Friday, October 21, 2016

A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku - DAY 21: Slashers, Sharks & Witch Covens (1975-1978)

Welcome back, Boils & Ghouls...

... to 'Day Twenty-One' of "A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku" in which I shall bring you my next batch of fright flicks from the enormous back-catalogue of macabre movies that have been thrilling cinema-goers for more than a century and can now be streamed to your television sets via the magic of Roku player - so, let's dim those lights... and enjoy some more frights! :-O

If you read my special hallowe'en blogathon preview - FOUND HERE - which I published at the end of September, then you'll know that I plan to post one Hallowe'en / Horror related article each day, throughout the month of October, and to feature one horror movie per year from cinematic history, starting in 1895 and ending in 2016. This should average out at about four films per day, so you'll have plenty of choice for your macabre movie viewing as we count down the days to Hallowe'en! ;-)

To get things started, in the first week of this blogathon, we went all the way back to the end of the 19th century for some of the earliest horror cinema ever recorded. The movies on day one were from 1895 - 1898 (inclusive) and featured beheadings, vampires, skeletons and nightmarish dreams. For my second article on day two of this series, I shared four films (one for each year) from 1899 - 1902 (inclusive) and those featured ghostly apparitions, aliens and selenites, plus a visit from the devil to a convent. In my next post on day three, I shared four films (again, one for each year) from 1903 - 1906 (inclusive) and those featured impish devils, demons and ghost brides, plus a man who practices entomology being pinned to a cork like an insect. For my fourth article on day four in this series of posts, I shared four more films (one for each year) from 1907 - 1910 (inclusive) which featured evil spectres, haunted houses, plus the first filmed version of the story of Frankenstein's monster. Following that post, on day five, I shared four films (again, one per year) from 1911 - 1914 (inclusive) and those were all based on works of literature by either Dante Alighieri, Robert Louis Stevenson or Edgar Allan Poe. Next up, on day six, four more films were shared (one for each year) from 1915 - 1918 (inclusive) and those included one about a spooky portrait, another about the victim of a kidnapping, plus a Faustian tale told from a female perspective and another about an artificial creature produced by a mad scientist. For my next post, on day seven, I (again) shared four more films (one for each year) from 1919 - 1922 (inclusive) and those featured an epic account of the horrors of war, plus tales of vampires and phantom carriages, as well as a hypnotist who used a somnambulist to commit acts of murder!

To kick-off the second week of my month-long blogathon, on day eight of this series, I shared another four films (again, one per year) from 1923 - 1926 (inclusive) and those included tales of hunchbacks, phantoms, and a pact with the devil plus a pianist whose hands were replaced by those of a murderer (following a train accident) after which he discovered they had a will of their own! Then for my next post, on day nine, I shared four films (one for each year) from 1927 - 1930 (inclusive) and those included a truly stunning "mood piece" based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe, along with the story of a master criminal who terrorized the occupants of an isolated country mansion, plus the creepiest, spookiest, mystery melodrama ever produced, with an early animated horror short thrown in for good measure. After that, on day ten, I shared four more films (again, one for each year) from 1931 - 1934 (inclusive) and those told various tales of terror, including: two American honeymooners trapped in the home of a Satan-worshipping priest, a colossal gorilla hitting the heights in New York with a movie starlet, a tale of love between a siren, a giant and a dwarf from a circus sideshow, plus the story of the strangest passion the world has ever known! Following on from there, on day eleven, I shared four more films (one per year, as before) from 1935 - 1938 (inclusive) and those featured the story of an escaped convict who used miniaturized humans to wreak vengeance on those that framed him, more tales of the horrors of war, and a Chinese ghost story (of sorts) plus the film which, when first released, was billed as the super shocker of the twentieth century! In the subsequent post, which I made on day twelve, four more films were shared (one per year) from 1939 - 1942 (inclusive) featuring strange creatures such as Werewolves, Cat People and The Hound of the Baskervilles, as well as some light-hearted comic relief (of the horror variety) courtesy of Bob Hope! Yesterday... the four films that I shared, on day thirteen, were from 1943 - 1946 (inclusive) and there was (again) one film per year - as there has been for each of my previous posts from this series. That batch of macabre movies included films about ghosts, zombies, and severed hands, plus what is widely believed to be the forerunner of all the horror anthology films that would follow it - a British film, from Ealing Studios! Yesterday, on day fourteen, I shared four more films spanning the years from 1947 to 1950 (inclusive) with one movie per year (as previously) Those included faceless killers, hidden secrets and a tale of human avarice, plus further light-hearted comedy (of the 'tongue-in-cheek' horror variety) courtesy of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello!

