October Horror Movie Challenge: 31 in 31.

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28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Day 4

In the Tall Grass




This is a perfect film for Netflix. It's not something one needs to see in the theatres and it's worth your attention for a night in. Based on Stephen King and Joe Hill's novella, In the Tall Grass sends its characters literally into a field of tall grass that they can never seem to get out of.

Director Vincenzo Natali has a few films under his belt but he is best known for the low budget indie sic/fi horror flick Cube and the should have gotten more attention sic/fi monster flick Splice. Both films are good in my opinion, with Cube having a special place in my heart. In The Tall Grass leans away from sic/fi and more towards horror, even if the film lacks any genuine scares or feeling of dread.

Some beautiful shots, specifically overhead shots of the grass moving in the wind, giving the earth a life-force. Each sway feels like a breath being taken. Our characters are lost in endless green, hearing voices that aren't there, people that are displaced from time. Anything weird you think might happen, tends to happen. This helps stretch the film to an unnecessary length. This story could be told in an hour and 30 flat. The extra 15 or so minutes feels like padding and the more generic use of one character as the antagonist feels out of place.

Our of the three Netflix - King adaptations, this one feels less accomplished and more for the masses. I'm actually liking this Netflix - King relationship. We get to see stories of his that wouldn't normally hit the big screen and he has a lot of stories to dig through.
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Suspect's Reviews



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28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Day 5

Overlord




A b-level movie with A-level production values. Overlord hits the horror a little too late in the story to really engage with me, but the overall experience was a fun one.

After a really well put together opening sequence, Overlord would have you think it's simply a WWII flick and nothing more. It's not until we get inside a house and hear the whispering moans of an elderly woman hidden away in her room do we suspect something more is up.

Once Overlord does dive into horror, it feels conflicted. I loved the bit where we get a fallen soldier given life again with the medical serum. In the confusion of being alive again he whips his head back and break his neck. The body horror in this scene is almost Cronenberg level of grotesque and unique. On the other end, the film doesn't do enough with the zombie aspect to make the film interesting.

Towards the climax the horror becomes a little more reliant an action. Our antagonist is part zombie and instead of killing people, he likes to throw them around. This is a common theme in films where the fight can be over relatively quickly, but our bad guy tends to simply throw our hero around the room. Had Overlord leaned a bit more into the horror element a bit earlier, it could have been more inline with From Dusk Till Dawn.

I enjoyed the film, it has some nice gore elements, but wanted the film to do more with the zombie plot. It just seems like it's there with no added weight. Our heroes barely fight the dead and we have zero connection to out heroes. Props to the make-up department though, they hit it out of the park.



October 5th


Black Christmas(1974) is one of the early not Italian slashers...some might even call it the first slasher. The film has a few things going for it that other slashers don't have. The big thing is the film plays out over the course of a night you get a passage of time that helps distinguish this from other films. It also has a very nice color pallet and even though to borrows heavily from Argento it still has that American grind-house look to it.

A couple things I didn't care for was the obscene caller thing has been done better. The gutteral sounds are okay but I prefer Scream and When a Stranger Calls to what they did with Black Christmas. I also wish we would have gotten more from the mystery aspect of the film the killer fairly obvious and we're never really given other options so that hurts the overall impact of the film.





October 6th






Funhouse (1981) one of the things that separates Funhouse from other slashers of the era is we get the final girl nude in the shower in the first act. This is also one of those films that really enjoys itself for the first half as the carnival stuff plays out very well. As a fan of HBO's Carnivale I especially enjoyed the stripper tent as I feel like it's something unseemly and adds another dimension to the film. I thought this was a bit stronger than some of the other slashers I revisited, to start off with the killers are well defined we get masks and makeup and that's important. The reason for the killing and the third act left a bit to be desired and kept it from being a classic but still if you like the genre with was watchable.





#8 Belzebuth (2017)

A Mexican film that's like The Exorcist III with a hint of Terminator and heavy Bible references. First half of the film is good and the intro sets the bleak mood quite well. The second half is quite a bit worse and feels too long. There are couple of visually great scenes (like the crucifix one) while others look rather bad (especially the tunnel shots look terrible). With minor modifications this could have been good but now it barely misses the mark. Still definitely worth a watch.

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A system of cells interlinked
@pahaK - I liked Midsommar for what it was, but there were at least 2-3 times where I looked at my wife and said "wtf are we watching?" It was well-made, and the cinematography was above average for a horror flick, but all in all, it seemed fairly pointless when all was said and done.
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I'm not exactly sure if I should post the next one on this thread but both IMDb and wiki list it as horror so who am I to argue...

