Sunday, December 18, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Frankenstein (1931)

Day #19


A scientist is determined to prove his theory correct by bringing life to dead tissue. Now if only his dad and fiancée would leave him alone and stop pestering him about wedding stuff!

Fright Factor:
1 / 5  Ye Olde Mills

Gore Factor:
1 / 5  Reanimated-Corpse Collages

Should you watch it?

Old movies are often hard to properly review, because the art form has changed so much over the decades and they are trying to achieve vastly different things. When this movie came out the concept of a movie with sound was only 4 years old. And as such movies from this time period are often a crossbreed. They have the direction and over-the-top emoting of a silent movie, but with the plotting and dialogue of a stage play.

So with that in mind, Frankenstein is quite well done. Although be warned that it takes a lot of liberties with the source material and thank goodness for that! Personally, I find that book to be friggin’ ridiculous. The funny thing though is that more than the book, it’s the Frankenstein from these old movies that has established itself the most in the public consciousness. That raving maniac doctor, the square-headed monster with bolts in its neck? That wasn’t Shelley’s story, that was pure movie magic.

So, yeah, I think you should totally watch it sometime. It’s pretty short, it’s insanely iconic, and the pairing of Colin Crive as Dr. Frankenstein and Boris Karloff as the monster? Amazing.

“Dangerous? Poor old Waldman. Have you never wanted to do anything that was dangerous? Where should we be if no one tried to find out what lies beyond? Have your never wanted to look beyond the clouds and the stars, or to know what causes the trees to bud? And what changes the darkness into light? But if you talk like that, people call you crazy. Well, if I could discover just one of these things, what eternity is, for example, I wouldn’t care if they did think I was crazy.”

31 Days of Spooky Movies: The Amityville Horror (2005)

Day #18

The Amityville Horror

A family moves into a house where a brutal murder once took place, only to find out that it wasn't that an evil man once lived in their home, but that their home turns men evil.

Fright Factor:
2.2 / 5 Children on the Roof

Gore Factor:
3 / 5 Paranoid Nightmare Visions

Should I watch it?

Watching this movie is kind of like going out to a comfortable bar for drinks with some friends and then suddenly Ryan Reynolds is there and he’s putting the moves on you. On the one hand, you didn’t come to this club to be hit on by an increasingly drunk Ryan Reynolds, but on the other hand he keeps taking off his shirt and making you laugh by tweeting at children to tell them to go chop firewood for him. And yes, you probably should just get out of there, but darn it, you’re kind of curious how this night is gonna turn out.

In simpler terms: this is a film whose triumphs and failures are almost entirely hinged on a single casting choice.

I have seen Ryan Reynolds in way too many comedic roles for me to ever take him too seriously. Which means I could never take a lot of the movie too seriously; a not insignificant factor when it comes to achieving scares.

And yet watching Ryan Reynolds terrorize some children is simultaneously weirdly delightful and kind of unnerving. The whole point of the movie is that there’s this evil house that can pervert your nature to its will and turn you against those you love the most. So Reynolds’ performance—despite some inherent cheesiness—is often kind of secretly brilliant, because when he does cruel or mean things it actually does seem inherently against his character.

The result is that the movie oscillates wildly between standard 00’s horror, modern remake horror, and over-the-top-cheesy-good-fun horror. The inconsistency prevents me from saying that it’s a particularly amazing movie, but I’ve gotta give it credit, because I was thoroughly entertained throughout. Not always for the best of reasons, but entertained nevertheless.

At the end of the night, I think it would be a fun movie to watch with your go-to horror buddy. It’s kinda cheesy, kinda spooky, kinda clever, and kinda ridiculous.

And if nothing else: shirtless & ripped Ryan Reynolds telling off snotty-nosed kids.

“Houses don’t kill people. People kill people.”

