The Second Week of Spooktober: Still Technically Cheating

Most of this week took place during September, so most of these movies are part of my head start on my annual movie marathon. But it’s finally October now! Of course, the moment October 1st came around I became 110% more spooky than usual.

Also, note to self: Go to the second I spot a cat or a dog in a horror movie. There have been far too many unpleasant surprises for me over the past year. As well as a few unfortunate instances during this year’s Spooktober marathon. Having grown up with a dog, I’ve never liked watching dogs get hurt on screen, and it’s much harder for me when a cat suffers on screen now that I live with four of them. I can watch all manner of unspeakable atrocities happen to people who may or may not deserve it. Sometimes it makes me uncomfortable, and sometimes it doesn’t. But if a movie so much as hints that something bad happens to an animal, even if it’s off screen, then I have a problem with it. Unfortunately, that just means the horror is effective. Horror is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable.

Now that it’s officially October, it’s time to dress up! This year’s theme is Witch’s familiars, and this week’s familiars are toads and bats.

Creepshow (1982): As I mentioned last week, I typically try to watch only movies I haven’t seen before for my Spooktober marathon. The exceptions are for sentimental reasons, like watching Christine (1983) last week or Hocus Pocus (1993) every Halloween. The other exceptions are for when Mark decides he finally wants to watch a classic horror film for the first time. He is not a horror fan like I am, and scares easily (which is just fine), so when he says he’s willing to give one of the classics a try, it’s cause for celebration. This year, he’s been watching the Creepshow (2019) TV show (which I plan on bingeing later in the month), and he’s enjoyed it enough that he wanted to give the original film a try. This is such a classic, I don’t know why I don’t re-watch this one more often. This love letter to horror comics is delightfully cheesy and entertaining for both horror fans like myself, and those like my husband who can’t handle the super scary stuff.

The Hole in the Ground (2019): From the moment the premise was established, I was expecting there to be a lot of gaslighting in this film. Unfortunately, there was barely any. This was absolutely a missed opportunity as the story lent itself perfectly to to that kind of psychological abuse. And although there was a recurring motif of domestic abuse throughout the film, I feel like more could have been done with that aspect as well. In fact, even the mirrors in the film were under utilized and could have made for some fantastic scares. I think what I really wanted was an extra half hour to add in all that extra terror. Not that film didn’t have any terror in it. The scene where Chris scuttles around his room chasing a spider was delightfully unsettling. That kid sure did an excellent job of being creepy. Overall, I really did enjoy this, I just wanted it to make me even more uncomfortable than it actually did.

The Prodigy (2019): Another creepy little kid! This time instead of possession, reincarnation is to blame for the horrific events. As a result, the film often feels like an interpretation of the classic Jekyll/Hyde story. This twisted duality within Miles is fantastic for building tension in scenes where you’re not sure who’s in control of his body or if he can be trusted. And in those moments where it’s a bit more obvious, it made for some fantastic jump scares. I was startled just about every time that Miles morphed into or was replaced by his older, creepier alter ego. I think my biggest complaint, however, was the ending. Sure, it was unsettling, but there was a moment just minutes before that would have made for a stronger finish. When the woman extends her hand out to Miles and he looks at it an smiles, that would have been a great place to end it because it was perfectly unsettling and ominous. The scene in the mirror afterwards was creepy but not entirely necessary.

P2 (2007): When I saw this title appear both on Plex and Netflix, I was intrigued enough to give it a try. I guess the reason both streaming services got access to it because it was cheap to acquire, because this certainly was not a good movie. There was nothing original about the plot, save for the fact that it takes place in a locked parking garage. And the characters were unlikeable and poorly developed. I really did not care whether Angela succeeded or not, especially after what she did to Rocky. And like Tom points out fairly early on in the film, I got sick and tired of her calling out his name over, and over, and over again. One thing I did enjoy, however, were the credits – and not just because it meant the movie was over. Stills from disturbing moments in the film were presented as wholesome holiday photos while Christmas music played. Perhaps if there had been more of that tongue in cheek attitude throughout the whole film I would have enjoyed it.

Run (2020): This movie stressed me out. My Fitbit thought I did a few minutes of cardio because of my elevated heart rate. Everything was a race against time. Chloe had limited amounts of time to complete certain tasks without her mother’s knowledge, all while working with limited mobility and other external limitations in place. And then there were the medical emergencies, like her asthma attacks, when the race was to get to her medication on time. Even the lulls were filled with tension. Towards the end of the film, I was so on edge that a break might have been a good idea. Still, despite the stress I experienced watching this movie, I did enjoy it. And that ending was oh so satisfying.

