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Oh Jesus, that time is upon us where I go into horror movie overload and watch one (or more) a day until Halloween. In the past I’ve typically subjected only my Facebook friends to this marathon, but last year I was convinced by a certain bastardus to share it with the wiki so I’ll be punishing you all again this year. I will update this on a weekly basis to avoid flooding the RA feed with all of this.
I’m posting this a week early because I want your feedback and suggestions. What movie should I watch? Now is your chance to scare the pants off of me (or back onto me depending on your preference) by giving me a good one or troll me with a spectacularly bad one. Please note that I will only be accepting one Uwe Boll and one Ed Wood horror movie… I’m not as young as I used to be and I’m afraid my heart can’t take that much laughter.
So give it a go, gimme a suggestion and get a shout-out/diatribe for your contribution. Here is a list of the movies I watched last year; happy hunting and happy Halloween.
- EDIT: Also make sure to check out Shawn's Creepweek in which he reviews stories every day for a week and his own movie marathon entitled Shocktober
Let’s start off nice and easy with Ghostbusters. First thing I’ve noticed after re-watching it, is Walter Peck the good guy? Let’s look at it objectively here.
The Ghostbusters basically have nuclear accelerators strapped to their backs that they are not qualified to handle. They spend a majority of the movie entrapping ghosts and damning them to an unregulated ghost prison. They even end up crossing the streams which is mentioned earlier as something that would be catastrophic. Walter Peck is right in shutting down an unregulated, unpoliced, dangerous group that is threatening the safety of hundreds. Oh Jesus, did I just become an adult?
Face-off Friday!: Manhunter vs. Red Dragon. (2/10/15)
With Hannibal over (It had a damn good finale too.), I feel like I should do something Red Dragon related so I’ll be comparing the 1986 classic Manhunter to the 2002 rendition Red Dragon.
Right off the bat, I had trouble adjusting to Brian Cox playing Hannibal Lecter (Lektor in the movie). I’m just too used to Anthony Hopkins playing the role and there isn’t as much interaction between Will Graham and Hannibal Lector as other ones. The cat-and-mouse feeling of the original was the most interesting aspect to me. It’s still a good movie and a great adaptation of the Thomas Harris novel. The shootout scene really impressed me with the unusual soundtrack.
Red Dragon. Despite both being enjoyable movies, I have to give it to Red Dragon. (Which is odd because I think Mann is a much better director.) It does a better job of giving the audience insight into Dolarhyde’s history and motivations. While the dialogue is a little more cheesy (“Fear is not what you owe me Mr. Lounds, you owe me all!”), the latter remake is a little tenser due to the insight into the characters and his M.O. Although I am left wondering how Graham uses key phrases and triggers at the end to trigger Dolarhyde. He’s a profiler, but that’s a little too specific.
Self-Promotion Saturday: It Follows (3/10/15)
A movie about a sexually transmitted curse that causes an entity to stalk you tirelessly at a slow walking pace? Count me in! (To viewing the movie, not getting the sexually transmitted curse.) I loved the tension throughout the movie and the soundtrack. My only gripe is a few scenes. The first being them tracking down the person who first infected the protagonist and rather than having a confrontation or venting session, the characters just sit on their lawn and talk about the rules (which he already told her when he first infected her.). The second would be the final confrontation, I’m not sure why they concluded a toaster in a pool would be an effective method of killing the entity when they had shot it in the head earlier and it didn’t even phase it. Those two small gripes aside, I’d definitely recommend this film for its originality and… It’s been greenlit for a sequel.
Onto the self-promotion, I added a new section onto Drunk Tank.
Alone in the Dark (4/10/15)
You son-of-a-bitch Jay! You knew my one weakness and exploited it. Whereas “The House of the Dead” was at least fun in its terribleness, “Alone in the Dark” was just terrible in its terribleness. A majority of the fights (which by the way, the original game wasn’t really focused on fights being survival horror and all) are fought in the dark with gun flashes briefly lighting up the scene. One character goes back and sets a bomb for 5 seconds and pointlessly dies. (It had four placeholders which would suggest he could set it with enough time to escape as well.)
