Well, Here we are again Friends and Fiends…It’s October and with it comes my annual tradition of watching at least 1 horror movie every day and sharing my thoughts with you, dear readers. This year, i flipped back and forth between various theme ideas, finally settling on…none. This year will be made up of small quick reviews of the films, and at least one longer review a week. In the interest of paying Tribute to the recently departed Master of Horror, These longer reviews will for the most part be centered around his films. I’ll Update this post accordingly as the month progresses.
Oct 1: Trick ‘R Treat (2007)
When you are a kid, the required viewing is Monster Squad and Ernest Scared Stupid. When you reach your teens, it’s Halloween and Trick R Treat. Nothing gets me more in the mood for my favorite Holiday than this film. After 8 long year, It is finally getting a long overdue sequel and I could not be happier. Long live Sam!
Oct 2nd: Sorority House Massacre (1986)
A perfect film for those of you who felt that Slumber Party Massacre was too feminist. It has more Boobs than Slumber Party, and more shoulder pads than The Road Warrior. Have you ever heard the term “80’s Hot”? It means someone who was allegedly a total knockout in the 80’s but who looks anywhere from “Average” to “like a Dumpster fire” now. Familiarize yourself with this term…it will come in handy for viewings
Oct 3: Piranha 3D (2010)
No excuses, I was up all night drinking and taking drugs, and I wanted to watch something fun. Jerry O’Connell plays a fantastic unlikeable douchebag, and Porn Stars make great horror fodder because they have no problem getting their tits out and being ripped open. Shame about the Brittish chick though…she genuinely seemed to like Jake and was totally rad…not like Kelly. Damn she sucked. Shitty creature features. And how great was Christopher Lloyd??? Actually pretty sub-par as far as acting goes…but c’mon, it’s Doc!
Oct 4: They(2002)
AKA Wes Craven Presents: They. I wanted to watch some Craven, and grabbed this one by what can only be described as drug hangover error. Fuck this movie. Fuck the annoying girl who stars in this movie and fuck the writers for making something as horrible as Night Terrors into something this lame.
Oct 5: Cursed (2005)
Alright, now we correct the wrong. Wes Craven can not only be considered one of the Masters of Horror, but also the Master of modern Meta-horror. New Nightmare and Scream were groundbreaking in bringing a self awareness to Horror cinema that had been largely absent except for when done as parody. Cursed id a film where Craven tries to do for Werewolves what Scream did for Slasher films, and what New Nightmare did for the notion of still being scared by films. The problem is that if fell way short of the mark. Production issues and changes to the tone that worked so well in Scream are mostly to blame, but despite all of this, I believe there is still enough going on to call this a good movie. It begs the question of what happens when Werewolf shit starts happening in a world where not only are the players fully aware of Werewolf movies, but they are within Hollywood themselves. Not exactly actors, but Entertainment agents, publicists, Night Club owners and the like. The self awareness is on point, but there is a level of pessimism and snarkiness that kills it. The acting is fine i suppose, certainly not oscar worthy, but believable for what it is. The look of the Werewolf is about what you would expect, but the CGI is pretty abysmal. This is an example of why CGI needed to chill the fuck out for a few more years until it figured out what the fuck it was doing. All in all, I think Wes Craven had great intentions, but if you want a great self-aware Werewolf movie, go watch The Howling and see it done much better.
Oct 6: The Innkeepers (2011)
This was an oddly fun little paranormal film. High in charm but low on common sense sums it up nicely. I found myself thinking several times that the film needs more black people to point out that investigating that strange noise or poking around that dark basement might not be a good idea. Dumb white people doing dumb white people things.
Oct 7: Grave Encounters (2011)
I think it may actually be impossible for me to watch this movie in the light. Anytime I’ve gotten around to watching it, it has been in the middle of the night, and pitch black. Once I even watched it in a Cabin in the Woods, with no cell reception. Talk tough all you want, but that’s kinda scary. Grave Encounters is a found footage piece centering around a film crew who attempt to film a ghost hunting tv show within an allegedly haunted old asylum. As I’m sure you can all guess, the crew befalls ghostly shenanigans and cameras are able to capture most of it on film. If you like FF Horror films, this will delight you by making great use of the setting (filmed in the Riverview Mental Hospital in Coquitlam BC), and simple effects to elicit scares. If you don’t like FF films, or are on the fence, fuck it…give it a go anyway and you might just be converted. As as aside, at some point in the future, I hope to go exploring the abandoned Riverview Hospital at night with my friends Stephanie and Matt. It should be an awesome time and hopefully plenty of opportunities to scare the shit out of ourselves.
