Kryptic Army Mission: March 2021 – March Madness

Every March, one of the most popular tournaments takes place, with a single elimination rounds that comprises of 68 college basketball teams.

Now our mission has nothing to do with basketball, or sports in general. I’m only stealing the title of March Madness for this month’s topic of movie watching! And that would be madness. The horror genre has long been filled with characters wrestling with their sanity, either caused by natural defects in their brain, or due to something horrific event that they have witnessed and just can’t deal with. Or it could even be due to outside force or influence that is creating the delusions or is twisted their way of thinking. No matter what the reasoning is, they are usually kept in the same type of place.

Last year, we ventured into the realm of mad scientists and doctors, but we’re going to focus this time not on the doctors, but the facilities where these mentally disturbed and deranged are kept. Could be an asylum, some sort of institute, or some “retreat” or location where the ones that can’t seem to simulate into normal society are forced to stay. Now, to give you a little wiggle room in that strait-jacket, the whole move does not need to take place there. It could start off with a character escaping from one, or ending up in one, but there has to be some sequences in the hospital, or whatever location in there. Also, it doesn’t not need to be a functioning facility either, meaning it would be an old abandon building that characters decide to go snooping around late one night for a quick thrill, only to come across someone still residing there.

To recap, you must find two horror movies that you have not seen before, that deal with some sort of facility that houses, past or present, the mentally disturbed. It doesn’t have to be a place for complete nutters, maybe ones that just have trouble dealing with reality like sane people do. You have until 11:59pm on March 31st to find, watch, and report back here the titles you found.

Before we leave you to your viewing, remember the famous quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, “And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

Good Luck!

40 thoughts on “Kryptic Army Mission: March 2021 – March Madness

  1. The way mental illness is presented in a lot of films, especially horror films, is super problematic. That said, I have a really unhealthy interest in the subject and love nothing better than a haunted insane asylum. Bring it on! (Really hope I can find something I haven’t seen yet that isn’t as bad as last month’s films!)

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  2. I’ve got one! It’s not exactly a horror movie, but certainly contains truly horrific elements and isn’t like anything you’ve ever seen before. So if anyone is looking for something truly different in this category allow me to recommend the 1989 Steven Sayadian film DR. CALIGARI. I’d even be willing to send someone a copy, as I think it’s such a weird and wonderful piece of neon expressionistic weirdness that I want more people to see it. It’s also streaming in two parts on DailyMotion. Check out this trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw41PSEh0T4

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  3. I watched the Dead Pit (1989) the other day for the first time. It came up when I was searching zombie films. Fun insane asylum / evil doc practicing on his patients / zombie flick.

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  4. I found two films – one that was really good and the twist surprised me. The second….meh.
    1. Insane: Korean, 2016. A down and out reporter speaks with a woman who is accused of murdering her step-father. She claims she was kidnapped and tortured in a mental asylum for a year before his death and couldn’t have done it. There’s no record of her stay at this institution – so is she lying, or is something even worse going on?
    REALLY good film. More of a mystery/thriller with horrific elements. Any time I see these films where someone is held against their will in an institution – which actually does happen, and apparently the law in Korea is even more vague and open ended. Acting is great, though the trope of the humiliated journalist finding a comeback story is a little overdone. However, the twist at the end (which I thought I’d figured out, and didn’t) was fantastic.

    2. Abandoned Dead: US, 2015. A lone security guard at an addict clinic is terrorized by supernatural happenings. As they overwhelm her, the truth starts to bleed through to reality and maybe things aren’t happening like she imagines.
    BORED. Same old trope, same old story. I won’t spoil it but its been done a million times. Acting is mediocre, with a nice little cameo from Judith O’Dea at the end. The mental institution doesn’t come in until more towards the end but you pretty much know the whole story long before then.

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    • Just added Insane to my Amazon Watch List! Sounds like it should be a good one!

      Your second choice is another one I never heard of and I’m almost tempted to watch it just be Judith O’Dea is in it…Almost.

      But way to jump on that mission, Peggy!

