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October Horror Fest 2011

October 1, 2011 3 comments

Each year we usually watch a lot of horror movies in October. The last few I’ve tried to track them.

Rating system.
1’s These are work.
2’s I liked parts and pieces, such as effects or story. I’d suggest it to a genre fan.
3’s Complete packages here, well done all around. Genre fans will probably enjoy also. Strong likes.
4’s Probably becomes repeat viewer and purchase, gets suggested to others and defended if others hate it.
5’s Loved it. Definite buys, definite suggestions if asked. Not only a great horror movie but great movie in general. These stay with you and set the bars.

I love conventional effects, I’d rather see a string than CGI. No excuse for digital blood and my ratings will swing on that. In most cases a guy in a suit beats most animated beasts. Ghosts get a pass, mostly.

I’m not a huge fan of the torture pron direction the horror genre has taken recently. I understand the scary reality link but not many will get a 5 out of me. Cheesy slashers with the great effects are one of my favorite sub genres. Demeaning women loses points even if she comes back for revenge. I understand the shock value is important to some but it’s hard to watch at times.

My favorite stuff plays around in the creature features, teen slasher, paranormal areas. Zombies, vampires, etc are welcome. Sparkly vampires are not. A great ghost story goes a long way with me as do crazed cults. Many modern creature flicks show you everything and leave nothing to the imagination and lose points due to that.

I’m open to so many forms of “horror” and personally would include a film like Gremlins or even Red State in a “horror” list.

Here are the movies for 2011.

1. Shadow.  3 out of 5 Netflix Instant

Good twist in this one, Surviving The Game meets Hostel. Real creepy bad guy.

2. People Under The Stairs. 2 out of 5 Netflix Instant

This is my 3rd viewing of this since its release, still kind of meh on it. The brother and sister are arguably the best part.

3. Tucker and Dale vs Evil. 4 out of 5 HDNET Movies

Loved it, very fun, laid back spoof with a nice twist on perception. Wife liked it. Nothing too over the top. With the genre full of CGI garbage this was refreshing.

4. Night of the Creeps. 5 out of 5 Crackle.com

Fred Dekker does it again, I love his stuff. It’s been a long time since I saw this so it was pretty fresh. Great throwbacks to the 50’s and a bit of Noir.

5. The Awakening. 1 out of 5 total piece of poop. Netflix Instant

Hipster youth die to crappy nu-metal at the hands of some ancient evil.

6. Intruder. 4 out of 5 Netflix Instant

Late 80’s slasher that I’d not seen before. Sam Raimi stars. The camera work stood out for me. On further reading I think I saw the edited version because there wasn’t any real gore to speak of just great tension.

7. Strangeland. 3 out of 5 Netflix Instant

Pretty decent flick, pretty decent badguy. Captain Howdy could use a prequel in my opinion.

8. John Carpenter’s The Ward. 5 out of 5 Vudu

Very well done movie. Probably one of the better ones I’ve seen in a while. John Carpenter is a master so little doubt was there. Got at least 2 squirms and 2 jumps out of us without entering torture pron territory. Loosely plays with Alice In Wonderland and doesn’t over do it.

9. Trick ‘r Treat. 5 out of 5 Netflix Instant

Second viewing and it gets better.  A series of connected events centered around Halloween. I cannot recommend it enough. It is to Halloween what A Christmas Story is to Christmas. Surely something for everyone in this movie. A huge bonus is the lack of CGI, it didn’t need any.

10. Child’s Play. 4out of 5 Netflix Instant

One of my all time faves, the killer doll has some great lines and the kid looks really scared. Lots of fun and creepy. Terrific fiery ending.

11. House on Skull Mountain. 2 out of 5 Netflix Instant

A slow atmospheric piece with hints of blacksploitation and Voodoo. Similar to Sugar Hill but no where near as good. This dish needed more cheese. I thought the audio was great. The chanting and hypnotic drums felt right for a voodoo flick.

12. Poltergeist 2. 4 out of 5 Netflix Instant

One of the stronger sequels to any franchise. I dig the Native American slant on this. Locally we have many Native sites that have been built over for urban development over the years. Some really great conventional effects in this movie and a really creepy old dude.

13. Frontier (s). 3 out of 5 Vudu

The lead actress in this one is the star. Some really great scenes but it feels like Hostel to me.  This puts it over into the torture pron area which I feel is taking over the “horror” genre. Never the less, a great flick with some stuff that will stick with you.

14. Incident on and Off a Mountain Road.  3 out of 5 Netflix Instant

Pretty good short story. Good blend of two themes. Girl gets taught how to survive by her jerk husband and then puts all the training to use on a freak in the woods.

15. The Guardian 5 out of 5 Netflix Instant

Being a new family this means a lot more now than it did when I saw it years back. They got the baby audio right, the new parent insecurities, and a tree that eats dudes. Really well done story that could be sold as a mystery or horror and it is rooted in just enough mystical stuff to not go crazy. Great conventional effects in this.

