Wednesday, November 16, 2011

31 Days of Horror

For the second year in a row, I've issued a challenge through Oshkosh Horror called 31 Days of Horror. The goal is quite simple: watch 31 (full-length) horror movies in the month of October, with at least 11 of those being first time viewings. Sounds easy, right? It's essentially one movie a day. Well, have you ever tried to watch 31 movies in a month? It's much more difficult that one would expect. Last year was the first time I successfully watched 31 horror flicks in October (been trying it for a while before I started 31DoH). This year, not only did I survive, but then some.

The following entries reflect on the movies I watched in October (all in the order I viewed them), and feature my thoughts about the good, bad, weird, boring, and gory. Hope you enjoy. 

1. Slumber Party Massacre 3
Seen it once before, have watched the first two entries much, much more. Was good to go back and revisit. However, this is the least enjoyable of the series for me. This is going to sound absurd, but one of the reasons I don't enjoy it as much is because it's the most solid film of the three. The story plays out fairly well, and is less campy than the other two. With that said, it's not exactly what I want to see in a Slumber movie. Sure, you still get plenty of blood, gratuitous nudity, ditzy girls, and power tool mayhem, but this one is a little more serious. 

2. Isolation - 1st Viewing
As the end credits hit, I said out loud. "Well, that wasn't fucked up at all". This kind of thing doesn't happen too much anymore, or so it seems, but I can honestly say I've never seen anything like Isolation before. Genetic testing on cows goes wrong, and chaos ensues. I'd label this one as a creature feature packed with a fair share of suspense and tension, which surprised me since the creature is completely absurd (not saying what it is to avoid spoilers). On paper, Isolation would sound campy and cheesy as fuck, but the execution is the exact opposite. One thing that was fucking AWESOME was the score. Seriously, the best aspect of the film. The score is completely solid, creepy, atmospheric and really takes Isolation to a higher level.

3. Bikini Girls On Ice - 1st Viewing
There are plenty of titles I stay away from based on the title and/or cover art. Especially a lot of the newer (within the last five or six years) low-budget slasher flicks. I love slasher films, a lot, actually, but these films never really seem to deliver. With that said, every great now and then a film comes out, even though I'm confident it won't be worth it, I have to see it. Enter Bikini Girls on Ice. I saw the ad in Fangoria or Rue Morgue, and I was duped. The title was just too ludicrous not to see it. 

Well, the title doesn't lie, folks. This is 81 minutes of girls in bikinis. Hell, it only takes about seven seconds for the first bikini clad girl to show up. This first bikini girl is kind of a mystery. See, the story follows a group of college girls on their way to a bikini car wash, when their bus breaks down in front of an abandoned car wash. Rightfully so, they decide to set up the car wash there. The first girl, well, she is driving down the road at night in a bikini, and then stops at the gas station for directions. There is absolutely no indication of why she is a bikini. Guess it's just common knowledge that girls do in fact wear bikinis all the time. So, yeah. Bikini car wash, abandoned gas station, unexplained killer mechanic named Moe… that sums this one up. Hardly any blood/gore in this, which was a real let down. A few of the kills we brutal, but we don't see anything. The actor who played Moe (don't really care to look him up, I suppose) did a pretty good job, actually. He grunted a lot which was weird (and even dry humped a fridge), but he had great body language and a good look to him, shame that everything else sucked. Oh, and to the two male leads: Good job guys, even with your foreign accents slipping in your dialogue constantly, I really almost believed you were American.

4. The Last House of the Left
One of (the few) Craven movies I really like, this is still raw, dirty, gritty, sleazy, and disturbing enough to get under my skin. David Hess' score does not fit the film whatsoever, but I still like it. I could see Last House benefiting from an alternative score, though. This time around, the dopey cops annoyed me more, but I found more of the dialogue to be sharp and witty, especially between Mari and her parents.

