Monday, October 24, 2016

A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku - DAY 24: Psychos, Demons & Metal Fetishes (1987-1990)

Welcome back, Boils & Ghouls...

... to 'Day Twenty-Four' of "A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku" in which I'll 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 down the 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! After that... on day twenty-one, came four more films (again, one for each year) from 1975 - 1978 (inclusive) and those included the tale of a high school senior who unleashed the full extent of her telekinetic powers on the classmates that humiliated her, as well as an account of a series of grisly murders at a ballet academy involving a coven of witches, and the tale of a psycho-killer who, having been in a mental hospital for 15 years (after stabbing his sister to death), broke-out and returned to his home town, just in time for Halloween... plus a story about a Great White shark, menacing the small community of Amity Island, which attacked people as they enjoyed the water at the beach!

As we began week four of this month-long blogathon, on day twenty-two, I shared four more films (one for each year) from 1979 - 1982 (inclusive) and those included stories of mysterious alien life-forms, and evil spirits causing mid-winter havoc for the caretaker-manager & his family in an isolated hotel, as well as five friends who must fight for their lives when flesh-possessing demons are unleashed upon them, as they vacation in a remote cabin, plus the crew of an isolated U.S. research station in Antarctica, who must endure the ultimate in alien terror! After that, on day twenty-three, I shared another four films with you (again, one per year) from 1983-1986 (inclusive). Those included tales of a sleazy cable-TV programmer who began to see his life spin out of control in a very unusual fashion when he acquired a new kind of programming for his station, as well as a group of friends being hunted by a serial killer murdering victims in their dreams, and a dedicated student at a medical college who became involved in bizarre experiments to re-animate dead tissue when an odd new student arrived on campus, plus the story of a brilliant but eccentric scientist who began to transform into a man / fly hybrid after one of his experiments took an unexpected turn! All of which brings us rather nicely to this post, in which I plan to share four more films with you (one for each year) from 1987-1990 (inclusive). These are set to feature a strange puzzle box that (once unlocked) lets loose all manner of sadomasochistic creatures which take great pleasure ensnaring human victims to toy with, and some special sunglasses which enable the wearer to see the world as it really is (including how some people around us are, in fact, aliens) and that there's a grand scheme to keep humans subdued, as well as a bizarre character with an insane compulsion to stick pieces of scrap metal into his body and the bodies of those who wrong him, plus a best-selling novelist who is rescued from a car crash only to be held captive and abused by his "number one fan" who becomes even more unhinged on discovering the heroine in those novels has been killed-off by the author! As with other movies shared thus far some may seem a little bit dated now, but they are none the less watchable for it, as examples of movies whose influence can still be seen in some of the more recent horror films.


First up today... is a feature-length film from the UK, that was directed by Clive Barker, and first released in 1987 under the title of "Hellraiser"... although, it had previously gone by the working title of "Sadomasochists from Beyond the Grave" which, while fairly close to the mark, might not have been the best title to market the film under! Another thing to note is that this movie was a directorial feature debut for Clive Barker and, I have to say, it was a pretty good effort for his first time around. Even famous author Stephen King who, I think it's fair to say, is quite knowledgable on the subject... said, "I have seen the future of horror... and his name is Clive Barker", which is not a bad testimonial to add to your movie poster(s) - and, funnily enough, that's just what they did! 

This fantasy horror graphically depicts the tale of Larry (Andrew Robinson) and Julia (Clare Higgins) who move into an old abandoned house, with Larry's daughter Kirsty in tow, and discover a hideous creature hiding upstairs - Frank "the Monster" (Oliver Smith) - who, as well as being Larry's brother, also happens to be Julia's former lover. Before this, Frank "the man" (Sean Chapman) was a soulless individual who lived only for life's pleasures. He would go to great lengths to satisfy his lusts, and thought nothing of stepping on anyone to get there. When the film begins, he's offered a bizarre puzzle box: "The Lament Configuration", by a strange man, in what looks and sounds to be a Middle-Eastern market. He is told that the box will open the gates to a world of pleasures which no mortal being could possibly imagine. Frank takes the box, but fails to grasp that the pleasures it offers are to the demons who live within it. The Cenobites, sadomasochistic creatures who live eternally (beyond the gates which the box can open and close), take great pleasure from ensnaring new human victims to toy with... imprisoning them forever in a labyrinth of pain and suffering! 