#9 Demons (1971)

A Japanese samurai film about honor, love, betrayal and guilt. It's mainly a tragedy but like Onibaba it has many horroresque visual elements and its depiction of madness kinda leans towards that same direction. It's brutal and hopeless even for a tragedy (this is amplified by good characters - while none of them are especially likable they all have more or less respectable motives which makes you pity them all to a degree).

Demons looks awesome and its b&w cinematography captures the all enveloping darkness mentioned in the film. First half of the film could have benefited from little editing but for the most part the 134 minutes goes by rather quickly. Very good film to spoil a beautiful day.




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

Await Further Instructions




A young man brings his new girlfriend from Indian descent home to his racially insensitive British family for Christmas. Deciding it was a mistake to come, they opt to leave early the next morning, but mysterious metallic like wires cover the house, making it impossible to escape. Things get even weirder when messages appear on the television telling them to throw out their food, clean themselves with bleach and await further instructions.

Right from the start I had my hesitations about the film as the dynamic between the family and the new girlfriend felt forced and unnecessary. It was at the point where hypodermic needles dropped from the chimney for the family to inject themselves with that I was checked out. The new girlfriend is suppose to be the voice of reason and points out that the needles are used and they have no idea what is inside them. Yet these characters inject themselves anyways because the mysterious television tells them to. Even after one of the characters dies from injecting themselves, they somehow rationalize it away and continue to follow the text on the screen.

The film Compliance made me rethink what a normal person would do in a dumb situation. This film tries to go down the same path of compliancy. Their last name is Milgram, which refers to the Milgram on obedience to authority figures. Also that they live on Stanford street, referencing the Stanford prison experiment. Simply mentioning these things makes the filmmakers think they can get away with dumb character decisions, but at the end of the day it's just a frustrating endeavour. Stupid decisions are made to advance conflict when there should be no conflict. It's literally an other worldly event happening and turning on each other is the last resort.

With the exception of one or two characters, all of them change their dynamics at will, with the son in law being the worst offender. There is a bit of social commentary on how television rots the minds of people and the third act goes in some weird directions, but the overall experience of Await for Further Instructions is an experiment in testing my patience.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Day 7

Black Christmas




A Canadian horror classic that helped set the stage for numerous imitators.

Black Christmas is the little indie slasher flick that few know about, but those who do usually tend to appreciate it. I remember people talking about this movie on old horror boards and asked it for Christmas, my aunt bought it for me and I was really taken back by how low key everything about it was. Upon a re-watch (one of numerous re-watches) the film still maintains a sense of dread, holiday cheer and all around intelligence that most slasher movies fail to achieve.

It really did a number on me when the credits rolled and we never got a good idea of who "Billy" was. I remember thinking I must have misheard the character's name because I don't remember a Billy anywhere in this movie. How could a movie have a killer's identity never really revealed? Even by today's standards, this is rarely done, if at all.

Black Christmas was in my opinion, ahead of its time.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Day 8

Black Christmas (2006)




Here is a film I didn't like when I first saw it. I still don't like it, but I appreciate the effort a bit more now. Do we really need a Black Christmas remake? No. Do we really need another one in 2019? Double No. But after seeing what the newest remake is doing, I think back to this one and wonder why I disliked it so much. It has blood, it has the classic scream queens and some suspenseful scenes.

The film actually decides to go into the killer's background and Billy gets to become a fully fleshed out character with this remake. This is the most debate issue with this remake I think, as the charm of the original was having no idea who Billy was. Well, let's try and make things a tad different, let's give this guy some character. Do I think the original idea of not knowing be a lot scarier? Yes, does it work better than whatever half baked idea this film attempts? Yes. But this remake tries something, which is more than I can say about most remakes.

The trailer for this movie is one of the most misleading trailers in the history of cinema, with countless scenes in the trailer never appearing in the film. I'm not just talking about deleted scenes, I'm talking about entirely different sequences. Check out the trailer when you get a chance and then watch the movie, you'll think you missed half of it.

Glenn Morgan has two directing credits. Willard and Black Christmas. Both films bombed and received a critical thrashing. He hasn't directed a movie since, which is a shame because this film looks great. It's bathed in the christmas glows of red and green and is littered with unique close ups tilted *just* right to give off an uneasy feeling. Black Christmas is well directed, plain and simple.

It's a shame that the second climax of the film ruins the ending, the entire sequence is misguided and disposable. Get rid of it and the film becomes a lot tighter and focused.



Welcome to the human race...
DAY 8

Cannibal Holocaust
Ruggero Deodato, 1980


When a team of documentary filmmakers go missing in the South American jungle, an anthropologist sets out to discover what really happened to them.

