Guess what time it is?! Yeah, it's time for Horr-tacular 2019! The entire month where I watch a horror movie a day throughout October and let you guys know what I think. I'm letting you guys know in advance if you want to give out suggestions for Monday. I'm going to try to watch your suggestions, but I make no promises as I'm in my fifth semester of Vet. school.
Let's all enjoy this spooky season together! Here's a breakdown of what I'll be doing each day of the week:
Spooky Animu Sunday:
Yup, Sundays are going to be devoted to horror anime. I’m going to give a quick recap of the series and my thoughts on it.
Movies I Want to See Monday:
Mondays are going to be focused on movies that I want to see, but haven’t found the time to watch. Feel free to drop some suggestions and I may watch them.
This is a staple of every Halloween for me, watching horror movies that have been commercial or critical failures.
This Halloween, Wednesdays are going to revolve around remakes of cult classics.
Each Thursday, I am going to sit down and watch a horror movie from history. I’m going to try and limit it to one horror movie every decade just for the sake of getting some variation going.
Famous Fridays will feature movies that are based off of the works of famous horror authors.
I’m trying something different every Saturday. Instead of watching a movie, I’m going to talk about something horror-related that has found its way into other forms of media from comics to video games, to maybe even literature.
1/10/2019 Terrible Tuesdays: Skullduggery:
So let’s start this off with a weird one (always a good opener). Back in the 80’s, there was a bit of a moral panic over Dungeons and Dragons. As such, we got a number of movies extolling the ‘horrors’ of Dungeons and Dragons such as: Dark Dungeons (a cult tries to summon Cthulhu), Mazes and Monsters (Tom Hanks has a dissociative break from reality while playing ‘Mazes and Monsters’ and almost throws himself off the World Trade Center while casting a spell), and Skullduggery.
Skullduggery is about a boy who is possessed by an ancient warlock due to an ancient curse placed on his family who also suffers a break from reality and goes on a killing spree after playing DnD with his friends. Of the three movies, it’s probably the worst. Dark Dungeons is tongue-and-cheek about everything given that it was a parody of an old comic and Mazes and Monsters, while over-the-top, features Tom Hanks acting the hell out of the role. Skullduggery is all-over-the-place with its shoddy acting and plot holes (The twist is that the Devil is the game master (despite giving the protagonist orders that conflict with his goals). It feels more like an attempt to capitalize on something in the news rather than make any real statement. It tries to shoe-horn in an ancient curse, moral panic, and slasher movies and none of them really work in the story itself as the plot never really resolves any of these threads.
2/10/2019 Remake Wednesday: Suspiria
This is a bit of an interesting one. Suspiria tells the tale of a girl who finds herself in a dance academy and unravels the mystery behind the place, exposing a sinister coven and plot. It is a cult classic that has gathered a cult following due to its polarizing music (by Goblin) which I quite enjoy, its make-up and effects, and its general dream-like quality. The remake coincidentally has also been quite polarizing amongst fans of the original. So where do I fall on the remake vs the original?
I quite enjoy it actually. The story is a lot more focused and less exposition-heavy. The dance scene (a girl inadvertently casts a spell while dancing (the medium for magic in the movie) and its effects on a girl is horrifyingly brutal) is memorable and visceral. While the music is quite different from the original, that may be a plus for some people who were alienated by the music choice in the Dario Argento version. All in all, I think the remake strengthens some of the weaknesses of the original (the acting, the plot, and the effects) and is, in my opinion, a more engaging movie. While the original has its charms, I found myself enjoying the remake more with its improvements.
3/10/2019 Throwback Thursday: Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Let’s start this out with some controversy. Halloween III: Season of the Witch is widely known as one of the worst received Halloween films and had the lowest critic/audience score out of the other films in the franchise for twenty years (Halloween: Resurrection is that bad y’all). The most notable criticism is that the film does not involve Michael Myers, who has been a staple of the series, and the trailers didn’t really convey that point to audiences. I’m going to explore whether or not this is a valid criticism and whether or not this was the right direction for the series.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch is about a doctor who discovers a conspiracy by the Silver Shamrock toy company to sacrifice hundreds of children in a Celtic ritual. While the premise itself is decent, and the trailer is golden, the film has some issues with its acting and pacing. I can see how people going into the film expecting to see another Michael Myers rampage would be disappointed. John Carpenter originally wanted the Halloween series to be a horror anthology focusing on different scenarios each time and it’s interesting to think what could have been. If this film hadn’t gotten the backlash it did which led to later iterations featuring Michael Myers, how it could have changed the franchise and maybe the horror genre in general. Look at all the Halloween sequels (really, look at any horror series like Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and the venerable Leprechaun series) following this one and their quality after the original.
I do wonder what would have happened if they followed this pattern with disparate sequels that tangentially tied into the cult. I honestly think we missed out on some potential classics due to audiences wanting a re-hashed Michael Myers plot that we get re-fed every couple of years. While Season of the Witch does have its issues, I do think that it doesn’t deserve the hate it’s gotten. ‘ll be interested to hear what you guys think. Was this a step in the right direction or was John Carpenter making a bad decision by moving this franchise to a new premise?
