Tuesday, November 1, 2016

SCARE-A-THON 2016 FINAL RESULTS

Scare-A-Thon 2016 has officially come to an end. I successfully achieved the goal of 31 films in October! It was a fun month, but it sure got tricky towards the end. I had a lot to juggle this month and piling 31 movies on the top of it all probably wasn't the best idea. Regardless, it's for a fantastic reason and all worked out! I sincerely thank everyone out there for your support, encouragement and feedback throughout the past 31 days of blood, babes, and beasts.

Below is a brief summary of the month, with links to the full breakdown of each week to satisfy your curiosity. That is, if you are curious. 

Thanks to everyone who pledged and supported this wild endeavor, and to both The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Reach Counseling Services for their incredible and continued work! 

Total Films Watched: 31 (of 31)

First Time Views: 24

Total Amount Raised: $1,313.64 
($656.64 for each organization)

Decades of Horror Watched: 7
1930s, 50s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010s

Countries Represented: 10
Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Jordan, Romania, Spain, Turkey, UK, and US

Most Movies in a Day: 3 (10/15)
Psycho II, Psycho III, Undocumented

Sequels Watched: 7

Favorite First Timers:
Baskin, The Nameless, Psycho II, Sauna, Southbound, Undocumented

Most Enjoyable Revisit:
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

Least Favorite First Timer: Rob Zombie's 31

Why Did I Watch This Again?:
Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, and Halloween: Resurrection

Week One Recap

Week Two Recap

Week Three Recap

Week Four Recap

SCARE-A-THON 2016: WEEK FOUR

End of the month also means end of the Scare-A-Thon. And how'd I do?! The goal of 31 movies has successfully been achieved! Full recap of the entire month - with total amount raised for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Reach Counseling Services coming very soon.

But first, let's dive into the last round of viewings for the month.


25. UNDER THE SHADOW (2016) - First Time Viewing
Set in the late 1980s, war-torn Iran, a family's life gets shaken as Iraj is called to war, leaving his wife Shideh and their daughter Dorsa at home, while the terrors of the war gets closer to home. However, that's not the only terror they must face, as something possibly more evil begins to creep in.

Working within the one-location setting (although we do get a few other locations briefly), Under The Shadow focuses heavily on atmosphere and tension through isolation. For the most part, it achieves this reasonably well by hitting familiar beats of the haunted house genre, even though this is not a haunted film. Writer/director Babak Anvari utilizes the empty apartment and parental-paranoia to not just craft suspense, but to draw you to Shideh played by Narges Rashidi, who turns in a solid performance.

I greatly enjoyed that this is heavily-rooted in Iranian culture. At the same time, I do believe there was a slight disconnect, or more so that I didn't fully grasp certain moments/aspects. This never felt like an issue, though. I wouldn't say I enjoyed myself any less because I'm not familiar with the culture. Certain elements, including the antagonist, didn't connect as fully as I think they would with an Iranian audience. That said, the film is still effective as being a creepy, self-contained tale regardless of where you live.

Even clocking in at a sleek 84 minutes, things did get slightly stale and redundant. We get glimpses of the neighbors in the apartment building, before they all leave due to a missile threat, which offer a welcomed deviation from the rest of the film. Much of the story revolves around Shideh and Dorsa questioning each other and their home, which is fine, but did become stagnant after a while.

Nonetheless, Under The Shadow is a finely tuned and crafted character-driven piece full of mood. It's simple and effective, and sometimes, that's all you really need.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

SCARE-A-THON 2016: WEEK THREE

Three weeks in and I've thankfully been on track! It's consisted of many late nights and sacrifice of sleep, but it's all worth it. Why am I watching a bunch of horror movies this month? Well, if you didn't know, I'm accepting pledges per movie watched, raising money for both The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Reach Counseling Services in Neenah, WI. If you'd like to pledge or know more about the Scare-A-Thon, shoot me an email at john.marcus.pata(at)gmail.com.

Need to catch up? No problem, check out the recaps of week one and week two.

17. KILLER PARTY (1986)

Because sometimes, you just need to watch some pure '80s cheese on VHS.

