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The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985...nnie-the-pooh/



The Big Disney Challenge 22/56

Technically this is a 'not seen yet,' as although I have vague memory of watching the Blustery Day segment, probably in school or at Christmas, I don't remember any of it. Other than it being blustery of course.

So as a result, I was not one of these kids who grew up with the Winnie the Pooh stories, so this was all without the nostalgia for me. I think more than the other Disney films too, it is aimed at young children rather than children of all ages, so did much less for me in that sense than it will for adults who grew up with it.

That said, it isn't bad, and the transitions between the three stories done like chapters of a book is nice and seamless. The biggest downer will likely upset a few people...bloody Tigger...annoying...as...hell. It's no coincidence I thought the Honey Tree segment was the strongest one. Tigger wasn't in it! The film is at its strongest when it's pulling on your nostalgia and heartstrings. As such, the ending is lovely.




Wall E (2008) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985/film/walle/


The Big Pixar Rewatch 9/19

I think this is the first time I've seen this since I saw it at the cinema. I'm not sure why I waited so long, because I loved it then, and I love it now. A really brave concept, as so much of it plays out almost like a silent film, with long stretches where there is virtually no dialogue, and the two main characters only really say each other's names and 'directive.' But then I think that's how it gets to the heart of this film, because it is all about interaction, meaningful or otherwise. The way Pixar have managed to create robots that can give out more emotion and feeling with a blink or a look than some people can is an incredible achievement. And not just Wall E and Eve, the same effort has been put into array of bots on the Axium. Especially the little cleaner bot!

It's also about human interaction, the people on this ship have been in space for hundreds of years, and gotten fat, lazy and tech dependent (sound familiar?) and only Wall E and Eve's intervention gives them a reminder of what they're missing out on. Like so many love stories, this shouldn't work. But two little animated robots with virtually no dialogue have managed to be part of one of the most beautiful love stories in film. But for all it's strong messages, it is also funny, inspired by the silent comedies, it is just a lovely hour and a half of your life.

Best Song:
Not really applicable when there's only one and it's in the credits!

Best Scene:
The scene early on when Wall E returns home and puts the day's findings away. We learn so much about him, and see all the little things he has collected over the years. It is such a lovely scene.

As An Adult:
Nothing really stands out, other than just how on point they were about people becoming lazy and tech dependent. Only it took less than 10 years, not 700...

Did I Cry?
All the damn time...




The Cabin in the Woods (2012) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985...-in-the-woods/


Horror-tober 1/31

Wow...that was 100% absolutely not the film I expected to watch! The horror genre has been dying for a long time with CGI overtaking good creative ideas and stories. But then once in a while, you get a belting little gem like this one!

What I think made this so enjoyable was that it happily met all of those tropes head on, took great pleasure in making us think we were watching that film again, and then joyously went and did something else. The creepy isolated cabin, the drunk and debaucherous teenagers, the virgin/ brain/ stoner/ athlete/ slut friendship group, the local weirdo warning of bad things to come, zombies, and then comes this whole other angle of satire, humour and self awareness to give us one of the funniest and goriest good times in years. Loads of fun, and a great start to my horror marathon!




The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985...nnie-the-pooh/



The Big Disney Challenge 22/56

Technically this is a 'not seen yet,' as although I have vague memory of watching the Blustery Day segment, probably in school or at Christmas, I don't remember any of it. Other than it being blustery of course.

So as a result, I was not one of these kids who grew up with the Winnie the Pooh stories, so this was all without the nostalgia for me. I think more than the other Disney films too, it is aimed at young children rather than children of all ages, so did much less for me in that sense than it will for adults who grew up with it.

That said, it isn't bad, and the transitions between the three stories done like chapters of a book is nice and seamless. The biggest downer will likely upset a few people...bloody Tigger...annoying...as...hell. It's no coincidence I thought the Honey Tree segment was the strongest one. Tigger wasn't in it! The film is at its strongest when it's pulling on your nostalgia and heartstrings. As such, the ending is lovely.


It's been a looong time since I saw The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, but Tigger was always my favorite Winnie the Pooh character, and he still is. I remember that I loved his theme song, and I used to sing it a lot when I was a kid.



Wall E (2008) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985/film/walle/


The Big Pixar Rewatch 9/19

I think this is the first time I've seen this since I saw it at the cinema. I'm not sure why I waited so long, because I loved it then, and I love it now. A really brave concept, as so much of it plays out almost like a silent film, with long stretches where there is virtually no dialogue, and the two main characters only really say each other's names and 'directive.' But then I think that's how it gets to the heart of this film, because it is all about interaction, meaningful or otherwise. The way Pixar have managed to create robots that can give out more emotion and feeling with a blink or a look than some people can is an incredible achievement. And not just Wall E and Eve, the same effort has been put into array of bots on the Axium. Especially the little cleaner bot!

It's also about human interaction, the people on this ship have been in space for hundreds of years, and gotten fat, lazy and tech dependent (sound familiar?) and only Wall E and Eve's intervention gives them a reminder of what they're missing out on. Like so many love stories, this shouldn't work. But two little animated robots with virtually no dialogue have managed to be part of one of the most beautiful love stories in film. But for all it's strong messages, it is also funny, inspired by the silent comedies, it is just a lovely hour and a half of your life.

Best Song:
Not really applicable when there's only one and it's in the credits!

Best Scene:
The scene early on when Wall E returns home and puts the day's findings away. We learn so much about him, and see all the little things he has collected over the years. It is such a lovely scene.

As An Adult:
Nothing really stands out, other than just how on point they were about people becoming lazy and tech dependent. Only it took less than 10 years, not 700...

Did I Cry?
All the damn time...


Wall-E became an instant favorite movie for me the very first time I saw it in the theater, and it's still a favorite.



A Simple Favor (2018) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985...-simple-favor/


I heard one reviewer describe this as 'Gone Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' and immediately needed to see it. I think that's pretty apt, as it's a genre flipping bag of fun and intrigue all rolled into one. Part comedy, part thriller, part romance, part mystery, it can never quite make up it's mind what it wants to be. But other than a little lull in the middle third where you're genuinely wondering where the heck this is going, it is well done, with top characters, who arent always necessarily likeable but still enjoyable. The music is very well used, and there is always an overhang of mistrust and intrigue. The casting of the two leads is very good, with Blake Lively dominating every scene she's both mentally and physically, while good girl Anna Hendrick is the little people pleaser who has somehow wound up in this odd couple friendship.

I wont say any more as I dont want any spoilers, but well worth seeing if you want a bit of everything.




The Craft (1996) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985/film/the-craft/


Horror-tober 2/31

While far from being the scariest and truest horror film, this is an old favourite and a guilty pleasure I go back to over and over again. I first saw it back in high school, back when Channel 4 used to play great films late night on weekends, and everyone in school would come in on Monday morning talking about. This was one of those that was pretty much ingrained in our teenage 90s popular culture. And yes, we all at some point tried out Light as a Feather Stiff as a Board...

I think it retains popularity because there is a lot of reality and relatability in this film, the fantasy elements with the witchcraft only give us a sense of wish fulfilment. How many of us would have loved to cast a working revenge spell on a bully? Or that boy we like who's not interested be bewitched by a love spell? It is only in the second half of the film that it takes a darker turn as we see the consequences of abusing these powers. While quite a tame film in a horror sense, that scene with all the snakes and bugs still makes my skin crawl. And while all four of the lead actresses put in strong performances, it is Fairuza Balk's manic unhinged Nancy who provides much of the films darker and more memorable moments.

"We are the weirdos mister..."




Suspiria (1977) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985/film/suspiria/


Horror-tober 3/31

This was a rewatch and Im noticing a trend when I rewatch Argento films...I absolutely fall in love with them on the first viewing, but they just dont hold up as well on a rewatch. Even one after a couple of years like this was. That isnt to say it is now rubbish, but if you asked me yesterday morning how I would rate this film, it would be a solid 9. After the rewatch, it has fallen a couple of notches.

I still enjoyed it. Probably the best Argento Ive seen (though curiously not my favourite, as Phenomena will always hold that nostaglic little place in my heart) it is slow in places, but it absolutely comes to life when the real horror starts to happen. Anytime a death or murder takes place, the film springs to life with it's performances, lighting, camera, angles, colours, music, everything. It's like the rest of the film is the dress rehearsal, then everyone gives their absolute all when it comes to the gruesome bits! These are the moments that make it. The very grisly murder of Pat Hingle in the first 20 minutes is as good as Argento gets, an absolute assault on all of your senses, reds and blues making all the more nightmarish. The later scene that takes place in the late night Berlin square is the opposite. Dark, all blacks and whites and quiet, but equally as disturbing.

I still like this film, the more mundane segments however are much more mundane second time around. Still a horror essential.




Apocalypse Now (1979) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985...pocalypse-now/


Challenge completed, I saved an acclaimed great for what is my 100th new film of 2018, with 3 months to go!

I have to say though, I was a little disappointed. So many five star reviews, so much love, and overall, just a solid 7 for me. In general, I am not a fan of war films really. A little like sports films, in that unless it's all true, feels contrived with millions of expendables getting blown to bits, while we're expected to feel sad for individuals on our side. I can appreciate the art that goes into creating a war film (in that sense, this film is truly outstanding, with the atmosphere and cinematography creating a horrifying descent into a sweaty hell) but on the a story side, Im yet to see one that really gets me there.

