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I didn’t hear much of the buzz surrounding Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan until I watched one of my favorite horror movie reviewers cover it. Then I began to realize I had seen multiple threads about this movie and heard it name dropped frequently of late. I didn’t need a whole lot of reasons to watch a popular Korean zombie flick and decided immediately I was going to watch it this month. After Old Boy, The Host, I Saw the Devil, and A Tale of Two Sisters, I have a lot of faith in disturbing Korean movies and have yet to see a bad one.

Train to Busan is another excellent addition to this list. The story behind the film is as simple as the title implies — a busy, absent father takes his daughter on a train ride to the city of Busan and while they’re on the train it just so happens that the zombie apocalypse starts. Cue insanity.

If anyone is going to dismiss this movie it’s going to be over the fact that it’s a zombie movie. I can completely understand why anyone would be sick of zombies at this point. They can be a dull villain, because often no matter how much you mix it up they’re still just growling dead people who either run or walk and want to eat humans. You know what to expect out of any given zombie movie. If you absolutely despise this subgenre then chances are you’re not going to shed that point of view for a foreign horror movie.

Although I certainly experience zombie fatigue, there’s just something about them that I like even after the idea’s been done so many times. The first horror movie I ever watched was Night of the Living Dead and I’m still fond of most of Romero’s movies. For me, as long as there’s some new element added to the zombie concept, I’m into it.

I’m going to argue that there are two things that make the zombies in this film more interesting. The first is the confined environment. A train is a pretty linear setting and the movie does a good job portraying the chaos flowing through the train compartments. The confined space adds a somewhat interesting and new dynamic to the zombie story. It makes for some very cool scenes. The second thing is the actual look of the zombies. They’re not incredibly different, but their movements and appearances are well done. It looks almost as if they hired break dancers for the parts, seeing the way that they move.

I could potentially say there’s a third element that makes this film’s zombies worth it, but to be honest I didn’t find it all that intriguing. These zombies are blind in the darkness, which proves useful going through train tunnels. Eh? Eh.

The movie has a nice blend of silliness and drama without ever really dipping into being too horrifying or gory. There are some funny moments that are well placed and serve to break tension and also endear you to certain characters. The cast of characters, as I’ve found with all the aforementioned Korean horror movies, is fantastic. You slowly get to know them, learning a few traits to make you love some and hate others, and it’s done well considering there is quite a handful of characters. The daughter is absolutely adorable and doesn’t enter annoying child actor territory whatsoever.

The look of the movie is nice as well. The environment gives us some great contrasting colors, rich oranges and blues and grays and yellows. There are many scenes within this environment that are entertaining to watch. The zombies look great falling out of helicopters and pouncing off the ground, tumbling in a wave through the train in a way that speaks to World War Z but has a much better overall look. Some of the cooler scenes also are a bit silly, which is mixed in well and spread apart from the more dramatic action sequences.

One complaint I do have is how relaxed the actors are. There’s an enjoyable gradual build up of people discovering that the zombie apocalypse is happening, however the realization happens a little too slowly. It is ridiculous how slowly some people catch on to the presence of zombies in their train car. The actors don’t really scream and seem rather calm when confronted with the undead, which can be nice if you hate listening to the screaming.

What’s most charming about this movie (a horror movie? charming?) is that there are actually some nice family values carried throughout the story. Yes, it’s entertaining and action-packed, with some scenes that might make you gasp or slap your hand to your mouth, but the story still ended up being very touching and emotional. The ending moved me and I cared about the characters. Which is pretty shocking for a zombie movie.

This is one of the best zombie flicks I’ve seen in years, perhaps since the original [Rec], and I recommend checking it out even if you’re a little sick to death of the undead.

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October is here, Halloween is coming, and this means horror movies. Anyone who knows me knows that I love horror and watch films in the genre nigh constantly. For the last five years I’ve attempted to watch a horror movie every single day in the month of October, always unsuccessfully, though last year was my best yet — made it to 28 horror movies out of the attempted 31.

