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I forgot the opening line.


GHOSTS OF MARS - (2001)

Ghosts of Mars looks like it would have been a great straight-up horror movie, but unfortunately John Carpenter kind of mixed genres here and turned much of this into a pretty standard action flick. Martian entities are possessing workers on a thriving colony, whereupon they mutilate themselves, file their teeth into sharp points and decapitate those not possessed - parading the heads on spikes. This film actually builds a pretty decent atmosphere, but the haunted, creepy feeling slips through our fingers as the movie simply morphs into Assault on Precinct 13 with aliens instead of gang members - our group of survivors fight their way from stronghold to stronghold - whereupon the most interesting aspect of the conflict is the fact that if you kill one of these things, it's spirit will be unleashed to possess another person anew. Ice Cube feels miscast, but the make-up effects are really impressive and the overall production design great. This has a much better atmosphere than I anticipated - one that really deserves to be in a better movie. As it is, all is wasted on standard action/survival tropes while the most interesting facets of the film are kept at a distance. I thought this would be worse, by it's reputation, but all in all it's still very forgettable.

Discomfort : 6/10
Art : 2/10
Weird : 5/10
Fun : 3/10
Interesting : 5/10
Enjoyable : 2/10
Exciting : 3/10

Overall : 4/10
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Originally Posted by IMDb trivia
In a 2011 interview,*John Carpenter*stated he was intentionally trying to make Ghosts Of Mars as over-the-top and tongue-in-cheek as possible. He claimed he was trying to make a mindless and silly, yet highly entertaining and thrilling, action flick where "the universe allows its characters and plot points to be silly without being full-fledged comedies", akin to 80's movies like*Commando (1985),*Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), and*Predator (1987). Looking back on the film and its criticism, he stated he was frustrated that most people thought the film was meant to be a serious horror movie, and feels that he should've made the film more openly comedic and "in on the joke", saying "...it's called Ghosts Of Mars for Christ's sake, why would people take this movie seriously?"

I still haven't seen Ghosts of Mars. I do wonder how much keeping that quote in mind will affect how I respond to it.



Recommendations for the 1960s?

Looking at Venus in Furs for 1969.
My opinion of Venus in Furs is mixed. Mainly it varies greatly from scene to scene - but overall I'm still really positive on the movie because of the scenes that I do like.

So, not mentioning The Haunting, The Innocents, Carnival of Souls, Kwaidan, or Night of the Living Dead because they seem like the obvious ones and some people already have...

Crumbsroom praised Eye of the Devil (1966) (I also thought it was pretty solid)

Recent-ish watches:
Blood and Roses
Targets
The Face of Another (horror adjacent. It becomes a horror movie in the last 10 minutes as I recall)
Horrors of Malformed Men (I thought this one was bonkers)

Others, going through letterboxd
Goke: Bodysnatcher from Hell
The X From Outer Space
Spirits of the Dead
Spirits of the Dead
Kuroneko
Jigoku
Peeping Tom
And also, obviously, any Bava blindspot.

and *cough*
The Satanist (you can supply your own MST 3K quips while watching it)

I don't recall Mother Joan of the Angels seeming like a horror film, but maybe if it was wedged into a large line-up of horror films as the historical, dramatic horror movie. Good movie though.

ETA:
On my watchlist are (fwiw)
The Cremator
Il Demonio
Matango
The Coffin Joe movies (though I'm not sure I'm expecting these to be particularly my thing. Just allegedly the first horror movies from Brazil, I think. So I'm curious about them).



I still haven't seen Ghosts of Mars. I do wonder how much keeping that quote in mind will affect how I respond to it.
I doubt it. It's simply a bad movie.



I forgot the opening line.


HELL HOUSE LLC ORIGINS : THE CARMICHAEL MANOR - (2023)

This third entry in the Hell House series of found footage horror movies gets a little too showy too early - I think a good scary movie really works at building an atmosphere before you see dead people poking their head around the corner and balls start rolling down the hallway ala The Shining. Still, it gets a lot of mileage from this modern phenomenon of clowns being somewhat scary (something I knew nothing about until Kramer revealed his phobia in Seinfeld.) In throwing everything bar the kitchen sink at us, it gets in a few decent creepy moments and frightening imagery - it's really hit and miss, and the mockumentary tone doesn't quite gel (gruesome crime scene photographs should look more grainy and lack artistry) but I'll take what I can get. It's also another one of these movies where the people checking out the haunted mansion see a lot of unexplainable stuff and ghosts, but act as if they're not sure - hell, they even watch their own videos, see it, and then go back to normality somehow. If I saw the stuff they had, I'd never shut up about it - never mind just carrying on as if nothing is amiss. I think it does it's best in it's final stretch, and finishing with a flourish goes a long way to satisfying those looking for scary found footage flicks. If you fear clowns, this'll send a shiver or two down your spine.