For what it's worth, this film is like so many others about the Vietnam War, an almost parody at times of the insanity that runs through any war, with countless millions being marched to their deaths for seemingly nothing. The irony in Willard being sent to assassinate rogue Colonel Kurtz because he has gone insane and acquired a devoted army of followers to follow his every order, no matter what, is more than obvious when everyone he encounters are experiencing their own levels of insanity, while the crew on the boat taking him on his mission are expected to follow his orders without even being told where they're going or what the mission is, is all laid out throughout the film. Kilgore, the USO show, the photojournalist, Colby, Chef and Lance's mental breakdowns seen from beginning to end, all from Willard himself who from the first scene is shown to have gone through some pretty serious mental traumas of his own. And then the fact that everywhere he goes, there is no higher powers there to tell him where to go next, it is all a very obvious allegory for the insanity of war.

And that was fine. The final half hour? Im not even sure, it felt more than anything like a resolution to the story was hard to come by. One of very few films Ive seen where the ending pulled it down, rather than lifted it. Some great moments throughout of course that are worthy of the acclaim. Overall? I was disappointed.




The Blackcoat's Daughter (alternatively titled February) (2015) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985...oats-daughter/


Horror-tober 4/31

What the hell was that? A dull, needlessly twisty non-linear mess of demon possession ****, and probably the worst horror film I've seen in a long time. It was poor enough as is, by then trying to make it like some twist driven thriller just made it even worse. The story was not that complex that it needed non linear multiple stories storytelling to make it work. It just muddied the waters even further. It's an incredibly boring demon possession film, put together into a messed up package that reads like 'how to make a ****ty pretentious hipster horror film' 101. They messed it up that much that their big twisty reveal at the end was not even a twist, and wasn't even clear if it was, it just fell completely flat.

That score as well. Basically just a load of droning background noise that then rose up any time anything was about to happen, telegraphing the 'scares' so blatantly, characters might as well have shouted out a warning.

Absolutely ****ing dreadful with not a single redeeming quality.



The Blackcoat's Daughter (alternatively titled February) (2015) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985...oats-daughter/


Horror-tober 4/31

What the hell was that? A dull, needlessly twisty non-linear mess of demon possession ****, and probably the worst horror film I've seen in a long time. It was poor enough as is, by then trying to make it like some twist driven thriller just made it even worse. The story was not that complex that it needed non linear multiple stories storytelling to make it work. It just muddied the waters even further. It's an incredibly boring demon possession film, put together into a messed up package that reads like 'how to make a ****ty pretentious hipster horror film' 101. They messed it up that much that their big twisty reveal at the end was not even a twist, and wasn't even clear if it was, it just fell completely flat.

That score as well. Basically just a load of droning background noise that then rose up any time anything was about to happen, telegraphing the 'scares' so blatantly, characters might as well have shouted out a warning.

Absolutely ****ing dreadful with not a single redeeming quality.

It was that supposed twist that mostly derailed it for me. I didn't hate it as much as you do, but yeah, it was a mess.



Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985...natchers-1978/


Horror-tober 5/31

This one has somehow always escaped me. I'm not a huge fan of remakes, especially horror ones, and having seen the 1950s classic, the not so classic 2007 remake, and homage laden The Faculty, I guess I figured my life didn't need another Body Snatchers incarnation. Boy was I wrong.

The atmosphere from the first minute is tense and palpable and that never let's up. There is no real mystery of where the threat has come from, that is made quite clear very early on. It instead focuses on the loss of humanity. Taking the setting from a small town to a huge city works wonders, as it takes on such a massive horrifying scale, of just how quickly these things take over.

We're rooting for our crew of protagonists to escape, but there is a growing hopelessness, as it becomes clearer and clearer how huge this threat is, and as with any good Body Snatchers incarnation, asks is it really worth the hassle of running? Is the alternative really that bad? All of this is pulled together by a terrific cast. Damn the 70s were awesome for film weren't they?

One of the scariest concepts there is, finding yourself unable to trust those closest to you, this film executes that fear to perfection. But for a slight lull in the middle, this is otherwise all round excellent psychological horror.




Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Yes! I'm glad to see another fan of this movie. I was blown away by how tense the film is and how palpably the fear and paranoia is. I like the 50s version too, but this really gets it right.



Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Yes! I'm glad to see another fan of this movie. I was blown away by how tense the film is and how palpably the fear and paranoia is. I like the 50s version too, but this really gets it right.
Yes! I generally dislike remakes, this is one of very few I've seen that I've loved and enjoyed, while still enjoying the original too.



The Omen (1976) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985/film/the-omen/


Horror-tober 6/31

Here's another one that has eluded me for years, though I know why with this one. I remember sharing a room with my older brother on a family holiday once and this was on tv late at night. I was scared and didn't want to watch it, but he didn't give a toss. I lasted until the infamous tricycle scene and spent the rest of the film curled up under the covers with my fingers in my ears desperately trying to ward off the inevitable nightmares...yeah, I was about 8. Oh, and horror films about kids are the creepiest of all.