4/10/2019 Famous Fridays: The Resurrected (Lovecraft)
Let’s start off with an interesting adaption. H.P. Lovecraft isn’t known for having very faithful adaptations of his work. For every Call of Cthulhu, there is a From Beyond, Cthulhu (2000), and The Unnamable that takes creative liberties with the source material. That is not to denigrate those films as I don’t believe strict adherence to the original plot is essential for a good movie. Re-Animator is a black comedy that is over-the-top and unfaithful to the original, but it is still incredibly entertaining (for those who aren’t squeamish). The Resurrected may actually be the closest adaptation to HP Lovecraft’s work. It is based off of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward about a man who, upon discovering one of his ancestors was Joseph Curwen (an infamous occultist/necromancer) he goes to express interest in his work, and in the final act, it is revealed that Curwen has managed to claw outside the bounds of death and survive by inhabiting the body of Charles Ward.
While the movie is set in more modern times, it pretty faithfully follows the original story (besides some more gory inclusions). There’s an irony here that The Case of Dexter Ward is one of the few works of HP Lovecraft’s to be faithfully adapted considering in a letter to R.H. Barlow, he called it a “cumbrous, creaking bit of self-conscious antiquarianism” and I have to agree. The Case of Dexter Ward is probably one of my least favorite stories of his. It tends to drag given its length and doesn't really hook me much in terms of premise or prose. The novel was published posthumously, but it is one of the only works of his to receive a faithful adaption. There’s a bit of dark humor there. The novel also contains the first mention of the entity Yog-Sothoth which plays a role in the Cthulhu mythos.
5/10/2019 Showcase Saturday: Sweet Home
Sweet Home is a thriller focusing on the “Monster Apocalypse” that turns a portion of the world into monsters. The main protagonist, Hyun Cha, has recently moved into an apartment after the loss of his family in an accident and finds himself trapped in the complex. On top of that, Hyun Cha finds himself infected and struggling with his more base desires that threaten to overwhelm him and turn him into one of those monsters.
I think what sold this series to me is the character development. While it’s still an ongoing series with 90+ issues, a number of characters are fleshed out and you can get behind their motivations (which makes it all the more sad when those goals, dreams, and aspirations abruptly end at the hands/claws/tentacles of a monstrosity that is itself driven by a goal that has been warped and twisted). Speak of monsters, this series shines with its monster details; muscle-bound monstrosities, tentacle-twisted travesties, and alien abominations. These things are terrifying, malformed, and haunting and if you’re a fan of body horror, this is a good series to read.
6/10/2019 Spooky Animu Sunday: Shiki
First things first, everyone has a serious case of anime hair (not just the protagonists) so it is a bit comical at first, but once you get engaged in the story, it’s easily overlooked. The story focuses on a town that is slowly invaded by vampires whose goal is to build a community by systematically converting and killing the population. Shiki is a well-built story with a lot of scientific/medical research that (at least with my base understanding) checks out. A lot of the anime’s strength is in its characterization. Each character feels fleshed out with their own arcs and goals which is refreshing.
The first half is relatively tame which did lull me into a bit of security until the latter half where the violence becomes over-the-top and unsettling. This series was interesting due to how it portrays its character (human and vampire), trying to show the humanity on both sides. It is a pretty tough sell as the vampires don’t have much justification (and some are just plain sadistic) for their actions, but Nao Yasamuri’s character arc is probably one the best example of how this can be done effectively. Nao was neglected by her parents before finding peace with her husband’s family who she tries (and fails) to convert. Despite not fully succeeding in justifying the vampires’ actions, during the extermination scenes that really doesn’t matter. Based on the novel by Fuyumi Ono, it does an excellent job of shifting the audience sympathy from the people who are being hunted to the vampires due to the brutality in which they’re being exterminated (with strong parallels to a genocide). It’s not a perfect execution, but it was an interesting take. For anyone with a few days to spare, Shiki is definitely worth your time as there aren’t many shows/stories taking this approach.
7/10/2019 Movies I want to see Monday: Us
Us is from the director of Get Out, a film I really enjoyed watching on a previous Halloween Horror-tacular, so I had high hopes for this one. And, to be honest, I’m a bit mixed on this. I like some aspects, but other points don’t quite hit the mark. The positives: This film may be the most interesting portrayal of Imposter Syndrome as it follows a family who are menaced by their doppelgängers who amplify traits they wished they had. Gabe, the father, is focused on impressing his rich neighbors and their status symbols (a boat) while his doppelgänger (Abraham) is definitely played up as a healthier/stronger version of him. Abraham meets his end by being undone by the status symbol that Gam\be envied at the start of the movie. This sets off a bit of symbolism as the material trapping Gabe valued are revealed to be dangerous/end up undoing his doppelgänger (quite literally with its propellers). It’s only through these realizations/acceptance of their flaws and shortcomings that they’re able to get beyond them.
There’s a lot to like about this film, but the explanation for the Tethered (the Doppelgängers) took a bit away for me. While I do like the social commentary on display of people thriving and profiting off of the suffering of others as I feel like it’s an often overlooked socioeconomic issue for many people, I feel like it would have been better left as this nebulous thing rather than some government experiment that gets exposition-ed to the audience. The comedy, music, and acting is excellent, but the plot itself has a few hiccups that took me out of the film while I was watching. It’s still good, but it might not be the lighting-in-the-bottle that Get Out was and that’s fine. The movie has some interesting ideas and manages them well enough that I’m interested to see what Jordan Peele has up next.
