criminal cats and lots and lots of fur: a 2017 horror roundup

I've been watching a lot of horror movies lately.

That in itself isn't unusual at all … if I had to name a genre I preferred, that would be it. But it's been a while since I've seen a tragic, painful horror film that really took me to another time and place.

That's to say, I've really enjoyed recent finds like Deathgasm, even though the bass player looks very much like a fairly well known metal bass player that tried, quite unsuccessfully, to major in classical guitar while I was in school. Some years later, he committed suicide. That memory just added a sad dimension to an otherwise generally hilarious film – one with some clear camera homages to Sam Raimi and Army of Darkness in particular. At least, I thought so.

I Had a Bloody Good Time at House Harker is another film that uses horror as a medium with which to deliver humor. If I dare say, I had a pretty bloody good time watching it.

Then there's the Italian Cat Horror genre, with such illustrious entries such as these:

  • The Black Cat: Gatto nero in which the cat really is the best actor in the film. I haven't seen anyone act that well with their eyes alone since Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs.
  • Crimes of the Black Cat which is actually a really entertaining film and not even in the meta-sence in which observing the film itself is what's interesting. Rather, the film and its plot are what's interesting with a Sherlock Holmes inspired, blind jazz pianist who decides to take on cat crimes.

And while not an Italian flick, I need to give a shout out to Uninvited where a cat is basically an exaggerated version of the little "monsters" that all cats really are. I even got the guys at the bar to play it a few weeks ago when they were looking for something to put on. A few of us got a kick out of laughing along with the film late on a Sunday night.

For the palindromists in the audience, there's 1983's Frightmare about people who take on an evil ex-horror film star. If you watch it backward, it would be a film about an ex-horror film star who takes on evil – also known as 1985's Fright Night.

But back to the film that really took me back and left me crushed.

Wolf Girl from 2001.

IMDB image of Wolf Girl poster

It was actually painful enough to watch that, even though I saw it a few months ago, I avoided blogging about it. And even now, I've clearly padded this post with tidbits about other films so I can avoid thinking too much about Wolf Girl.

There's not much to say other than I'd recommend this film to any true fan of the horror genre. Ultimately, I'd say it's about the price one pays for being different and the bigger price that can come with trying to be "normal" – given that no one really is.

Victoria Sanchez is wonderful – she manages to be beautiful and sympathetic despite her appearance. The time and place of the film are contemporary but still nebulous. It provides a great contrast with the definitive, old-world feel of the traveling circus of which Sanchez's character, Tara, is a part.

Like Tara, the circus itself is also also a "freak". But unlike Tara, it's at home with itself. And it's found a way to function in society by existing on its fringes and exploiting that as a means of livelihood.

A little twist at the end of the film made it less predictable than the otherwise inevitable ending, but it wasn't gimmicky at all. It just makes the story and Tara's arc that much more tragic. It's a melancholy reminder of the sacrifices that so many "different" people have to make in order to function within the so-called "norms" of society. 4 fangs (out of 4).

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