This year I’ve decided not to attempt this silly feat, however, this hasn’t stopped me from having watched some horror movies recently. I will also still attempt to watch a handful this month and perhaps I’ll throw up some reviews for them. Until then, I’ll briefly run through some recent watches and let you know whether I think you should bother seeing them or not.

For additional horror movie reviews and recommendations, I encourage you to check out my posts from last year reviewing my rapid-fire horror movie marathon: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. There’s an interesting mix of good, bad and mediocre to peruse there.

Darling (2015): Don’t watch it.

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A lot of people recommended this film because it’s artistic and aesthetic. However, the movie has the same issue as A Girl Walks Home Alone at Midnight — there’s very little substance, so it can actually be quite boring. How much do you want to stare at the lead actress Lauren Ashley Carter? That’s really your litmus test for whether you should watch this film, as that’s really mostly what you’ll be doing. This film also fails to be as compelling as A Girl Walks Home Alone. There are less characters and less variety to the setting. The plot is a descent into madness tale, which is extremely unoriginal as it is, and fails to follow through with various threads. Overall, the whole affair is boring, uninspired, and bland. Just watch A Girl Walks Home Alone at Midnight or a Roman Polanski film instead.

We Are What We Are (2013): Watch it.

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There’s certainly a lot of cannibal horror movies out there, but this one manages to be unique. The plot involves a family in a small town who lose their maternal figure and must figure out how to survive and move on while maintaining their, uh, lifestyle. The film keeps many aspects of their cannibalism — why, how, when, what they are — under wraps, and only addresses some of these questions by the end. However, the story unveils itself in such a way that the unanswered aspects work well in keeping you interested but not rolling your eyes. I didn’t like the way the ending played out, and there is some flash detective work that inevitably got my eyes rolling, but aside from this I very much enjoyed the movie.

Hush (2016): Watch it.

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Everyone’s been raving about this home invasion movie, which unfortunately is not exactly a good thing. This film is not as fantastic and revolutionary within the genre as most imply. The main character is deaf, which is the big gimmick that’s meant to add that extra intriguing dimension to this movie. Is it interesting? Yes, actually. However, in the end it never surpassed B-movie status for me. It just seemed like a well-made B slasher/home invasion movie with an interesting gimmick that only acceptably carried the movie. Nevertheless, I do think this movie is worth watching if you’re into slashers or home invasion plots, you will be entertained and perhaps even frightened, but in the end I can’t say this movie is exceptionally different or noteworthy compared to other entries in the subgenre, like The Strangers or Funny Games, for instance.

The horror found footage film As Above, So Below (2014) received quite a bit of attention two years ago while in theaters, and it’s oft been recommended to me since. I’m a fan of found footage, despite the usual infuriating nature of the genre, so I’d been interested in seeing this for a while. The premise of the film is intriguing, especially considering the set is actually the Catacombs, which also then means that many of the bones and skeletons are probably real. Pretty darn spooky, right? If dusty calcium scares you.

In the end, I can’t say that this is a good horror movie, but I was engaged. The beginning of the film is incredibly slow, however once it picks up it did keep my attention. The main character Scarlett is an academic wizard who thankfully is an expert in… symbology, which I suppose is the justification for how she’s able to interpret the hieroglyphics on the Catacomb walls to mean some pretty absurd things. She rattles off her interpretations in rapid-fire whispers that barely make sense, and the viewer must just accept that she is right because otherwise they’re fucked and the plot must go on, afterall. There is a moment where she attributes the phrase “Abandon hope all ye who enter here” to mythology, and as a massive literature nerd, I cringed pretty hard. I imagine most of what she says is similarly cringe-worthy. But it is a horror movie, so I accepted Scarlett’s rants and hoped for scary imagery.

The movie provided. The Catacombs look amazing, and while I didn’t find the jump scares effective and grew tired of them, the creatures are eerie-looking and the shadows and CGI worked well (meaning it was not particularly excessive). Many of the scenes are framed nicely and the overall aesthetics and appearance of everything works. I would say this is the strongest aspect of the whole movie—the visuals and setting.

