PROFESSOR ABRAHAM SETRAKIAN’S VIRULENTLY VAMPIRIC, MALEVOLENTLY MONSTERIFFIC SUPER-STRAIN HALLOWEEN MOVIE QUIZ

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Getting myself back in the saddle of posting after a really long couple of weeks of work and school that kept me from posting. In any case, another quiz from the great Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule blog is perfect to get me back in the mood and since it’s Halloween, I’m going with his second Halloween survey that he’s posted, named after David Bradley’s character (basically an impression of an angrier John Hurt) on Guillermo Del Toro’s vampire tv series The Strain. Here we go, buddy!

1) Edwige Fenech or Barbara Bouchet?

I still love Bouchet, but Fenech just owns every shot she appears in and grabs my attention. I think it’s the eyebrows. She got them Kate-Bush-esque Eyes of the Devil wit dem eyebrows.

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2) The horror movie you will stand up for when no one else will

The Lords of Salem, it’s best horror film Zombie has made to date. It’s basically a slow burn descent into madness and it functions like a better Mothers film than Mother of Tears, please fuck with me. It looks gorgeous, it sounds menacing, what were you looking for?

Also, Spielberg’s War of the Worlds gets more hate than it deserves – it deserves no hate and all the love – simply because of its ending? Saving Private Ryan had a bad ending AND a meh movie prior to it and it gets so much love. At least War of the Worlds’ ending is beat-for-beat similar to the books’ (the only difference is the wife is a miraculous survivor rather than the son). It’s still dark as all hell and feels extremely dangerous even with Tom Cruise’s plot armor. Between Duel, Jaws, Jurassic Park, War of the Worlds, and even moments in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Spielberg had horror DOWN.

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3) Your favorite horror novel

Ohhhhh, that’s a toughie. I’m between David Wong’s John Dies at the End for sheer attachment (it has dick jokes, it’s my favorite thing) and structural ambition and Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, which is inarguably the better book by all means but I kinda wanna give it over to JDatE because I wanna make it into a movie myself. Y’know… a better movie.

Honorable Mention to Peter Straub’s Ghost Story. Stephen King without the large-ass filler acting like he’s Charles Dickens paid by the word.

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4) Lionel Atwill or George Zucco?

Atwill’s a fucking joy to watch in any role he takes on, no matter how small, while Zucco only made a good impression on me in Scared to Death, which is such a shitty movie, you may as well not watch it. Atwill by a mile.

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5) Name a horror film which you feel either goes “too far” or, conversely, might have been better had been bolder.

I don’t think any horror film I’ve ever seen has “gone too far”, although I believe that Antichrist could easily be read that way – and I’m sure Lars von Trier would love for it to be read that way. Probably the moment in Saw 3D when the opening kill has two guys deciding the girl who’s been cheating between the two of them deserves to be sawed in half horribly in front of everyone. That’s outlandishly misogynistic in its assumption that the female victim is the only one culpable in the cheating and that she even deserved to die because of it, even by horror movie standards. Saw was always a franchise that was as shitty in its morals as its craft, but that was bad.

A movie that doesn’t go far enough for me I guess is Don’t Breathe. It could easily let itself be trashy and tawdry with its reveal of the Blind Man’s intentions and that would at least make it enjoyable, but no… it presents itself in that same somber darkened post-Goyer manner.

6) Let the Right One In or Let Me In?

Let the Right One In and, not that Let Me In is a bad movie, but it’s not a tough contest in the slightest. I’m almost offended you dared to ask it.

7) Favorite horror film released by American International Pictures

The Abominable Dr. Phibes. The biggest supervillain in horror besides The Phantom of the Opera and, y’see, Vincent Price makes Dr. Phibes a better superhero. Cause he’s Vincent Price.

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8) Veronica Carlson or Barbara Shelley

Blasphemy but I think I’ll go with Carlson here. Most Hammer women don’t get a lot of character to work with because they’re only walking boobs to be attacked by Christopher Lee, but at least Carlson felt more awake than the movies would let her be.

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9) Name the pinnacle of slasher movie kills, based on either gore quotient, level of cleverness or shock value.

Are we talking about the best slasher movie kills or the best slasher movie because of its kills? I’ll shoot for both.