What Lies Below (2020): I guess you could say this is a movie about alien probing. And unfortunately, it’s not as fun as it sounds. The premise was interesting enough, and the ending was perfectly disturbing, but I did not enjoy this film. Yes, I’m sure the intent was to make the viewers uncomfortable with the sexual nature of the events that took place, but I don’t think it was well executed. The awkward molestation of Liberty while she was on her period was weird enough, but her symbolic rape later on was just a low point in the film long after I had given up on it. I was absolutely creeped out an uncomfortable, but there’s a difference between when that sort of thing happens in a strong film versus when it happens in a weak film. Between the flat acting, nonexistent character development, weak script with plot holes, and throwaway characters whose only purpose in the film was to be killed off, it just wasn’t worth having to sit through uncomfortable sex scenes.

Ma (2019): Based on what I had heard, I expected more from this one. I was intrigued at first when I realized it was going to be a slow burn, but then it stayed slow for far too long. Sure, there were suspicious and unsettling things happening, but I kept wondering if it was ever going to pick up, if I was ever going to see anything truly disturbing. Unfortunately, the level of horror I originally expected to see only took place during about 15 or 20 minutes near the end of the movie. What Ma did to the teenagers was certainly horrific, but by that point it was too little too late for me. If she had been doing those kinds of things throughout the whole story, I might have enjoyed it more.

Ravenous (1999): When Colqhoun told his tale near the beginning of this film, something about his misadventure seemed familiar to me. A quick search on the internet confirmed my suspicions. Colqhoun’s early experiences with cannibalism were inspired by the Donner Party. I only learned about the Donner Party a year ago when I watched last October’s episode of Puppet History, so seeing these events referenced in a film excited me. And as luck would have it, just a few days after watching this movie I cam across a TikTok video that talked about the Donner Party and how they refused the help of Indigenous peoples. At least Ravenous included two indigenous characters in the film, although they were little more than stereotypes and both had English names. But that’s not surprising seeing as one of the key concepts of the film involves an appropriation of Indigenous spirituality in order to serve the white men. The cannibalism of the Wendigo is likened to the cannibalism involved in eating the body of Christ when one is a Christian, and as a result the film is filled with religious imagery. I think the tension between Ives and Boyd could have been stronger, but overall I had a lot of fun watching this movie. I’m a sucker for Wendigo stories.

Hide and Seek (2005): I was too young to see this movie when it came to theatres, and I remember the trailer really scared me. But now I’m an adult and I felt brave enough to tackle this one. Obviously, now that I am well versed in the horror genre and almost twice as old as I was when this film was released, I was not scared watching it. I was just spooked enough to enjoy the experience. And I’m glad that there wasn’t an unnecessary amount of fear getting in the way because I could really pay attention to what was going on. As a result, the final twist was so obvious I could see it coming a mile away, and the red herrings were so plentiful that they left some tiny plot holes in their wake. But I had a lot of fun watching it.

Fright Night (2011): The original Fright Night (1985) is a favourite of Mark’s, so it was something I had to add to my Spooktober marathon a few years ago. But it’s not like I could say no. I can’t resist Chris Sarandon in a horror film. I enjoyed the movie, and all of it’s silly 80s goodness, so when I saw the remake was available on Disney+ I told Mark we had to watch it together this year. For starters, I got really excited with the casting across the board, especially when David Tenant appeared as Peter Vincent. But even better, Chris Sarandon had a cameo! Although I’ve only watched the original film once, I felt like this remake did a good job of paying homage while modernizing the story. And the choice to have the action take place in Las Vegas was brilliant. My absolute favourite part of the movie was when the real estate sign came into play (and I called that right from the start). That moment was so silly I didn’t expect to laugh that hard.

Buffy: The Vampire Slayer (1992): For context, I was born in 1991. I wasn’t allowed to watch the Buffy TV show because I was too young, but sometimes my babysitter let me watch a bit of an episode with her before I went to bed. And although I have yet to get around to watching the TV show, I figured the movie was something I could quickly power through this year. It was just as delightfully bad as I heard it was. Overall, I had fun watching it, and I like the story concept, but this is not at all a strong movie. And I have had my fill of 90s slang for the next year or two. Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t remember much from that decade.

Puppet History S4 E6, The Demonic Possessions of Loudun (2021): Luckily, the season 4 finale of Puppet History happened to air in October and contained spooky subject matter. What’s not to love about nuns and demonic possession? And that final song by puppet Asmodeus was probably one of the best musical numbers of the season. Despite the promise early on in the season that there would be no lore in season 4, it was clearly there. Or at least hints of it were. All of that came together and culminated in the final climactic moment. It was clear from the start of the season that Ryan wasn’t just a contestant or a student, but this time he portrayed a character, a version of himself whose actions had a devastating impact in the finale. And I understand why some people don’t like the presence of the genie in Puppet History, but I like him simply because his existence provides backstory for The Professor. With everything that happened in this episode, I sure hope that this was just a season finale and not a series finale.

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