The quick pitch is three coeds pledge to a sorority, frat dudes are bursting at the seams with testosterone, and there's some sort of weird spirit/possession going on at an abandoned frat house where, of course, there's going to be an April Fool's Day party. It's super tongue-in-cheeky, very campy, and awfully generic at times. But then again, things do turn unexpected throughout.

For example, we start with a funeral scene in a church. When the service is over, the daughter-in-law who seems to be grieving asks to have a few moments with her deceased mother-in-law's casket. Sounds touching, right? Well, not so much, as she begins hurling all kinds of insults and celebrating that her in-law is dead. The casket opens, the woman gets bragged in, the lid shuts. Then it's sent to the crematorium (which is under the church???) and she's burned alive. But wait! This is actually a movie two characters are watching at a drive-in. Whew, that's comforting. Now, our female is tired of her dude trying to get busy, so she goes to get some popcorn. But the concession stand is empty, no one seems to be around. Confused and concerned, she returns to the car. However, now her boy-toy is missing, and suddenly zombies swarm her! But wait! Now there's a sweet as fuck hair metal band playing in the concession stand. This is actually now a music video for a song called "April" (which also happens to be this starlet's name). The video ends just like you would see on MTV (you know, when they played music videos), with the name of the band, song, and album. Cue the opening credits.

If you didn't guess by now, Killer Party is pretty all over the place. At times, you actually forget you're watching a horror film because the horror elements hide for a bit. They do return, though. And I will say, this sets itself up to be a typical slasher/college fright flick, and goes in a pretty interesting direction. The third act sneaks up unannounced and works pretty well for what it does. Now, don't me wrong, it's not fantastic. Nothing about Killer Party is. Nothing screams "You need to see this!" because, quite frankly, you don't. That said, if you're in the mood for a familiar '80s movie with a twist of something different, you could do worse.

You should probably at least watch the opening, though. It's real ridiculous.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

SCARE-A-THON 2016: WEEK TWO

Two weeks down, booyah! Why am I watching a bunch of horror movies this month? Well, if you didn't know, I'm accepting pledges per movie watched, raising money for both The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Reach Counseling Services in Neenah, WI. If you'd like to pledge or know more about the Scare-A-Thon, shoot me an email at john.marcus.pata(at)gmail.com.

Want to read about week one? Get click happy here!

9. ACOLYTES (2008) - First Time Viewing
When you're a teenager, and you've been molested and beaten by a bully, what's the best way to go about handling the situation? To blackmail a serial killer to get rid of the shithead plaguing you, that's how! At least, that's the way our three teenagers go about it in the Australian-helmed Acolytes.

Oh, and said serial killer just happens to be played by Joel Edgerton, who I've recently become quite a fan of.

On paper, Acolytes is for me. It's a dark, tragic tale about misfits and teen angst. Finding out Edgerton stars as the murderous Ian Wright was all I needed to give this a watch. Something about the execution and direction the script went just left me so underwhelmed. While I wasn't blown away from the get-go, I was onboard for the first 20 minutes and wanted to see how things would progress. However, as the film played out, I just lost interest. James, the best friend of our lead, grew more and more obnoxious as every minute passed by. I hate to say it, but this character damn near made the film unbearable. I'm most curious to know how the film would have played with a toned-down James.

What's unfortunate is there certain aspects that work really well. The soundtrack is appropriate, the song selection is solid and used in very fun ways. Director Jon Hewitt and DP Mark Pugh worked quite well with the Queensland backdrop, creating all kinds of nice looking shots, many of which were nice, wide angles. The film hits the coming-of-age beats pretty well (accented by the soundtrack), but it just didn't know how to weave in the grim narrative. The two just didn't mix well, and the end wasn't satisfying enough to make the mediocrity worthwhile.

When all is said and done, Acolytes just didn't seem to translate on screen the way it should have.

Monday, October 10, 2016

SCARE-A-THON 2016: WEEK ONE




Week one is in the books! Just to recap, I'm accepting pledges per movie watched, raising money for both The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Reach Counseling Services in Neenah, WI. If you'd like to pledge or know more about the Scare-A-Thon, shoot me an email at john.marcus.pata(at)gmail.com.


