Final Thoughts On Pure Terror

September 26, 2015 at 7:28 pm Leave a comment

Having reviewed all 50 movies in the Pure Terror set, you would think I had said all that can be said on this topic. I would like to put a bow on my thoughts in regard to this project that has taken me 3 years to complete. I started out wanting to do 50 movies in 31 days. That was delusional. Maybe some people can having these movies playing constantly in the background while they do other things over the course of a month but I find it hard to believe anyone could sit down and really pay attention to all of these movies and knock them out quickly. I had a hard time staying awake during several of these movie. One of them I accidentally reviewed twice without knowing it. I was really trying to give all of these movies their proper respects and it took me 3 years. Just saying.

October is right around the corner and this is the time of year when stores throw out whatever horror movies they have in the warehouse and put them front and center on display for all of the people who want to watch a scary movie this haunting season. That’s how I came into the Pure Terror box set. A month before Halloween, for $10 at K-Mart, with low rent Edward Cullen on the cover just to make sure they put a time stamp on the damn thing. Mill Creek has several of these sets and no doubt you will find them reasonably priced at your local big box store. I am here to warn you, people. This set may not be for everyone.

If you consider yourself a normal movie goer, looking for some movies to put on during a Halloween party, and you’re on a budget, this set might not be for you.  Even if your goal is to just put on some Svengoolie level film to create some atmosphere, this set might not be for you. Better than half of these movies aren’t even horror movies. My favorite film on the set, Hands of Steel, definitely isn’t a horror movie. Although an Italian Terminator meets Over The Top may be amusing for your Halloween party guests, that’s probably not what you are going for.  Of the movies that are horror movies, many of them are poorly dubbed, full of nudity, and graphic violence against women. Imagine what your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and significant other will think of you when you put on a movie like The Thirsty Dead. Sounds like a fun zombie movie but actually it’s nothing but female breasts, horrid acting, and a slower than molasses plot. You’re going to look like a creep to these people. And if you’re goal is to cut contact with everyone in your life, then showing them these movies will probably accomplish that goal. Point being, there are few movies in this set that a normal person would even call a “movie”. My Mother’s a Werewolf is probably the one most likely to appeal to mainstream viewers. Other movies to that end would be Werewolf of Washington, Crucible of Horror, The Sadist, and Double Exposure (although the last one might have had some nudity, I don’t quite remember.) Even things with the words ‘vampire’ or ‘Frankenstein’ in the title tend to be an excuse to show breast, poorly made, or star Paul Naschy (Spanish John Belushi) a man you will be very familiar with by the time this set is over. Point being, you probably shouldn’t bother with this set. I will be reviewing The Legends of Horror box set this year. Maybe that will be a little more up to the tastes of a mainstream viewer.

If you happen to be a fan of bad movies, this set is a must have. Several of these films were featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. I bought the set mostly because it had an un-mystied version of Manos: The Hands of Fate. If you were a fan of that show or a fan of bad movies in general, that alone is worth the price of this set. Some of these movies were featured on The Cinema Snob, if you are familiar with his work then you know how awesome these movies are. There are movies on this set that even hardcore b-movie fans may not have seen. If you are the kind of person who is amused by movies that are so bad their good, then this is right up your alley. You will have so much fun watching these film on a bad movie night with friends. Although, I will warn you, some of the movies are pretty brutal, even by bad movie standards. Scared to Death is one that comes to mind, since I watched it fairly recently. There are other movies on this set that I don’t remember watching, much less reviewing. That isn’t a ringing endorsement. If you are this kind of viewer, then you really have to see They Saved Hitler’s Brain, Curse of Bigfoot, Frankstein ’80, and The Amazing Transparent Man. Hands of Steel is another one you are going to love and is easily the best movie on this set.

The other type of viewer I have referenced often in my reviews have been film students. Pure Terror will not teach you how to make a good horror movie. Quite the opposite. If you follow the examples set by the movies on this set, you will be laughed out of Hollywood as an out of touch, dated hack. But I feel like film students today can gain a lot from watching these movies. Not just to learn what shouldn’t be done in a movie but to apply what they are learning about writing, production, and directing to imagine what they would do to improve these movies. Also to see what was able to be done in the far distance past on a very low budget. I can’t imagine one of these movies had a budget higher than half a million dollars. All were shot on film, and you know how much that costs. Now days with digital film making getting better than ever, you can make movies at least as good as any of the ones I had seen for probably less money than the original production. These film makers did do some things right. In some of these movies, they managed to pull off an effective practical effect that looked really good. They used few locations to keep costs down. They used visual storytelling, camera movement, and performance to build tension. You can study how stilted some of the dialogue was and used that to help improve your own writing. Also take notice of when the dialogue worked, which happens every now and again in these movies. Notice the difference between painfully slow pacing and tension building pacing. Both are on display in different movies of this set. Sometime the difference between a laughably bad horror movie and a low budget cult classic is taking another pass on the script. Monstroid might be the best example I can think of off the top of my head. They had some decent actors with credentials in that movie, i.e John Carradine, among others. They had an effects budget, which is more than a lot of these movies had. How well they made use of it, I will leave up to you. They filmed in an exotic location outside the United States. The writing was just not very good. The bare bones of the story was lake monster terrorizes a small town. That’s not too far off from Jaws although this movie is not in the same league as Jaws. That can largely be blamed on the writing and directing. So think of what you could do to make that movie better. Then go out and make that better movie. They were able to do it back in 1972, why can’t you do it in 2015? Raising money is easier than it was in those days, although still pretty difficult. Still, someone was able to come up with the money to make Monstroid. It’s widely available on DVD. If they were able to do it, then so can you with whatever project you have in mind. And you could make a movie that could launch a career by learning of their mistakes and most importantly, learning and respecting your craft.

It’s been a hell of a ride but it’s time to close the book on Pure Terror. My final thoughts are for the producers of this box set. Why are so many of these movies not horror movies? Is it that hard to come up with 50 low budget, horror movies which fall into grey areas of copyright law? I paid for a set of horror movies. What is with all of these mystery and thriller movies? Also, could you please watch the movies before writing a blurb about them? So many of the blurbs written in the book that came with the set and on imdb are misleading or false. If you really want me to watch these movies, could you at least do me the courtesy of watching them first? Finally, keep putting out sets like this. These amazing, obscure movies are really a joy, even when they are painful. I never know what I am going to get when I put in one of these movies and that surprise really is worth the modest price of these box sets.

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