Then, as we entered week three of this month-long blogathon... on day fifteen, I shared another four films (again, one for each year) from 1951 - 1954 (inclusive) and those featured a dinosaur-like beast out to destroy the world, an artist (out for revenge) who created wax sculptures from human cadavers, a woman who visited her local shaman and was turned into a white reindeer vampire, plus... the tale of the thing that turns your blood ice-cold, as it creeps and crawls, then strikes without warning! For my next post, on day sixteen, I shared four more (one film per year) from 1955 - 1958 (inclusive) and those included the tale of of a sadistic boarding school headmaster whose wife & mistress plotted to kill him, another about a doctor with a demonic curse put upon him by a devil cult leader, and one from Hammer Films involving Count Dracula, plus the extraordinary tale of the most awesome fate that ever happened to earth people... with the invasion of the body snatchers from another world! For the next post, on day seventeen, I shared another four films (one for each year) from 1959 - 1962 (inclusive) and those featured a "Haunted House" party where the guests had to spend their night with ghosts, murderers, and other terrors, and; the tale of a woman, caught in a storm while driving, who got off the highway and pulled into a remote motel managed by a quiet young man who seemed to be dominated by his mother, and; another based on a ghost story written by Henry James, wherein a woman experiencing apparitions had to confront the evil spirits & exorcise the demons head onplus one more story... "so unusual, it will burn itself into your mind"! After that, on day eighteen, I shared four more films (again, one per year) from 1963 - 1966 (inclusive) and those included tales of ravens, repulsion, The Red Death and a Gothic horror from Mario Bava! Following on from there... for my next post, on day nineteen, I shared four films (one for each year) from 1967 - 1970 (inclusive) which featured a tale about a group of people beset by flesh-eating zombies, as well as the second part of the "Coffin Joe" trilogy - featuring more possessed corpses and sadistic practices, and another about a demented cremator who enjoys reading the Tibetan book of the dead, plus a surreal tale in which love, fear, sex and religion merge into one fantastic world! The next post in this series, on day twenty, featured four more films (one per year) from 1971 - 1974 (inclusive) and those included a film which is widely considered to be the "grandfather" of the modern slasher, as well as a mystery surrounding a series of child killings in a remote southern Italian town, and the story of a teenage girl possessed by a mysterious entity, whose mother sought the help of two priests in order to save her, plus the tale of some youngsters who had the misfortune to meet a family of cannibalistic psychopaths! All of which brings us rather nicely to this post, in which I will share another four films (again, one for each year) from 1975 - 1978 (inclusive) and those are set to feature a high school senior who unleashes the full extent of her telekinetic powers on the classmates that humiliate her, as well as a series of grisly murders at a prestigious ballet academy involving a coven of witches, and the tale of a psychopath who was institutionalised for 15 years, after stabbing his sister to death, only to break out of the mental hospital to come home for Halloween, plus another story about a Great White shark, which was menacing the small community of Amity Island by attacking people enjoying the water at the beach! As with other movies shared (thus far), bearing in mind the time period in which they were made, some may now look a little bit dated, but they are none the less watchable as further examples of early horror films whose influence can still be seen in far more modern movies from the genre.


