Spooktacular Week 5: THIS IS HALLOWEEN!

Success!  I managed to watch EVERY SINGLE spooky movie that had made it on to my watch list! I even got to watch all of the new films I added to the original list once I started my Spooktober marathon.  This was the first time I was able to do an October movie marathon this extremely, and I am cherishing this moment as I know I probably won’t get to watch this many movies next October (next year’s movie marathon will be a little too close to the wedding and I probably won’t have as much time/energy to commit to my Spooktober marathon). And although this year I watched whatever I could get my hands on, I watched so much crap this year I think I’ll need to be a little more selective next year 😛

Eli: I saw the trailer on Netflix and was curious enough to watch.  It was pretty spooky and had some mild scares. As I was watching it, the plot structure reminded me a bit of the film Delirium, but from the perspective of a child.  Although it was supposed to be one of those “is this real or a hallucination” type scenarios, it was always pretty obvious that the supernatural elements were real.  That being said, I enjoyed the story and I really enjoyed the twist. I found the ending to be a little tame compared to the rest of the film, but I really enjoyed watching this one.

Hereditary: I heard that Ari Aster’s film was both phenomenal and very scary, so although I really wanted to watch it, I was really scared to.  I finally decided to go for it.  I actually didn’t find it too bad in terms of scares.  The majority of the story was a slow burn with a lot of exposition to set the stage for the final climactic moments.  But this film was so artfully put together and steeped in symbolism that at no point did the plot feel boring.  I was absolutely in love with it.  The last 20, however, had some pretty terrifying moments.  I am so glad I ended up watching this movie.

Fright Night: A delightfully cheesy vampire flick.  This movie definitely felt like it was geared towards a younger audience (despite the more sexual scenes).  The plot was fairly simple and the characters were silly and over the top.  I got a good laugh out of some of the supporting characters. The special effects and monster makeup were also pretty silly/simple, and the vampires looked a little plasticky at times. But Chris Sarandon did a really fantastic job as the main vampire in this film. This was a fun and entertaining piece of fluff.

Doom: Annihilation: I could tell from the moment it began that this movie had a much lower budget compared to the first Doom film. Honestly, I don’t have that much to say about it – and that’s because I was so bored I really wasn’t paying attention for most of it.  The story was bland and predictable, and the makeup and effects were uninteresting.  There was an attempt at a plot twist, but that moment was not surprising at all.  Even after immediately watching it, I could really only remember two or three scenes.

Nekrotronic: This horror comedy was pretty fun.  The middle portion of the film dragged on a little for me, but it had a fairly strong beginning and end.  I really enjoyed the modern concept of demons possessing humans through their phones.  And when the demons came out with their own app, I got a giggle out of the not-so-subtle reference to Pokémon Go.  I really loved the style of the sets and cinematography, but I think the makeup and costumes were my favourite parts of this film.  All of the demons, ghosts, wraiths, etc. looked really cool.

The Halloween Tree: I’m surprised I’ve never seen this until now, as apparently it was pretty big when it came out and other people in my age group remember it fondly.  I vaguely remember the appearances of some of the characters, so perhaps I caught a scene or two on tv when I was a kid? Unfortunately, since I did not have any nostalgia about this one, I wasn’t all that entertained.  Some of the dialogue was repetitive, and there was something about the story that just wasn’t working for me.  Normally I love children’s cartoons, but this one just didn’t do it for me.

DeadTectives: This underwhelming horror comedy had so much potential but just missed the mark for me.  The story was fairly interesting: the crew of a show about paranormal investigations has been faking it until they enter a real haunted house.  Unfortunately, the characters were little more than clichéd stereotypes.  Ans although there were some funny moments – like using a sheet with eye holes to make a real ghost visible to the naked eye – overall, I found that a lot of the humour was forced. Given all of the elements at play, I would have loved to have enjoyed this movie more, as I thought this would have been right up my alley.

Little Monsters: If you love zombie movies, watch this one.  If you don’t love zombie movies, watch it anyway.  This was such a wonderful movie and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The story was incredibly unique, as well as both funny and heart warming. Lupita Nyong’o was absolutely spectacular as a kindergarten teacher trying to keep her students safe during a zombie outbreak.  I had a smile on my face for a good portion of the film. And the zombies themselves were really well done; I was very impressed with the makeup. I would definitely watch this movie again and again, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Garfield’s Halloween Adventure: Nothing beats a Garfield special during a holiday season.  I hadn’t seen this one yet, but Mark and I watch the Garfield Christmas special every year so I figured it was about time I gave the Halloween one a try.  At times, this was more of a pirate story than a Halloween story, but it was still spooky from start to finish.  The music was great and the story was fun – you really can’t go wrong with classic Garfield. I look forward to the Christmas special every winter, so I have no problem making this Halloween special a tradition too.

