Happy Friday the 13th! I don’t know if you have any plans, but as for me I’m going to spend my evening with pizza and horror films.
Speaking of Horror films I have been getting ready trying to pick out which ones I’ll use for Horrorfest X, my yearly Halloween countdown, but I’ve also been going through old posts and looking at the ones from the original Horrorfest, and thinking some of these movies Catherine Morland would love as they are full of gothic-y goodness.
Then I thought, why not start a new series, a list of only the good Gothic like horror films for the other Catherine Morland/Henry Tilney spooky people out there? It will only contain movies that I strongly recommend-none of the films that are poorly written or have a lot of issues. And unlike my other lists, this will be a one stop list for people looking for recommendations, while the original posts will only be done during Horrorfest.
So films on this list are going to be Gothic films or films with Gothic components. For those who are wondering what classifies something as a Gothic, here is the definition.
Gothic fiction, which is largely known by the subgenre of Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature and film that combines fiction and horror, death, and at times romance.
Any films I have already reviewed that fit for this list I will just list and link here, while any future film I review I will add a little specifically why it belongs on this list. I have 9 years of films I have watched/reviewed for Horrorfest, but I’m not sure how many of those will be on her. For now I’m going to put on the ones I have recently re-edited, and then will be adding more constantly. If you are looking for recommendations, be sure to check back for more:
In 2009, I was 17 years old. A senior applying to colleges, trying to figure out what to do next with my life-planning prom and other senior activities.
I remember when this film came out, it was a big deal at the time as Penn Badgley was super popular from Gossip Girl (it being in its third season) and this was to be his big film role (prior to this he was in John Tucker Must Die! as the little brother). I wasn’t super interested in it at the time- I was more angry about the Fame remake (which sucked as much as I had thought it would), that Where the Wild Things looked depressing instead of the fun book I remembered it being (it was both boring and depressing), and thought Dare, New Moon, and Avatar all sounded dumb. The only thing I was looking forward to was Robert Downey Jr. and Judd Law in Sherlock Holmes.
In fact I never probably would have even remembered anything about this movie, except my mom was so against it. But I was 17, I could watch whatever I wanted. I remember saying some smartmouth reply and getting in trouble for it.
I never did go see it in theaters as I didn’t really care about it.
Flashforward to the beginning of this year and I’m housesitting/catsitting for a friend who has cable-and not just cable, Lifetime!
I LOVE Lifetime and can’t help but watch the Lifetime movie channel. That day it was playing The Stepfather, so I decided what the hey? Why not check it out?
NO! NO! This was not good at all. I should have listened to my mom and passed this one by!
Yes, always listen to your mother!
So typically I do not review a movie without reviewing the original, but I didn’t get a chance to fit it in, so the review of the remake must go on.
So the film starts off with “the Stepfather” (Dylan Walsh) having killed his family and their dead bodies not even phasing him as he leaves and moves on to the next town to find his “new family”.
In the supermarket he meets Susan Harding (Sela Ward), with her two kids-Sean and Beth. He charms them quickly and he, now going by David Harris, and Susan begin a relationship.
If I’ve learned anything from movies and TV is the supermarket is nor the place for women to meet men. I mean the mom gets set up with a Vampire in Mom’s Got a Date With a Vampire, Susan gets with a serial killer, and Fran with a liar-guy is a hot dog vendor pretending t be a stock broker in The Nanny. Just cross that place off the list.
Don’t go there to look for men!
So David and Susan become engaged-which is something that really bothers me. I mean it is called The Stepfather, but David is NOT the stepfather. He and Susan live together, but they don’t marry. So why call it that? Because it is better than The Man My Mom Lived With or My Mom’s Evil Fiance or My Mom’s Serial Killer Boyfriend or Don’t Let Mom Marry the Serial Killer? Actually that last one sounds pretty good. It could be super serious teen drama or ’90s kids comedy-someone write a script, make a ton of money and give me 10% for the title.
Finally! This is almost over!
So anyways, it is the summer and Michael Harding (Penn Badgley) has just returned from military school. He was acting up after his parents’ divorced and was sent away. Depending on his behavior he can stay or will be shipped back.
He meets David and feels weird about the whole thing-everything has seemed to move toooo fast and he’s worried his mom might end up with another bad relationship-another guy like his dad.
Now here is where the film first failed with me. This film could have been a lot better if they went in a different direction then what they chose. Now I have never seen the original film this is based on, but think how much more horrifying if David seemed so nice, developed a great relationship with the kids, maybe even Michael opening up and sharing what happened with his dad-what he saw between his parents that made him not be able to stand his father and react so destructively. Then to have him realize David is not who he seems-I think much more interesting.