First up today... is a feature-length film from the USA, directed by Steven Speilberg, which was first released in 1975 under the original title of "Jaws"... although it had previously gone by the working title of "Stillness in the Water" which, in the case of this movie, refers to "the calm before the shark"! Based on the novel by Peter Benchley, and adapted to a screenplay by the author and Carl Gottlieb, it tells the story of a hot summer on Amity Island, a small community which thrives on it's beaches. When new Sheriff Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) discovers the remains of a shark attack victim, his first inclination is to close the beaches to swimmers. This doesn't sit well with Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) and several of the local businessmen. Brody backs down, much to to his regret... as, that weekend, a young boy is killed by the predator. The dead boy's mother puts out a bounty on the shark and Amity is soon swamped with amateur hunters and fisherman hoping to cash in on the reward. A local fisherman with much experience hunting sharks, Quint (Robert Shaw), offers to hunt down the creature for a hefty fee. Before too long... the grizzled fisherman, Quint, together with local Police Chief Brody and a marine scientist, Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) from the Oceanographic Institute, are all at sea hunting the Great White which had been menacing their community. As Brody succinctly surmises after their first encounter with the shark, they're "...going to need a bigger boat"!

WITH THANKS TO: Gary McDonald for his contribution to the storyline.

Roy Scheider in Jaws (1975) [Movie Still]

Jaws (1975) [Movie Poster] - PHOTO CREDIT:

As with "The Exorcist" shared yesterday, I was unable to find a decent copy of "Jaws" that was both free-to-stream and compatible with the requirements for playback on Roku devices. Sure, there were some rough copies out there... either with reduced aspect ratios, heavily cropped, or shrunk to less than one quarter screen-size - not to mention those with foreign language audio dubs and/or subtitles, plus a few whose sound and/or picture quality left a lot to be desired. Please feel free to do your own search for those, if you wish to do so. For my part, I am recommending you go with the only viable option I could find for streaming "Jaws" (1975) on Roku devices and, that is... via 'Amazon Video'.

If you have yet to install this Roku channel, you will find it under "Film & TV" in the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store that is built-in to your Roku streaming media player(s). Those of you who are Amazon Prime members are out of luck this time, however, as there is no option whereby you can watch this film for free via your Amazon Prime membership. The only available options are to buy the video from Amazon Video UK for £6.99 (SD) or £7.99 (HD) and you can either watch it via the Amazon Video channel on your Roku player(s) or another compatible device. Confirmation of these options is provided in the screenshot (below), taken from the Amazon UK website, and there is a link provided beneath the screenshot image which takes you to the webpage where you can buy the film:-

AMAZON UK WEBSITE LINK:- Jaws (1975) [via Amazon Video UK]

While 'Amazon Video' does provide the cheapest option for buying this film, it's really only because you're buying an 'SD' version. For those who'd rather watch in 'HD', I'd recommend purchasing via 'Sky Store' instead... since, included in your £7.99 purchase price, you get a DVD of the film posted to you - in addition to the digital copy, which is available to stream immediately after payment has been made. Again, you will find it under "Film & TV" in the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store that is built-in to your Roku streaming media player(s). If you have yet to add it to your channel selection, here is the icon to look out for when you're scrolling through the channel store:-

If this is your first experience of using 'Sky Store', you will need to set-up an account with them... but, if you already have a Sky ID or NowTV Login, you can use the same username and password to get registered more quickly & easily. Speaking of which... here's a direct link to the webpage for "Jaws" on the 'Sky Store' website, so that (once registered) you can access the film details more easily, too!

SKY STORE WEBSITE LINK:- Jaws (1975) [via Sky Store]

Before I move on to the next film, you may also like to take a look at these SHARK FACTS which were provided as a Public Service by the Producers of "Jaws", and may come in handy one day... for, of all the large animals found in the sea, man is by far the easiest prey for predatory sea creatures! ;-)


Our next movie in today's post, is another feature-length film from the USA... but, this time, directed by Brian De Palma, and first released in 1976 under the original title, "Carrie"... which it shares with the Stephen King novel, on which the screenplay for this movie was based. This top notch horror tells the story of a high school senior, Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), who is a social outcast, largely due to her being unwise to the ways of the world, based upon the sheltered upbringing she endured at the hands of her domineering mother. Margaret White (Piper Laurie) is a religious fanatic, with extreme views that are primarily targeted against sex... which, she believes, is a sin. She even thinks natural occurences such as menstruation are a sin, and refuses to talk to Carrie about such matters. The only adult authority figure who tries to help Carrie is her teacher, Miss Collins (Betty Buckley), who is warned not to get too close, or go against how Mrs. White has chosen to raise her daughter. However, nearing the end of the school year, with the Senior Prom in full swing, Carrie unleashes the full extent of her telekinetic powers (after being humiliated by her classmates) and no end of terror ensues!