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Someone’s family, once

Eventually I began to believe the movie was self-aware and purposefully loading itself up with tropes for sheer amusement. This is not art. Some of the scenes are so ridiculous that they are laughable. A particular scene features Scarlett essentially getting a star in Mario and going back through the tunnels they just spent 45 minutes of film time traveling through, then Mario-starring it back again.

Also, the film doesn’t really try to make the camera situation make sense. Some may find this irritating.  Many found footage films attempt to explain where the footage is coming from, how they were able to get certain angles and shots, but that doesn’t really happen here in a convincing manner. I wasn’t really bothered much by this, as in the end the whole premise is ridiculous and I just wanted to see spooky things.

If you want your movies to make sense, then this isn’t really the film for you. There’s a long list of nonsensical, bad moments in this movie. But if you enjoy found footage irregardless and want to see a horror film shot in an interesting setting with some cool scenes, then this will surely entertain you—enough.

 

 

Finally, October is over, and I’ve watched far too many horror movies. Flicks which I compelled myself to review here, this being the third part after watching and reviewing twenty other movies in previous installments, with the ultimate goal of watching thirty one scary, spooky films this month. After doing this for 5 years straight now, as well as watching horror pretty consistently during off season, I feel like I have seen hundreds of horror movies at this point. Perhaps my viewpoint has some value after that—but I seriously doubt it.

Anyway, I didn’t actually succeed this year. I’ve never succeeded in my goal of watching thirty one movies, usually making it to 24-25 before I burn out or experience too many hangovers. This year, however, I did make it to TWENTY EIGHT movies, which has been my best ever. This is a superlative year, and I’m proud of myself…. I…. guess. Not only that, but I actually reviewed every one. Wow, this is a stupid hobby.

This warrants the infamous big man tiny pumpkinhead dance gif.

Away I go.


October 21st: Halloween (1978)

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Ooh, this is a big one, folks. When people think horror, one of the first things they usually think of is John Carpenter’s Halloween (and The Exorcist—think outside the box a little bit more, people). This is one of the big classics. Honestly, most of you have probably already seen this. So I’ll get right to opinions. I really just do not like Jamie Lee Curtis’s acting in this movie, and I feel like there are too many scenes with her walking around dreamily, looking like a giant adult schoolgirl. Curtis looks like a grown woman in this movie. Michael Myers isn’t a very interesting villain either, I much prefer Black Christmas’s Billy (which I will discuss much further several reviews down). In fact, this movie is kinda dull and not all that much happens. I suppose it’s popularity might be something beyond my understanding of film history, but maybe it’s the simple title and simple story that makes Halloween so popular. The movie has to be one of my least favorite slashers.

October 22nd: Killer Legends (2014)

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Here we have another horror documentary, much like The Nightmare and Cropsey. I was very skeptical for the first twenty minutes of Killer Legends—it almost seemed like a Cropsey rip-off for a moment near the beginning. But then this movie evolved into something more unique, and more well done then initially expected. Basically, this documentary explores the origins of several urban legends—and explores them pretty damn close to their legitimate origins. And of course, the legends are extremely common ones that I remember hearing about in the dark at sleepovers when I was young: The Candyman, the Babysitter and the Man Upstairs, The Hook Man, and the Killer Clown. I think my favorite segment was The Hook Man origins exploration, as it touched on some film history and unsolved murder cases. This was a smart movie and I enjoyed watching it. I wish someone had given it a better title.

October 23rd: Blood Glacier (2013)

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Speaking of titles: There’s just something about a movie called Blood Glacier, I needed to watch this. The glacier is full of blood? Cool. I’ll go with it. Really, this movie ends up being a huge rip-off of The Thing (for shame!), but it’s strange enough in it’s own special way at the same time. You have probably already assumed the plot: researchers in the Alps are doing researchy things and then there’s blood all over a glacier and this somehow leads to mutant animals. The hybrids look pretty stupid, especially compared to the fantastic creature formations from The Thing. The endpoint of the plot is incredibly strange, and I sat there with my head cocked to the side for a while after this one. Strange, strange, strange. And not in a good way.