Monday, December 12, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Ava's Possessions

Day #17

Ava’s Possessions

When the demon possessing her is exorcised Ava awakens to find her life in shambles. Her friends are afraid of her, her family doesn’t know how to treat her anymore, and now she has to go a demonic possession support group in order for her to stay out of jail. And as if all that wasn’t enough, something happened that no one will tell her about, and getting to the bottom of it might just put her in more danger than the demon did.

Fright Factor:
1 / 5  Demonic Possessions

Gore Factor:
1 / 5 Rude Pimps

Should you watch it?

This could have been a really fun TV show, but instead settled on being a somewhat ramshackle movie. There’s all sorts of interesting plot elements and backstories and mysteries, yet somehow nothing manages to get any decent closure. If it had been a TV show this over abundance of content would have worked PERFECTLY! There would have been all sorts of great story arcs and drama and development, but instead we got this hot mess.

That being said, I still rather enjoyed watching it, because—in spite of its faults—it tried to do something new: a horror-twist on drug addiction and recovery wherein demonic possession serves as the stand-in.

Not to mention Louisa Krause does a great job as the lead, the film has an enjoyably quirky sense of style and some surprisingly nice effects considering the budget, and the choice to cast Carol Kane as the slightly eccentric owner of an occult shop? Brilliant.

I’m glad I watched it, but all in all the story was just too messy and ill-suited to its medium to make me want to casually recommend it to anyone.

“Hi, Ava.”

“Hi, mom. I told you to call first.”

“You’re not supposed to be drinking.”

“Haven’t you heard? I can handle my spirits.”

“Oh, you think it’s funny?”

“What are you? Some kind of expert? How can you know what this has been like for me?”

“I just know, okay?”

Thursday, November 24, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: The Last Exorcism Part 2

Day #17

The Last Exorcism:
Part II

A young woman with a traumatic upbringing has a chance at a new start. But her past isn’t about to let her give it up without a fight.

Fright Factor:
1.5 / 5 Demonic Stalkers

Gore Factor:
1.5 / 5 Jerky Movements

Should you watch it?

I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly great movie, but it’s not like there was anything terrible about it either. All in all it’s a pretty lowkey flick. The boldest part of the movie by far is the fact that someone even tried to make a sequel to something titled The Last Exorcism in the first place.

Much like you’d expect from the title, there really wasn’t anything about the original movie that begged for a sequel. That being said, and against all odds, the filmmakers actually managed to create an interesting hook for the film in spite of that: demonic possession used as a metaphor for living with trauma and trying to find a way to move on.

This poor girl tries to escape her past and create a new life for herself. A new home, new friends, a whole new way of living. Yet despite her fervent desires to jettison her past and become someone new, she can never fully do it. The memories of her past and who she used to be (who she may always be), haunt her and terrorize her more than any demon ever could. Those are the parts that will stick with you long after the movie is over.

However, it often feels like the filmmakers created this interesting plotline on accident. They routinely try to keep shifting the focus of the movie back to exorcists and demons whenever possible. Instead of leaning into the whole horror-as-a-metaphor-for-trauma/grief/anxiety/etc. angle, the film tries to just use horror tropes straight and uncut. The result is that a film that could have been really unique is instead caused to repeatedly misfire into a cliche.

If you’re looking for a good scare I’d recommend you look elsewhere, because you are going to be disappointed. But if you just want to see a spooky movie that sticks its toe into originality (albeit briefly), then maybe give it a chance some lazy afternoon.

“Are you from a cult in the woods or something?”

Thursday, November 17, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Night of the Comet

Day #16

Night of the Comet

The Bad News:
Radiation from a mysterious comet has killed the vast majority of the world’s population and the mutated most of the rest.

The Good News:
Two sisters lucked out and dodged the comet’s effects, the malls are having a close out sale of epic proportions, and there is significantly less competition for any eligible (and unmutated) bachelors you might come across.

Fright Factor:
1 / 5  Piles of Dust

Gore Factor:
1 / 5  Mutant Faces

Should you watch it?