16. Deathwatch 3 out of 5 Netflix Instant

Gritty, dirty, and bleak. Mud, rain, rats, and bodies in the water. A little slow but worth the watch. For some reason it reminded me of those old Eerie Comics.

17. Graduation Day 1 outof 5 Netflix Instant

Normally I dig Troma stuff but this was bad. Best part would be the music and the non-augmented women. Nowhere near Class of Nuke ’em High in quality. At times it is very dramatic then decides to be a slasher flick. Mostly it was work to get through.

18. An American Werewolf in London. 5 out of 5 Netflix Instant

One of all time faves. Great blend of comedy and gore. I’ll never forget the first time I saw the transformation or when I got old enough to understand the zombie scene in the theater. It’s pretty much the standard by which werewolf movies are judged.

19. Hell Night. 1 out of 5 Netflix Instant

This confirms that Linda Blair’s best movie is the Exorcist. I will say the sets were interesting. The fact I’m into the sets also says that the rest sucked. Maybe I need to revisit this one another year?

20. Body Snatchers 3 out of 5 Netflix Instant

I love the original and most of its remakes, this is a 90’s version. Not so much horror in the traditional sense but the social aspect is scary. I see hive minds and they really scare me.

 

21. The Howling. 4 out of 5 Netflix Instant

Pretty decent werewolf flick. I was introduced to the sequels far before I saw the first so the marsupial mess ruined the franchise for me. The original is a nice and dark movie with pretty good monsters and a good story.

22. Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning. 3 out of 5 Netflix Instant

A bit slow but well made, I enjoyed the first one which I watched after this one, and this is recommended by fans. It’s sort of a “Last of the Mohicans” meets the Wolfman. There are way worse wolf flicks out there.

23. The Craft. 4 out of 5 Netflix Instant

Big fan of this. Nice slice of the 90’s. Even the wife will watch. The effects are mostly well done and as things come back to haunt the girls it gets really good playing with the high school tension and the “craft.”

24. Scream. 4 out of 5 Netflix Instant

I missed this back in the day. I never saw it or the ” I Know What You Did” movies. Glad I waited. This is a smart movie that cashes in on the history of horror which gives fans of the genre an extra bit to hold onto. Little hidden things make the watch all the better. One of the cooler ones this year.

25. Silver Bullet. 4 outof 5 AMC

I like this movie a lot. Gary Busey stars as himself along with Sam Emerson before he met the Frog Brothers. Anne of Green Gables narrates. How much better can a movie get? Add a werewolf priest and Stephen King.

26. Parents. 2 out of 5 Vudu

I like dark comedy. This is a dark comedy with not a lot of funny. It pokes holes in the gleaming suburbia we all see and reveals things that are very scary. Some deadpan acting from Quaid stands out and the feelings of the boy really come through and are shown expertly. It gets a 2 because it just doesn’t fit the genre for me.

27. Joshua. 3 out of 5 Vudu

I dug this slow burner. Hard to tell who is in charge but by the end it’s very clear. Evil kids owning their parents really hits home with a newborn in the house. They capture the stress of having a newborn quite nicely and they build out Joshua’s plan expertly. Sam Rockwell tries to go to war and it is funny. If you like evil kid films check it out.

28. Happy Birthday to Me. 4 out of 5 Crackle

Quite a good entry into the 80’s slasher stuff. Not a ton of gore but it didn’t need it. It plays up the mystery side and has a few twists that I loved. Pretty smart in my opinion. It didn’t hurt that is had Tracey E. Bregman in it either.

29. The House of the Devil. 5 out of 5 Netflix Instant

Still love this. Perfection.

30. The Legend of Hell House. 4 out of 5 Netflix Instant

Such a good classic movie, actual effects and actual acting. Very well done scary house. Great atmosphere. Roddy McDowell pretty much rules. I love the conventional effects and I’m sure real smoke was used.

31. The Lost Boys. 5 out of 5 Netflix Instant

One of the best vampire movies ever. One of the best 80’s movies ever. If you like it you need to see the most recent one. The only sparkle on the vampires is when they are on fire. Great soundtrack too.

32. 976-EVIL. 4 out of 5 Blockbuster Movie Pass Dish Network

Some great 80’s cheese. Flirts with Freddie with many one liners after it gets going. I hated it the first time I saw it but this time around I loved it. I hesitate to say it but it felt one of Stephen King’s lowly type of guys that gets powered up.

33. Cameron’s Closet 2 out of 5  Crackle.com

Not a good one but worth a viewing. Feels like a cheap Poltergeist slash Exorcist thing.

34. The Thing. 5 out of 5 Netflix Instant

What a great film. To this day the effects hold up. Very creepy very claustrophobic. Very badass. Even if you aren’t into horror this one is hard to deny.

