Vampires. Possibly my biggest love/hate relationship (as alluded to in my review of Near Dark). So it seemed fitting the day before Halloween to stake (heh) my claim on a kind of Top Ten Vampire List.
Caveat lector. No iterations of Dracula here. I fairly loathe Stoker, never regarded Dracula as Browning or Lugosi’s best work (Coppola or Roth’s either for that matter), and wasn’t even a fan of Hammer’s efforts despite top shelf contributions from Christopher Lee.
That’s how I stumbled across The Shrine which I’d never heard of until then. Since Lovecraft Ezine is one of my go-to blogs, I reckoned The Shrine was worth a try.
For the most part it was. As a frame of reference, think The Village meets Blair Witch Project meets The Fog meets Dagon meets Night Of The Demon meets just a little Evil Dead. Hell let’s thrown in a dash of Black Sunday while we’re at it. It’s quite a mix and makes a good bit of The Shrine seem very familiar.
But this familiarity works to the film’s advantage by becoming a diversionary tactic. We may have our suspicions about where the plot is headed, but the resolution still comes as a surprise. Not on an M. Night Sixth Sense level, but a nicely handled, satisfying little twist nonetheless.
I fought off flocks with Hitchcock, I critiqued The Night Gallery, I went to The Outer Limits of The Twilight Zone, and came back with some Amazing Stories. -Jorge Mendez, “Breakthrough”
A while ago I decided to start going to open mics again. The first one I found was at The Venue On 35thhosted by Jorge Mendez, an accomplished spoken word performer. As an open mic host, he’s enthusiastic, kind, and endlessly patient. I’m generally not. I couldn’t do what he does.
I’ve known Jorge for a few years now. He’s a good friend of mine and, turns out, besides being an open mic host and a damn fine poet, he’s about as big a horror fan/aficionado/nerd as I am.
Before The Skin I Live In, Sleepaway Camp, or Dressed To Kill, there was William Castle’s Homicidal. If you’ve never seen it, you should probably stop reading. There’s no way for me to talk about this movie without giving away the ending. There. You’ve been warned.
That said, let’s get the reveal right out of the way. Jean Arless (the one-time stage name of Joan Marshall) plays Emily, a live-in caretaker for a woman named Helga. Castle apparently preferred the name Jean because it was more gender neutral. Arless, you see, also plays Emily’s, uh, “husband,” Warren.
Arless is compelling in both roles. It’s claimed that Warren’s lines were dubbed as Arless supposedly had the ability to alter her voice making it much deeper.
The eeriness of her appearance is amped up nicely by makeup that achieves an Uncanny Valley effect regardless of gender. It only gets weirder from there with a plot that is deliciously convoluted and, off the screen, a bit silly.