I think my best option for this is to cover a line from the story. “If you’ve come this far alive, you’re dead.” I’ve come all the way through, and I do feel dead inside. Touche Mr. Boll.
Gotta say I went in with low expectations and baring some pretty large speed bumps: one character explains what a troll is (there’re all on Skype, pretty sure they know what a troll is.), another points a gun at the screen, twice (I believe he had loaded it with ‘internet-piercing’ bullets), the website linked very early on that gives out way too specific advice (“To free yourself, you must confess.”) All those aside, (except not at all because they’re pretty prevalent in the film) Unfriended wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. AT least it had a bit of originality going for it… Aaaaannnnnndddd a sequel is already in the works… oh. Wasn’t great, but it also wasn’t “Alone in the Dark” (I still hate you Jay.)
The Babadook (6/10/15)
You all knew this was coming. I’ve been meaning to watch this movie and building it up in my head after all the rave reviews and declarations of the best horror movie in years. Was I disappointed? No. It was a really interesting look into grief. The child was annoying, but it served to heighten the stress on the single mother so it’s in keeping with the film. I think my favorite thing about it (besides the super creepy book scene) was the overall message. Grief is not something you defeat in an epic confrontation and never deal with it again, you survive it and you live with it. Oh Jesus, adulthood really has set in.
The Dunwich Horror (7/10/15)
I swear to you that I will find a good movie inspired by Lovecraft that is true to the source material! This movie is not. The actors deliver lines in an almost bored manner and the camera seems to have this odd fascination with extreme close-ups (especially of Wibur Whateley). It does a good job of building atmosphere, but the ending falls short. (“Deus ex lightning bolt!”)
The Mist (2007) (8/10/15)
Welp, after being disappointed by “The Dunwich Horror”, I decided a little pick-me-up was in order. And what movie is more uplifting than “The Mist”? (What’s that, basically any other movie is more of a mood improver than “The Mist”?)
Based off of Stephen King’s novella, this is one of the few adaptations where the original author actually felt the change improved the story. (http://www.aintitcool.com/node/34784) Where the original ended on a hopeful note of the characters seeking out a garbled radio signal with the only distinguishable words being: “Hartford” and “Hope”, the movie rendition goes much, much more dark. Eight years later, the movie still holds up with that emotional punch at the end. I can see why Frank Darabont does a lot of Stephen King works. Now if he’ll only get to doing “The Long Walk”.
Face-off Friday!: The Haunting (1963) vs. The Haunting (1999) (9/10/15)
There is no contest here.
Banning suggested the classic to me last year, but I was too busy with “Smiley” (I did it for the lu- Actually, best not tempt fate.) This year I decided to have the two go head-to-head and was disappointed. Actually, we can use this as a learning experience. What not to do in a remake.
The original used character development effectively, hinting at one character’s sexuality and displaying another’s slow descent into madness. The remake slams Theo’s bisexuality in the viewers’ face (not literally… Until 3-d technology really improves.) and there’s really no character progress. Owen Wilson (yes, he’s in the remake) just wise cracks until he’s decapitated by a giant gargoyle head. (at the 55 second mark because why not? Her reaction is priceless. “Oh no.” like someone had just dropped a pie in her lap.)
The original built up the horror having the characters witness it and describe what they saw while the remake relies on 1999-cgi (which is terrible on a level comparable to 1920’s-tolerance), which fails spectacularly. Then there’s the endings. (Spoiler alert for a movie five decades old and for a movie old enough to have its driver’s license.) Oddly enough, the original is very dark with protagonist being lost (physically and spiritually to the house because she had always wanted a place to belong.
Self-Promotion Saturday! The Color Out of Space (2010) (10/10/15)
I had such high hopes here. A black-and-white re-telling of H.P. Lovercraft’s “The Color Out of Space” that uses the lack of color to bring an unnatural feel to the environment. To its credit, the plot (sans the framing device) is true to the story. Unfortunately the effects and the conclusion of the framing device that tried to cram a twist in at the very end really weakened the story.