35. Prince of Darkness. 5 out of 5 Netflix Instant

This movie is freaky on lots of levels. Some people don’t get it and that’s fine. I love it. It sticks with me. The Jesse Ferguson scenes gives me chills and I feel the panic when they have to fight their way out. I kept an eye open for transmissions up until 1999.

36. Ginger Snaps. 4 out of 5 DVD

Nice weaving of werewolves into puberty. Good effects and characters that work. Should become a classic in the werewolf genre. It was a first time viewing for me and the suggestions held up. Nice creature design.

For 37 through 42 I watched the first 6 of the  A Nightmare On Elm Street series. The first is an obvious classic. Later films in the series draw lots of debate. I like them all differently as Freddy dished out cool demises across all his movies. Standouts are to be found in all of these. A particular favorite is part 3. Some people don’t like Alice but I really dig part 4 and 5 with her in it. They are well done and seem to give the series some weight and a great mythology. Speaking of mythology part 6 kind of shoots that notion down. I wasn’t impressed with the direction it took. Part 2 seems to be hard to place within the later ones and is probably the most true sequel in that sense regarding the original. Lots of excellent effects in this series. You can watch how effects progress across each movie. I really like the animatronic stuff. All in all a classic series that just about anyone can get into I think there’s something for everyone in it. 5 out of 5

 

There you have it, October Horror Fest 2011. This year I stayed away from the total gore fests and looks like I  hit werewolves a lot. No zombies. What is up with that? I think I did well considering we had a newborn in the house. I’ll have to rethink this for next year as she’ll be old enough to understand some things that we don’t really want her to understand. I’m not ready for those questions and I prefer that she find her own way into a film genre.

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October Horror Fest 2010

October 29, 2010 2 comments

We usually watch horror movies in October but the last few years I’ve started tracking them a bit more. Over at AVSForum some of the users do a marathon of sorts, to see if anyone will watch 31 horror movies in October. I did this last year with them and did it again this year. I consider myself a movie fan so deep dives on genres aren’t uncommon. With each marathon I get a few more “most favorite ever” films to add to my list. Some of these are great movies despite being horror related and I hope cinema freaks see that.

I found a great old series to track down the rest of in Tombs of the Blind Dead. I found two great modern films with their roots in the old school, House of the Devil and Dead Silence. I had my mind bent on Triangle. I was brought back to my childhood interest in horror with The Monster Squad. I laughed out loud at schlock and take it for art, Baron Samedi in Sugar Hill is a King.

My rating system, take it as you will:
1. These are work.
2. I liked parts and pieces, such as effects or story. I’d suggest it to a genre fan.
3. Complete packages here, well done all around. Genre fans will probably enjoy also. Strong likes.
4. Moving into loving it. Probably becomes repeat viewer and purchase, gets suggested to others and defended if others hate it.
5. Loved it. Definite buys, definite suggestions if asked. Not only a great horror movie but great movie in general. These stay with you and set the bars.

Here is my list:

