2020 Halloween Challenge

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Well, this pretty much sucked.
Dang, I was actually a pretty huge fan of the first film. Still gonna watch this one eventually but I guess I'll re-calibrate my expectations.
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October 8th - A Film streaming on Hulu

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell is Terence Fishers last film and Cushing' last run as the good doctor. Part of what I love about the Hammer series is that it's less about the monsters and more about the doctor well the last one gives us the best monster of the series.


What I like about these films is that the supporting characters are given back stories and developed into real players in the saga. Frankenstein is almost a supporting figure in these tales but in this one we get Cushing in his most removed and calculating form. He's not as evil as he was in the last one but he's still a ripe bastard and the Asylum backdrop works.


Still the film isn't quite as good as the previous two the second/third acts were lacking a bit and while the monster is great he could have been used more.











October 9th - 13. A Brian De Palma/William Castle/Wes Craven film

Phantom of the Paradise is a drug fueled non-stop genre breaker. I don't think I've ever seen a film that attempts as many different genres as possible...it's admirable but it's also a complete mess. This is a comedy/horror/musical which is sort of an adaptation (or more interpretation) of Faust/Phantom of the Opera/Portrait of Dorian Grey.


The big problem with this movie is Swan...the villain is the best part of the story while the Phantom Winslow just sucks...the personality the design the singing it's all horrible and you end up enjoying the background more than the lead. The film is also very short so none of the genres really feel properly served...it's one forgettable music set piece to the next one.





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Dang, I was actually a pretty huge fan of the first film. Still gonna watch this one eventually but I guess I'll re-calibrate my expectations.
I was too, my friend, but this was a disappointment. It's not like it's malignantly bad, it's just shoddy all-around.



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October 9th - 13. A Brian De Palma/William Castle/Wes Craven film

Phantom of the Paradise is a drug fueled non-stop genre breaker. I don't think I've ever seen a film that attempts as many different genres as possible...it's admirable but it's also a complete mess. This is a comedy/horror/musical which is sort of an adaptation (or more interpretation) of Faust/Phantom of the Opera/Portrait of Dorian Grey.


The big problem with this movie is Swan...the villain is the best part of the story while the Phantom Winslow just sucks...the personality the design the singing it's all horrible and you end up enjoying the background more than the lead. The film is also very short so none of the genres really feel properly served...it's one forgettable music set piece to the next one.


I'm not gonna say "Pistols at dawn" over this one but the is a movie I really like.
I'll admit that I wanted to like it more than I did when I first saw it, and I've had some discussion about this, because the music, overall, is fairly weak with only one or two standout songs (if I'm being kind).
But I think it's a good'un now, unique as well, and I'll watch it any time, though I wouldn't recommend it to everyone.





Zombi Child, 2019 (A zombie film)

I am still mulling over how I feel about this one.

In 1960s Haiti, a mysterious figure puts powdered blowfish poison into a man's shoes. That man, Clavius, collapses and is declared dead and buried. But the "from the inside" sound of the dirt hitting the coffin tells us that Clavius is not dead, and soon men come to dig up his body, "resurrect" him, and put him to work in the sugarcane fields with other zombified men. Flash forward to the present day, and Melissa (Wislanda Louismat), a Haitian immigrant, is the lone student of color at an elite boarding school. She befriends a clique of girls who treat her as both a friend and an object of interest. As they learn more about Melissa's past, and her connection to Clavius, the plot moves toward an intense allegorical representation of cultural appropriation.

There's something very risky about making a horror movie that leans so hard into allegory and exploration of social issues. In fact, much of the film plays as more of a thriller/drama than a horror movie. But despite a lack of subtlety, I found the story engaging on both a literal and allegorical level.