Spaced Invaders: This was only just barely a Halloween movie.  There were a few scenes of trick-or-treating, and many of the characters were in costume, but this was more of an alien movie. And it’s not the kind of alien movie that would provide me with my daily gore quota. It’s a family friendly film, and it is clearly geared towards a younger audience.  Every character is over the top, and every situation is simplistic and/or silly.  As characters, the aliens were little more than stereotypes, although they did have pretty god costumes. It was silly and fun, but definitely not a strong film.

Perfect: What the hell did I just watch? I like weird movies, but this was too weird. Although I have a basic understanding of the premise, I have no idea what actually happened in that movie. I even searched online reviews and professional film critics can’t seem to figure out the story either.  The cinematography was unique, and sometimes gorgeous, but a lot of the stylistic choices were distracting or muddled the confusing plot even further.  There was a little bit of gore, but I can’t really call it a horror film because it was so overly steeped in imagery and symbolism that I have no idea what elements could even be considered horrific.

Daybreakers: I liked the concept behind this as it was a pretty unique twist on a vampire story.  That being said, it was more of a Hollywood action movie than a horror film. The cinematography was really well done, and I’m glad that this aspect was well executed.  Given that most of the story takes place during the night, there was a beautiful darkness to everything.  There was a very clear dichotomy between the scenes in the night vs those in the day. I liked the set where the humans were being farmed, but I wish the other settings could have had a similar futuristic look.

Rattlesnake: The Netflix trailer made this look like a fast paced thriller, but this film was more of a slow burn.  At times, this meant some scenes dragged a little, but overall the slower pacing was much better suited to this kind of movie.  It’s one of those “what would you do to save your family” kind of films; the horror comes from the moral dilemma of taking a life to save a life.  I was expecting things to end up much worse by the end, but I am pleased that there was at least an indication that the main character will be left with long lasting trauma.

Ernest Scared Stupid: I’ve never seen any of the Ernest films before, so all I knew going into this was that it was going to be a silly movie.  Not only was it silly, but it was a pretty solid Halloween movie too.  The costumes/puppetry for the trolls was really impressive, and wasn’t expecting a movie like this to take its movie monster creation that seriously. There were some parts of the story that were just a little too silly for my liking, but I did enjoy it a lot more than I thought I would.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged: I really enjoyed the first film so I wanted to watch this sequel.  However, I know horror sequels typically aren’t as good as the original, so I wasn’t expecting too much. The plot was fairly simple, and the best way I can describe the story is that it is about a bunch of teenage girls screaming in an underwater cave. I appreciate the fact that there were lots of sharks in this movie, but the CG wasn’t that great and they looked really fake; especially the blind cave sharks.  This was an ok movie, but nothing special.

The Dead Don’t Die: The opening scenes were really promising, but I was disappointed by the end.  I enjoyed the quirky characters, the deadpan humour, and the occasional reminders that this was just a movie, but all of this eventually fell flat.  By a certain point, it felt as if the writers had given up on the story because they did not know how to end it. Throughout the film, there was some commentary on how the zombie apocalypse was caused by fracking; but if the goal was to create a cautionary tale about how we are mistreating the planet, I felt that the story never quite went far enough with that message.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Another classic I’ve wanted to watch for some time. With the slow build towards the climactic events, I was expecting the horror to be much more horrific.  Yes, there were certainly some disturbing images, but I was really expecting a much gorier film. I did, however, enjoy the recurring theme of the slaughterhouse. I guess what I found the most disappointing was that after almost two thirds of the film setting the stage for the final climactic moments, the last third was mostly just a bunch of screaming and chainsaw noises with not a whole lot of action.

Halloweentown: I’m surprised I still haven’t watched this until now.  I’ve seen bits and pieces from some of the sequels on tv over the years, but this was the first time I actually watched a Halloweentown movie. It was cute, and the costumes and special effects are decent, but I doubt I’ll watch any of the sequels.  I’m glad I watched it, but it just wasn’t for me.  I can see how I might have enjoyed this more when I was younger, but as an adult, going into this without any nostalgia attached, I found that it was just an ok movie.

The Witches: I remember seeing trailers for this on so many VHS tapes of other movies growing up.  I really wanted to watch it as a child, so I’m surprised it took me this long to get around to it.  I haven’t read the book, so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of plot, but I did find the story to be overly simple, even for a children’s movie.  The special effect, however, were what blew me away.  The witches’ makeup and the puppetry used for the mice were fantastic.  Even though the story isn’t that memorable for me, I will certainly remember the effects.

Crawl: I really enjoyed this movie.  Given that I’ve never seen any killer alligator films I went into this expecting it to be like some of the more modern, big-budget shark films in terms of style and plot.  And I wasn’t wrong.  I really liked how there wasn’t a gimmick for these alligators.  They weren’t mutated, they hadn’t gone rogue; they’re scary enough as they are when they’re protecting their territory. Although I was worried for the safety of the human characters, what stressed me out the most was the fact that a dog was in that situation with them!

