Halloween Scene: Old School Round-Up

bride-of-frankensteinAs I mentioned yesterday, I got to an early start when it came to watching horror movies this fall. So, I’ve got a lot to talk about! First, if you haven’t already, check out a pair of lists I wrote for CBR. One’s about movies and shows to follow Stranger Things up with while the other focused on the best classic horror movies to stream on Netflix and Amazon Prime!

Continue reading Halloween Scene: Old School Round-Up

Halloween Scene: Demons (1985), Halloween (1978), The Ring (2002), The Substitute (2007) & My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)

Even though the weather went from very Halloween to ridiculously sunny today, I frontloaded my week so that I could give myself a horror movie marathon day. Today I watched Demons, Halloween (the original of course), The Ring (US remake), The Substitute (dubbed, poorly I might add) and My Bloody Valentine 3D in 3D for the first time. So, let’s tackle these bad boys in order.

I actually watched Demons late last night, which is still technically today. I was catching up on emails and some links I wanted to read, so I wasn’t paying 100% attention and I don’t really understand what was happening. Considering this is an Italian horror movie, I’m not sure if I would understand even if I was sitting in a room by myself with just this movie to draw my attention. Far as I can tell, some people are in a movie theater and somehow the movie turns the viewers into demons. Once the demons are loose, they somehow create more demons, which kind of makes them zombies with a different look (glowing eyes, big claws).

Even though I don’t really know what was going on, I do know that the effects and kills in the movie were both awesome and cringe-worthy. You’ve got claws popping through a woman’s finger tips, a woman being scalped by a demon and razors near nipples among plenty of other things.

Aside from not making perfect sense (or at least being interesting enough to draw my attention away from the computer to pay attention which is obviously less of a sin than actually not making sense, but still not good), the movie also spends a lot of time with some cocaine-loving punks who (I think) only serve to show up at the movie theater later to become demons. It’s a weird choice, but I guess one that’s somewhat common when it comes to Italian horror (I’m not very well schooled in this subgenre). But, any movie that ends with a dude riding a dirtbike through a movie theater swinging a samurai sword to kill demons right before a helicopter falls through the roof is worth watching. It’s not a good movie, but it’s a fun story to watch.

Halloween‘s still my favorite slasher movie of all time. I reviewed the flick a few years ago, which you can read here. The sitting-up scene still gives me a charge. I don’t know if I’ve noticed this before, but I have no idea why Laurie’s friends with Annie. She’s SUCH a bitch. Man, what a jerk. Anyway, I love how Loomis’ decent into madness can be seen even in this first installment. Love that guy.

This was only the second time I’ve seen The Ring, but it’s still one of my favorite horror movies. The first time I saw it was in college at a date event my fraternity threw. We rented out a small room at the tiny theater in town called The Strand, everyone brought a date and we all sat there in the dark watching the movie. It’s my all-time favorite horror experience in a theater because, knowing everyone there allowed a lot of us to cut loose a little, so there was all kinds of screaming. You tend to hold that back when you’re in a theater with strangers, but this was a room full of friends. It was awesome. The only problem with the experience is that the missus swore off horror movies after watching the flick with me. Even worse, some of my fraternity brothers tried to scare us when we came back to my room later that night. Their plan was to have a tape sticking out of my VCR, the channel set to static and someone behind the couch to turn the TV on when we walked in. We stopped off to get some food, so we took longer to get back than everyone else which is good because, had they pulled the prank off, I don’t think the missus would have slept ever again. Or killed someone. By the time we got back to my room, some dudes were walking out, saw us and told us their aborted plan.

I had a wonderful time watching this movie again. I was worried that it would have lost a lot of its punch with me as I watched it by myself and during the day, but instead I was struck by how well put together the flick was. Gore Verbinksi did a great job with the visuals and mood of the movie. I also like that the Noah character seems to say the things that critics of the movie might say “It’s very student film” and “must have been scarier at night.” Those little bits give the script some self-awareness that I like without it being too in your face. Ring’s another slow burn type of movie, which I think I’m starting to appreciate more and I also like that there’s a mystery to the film. You think you get the answer and then that answer turns out to be completely wrong. I love when that happens in movies. You’re just trying to put the pieces together along with the Naomi Watts, but just because you’ve got a series of facts doesn’t mean you know the full story.