I know this is neither here nor there, but while doing my usual pre-writeup research I discovered that the star of this movie, Catherine Mary Stewart, has what has got to be the most flattering IMDB profile photo I have ever seen... 

Wait...what were we talking about? Oh yeah!

Ohmygosh, YES, you should totally watch this movie!

It would be easy to dismiss this as a dorky 80s so-bad-it’s-good kind of flick and I totally get it! Teenage girls in a post-apocalyptic world. One even wears a cheerleader outfit for most of the movie. There’s even a mall shopping montage and they bemoan the lack of eligible bachelors. It sounds super doofy, right?

HOWEVER, I am here to tell you that if you take a closer look you will see that what at first glance seems enjoyably flawed, is actually really well done and intentionally silly. Like any true 80s gem it has that wonderful combination of originality, delightful 80s tunes, and somehow managing to create a near perfect balance of silliness and sincerity.

There are a lot of elements I love about this movie, but at the top of the list is their depiction of young women. So often female characters (especially younger ones) can have one trait, but not any others. They can either be strong or ditzy, a brainiac or a bonehead, and so on and so on. However this film depicts young women in a way that reminds me so much of the ones I know and have met. They aren’t just one thing, but a whole spectrum. They can love sports and fashion and video games, all at the same time. They can have crushes and romantic fantasies without that being the sole focus of their lives. And whats more, they are smart and capable.

Really, it’s just so refreshing to see, ESPECIALLY in the spooky movie genre. Young women in spooky movies (even more so than other genres) are so often presented as boy-crazed, or a “strong female character,” or some other single-minded stereotype. But the sisters here are amazingly well rounded. They are allowed to sometimes be a nerd or a slacker or a caregiver or an ass kicker. In short they are allowed to act like real people.

Well, as real as you can get in for an 80s comedy-horror adventure...but still!

It’s that combination of ridiculous and realistic that makes this movie so amazing. It simultaneously meets and defies all your expectations, constantly causing you to reevaluate your assumptions.

“You were born with an asshole, Doris, you don’t need Chuck.”

Monday, November 14, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: When Animals Dream

Day #15

Når Dyrene Drømmer
[When Animals Dream]

In a small Danish fishing town a young woman learns she has the same strange disease as her mother. But when she refuses to hide its symptoms the town quickly turns against her.

Fright Factor:
2 / 5 Vespa Gangs

Gore Factor:
2 / 5 Fish Gutting Jobs

Should you watch it?


Imagine, if you will, a Danish cross between Låt den rätte komma in [ Let the Right One In ] (2008) and Ginger Snaps (2000). I mean, if that doesn’t make you want to see this movie then I don’t know what will.

It’s extremely well shot, features some great actors, and has an ethically grey plot that leaves it up to you to decide who was the real monster.

To be fair the ending is a bit lackluster and the motivations of the love interest aren’t really explained at all. The result isn’t a complete miss, but it struck me as a bit lazy and failed to release the potential energy of the film’s tension as well as it could have. But other than that I don’t really have anything much to criticize about this movie.

While there is a lil bit of gore (unless you happen to be a fish in which case there is a LOT of gore) it really isn’t a film that’s trying to scare you. It’s a film that uses the monster genre as a metaphor. Similar to Låt den rätte komma in, the most frightening parts for me weren’t the monsters, but the bullies. I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing or just a lack of personal experience thing, but bullies in foreign movies are always doing shit that’s just full on crazy-town. Just no-question-about-it illegal kind of stuff.

In spite of the slightly lackluster ending, the rest of the film is an eerie and atmospheric piece that will get under your skin and make you ask some big questions about yourself and the world at large.

“If you leave the house like that,

I can’t help you anymore.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Krampus

Day #14.b


A dysfunctional family gets together for Christmas and subsequently creates a atmosphere so devoid of cheer that it summons an demonic entity named Krampus to wreck havoc upon their holiday.

