It’s About Time This Franchise Had A Prequel: It’s Time For Spooktober 2021!

Yes, I’m cheating. No, I don’t care. I’m been in a spooky mood all September and it’s been getting harder and harder to wait until October. There are movies I’ve set aside in my watchlist specifically for this month-long movie marathon. Although I still watch horror movies throughout the year, I’m always thinking of which films I want to save for the spooky season. In a moment of weakness this summer, I almost watched some of them, but I held off. But I can’t hold off any longer. Not when streaming services like Netflix and Plex keep adding more horror films to their roster. Besides, my mom came over to visit, and the goal of the visit was specifically for us to watch scary movies (but not too scary because I don’t want to give my mom a heart attack). And I’ve worked hard this year. I achieved my goal of becoming a self-published author. I’m working night and day to keep up with my day job while concocting new stories to send out into the world. Surely I deserve an early start to Spooktober!

Christine (1983): I typically try to watch movies I’ve never seen before during my Spooktober movie marathon, but there are a few exceptions. This is one of them. I first saw Christine when I was a teenager, shortly after I read the book. Back then, the rule was that if I wanted to watch a horror movie, I had to read the book first. Little did my mother know that the books are often far more graphic than what’s shown on screen. But it was because of my Grandpa that I felt the need to give this one a re-watch. This was one of the few horror movies he enjoyed, and mostly it was because of the 50s rock and roll music. That has his favourite part. And when he realized I was getting interested in horror, he’s the one who first suggested I read Stephen King’s books. 15 (ish) years later, I now have a very impressive Stephen King collection. He’s my favourite author and a source of inspiration. It felt right to start the movie marathon with a Stephen King film now that I am finally a published author. But most importantly, after loosing my Grandpa this year, it felt right to start things off with a movie that he enjoyed.

Aftermath (2021): I know Nat was supposed to be the victim in this film, but I hated her right from the start. She treats her husband poorly, telling him he’s throwing his life away because he didn’t finish college. But let’s run the numbers, shall we? Sure, she’s trying to start her own business, but from the sounds of things, she’s not actually earning a lot (or any?) money. Meanwhile, her husband Kevin is gainfully employed as a crime scene cleaner. Hourly, he would make more than I did in my pre-pandemic job. Oh, and they’re still able to afford a house. So, I think he’s fine. But she still forces him to go back to college, which would be an additional expense at a time when they’re trying to save money. Oh, and Nat cheated on him because he pulled a away from her after his brother died. Yeah, I wanted this couple (and the wife specifically) to suffer in this movie. All in all, it was your average haunted house kind of set up with enough foreshadowing and obvious red herrings that kept anything from being much of a surprise. I was not at all shocked when the final twist was revealed. In fact, I’ve seen it all before. If you’ve seen The Boy (2016), then that’ll give you a pretty good idea of what was going on in this house.

Shadow in the Cloud (2020): This movie was disappointing simply because the first half of the film seemed so promising. A bad ass female pilot in WWII on a secret mission while a monster attacks her plane – what’s not to love? For the first half of the film, Maude Garret is trapped in a confined space while she has to listen helplessly to the blatant sexism of the men on board over the coms. And all while, enemy planes lurk nearby and a gremlin tears the plane apart. The whole set up was great for building tension, until it’s revealed what Maude’s secret package actually is. Then things get messy. By the time she is able to get into the body of the plane, it was hard not to laugh. Almost every crew member Maude comes into contact with dies shortly after. And between the rampaging gremlin, the gunfire from the Japanese plane, and “the package”, the rest of the movie is just one big mess.

The Banana Splits Movie (2019): When I saw this pop up as a Netflix recommendation, I thought based on the image that this would be something along the lines of Willy’s Wonderland (2021), which I recently watched and enjoyed. Although this was a different kind of story, it had the same vibe. And when I looked up the details of the film, I was surprised to discover that this horror comedy was part of the revival of an old comedy show. That aspect of it’s past clearly shows through, especially since even the gore and violence is so over the top that it became humorous. As far as the story, it was formulaic in a good way. I knew exactly what I was getting and was never disappointed. It may not have had anything original going on, but I was entertained. And now I have that stupid theme song stuck in my head.