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  5. Before I get into my movies, I wanted to point out that I love movies that deal with mental health and insanity; especially those that idea with the asylums themselves. There is something innately fascinating and scary about insanity and the way people dealing with it are treated and often mistreated throughout history. Therefore, my opinions on these movies may be affected by my own interests and desires to see what fascinates me personally; as opposed to what others may look for in them.

    1. Grave Encounters (2011)
    Synopsis: A “ghost hunters” crew spends the night locked in a haunted asylum.

    Review: I was very disappointed with this movie. The set- up had great potential and I expected good things. While the central concept has been done to death (a TV show that has been “faking” its hauntings ends up in a real haunted location) the backstory of the asylum and the overall disturbing look of it held potential. In addition, (I know I am in the minority here) the “found footage” really works for me with its potential to let us see through the people involved’s eyes and the ability to create creepy images just at the edge of the viewer’s vision. Sadly, this movie (to me anyway) wasted this potential. It wasn’t bad but it really didn’t stand out. Once inside the asylum the movie spends too much time on the people walking around and not finding anything. This is pretty standard in these movies but it went on too long. Then, Instead of creating creepy ambiance and scary moments the movie spends the early stages of the haunting on temporal anomalies and spatial distortion. This was a way to keep the characters trapped in but it should have coupled, not replaced the creepy factor & scares. When a ghost does show up it is invisible and pushes a character over or throws him; never really creating scares…just action. It isn’t until the half hour that the movie really begins to move into the scary images and even then it feels less creepy and less subtle and more “in your face.” Finally we get to the good stuff when we get to the doctors underground lab. The idea of a doctor doing lobotomies and other experimental processes on metal patients is a good one, and the fate of all the missing characters is done well but then for no apparent reasons they have to throw in a satanic ritual just for good measure. It feels out of place and tacked on. So in summary, this movie is okay with some good moments, good acting and great setting, but it has been done better elsewhere and I would suggest turning to one of those movies instead.

    2. Gothika (2003)
    Synopsis: A psychologist is told by her patient that she can’t help her because she can’t see through “real” eyes and only sees through the detachment of a doctor. On her way home that night, she has an odd meeting at a roadside and wakes up 3 days later to find herself locked in her own institution and suspected of a brutal crime.

    Review: I hadn’t watched this because most of the reviews I read on this movie were not very positive. But since I love the “mental health” genre I decided to give it a chance. I am glad I did. While not a particularly scary movie, it was a fascinating mystery and depiction of the way we look at mental health. Which according to this movie is, “you’re crazy so I don’t believe anything you tell me and we will just give you more medicines and make you less lucid.” Likewise, it says that mental patients can’t trust their doctors because the doctors just see them as “crazy people.” Overall the movie reminded me of a mystery/horror movie from the 40’s-60s when special effects were limited and they relied more on story instead of shock scares and effects. There are a few tense scenes, but mostly (for me anyway) the terror came from not knowing what happened to her and how she ended up in this situation. The tension mounts as you realize she did actually commit the crime but she has no recollection of it and no reason why she would have done it. The ghost/mirage haunting her complicates her situation making us wonder if she truly is crazy or not. The second half of the movie becomes more intent on solving the mystery and leaves the asylum and questions of sanity behind. That is the one part of the movie that I found somewhat disappointing. I understand the need to solve the mystery, but I wish the movie would have delved deeper on the patients’ plights and the dismissal of their situations by the doctors. So in summary, it was a good mystery/horror movie that struck some creepy chords making it rank just slightly higher than the average Hollywood movie of this sort. Definitely worth the watch if that kind of low special effect/mystery with tinges of supernatural appeal to you.

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    • I knew there was a reason I hadn’t gotten around to Grave Encounters….I personally, am not a fan of too many found footage or first person camera films. There’s a few that I like, but not many. And any thing that has to do with ghost hunters just kills any excitement for the film. So maybe that’s why I have avoided it, or that it just isn’t that good. Isn’t there a sequel or two for this one???

      Like you, Chris, I also skipped on Gothika because it didn’t seem to do too well when it came out. Granted, we should know not to listen to critics, but don’t remember too many people telling me over the years that this is one you can’t miss. Although, I will say you do have me thinking I should check it out after all.

      After all…is that the whole point of this? If it works for me, I hope it is giving a lot of you soldiers out there some titles to look into. Or to avoid!

