Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku - DAY 26: Ghostface, Ring & 7 Deadly Sins! (1995-1998)

Welcome back, Boils & Ghouls...

... to 'Day Twenty-Six' 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 those lights... and get on with the 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! Following on from there, on day twenty-four, I shared four more films with you (one for each year) from 1987-1990 (inclusive). Those featured a strange puzzle box that (once unlocked) let loose some sadomasochistic creatures which took great pleasure in ensnaring human victims to toy with, as well as some special sunglasses which enabled the wearer to see the world as it really was (including how some people were, in fact, aliens) and that there was a grand scheme to keep humans subdued, and another story about a bizarre character with an insane compulsion to stick pieces of scrap metal into his body and the bodies of those who had wronged him, plus the tale of a best-selling novelist who was rescued from a car crash only to be held captive and abused by his "number one fan" who became even more unhinged on discovering the heroine in those novels had been killed-off by the author! The next batch of four films, on day twenty-five, included one film per year from 1991 - 1994 (inclusive) and those featured stories of a young F.B.I. cadet who confided in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help in catching another serial killer, a vampire from eastern Europe who came to England and began a reign of seduction and terror, as well as a mysterious device (designed to provide its owner with eternal life) which resurfaced after four hundred years... leaving a trail of destruction in its path, plus a "Cemetery Man" who had to kill the dead for a second time, when his graveyard was overrun by zombies! All of which brings us rather nicely to this post, in which I plan to share four more films with you (again, one for each year) from 1995-1998 (inclusive). These are set to include the story of two detectives, one a rookie and the other a veteran, who are hunting a serial killer that uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi, and a teenage girl who, one year after the murder of her mother, is terrorised (along with her friends) by a new killer, using horror films as part of his deadly game, as well as six strangers who are involuntarily placed in an endless Kafka-esque maze of deadly traps, plus a tale involving the ghost of a seer's daughter, herself ruthlessly murdered by her psychic father, who inexplicably kills all those that watch a mysterious video tape, unless they break the curse before seven days have passed! As with some of the other movies shared thus far in this series of posts, while they may seem a little bit dated now, they are none the less watchable for it... as earlier examples of movies whose influence can still be seen in several more recent horror films.


First up today... is a feature-length film from the USA, that was directed by David Fincher, and first released in 1995 under the title of "Se7en"... although you will often see it listed as "Seven" when searching the internet for this movie. The more traditional variation was also used for both the UK and USA video/dvd releases, as well as in the original working title... "The Seven Deadly Sins". Once described by Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine as being "a nerve-jangling thriller with a gut-wrenching climax"... "Se7en" tells the story of two detectives, a rookie (Brad Pitt) and a veteran (Morgan Freeman), hunting a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins (gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, wrath, pride and lust) as his modus operandi... and, being a somewhat creative individual, he also comes up with seven different ways for them to die! The murderer's terrible capacity is graphically demonstrated in the dark and subdued tones characteristic of film noir, when the first victim (Bob Mack) is killed for the sin of 'Gluttony'... and it is this kind of high quality film-making which twists the film into an edge-of-the-seat suspenseful waiting game as the horror unfolds, one murder at a time, in this gripping encounter with the insanity of pure evil!

Bob Mack in Se7en [aka Seven] (1995)

Se7en [aka Seven] (1995) [USA Movie Poster]

Se7en [aka Seven] (1995) [British Quad Poster]

Unfortunately, as with some of the other films shared recently, I was unable to find a decent copy of "Se7en" [aka Seven] that was 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 advise going with the one option I did find for "Se7en" [aka Seven] (1995) on Roku... namely, '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 £2.49 (SD) or £3.49 (HD)... or, if you prefer, you can also buy it outright, at a cost of £6.99 for the 'SD' version and £8.99 for 'HD' quality streaming. Whichever version you decide on, 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 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 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:- Se7en [aka Seven] (1995) [via Amazon Video UK]


Our next movie in today's post, is another feature-length film from the USA... but, this time, it was directed by Wes Craven. First released in 1996, under the original title of "Scream", this top-notch teen-slasher of a horror mystery tells the tale of a teenage girl who, just one year after the murder of her mother, finds herself being terrorised by a new killer. This masked, knife-wielding, maniac targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game, stalking the students before killing them off one by one. Although, the killer seems obsessed with one student, in particular, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell)... who, of course, gets involved in the quest to unmask the killer!

Ghostface in Scream (1996) [Movie Still]

Scream (1996) [USA Movie Poster]

Scream (1996) [British Quad Poster]

Just like "Se7en" [aka Seven] above, I was unable to find a decent copy of "Scream" that was 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. What I did discover, however, is that "Scream" is available for any UK Roku owners with a subscription to 'Netflix UK'... so, if that's you, then you're in luck! Believe it or not, having (already) covered over one hundred films in this cinematic history of horror, this is the first movie for which the primary streaming source available has been 'Netflix'... which may (or, may not) say something about the value and/or worth of the service to hardcore horror fans in the UK. Still, they came up trumps here... so they can't be all bad, now, can they?! ;-) :-)

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). For those of you who have never subscribed to 'Netflix UK', this film may be the ideal excuse for you to take advantage of their ONE-MONTH FREE TRIAL and see what else the streaming service has to offer. Don't forget that, as long as you cancel before the end of your trial period, you will not be charged... so, with the dark nights closing in, it could be the perfect opportunity to spend a month binge-watching, say "House of Cards" for example, and get to watch this "Whodunnit" by Wes Craven for free, while you're at it!?!! To make life easier, I'm providing a direct link to the movie (below) so that UK Roku users can find the film more easily. Those who already subscribe to 'Netflix UK' can just go ahead and add it to their watchlist from there... while anyone wanting to start a free trial can sign-up just as easily from this webpage as they can from any other on the 'Netflix UK' website - so, every one's a winner! ;-)

