October Horror Movie Challenge: 31 in 31.

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The trick is not minding
After watching The original Nosferatu last week, I’m on a Dracula kick.
Dracula (1931) Bela Lugosi classic followed by Coppolas Bram Stokers Dracula
May even squeeze in the Mexican version of Dracula from 1931 using the same sets as the original



A system of cells interlinked
Haunt

2019, Beck/Woods





A fairly tired trope these days, the "Killers in the Haunted House" idea. This played a bit like a film from the Saw series, but without the over-the-top gore, with the exception of two or three quick shots of some pretty brutal stuff. Entertaining for what it was, and it looked and sounded good. Worth a watch.
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"There’s absolutely no doubt you can be slightly better tomorrow than you are today." - JBP



After watching The original Nosferatu last week, I’m on a Dracula kick.
Dracula (1931) Bela Lugosi classic followed by Coppolas Bram Stokers Dracula
May even squeeze in the Mexican version of Dracula from 1931 using the same sets as the original

Dracula is one of my all time favorite movies. Bela Lugosi is amazing in it.



Welcome to the human race...
DAY 15

Hell Fest
Gregory Plotkin, 2018


A group of friends attend a horror-themed amusement park on Halloween only to be stalked by an actual masked killer.

I'm not sure how many horror movies I've seen that take place on the grounds of amusement parks (whether of the "haunted house" variety or not), but I don't think it was enough that I expected any clichés specifically related to the setting. However, for all the lurid colours and grotesque setpieces that the eponymous festival foists upon its customers, Hell Fest can't help but play like a decidedly standard excuse for a slasher. The ambiguity of being unsure what's a real threat or just part of the show is fairly constant, though maybe too constant as the park's staff seem to jump out at our lead characters every few seconds. The same goes for the linear progression through the festival as they are made to descend further into increasingly hellish mazes and rides, though even those struggle to come up with much variation after a while (but hey, gotta dig that funky lighting). Actual moments of horror tend to be few and far between as there's the odd moment of tension but only two truly noteworthy kills, so it's fairly disappointing on that front. There's not much else to be said for the killer's prospective targets either with seemingly all of their characterisation being centred around how horned-up they are for a) each other and b) setting up the final girl with a date. However many amusement park horrors I have (or haven't) seen doesn't seem to make much difference to how much I enjoyed (or didn't enjoy) Hell Fest, which wastes a significant amount of its potential and just proves a vaguely enjoyable slasher throwback that at least gives you a nice-looking haunted house vibe even without any of the associated fear.

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I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.



The trick is not minding
After watching The original Nosferatu last week, I’m on a Dracula kick.
Dracula (1931) Bela Lugosi classic followed by Coppolas Bram Stokers Dracula
May even squeeze in the Mexican version of Dracula from 1931 using the same sets as the original

Dracula is one of my all time favorite movies. Bela Lugosi is amazing in it.
He’s so amazing in it, that certain scenes suffer when he’s not in it. He makes the movie whenever his creepy presence is present. That and the eerie atmosphere that permeates the film



#15 [REC] 4: Apocalypse (2014)

After little lighter third part the Spanish zombie/possession series returns to more serious approach of the first films. Remember how I said that the relation of the first two films reminded me of Alien and Aliens? Well, [REC] 4 does loan quite a bit from that other franchise and there are elements that make me want to call it Resurrection of the [REC] series.

With previous film ditching the found footage style [REC] 4 is a proper movie from the start. Despite the claustrophobic setting of a ship at sea it doesn't reach the intensity of the first film but then again very few films do. As a whole it's again above average horror film that's perhaps a bit more "Hollywood" than the previous parts but still manages to end (for now at least) the series without major drop in quality (parts 2 to 4 are very close together in that regard).

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October 13th




Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter marked the return of Tom Savini. The film keeps in simple choosing to tell an almost Haunted House feel to the film. Savini's effects are especially well made as the gore is upped quite a bit. The film features Crispen Glover (who we think is supposed to be the last male standing) and Corey Feldman as Tommy Jarvis.