Oct 8: Dawn of The Dead (1978)
The Romero classic that inspired a thousand “Zombie-Apocalypse-Plans”. This gem is high on social commentary, and equally high on gore FX. After splitting with NOTLD partner John Russo, and losing the rights to the “Living Dead” franchise, Russo bounced back with quite possibly the most influential Zombie film of all time. Thanks to a partnership with Dario Argento, this classic film has a truly haunting score by Goblin and was released internationally as Zombi, which leads us to…
Oct 9: Zombi 2 (1979)
Alright, so Fulci was already working on Zombie Flesh eaters at the time when Dawn of the Dead was released internationally as Zombi to great success. In an effort to cash in on this, Fulcis film was tweaked slightly and re titled Zombi 2. This unofficial sequel has nothing to do with the original, aside from both depicting Zombies. Years later Fulci began work on Zombi 3 (but due to health issues had to hand direction over to Bruno Mattei), and even though this time they intended it to be a sequel to Zombie Flesh Eaters, the two films once again had nothing to do with the other aside from both featuring Zombies. Confused? Just wait…certain countries or distributors would release even further unrelated films as Zombi sequels, sometimes even films with no Zombies in them at all. The best has to be the America imprint T-Z videos, in the 90’s they released Zombie(Zombie Flesh Eaters), Zombie 2(the exact same film again), Zombie 3: Return of the Zombies(aka The Hanging Woman, 1973), Zombie 4: A Virgin Among The Living Dead(1973), Zombie 5: Revenge of the House Of Usher (1982), Zombie 6:Monster Hunter(aka Absurd, 1981, a pseudo sequel to Anthropophagus, and having nothing to do with Zombies), and finally…Zombie 7 (aka…Anthropophagus, 1980, and still having nothing to do with Zombies. After all that mess, this still remains an awesome film. The Zombie effects are great, the Zombie March score by Fabio Frizzi is amazing, the splinter in the eyeball gag is stomach churning, and the iconic scene where a Zombie and a Shark duke it out may be the coolest fucking scene ever put to film.
Oct 10: Creepshow (1982)
Stephen King teaming up with George Romero can’t help but be campy over the top brilliant fun, and that is exactly what this film is. I’ve always said I would have preferred if the Creep had taken a more active role as a host/story teller, but I can always watch Tales From The Crypt for that. No Halloween is complete without this film.
Oct 11: The Editor(2015)
Astron 6 score yet again with their over the top satirical send up to the Italian Giallo films. If you aren’t in the know, go watch The Hatchet Murders, and A Blade in The Dark(my personal favorites). This is a tale of Murder and intrigue on a film set where figurative and literal backstabbing is the order of the day. Caught up in the middle of this is a brilliant film Editor fallen from Grace and a…troubled detective who is determined to get to the bottom of things. along the way there is more slaps to the face of women and hilariously awkward sex scenes than you can shake a black leather glove at. It’s brand new, but will surely be a new Halloween classic!
Oct 12: Friday the 13th IV(1984)
Nothing screams Halloween more than putting on a mask and going door to door slaughtering teens for having the sex that you aren’t having. Whenever stores go into “Halloween Mode” for the season, there will always be 3 constants, Pumpkins, Candycorn, and cheap knock off Hockey masks. Michael Myers might have a film series named for the Holiday, but sheer body count and overall campiness of the series gives the crown to the real King, Jason Voorhees!
Oct 13: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors (1987)
After the failed experiment of making Freddy a body-jumping metaphor for homosexual urges in Part 2, Wes Craven supplied a story that brought Freddy back to where he belonged. Here we start to see the emergence of the wisecracking jokester that Kreuger would become best known for, while still being a terrifying figure as well. As interesting or laughably bad as any of the Nightmare films are, the real magic comes from watching Never Sleep Again: The definitive Nightmare on Elm Street documentary. The behind the scenes stories from this series are incredible!
Oct 14: The Omen(1976)
Haight-Ashbury mysticism turned dark in the 60’s and begat Psychedelic Satanism, which evolved into full blown Satanic panic in the US during the 70’s and 80’s. As such, the world received 3 fantastic films involving children falling under the influence of Ol’ Scratch, The Exorcist(ok, so it was Pazuzu, but the fucker called himself the Devil, and so that’s what audiences took away from the film), Rosemary’s Baby, and The Omen. If you have never seen this film, do yourself a favor and watch it…but then be prepared to finally recognize what a thousand other films or tv shows have made reference to before. Just like the seed of satan himself, this film has sneakily infiltrated our collective Pop-culture subconscious and is working it’s dark influence over us all.
