Three of the GoodBadTaste boys made their way to the Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers to gather for another, albeit smaller-scaled, indulgence into horror and exploitation with a well-rounded triple feature prepared by the Hudson Horror Show, showcasing a 25th anniversary screening of Clive Barker’s “Candyman”. Thankfully the gore did not make us up-chuck our alcoholic milkshakes, but here’s what the three of us thought of the movies screened in glorious 35mm film.
The Vampire Lovers (1970)
The Vampire Lovers is a Hammer Film. This might seem like the forced critical equivalent of “For sale: baby shoes, never worn,” but honestly that sentence alone is enough of a critique. The same can be said for any of the studio’s mainstays: Horror of Dracula (1958) is a Hammer Film. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) is a Hammer Film. Die! Die! My Darling! (1965) is a Hammer film. And so on and so forth. The mac-daddys of gothic monster-flicks, Hammer Films is responsible for all your favorite Western horror classics, spun with that tell-tale 20th century British flair. The Vampire Lovers is no exception. It’s got lesbian-exploitation. It’s got gnarly snap-zooms. It’s got rear-screen projection horse-riding shots. It’s got decapitation. It’s got blood (and lots of it). It’s got boobs and butts and a ‘whole lot of Ingrid Pitt. And, naturally, it’s got Peter Cushing. For me, this was absolutely the least impressive of the three movies screened at Hudson Horror this year, but that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with The Vampire Lovers. It’s a fine example of a Hammer film from the studio in its prime. If well-blocked and simply shot gothic horror is your cup of tea, there’s no need to look any further than our Masters across the pond. Keep the lights low and the candles bright for this one.
Without Warning (1980)
Seeing Without Warning on 35mm in a theater was an experience that made me feel like I was back in time in a 1980 back alley theater. Its gory but strangely unique effects, low budget aesthetic, and extremely tropey writing made for horror more authentic than better known films inspired by it like Evil Dead (1981) and Predator (1987). It’s a set-up that we now regard as classic: sexually charged teens going off to a secluded waterfront in the woods and ignoring the ominous warning of a mysterious gas attendant who tells them of an unknown other worldly danger passed off as the stuff of folklore until the bodies start to pile up. The scares are as cheap as the budget, but the campy performances and over the top style used in the camerawork make for a guaranteed fun experience. Even the many gross-out moments are fun to cringe to. Worth watching for just the climax alone, Without Warning is a must see for those who consider themselves fans of horror.
Honestly, I can’t believe I hadn’t seen this movie before Hudson Horror’s triple feature. Produced by and based on the short story “The Forbidden” by Clive Barker, Candyman is so unapologetically what tenth-grade me thought horror was supposed to be, it’s ridiculous how up my alley it is. A Clive Barker film if ever there was one, Candyman got me nostalgic for the depraved days of Saw (2004-2010) and Hellraiser (1987) where I was introducing myself to the genre multiple times a week. Don’t be fooled by my Saw mention though, Candyman is as thoughtful as it is horrific, with embellished characters, mystery-thriller elements that dominate a lot of the film, and a supernatural baddie so charming, you’ll be hearing his voice in your head when you least want to. If you’re a gore-junky with some taste, watch Candyman and try not to remember that Eddie Murphy was considered for the titular role.
We’ll see you in May for Hudson Horror Show XV!