But instead David tries to bond with him but it is all so fake and creepy-Michael doesn’t tust him, second guesses him, and the suspense/mystery/horror is missing. We know David is a psycho and Michael knows it too-there is no buildup.
I mean Buffy the Vampire Slayer did this much better on their Ted episode. Buffy wanted to like her mother’s boyfriend, she tried to like him-but then felt something off-and she felt bad about being so down on her mom-convincing herself it was her problem not anything wrong with Ted. But then Ted starts being extremely controlling, he threatens her. He continues to treat her cruelly but others nicely, causing no one to believe her or make her think she is imagining it. It is emotional and mental abuse-and makes you wonder what will happen next.
That would have been a better path to take, but they didn’t do that.
Michael isn’t the only one who is unsure about David as Susan’s sister, Jackie, points out that there is a ton about David she knows zero about, although Jackie’s wife/girlfriend (it doesn’t state their exact relationship) thinks Jackie is being overprotective-as David’s hot. So what if they don’t know his family, religion, history, friends where he grew up, etc, and he’s not working-David’s hot.
Yeah, Susan really? I mean you are a single mom, don’t you want someone more stable for your kids? Don’t you think you want someone with a real job?
And David’s plan doesn’t make sense! He creates fake identities but has nothing to back him up? I mean he just plans to move from town to town with no social security number or anything and expect to work and live there? I mean they could have had him buy dead people’s identities and then have Michael do some research and stumble on to it! And then he presents it to his mom and she’s like, “oh that, it’s a common name that’s not him.” And then David doing something creepy like almost kill him, kind of like Joseph Cotton in Shadow of a Doubt when he starts sabotaging things around his niece because she knows too much, and everyone thinks she is just imagining things.
Anyways, one day Sean isn’t listening to Susan, so David decides to “discipline” and chokes him. When Sean and Beth visit their dad, he tells him and when Jay returns the kids he gets in a fistfight with David. Now this is my other issue with the movie-Jay confronts David about choking Sean and is freaking out and DAVID ADMITS IT and what does the mom do? Get angry at her EX-HUSBAND THE MAN PROTECTING HIS CHILD AND NOT THE MAN WHO JUST ADMITTED TO CHOKING OUT HER BABY. And afterwards Sean is all it my fault, and everyone is mad at Jay for making a scene and overreacting, and Sean apologizes to David and everyone is its okay, we forgive you. And later when Sean is freaking out, Michael is all its okay Sean David won’t hurt you again.
Uh, no. NO, NO, NO, NO! Jay was totally in the right and I completely 100% agree with his decision to pummel the guy ABUSING HIS child. And Susan, really? What is wrong with you! This man admitted to abusing your child because “he forgot what it was like being a father and discipling and maybe went too far. But don’t worry, he’ll learn how to do better, Uh, no! Get out of my house and out of my life and I am calling the police on you.”
But Susan loves him. After that I checked out-I just couldn’t get over that scene. Now if they had David not admit to it, and change it around so it sounds like Sean is lying as he is upset at the changes, or Jay made it up, or twisted it in any way-I’ll buy that. But he admits it, and Susan cannot see the warning signs? Now I’ve been in an abusive relationship I now how they can meld your mind and practically brainwash you with their emotional and mental abuse- but your kids Susan! Your kids!!!
So Michael investigates, David goes on an anti-climatic killing spree, Michael’s girlfriend walks around in tiny clothes and bikinis, and the movie is just boring.
There is no suspense or buildup, no twists, it is all bland and very oatmeal-you know what you are getting and it happens-just as expected.
So this year’s Horrorfest was very, very different. After last year’s issues, I started writing this in May. This was the first time I have ever fully planned out a Horrorfest, as I had all the films picked and almost all finished by September.
So for the past two years, you have heard me say how I haven’t been able to complete all of Universal’s Classic Monster Films. Well I finally did it. Wooot!!!
Once I wrote that post, I was so excited. You see, I felt I really couldn’t do a post on any werewolf films until I had covered the first one. I thought it was only right to start with the original. With that done, I could move onto any other werewolf film I desired. And I did. I decided to end Horrorfest with The Wolfman (2010). But then I decided to take it one step further. About every five episodes has a werewolf in it. It was a howling good time.
I also decided to do When a Stranger Calls, because of the phone harassment I had experienced. I took this one step further by doing all four of the Scream films, along with the Alfred Hitchcock film Dial “M” for Murder.
