2020 Halloween Challenge

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Unfortunately I was interrupted about 30 minutes in by maintenance to let us know this weekend they will replacing all balcony doors in the apartment complex this weekend. They performed measuring and and told us to move any furniture in the area away so as to give them room. Iíll have to finish it sometime tonight.
*sigh*





Holidays, 2016 (A movie on Netflix)

Holidays is a horror anthology, which almost always means a mixed bag. In this case, the mix skews toward the negative. Each short is about 15 minutes long, and many of them feel only half thought out. Even some of the stronger entries feel like they needed more room to breathe.

Dennis Widmyer's "Valentine's Day" is intentionally over the top in its portrayal of a young woman with a dangerous crush on her swim coach. The short's garish style sometimes works against the film, as the hyperbolic colors and sequences also bleed into the acting. You will also see the ending coming a mile away.

Gary Shore's "St. Patrick's Day," about a bubbly school teacher whose life goes to pieces after a strange new girl enrolls had some wickedly funny moments, such as a blunt conversation between the teacher and her doctor when the teacher finds she is pregnant. There's some good imagery as well. But the editing is frantic, adding to the sense that the short could have used another 5 minutes.

Sarah Adina Smith's "Mother's Day" feels the most like it could have been really good given a bit more time. Without being too specific, the film simply chooses to end at a moment that in a feature film would have been the climax. The acting and direction are solid.

Nicholas McCarthy's "Easter" is slight, but won me over with its Jesus/Easter Bunny hybrid monster. It was the only short that felt like it had solid ownership of its narrative in the time given.

Anthony Scott Burns' "Father's Day" was easily my favorite short, and it was also the most minimal. A young woman receives a cassette tape in which the voice of her long-lost father tells he that he's waiting. She follows directions from the tape (the entire short, no exaggeration, is her listening to the tape as she walks), which she slowly realizes was recorded one day as she walked with her father. As she draws closer to her destination, she listens to not only her father but her younger self. The sound design and voice acting are great. I really liked this one.

Kevin Smith's "Halloween" is like an after thought. Three cam girls take revenge on their abusive "boss"--a man who keeps them essentially captive in a house and demeans and abuses them. The writing is not good, and the short gestures at the most reductive "girl power" dynamic. Even the message of empowerment is muddled, as it both wants to bemoan the treatment of sex workers and show women as being powerful by running their own business in sex work.

Scott Stewart's "Christmas" is a hot mess, but it's made watchable by a fun turn by Seth Green and Clare Grant. Weirdly, the short takes a total, inexplicable left turn in the last two minutes that left me pretty confused. Like two different horror shorts smashed together.

Adam Egypt Mortimer's "New Year's Eve" is another one that's not bad, but just far too predictable.

It's not the worst horror anthology I've seen, but there are very few high points. It is the definition of mediocre. I would still recommend it, if only to fast forward to "Father's Day".



The Ghost of Yotsuya, 1959 (A ghost movie)

There are many film adaptations of this story. This is the second one that I've seen.

A man named Iemon commits murder in order to get the chance to marry Oiwa. After even more ruthless deceit (which, yup, involves more murder), he succeeds in marrying her. But Oiwa is distressed by the disappearance of her sister and Iemon's refusal to follow through on his promise to avenge her father's death (yup, Iemon is actually the person who killed her dad and framed someone else). Having pawned all of their possessions (including several sentimental items belonging to Oiwa), Iemon decides he'd be happier married to a wealthy woman who has a crush on him. What to do? Why, more murder of course! Iemon plots to kill Oiwa (and frame her for adultery), but Oiwa's ghost isn't having it.

The real strength and delight of this film is its imagery, such as the scene above in which an interior of a room suddenly transforms into a pond. There's a conceit that Oiwa's ghost is making Iemon mad, and specifically that she tricks him into seeing things. In the second half of the film, these sequences are really excellent: her ghost hovers impossibly on the ceiling, takes the place of his new bride, or emerges from the waters where he sank her body. Iemon and his main accomplice are haunted by the sudden appearance of blood or dark hair.

Overall this was really satisfying and a real visual treat.



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

Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies




Two movies in and I'm calling it quits on the Wishmaster series.

Absolutely nothing about this film is fun. The first film had a lot of faults, but it also had a cheesy charm and obvious admiration for the genre. This entry is a cheap money grab on a somewhat recognizable name?

We spend most of our time in prison as our demon boy grants disturbing wishes to inmates. One such inmate wishes his lawyer would go screw himself...cue awkward laughs when it actually happens? An even more wooden protagonist appears here and the budget had me laughing at the ridiculousness of their so called "carnage".

Andrew Divoff left the series as this entry because he didn't like the script for the third entry. Damn...how bad can THOSE movies be?
__________________
"A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have."

Suspect's Reviews



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Oct 5th

BATS




It's kind of fun watching Loud Diamond Phillips shoot randomly at flying bats with his gun and having PERFECT aim. Some funny puppeteering effects give the film some laughable charm, it certainly made my friends and I enjoy it more. Watching this alone, you'll hate it. Watching it with friends and laughing at how ridiculous it all is, makes it somewhat bearable.

