Monday, October 31, 2016

Bad Moon Rising

Disclaimer:  The Midnite Drive-In is not responsible for nightmares,  insomnia or fear of going to sleep as a result of reading this post.  Read at your own risk.

Entry #3 in the series of My Favorite Horror Movies

Werewolves and vampires.  Two creatures of the night who have something in common.  Both love the taste of blood.  Vampires actively seek out their victims and, even though bloodlust plays a factor in their nightly excursions, they can pick and choose their victims.   Werewolves, for the most part, are victims of circumstance, however.   They are overcome, during the full moon, by their bloodlust and will attack anything and everything that moves to sate their desires.  Animal instincts take over.

Here then are the best of each of those categories, from a modern (post 1980) point of view.  Maybe you think the old Universal monsters made for better viewing fare, and admittedly both Dracula (1931) and The Wolf Man (1941) are more family-friendly than the ones presented here, but this blog has never been about being "family-friendly", so beware parents.

As a final note:  If you read the previous two installments, I promised to list my top 10 favorite horror flicks.

1.  An American Werewolf in London
2.  Creepshow
3.  The first of each Universal monster series' (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, The Invisible Man & The Creature from the Black Lagoon)
4.  They Live!
5.  King Kong
6.  Invasion of the Body Snatchers (tie: 1956 & 1978)
7.  The Shining
8.  The Thing (John Carpenter remake from 1982)
9.  The Lost Boys
10. Army of Darkness (also known as Evil Dead 3)

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

In England, two young boys, David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne)  are out alternately hitchhiking and hiking across the countryside.  They come across a pub called "The Slaughtered Lamb", and being hungry, decide to stop and see if they can get some food.  The pub is populated by quaint locals, including a bulky balding chess player (Brian Glover), a darts wizard (David Schofield) and a sympathetic bar mistress (Lila Kaye).

The two are eyed suspiciously by the residents, who apparently aren't used to two Americans dropping in unexpectedly.  But they let their guard down after a minute or two, and go about their own activities.  Jack observes a pentagram on the wall and comments "Remember the Alamo!" which causes the chess player to launch into a hoary old joke.  (Trust me, you haven't lived until you've this old groaner done in a Brit accent...)

When Jack and David ask about the star on the will, the mood becomes a bit more hostile, as the boys are sent out into the countryside, without their meal.  But they are warned "Stay on the roads.  Keep off the moors.  And beware the moon."  It would be a very short movie if they had heeded this advice, but they don't.They soon find themselves lost on the moors, and to make matters worse, they are being stalked.  The creature attacks them both, kills Jack, and is busy trying to munch on David when the villagers show up and shoot the creature.  Just before he passes out, David notices the creature has turned into a man.

When he wakes up, he finds himself in a hospital, with a sexy nurse Alex (Jenny Agutter) and a concerned but doubtful Dr. Hirsch (John Woodvine).  David insists they were attacked by a wolf, but based on "eyewitness" accounts, the doctor tells him he is mistaken, that it was a madman.

But David is haunted by dreams, some of the most graphic ever seen at the time the movie was made.  In one, a horde of Nazi inspired soldiers with grotesque faces burst in on David and his family and slaughters them all.

David is unsure whether he is going mad or is just devastated by the loss of his friend.  While mulling this over, Jack appears, a little worse for wear, and tells David that he will become a werewolf on the next full moon.

For those of you with nurse fantasies, after David leaves the hospital, he accompanies Alex to her flat.  And yes, a love scene is in the mix (including an erotic scene in the shower accompanied by Van Morrison's "Moondance")

Afterwards David goes to the bathroom, where he again encounters Jack, getting a little more grisly as time goes on.  Jack encourages David to kill himself so that the line of the werewolf will be severed, but David is still resistant.

In case you are wondering, yes David does become a werewolf (gee hope that wasn't a spoiler for you...)  Rick Baker, who has gone on to bigger fame as a make-up effects guy, was still in the early stages of his career, but he received a well deserved Oscar (the first one ever given for Best Make-Up, inaugurated in 1981).  Warning:  Even if you decide to look at the picture below (no criticism for taking the chicken way out and closing your eyes), the transformation from David to werewolf is one of the creepiest and scariest scenes ever recorded on film.

After a rampage, David returns to normal, or as normal as is possible after being a werewolf.  But it's not over yet, because the "full moon" period for a werewolf includes the day before and the day after, so he is due to change again.  And, of course, Jack shows up again, this time with the ghosts of David's recent kills.