Speaking of Alfred Hitchcock, after hearing me complain for two years about trying to review one of his films, I have reviewed not one, not two, but three Alfred Hitchcock films. I was only planning on doing Under Capricorn, because I was planning on talking about Samson Flunky for St. Patrick’s Day 2015. I ended up doing Shadow of a Doubt as it just entered my mind and Dial “M” for Murder. Still haven’t gotten around to Psycho. Well, there’s always next year.
So every year I mention wanting to do Vincent Price films; like House on Haunted Hill. The Tomb of Ligeia, The Pit and the Pendulum, etc. I didn’t get around to any of those famous Vincent Price films, but I did do a film with him in it. I went over Laura (1944), which is when he is really young.
So I hope you all enjoyed it! I did. But then everyday to me is October.
So I usually put in a poll to see what you all you like, but I decided that I don’t care. I liked them all. Instead I’m just going to list them below for some of you who might have missed them.
So I strongly contemplated whether or not I wanted to include this in my Horrorfest. It isn’t really a horror film but more of a mystery thriller, even better defined as a film-noir. I really wanted to include it but, since it wasn’t a real “horror film” I wasn’t sure if I should. But then I had a moment of clarity.
This is my blog. I can do whatever I want!
So I decided I would.
So this actually started out as a play and then was turned into a novel. Otto Preminger saw it as the perfect thing to turn into a film. It is known to be one of the best Film-Noir films along with one of the best mystery-thriller films of all time. AFI ranked it #4 on their list of the 10 greatest mystery films.
This film is also famous for Gene Tierney’s portrayal of Laura. This helped give her title of “Film-Noir Queen”.
So anyways, on to the film.
So it starts off with New York City police Detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews).
He is investigating the death of the beautiful, successful, advertising executive Laura Hunt. Laura was murdered by a shotgun blast to the face.
Det. McPherson starts investigating and finds himself with multiple murder suspects and motives.
1) Waldo Lybecker
Waldo (Clifton Webb) is a famous columnist and he was the one who actually discovered Laura. She tried to get him to advertise something for him, and faster than you could say Pygmalion, he takes her under his wing and tries to change her and “improve” her.
“Waldo Lydecker: She was quick to seize upon anything that would improve her mind or her appearance. Laura had innate breeding, but she deferred to my judgment and taste. I selected a more attractive hairdress for her. I taught her what clothes were more becoming to her. Through me, she met everyone: The famous and the infamous. Her youth and beauty, her poise and charm of manner captivated them all. She had warmth, vitality. She had authentic magnetism. Wherever we went, she stood out. Men admired her; women envied her. She became as famous as Waldo Lydecker’s walking stick and his white carnation.”
But it goes a little more than that. Waldo becomes obsessed with Laura.
Yep. He is in love with her and wants to be the only man. Every time some other guy came around he would find a way to criticize them and demean them. The two broke it off, but Laura was very upset with him.
Laura started dating another guy, Shelby Carpenter. No matter what Waldo said, Laura wouldn’t listen to him. In fact she decided to marry him.
Yep he was angry. Extremely upset about losing Laura to someone he thought was so unworthy? Angry enough to kill?
2) Shelby Carpenter
Shelby (played by Vincent Price) comes from great stock, has expensive tastes, and loves the high life. Only one problem, he has no money. None at all. Instead he has to use to his charms to court rich, older women and have them pay for his expenses. In fact he had found a real great giver in Ann Treadwell (Judith Anderson). That is until he met the very charismatic Laura. Not only is she the perfect cash cow to support him, but young and beautiful. Who could ask for anything more?
“Shelby Carpenter: I knew there was something on my mind. Ah yes, will you dine with me tomorrow night?
Laura Hunt: Yes.
Shelby Carpenter: No, it’s not that – it’s the next night. And what about three weeks from tonight? And all the nights in between?
Laura Hunt: Shelby, you talk as if I had no other engagements!
Shelby Carpenter: And two months from now? And the month after that?
Laura Hunt: What about next year?
Shelby Carpenter: Oh, that’s all settled. What about breakfast?
Laura Hunt: What about dancing?
Shelby Carpenter: What about lunch? Beautiful lunches, day after day after day?”
The two starting dating and she gave him a job, one of which he didn’t have to do too much work. The two become engaged and all is well.
Or is it?
It turns out that Laura wasn’t the only person Shelby was seeing. He was going around with a lot of poor models. Rumor has it that Laura found out and was not happy…could he have killed her? If she was about to leave him high and dry, he might have become incensed and murdered her?