I nodded off for maybe 5 minutes when they arrive at a mine they suspect the bats are roosting. I wake up and they are decked out in hazmat suits underground....I was like, what?

A fun scene where the bats raise hell on the small town is fun and LDP certainly needs to be in more horror movies cause he's having a ball, but the overall product is clearly rushed. Produced in just over five months, the picture continues to hold one of the top spots for fastest produced 35mm feature films (from script-to-screen) to receive a wide-release. IT SHOWS PEOPLE!!!



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Oct 6th

Cellar Dweller




Not at all what I was expecting.

Jeffery Combs is killed in the opening segment. We get a full view shot of the BEAST in the opening shots killing any and all suspense for the creature. We then transition 30 years later where we pick up the story about artists living together to craft their own specific art pieces. One is a performer, the other a painter, a videographer, a comic-book artist....anyways, these people all suck and they all deserve to die.

We find out that our comic book artist used a demonic book and it brings her drawings to life. How do we defeat it? Use whiteout of course, it worked!!! Now let's draw our friends and bring them back from the dead, it worked!!! Now let's draw the creature again, this time in chains....wait, what? Now let's burn the paper and destroy him for good, alright, I'm on board for that I guess. Oh no, the drawings of our friends we brought back are burning too!!! They are all dead again!!!

Cue hilarious final scream shot. Credits.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Oct 7th

Hocus Pocus




My son wanted to watch this, so why not.

It's not particularly great, but it has the nostalgic charm that people my age tend to gravitate towards, myself included.

The witches themselves give great performances, as does Thora Birch. Great early CGI facial animation on the animatronic cat. A classic HALLOWEEN film that I imagine I will revisit again...and again....and again...



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Oct 8th

I'm Thinking of Ending Things




There was a point during this movie where I leaned over to my wife and told her I had it figured out. I was about 90% correct and it made the rest of the film a little bit more enjoyable. This adaptation of the book with the same title is Kauffman waxing poetic as he introduces us to our two leads with a 20 minute car ride where we have to just listen. He spices things up a bit by shooting it with obtuse camera angles giving off an unsettling vibe, which does intrigue for a bit, but 20 minutes does tend to drag after awhile.

We are then introduced to Jesse Plemons' parents. His bringing his girlfriend over to meet them. She feels uncomfortable because she wants to break up with him and things get even weirder for her as time seems to not be quite right while over at their house. The parents are indeed highlights as Toni Collette pulls off Tilda Swinton like chameleon vibes. She's simply great here and mirrors her performance a bit from Hereditary. David Thewlis is the father and he's just as "odd". These two are welcomed additions to a small film where most of the interesting action takes place within their language.

We notice that small details change often, how they met, where she lives, her school and career interests. Why? As we dig deeper into unravelling the mystery it all begins to make sense for those paying attention and confuse others that expected a more traditional horror story. I'd hesitate calling this horror, but it does have an eerie sense of dread lingering over every frame.

By the end, you might think to yourself you wasted your time. You might think Kauffman is simply making it weird for the sake of being weird and having fans of the film call you dumb for "not getting it". By the end I felt...underwhelmed. Elements are there, but the pieces never really fit perfectly to create an clear picture of entertainment or thought provoking think pieces. It's a well crafted film, with great performances and a story you either get, or don't.



Welcome to the human race...
Oct 4

Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies




Two movies in and I'm calling it quits on the Wishmaster series.

Absolutely nothing about this film is fun. The first film had a lot of faults, but it also had a cheesy charm and obvious admiration for the genre. This entry is a cheap money grab on a somewhat recognizable name?

We spend most of our time in prison as our demon boy grants disturbing wishes to inmates. One such inmate wishes his lawyer would go screw himself...cue awkward laughs when it actually happens? An even more wooden protagonist appears here and the budget had me laughing at the ridiculousness of their so called "carnage".

Andrew Divoff left the series as this entry because he didn't like the script for the third entry. Damn...how bad can THOSE movies be?
Don't forget how it gets weirdly Christian by having the protagonist be a thief whose love interest in a priest and her encounter with the djinn leads to her becoming born again and...cutting off her pinky finger like she's in the Yakuza? And yeah, the wishes are definitely not as much fun this time around - case in point, the mob boss who gets his face swapped with a different mob boss. Now that I think about it, I might have to dock my own rating for this one a bit (though for some reason I wouldn't go for 0.5).
__________________
Iro is to reviews as Kubrick is to films.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Don't forget how it gets weirdly Christian by having the protagonist be a thief whose love interest in a priest and her encounter with the djinn leads to her becoming born again and...cutting off her pinky finger like she's in the Yakuza? And yeah, the wishes are definitely not as much fun this time around - case in point, the mob boss who gets his face swapped with a different mob boss. Now that I think about it, I might have to dock my own rating for this one a bit (though for some reason I wouldn't go for 0.5).
Please don't make me remember scenes from this movie.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Suspect's Horror List 2020

1. Suspiria
2. Silver Bullet
3. Wishmaster
4. Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies
5. Bats
6. Cellar Dweller
7. Hocus Pocus
8. I'm Thinking of Ending Things



Welcome to the human race...
Please don't make me remember scenes from this movie.
As you wish.




Oct 7th

Hocus Pocus




My son wanted to watch this, so why not.

It's not particularly great, but it has the nostalgic charm that people my age tend to gravitate towards, myself included.

The witches themselves give great performances, as does Thora Birch. Great early CGI facial animation on the animatronic cat. A classic HALLOWEEN film that I imagine I will revisit again...and again....and again...
I think that it's pretty great as a film for someone like 8-16 years old. Just gory/scary enough that it doesn't feel like a little kids' movie, but light enough that you're not giving most of them nightmares.



I donít k or if it was me, or maybe it requires a few watches, but I didnít think Les Diaboliques was great.
It wasnít bad, mind you, but it left something to be desired.
Just...ok.
Feardotcom in the other was a terrible film. Fulfills the rotten tomatoes category. Ugh



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
I think that it's pretty great as a film for someone like 8-16 years old. Just gory/scary enough that it doesn't feel like a little kids' movie, but light enough that you're not giving most of them nightmares.
Uh oh, I'm a terrible parent. My kid is 3 years old!!!!

He loved the zombie in it.



Uh oh, I'm a terrible parent. My kid is 3 years old!!!!

He loved the zombie in it.
Every kid is different. If he liked the zombie, well, that's the scariest part in my opinion! I'm sure he was fine. Now me, I was still freaked out by the part where he cuts his mouth open as like a 17 year old.



Howl, 2015 (A werewolf movie)

So, I really enjoy werewolf movies. Kind of like vampires, I feel as though they can be used to tell some interesting stories with allegorical parallels to themes like self-control, mental health issues, growing up/puberty, etc.

Unfortunately, I've seen pretty much all of what would be considered "the greats", and those I have not seen are not available for free on the services I use. Womp womp.

Thus I ended up watching one of the higher rated werewolf movies I could watch for free, Howl.

It was exactly what I expected, which is to say that it was slightly less than "fine."

A small group of passengers on an overnight train are put in danger when the train breaks down in a forest and they begin to be stalked by mysterious (spoiler alert: werewolves!!) creatures. The main protagonist is a man who works as a guard/ticket collector on the train and his main character arc is about him being "more of a man."

Nothing sums up the generic nature of this film more than the subtitles, because the film itself only gives like three of the characters actual names. So the subtitles refer to them as character descriptions: "spoiled girl", "smart woman," "young man", "posh woman," aggressive man." Yes, this is literally how the subtitles describe these people. And not just at the beginning! All the way to the end!!

The main character, Roy, is pretty weak sauce. The film clearly wants this to be a "meek dude learns how to man up in the face of danger!" story, but does kind of a poor job establishing his less-than-manly status. He doesn't like his job because it requires a lot of unpleasant interaction with customers and he asks out a woman he likes but she's not into him. That's like the best that the film can do.

And later when things start to get bad, we don't really care about the characters. A whole big thing in the first third of the film is that all the passengers are unnecessarily nasty to Roy, so it's hard to then switch gears to being sad about them being eaten or whatever, especially when, remember, they don't even have names.

There was one likable character, a stereotypical "low class young man whose actually very smart!" kid. The actor/character actually has some charisma, and was the only person I genuinely hoped would survive. Also, Sean Pertwee is in the film for like 5 minutes. Then, realizing what kind of movie it is, he wisely throws himself into the maw of the nearest werewolf.

Movies like this are maybe my least favorite. Not good enough to recommend or be at all memorable. Not bad enough to laugh at. Just a bland piece of white bread that makes a good enough substitute for a meal.



I watched The Blob (1958) for my classic creature feature. This movie stars Steve McQueen and Aneta Corsaut (Helen Crump from The Andy Griffith Show). I really like it. Obviously it was a bit dated but it was a nice bit of mindless entertainment.

For my H.P. Lovecraft adaptation I chose Re-Animator (1985). This was gory and weird and campy and exactly what I like my 80's horror to be. I think anyone who enjoys 80's horror will enjoy this movie.



The Masque of the Red Death (1964) was my choice for an Edgar Allan Poe adaptation. One reason I usually try to avoid older movies is the acting, like how this one seemed as though it was intended for the stage not the screen. Even so, this wasn't a bad movie. I enjoyed watching it but it holds no re-watch value for me and I'll certainly not be adding it to my collection.

Project: Metalbeast (1995) was my choice for werewolf film. Metal beast looked like an older movie than it was, I'd have sworn it was mid 80's if I hadn't know better. I didn't particularly enjoy this movie even though I love creature features and am a huge fan of werewolves.



For my H.P. Lovecraft adaptation I chose Re-Animator (1985). This was gory and weird and campy and exactly what I like my 80's horror to be. I think anyone who enjoys 80's horror will enjoy this movie.
I was a pretty big fan of the sequel, Bride of Re-Animator, though your mileage may vary. I thought that the last act/final 20 minutes of the film was outstanding.