11.04.2015

31 Days of Halloween: Days 16-31

Sam Jenny Iggy
Sam is back with the rest of October's horror movie list!
A couple of weeks ago, my brother Sam introduced us to his "31 Days of Halloween" horror movie tradition. Here is the first half. The second half concludes in today's post:

October 16: Tales of Halloween (2015)
Ranking in my favorite Halloween horror movies of all time is an anthology known as “Trick ‘r Treat." Tales of Halloween took the same approach as Trick ‘r Treat by having each short film center around Halloween night and all take place in the same location where the stories can intersect. I absolutely love anthologies, so when I heard about this one, I was more than excited. Having finally seen it I can say I was pleased. There are ten shorts all of varying quality, but overall it’s very enjoyable. Lots of well-known horror directors and actors pop up in this movie, so you will recognize a lot of faces. Some really fun stories, some cool effects, and just an all-around spooky atmosphere, Tales of Halloween won’t disappoint.

October 17: Mirrors 2 (2010)
Alexandre Aja released the original Mirrors, which is a guilty pleasure of mine. The second one has nothing to do with the original. If you want to split hairs, I guess it’s related by the mirror coming from the department store of the first, but that’s it. I don’t have a lot of positive things to say about the movie, because it essentially lost all of the suspense and brutality of the original, but when compared to other direct-to-DVD movies, it's not bad. The movie is essentially a revenge tragedy and the mirror has very little to do with it, outside of using the mirror to make kills. The original is fantastic... this one, not so much.

October 18: The Lazarus Effect (2015) 
This movie is a hugely missed opportunity. It started off well, and has a solid cast, but then the movie falls into the normal trappings of the current garbage PG-13 horror trend. There were some really interesting ideas that could have taken the movie to entirely new territory, but instead we get typical BS and a “twist” ending that you could see a mile away. Don’t watch this garbage. I would like to point out this is yet another Blumhouse horror movie which lately have had the recent trend of being utter sh!t. They probably still made their money back though.

October 19: Final Destination 3 (2006) 
I only watched this movie because I was leaving for Disney World in the morning. This FD is known as being the roller coaster death one. I figured, hell, why not start off my vacation right. Unfortunately, I did not start it off right, because this movie is trash. I know people like to say that all the Saw series consists of is ways to kill people, and while I would disagree, this is 100% true of the Final Destination series. This is basically the Rube Goldberg machine of death series. The original movie is interesting and has a really unique idea and concept. This is completely gone in the 3rd iteration of the series. I mean, honestly, there didn’t need to be a sequel to the first movie as each movie is just a retelling of the original. Apparently that didn’t matter, as there are five movies in the series. Pass.

October 20: John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) 
If you haven’t seen this movie, you have done yourself a great injustice and your number one priority at this point should be to see this. I’ll just assume at this point anyone reading has seen the movie, because how could you not have? This is literally the BEST sci-fi/horror movie ever made. Some people like to say Alien and/or Aliens is the best, but those people would be wrong. This movie is sheer perfection. John Carpenter reminds us time and time again how fantastic of a director he really is. This movie exudes paranoia and tension unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Kurt Russell plays just about the most bad-ass character I’ve ever seen, all while being completely realistic and believable. I point out Kurt because he is my favorite actor, but the rest of the cast is fantastic as well. This movie demonstrates how much atmosphere can make a movie, and to this day I can’t think of one that does a better job. With that note, I will mention probably the best “Thing” about this movie -- the special effects. I have never in my entire life seen a movie that made me physically ill. That was until I saw The Thing. The practical effects in this movie are unparalleled. There is no movie that can compare to the sheer grotesqueness that is this movie. Nothing looks hokey about it, either. Jurassic Park is about the only other movie I can think of whose special effects can compare. Special effects in horror are usually over-the-top, or goofy, or just not well done. The Thing is the best example of what can be done with practical effects. It also says a lot that a movie over 30 years old still has some of best special effects ever committed to film. So yeah, isn’t this movie utterly amazing?

October 21: Are You Afraid of the Dark (1990 – 1996 and 1999-2000) 
For day 21, I decided to switch things up a bit and go with the old television series Are You Afraid of the Dark? Seeing as how it's the Halloween season, I've been watching a lot of this show. I love this style of show: little 20 minute self-contained stories that may or may not end with a twist. I'd also like to point out that this is by far the best children’s horror show and also holds up better than any other children’s horror. I'm sure as you all know by now that Goosebumps was a major force in my childhood, but when watching the show now, I can't help but feel a bit let down. This is not the case with Are You Afraid of the Dark? I'm sure we all have our favorite episodes, but mine is the Tale of the Crimson Clown, a real creepy episode where the main kid, Sam (!!!), is punished for being a bad kid by the Crimson Clown. Stuff of nightmares right there.