The question I always find myself asking in regards to horror movies is whether or not visceral repulsion is an adequate source of (or even substitute for) terror, to say nothing of how much substance a film has to have in order to justify its more apparent exercises in transgression. Cannibal Holocaust definitely trades on repulsion as it sets up a shamelessly exploitative narrative involving tribesmen who carry out brutal rituals and the "civilised" folks who disrespect them in a variety of increasingly horrid ways - the real question is whether or not it's worth going to the lengths that the makers of this movie did (which extends from real-life endangerment of its cast to graphic depictions of rape, dismemberment, and - perhaps most notoriously - multiple scenes of actual animal death). An attempt to rationalise the carnage is made through the framing device where the ethically-minded protagonist argues with television executives who want to air the crew's footage, thus lending an air of media-critical commentary to what is otherwise liable to come across as (relatively) conventional exploitation. Whether this discussion of such graphically offensive material has actual merit (especially when it comes across as a means of metatextually discussing whether Cannibal Holocaust itself has merit) or is just an excuse for Deodato and co. to present their ethically-dubious cannibal horror as more meaningful than it actually is can definitely be debated - even now I find myself unsure as to whether or not this deserves some degree of grudging respect or if it should be condemned extra-hard for this kind of have-your-cake-and-eat-it approach to extreme violence. I might give it the edge for never truly feeling like it's meant to be "enjoyed" even by those who would seek out low-grade cannibal movies for fun - everything from the minimalist synths to the grimy cinematography to the deranged performances builds towards an unforgettable experience, but one that cannot (and really should not) be described as enjoyable.

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Way too much stupid talk on the forum. Iroquois, I’m thinking about you.



October 7th




You Better Watch Out (1980)


I actually liked this one a bit better than Black Christmas, you've got some realism here. A young boy is traumatized by his mother engaging in some weird sex with Santa Claus (the boys father) the situation permanently traumatizes. 30 years later the boy grows up and decides to become Santa and stalks the town planing on killing the naughty.


This is a bit different from the other slashers, the cinematography is pretty good. We get a nice more realistic version of a killer on the loose script than the typical slasher film. It's watchable to me.





A system of cells interlinked
Guess I better start posting some thoughts on each film, so I am not just filling in a list.

Day 8

The Hole in the Ground

Cronin, 2019





Well made, if derivative stuff. A single mother takes her son to live out in the sticks, where things quickly take a turn for the worse. While out exploring together, the duo happen across a massive sinkhole in the forest. Not long after, her son begins acting strangely. To give anymore away would be a spoiler, so I won't comment further. I will say it is probably worth a watch.

As an aside...while I watched, the sinkhole scenes reminded me of an old flick I saw when I was around 5 years old. I had no idea what is was called, only remembering that it was an anthology, and that one of the stories featured a hole in the ground that was a gate to hell or something along those lines. We live in remarkable times. After typing a few key words into google, I had the film's title up in about 30 seconds, whcih was Encounter with the Unknown. I quickly entered that into a streaming TV search engine, found the title on Tubi TV, and had the film up and playing on my Roku 30 seconds after that. I watched a few minutes before going to bed, with its warbling soundtrack and grainy 70s picture. Looks like that will be my selection for tonight.



October 8th




Hellraiser 2:Hellbound(1988) y'know I debated covering the Hellraiser's but after the second one they just felt silly. This one strips away the creepy factor that the original had and goes for more of a Nightmare on Elm Street vibe, it attempts quips and humor and it all falls flat. Also some of the practical effects seem worse. The film starts off in an insane asylum and had the film just stayed in the asylum they might have been able to do something good with that but then they go to "hell" and once again if they stuck with "hell" they might have been able to do something with that but when it was all said and done they just left me cold with both parts.





#10 The Enemy (2011)

A Serbian film set shortly after the war that tore Yugoslavia apart. Small group of soldiers removing the mines find a man from the sealed basement of an abandoned factory. From there... well, you remember what I said earlier about Deathwatch? This isn't an exact replica of that same plot but it's definitely a similar movie. Visually it's not as good as Deathwatch but I like the script a bit more. Where are all the innovative war horrors?




Welcome to the human race...
DAY 9

Chopping Mall
Jim Wynorski, 1986


A group of friends sneak into a shopping mall after-hours to party only for the mall's robotic security guards to start attacking them.