5. A Horrible Way To Die - 1st (and definitely last) Viewing
More like A Horrible Way To Spend 87 Minutes. Zing! I get the feeling I'm not the first to say that. Seriously though, this was painful. A shame actually, as this stars AJ Bowen as a serial killer, and I like Bowen quite a bit. Plus, the title is pretty awesome. Bad writing, bad acting, and horrible, HORRIBLE camerawork. Someone should have taken the focus/zoom ring off the camera, and given them at least a monopod. Without a doubt, one of the worst shot films I have ever seen. Although, I do really enjoy when, instead of showing one's face while they're talking, the camera looks past them, and focuses (er, actually out-of-focuses) on the background... What a joke. It's as if the filmmakers wanted to match the tone and feel of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but fell flat. Completely flat, even. On their stupid faces. Nothing but throwaway characters, and when the end comes, I found it far-fetched and couldn't have cared less. I really hope this is the worst I'll watch, otherwise it's going to be a long month.

6. To The Devil A Daughter - 1st Viewing
Um. Did I just see a girl stuff a weird little demon baby up her vagina?! Yep. I sure did. What's there even to say about To The Devil A Daughter? This is one weird little movie. Essentially, a church is trying to give birth to the devil. Insert weird sexual acts, strange and somewhat silly looking Satanic imagery, a few glimpses of bush, and lastly, Christopher Lee, and you have To The Devil A Daughter. The film drags time and time again, but just when I was really about to lose interest, some weird shit took place. The end was stupidly weak, but at one point, they talk about baptizing a baby in it's dead mother's blood. This made up for the lame ass ending, and if you ask me, that form of baptizing is pretty fucking metal.

7. God Told Me To - 1st Viewing
If you took the first 15-20 minutes of this movie, and made that a short, it would be solid. The premise here is SO great, a bunch of people start going on a killing spree and have one thing in common: They all say God told them to, but the execution is pretty weak. God Told Me To really needed to pick one type of movie and stick with it. It's part horror, part Satanic, part cop mystery, part cop drama, part thriller... but all these parts together don't mesh well. Maybe they could, not not here. There was also some real weird vagina-looking thing... I'm not sure if it was suppose to be a vagina, but if it wasn't, well, they should have given it a different look. What I don't understand is, if Hollywood feels the need to remake older horror films, why remake the good ones? Here's a film with a great concept, that could benefit from improvements. This could/should have been really awesome, instead it was just a jumbled mess that felt kind of flat.

8. Inseminoid - 1st Viewing
I love me some horror. Likewise, I love me some sci-fi. When the two are combined, the outcome can be fantastic. Emphasis on the word 'can'. On the flip side, I most certainly enjoy a bad movie. There's two kinds of bad, though: so bad it's good, and so bad it's just bad. Horror Planet falls into the latter. I feel like it pointless to talk about the bad acting, writing, production quality, etc, because this is not a good movie. Instead, let's talk about the really weird alien rape/insemination scene, shall we? So, there was this really weird alien rape/insemination scene. Yep. And, the alien either has a clear dick or he didn't actually rape her, just planted his seed in her. Huge amounts of his green, liquidy seed in her. Oh, and I probably should mention this is a half-assed Alien ripoff.

9. Wake Wood - 1st Viewing
Really? Is this streak of non-impressive first views ever going to end? Wake Wood, let's see. A family loses their young daughter in a horrific dog accident, they grieve, move to a small community of Wake Wood and find out there is some bizarre ritual where a deceased loved one can be reborn for three days. Of course, they decide this is a brilliant idea. Flat out, I could not get into this movie because I did not give a shit about any of the characters. The film opens with the main couple's young daughter getting her throat ripped out by a dog. Frankly, I did not feel for them. Am I heartless bastard? Possibly, but right off the bat I wasn't along for the ride. I actually found them to be quite annoying, which did not help the case of me not liking them. In a story like this, the characters are most important. Without a connection to them, the rest is lost. Also, and let me say that I am not one of these people who say this all the time, but I had the ending figured out in about 20 minutes. I was so confident in what was going to happen, I waited to see if the way it fell together was exciting. Sadly, it was not. Enter the "crazy" locals with their pagan practices and you have even more flat and underdeveloped characters. I was far from impressed with this one.

