Shocktober Weekly – The Fight For Mina’s Soul

For the month of October, I decided to reprise my Shocktober Weekly column this year.  Each week of October, I will give a report on the horror movies I watch, which will mostly consist of films I’ve never seen mixed with a few films I rewatch at times.  I’ll jot down a few thoughts and maybe I’ll save you from sitting through a terrible movie or inspire you to watch a good one!  I usually try to come up with some sort of subtitle for each week’s post that pokes fun at a movie or is a hint to one of the film’s that I watched (it’s usually kind of stupid but hey I’m in the mood for stupid fun this time of year!).  So be sure to watch some horror movies yourself and feel free to leave comments on what you’ll be watching this Halloween season!

The Shrine (2010)

So my interest in watching this film lied mostly in its two stars, Aaron Ashmore (Warehouse 13, Smallville) and Cindy Sampson (that hot girl from Supernatural.. yea specific, i know).  Though to be honest, I thought it was Shawn Ashmore and not Aaron, but they’re twins so you can understand my mix up (apparently I didn’t pay that close of attention in the credits because I thought it was Shawn the whole time).  The premise sounded like it could lead to some fun even though it was seemingly generic… kids go to Europe (Poland specifically), discover something in a small town, shit happens.

The Shrine ends up being just okay.  There isn’t really anything that makes it stand out except the way one girl dies (no spoilers!).  The movie starts off feeling like it is in the vein of Hostel before switching gears and becoming more demonically supernatural.  This low-budget film, directed by Jon Knautz (Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer), shows its seams more often than not with a weak script, some stiff acting, bad green screen and a dash of noticeable stunt work at times.  Sometimes those things can be overcome if the characters are likeable but that isn’t the case here.  The Shrine might entertain some but I think the majority will see it as more generic and weak than anything else.  After about an hour into the film, even though things were getting a little more interesting, I was nodding in and out of sleep.  The Shrine is far from the worst I’ve seen but I certainly cannot enthusiastically recommend it.

The Shrine is available on DVD and is currently on Netflix Instant Queue.

The Deadly Spawn (1983)

I had never heard of this movie until I read a blurb on it from Harry Knowles over at Ain’t It Cool earlier this year.  I decided to blind buy the blu-ray based off of his enthusiasm towards it.  I have a thing for lesser known genre films from the 70s and 80s, especially horror.  Sometimes you find a really good film and other times you may find a bad one, but even the bad ones can be fun.

After watching it, I can see why The Deadly Spawn is a cult movie.  First and foremost, I definitely get the sense that the filmmakers are having fun making the movie and truly love movie monsters.  The practical effects, especially that of the alien creature, are pretty damn awesome.  This low budget affair definitely opted to put most of their money in the effects department as the end result of the creature is rather effective.  The gory make-up effects, while perhaps not always the most realistic, all work and really shows off the creativity of the artists and makes for a fun time.  The acting and script are on the weak side, though that helped give The Deadly Spawn some of its charm.  I really dug the film’s final practical effect/ending, which uses miniatures to represent the house where most of the story takes place in.  I won’t ruin it but the end is a fun and quick B-movie moment.  I’m glad I own the blu-ray so I can delve into the special features, which look aplenty for such a lesser known film.  If you want to see an alien creature, and its spawn, attack people and eat their heads and other body parts, well then you are in luck.  Definitely recommended for B-movie sci-fi/horror enthusiasts!

The Deadly Spawn is currently available on a Special Edition DVD from Synapse Films and a Millenium Edition Blu-ray from Elite Entertainment.

Dracula (1931)

I had never seen this classic film but in watching it I realized exactly how familiar I had become with the story through other adaptations.  I watched Dracula on blu-ray from the newly released Universal Monsters: The Essential Collection box set.  Each film in the set has been newly restored and remastered for the release and it truly is amazing to see.  The large epic sets of Count Dracula’s Transylvania castle and the beautiful matte paintings are well-represented here and you can truly appreciate the artistry that went into making them.  Seeing Lugosi as the titular character within the context of the film was pretty cool as well as he definitely plays the part really well.  He’s kind and welcoming while also being unsettling.  His physicality seems almost animal like at times with how he shapes his hands as he approaches his victims and it’s a lot of fun to watch.  I think my favorite character of the film though lies in Dracula’s man servant, Renfield.  Dwight Frye plays him perfectly, providing a very creepy and crazy performance.  I’m glad I finally watched Dracula and enjoyed finally getting to see the original film in all its high-def glory.  I’m pretty curious about the Spanish version, which is a bonus feature on the Dracula disc and is also newly restored.  Perhaps I’ll check it out once I finish watching all the other Universal Monster movies.

Dracula is available on DVD and on Blu-ray in the aforementioned box set and is also currently available on Netflix Instant Queue.

by Ben McBride


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2 Comments on “Shocktober Weekly – The Fight For Mina’s Soul”

  1. Ben McBride October 3, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    It’s totally worth it! The way the discs are housed in cardboard pages is my only minor complaint, otherwise it is an amazing set!

  2. Horrorella (@Horrorellablog) October 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    So jealous of the Universal Monsters bluray. I need to pick that up.

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