November 30

I Saw What You Did (1988, d. Fred Walton)

“Tell him that his lonesome nights are over.”

One of Fred Walton’s best-liked TV movies (from what I’ve read) and the most disappointing of those I’ve seen so far, owing entirely to a silly punchline, literally phoned in by David Carradine. Wonderful performances all around, from both Carradine brothers and from the lead, a pre-Saw Shawnee Smith. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever see Walton’s Loni Anderson rape revenge film, or his entry in the detestable Stepford series, but I’ve grown quite fond of Walton, for making at least a few TV movies (The Courtyard, When a Stranger Calls Back) that if released theatrically today could contend to be the scariest films of the year.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010, d. Samuel Bayer)

I recently had my memory of Freddy Krueger as a wise-cracking child murderer demystified by immersing myself in Nightmare films for a week or so. The truth is, he was never actually clever; in fact, the cleverest thing about the whole series is Peter Jackson’s unproduced treatment for Nightmare 6, in which a powerless Freddy is now being victimized by teens in their nightmares.

But, in any event, his hammer wit was wittier than the writing of this sludge. There is a scene in which Krueger kills a dog. He then says “I was only trying to pet it,” menacingly, a move that could only elicit eye-rolling and groans from an audience. Englund’s Krueger would have said something like, “Now that’s what I call heavy petting.” These remakes of classic horror movies only serve a few purposes: to make a lot of money, and to remind us that Hollywood is not only incapable of committing to new ideas, but doesn’t know what to do with old ideas.

November 29

Forced Entry (1975, d. James Sotos)

I used to wear that exact shirt.

Bloodbath (1979, d. Silvio Narizzano)

Dennis Hopper calls down to his lover in the tide beneath the cliffs.

“I want to rape you!”
“Then that’s what you should do!”
“What?”
“I can’t hear you.”
“I said I want to rape you!”
“Then that’s what you should do!”
“What?”
“I can’t hear you.”

November 28

Walking the Edge (1983, d. Norbert Meisel)

Wake in Fright (1971, d. Ted Kotcheff)

November 27

Freddy vs. Jason (2003, d. Ronny Yu)

November 26

The Horror Show (1989, d. James Isaac)

Family of assholes.

When a Stranger Calls Back (1993, d. Fred Walton)

Someone wore blackface out in the rain.

The Banker (1989, d. William Webb)

We’re talking golden showers now.

Phantasm II (1988, d. Don Coscarelli)

Short people got no reason to live.

Terror Train (1980, d. Roger Spottiswoode)

I already know how it ends and I still think David Copperfield was the fucking killer.

November 25

The Courtyard (1995, d. Fred Walton)

They told me I’d have
Four walls and a kitchenette
Not double murder.

I’ve seen a number of Fred Walton films this year – The Rosary Murders, April Fool’s Day. I had never seen his TV movies, but I knew that he was a director who went from recognizable theatrical features (When a Stranger Calls, April Fool’s Day) to movies-of-the-week. I have a soft spot for When a Stranger Calls, which begins with a retelling of the phonecall-coming-from-inside-the-house urban legend and quickly turns into an unpredictable character study (or so I remember it), with an ending straight out of The Driller Killer. When my brother told me that the made-for-TV sequel to When a Stranger Calls was purportedly superior to it, I looked into Walton and found that I had also acquired this bizarre, wonderful TV movie that came at the apparent end of his career (he has not been active since 1996).

I won’t say anything about the film, save for that it was one of the most enjoyable American apartment thrillers I’ve ever seen, in the spirit of Body Double and Rear Window.

November 24

Shark in Venice (2008, d. Danny Lerner)