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    • I thought that I had seen Grave Encounters but it turns out I saw the sequel (imaginatively titled Grave Encounters 2), which was written by the Vicious Brothers and directed by John Poliquin and prompted this reaction:

      “Be warned: the first hour is excruciating – positively everything you expect and despise within the found-footage format is laid out front and center: obnoxious characters, unjustified shots, winks and nods and chastisements about shoddy filmmaking, etc. Be further warned, once things start getting “interesting” (i.e. characters start getting killed and/or disappeared), it doesn’t get a whole lot better.”

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  6. First off, since there’s still plenty of time to complete this month’s mission, I’ll throw a few (possible) recommendations on here. Off the top of my head, films I recall liking myself.

    Session 9 (2001) was already mentioned. Hipnos (2004) from Spain. The Ugly (1997) from New Zealand. Crossover (1980, aka Mr. Patman) from Canada, starring James Coburn. William Peter Blatty’s The Ninth Configuration (1980). The Sender (1982). Patrick (1978 & 2013) from Australia. Or if you prefer some vintage eerie shocks & trashy schlock: Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) & Horror Hospital (1973).

    SANITARIUM (2013)

    A peculiar anthology film. The wraparound story had me thinking of Body Bags (1993), in which John Carpenter himself plays the role of mortician (sort of) telling the tales of how certain corpses ended up in the morgue. It was played out for laughs. In Sanitarium, we have Malcolm McDowell playing a psychiatrist, telling us how certain patients ended up in the mental institute. Only difference, the whole film plays it serious. It features three stories and the overall look and feel of the film is consistent. A bit more artsy and subtle than we’re used to (at least from these type of films), but it somewhat results in a fresh approach.

    All stories flirt with the supernatural vs. the psychological to a quite balanced and satisfying degree. First segment is about an unstable artist who makes Tim Burton-esque miniature dolls and is being manipulated by his manager. Second segment is about a kid who has an abusive father and starts seeing a monstrous vagrant. Third segment is about a college professor who believes the world will end according the Mayan calendar and locks himself inside an underground shelter. The whole vibe and slow pace of the film might be underwhelming for die-hard horror lovers. But as compensation, you also get Robert Englund, Lou Diamond Phillips and John Glover among the cast.

    THE ASYLUM (2000)

    Another peculiar affair. Main reason for many horror fans to seek it out, would undoubtedly be the fact it stars both mum Ingrid Pitt and daughter Stefanie Pitt. While it’s said to have been made in the spirit of Hammer’s gothic glory days, I’m inclined to believe this might more have been an eager statement coming from overly enthusiastic Hammer fans who reveled in the fact of having just seen The Two Pitts in one film. What I saw, however, was a film heavily influenced by and colorfully stylized after Dario Argento’s output from the late ’70s and early ’80s. Some giallo-inspired scenes are rather obvious, from hand-wielded knife slashing to the mysterious identity of the killer. Now, Hammer may have dipped into psychological horror too during the ’70s (Demons of the Mind, Fear of the Night). But The Asylum’s vividly colored lighting, the abandoned building’s semi-gothic vibe and the sprinkled psychedelic visuals still breathe more Mario Bava than anything else.

    If you think this all sounds like a thrill ride as good as it actually looks? Reconsider your thoughts. The acting may have you raising an eyebrow on many occasions. The film’s tone is wildly uneven, mixing a bunch of genres it shouldn’t, much to the confusing effect of making the viewer ripe for the loony bin himself. There’s a murder mystery, some melodrama, attempts at comedy, slasher killings, psychological torment, drug hallucinations, a haunted past, bogus seances and a disfigured priest preaching to a dead congregation. I might have forgotten a few things. How on earth are you going to make all that work, in one movie?

    Not to much success, apparently. Amidst all this, daughter Pitt is trying to figure out who killed her mum, while she might have actually done it herself as a child. Wouldn’t surprise a soul, since she grew up with her whole family – mommy, sister and daddy – on the premises of… the asylum estate itself! Daddy was the overseeing psychiatrist there, in charge of 440 crazies! Any or all of them – four hundred and forty patients! – could have actually killed mommy!