3) Ann Treadwell
Ann Treadwell is the rich older aunt of Laura. She and Shelby had been in a relationship for a long time. She knew what he was, but that was what she wanted.
When he left her for Laura, she was furious that her niece stole him away. Furious enough to kill?
As Det. McPherson continues to delve into the clues and motives…he learns more and more about Laura. As he learns more and more he starts falling for Laura as well.
One night Det. McPherson is at Laura’s apartment looking at her painting and trying to figure out the mystery, along with Laura. Why does she draw him to her?
When suddenly somebody comes crashing through.
But if that’s Laura? Who is…?
Who is the dead body?
They find out that the murdered girl is one of the models, Diane Redfern. The same model that Shelby was involved with.
Yep this leads Mark with another suspect…Laura
4) Laura Hunt
So we’ve heard how Laura rose from nothing to being the top girl. She was beautiful, smart, classy, etc. All women envined her and all men wanted her.
But then the guy she loves and is supposed to marry is running around with a model!!! Cheating on her!!!!
She knew Diane was in love with Shelby, and she knew Shelby only cared about her money. She knew Shelby was taking models to her house and she could have gone after them and shot her for trying to mess with her man.
Or she could be so angry at Shelby for cheating on him that she prepared a way to take care of him.
Instead of killing him, she could have killed Diane to make it look like Shelby and make him pay!
Does it seem too far-fetched? Well she wasn’t at the cabin when the cops looked that weekend. Her response “I was talking a walk.” She didn’t see the newspapers and come back saying she was alive? Or hear it on the radio? Her response: I don’t get a newspaper and my radio is broken.” Did anyone see you there? “Nobody”.
The main character, David, is so bland and hardly developed that I don’t even care if he becomes a werewolf or not. He also acts crazy all the freakin’ time. In The Wolf Man (1941), Larry thinks he’s crazy, realizes that he’s not, and then tries to stop turning into a werewolf and hurting others. David on the other hand seems to revel in the crazy, and doesn’t seem sad at all that his friend is dead as he is enjoying Nurse Price, etc. While The Wolf Man is sad and tragic, this was just boring and…more boring.
It took over an hour to see David turn! Over an hour! This movie is an hour and a half and I don’t want to have to sit through an hour of crazy David and naked David and have no werewolf!
This is like Godzilla (2014)!!!! If I’m watching a monster movie, I want to see that monster mentioned in the title! The Wolf Man (1941), has a wolf right away, as Bela is a werewolf, and then we see Larry turn at the half hour mark. That’s how its done people!!
They really should have changed the title of the film to David Naughton, My Naked Body, as that is really what this film is about. We see more nudity and sex than we do a werewolf, which is super disappointing.
I started a M&M eating game. For every time David was naked I would eat an M&M. My stomach started hurting barely in.
I have to admit I am getting ahead of myself. Lets go back to the beginning and go through some of the issues.
So for those of you who haven’t seen the film, Jack and David are Americans backpacking through Europe after they have just graduated from college. They are lost in the moors and come upon a pub called the Slaughtered Lamb.
I think the name is a message to steer away.
[Side Note: the pub is based on a real one that was destroyed years ago. After the film, they opened one up in New York.]
So as the two are walking towards the pub, David tells Jack knock-knock jokes. And I kid you not, he doesn’t get them.
Like who doesn’t understand knock-knock jokes? I mean three-year old children understand that concept. How did Jack even graduate? And more importantly, why did they even include that in the film?
And why would you ever enter a place called the Slaughtered Lamb? It just doesn’t sound like there will be anything good there. I’m with Jack on that one, you should’ve passed on it David.
Bad things happen when you don’t listen
So they go into the Slaughtered Lamb, Jack sees a pentagram and candles on the wall and he begins telling David all kinds of trivia from The Wolf Man (1941).
The two end up getting kicked out of the pub and start wandering the moor, when a werewolf attacks.
It attacks Jack and David takes off running.
Yep he takes off. You horrible man, you let your friend die! How could you??!! He was trying to help you and when the wolf attacks him you just RUN OFF???!!!
See Hook agrees with me.
So David ends up in the hospital with a “wolf” bite while Jack ends up in the morgue.
And that’s when Nurse Price enters the picture.
Ugh. Hate her.
Nurse Price is crazy and a skank. Now I don’t like to call women that, but she plays with David’s junk to get him to eat! I’m serious!!!
She must have a thing for sick/crazy guys.
Plus she is just annoying in how she acts. Nurse Price calls Mark Twain Samuel Clemens when she is reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court I know that is his real name, but who actually goes around using it? NOBODY! Everyone calls him Mark Twain. And I know the director is trying to draw parallels between the stories, but no movie, no.