Fright Factor:
1.5 / 5  Likable Characters

Gore Factor:
1 / 5 Holly Jolly Bite Marks

Should you watch it?

Ummm...I would say it’s one of those movies that are great to watch while you’re multitasking/not giving it your full attention (like while you’re wrapping presents or something), but if you’re just in the market for something good to watch I’d probably look elsewhere.

The whole thing suffers from a severe lack of any worthwhile or—failing that—relatable characters. Out of the 10 main characters there were really only 2 that I cared what happened to. We’re supposed to believe this is a family, but I found them wholly unrecognizable. The big sister lets her little brother be cruelly and openly mocked by her cousins. The dad interacts with his mom as if she was an old lady he took in off the street. And the list goes on. The audience has already accepted that this is a movie about an evil anti-Claus, but just how much more disbelief are we expected to suspend here?

Not to mention the whole premise doesn’t really make sense. A family loses its Christmas spirit and that allows an evil demon to just go and start killing every single person in town? Is Santa cool with all this? And if believing in Santa or the spirit of Christmas or whatever keeps him at bay, then why aren’t A LOT more families suffering the same fate? I spent most of the movie hoping Santa would show up and lay down some jolly justice, but unfortunately I wasn’t that lucky.

There are lots of great actors (Toni Collette, Allison Tolman, Adam Scott, Conchata Ferrell, Krista Stadler), lots of great practical effects, some really funny jokes, but the heaps of plot holes and poorly constructed characters prevented me from being able to really get into it.

P.S. The ending is really stupid. So watch out for that.

“I’m old enough to know when life is coming at me with its pants down.”

Monday, October 31, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: The Conjuring 2

Day #14

The Conjuring 2

Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to England to investigate the case of a young girl whose family claims suffers from demonic attentions.

Fright Factor:
3 / 5  Acoustic Guitars

Gore Factor:
2 / 5  Abdominal Thrusts

Should you watch it?

It’s certainly not as good as the original was, but it’s still pretty enjoyable. The problem is that the story just isn’t there. It has a very sequel-y feel to it and seems as if it was primarily made as a vehicle to give fans more Ed & Lorraine and the rest of the story was just an afterthought.

And to their credit, there are a lot of fantastically sweet Ed and Lorraine moments, yet the haunting never really develops as fully or as intriguingly as it should have. Sure, there are a some genuinely creepy scenes, but there are also some overly overt and extremely heavy-handed ones too.

If you liked the first one I think that you’ll enjoy seeing more of the Warrens and their based-on-real-cases adventures. And if you’ve never seen the first one? Well, there’s really nothing in this one that would require you to have and it’s a solid horror movie...

...Just know that the first one was better.

“Ed, this is as close to hell as I ever want to get.”

Saturday, October 29, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: The Innkeepers

Day #13

The Innkeepers

A small hotel is set to shut down for good and the two remaining staff members are determined to prove once and for all that the place is haunted.

Fright Factor:
3 / 5 Customers

Gore Factor:
1.8 / 5 Rude Ghosts

Should you watch it?

Horror movies frequently make the mistake of having unlikable main characters. But unless you’re bringing some real skill to the table to compensate, it’s hard to be truly scared when the worst that could happen is that some dudebro69 is going to get got. But therein lies the greatest strength of this movie: Sara Paxton steals the show as a lead character who’s just too innately sweet and likable for anyone to want to see her get hurt.

This is one of those horror movies that slowly ratchets up the tension as the film progresses and I love when horror movies do that. Not to mention that it’s nice to see a spooky movie that never tries to go way over the top. They seem to have been working with a less-is-more philosophy and it works to great effect here. Going big can result in bigger scares, but working the small stuff is more unsettling in a way, because it somehow seems all the more possible.

And as if those things weren’t enough, I was pleased to learn that the movie is told from a customer service worker’s point of view!