10. Monster Dog - 1st Viewing
If Alice Cooper is the star of your movie, the best way to start it is with a crappy music video for a crappy song, right? You know, a song where Alice talks about feeling like James Bond, Billy the Kid, Sherlock Holmes, and Jack the Ripper. Well, the powers that be thought it was a good idea for Monster Dog. Alice plays Vincent Raven, a musician who travels back to his hometown to make a new music video. They hit a dog, then the token crazy guy, who just happens to be a bloody, walking corpse, warns them of bad things to come. Throw in some talk about a pack of killer dogs, a ridiculous music montage and some truly horrible dubbing, and you have a shit filled film. This was a strange blend of a creature feature, werewolf and a western/bandit story. I'm trying to find something positive to say about Monster Dog... Wait. That's right, there was a fairly awesome shotgun blast to a redneck's head. That was fun. I can imagine watching this with a group of friends would be quite entertaining. On your own, not so much.

11. Beyond Re-Animator
Is is bad for me to admit that I personally enjoy Beyond more than Bride? When it all comes down to it, I have more fun with Beyond. Neither are on the same level as the first, not even close, I'm not going to act like they are. Beyond opens really strong, and finishes really strong (albeit crazy and odd as hell). Sadly, the middle drags. All in all, this is a solid gore flick. After all, Screaming Mad George handles the special effects, so you know they're going to look great. Obviously, Jeffrey Combs is great as Herbert West, no question there. The rest of the acting is quite horrendous, though. And, it seems as if everyone gravitates towards talking about the severed penis and rat fight, and rightfully so. However, for me, the best part of the film is the inmate who becomes hooked on the re-agent. God dammit, that's some funny shit and the outcome is perfect.

12. The Pit - 1st Viewing
"We've got another missing person, but this time he's not missing… He's dead." I'm sorry, what? It would be absolutely asinine to point out all the things odd, weird, or shitty about The Pit. I mean, we'd be talking about the writing, the acting, the music, the weird sexual tension with this little kid, and… Oh, wait. There I go. Now, there comes a time with certain films, especially those from the early 80's, where you, the viewer, are faced with two options: You could either choose not to accept the film for what it is, and watch it with a critical eye, or you could just say "fuck it", and go along for the ride. The second option is key when sitting down with The Pit. This is an odd one, folks. Not gonna lie. A loner kid, who really just wants to fit in and feel some boobs, fines solace in his teddy bear, who tells him about a pit in the woods where some hungry monsters live. So, said boy feeds people he doesn't like to the monsters. Makes sense, right? For everything The Pit is (or should I say isn't?), I feel the true meaning lies deeper than one would think. Here we have a kid, Jamie, who really just wants a girl. He drops his napkin at the table so he can look up his babysitter's skirt, she sneaks in the bathroom when she's showering and the bedroom when she's sleeping just for a glimpse, and gets his neighbor to strip in front of the window by threatening her daughter's life, all while doing so with with a recorded message so he can stand next to the window and take a Polaroid. This kid is a genius! But, it's this level of horniness that leads him to act so wrongly. You might be wondering where am I going with this? Well, my friends, what I feel this film is trying to say is that masturbation is incredibly important, especially for minors. If he would have relived the pressure in his balls, maybe he'd be a little more happy and wouldn't have to kill boys, girls, and elderly women in wheelchairs. Just sayin'.

13. The Church - 1st Viewing
The Italians sure know how to make weird movies, don't they? I had mixed feelings going into this, as I am a big fan of director Michele Saovi's Cemetery Man, but am not an Argento fan (who co-wrote the script). However, I do like me some Demons, which Argento co-wrote, as well. I really didn't know what to expect. As it turns out, I was pretty fucking bored with title. Definitely had an Argento feel to me, something I do not enjoy. When it comes to Italian films, let's be honest, the story usually isn't the focus. They put emphasis on the gore, and without a doubt, the gore typically is exceptional. When the gore happens in The Church, it looks damn good, and honestly, disturbing at times even (ie, a woman scraping flesh of her face). And as much as I love gore, and some movies I like solely for the gore, I was bored to death with everything else in this film. Might get the award for the the most bizarre opening I've seen in a while for a horror film. If you don't know what I'm referring to, looks like someone should go to Church soon. Pretty clever, huh? No? Yeah, you're right...

14. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Fuck, what a terrific film. I feel bad for anyone who thinks this is just a film that glorifies murder. There is SO much more to it. Now, please excuse me, I need to go shower. 

15. Maniac
This makes me feel dirty, creeps me out, and makes me cheer at the gore. All while offering a very non-typical delivery of the 80's slasher genre. Color me a big fan.

Side note: The one-sheet for Maniac is one of my all-time favorite. 

16. The Evil Dead
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Best. Film. Ever.

17. Murder Party
Oh, Murder Party. How I like you so. Perhaps this one walks the fine line between horror and comedy, and leans more towards comedy, I still love it the same. It's smart, clever, constantly entertaining, features great camera work, good acting, hilarious characters and enough bloodshed to keep horror fans happy. Being that I went to school for art, I greatly appreciate and enjoy all the jabs at pretentious artists and the art scene. And, seriously, is the cardboard knight costume not just amazing?

18. Night of the Demons
Halloween night: Check. Crazy high school kids looking to party: Check. Boom box full of good tunes: Check. Super campy dialogue: Check. Multiple pairs of nice boobs: Check. Demonic possession: Check. Good, fun gore: Check. Ridiculously awesome, yet random, ending of the crabby old dude failing victim to a huge backfire: Check. Yep, nothing about this that doesn't scream, "Awesome".

19. The Deadly Intruder  - 1st Viewing
Let's just get it out of the way, The Deadly Intruder doesn't offer anything we haven't seen before. Everything in this slasher flick is old news, but that doesn't make it a bad watch. In fact, I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Flat out, it was just fun. It didn't try to be anything it wasn't, it was just chalked full of occasional gore, stalkings, Halloween rip-off music, crappy writing, cheesy acting, strange sub-plots, and a fair share of gratuitous nudity. You know, the kind of stuff I enjoy in my 80's slashers. 

20. Splinter
What a nice entry from recent years for the creature feature sub-genre. It's not great, and it's nowhere near shitty. Decent acting, a good story, great use of minimal locations, and superb special effects. Plus, the creatures are extremely interesting, and at times, slightly creepy. Seen it a few times now, and I enjoy it as much as I did the first time.

21. Camp Hell - 1st Viewing
There's not too many things scarier to me than religion. Going off to a church camp for a few weeks, well, shit, I'd be terrified. If there were some weird demon-ish things haunting you, I guess that would be scary, too. Not as much as going to a church camp, though. Which, the previously mentioned points are what Camp Hell is about. I spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out who the priest was. While it didn't exactly look like him, at times the voice made me think he was Harry Anderson. But, it wasn't. Then I put it all together; Senator Kelly. I will say this wasn't a terrible movie, but it was exactly good, either. I don't really know the best way to say how I felt about it. I'm glad I saw it, I wasn't bored watching it, I got genuinely creeped out at times, but nothing screamed "good movie". I'm sure that doesn't make sense. I don't even know what I'm trying to say. Good enough to watch once, don't need to revisit it anytime soon (if ever), not upset that I watched it, but don't know if I would recommend it. Yep, still doesn't make sense. I give up.

22. Halloween
Oh, you know. This movie's alright, I suppose. 

23. Halloween II
This is exactly how a sequel should be done. Not trying to repeat it's predecessor, rather add to it. It's damn near impossible for me to watch the first one without instantly putting this in. Picking up immediately following the events of Carpenter's, I absolutely love seeing the news of the murders spreading through Haddonfield. This entry ups the ante in terms of blood, not focusing as much on the suspense. Which, doesn't bother me one bit. I can see how some people could be bothered by this, as it steps away from the approach of the first, but that's what I appreciate about it. Might go as far to say that I prefer this one to the original. Ah, maybe not. I don't know. This one has a more appealing rewatching quality for me, but that doesn't mean I prefer it. I have no idea where I stand. Both are fucking great. There.

24. Evil Ed
It's been at least 12 years since I saw Evil Ed, maybe even more. I remember loving it when it came out, but was slightly apprehensive this time around. Far too many times repeat viewings years later don't hold up to what's in your head. Fuck that, Evil Ed was as fantastic as ever! Sure, it's slow at times, but I'll be damned if this isn't a bloody and gooey fun time. The early Peter Jackson influence is incredibly strong, which is something that doesn't bother me one bit.