I was also struck by how many now-famous people are in small roles in the movie. Sara Rue (who was on BBT and those Jenny Craig commercials), Adam Brody, Amber Tamblyn and Pauley Perrette (the goth chick from NCIS) all have small parts. Plus, Samara is played by Daveigh Chase who voiced Lilo from Lilo & Stitch, which is kind of funny because the missus loves Lilo & Stitch and HATES The Ring.

In case you’re wondering, yes I’ve seen the original Ringu movies, but didn’t like them as much. I bought bootleg versions of them at a comic convention after seeing the movie in 2002, which was funny because, at the same time, the missus had bought me the legit versions for me for Christmas (the previous Christmas the same thing happened, but with the Jay and Silent Bob action figures). I don’t remember specifically why I didn’t like Ringu as much, but I would imagine it boils down to Americans not having the same weird cultural fears and hangups that Japanese folks do. Verbinski did a good job with the water and the kids, but those things don’t normally because I’m a grown man who can swim. I also remember having a problem with the subtitles which were white on often white backgrounds. I left these DVDs back home when I moved out here, so it’s been a while and I should definitely give them another watch.

Speaking of more watches, I watched The Substitute again and I think it’s the best Ghost House Underground movie of the bunch. It still reminds me of The Goonies but with an alien broad who can shrink people and control minds instead of the Fratellis and pirates. My only problem with the movie is that the dubbing is awful. Is it really so hard to get some actual kids to record voices instead of people who usually do cartoons? Seriously, pull a group of 16 year olds off the street and give them the script and it’d be way better than this. Just saying.

I finished things out by watching the copy of My Bloody Valentine 3D I picked up from Blockbuster and the pink and green 3D glasses I bought online. I’m not sure what to think about the experience of watching a 3D movie at home. This was the first time I ever did that and the first time I’ve used these kinds of 3D glasses. When I first put them on everything looked to be washed in those hues, but after a little while your eyes get used to it. As I’ve said, I tend to work on more than one thing at once which means every time I looked away from the screen or took the glasses off, it would take all that long to get back into the swing of things again. The other problem I had was that I couldn’t find a good angle to watch the movie. My usual seat isn’t directly in front of the TV but off to the side, so the 3D effects didn’t always hit me in the right way. Maybe I was too close or too far away. I tried some different angles, but never got a great view of things. There were a few things tossed at the screen that did make me flinch, but I missed the eye gag in the beginning because I was looking at email. I’m lame. The movie itself was the same as it was last time, though I remembered the twist this time around. I guess it still works and is a fun enough slasher flick to buy for $5.

Three Movies & A Book I Quit On Recently

As much as I’d like to say I finish everything I start, that’s just not the case. Well, it is professionally speaking, but not when it comes to watching movies and reading books. I can sit through some pretty bad nonsense when it comes to movies, but there has to be something keeping my interest for the hour and a half or more of time it takes to sit there and absorb the damn thing. The same goes for books, which I have an even shorter attention span for and take me longer to absorb. That being said, there are times when I give up and these movies and this book have made me give up…for now.

I was really interested in Demon Warriors (2007) for two reasons. 1) It’s a Thai movie and from the producers of Tony Jaa’s Ong-Bak and The Protector, two of the best action movies ever (even if they share very similar stories). And 2) It’s about people with superpowers. Seems like a pretty damn awesome combination to me. But, hey, it’s not. The story is overly convoluted with a story involving people who commit suicide only to come back with these fantastic, yet cursed powers. Most of them seem to be pretty bad dudes, but the most recent one is trying to recruit them for…something or other.

Between the story being nearly incomprehensible, having to sit through melodramatic subtitles (I watched it on Instant, so there’s no option of dubbing) and the complete lack of action, I had to turn this one off. I really gave this one the old college try. After falling asleep one night, I tried it again last night and just could not get into it. I couldn’t focus and the action was mostly uninteresting special effects and gun play, not the usual knock down, drag out fights I expect from the Thai action movies I’ve seen. It wasn’t as bad as Mercury Man, but way too boring to keep me invested.

