Day 13- 31 Days of Halloween- The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975)

Day 13- 31 Days of Halloween- The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975)

Peter Proud is having such vivid dreams about swimming in a lake but then being killed by a woman in a boat that he seeks help regarding this. His girlfriend says that whilst he’s having this recurring nightmare he even starts talking in his sleep but in another man’s voice! He even screams the name of the woman who is killing him and identifies her as Marcia. Peter then sets off on investigating if in fact he is channeling someone else’s experiences.

Max Ehrlich’s novel is brought to life by director J. Lee Thompson with verve and flair with Ehrlich also writing the screenplay. The 70’s were a time of the exploration of alternative concepts such as reincarnation, Transcendental Meditation and other new age fads. This film perfectly taps into and captures this brilliantly. It’s great to see a 1970’s sleep lab and how it differs to the 1980’s equivalent in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

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I also loved the fact that it almost seems like Peter’s destiny to follow the trail of breadcrumbs being laid out for him such as the documentary he sees on television in which he recognises several landmarks that he sees in his dream. Hes being lured by fate to go deeper into this specific rabbit hole.

But thats enough spoilers and plot devices given away. The less you know about this film, the more you will enjoy it’s twists and turns. There are uniformly great performances but theres one that especially deserves praise- Margot Kidder. Shes even playing a character a lot older than she was in real life and pulls it off beautifully.

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Margot Kidder- younger and older in the film

Also, listen out for Jerry Goldsmith’s eerie and darkly psychedelic soundtrack. It matches the paranormal events amazingly.

This would make a very chilling double-bill with Don’t Look Now.

4/5 out of 5 stars

Day 11- 31 Days of Halloween- Don’t Go In The House (1979)

Day 11- 31 Days of Halloween- Don’t Go In The House (1979)

Donny is a very damaged person. After an incident at work sees one of his colleagues set himself on fire, we see Danny freeze with terror at the incident. This is explained through flashbacks. We see that as a boy his mother used to punish him by burning his forearms.

When he returns home from work he finds that his domineering mother has actually passed away. We then see her throughout the film in different stages of decomposition.

Donny then constructs a flame-proof room in his house and lures women back there to strip them naked and set fire to them using a flamethrower whilst they are hung up.

As a study of mental decay this is closer to Maniac than Repulsion. Lurid, sleazy and generally unsettling, this shocker deserves it’s notorious reputation.

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The original title of the film was actually The Burning (the print I saw actually had this title card) but when the filmmakers found out that another film was being made using this name they quickly changed it.

The BBFC cut three whole minutes from this film for it’s cinema release and then banned it outright for video. Most of the cut material was from the first murder involving the florist Donny tricks into coming back to his house. And this sequence is VERY full-on! Theres shades of Ed Gein to Donny’s MO. But without Gein’s flair for interior decoration.

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Hows that for a double bill?! A pyromaniac and the silver spheres.

The first three victims he torches to death he then dresses in his dead mother’s clothes and places in armchairs. He rants to them as if they’re still alive which gives us a very darkly entertaining glimpse into his twisted psyche. He sometimes hears their voices.

As you can tell from the plot elements I’ve described above this certainly isn’t a film to put on in the middle of a family get together (unless you want them to leave of course). But if you love deranged, unhinged and off kilter horror then you’ll love this Check out the new Blu Ray release. The print is gorgeous.

4 out of 5 stars

Day 9- 31 Days of Halloween- Play Misty For Me (1971)

Day 9- 31 Days of Halloween- Play Misty For Me (1971)

Jazz DJ Dave Garvin (Clint Eastwood) sleeps with a woman he seemingly randomly meets in a nightclub. But unfortunately for him she turns out to be a psychopath who is textbook Cluster B and as we would say in Yorkshire a ‘wrong un’.

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This film is cracking. It’s a stunning and, with hindsight, very realistic depiction of obsessional ‘love’ and stalking.

This film was a risk for Clint Eastwood and co. Not only was he depicting himself and in turn his movie image as vulnerable and a victim but also he was handing the reins over to Jessica Walters and her show-stealing performance as the unhinged Evelyn. And boy, what a performance it is! She is just as psychotic and disturbed as Andrew Robinson in Clint’s other film Dirty Harry.

This was also Clint’s first film as director and it showcases his brilliance behind the camera as well as in front of  it.

