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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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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)

Yam Laranas The Road 2011 Film Review

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.

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