1. FROM WITHIN (2008) - First Time Viewing
First film of the month is a pretty big deal, right? In theory, it could set the tone for the next 30 days. Since mainstream studio has been a massive let down in recent years, I figured I'd go for a smaller, independent fare in the form of From Within.

In a small Maryland tiny town where religion and the word of God are as prevalent as oxygen, a misfit teenager kills himself, setting off a domino-like effect of more suicides throughout the town. Something suspicious surfaces, causing our lead, Lindsay, to figure out who, or what, is behind what seems to be a suicide curse.

From Within is successful in many ways. The setup is intriguing and the opening scene grabs you with its boldness. The cinematography is solid as hell; lots of great camera movement with the lighting accenting scenes wonderfully. That should come at no surprise, as director Phedon Papamichael has a plethora of cinematography credits under his belt, such as 3:10 to Yuma, Identity, The Ides of March, Nebraska, and many more. The small-town paranoia, desperation, and sense of dread that occurs as a result of the suicides is handled quite well, which tightens the tension and provides the creeps throughout the film. The mystery of what might be causing this string of events is interesting enough to keep you trying to figure it out. Surprisingly enough, Adam Goldberg delivers a most enjoyable performance as momma's not-so-good boyfriend Roy, and unlike other roles, it doesn't seem like he's just Adam Goldberg playing Adam Goldberg.

That's not to say From Within doesn't have its shortcomings, as well. There are plenty. The script is bland and lackluster at times, as are a handful of the performances. The third act falls apart in comparison to the other two, leaving us with a conclusion that's fine, but not as strong as it should be. And some of the set-pieces are close to being successful. but ultimately come up a little short.

While watching, it was hard not to think of It Follows, My Soul To Take, and Final Destination, which isn't exactly a bad thing. In some ways, I found From Within to deliver more than It Follows and My Soul To Take (let's be honest, Soul is not one of Wes Craven's best offerings). Even by bringing up those titles and comparisons, it should point out that From Within offers a different tale than your run-of-the-mill horror. Plus, it's worthwhile! When all is said and done, this was a solid way to kick off the month. I'll take it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

SCARE-A-THON 2016 ANNOUNCEMENT

The end of September is fast upon us, and you know what that means. October is just around the corner, and it's time for the Scare-A-Thon 2016!

What is a Scare-A-Thon? Well, it's caring through scaring. Think of it like a walk-a-thon, but instead of walking a whole bunch, I'm going to watch a ton of horror movies with the purpose of raising money for certain organizations. Once again, I have selected the Fox Valley's Reach Counseling Services, who strives to end sexual violence and promote healing in our community. New to this year is the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This is a bit of a personal selection, as in 2004, I lost my father to a 9-year battle with Chronic Malignant Leukemia. This is a way to honor my dad, considering he was the one who first introduced me to the world of horror.

For many years now, October for me has turned into 31 Days of Horror. The goal being to watch 31 horror flicks during the month, at least 16 of those being first-time views. In the spirit of a walk-a-thon or read-a-thon, I am asking for your assistance on a per-movie pledge basis with a prospective goal of 31 titles that I plan to watch. (For example, a ten-cent pledge would result in an approximate $3.10 donation.) Of course, you are welcome to make a lower – or higher – per-movie pledge, or make a straightforward donation of whatever amount you deem viable. Any and every pledge, no matter the amount, will be greatly appreciated.

If you are interested in participating, please contact me at john.marcus.pata(at)gmail.com with your desired pledge amount. To document my progress, I will be posting weekly right here. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.

If you can't pledge this year, that's completely understandable. You can still support the Scare-A-Thon by sharing this. The more, the merrier!

Thanks for your time! Here’s wishing everyone a happy and safe Halloween season!


Saturday, May 21, 2016

20 YEARS OF DESTRUCTION

Little did I know, coming across a random CD 20 years ago today would be a life-changing and defining moment.