Sissy Spacek in Carrie (1976) [Movie Still]

Carrie (1976) [Movie Poster] - PHOTO CREDIT: Deep Fried Movies

Unfortunately, like "Jaws", I was unable to find any FREE-TO-STREAM sources (compatible with Roku devices) when I performed an online search for this film. In so far as I am aware, the only place you will be able to watch this film free (albeit with a subscription) on UK Roku devices is via the 'NowTV' channel. Those in other regions may have different sources available to them but, at the time of writing, this was the only option for UK users of Roku streaming media players. So, for those with a current 'Sky Cinema' pass from NowTV (formerly, NowTV Movies Month Pass), you will find that Brian De Palma's "Carrie" is also available via the "Movies" section of the 'NowTV' channel for UK Roku devices. The good news is... if you have not previously subscribed to the NowTV movies pass (in either of it's guises), you could (effectively) watch this movie without incurring any charges, thanks to the FREE 14-DAY TRIAL from NowTV for new subscribers. That being the case, look out for this 'NowTV' channel icon in the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store via the "Featured", "Most Popular" or "Film & TV" genres (i.e. categories) and add it to your device:-

As mentioned previously, you can also take advantage of the Roku "Search" function to find and then install the 'NowTV' channel on your Roku streaming media player. It is FREE-TO-ADD to your UK Roku devices, and the range of no-contract monthly passes for movies, entertainment, sports and kids' programming means there's plenty of flexibility over what you pay for as well as lots of great content to be had whenever you find the free content on other channels is not quite cutting the mustard, so-to-speak, when it comes to newer releases and such like. Not forgetting, of course, there's plenty of "old classics" like this adaptation of Stephen King's novel which, despite being the first of his works to make the big screen, was so successful at the box office that it cemented his fame as an author! ;-)

Speaking of which... if you'd like additional information on "Carrie", you'll find more details - as well as the option to watch it via web browser, by visiting the 'NowTV' website via this link:-

NOWTV LINK:- Carrie (1976) [IMDB Rating: 7.4]

If, for whatever reason, you'd rather not get a 'Sky Cinema' movies month pass for 'NowTV' (or else, a free trial, where applicable) the next cheapest option for watching this horror film is to rent it for just £2.49 (SD) from the Google Play Store and stream it via 'Google Play Movies & TV' on Roku. As is often the case, there is also the option to buy the film - in this instance, for £7.99 (SD) - which would mean you can then watch it whenever you like and as often as time permits! Either way, you'll find both purchasing options listed on the Google Play Store, and there is a link provided (beneath the screenshot image of the channel icon) which takes you to the webpage where you will find the film:-

GOOGLE PLAY STORE LINK:- Carrie (1976) [via Google Play Movies & TV]

If you do decide to purchase this film outright, and would rather get an HD copy (where Google Play has only SD at this time) you can pick up "Carrie" (1976) in HD - from Amazon Video UK - for only one pound more than what Google are asking for the SD version - £8.99 is your price for top quality!


Our third film today is a feature-length film from Italy, which was directed by Dario Argento, and first released in 1977 under the title, "Suspiria"... which is (pretty much) how it has been known the world over (ever since) save for subtle differences in language across international borders! The film adaptation was based on an original screenplay written by the director, together with Daria Nicolodi, and tells the tale of an American dancer, called Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), who arrives in Freiburg, Germany (from New York) to join a prestigious ballet academy for three years of tuition. The next morning, she is informed by the school that a student (whom she met leaving the place, on the previous night) was violently murdered and that the police are now investigating the crime. She befriends another student called Sara (Stefania Casini) but, amidst a series of grisly murders, slowly comes to realise that the school is actually a front for something far more sinister and supernatural!