In the meantime, Dr. Hirsch is trying to investigate David's story but he encounters the same stand-offish townspeople who are reluctant to talk to an outsider.  But he does get some of the details from the darts player who deigns to give him some of the details.

This being a John Landis film, there is the requisite humor in it.  I had fun when this came out in the theater.  After having seen it the first time, I went back several times during it's first run, finding a couple of girls, or kids to sit behind, and laughing uproariously at the funniest scary moments.  These unsuspecting souls, warily, always glanced back at me, like "What the hell is so funny?  This is scary!"  But it's a fun film, and if you read my introduction you know it's my absolute favorite horror film.  It was, I think, the first of its kind to ever blend pure horror and comedy into one film.  (As opposed to stuff like Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla, and the like, which were never meant to be taken as serious horror films.)

The Lost Boys (1987)

Matthew and Sam (Jason Patric and Corey Haim), along with their mother, Lucy (Dianne Wiest), have moved to the California beach town of Santa Carla to live with their grandfather, Lucy's father, played with crotchety relish by Barnard Hughes.  Grandpa is a riot, a kind of cross between an old hippie and a half-nuts taxidermist.

As they pass a sign welcoming them to Santa Carla, the back of the sign has scrawled "Murder Capital of the World".  This is the first warning that something is wrong with Santa Carla.

The town has a plus going for it as far as the boys are concerned; it has a carnival on the boardwalk.  Both boys head to the boardwalk, each seeking out their own interests.  Sam, being a young comic book enthusiast, runs across the Frog brothers, Edgar and Alan (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander), who try to get him to take a vampire comic, saying it will be important to him.  But Sam tells them he doesn't like horror comics.  Still he ends up taking it.

Meanwhile,  Matthew, red-blooded young male that he is, spies a hottie at a concert.  The girl, Star (Jami Gertz), flirts with him visually but ends up hoping on the back of her boyfriend's bike.  The boyfriend, David (Kiefer Sutherland), is the leader of a biker gang.  You will notice from the picture below that they are Hollywood's typical "80's hair band" type of gang bangers.  (And yes, if the guy on the right looks familiar, it's Alexander (Alex) Winter, who Keanu Reeves' partner in crime in the "Bill and Ted" comedy series.)

Meanwhile, Lucy gets her own freak on (well, not initially.  Initially she's just looking to score a job).  She starts to work for Max (Bernard Herrmann), who runs a video place on the boardwalk.  (Take a look at that face.  This is the movie where I fell in love with Dianne Wiest.)

Matthew and David end up in a motorcycle race down to the beach, where, in an abandoned and sunken hotel, Matthew is introduced, unwittingly, to an initiation rite which will turn him into a vampire, like the gang bangers in David's gang.  Sam finds out about Matthew's transformation and immediately contacts the Frogs.  The Frogs want to kill Matthew outright.  (They are amateur vampire hunters, although as can be seen early in the movie, they don't have that much experience.

It eventually comes out that in order to save Matthew, who is only a "half-vampire" since he has yet to score his first kill, the head vampire has to be killed.  The Frogs think that person is Max, but a botched attempt to expose him convinces them otherwise.

So they decide to focus on David.  They find the sunken hotel and manage to kill off one vampire while it sleeps, but are scared off before they can kill David.  Their plans to entrap David and his vampire crew are what constitute the last third of the movie, and includes some pretty graphic scenes.  Coupled with the other movie in today's romp, I'd be entirely surprised if you didn't have a sleepless night over the first viewing.  But both are excellent for a Halloween night.

Well, time to gather up all my garlic necklaces and crucifixes and try to head home.  Remember, if you hear a strange sound in the middle of the night, it's not me.  I'll be home with my gun, loaded with silver bullets, at the ready tonight.



  1. These are two awesome horror flicks, Quiggy, perfect for Halloween or any other time. American Werewolf is truly terrifying, absolutely brilliant, with a lot of tongue in cheek humor and romance, as well as blood and gore and an atmospheric setting on the English moors....and Lost Boys is a delight in every way, from the music to the actors and production design to the clever script and the equally horrifying blood and gore that make it a true horror classic.
    Need to see these both again! I watched the old Salem's Lot series from the 1970s on Halloween, and while it was fun and nostalgic, these two would have been much better choices!

    1. Just when I've given up on you, you pop back up, Chris. I miss you and your comments a lot when you're gone. Thanks for coming back. And thanks for the comments.


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