— by SCOTT SWAN —
In no particular order …
Oct. 8: “Clean, Shaven” — It’s no easy task to sit down and explain why I revere a film so much. It’s even harder when it’s one of the finest films of the decade (the ’90s, in this case). From my very first viewing of Lodge H. Kerrigan’s impressive directorial debut — “Clean, Shaven” — I’ve been a devoted fan. Damn near evangelical, actually. Not since George Lucas’s “THX 1138” has a director made his debut with such confidence and sheer natural ability. With a budget of a mere $60,000 dollars, Kerrigan has created a thing of beauty. It’s simple, elegant, and profoundly unsettling. Peter Greene (Zed, the security guard and gay rapist from “Pulp Fiction”) plays Peter Winter, a lonely, schizophrenic man who is on a desperate search for his young daughter, who was taken away from him at birth. Aside from the normal hurtles he must pass in order to locate her, he must also endure a near-constant frightening onslaught of bizarre voices, electronic clamoring, and disturbing visions that crowd his troubled head. This is one of Greene’s earliest performances and it’s by far his finest hour in my opinion. He’d have to actually kill himself on camera to top this.
Oct. 9: “Hell’s Ground” — This movie, which has the rare distinction of being Pakistan’s first splatter/gore flick, is one big fat wet kiss on the lips of a low-budget horror blood bath. As a director, Khan is for the most part imitative, but his pure unfettered enthusiasm for the genre and the craft of filmmaking itself shines through so profoundly that with just this one film (his first and only so far, actually) he’s made me an instant fan of his work.
Oct. 10: “The Short Films of David Lynch” — I don’t care what anybody says: David Lynch makes horror movies, and he’s a master. This collection of shorts is disturbing on numerous levels. “Premonition Following An Evil Deed,” from the film Lumiere and Company, are some of the most haunting 50 seconds I’ve ever witnessed. Overall, though, Lynch is a rich visual filmmaker who can harness darkness and fear like no other.
Oct. 11: “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” — Yes, the one with the masks. It is perhaps the gutsiest horror movie of the ’80s because of the way they completely (and sadly, unsuccessfully) reinvented the “Halloween” franchise. After all, Michael Meyers died at the end of “Halloween II.” No, seriously, he died. I know there’s a Part 4 and 5 and maybe there’s a 6 or 7, but he died in Part 2. This movie has nothing to do with the Meyer’s legend. If you haven’t seen it, pop that sucker in. You’re in for a real treat. Trust me.
Oct. 12: “The Backwoods” — Paddy Considine (the modern-day Robert DeNiro of the U.K.) and Virginie Ledoyen (a hotter, more womanly Natalie Portman) play an English couple on holiday in Spain in the late 1970s. While in Spain, they stay with an old friend and his Spanish wife, played by Gary Oldman and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón (who, by the way, has an impressive ’70s bush). The idyllic vacation turns a little hinky right off the bat when Considine and Oldman step into a tavern for drinks. It’s like that scene in “An American Werewolf in London,” just without werewolves. It’s established here that these locals don’t think very highly of outsiders — or toothpaste for that matter. Virginie Ledoyen wets down her thin cotton top, revealing her awesome nips, and that’s when you know: Before this movie is over, somebody’s gonna get raped.
Oct. 13: “Inside” (unrated) — Jesus Christ. Leave it to the French. Directors AlexandreBustillo and Julien Maury either need to be institutionalized or given all the money they need to keep making movies. “Inside,” or rather “À L’intérieur,” as the French call it, is about a young pregnant woman, Alysson Paradis, who almost loses her child in a car accident. But the car wreck ain’t the extent of the thrashing. No, that’s just the beginning. Before long she find herself trapped inside her home, terrified out of her mind as a crazy woman tries to break in and kill her. Before long that crazy woman is inside the house and that’s when the blood starts to flow. Once inside the once, however, she wants to get inside something else. And that’s really when things get nasty.
Oct. 14: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” — Bet you didn’t see this one coming. But come on. What Halloween is complete without this classic? Here’s hoping Linus is finally visited by The Great Pumpkin. His sincere belief in this bizarre legend is one of the all-time greatest things in television history.
Look for Week Three of 31 Days of Halloween on Oct. 15.
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Follow Scott Swan on Twitter at http://twitter.com/scottobiswan.