I thought after watching the first four movies from my 50 movie drive-in collection it would be smooth sailing from there. Hell, Count Dracula And His Vampire Bride (1973) is a Hammer horror flick starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing set in 70s London, how could it be bad? Jesus, how could this boring turd by good? I should have read up on Hammer’s horror history on Wiki BEFORE I started the movie, because, thanks to that reading, I found out that this was Lee’s last Drac movie because he found it ridiculous. Here, here Lee!

The movie jumps from dudes wearing furry vests to women being seemingly tortured to old dudes hanging out to women being chained in basements to Van Helsing and eventually to Dracula, but by the time he finally showed up, I was so lost that I didn’t really care anymore.

It’s funny that I like vampire movies, but have yet to see a Dracula movie I liked, including the Frank Langella one. I definitely didn’t give this movie much of a chance thanks to it losing me so early and not showing me the main character, but I’ve got 45 more movies to get through and even after quitting I couldn’t think of enough to say for a Drive-In Couchfest write up.

The Card Player (2004) was yet another movie I was looking forward to watching. This time, it was because it’s a Dario Argento movie. I didn’t know anything else aside from that and the box art. After seeing Suspiria and Mother Of Tears and having, shall we say mixed feelings about both, I figured I’d be in for, if nothing else, one hell of a weird ride. Instead, Card Player turned out to be an overly long episode of CSI or Bones that seemed to telegraph the ending. I can’t tell you if that ending came to pass, but I would bet a small amount of money on it.

See, the idea is that there’s a serial killer who kidnaps random women and then gambles with their lives on online poker. For the most part, our POV is on the European cops’ side as they try to figure out who the guy is after not wanting to play the game the first time around and watching the girl get killed. It really does play out like a TV show you’ve seen a thousand times. They track down the best online poker player around and it turns out to be a kid. Later, the killer attacks the female cop in home. I’m guessing the killer succeeds and grabs her, then the male cop has to race to find her. Aside from not having any of Argento’s typical batshit elements, the film just seemed to plod along, never being better than any of the hour long TV dramas you can find anywhere on cable. The only Argento thing about the movie is that the corpses came floating up naked and they didn’t shy away from showing it. Though, after watching Bones, I’m pretty sure they could have gotten away with most of it on TV nowadays.

Slow burn books and I aren’t the best of friends. I’m a slow reader as it is, so if your book takes a while to really pick up and get interesting, then it might not be the best for me. Sometimes I’ll stick through a book like Brad Meltzer’s The Zero Game and come out loving the whole experience, but other times, I find myself in what I will now be calling a Michael Chabon situational where my love of a previous work can’t propel me through the murk of the current work.

Like every other geek who reads books without pictures I loved Chabon’s Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay. Eventually I found his book for kids called Summerland on sale at Building 19 and picked it up. I tried getting into it and it just never grabbed me. I chalked it  up to me not really being the audience for that book, but I’ve gone back and read Roald Dahl books and really enjoyed them, so maybe that’s not the case. The same thing went for Yiddish Policemen’s Union. I was really jazzed when I saw it on the cheap at Barnes & Noble, but I found even more indecipherable than just about any other book I’ve ever tried to read.

For the first thing, the book’s about a murder in a Jewish settlement in Alaska that will be changing in the near future. The Wikipedia page tells me that this is based on an alternate history. Me not being Jewish and knowing squat about Alaska, I kept wondering what was real and what was made up for the book. That’s okay when in small doses, but when I’m trying to figure out if the entire world the author is building is fictional or just certain parts, it takes me out of the story. Another problem I had with the book is that so many of the terms come from Yiddish and, as I mentioned before, I don’t know Yiddish. Had the book included a kind of glossary or footnotes in the back, I’d be a little more satisfied, but those two things fused the book into a large clump of denseness that I kept wanting to get through to the mystery at the heart of things, but just never could. I haven’t completely quit on this one as the book does still sit on the floor next to my bed, but I have plenty of other books to occupy my attention in the meantime. After quitting on this one, I moved to Terry Prachet’s Soul Music which hasn’t really grabbed me yet either unfortunately. In fact, I’ve moved on again to reading a book of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short stories that I’ve been really enjoying so far, which is a relief because I was worried I might have been put off books without pictures altogether. Maybe I’ll go back and reread Kavalier And Clay when I’m done with this…or maybe I’ll work on the ever-growing pile under the bed.