Speaking of the effects, remember that scene from “The Abyss” with the alien? Yeah, that one. The CGI looks about the same for a film made twenty-one years later. I’m not saying that effects are the most important thing in a movie, but if the movie is so focused on them and it doesn’t really meet expectations, it detracts from the whole thing.
As for self-promotion, I added a couple of new stories onto my anthology.
I can see why Guillermo del Toro produced this one. It definitely seems to be the from “The Orphanage”-style of story-telling (i.e. makes me teary-eyed.). I thought the story was a nice departure and the broken/dislocated arm ghost is really unnerving in the quick flashes you get of her. Unfortunately towards the end, they start showing close-ups and it kind of takes away the horror. (Whether or not that was intentional to reflect the character’s back-story is up for debate.) Plus, it has the actor who plays Jaime Lannister in “Game of Thrones” who gets knocked down the stairs by the titular ghost. (A Lannister always pays their debts?)
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (12/10/15)
That’s really all I can say after re-watching this. I watched this a few years back. I really thought that I was over-exaggerating about how terrible it was and was over-reacting. And then I watched it again. This is the third time I’ve watched this movie and all I can think of while watching it again is this: There are so many classics out there that have enhanced the lives of the people who have watched them, and here I am, on my third viewing of “Death Bed: The Bed That Eats”.
If there’s is one good thing I can say about the movie, it’s that it is hilariously bad. The actors sound bored, and it really seems to re-hash the premise of, couple have sex on a demonic bed, that proceeds to eat them. If there’s two things I can positively say about the film, it’s that the film is not Manos: The Hands of Fate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdTyTRnGn14
Shit yeah! It’s nice to get a breath of fresh air with a recent low budget ‘zombie’ movie that isn’t found footage or bad. I really enjoyed the claustrophic sense with a majority of the film happening in a single building/room with almost all of the initial horror happening off screen. My only complaint was that the second half of the film kind of wastes all the build-up of the first forty minutes with a simplistic solution to the Noam Chomp-sky zombies. (Infected people who infect others through talking.) I’m definitely going to sit down and check out the book it was based on “Pontypool Changes Everything”.
The Rite (14/10/15)
Exorcisms! Anthony Hopkins! What more could you want? Actually quite a bit in this instance. Let’s start with the good stuff first (because I’m a positive kind-of guy): Anthony Hopkins does a great job with the role and really seems to have fun with the exorcism scenes. The special effects aren’t bad and don’t really seem like the director is rubbing the audience’s faces in it.
Onto the issues: it just re-hashes a lot of the old tropes that Exorcist movies are known for. (Protagonist who is dealing with the loss of their faith, demon who uses the loss of a character’s loved one to try and unsettle them, an older man mentoring a younger one, typically the protagonist, in the rite of performing an exorcism, etc.) The movie also drags, it’s about two hours long and builds up to this exorcism, but nothing really exciting happens. The movie feels like it was made with a cookie-cutter. If you’ve seen any other movies about exorcisms, you’ve already seen this one and can likely guess the ending.
Nightmare on Elm Street (15/10/15)
Wes Craven’s recent loss of his battle with brain cancer (http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2015/08/30/wes-craven-dies-nightmare--elm-street-hills-have-eyes/71439582/) has made me decide to watch one of his most famous works. I will admit, I wasn’t a fan of some of his movies (See: Last House on the Left), but this is one that I actually do enjoy.
There’s a sense of inevitability about it. Everyone has to sleep and there’s a powerless quality about it. You can’t really defend yourself and Wes Craven uses this extremely effectively. Also, can you really hate a movie where a young Johnny Depp is murdered by a bed? It’s basically what Death Bed: The Bed That Eats could have been.