The Seventh Day (2021): I had high hopes for this one. It looked interesting, the opening hooked me, and I was genuinely curious to see how everything was going to play out. Although the trope of inexperienced young exorcist teaming up with a more experienced exorcist isn’t exactly anything new, I was still entertained. Until I wasn’t. I don’t know whether it was a matter of pacing or just a lack of originality, but my attention waxed and waned during this one. I did appreciate the twist and was at least amused by that, but this movie was just okay at best. At least it was good to have on in the background while I put up Halloween decorations.

The Devil Inside (2012): I did not realize that this was a found footage film when I added it to my list. I usually have to steer away from those because I’m prone to motion sickness and I just can’t handle the shaky cam. However, I learned from watching the Paranormal franchise that for some found footage films, I can get through them as long as I’m doing something else. Mark set up a little tv for me in the kitchen because I spent so much time in there, so I was able to watch this while I was cooking dinner. This certainly wasn’t a great movie, nothing original happened and I didn’t feel sad that I was missing out on being able to just sit down and watch it. I did enjoy the fact that the demon was able to multiply and pass on other demons like a virus. It’s something I’ve never come across before, and in the midst of a pandemic the idea of demons spreading like a disease carries more weight now than it would have when the film was first released. All in all, I wasn’t wowed by it, but I’m glad I watched it.

Grace: The Possession (2014): This was incredibly difficult to watch – and not just because of the bad acting and weak plot. The movie was filmed from the point of view of the demon that inhabited Grace, meaning Grace’s eyes were the camera. It’s a clever idea, but added nothing to what was already a weak film. And for a viewer like me who struggles with motion sickness, I could not look at the screen at all for many of the scenes. As if found footage films aren’t hard enough for me to watch, first person POV takes it to a whole other level.

Saint Maud (2019): My first art film of the spooky season. I love these kinds of movies that build slow burn tension without actually delivering scares, and yet I can’t help but feel uncomfortable and disturbed by the events unfolding on screen. Although there were plenty of cringey moments between the relationship of Maud and Amanda, and the horrible things Maud does to herself, I spent almost the entire film on the edge of my seat waiting for Maud to snap and and do something worse. And boy was it worth it. Between the final scene between the two women, and the final scene of the whole film, it was blatantly obvious that Maud was beyond unhinged. But those brief glimpses into reality really highlighted the horror of the film. That last second of the movie was satisfying and horrifying and that image stuck with me for days.

Old (2021): From the moment I first saw the trailer, I knew I needed to see this. A friend of mine read the graphic novel and said it was exactly the kind of thing I would enjoy. However, I also heard a review of the film that stated it was laughably bad. As much as I love good horror movies, I also love bad horror movies. After watching it for myself, I can say that this one was a bit of both. The premise is definitely unsettling enough to be the kind of thing I would enjoy, and M. Night Shyamalan’s directing work was well done. The use of tight shots to both obscure and highlight key moments and details was brilliant. But boy was the script weak. Shyamalan really should have left the screen writing to someone else. The dialogue was clunky and far too heavy handed with foreshadowing. The actors did the best they could with what they were given, but I feel a stronger script would have allowed this film to really shine. Also, I have not read the graphic novel yet (I still really want to) but I feel like the ending was added on my Shyamalan. I’m not going to spoil it, but the ending would have been so much more powerful if it had concluded with the speeches of the hotel owner and his staff. The ending of the film was just too hopeful.

Bad Hair (2020): Ever since I was traumatized by The Grudge (2004) at the age of 14, long before I even thought about getting into horror, I’ve become easily creeped out by hair in horror movies. Luckily, this horror comedy wasn’t nearly as terrifying, but I was still really creeped out during the climax. Still, this film is both interesting and entertaining and offers a point of view that is not common in horror films. Specifically, the story revolves around the hair of women of colour and how they have to adhere to western (a.k.a. white) standards of beauty in order to fit in. It also features a trans actress in a key role (and she doesn’t get killed off). And if that wasn’t good enough, the story takes place in the later 1980s so the costumes are phenomenal. I love the styles from that era to begin with, but I get the sense that the costume designer really brought their A game for this one. Also, this is a prime example of the way music impacts viewing experience. Seemingly harmless scenes became sinister when the musical score came into play. It set the mood perfectly.

