October 14, 2016

October 2016 Horror Watching

horror

I did not anticipate that I was going to have much time to enjoy horror movies this October. The more I thought about that, the more it pissed me off. You know what they say about all work and no play... I'm happy to report that I decided to make time to work in a few when I found myself too tired after long days at work to do anything else.

Here is my complete list of the horror movies I watched in October of 2016:

  • The Burning (1981) - This classic summer camp slasher from the early 80s may be a bit dated but that did not make it any less fun to see again. While I can't claim that it was particularly scary, it features several young actors and actresses who would go on to do other things. Seeing a young Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame was enough to make it worthwhile for me. I hadn't seen this one since the 80s, and I'd definitely watch it again.
  • C.H.U.D. (1984) - Another 80s classic, this one involves nuclear contamination, mutants, and special effects that were quite impressive for the early to mid 80s. I have to admit this is a case where my fond memories of seeing it back in the day clashed with the experience of watching it now. While I enjoyed it, it did not hold up as well as I had hoped. It deserves its cult status and has some great lines, but I'm in no hurry to see it again. At least it was much better than C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud, which isn't saying much unless you really liked Encino Man.
  • Reeker (2005) - Strangers trapped together in a deserted location are attacked by some sort of supernatural creature. Although I can't pretend it is scary, I've always liked this one for some reason. There's just something about the atmosphere and the characters that seems to work. I think this was the third time I've seen it, and I'm sure it won't be the last.
  • Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995), Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996), Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998) - I'll be the first to admit that the Children of the Corn series is a puzzle. The original film was not well received, and none of the sequels have been particularly good either. And yet, I think they made seven of them! For whatever reason, I've always liked them even though they fall into the so-bad-they're-good category. Creepy kids always creep me out (of course, kids of any kind tend to creep me out a bit), and the not-so-subtle religious/cult themes work too. I'd seen the first three before, but I think this was the first time I watched 4 and 5. Now I need to see the rest of them.
  • You're Next (2011) - The home invasion subgenre (if there is such a thing) has never been one of my favorites; however, this one was better than most. It had more impact the first time I saw it, offering some good creepy moments and a couple surprises. I've always liked horror, thriller, and action films that feature a bad-ass female lead (e.g., Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2), and this was more than enough to make You're Next enjoyable on my second viewing. I'd probably watch it again.
  • House at the End of the Street (2012) - I'm not sure this one is best classified as horror or as a thriller. It was mildly creepy in places, but there was nothing scary about it. Despite two big name leads (i.e., Elisabeth Shue and Jennifer Lawrence), it had too much of a made-for-TV feel to it. This was the first time I'd seen it, and I have no desire to see it again.
  • 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 a while 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.
  • Stake Land (2010) - I've always been fond of this dystopian flick about vampire hunters. While I'm admittedly not a huge fan of vampire films in general, I'd place this one in a top 5 vampire movies list if I had such a list. In some ways, it reminds me a bit of the Walking Dead but with vampires instead of zombies. Of course, the highlight is not the vampires but the religious extremists. Much like the Walking Dead, it seems that the humans pose at least as much of a threat as the undead, and there's nothing quite like religious extremism to amplify the threat. I'm surprised I haven't already added this to my collection.
  • Stake Land 2 (2016) - I caught this new sequel for the first time by chance since I had no idea they had made a sequel. It went straight to SyFy without any real promotion. It was decent but did not make the same sort of impression the first one did. Still, it was nice to see the same actors from the first one reprising their roles. In spite of the jump in time (i.e., this one starts several years after the first one ended), they captured much of what made the first one so good. I suspect that the main reason I liked this one less was that much of the suspense was lost. I'm sure I'll watch it again, but I don't think I'd buy it.
  • Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) - It had been way too long since I'd seen this one, and I have to confess that it did not live up to what I remembered so fondly. As much as I liked Hellraiser, enjoying it again earlier this month, Hellraiser II was a clear case of my memories of seeing the film in the theater when it first came out being overly positive. The special effects were never great to begin with, but they seemed really dated now. I had remembered it as being scarier and far more disturbing than the first one. It did not seem that way this time. I was surprised to discover that I'm in no hurry to see this one again. 
  • Jaws 2 (1978) - Keeping the sequel theme going for a bit longer, this is another one I hadn't seen in years. I love the original Jaws. It scared the hell out of me when I saw it for the first time. As stupid as this sounds, I couldn't go a lake, river, or even a swimming pool for some time without thinking about it. Jaws 2 is a solid sequel in so many ways, but it never affected me on the same level as the first one. It is good, while the first one was great. Still, it is another one I'm sure I'll see again and add to my collection eventually.
  • Tremors 3: Back to Perfection (2001) - This hilariously bad straight-to-video sequel is indeed a guilty pleasure in the so-bad-its-good category. It is not remotely scary and does not seem to have been made to be intentionally funny, but I can't help liking it. Casting Michael Gross (the father from Family Ties) as the lead in a horror franchise was a work of pure genius. I suppose this would be a fair description of the entire Tremors series of films. I have seen them all, and I have to say that this is the worst of the bunch. And yet, I have no doubt that I'll pick up the Tremors: Attack Pack sooner than later.
  • Re-Animator (1985) -  This cult classic from the evil scientists sub-genre has never been one of my favorites, as I nearly always prefer a good story and creepy suspense to the over-the-top gore of a special effects extravaganza. That does not mean I cannot appreciate why this one gets so much love from fans though. Scientist re-animates corpses, and predictable carnage ensues. It had been a while since I'd seen it, and I was impressed that many of the effects still hold up reasonably well. I doubt I'll buy this one, but I'm sure I'll see it again.
  • Quarantine (2008) - I first saw this one the year it was released. Aside from the fact that the found-footage gimmick was already wearing thin, I thought it was decent but not great. I figured I would give it another try this year, and I was disappointed to discover that I did not care for it. Because so much of what makes good horror work is the suspense involved, there is always a danger that some films are not going to work on repeat viewing. I usually don't have much of a problem with this because it seems like I often discover other things to appreciate about a movie even once I know what is going to happen. That was not the case here. In fact, I think that the lack of suspense made the shaky camera nonsense even less tolerable. I won't bother watching this one again.
  • Devil's Rejects (2005) - This is a film I did not care for when I saw it the first time; however, it has grown on me to the point where I really like it now. This was probably the fourth time I've seen it, and it is fair to say that I liked it even more this time around. Since I seem to be one of the few people who enjoyed House of 1000 Corpses, I think the problem was that I expected this one to be far more similar to that one. When it wasn't, I think I was disappointed. After multiple viewings, I've come to appreciate that it is not only different but far superior. I have not seen all of Rob Zombie's films yet, but this one makes me want to. I plan to buy this one soon.

And with that, it is time to say farewell to October. I may have plenty of bibles leftover from JesusWeen, but I also have a DVR full of horror flicks I have not yet had time to watch. That will be more than enough to get me through November and December. And in case you are curious about what I watched in October of 2017, you can find that here.

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