October 24th: Wer (2013)

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I was very into the movie as I watched Wer. Now, I’m looking back and wondering if maybe the movie was just a little too ridiculous. The violence is over the top in a lot of scenes. Still, it’s a cool werewolf movie set up differently—and more seriously—than a lot of the other werewolf movies I know. The movie’s main is a defense attorney trying to prove her client did not commit an extremely brutal murder that we see in the first few minutes of the movie. The brutality is observed only by a scene where they show their corpses in the morgue. Yeesh. The injuries go hard in this movie. Honestly, the effects all look pretty awesome, and there are some very interesting deaths. The ending is a little vague, which didn’t make me very happy, but it was specific enough that I wasn’t pissed off. I think this is a good modern werewolf movie, not worth ignoring though it may not appeal to everyone’s tastes.

October 25th: The Horde (2009)

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Ugh, this is an extremely disappointing French horror movie and honestly I don’t even really want to spend time reviewing it. Basic fast zombie movie that is primarily set in a social housing complex, throwing in some gangs versus cops. There’s some bad revenge in there as well, and just lots of men being very intense toward each other with basic zombie kills. You’re much better off just rewatching the 28 Days series.

October 26th: Come Back to Me (2014)

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I viewed Come Back to Me as a rather silly movie until being completely taken aback by the ending. The ending of this movie is possibly infuriating but also completely unexpected. We have a nice young couple living in suburbia who have some small problems and weird jobs (the woman is researching the effect of porn on relationships), and an extremely creepy young man moves across the street. But of course this is set up after we see the history of this creepy young man at the beginning, where a boy is shown petting a rabbit while his father beats his mother to death. In present time, the woman is having horrible nightmares where she jolts awake gasping with fear. How are all of these things related? Oh, you know they’re related. Everything is rather predictable, until there is a twist, and then the ending happens out of the blue—all in all, pretty entertaining. Not the easiest movie to take seriously, but certainly enjoyable.

October 27th: Black Christmas (1974)

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This one was a rewatch for me, and really it’s one of my favorite classic slasher films. Black Christmas came out four years before Halloween, and did the whole slasher thing much better. We have a sorority house with a bunch of young independent women who don’t need no men, ranging from crass to kind, and a completely insane murderer living in the attic crawl space. His name is Billy and he calls the young women repeatedly (FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!) and just…. giggles and pants and says some extremely disturbing stuff, making some creepy noises that require a big range of voice (a woman was employed in the making of these phone calls to get those really high-pitched sounds in there). There’s some humor mixed in as well, focused often on how sexually independent the sorority girls are (one of them is dead set on getting an abortion and has arguments with her boyfriend about how she has the right, while he tries to harangue her into having the baby) and the controlling, prudish men of the world. Billy is never really shown much, which is good because really seeing the effect his shadowy presence has on the women in the house is far more interesting. The movie is a bit too long for what it is, but still a classic and worth watching.

October 28th: The Road (2011)

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The Road is a Filipino horror movie that falls flat on its face. The movie is extremely stylized and somewhat interesting for stretches of time, but when the plot finally ties together the concept is just so stupid. I can’t really complain about why it’s stupid without giving away spoilers. There’s a lot of eerie images and beautiful scenes, so if you simply want to watch a movie to see that, then sure, watch this movie. The whole thing story-wise is just disappointing. This was the last one I watched this month for this thing, and I felt bad that I ended on such a gloomy, poor movie.


There they are, the many horror movies I watched in October and my opinions on whether they are good or worth watching or not. I dd the dirty work for you, everyone. I’m just glad the effort is over, and I might not be watching a horror movie for a while. Now, if you haven’t read the first two parts to these Rapidfire Reviews, please go back and check out what other movies I watched.

Alright, yes, here I am, still watching horror movies. I had some intense horror movie conversation at a bar last night and I feel invigorated and ready to keep this going. So, after viewing nine horror movies for Part One, here is my second installment of these Rapidfire Reviews.


