Tuesday, October 10, 2017

31 Days of Spooky Movies 2017

Spooky Films 4:
31 Days More!

The Challenge:

  • Watch a spooky movie every day of October
  • Movies watched during previous years challenges don’t count towards your goal.

Wow! Can you believe I'm already on year number 4 of this challenge? Seems like just yesterday that I started this thing as one of my many attempts to get people to engage with me on Facebook. And now I've been off that damnable site and have also apparently lost my ability to be concise.

I mean, jeez, look at how short and less rambley those old posts are!

In other news, as some may have noticed, I only just got around to creating entries for the last bunch of movies I watched for last year's challenge. In my defense I did go way over par that year. Also life is stupid and between work, and cleaning, and getting enough of a distraction from life to not go crazy, well...one is not left with tons of time or (more importantly) energy.

So perhaps I won't get my posts up in a timely matter, but goshdarnit, I like this challenge too much to not get it done eventually.

I spent a lot of time leading up to October contemplating what exactly counts as a spooky movie. I just can't quite pin it down. Like where is the line between a  Thriller and a Horror movie if they're both about human murderers? Monsters are often a sign of a spooky movie, but also quite common in Fantasy/Adventure.

See what I mean?

I suppose it is a foolish and restrictive exercise to put everything into a box. At the end of the night you've just got to pull a Potter Stewart and go by your gut.

I've rambled enough here, but before I go I should mention that I'm currently working on a couple of things relating to these challenges:
  1. Creating individual posts for the 2014  & 2015 challenges. As mentioned earlier I had initially created the format for the first two years to work as Facebook posts, but now it just makes it hard to look for anything specific.
  2. Making a master list post to contain all the horror movies I've ever watched for these challenges. And then a couple others that group them according to different categories so as to make it easier for people to browse for something they'd be into.

Below you'll find the basic guidelines I use when giving movies their Fright/Gore ratings. And below that you'll find a list of all the movies I've watched for the challenges from years 2014-2016 (with links to their reviews), sorted according to date of original release.

So there you have it my friends! Have a frightfully ominous October, my little Hellraisers...

...if yodare!


--Keep in mind that ratings operate on a sliding scale and things like Execution, Realism, and my own unavoidable Bias all have an affect on the ratings.

However, that being said, these are the basic guidelines I work from.--

Guide to Fright Factor ranking:

0 - You’ve accidentally gotten a horror movie confused with your Yoga workout DVD.

1 - Sure there’s some “spooky” imagery/themes in here, but the same could be said of the Halloween section of a department store.

2 - You have started to feel afraid for the characters in the movie. Because...for the love of God, why are they splitting up? The killer is behind you! LOOK BEHIND YOU!

- The fear of the film has escaped into your real world. You’ll still go in the water, sure, but not with the same carefree abandon you once did.

4 - My door is locked, right? And the windows? I’m just going to go double check. Did...did you hear something? Ha ha...ha...have you seen my baseball bat?

5 - I’m going to need you to hold my hand to ground me in reality please. Just...oh dear sweet baby Jesus...oh, we’re all going to die. Why did I think I was brave enough to watch this?

Guide to Gore Factor ratings:

0 - Rom-com Level gore
You might see such horrors as a sprained ankle or a newly delivered baby!

1 - Monster Level gore
You’ll probably see some ooky-looking monsters. Possibly a touch of blood, perhaps even see a shadow doing something suggestive of violence to another shadow, but you probably really won’t be seeing anything worse than a cut.

2 - “I’m Serious” Level gore
Here you might start to see the film trying to prove that their threat is really serious! They’ll show some some post-attack wounds or some blood sprays, but you’ll never see the actual infliction of the wound UNLESS the weapon is a knife. Horror films love knives so they can have “Oh! He cut her arm that means he’s serious”-kind of stuff, where a fake knife and some blood packets suggest a lot without really showing anything that bad. You might also see something like a person transforming into a monster, a monster transforming into an even oogier monster, someone getting an injection, or even a corpse of some sort.

3 - Witness Level gore
Now we begin to see wounds actually being inflicted. You might see someone get bit or something lobbed off. Probably a fair bit of blood is being thrown around. Maybe even some organs making a brief appearance. The gorier bits are generally very quick though.

4 - WTF! Level gore
At this level the movie is showing exaggerated levels of gore and trying to elicit a visceral reaction from you. It will undoubtedly feature all sorts of over-the-top crazy-ass shit that you really will never see in your lifetime (thank God). Maybe a head will be torn in two, maybe a person eaten alive, perhaps even an unfortunate encounter with some farm equipment or something!