1. Sugar Hill, 1974. Blacksploitation, racism, voodoo, zombies, tale of vengeance. 3/5
2. The Video Dead, 1987. Killer zombies come out of a TV and kill everybody with big hair. 3/5
3. Shock Waves, 1977. Nazi mutant underwater zombies trash a hotel. Death by sea urchin and glass bottom boats. 3/5
4. John Carpenter’s Pro Life (Masters of Horror), 2006. Right to life activist raids a clinic to save the spawn of a demon. 2/5
5. Survival of the Dead, 2009. Probably my least favorite “of the Dead” ever. 1/5
6. The New York Ripper, 1982. Solid, gritty, gory, cop flick. 3/5
7. Lake Mungo, 2008. I dug this. It was creepy and convincing. The dark atmosphere and subject matter were portrayed nicely. 5/5
8. Tombs of the Blind Dead, 1971. Didn’t know it was a series, now I want to see the rest. Great classic horror flick and beautiful women as well. 4/5
9. Crawlspace, 1986. Enjoyed Klinski the most in this one, such a quiet, reserved freak. 4/5
10. Daughters of Satan, 1972. Nice mystery feel, good soundtrack and Selleck. 2/5
11. The House of the Devil, 2009. Wow. My faith in modern horror is on the verge of being restored. Very cool flick. If you think they did it better back in the day, see this. Great soundtrack, great period piece. 5/5
12. Borderland, 2007. Slow starter but the last half had its moments. Run from the crazed satanic drug gang! 2/5
13. Thirst, 2009. A great vampire flick, refreshing to say the least with the market jammed with “Team Stupid.” Chan-wook is pretty awesome. 5/5
14. 100 Feet, 2008. In the vein of The Entity. I enjoyed this one. Nice build of tension with only a few plot holes. It has some really great horrific scenes. 5/5
15. The Midnight Meat Train, 2008. As a genre fan it was pretty good, I do not like cgi blood effects. 2/5
16. Session 9, 2001. To me it was more suspense than horror, kept me guessing WTF the whole time. 2/5
17. Three…Extremes, 2004. One of the shorts is pretty damn good, worth it for that one alone. 3/5
18. The Church, 1989. Nice mood but a little too political for me. 2/5
19. The Gravedancers, 2006. This was great. A little bit of Poltergeist, a little bit of Entity, a lot of NEVER dance on a grave. Not a lot of CGI which is nice. I thought the pace was perfect. 4/5
20. From a Whisper to a Scream, 1987. AKA The Offspring for some reason, a very good anthology of stories in the vein of Creepshow, told by Vincent Price, with a very traditional way to them. Not a lot of gore but it doesn’t need it. 3/5
21. Creature, 1985. This one was on the “do not let your kids watch it” list way back in the day at the local mom and pop video rental place. 2/5
22. The Deaths of Ian Stone, 2007. Not great but not terrible, decent story and good effects. 3/5
23. The Monster Squad, 1987. Absolute perfection. Pacing, comedy, and monsters. Equal to the Goonies. You can even see the strings on the bats. 5/5
24. Wicked Little Things, 2006. Kinda dry, it starts strong but then fizzles. Good ideas but you’ve seen it before done better. 1/5
25. The Burning, 1981. Summer camp prank gone wrong. I think this is a template for a lot of 80’s slasher movies. Great genre entry. 2/5
26. Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992. Visually excellent and well acted, re-telling of the old story. How did Twilight even come from this source? 4/5
27. Splinter, 2008. Pretty good. If you like Night of the Creeps or The Blob you should dig this. Creepy beasty, made me jump. Extra points for Jill Wagner. 4/5
28. The Thaw, 2009. Solid creature feature, light on gore, high on creepy. Plays on fears of global warming and bugs. I dug the “realism” of some touches like the tire tracks in grass. 3/5
29. Frozen, 2010. Excellent suspense. Kept us asking what we would we do the entire time and how we would do it. 3/5
30. Dead Snow, 2009. Nazi zombies want their gold. A ton fun here for zombie fans. 4/5
31. Imprint (Masters of Horror), 2006. Miike is twisted. 3/5
32. Creepshow, 1982. I remember feeling like I had seen something I shouldn’t have seen with this back when I was a kid. This flick is a classic and a gateway to others. All horror anthologies are measured by this in my book. 4/5
33. Fright Night, 1985. Welcome to Fright Night, for real! 5/5
34. The Last Man on Earth, 1965. So cool, Vincent Price is a king. Let’s go on a stake through the heart montage, come back home and fire up a jazz record on the hifi. Sweet. 4/5
35. Devil’s Den, 2006. B grade but takes some interesting pokes at the genre. Some funny bits throughout. 2/5
36. Night of the Demons, 2009. A remake of the 1988 version, I liked it. Good story, some funny stuff, some pretty good gore. Overall a great Halloween movie. 3/5
37. Dead Silence, 2007. I loved this one. Great use of audio. Creepy dolls and curses. One of the best so far. I only regret watching it on AMC, commercials yank you right out of this excellent flick. 5/5
38. Pet Sematary, 1989. I dig King’s books but most of the movies are pretty bad, this one is pretty good. The torment of that decision carries the flick. I think this is a classic among non horror fans. 2/5
39. Triangle, 2009. Very trippy. More like a Twilight Zone or Hitchcock thing going on here. 4/5
40. Jenifer Master’s of Horror, 2005. Weird, not too great, not too bad. 2/5
41. Fido, 2006. Very funny, very cool. Quite a different take on a boy and his dog so to speak. The integration of zombies into suburbia was well displayed and zombies weren’t even as twisted as some of the normal people. 3/5
42. Fair Haired Child Master’s of Horror, 2006. I liked the twist but not much else. 2/5
43. The Exorcist, 1973. Timeless classic, never once does it feel like it’s from the early 70’s. I still get white knuckled watching it and have to tell myself to breath. 5/5

44. The Devil’s Rejects, 2005. Not so much a horror flick by my rules but a great flick with great characters. I dug the cinematography and soundtrack. 3/5

45. Saw 3D, 2010. Didn’t need the 3D. Plenty of gore and I think it had a plot. Nice technical execution of kills. 2/5

46. Sleepaway Camp 2, 1988. Formulaic slasher with tons of fun. Pokes fun at other teen slasher flicks like Nightmare on Elm Street. Angela’s one liners and dead pan delivery are highlights. 2/5

47. Sleepaway Camp 3, 1990. Formualic slasher with tons of fun. Pokes fun at other teen slasher flicks Friday the 13th. More great one liners and social commentary. 2/5