Face-off Friday!: The Fly (1958) vs. The Fly (1986) (16/10/15)
Now we begin with the difficult choices. My favorite horror movie actor, Vincent Price in “The Fly” vs. the equally iconic remake staring Jeff Goldblum. This isn’t going to be easy as both would probably make it onto my top fifty horror movie list. Let’s start with the remake. This is body horror at its finest. The make-up effects are stomach-turning and still upsetting. (Flesh sloughing off to reveal atrophied musculature underneath) Despite Chronenberg’s insistence that the movie isn’t about STDs/AIDS, it really seems to fit. Recall the scene of Jeff Goldblum trying to get the woman to enter the teleportation machine and he remarks, “Look at me. I did it and I’m fine.” It really seems to fit in with the culture of that time, dealing with a relatively unknown disease. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5yC3G0oiw4
Onto the original: it’s clear why they decided to remake and make sequels of this. It’s an interesting concept with an involving mystery to unravel. The ending (fly caught in a spider’s web) really sticks with the audience. The acting is superb. Vincent Price is excellent as the brother of the titular character. It’s interesting to see him playing a role where he’s not the villain of the movie as that’s what we tend to remember of his films (See Shock, The Dr. Phibes series, The Pit and the Pendulum, etc.), but he’s actually done a number of films in which he is the good guy. Even some films where he’s the focus of the movie.
That being said, there can only be one (it’s like Highlander), and the remake just barely edges out the original. The subtext of decay and deterioration was what really sealed the deal for me. The original is great, but the remake also makes a statement and doesn’t forfeit any of the horror while doing that.
Self-Promotion Saturday: Pumpkin Karver (17/10/15)
So this was recommended to me by my dad. (Not a good start for recommending movies to me), and I gotta say, it deserves the 3.2 on imdb. It is a slasher from 2006 that seems very old. The characters are generic tropes and it sticks to the plot of most slasher movies. (Teens having a party in an isolated area when a killer begins massacring them.) One stoner quotes Austin Powers ad nauseam… Four years after the last Austin Powers movie. (It was too topical to ignore?)
The dialogue is cringe-tastic. (“Death must die!”, “Trick-or-treat, sweet revenge tastes so sweet!”, etc.) Midway through the movie, Old Mr. Creepy Red Herring appears and it becomes painfully obvious that his only reason for being in the movie is to try and distract the audience from the real killer. (Hint: it’s the guy who murders someone in the first five minutes of the movie.)
Finally, this movie seems catered to an audience I’m not sure exists. Are there really people this pumpkin carving oriented. Old Man Creeps posits that the town was built for the sheer purpose of pumpkin carving and that it is instrumental in the world. He later overturns a table of poorly carved pumpkins because the people are disgracing the ‘art of pumpkin carving’. I get the weird feeling this movie was made as the director’s means of covering up his oddly fetishistic fascination with carving pumpkins.
Onto the self-promotion, I currently have a story in the writer's workshop that really needs all the help it can get. It already has the handicap of me writing it, so any feedback would greatly help.
The Call of Cthulhu (2005) (18/10/15)
Remember when I said earlier that I would find a good movie inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft that was true to the source material (Sorry “Re-animator”)? Welp, I think I just succeeded. Despite being made in 2005, the film is in black-and-white and is a silent film. I was originally wary of this because it could really be used to cover up the low quality of the movie. It instead uses the older methods to inspire an old-time-y feel. The music is excellent and you can really tell the director tried their best to be as true to the source material as possible.
If you aren’t opposed to watching a black-and-white and silent films, this could be a pretty good introduction to Lovecraft if you aren’t a fan of reading. (Everyone knows that the scariest thing in the world is literacy.) Boooo-ks.
What We Do in the Shadows (19/10/15)
This almost makes up for making me watch “Alone in the Dark” Jay… almost. There aren’t a lot of mockumentaries that really tickle my funny bone, but this one is a great example. A documentary crew follows the lives of three vampires living together in a flat. It reminds me a little bit of the TV show “Being Human” It’s funny and it has a lot of memorable lines:
“We’re werewolves, not swearwolves.”, “Just leave me to do my dark bidding on the internet!”, “Or making the simple mistake of making a mask out of crackers and being attacked by ducks.”
I really can’t praise this one enough. I’ll let a clip of the funnier moments speak for itself.
Night of the Demons (20/10/15)
Damnit Snaketongue, not even Linnea Quigley’s nudity was enough to save this one. (Oddly enough, she also got naked in “Return of the Living Dead” in a graveyard. This time it was in a mortuary… I’m sensing a pattern here.) The movie was so 80’s-tastic.