Oct 15: Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight(1995)
Holy shit, Billy Zane is incredible! Why the fuck did he not become a bigger star? Oh yeah…because he did “The Phantom”. Well, here we have what may be his finest role before, or since. Watching this movie is like a never-ending game of “Hey, it’s…”. Nearly the entire cast either went on to much greater roles, or used to have greater roles…a real group of “usedtobes” and “Notyets”
Oct 16: The Final Girls(2015)
Can’t say enough good things about this film! I went into it expecting a self aware Horror comedy that had enough tributes to slasher classics to keep me interested the whole way, but what i got was a subplot with a surprising amount of emotional depth. The film follows Max, a young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, who finds herself and friends pulled into the world of her mom’s most famous movie “Camp Bloodbath”. We’ve seen Meta-Horror quite a lot these days, but this still felt fresh and authentic…even if slashe “Billy” resembles something from Clubb Dread more than Friday the 13th. My only complaint is some of the camera angles and movements were a little too…assholeish…I want to say. Maybe they were trying to duplicate the bad 3D photography of Friday the 13th part 3…or maybe the Cinematographer is just a complete fuckhead.
Oct 17: The People Under The Stairs(1992)
Wes Craven movies are like pizza and sex. When they are good, they are REALLY good! When they are bad…eh, they are still pretty good…and I’m still going to finish. The People Under The Stairs was supposed to be a “New Kind of Horror Film”, a socially conscious update to the Haunted House story by way of Urban Karma. Confused? so is this movie, everyone involved, and most who have seen it. I first saw this film when I was far too young to understand things like poverty, Racial oppression, what the word Nigger meant, what a Ghetto was or why people just milled around in hallways of said Ghetto doing drugs while dogs fought to sexy saxophone music, and I certainly didn’t understand why anyone would wear a full body Gimpsuit. Despite all this, my young self thought this was a frightening film full of peril and menace. Adult me has a bit more to say… The idea of a Haunted House with no actual ghosts is intriguing, especially with hidden doors, secret passageways, people living in the walls… but the execution of the whole thing feels like a Zany Cartoon. You’ve got a young boy breaking into his landlords home to steal a gold coin collection, only to find out he has stumbled into a Madhouse of incest, child abuse, cannibalism and religious fanaticism…and mutilated children penned up in the basement. Everett McGill is a fucking treasure as “Daddy” and is genuinely the best thing that could have possibly happened to the film. The story makes little sense, the dialogue is horrid, and his character wears a gimp suit to hunt one of the children who now lives in the walls, but McGill plays it super serious and puts so much spirit into the role. Most of his screen time is spent in a gimp suit and screaming in rage, or getting his ass kicked by one of the Mighty Ducks.
The intended message gets lost very quickly, but we are left with a fun film all the same. If someone were to try and pitch this movie today, they would be laughed out of every studio. People Under The Stairs is a relic from an era when Wes Craven was one of the most marketable brands in horror and may be one of his most un-usual films. Here we see his attempt at re-telling a classical fairytale as a R rated 90s horror film. It’s a hard sell, to be sure, but even Craven himself doesn’t take the film to seriously. The People Under The Stairs never quite became the cult classic it deserves to be, but looking back on it now through those trusty Nostalgia Goggles, the themes remain troublingly prescient and perhaps now is the time for the cult to take off.
Oct 18: The Crazies(2010)
I have the tiniest scar on my left forearm. I can really only see it after I’ve tanned up good an proper. I got it in a movie theater when I took my idiot then-girlfriend to see this 2010 remake. She was in such sheer terror that she had my arm in a death grip the entire time and her nails sliced into me. She was the worst. As far as the film goes, it’s decent enough…essentially a zombie outbreak movie dealing with a rapidly spreading virus rather than dead rising from the grave. The best part of the film in my eyes is that the suspension of disbelief is very easy. It’s far fetched, but it all seems like it could happen…or will happen soon.
Oct 19: Howl(2015)
This was a a great build to a disappointing finish. The Plot involves an Overnight Passenger train in england which breaks down and is besieged by Werewolves. Nobody is reinventing the wheel with this film, but it’s simple and effective. The passengers on the train are just fucking terrible to the point where I’m happy when each of them gets chomped. I was particularly excited when I got a glimpse of the creatures. When seen in the shadows with their eyes reflecting moonlight, they look amazing…then they walk into proper lighting and the whole thing goes to fucking hell. Can’t win em all, I suppose…still it’s well worth a watch.
