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
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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!