Spooktober Week 6: The End. For Now…

What? October is over already? It can’t be! I’m not ready for it to end. And although the ads were trickling in throughout October, the Christmas and holiday promo emails and social media posts are now flooding through. I’m not ready to put up my tree, I want to keep my jack-o’-lanterns out. Why is this happening? Why can’t I just have a few more weeks of Spooky Season?

Battle Royale (2000): When I was in high school, I watched a scene of this when my friend was watching the movie on her laptop during a spare period. I thought it looked cool and immediately decided that this was something that had to go on my to-watch list. And then, as with many of the movies on that list, I didn’t watch it. Until now, that is. And yes, it was worth the wait. It was the over-the-top violence that drew me to this film, and the chaos and almost post-apocalyptic nature of this world that kept me watching. But what really helped to give this story depth was the exploration of the relationships between the teenagers at the heart of the battle. Much like a YA novel in a similar genre, there is an exploration of a romantic relationship at almost every turn. Friendships are tested, and the concept of trust becomes crucial. It’s interesting and engaging to see the different ways in which these different relationships are affected by the same circumstances. In horror, it’s not enough just to have blood, there needs to be characters you can empathize with and care about, and this movie certainly has that.

The Addams Family (1991): I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never actually seen the live action movies in this franchise. In my defense, this first film came out the year I was born. Although that’s not much of an excuse when I’ve watched every television adaptation, especially The New Adams Family (1998-1999). And when I was a kid, YTV played both live action films regularly around Halloween. I had plenty of opportunities. But now they’re on Netflix and I have no excuse to keep putting it off. And I have to admit, I’m glad I watched this as an adult so that I could understand all of the jokes that would have gone over my head if I had watched this the same time I was religiously watching The New Adams Family. Obviously, I enjoyed the film. What’s not to love about a family where the parents deeply love each other and support their children in all their endeavors? I will say, however, that the rushed ending that quickly explained how Fester regained his memories was sloppy storytelling. But other than that, I would absolutely rewatch this.

Addams Family Values (1993): I’ve seen the memes and the screenshots from the infamous pageant. Watching the scene in its entirety was just as wonderful as I expected it would be. And Wednesday’s monologue before all hell breaks loose is still very relevant today. I also appreciate that there is no place for toxic family members in the Addams family. Debbie is manipulative and abusive, and she is the only character in both films to die on screen. It’s clear that the values of the Addams family are not just something to aspire to, but there are consequences if you go against these values. And this is a theme that is present throughout both films. We should all try to be more like the Addams family.

Haunted Mansion (2003): I saw this film in theatres when it was released and found it just okay, but it’s something that I’ve been debating rewatching to see if maybe it’s the kind of thing I’ll enjoy more as an adult. And then I saw that Muppets Haunted Mansion had been released on Disney+ and that settled it. I needed to give Haunted Mansion a rewatch in order to get the best out of my Muppets viewing experience and to understand any references that might get thrown around. So how did the rewatch go? It was even worse than I remembered it. Two thirds of the way into the film it occurred to me that not a whole lot had actually happened. The story was overly simplistic and predictable, and the characters were caricatures who lacked development. To make matters worse, the dialogue did not age well due to the over-use of a term for Madame Leota that is now considered a slur. Definitely not worth rewatching.

Muppets Haunted Mansion (2021): Well, I didn’t actually need to rewatch Haunted Mansion in order to see this. Honestly, this Muppet musical referenced Beauty and the Beast (1991) more than the Eddie Murphy film. Speaking of which, only 10 minutes in to this and I knew instantly that it was going to be much better. For starters, this movie was actually funny. And I not only enjoyed the songs, but the continued use of wordplay as well. And the writers were very careful about the use of words. I got a good laugh when I saw how intelligently the phrases MacGuffin and Red Herring were used. As an added bonus, I loved how the end credits featured behind the scenes footage framed as a sing along.

Ouija (2014): So many horror movies feature a Ouija board as the instrument used to summon otherworldly terrors, so I expected that a film entirely devoted to the board would use it in some unique and interesting way. Especially if a sequel as made. I was both wrong and disappointed. This movie was bad. Boring, uninteresting, with an overly simplistic plot and no character development. The main malevolent spirit wasn’t even that interesting. I don’t know why I went into this with such high expectations, but even if I lowered them I don’t think that would have done me any good.

Are You Scared? Season 4 (2021): As much as I enjoyed the format of earlier seasons, I’m happy the crew at Watcher have decided to forego the “is this a true story or isn’t it?” aspect of the show. Now that the stories are no longer limited to horrific tales that could plausibly be true, this leaves the door wide open for much more elaborate and terrifying concepts. Case in point, my favourite this season was the one about the Russian sleep experiment. And even if there’s a story that isn’t as strong as the rest, the commentary from Shane and Ryan always keeps things fun and entertaining.

