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?”