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So as I'm sure of you already know, this October I am doing a horror/sci-fi movie marathon. One a day all the way up to Halloween. I was uploading it to Facebook, but I figure I should share it here as well. Finally, if you have any suggestions, post it in the comments below. (11 more days before your opportunity to recommend a movie that literally scares the pants off of me is gone 'til next year.)
1. Let’s start slow with: Ernest Scared Stupid. I used to watch this movie a lot as a kid. I wonder how many lactose intolerant children assumed they were trolls because milk was also the trolls’ weakness. I wonder what Jim Varney's been up to? Let me just google that… Oh… Now I’m sad, bad start to the Halloween festivities.
2. Bela Lugosi plays “Murder” (Yes, that was apparently his name.) Legendre whose major scare factor in the movie White Zombie is apparently his foreign appearance. (Apparently racism/xenophobia in the 1930’s was very hardcore.)
3. Gave Smiley a go, a re-imagining of the Bloody Mary/Candyman story. (Done poorly) Apparently typing “I did it for the lulz” into chatroulette summons the titular killer. (How they manage that without being barraged by a bunch on naked people who frequent chat roulette is a mystery that is never explained.)
4. On Saturdays, let’s switch it up and watch a few random horror tv shows from my youth. First up, Are You Afraid of the Dark, was this show always so bent on punishing kids didactically? “Want to play a pinball game despite being told not to? It’s cursed.” “Stole money meant for your mother’s birthday present to buy a clown doll? (Logical choice???”) It’s cursed.” I’m noticing a pattern here AYAotD.
5. Just watched the movie Leprechaun in which the titular leprechaun speaks only in a rhyming scheme and terrorizes Jennifer Anniston… Sadly he does not rap in this one. They saved that for the sequels. (You had your chance Jennifer Anniston to be part of something glorious, but you passed on it. I bet the regret is just eating her away now. You could have been a part of this.)
6. The Black Cat, an old black and white movie in which Bela Lugosi is terrified of black cats. In the movie, he kills a cat in front of a group of people. He explains that he did this because he doesn’t like cats. Barely anyone bats an eye at this reasoning… Man the 1930’s were rough on animal welfare.
7. While not technically a horror movie, Attack the Block is worth the watch. Aliens invade an apartment block in Britain and hijinx ensue. Some of the best chase sequences and accompanying music I have ever seen. Seriously, if you can/understand British accents, there is no reason not to watch this.
8. Phantasm from Don Coscarelli is a classic. I like how they don’t hold your hand and explain anything to you. You are left to figure out the Tall Man's background and his machinations. The movie requires a few viewings and I’m still picking up on things. On an odd note, two separate men are seduced in graveyards. (A prime location for canoodling?)
9. Let’s get some classics in here: The Shining. Man, the ghost woman in room 237 was traumatizing for me as a child. Nothing like going from sexy naked woman to rotting corpse in an instant. (Good thing there was nothing else that could be misconstrued as emotionally scaring in that movie… Especially nothing involving a man in a bear costume.)
10. The Orphanage. One of my favorite movies, an amazingly dark twist. Oh Guillermo del Toro, you’re forgiven for Hellboy 2. Best of luck on Slaughterhouse-Five (2015, yes that is happening.)
11. This Saturday, let's watch some Goosebumps. Was this show always this cheesy? Also why did they never adapt the book “The Beast from the East” into an episode? (http://goosebumps.wikia.com/wiki/The_Beast_From_the_East) Was it because it looks racist as shit? (My bet’s on that answer.)
12. Troll II The best worst movie ever. You know you’re in trouble when the film’s protagonist does a documentary about how bad the film was. The acting/delivery of lines is perfect! “Nilbog? That’s goblin spelled backwards!”
14. Odd Thomas, I was excited for this one as I read the Dean Koontz book while in the Peace Corps, but they really didn’t do a good job of capturing the characters of feel of the book. Ozzy (Patton Oswald!) has one scene that is basically a throw-away one. The spirit of Elvis does not make an appearance either. It had a little comedy, but not enough.
15. Killer Klowns from Outer Space, just be glad they’re not from the Kuipiter Belt… Horrible abbreviations. On another note, never ask a clown rhetorically if he’s ‘going to knock your block off’. Klowns(?) are masters of verbal irony.
16. You know what movie really gets to me? Play Misty for Me Clint Eastwood is a radio DJ and is menaced by an obsessed woman he had a fling with. (It escalates rather quickly.) Nothing quite like a massive role reversal in which the archytypal tough guy is reduced to the victim. Good movie. Not much funny stuff to say about it though...
17. The Ward was directed by John Carpenter and takes place in a mental asylum. As such, you already know the St. Elsewhere style-twist that is coming. It's not bad, but I wouldn't really recommend renting/buying/pirating it. On the plus side, a girl cold-cocks a ghost with a plastic bleach container. Touché John Carpenter, touché.
18. Just watched a few old Tales From the Crypt episodes. I don’t know if I should have watched this as a kid. A woman literally murders a man after intromission perpetuating a cycle of women brutally murdering men after sex. I’m surprised I didn’t have to go into scare-apy for that one. (…What pun?)