There are several scenes in this film that are genuinely terrifying. Check out Evelyn’s attack on Dave’s cleaning lady. It’s actually painful to watch. Also look for Evelyn’s cameo at the end of the scene of Dave and his girlfriend as they decide to rekindle their relationship.

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I also love how Eastwood’s films were politically incorrect decades before political correctness was even a thing. This film depicts a woman as the predator and aggressor when maybe nowadays it would be seen as unacceptable and going against prevailing media politics to depict a woman as possessing such qualities. Evelyn is depicted as a woman scorned and shown to be so much deadlier and calculating than her male counterpart.

5 out of 5 stars

Day 8- 31 Days of Halloween- Night Train Murders (1975)

Day 8- 31 Days of Halloween- Night Train Murders (1975)

Or Last House on the Left On A Train.

Two young teenagers cross paths (or tracks) with a trio who degradate and sexually humiliate them. One of them is accidentally killed, the other jumps from the train to escape her captors. The trio then find themselves at the home of one of the teenagers. Revenge ensues.

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Stylish direction and cinematography prevail in this film whilst the 70’s Euro vibe is captured very well indeed. Just like Last House this film is VERY extreme!

In fact this film was banned by the BBFC when submitted for cinema screenings in 1975. The video was placed on the Video Nasties list in 1983 but was then acquitted the year after and promptly removed from the DPP list.

3/5 out of 5 stars

Day 7- 31 Days of Halloween- Island of Death (1976)

Day 7- 31 Days of Halloween- Island of Death (1976)

You know those films that are so predictable that they have you saying ‘I knew that was going to happen’? Island of Death is the exact opposite of those kind of movies.

A British couple arrive on the island of Mykonos with only one thing in mind- seducing the locals then dispatching of them whilst one of the pair takes pictures of the whole event.

This film feels like the film Lesley was making in the brilliant Alan Bennett ‘Talking Heads’ monologue so memorably recited by Julie Walters.

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The inhabitants are like characters from John Waters and Andy Warhol/Paul Morrissey films. If this isn’t enough of a recommendation then I don’t know what is. Some scenes have been sped up also. The spirit of Benny Hill lives on.

The Greek locale is gorgeous and acts as a great backdrop for the film’s pervy goings on.

Sleazy, sordid and very entertaining. This is one of the best (and most bizarre) films on the Video Nasties list.

Look up ‘Island of Death Full Movie’ on YouTube and luxuriate in it’s slapstick depravity.

4/5 out of 5 stars

Day 4- 31 Days of Halloween- The Witch Who Came From The Sea (1976)

Day 4- 31 Days of Halloween- The Witch Who Came From The Sea (1976)

A far-out and thoroughly groovy tale of the swinging scene of 1970’s California. But also a disturbing tale of childhood abuse. Molly has fantasies of tying up men that also involves the use of razors. Two American Football stars are found butchered. Could Molly be responsible? Have her fantasises started to overlap with reality?

The great thing about the Video Nasties list was that it contained low-key gems that were truly left-field like this movie.

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The film doesn’t really make much sense but it doesn’t have to. The Drive-In and 42nd Street crowd would have been watching this film with their friend Mary Jane in attendance. And its possibly much more of a mind-expanding experience that way. But either way this is a very enjoyable piece of off-kilter 70’s goodness.

The film also looks unexpectedly gorgeous. And so it should as the Director of Photography was a young Dean Cundey. He shot this just two years before Halloween.

4 out of 5 stars

Day 2- 31 Days of Halloween- The Horrifying Experiments of the SS Last Days (1977)

Day 2- 31 Days of Halloween- The Horrifying Experiments of the SS Last Days (1977)

Is this-

a) A beautifully acted, nuanced and sensitive portrayal of the horror of the Nazis and those unlucky enough to have crossed paths with them?

or b) A badly acted slice of exploitation resplendent with terrible dubbing and almost no budget?

I’ll give you a clue- look at the film’s name! This is also known as The Beast in Heat (it’s on the UK Video Nasties list under that title) and Gestapo’s Last Orgy.

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I’d love to give you a summary of the plot but I don’t want to be banned from this platform.

Be sure to run a bath before watching this. You’ll need it.

But when you know exactly what you’re letting yourself in for this movie ticks all of the depraved boxes regarding lurid and boundary pushing schlock filmmaking. Imagine watching this back in the day on 42nd Street or on VHS in the early 80’s in the UK. Your mind would have been well and truly blown.

And by a weird turn of fate it’s uncut on YouTube! Enjoy (if thats the word).

4 out of 5 stars