8/10/2019 Silent Hill: Revelation
Say what you want about the original Silent Hill movie (I personally enjoyed some aspects of it, mainly the monster design and atmosphere, but found the shoe-horning of Pyramid Head and pointless shock scenes to be a bit tiring’s almost as if repeatedly trying to force him or a imitation into every game/movie since 2007 (with the exception of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories) isn’t a winning strategy.), but there is one thing most fans of the series can agree on, Silent Hill: Revelation is not a good movie in any aspect.
The only positive I can really say about the movie is that it has some pretty interesting actors in the film ranging from Malcolm McDowell, Sean Bean, to Kit Harrington (playing a high schooler in 2012). Other than that, the movie plot is weak as it tries to cram all the events of Silent Hill 3 into an hour and a half and hobbles a lot of characters in the process (Douglas is a throwaway character who dies within minutes of being introduced, Vincent is downgraded to romantic interest (which is awkward considering the character in the game), and Pyramid Head is once again thrown into the story as a means of fan-service). It also tries to sequel-bait the events of Silent Hill: Downpour which is… just scraping the bottom of the barrel. I can’t even really recommend the movie as something that is so bad it’s good. The only real thing I can say is that fans of the Silent Hill series can watch it to see the numerous nods they make throughout to other characters/events and count their blessings that they weren’t used in this movie.
9/10/2019 Evil Dead (Remake)
Let’s go from one cult classic remake to another. Evil Dead holds a special place in my heart as it goes to show what admiration for a genre and determination can get you. Sam Raimi and a bunch of friends basically funded this movie about a group of friends awakening an ancient evil in a secluded cabin in the woods on a shoe-string budget by begging and scrimping together enough money. It was a commercial success and has spawned numerous sequels, a TV show, and a remake. I’m a bit torn, while I think Evil Dead II is the best version (it’s campy and over-the-top in a perfect combination) of this story, I’m not sure if the original or the remake is a better version.
The remake is a lot more technically competent with action, effects, and a more cohesive plot (the friends are in the cabin to help their friends detox), but the original has a lot of charm due to its shoe-string budget and interesting camera angles/shots. The final scene in which the last remaining character faces the abomination is over-the-top (it’s raining buckets of blood and involves an up-close encounter with a chainsaw). Unfortunately the remake sacrifices a lot of what made the originals so entertaining, the campy aspect. Take a look at the scene I included above. The main character, Ash (Bruce Campbell) is cackling insanely as his world around him crumbles and the (possessed) cabin laughs along with him. There is nothing he can do, but laugh and that scenes gives me so much more context for his character than anything Mia goes through in the remake. The remake is interesting and worth a watch if you’re a fan of the series, but Evil Dead II (which in itself was a remake of the original) is the best version.
10/10/2019 Alien (1979)
Alien is a sci-fi horror classic that has spawned the well-known series that continues to this very day. Alien tells the tale of the Nostromo crew who investigate a distress call on a distant planet only to discover it wasn’t a distress beacon, but a warning. The crew find themselves being hunted by the same thing that obliterated the planet and engage in a desperate struggle for survival.
There’s a reason why this movie makes a lot of top horror movie lists. It does an excellent job building tension and carefully concealing the eponymous alien until a sudden reveal that is so sudden and jarring that it made me jump even though I’ve seen this film numerous times. H.R. Giger’s design for the alien is perfect and the practical special effects really sell the emersion. A lot of people discuss the themes of the movie revolving around sexuality and sexual assault (See: Facehuggers), and I have to agree that those themes are definitely present and pervasive throughout the film. Unfortunately I don’t have enough space (or time really) to break down that subject without a couple of pages and a couple of hours so I’ll advise you to look that up yourself (with safe search on :-) if you’re interested.). Fun facts: The slime on the alien is composed of K-Y jelly and apparently the tendons on the alien’s jaw were made out of shredded condoms. I’m sure those are some interesting tidbits that could be worked into anyone’s claims about underlying themes in the movie.
11/10/2019 Edgar Allen Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)
The Murders in the Rue Morgue has been called one of the first detective stories and after a lot of research, I have to agree. It follows C. Auguste Dupin, a detective, who is investigating the brutal murder of two women in a room that was locked from the inside and on the fourth floor. The analytical detective quickly deduced the true culprit, an orangutan that a sailor picked up in Borneo that while attempting to mimic him shaving with a straight-razor, murdered a woman and strangled her daughter. It… was an interesting twist…
The 1932 film decides to try and one-up the crazy by making the film about a mad scientist (played by Bela Lugosi of course) who kidnaps women and injects them with ape blood in an attempt to transform them into a mate for his talking gorilla. It’s in no way a faithful adaptation, but it is interesting to see how the film changed from the source material in an attempt to compete with Frankenstein which was released the previous year to critical success. Speaking of Frankenstein… in a week.
12/10/2019 The Magnus Archives:
I featured Welcome to Night Vale last Halloween season and that podcast was received pretty warmly so I’d like to focus on another series that I’ve really enjoyed. The Magnus Archives is a series by group, the Rusty Quill (http://rustyquill.com/the-magnus-archives/) which focuses on the eponymous Magnus Institute in London which specializes in investigating paranormal occurrences ranging from someone’s tale of a walking, writhing hive of burrowing worms to an angler fish-like entity that lures its bait to a mysterious end. All entries are presented as audio testimonies and reports giving them a realistic and ghoulish feel.