The central critique--about institutional racism and cultural appropriation--could have made for a straight-forward drama on its own. Melissa is allowed to join the clique, but it's clear that the other girls still consider her an "other". They at once exclude her from their whispered conversations, but at the same time expect her to let them in on her personal history. When Melissa recites a confrontational poem (addressed at the "white world"), the girls listen in stunned silence. But later they show no cognitive dissonance as they sing along to a hip hop song. There's a dark humor to a circle of lithe rich white girls standing around in their nightgowns singing "they just want to keep us down, they don't like us Negroes being in power."

The final third of the film is where the actual horror kicks in (aside from the opening sequence with Clavius)--as one of Melissa's friends, upset at her boyfriend breaking up with her, decides to use the power of voodoo to do something about it.

Again, the film's point about racism and privilege is very blatant and upfront. At the same time, I thought that it was pretty well done. And the actual "horror" content at the end was interesting and a visual treat. The whole movie looks really good, actually. The lighting and color scheme are really nice, whether it's the blue light of the 1960s Haiti, or the warm yellow candlelight of the clique's midnight meetings.

My only real complaints with this one were (1) a significant plot element that did not resolve at the film's end and (2) what ultimately felt like a gap at the end between the two stories that the film was showing us in parallel.

I think that pitching this to someone as a horror movie would be a bit off the mark in terms of what that person would then expect, but at the same time I feel like it is very much worthy of being seen.




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Ok, now that I've had time to recover from losing all the work I'd done on Corrierino (my beautiful thread!!! ), here are the 20 or so films I've watched so far this month, sorted as best I can by the categories they fit for this thread (there is some overlap noted):

2. An Edgar Allen Poe Adaptation - Murders In The Rue Morgue
3. An HP Lovecraft Adaptation - The Unnamable, From Beyond, Re-Animator
4. A Spanish Language horror film - Rec
7. An Eastern European/Slavic Language horror film - Viy
8. A Classic Creature Feature (30's-50's) - House Of Frankenstein
9. A Gothic Horror Tale (40's-60's) - The Leopard Man (at least the word Gothic gets used a lot when people describe it)
14. A Linnea Quigley/Jamie Lee Curtis/Barbara Steele film - Night Of The Demons
15. A Peter Cushing/Vincent Price/Christopher Lee film - Scars Of Dracula
16. A Lucio Fulci/Dario Argento/Mario Bava film - Deep Red (technically watched on Sept. 30)
18. An A24/Blumhouse/Roger Corman/Hammer/Universal film - Ouija: Origin Of Evil
19. A Rotten Horror Film from Rotten Tomatoes - Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark (50%)
20. A Fresh Horror Film from Rotten Tomatoes - Phantasm (74%)
21. A Horror Film on Shudder - Re-Animator
23. A Horror Film on Amazon - Jekyll and Hyde: Together Again
25. A Horror Film from 2020 - (The Wolf of Snow Hollow, already in Werewolf category)
26. A Werewolf Film - The Wolf Of Snow Hollow
27. A Vampire Film - The Vampire Bat
28. A Ghost/Haunted House Film - (Ouija: Origin Of Evil, already in Blumhouse category)
29. A Witchcraft/Satanic Film - The Wretched
30. A Frankenstein's Monster Film - Frankenstein (1910)
31. A Zombie Film - Zombieland: Double-Tap

I also watched Slither and The Stuff but I don't know what category those would fit in.
So, it looks like I'm at 23 and counting if the very short Frankenstein (1910) counts, if not then 22.



Mary Shelleyís Frankenstein

Yes, a little known 1994 film starring Robert DeNiro as the creature that hardly anyone speaks of.
To be honest, this is better then the reviews would lead you to believe.
It isnít great, mind you. Thereís problems with the script and dialogue, and some of the acting is overwrought.
But itís probably the most intelligent version Iíve yet seen. (Admittedly, I havenít seen many adaptations yet)
For one thing, itís incredibly philosophical. DeNiro gives a great performance as the Creature, and even has some of the best lines. His existential debate with his creator is a highlight. He gives the Creature a certain tragic and wistful longing for a proper chance to live out his life, a life he didnít ask for, and one he doesnít want to live alone. But those moments are far too few. And unfortunately, the film suffers for it.
Good film, could have been better.