It almost feels like cheating to watch ostensible horror movies that lean too hard into the idea of being fun little cinematic rides, especially in the wake of a cinematic gut-punch like Cannibal Holocaust. As the ultimately inaccurate pun of the title implies, Chopping Mall sets its modest sights on providing a quick 77-minute burst of killer-robot antics in the middle of one of cinema's most iconic shopping malls, the Sherman Oaks Galleria. The catch is that the resulting movie is a little too perfunctory for its own good. I know better than to expect anything particularly deep from a movie called Chopping Mall but it has some issues filling out its already-short running time with some extremely flat characters (with the bonus that, much like Alien: Covenant, most of them are paired off in couples) and only so many ways that it utilises the contents of the mall for the sake of human-versus-robot shenanigans. The Corman vibe is appreciable to an extent (you even get cameos from the likes of Dick Miller and Mary Woronov), but it also means that there's little to really hold onto not just in terms of substance (which I obviously accept as par forthe course) but in terms of thrills (which are a little too sporadic for a movie this short). Still, at least various aspects - the clunky-looking robots, their varied methods of pursuit and murder, the humans' inventive ways of fighting and escaping, the '80s camp of it all - make it a mildly enjoyable experience.




A system of cells interlinked
Encounter with the Unknown

Thomasen, 1972





As promised, we sat down to watch this little-known flick, with mostly my hazy, childhood nostalgia as the driving force. Sadly, the film mostly didn't deliver. A couple of creepy moments, combined with an overall unsettling vibe due to the grainy picture and jittery soundtrack, kept this from being a total dud, but for the most part, it's just plain bad.

The film features three stories. The first story, which my wife liked the best, is about a hex that is placed on 3 college students after a prank they play results in the death of a fellow student. The second, and arguably strongest story, is about a hole in the ground, from which demonic growls and wailing can be heard. After a farm boy's dog vanishes near (or into) the hole, a collection of yahoos and local yokels, who as a collective are as dumb as a sack full of hammers, decide to investigate. While the premise is perhaps the strongest of the three stories, all the actors are so bad, you never get pulled into the proceedings. The final story is the old urban legend about the hitchhiker on the bridge. The weakest of the three, leaving the film to go out with a whimper. A silly narration at the end that basically recaps everything you had just seen rubs salt in the wound. As if I didn't just waste 90 minutes watching all this trash, and I now need some jack wagon going over each detail in an interminable monotone. Apparently, Serling wouldn't do the final narration, so he vanishes after introducing the final story. Not a good movie!



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
DAY 9

Chopping Mall
Jim Wynorski, 1986


A group of friends sneak into a shopping mall after-hours to party only for the mall's robotic security guards to start attacking them.

It almost feels like cheating to watch ostensible horror movies that lean too hard into the idea of being fun little cinematic rides, especially in the wake of a cinematic gut-punch like Cannibal Holocaust. As the ultimately inaccurate pun of the title implies, Chopping Mall sets its modest sights on providing a quick 77-minute burst of killer-robot antics in the middle of one of cinema's most iconic shopping malls, the Sherman Oaks Galleria. The catch is that the resulting movie is a little too perfunctory for its own good. I know better than to expect anything particularly deep from a movie called Chopping Mall but it has some issues filling out its already-short running time with some extremely flat characters (with the bonus that, much like Alien: Covenant, most of them are paired off in couples) and only so many ways that it utilises the contents of the mall for the sake of human-versus-robot shenanigans. The Corman vibe is appreciable to an extent (you even get cameos from the likes of Dick Miller and Mary Woronov), but it also means that there's little to really hold onto not just in terms of substance (which I obviously accept as par forthe course) but in terms of thrills (which are a little too sporadic for a movie this short). Still, at least various aspects - the clunky-looking robots, their varied methods of pursuit and murder, the humans' inventive ways of fighting and escaping, the '80s camp of it all - make it a mildly enjoyable experience.

I am so disappointed there is no chopping in this movie.



Welcome to the human race...
It is my understanding that it was originally called Killbots but that's nowhere near as good a title.



Welcome to the human race...
DAY 10

Night of the Comet
Thom Eberhardt, 1984


Two teenage sisters wake up the night after a comet passes near Earth only to find that it has caused most of the population to either die or become zombies.

Despite my mixed opinion about Chopping Mall, I figured I'd continue in the shamelessly '80s horror-comedy vein with Night of the Comet. There's certainly a fair bit of promise to it - that image above gives a pretty good idea as to what the aesthetic of the movie is going to be like as post-comet Earth is shrouded in a thick reddish haze, clothes laid out with only piles of red dust where their occupants used to be. Even having the protagonists be a pair of Valley Girl archetypes seems like it could make a novel twist on the usual last-man-on-Earth narrative. Unfortunately, Night of the Comet never truly does anything to pay off as either a horror or a comedy. The writing does little to back up the leads' sarcastic performances and often manifests in numbingly broad ways, such as when the duo's post-apocalyptic shopping montage plays out to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". It's extremely tame on the horror front as well, promising everything from intelligent ghouls (which are so few and far between that they might as well not exist) to scientists with mysterious agendas (who barely matter until the last third) but with little in the way of tension or terror. As such, I have to write it off as largely wasted potential that's not completely terrible to watch but just sort of exists without making much in the way of a positive impression.