Holiday Halloween Scene: Better Watch Out & Sint

Well, here I am about a week away from Christmas and I find myself watching even more holiday themed horror flicks. I posted about Red Christmas and A Christmas Horror Story last week and have been going through plenty of others since then.

I’m a big fan of Silent Night, Bloody Night, but for some reason that movie doesn’t work its way into my brain very well and I can never remember it. I also watched Black Christmas which completely failed to grab my attention. I was distracted, so maybe I’ll come back to that one again next year.

From there I dipped back in to favorites like Gremlins and Rare Exports and now I’m looking at a few other new ones. As an unexpected and early Christmas gift, Netflix double shipped me two films this week: Better Watch Out and Dick Maas’s Sint, two films that held plenty of surprises.

Continue reading Holiday Halloween Scene: Better Watch Out & Sint

Holiday Halloween Scene: Red Christmas (2016) & A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

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I’m pretty bummed that Blumhouse.com went through whatever changes they did because that means I can’t parlay my weird predilection for watching new Christmas horror films into cash. However, that hasn’t stopped me from continuing this yearly tradition. This year, I’ve checked out some classics like Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 and Gremlins, but also a few newer entries.

First off, I watched an Australian horror film called Red Christmas by writer-director Craig Anderson. I heard them talk about this one on the last episode of Shock Waves (#76 if you’re curious) with co-host — and my former BH.com editor — Rebekah McKendry saying it was bad and guest Brian Collins of Horror Movie A Day fame saying he kind of liked it.

Continue reading Holiday Halloween Scene: Red Christmas (2016) & A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

Halloween Scene Reads: The Deep By Peter Benchley (1976)

Even though I’ve got an Ambitious Reading List in the works, I just couldn’t resist digging through the trio of boxes in the garage filled with books I haven’t read yet. My aim this time was to grab a whole bunch of scary books for the Halloween season. There are…way too many and I’m sure I’ll only get through a few — especially because I just picked up another stack at the library today — but what the heck?!

So, I started with this copy of Peter Benchley’s The Deep from 1976 because I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. I had a very poor reaction to the time I listened to an audiobook version of Jaws,  so I figured I’d get this one out of the way first.

Continue reading Halloween Scene Reads: The Deep By Peter Benchley (1976)

Halloween Scene: Death Valley (1982)

Anyone even remotely familiar with this blog and my tastes will know that I have a lot of love for stories revolving around kids dealing with enormous dangers they have no business getting involved with. Most of my favorites harken back to my days of watching movies like Goonies on TV and the like, but I’ve been lucky enough to discover a few new ones as the years have rolled on. I want to say Cloak & Dagger was the last, but now we can add Dick Richards’ Death Valley to the list!  Continue reading Halloween Scene: Death Valley (1982)

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: Hatchet For The Honeymoon (1970)

hatchet for the honeymoon2I have very little experience with horror films from other countries. I could illustrate this fact by naming the very few foreign horror films I’ve seen, but it wouldn’t be overly impressive. Ever since I started reading about horror on the internet, I’ve heard about the Italian masters from the 60s and 70s like Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and Mario Bava. I’d only actually seen four movies from that trio– Black Sabbath, Zombie, Mother Of Tears and Suspiria, my most embarrassing post ever — so I figured it was time to remedy that. Continue reading Halloween Scene: Hatchet For The Honeymoon (1970)

Halloween Scene: Night Of The Living Dead (1968)

night_of_the_living_dead Sometimes you think so highly of a film that you just assume you’ve blogged about it already. That was the case with Night Of The Living Dead, a movie I love, but apparently not enough to spend time writing about on UM.com. As you probably know George A. Romero’s classic film finds a group of survivors holing up in a country house as the dead start roaming the earth. The film itself never uses the Z word, but this style of creature soon became synonymous with a kind of monster that still dominates the genre to this day.

We start off with Barbra and her brother Johnny who have traveled several hours to this remote town in order to place flowers on their father’s grave. While there, they encounter a man who seems normal at first, but winds up attacking both siblings and killing Johnny. Barbra goes on the run and eventually finds the house. Soon enough she’s joined by Ben, a very proactive man looking to turn this place into a fortress. After fortifying the main floor, they come to realize that five people have been hiding out in the basement: a married couple with an injured daughter and a pair of teenaged kids who are dating. Conflicts instantly start brewing between the upstairs and downstairs factions, thanks to Harry, a head strong guy who wants them all to hole up in the basement where his zombie-bitten daughter happens to be slowly turning over to the side of flesh loving baddies.

The beauty of a Romero zombie movie is that he’s not just trying to scare people, he’s also trying to hold an undead mirror up to society to show off its uglier side. Some of these elements are overt while other sneak on by. I think the conveyed message can also change a bit as society changes and the film stays the same. For instance, there’s a lot of race elements being explored thanks to Ben being such a strong character who spends most of the film bossing white people around with most of them listening.

But you can also read into the presented ideas of womanhood. The movie gets some flack because Barbra spends so much of it in a catatonic state, which is understandable. However, I don’t think that’s a commentary on all women, but just the presentation of one particular character. Just look at the other two women presented in the movie. Harry’s wife Helen and even Judy the young lady from the basement are pretty strong and cool-headed.

I also think there’s something being said — or conveyed — about how city life makes people less prepared for these kinds of disastrous events. Barbra and Johnny make a big deal about how they had to drive out to the middle of nowhere which made me assume they lived in the city. I also assumed that Ben was from more of a small town scenario, but he later says he’s not from the small farm town, so my theory might actually be blown to hell.

Whatever the case may be, Romero created a film that not only had something to say, but presents itself in such a way that you can keep finding new aspects in the work that make you think. Speaking of emotions, seeing how the zombified kid takes out her mom — with a gardening shovel instead of her teeth — totally bummed me out as a parent. I used to think, “Once they turn, just blast them away!” But not only are they in a world that’s never seen a zombie like this, but it’s also you’re freaking kid. Also, the ending of this movie is so freaking depressing and I kind of love that.

Watching this movie lead into a re-watch of Dawn Of The Dead, which is still one of my favorite movies regardless of genre. Seeing the films together in such a short period made me notice a few things. First, these movies are like Nirvana songs going from loud to quiet to expertly. Second, while these films obviously both feature undead monsters, they’re more about human beings trying to intellectually deal with the fact that the world they once knew has been completely turned upside down. Can you imagine what it would really be like if people stopped dying in the traditional sense? I don’t think I can. And third, these movies all feature characters who can do things very well. That’s why we’re following Ben and the crew in the mall instead of some other randos, they’re survivors. They’re the ones that can survive in this environment…for a time. Eventually, they all screw up one way or anything and the mindless zombies win out against the smart humans. There’s a poetry there that I don’t think I can parse, but love experiencing. Now I really want to give Day Of The Dead and the 1990 Night remake another watch to see whether they continue those themes.