I’m about halfway through the series with each episode being about 20 minutes long. The podcast does an excellent job of presenting disparate, almost X-Files-like, paranormal events and slowly begins to weave them together into an over-arching story. Standout episodes are: Episode 1: Angler Fish as it’s an effective introduction to the premise and “Episode 34: Anatomy Class” (Detailing a professor who recounts an experience during a dissection class with wholly unnerving students who seem more bent on mimicking physiology than learning about it). If you’re a fan of horror stories that have excellent voice acting and visceral sound effects, then I’d strongly recommend looking into The Magnus Archives.
13/10/2019 Boogiepop Phantom
I actually remember staying up and watching Boogiepop Phantom when it was airing on Tech TV (that makes me feel real old). Due to its shifting narrative, I was never sure if I managed to catch all the episodes or not. The anime focuses on a city in Japan that witnesses a blinding pillar of light which is immediately followed by a string of murders that appear to be the work of a serial killer. It effectively uses repeating scenes from different perspectives to change the tone of a scene and provide different takes which gives it a very Rashomon-esque feel to it given how each person’s perspective warps the narrative and adds depth to the already murky story.
A large theme of this series is escapism. There’s a subplot involving burning memories to erase them and showcases people’s inability to grow from this. Instead of taking that experience and bettering themselves, they end up stagnating and re-iterating their mistakes. A character escapes into nostalgia and ends up threatening other characters. I would say the biggest resonating theme for me is the importance of past and how it shapes us. All in all, even if it’s a bit muddled and convoluted, the premise is interesting enough to warrant a view if you’re looking for something to chew on and think over.
14/10/2019 Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
I was recommended this by my friend Cathy and I just had to watch it. Growing up I was a huge fan of Scary Stories to tell in the dark and Stephen Gammel’s artwork was pure nightmare fuel for me. I remember seeing the book’s black-and-white detailed grotesqueries on each cover and instantly knew this was coming back to haunt me later that night. I won’t lie, a part of me was worried that childhood nostalgia would ruin this movie for me by setting this unobtainable standard for something that impacted me so much when I was younger that it could never live up to. So does it hold up, is the movie good?
While the premise has been used in series like Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark (a cursed book that acts as the focal point to the terror), it does serve as an excellent way of introducing multiple monsters, ghouls, and abominations without feeling like it’s rushing through them all or cramming them into the story (like Goosebumps did). I will say a small part of me almost thinks that this film would have resonated with me better as an animated feature than a live-action one. They do a good job of re-creating the traumatic travesties, but they don’t quite pack that much of a visceral punch as the original artwork as something is lost in the motion and rendering.
So is it good? I think it’s a really enjoyable experience if you’re someone who grew up with these things haunting your dreams, but the movie failed to do one thing that the books were always capable of, it really didn’t scare me or engage me much beyond a nostalgic siren song. While I know fear is subjective, bland characters aren’t and the movie can be a bit of a chore in-between the horror scenes. While Alvin Schwartz (the author of the series) was known for writing in a matter-of-fact way and not really building characters beyond vehicles for the horror elements to act on, it doesn’t quite work in this format as you’re with these people for an hour and a half whereas in the books, you were there for about a couple of pages before the next scenario and it weakens the movie. So is it good? I can’t really say without discounting my nostalgia and memories of how the books made me feel (terrified and exhilarated), I guess those of you who didn’t grow up with these books will have to tell me what you thought.
15/10/2019 Zombie Nation:
The early 2000’s was an interesting time for fans of the zombie genre. Films and games like Resident Evil, The Dawn of the Dead remake, 28 Days Later, Shawn of the Dead, and George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead were piquing audience interest and while you could argue about the overall quality of films/games at that time, you couldn’t really argue that they were responsible for re-animating a genre that had been relatively dead for a while. You may be asking me why I spent so long setting the stage instead of talking about Zombie Nation? That’s because there is nothing entertaining or fun to write about here. Even though it features six zombies, this felt more like a time vampire.
Fun fact: I was given this as a Christmas present many years ago when my sister raided a Blockbuster and bought a bunch of cheap titles (it’s worth noting that we do enjoy terrible movies (See Hammerhead: Half-man, Half-Shark, Total Terror) so this was a welcome gift) for twenty or so dollars. Zombie Nation, however, is not a good film in any aspect. From bad acting, bad special effects, to misleading titles (There are six zombies in the film, six does not a nation make). The story is about Joe, a cop that is a serial killer, who incurs the wrath of a group of Voodoo priestesses who reanimate his victims for revenge. I wish I had something more entertaining to write about here, but there’s nothing. This might be the worst zombie movie I’ve ever seen.
16/10/2019 The Blob (Remake)
This is a bit of an interesting one as I saw the remake (1988) before the original one (1958). As such, the remake does hold a bit of a special place in my heart over the original given my early exposure to it. The Blob is about a small town that is forced into a desperate struggle with a gelatinous creature (that either came from space or was a military experiment gone awry) that engulfs everything in its path. While it was not well-received by audiences at the time, it has garnered a bit of an underground following and I can definitely see why.
