October Horror Movie Challenge: 31 in 31.

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October 30th




Mute Witness (1995) this was sort of a Repo Man version of a slasher in the sense that each twist built up on each other. When you finally reach the end point you can't believe where you started. The lead actress is mute which gives us the opportunity to spend the time with the supporting figures and the FX are fairly good.






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Welcome to the human race...
DAY 29

Scream
Wes Craven, 1996


A masked killer starts terrorising the citizens of a small town, especially a teenage girl who is still grieving over the murder of her mother.

Why not revisit Wes Craven's other significant contribution to cinema that also inspired a less-than-thrilled reaction? Looking back over that review, I stand by my original comment (and how it echoes a similar sentiment in my previous write-up on A Nightmare on Elm Street) that if you don't really get in on it the first time around then you never will, but I guess on the other hand I guess it's worth seeing what its merits are outside of being straight-up scary - and that's where Scream tries to thread one very small needle with its attempt to hybridise the slasher genre with too-clever-by-half attempts at satirising not just the genre itself but also the uptick in sensationalist media coverage of particularly heinous crimes. This is naturally examined not just through Courtney Cox's muckracking journalist Gale Weathers but also the minds of the various teenage characters who respond to the events in different ways (especially Neve Campbell's protagonist Sidney, who is working through her own pre-existing trauma). While the overly self-referential nature of the film can get a little grating and might just be what keeps me from liking this film more (like I said, hard needle to thread - even something like Cabin in the Woods only barely manages to pull it off), I think the film is more than carried by how it actually works to deliver a more substantial iteration of the slasher that engages with Sidney's complex emotions while being relatively restrained with the actual terror and violence (whether by design or not - did this film get a comedy reputation simply by virtue of how many pratfalls Ghostface seems to do any time he's chasing a victim?). Anyway, I guess I'm okay with this now, but as noted, I don't think it'll ever become my favourite scary movie.

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October 31st




Cabin in the Woods(2011) I like Drew Goodard I hope he makes more films. Cabin in the Woods is the story of hillbilly zombies attacking a stereotypical group of college kids. Only those kids are actually having the strings pulled by a hidden corporation that exists to placate a group of gods. Normally I piss and moan about CGI but Cabin in the Woods gets the CGI right. I like the characters, I enjoyed the humor and this was a decent end to my slasher-thon.





A system of cells interlinked
The Fog

Carpenter, 1980





Amazing what a few creative blokes can do with a few fog machines and a decent ghost story. Sure, the acting is uneven, and Adrian Barbeau is kind of annoying at times, but the vibe and atmosphere make up for the minor issues this flick has. Probably Carpenter's most atmospheric film. Sadly, I know what you Did Last Summer would later lift the whole "Fisherman with the hook in his hand" thing in the 90s, which somehow retroactively diminishes the impact here.
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Welcome to the human race...
DAY 30

Scream 2
Wes Craven, 1997


Two years after being targeted by a masked killer, a college student ends up being targeted by a copycat of said killer.

If you're of the opinion that the original Scream is merely decent, should you bother with the sequels? In my case, I wanted to see how the film that prided itself on being so clever about slashers would handle one of the genre's truly definitive aspects: sequels. Then again, think about how messy the typical "part two" slasher tends to be (especially in comparison to what are invariably superior originals) and I guess it's no surprise that Scream 2 follows suit with its bloated attempt at giving us Sidney and Ghostface: The College Years. That bloat really does make itself way too felt considering the lack of real scares and the overabundance of nonsense like a Top Gun musical number and a sub-plot involving Sidney doing Greek theatre. It also strains the original's trademark cleverness by trying to pivot towards an awareness of sequels and their inherent inferiority (which is really tempting fate when you consider how short on merit Scream 2 already is even without bringing back Jamie Kennedy as the obnoxious film geek who now has other film geeks to argue with at length). Even the linchpin of the original - that of Sidney confronting trauma - is barely given much in the way of worthwhile variation (though bringing back Liev Schreiber as the once-exonerated murder suspect with his own agenda is a nice touch in this regard). At this point, I kind of wished the series pulled a Halloween III and pivoted to another genre just for the hell of it. Certainly seems like it's run out of cracks to make about slashers by this point.




A system of cells interlinked
Halloween III : Season of the Witch

Wallace, 1982





No more days till Halloween, Halloween, Halloween...

Much maligned at release, as people went to the theater expecting more Michael Myers, but were instead treated to a sci-fi tinged story about a madman trying to take over the world by putting little pieces of Stonehenge into Halloween masks in an effort to make bugs come out of children's eyes...or something.

OK, forget about the story. It's all about the Silver Shamrock theme song. A nefarious ear worm of a jingle that you will be singing for the rest of your life after watching the film.


Trick r Treat

Dougherty, 2007





My favorite Halloween anthology, this has become a tradition for my family, mostly because it is just dripping in its Halloween vibe. Unlike many anthology flicks, all the entries are fairly strong. That said, I really enjoyed Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, which is also flush with that Halloween feeling, so it may join this film as an every-year watch.


Another year, another MoFo Halloween challenge down. Already looking forward to next year. Thanks all!



Welcome to the human race...
DAY 31

Scream 3
Wes Craven, 2000


A woman travels to Hollywood when the latest film production based around her tragic past is being targeted by a masked killer.

This nominal capper to the Scream series certainly seems like it's trying to salt the earth and destroy whatever goodwill might still be left after the lacklustre second movie - I almost have to respect it for that. While there is some lip-service paid to the idea that threequels are the ones where the rules really go out the window, there's very little of that on display as the movie instead thinks the true key to escalating the series' trademark meta-humour is to take a detour into some much easier jokes about the Hollywood machine as the surviving characters get caught up in a production involving narcissistic actors, megalomaniac directors, and sleazy producers (the latter of which has, uh, aged interestingly considering who actually produced Scream 3). Beyond that, there is the odd good moment (such as one scene that sees Sidney being chased by Ghostface through a studio set modeled on locations from the original Scream) but as with its predecessor it's definitely too long and has trouble filling in the gaps with anything worthwhile. It's a movie where cameos by Jay and Silent Bob (as opposed to Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) doesn't even rank in the top ten red flags about its quality. Definitely sorry that I'm ending the October challenge with this absolute anticlimax but on the plus side at least I now have more appreciation for every other Wes Craven movie I've seen.