Spooktacular Week 4: Menacing Monsters And Malevolent Miscreants

img_8006This is the first year in a long time that I’ve really been able to put 110% into my annual October movie marathon.  And since I am no longer at the mercy of whatever happens to be on tv, I’ve been able to put together a pretty impressive watchlist. The problem is that that list has kept growing throughout the month. Every time I cross a few movie off the list, another one seems to appear. With less than a week left until Halloween, I’m starting to worry that I might not get to everything on the list.  And I know that there’s nothing wrong with watching those leftover films during the other months of the year, but this is the perfect time to watch them! I never would have imagined I’d have so much anxiety over watching movies.

Zombieland: Double Tap: The only spooky movie I’ve seen in theatres so far this month.  Admittedly, I don’t remember the first movie all that much other than I thought it was a fun zombie movie. So the only expectation I really had going into this one was that I wanted to have fun and be entertained – and I was.  The plot was pretty simple, but there were lots of laughs. I know he was an integral part of the first film, but the only scene I felt was a little unnecessary was the extra scene that followed Bill Murray’s first encounter with zombies. Even though the characters are all essentially stereotypes, I did like the little bit of character development centered around creating a family/home in Zombieland.

The Collector: Given the way in which the book was written, I was curious to see how that would translate to film.  The movie is almost entirely made up of elements from Fred’s portion of the narration, and there’s really nothing from Miranda’s diary entries apart from the odd hint.  One thing I wasn’t too fond of was addition of the scene involving the nosy neighbour. That scene was not in the book at all, and although I can understand why a scene like that was added to the film, there were moments from the book that I fell might have been better suited for that moment in the movie instead.

A Nightmare on Elm Street: This is one of those horror classics that I just never got around to seeing, for some reason.  So I was determined to FINALLY watch this one this year. I loved the special effects in this movie (even though a few had gotten a little silly with age).  I also appreciated the fact that a number of scenes were filmed in such a way that you couldn’t quite tell if the character was awake or dreaming at first. I’m really glad I finally got around to this classic, although I’m worried the sequels probably won’t be as good.

img_8007A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge: The first sequel in the franchise was a little too silly.  This story stands apart from the rest as it has a male protagonist, rather than a female one, and the location of the horror is different.  In the other movies, Freddy attacks characters in the dreamworld when they fall asleep; in this one he is able to use sleep to enter the waking world.  It doesn’t quite seem to fit in with the rest of the franchise and it was so ridiculous I spent the whole movie making fun of what was happening on screen.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors: A much better sequel compared to the last.  Nancy is back, and the cast is of a higher caliber (Lawrence Fishburne is in this!).  Although the gore and effects weren’t as good in the second film, there was some major improvement in this third installment of the franchise.  There was even some really good stop motion animation.  The concept of dream powers was a little silly and unnecessary, but I did like that Kristen could drag people into her dreams with her. Although this sequel is not as good as the original, it was still a pretty decent and entertaining film.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child: Whereas film 2 was so bad it was silly, films 4 and 5 were so bad they were bland.  The stories are basic, the scripts are weak, the gore is over the top in the wrong ways, and the characters are uninteresting.  Although I did like seeing a little more of an origin story for Freddy Krueger, I got bored with both of these movies fairly quickly.  Neither has a particularly interesting premise, although they do try (perhaps too hard) to add something new to the franchise. And I don’t like Alice as a protagonist compared to Nancy and Kristen.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare: Another typical 90s horror movie sequel with a weak story and annoying teenage characters.  Although this movie is definitely better than the previous two, it’s still nothing too special.  However, I really enjoyed this version of Freddy Krueger. With every movie, his makeup has gotten a little more sophisticated and he looks more and more like the pop culture icon I know him as. He’s a little more over-the-top in this movie, but I enjoyed how excited he got and adored the look of glee on his face when he was attacking the teenagers.

img_8008New Nightmare: This was more of a 10th anniversary homage to the original film. Cast members from the original played themselves as the world of “movie Freddy” blended with the world of “dream Freddy”. Many of the scenes mirrored those of the first film, although I found the special effects and gore were much less intense.  Although still not as good as the original, this was one of the strongest sequels and shifted from the trope of crazed killer targeting teens, to the trope of a mother trying to protect her child from a supernatural threat.

Freddy VS Jason: For a movie monster showdown, this plot had far too many unnecessary elements.  The opening scenes felt rushed and the already weak plot was watered down with too much backstory for the human characters.  The concept was an interesting way to get both Freddy and Jason into a movie together.  In any film like this the teenage victims are bound to be presented as the main characters;I would have liked to have seen a bit less of the teens and a bit more of the monsters.  This movie was pure, gory, fluff, and it wasn’t even all that gory.