Super Dark Times: The subject matter may have been a bit dark, but this film definitely was not “super dark”.  Based on the description I had read, I was expecting a gripping thriller.  Instead, I got another underwhelming story that really wasn’t much of a horror film.  A good portion of the plot was just teenage boys being obnoxious teenage boys. There just wasn’t enough tension built up around the deaths that occurred, so I never really cared when anything bad happened.  In the end, it was basically just a story of two boys fighting over a girl after they accidentally killed a friend.

Return of the Killer Tomatoes: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes has a notorious reputation and I’ve wanted to watch it for years, but I was only able to get my hands on the sequel this time around.  Luckily, the events of the first film are explained fairly early on.  As is the case with most horror movies/horror comedies, the sequels are rarely as strong as the original.  I wasn’t expecting anything particularly great, but I was at least hoping to get some laughs out of this. It was maybe a little too over the top, and I just lost interest in it after a while.

In The Tall Grass: I’m so happy that more and more Stephen King stories are being turned into movies, and the Netflix ones have been great so far. Although I haven’t yet read the short story this one is based on, it has all the classic elements of a Stephen King story – so of course I loved it. I thought I had an idea about what was going on, and then the story took a turn and introduced mixed up timelines and alternate ways events could unfold.  Everything and everyone got all mixed up in the tall grass and I just had to find out how things were going to end.

Bride of Boogedy: A few years ago, Mark introduced me to Mr. Boogedy – a silly, fun, spooky family film – so when I learned there was a sequel I had to put it on this years list.  Like the original, this too is a silly, fun, spooky family film.  The story was very silly; I spent a lot of this movie thinking “given what you dealt with last time Mr. Boogedy showed up, why are you doing that?!” I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this film; I just wanted to be entertained and have a giggle or two.  I think I enjoyed the first one more, but this was fun too.

The Boogens: In the beginning, I was worried I wouldn’t really enjoy this one, but luckily it wasn’t that bad.  Now, this certainly wasn’t a strong film, but it was still entertaining.  And I found the further into the film I got, the better everything became.  I really appreciated that you never actually saw the Boogens until about the last 10 minutes or so.  I think it made the horror more effective because a) you couldn’t actually tell what was happening, and b) the Boogens looked a little silly once they were revealed. This was not as bad as I thought it was going to be, and I actually enjoyed it.

The Babadook: From what I had heard about this movie, I knew that I really wanted to see it.  But I had also heard that it was terrifying, so I kept putting it off.  I almost watched it last year but chickened out.  I decided that I had to watch it this year, and although it was creepy and there was a whole lot of “nope” it wasn’t quite as scary as I was expecting.  This was a brilliant film and I absolutely adored the stylistic choices and how thoughtfully this was all put together. I wouldn’t mind re-watching it sometime, just to see if there are any other details I might have missed.

US: Another film that I would like to re-watch to try to catch more details.  I have really enjoyed Jordan Peele’s horror films because of the amount of detail he puts into them.  I think I prefer Get Out overall, but Us was still fantastic.  And Lupita Nyong’o is absolutely brilliant in this film.  Between this and Little Monsters, I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing her in more horror films. This one gave me a lot to think about, but it also delivered on the scares and the horror.  And I loved the twist ending. I really hope Jordan Peele comes out with another horror movie soon.

Midsommar: Written and directed by Ari Aster, I noticed a lot of stylistic similarities between this and Hereditary.  This movie was also quite long, but the slower pace perfectly suited the events of the film.  I’m starting to get the feeling that Ari Aster likes to make artistic horror films about cults – if that’s the case, I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing more films like this from  him in the future.  Although this movie was not at all scary, it was still horrific and all kinds of messed up.  I doubt I will ever see a more uncomfortable sex scene than the one featured in Midsommar.

Hocus Pocus: An absolute Halloween classic.  This is what we watched on Halloween night while we were waiting for trick-or-treaters.  I love this movie so much and I have and will watch it every single Halloween, no matter what.  This is one of those films where I have a strong nostalgic attachment to, so no one will ever be able to convince me that it is not a good movie.  The costumes, sets, and special effects are absolutely magical.  There’s singing, dancing, supernatural creatures, and Doug Jones! This movie has everything I could hope for and I can’t wait to watch it again next Halloween.

Spooky Bonus: Thriller Music Video: A nice little bonus to end the Halloween season.  This music video could be considered a short film because it does tell a story.  But I think we all know that no one watches this music video for the story.  We watch it for the dancing zombies.  Michael Jackson’s singing and dancing are truly spectacular, and what’s not to love about Vincent Price’s addition to the song? But it is the monster makeup that steals the show. Rick Baker’s work is phenomenal and is what makes an already great music video spectacular.  This is another must-watch every Halloween season.

Spooky Read of the Week: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson: I feel as if pop-culture cheated me out of a potentially good read. The way the novella is written, there’s supposed to be a big reveal when you find out that Jekyll and Hyde are the same person.  The problem is that I already knew that going in; it’s impossible not to since Jekyll/Hyde has become a classic pop-culture “monster”.  So I spent most of the story waiting for a reveal that I knew was going to happen.  I think that, plus the fact that the writing style wasn’t my favourite, meant that although I liked the story, I didn’t love it.

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