Oct 20: My Bloody Valentine(1981)
True Rules to surviving a Horror movie:
- Avoid Holidays. All of them. Avoid anniversaries of deaths or tragedies…or of anything at all, really.
- Let your teenagers party as much as they want, and let them do it in your home. This way they won’t have to sneak around in remote places to drink, fuck and smoke dope.
- If you are a teenager, BE A TEENAGER. Don’t be one of these mi-late-20’s lookin motherfuckers.
- If your small town has some terrible tragedy in its past, get the fuck out of Dodge. Move to the big city and go back to school. Better yourself.
- If you find yourself in a love Triangle…just tap out. give up, find someone different, you’ll thank me later.
I love this movie. I have nothing more to say aside from the classics become a classic for a reason.
Oct 21: Jacobs Ladder(1990)
Maybe the scariest thing about this film is that Tim Robbins is apparently supposed to be sexy in this. Jacob’s Ladder is an allegorical tale about what happens within our mind when we are near death, by way of a conspiracy/Drug trip/opening the doors to hell film. When you watch it, I swear it’s not that confusing. It was a little annoying when the narrative/timeline would change suddenly though. It leaves us not sure if what we are watching is a flashback, a dream, or the true reality. It all balances itself out in the end and has enough fucked up imagery to keep me entertained…but I’m pretty sure my time would have been better spent by watching Altered States instead.
Oct 22: Zombeavers(2014)
This movie is the best thing to happen to Zombie films in years! Zombies are waaay too over exposed in the current pop culture climate and this is just the film to get me to enjoy the genre again. Everything you assume about this movie is exactly as it plays out. It’s bloody, idiotic, and a fucking blast. Why are you reading about it when you could be watching it?
Oct 23: The Loved Ones(2009)
Very few films can match the utter delight I get from this film. We’ve seen plenty of films with psychotic/incestuous/murdering families, and the tropes are pretty well worn territory. The Loved Ones turns those tropes on their ear by adding the Fairytale Princess angle to the mix and giving us a story that falls somewhere between a Teen Coming of age comedy and a slasher film. Brent is an oh so angsty teen with a lot of emotional baggage who finds himself kidnapped and tortured and by his secret admirer, Lola and her Daddy. Lola and Daddy are amazing, both characters delivering shit-your-pants scary performances while also adding a vulnerable and loving side to their characters, somehow makes them all the more terrifying. What really surprised me is in reading interviews with Robin McLeavy(Lola), she indicates that she hates horror films, saying she is not a fan of the violence or gore. You’d never know it by watching the crazy twisted bitch she portrays on screen…
Oct 24: Chillerama(2011)
Regular readers have likely seen me review this film to death in the past. Simply put, it’s fucking hilarious. If you like classic Horror films, Offensive humor, cum jokes, and Cinematic send ups, and lets’s face it, if you don’t like these things you are reading the wrong blog, then you will love Chillerama. Not only does the film never seem to lose it’s re-watchability, but it may be one of the most quoteable films I’ve ever seen.
You owe it to yourself to have something this fun and weird in your life.
Oct 25: Mr Jones(2013)
This was a weird one. It’s a pseudo found footage film that features some truly creepy scarecrows made by the mysterious Mr. Jones. He’s a recluse and has a creepy house with underground caverns and such…and you’d think from the trailer that this is one of those “Weird guy kills those who snoop around his property” kinda deals…
…yeah…they don’t do that. They pull a Jeepers Creepers and take what started off as a simple and promising plot, throw a huge twist into it and completly lose me. On the plus side we do get some unusual cinematography and interesting portrayals of how the main characters experience nightmares. The movie wasn’t terrible, and I suppose it is worth checking out for yourself…but I was really expecting something different.
Oct 26: Monster Brawl (2011)
For anyone who doesn’t know, Pro Wrestling is my OTHER passion in life, besides Horror. I’ve loved both as long as I can remember, and this past weekend (Oct23rd and 24th) I got to go on tour with the Mouth of the South, Jimmy Hart!
Naturally, I got him to sign my copy of Monster Brawl, and am happy to report that he may be the coolest cat who ever walked the earth. If you are going to have a film that depicts the most famous monsters from the realm of Horror competing against each other in an all out deathmatch to see who will reign supreme, it’s a no brainer to bring along one of the most iconic figures in all of pro wrestling along for the ride as well. Story? Fuck story! Like Pacific Rim, this is a Saturday Morning cartoon come to life. Pour yourself a bowl of Count Chocula and enjoy.