Discomfort : 4/10
Art : 3/10
Weird : 5/10
Fun : 7/10
Interesting : 5/10
Enjoyable : 6/10
Exciting : 6/10

Overall : 5.5/10



My opinion of Venus in Furs is mixed. Mainly it varies greatly from scene to scene - but overall I'm still really positive on the movie because of the scenes that I do like.
I kicked it to the curb pretty fast and I'm watching Django the Bastard instead, which was definitely the right choice for my mood this week.


Crumbsroom praised Eye of the Devil (1966) (I also thought it was pretty solid)

Recent-ish watches:
Blood and Roses
Targets
Horrors of Malformed Men (I thought this one was bonkers)
The X From Outer Space
And also, obviously, any Bava blindspot.

and *cough*
The Satanist (you can supply your own MST 3K quips while watching it)
Il Demonio
These are the ones I haven't seen. I'll keep them in mind, thanks!

And I really enjoyed the first Coffin Joe film, at least.



I still haven't seen Ghosts of Mars. I do wonder how much keeping that quote in mind will affect how I respond to it.

Part of the trouble with that quote is he is ignoring that in making a supposedly campy, bonkers, Commando-esque movie, that the end result is pretty flat and boring and lifeless.


That said, I definitely think there are interesting ideas in the film, and I think if he'd done in when he was more on point, it could have been pretty good. But it's not really, and probably the worst film of his I've seen all the way through (I couldn't even finish Vampires...but even that it's probably leagues more fun than Ghosts of Mars)



I kicked it to the curb pretty fast and I'm watching Django the Bastard instead, which was definitely the right choice for my mood this week.




These are the ones I haven't seen. I'll keep them in mind, thanks!

And I really enjoyed the first Coffin Joe film, at least.

You haven't seen Targets?


That one is essential, even if some might balk at calling it horror (they'd be wrong, but they definitely balk anyways)



You haven't seen Targets?


That one is essential, even if some might balk at calling it horror (they'd be wrong, but they definitely balk anyways)
I am also surprised that I haven't seen Targets.



I saw Targets as a teenager decades ago and thought it was great. So it again recently, and it held up.
I have to agree with Crumbs that that's probably the "essential" one on the list (and hey, there was a criterion version put out this year).
Of what I listed, I think Blood and Roses is probably the most Tak movie.



I saw Targets as a teenager decades ago and thought it was great. So it again recently, and it held up.
I have to agree with Crumbs that that's probably the "essential" one on the list (and hey, there was a criterion version put out this year).
Of what I listed, I think Blood and Roses is probably the most Tak movie.
I'll have to see if I can find it on YouTube or something. It's not streaming.



Another 60's horror that's great, that is overlooked, and also probably not considered a horror, is Confessions of an Opium Eater (1962)


Then, I'm just going to go straight into the 50's and recommend 1958's Colossus of New York. Because why not?



Iíve never seen the Masters of Horror anthology series but they were talking about it on an old Blank Check I was listening to. Worth a watch? I assume like most anthologies thereís good and bad within but with the names involved Iím guessing itís an overall positive experience?



Iíve never seen the Masters of Horror anthology series but they were talking about it on an old Blank Check I was listening to. Worth a watch? I assume like most anthologies thereís good and bad within but with the names involved Iím guessing itís an overall positive experience?
Ehhhhhh . . . my experience with the series was more negative than positive. And I was unimpressed by the inelegant way that most of the episodes threw in female nudity, it's very "We're a cable show!".

I'd rank the episodes thusly:

The Good
Incident On and Off a Mountain Road--adapted from a short story by the great Joe Lansdale, it benefits from being the perfect length of story

Sounds Like--Directed by Brad Anderson, with his signature blend of atmosphere and shocking violence.

The Screwfly Solution--a super dark premise (an epidemic of violence against women breaks out and it's so normalized that it takes people a while to realize something is seriously wrong), I thank this episode for introducing me to James Tiptree (aka Alice Sheldon) the sci-fi author.

Deer Woman--I really love when horror taps into folktales or mythology where gods/demons/monsters are just forces of nature and not necessarily evil. I thought that this was a charming, funny story.

