Everyone has their staples for Halloween watching, like John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and “Nightmare Before Christmas.” But be forewarned, gentle reader, because your master of Scarimonies (God, I sound like the Crypt Keeper), Dukey Flyswatter, will suggest some gems and themes that may have flown drastically under your radar, like a schizophrenic Vampire Bat.
Week One: Horror Anthology Films. Often referred to in Europe and England as Portmanteau films, they contain a selection of stories during the course of a normal feature running time.
Thursday Oct.6th “Torture Garden” (1967)
Director: Freddie Francis, Stars: Peter Cushing, Jack Palance, Burgess Meredith and Beverly Adams.
Author Robert Bloch, best known for “Psycho,” once more adapts several of his short stories for Amicus Pictures (previous films are “Tales From The Crypt” and “The House That Dripped Blood”). This adaptation had various drips and drabs of success, but ultimately, it’s just plain fun. Carnival impresario Doctor Diablo scares his patrons with mock executions, then offers them real terror if they dare to stare into the shears of fate.
The shears of fate brings them face to face with unlikely but entertaining epitaphs. Prepare yourself for a cat demon with a taste for human heads, a piano possessed by the spirit of a jealous mother, a girl who would do anything to be a movie star, and in the best and last story, two die-hard fans of Edgar Allan Poe obtain the ultimate collection for a steep price. Palance gleefully chews the scenery, but the other actors keep it under control, and Freddie Francis keeps the pace flowing. I saw it at a theater that gave me the last of their promotional Fright Seeds that you were supposed to plant at night after the film. They turned out to be ordinary grass seeds. However, I bet you could get a good price for them on eBay.