25. [REC]
In my opinion, this is one of the best found footage films. The use of the camera makes sense, the events feel real, the panic jumps off the screen, and the characters are completely believable. Once shit goes wrong, the sense of desperation kicks in and never lets up. Was blown away the first time I saw it, still am, multiple viewings later.

26. I Drink Your Blood - 1st Viewing
In a way, it's somewhat unfortunate that the first half of this film exists, because things get quite badass in the second half. The oddest bunch of hippies, who also happen to be devil worshipers (makes sense, right?), squat in an abandoned house and piss off the people around them. A young boy kills a rabid dog, and puts some of the rabbi infected blood in the hippies meat pies. I'm sure you can guess the outcome. The second half of the film features some pretty awesome scenes of chaos and bloodshed. Heads and hands are chopped off, mouths are foaming, people get shot… shit gets real. The first half is so agonizingly boring, though. Far too much time spent on "building characters", when they should have just jumped into the meat of the film. Speaking of me, too many deaths of real animals for me, personally. The most puzzling part, and I'm not sure if I missed something, but people with rabies are afraid of water?! Hm. Okay, then. Whatever you say. I was amazed at how horribly written and delivered the last line of the film was. Seriously, what in the fuck were they thinking?

27. The Beast of Bray Road - 1st Viewing
First things first: Dear Leigh Scott, writer/director of The Beast of Bray Road, FUCK YOU! Seriously, you are from Wisconsin and you still chose to portray Wisconsinites in the most stereotypical, pathetic way possible, and still have the audacity to dedicate the film to the "Great State of Wisconsin"? Perhaps my Wisconsin pride is making me a little sensitive, but what a fucking joke. Wisconsin = drunk, uneducated rednecks who drink in the morning, beat their wives on a regular basis, think picture phones are the latest and greatest technology and are mesmerized by people from big cities. Duh, obviously. Okay, calm down, John. Looking past the portrayal of Wisconsin, to be honest, this isn't a terrible movie. It suffers all the typical low-budget pains: flat acting, bad dialogue, cheap sets, low production quality… However, the gore scenes are fantastic. Definitely the redeeming factor. 

28. Intruder
If there are fans of 80's slasher flicks, and they don't like Intruder, they deserve a kick to the crotch. What is there not to like about this crappy film? Now, I say crappy, but I actually really like it. It's just not anything intelligent or well-made. Ridiculous writing, over-the-top acting, stupid characters, and insanely awesome special effects. The shit goes down in a grocery store (which is a nice change of scenery for a slasher flick), so there are plenty of unique methods available for offing the characters. Writer/director Scott Spiegel sure does like weird (and typically lame) camera angles, which adds to the fun of it. For example, did he really think that when a girl is talking on a rotary phone, it would be a great and clever idea to have the camera looking up, inside the base of the phone? Two of the Raimi brothers get killed off, Bruce Campbell shows up, and there are many clean-ups required in aisle four, and six, and eleven, and… You get the idea.

29. Drive-In Massacre - 1st Viewing
If anyone is thinking about watching this, I would suggest watch until the first two kills happen (within the first ten minutes), and then stop. When the deaths happen (an awesome decapitation and throat slitting), especially the first two, holy balls are they awesome. Sadly, no other kills live up those, and everything else just sucks. Turns more into a cop mystery than a slasher, which I am okay with, but the cop story is lame as hell. Not sure if the copy I watched a just of poor quality, but whenever it was nighttime (which is when all the kills happen), it was dark as fuck and hard to see what was going on. Then, not to give spoilers to this gem of a movie, when you think the mystery is all solved and the story comes to an end… BAM! Nope, they actually don't know who the killer is, the story doesn't end and instead, you get a nice title card saying the killer is still loose. Sigh. Next please.

30. Bereavement - 1st Viewing
Ugh. I wanted to like Bereavement so much… I just couldn't. Take a simple story of a rural Pennsylvanian town, with a crazed lunatic kidnapping and killing people, while raising a younger kid to do the same. It's very basic, but sometimes those are the best stories. Not here, though. The only thing going for it was that this film looked FANTASTIC! The locations were breathtaking, such great scenery and visual elements. Whoever was behind the camera knew their shit. However, whoever was behind the script and directing (Steven Mena), well, not so much. There was just no substance. The script felt bare-boned, never really diving into the story or the characters. The acting was flat… Which, is the best word to describe Bereavement, flat. Nothing intrigued me enough to come along for the ride, I had no connection or interest in any of the characters, and when the action took place, it felt poorly put together and executed. I was pulling for you, but the efforts weren't mutual.

31. Cruel World - 1st Viewing
This was fucking horrendous. Although, I could not stop laughing at a fat Edward Furlong running, trying to act psychotic, and his completely pointless insert shots of him "watching" the characters. I'm not even going to bother going into the lame, waste of a story. 

32. An American Werewolf in London
Not to sound like a weirdo, but if I could have sex with this film, I would.

33. Ginger Snaps
The only other werewolf film that rivals An American Werewolf in London (in my eyes), is Ginger Snaps. So smart. So original. So unique… So fucking awesome. Mixing a girl going through puberty with slowly becoming a werewolf works so damn well here. This gives the filmmakers so many chances to put a spin on the mythology we all know so well. The script is solid as hell. The acting is great. Mimi Rogers fucking rules, and so do her head accessories. For being a witty film, there are some fantastic emotional scenes, which totally comes down to the performances from Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle. Wait a minute. Did someone say Katharine Isabelle? Mmm…

34. Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed
Honestly, I could go without a sequel to Ginger Snaps. The end of the first film is quite bleak, and ends the story of the sisters perfectly. However, this film exists so what can you do? For a sequel, this is not a bad effort by any means. I actually do like it quite a bit, nowhere near the level of the first one, but definitely enjoy it. Much like Halloween II, Unleashed takes a different approach to the original (which I appreciate) but dropping the witty script about teen angst, and replaces it with a much more serious, darker tone. Without a doubt, there's some creepy and atmospheric scenes in here. Solid acting, a fairly solid script with some occasional so-so moments. If there has to be a sequel to Ginger Snaps, I'm alright with this being it.

35. Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning
Once you get passed the fact that Ginger and Bridgette somehow happen to be stuck in the 19th century without explanation, and separate the first two films from this one, you have a fairly decent werewolf story. Slower than the other two Ginger Snaps, this one also sets up some really nice atmospheric scenes, and boasts solid acting. The first hour can get a little long, but the last act definitely makes up for it. Just takes some patience getting there.

36. Mask Maker - 1st Viewing
Sometimes a film is far from original, and I don't mind. Take Frontiers for example. It's basically the french Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and I really enjoy it. It's nothing we haven't seen before, yet it's quite entertaining. Mask Maker kind of falls in that category, as you could spend the film's duration pointing out this and that slasher film from the 70's and 80's. While it wasn't a complete waste of time, it wasn't terribly great. Good kills, I liked the look of the Mask Maker, and the film looked pretty good, but it was painful as hell sitting there, watching and listening to these characters. I know, they're completely disposable, and you're not meant to like them per se, but fuck me. 

37. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
It's not that I was aching to watch this one again (believe me, I wasn't), but the atmosphere is this feels like Halloween and late October. Not many other flicks have that ability. Seeing that it's Halloween day, I wanted to watch something that embodied the feel and look of the day. However, i will say that this one is starting to grow on me. Not in a good way, not that I am starting to actually enjoy it. Rather I am able to laugh more and more at it. I mean, look at Paul Rudd in this. All he does is stand in windows and constantly overact. Plus, the dad's head explosion is superb. I do think the Producer's Cut is a better film, much of the story is improved upon, and things actually kind of make sense. Still better than The Revenge of Michael Myers. Fuck, that one hurts.

38. Trick 'r Treat
I'll say it. I don't care. Best Halloween film ever. Yes, and I do mean even better than Halloween. Will always watch this on Halloween. How could you not?

-End results-
Movies watched: 38
First time viewings: 17
Civilian viewings (non-horror): 3

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