The movie with the best slasher kills for me is A Nightmare on Elm Street, while they’re not exactly logical in some cases – Rod’s makes no sense… is like… the blanket dreaming? Huh? – Tina and Glen both get some iconically grisly imagery to them. And I’m sure Glen’s takes care of the gore quotient.

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The best slasher kill in all of movies to me is the spearing of a couple in the middle of coitus in Twitch of the Death Nerve aka Bay of Blood aka Reazione a Catena. The way their body still moves weirdly in ecstasy after they’ve been impaled is like a ghastly dream, absolutely exploitative of both sex and violence. And I do give a wink to the famous sleeping bag death of Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, right down to the kick he gives the bag afterward.

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10) Dracula (1931; Tod Browning) or Dracula (1931; George Melford)?

Melford’s version, the one that’s actually a functional movie rather than a poorly shot play. I mean, I know Browning was drinking a lot, but come the fuck on. Dracula dying off-screen? Fuck you. Browning had the better Dracula, though. Lugosi, dawg.

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11) Name a movie which may not strictly be thought of as a horror film which you think qualifies for inclusion in the category.

I did mention the previous War of the Worlds. It’s a horror film in the same devastating sense as the 1954 Godzilla – both dealing with the national climate of fear and making them into frightening giant inescapable beings that leave  carnage behind… Godzilla is Hiroshima/Nagasaki and WotW is 9/11 – and I’d honestly call it scarier too (though Godzilla is like the wayyyyy better movie). The blood roots are nightmare fuel.

12) The last horror movie you saw in a theater? On home video?

In theaters: Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise, one of the few De Palmas I’ve been able to fall completely in love with.

On home video: Child’s Play, a movie I find myself kind of warming to a bit more now than the first time I watched it, without thinking it’s good. But hey, it went by quicker this time around.

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13) Can you think of a horror movie that works better as a home video experience than as a theatrical one?

Any trashy 80s slasher film functions better as a Saturday night dark living room viewing experience (preferably on VHS) than a Saturday night movie theater viewing unless you’re taking your girlfriend out on a Friday night walk to the local theater like you could only do in the old days. I think my favorite slasher to go with on a home video viewing is either Cheerleader Camp or Rock n Roll Nightmare.

Also, though I doubt it’s enough to elevate it as a good movie, I’m interested in how Unfriended feels as a VOD viewing on a laptop rather than at the cinema like how I saw it.

14) Brad Dourif or Robert Englund?

Aw goddammit. Brad Dourif is the undeniably better actor, anybody pretending otherwise is a complete fool. Dourif is one of the best character actors we’ve been lucky to see and unlike Freddy Krueger turning more and more into a clown, the menace behind Chucky has always consistent – he’s a foul-mouthed savage shit from beginning to end. But, y’know while Chucky is his best performance to date, the guy has always been wowing us – any actor on Deadwood automatically gets good will and his appearance in The X-Files was brilliant acting.

But Englund made the bigger impact on me, TBH. Partly because some friend of mine as a child tried to convince me Englund was a real-life serial killer, but largely because Freddy was the guy to actually frighten me as a child. I’d sooner jump to cast Englund in a movie than Dourif. So my vote goes to Englund.

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15) At what moment did you realize you were a horror fan? Or what caused you to realize that you weren’t?

When I saw Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon and found myself thinking just how fun it is to reflect on horror as a genre. Or when I found myself cruising late at night to Blue Oyster Cult tracks and skipping specifically to the songs about ghosts.

16) The Thing with Two Heads or The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant?

I’ve only seen The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant so I will have to go by default with…

The Thing with Two Heads because Two-Headed Transplant fucking SUCKED.

17) Favorite giallo or giallo moment

Favorite giallo is easily Argento’s Deep Red, while my favorite moment within it is hard to pinpoint. Favorite moment in it is the haunted house scene, largely because there’s no actually ghosts to be haunting it, yet it’s completely atmospheric and creepy and I expect the children’s song to start playing any minute.

18) Name a horror remake, either a character or an entire film, that you prefer over its original or more iconic incarnation. (Example: Frank Langella’s Dracula/Dracula > Christopher Lee’s Dracula/Dracula)

Sean Cunningham/Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left is complete crap in all directions and the remake does so much better at being a movie to feel awful and cruel watching while also not looking like it was shot with turd or indulging in extremely questionable and tasteless creative decisions (almost certainly coming from Cunningham – Craven is too talented to stoop so low).