I think the scariest aspect about these types of movies is the audience’s inability to comprehend the monster in any way. There are no goals or ulterior motives, the Blob exists to consume everything in its path and grow uncontrollably. You can’t reason with it, predict what it’s going to do, or understand it in any way. The special effects in this film are disgustingly amazing. The Blob has a tendency to corrosively melt away anything it touches and it straight-up dissolves some people who find themselves trapped in its mass. If you have the stomach for it, I’d definitely recommend this.
17/10/2019 Rosemary’s Baby (60’s)
Another classic movie for Throwback Thursday. So far we’ve worked through the 80’s to the 70’s and now we’re in the 60’s (there’s a pattern here I think). Rosemary’s Baby is about the titular Rosemary who moves into a new building with her significant other and finds herself at the center of a cultic ritual to birth the Antichrist. It has been praised for its surreal horror and unnerving plot.
The movie was well-received upon its release and has found a place in the horror community. Unfortunately it’s difficult to talk about the movie without discussing the director, Roman Polanski. I’m going to follow Samantha Geimer’s lead who wrote “The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski” (an autobiographical recounting of events) and try to move past my disgust about his actions and leave judgement up to God and the courts. The movie is surreal and the ending is shocking and horrifying in a wholly human way. The movie’s major theme is that of maternity and plays off of the inherent fear surrounding childbirth. The idea that you could be the parent in this terrifying situation sets off something deep and instinctual for me that few movies have every really managed to convey. If you’re able to separate the person behind the camera from the film, this movie is definitely one to watch if the premise interests you as it is shot well, told interestingly, and the ending is genuinely upsetting.
18/10/2019 Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994)
I was originally going to review the original, but, while it has definitely earned its place in horror movie cinema, the 1994 version is more similar to the work of Mary Shelley and since Fridays were originally intended to focus on movies that closely follow the source material, I’m going to choose the 1994 version. The novel Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus was written by Mary Shelley during a Summer where Mary Shelly, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and John William Polidori (John William Polidori wrote The Vampyr) were each tasked to write a horror story. Mary Shelley’s story is arguably considered one of the first science-fiction horror stories ever and tells the tale of Victor Frankenstein, who while experimenting with galvanization (the act of using electrical shocks to trigger action potentials in muscles) reanimates a patchwork creation.
The movie follows the plot pretty closely in plot and theme (a major theme of Mary Shelley’s work is a cautionary tale about how tinkering with science and playing God can have horrific consequences.). Robert De Niro plays the Creation and does an excellent job of it, but unfortunately the movie has issues with pacing and tone (it oscillates between a drama and a horror at seemingly random intervals). While the film is entertaining with the more sympathetic and emotive aspect De Niro brings to the role, it can drag when he’s not on screen and it almost feels like this would have been better if it leaned more into the drama aspect or the horror aspect as it doesn’t really juggle both.
19/10/2019 Darkest Dungeon and Lone Survivor:
I mentioned earlier that finding a movie that perfectly represents Lovecraft was a near-impossible feat, but I, of course, have overlooked Darkest Dungeon which is probably the closest thing we will get to a video game that perfectly blends an author’s narrative style with a video game. Darkest Dungeon is an RPG/town manager game that balances the mental toll of plumbing ancient depths, cruel and cavernous coves, and winding warrens with Lovecraftian horror. The game amps up the tension by adding rogue-like elements. If you lose a class (crusaders, priests, lepers, plague doctors, grave diggers, and about thirteen or so others), that character is gone for good. Each mission also carries the risk of a character gaining a quick or trait that can weaken them overall, making it a resource struggle between re-building a town, maintaining your soldiers, and exploring new areas. The biggest asset to the game in my opinion is the narration by Wayne June (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC97Ksfd9TJGEumZ6PvsN5gQ/videos) which is captivating and draws you even deeper into the story as you proceed. It’s definitely worth a check-out if you’re a fan of horror, RPGs with a heavy emphasis on RNG-elements, and atmospheric story-telling.
Lone Survivor is a retro-style survival horror game that is in the same vein as Silent Hill. It is a psychological horror about a man struggling to survive in his apartment and later a mental hospital after a cataclysmic event. As a psychological horror, not everything is as it seems and the protagonist’s grasp on reality is tenuous at best leading to a lot of interesting inferences you can make about the plot. The title itself and plot points heavily reference survivor’s guilt, war, and a possible car bomb which stole someone the protagonist cared about away from him. The unnamed protagonist can go from talking to a stuffed cat for company after what seems like weeks and months of solitude to hallucinating a monstrous malformed and malicious girl in a blue dress as the horror of his surroundings overwhelm him. I’m featuring two games instead of one due to the sheer fact that this game is the product of a single person; Jasper Byrne. He was the director and composer for Lone Survivor and a composer for Hotline Miami and those are projects are more than deserving of a spotlight. The music in both Lone Survivor and Hotline Miami are excellent and while the story has some hiccups in its execution (mainly the anti-climactic endings), the fact that it was the product of one person’s work is more than enough to really excuse any small issues.
20/10/2019 Corpse Party: Tortured Souls
Corpse Party: Tortured Souls is based off the RPG maker game Corpse Party which has become a bit of a cult hit due to its story, awkward dialogue (you probably know the scene I'm referencing if you've played it), and is notorious for his violence. It revolves around a group of high school students who play a ritual game called “Sachiko Ever After” which transports them to a hellish alternate dimension of their school riddled with vengeful ghosts, undead, and psychotic students. As they struggle to find an exit and unravel the history of the cursed school, more and more of the student body are lost to the malevolent machinations of the school.