October 22: The Nightmare before Christmas (1993)
Now, I know some people may not consider this a horror movie, but I always have. Every time I see this movie, it brings me back to my childhood. I have a massive love/hate relationship with this movie, mainly because this movie is my childhood. I was seven when it came out, so I'm basically the target market. For years, I heard hardly a peep about this movie and it was awesome, because it felt more personal to me, it spoke directly to me. This all changed, of course, when Hot Topic got ahold of it. They proceeded to bastardized this movie, where every tween is covered head-to-toe in Jack Skellington merchandise. I'm really glad I never got the Jack tattoo I thought I wanted when I was in high school. ANYWAYS, it's an excellent film, the music and animation is stellar, and it truly deserves all the accolades it receives. It’s a great gateway movie for kids to horror without it being too much, nor being too babyish.

October 23: Wyrmwood Road of the Dead (2014) 
An Australian horror/black comedy that is touted as a zombie-mad-max type film, and really delivers on that premise. It’s a fun movie, and breathes some life into the zombie genre which was effectively beaten to death three years ago. It’s got its funny moments, but it's also way more visceral than I expected. The movie has some pacing issues, and some potholes, but overall I really enjoyed it. I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel developed for this one.

October 24: Hocus Pocus (1993) 
This is one of the best family horror movies out there. The story is excellent, the acting is great, and it may be the only movie where I think Sarah Jessica Parker is gorgeous. This is just an all-around fun movie, and definitely captures the Halloween spirit. I'm guessing most have seen this, but if you haven't, you need to. It genuinely makes me laugh, the effects are great, and it’s an all-around modern day family horror classic. Disney also did an event with the Sanderson sisters at the park and it was beautiful. Sit down with the family and enjoy a night in with this one. Also, I could never forget about them sweet sweet yabos.

October 25: Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)
Tales from the Crypt is one of my all-time favorite shows, and I watch it regularly throughout the year, but even more frequently during Halloween. I had actually never seen this movie until today. Having seen Tales' other movie, Bordello of Blood, I had an idea of what to expect, but this one was way better. It's essentially a long episode which includes an intro and outtro by The Crypt Keeper himself, which I love. Awesome practical effects and a surprisingly awesome great performance by Billy Zane. Demon Knight shows that it is possible to stay true to the spirit of the source material while still making a great movie. Tales from the Crypt is just utterly fantastic and if you haven’t seen the show, you need to. The show is all around better than the movie, but that may be just because you get more Crypt Keeper in the show.

October 26: Circle (2015) 
Circle is another one of those movies I've been following, but had really heard nothing about. Well, Netflix comes through and you can steam it. This is very reminiscent of the sci-fi horror classic Cube. The movie is about 50 people waking up in a room standing on red circles that will zap them if they step off or touch anyone else. Ever 1-2 minutes someone dies and they find very early on they can vote on who dies next. It's a very interesting statement about humanity that kind of shows how shitty and hive-minded people will become in stressful situations. I liked the movie, the ending leaves you with much to be desired but it actually works for the movie. I know some will be disappointed in it, but it does a nice job keeping you guessing and the suspense high in a movie that essentially takes place in one room. I recommend it if you like your horror a little more conceptual and symbolic.

October 27 - Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
This is the quintessential Halloween film. Nothing compares to this movie for capturing the spirit of Halloween. The director actually talks about how he wanted to make a movie that really feels like the holiday, and you can really feel it throughout the film. It's another anthology-style film where all the stories tie together. I mentioned in Tales of Halloween how much I enjoy this type of movie, and this is just about as good as it comes. The overarching character, Sam, could easily be considered the iconic Halloween character or mascot. He could be Halloween’s Santa Claus. Just everything about this movie is a love letter to Halloween. If you like Halloween then this movie is for you. It’s got a little bit of everything and the effects, story, atmosphere and just about everything is fantastic.

