beer_good_foamy: (Default)
2017-10-16 09:15 pm
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Horror october #16

Better Watch Out. Another babysitter movie, but this time done right. I've heard good things about this for months, and it definitely lives up to the hype.

I'm the Harry Houdini of getting away with it. I know how tonight plays out. We get out clean. You just gotta do what I say, OK?

Again, bratty 12-year-old kid with hot babysitter, home invasion by armed creeps, but played a lot smarter, because every rich kid raised on video games knows that fighting off invaders is easy ... up until people start dying for real. This one has twists coming every few minutes, a good sense of humour that doesn't devolve into silliness, and a pretty creepy villain as well. That's about as much as I feel comfortable saying without spoiling anything. Oh, and it's one of very few Christmas-themed horror movies that actually work. Better watch.

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2017-10-15 01:14 pm
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Horror october #15

About halfway, so maybe it's time to dig up some more indepth discussion.

Since watching It (2017) a few weeks ago, I've had this perhaps not entirely rational urge to rewatch It (1990) again. I remembered it as pretty goddamn awful, and even if I wasn't entirely blown away by the remake, surely it would look even worse now?

And you know, I'm not sure it does. Spoilers for both movies )

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2017-10-14 09:11 am
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Horror october #14

The Babysitter: Another brand-new Netflix original, directed by... geez, McG still has a career? Well, I guess he knows his strengths, and goes completely over the top blood-and-action-wise rather than try for any sort of actual tension or realism. And this mashup of Home Alone and Hand That Rocks The Cradle is actually pretty fun. 12-year-old crushing on his hot 20-something babysitter finds out she's in a Satanic cult who are sacrificing people in his house when his parents are away, so now he has to survive somehow. Not a great movie by any stretch, but it knows what it is, Samara Weaving (you know, the allegedly beat-up Trump supporter) has a blast playing evil, and the child actor manages to not be completely annoying. Ridiculous, but enjoyable.

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2017-10-13 07:14 pm
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Horror october #13

Look at the date. I couldn't not.

I'd never seen the Friday the 13th remake before, and probably for good reason. Not all remakes suck (The Thing, The Fly, 12 Monkeys...) but most modern remakes of 70s/80s horror movies do. But let's face it, the Friday the 13th movies were never all that good to begin with. Yeah, Jason Voorhees is an iconic movie monster with his hockey mask and machete, but the actual movies he starred in? Sadistic, by-the-numbers slashers nowhere near as scary as the first two Halloween, as fun as the first few Terror On Elm St, or as subversive as Sleepaway Camp. So a remake that straightens the whole mess out isn't necessarily a bad idea.

It's just a pity that Friday the 13th (2009) doesn't really try. Rather than turn it into an actual horror movie, they just condense the first three F13 movies into one with no added suspense or character or anything except an even more unstoppable Jason running around the woods in a hockey mask killing teenagers in various inventive (though not as inventive as in the original movies) ways, except now he's also occasionally kidnapping them and keeping them alive for... some reason. Having never watched Supernatural I don't know if Jared Padalecki has more acting range than he shows here, but I certainly hope so.

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2017-10-12 10:25 pm
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Horror october #12

From A House On Willow Street. This, in a word, is shit. The nicest thing I can think to say about it is that it takes some sort of talent to take a setup this simple - criminals with chequered pasts kidnap a young heiress only to find out she's possessed by the devil - and make it this confusing and boring. I've seen far worse horror movies than this, but at least they're occasionally fun.

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2017-10-11 09:27 pm
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Horror october #11

Pumpkinhead was recommended to me by [personal profile] killerweasel and I'm really grateful. They don't make 'em like this anymore. Based on the title and the opening scene I was expecting something a lot trashier, and if it'd been made in the early 80s instead of 1988 it might have been, but of course by now both Stan Winston and Lance Henriksen were fresh off The Terminator and Aliens (and Near Dark in Henriksen's case) and it shows. This movie may look kinda shlocky at first, but it means business when it takes the ol' obnoxious college kids vs vengeful rednecks plot to a place it doesn't usually go.

OK, so maybe creaturemaster Winston is a bit too fond of showing off his monster, and maybe most of the college kids don't get nearly the same character depth that Henriksen's character does, but this is still a very watchable movie from that brief period in the late 80s where horror was sort of trying to put on some muscles again before the 90s came along and, well, we know what happened then. Pumpkinhead. Salutations.

beer_good_foamy: (Default)
2017-10-10 08:59 pm
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Horror october #10

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is another one of those I should have watched years ago, especially since I love both the novel and the classic adaptations (well, the first three, at least). I think it was Ken Branagh who put me off it.

And yes, Branagh overacts his black heart out, to the extent that even John Fucking Cleese comes across as a master of quiet dignity and restraint next to him. Though it's a tough competition, with just about everyone constantly chewing ham all over the movie.