    This movie is quite ridiculously insane. And less exciting than it sounds. The plot is a hotchpotch. Some things are explained with dialogue at the end – like in any good giallo tradition – and some things just aren’t bothered with anymore. Furthermore, the ending makes you go: Okay, now what? Can we see what happens next, please? And at the same time, you’re also glad there isn’t anything more of it and the movie just ended.

    Oh well, its title was appropriate.

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    • First of all, you mentioned some great titles in your intro. I haven’t seen The Ugly since it first came out on VHS and really want to revisit that. And The Sender?!?!? Holy crap is that an underrated classic!

      Your choices are tough ones for me because they have a bunch of elements, namely the cast, that make me want to check them out. But then your reviews make me think I should wait! Either way, I will watch ANYTHING with Ingrid Pitt in there, so I may have to check it out anyway.

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    • I remember stumbling across The Asylum when I was looking for the 1972 Amicus anthology and even though it featured the lovely Pitt ladies, I never bothered to check it out. And now that you’ve put it back on my radar, I’m still not sure I need to but I’m certainly re-intrigued.

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      • Jon ~ I’ll add that, if you like the anthology horror format, Sanitarium has at least the merits of being somewhat refreshing, with the three segments being on par with each other. And some names among the cast, indeed, are a bonus.

        Aaron ~ The Asylum is intriguing enough to warrant a viewing. If not only to see the two Pitt Ladies in one film, than surely also to see where it all misfires.

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  7. GONJIAM: HAUNTED ASYLUM (2018)

    Paranormal investigators check out a haunted asylum, and don’t walk away form the experience.

    I was really hoping for more out of this. Apparently Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital is one of the most over-hyped haunted sites in Korea–kind of like this film. I am not a fan of found footage films because I get kinda queasy and probably should have given this miss anyway. There was a pretty good scene at the end but otherwise the evidence of hauntings were pretty boring.

    AMITYVILLE ASYLUM (2013)

    A young woman gets a job as a cleaner in an asylum.

    First of all, if you have a job interview and you sneeze and get snot all over the interviewer, you should not get get that job. Secondly, if you are poking around into medical files, you should be fired immediately. And third, this hospital’s onboarding and training procedures are the worst. But I am a sucker for anything with the Amityville label slapped on it, the connections to the haunting are ridiculous stretches.

    Okay, so not only do a lot of movies suck, I suck at choosing movies to watch.

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    • Cate…I really hope one of these months you happen upon a couple of really good titles. I feel like you’re the private that has to clean out the latrine with a toothbrush!

      I’m not sure I would watch anything with Amityville in the title, since there are somewhere around 30+ entries in that series, and I’d bet most of them are not worth the time.

      Good luck for next month!

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      • I take solace in knowing that I have seen many good movies, so a lot of ones I have not seen are the bad ones, and that I have better taste in men than I do in movies.

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      • I also watched Gonjian and thought it had a few good moments. I think it probably would have worked a treat in a darkened cinema with a good sound system, but as Cate says there is hardly any new ground being broken here.

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  8. Finally got to my second, so here’s the good and the, er… other.

    MANIACTS (2001): A horror/comedy/drama thing that proved Jeff Fahey had some life in him after THE LAWNMOWER MAN, but the real standouts are his co-star Kellie Waymire and writer/director C.W. Cressler’s story. Two psychopaths meet in an institution run by hideously corrupt officials including Leslie Easterbrook of POLICE ACADEMY fame. This is one of those “root for the maniac” sort of films with a lot of quirk and a lot of heart. The version I watched on Tubi was clearly a crappy VHS rip, which is a real shame, as it was a great movie that deserves a real release. Highly recommended if you’re looking for something a little different.

    ASYLUM OF DARKNESS (2017) Speaking of different… there’s the kind that works and the kind that… doesn’t, much. I have to applaud the ambition of this story which tries to be Lovecraftian and metaphysical but just almost never seems to land either. Right now, I’m watching SUSPIRIA over and over again for an article I’m writing, and what I love about that one is the hallucinogenic dream logic it invokes, so I’d hoped that this film with similar aspirations would land with me. It did not. It has things to recommend like the cool creature makeups (for ultra low budget horror), the attempt at being deep, and the appearance of Richard Hatch from the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and Tim Thomerson from every third movie Charles Band made. But the incredibly slow pace, the often weak script (it has its moments), the melodrama of the story and the fact that neither story nor our main actor seem up to the task at hand made this one fell pretty short for me. However this might be fun for a turkeyfest with friends and several pints of whatever you use to get through such things.