Mary Shelleyís Frankenstein

Yes, a little known 1994 film starring Robert DeNiro as the creature that hardly anyone speaks of.
To be honest, this is better then the reviews would lead you to believe.
It isnít great, mind you. Thereís problems with the script and dialogue, and some of the acting is overwrought.
But itís probably the most intelligent version Iíve yet seen. (Admittedly, I havenít seen many adaptations yet)
For one thing, itís incredibly philosophical. DeNiro gives a great performance as the Creature, and even has some of the best lines. His existential debate with his creator is a highlight. He gives the Creature a certain tragic and wistful longing for a proper chance to live out his life, a life he didnít ask for, and one he doesnít want to live alone. But those moments are far too few. And unfortunately, the film suffers for it.
Good film, could have been better.
Shelley's novel is very interesting and has some neat and complex character dynamics. I'm not sure that any film version I've seen has ever captured the spirit of the book. I liked the 1994 version, and I appreciated that it tried to be loyal to the novel, but it was very much a 6.5 or 7/10 for me. It felt overwrought at times and I didn't love the look of it.



I'm not sure that any film version I've seen has ever captured the spirit of the book.
Have you seen Terror of Frankenstein (1977)? It comes as close to the spirit of the book as any that I've seen. Or the spirit of the book as I interpret it, anyway.




Have you seen Terror of Frankenstein (1977)? It comes as close to the spirit of the book as any that I've seen. Or the spirit of the book as I interpret it, anyway.

I have not!



Shelley's novel is very interesting and has some neat and complex character dynamics. I'm not sure that any film version I've seen has ever captured the spirit of the book. I liked the 1994 version, and I appreciated that it tried to be loyal to the novel, but it was very much a 6.5 or 7/10 for me. It felt overwrought at times and I didn't love the look of it.
Pretty much my assessment of it as well.



The Cleansing Hour (2019) was a great choice for my Shudder movie. This is a unique delivery for a demonic possession movie and very well done.

I chose Monstrum (2018), also on Shudder, for the Asian language film. This is really more of an action/adventure but still pretty good. Anyone looking to venture into Korean films might like this one.





Deep Red, 1975 (a fresh horror film from Rotten Tomatoes)

Argento and I are not the best of friends. Based on other films I like, I'm constantly being told that I should love Argento, but aside from liking Suspira I've felt pretty tepid or even negative toward his films.

Deep Red is probably the best Argento I've seen, and showcases the most powerful use of subjective camera, iconic imagery, and atmosphere that I've seen from him.

So while I give the film an A+ for style, there were a few elements that dinged my enjoyment of it.

Just being honest, the minute that a cruel and unnecessary example of animal cruelty appeared on screen, I felt myself disconnect from the film. In a movie filled with effective and jarring special effects, why was real animal torture needed? About half of my brain spent the rest of the run time thinking about how much of a garbage person someone has to be to torture an animal.

And from a more narrative place, I took issue with some very stupid character actions. I also had mixed feelings about things like the main character repeatedly failing to call the police (or, you know, anyone) on finding significant clues or even dead bodies.






Scream 4, 2011 (A Wes Craven film)

It's interesting to think that Wes Craven has twice gone meta with a franchise that he started. First with New Nightmare and then with Scream 4 (to be fair, this franchise was already meta).

Sydney (Neve Campbell) has returned to her hometown, and is immediately greeted by a wave of new murders. Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and reporter Gale (Courtney Cox) are on the scene, as well as quite a few new faces.

How do you take meta to an even more meta place? The film, to an almost exhausting degree, piles references and discussions ABOUT horror into the film. Police officers muse if they just jinxed themselves by saying "I'll be right back." A character hopes that admitting he's gay will force--through political correctness--the killer to spare him. (Which is weird because . . . are gay characters spared in slashers that often?).

Adding to that is the extensive cast of characters. Hayden Panetierre makes the strongest impression as a horror-loving friend of Sydney's cousin. But the film was overall a bit overcrowded, and most characters don't make much of an impression before they are killed.