NETFLIX UK LINK:- Scream (1996) [IMDB Rating: 7.2]

The next best alternative, if you'd rather not go down the 'Netflix' route (e.g. if you're ineligible for the free trial, or don't have a current subscription already) is to watch it via 'Amazon Video UK' who have a special offer on rentals for "Scream" (1996) whereby you get to enjoy it for a one-time fee of just ninety-nine pence (yes, £0.99 only) and that's the same price in either 'SD' or 'HD', as well! ;-)


Our third film today is a feature-length movie from Canada, directed by Vincenzo Natali, and first released in 1997 under the title of "Cube"... while based on an original screenplay, also written by the director, together with André Bijelic (as Andre Bijelic) and Graeme Mason. The film tells the story of six complete strangers, each from very different walks of life and with varying personality traits, who awaken to find themselves involuntarily placed inside a giant cube, like a Kafka-esque maze, with thousands of possible rooms - each containing some sort of deadly trap of one kind or another. Each has a unique skill, and it soon becomes clear that they must band together to get out: somehow a cop, a mathematician, an architect, a doctor, an escapologist and a disabled man must all play their part in this thrilling quest to find the answers as to why they were imprisoned and, above all, how to escape!

Nicole de Boer and Maurice Dean Wint in Cube (1997)

Cube (1997) [Movie Poster]
PHOTO CREDIT: That Was A Bit Mental

Unfortunately, just like "Se7en" [aka Seven] above, I was unable to find a decent copy of "Cube" that was both free-to-stream and compatible with the requirements for playback on Roku devices. Again, there were rough copies out there... which, for the reasons outlined previously, I am not going to bother sharing with you here. That said, please feel free to do your own search for those, if you wish - but, in my experience, it was a complete waste of time... so, I thought I'd mention it to save you the trouble. For my part, I'm (once again) recommending you go with the best option I found to stream "Cube" (1997) on Roku devices... and, in case you hadn't guessed already, that was 'Amazon Video'!

For those who have yet to install 'Amazon Video' on their Roku device(s)... please follow the same steps (as outlined previously) for "Se7en" [aka Seven] to add it to your channel selection. Likewise, the only available options for streaming "Cube" via Amazon Video UK are to rent the video from Amazon UK for £2.49 (SD) or £3.49 (HD)... or, buy the film so that it's yours to keep and watch as you please. Again, you can make the purchase through Amazon UK for £5.99 in 'SD' or £6.99 for the 'HD' version - plus, whatever you decide, it can be watched via 'Amazon Video' on your Roku player or, for that matter, any other compatible device you happen to own. You'll find confirmation of all your buying options in the screenshot below (taken from the Amazon UK website) and there is a link beneath the screenshot image which takes 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 WEBLINK:- Cube (1997) [via Amazon Video UK]


Anyway, our last film for today is a feature-length film from Japan, directed by Hideo Nakata, and first released in 1998 under the original title of "Ringu"... although (perhaps) better known to British audiences by the alternative, world-wide English title, of "Ring", and also for being the movie that inspired "The Ring" - released four years later, in 2002. Based on the novel by Kôji Suzuki and then adapted for the big screen, via a screenplay by Hiroshi Takahashi, this horror, mystery, science-fiction film tells the story of Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima) who is researching into a 'Cursed Video' and interviewing teenagers about it. When her niece Tomoko (Yûko Takeuchi) dies of 'sudden heart failure' with an unnaturally horrified expression on her face, Reiko investigates. She finds out that some of Tomoko's friends, who had been on a holiday with Tomoko the week before, had died on exactly the same night at the exact same time in the exact same way. Reiko goes to the cabin where the teens had stayed and finds an 'unlabeled' video tape. Reiko watches the tape and discovers to her horror it is in fact the 'cursed videotape'. Ex-Husband Ryuji (Hiroyuki Sanada) agrees to help Reiko solve the mystery, and Reiko makes him a copy for further investigation. Things become more tense when her son Yoichi (Rikiya Ôtaka) watches the tape saying Tomoko had told him to. The discovery takes them to a volcanic island where they find out that the video has a connection to a psychic who died 30 years ago, and it is from there they must try to find the "escape clause" to avoid being killed by Sadako Yamamura (Rie Ino'o) the ghost of a young girl ruthlessly murdered by her father the seer!

Rie Ino'o as Sadako Yamamura in Ringu (1998)

Ringu [aka Ring] (1998) [Movie Poster]

Fortunately for us, unlike the other films in today's post, I did find a decent FREE-TO-STREAM copy of this movie online, which can now be enjoyed by Roku users in all "regions". While I've not had as much success finding some of the recent films via my usual video streaming resources (YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, etc.) I'm really pleased to say that, much to my surprise, this nineties horror from Japan was available on 'YouTube' and so I'm able to share it with you for free today. In a bizarre twist, not one of the major UK streaming services had this film in their current catalogue so, were it not for this 'YouTube' version, we'd have struck out. Anyway, you can either watch this movie online, or use the link to cast it from 'YouTube' (via your Roku) and then watch on the big screen for maximum enjoyment! Whichever you choose, here is the link...

YOUTUBE LINK:- Ringu [aka Ring] (1998) [IMDB Rating: 7.3]


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-Seven' 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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