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    • I was always a big fan of Jeff Fahey, but unfortunately he seemed to appear in quite a few less than quality productions. But it sounds like I need to find Maniacts now!

      I would watch almost anything with Tim Thomerson in it. Other than maybe Rhinestone…no matter how bad the movie might be, he always makes me smile. But like Fahey, he always appeared in some pretty shabby productions. Still love the guy.

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      • Thomerson brings his usual grinning gravelly gravitas to the production, but he’s directed to mostly eat and sit around. The ratio Thomerson-to-lead ratio is about 1000:1 which makes sense as it appears that they shot him over two days and allotted two takes per setup. The more road that I get between this film and myself the more I forget about it, meaning that I’m likely going to stumble upon it in two years, read the description, and watch half of it again.

        Also, it’s like two hours long.

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  9. I found the first title on the Chicago Public Library’s streaming service Hoopla, the second I have Mr. Abuchon to thank/blame.

    GONIJAN: HAUNTED ASYLUM (2018)
    d. Jeong, Beom-sik (South Korea)

    Inspired by an article written for CNN Travel, wherein the Gonjian Psychiatric Hospital was tapped as among “10 of the freakiest places around the world,” writer/director Jeong and co-writer Sang-min Park aim fairly low on the creativity scale with this found-footage exploitation piece. “Horror Times” is a web-series that seeks out strange and unusual locations, sending its camera crew in, along with “special guests,” to check them out and record their findings.

    Yes, it’s basically The Blair Witch Project all over again, complete with the actors’ names being the same as the characters, only “live” and employing a multi-camera format. On the one hand, the tried and true formula doesn’t earn many points for originality, yet it manages to create a decent amount of tension, and the final act features several memorable sequences that each earn a gold star and a nod of approval from this viewer.

    The characters are thinly drawn and nearly interchangeable, with the exception being our “director” Seung-wook Lee stationed back at HQ literally running the show from afar, but they all scream loud and long which does generate a certain frisson. (I couldn’t help but wonder how much more effective this would have been in a theatrical setting with a massive sound system as opposed to watching it on my laptop in the middle of the afternoon.)

    On the one hand, it’s just another efficiently made found-footage offering. On the other, it does what it sets out to do. Your mileage may vary depending on your tolerance for shaky-cam and exposure to the first-person subgenre.

    DR. CALIGARI (1989)
    d. Sayadian, Stephen (USA)

    The only non-hardcore offering from the Artist Commonly Known as Rinse Dream is a knowingly cheeky and theatrical presentation, production-designed to the teeth and performed with great artifice and gusto by its go-for-the-throat ensemble. The “concept” sees the famed Dr. Caligari’s (of the 1920 Robert Wiene classic) granddaughter (Madeleine Reynall) having set up shop as a groundbreaking psychiatrist working with a nyphomaniacal patient (Laura Albert) at the behest of her befuddled husband (Gene Zerna). Meanwhile, the other doctors at the clinic, who question Caligari’s taboo-busting methods, seek to have her booted from the staff.

    This simple outline, however, belies the nightmarish, surrealistic vision that Sayadian manifests on what was presumably a relatively small budget, with special notice given to the prosthetics crew. From a giant tongue that lovingly laves one female patient to the six-foot mammaries protruding from another, hardly a scene goes by without some flashy visual that would elicit a stiffie, er, stiff thumbs up from Screaming Mad George, John Carl Buechler, and/or Rob Bottin. The screenplay by the director and Jerry Stahl is filled with flowery arch one-liners that fly trippingly off the lips of the wackadoo characters; while none of it makes a lot of sense, it’s highly quotable material that will have you reaching for the rewind button more than once.