October 28 - Saw (2004)
If you don’t like Saw, just stop reading and close the blog. You know what, if you can’t appreciate Saw, just stop reading and close the blog. Saw is one of the absolute pinnacles of modern day horror, it’s actually one of two movies that I would consider the absolute best horror films of the 21st century. I’ll never forget seeing Saw in theaters the day it came out. It was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. The movie was unique, tense, thrilling, intense and was able to accomplish so much with so little. The movie didn’t rely on cheap tactics or jump scares to make it effective. The movie pulled you in and never let you go. I’m not going to sit here and tell you it is perfect, because it isn’t. The acting isn’t amazing, and there are some holes in the story. My god though, the ending was just unbelievable. I have never seen an entire theater collectively gasp at the shock of the twist. The movie played us all like fiddles, they gave you the red herring of who Jigsaw was and you buy into and then it just changes it on you. I’ll never forget Adam finding Zep’s recorder in his pocket and just going wide eyed as the realization sets in. A lot of people mistakenly refer to this series as “Torture Porn” and while we could debate that the sequels are, the original is so much more. How many other films can say they started a sub-genre? This is one of my all-time favorite movies and I can’t recommend it high enough.

October 29 - Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
I love Nightmare on Elm Street. I love Freddy Kruger. He’s an American Icon. He’s a horror legend. He’s known throughout the world. He’s a loved anti-hero. Now, let’s all think about this for a second, Freddy Krueger is a child killer, and without explicitly stating, is alluded to have molested as well. Now obviously he’s not real, but they made toys and merchandised this to kids. It’s quite twisted. This is what New Nightmare is. Its like a commentary/sequel/something else completely. The movie is about the real actors from the series, but then it starts to come true. They touch on how Freddy is this beloved character and then the evil he really is manifests. Its hard to explain via text, but the movie itself is awesome. The end is a bit weak, but the rest of the movie is just fantastic. The reimagining of Krueger in this movie makes him scary for the first time since his original appearance. Freddy had become pop culture, this movie brought him back to what he was always meant to be. Such a cool concept for a movie, and executed wonderfully.

October 30 - The Babadook (2014)
This was, for many horror fans, the movie of 2014. The other movie that is tossed around for 2014 is It Follows. Now I happen to be part of the It Follows being the movie of 2014 group, but that being said, The Babadook is an exceptionally well done movie. It is immensely unsettling and very tense. The movie has little to no gore and almost no (maybe none at all) jump scares. It doesn’t rely on these common methods to be scary and tense. Instead, the movie’s atmosphere is unbelievably strong. You really feel what the characters are going through, and you really start to feel for them. The movie centers around a widowed mother of one who reads a book called “The Babadook” to her son. This Babadook figure begins to manifest itself to her son, and eventually the mother herself. Without giving the story away, the film does a fantastic job of establishing a physical representation of a feeling we all deal with. This metaphor is portrayed wonderfully, and because of this, it is very relatable and probably why the movie works so well. The reason I’m not completely sold on the film though is due to its ending. It’s like at the end of the film, they couldn’t decide if it should be a metaphor or if it should be something else, and because of this, it really weakens the film. I don’t want to knock the film too much for this though, because it is very well done. 

October 31 - Hellraiser (1987)
Well. Here we are, the last day of October and Halloween itself. I saved the best for last. Hellraiser is without comparison. Hellraiser is something quite different in the genre of horror. At first glance it may come across as a typical slasher film, but beneath is something much more. Erotic horror is about the only way I can describe this movie. Not erotic like soft-core porn slasher horror from the 80's, but something very sexual in nature while not being explicitly graphic. Now, the movie is graphic, but not in the ways you'd expect. The original short story as written by Clive Barker is just about my favorite piece of literature out, and with Clive directing the movie as well, it was extremely interesting to look at the differences between the two. I won’t go into the movie too much, as it’s a special film to watch for the first time. The Cenobites have some of the most interesting and detailed characters while ultimately playing minor figures in the film. While they may only be present for 10-15 minutes in the movie, you feel their presence throughout the film the entire time. It’s like you are always being watched, you are always waiting for their arrival. Pinhead will always be one of the greatest horror villains of all time, and while you have your slashers, and monsters, and silent killers, well, Pinhead always stood out to me. He’s intelligent and almost noble. He’s like a supernatural force that is both divine and human. He is evil in a sense, but then you really can’t give real reasons. It’s like you can tell he is pulling the strings from behind the scenes without ever really seeing him do so. Pinhead is without equal. The only thing I can say bad about this movie is that it seems dated. Clive Barker seems to always be on the forefront of effects, which unfortunately makes things look dated when the movie is almost 30 years old. These are minor when the vast majority of effects are practical and absolutely superb. This is a must see.

Rock On,
Jen @ Hell Razor


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