The kills themselves are fine and the film builds tension well around several set-pieces.




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Deep Red, 1975 (a fresh horror film from Rotten Tomatoes)

Argento and I are not the best of friends. Based on other films I like, I'm constantly being told that I should love Argento, but aside from liking Suspira I've felt pretty tepid or even negative toward his films.

Deep Red is probably the best Argento I've seen, and showcases the most powerful use of subjective camera, iconic imagery, and atmosphere that I've seen from him.

So while I give the film an A+ for style, there were a few elements that dinged my enjoyment of it.

Just being honest, the minute that a cruel and unnecessary example of animal cruelty appeared on screen, I felt myself disconnect from the film. In a movie filled with effective and jarring special effects, why was real animal torture needed? About half of my brain spent the rest of the run time thinking about how much of a garbage person someone has to be to torture an animal.

And from a more narrative place, I took issue with some very stupid character actions. I also had mixed feelings about things like the main character repeatedly failing to call the police (or, you know, anyone) on finding significant clues or even dead bodies.

I would certainly agree with you that narrative has never been Argento's strength. Come for the visuals... stay for the visuals.



I watched The Beyond (1981) for the Lucio Fulci film. This movie was odd. Maybe I just don't have the cinematic palette for Fulci's work but I didn't care for it.


The Innkeepers (2011) was my choice for ghost/haunted house movie. I mostly enjoyed this movie. Sara Paxton's acting was on point, the friendly/playful relationship between the two main characters was established well. The makeup and effects of the two ghosts we see are well done and very creepy. The problem here is that the story never really went anywhere, no problems were resolved, decisions from the characters made no sense. Everything necessary to be a good movie was here except story.



I watched The Beyond (1981) for the Lucio Fulci film. This movie was odd. Maybe I just don't have the cinematic palette for Fulci's work but I didn't care for it.
Yeah, Iíve watched two of Fulciís films this year (Zombi 2 and City of the Living Dead) and its really just a gory style rather then any real substance.



The Innkeepers (2011) was my choice for ghost/haunted house movie. I mostly enjoyed this movie. Sara Paxton's acting was on point, the friendly/playful relationship between the two main characters was established well. The makeup and effects of the two ghosts we see are well done and very creepy. The problem here is that the story never really went anywhere, no problems were resolved, decisions from the characters made no sense. Everything necessary to be a good movie was here except story.
I think that there is a story, but it's not a straight-ahead arc because the story is really about
WARNING: spoilers below
heading for a "destiny" that you can't avoid. The hotel is already being haunted by the main character--she just doesn't know it yet.

The psychic tries to get her to leave, but Claire goes upstairs to get the old man. If she'd just been like "screw him!", she could have maybe survived. But she makes a choice to go and help him, and that seals her fate, a fate that the psychic seems to think was unavoidable.

There are plenty of horror movies that use the idea of characters going toward a destiny, and as a viewer we watch them move toward their fate, aware of the choices that they are making and how that moves them down the rails.

I think that the main work in such a film is (1) to make us care about the characters and (2) create compelling reasons for them to make choices that they might know are not in their best interest. I think that Innkeepers accomplished both of these goals.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Stepfather 2: Make Room For Daddy




I was pleasantly surprised by the first film when I watched it a year ago. I decided to give the sequel a spin. The sequel sees the titled Stepfather survive his "death" at the end of the original film. Throw a scar over his chest and everything is good. Now he's in a mental asylum and a doctor wants to get inside his head, so he allows sessions to go unmonitored by the guards.

Big Mistake!!!!

He escapes, is on the loose and wants to remarry!!! He finds a worthy family and makes sure that no one gets in his way of his twisted idealistic family. Once again, Terry O'Quinn goes all out and gives a good performance. The rest of the film around him doesn't match his go for broke crazy.

This film adds nothing more to what we already saw, so why watch the inferior film? Why continue on? Just skip this, watch the original again.
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