Posts Tagged ‘Halloween 2015’

Halloween 2015 Closing Ceremonies

November 1, 2015

So another Halloween has come and gone. I had a lot of fun putting things together for this Halloween and I hope that people had fun reading it (or will in the future). I never really pack away my Halloween things but I do play it more low key for the rest of the year. Plus, even I need a break from the supernatural now and again. I just wanted to take this time to revisit what happened this year while I plan next year.

I watched 16 supernatural/horror/Halloween-y movies if you don’t count the handful I either re-watched or watched and reported on during Media Update. Either Horns or The Babadook were probably the best and The Dunwich Horror was definitely the worst. Still, there wasn’t a truly bad movie in the bunch. I’m already looking forward to hitting the same 13 plus 3 goal next October.

I quietly introduced the concept of Fanfictober to the blog because I had an idea for Aftershocks and ran with it. I liked the idea of using famous characters and merely alluding to them. Maybe it was clever or maybe it was obvious. I had a lot of fun and I’ll probably come up with a similar idea or continuation next year.

So now we close out this year’s festivities with a closing song. Happy November everybody.


The Babadook

October 31, 2015

Scary stories are a lot of fun but they definitely stick with you. To this day two scary stories are burned into my brain since they were told to me in the dark of the night. When I was little my dad used to tell me and my brothers about Ambrose the One-Armed Indian. We were especially told about this character when we went out west to visit Arizona. As un-politically correct as it may sound now, this man roamed the nation looking for revenge for some slight against him. The other story I remember vividly is a reading of a horrible story that research tells me was probably Leiningen Versus the Ants. We heard the story around the bonfire at Camp Shohola and while it is an optimistic story it does involve a human being nearly killed by a swarm of ants. I shiver just thinking about it but I also cherish those moments.

I wanted the last movie I did this Halloween to be something well known and something big and flashy. The Babadook got a lot of buzz when it came out but I didn’t catch it at the time. This was actually fighting a long-held tradition of not watching what everybody else thinks is cool. Also, to give you a little peek behind the curtain, this is the movie I watched last. I also knew absolutely nothing about the movie and I don’t recognize a single person involved. I’ve never quite seen an Australian horror film either though I’m sure I’ve seen a Canadian one even if I can’t name it.  The thing is, as much hype as there was, I think people really undersold it.  Of course, these things are subjective.

Let’s get this out of the way, children are very, very creepy. At least, they have great potential to be creepy. I’m not talking about the overdone trope of painting them in white and giving them a long, oily wig either. I’m talking about normal, everyday kids. The average little kid has problems because their language system is still evolving and terrible things come out of their mouths. Also, like drunk adults, everything is a good idea even the things we know are the worst ideas. The kid in this movie is like that. He’s an unfiltered, chaotic mess and you have to feel for his poor mother. Still, I’m told there are both pros and cons to parenthood and he must have good days, right?

It becomes clearer as the movie continues it becomes clearer and clearer that we are dealing with an unreliable narrator. The mother is under a lot of pressure with her job, crazy kid and strained family relations. She’s also suffering from insomnia, anxiety and depression even before things get real. You have to ask yourself if she is hallucinating or if there really is a Babadook after her. The story starts slow as if it is a family drama movie instead but slowly we are driven into the spookier parts of the story. I’ll let you make your own assumptions about whether it’s real as you watch it. However, just thinking that it might be in her head is just as frightening to me as a real monster.

Frankly, the movie was hard to watch but in the best way. The movie is uncomfortable and frightening in just the right spots and pushed just the right buttons. This is a great horror movie but for the love of anything good, please don’t let children see it. Also, if you’re a parent (especially a single parent) and you’re sensitive to scary/emotional things you might want to give this one a pass. Everybody else? Have at it. Happy Halloween.

House (1986)

October 31, 2015

We have little to no control over where and when horror finds us. The horror in our past is hard to overcome. Sometimes I think back to the scariest moments of my life and I can hardly imagine how I got through them and I’m just an ordinary guy. There are people who go through hell on Earth just to live another day and they have that burned into their memory forever. I can’t imagine being a soldier in a war where I was in real danger. I never saw a dead person outside of a funeral. Still, I can understand the true horror of trying to live today with the memories of true horror. The emotional baggage we carry around can be more terrifying than any ghost story. Of course, this movie is a ghost story too.

Thankfully, even with the heavy subject matter, there’s a lot of humor in this movie. It’s an interesting style of humor too. It’s quirky and light sometimes when the mood should be heavy or scary. Sometimes it actually makes the moment scarier in a very surreal way. The people in the story don’t act exactly as they should and while it’s sort of funny, it gave me sort of an alien feeling as well. Of course, there were was plenty of funny stuff too. I was reminded of a mix of movies like Airplane and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. It’s a strange kind of humor that mixes reality with unreality almost seamlessly.

The movie gradually gets weirder as it goes on. It starts off quirky with a side of strange but slowly the horror elements start to take over. We’re dealing with ghosts in this one but they’re some of the most crafty ghosts I’ve ever seen. Like the ghosts in the Shining, the house knows about every single moment of the main character’s life. Also, the ghosts actively mess with the character’s mind, a mind of a vietnam vet. He’s also a writer and I know from experience how much a vivid imagination can mess with your mind all on its own. The movie spends much of its time bouncing between vivid flashbacks and hauntings in the present. The sometimes jarring transitions help you get into the head of somebody who’s not quite well but seems oddly at ease with being in that condition.

William Katt stars as Roger Cobb, a horror writer in a horror movie a cliche that Stephen King practically invented. He has just the right energy to pull the character off without getting too corny or too heavy. He’s joined by George Wendt who plays Roger’s pushy next door neighbor Harold who seems to have forgotten a lot about human tact. Cobb is haunted by his past and strange creatures who are hard to explain. It becomes clear that Cobb is a man with issues. Issues that go beyond being haunted by ghosts and he goes against obstacles that are hard to explain without spoiling the movie.

I don’t want to spoil the movie. It’s a weird little thing as the director, Steve Miner, was fresh off of Friday the 13th parts II and III. The idea for it came from Fred Dekker who wrote Monster Squad but it was fleshed out by first time screenwriter Ethan Wiley. Apparently all three of them were best friends inspired by Twilight Zone: The Movie and it definitely shows. The movie paces out similar to horror anthology segments like Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt. I would suggest you check this movie out if you’re into an offbeat horror movie that’s as funny as it is weird.

Jack Frost (1997)

October 9, 2015

I’ve actually wanted to see this movie for years but I never got around to it. Now, with the internet, seeing such things takes just a few keystrokes and is amazingly easy. I don’t know what it is about setting horror movies at Christmas or other snowy times. Maybe, like killer clowns, the people who make horror movies want to juxtapose things meant to delight us with things meant to terrify us. I ran to the window many a time during winter to see snow piling down, joy building in my heart. I listened to WBAL for the school closings (and later work closings) with intense anticipation. I was never a winter sports enthusiast but I always loved walking and playing in snow and ice as a kid. I still get a kick out walking along a snow-covered path and feeling the intense quiet a snowstorm seems to bring. So, I was excited to see this joy turned against me.

The movie follows a serial killer (named Jack Frost) who is caught by a small town sheriff (from the town of Snowmanton) based on a traffic stop. The killer is tried and sentenced to death which requires him to be transported at night in what appears to be a blizzard. The prison transport collides with a truck carrying genetic research also during a blizzard at night. Everything seems plausible so far. The two trucks collide and suddenly they got their murderer in the genetic goop and vice versa and now he’s a killer snowman. Yes, it’s that old chestnut. He proceeds to try to take revenge on the sheriff instead of the legal system that tried him or whatever. A hundred snow and ice puns ensue as people are slaughtered. The townsfolk seem alternately very scared and very apathetic about the whole thing.

Before college, I had very little experience with small towns. After college, my first job was right in the middle off a small town. In a small town, people are in each other’s business a lot. They can’t help it. In a situation where everybody pretty much knows everybody, you learn a lot about the few people you’re able to talk to. You grow uncomfortably close to these people. Also, it always feels like there’s very little to do in a small town which isn’t entirely true. There’s a multitude of bake sales, fairs, carnivals and other momentary distractions but it’s usually at least an hour drive to the closest movie theater and other such entertainment. It’s definitely a foreign world and one I never quite adapted to. This movie is rife with that claustrophobic feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere. Don’t worry, it doesn’t linger on this for long but it’s always in the background.

There’s no way anybody ever took this movie seriously and that includes the actors and crew. The thing kind of smells of Airplane-style parody as things are offbeat and very punny. It ends up being a little wackier than I expected which isn’t exactly a bad thing. The killer snowman was something that intrigued me as I expected the effect would be done with stop motion animation. What seemed like a no-brainer was too much money for a straight to video release apparently. Instead, most of the work is done with what looks like animatronics and voice overs. In fact, the killer snowman doesn’t appear all that much. He easily kills the dumbest characters that you could kill with a dull spork. One scene gets a little raunchy so this, in addition to a little gore, should discourage parents from letting their little kids watch this one.

My favorite part is that Jack Frost has a very set goal that he explains in the first ten minutes of the movie and it is repeated several times so we don’t forget it. He wants to kill the sheriff who caught him. However, he easily succumbs to the same psychopathic ADHD that plagues supernatural killers like Charles Lee Ray. Instead of pursuing his goal, he lets himself get distracted by easy targets and cracking jokes that waste time he could have been using to accomplish his goal. Of course, a horror movie needs victims so you can’t complain too much. In fact, I didn’t complain much and I would suggest if you’re in a jovial holiday spirit to check this one out. Make sure it’s the 1997 Jack Frost as the 1998 one is way too scary.

Let the Countdown Begin!

September 30, 2015


Tomorrow is the first of October in the year two thousand and fifteen. This officially marks the countdown of 31 days until Halloween. Therefore it is crucial that I finally let you know what I’ve been working on for a while as I get into the Halloween spirit. For the next 30 days there will be thirteen movie reviews leading up to the release of three movie reviews on Halloween itself. There will also be a couple installments of an original story I’m working on with somewhat appropriated characters. I’m not going to make it obvious, you see if you can tell what I’m doing with that. Media Updates will continue as normal because of all the work I’ve done ahead of time. Anything else I come up with will simply be a bonus. If you’re reading this, thanks for coming by. This is one of my favorite times of the year and I hope it shows. I leave you with this year’s Halloween song.

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