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.

Halloween Scene: The Substitute (2007) & Pulse 2 (2008)

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A few weeks (maybe months now) I raided the pile of new DVDs we get in the office and grabbed most of the horror movies. The Ghost House Underground flicks were on that pile, which I was pretty excited about, but I also grabbed some movies I didn’t really know anything about. The other day I watched one of each and I was pleasantly surprised by both.

First up was The Substitute from Denmark (Vikaren in whatever people from Denmark speak) which was awesome. The story reminds me of movies from my childhood (though I can’t remember any specifically) where a group of kids learn the truth about their teacher (she’s a whole chicken-eating alien) but the parents don’t believe them, partly because she has some kind of mind control powers when it comes to making people say things (she can also shrink people). There’s a ton of great scenes playing off this concept, like the teacher starting a relationship with the main kid’s dad and showing her true face only to him at the dinner table and another kid telling his parents something along the lines of “I hope you realize this is the last time you’ll ever see me alive” after trying to convince them of his teacher’s evilness and them still sending him on a field trip with her. There’s even a great scene where the kids sneak into the teacher’s house with terrifying results.

The story gets a bit confusing at the end, but all in all it’s a really solid story that’s got it’s own visual style and even sports opening and closing voiceovers about how humanity and earth are awesome. My only problems come with the fact that I’m not from Denmark and couldn’t watch this movie in a language I understand. The dubbing wasn’t as bad as some of the other movies I’ve watched, but my real problem stemmed from not being able to tell if the long haired blonde children were boys or girls. As the story plays on, though, I figured it out.

Like I said this was a really enjoyable movie, one that I’d actually like to see get remade in the states, but with a really solid director. How great would it be to have another Goonies-type movie showing kids in somewhat adult situations and dealing with a crazy situation? Do they make movies like that for kids anymore? I watched about 10 minutes of High School Musical 2 and wanted to hurt things, so I had to leave the room. Needless to say, I’m not real tapped in to what the kids like, but this would be good for them.

Pulse 2, however, probably wouldn’t be so good for the kids. Not because it’s a bad movie or even all that disturbing, but moreso because the ridiculous amounts of needless greenscreening may warp young minds. More on that in a minute. The story apparently follows directly from the original Pulse, which I did not see, so I was pretty lost. I’m also pretty sure that they don’t really go into many of the details of what happened in the first movie beyond “Computers caused it” or whatever.

The story follows a dad played by Jamie Bamber (who’s on Battlestar Galactica, but I don’t watch that show so, eh) trying to make sure his daughter’s okay in a world that’s slowly creating more and more black and white static ghosts that can only appear around technology (?). We start off following his ex-wife/the girl’s mom as she’s wandering around some weird dream world looking for her daughter (which is made even more dreamlike thanks to the greenscreening). Then it weirdly jumps to the dad grabbing the daughter and leaving for a cabin in the woods where his weird girlfriend comes in. There’s a whole lot of other weird plot elements, like a dude who claims to know how to stop the techno ghost plague (or whatever).

I had less than zero interest or expectations for this movie going in and even though it wasn’t great and the plot was a little sloppy in the beginning, I still kind of liked it. I’m not sure why, really. The story was compelling and the Battlestar Galactica dude acted pretty well even with all the weirdness and the greenscreening.

Okay, I can’t go on anymore without addressing this. There are tons of scenes filmed on green screens for some reason. And it’s not like this movie takes place on Mars or in Sin City, it’s a dude in a cabin, yet, instead of filming it normally it’s on a green screen. It didn’t bother me in the beginning because I assumed the mom was in some kind of weird dream world, but there were so many scenes sporting sloppy greenscreening that I couldn’t help but notice and I’m not usually able to spot this stuff so easily. It’s really distracting, but it also kind of adds to the weird goofy atmosphere of this movie. I probably wouldn’t watch Pulse 2 again, but it did kind of make me want to watch the Kristen Bell original to see what the heck is going on and I would definitely rent the third installment to see if the weird dude really did figure out a way to block the signal.

Oh, there’s also a completely weird scene where the dad and the kid are driving away, but dad stops as he sees a fat man in a diaper readying himself to jump off a bridge. Now, I don’t know about you guys, but if that was me, I’d speed up and get on the other side of that bridge ASAP. He stops, looks up, waits and then decides to drive, just in time for the fat man to smash into the top of his SUV and roll off the back. Haha, weird.