This series definitely goes over-the-top with its gore and violence with gouging, dismembering, and exploding being pretty commonplace. This can be a turn off point for a number of people and to be honest, the violence was a bit too gratuitous to be taken seriously. A lot of it felt like they were going for shock horror and, having played the game myself and seen the same subjects handled in a more diluted/effective way, it falls short due to its short run time (four episodes). I think if you’re interested in that brief story blurb I gave at the start, you’d be better off playing the video game as it feels a bit more effective.
21/10/2019: Perfect Blue:
Perfect Blue is one of my favorite thrillers due to the deeply psychological and impacting plot it has that only seems to become more relevant as time goes on. Perfect Blue tells the tale of Mima Kirigue, a pop-idol who wants to transition to an actress. This sudden shift causes a rift in her fanbase and she begins to have issues with a stalker who is seemingly aware of her every movement and action and declares that she is the real Mima and the Mima the audience knows is an imposter. As the stress of her situation builds, she begins experiencing fugue states which happen to coincide with a string of brutal murders of colleagues and people in her life. This thriller does an excellent job keeping the audience guessing and unnerved.
I think this premise was oddly forward-thinking. The movie was released in 1997 and in this day-and-age of social media and para-social relationships, it strikes a chord. Mima acts as a surrogate for the audience or anyone who has cultivated a bit of an online personality that is separate from their true self. As an author myself who has gathered a small following with a couple of novels and stories, I can understand that discomfort at the thought of people misinterpreting my writing or attributing something beyond what I intended. The story comes off as almost prophetic as Mima falls into this almost identity crisis as the person she wants to be clashes with what society perceives her as.
On social media, there’s this drive/urge to present this image; picturesque photos, intelligent repartees, and (ironically enough) genuine moments that represents this idealized persona that there’s almost a bit of dissociation occurring if you end up trying too hard to create this perfect version. Life isn’t always beautiful sunsets, perfectly arranged, aesthetically pleasing meals, and inspirational quotes, it’s a bit more messy and human. I’ve segue-d pretty hard here so I’ll wrap it up with this, there’s a beauty that can be found in those struggles and challenges. You may not be living this perfect shade of life, but you are still doing the best you can and that’s pretty amazing. Anyways… Perfect Blue is an excellent animated movie for anyone looking for a psychological thriller and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you’ve seen it, feel free to let me know what you thought.
I’ll say this, after Zombie Nation, I was not looking forward to another Terrible Tuesday. FearDotCom is a bit of a breath of fresh air. Not because it’s good, but because it’s almost competent in the fact that this feels like something you could see playing on TV at 3 AM because TNT doesn’t want to play another infomercial. FearDotCom is about a detective trying to solve a string of murders tied to a website (insert 8chan joke here). It’s dripping with that early 2000’s fear of the internet sentiment without any real substance to it.
The movie feels like it was ripping its premise from Ringu, just replace a haunted VHS with a spooky website without any real building on the premise. Anyone who visits the site feardotcom.com (yeah) is targeted by the ghost of a little girl who was killed by a serial murderer. With some minor tweaks to the plot, you could have sold this movie as a sequel to The Ring/Ringu, but instead it’s more like a Rings than the original IP in that it comes off as a hastily-made movie in an attempt to cash in off the success off of the original idea.
So I’ve covered a bunch of remakes that are standalone and are relatively decent movies. Let’s change that. Poltergeist (2015) is based off of the 1982 classic. I remember actually being surprised by this movie back in 2015 because there was so little advertising for this movie. It was almost as if they realized it wasn’t a very good movie and quietly released it to no fanfare. Poltergeist tells the story of a family who moves into a new house (built on an Indian burial ground) and finds themselves haunted.
The movie’s worst sin is how little it adds to the original. It feels incredibly by the books and does nothing to really stray too far from the original. The Blob, Suspiria, and Evil Dead do their best to add their own voice and style to the series by differentiating themselves from the original. On its own, the 2015 Poltergeist remake is safe and bland, and for a horror movie, that’s one of the worst things it can be. There’s nothing new here. There are no new ideas, different perspectives, or interesting stylistic changes. This movie is a bowl of white rice, bland, boring, and in desperate need of something to spice it up.
24/10/2019 The Bad Seed (1956)
Continuing themes from previous entries, we have The Bad Seed. The Bad Seed is based off the novel by William March which revolves around a housewife who begins to suspect her seemingly perfect daughter is a cold-blooded murderer. Interestingly enough, this movie has been remade multiple times, the first being in 1956, the second in 1985, and the third in 2018 and all three of them were TV movies.
This film definitely obscures a lot of the more grizzly aspects (it features a child drowning, a man being burned to death by a child, a suicide-murder attempt, and a child by struck by lightning as a Deus ex machina), but its allusion to those events almost makes them worse in a way as you’re forced to piece together what is happening as there’s no way censors would allow those type of events to be shown. Another interesting fact, this movie is one that my mom remembers from her childhood along with Night of the Hunter which was made a year earlier to this film. I was really tempted to cover that one as well, but I realized I already talked about it in a previous Halloween Horr-tacular. And as one final non-sequitur, I present the curtain call from the original movie, which in hindsight, feels like a proverbial slap on the wrists after the events of the movie.
