Thursday, October 31, 2019

Reserved Seating: Scary Movie Month Recap

by Adam Riske and Rob DiCristino
The review duo who ate too many miniature Snickers.

Adam: Welcome to Reserved Seating. I’m Adam Riske.

Rob: And I’m Rob DiCristino.
Adam: This week we’re going to recap our Octobers with more horror movie recommendations from what we’ve been watching this month, plus a rundown of the Halloween Happenings we’ve been attending. I’ll start us off.

In terms of new-to-me recommendations, I’ve had a strong month. I finally got around to seeing the Bob Balaban romantic zombie comedy My Boyfriend’s Back, which I’ve wanted to see since 1993 but never have. It’s really cute and I admire how “Yes and…” it is in its comedic stylings. Here’s a movie that could have stopped cold so many times for characters to react to the situation, but it never does that. The '90s were a good time for retro-'50s/'60s nostalgia on film, and My Boyfriend’s Back scratched that itch for me. Plus, Traci Lind!
Two more I really liked were Night Tide starring Dennis Hopper, which was like a great mix of Carnival of Souls (‘60s black and white horror) and Spring (doomed romance between man and creature). A few minor quibbles aside, I got really involved during the movie and it has a wonderful sense of setting (taking place at a seaside amusement pier). The other one was the 1993 remake Body Snatchers, starring Gabrielle Anwar (omg) and Meg Tilly. This movie moves. It’s around 90 minutes but felt like 30. It’s scary, stylish, and very moody.
I attended the Music Box of Horrors full-day marathon for about 8 of the 24 hours too and saw some winners, including a revisit of Event Horizon, which I hadn’t seen in a theater since its initial release in 1997. That movie’s always been a favorite of mine and it gets a boost in the theater where the visuals look great and the sound overwhelms (plus you get to hear the end credits song by Prodigy in movie theatre stereo!). The crowd was fun. Every time Laurence Fishburne would say “We’re leaving” or “Fuck this ship,” people cheered. I also stayed for Alligator with Robert Forster (RIP), which was okay (the pink 35mm print at 3:45 A.M. didn’t help), Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers was a first-time watch that I enjoyed. The surprise of the bunch was Retribution, directed by Guy Magar. That movie’s bananas and very entertaining (and neon). To my delight, I learned last weekend that Magar was one of Mike Pomaro’s teachers in film school. I want to go back in time to audit that class and ask hundreds of Retribution questions. The guy clearly knew what he was doing, taking a goofy premise and ‘80s-ing the shit out of it.

Lastly, I revisited Buffy the Vampire Slayer starring Kristy Swanson (omg everlasting, but her politics) and Luke Perry (RIP) and went from being mixed about it to really liking it this time around. I’m not sure what happened, but it completely worked for me in a Night of the Creeps kind of way. I know you’re a big fan of the TV series, did you like the movie too? I miss Michelle Trachtenberg. Where did she go?

Rob: I am a huge fan of the series! I always mean to revisit the movie (the Blu-ray seems to have taken up permanent residence in the Best Buy bargain bin), so I’ll make a point to do it before the end of October. I’m glad you’ve had so many positive revisits and new discoveries this year!
I’ve had a pretty strong week. At Patrick’s recommendation, I checked out Slumber Party Massacre II, which is an exercise in beautiful, cocaine-addled ‘80s madness. It’s as if every ‘80s horror trope was condensed into one experience: A bodacious girl band fends off the advances of douchenozzle fit-bros while bearing it all and being stalked by — and I cannot believe I’m typing this — a rockabilly Freddy Krueger-esque entity sporting a leather jacket and combination electric guitar/power drill torture device. Patrick wasn’t lying when he said it was the Hello Mary Lou to the first Slumber Party Massacre’s Prom Night. It’s colorfully, reprehensibly bonkers, and I loved every second of it.