As the start of the Jarvis verse this is okay, I could have done with a bit more character development with the teens. This film also features 13 kills from Jason (he's the 14th) which is a neat twist but takes away a bit from the end product.





The Night Stalker 1972 Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey (TV Movie)

An investigative reporter takes a stab at the supernatural.
Simple, short run time, Classic Horror / Noir (not sure if it's a noir actually).
Narrated by the main character. Great suspenseful late night entertainment, I recommend it to Horror, Noir and old school crime detective lovers, and less of a recommendation to the gore blood and slash lovers.

+


Watching the follow up The Night Strangler next.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Day 10

Scream




I don't want to write too much about this movie because I feel like I've covered it quite a few times. My original review gave it a lower rating, why I don't remember. This film is boss. It deserves the iconic status it has within the horror community.

It made my top 50 horror films. Top 5 to be exact and next to Evil Dead, it's probably the one horror film I've seen the most times.

If you want to read my thoughts on it and the series as a whole, CLICK HERE.
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"A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have."

Suspect's Reviews



Welcome to the human race...
DAY 16

Let Us Prey
Brian O'Malley, 2014


A mysterious drifter is brought into a small-town police station where he demonstrates a supernatural awareness of other people's darkest secrets.

"The Devil knows the Bible like the back of his hand." - Tom Waits

I was given a free DVD of this movie after a screening of Suspiria a couple of years back, which doesn't exactly instill the most confidence in the final product's overall quality. Even so, I thought I'd give it a shot, if only to see what kind of horror shenanigans Liam Cunningham of Dog Soldiers fame could get up to this time. However, his taciturn hit-and-run victim rarely exudes any actual sense of depth beneath him lurching between Hannibal-style monologues and mumbling about the Bible, which does play into how the film talks about the various sins of its characters (which start off with a hit-and-run and only get much worse from there) and ultimately opts to punish them for it. As such, Let Us Prey doesn't prove a particularly deep piece of work as it grounds its horror in a rather simplistic morality play about inner demons that occasionally gives way to an absurd jump scare or a splash of gore. There is a valiant attempt to actually throw in some twists and suspenseful setpieces throughout the back half, but it's too little too late and even some admittedly decent cinematography does nothing to truly distinguish this - you could even have Cunningham turn into Pinhead at the end and it wouldn't surprise me.




A system of cells interlinked
I got a little behind, so had to cram two in last night, Since the wee lass was still up in the early part of the evening, we had to go with something tame and bit goofy in the first slot...

Hocus Pocus

Ortega, 1993





My wife just loves this movie. Me, not so much, I must say though, for what it is, it is done pretty well. I would never put it on if the choice were all mine, but alas, such is married life.


Next up, since Iro gave this such a glowing review...

Hell Fest

Plotkin, 2018





I won't argue with Iro on this one. Predictable and dumb, with a fairly annoying cast overall. A couple of tense sequences weren't enough to salvage this one. I will say that I would definitely go to a massive haunt park like this, just one without the masked maniac running around killing people. The haunt itself was the best part of the film.



Welcome to the human race...
DAY 17

The Serpent and the Rainbow
Wes Craven, 1988


An anthropologist travels to Haiti in search of a powder that is used in voodoo rituals.

I do feel kind of bad that I've never really been able to get into Wes Craven, having filed him under "respect but don't enjoy" after seeing a handful of his films. However, The Serpent and the Rainbow is good enough to convince me to try giving him more chances (especially since this film's emphasis on mind-bending horror has enough echoes of A Nightmare on Elm Street that I now feel like watching it again). It helps that it's different to the other films of his that I've seen as it leaves behind slashers and hicks to indulge in voodoo zombie shenanigans, coming up with a novel 1980s update to the concept's inherent anti-colonial subtext by having its protagonist be searching for voodoo secrets on behalf of Big Pharma looking for a new breakthrough (though the flip-side is that the voodoo is mainly being utilised by a power-hungry paramilitary captain). Of course, things are not as they seem and everything from psychological freakouts to physical torture is on the table as the protagonist digs further and further into a world he might be better off not knowing. Craven certainly goes all-out in conjuring the right atmosphere with elaborate production design and knowing how to build decent horror scenes here and there, making for something that does take a while to get going but keeps up a hell of a momentum once it does.




