Night of the Comet (1984)
Written and directed by Thom Eberhardt
Produced by Andrew Lane, Wayne Crawford
Cinematography by Arthur Albert
Library DVD – interlibrary loan (1:35)
“The burden of civilization is on us, okay?”
Night of the Comet is a horror/science fiction/comedy/satire recommended by the guys at Pure Cinema Podcast last week. The plot is pretty simple: a comet has streaked past the Earth several days before Christmas, wiping out every person in the Los Angeles area except for a few survivors who stayed indoors protected by any structure made of steel. It’s not much of a set-up, but it’s enough to get us going.
(How’s that for a title, huh?)
I have a very unusual relationship with horror movies. I own very few of them and most of the ones I do own are from Hollywood’s “classic” era, including several of the Universal monster films and later more “psychological” horror films such as The Innocents (1961) and The Haunting (1963), films that suggest more than they show. Most of the horror in those films comes from implications and a sense of dread rather than actual physical danger and mayhem. These are the elements that – at least to me – offer the best justifications for rewatchability. Yet after listening to the latest Pure Cinema Podcast, I might be picking up more horror.
In their most recent show, Episode 6: Scream Factory, I came away with at least 16 titles I absolutely must check out:
The Visit (2015) M. Night Shyamalan
Universal DVD – library (1:34)
At least there’s some discussion going on about whether or not The Visit marks a return to something even approaching a good film from M. Night Shyamalan, which has certainly not been the case for quite a few years. As I often try to do before watching a film, I avoided any spoilers, synopses, or even trailers for the film, instead simply putting a hold on the DVD from the library.
I will briefly recount my thoughts, including pleasant surprises, levels of disappointment, and a challenge to Mr. Shyamalan.
Part I of October’s movies saw a fair number of horror titles, but you just can’t contain the film noir beast for very long, as evidenced below. I hope you’ll find something here worth investigating:
I guess I just can’t stay on task… My original plan was to watch horror movies exclusively during the month of October, alternating between modern horror and classic horror. As mentioned in a previous post, that plan fell through.
Althought I did watch several horror films – most of which you’ll see here, but also some in Part II – I also found time to step away from the scary stuff. More next time, but for now, here’s Part I:
Murder by Decree (1979)
Directed by Bob Clark
Produced by Bob Clark, René Dupont, Robert A. Goldston, Len Herberman
Screenplay by John Hopkins
Based on characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle and the book The Ripper File by Elwyn Jones and John Lloyd
Cinematography by Reginald H. Morris
Edited by Stan Cole
Music by Paul Zaza, Carl Zittrer
Canadian Film Development Corporation, AVCO Embassy Pictures
I find that most people – even Sherlock Holmes fans – have never heard of Murder by Decree. They don’t know that it stars Christopher Plummer (below right) as Holmes and James Mason (below left) as Dr. Watson, don’t know that it’s one of the most atmospheric Jack the Ripper films, and don’t know that the supporting cast consists of such exceptional talents as John Gielgud, Geneviève Bujold, Donald Sutherland, Anthony Quayle and Susan Clark, to name just a few.
What they might know is that the film was directed by Bob Clark, who also directed the Porky’s movies, which might understandably be enough to keep them away from a Clark-directed Sherlock Holmes film. (Those people should be aware that Clark also directed the 1983 holiday favorite A Christmas Story.) Yet Murder by Decree remains a very good thriller/horror/mystery that shouldn’t be ignored this Halloween or any other time of the year.
I’m not sure how I feel about horror movies. My original plan was to spend the entire month of October alternating between modern horror films and classic horror, but then I decided to just watch a lot of everything. Halfway through October, I’ve come to some sobering conclusions about horror films: