Spooktober 2020: The Final Spook

Well, this has certainly been an interesting Halloween season this year. It felt weird not to have trick or treaters this year, but that didn’t stop me and Mark from buying (and eating) an alarming amount of candy. And since I don’t have to adhere to any workplace dress codes right now, I could wear whatever spooky makeup or clothing I wanted to on any day, even though I could only sure my costumes virtually. And, alarmingly, I was much more relaxed about my Spooktober Marathon this year and didn’t worry too much about completing my to-watch list. There were only two movies that I wasn’t able to get to, and three shows that I decided to abandon early on in the month so that I could focus on getting through more movies. But although this year was very different, I still had lots of fun.

My favourite baby shark

The Abyss (1989): I was told that this movie isn’t exactly spooky, but it’s been on my watch list for a while and, honestly, based on the title I was hoping to see some sort of terrors from the deep. Not even close, unfortunately, as the aliens aren’t all that horrific. I did enjoy watching this though, even if I found it ran a little long. Although the CG doesn’t seem to have aged well in all of the scenes, the CG and special effects are actually really fantastic for the time this movie came out. So I didn’t exactly start off the last week of my Spooktober Marathon with something spooky, but at least I was entertained.

I’m not happy that Halloween is over

Rebecca (2020): Years ago, I studied the original Alfred Hitchcock film for school and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to when this re-make would be available on Netflix. This modern adaptation was well cast, and really didn’t veer too far off the original film from the 40’s. I even remember in class that we talked about bird imagery in the original, so I was pleased to see plenty of references to birds and bird cages in this film as well. One of my favourite things about the story is how it is essentially a ghost story, but without an actual ghost. It is the memory of Rebecca that haunts Manderley. I only wish that this movie had gone a little further with that ghost story kind of feel. That being said, I really enjoyed watching this; it made me want to go an re-watch the original.

Dog Soldiers (2002): I’ve wanted to see this one for a while, and I was not disappointed. Although the mid-transformation special effects makeup was good, the actual werewolves themselves looked hilarious. And don’t even get me started on the blood and guts; I cackled when I saw how fake those intestines looked. But all of this only added to the charm of this werewolf flick. Although the plot involved more action sequences than story telling, and none of the surprises were all that surprising, I found the characters were likable and I adored all of the pop culture references to wolves and the moon. It was a very entertaining movie. Werewolves and wargames – what’s not to love?

Although Minerva’s not happy about having to wear the Batgirl costume, at least Finn got stuck with the shark costume this year instead of her.

122 (2019): An Arabic language horror film from Egypt that is the second movie in my marathon to feature a character who is hard of hearing – the first being Unfriended: Dark Web. In Unfriended, however, that character is simply used as a plot device. By comparison, Omneya in 122 is an actual well-rounded character with agency. The way people treat her because of her hearing difficulties and faulty hearing aid is central to much of the action. In many ways, the story actually revolves around her, rather than having her simply be an accessory for Nasr. The story itself is also pretty good, although the special effects (like when Nasr gets a nail stuck in his foot) have a bit more of a low-budget feel. This is a really interesting film though, and it made a great addition to my Spooktober Marathon.

The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror (1989 – ): Whenever Mark and I didn’t have the time or energy to watch a movie together at the end of the day, we would watch an episode or two of the Treehouse of Horror specials. We made it all the way to Season 17 before we decided it wasn’t worth continuing on; the stories just weren’t as strong in those later seasons. Luckily, even the weaker specials gave me a good chuckle here and there. My favourite stories were the ones that referenced classic horror films and literature. And, of course, I always look forward to the cameos by Kang and Kodos.

It’s showtime!

Ghost Stories (2017): Not to be confused with the Indian film by the same name that I watched earlier in my Spooktober Marathon. Although the story structure was interesting, it felt like it was all over the place. The film started out feeling like a documentary, and then it became almost episodic as the different ghost stories came into play. And then, during the reveal later on in the film, it was clear that the story was going to end up going in a completely different direction. By the time the final twist came into play, one which I had started to suspect based on the big reveal, the story and structure made a whole lot more sense. Thinking back, it explained a lot of the oddities and ghost sightings, but this is still the kind of film I’d be curious to watch through again to see if there were any other little details that I missed. Still, I think the story structure could have been cleaned up a bit.

Ready or Not (2019): This ended up being more of a horror comedy than I was expecting, but the sillier elements and over-the-top deaths fit in well with the story. Yet, despite how gruesome some of the deaths were, I never found this movie to be particularly gory. Bloody, yes, but fairly tame. And, as someone who is getting married very soon, I really got a kick out of this wedding night from hell. I also appreciated the little details present in the props and set. Things like the animal heads mounted to the wall were very obvious, but I appreciated how the lighting on the game table formed a pentagon which tied in nicely with the pentagram on the ritual table. I really enjoyed this fun, silly film, and this is something I would watch again.

This ghost definitely had the most fun dressing up for Halloween this year.

Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight (2020): A Polish slasher film with all the standard tropes. Although, for the most part, the movie seemed to take itself seriously, at times it almost felt like a parody. But perhaps that’s just what slashers have become by now; in presenting all of the usual elements, it’s hard not to parody the slashers that have come before. The music choice for this film was also a little odd. At times, the quirkiness really worked, whereas there were some scenes where it felt out of place. All in all, this was a fairly basic, yet entertaining, slasher film.