    Unsurprisingly, nudity and sexual themes abound even as the titillation meter barely registers; it’s hard to get aroused when the babe you were just ogling suddenly starts sporting suppurating sores from her stems. As energetic and dynamic as Sayadian’s creation is, the sense of “Look How Weird and Wild We Are” gets a little exhausting within the relatively short 80-minute run time, but it’s impossible not to applaud the effort as a whole. For those whose tastes run to the outlandish, a table-straining banquet awaits.

    Trivia: Composer Mitchell Froom, who also scored Sayadian’s Cafe Flesh and Nightdreams, is better known as the producer for such pop acts as Crowded House, Los Lobos, Indigo Girls, Pearl Jam, Bonnie Raitt, and Suzanne Vega, to whom he was married for a time. (He’s currently hitched to Vonda Shepard.)

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    • Years ago, I remember Stahl being on the radio talking about his new book at the time, Permanent Midnight, about his drug addiction while working as a writer in Hollywood. Around the time of his breakdowns or panic attacks, he was writing for the TV show ALF and had a hallucination of Alf coming into the bathroom he was having an attack in, trying to give him advice.

      So what you’re describing in Dr. Caligari makes perfect sense now.

      And I’m really hesitant on most POV / found footage films these days. They need to be able to blow my socks off. I know I shouldn’t be that way, but they just to be too annoying for me.

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    • Oh man,, I’m so excited that you watched this!! I have a lot I’ll add later, but I challenge anyone who’s seen it to forget DR CALIGARI. It sears itself onto your mind. I love unique films, and love it or hate it, this one stands alone.

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      • I was going to respond to this via email, but what the heck, why not answer it here and let everyone else in on the fun! I first became aware of Rinse Dream courtesy of FAB’s Flesh and Blood Compendium’s article on him. I’ve only seen Cafe Flesh and now this one, but it’s pretty obvious that this is a filmmaker with a unique vision (and a genuine Film Maker). I’m also kind of knocked out by his world-building – as you say, it doesn’t feel like any other movie I can think of. There is a sense of the Capital-E Effort that is being expended, i.e. he might be trying just a tad TOO hard to be Capital-D Different, but it’s the kind of artistry that is appreciated regardless of whether it’s your personal taste or not. I do love the dialogue – I have a feeling I’m going to be watching it again with a finger on the pause button so I can write some of these gems down, especially our electro-shock-loving cannibal man. More than anything, it feels like everyone was working hard (this was clearly rehearsed extensively in order to get all the elements operating in concert) and having a great time, which is infectious and generates a lot of goodwill. I’m sorry it doesn’t have a larger reputation already because it deserves one! Thanks for turning me onto its existence (and providing an easy to find streaming platform upon which to behold its wonders.

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  10. Movie #1 The Brood (1979)

    I’ve honestly only seen a handful of David Cronenberg’s movies, but the ones I have watched have not disappointed. I really enjoyed this one, and I tried to go into it without knowing anything about it. I am surprised to learn that he made this film after his divorce. This movie is eerie, disturbing, and intense. I like how he made the audience aware that sometimes the scariest moments in our lives can come from those closest to us.

    Movie #2 Bedlam (1946)

    A co-worker recommended this one, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Very cool flick! Karloff is so creepy and deceitful. His performance was fantastic. I could completely relate to the leading lady Nell Bowen played by Anna Lee. She was so sassy yet kind and wanted to help the people in Bedlam. I wasn’t expecting the movie to end the way that it did, but I loved it. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I’ll just leave it at that.

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    • You definitely knocked off two classics this month, Ashley! Being a huge fan of Cronenberg’s, The Brood has never been a favorite of mine. But I just re-watched it last year and while it still isn’t one of my favorites of his work, it is pretty effective and like you said, really disturbing in some points.

      As for Bedlam, how can you go wrong with Karloff??? More of a drama really, but the horror comes when you think of what probably happened in places like that way back then. Talk about scary times!

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  11. Was I surprised at the number of movies that are set in asylums that I have not seen. And then I realized why I hadn’t seen them – an unfortunate excess of them are wretched “found footage” types. It was driving me…MAD! But I finally located some suitable candidates. Let’s start with the appropriately titled:

    ASYLUM (2008/USA)

    Ah, the good ol’ college days. I remember well, the nervous anticipation of moving into the dorm, away from home on your own for the first time. Getting settled into you spacious room; your own room – not a roommate in sight. And hey, by the way, the dorm is a refurbished former insane asylum – with a very dark past to boot. But, don’t you worry about it.