October 14th




A Nightmare on Elm Street: A Dream Child(1989) Funny how almost all the images are of the food scene because for me this was the weakest of the dream kills. I'm not even sure I know how she died from that...though there is a good jump scare near the end of it. I enjoyed this one, Freddy is a fairly minor character in this film rather the focus is on the horrific dream sequences. They live, die and fight back in several fairly well constructed scenes. I thought the film kinda loses it's way in the end, the FX feels somewhat dated at that point but it was still a good watch.





October 15th


Halloween III: Season of the Witch(1982) is something a little different a film that attempts to take aspects of the Slasher film and deconstruct it. You still get the killer masks, the shapes, and it's still shot very well but it's not really a slasher. The irony is the film lifts quite a bit from Carpenters end of the world trilogy which it basically predates so that's just one of lifes twists.


Tom Atkins is the lead and he's very good in this as the doctor searching for answers. Once we get the answers the film falls flat on it's face some scenes at the end in a warehouse are downright comical straight out of scooby doo.





October 16th







Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, the first Sleepaway Camp is basically a slasher mystery and played straight up the followups on the other hand are where the story really shines. In the future Angela is back fully grown up and now a camp counselor who has to now deal with an unfortunate group of teenagers who generally suck as people.


The acting is terrible...some might call it campy and the story doesn't track but this is one of those slashers that I love. Partly for the gratuitous nudity, partly because the film is creative and feels like it's saying something about genre, but mostly for the humor. This is almost like the Deadpool of slashers I enjoy that.





28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
October 16th







Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, the first Sleepaway Camp is basically a slasher mystery and played straight up the followups on the other hand are where the story really shines. In the future Angela is back fully grown up and now a camp counselor who has to now deal with an unfortunate group of teenagers who generally suck as people.


The acting is terrible...some might call it campy and the story doesn't track but this is one of those slashers that I love. Partly for the gratuitous nudity, partly because the film is creative and feels like it's saying something about genre, but mostly for the humor. This is almost like the Deadpool of slashers I enjoy that.


I dislike the original and am a fan of this over the top winking at the audience sequel.



A system of cells interlinked
Child's Play

Klevberg, 2019





Another unnecessary remake? Probably. I didn't expect the fairly clever social commentary about the dangers of smart tech as well as dumping **** tons of information into impressionable kids. Was this version of Chucky actually evil or is this what you get when you put a introduce an impressionable youngster into today's world? A bit more thought provoking than expected, but pretty much falls short in every other regard. Hamill is good as the doll, but the rest of the cast are dime a dozen D Listers. Aubrey Plaza continues to be much more entertaining to watch in real life than in films, delivering a performance just slightly less wooden than the doll. The gore is over-the-top, the killings are all too familiar, and the attempts at comedy all fell flat. I will throw this one en extra half box of popcorn for at least attempting a cautionary tale.



#16 Eli (2019)

In my reviews I often like to name films that came to mind while watching. This time I can't do it because I'd consider it spoiler. Anyways the plot begins with a boy whose immunity system is failing due to disease and his parents take him to a progressive doctor for special treatment.

At first the films is rather stupid and the whole sickness theme feels like an attempt to bypass character writing. At that point I was preparing myself for another bad Netflix film. But Eli is actually a rarity - a film that improves with each act. It does hide its true nature quite well (though in my opinion it does cheat) and it's actually somewhat surprising. Dull first act still drags the whole a bit but it's not far from being good. Definitely one of the best Netflix movies.




Encouraged by @John-Connor 's review...

#17 The Night Stalker (1972)

In general I like stories where reporters, private investigators, etc. investigate events that end up being supernatural. It's one premise that never gets old. So there's some genuine goodwill on my part towards The Night Stalker.

Unfortunately it shows that back in the seventies TV was a second-rate media. Movie looks plain ugly for the most part, there's no suspense in any scene and police is incompetent on Smokey and the Bandit level. Kolchak is only even somewhat OK character but he too suffers from the blandness of others. But in a film like this I usually manage to look past quite a few faults so it was still mildly entertaining watch.