19. A two-fer! The Conjuring and Annabelle. The Conjuring is a relatively fresh take on haunted house stories and does atmosphere very well. (Although it felt like they were shoe-horning explanations at times. House smells like rotten meat? There must be a ghost/demon here… Or you need to clean your house.) Annabelle on the other hand proves why you shouldn’t do a sequel/prequel of a successful movie. It brings nothing new to the table and substitutes clichés for creepy moments.
20. Up next, Hellraiser: Revelation. Some movies are so bad they’re good. Others are so bad they make Leonard: Part 6 look good. Hellraiser: Revelation belongs in the later. I can’t think of anything funny to say, the movie was enough of a joke in itself... Seriously, I watched this one online and I wanted my money back. When I remembered that I had pirated it, I only felt shame.
21. Instead of watching horror movies that are unintentionally hilarious, let’s watch a horror movie that tries to be funny, “Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil”. The movie is amazingly fun and pokes fun at a lot of the hillbilly horror genre tropes (Apparently that exists.) with a lot of success. Here is a trailer.
22. Up next is Trick ‘R Treat, an anthology where the story-lines bleed over into each other (Get it, a pun!), with characters appearing in other storylines. It’s pretty cool and doesn’t come across as forced. Most of the stories are pretty good although I thought “The Principal” was the weakest of them all with "Trick or Treat" being the strongest. Thanks to Nommehzombies for recommending this.
23. "Possession" is a disturbing look into a couple that divorces. It gets even more complicated as they spiral downward and a malformed doppelganger gets involved. It’s hard to follow at times, but intriguing. Not sure if I can really classify this as horror, drama, or experimental. All I can say is that it did a good job unsettling me. I can see why it was initially banned, although I’m unsure why the entire thing is now available on Youtube. (It gave me a Chronenburg vibe if that makes any sense.) Thanks to ImGonnaBeThatGuy for the suggestion.
24. “Dead of Night” (1945) is a black-and-white portmanteau (That was a mighty fancy word… Means I’m about to get all pretentious here.) all centered around premonition and déjà vu. The best of the vignette is probably the Ventriloquist, a genuinely creepy tale involving a man subsumed by his alter ego. (A dummy.) The movie does an excellent job of creating tension and is one of the few stories whose framing device isn’t just a vehicle for the stories themselves. Good choice FatalDisease.
25. You’re next stop, the twilight zone. Man, a lot of these classic episodes are good and still hold up today. Some don’t… I’m looking at you "From Agnes-With Love”. A man names a super-computer Agnes because he’s lonely (A computer programmer, lonely/inept with the ladies? Don’t think too far out of the box, twilight zone!) only to discover she is attracted to him. (Because he named her Agnes???)
26. Re-watched Hocus Pocus. Welp that movie had a really dark ending. (A bunch of parents likely dance themselves to death.) Also why do they keep a bunch of old (yet serviceable) lighters right next to a candle that when lit summons witches? Poor planning museum curators, poor planning.
27. Let’s go faceoff style. Halloween (Carpenter) vs. Halloween (Zombie) It’s an odd comparison to make as the original features very little blood while the later is pretty gory. The newer version focuses on Michael Myer’s history and sociopathic tendencies while the older eschews that history. Gotta say the original takes the cake for music and tension
28. Sam Raimi two-fer: "Evil Dead II" (The only instance in which a horror movie sequel surpasses the original.) vs. "Drag Me To Hell". Old fashioned FX vs. CGI. This isn’t as much a competition as DMTH references and homages Evil Dead a number of times. The cinematography is similar with odd camera angels and shots. I have to say I liked Evil Dead II more, but didn’t really spook me as opposed to a few certain bedroom scenes in DMTH. Thanks Likferd.
29. Onto "Gingerdeadman" vs. "Night of the Lepus". Both have ridiculous monsters; a gingerbread cookie is infused with the soul of a killer, voiced by Gary Busey (because of course) vs. genetically modified giant killer rabbits that torment a town. The endings, Gingerbread Busey is eaten; giant rabbits are electrocuted by train tracks. (Deus ex machina?) Who’s the winner? No one. Anyone who views these movies back to back is destined to never be classified as a winner in any sense. I started this Horr-tacular on a sad note and I seem to go out on one…
30. Let’s cool the head to head competition in preparation for the finale. Beetlejuice had a lot more adult humor than I remember as a kid. Beetlejuice visits a miniature town brothel… which begs the question of why the dad chose to include a miniature brothel in his small-scale replica. All in all, Bettlejuice is a good- And here comes Michael Keaton. (That must be an unfortunate clause to have in your contract…) Special thanks to Umbrello for the recommendation
31.The Thing: John Carpenter dominated this list and for damn good reason. The Thing does a great job of catching the atmosphere of “Who Goes There?” (The original novella) and builds on it. The monsters are grotesque and entertaining. The ending is still one of my favorites, leaving it ambiguous and up for debate
Jacob’s Ladder was one of my favorite movies when I was younger, does it still hold up? It does! The effects of blurring motion using the camera gives the story a distorted feel, and I have never quite been comfortable with dancing after that one scene in the dance club. It’s a shame too, I was such a good dancer. (Facetiousness?)
Psycho: How could I wrap up the marathon without doing one of my favorite Hitchcock movies? It still holds up to this day. (The original, not the remake staring Vince Vaughn) It has a genuinely creepy ending.
Welp, that's it. Hope you had fun, I had fun watching/re-watching some of these classics and not-so-classics.