Tom Humberstone


horror month - day 1

The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

Or "Bill Pullman and his Jaguar Spirit Animal". This is an odd one. Based on a book, made after Craven's success with Nightmare on Elm Street, and after Romero's Dead trilogy had reinvented the zombie film. This goes back to the sub-genre's Haitian roots, with raffish young Pullman trying to discover how 'zombification' works so his employer, BioCorp (I love a good sci-fi/horror evil corporation), can market it as an anaesthetic. So it has the same problem those dodgy X-Files episodes with voodoo have - in that there are some distinctly problematic elements in here. But it's handling of voodoo and it's relationship with Christianity is pretty good.

Because a lot of the film's horror moments take place in dreams or while hallucinating, there are some parallels with Nightmare. Craven really knows how to deliver on these.

There's a great hand reaching through soup moment. And Bill Pullman gets chased by a chair. Yep. There's also a prolonged black-screen buried alive scene that reminded me of that bit in Kill Bill 2.

Lewton Bus Count: 1.

One Last Scare? Yes. Leading to a very bizarre fist fight with the antagonist's smoking body.

I also watched:

The Last House on the Left (1972)

This was thoroughly unpleasant.

I suppose I'm sort of glad that I've seen it, considering it's place in cinematic history, but that was a really nasty watch. There's some truly inventive direction and sound design in there, and I like that it's this small exploitation movie inspired by a Bergman film (and media images of the Vietnam war). But all the impressive ideas about violence begetting violence gets lost, for me, in those weird tonal shifts into slapstick after something incredibly disturbing happens. I can see it's influence on a lot of movies. I bet Eli Roth fucking loves it.

There's a good Kermode take on the original and the remake here.

Interestingly, both this and The Serpent had the ol'  "Based on true events" horror staple at the start. Maybe I should keep a running tally of this too.

Lewton Bus Count: 0 (it's not that kind of film).

One Last Scare? No, just one last tonally jarring sound cue over a depressing freeze frame.

Tonight: Probably going to go contemporary tonight with Honeymoon (2014). Might double-bill with Unfriended (2014) if there's time.