25/10/2019 Stephen King’s Pet Semetary
I decided to go for something a little more contemporary for the last Famous Friday and I quickly realized that I only had two real candidates to choose from. Clive Barker (Hellraiser or Candyman) or Stephen King. Ultimately I chose Stephen King because I had an interest in the latest version of Pet Semetary and I feel like when I cover Candyman, I’m gonna want to spend a lot of time on it to do the movie the full justice it deserves. Stephen King’s Pet Semetery tells the story of an ancient burial ground by the Mi’kmaq tribe which resurrects the interned there, but they come back without a soul. Out of all of Stephen King’s novels, I think this one is the most human for lack of a better word. The characters feel fully fleshed out and have their own goals and emotions. There aren’t any one dimensional bullies of giant spider final enemies, just a man doing what he thinks is best and how it unravels his life. Both adults in the family have been traumatized by close encounters with death (Rachel from losing a sister to spinal meningitis and Lous from the death of Pascow) that bleeds into their actions. It’s surprisingly human and horrifying.
The remake is fairly faithful to the original (with the exception of one very big scene in the middle that changes actor roles) and does a good job following the same basic plot beats. That being said, it’s not without issues. John Lithgow doesn’t quite reach the same heights as the memorable performance of Fred Gwynne as Jud Crandall with his drawl and intonation. Additionally the film does include a lot of references (I spotted a Cujo reference, an It reference (in the nearby town of Derry), and a reference to a novel “Graveyard Shift” (although this may be me looking too hard), etc.) and while that can be a great way to homage other works, it almost comes off like they’re building a Stephen King cinematic universe by tying multiple plots in together in an attempt to jumpstart The Dark Tower series and I’m not sure how I feel about that considering the prevalence of more cinematic universes currently than. All in all, this is an enjoyable movie, that is well-acted, and has an ending that hits pretty hard. I’d say it’s definitely worth a watch if you’re a fan of the original or the book it’s based on.
There was no way I could wrap up a day focused on other forms of horror media like comics, podcasts, and video games without talking about creepypastas. I’ve been writing for a lot of my life, but I sincerely consider my work on that site for helping me improve my writing, network, and improving my grammar. As a way of paying things forward, I’m going to go over a few of my favorite horror stories.
Humper-Monkey’s Ghost Story (https://creepypasta.fandom.com/wiki/Humper-Monkey%27s_Ghost_Story): If you can get past the title, you’ll find a pretty enrapturing novel here. Private Monkey finds himself stationed in an old base camp in Germany that was originally built by Nazis. The story does an amazing job building up characters, setting the stage for the haunting atmosphere, and telling an engaging story. While it is available for free, I would strongly recommend picking up the book as it’s a bit more polished.
“My Brother Died When I Was a Child. He Kept Talking. I Think People Should Know What He Said” (https://creepypasta.fandom.com/wiki/My_Brother_Died_When_I_Was_a_Child._He_Kept_Talking._I_Think_People_Should_Know_What_He_Said) That’s a pretty long Reddit-esque title, but the story is worth it. This story is about one’s experiences from the other side after his brother meets an untimely end and the horrors that await us in the afterlife..
While I was tempted to include a third story by Banning (https://creepypasta.fandom.com/wiki/User:Banningk1979), ChristianWallis (https://creepypasta.fandom.com/wiki/User:ChristianWallis), HumboldtLycanthrope (https://creepypasta.fandom.com/wiki/Category:HumboldtLycanthrope), MrDupin (https://creepypasta.fandom.com/wiki/User:MrDupin), ShadowSwimmer77 (https://creepypasta.fandom.com/wiki/User:Shadowswimmer77), or another one of the dozens of talented authors that are on the site, I realized I couldn’t narrow it down. There are so many great, free stories out there to get you in the Halloween mood that it’s not even funny.
Instead I decided to include a link to 50+ stories that are focused on the spooky season itself: (https://creepypasta.fandom.com/wiki/Category:Halloween) There’s nothing better than getting in the scary mood this spooky season by reading about the seasons itself.
27/10/2019 Parasyte: The Maxim
I originally tuned into this series because the premise seemed interesting in a horror sense. A teenager wakes up to find a parasitic entity has embedded itself into his right arm and he is left to confront a world where an insidious invasion is occurring while struggling through an unlikely alliance that would result in the death of both characters if it was discovered. I assumed it was a horror show, but as it turns out it’s a bit more action with elements of body horror peppered in (Sorry Marie, I’ll definitely watch Another in my free time and maybe include it next year if I decide to do this format again).
All in all, I enjoyed the frequent asides about humanity and what it means to be human, but they started getting a bit heavy-handed towards the end and a lot of the plot seems by-the-book with a love triangle shoe-horned in that is pretty generic and predictable. In a series that could be seen as John Carpenter’s The Thing, but set in a city, that lack of unpredictability weighed the story down a bit for me. That’s not to say this is a bad series, it’s just an interesting premise that has some shortcomings that you should be aware of if you decide to watch it. I enjoyed it, but it just wasn’t what I was looking for.
