October 23, 2016

October 2016 Horror Watching, Part 2


Admittedly, I did not have much luck finding good horror films on cable during the beginning of October. With a couple of exceptions, most of what I found was of limited interest. I am happy to report that things have improved since then. Maybe there is some sense in the various channels saving some of the better films for a bit closer to Halloween.

Of course, the horror genre isn't any different from any other genre of film in the sense that opinions are going to vary widely about what makes a good film. You may hate the ones I liked, and I may hate the ones you like. It is that diversity of opinion that makes things interesting, here as well as in many other contexts.

Here are some of the movies I caught on cable during mid-October of 2016:
  • Pumpkinhead (1988) - I've always liked this strange but classic horror flick, and I don't even mind the 1993 sequel that most fans regard as terrible. Lance Henriksen is great in this one, and I've always thought the story was interesting. I remember it fondly as an alternative to the assembly-line slasher flicks of the time. The special effects hold up fairly well for the most part even if the creature does not look as realistic as I remembered. I will watch this one again, and I may pick up the Blu-ray at some point to see whether a somewhat better picture makes a difference.
  • The Woods (2006) - I probably wouldn't have bothered with this one at all, but I read a review in which the author compared it to Suspiria, one of my all-time favorites. I should have known better. In spite of some clear similarities in the story, this lacked everything else I liked about Suspiria. It wasn't scary, had no mind-blowing visuals, the characters were moderately annoying, and the fact that Bruce Campbell had such a small role was little more than a tease. No desire to see this one again.
  • Hellraiser (1987) - This has been one of my favorite horror flicks since I first saw it shortly after it was released. I've seen it several times over the years, and I find something new to like about it every time. It is an odd film with a story that does not make much sense, but I love the nightmarish imagery. As I watched it this year, it hit me that it has probably been at least 10 years since I had last seen it. I see that they are finally releasing the limited edition Blu-ray box set here in the U.S. this December, and I am tempted to order it.
  • Evil Dead (2013) - If you are a fan of the original and approach this one as a remake, you'll probably be disappointed. Think of it more as a re-imagining of many core elements of the classic story with a very different set of characters and you may appreciate it. The film takes a more serious approach, does not attempt to replace the Ash character with anything similar, and delivers on the special effects. This was the second time I've seen this one, and I'll probably add it to my collection at some point. Seeing it does make me want to watch the original film again, and that's never a bad thing.
  • The Prowler (1981) - I've been hearing about this infamous B-movie forever but somehow never managed to catch it until now. In a word, wow! It felt a bit dated, as one would expect; however, the special effects still managed to look more real than much of what one sees today. It certainly lived up to its reputation as one of the more brutal films to come out of the early 80s. I struggle to describe exactly why that is, but the kills seemed more realistic and even cruel than most of the films at the time. Slashers don't usually do it for me, but this was a really good one. In some ways, it reminded me of the original My Bloody Valentine, released in the same year and another standout in terms of brutality. Still, this one was even darker. It will be awhile before I want to see The Prowler again, but I will want to see it again.
  • Silent Hill: Revelation (2012) - This is another one I'd never seen before. I am not familiar with the games, but I did enjoy Silent Hill enough to give this sequel a try. In spite of the interesting set design, special effects, and more of the cool visual elements I liked from the first one, this film was not nearly as good. The acting was decent enough, but the story was lacking. Zero interest in watching this one again, which is too bad since I really like the visual style of these films.
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) - As a horror film, this one doesn't have much going for it aside from the gimmick of taking place on Christmas Eve, involving a killer with Santa issues, and the controversy it unleashed when it first came out (i.e., many Christians weren't crazy about it for some reason). The acting is poor, the effects are mediocre, and there really isn't much to make the film memorable aside from the Santa theme. And yet, it is this theme (and a sadistic nun) that makes it work on another level. Even if it falls a bit flat as a horror film, I'd take it as a Christmas movie. It should be shown each year on Christmas Eve, and I'd enjoy it then even though it cannot compare to my favorite Christmas movie, Black Christmas (1974).
  • Scourge (2008) - I went into this low-budget B-movie not expecting much and still came away disappointed. It wasn't exactly terrible; it was just that it seemed so derivative that I couldn't help feeling like I'd previously seen many versions of the same story (i.e., alien parasite infects humans and moves from person to person), each done much better than this one. It wasn't that I hated it; I just found it completely forgettable. Assuming I remember that I watched it this year, I certainly won't bother to do so again.
  • Mama (2013) - I saw this one for the second time this year, and I think I liked it better this time. I've enjoyed most of what I've seen from Guillermo del Toro. There's just something about his visual style that I appreciate, and this was no exception. I almost always prefer a decent ghost story that takes its time to build the creep factor instead of delivering over-the-top gore and little else. Despite the cool visuals, Mama had sort of a traditional ghost story vibe to it. While I wasn't crazy about the end, I thought the rest of it was decent. I'd see it again.
So far, I'd have to say that the second half of October has been better than the first half when it comes to the quality of the horror films available on cable. And I'm even happier that I am finally beginning to get a taste of the cooler weather I associate with October. I realize that temperatures in the mid-80s will sound great to some, but I'm sick of summer and ready for some fall. At this point, I'd even welcome a bit of rain. On to the end of October.