Everyone: [at some point in the movie] NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

There are things here that work; De Niro (!!!) is a surprisingly effective Creature, and I appreciate the effort to make a real, proper adaptation of the book, but I'm not entirely sure books are always best served by a word-for-word adaptation; Mary Shelley's philosophical meanderings simply don't jibe with Branagh's over-the-top WILL SOMEONE TURN OFF THOSE FUCKING STRINGS style. As a horror movie, it's toothless. As a period drama, it's fun enough, though not in the way Branagh intended. But still, I'm glad it exists - if nothing else, as a warning for what happens when bearded men tamper in the Goddess' domain.

beer_good_foamy: (Default)
2017-10-09 09:56 pm
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Horror october #9

Killing Ground: An Australian couple goes out into the woods to camp out over New Year's Eve, and are dumb enough to take directions from a local redneck. Stop me if you've heard this one before.

Actually don't, because Killing Ground makes the most of a simple concept to take us somewhere rather nasty and disturbing. It soon becomes obvious that there are two different timelines here - something already happened just hours or days ago, and there's still fallout from it to come. Fair warning: this gets very violent, and not of the comic-book or hockey-mask slasher version. It's not miles from Eden Lake or The Strangers, though Eden Lake had something to say with it whereas this just seems to want to make the audience sick. I'm not sure I like this, it's thoroughly unpleasant, but there's something to be said for how unrelentingly bleak and matter-of-fact it is.

beer_good_foamy: (Default)
2017-10-08 11:10 am
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Horror october #8

Shriek of the Mutilated is a ... well, it's a movie. I feel fairly confident saying that much, though at 86 heavily padded minutes it's only barely even that. A college professor takes his students to upstate New York to investigate reports of an abominable snowman (yes, in upstate New York) terrorising the neighborhood, if by "terrorising" you mean "puzzling". Soon, they start seeing something that looks suspiciously like a drunk stuntman in a hairy onesie running around the woods, and they also start getting killed off one by one. And just because it's the 70s, there's a twist coming too!

No, this is not a good movie. It is, however, painfully hilarious, and if nothing else, contains one of the most contrived death-by-household-appliance scenes I've ever seen.

beer_good_foamy: (Default)
2017-10-07 05:58 pm
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Horror october #7

A Dark Song kept me absolutely transfixed for most of it. I love to see a modern horror movie that does entirely its own thing. A very simple story: A woman hires an expert in the occult to do a ritual to let her speak to her dead son. And when I say "occult", I don't mean a ouija board and holding hands around a table with cheap CGI: I mean locking themselves in a house in the middle of nowhere for months doing some serious metaphysical self-searching black magic OCCULT. At least that's what he tells her they're doing, but of course they may just be two not-entirely-stable people driving each other mad... Very simple, and very intense. The ending could probably have been better, but damn, the trip there is worth it.

beer_good_foamy: (Default)
2017-10-06 06:14 pm
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Horror october #6

OK, a real classic this time. I hadn't watched Freaks in ages. The movie that killed Tod Browning's (Dracula) career is a bit of a mess, surely partly thanks to being edited down by a third by the studio, and it's safe to say that the movie would never in a million years be made today. Yes, having actual disabled people portraying circus freaks was exploitative even by 1932 standards (though I'm guessing a fair bit of the outrage then came from having to look at them and empathize with them). And whether it's due to the cuts (more on that here) or just poor pacing, if you aren't horrified by the mere existence of the cast, the whole thing feels a bit like a 55-minute drama that suddenly becomes a horror movie in the last 10 minutes.

That said, those ten minutes are incredible, and the human drama, where the "ugly" ones are the good people and the "beautiful" ones turn out to be monsters, works rather well too. Gabba gabba hey.

beer_good_foamy: (Default)
2017-10-05 09:35 pm
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Horror october #5

The Lure. Now this was FUN. Imagine... um... either Splash as a horror musical, or Ginger Snaps with mermaids. In Polish. Except completely different. OK, the songs don't all quite work, but the whole thing - two mermaid sisters being put to work as singers in a sleazy Polish strip club and getting caught between the hunger for love, for fame, and for human flesh - is just so delightfully weird. Not your typical horror plot (if not for the gore, I'm not sure it would even qualify) but damn, I'm glad I watched that.

beer_good_foamy: (Default)
2017-10-04 09:52 pm
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Horror october #4

A classic, then. I debated just how far back to go, for now I settled for 1971 and Omega Man: Charlton Heston as the last - or "last" - survivor of World War III, living alone in LA and hunting the mutants that rule the city by night.

For some reason I'd never seen this, even though I Am Legend is one of my favourite books (no, I haven't seen the Will Smith version, and I have no intention to). Where the book and the first movie (Last Man On Earth, with Vincent Price) are very much products of the early cold war, this comes on the heels of the late 60s, post-Manson, and so the enemy comes from within. At one point, Heston's character even watches the Woodstock movie before retiring to his mancave where he's collected all the artifacts of Old Culture, to really hit home that this post-apocalyptic hell is the future that liberals want. Sort of. But while it does have a White Saviour streak a mile wide that runs very much counter to the whole point of the novel, and I'd take zombies over silly mutated cult members anyday, it's different enough that I can see it as its own beast, and it does have a good heart in there somewhere. A pity it drags for too much of the 96 minutes, though.

beer_good_foamy: (Default)
2017-10-03 09:04 pm
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Horror october #3

Little Evil, another recent Netflix original. Adam Scott of Parks & Rec and The Good Place plays a guy who's coming to realise that his brand-new stepson isn't just having issues with the new man in his mother's life, but is actually genuinely the Antichrist. So now he may have to kill a six-year-old to save the world, and explain it to his wife as well. Basically a comedy version of The Omen, school uniform and all.