28/10/2019 The Lighthouse:
This one was a film I’ve wanted to watch since I saw the trailer a couple of months back. The Lighthouse is a movie from the director of The Witch, one of my favorite films from previous Halloween Horr-taculars. The Lighthouse is a black-and-white period piece that follows two men stationed at a lighthouse and their descent into insanity as they’re trapped there by a sudden storm. As a period piece set in the late 19th century, the language and dialect is spot on and really does a good job of setting the stage and fleshing out the characters.
Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson do amazing here to convey the two men’s desperation, hostility, and fleeting sanity. Two two are trapped with each other on a small, cramp island with nothing to do, but drink, listen to the other, and get on each other’s nerves. Winslow (Willem Dafoe’s character) has an odd obsession with the lighthouse itself bordering on fetishistic while Ephraim (Robert Pattinson) is a timber man who’s running from his past. The movie does a great job with each character’s slow descent into insanity, the rising tension amongst each other, and their sinking dread at their situation. Eventually this all escalates to an explosive climax (awkward wording considering Ephraim’s predilections for filling the long periods of time with nothing to do). If you were a fan of The Witch, you own it to yourself to see this movie. I enjoyed it that much. I know it won’t be for everyone given it’s black-and-white, difficult to understand the language at times, and is a slow burn, but for me I enjoyed this one much more than The Witch (and I loved that movie).
Anyone familiar with Mystery Science Theater 3000 likely recognizes the movie Hobgoblins. It was remarked that Hobgoblins was one of the worst films they’d ever done during the show’s original run. Hobgoblins is a Gremlins knockoff, but unlike FearDotCom, it does build on the premise a little. The Hobgoblins are capable of making people hallucinate their wildest fantasies which typically leads to their death.
All in all, Hobgoblins is almost charming in its low quality. It is a horror-comedy, and while almost every single joke fails to land, this is a gem of a movie if you’re a fan of poking holes in a poor plot, bad special effects, and awkward acting. Out of the other movies for Terrible Tuesday, this one was probably the most entertaining (click the link above to watch the MST3K riff of it which is pretty enjoyable.
30/10/2019 Child’s Play
To be honest, after Poltergeist I scrapped re-watching the remake of House of Wax (Long story short: it’s real bad y’all) and decided to go for something that has generated a bit more hype. Child’s Play (2019) is a reboot of the original 1988 movie. It tells the updated story of smart dolls who, due to a fault in their safety protocol programming, lead them to become psychotic. It updates the original in an interesting way by eschewing the old version in which a doll is possessed by a serial killer and adding in a technological twist.
The reboot is more focused on dark humor (there’s a protracted scene in which Andy, the deaf protagonist, attempts to dispose of the remains of his mother’s boyfriend, Shane, an abusive adulterer who is hiding his relationship from another family) which might alienate some of the purists of the original but, after recalling some of the later sequels in the series (which was very tongue-and-cheek), this feels like a welcome continuation. The voice of Chucky is also provided by Mark Hamill which is excellent. While it’s not a perfect remake, it is interesting enough to warrant a watch if you’re a fan of the series.
31/10/2019 The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)
The Picture of Dorian Gray is based off of the Oscar Wilde novel of the same name and tell the classic tale of a man who, after selling his soul, doesn’t age, but his hedonistic lifestyle warps a painting that he had commissioned to represent the way his lifestyle is ravaging his soul. By the end of the movie, the painting is twisted and deformed while the protagonist is ageless. In the movie Dorian Gray has a change of heart and tries to repent by destroying the portrait which results in his downfall whereas in the book, Dorian Gray vows to destroy the last vestiges of his conscience after the murder of Basil Hallward by destroying the painting and is damned.
Given the source material and the author, here’s an interesting take from Oscar Wilde when he was pressed if any of the characters in this book were reflections of him: “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry is what the world thinks of me: Dorian is what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.” For clarification: Basil Hallward serves as the moral compass and is the painter, Lord Henry Wotton is the aristocrat who espouses on the virtues of hedonism, and Dorian Gray is the protagonist in the morality tale. After talking all about the author and the story itself, I do realize that it is a bit representative of the bombastic, quick-witted, and intelligent author who was larger than life. It’s fitting that a quick breakdown of the original movie would have a large portion devoted to the author himself (also, I really didn’t have a lot to say about the movie given it’s a bit of a morality play and comes across as didactic in large parts of it). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Picture_of_Dorian_Gray_(1945_film)#/media/File:The_Picture_of_Dorian_Gray-_Ivan_Albright.jpg
So we wrap up another Halloween Horror Marathon. If I had to pick a clear winner and loser this go-around, I would definitely put The Lighthouse on the top of my list. It is brilliantly acted, engaging, and tells a slow burn tale of isolation, hostility, and madness. The worst movie this year goes to the Poltergeist remake. I was tempted to list Zombie Nation due to its overall lack of effective story-telling, effects, or acting, but that movie is hampered by its financial limitations. Poltergeist isn't. It's bland, the actors almost seem bored, and the movie is entirely unnecessary. It would have been better to just re-release the original rather than try to mimic it. I hope you all had fun this Halloween season! I had a lot of fun myself remembering why I enjoy horror media. The best ones are unpredictable, can subtly tell a story while slowly ratcheting up the tension, and are just fun to watch. Have a good rest of your night!