Anyway, having lost his earthly body to a trio of these S&M demons, he is brought back into existence by a drop of blood on the floor. Having been discovered, hiding upstairs in Larry's house, he then forces his former mistress, Julia, to bring him the necessary human sacrifices to complete his body regeneration. After her initial shock and disgust she agrees to help Frank, for whom she still lusts, and begins bringing home the men which she picks up in bars. Julia bludgeons them to death and Frank feeds on them. Meanwhile Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence), Larry's daughter (by his ex-wife), who never liked the pretentious, frigid Julia, starts getting suspicious when she comes face-to-face with "Uncle Frank" and barely escapes his bloody clutches, with "The Lament Configuration" in her hand. She accidentally opens it, and when the demons within, led by the now-famous Pinhead (Doug Bradley), threaten to take her back with them to another dimension, Kirsty makes a deal: she will lead Pinhead, plus "Butterball" (Simon Bamford) and the "Chattering Cenobite" (Nicholas Vince) to Frank, and they can have him instead of her. After that, it's a race against time; will Kirsty find Frank? Can her father, Larry, be saved from the adulterous couple, Julia and Frank, who have been plotting against him in his own house? Or, will it be simply too late for all of them?!

Nicholas Vince, Doug Bradley and Simon Bamford in Hellraiser (1987)

Hellraiser (1987) [USA Movie Poster]

Hellraiser (1987) [British Quad Poster]

As with several other films, shared recently, I was unable to find a decent copy of "Hellraiser" that was both free-to-stream and compatible with the requirements for playback on Roku devices. Again, there were rough copies out there... either with reduced aspect ratios, heavily cropped images, or shrunk to less than one quarter screen-size - never mind those which had foreign language audio dubs and/or subtitles... plus others, whose sound and/or picture quality left a lot to be desired. Feel free to do your own search for those, if you so wish. For my part, I'm recommending you go with the best option I found for streaming "Hellraiser" (1987) on Roku devices, and that's... '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 once more, however, as there is no option whereby you can watch this film for free via your Amazon Prime membership. The only available choices are to rent the video from Amazon Video UK for £0.99 (SD) or (HD)... or, if you prefer, there is also the option to buy the film through Amazon Video UK for £2.99 in 'SD' or £3.99 for the 'HD' version - plus, whatever you decide, it can either be watched via the Amazon Video channel on your Roku player... or, any other 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:-

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

AMAZON UK WEBSITE LINK:- Hellraiser (1987) [via Amazon Video UK]


Our next movie in today's post, is a feature-length film from the USA, directed by John Carpenter, and first released in 1988 under the title of "They Live"... although, equally well-known by the longer alternative title of "John Carpenter's They Live", which was translated word-for-word in advance of the German release, to "John Carpenter's Sie leben", because (apparently) they like to be very precise when it comes to such matters! ;-) Anyway... it was based on a short story by Ray Nelson, which was called "Eight O'Clock in the Morning", and adapted to a screenplay by the director himself (albeit via the pseudonym of 'Frank Armitage', according to the writing credits from IMDB) featuring wrestlers, aliens and a plot to take over the world! All of this comes to light, when Nada (Roddy Piper) gets hold of a pair of special sunglasses. Wearing them, he is able to see the world as it really is: people bombarded by media and government, with messages like "Obey", "Stay Asleep", "No Imagination", "Submit to Authority", "Consume", "Marry and Reproduce", etc, etc. Scarier still, is that he is able to see how some otherwise totally normal-looking people are in fact ugly aliens...and who are in charge of the massive campaign to keep humans subdued, while they gradually take over the Earth!

Michael Forino as "Ghoul at Bar" in They Live (1988)

They Live (1988) [USA Movie Poster]

They Live (1988) [British Quad Poster]

Fortunately for us, unlike "Hellraiser" (above), this time I did find a decent FREE-TO-STREAM copy of this movie online. While I've not had much success in finding some of the recent films from my usual online sources (YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, etc.) I'm pleased to say this eighties horror classic was available on 'YouTube' and so I'm able to share it for free with you today. Again, you can either watch this movie online, or else use the link to cast it from the 'YouTube' app (via your Roku) and then watch on the big screen for maximum enjoyment! Whichever way you choose, here it is...

YOUTUBE LINK:- They Live (1988) [IMDB Rating: 7.3]


Our third film today is a feature-length movie from Japan, directed by Shin'ya Tsukamoto, and first released in 1989 under the original title of "Tetsuo"... although (perhaps) better known to British and U.S. audiences by the (slightly) longer alternative title of "Tetsuo, the Iron Man", which was also used in other parts of the world - allowing for some regional variation by way of translation! ;-) The director also stars in the movie as the "Metal Fetishist" - a bizarre character, who seems to have an insane compulsion to stick pieces of scrap metal into his body! One day, he is run over by a Japanese "salaryman" (Tomorowo Taguchi) who is out for a drive with his girlfriend (Kei Fujiwara). Not long afterwards, the businessman notices that he is being taken-over by some kind of strange disease that is slowly turning his body into scrap metal. This turns out to be the "Metal Fetishist" getting revenge for being run-over, by masterminding and guiding the rage and frustration-fueled transformation of the "salaryman", by slowly altering his body to become a grotesque hybrid of flesh and rusty metal!

