Spooktacular Week 3: Gore Galore!

My favourite horror films are the ones with a good story, or a strong premise.  But I don’t always want to be scared, so I tend to gravitate towards the kinds of movies that rely on aspects of horror other than “The Scare”. Because of this, I find I end up watching a lot of slasher movies and gory horror films.  They’ll horrify me, but they won’t scare me so bad I can’t sleep at night. And these kinds of horror films feed into my love of practical effects.  If you’re read just about any other blog post I’ve written about movies, you’ll know that I prefer practical effects and makeup over CGI. So I especially love the kinds of horror movies that rely on practical effects to deliver the gore and the scares. I find it makes for way more convincing gore/horror when done right.  And sometimes, it older or more low-budget films, it can lead to a case of the giggles when an effect isn’t pulled off as seamlessly as one might expect.

img_7973Event Horizon: I ended up being a little disappointed with this one.  I think the problem is that I had heard that it was gory and “really messed up” so I went into it with high expectations.  Although it was a fairly gory film, the fact that many of the moments of gore and horror passed by so quickly softened the blow.  In terms of plot, there’s actually not a whole lot going on in this film, and the horrors of the hellish dimension are the main selling point.  So I would have liked it if the gory scenes had been stretched out, instead of flashing by so quickly.

Ozark Sharks: Unfortunately, this was the worst kind of “bad movie” – a mediocre one. It was nowhere near good, although it was trying (a little too hard, I might add); and it wasn’t bad enough to be funny.  Unlike other bad shark horror films, there was no quirky gimmick other than the location. Characters actually tried to explain the presence of the perfectly normal sharks in a perfectly rational scientific way. There were good and bad moments/characters throughout the film, but overall the movie was never good enough or bad enough to make it anything worthwhile.

Better Watch Out: There’s just something about combining Halloween/horror and Christmas that I find works really well, most likely because of the dichotomy between the two holidays. Although the plot for this particular film really could have happened at any time of year. Substitute the holiday decorations for just about any household items and the story essentially would have been the same had it taken place during, say, the summer. I did really enjoy the villain though.  I have witnessed psychopathic behaviour firsthand, so seeing psychopaths as villains in horror movies is something I will never grow tired of. They’re the scariest movie villains because they’re not some kind of  made up monster – they actually exist.

Jurassic Shark and Raiders of the Lost Shark: These low budget shark flicks are a bit too low budget for my taste.  Early on, each film was “bad” enough that they were funny, but I quickly got bored with each.  Supposedly, Raiders is a sequel to Jurassic, but there is fairly flimsy connection between the two. Both stories feature crazed killer Megalodons, biki-clad babes, and all the wonders of low-budget “bad movies”.  I wanted to watch these as they are from a local production company (so local, in fact, that I recognized a friend of mine in the role of “Chairman” in Jurassic Shark).  I’m glad I’ve crossed these off my list, but I don’t need to watch these again.

img_7974Dracula Untold: I went into this with low expectations and got exactly what I expected.  This is so far away from being a horror movie; it’s really just a generic Hollywood action flick. Dracula is one of those horror icons who is so prevalent in pop-culture that I feel it would take something truly special to make a movie like this interesting. For this particular story, the historical legends of Vlad the Impaler have been blended with the mythologies of Dracula in an attempt to create an origin story for this infamous vampire.  It’s nothing particularly original, and this is little more than entertaining fluff.

I, Frankenstein: I expected that this would be a similar cinematic experience as Dracula Untold: a generic action movie about Frankenstein’s Monster. Although that’s essentially what the film was, it was so much worse than that. The story didn’t even necessarily need Frankenstein’s Monster – any immortal movie monster could have been worked into that plot one way or another.  It was more of a story about a war between gargoyles and demons, and it wasn’t even a very good story. I could tell from the first minute that I probably wasn’t going to enjoy the film, and I was right.

Humans VS Zombies: This had looked like it could be a very entertaining “bad movie”, but it just fell flat.  At the beginning of the film, the concept of “Humans VS Zombies” was a game played by some of the characters, so I thought the concept of the game would become a recurring theme once the real zombies showed up.  Unfortunately, the game was barely mentioned after those early scenes.  The rest of the film was more of a generic “bad” zombie movie where the main focus of the characters, other than survival, was romance. This movie got boring real fast.

Re-Animator: I’m a big fan of Jeffrey Combs, so of course I really wanted to see the horror film that was his claim to fame.  I also enjoy the works of H.P. Lovecraft, so I had a feeling I’d really enjoy this movie.  I was right.  I loved the story and I loved the practical effects.  Though I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting that Herbert West (Combs) wouldn’t be the villain. He wasn’t exactly the hero of the movie, but he was far from being the bad-guy.  Just a wacky, misunderstood mad-scientist. I would definitely watch this film again.

img_7977Bride of Re-Animator: Whereas the story structure of the first film made it clear that it was based on a book, this was very obviously set up as a movie sequel – the story was fun, but not as sophisticated.  And although the previous film was more of a zombie movie, this sequel was more of a Frankenstein-style movie.  Once again, the practical effects were delightful (and I think this time they were even gorier). With the Frankenstein motif, there were some fantastically horrific creations, although I did get a bit of a chuckle out of some of the sillier looking ones.

Beyond Re-Animator: I enjoyed the first two movies so much that I was pretty disappointed with this one.  Jeffrey Combs was about the only element I actually enjoyed.  The story was sloppy and simplistic, there was significantly less gore, and the over-sexualization of certain elements of the film just went a bit too far. I had to roll my eyes at the absurdity of the brawl between a re-animated rat and a re-animated severed penis. The addition of the “soul” element of the re-animated corpses just didn’t seem to fit in with the tone of the franchise and it made for some really weird re-animated characters (and not the good kind of weird).

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: Fun to watch in the dark, but definitely not scary.  There was one story that was close to scaring me, but just barely.  These were PG-13 scares at best. The monsters were certainly creepy though, and I did enjoy the costumes and makeup used for them.  I had heard reviews that the pacing of the film was off, but I didn’t find that to be the case at all. My only issue was that I had never read the books this film was based on, and I feel like I would have had a better appreciation for the stories and the monsters if that nostalgia was a factor.

The Purge: This was such a simple, yet effective concept.  It takes a fairly rational fear of home invasion, something that could happen to anyone for any reason, and amplifies it.  The fear here isn’t what the bad guys could do to you, it’s that they can and will do whatever they want and get away with it too. This, plus the question of what lengths you would go to to keep your family safe, leads to some interesting moral dilemmas.  I found this to be a very thought provoking concept for a horror film, even though there wasn’t a whole lot of plot other than the notion of “survive at all costs”.

Van Helsing Season 2: I am absolutely loving this show! Whereas season 1 was mostly contained to a small area, season 2 takes place over a variety of locations. Rather than watching people under pressure trying to survive, this season offered more opportunities for character growth and development.  And with the fact that most of the characters have been changed (one way or the other) I find it made the character development really interesting.  The development of the personal relationships between the characters grew and improved as well and I really fell in love with characters I didn’t think too much about last season.

Spooky Read of the Week: The Collector by John Fowles: I’ve wanted to watch the movie for a long time, so I was pleased when I found a copy of the book.  I enjoyed this book so much I tore through it fairly quickly. The plot itself was simple, but the story delved into some more complex concepts and that’s part of what made it such an interesting read.  I particularly enjoyed the writing style.  Although Fred’s passages were more of an inner monologue, and Miranda’s were written as a diary, I liked the fact that all parts of the book were presented in a kind of stream-of consciousness style.  Can’t wait to watch the movie!

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