Spooktober Week 5: More Thrills, More Chills, And More Bees

Without question, one of the key components of the horror genre is fear. And when that fear lingers long after the movie is over, either you’ve just watched an incredibly well done movie, or you’ve succeeded in traumatizing yourself. There’s only one horror movie I’ve ever come across that has truly traumatized me, leaving me with a fear that clung to me for far too many years. From age 14 to 30, it’s stayed with me. This week I faced that fear, determined to rid myself of it for good..

Scare Package (2019): The video store in the movie promises six scary films with a seventh free, and that’s exactly what this collection of short films is. But it’s so much more. If you love horror movies, you will have a blast watching this horror comedy. It’s so meta it calls attention to the fact that it’s meta. This is a love letter to the horror genre and pokes fun at just about every trope. And in the final short, if you pause during a key few moments you can find some fantastic Easter Eggs. Plus, the filmmakers certainly did not skimp on the blood and gore. But even some of the grossest, goriest moments were hilarious. Not only did I enjoy watching this and get lots of laughs, but this is something I would absolutely rewatch just to pick up on things I might have missed the first time.

Killer Under the Bed (2018): Less than a minute in and I hated all of the characters. Not long after, I realized the plot was weak and unoriginal. And by the time the voodoo doll started moving on its own, I gave up all hope of taking this movie seriously. I mean, I was able to laugh at the voodoo doll, but this was not a horror comedy so that’s not necessarily a good thing. Although the story did succeed at making me feel uncomfortable when the history teacher started hitting on his underage student. This was so bad I think the only reason I kept watching was because of a sense of morbid curiosity, and apparently I like to suffer.

Only Murders In The Building (2021): Okay, so this isn’t horror, but the plot revolves around death and murder, so that’s my excuse. Besides, Mark and I started watching this when it first came to Disney+ and we were so hooked there was no way we were going to put this on hold for a month. Not when we needed so desperately needed to know who killed Tim Kono. But this show is about more than murder and an obsession with true crime podcasts. It’s about relationships, and healing from past (and present) traumas. Plus, it features Steve Martin and Martin short doing what they do best, with Selena Gomez as the “straight man” of the group in what has been my favourite performance of hers. And the ending was both satisfying and left things wide open for a second season. I absolutely need another season ASAP.

The Cutting Room (2015): Between the music, the editing, and the use of what’s unseen to create terror, the opening had me hooked. And then… The rest of the movie is nothing like the opening. The promise that the ending might be as good as the opening was what kept me going through this found footage film, but the fear and gore never reached the bar that had been set by that opening sequence. I also found it strange that there was a musical score used, particularly in the last half hour. Yes, the music sounded more atmospheric at times (but not all the time), but it was out of place in a found footage film. The song used in the opening and ending credits was the only music that should have appeared in this movie. Also, by the time the end credits rolled around, I realized that the song played a much more important part than I initially realized. Just enough is hidden in the opening that you can only guess what is happening, but when you listen to the lyrics of the song it actually reveals why these girls are being kidnapped and killed. I’m so disappointed the rest of the film wasn’t as good as the opening sequence.

Octaman (1971): Unfortunately, the copy of this film that was available on Plex was not well preserved. And it’s likely something like this will never be restored. Between the poor quality of the picture and the fact that a significant portion of the story takes place at night, in the dark, it was immensely difficult for me to see what was actually happening. It’s a shame because the Octaman himself was delightfully cheesy. However, he was the only enjoyable part of the film as there wasn’t much plot to speak of. Although a significant portion of the film was dedicated to showing how humans have destroyed our natural resource, the cast of characters were all sexist stereotypes.

House (1985): I don’t know if it’s because that was popular in horror at the time, but the structure of the plot really reminds me of a Stephen King novel. Also, when Mark and I watched this together, this brought about a discussion in the evolution of the horror comedy sub genre. Films like this in the 80s were horror first, comedy second. Nowadays, I’d argue that modern horror comedies are comedy first, horror second, and are almost always a spoof of a slasher film. Personally, we feel that the structure from the 80s works better as it makes for a more interesting and entertaining movie format. And because House is from the 80s, we got plenty of laughs when it came to some of the practical effects. Specifically, being able to see Big Ben’s lips painted black under his zombie mask really tickled my funny bone. The most horrific part for me was every introvert’s worst nightmare – why do so many people just walk into this guy’s house uninvited? Seriously, respect people’s privacy and lock your damn doors.

House (1977): This Japanese horror comedy is not at all the same story as the American House from 1985. And here’s a warning if you’re planning on watching it: there are a lot of flashing lights, so photosensitive viewers beware. I’ve heard a lot about this one before, so I was really curious to watch. This story about childhood fears is weird in a way that only a Japanese film from the 70s can be, and it’s filled with silly moments and stereotypical characters. And yet, the horror is well done. It’s going to be hard to get the image of that piano out of my mind. If you give this one a watch, I recommend reading up on it. When I did, I learnt more about the creation of the story, as well as the fact that some of the more “low budget” looking choices when it came to the special effects were intentional. The more I learned, the more in it added to the overall viewing experience.

