Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dr. AC's Rec of the Week (D)

Greetings, blood brothers and sisters!

Time to once again delve into the elusive vaults of horror, unearthing forgotten gems and undiscovered treasures. Hope you've been enjoying the expedition thus far!

This week, we'll take a look at a pair of underrated, underviewed flicks from the 70s and 80s that deserve a little more love...

Don’t Open the Door (1975)
S. F. Brownrigg, who brought us the micro-budget cult classic Don’t Go in the Basement, returns with a (slightly) larger budget, improved camera skills and several DGITB cast members. When Susan Bracken receives a strange phone call from her Texas hometown requesting that she come home to visit ailing grandmother Rhea MacAdams, she enters a world of duplicitous politicians, scheming museum curators, and questionable physicians, as well as a cross-dressing psychopath with a penchant for nasty phone calls. From the opening credits featuring some of the most grotesque children’s dolls on record to the hallucinogenic dream sequences, Brownrigg manages to create a disconcerting, Southern Gothic flavor that will leave most viewers feeling as dirty as the sweaty onscreen characters. Haunted by flashbacks of her mother’s murder in the same house 13 years prior coupled with the peeping tom/obscene phone harassment, Bracken is soon pushed to the brink of her wits, with only ex-boyfriend Hugh Feagin to offer aid. Bare bones as all get out, but the twisted storyline – along with the convincingly eccentric performances, especially from Larry O’Dwyer and Gene “cut those damn three hairs off your forehead” Ross – manages to carry the day. Well worth checking out for open-minded fans of 70s sleaze.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow, The (1981)
Extraordinarily creepy TV-movie featuring Charles Durning as a vengeful postman in a small farming town, out to rid the burg of the “blight” of its resident village idiot Bubba (a pre-L.A. Law and Dr. Giggles Larry Drake). When a child is mauled by a neighbor’s dog and turns up unconscious and bloodied, Durning gathers a lynch mob of his toadies to ruthlessly shoot Bubba down, firing-squad style. However, when the men go free in a miscarriage of legal justice, the same scarecrow the simpleton made his final hiding place begins to turn up in the fields of the killers, with bloody vengeance following soon after. Helmed with panache by Frank De Felitta, the performances are strong throughout and a memorable ending you’ll never see coming. A legit DVD release is in the imminent future – you’ll have your chance to revisit it or check it out this small-screen classic for the first time.

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