Sick Girl--Funny and sad. This is a horror movie where you like all the main characters, the two leads and the guy who plays the main character's best friend.

Pick Me Up--Doesn't quite stick every moment, but this tale of dueling serial killers is a lot of fun.

Fair-Haired Child (maybe?)--I remember enjoying this one, but at the same time I can't remember much about it.

The Passable

Cigarette Burns--many people consider this one of the best of the series. I just didn't gel with it.

Dreams in the Witch House--some fans really enjoy this one. I found it mediocre.

Dance of the Dead--I watched it, but remember nothing about it.

Haeckel's Tale--Likewise, watched it, but unmemorable.

Valerie on the Stairs--Another one that made little impression.

Right to Die--Can't remember if this one is on the lower end of passable. I know I liked the actors in it.

Family--Meh.

We All Scream for Ice Scream--Meh.

The Black Cat--Another one I barely remember.

The Washingtonians--Goes on too long.

Dream Cruise--Unmemorable.

Hard Pass

Imprint--Overly violent and cruel, in my opinion, with some bad acting to boot. The only episode in the series I'd consider basically torture porn.

Pro-Life--It just . . . bad

Pelts--It's also just . . . . bad

Jenifer--She's deformed, but don't worry. She has nice breasts because heaven forbid a woman exist on this show that we can't sexually exploit. Sigh.

Haven't Seen

Chocolate, Homecoming, The Damned Thing, The V Word



I forgot the opening line.


HELL HOUSE LLC - (2015)

I might revisit Hell House LLC one day - aaand I might not. It's going to exist as one of those flawed horror movies that had great moments sprinkled throughout - great moments I want to see again, but have to watch a mediocre movie to. A group of Ghost House entrepreneurs dress a house up in ghoulish fashion before realising it really is haunted - and cause a full-on scary catastrophe we see mockumentary style in various clips of video footage. If I saw scared people running out of a Ghost House attraction I'd assume that they'd done a good job - but they did a really bad job that included dismissing footage one of their own kept showing them. You see, they'd always try to scare each other, and perform elaborate pranks - so who is going to believe a person who regularly tries to outdo themselves in trying to convince others? I thought some of this was good. Better than the last half dozen horror films I've watched. Not knocked out of the park - but decent in many found footage ways. It might try to do too much, but I see it as a glass quarter full, and really enjoy the segments which are quite scary. It could have been great - the idea itself is sound, and stuff like the flash-light scene shows genuine invention along with various other great moments. Some aren't as impressive, and drag the film down a little - and that fly in the ointment might be it's undoing for many. Was the ending a let-down? Yeah -
WARNING: spoilers below
goons in black cloaks materializing isn't as terrifying as that damn clown!


Discomfort : 4/10
Art : 3/10
Weird : 5/10
Fun : 7/10
Interesting : 6/10
Enjoyable : 7/10
Exciting : 6/10

Overall : 6/10



Victim of The Night


HELL HOUSE LLC - (2015)

I might revisit Hell House LLC one day - aaand I might not. It's going to exist as one of those flawed horror movies that had great moments sprinkled throughout - great moments I want to see again, but have to watch a mediocre movie to. A group of Ghost House entrepreneurs dress a house up in ghoulish fashion before realising it really is haunted - and cause a full-on scary catastrophe we see mockumentary style in various clips of video footage. If I saw scared people running out of a Ghost House attraction I'd assume that they'd done a good job - but they did a really bad job that included dismissing footage one of their own kept showing them. You see, they'd always try to scare each other, and perform elaborate pranks - so who is going to believe a person who regularly tries to outdo themselves in trying to convince others? I thought some of this was good. Better than the last half dozen horror films I've watched. Not knocked out of the park - but decent in many found footage ways. It might try to do too much, but I see it as a glass quarter full, and really enjoy the segments which are quite scary. It could have been great - the idea itself is sound, and stuff like the flash-light scene shows genuine invention along with various other great moments. Some aren't as impressive, and drag the film down a little - and that fly in the ointment might be it's undoing for many. Was the ending a let-down? Yeah -
WARNING: spoilers below
goons in black cloaks materializing isn't as terrifying as that damn clown!


