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.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

SCARE-A-THON: WEEK THREE

Three weeks in, one more to go! Just to recap, the goal is to watch 40 horror movies this month and I'm accepting pledges per movie watched, raising money for both Planned Parenthood 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.

Check out week one's viewings and what I put my eyes on for week two.


21. LOVE IN THE TIME OF MONSTERS (2014) - First Time Viewing
Seems fitting to pop in Love after Sleepwalkers, as this one is quite bizarre, as well. Deep in the woods lays a good ole fashioned tourist trap - a cabin resort run by a Croatian dude named Uncle Slavko that's focused around Bigfoot. It's a real family friendly place, that is, until a group of Sasquatch-clad employees (including genre mainstay Kane Hodder) fall into a toxic virus-ridden swamp, turning them into zombie Sasquatch-clad employees. As one would expect, all hell breaks loose around the resort.

I am completely smitten with the movie Love wants to be. It's absurd, over-the-top, filled with quirky characters and one-liners, and completely ridiculous - all the makings to produce a very solid and fun-filled horror comedy. Sadly, the script - primarily the dialogue - just isn't as smart as it wants to be, making the film inferior to what it's strives for. As a whole, the script felt like a first draft, never getting polished, fleshed out, or reworked. If someone told me this was written in 2005, I would totally buy it. A good portion of the humor/jokes feel dated, never getting beefed up like they should have. Once shit gets chaotic, our characters are jumping all over the place, speaking and behaving in a way that would make you believe they've been in survival mode for months, but in reality, it's only been minutes. I know we're talking about a very outlandish idea here, but the script lacked a lot of common sense and rational. There's also some unforgivably bad CGI that really killed certain moments for me.

However, even though there was a lot I found lacking, there is still plenty to enjoy. A lot of humor missed the mark for me, but there were still laugh-worthy moments. Doug Jones has a bit part as an Abe Lincoln performer who also happens to be a doctor, and his time on screen were hilarious. Hugo Armstrong's character of Chester, the obligatory backwoods hunter determined to track and kill Bigfoot even if it's one of the staff dressed up as the monster, was so successful, it almost felt like he was written by someone else (in comparison to all the other characters). And, one should mention the bloodshed is rather fantastic. When used, the practical effects were very satisfying for gorehounds.

A group viewing would be ideal, but on your own, it's not a waste by any stretch of the imagination. I just wish the script would have been workshopped more.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

SCARE-A-THON WEEK TWO

Two weeks in and I'm still on track to hit 40 movies this month. Just to recap, I'm accepting pledges per movie watched, raising money for both Planned Parenthood 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.

If you missed it, check out the recap of week one's viewings.

Now, onto this week's movies! 

Full disclosure:  I'm pretty much a big fan of the 1950s, especially the music. When a film sets itself in that world - let alone a horror film - it makes me happy. Sure, Hello Mary Lou only starts in 1957 and flashes back time to time, but the charm of '57 is present throughout. 

When a recently crowned prom queen (Mary Lou) gets set ablaze out of jealousy in 1957, her angry spirit gets stowed away in a trunk (obviously) in the basement of Hamilton High, waiting to reclaim her title. Skip ahead to 1987, the students of Hamilton are prepping for the prom. Enter prom queen prospect Vicky Carpenter and her over-bearing mother who insists Vicky reuses an old dress for the dance. "But mom, I don't want to wear my green dress!" Well, Vicky, you're in luck. Open up that mysterious trunk you just found and rock a new dress. Oh, and enjoy being possessed by the Mary Lou Maloney. 

Hello doesn't try to be anything but dumb fun. It's chock full of good one-liners, over-the-top demises of annoying high schoolers, some bitchin' tunes, and Michael Ironside. I mean, who doesn't enjoy seeing Ironside pop up in random titles. While Hello is entertaining and silly at times, it never fully becomes the party movie it wants to be. None of the characters aside from Mary Lou are memorable, the deaths occur periodically, and there isn't one effect that left me amazed. Even the film's climax isn't deserving of prom queen status, maybe more like freshman representative. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

SCARE-A-THON WEEK ONE

I'm hoping to post a weekly recap of my views and thoughts. So far, I'd say we're off to a pretty good start!

1. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2014) - First Time View
To kick off the month, I headed to New Zealand. Well, okay, I didn't actually travel there, rather checked out this flick from some of the Flight of the Concords gang. A "documentary" crew follows around a group of vampires, all of which are hundreds of years old, living together in Wellington.

Without a doubt, Shadows puts an entertaining and charming spin on the vampire mythos. Everything we know about creatures of the night is here, but presented in a unique manner.  They fight about doing the dishes, meeting women, run into the opposing gang (who are werewolves not swear-wolves), and try to get accustomed to life in the 21st century. Clocking in at a sleek 86 runtime, it did loose some steam as it went on. I think there's an outstanding 30 minute episode located underneath all the fat. Don't get me wrong, it's quite successful, but the gimmick got old and exhausted by the time the end credits rolled. The humor worked, however, I only truly laughed out loud a few times.

When I think back on the film, I think fondly of it, which makes me think I enjoyed it more than I did. I could see myself benefitting from an eventual second viewing, especially to laugh at my favorite line again. When talking about why vampires prefer virgin blood, Vladislav states, "I think of it like this. If you are going to eat a sandwich, you would just enjoy it more if you knew no one had fucked it."

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

SCARE-A-THON 2015

For many moons now, I've turned October into (what I like to call) 31 Days of Horror. The goal - to watch 31 horror films during the month, at least 16 of them being first-time views. There's never really been a reason to do it other than just to have fun. This year, however, there is a reason. Well, actually two.

Following the lead of my good friend Aaron Christensen, I am using this year's quest as a fundraiser, a Scare-A-Thon. What does this mean? Well, much like a walk-a-thon, I am accepting pledges of any amount for the movies I'm watching. Instead of 31, though, I am aiming to sneak in 40 fright flicks. The idea is that is someone were to pledge, say, $0.10 per movie and I succeed in hitting my target number (40), that would equal a total donation of $4.00.

But what a minute, a donation to where? Remember how I said there are two reasons for this year's 31 Days of Horror? In doing this Scare-A-Thon, I am raising money for two organizations I firmly believe in and want to support. First is Planned Parenthood, who provides vital health care and education to women and men all over the country, and the Fox Valley's Reach Counseling Services, who strives to end sexual violence and promote healing in our community.

I'll be posting as I go, probably weekly, and giving quick thoughts on what I've watched. If you're interested in pledging, it's never too late. Just let me know and I'll reach out with all the info.

Here's to a great and safe Halloween season, friends!