Oculus (2013): If you know me at all, then you know that Karen Gillan is the reason this movie ended up on my list. And I’m so glad I watched it because this is my kind of story. At first, I was intrigued by the notion of two siblings handling trauma in two completely different ways, but I was hooked once it became clear that I couldn’t trust anything I saw on screen. And between the direction and the script, the fact that I as the viewer was second guessing everything was exploited. All of those moments with the apple manipulated the fact that I was expecting things to go poorly. This exploitation of my expectations also lent itself to some fantastic dramatic irony by the end of the film. I knew exactly what was happening, even though the characters did not, and I knew there was no way to prevent the inevitable ending of the film.

Sinister (2012): The unsettling music and background noise alone was enough to have me spooked and on edge throughout the duration of the film. Every spooky situation was one small move away from giving me chills. At the same time, I felt like some aspects could have been taken further. The creepy children and demonic force behind them were fantastic, but the element of mystery needed to be stronger. As Ellison researches the murders and disappearances at the heart of the story it’s less like watching someone try to solve a mystery or puzzle and more like waiting for a hapless victim to stumble upon the wrong piece of information that will seal their doom. And although there is some gaslighting involved when it comes to Ellison’s drinking, I would have loved to have seen them dig deeper into that as well. Still, this movie kept me spooked and uncomfortable throughout it’s entirety, and that was just fine by me.

The Visit (2015): Based on the trailers I saw when this was released, I did not expect this to be a found footage film. Unfortunately for me, it was. As a result, I had to have this on while I was doing other things so that I didn’t have to look directly at the screen the entire time. Honestly, I didn’t miss out on much. It was a slow burn, and the actions of the grandparents were certainly creepy, but not scary. And long before the twist I figured out why the grandparents were acting that way. The plot was predictable, and just entertaining enough to hold my interest. Although I didn’t like that both kids were nothing more than over the top caricatures whose quirks and dominant personality traits were pushed past the point of being annoying.

Zombeavers (2015): Based on the title alone, no one should expect anything serious from this film. And yes, there were plenty of beaver jokes and double entendres. Plus, absolutely nothing was taken seriously. Otherwise, how could they have possibly ended up with were-zombeavers? There’s really not much to say about this movie other than it is exactly like you expect it to be. I will say, though, that I found the mid credit bloopers to be much more funny than the rest of the film. But the post credits scene has me eager for a sequel filled with zom-bees.

Leprechaun (1993): Maybe this is just because of the way filmmaking was in the 90s, but it was really hard to tell who the target audience was for this comedy horror. At times, it felt like the story of a group of spunky kids going up against one of the little people was in a different film from the story of a leprechaun going on a murderous rampage. One minute, I was watching what appeared to be a fantasy adventure directed at a younger audience, and the next, someone was getting stabbed to death. Thankfully, Warwick Davis’ over-the-top performance was all that really mattered, and it’s what kept this movie fun and entertaining for me.

High Tension (2003): Based on what I heard about this movie, I really expected the gore and violence to be even more over the top than this. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still plenty violent, but I suppose I was just hoping that it would bring me past that special level of discomfort. The two moment in the film that did that for me were both instances involving heads at the beginning of the film. Even better, I did not see that twist coming at all. But as much as I enjoyed and appreciated the twist, I still have some questions about some of the scenes in the film. How much was imagined and how were certain things pulled off?

Lovely Molly (2011): Even though this film was not entirely found footage, there was just enough to cause some problems for me. As a result, I couldn’t fully look at the screen for some of the scenes that were filmed on the camcorder. That caused problems because apparently I missed a few details that I only learned about when I had to look up the fact that some things didn’t make sense – because I missed those details. And clearly this is one of those open ended stories that leaves it to the viewer to decide what’s really going on, but I felt that the ending definitely tipped the scales in one direction, taking the fun out of figuring it out for myself. That being said, there were excellent examples throughout the movie of things that are unseen are scarier than the things that can be seen.

Locke and Key, Season 2 (2021): Okay, so Mark and I haven’t actually finished watching this latest season yet, but we got really close. At the time I am writing this, we have only two episodes left, so I think that’s enough to qualify it for this year’s Spooktober list. Although I have yet to read the comics that inspired this show, Mark has, and there have been many moments throughout the season where he’s remarked “Well, that’s different from the comics,” or “Oh, that’s a new character who’s not in the comics.” At the same time, there have been plenty of moments that played out exactly as he was expecting them to. In terms of the characters, I find that the problem with there being so many characters who are important to the plot, some of them get lost or swept aside. There have been a handful of characters that I completely forgot about until they showed up for a scene or two. It’s hard to care about what happens to the people who aren’t Lockes when I’m not really getting a chance to see them consistently. However, I did enjoy watching this latest season due to the continued use of tension throughout the arc of this season.

That’s it – another year done. What ever will I watch now that my movie marathon is over? How about more horror movies!

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