Ghostbusters II (1989): Although I’ve seen the original quite a few times, this was my first time watching the sequel. I got what I was expecting out of this film, and there really weren’t any surprises. It was all standard Ghostbusters material; except there was more rap/hip hop music (as was fitting for the time). And although the franchise has plenty of silliness, this one seemed even sillier than the original. Plus, there was plenty of slime. I’m glad to have finally crossed this one of my list.

The Mandalorian, Season 2 (2020): A special non-spooky exemption in my annual marathon. But since the Mandalorian wears a mask, I’m willing to slide this one into the category of “Halloween costume” – and that’s my justification for adding it to my Spooktober lineup. Mark and I just couldn’t wait to see episode 1, so of course we watched it the day it was released on Disney+. This is the way. The music was so fantastic, as per usual, and the story was lots of fun. But, of course, the most important part of this show is The Child a.k.a. Baby Yoda. I squealed quite a bit watching this episode. It’s looking like Season 2 is going to be very entertaining.

“Seriously? Another costume for me to wear? There are other cats in this house, you know.”

Antebellum (2020): This film gave me so much anxiety. The way the whole thing was filmed and put together was just so effective. Act 1 had me feeling intensely uncomfortable. Act 2 had my full attention as I tried to look for clues and figure out exactly what was going on. And act 3 had me blown away when the secret was finally revealed. The racism was absolutely sickening, but the story is so poignant given what has been going on this past year with the Black Lives Matter movement. And I think the most horrific part is the fact that if any of what was in the film actually took place for real, I would not be surprised at all. At least by the end of this film, Veronica gets her revenge and her freedom, and looks totally badass in the process.

Vivarium (2019): This film is a strange, sci-fi thriller that depicts suburban life in the most depressing way possible. And the whole thing is also a bleak metaphor for the way cuckoo birds trick other birds into raising their young. The premise is so strange and unique that I was captivated from start to finish. My main complaint, however, was that the neighbourhood was very obviously CG generated. For me, it added to the unease of the situation because it looked so unnatural, but anyone who knows me knows that I do have a problem with that much CG in a film. I guess I just wish it didn’t all look so fake in some scenes. Still, this was a fantastic film, and the constant screaming from that strange little boy was both annoying and effective.

I’m REALLY not happy that Halloween is over.

The Day of the Lord (2020): I was drawn in by the description on Netflix, hoping for a cheesy story about a priest with a tormented past. This was anything but. Menendez’s past certainly sounded interesting, but there also seemed to be a few plot holes and unanswered about his backstory. And based on the ending of the film, it looks as if there is probably a sequel in the works, so perhaps more of his story will be revealed then. In terms of the story, I couldn’t quite figure out what it was trying to be. The majority of the film seemed to center around Menendez’s interactions and relationships with the other characters, but once the official exorcism started, this movie veered closer to being torture porn. And I’m sure this was intentional, but I found the relationship between Menendez and Raquel was just really uncomfortable to watch. Although the actress playing Raquel certain did a fantastic job, especially when she began to act possessed. I’m really on the fence about how I felt about this one, but I’m not sure that I’ll want to watch any sequels that might come out of this.

His House (2020): I was hooked right from the trailer, so I was really looking forward to seeing this on Netflix. The premise is really interesting because the protagonists are not allowed to escape their situation or they will risk losing everything they have worked for. Not only are they haunted by supernatural entities, but they are also plagued by horrific memories of war and the traumatic loss of their daughter. Unfortunately, with so many elements at play, the story telling felt a little sloppy at times. But the horror itself was really well executed. I also find it interesting that the title is His House and not Their House, especially when taking into consideration the themes around adjusting to a new culture and dealing with the racism and prejudice that arises as a result. Bol is the one who wants desperately to fit in to British society, so he is the one who refuses to relinquish the house that has been given to him. Whereas his wife Rial is still clinging to the past and to their old life. She is the one who feels that they do not belong, and she is the one who ultimately has to decide their fate, whether they stay in the house or go. And, of course, the witch is played by Javier Botet, one of my favourite movie monster actors (besides Doug Jones, that is), so I adored that aspect of the casting. In fact, the entire film was really well cast – and I’m not just saying that because it stars actors from Doctor Who and Lovecraft Country.

Uh oh… I might have had too much Halloween candy…

Hocus Pocus (1993): A Halloween classic that is an absolute must in this household. I will not accept any negative criticism of this film. It’s so wonderful in so many ways, and my nostalgia for this film is strong. The only downside was that last year, Mark and I watched this while we were handing out candy to trick or treaters. Given everything that’s been going on this year, it felt a little sad to watch this without the constant, yet welcome, interruptions of the doorbell. Here’s hoping that we’re able to have trick or treaters come around next year.

Trick ‘r Treat (2007): This is my second time watching this film with Mark, and I have a feeling that this one is also going to become part of our annual tradition. It’s one of a handful of spooky movies that Mark not only enjoys watching, but can handle without getting too spooked. This time around, Mark and I looked up trivia for the film to pick up on all the little details and Easter eggs we might have missed the first time around. With the way all of the individual stories in this movie are so intertwined, knowing about those extra little tidbits certainly elevated our viewing experience this time around. I look forward to continuing to watch this one every Halloween. This holiday is serious business in this household, and Trick ‘r Treat certainly drives that point home. You don’t mess with Samhain.

Final Spooktober Tally:

Spooky TV Shows: 10

Spooky Movies: 57

I DEFINITELY ate too much Halloween Candy.

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