October 10th: Funny Games

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This is the first movie I’ve watched this month that I had already seen before. But it was a Friday night, you see, and we had a friend over who loved horror movies but had never seen it. In my personal opinion, this is a must-see when it comes to horror. The movie makes a point to show that the two villains in the plot are very aware of exactly what they are doing—that being tormenting a poor family in order to exact fear, tension and anguish for a viewing audience. Yes, it’s really meta-horror. However, it doesn’t beat you over the head with this. For the most part the film is nerve-wracking and disturbing, and then sometimes that cavalier evil lead with his chicken legs will wink at the camera, or make a comment that reminds you that he is aware that you want to see a show of this nice family unit’s demise—which I assume is meant to make the viewer feel uncomfortable and even a bit guilty. This is driven home even further when very little gore or brutality is even shown on camera, most deaths happening off camera, while what is shown is the abject grief, tormenting question of why this is happening plastered over the faces of the victims. The most effective scene in the movie spans for about ten minutes and mostly involves two of the characters sitting on the floor, one of them off-screen for a while, just absorbing their escalating anguish and despair and putting all of their strength in still trying to escape despite what’s happened to them, one of them eventually breaking out into uncontrollable, animalistic sobs and noises. Not much happens as we view this, but it allows you to absorb what the characters must be feeling, gives you time for your brain to try to wonder how you would react in such a situation.  This movie really succeeds on a psychological level.

October 11th: Final Girl (2015)

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Well, things have been going fairly well, but then here we have this—I watched the wrong movie. I was intending to watch The Final Girls (2015)which I had heard was a quality spoof, but in my attempts to quickly find the movie free online I ended up watching Final Girl (2015)Which ended up being… not so great… at all. The movie sort of has a horror vibe to it, though I suppose it’s more of a thriller, and overall it’s just bad, bad, bad. Abigail Breslin is in it, which is strange, since she’s randomly being raised to be an assassin so this stoic guy can get revenge for his wife and daughter who were murdered. But—the people Breslin is playing victim for so she can kill…. they’re teenagers. There’s no way they were involved in the murder of his wife. Yes, they are murdering women—or at least one woman—but the motivation for training her for years to target this one specific group just goes unexplained. Are they going to… keep doing that? Killing men who kill women? The majority of the movie takes place in the woods, which is in the “middle of nowhere,” but has stadium lighting throughout. The list of nonsense goes on. I wonder if The Final Girls is any good. I bet it will be better than this crap, if I ever get around to finding it and watching it.

October 12th: The Fly (1958)

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I guess growing up having seen The Simpsons version of The Fly ruined the creepy vibe the film really ought to give going in, but don’t worry—my expectations were corrected. Despite how used to the concept I was, the whole film was still very disturbing. Vincent Price was, well, Vincent Price, so incredibly entertaining and sharp. I enjoyed that there was a mystery aspect to the storyline, as I hadn’t been expecting that. The dehumanization of Andre is disturbing to see, and I feel for him as he desires to end his hopeless life post-abomination, as well as his wife who covers for him faithfully. The part that bothered me the most (which I imagine can also be seen as humorous) is the disappearance of the cat. Where does that cat go?! The meows sound distressed, so I immediately imagined horrible things, like it was fused into a wall to die or something. That fate sounds even worse than that of Andre. Should I watch the Jeff Goldblum version at any point? Well, that’s for you to tell me. But this version is definitely a must-see classic.

October 13th: Dark Skies (2013)

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I’m wary toward alien movies because for the most part they really suck. So I assumed this movie was going to suck, but not only was it okay, it was even pretty good. The movie does suffer horribly from Dumb Dad Syndrome, which is severe enough that it prevents this movie from being great in any way. The dad spends almost the entire movie just being so stupid, completely dense and angry at the wrong times, argumentative and illogical and asinine. It’s incredibly frustrating. For crying out loud, I even like the kids in this movie, and that almost never happens. The older brother looks out for the little brother from the very beginning and it’s really touching and relieving. The arguing, however, ends up being between the parents, which would have been more bearable if the dad didn’t take the angry stupid up to 11 every single time. He does eventually get his shit together, but by that point it’s too late and I’ve spent too long hating him to feel impressed. The ending has a twist, which is very small but still interesting as it makes you realize there are things you should have paid more attention to throughout the movie. The movie is a bit predictable, but still sad—and the aliens do look fucking creepy.

