstition hotels have with the number 13. In this case, a secret 13th floor is the safe-haven and murder-ground of a mysterious individual protected by a cult and a nosy journalist is about to blow it all up. Nightmare on the 13th Floor is especially notable for being co-written by J.D. Fiegelson, who wrote the classic Dark Night of the Scarecrow. Too bad this one never hit DVD or Blu-ray, but you can watch the full movie on YouTube above.

The Evil Clergyman (1988/2012)

Before dominating the VHS market with his alternative brand Full Moon, Charles Band ran Empire Entertainment, a production and distribution company focusing on horror and B movies. They had some success with titles like GhouliesRe-AnimatorDolls, and Troll. Eventually Empire began to fall apart and lost in the shuffle was an anthology film called Pulse Pounders, in which each segment was a sequel of sorts to previous Empire titles. The film never got a release and was believed missing until Band found VHS tapes containing a rough version of the movie. He decided to restore and release each individual segment as a short film. The Evil Clergyman is a loose adaptation of several stories by H.P. Lovecraft. It stars Empire and Full Moon favorites Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton...and David Gale as a human-faced rat. Taking place primarily in one room with only a handful of characters, The Evil Clergyman is a very watchable ensemble movie and, honestly, one of the better Lovecraft movies to ever come out of Empire and Full Moon.

PIN (1988)

PIN is based on The Devil's Advocate author Andrew Neiderman's (and later the ghostwriter for V.C. Andrews) novel of the same name. A psycho-sexual drama with some seriously creepy atmosphere, it's a wonder this movie doesn't have more fans. PIN chronicles a brother and sister who are orphaned after their parents die in a car accident. The title character, Pin, which is short for Pinocchio, is an anatomy doll who has become a fixation for the brother, Leon, who believes him to be alive and develops an unhealthy relationship with him which does not bode well for his sister who he harbors incestuous feelings for. When sis gets a boyfriend things start to go awry and Pin begins concocting a plan for murder.  This flick gets bonus points for featuring Terry O'Quinn of Stepfather fame in a good supporting role.

The Kindred (1987)

Sadly, The Kindred is one of those movies that got a VHS release and then fell into obscurity. This is the kind of movie one hopes Shout! Factory will pick up for its Scream Factory imprint. The special fx make for a gooey good time. The plot, as taken from Wikipedia: “Amanda's deathbed request to her son, John, was for him to destroy all the lab notes from her last experiment. She also blurts out he had a brother. At the funeral John meets Melissa, who claims to be his mother's biggest fan. Together with some of John's friends they go to Amanda's house, but none are prepared for what they find there: his monstrous, tentacled baby brother. Now he has to get to his mother's greatest advancement in Human Evolution before a mad scientist gets to him first.” Until The Kindred gets a real release, you can see it on YouTube above.

Daimajin (1966)

Daiei, the studio responsible for the Gamera series, produced Daimajin and its two sequels (all of which were released the same year). Daimajin is a Kaiju classic and one I wish we heard more about these days. The star character is a statue that comes to life by possession of demon god and seeks revenge for oppressed or wronged people, his power so awesome and horrific that he leaves utter destruction in his wake. It's arguable how much a force of “good” Daimajin is, considering in the first film he doesn't seem much concerned with who he kills. The movie and its sequels are a slow-build, focusing on the drama of family and society life in feudal Japan, until inevitably the demon god comes to life at the climax to dish out chaos and terror. As with Godzilla and Gamera, there is a man in a suit, but the difference is the actor's eyes are visible through the mask, adding a chilling, cold gaze that is too human, making Daimajin all the more memorable.

Zachary T. Owen is an arsonist and an author. You can find him on Twitter and other internet vacuums. His books can be found here. 

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