I’m not gonna lie to you, I particularly enjoy any movie that accurately describes what it’s like to work in customer service. The boredom, the drudgery, the fun of having ridiculous conversations with coworkers, the lengths one will go to to make things more fun, the annoying interactions with customers, feeling like a failure that this is where your life has led you and the only reason you stick around is that you don’t know what you want to do instead.

As I was watching the movie I was getting really excited to be able to talk about how refreshing it was to see a horror movie where the two leads are opposite genders and yet just platonic friends. But UNFORTUNATELY they had to go and blow it by having the dude confess his feelings near the end. Come on, dummy! This place is reaching a dangerous level of haunted and you decide that this is the right time for this conversation? What makes it all the worse is that he is clearly mistaking the kindness of friendship as romantic attraction.

But what it all really comes down to is that the film managed to get to me. I actually had to stop this movie at one point, because there was a weird noise coming from somewhere in my house and it was starting to really freak me out. Turns out the ceiling in my bathroom was leaking, but the point is the movie got in my head and started making me feel a little bit unsafe in my own home.

A sure sign of a good horror movie if ever there was one.

“Do you know the story of Madeline O’Malley?

She was the one that died here in the hotel.

She hung herself after her fiance stood her up on her wedding day. The original owners of the hotel, thought it would be bad press and hurt the business. So, they hid her dead body in the wood cellar for three days. Before they could smuggle her out of the loading bay.

When the people of the town finally figured out what had happened here...

They were outraged.

So, the owners had to close the hotel down and were forced to sell it.

Nobody came through here again until the ’60s. And ever since then, people have reported seeing the ghost of Madeline O’Malley roaming the hallways waiting for her lover.

Some say, she’s even looking to take up a new one.”

“Excuse me? What are you doing?”


“What’s going on?”

“She said there’s a ghost in that hotel. She said it’s coming to get me!”

“I never said that.”

“What’s the matter with you? He’s just a child.”

Monday, October 24, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: The Ward

Day #12

The Ward

It’s 1966 and an amnesiac is committed to a mental institution after being found burning down a house. However, she soon finds out that the ghost of her room’s previous occupant is haunting the ward and picking off its occupants one by one.

Fright Factor:
2.5 / 5  Examples of 1960s Medicine

Gore Factor:
3 / 5 Shock Therapy Incidents

Should you watch it?

From a technical standpoint it does a lot of things I really liked, but from a story perspective? Terrible.

I don’t even know what else to say. The writing was far from the best, but it was within acceptable levels for a horror movie. It was well shot, had some characters I really liked, a creepy setup, great costumes, and it all leads to an ending that makes you wonder if you can get a refund on that hour and a half of your life.

Also, dear 1960s medicine, WTF is the matter with you?

“Look at me!”

“Sorry, I don’t converse with loonies.”

Sunday, October 23, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Child's Play

Day #11

Child’s Play

An evil doll is bitten by a radioactive 6-year old and gains the proportional strength, speed, and reflexes of a little boy.

[Okay, okay, fine! That’s not true. It’s about really about...]

A murderer uses his dying breath to transport his soul into a doll. Now he seeks revenge on those responsible for his death...and the young boy who took him in.

Fright Factor:
1.7 / 5  Stupid Dolls

Gore Factor:
1.5 / 5 Stabby McStabbykins

Should you watch it?

Ummm...I’m gonna go with Yes.

It’s not actually scary or particularly well made, but if you’re looking for something ridiculous and 80sy then look no further.

I mean, seriously, think about it: it’s a doll! Sure it can catch you by surprise or make people think you’re crazy, but other than that you kind of have a serious upper hand here. And yeah, sure, I guess he knows some “voodoo” magic, but even that requires you to have made a number of terrible decisions to even get him into a position where he can use it.

Which brings up the biggest of the movie’s inherent flaws: in order to compensate for the fact that a living doll isn’t frightening (or formidable) the filmmakers have to go WAY out of their way to get Chucky into situations where he can be competently menacing.

