The big surprise for me this year wasn't that I ended up with less time than I had hoped for but that I noticed no improvement in the selection of available movies on cable as October went on. Not only that, but it seemed increasingly difficult to find horror movies I wanted to see. Instead of adding to the variety of movies available, many cable channels seemed to keep showing the same few repeatedly.
This was disappointing, but I suppose I can't complain too much. I still managed to fill the DVR with enough horror movies to get me through November.
Here's my list for the last part of the month:
- The Possession (2012) - I'd seen this one previously, and I think it is a decent entry among the crowded field of possession-themed PG-13 horror films. It isn't the best by a long-shot, but it is far from the worst. Supposedly, it is "based on a true story" (yeah, right). It has a strong cast, generally likable characters, effective special effects, and some decent scares. While I'll be the first to admit that it doesn't feel particularly original, I did appreciate that it put a couple of interesting twists on the possession theme. For example, the exorcist is Jewish rather than Catholic. I could imagine myself watching it again, but it probably isn't the sort of stand-out I'd add to my collection.
- Attack the Block (2011) - If you've ever watched an alien invasion flick and found yourself wondering what would happen if the aliens had invaded a tough neighborhood where the some of the residents decided to fight back, this one might be right up your alley. Attack the Block is a low-budget sci-fi horror comedy set in London that depicts a group of teenagers taking the fight to alien invaders. The acting is solid, and it manages to be fun without going too far in the unnecessary comedy direction. The special effects are so primitive that they may ruin it for some viewers, and I won't pretend that the film is the least bit scary. Still, I absolutely love this one. This was the third time I've seen it, and I will be adding it to my collection in the near future.
- Neverknock (2017) - I really don't know why I keep messing with these SyFy originals, but here was another dud. To be fair, this one got off to a decent start. With some effort, I was able to set aside the poor acting. By about a third of the way into the film, I found myself thinking that this might be a fun one after all. The group of kids was mildly interesting, and it looked like this might be a story about a creepy house that killed whoever knocked on the door. But no, there had to be a monster. Unfortunately, things deteriorated quickly. As is the case with so many of these SyFy originals, the monster wasn't scary, the cliches piled up, and the lack of originality doomed the effort. Another letdown.
- The Devil's Bride (1968) - This was another Christopher Lee film from Hammer, but he's a good guy in this one trying to save his friend from a Satanic cult. Fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show will recognize Charles Gray as the leader of the cult. This one was released the same year as Rosemary's Baby, and was not nearly as compelling. While it held my interest and was visually attractive, it did not come close to Rosemary's Baby in capturing a sense of dread or fear. I'd never hesitate to describe Rosemary's Baby as effective horror; I'm not so sure about this one. It felt like a much older film, and I can't imagine anyone would find it scary unless you are terrified of anything remotely related to Satanism. While I enjoyed seeing it, once was enough.
- Phantasm: Ravager (2016) - The first Phantasm film is one of my favorites, but I have been less than thrilled with most of the sequels. Some are better than others, and I thought this fifth and final installment was one of the weaker efforts. The only people I'd recommend Ravager to are those who have seen the previous four Phantasm films and enjoyed them. Although it wasn't great, I'm glad I watched it for the nostalgia. Phantasm is that rare sort of horror franchise where one really has to see all the films in order for them to make any sense at all. Even as someone who has seen the prior films, I found Ravager too disjointed to be enjoyable. One review I read of the film said that it seemed like little more than a compilation of bits that had been edited out of the previous films and arranged in no meaningful order. I wouldn't go quite that far, but I can see why someone would say that.
- Curse of Chucky (2013) and Cult of Chucky (2017) - I've never been a fan of the Child's Play/Chucky franchise. Dolls are creepy, but I never found the doll in these films to be even remotely scary or anything about the backstory believable enough to hook me in. In every case, my inability to find the doll scary or threatening in any way took me out of the film. Bride of Chucky is my favorite, and I think that's mostly because it did not try to be scary and embraced a campier approach. I just watched Curse and Cult for the first time, and while I did not find either of them scary enough to be appealing, I will say that these direct-to-video releases were better than I was expecting. The acting was solid, and I appreciated the return to somewhat more straight ahead horror (vs. the campier approach of some of the previous films). It was clear that both films were intended to be scary. In the end, I think I just have to conclude that this franchise isn't for me. Those who liked the previous films will probably enjoy these.
- Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) and Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) - I still think that Halloween: Resurrection was probably the worst of the Halloween films, but Halloween 5 is a close second. As much as I appreciate what Donald Pleasance and Danielle Harris brought to the film, neither could save it. It ends up being the one thing an effective horror film can't be: boring. I remember seeing this one in the theater when it was released and being disappointed because of how much worse it was than Halloween 4. Watching it now without having seen Halloween 4 in quite a while did not help. It is still boring and ineffective. I can't recommend this one. I thought Halloween 6 was much better. While it gets awful reviews, I've always thought it was somewhat underrated and is at least an average entry in the franchise. Unfortunately, it won't make any sense unless one has watched the previous Halloween films (except for Halloween III: Season of the Witch, as this one has nothing to do with the rest of the franchise).