October 14th: The Conspiracy (2012)

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This found footage movie was about, shockingly, conspiracy theories. I was expecting alien conspiracy theories or something, but the movie focuses a lot in the beginning on 9/11 and powerful groups. If you believe that conspiracy theories are cool, and that there is a remote chance in hell that anyone would ever be organized enough for an ancient evil omniscient criminal group, then sure, this may be your thing. I think conspiracy theories are boring however, because we’ve all heard the speculations and it’s reached the point where it just doesn’t sound creative or interesting. And the whole first 45 minutes is straight up documentary footage about a guy going on about conspiracy theories, and then he disappears, and a crew member continues to research conspiracy theories to try to find out why. It is just not interesting to watch, unless like I said before you get titillated by Ancient Aliens or the new crap that’s on the History channel. When the movie finally does begin to approach its climax it does get good. There were a good ten to fifteen minutes where I felt the tension and was intrigued by what was going on. Then the ending came along and ruined everything. That ending was just garbage. It was so unrealistic, and made the whole reason that there was documentary footage being put together for the whole event and people being interviewed just senseless.

October 15th: Below (2002)

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Apparently this movie isn’t exceptionally well-liked, and many think it’s a bit silly. I can see that some may find it lame, but I must admit I was incredibly into this movie the whole time. It was like Poseidon Adventure meets every ghost movie ever. When I was a little kid, Poseidon Adventure was one of my favorite movies, thus, I’m assuming, sparking a love of submerged ships for me… forever. I also had the opportunity once to take students on a tour of a WWII submarine and I thought it was just the coolest thing ever. We walked through each room and were shown the compartments. This film apparently is partially filmed on a real submarine, so a lot of it looked pretty cool. Well, the submarine itself. The graphics, on the other hand, are laughably bad. You can tell they spent the whole budget renting the submarine. The movie is also co-written by Darren Aranofsky, and directed by David Twohy, the same guy who did Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick. I like those movies as well, and they are often thought of as silly, so I guess I just enjoy the silly grim suspense of this director. The plot of Below is incredibly simple, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with the reveals and I found it very enjoyable. Zach Galifianakis is in it as well, and although he regrets his earlier film work, I enjoyed him in this. He plays that needed kooky guy who turns out to be surprisingly reliable (think: the stoner in Cabin in the Woods). I recommend this movie, and I say haters go to hell.

October 16th: The Awakening (2011)

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This movie was about a young woman dissatisfied with her marriage until she goes and drowns herself. Wait, that’s not it. No, this one is a ghost story, and there’s a boarding school and a lady (Rebecca Hall) who is probably going hysterical from being too clever of a woman. Educated women, you know, they go crazy. There’s a mystery, a twist, a woman unraveled and creepy little boys galore. And it’s all just so strange and silly. There’s a doll house and little yarn people and everything. Throw in some extraneous attempted rape and a big woman named Maud, and you have this movie. Apparently there are people that like this movie, but it’s actually really not good unless you like to see Rebecca Hall being cross with people. Oh, and her boobs.

October 17th: Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) (Live Screening with Actors)

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Okay, so I did technically watch a movie today, and one with horror in the title. I just did it in a theater—there was a live performance—and this doesn’t exactly count as a horror movie. But it does sort of still, actually, because it’s a musical horror comedy. There is a castle where a mad scientist creates a monster, there are aliens, there is someone stabbed to death with a pick-axe. Definitely counts. Anyway, like many people I have seen this movie dozens and dozens of times. I’ve even seen live screenings before, but this was the first time with actors. These people, playing Brad, Janet (pictured above), Dr. Scott, Rocky, Frankenfurter, Colombia, Magenta, Riff Raff, that doctor dude with no neck, were running around in between the aisles and interacting with people. During the sex scene, Frankenfurter was on top of Janet in the seats behind us. People were shouting at the screen non-stop, toilet paper and toast were thrown—the usual live stuff.  My partner and I were identified as virgins to a live performance and had lipstick “V”s drawn on our faces. This resulted in us later getting spanked with the other virgins on stage. As for the movie itself, I just love this movie. Tim Curry’s performance is just wonderful, and the whole thing is so silly and and so rock-and-roll that I’m entertained every time I see it. This is a must-see, and worth seeing live as well. Bring your friends! Get spanked.