You know that gag in the Naked Gun movies where someone would throw something stupid at a character and they’d pretend it was actually effective? That’s essentially Chucky fights in a nutshell.

Although, to be fair...there is one truly scary scene in the moive: the one where the kid tries to make breakfast by himself. It is hard to watch. The kid is spilling stuff everywhere, almost starting fires, and putting a truly freakish amount of sugar on his cereal. It’s nerve wrecking to watch.

In summary: a great one to laugh at with friends, but just go into it knowing that it’s not so much scary as it is silly.

“Talk to me.


Come on, talk!


I said, ‘talk to me,’ dammit!


All right. I’ll make you talk!


I said talk to me dammit or else I’m gonna throw you in the fire!”


Friday, October 21, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: The Addams Family

Day #10

The Addams Family

A band of crooks try to con a loving—although incredibly macabre—family out of their fortune by convincing them their long-lost brother has returned.

Fright Factor:
1/5  Mamushkas

Gore Factor:
1/5  Uncle Niknak's Summer Wardrobes

Should you watch it?


Of course you should! Frankly, I’m kind of surprised you haven’t seen it already.

This movie could have so easily been some cheap appeal to the lowest-common-denominator money grab, but it isn’t! A lot of really talented people worked on this movie, both on and off camera.

And yes, there’s some really fun humor and visuals and acting and sets and so much more, but the thing that really sets this movie apart is also the crux of the humor: that in spite of being dark and macabre, the Addams are an incredibly loving and supportive family. The result is that (whether intentional or not) the Addams end up as one of most functional and stable movie families you’ll ever see. Morticia’s mother lives with the family and this is shown to be a normal thing and not a source of mother-in-law jokes. The kids are loved and supported in their interests. Gomez and Morticia adore one another and take equal responsibility in raising their kids and taking care of their household. And the list goes on!

In terms of family friendly, spookily-themed comedy, you can’t go wrong with The Addams Family.

“Wednesday is an excellent student, but frankly I’m concerned. You see, this is our class bulletin board. This month our theme is ‘Our Heroes,’ people we love and admire. You see Susan Ringo has chosen the President. Isn’t that sweet? And Harmony Fell has picked Jane Pauley.”

“Have you spoken to her parents?”

“But Wednesday brought in this picture: Calpernia Addams.”

“Wednesday’s great aunt Calpernia. She was burned as a witch in 1706. They say she danced naked in the town square and enslaved a minister.”


“Oh, yes.
But don’t worry, we’ve told Wednesday, ‘College first.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

Day #9

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

A cocktail waitress and a trio of high school boy scouts are the last line of defense when a zombie outbreak threatens their town.

Fright Factor:
1.5 / 5 Cat Ladies

Gore Factor:
3 / 5  Modified Weed Wackers

Should you watch it?

Shouldn’t they have put an apostrophe in that title? It kinda feels like there should be one, right?

Anyways, I went into this one with incredibly low expectations and it surpassed them! I mean, it’s 100% a movie aimed at teenage you
’ve gotta keep that in mind. But if you can put aside your critic cap and accept that this movie was made for a demographic that’s notoriously immature and clueless...well, you might just have some fun.

While there are a number of really fun scenes in the movies, I was hoping there would be SIGNIFICANTLY MORE scout action. In actuality, the scouts in the movie really don’t use their scout skills all that much. Especially not in the hilarious ways I was hoping for: making a snare,  tying two zombies intestines together using a special knot, the shooting of a bow and arrow, surviving in the forest, etc. Frankly I’m still rather bummed out about this.

But hey! The main female character actually wears a bra! And you never get to see any more of it than the straps! Now there’s a combo you don’t see very often in a horror movie, let alone one made for teenage boys.