This was certainly a lot more fun than yesterday's movie, and there are definitely things here that work. I just wish it had gone just a little more over the top; as it is it feels a bit too much like a 90s Steve Martin movie (as opposed to an 80s Steve Martin movie) with some added horror elements. And no Steve Martin, even if the cast isn't bad (Clancy Brown!). For all the hellfire in the plot, the whole thing is just a bit on the lukewarm side. But, y'know, entertaining and a good game of spot-the-movie-reference.

I really feel like a classic tomorrow, though.

beer_good_foamy: (Default)
2017-10-02 10:22 pm
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And another gone too soon

Tom Petty dead at 66. Jesus Christ. That's just... wrong. He was the kid, y'know?


Take it easy baby, make it last all night.
beer_good_foamy: (Default)
2017-10-02 09:26 pm
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Horror october #2

Hypersomnia. Young wannabe actress gets a part in a play about human trafficking, but the further she gets into the role, the more she keeps finding herself falling into very realistic daydreams about actually being trapped in the brothel from hell. So what's real, what's not, is she losing her mind or seeing things she's chosen to ignore, yada yada.

There's been some really good dark movies out of Argentina recently - Wild Tales especially - but no, I didn't like this one much. The setup has promise, but it ends up feeling mostly like a more amateurish version of Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch (which I didn't like much either) even long before it ditches the whole real-or-not angle and just goes full-on rape-and-revenge with some really nasty scenes for no other reason than because it looks stylish.

There's been a ton of movies about women trying to escape from men's dark basements in recent years (not surprising given the state of the world that Fritzl & Castro would become the boogeymen of the 21st century). There are better takes on it than this. Maybe I should rewatch 10 Cloverfield Lane.

beer_good_foamy: (Default)
2017-10-01 07:48 pm
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Horror october #1

So I'm going to try a challenge and watch a horror movie every day in October. Or at least 31 horror movies in October. Or at least recommend a horror movie every day in October. We'll see how far I get. (Suggestions of movies I may not have seen are most welcome, though fair warning, I've seen a lot of horror movies...)

#1 is Gerald's Game, which just opened on Netflix. Based on a Stephen King novel I read when it came out and always considered completely unfilmable, since the entire plot is that a woman agrees to let her husband chain her to the bed 50 shades-style to spice up their marriage, and then he gets a heart attack and dies and she's chained to a bed miles from the nearest neighbour and nobody due to miss them for at least a week. So 90% of the story is just her, trapped in a bed, dragging through a lifetime of bad memories of men who think they own her to try and find a way out.

Still works rather well, though, up until the ending that gets way too comfortable. Carel Struycken (the Giant in Twin Peaks) in a small but crucial role. Also, one of the singularly goriest scenes in the whole history of Stephen King films, which is saying something. Not great, but not bad, and when it comes to Stephen King adaptations that's usually all you can ask.

Director Mike Flanagan also made Hush and Oculus, both of which are recommended.

beer_good_foamy: (Willow-death)
2017-09-25 11:00 pm
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Which Witch?

There are far too few ficathons right now as an excuse to get some writing done. But signups are open for the Which Witch ficathon! I hope I've signed up (you never really know with anonymous posting and whatnot), why don't you join me? (LJ membership is not a requirement.)

beer_good_foamy: (Default)
2017-09-19 07:43 am
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Twin Peaks: Season 3, and the finale, and what the hell?

OK, still trying to put down some thoughts on the Twin Peaks finale, but I might as well post it so I can get on with my life.

And it's with mixed feelings. Because I loved season 3 to little pieces, and that fucking ending simply won't leave me alone. So this will get long and not entirely coherent as I try to piece together what The Return and Fire Walk With Me and all that it seems to do, before I try to let it sit for a while and then do a rewatch.

The past dictates the future )
beer_good_foamy: (Default)
2017-09-16 08:35 am
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RIP Harry Dean Stanton

Damnit, I didn't need this right in all my feels about the Twin Peaks finale. 91 years is a very good run, but still.

Cool Hand Luke. Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. Alien. Escape From New York. Red Dawn. Paris, Texas. Repo Man. (Seriously, Repo Man.) Pretty In Pink. Last Temptation of Christ. Wild At Heart. The Straight Story. INLAND EMPIRE. Big Love. The Avengers. Seven Psychopaths. And just a second ago, Twin Peaks. And even in the movies you didn't remember, you'd remember his bit.

Plus a fantastic singer and possibly just the coolest man on the silver screen in the last 50 years. For years, whenver anyone asked me my favourite actor, I'd always say Harry Dean Stanton. Pretty much nobody could ever argue with it.

Thanks, man. You did good.