The movie is filled with zingers and tropes: bully, nerdy little brother, upstanding gentleman, and of course the token character (who survives!), generic 80’s dancing that would put a Charlie Brown special to shame, and quips. Gotta say, this movie has not aged well at all. If it does have one thing going for it though, it perfectly encapsulates the 80’s. I remember all the times when my ethnically diverse group of friends went to party in an old abandoned mortuary…
Begotten (1991) (21/10/15)
I’m feeling artsy today. The director of this black-and-white experimental horror movie would later go on to direct the excellent “Shadow of the Vampire”. So how does his first foray into full length films go? Not so well.
Now before you get out the pitchforks for not liking this cult classic, let me explain my reasoning here. While I am a fan of films like “Eraserhead”, I feel like this was just too dense and purposefully opaque to wrap my head around. Events happen with no explanation or focus. Crickets are chirping incessantly throughout this otherwise silent film. The camera is extremely grainy and a lot of the time, I couldn’t tell what was supposed to be happening in scenes. As far as I could tell, it was an allegory for the genesis of the world, but what they were trying to convey about it passed right over my head.
Additionally, it feels like this film has more edge and pointless shock than a box of razor blades hooked up to a car battery. I feel like this would be the type of film a pretentious art student would show you as the ‘greatest film ever’ and then ridicule you when you disagree.
Here's a link if you want to judge for yourself.
Devil’s Due (22/10/15)
Devil’s Due is like if Rosemary’s Baby and Paranormal Activity had a baby, and then plopped the baby in front of all the cliché horror movies they could find…. And then took the child’s first story they penned when they were five and made a screenplay of it. Some pretty big questions here after watching Devil’s Due. Who assembled all this footage? The cult? That begs the question of why they picked up the camera during their ‘super secret’ cult ritual and began filming it. Or how they obtained the footage from the teenagers (also recording) in the park where they stumble across spooky deer mutilation. Did the police, if so, why would they focus so much on showing the happy couple on their honeymoon and how did they obtain the hidden camera footage? Finally, why is the protagonist (I never bothered to learn his name) still holding on to the camera while he is trying to rescue his wife? Seems a bit forced. This movie was so dull, it almost ruined Rosemary’s baby for me.
Which is a shame, because I like Rosemary’s Baby. It really builds up a sense of paranoia and the “everyone’s out to get me” atmosphere with the mother. It plays off of the common fear that there might be something wrong with your child and the ending is superb, whereas the ending to Devil’s Due (spoilers) is just bad. The ritual is perpetuated through another happy couple because everyone knows that cult couples are not viable for demon babies(???)
Face-off Friday!: 13 Ghosts (1960) vs. Thirteen Ghosts (2001) (23/10/15)
Here’s another hard choice, not because both films are considered excellent, quite the opposite actually. We have “13 Ghosts” (1960) vs. Thirteen Ghosts (2001). It’s camp vs. crap.
As the original was done by William Castle, it has a very matter-of-fact delivery “Your uncle Zorba (yes, Zorba) collected ghosts.” - “You don’t say!” and uses a lot of gimmicks (original audiences were given red-and-blue glasses that made the ghosts more defined). Unfortunately I did not have those while watching the film and all of the ghosts are incredibly hard to see. The film is fairly campy (levitating candle sticks with string) and there’s almost no development of the 13 ghosts (I’m not even sure there are actually 13 in the film.)
Onto the remake, this one seems to be played more straight-faced. The ghosts are much more defined, but you only get quick glimpses of them. They seem to have more back story to the ghosts, but forfeit other character development. (Cue children in distress trope and sassy black character.) The protagonist’s children vanished early on and there isn’t much to suggest Monk (Tony Shalhoub) is super invested in saving them (he calls his son “kid” a lot of times and it just feels like he forgot the character’s name). Both really aren’t too good. I’d say 13 Ghosts just barely edges out the remake as you can tell the director is having fun with the premise a bit more and is making the movie more of an experience. (Ghost-seeing glasses and all)
Self-Promotion Saturday! The Houses October Built (24/10/15)
An original premise meets an unoriginal method. I enjoyed the build up explaining how haunted houses attractions can (and have) gone wrong in the past: actors accidentally hanging themselves, sexual predators being hired and abusing customers, bodies being discovered in props (see Six Million Dollar Man http://www.slate.com/blogs/atlas_obscura/2014/04/11/the_corpse_of_elmer_mccurdy_and_how_it_ended_up_in_a_long_beach_fun_park.html), etc. Unfortunately they decided to do it as a found footage concept that really stripped a lot of the horror out of it.