Next up was Transylvania 6-5000 (1985), an alleged horror/comedy starring Jeff Goldblum and Ed Begley, Jr. as a pair of tabloid reporters investigating strange goings-on in the ancestral home of Dracula, himself. This movie made me uncomfortable. Goldblum is Goldbluming as best he can in the straight man role (his wardrobe deserves a chef’s kiss), and ‘80s comedy regulars like Jeffrey Jones and Carol Kane give the whole thing a broad, Mel Brooks-y vibe, but it feels too dated and desperate to engender any good will. It’s Ghostbusters-sploitation, a formless pitstop for up-and-comers on their way up to more prestigious roles. Worst of all, its final ten minutes are spent paying off a joke that is far too elaborate to ever be funny. I’ll give it credit for this, though: It has a funky theme song.
Last up for my notable new viewings are a pair of indies centered around lady parts: 2016’s Prevenge and this year’s Marla Mae, the latter of which was also a Bromley recommendation (sort of). I paired them together not only because they both chronicle the horrors women suffer just to inhabit their own bodies, but because they’re both the debuts of writer/director/actor combos. Alice Lowe’s Prevenge is the stronger of the two, mostly because it does more with the premise (a grieving, pregnant woman is taking orders to kill from the fetus growing inside of her) and has a slightly more sophisticated voice. Lisa van Dam-Bates’ killer IUD movie, Marla Mae, on the other hand, feels a bit more like a proof of concept than it does a completed film. As Patrick mentioned on our Shaun of the Dead podcast, it’s definitely suffering from the limitations of low-budget filmmaking (look out for the clever way they make a clearly empty bar seem crowded), and the acting is sketchy, at best. Still, There’s an earnestness that compels me to wish Van Dam-Bates and her crew luck in their future projects. Watching it reminded me how much an indie film can live or die by its tone: we tend to forgive low-budget comedies for their rough edges, but there’s something about a more serious effort that makes the seams show a little bit more.

Plans for the rest of the month include choosing one of my remaining “must see” movies (I won’t get to all four), and finally filling in a major Movie Shame with Salem’s Lot, which I realized recently that I’ve been confusing with Pet Sematary for years. Friend of the show Rob Galluzzo was showcasing some Blu-ray deals on his Twitter feed the other day, and Salem’s Lot was among them. Felt like a good blind buy with which to end the month.

Adam: I’ve owned Salem’s Lot for a couple of years but haven’t seen it either. Let me know how it is. I’m planning on closing out the month with a sneak preview of Doctor Sleep and binging the Turner Classic Movies lineup on Halloween night, including The Seventh Victim, From Beyond the Grave, The Bat, and Bride of Frankenstein. It’s been a fun October, but I’ve been fading towards the end. As of this writing I watched 55 horror movies in total during Scary Movie Month. I’m looking forward to watching some non-horror starting on November 1st. I’ve been wanting to see Western Stars, Parasite, and Motherless Brooklyn and I can’t wait for The Irishman, which is starting to play in theaters by me on November 8th. Are there any new releases (or older non-horror titles) you’ve been holding off seeing until November?

Rob: I mean, Charlie’s Angels, obviously. Happy Scary Movie Month, everyone! We’ll be back next week with more Reserved Seating. Until next time…

Adam: These seats are reserved.


  1. I've loved reading all your viewing experiences, guys!

    I succeeded in my goal of averaging at least one horror movie per day this month, sitting comfortably at 41 feature films and likely to add one or two more tonight.

    My favorite new-to-me discoveries were Satanic Panic, Spider Baby, The Innocents, The Lure, Ravenous, and Candyman. I would say the SCARIEST of the movies I watched was The Innocents, easily.

    The most gore would be a tie between Possession and Re-Animator, which are two very different films on the surface but in terms of pure viscera their Venn diagrams overlap for sure.

    Funniest movies: Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Lake Placid, Hotel Transylvania

    Biggest Horror Crushes: John Heard in C.H.U.D., the Panther Woman from Island of Lost Souls, Cousin Peter in Spider Baby, Adrienne Barbeau in The Fog, and Jennifer Lopez in Anaconda. I'm probably missing someone because I have crushes on most people, to be honest. I almost put Candyman on my crush list, which proves my point.

    1. We're inviting you to a 2019 in Film crushes column later this year.

  2. I know what you mean about fading, Adam. I have only one film on my watch list before the night ends, but there is not a lot of movie enthusiasm left now. I will get through it.