5 - Look Away Level gore
This movie has 100% completely crossed the point of no return and entered the realm of nightmarish blood bath. They are purposefully showing you all the grotesque shit they can think of in order to gross you the fuck out. Expect long-shots of really fucked-up things happening to people, and to be left with not only a queasy stomach, but also a sense that whoever made this movie has some serious issues.

Dead Films















































31 Days of Spooky Movies: We Are What We Are

Day #31

We Are What We Are

Two sisters are reluctant to assume the responsibilities of preserving their family’s tradition of cannibalism. But they are forced to decide where their loyalties lie when a storm uncovers evidence that could expose their secret to the world.

Fright Factor:
2 / 5 

Gore Factor:
2.7 / 5 

Should you Watch It?

I was really, really looking forward to getting to write a rave review for this movie. It does so many things so well! The characters are extremely well thought out and the filmmakers expertly ramp up the tension and suspense...then...

And then they throw it all away for a moment of cheap shock and eww.

...I just...I really hate the end to this movie. I hate it so much. Ugh! It was so close to being perfect! Why did they have to end it like that? Whhhhyyyy?

I don’t even know what else to say.

99% fantastic slow-burn, psychological horror movie that uses cannibalism as a means for talking about the difficulties of trying to break away from oppressive/abusive families and/or traditions. With great characters and backed up with a great cast.

1% just gosh-awful ending that destroys everything it built and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

“What if we just refused to do it? We just...we just stopped?

...he would make us, wouldn’t he?”

Monday, October 9, 2017

31 Days of Spooky Movies: The Witch

Day #30c

The Witch:
A New England Folk Tale

A family in 17th century New England is banished from the puritan plantation they called home. They seek to build a new life for themselves in the wilderness, but their efforts are plagued by the a witch in the nearby forest.

Fright Factor:
2 / 5 Prideful Christian Fathers

Gore Factor:
2.8 / 5 Dead Animals You Found In the Woods

Should you watch it?

Oddly I don’t have a lot to say about this one.

It was certainly more of an atmospheric movie than I was expecting. And very rarely did it ever try to actively leverage that atmosphere into generating any real scares. As such, I’d say it’s much more of a spooky movie than a horror movie.

For the most part it’s a great looking film and I really liked how they lit a lot of the scenes. The cast does a great job. Technically there’s not a lot I can complain about too much.

...well, the cuts that seemed to suggest that the son was having some incestuous thoughts about his sister were a bizarre choice, but that’s about it.

And yet...I dunno. I just couldn’t bring myself to really care much about the story.

More than anything I found myself getting annoyed at the film for continuing to focus on the character of the witch. The most interesting parts of the movie for me were when the father (played by Ralph Ineson) was the antagonist and the way his attempts to save his family’s souls were actually serving to corrupt everyone.

Sure the witch keeps fucking with them throughout the movie, but majority of their problems were due to the father and his overabundance of pride.

His pride got his family banished. His pride caused him to lie and let his kids take blame for things he had done. His pride stops him from acknowledging that he isn’t a good enough farmer or hunter to provide enough food for his family.

(Speaking of which, what kind of crappy subsistence farmer plants one crop? Sure, he had a couple of real tiny plots of other little things, but was pretty much just growing corn. He wasn’t even going the three sisters’ route by adding some squash and climbing beans into the mix. It might as well have been modern day. Was he getting subsidies from the government due to the 17th century puritan plantations’ love of cheap sugar substitutes?

Alas, this is something the film does not get into.)

But I’m getting off topic!

You see, in my opinion, the film was at its best when the family’s trust and love for one another was slowly being corrupted due their father’s pride (and just general misfortune). The way the family started turning on itself and the way they started using their daughter Thomasin (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) as a scapegoat for their woes? That’s where the real horror of the film lay. Yet the film’s focus never strayed too far from the witch.

I think the witch was intended to be scary, but she was so profoundly underdeveloped that she just wasn’t. She had such a lack of any character that she might as well have been a force of nature. You could very easily replace anything the witch does as an effect of a disease and the story wouldn’t change one bit. So what’s the point of her!?

If anything she distracted from the main horror of the storyline, because it was only the idea of the witch that mattered. So why show her? By choosing to not show the witch the film would have enhanced the tension of the family’s fears, because the viewer would join the family in not knowing if they should believe in the witch or not.

All in all it was a movie that was enjoyable for its atmosphere, but lacked the sufficient menace and audience engagement to go much beyond that.

“We will conquer this wilderness. It will not consume us.”