I do feel the need, however, to inform the public that despite the advice given in the movie, do NOT just go up to girls and kiss them out of nowhere. It seems like a good idea in movies, but a little warning bell should be going off anytime you find yourself thinking, “It always works in the movies!” Believe it or not: most people don’t want to randomly kissed by you. It’s a sad fact of life, I know.

Did I mention that the always amazing Cloris Leachman is in this movie? Because she totally is! And in one scene she totally puts her lips on someone without their consent, and their reaction pretty much proves my whole point about that issue.

“It’s the zombie apocalypse! Come on, we’re scouts! We’re trained for this!”

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Cloverfield

Day #8


The found footage from a group of friends' videocamera depicts the events that took place when New York City was attacked by a gigantic monster.

Fright Factor:
1.5 / 5  Shaky Cameras

Gore Factor:
2.5 / 5  Post-attack wounds

Should you watch it?

While it does has an interesting premise, I don’t think I’d go as far as saying that it’s particularly worth your time. Especially because the whole movie kiiinda feels a bit like a sub-par handycam ripoff of the 2006 South Korean movie 괴물 (aka The Host). Now, I’m not saying it is a ripoff, but I am saying that The Host does what this movie was trying to do and does it far better.

And that’s Cloverfield’s problem in a nutshell. I really shouldn’t be able to make that comparison. The Host is a movie about a family trying to rescue their daughter after she is taken by a mutated creature. It deals with government incompetence endangering the populace and about the importance of family. Meanwhile Cloverfield is about a Godzilla-sized monster attacking New York City. Giant monster movies are more-or-less the horror/sci-fi corollaries of natural disasters;  they offer the same destruction, but focused on an actual entity instead of an ethereal natural phenomenon.

And yet they are comparable, because Cloverfield doesn’t want to tell the story of the disaster, it wants to tell a story about people surviving monster attacks. And to make that work they have to go way out of their way and actively work against their own set-up and film style. If they wanted to just do monster attacks scrapping the handycam angle style would have created a much better shots and atmosphere. But the found-footage thing would have been really interesting for a disaster movie!

I mean, have you seen pictures from areas affected by natural disasters or terror attacks? They’re chilling. You can’t help but to wonder how it would feel to go through something like that. I was thinking that Cloverfield would try to tap into that those kinds of frightening questions. Crowds of panicking people, clouds of dust are making it hard to see/breathe, buildings that are structurally compromised, utilities destroyed: the city itself turning against you. And its all coming from something you have no power to stop.

The film briefly touches on some of that horror, but it never stays for very long before shifting the focus back onto monsters. They even introduce smaller monsters in addition to the giant one just so they can make that focus work.

Although to be fair, even if they had focused on the disaster I still would have issues with it for having really dull characters. The only character I really liked was Lizzy Caplan’s and she leaves the main group like halfway in. Meanwhile you’ve got to deal with T.J. Miller’s character for the whole movie! Where is the fairness in that?

“Ocean is big, dude. All I’m saying is a couple of years ago, they found a fish in Madagascar that they thought been extinct for centuries.”

“So what? It’s been down there this whole time, and nobody noticed?”

“Sure. Maybe it erupted from an ocean trench, you know? Or a crevasse. Crevice. It’s just a theory. I mean, for all we know, it’s from another planet and it flew here.”

“Like Superman?”

“Yeah, exactly like... Wait. You know who Superman is?”

“Oh my God. You know who Superman is?”

“Okay, I’m not...”

“I’m, like, feeling something...are you aware of Garfield?”

Monday, October 10, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: The House of the Devil

Day #7

The House of the Devil

It’s 1983 and in a desperate attempt to come up with some money a college sophmore takes a chance on a rather unusual babysitting job. However, things go from weird to straight up sketchy when she learns that the family has no kids and that something very suspicious is going on.

Fright Factor:
2 / 5  Discarded Pizzas

Gore Factor:
2.8 / 5  Lunatics

Should you watch it?