The Wicker Man (1973): Well, it’s certainly clear this movie was made in the 70s. Somehow, I don’t think that level of nudity is going to make it into the remake. But even though it is a product of its time, The Wicker Man is just as good as I heard it would be. Not only is the story filled with horror, mystery, and gaslighting, but the thematic elements of the plot are phenomenal. Between the setting, the costumes (and lack thereof), the language, and the explicit references to religious beliefs, the entire story is a battle between Christianity and Paganism. And the true horror comes from the realization that Sergeant Howie never had a chance of escaping Summerisle or the Wicker Man. This is truly a brilliant film.

The Wicker Man (2006): Based on the memes that have come out of the remake, I knew from the get go that this was going to be nowhere near as good as the original. I also curious to see how religion was going to be incorporated into the plot since that fear of Paganism in the ’73 film isn’t all that relevant anymore. So, I did appreciate that rather than have this be a religious battle, it was man versus woman. There was evidently an attempt at creating some sort of religious conflict between the Paganism of the people of Summerisle and Malus, since Malus was shown to be interested in new age self help tapes. But that felt like an afterthought. And the use of bees as inspiration for the social hierarchy of this society was brilliant… Until that infamous moment that has been mocked time and time again. It’s really hard to take Malus’ suffering seriously. I don’t have a problem with Nicolas Cage, I’m just not sure he was right for this role. And the dialogue for all of the characters wasn’t all that strong. Perhaps with a better script and a different leading man, this could have been a decent remake. Then again, we wouldn’t have gotten all of those fantastic memes.

Dark Water (2002): I watched the American 2005 remake a couple of months ago when I saw that Disney+ had it, simply because I heard it was such a bad movie. Yeah, it wasn’t that great. By comparison, I heard that the Japanese original was excellent and scary. Well, it was certainly better than the remake, but I wasn’t as wowed as I expected to be. Maybe it was because I already knew what was going to happen. But I will agree this the Japanese film delivers more on the horror side of things whereas I would classify the American remake as more of a thriller with elements of horror. I’m glad I watched both films as I did enjoy the story, I was just let down because I thought I was going to get more intense scares out of this.

The Grudge (2004): If you’ve been following my adventures on TikTok, you already know why I needed to rewatch this particular film. It’s the only horror film to ever truly traumatize me and I wanted to face my fear. And I’m annoyed I didn’t do it sooner because this movie really has no effect on me anymore. I think the only reason I was so scared during the first 15 minutes of my rewatch is because I was more afraid of my memories of watching it in a pitch black basement at the age of 14 than the movie itself. The scares were well done, but overall I was bored. If you want some of my in-the-moment responses to this rewatch, check out the many TikToks I filmed specifically for this momentous occasion.

Ju-on: The Grudge (2002): Of course, the Japanese original was much better than the American remake – no surprise there – but I still got bored. The horror is well done, and I like how this film is more episodic in nature. And that story structure is probably why the remake struggled with pacing because it recreated some of the events of the original while trying to weave it into a more linear story. Speaking of which, there are so many more characters and situations in the original. It better showcases just how dangerous this house is and how it’s curse continues for years without end.

The Ring (2002): Based on its strong associations The Grudge, I avoided both versions of The Ring simply because of my fear of The Grudge. That was a mistake as this is the superior story, and the superior film, between the two. However, I am glad that I waited until I was older and more experienced with the horror genre so that I could properly appreciate this first watch. And yes, this is something that I would absolutely rewatch. Whereas The Grudge is basically just a fancy haunted house story, The Ring is both a horror story and a mystery that explores the relationships between parents and children. Additionally, there is a race against time that raises the stakes. The thematic elements give the story depth, while the mystery kept me interested and engaged. However, I was disappointed by Samara’s final appearance. In all of the videos and flashbacks, it’s clear they’re dealing with a little girl. But the second that first hand comes out of the TV and onto the ground, I could tell it was an adult actor. That broke the illusion for me and gave me some giggles during what should have been a terrifying moment.

Ringu (1998): The clear winner of the Japanese/American Grudge/Ring showdown. As I expected, the Japanese original was better than the already good American remake. What stood out the most for me was the fact that in this version of the story Sadako is not the only character with supernatural powers. Whereas Samara is a unique case, there are three characters in Ringu with abilities. They may be rare, but non uncommon, which lends more plausibility to Sadako’s existence. Additionally, although we see Samara’s face plenty of times, we never actually see Sadako’s. The only shot we get is a closeup on one eye. In this, the Japanese version of the story is also superior because often the unseen is more terrifying than the seen. And if the characters in the film die from just looking at her face, then we the viewers should not be able to see her face so as not to break the illusion. This is my new favourite Japanese horror film.

Related Posts

Don't Miss Out!

Free Stories, updates on my writing, as well as sales and promotions