Friday the 13th Remake: I went into this one with low expectations because of how much I disliked Freddy VS Jason. I also knew that this would not be a remake of the original, but of the sequels, since Jason does not become the killer until the second film.  I’ve seen about half of the Friday the 13th films and the first movie is my favourite in the franchise.  However, it is Jason who became the pop-culture icon, not his mother. So I was prepared to be disappointed, but the movie wasn’t all that bad.  Well, the dialogue was bad, but the story was decent.  I just wish the kills had been a bit bloodier and gorier.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Remake: I had a love/hate relationship with Freddy’s makeup in the remake.  On the one hand, I appreciated that the creative team was going for a more realistic burn victim look; on the other, he lacked the iconic Freddy Krueger look. I really enjoyed the updated story as well as the fact that multiple main characters are named after former Elm Street protagonists. And I appreciated the references to classic scenes from the original.  Although the gore wasn’t what I hoped it would be, the scares were well done. I found this was a much better remake compared to Friday the 13th.

img_8010The Omen: This is the kind of horror movie I like: from the 70s/80s, a decent plot, gore and/or scares without being too scary, and a film so dated that sometimes it’s funny.  I definitely had a good laugh at the soundtrack.  I read the book first, and learned that the book was essentially a marketing ploy to get more people to see the film; so you can imagine I was a little surprised to see differences between the two.  Reading the book, I felt like Damien was the one doing the killing, but the film implied that it was Damien’s evil guardians doing all the dirty work. Still, I really enjoyed it.

Damien: Omen II: Something about this movie just didn’t work for me. Although it was clearly trying to be like the first film, the plot wasn’t as gripping. It was more like a weird coming of age story where people die horrible deaths along the way. I never really got the sense that evil was brewing and the end of days was coming. I was simply watching the life of a perfect boy who has everything, and people die if they do something he doesn’t like.  Not entirely interesting. And the ending was horribly anti-climactic; the film could have even played up the ending as a kind of twist but didn’t.

Omen III: The Final Conflict: Well, this was definitely better than Omen II but nowhere near as good as the original.  For about the first 40 minutes or so I thought that this too would be a bland film about a man’s perfect life where people happen to die along the way.  Fortunately, there were some powerful scenes hidden among the fluff, and the subject matter eventually became quite dark. I’m grateful that they never actually showed the killing of the newborns as a) that would be really dark and b) I find it made the horror more horrific since you couldn’t actually see what was happening.

The Omen Remake: This was another really solid remake. The plot kept fairly close to that of the original, and yet the story received a more modern update.  The remake also tried harder to achieve some more intense scares, and even the deaths seemed a little more violent. And visually I really like the look of this film. I’m on the fence about the acting, however.  Some actors seem to be really committing to their roles, others seem to be playing it safe. Overall, this is an enjoyable horror movie, and a good remake of a classic.

img_8011Arachnophobia: Mildly spooky and not at all scary.  Then again, I am not arachnophobic.  Perhaps if I was afraid of spiders, this movie would have actually freaked me out.  I can imagine that if anyone watching this film was actually afraid of spiders, then this could actually lead to a bit of a nightmare. But not for me. Apart from the spiders, this felt like a fun, silly movie that was geared towards a younger audience.  I like to think of it as a horror movie for the whole family.  There were plenty of giggles and no scares.

Night of Something Strange: CONTENT WARNING.  Based on the description, I thought this film would be a bit like It Follows but with zombies.  Unfortunately, this awful, low-budget horror movie was about rape zombies. Out of the many sexual encounters/acts in this film, only about 2 or 3 were consensual.   Sexual assault and grotesque bathroom humour were played up for laughs, but there was absolutely nothing funny about this film. Just about every bodily fluid/bodily excretion was featured at some point.  There were many times where I wanted to stop watching but continued because I was curious to see how much worse this film could get. Things got pretty bad.

Van Helsing Season 3: Although I found that this season was not quite as strong as season 2, it was still a really fun watch.  At lot of intense character development took place, and there seemed to be a bit more focus placed on the romantic relationships between the main characters.  The hunt for the Elders meant that some interesting new vampires showed up, even if their appearances were brief. I particularly enjoyed the episode where Vanessa lived a day in the life of one of her ancestors.  Based on the way things are going, I have a feeling that The Dark One will be awakened next season.

Spooky Read of the Week The Omen by David Seltzer: A fast-paced, heart-pounding read.  I tore through this action packed book fairly quickly. And I had to laugh when I realized just how much inspiration Good Omens took from this story. It was clear from the writing style that this was written with the movie in mind. So much so, that I looked it up an learned that not only did Seltzer write the book AND the screenplay, but the book was released shortly before the film came to theatres as a marketing gimmick. It worked for me because I certainly didn’t waste any time watching the movies after I read the book.

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