October 18th: Re-Animator (1985)

Another horror classic, and what a classic! This is really a fun, well-done, gory movie. There are many characters who are fun and memorable (the conniving Dr. Hill whose teeth jut out like a cow’s, the innocent dummy Cain, the cool, evil genius West, the nosy Megan love interest, Mr. Halsey himself, looking disgustingly wonderful in his post-death phase). This is worth mentioning, because not many horror movies can be said to have a big cast of interesting characters. The gore level is high, but it’s not cringe-worthy torture gore like you may find in more modern movies, but dripping artful gore that I can just imagine an artist pouring over to make it as shocking and realistic looking as possible. The film does get disgusting, crossing some lines perhaps, but the overall entertainment value is incredibly high. I feel as if this is a must-watch for horror fans, and I’m glad I finally watched it. The whole thing is really just funny and even slapstick. There’s a lot of action at the end as well, and I even wanted more after the film finally finished.

October 19th: The Nightmare (2015)

This is a documentary about victims of sleep paralysis (victims? sufferers?). I had heard of sleep paralysis many times before, largely from AskReddit threads, and just sort of accepted that this existed without finding it terrifying in anyway. But, that’s probably easy for me to say, having never experienced it. Apparently everybody and their mother experiences sleep paralysis from time to time, and apparently a lot of the time it’s pretty terrifying. While watching this movie I looked up why people see scary things while experiencing sleep paralysis, and it has something to do with once realizing one can’t move the amygdala scans the territory for enemies and the brain, freshly in or out of dream state, provides basic images such as: shadowy man, figure on top of chest. Okay that does sound pretty terrifying. The movie itself is okay at best, and often cheesy and silly with its reenactments, but I must admit some of the sequences of what horrors people did perceive scared me, mainly because I couldn’t help but imagine, what if I saw or heard that while lying in bed? So this documentary did help improve my attitude toward sleep paralysis as something more credible that many people experience. I asked people on Twitter about their own experiences with sleep paralysis, and received a variety of responses, ranging from mildly startling to personally terrifying.

October 20th: John Dies at the End (2012)

I’ve seen this movie labeled as a horror movie—or maybe it was the novel that was labeled as such—so I decided to give this one a go. I remember back when the book came out in 2007, when I read Cracked.com avidly (and, like everyone, as I gradually stopped when the quality went down). I recall reading an article by Cracked writer David Wong where he dropped the fact that he had published a book recently. The book is labeled as “comic horror,” but the movie adaptation is more “comic action” and the horror vibes aren’t very strong with this one. There certainly is a lot of gore and monstery goodness, so I believe it can count as a horror movie in some respects. The movie is actually funny, but it took awhile to build up to this for me. The beginning came across as cocky and the characters were all over the place acting pretentious, so I found myself disliking it from the get go. However, the movie does improve as it goes along, and by the end I would say the whole thing was rather enjoyable, the plot more complicated and interesting than I initially assumed. I was never 100% won over by the characters, but their savvy provides for a lot of amusement, so it’s an entertaining movie either way.


Boom! There you have it Part Two of my Rapidfire Horror Movie Reviews for October. Twenty movies! I’m pretty impressed with myself so far, there have been years I didn’t make it this far—and those years were going even better than this one. So, with that said, do you believe I can make it to watching THIRTY ONE horror movies this October? I don’t know… I have some personal doubts. That would be a third installment of eleven horror movies. Holy shit! Maybe I can split this up into a four parter…. I don’t know. Keep routing for me though, send me movie suggestions, and await my Part Three!