The only similarity between the two is an American in Britain. NOTHING ELSE!
David doesn’t have the most fun in the hospital. He sees dead Jack and actually talk to him (weird scene). Jack tells David he is going to be a werewolf and he believes it. David is eventually allowed to check out as his bite is not serious. Nurse Price invites David back to her place and tells him she wants to be with him. She says “I don’t really bring strange men home…I’ve only been with seven men, of which three were one-night stands”
Sounds like you do bring strange men home since that is about half the men you’ve slept with, and David will make that four out of eight.
All I can think is how many were people presumed to be crazy (as at this point she thinks David is just imbalanced as he says he is a werewolf)? I mean she’s like Sam Winchester over here. (She actually is as he slept with a werewolf. And a demon. Dated another demon, and was involved with some other monsters.)
So as Nurse Price and David head back to her flat (apartment) they comment on how high the price of all food is. I’m like,
You paid like £5 for a bag of groceries. I wish food was that cheap.
Anyways so we have a second visit from Jack and to be honest, this film is more about the Leprechaun (1993)/Rumpelstiltskin from Once Upon a Time Zombie Ghost Jack, than it is about a werewolf.
The next day after Jack and Nurse Price had sex, she leaves for work and twin girls with a dog come upon Jack. The girls’ dog barks at him and they both laugh like crazy and walk off.
What? I know they are trying to reference The Wolf Man (1941) how the dog can sense he is a wolf (Gwen’s fiance Frank, his dog does this). But what was up with the twin girls? Did they think after The Shinning (1980) that the only way to do a creepy film was to have weird twin girls?
And are they honestly going to included every song that uses the word moon? We’ve already had Blue Moon and Bad Moon Rising, I am now half-expecting Moon River to be played next.
And we get the cliche #56, “person pretends in the mirror to be the monster they later turn into”.
So we switch to the hospital and get a second round of this bratty little boy who says no all the time (he was in the first hospital scene). He’s even more annoying the second time around that I am actually hoping he does get eaten.
Die, die, die!
The transformation scene was okay.
So the next day David wakes up in the zoo naked with the wolves. Now that doesn’t make much sense to me, if you are a wild werewolf, why would you go put yourself in a cage? You’re free! It would make way more sense if he woke up in the park instead.
So David tries to get arrested, “to protect others”, and that was kind of funny because the bobby (cop) won’t consider it until he starts insulting the Queen, Winston Churchill, and Shakespeare. But he is so rude to nurse Price. Telling her to shut up and leave him alone:
He then tells Nurse Price he loves her, and she’s like woah Ted Moseby, slow down. I Love You? Really after one night? Woah, you don’t even know her. Besides she’s crazy. You don’t want to date crazy.
David then runs off to call his family and tell them he cares about them before he kills himself, but can only reach his 10-year old sister as everyone else is out. All I can think is, 1) David was attacked by a werewolf or “wolf” as the doctors are calling it and 2) his best friend has been killed! How are his parents not in London right now trying to see if he’s okay? Their son could have been killed!!
See Hook agrees with me.
So David tries to kill himself but can’t go through with it. Now all I can think is, haven’t you seen The Wolf Man (1941), I mean I assume you did as you were telling the nurse about it. Well don’t you remember, a werewolf can only be killed by silver? Slitting your wrists doesn’t work.
So after that David sees Jack outside a porno film movie house and goes in after him. All I can think is, you’re worried about killing people and you go see a porno? Really?
And don’t give me, that’s where zombie Jack was at and he needed to speak to him. Before that we saw that Jack came to David wherever he went (hospital, Nurse Price’s flat, etc); he could find himself a quiet place and Jack would totally follow him there.
Plus what us up with the film they are watching? A guy and girl are getting it on and a second guy comes marching in the room yelling “You promised you wouldn’t do this again!” The first guy says “No, I didn’t.” The second guy answers, “I’m talking to her.” The women replies, “I don’t know you.” The second guy gets really embarrassed, says “Oh”, and leaves.
What the heck was the point of that? And immediately after, Jack says “great movie”. I know you are super horny Jack, but no, no, no, no ,no, no, no, no. That is horrible, horrible, horrible.
After this I couldn’t stomach anymore. It wasn’t scary. There was barely an werewolf. It was pretty much a huge mess. I’ll take The Wolf Man (1941) any day.
No no no no no
And here I will leave with more werewolf than we see in the film.
To start Horrorfest III from the beginning, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart
For the previous post, go to You Will Die in Seven Days