Tomorowo Taguchi and Nobu Kanaoka in Tetsuo, The Iron Man (1989)

Tetsuo, The Iron Man (1989) [Original Japanese Poster]

Tetsuo, The Iron Man (1989) [First Cut DVD Poster]

Coming across like a mish-mash of Lynch and Cronenberg, with some anime and science-fiction elements thrown-in for good measure, this may not be to everybody's taste... and also likely to divide opinion as to the relative merits of using all the fast edits, flashbacks, nightmare sequences & images, as well as fast forward photography, which created this sixty-odd minutes of surreal mayhem. That said, if you happen to watch it and enjoy it, there is a sequel (in colour) to this black & white film, called "Tetsuo II: Body Hammer", that's also worth a look, but (in my opinion) not quite as good. As for "Tetsuo" [aka Tetsuo, the Iron Man] there was a mixed bag of results when trying to find a decent copy of the film online. The good news is... I found it on 'YouTube' - however, the version which has English subtitles comes up slightly short (50m) versus the overall running time of the original (67m) and, although I found the original as well, it was a version with Vietnamese subtitles which may or may not be of any use to you. In any case, I'll post both links... so you can decide for yourselves! :-)



If neither of those options appeals to you, there is also the option to rent the film for £2.49 (SD) or £3.49 (HD)... as well as buy it for £6.99 (SD) or £7.99 (HD) - all done through Amazon Video UK, meaning it can either be watched via the 'Amazon Video' channel on your Roku player... or, any other compatible device you might happen to own. Confirmation of the purchasing 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:-

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

AMAZON UK WEBSITE LINK:- Tetsuo (1989) [via Amazon Video UK]

If you have yet to add the 'Amazon Video' channel for Roku devices to your streaming media player, the instructions for how to find / install it are the same as those provided for "Hellraiser" (above). ;-)


Our last film for today is another feature-length film from the USA... but, this time, it was directed by Rob Reiner, and first released in 1990 under the original title of "Misery"... which it shares with the novel, written by Stephen King, on which the screenplay (by William Goldman) was based. This film begins with best-selling novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan) who, while making his way home from Colorado (after completing his latest book), crashes his car during a freak blizzard. Paul is critically injured, but is rescued by former nurse Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), Paul's "number one fan", who takes him back to her remote house in the mountains (and doesn't tell anybody). Unfortunately for Paul, the "care" he receives from Annie is only the beginning of a nightmare of captivity and abuse!

Kathy Bates in Misery (1990)

Misery (1990) [USA Movie Poster]

Misery (1990) [British Quad Poster]

Unfortunately, like "Hellraiser", I was unable to find any decent quality FREE-TO-STREAM sources (compatible with Roku devices) when performing an online search for this film. As far as I know, the only place you will be able to watch this film for free (albeit via 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 Rob Reiner's "Misery" is 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 all 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 "Misery" which, despite many film adaptations of the author's past work, remains the only one to have received an Academy Award! ;-)

Speaking of which... if you'd like additional information on "Misery", 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:- Misery (1990) [IMDB Rating: 7.8]

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 is to buy the film - in this case, for £5.99 (SD) or £7.99 (HD) - which at least means you can watch it whenever you like and as often as time permits! Confirmation of these purchasing options is provided in the screenshot (below), from the Amazon UK website, and (again) there is a link beneath the screenshot image which will take you directly to the webpage where you can buy the film:-

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

AMAZON UK WEBSITE LINK:- Misery (1990) [via Amazon Video UK]

While 'Amazon Video' provides the cheapest option for buying this film, it's because you're only getting a 'digital' copy to stream. So, for those who are considering a purchase in the 'HD' format, I'd suggest you use 'Sky Store' instead... as you get a DVD of the film, included in your £7.99 purchase price, that will be posted to you for free - in addition to the digital copy, which (like Amazon) is available to stream immediately after payment has been made. Meanwhile... here's a direct link to the webpage for "Misery" on the 'Sky Store' website, so you can access the film details more easily, too!

SKY STORE WEBSITE LINK:- Misery (1990) [via Sky Store]

In the interest of fairness, "The Fly" is also on 'Google Play Movies & TV' as a buy & keep movie for £7.99 (HD) but, as it offers no advantage, other than personal preference over user interface (UI) and whether (or not) you have an account set-up... and there's no DVD included with the purchase, I feel that 'Sky Store' is the better option to go with in this instance. :-)


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-Five' 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 up-to-the-minute info on all things Roku is posted on a daily basis (well, almost).

Until the next time, then...

That's all folks !!

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