Jessica Harper in Suspiria (1977) [Movie Still]

Suspiria (1977) [Movie Poster] - PHOTO CREDIT:

Just like both films shared previously in this post, I was unable to find a decent copy of "Suspiria" that was both free-to-stream and compatible with the requirements for playback on Roku devices. Again, there were rough copies out there, with the usual problems over aspect ratio / screen-size, plus a few whose sound and/or picture quality left a lot to be desired. As before, please feel free to search for those yourself, if you wish to do so. For my part, I am recommending you (once more) go with the only viable option I found for streaming "Suspiria" (1977) on Roku devices, i.e. 'Amazon Video'.

Again, there is no option whereby you can watch this film free via your Amazon Prime membership. The only available options are to rent the video from Amazon Video UK for £2.49 (SD) or else, buy it for £6.99 (SD) and either watch it via the Amazon Video channel on your Roku player(s) or another compatible device. Confirmation of these options is provided in the screenshot (below), taken from the Amazon UK website, and (as with "Jaws", earlier) there is a link provided beneath the screenshot image which will redirect you to the Amazon Video UK webpage where you can buy the film:-

HINT: Please CLICK on the above image TO ENLARGE IT for easier viewing !!

AMAZON UK WEBSITE LINK:- Suspiria (1977) [via Amazon Video UK]


Our last film for today, is another feature-length film from the USA... but, this time, it was directed by John Carpenter, and first released in 1978 under the original title, "Halloween"... which I'm sure will be familiar to most (if not all) of you, even if you have not yet had a chance to watch it - until now! This horror thriller, which was made under the working title of "The Babysitter Murders", tells the story of one Michael Myers (Tony Moran) who was institutionalised for 15 years, after stabbing his (then) fifteen year-old sister to death - while, himself, at the tender age of just six! This tragic event had taken place at 43, Lampkin Lane, Haddonfield... on Halloween Night, 1963 - but, after sitting in a mental hospital for 15 years, Michael Myers breaks out the night before Halloween! No-one knows, nor wants to find out, what will happen on October 31st 1978 except for Michael Myers' psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence). He knows, only too well, that Michael will be coming back to Haddonfield... but, by the time the town realises, it'll be too late to avoid more killing!

Tony Moran as Michael Myers in Halloween (1978) [Movie Still]

Halloween (1978) [Movie Poster]

Those wishing to bear witness to "The Night He Came Home!", as the tagline reads on the movie poster, will be pleased to hear that it's available on UK Roku devices and FREE-TO-STREAM thanks (once again) to the Roku channel from 'OVGuide'. Now, if you have yet to add this to your channel selection, you can install it easily using "Search" on your Roku device - either from the 'Home' screen, or the built-in channel store - by identifying the following icon from your search results, or else looking for it under "Film & TV"in the Roku UK Channel Store:-

Once you have it installed... and, by the way, it's also FREE-TO-ADD to Roku devices, you'll find that it offers thousands of FREE-TO-STREAM movies (including 750+ under "Horror" alone) over and above this one. So, if it's not yet a part of your own Roku channel selection, I recommend you install it, since there's plenty of FREE MOVIES & TV available in the 'OVGuide' content library! :-) To get details for this movie, or watch it via web browser, visit the 'OVGuide' website via this link:-

OVGUIDE.COM LINK:- Halloween (1978) [IMDB Rating: 7.9]

Enjoy this movie, because everyone is entitled to one good scare... so, let's celebrate the horror - since, when it comes to Halloween, it's trick or treat... or die - and, the trick is... to stay alive! ;-)


Anyhow, that's all I've got time for today... but do remember to come back again tomorrow, for more macabre movies from the history of horror cinema, when I serve-up another batch of four films on 'Day Twenty-Two' of "A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku" right here on this blog. Meanwhile... please be sure to visit the Countdown To Hallowe'en website and show your support for this annual online Hallowe'en extravaganza... PLUS don't forget to use the links you find there and check out all the other 'Cryptkeepers' taking part this year. I know they'll appreciate it if you visit their blogs & share your thoughts on the contribution(s) they've made.


BEFORE I GO: Don't forget that, aside from all the Hallowe'en / Horror-themed ghastliness going on around these parts for the next month, you can always keep up with all the UK Roku action (as it happens) by following the companion Twitter Feed: @ukrokuchannels where you will find that up-to-the-minute info on all things Roku-related is posted on a daily basis (well, almost).

Until the next time, then...

That's all folks !!

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