As for character, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in preferring the Christopher Lee’s Dracula to Lugosi Bela’s Dracula. He’s much more animalistic and memorable in such limited screentime (at least for the first film he did as Dracula), but it helps when you’re played by an actually good actor. Sorry, Lugosi… still love your Dracula, though.

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19) Your favorite director of horror films

Dario Argento. No matter how low he’s fallen, which is pretty damn low, his heights are bellissimo and blinding to me.

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20) Caroline Munro or Stephanie Beacham?

Caroline Munro easily. Like she’s eye-catching all the damn time.

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21) Best horror moment created specifically for TV.

The final scenes of Twin Peaks where Cooper enters the Black Lodge and the aftermath of his journey are the sort of nightmarish remainders you wouldn’t expect a show so in love with its characters to leave its protagonists at, especially in the former finality of its cancellation. That last image of what’s happening to Cooper is heartbreaking to me.

On a side note, as I mentioned in my Tales from the Crypt video, the opening of the show traumatized me so much as a child that I couldn’t look at a picture of the Crypt Keeper for like… all of my childhood without a mini freakout. And on a less understandable note, I was also frightened out of my wits as a child by the Treehouse of Horror variant of the Gracie Films logo at the end of Treehouse of Horror episodes of The Simpsons. My first one – I think it was the episode that Mr. Burns was a vampire – had a very long scream that continued into the organ variation of theme and faded out with end. The endlessness of the scream felt like the sort of things to happen in my nightmares, I guess.

22) The Stephen King adaptation that works better as a movie than a book.

The best Stephen King adaptation is Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, easily. But I don’t know that I’d claim it works better as a movie than a book, since we know that the two are attempting and succeeding at very different things (though I’d say Kubrick accomplishes what he aims for much better than King, sorry buddy).

As for Tobe Hooper’s Salem’s Lot, while it’s my second-favorite of the King adaptations, I think King does a much better job elaborating on the relationships of everyone in the town and making it feel familiar as we watch it slowly die and turn evil on our lead. Such would be easier to do with a large doorstop of a book like King does.

So I guess my answer would be to go with David Cronenberg’s adaptation of The Dead Zone. Even if it’s the lower tier of Cronenberg for me and his most restrained work, it’s a lot easier to get a visceral feeling of immediacy in psychic visions through the fluidity of film editing and letting it shove the audience into different moments unexpectedly. There’s certainly an ideal way to use the medium of literature to get there, but I don’t think King is aware of it or even tries.

23) Name the horror movie you most want to see but to this point never have.

In a little over a week, I’m gonna see Andy Warhol’s Dracula at Perez Art Museum of Miami and I’m really excited because I’ve always wanted a chance to check it out. I’ve already seen Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein, which will precede Dracula as part of a double feature and loved it! If y’all are in Miami, join us.

24) Andre Morell or Laurence Naismith?

I’ve seen more movies with Naismith in them, but Morell is absolutely the one I actually associate with horror, given his Hammer work. So for the horror survey, I go with Morell

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25) Second-favorite horror film made in the 1980s.

Kubrick’s The Shining – unless you’re the type to pretend that 1980 doesn’t count as 1980s (I’m not that type) – at which point I’d go with Evil Dead II. The Beyond is my number one forever because MAMBO MAMBO ITALIANO, EY MAMBO MAMBO INFERNO DELLAMORTE.

26) Tell us about your favorite TV horror host and the program showcasing horror classics over which he/she presided/presides.

I know Elvira was THE TV horror host everybody knew and loved (rocking Vampira’s thunder, though) and much respect to her legacy and I enjoy her, but my childhood was spent with Svengoolie and he’s gonna be the one I love most. You never forget your first folks. I was also really fond of Al “Grandpa Munster” Lewis, his continuous habitation in that role and having watched it a lot as a child made his presence very warm to me. M.T. Graves was way before my time (Lewis and Svengoolie too, but 80s were close enough to catch re-runs) and the question sounds like anthology television hosts are disqualified or I’d have picked the Crypt Keeper.

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Well guys, there you have it. Thanks for reading!

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