So here I am, 25 years later and as nervous about a horror film as I ever have been probably! Even though I knew it wouldn't possibly be as terrifying as I remembered it being. That of course is true, but it doesn't take away what a powerful, masterfully made film this is. It creates a sense of dread that is only heightened by the serene everyday bliss of the early scenes in between the morning Damien is born, to his 5th birthday. From then on, it is a slow burning horrifying descent into hell. And that score...wow.

I don't like religion in everyday life, so I think it always lends itself very well to the horror genre. That sense of placing trust in a higher power based on no evidence except faith, prophecies and their interpretations, the ending is the chilling icing on the cake. A masterpiece.

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Split (2016) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985/film/split-2016/


Horror-tober 7

First off, this isnt a horror film, despite being listed under horror on Sky. Second, while there are some good bits and good ideas on show here, I dont think its a great film really. Confusingly interesting enough to keep me involved for the duration, but ultimately disappointing once all has been revealed.

It's biggest strength is James McAvoy's performance (or performances?) as Kevin and his multiple personalities, not simply a job of changing his voice for the multiple roles, but his entire personality, with his mannerisms, facial expressions, even just his aura, being able to show with just a look which personalities were warm, and which ones we should be fearing.

An interesting enough film to give it a go, and definitely not a bad film, but that in between kind of level. And definitely not horror.




Deep Red (1975) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985/film/deep-red/


Horror-tober 8

This one has sat on my DVD shelf for about 5 years now, ever since I went out with a lad once to whom I mentioned I was struggling to get hold of this in English dubbed or subtitled, and he had foolishly posted me out his copy just before I told him I didnt like him. DVD arrived the next day, but he had already blocked me by then, so what a shame!

It's the 5th Argento I've seen, and despite the fact it is generally one of the most acclaimed, I found it quite dull. The murder scenes are, like all his other works, moments of true terrifying horror, and there is a lot of imagery going on here with secrets and deception, a lot of emphasis on mirrors and reflections etc. but all that aside, there are very long periods, where absolutely nothing happens and Im starting to get really bored.

The score by Goblin, as ever, is great, but overall, this is just okay, and probably my least favourite Argento to date. The long boring sections drag it's score down severely, which is a shame, as the death scenes are great.




I've said this a few times I'm sure but I love the anecdote. Patrick Troughton was sat with Gregory Peck on set and noticed Peck's script had the letters NAR annotated against certain bits. He asked him what it stood for and Peck replied "No Acting Required" .

Troughton's great as Father Brennan he really sets the tone of fear early on. I always laugh though at the idea of a newspaper printing

WARNING: spoilers below
a photograph of a priest impaled by church spire, and on its front page no less.



I've said this a few times I'm sure but I love the anecdote. Patrick Troughton was sat with Gregory Peck on set and noticed Peck's script had the letters NAR annotated against certain bits. He asked him what it stood for and Peck replied "No Acting Required" .

Troughton's great as Father Brennan he really sets the tone of fear early on. I always laugh though at the idea of a newspaper printing

WARNING: spoilers below
a photograph of a priest impaled by church spire, and on its front page no less.
Ha ha! Yes, that bit was a little silly! There were ways around that, the journalist could have taken it and showed it from his own collection. I think there are generally ethics codes about printing stuff that!



Watched this again last night, but then the previous review I wrote for it in February I think sums up why I love this film, and why its one of my favourite films.

Fright Night (1985) https://letterboxd.com/smudgeefc1985/film/fright-night/


Horror-tober 9

Having grown up in a family where we were exposed to horror films at a young age, Fright Night has always been a benchmark for me.

The story is simple. A horror film obsessed teenager thinks his new next door neighbour is a vampire. And then he finds out he actually is, but of course his best friend, his girlfriend and even his idol, prolific tv vampire killer Peter Vincent, don't believe him, but end up coming along for the ride anyway.

This is one of those films that sums up what I love about the 80s. There is a charm and an honesty that would make it painfully cheesy and stupid in any other era, but on the 80s, it's solid gold.

Jerry Dandridge is played to perfection by Chris Sarandon, probably the coolest, sexiest, yet still scary vampire ever to be played on film. Roddy McDowall is gloriously over the top as Peter Vincent, fully enjoying himself as a hammy amalgamation of the men he took his name, Vincent Price and Peter Cushing. William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse and Stephen Geoffreys as the 3 teenagers may not be the most stellar acting in the world, but their chemistry as a threesome just holds the film together, you can practically feel that love and that friendship coming through.

Tom Holland has put together a fully accessible horror film with good special effects, quality characters and interactions that we care about, on top of an absolutely fantastic soundtrack. It will never be an award winner, but it's one of my all time favourites I go back to over and over again.