Saturday, May 4, 2013
Trifecta Of Terror! : "The Books Of Doom Derby"
If you're not familiar with the Trifecta series, you can learn the ropes HERE. Basically, I choose three films with a similar topic or like-minded idea that would compliment each other for a quiet afternoon of horror, or an evening with nachos and friends.
I then have a virtual "race" with the three films coming in first (the "win" film), second (the "place" film) and third (the "show" film).
Today we are highlighting nasty books. Well, films about nasty books. So I'm naming this one the Books of Doom Derby!
Billed as "the most ferociously original horror film of the year" back in 1981, The Evil Dead is the brain child of now-famed director Sam Raimi. A bare bones story about a group of friends who discover an ancient evil in the woods surrounding an isolated cabin uses a fast-paced shaky cam, gruesome effects, and at times, wildly humorous acting to make this film near and dear to so many genre fans' hearts.
Ash (Bruce Campbell) and four friends arrive at the typical cabin in the woods for a little weekend getaway. Straight off one can certainly see this is not going to be your average spring break. The cabin reeks creepy, and the film wastes no time getting to the action. The group, after exploring the (vast) basement, finds a book bound in human flesh and written in blood, as well as a recording that summons ancient Sumarian demons from the woods outside. The book, called the Necronomicon "Naturon Demonto" - is loosely translated as The Book of the Dead. Which is something you should never (EVER) even remotely try to read and/or translate. Yikes. Needless to say, they do. Which causes the demons in the woods to come alive and wreak havoc - turning Ash's friends into possessed zombie-like demons who spew liquids of every color and consistency. Ash is one of the great heroes of horror and this little low-budget gem is the film that started it all!
Another film from the great year of 1981, Lucio Fulci's masterpiece a.k.a The Seven Doors of Death tells the story of Liza, a young woman who inherits the Seven Doors Hotel in the bayou of Louisiana. Little does she know the hotel is built over one of the seven gateways to hell. Nice. Fulci gives us a ton of gore (including his trademark eyeball gouging) and goo, as well as a rather incoherent plot at some points. But it matters not, as this feature is widely considered to be Fulci's best. The book in question within this movie is The Book of Eibon - a tome used frequently in Lovecraftian tales - which implores "Woe beyond to him who opens one of the seven gateways to hell… because through that gateway, evil will invade the world!” If that isn't an anti-Hallmark greeting I don't know what is. Probably the best part of The Beyond is that it is fairly unpredictable. Which is no doubt because much of it doesn't make sense. Not that that is a bad thing. Even with the plot being all over the place, you have a perfect combination of gore and confusion that is so popular in Italian horror. There are face-eating tarantulas, face-melting lye, impalings, nasty eye removals, blown-off heads, ripped out throats...should I go on?
Roman Polanski is certainly better known for his other films (Rosemary's Baby, The Tenant, Repulsion, among others), but for me, one of my greatest guilty pleasures is this Johnny Depp vehicle about rare book dealer Dean Corso (Depp) whose client recently acquired a book known as 'The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows', supposed to be one of three known copies. His client (the always charismatic Frank Langella) believes two of the three copies to be fakes, so he sends Corso on a quest to discover the truth. The catch is, the book is supposedly written by the devil himself, and reading from it can summon Lucifer. (Why do people feel the need to be this stupid? Seems to happen a lot...) The film takes viewers to various locations around the globe trying to authenticate the devilish tome, and along the way Corso meets many a foe intent on stopping his investigation - not the least of which may be the enigmatic client. Certainly one of the better "books of doom" films out there, it is an atmospheric jaunt with a great cast and a fun plot. If you haven't seen it, check it out.