    The movie presents 6 very bland troubled students (all with past histories of psychological issues), who release the spirit of a maniacal doctor who cruelly mistreated the patients, and was ultimately killed by them. The “kids” spend the rest of the movie being killed in rather bland and unimaginative ways. This movie wanted so badly to be another “Nightmare On Elm St.”, but the villain just came off as a very weak Freddy Krueger wanna-be.

    If given the choice between shock therapy and watching this movie, opt for the former. You’ll feel better.

    ROOM 33 2009/USA

    At least, this movie had some interesting elements to it. Unfortunately, in the end it couldn’t rise above the “group of people stuck/trapped and picked off one by one by the killer” formula.

    A roller derby team, consisting of 3(!!) skaters (Really! That’s the whole team!) are on a back road, away from civilization when, after picking up a couple who had an accident, they run out of gas. “Luckily” for them they stumble across an abandoned asylum, where they reluctantly agree to spend the night. They run across an enigmatic woman named Roxy. And then the killings start.

    Who is Roxy? What is she doing at this abandoned asylum? Who is the mysterious killer? All the answer can be found in Room 33. I’d tell you, but I like to try to be spoiler free. You’ll just have to suffer though this yourself, if you really want to find out.

    Well, I’ve got to run. I’ve got a trepanation scheduled for 3. See ya next month!

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    • Thanks for the report, Bob, and I’m sorry you couldn’t find a couple of better titles! I have noticed more than a few reports this month of less than stellar titles. Maybe next month with be better?

      I have heard of that particular Asylum movie, but don’t think I’ve ever herd of Room 33. Don’t you hate it when a movie is somewhat decent but the ending just kills it? Oof.

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    • I remember Asylum (2008) actually amused me (when it came out on DVD over here). It’s surely derivative of ANOES, but exactly that aspect I liked about it (in an era where Final Destinations and Saws had been dominating our rental markets). After all, at that time, Freddy Kreuger (still) was a thing of the previous century.

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  12. Movie 1: The Ninth Configuration

    Very atmospheric… I liked how the beginning had an almost comedic tone, but it heavily and quickly sank deep. The flip flopping between who was and who wasn’t mad was done almost with the slickness of Peter sellers changing roles. Ultimately, I thought the ending was rather satisfactory overall. Would definitely watch this again.

    Movie 2: Manhunter

    Was quite strange diving into this one after having seen all of the other installments in Thomas Harris’ saga (excluding television.) But, it was cool seeing this early on version of Red Dragon. I was truly fascinated. All of the things that the later version of Red Dragon tried to make darker and more violent were already really damn violent to begin with. It Red Dragon) really did feel more like an; almost shot for shot remake of Manhunter than a re-imagining, in retrospect as both were very faithful to the source material. I’d have to say I enjoy them both, but the way Hannibal cobbled his phone call in Manhunter versus the way it was done in Red Dragon was a lot more entertaining to watch.

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    • Believe it or not, Erich, I have yet to see The Ninth Configuration myself. Almost watched it this month for my own mission but passed. But I know I need to check it off at some point.

      I have always loved Manhunter, and think it is so much better than Red Dragon, which I really didn’t like. The only reason they made that version was to make money off the Hannibal character. Nope. Really didn’t care for that version, but would take way too long to go into here!

      In Manhunter though, I loved how Lector prods Will how he keeps asking him how did he catch him, knowing Will had to go into a very dark place in his mind to figure him out. And Tom Noonan was SOOO good as Francis Dollarhyde. Damn…going to need to bust this one out again.

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    • Great to see The Ninth Configuration pop on here, Erich. It’s quite a solid gem, especially for those accustomed to a wider range of cinema, I’d say. It’s weird, offbeat and, like you said, atmospheric. It just can’t be categorised or pinned down into one or two genres, but all of it does work astonishingly well together as a whole. And indeed, gives you that feeling (after viewing it for the first time) of knowing you’d like to watch it again at some point.

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  13. All this replying and here I almost forget to post my own movies! I must say that I had to steal a couple of titles from other soldiers that I hadn’t seen before, but at least I checked them off my least.