On the plus side, the interviews at the beginning could be real which does add some nice atmosphere to it. The characters/actors are very natural which makes their reactions seem legitimate. Unfortunately the handheld camera approach really falls short with shaky cams, characters constantly being told to not film (and them disregarding that), and having an overabundance of footage while never running out of battery power. It unfortunately gets repetitive and really drags the whole premise down.
Drunk Tank has another addition on it. I tried something different this time and wrote it in present tense so feedback on what I need to improve on would really help.
I’ve been told to review this a few times in the past and I’ve just gotten around to it. It’s a good premise (as one would expect from the director of the original Saw) that focuses on a boy being chased and stalked by a being due to his ability to astral project. It really plays on a parent’s fear and uses it to build up tension throughout the story.
That being said, it suffers from the “Paranormal Activity” effect. It had decent success in the theaters so now audiences are going to have to watch a sequel of it (of depreciating quality) every couple of years. I enjoyed the scene of the father trying to locate his son in the Further and the ending is build up and alluded to through-out the story so I will say it’s worth the view.
You know you’re in for a treat when the writer and producer (Eric Beck) is also the lead actor (Eric Beck). I would call Eric Beck a man of many talents… If I could figure out what those talents are. Acting is not very good, music seems to not fit the scenes they’re being played over, the premise is flawed.
The whole purpose of the story is that these ‘everyman’ characters have to torture each other to harvest serotonin (which maybe my science is wrong, but I think there are other ways to gather serotonin and more effective methods. I recall serotonin is also released post-coitally… This movie could have been a lot more interesting. A character even suggests this but is shot down in favor of torturing each other.)
The characters jump into torturing each other for little to no reason and none of the violence is really effective due to the lack of emotions. All of the characters are interchangeable due to a lack of any real sense of identity. There really isn’t much going for this movie. You can find it on youtube for free, but even that might be too much to ask for this one.
Funny Games (2007) (27/10/15)
Recommended by Es-Spense-es-trav-insky-boo-ya-mama (damn hard to pronounce, but you know good movies.), I will admit, when I first saw the movie about five years ago, I was not a fan. It’s a home invasion movie where the antagonists insist on sadistically toying with the family they are holding prisoner. I thought the movie was shock value for the sake of shock value, but there was a bit of subtext that I had been overlooking. The movie was meant to make you feel shocked.
One antagonist keeps breaking the fourth wall and winking/alluding to the audience. It’s this continuous prodding that really makes the audience feel like accomplices in Peter and Paul’s crime. It really makes the whole movie uncomfortable and participators in the crime which brings home the overall message. This is a statement on violence in media and audience’s willingness to play these funny games.
A final quote to wrap up the movie: “Why are you doing this?” “Why not?”
Kill List (28/10/15)
While I’d classify this as being more of a thriller, it definitely has some horror elements. An ex-soldier returns from war in Kiev and takes up contract killing after a long period of joblessness. The film spirals downward as the hit goes wrong and a shadowy organization seems to be pulling the strings and driving him to some sinister end.
The family scenes are played up nicely to give characters a sense of depth and when they eventually start to breakdown, it really creates a sense of degradation. I won’t say it’s the best movie I’ve come across in this marathon, but it’s definitely worth giving a look into if you want a tense movie with a twisting turning plot.
I really went through this without looking at some of the golden oldies. Considered to be the pinnacle of sci-fi horror of the 1950’s. It makes a statement on nuclear proliferation (Godzilla-style) and also plays on a lot of people’s fear or at least general dislike of insects. The giant foam ants look unsettling and the fact that a lot of the slaughter happens off-screen (due to censorship) which builds up in the audience’s imagination as being much worse than what they could actually show.