May 21, 1996. It’s just another Tuesday toward the end of sixth grade, and I partake in an all-too-common after-school activity for 11-year-old me: going record shopping. (Until recently, new records were released on Tuesdays. Now Fridays are when new tunes hit the shelves.) Whenever I can, I pop into America's oldest independently owned record shop, the Exclusive Company in downtown Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

(Not just on Tuesdays, mind you. Since I was 9 or 10, I've spent far too much time—or perhaps not enough, depending on you look at it—at Exclusive. However, Tuesdays were kind of a big deal.)

I push past the old, heavy wooden door (of the previous Exclusive location) into the dark, catacomb-like musical haven and my feet are greeted with the warped, uneven hard wood floors, while my nose takes in the smell. It wasn't a bad smell—quite fantastic, actually. If you spent time in the old Exclusive, you know exactly what I'm talking about. I don't know how to describe it other than saying it smelled like a record shop. Fuck, I miss that scent.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

FEATURED ARTIST

My friend Caitlin Kiley is one bad-ass photographer who also blogs about creative individuals. She recently asked me to be her featured artist, to which I am most grateful for.

There's a plethora of me looking stupid in photos. Consider yourselves warned. Click here or on the photo for the blog entry!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

SCARE-A-THON 2015 FINAL RESULTS

Since it's now November 1st, that means not only is Halloween past us (boo, sad face), but my 31 Days of Horror Scare-A-Thon has also come to a close. For my first year accepting pledges, I am most proud of what we were able to accomplish together! Thanks to the support of some truly amazing folks and my foolish idea of watching 40 movies this month, we were able to raise over $1,200 for Planned Parenthood and Reach Counseling Services! To that, I say BOOYAH! 

Below is a brief summary of the month, with links to the full breakdown of each week to satisfy your curiosity. That is, if you are curious. 

Thanks to everyone who pledged and supported this wild endeavor, and to both Planned Parenthood and Reach Counseling Services for their incredible and continued work! 


Total Films Watched: 40 (of 40)


First Time Views: 24

Decades of Horror Watched: 6 (1960s - 2010s)

Countries Represented: 10
Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, UK, and USA

Most Movies in a Day: 5 (10/3)
Tattoo, Clown, Oculus, The AwakeningThe Keep

Twin Peaks Cameos: 3M├Ądchen Amick (Sleepwalkers), Jack Nance (The Blob), and Sheryl Lee (Vampires)

Favorite First Timers:
Atrocious, The Awakening, Clown, Sleepwalkers, Tattoo, The Ugly, When Animals Dream

Most Enjoyable Revisits:
City of the Living Dead, The Cottage, Detention, Frontier(s), Vampires

Least Favorite First Timer: Mama

Why Did I Watch This Again?: Night of the Demons (2009)

SCARE-A-THON: WEEK FOUR

End of the month also means end of the Scare-A-Thon. And how'd I do?! The goal of 40 movies has successfully been achieved! Full recap of the entire month - with total amount raised for Planned Parenthood and Reach Counseling Services coming very soon.

But first, let's dive into the last round of viewings for the month.


29. ROMAN (2006) - First Time Viewing
Describing Roman as a morbid drama might be a little more accurate that labeling it a straight up horror movie. Actually, calling it a lo-fi, wannabe pretentious and art morbid drama would be better.

Roman is a loner who doesn't own a TV, works at a shit job, and likes to watch the girl who lives across the way (Kristen Bell). They have exhilarating conversations about how cans of pork and beans are assembled while Bell drinks her beer in a less than stellar fashion during her two scenes. Things start to get hot and heavy, and Roman kills her. He panics, hides the body, and now a different woman starts obsessing over him, but is he too haunted from the first girl to pursue a new one?

For those who enjoyed May (like myself), this is the film where May director Lucky McKee and actress Angela Bettis swap roles, McKee starting as the titular Roman and Bettis calling the shots. Roman could have made a decent short, however, it makes a lousy feature. At least with the script and execution we're given. It felt like a late '90s student film, at times trying to be somewhat experimental and abstract and more minimal than it should be. There were some nice music moments, though. I will give it that. Ultimately, the story isn't very fresh or stimulating, making for a dull, lack-luster experience.