The 2013 film The Den, directed by Zachary Donohue, has been sitting in my Netflix list for a while now. Found footage films usually appeal to me, but the premise and look of the movie reminded me too much of Feardotcom, so it stirred up some traumatic flashbacks of a horrible fucking movie. Also, there’s a creepypasta vibe to the plot as well, and that’s not exactly a great sign. A woman named Elizabeth is doing a project involving a social media website called, of course, “The Den” (which has such a creepy connotation, no one would ever name their site that), so she’s chatting constantly with strangers at random via webcam. Cue: Snuff! Torture! Hacking! This is the kind of stuff Reddit users are squirming excitedly over when they’re writing about the “deep web.”

And yet, despite these damning details, this horror movie is actually good.

To deflect all protests of, “Nobody uses videochat this much!” I give you this: Imagine a world where…. people did. This is a fictional movie, after all, and the idea is not really that unbelievable. Also, the frequent use of Snapchat is comparable, so combine that with Omegle and Skype, and voila, you have “The Den.” Yeah, people don’t actually do what the characters in the movie do, but just pretend this is happening 10 years in the future or something.

The format of the movie is really interesting, and almost identically resembles the clips I’ve seen from the film Unfriended (2014). Since I haven’t actually seen Unfriended, I can’t say which movie did it better. The Den does a pretty damn good job of it though, all of the events of the film being shown via desktop and phone cam. There is a combination of text and video alongside each other as well. The whole format made my brain feel like I wasn’t watching a movie. The familiar image of the mouse moving across the screen, scrolling through email, all of that had this effect of making me feel as if I was just perusing the internet—and coming across some fucked up stuff. A different feel than the average movie experience.

Aww! Look, how about you come over to my place, and you can kill me. Sound good? 😉

The thing that I found really made it a good horror movie was the timing and pacing. There is some humor that really helps you relax (THERE’S A PENIS HOLY SHIT THERE’S AN ACTUAL PENIS, IT’S JUST LIKE IRL) before fucking with you again, ever so briefly, then returning back to normal. For veterans of the interwebs, this is a day in the life. Horrifying fucked up shit—a meme. Whatever. The escalation of the conflict is well-paced and unnerving, subtle but effective.

Then there’s what nobody ever comes across (well, aside from things like the Dnepropetrovsk maniacs video and the unfortunate like), an oddly exciting topic for us sick millenials—a snuff video. The way the movie goes about doing this was actually pretty scary; particularly, I enjoyed the coupling of sound and still images, or mismatched sound with video. The photo of the smiling girl creeped me out more than any of the stuff at the end of the movie, and when that suddenly shifted to video, I was surprisingly disturbed.

And then we hit our peak of realism for this movie, something extremely rare when it comes to horror movies….

Elizabeth immediately goes to the police.

Well, thank god. This didn’t make the movie go from zero to stupid fantasy world immediately, thus I remained into the movie. And it makes some sense the police can’t do much about a vague video online. It’s hard to say if the police reaction is realistic at first. By the end of the movie I was like, “Okay, these guys are just fucking idiots.” But cops do suck, so I suppose that common knowledge is enough to allow it to make some sense. However, the presence of cops still ends up defusing any possible realistic quality by the end of the movie. This is one of the big issues with horror movies. When they don’t call the cops, it’s like. “What the fuck?” But then when they do, the response and outcomes also don’t make sense.

…. That’s a really defined nose for a head in a burlap sack.

The ending was a bit drawn out, but I actually liked it. Yeah, obviously that would never happen, blah blah blah, but I still think the final scene was a nice end to the movie, and I also wasn’t quite expecting it.

Despite the fact that I thought this was a great horror movie, I must complain about two things: God! The video static and glitches! Cutting in and out! Is there no way to escape this? Even on a webcam? Why does every found footage movie have to contain this?! I didn’t mind it before, but I’m beginning to grow irritated at its presence in movies. Also, putting GoPros on the victims heads? I think this could have been thought out a little differently, but whatever, I took it in stride.

The idea of hacking and people outcomputering you has been topical for a while. Everyone’s Uncle Bobby is terrified of viruses and hackers, and with the whole NSA business, the film strikes a nerve involving webcams and the internet. Truly, there is a lot of potential for fucked up shit on the internet. This we can all agree on. Mix all that in with well-timed scares and plot pacing, effectively constructed format, and you have a movie worth watching.

The Den is currently available for streaming on Netflix.

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