Oct 27: Tales Of Halloween(2015)
Just in time for our favorite Holiday, we have a brand new anthology film featuring ten spooky stories set on Halloween night in the same suburban American town. There isn’t a frame piece like in other anthologies, and I think the film would have benefited from one, or maybe some kind of spooky host…I guess I’m a sucker for the classics. Very quickly the film has garnered such high praise as being “The best Horror Anthology since Trick ‘R ‘Treat” by Fangoria, and “Among the best Halloween themed Horror films ever made” by Dailydead. After seeing for myself, I would have to say the film is very worthy of such high praise. There are certain films that are required viewing every year on Halloween. When you are a kid they are Hocus Pocus and Ernest Scared Stupid, and when you are a teenager and onward, it’s Halloween and Trick R Treat etc. Tales Of Halloween fits nicely between the two, a rare film that is spooky Halloween fun for all ages.
Oct 28: Night of The Demons(1988)
The more I think about it, this may be my favorite Horror film from the 80s. Just the right amount of cheese, Terribly bad dialogue, a kickass soundtrack, well placed nudity, and dripping with Nostalgia. Years later it would be remade, and I am happy as hell to report I have never seen or heard anything about the remake. Do you understand the effort that requires from someone who compulsively seeks out any and all info he can find on any and all Horror films? Despite the fashions, slang, music and tons of other things being dated as fuck, this film still holds up incredibly well because of the party. It’s a mismatched group of friends who get together and party in an old spooky house. It’s a night of scares, booze, dancing and sneaking off to have sex in coffins. How does that not sound like the perfect way to spend Halloween?
Oct 29: The Green Inferno(2013)
It took waaaaaay too long for his film to see a proper release. Im not sure if it was delayed because of content or studio/distribution politics, or whatever…but ever since i heard that Eli Roth would be directing a spiritual successor to Cannibal Holocaust, I’ve been on the edge of my seat waiting for his film. The story is pretty simple, a group of university social justice warriors/aspiring political activists make a trip to the Amazon in n effort to stop a slash and clear operation that was planning to wipe out a specific portion of rainforest as well as the indigenous tribes who dwell within who have supposedly never had contact with outsiders. After their mission is a success, they hop a flight home, only for the engines to fail and the plane to crash. The few survivors are captured by the natives, and treated as hostile invaders. The rest is full on Cannibal Exploitation fun. If you have seen Cannibal Holocaust or Cannibal Ferox, you have a pretty good idea the carnage that waits the poor fools, but rather than balls out flesh eating madness, Roth manages to squeeze in a nice it of commentary about our society as well. The best part by far, was seeing that little Ginger bastard from Spy Kids get ripped apart. Holy shit I could watch that on repeat for days!
Oct 30: Demoni(1985)
Can we all take a minute to appreciate how unintentionally hilarious this movie is? Fuck I love it! Poor dubbing and overacting aside, what really gets me are he group of punks. Their performances and dialogue are amazing. With such gems as “It’s not MY fault, Ripper!!!” delivered in a strange incredulous high pitch, to the manic and cocaine fuelled agro-outburst of “Pick it up! Every last grain!” I can’t get enough of these piles of cheekbones and hairspray. On top of all that, they are snorting cocaine from a Coca-Cola can. Genius! Sheer unadulterated genius!!!
Oct 31: Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch(1982)
What can I say? Fans of Michael Myers hate this film, but it eems to finally have found it’s audience. The spirit of the Holiday drips from very part of his film about Evil druids using a mixture of science and magic to bring back the traditions of Samhain through cursed masks…sort of. I’d be lying if I said this was a great film…in truth, it’s just ok. But it’s got just enough charm and wit to be one of my Halloween staples every year.
This brings to an end my #31DaysOfHorror for this year, and it’s been fun. I had intended to review a few more Wes Craven films, but I just didn’t get round to watching that many. I kept my choices more or less random, depending on my mood at the time. Before this marathon, my posts have been fewer and farther between, and I’ll admit that it’s because I’ve been lazy, and because it sometimes felt like a chore. Doing shorter reviews allowed me to have a bit more fun with the process, so think I may take a similar approach going forward…maybe not shorter per se…but playing around with things more to have fun with it. Stay tuned to see where this leads us. Thanks for reading, and Happy Halloween!