    Ferrara's Body Snatchers was one of my top watches this past Junesploitation. It does move at quick pace, and I really liked the practical effects. Most importantly, though, the film does something unique with the familiar story. I am planning to watch the 1978 remake for Junesploitation next year.

    What I am most proud of this October is getting around to watching Larry Cohen's film It's Alive. It has been stored on my DVR for the past three years. This month turned out to be the perfect time for it. I really responded to it, and there is so much to admire in the production aspect. While some of the effects for the baby have not dated well, the film does not feel cheap.

    I intended to go into my physical media collection more this month, but I found too many titles of interest on Prime and TCM this month. Of the 30-odd films I have watched, 90% have been first watches.

  3. I watched 31 new horror movies in 31 days. Not one a day but I watched hard to get to 31 in 31 days. I had some sequels I wanted to watch, I had some that I wanted to watch that I had put off for too long. I left a few spots open on my list that I could experience something new that would catch my eye. That happened with Robert Forester passing, so I discovered Alligator while I looked through his IMDB. This month was blast, my wife was supportive and egging me on to finish my goal. Now I am going to watch 10 Hallmark Christmas movies to make my heart pure again. My 31 in order seen are...
    Devil Bat, Blood Feast(1963), Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Bride of Frankenstein, 3 from Hell, The Hand(1981), Ice Cream Man, Phantasm 2, Bad Taste, Alligator, The Town that Dreaded Sundown, Warlock, Maniac Cop, Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth, The Thing From Another World, Humanoids from the Deep, Bad Moon, The Blob(1988), Wolfen, Slumberparty Massacre 2, The Furies, From Beyond, Midsommar, Rabid(1977), Subspecies, The Hills Run Red, Friend Request, Cronos, Innocent Blood, The Exorcist III, Audition.

  4. Happy Halloween, cool dudes! Here are my five favorite new-to-me movies of this year’s #ScaryMovieMonth:

    5. THE LAMP (1987). About an evil genie who wreaks havoc, it’s a definite must-see for all the Wishmaster fanatics. Pure cheese in the best way.

    4. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEB (2015). This one’s quirky, which means it’s not for everyone, but I dug the quirkiness, and I laughed a lot. It's OK to be in on the joke.

    3. THE WICKER MAN (1973). I just watched it for the first time a few hours ago, so maybe it’s too early to include on this list, but it got into my head. The first 30 minutes or so are just “Hey, this is the 70s,” only for the creepiness to slowly settle in over time. As a lifelong Twin Peaks fan, I could see the parallels. Also, maybe Christopher Lee’s character is secretly the good guy, maybe?

    2. THE CRAZIES (1973). It’s no surprise to anyone that George Romero made a good movie, but this was really, really good. If it weren’t for everybody’s haircuts, this could have been made today.

    1. DAUGHTER OF DR. JEKYLL (1957). I know the 1950s sci-fi/horror vibe is a little too stuffed-short for a lot of folks but I was drawn right into this movie’s world. The characters felt like real people and the spooky bits were genuinely spooky. They pronounced “Jekyll” funny, but other than that, this is a good time at the movies.

    Old favorites revisited: ARMY OF DARKNESS (Boomstick!), CHILD’S PLAY 2 (Toy factory!), THE CONJURING 2 (Elvis!), SLEEPWALKERS (Cat mom!), THE HOWLING (Wolf Picardo!), SPLIT SECOND (RIP Rutger), SCREAM (“It’s the millennium!”), and always, always, always THE MIDNIGHT HOUR.

  5. This year I relied on revisiting old favorites with just some new ones sprinkled in, I had an unfortunately timed work crunch. My main takeaway is the severe crush I have on Lance Henriksen. My best discovery was him as leading man in The Horror Show (1989) which is just all out committed craziness. I can't recommend it highly enough. I saw it on tubitv, more then once. Great wind down after a rough day.

  6. Whew, Transylvania 6-500 straight up sucked. I wasn't here for any of it and it was maybe my least favorite watch of the month, next to Candy Corn.