Martyrs (2015): I was so excited to get access to this film because I had heard good things about it. Plus, I saw a clip of the ending on YouTube and decided this was my kind of disturbing. However, I didn’t realize until I looked up one of the actresses that the 2015 film is a remake of the 2008 original. Until that moment, I had no idea there even was a remake. Even worse, the IMDB rating for the remake was lower. I was worried. But while I watched the film, I found myself immensely invested in the story. That’s because I knew what the ending was going to be. I feel like if someone went into this not knowing how it was going to end, then yes, the remake wouldn’t be a particularly strong film. And then I got to that ending, the one I waited so eagerly for. It was nothing like the clip I saw of the original ending on YouTube. Well, it was, but it felt severely watered down compared to what I thought I was getting. That was the most disappointing part of all. Now I have to get my hands on the original.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986): Michael Rooker is one of those actors I’m always pleased to see in a film. Personally, I think it’s because he played Yondu in the MCU. Anyone who knows of my love for blue characters will not be shocked to hear this. So I was all set to love this movie before I even pressed play. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I wanted the movie to go further. The ways in which the bodies of the victims were presented were so artistic that I wanted more of that. I wanted more of those shots, I wanted more of that kind of vibe in the rest of the film. When the video camera came into play, and the audience only found out about some of the murders when the killers re-watched the footage, I wanted more scenes like. And I wanted more gore and violence; something over the top and excessive. Thankfully, this film had a powerful ending that tied everything together nicely.

The Task (2010): Well, this was a waste of my time. I like the idea of a reality tv show gone wrong, but there was nothing particularly original about this film. It had a bad script and bad acting, and was never funny enough or entertaining enough to be “so bad it’s good.” Also, if everything revolves around the prison and the warden, what the hell does the creepy clown have to do with anything? Don’t get me wrong, I love creepy clowns, but unless I missed something, that choice made absolutely no sense.

The Void (2017): I already had this on my list because it looked interested, and then someone recommended it to me not long after. The premise was great, even though the plot fell flat in a few places, but that was of secondary importance to me. The story could have been non-existent and I still would have enjoyed this movie because of the special effects. I love a good creature feature, and these creatures were captivating. The disgusting, gory, misshapen things pulled out of someone’s nightmare stole the show for me, and I would gladly re-watch this movie just for them. I also feel like this is the kind of film where I’ll pick up on a few extra details if I give it a second watch. And if those monsters don’t make you uncomfortable, the themes of birth and rebirth will. Pregnancy and childbirth in a horror film is a great way to add tension, horror, blood, and more, and The Void certainly took advantage of that.

The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulu (2009): Another achievement unlocked – we have a contender for the worst film of this years movie marathon. Not only does it mock geek culture, but a lot of the jokes would not be okay today. I mean, they weren’t okay then, but they were more common. Mainly, it was the elder abuse and multiple jokes about rape that didn’t sit well with me. But wait, it gets worse. The plot sets up H.P. Lovecraft as a great hero who saved the human race, and his descendent was responsible for the fate of mankind as well. As a horror author and fan, I cannot deny the impact Lovecraft has had on the genre as a whole, but he was a terrible, racist human being. This is not a man that should be turned into a heroic saviour of mankind. If you want to use the works of H.P. Lovecraft as inspiration, fine, but do your research. Know what kind of man wrote those stories, take that into account, and do better than he did. But do not put Lovecraft himself on a pedestal.

Stir of Echoes (1999): Apart from a few plot holes, I really enjoyed this movie. It stressed me out, but in a good way. Even without the supernatural forces at play, I was stressed by how crowded all the public spaces were in this film. But the ghost story itself was well done. All things considered, it wasn’t an entirely original haunting, and it was pretty easy to figure out the crime. But there was tension in all the right places, and camera shots that made you think a ghostly appearance was imminent even when it wasn’t. Best of all, I loved the sinister tone of the ending. They may be moving away from the scene of that particular crime, but there are ghosts everywhere, not just at that one house.

Tune in next week for more. Same bat time, same bat channel…

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