gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
I am hennaing my hair on a pleasant Los Angeles afternoon. We may actually get some badly-needed rain on Tuesday. It's been three weeks since my day job ended, and I'm still adjusting to my new working-at-home schedule, but I'm enjoying it more and more. (This week I will attempt to purchase an ergonomic office chair.)

Last night I watched The Hunger (1983) on TCM. Somehow I didn't see it when it came out or any time in the past 22 years. Visually it could not possibly be more eighties. Red lipstick! Black veils! Sunglasses and sunglasses and more sunglasses! Billowy white drapes! Fluttering doves! (There's a hilarious moment when the shit is hitting the fan and there's a shot of the doves walking across the floor like, "We're outa here!") My friend Carolyn said Susan Sarandon looks like she's in the Human League in this film.

I'd seen Dick Smith's name in the credits, and sure enough, David Bowie's Old Man prosthetic makeup is very similar to that which Smith originally designed for Jonathan Frid for Dark Shadows back in 1967.

I was particularly struck by the title sequence, featuring Bauhaus performing "Bela Lugosi's Dead." It must've launched a thousand Goths in its day (though for the first thirty seconds or so, my reaction was, OMG, the eighties.)

Catherine Deneuve makes an undeniably cool vampire. She and Bowie have chemistry; her chemistry with Susan Sarandon is off the charts. I would've liked the film better if it had ended with Deneuve and Sarandon living happily ever after (or at least for a century or so), but alas, no.

It would be fun to see The Hunger on a double bill with Only Lovers Left Alive.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, on a warmish LA day that I wish were more autumnal. I've been watching/rewatching a lot of spooky old movies on TCM this weekend. Things I have learned:

Vincent Price's wrap-around sunglasses in The Tomb of Ligeia are pretty much the best thing ever. Also, the black cat in this movie is the hardest working cat in show business.

Mark of the Vampire (1935) is as incomprehensible as I remembered. The vampires are not really vampires, but actors playing vampires...yet Bela Lugosi still manages to transform from a bat into a man? Still, the vampire Luna is awesome.

The reconstruction from stills of Tod Browning's lost film London After Midnight (1927), starring Lon Chaney Sr. (which Browning remade as Mark of the Vampire), is far more compelling and understandable than the remake. I hope someday a print of the movie will be found.

Either Ira Levin saw The Seventh Victim (1943) before he wrote Rosemary's Baby, or New York City and Satanists preying on young women just go really well together. The Seventh Victim is one of the few Val Lewton films I hadn't seen, and it immediately became one of my favorites.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, and it is raining plentifully in L.A. I'm looking forward to rinsing the wet henna out of my hair. Yesterday I got a superb haircut from my genius hairdresser (so there is far less hair to slather with henna than there's been in awhile).

I'm reading Available Dark by Elizabeth Hand and Susie Bright's memoir Big Sex Little Death (which is available for free Kindle download this weekend in honor of Susie Bright's birthday).

Last night I watched House of Dracula (1945), which [personal profile] handful_ofdust blogged about recently. I think it's the only one of that batch of 1930s-40s Universal monster films I didn't see when I was a kid. An odd movie, in which the kindly scientist (Onslow Stevens) trying to devamp Dracula (John Carradine) via blood transfusions ends up getting his own blood contaminated by Drac-blood and turns, not into a straight-up vampire, but a sort of vampire/Jekyll-Hyde/mad scientist combo. The movie features what was probably the silliest appearance of Frankenstein's monster to date. The scientist only manages to bring the monster (Glenn Strange) back to life near the end of the movie--whereupon the monster lunges at Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.), who the scientist had cured of lycanthropy via brain surgery (!) earlier in the film. Talbot sets the lab on fire, and Frankenstein's monster perishes in the flames after only being alive again for maybe five minutes. Heh.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
We are having autumn. I am wearing knee-high boots and a sweater jacket. This makes me very happy.

Last night I watched Rouben Mamoulian's 1931 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on TCM. I'm not sure how many times I've seen it. When I was a kid, back in the prehistoric pre-VCR days, my dad had a book of stills from the film (and also one for the 1931 Frankenstein), which may be why I'm so familiar with the film shot-by-shot. But I was struck anew by what a visual masterpiece the film is.

It's pre-code, of course, which means it gets to get away with this overtly sexy scene with Miriam Hopkins--but what's really amazing about the scene is the genius of Hopkins' superimposed swinging leg at the end of the clip:

I always have to remind myself that it's actually Fredric March playing Hyde, he submerges so completely into the role (and it's not just the superbly hideous makeup). The scenes of Hyde's abuse of Ivy (Hopkins) are hard to watch--but as this essay points out, it's a brilliant study of abuse: "Hyde is persistently vicious and domineering, with Jekyll as the winning personality who smooths things over with money and kind words. The only difference is that, up until the very end, Hopkins has no idea that the two men in her life are really one."

Last night I also watched part of Tod Browning's Mark of the Vampire. I've seen it before once or twice, but it was as incomprehensible as ever. Bela Lugosi and Carroll Borland wander around looking inscrutably vampiric (I could watch the awesome Borland doing her thing for hours), while various non-vampires (played by Lionel Barrymore and Lionel Atwill, among others) scurry around doing who knows what. The "surprise" ending is very WTF-ish.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
Today the henna is on my head, for it is Henna Day. I also have a slight headache, but nothing like yesterday, so I'm counting that as a win.

Last night I was watching The Legend of Hell House (1973) on cable (because [personal profile] sovay wrote about it recently), and I had a strong memory of the first time I saw it, sometime in the '70s. I'd had a bad cold or the flu, so my mom rolled the TV into my room and it was at the foot of my bed. I watched the movie because Roddy McDowall was in it (and because I was a horror movie fan, though I preferred the 1930s Universal pictures). I'm pretty sure it was a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The film must've been edited fairly heavily for TV. I'd forgotten Pamela Franklin was in it. Whatever happened to her? She was ubiquitous in the '60s and early '70s, and then (as far as I can recall) nada.


Jan. 25th, 2010 04:34 pm
gwynnega: (Barry Ryan)
Last night I watched Deathdream, an early seventies horror film from Canada about a zombie Vietnam vet. It stars Richard Backus, who manages to convey rage and pathos while being creepy as hell and, at times, very amusing. It also features John Marley and Lynn Carlin, of John Cassavetes's Faces, as the vet's parents--and they play their parts as if they're in the midst of a gritty realistic Cassavetes-esque drama, only to find themselves in a low-budget zombie flick. A fascinating film.
gwynnega: (Barry Ryan)
Wow, Richard Backus (Barry Ryan on Ryan's Hope, as seen in this icon) played a zombie Vietnam vet in a movie called Deathdream (also known as Dead of Night) in 1974.

That just went to the top of my Netflix queue...

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