Discomfort : 4/10
Art : 3/10
Weird : 5/10
Fun : 7/10
Interesting : 6/10
Enjoyable : 7/10
Exciting : 6/10

Overall : 6/10
My experience with this was that I was pressured by friends to watch it for a few years but had no interest, finally got around to watching it and almost turned it off I thought it was so poor, pushed through because those friends have finished movies they didn't like for me, and ultimately found just enough things stuck in my teeth after that I couldn't just swallow and pretend I'd not tasted a thing.
The movie has myriad failures. Just eye-rolling and painful at time and pretty poor at adequately executing the found-footage format much less making a decent movie. But again, a few things, particularly the climax/denouement, stuck well enough that I did end up talking about them. So how could I call the movie a total failure.
And then, what, a month or so later, it was on Shudder's TV-channel thingy they do where (unlike any other streaming service I know) they just run movies they have streaming continuously on a sort of "channel". And it happened to be at the part I thought was the best part of the movie and I felt like I had to watch it again and before I knew it I found myself feeling like I should re-watch this at some point and come to a verdict.
Which I have not.



My experience with this was that I was pressured by friends to watch it for a few years but had no interest, finally got around to watching it and almost turned it off I thought it was so poor, pushed through because those friends have finished movies they didn't like for me, and ultimately found just enough things stuck in my teeth after that I couldn't just swallow and pretend I'd not tasted a thing.
The movie has myriad failures. Just eye-rolling and painful at time and pretty poor at adequately executing the found-footage format much less making a decent movie. But again, a few things, particularly the climax/denouement, stuck well enough that I did end up talking about them. So how could I call the movie a total failure.
And then, what, a month or so later, it was on Shudder's TV-channel thingy they do where (unlike any other streaming service I know) they just run movies they have streaming continuously on a sort of "channel". And it happened to be at the part I thought was the best part of the movie and I felt like I had to watch it again and before I knew it I found myself feeling like I should re-watch this at some point and come to a verdict.
Which I have not.
How do these friends feel about the HH LLC sequels? I just learned there's like 4 of these.

Also, have you seen The Houses That October Built? Your description of HHLLC is similar to how I felt about THTOB. Not a great "movie", but the ratio of cool moments to eye-roller moments was about equal. (Probably more eye-rollers on second thought.) But the creepy moments were effective enough for me to overlook the cheese. Haven't seen it in ages though.
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Victim of The Night
How do these friends feel about the HH LLC sequels? I just learned there's like 4 of these.

Also, have you seen The Houses That October Built? Your description of HHLLC is similar to how I felt about THTOB. Not a great "movie", but the ratio of cool moments to eye-roller moments was about equal. (Probably more eye-rollers on second thought.) But the creepy moments were effective enough for me to overlook the cheese. Haven't seen it in ages though.
They haven't watched any of them. I don't know why exactly, you've inspired me to actually ask them. I shall report back.
I didn't see that one either for the same reasons I avoided this one for so long. I have nothing against the FF format but you have to execute it. HHLLC does a very poor job at this. Very little of it is even credible. Which, honestly, is an inherent risk of using the format. So if you decide to do it, you have to know going in that you must execute. You must be credible or all you have are the few cool scenes you made the whole thing for in the first place. Blair Witch, Rec, even Paranormal Activity understood and got it right (whether one "likes" those movies or not they work within the rules of the format). HHLLC did not and so you're left just appreciating the creepy bits as much as you can and then slogging through the rest of the "movie".
So... maybe I'll watch THTOB... but maybe not.



I know I’ve seen Hellhouse but around the same time I watched it I’ve seen other movies with a similar premise and I can’t tell you the difference between any of them.

And thanks for your input on MoH @Takoma11. I’ll probably hold off until I’m more desperate for something to watch.



I didn't see that one either for the same reasons I avoided this one for so long. I have nothing against the FF format but you have to execute it. HHLLC does a very poor job at this. Very little of it is even credible. Which, honestly, is an inherent risk of using the format. So if you decide to do it, you have to know going in that you must execute. You must be credible or all you have are the few cool scenes you made the whole thing for in the first place. Blair Witch, Rec, even Paranormal Activity understood and got it right (whether one "likes" those movies or not they work within the rules of the format). HHLLC did not and so you're left just appreciating the creepy bits as much as you can and then slogging through the rest of the "movie".
So... maybe I'll watch THTOB... but maybe not.
Yeah, everything you're saying here applied to THTOB for me, so I wouldn't prioritize it anytime soon. One of my found -footage pet peeves is when something cool happens and you can tell the filmmakers didn't know how to resolve it so they just resort to a blast of static followed by a new unrelated scene. Lazy. THTOB is full of stuff like that. So yeah, the porcelain doll-faced girl is creepy and I think there's a creepy clown in a bar or something, but whether or not that's enough to warrant sitting through the whole thing is debatable.