This is a really hard film for me to talk about, because there are so many things that I loved about it, but there’s also a fair bit that I just couldn’t get behind.

First and foremost the entire movie is shot in a 70s/80s horror style. And I don't mean that they simply make an homage to the movies of that era. I mean they straight-up shot it all on 16mm film and even use a number of film techniques of the era! It makes for such a intriguing blend of old and new. I mean, that alone makes it worth watching. But then they add a fantastic lead actress and some wonderfully tense slow-burn-style terror and this movie was just hitting all of my buttons.

However, there’s just a couple of things that ended up sticking in my craw:

  • The text at the beginning of the movie ruins any surprise you could have had about what’s going to happen at this babysitting job.
  • I very much didn’t like Tom Noonan’s character nor his performance. The character is practically an atmospheric black hole to any scene he’s in.
  • The ending is kind of dumb and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The film masterfully winds up all this creepy tension and then wastes so much of it with a subpar payoff.

So there you go. Overall, I’d say I loved about 90% of this movie. It’s a wonderfully original horror movie, not so much in its plot, but in its execution. And I think, if nothing else, it’s definitely worth giving a watch.

“Are you out of your mind? Do you remember the game plan? The game plan was, if they’re weird, we leave. This beyond weird. It’s mental. You know, they lied to you. They lied to you.”

“I know, okay.”

“They’re liars.”

“I know, I know. You’re right. But it’s $400. It’s $400 for four hours. This equals first month’s rent and then some, and all I have to do is sit inside and watch TV. It’s too good to be true.”

“Did you ever think it IS too good to be true?”

“Megan, please. I need the money.”

“It’s so stupid. It’s SO stupid.”

Saturday, October 8, 2016

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Day of the Dead

Day #6.b

Day of the Dead

The zombie apocalypse has ravaged the country, but in a military bunker a group of scientists are trying to find a solution. As fear, isolation, and hopelessness begin to reach a tipping point, the soldiers—meant to be protectors—start to become dictators instead.

When surviving is the only thing you can do, what do you do when you’re stuck between a gun and an undead place?

Fright Factor:
2 / 5 Armed Zombies

Gore Factor:
4 / 5 Feeding Frenzies

Should you watch it?

First there was Night of the Living Dead, then there was the Dawn of the Dead, and now George Romero brings us Day of the Dead! Like the other two, the story once again deals with a band of survivors trapped in a building surrounded by the living dead. However, while Dawn took the ideas of the previous film and expanded on them (adding a whole new dimension to the story,) the same cannot be said of Day.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad movie. In fact it’s a pretty gosh darn fun zombie movie. It’s just that after Night and Dawn...well, this one just feels like you went to a famous restaurant and they served you leftovers from last night. Sure, the leftovers are pretty good, but you kind of went in because you wanted more than just old reheated ideas.

Day of the Dead does add new something to the franchise though: exaggerated goofiness. It’s full of things like zombies learning how to use guns, a mad scientist, and an overabundance of silly specialty zombies (football player, clown, bride, marching band member, etc.).

Although, to be fair, the movie Romero made after this was about a psychic helper monkey who falls in a love with a quadriplegic and kills anyone who gets in the way of that I should probably just be glad it wasn’t significantly more outrageous.

But as long as you don’t go in expecting it to be the cultural powerhouse the previous films were, I think you’ll have a good time. There’s some really great effects. Sherman Howard’s portrayal of Bub is fantastic and Joseph Pilato makes for a phenomenally unhinged commander that you just love to hate. Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, and Jarlath Conroy are an extremely likable trio of heroes.

It’s just some good ol’ goofy/gory zombie fun...from the guy who invented an entire genre of horror and made two of the most famous horror movies ever made.

He’s earned the right to have a little fun, too, I suppose.

“Maybe if we tried working together we could ease some of the tensions. We’re all pulling in different directions.”

“That’s the trouble with the world, Sarah, darlin’. People got different ideas concernin’ what they want out of life.”