Halloween Scene: Mother of Tears (2007)

2008-11-04
9:06:42 pm

As regular readers will remember, my review of the first of Dario Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy, Suspiria was a bit of a disaster. Well, I made it through Mother of Tears and, while I didn’t necessarily understand it and it took me two nights to actually watch it, it was a crazy movie. Aside from Dario’s daughter Asia running around naked for part of the flick (which has gotta be awkward, I’d assume) there’s plenty of other nudity and gore, all the things you might expect from Dario.

I’m not going to get into the plot too much, but basically people start going crazy after some kind of evil gets released (I assume it’s the Mother of Tears). The main parts I remember are the jerkiest monkey since Pirates of the Caribbean, a woman getting cut open and then strangled with her own intestines and then a woman getting impaled by what looks like the top of the Washington Monument. Oh and a witch girl getting her head smashed in a train door.

I completely admit that I wasn’t really paying that much attention, but my expectations were pretty low after Suspiria. After reading up on the trilogy, I didn’t feel like I missed anything by not seeing Inferno, so don’t worry about that. But I’m also not a huge Argento fan, so I wasn’t really looking forward to it. But it’s definitely worth checking out if for no other reason than the crazy awesome gore. Plus the ladies are hot. What more do you need? A coherent, easy to follow story? Bah.

Halloween Scene: Suspiria (1977)

2008-09-26
4:52:04 am

Okay, so I’m watching Suspriria, Dario Argento’s most famous flick (according to something I read online or something) for the first time while I’m drinking my very first 40oz of Big Bear Premium Malt Liquor (thanks to whoever brought this to my house after Oktoberfest a few weeks ago). Now a great combination if you want to actually pay attention to the quintessential Italian horror director’s interpretation of an American at a German dance school.

I’ll be completely honest with you. I have no idea what’s going on in this movie. I am watching it as I write this and I’m probably about halfway through. I’m also fairly in my cups as some folks would say, so thank you again to Big Bear. I read on the interwebs that it’s about an American girl who goes to a German dance school and that Argento based the story on somebody’s stories of witchcraft going on at a dance school. Check IMDb if you want the actual “facts.”

Like I said before I have no freaking idea what’s happening in this movie. Partly because I was writing my Halloween review while watching it. Partly because I’m in my cups pretty bad (the 40’s about 70% empty). And partly because the volume of the freakin movie keeps changing from way-too-quiet to way to loud. Oh, also, I havne’t really been paying attention.

I DO know that I would never spend a second in any location in this movie. As soon as you see all kinds of crazy shapes and/or hallways that are primarily red, RUN. Go sleep on a parkbench. You’re better off in Haddonfield on October 31st cause some crazy Sh!t’s about to go down.

Okay, let me watch a little bit more and get back to you…holy crap, a girl just jumped into a room full of wound-up barbed wire and then got her throat slit. I still have no idea what’s going on (hopefully someone finds this intoxicated stream of consciousness movie review interesting).

Due to some exposition (thanks handsome guy!) we find out that the dance academy was founded by a witch who liked witchcraft AND dancing. They ditched the witchcraft and just stuck with the dance. Or DID THEY? (I’m still waiting to find out myself.)

Strange side note, while watching this flick from beginning to end there was a point where the DVD decided that it wanted to show me the rest of the movie (and the disc menu) in a weird, pixelated version that reminded me of the NES. Luckily I was able to skip ahead to a different chapter and avoid the problem, but it did prolong the watching of this nearly incomprehensible movie. I highly recommend NOT drinking a 40 or blogging while watching Suspiria. That being said, horror fans should check this thing out and then tell me what happened.

Okay, so I’m either going to fall asleep during the end of this movie, get woken up by something scary and go to bed OR actually finishing this thing out and then head to bed. Either way, I do recommend this flick to other horror fans who can someday explain to me what exactly this movie is about.

Thanks, have fun and don’t drink and drive, but do drink and and blog, it’s funner for everyone.