I have been a fan of this movie since I saw it a few years back. The ant’s unsettling high-pitched vocalization is very foreboding and builds its statement nicely. ("When Man entered the atomic age, he opened the door to a new world. What we may eventually find in that new world, nobody can predict." Onto the fun facts: The recently departed Leonard Nimoy makes a small appearance in the communications room.
Face-off Friday!: The Thing from Another World (1951) vs. The Thing (1986) (30/10/15)
Anyone who’s read my previous marathons knew this was coming. I always end up watching John Carpenter’s The Thing on Halloween, but this time I decided to do something a bit different and look at the original. I’ve read “Who Goes There?” (a must have for sci-fi fans and have decided to compare “The Thing from Another World” (1951) against. “The Thing” (1986).
Starting with the older version, “The Thing from Another World” feels more like the sci-fi b monster movies that were common around that time. The singular monster looks like it wandered in off the set of Frankenstein. I enjoy the quick delivery of lines and the characters are fun, but I feel like it lost a lot of the horror by making the monster a singular entity.
“John Carpenter’s The Thing” really stays true to the source material. The alien entity can take over and mimic its host so that gives a real sense of paranoia. Audience are still debating whether or not Childs or Macready are the thing at the end of the movie and that ambiguous ending makes the entire movie. There really isn’t a lot of competition here now that I watch them both side-by-side. The later rendition follows the source material to a T, the special effects are sickly awesome, and the story has more of a horror feel as opposed to the older version which seems to just be made in the mold of B-monster movies at the time.
What scared me as a kid
Let’s do something a little different at the end of this marathon. I’m going to go back and watch movies that used to terrify me as a child.
Let’s start off with my youngest childhood memory, hiding behind the couch in toddler terror as I watched The Real Ghostbusters Werechicken. I’m not really sure why it scared me. The worst thing the werechicken does in the episode is eat all of some guy’s popcorn (although I did like popcorn a lot).
If I had to build back up my pride, I would say that it was likely due to the fact that you could argue it’s what makes a werewolf scary to some people. At any time in your life, you could lose control of yourself and become something worse due to events that are completely out of your control. (#Pretentious)
Was I way too young to be watching this as a kid? Yes. Do I regret it? No. Despite the fact that Stephen King reportedly hated the Stanley Kubrick version, it really is cinematic magic. Excellently shot, great acting, apparently real life trauma.
Although on a more touching note, Kubrick shielded child actor, Danny Lloyd from what type of film they were actually making. He wouldn’t know it was a horror film that features men in dog/bear masks performing sexual acts or old withered ladies traumatizing other children until he was much older. Even though Kubrick really stressed realism and believability, it’s actually kind of sweet to see him setting that aside for his movie. (while still driving Shelly Duvall mad.)
I watched this movie as a kid, and an adult. I remember the sudden appearances being really effective when I was younger. Although looking back on it now, wonder why the velociraptor was hiding in the tubing to begin with or set up Samuel L. Jackson’s arm so it would fall on her as soon as she backed into a wall. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PscRUlsvhtI
I am also kind of wondering how the T-Rex got into the museum and snuck up on a pack of them without anyone hearing it. All in all, the effects are great and it really reminded me why I liked the original in the first place. It’s tense, well acted, and the effects/costumes/props are great.
I covered this before, but this used to be a staple of family vacations to the beach. It’s hard to really go out into the ocean without thinking of the theme song. It’s definitely a movie that has stuck with us. I think a lot of that is due to limitations, Stephen Spielberg had a very corny/malfunctioning shark that he really had to hide until the very final act, which did a wonderful job building tension.
One thing I didn’t notice until I recently re-watched this movie. Brody (Roy Scheider) is quite the drinker. A lot of scenes he is drunk/working his way to getting drunk. It really makes you wonder about the accident that forced him off into this small town. I’m really glad that after all this time, the movie still holds up. (Even if “Jaws: the Revenge” almost retroactively destroyed it.)
One final note before self-promotion wraps up the marathon. Thanks to everyone for reading and watching along. Now onto what everyone has been waiting for (???) Self-Promotion Saturday! I recently published a mini-anthology on suicide/depression called A Downward Spiral that I'd love to get feedback on.