    Gothika (2003) – I remember the reviews for this when it came out not being too good, so skipped it. But getting to it now, not sure why. Okay, so it is not a GREAT movie, but does have a great cast. A decent enough story to keep you guessing and I think well done for the most part, especially coming from Hollywood.

    Maniacts (2001) – Okay this one, I put the blame on Mr. AuBuchon for making me watch this! Then again, I guess all of you could say the same about me and some of your choices! While I am a big fan of Jeff Fahey, he pretty much walks through his role here. Kellie Waymire, the female lead, was at least entertaining to watch. But honestly, not much more than that could keep me interested. Yes, as Aaron says, it is a wild and weird movie. Just not one that really held my attention.

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    • Hey Jon, how come you’re such a big Jeff Fahey fan? Any film(s) in particular that left an impression, perhaps some I haven’t seen either. For me, I usually think of him in films like Body Parts (1991) and Serpent’s Lair (1995) because those were among the first I saw him in, having a leading role. But if you’re a fan and like to see him play a villain, I’d say check out Darkman III: Die Darkman Die (1996). He’s fun, playing it slightly over-the-top, as Darkman’s new adversary (since Larry Drake bit the dust in the the 2nd film).

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      • Honestly Gert…I don’t know. I first remember him from Psycho III, playing a real dirt bag, but then probably from Body Parts. He doesn’t have a huge career in the genre, but just always liked him. I do remember seeing him in the Darkman film, even though that was supposed to be the second one but everyone wanted Larry Drake back sooner so they made that part 2 instead. Plus, he was fun in Planet Terror as well.

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  14. This month’s mission was more difficult for me than I expected. Early in the month I viewed DR. CALIGARI (1989) on fellow fiend Aaron AuBuchon’s recommendation, a film I had long been seeking. While Aaron and AC have already written at length about, I’ll simply echo their reviews by saying it’s a one-of-a-kind viewing experience and one you won’t easily forget.

    With one mad movie screened I thought I was well on my to completing this mission early for once. Boy, was I wrong! Try as I might nothing else seemed to click with me. I had previously seen many films in this subgenre and trying to find something that scratched that nagging itch in the back of brain was frustrating me to no end.

    I tried sitting though DOOM ASYLUM (1988), an annoying film for Patty Mullen completists only, and SLAUGHTER HOTEL (1971), a somnambulic slasher starring Klaus Kinski, Rosalba Neri and directed by Fernando Di Leo. These three often get high marks for me, but to my continuing despair, it did nothing to catch my attention.

    Days passed, life gets in the way like it always does and, with only a day left to make my report, I ran screaming to Tubi. It’s here that I found in a literal search for “madness” that I found THE CHAMPAGNE CLUB (2002).

    This film plays as a mix of elements from LESS THAN ZERO (1987) and LA GRANDE BOUFFE (1973) in its story about an artist and a few friends retreating from the pressures of artificiality found in the celebrity art world to solitude in a remote mansion, losing their inhibitions, identities and sanity along the way.

    The film is a slow boil, playing as a Skinimax After Dark movie for the first half of its running time. What soon follows is an unsettling descent to the bottom. To say much more would spoil its spell. Sadly, the presentation streaming on Tubi is a poor quality video rip, while watchable, certainly diminishes the impact. The only film of director Joao Machado (so far), THE CHAMPAGNE CLUB is an underseen little gem lost amid the direct-to-video dreck that prevails on so many streaming services, but it’s a film that will resonate with those curious enough to take the plunge.

    Now I’m off to ice my sparking brain. Here’s hoping next month’s mission will be something simple like Sequels, or horror movies that start with “S”, or movies about Vampires, or… or… or…

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  15. While it has been decades, if I remember correctly, Christopher Young’s first score was for Doom Asylum. And I’ll watch ANYTHING with Rosalba Neri in it. Reminds me… I probably need to watch Lady Frankenstein again…

    But I do appreciate the hard work you showed this time out, Ken. In fact, that is the one real treat I get out of reading everyone’s mission reports, is the wide range of titles being watched, from classics to obscure ones that I hadn’t even heard of. Well done people!

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