Recent Dorkiness

Countdown to Halloween: Trailer Park

Horror Movie Trailer Cavalcade!

Starting… NOW!

Evil Dead 2 is one of the greatest horror flicks of all time in my book, but the thing I love about its original trailer is how serious it makes the film look. Sure, you get the eyeball gag, but they’re trying to play off the infamy of the first Evil Dead (“The Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror”), and can’t be bothered to prepare the audience for how goofball the sequel really is.

But now for a trailer that lets the audience in on the joke…

Ah, The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Made in the waning days of the camp era, but still a fine entry in the field, and maybe my favorite Vincent Price movie. Its only competition on that front, in fact, is probably Phibes‘ spiritual sequel…

Straight as that trailer plays it, Theatre of Blood is every bit as much an exercise in macabre camp as Phibes. Price plays a hammy actor getting revenge on his critics by murdering them using methods from various Shakespeare plays. Worth a watch just to see Price masquerading as a gay hairdresser, but great fun all the way through.

And, hell, as long as we’re doing Price trailers…

Though by far not the best of the Vincent Price / Roger Corman collaborations, The Haunted Palace is notable for one thing: it’s the first big-screen adaptation of HP Lovecraft. Yes, I know it says “Edgar Allan Poe’s Haunted Palace,” but the only thing taken from Poe here is the title. It’s actually an adaptation of Lovecraft’s “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.” A loose adaptation, certainly (note the sex), but an adaptation nonetheless. It’s big fun, though, AND you get to see Lon Chaney Jr playing a Deep One!

Moving on to more recent (and less American) films, we come to Dumplings, a meditation on aging, beauty, and the lengths some women will go to in order to keep it.

Heh. I laughed more than I probably should have at that movie. I didn’t laugh at all at this next one, though. Not. At. All…

It’s kind of hard to keep The Blair Witch Project in perspective now. It was the first of the “found footage” horror films, and the first to use viral marketing in the lead up to its release. The producers did all they could to blur the line between fantasy and reality here, up to and including the production of an entire fake Blair Witch documentary designed to make people think that the legend, and the footage being shown in theaters, was real. That uncertainty, along with the novelty of the hand-held camera footage, made the whole experience terrifying in a new way, even for a veteran horror buff like me.

But it was terror that was very much of its time. Once the truth of the film was out there in the press (who took a dim view on having been worked by a bunch of first-time filmmakers), it was impossible to recreate. And seeing it on the small screen diminishes the experience, too, I think. Blair Witch used the dark theater, and its immersive stereo sound, to put the audience in the film in a way I’d never experienced before. That’s why it remains one of my all-time favorite horror films, and I hope that particular trailer for it gives you some taste of why.

Alright. We’re gonna close things out tonight with the trailer for a film that’s probably nobody’s favorite: a 1950s horror western entitled Curse of the Undead. I’d never even heard of it until it ran on Svengoolie this past weekend, and though it’s far from a good film, I found it interesting…

Heh. What piqued my interest here is the way this movie crosses its genres so well. On the one hand, it’s a standard oater, with a corrupt cattle baron trying to drive a family off their ranch. On the other, it’s a standard vampire flick, with the romantic outsider coming in to seduce and kill the heroine. The twist, of course, is that here the vampire’s a gunslinger, hired by the heroine to kill the cattle baron after her father and brother wind up dead. I like the moral ambiguity of that situation, with one evil brought in to fight the other. And I also like that the film’s hero isn’t the handsome square-jawed sheriff, but instead the handsome square-jawed preacher. That’s a nice variation on the western formula, and it leads to a couple of shocking moments. One, when he professes his love for the rancher’s daughter (!), and again when he forsakes peace and straps on a six-gun to duel the vampire in the film’s climactic scene.

And that’s it for the horror trailers tonight. This was fun experiment, though. I might try it again before the Halloween counting is done, and– Oh, what the hell. Just one more. But maybe one that requires no explanation or discussion…

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About Mark Brett (408 Articles)
Shaved Yeti. Alien. Writer of stuff. Read my fiction at http://reportsfromthefieldblog.wordpress.com/. Read my thoughts on comic books and other dork culture ephemera at https://dorkforty.wordpress.com/.

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