October Horror Movie Challenge: 31 in 31.

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

This is a film I always wanted to check out but for some reason haven't.

This month might change that.
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Suspect's Reviews



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



Just noticed that since the starts of this month a new streaming service started here in Finland that's free of use with a library card. There's some films in there I need to check and I started with one that I've tried to find for some time...

#11 Here Comes the Devil (2012)

A Mexican film where two kids disappear in the desert for several hours. When they come back there's something wrong with them. I don't exactly remember how this ended up on my radar but for some reason I had moderately high expectations for it. While it wasn't bad per se it was still a disappointment.

For starters it looks really ugly; cinematography is like Spanish soap opera plus some weird zooms. This is an example of low budget hurting the film. Script has some unnecessary and out of place sex scenes that just feel odd. Acting isn't too strong either (the police dude is especially bad). Story itself is OK and there's potential for much better movie. It's bleak and brutal (there's only one really violent scene but it's quite nasty) and I wanted to like it more than I did. A very tentative recommendation for horror fans who don't mind pointless female nudity.

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

Annabelle: Creation




Just like Ouija: Origin of Evil, we have a sequel that is actually a prequel and way better than the series deserves or needs to be.

The original Annabelle was the first of many spin-offs from The Conjuring and it was a generic horror fright that lacked tension, scares or an interesting story and ended up on my worst of the year list. So of course I had little to no interest in Creation. That's mostly the reason why it has taken me 2 years to watch it. I kept hearing that it was actually good and after seeing David F. Sandberg's youtube channel where he talks about how to make movies on the cheap, I decided to give it a go.

The film is pretty good. It's actually a lot better than I thought it would be and I'm glad I gave it a chance. Sandberg directed a short 3 minute flick that went viral. It was called Lights Out. He was then approached by a studio to turn that 3 minute flick into a feature and we got the 2016 horror flick with the same name. It was shot next to The Conjuring 2 and James Wan took notice of this new director's efforts and offered him Creation. After the success of those two movies he went on to direct Shazam, so I'd say he's has a pretty good start to his career.

The difference between a film like this and a film like Annabelle is that Sandberg understands and respects the genre. He is more keen on using subtle scares than something in your face. Look at what John R. Leonetti, the director of the original film, has done in his career; Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, The Butterfly Effect 2, Wolves at the Door, Wish Upon and The Silence. The latter two are the better films of the bunch, but they are still not that great. Since Sandberg's previous film was basically a 'how to scare people with the use of lights', he was able to use those talents again with Creation. We see better use of the frame and the creativity with darkness. A little girl moving backwards into the dark, all you can see are her reflective eyes, which jerk and crack in obtuse ways until she appears 7 feet all. Together with ear tingling sound effects of bones cracking and got knows what stretching, you have a simple and effect scare scene that involves....almost nothing.

Some of the rules in the film are a little odd, I don't remember much about Annabelle as I try to forget that experience in general, but we get a lot more interactive scares here without the doll. A scarecrow comes to life in one sequence and possession is on the table. The doll itself is scarcely used and we have the obligatory ending that has to line up to the opening sequence of the original.

Creation is a film that might surprise you. It's not a run of the mill Hollywood horror film and that is mostly due to the creativity behind the camera. Give it a go.



A system of cells interlinked
I also thought Annabelle Creation was a lot better than I thought it would be going in. Agree on the excellent use of actual suspense, something that continues to a certain extent in Annabelle come Home, btw. I didn't like the third film quite as much as Creation, but it's still quite a bit better than the first flick in the series. Meanwhile, that scarecrow scene in Creation is aces!

Glad you liked the film!

Next up for me...

April Fool's Day

Walton, 1986





My rating reflects mostly nostalgia for this one. I used to watch this a lot back in the 80s. It's probably terrible, but I like it anyway! Whenever I watch it, it like getting together with a group of old friends. My wife hates it, just like pretty much everyone else.
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Welcome to the human race...
DAY 11

TerrorVision
Ted Nicolaou, 1986


A suburban family's newly-installed satellite television dish receives a signal from outer space that results in an alien mutant taking up residence in their house.

i was going through the Top 100 Horrors Countdown thread and stumbled across a post by The Rodent where he had recommended me this little number and I figured I'd use that to continue my '80s horror-comedy streak (and hey, this also makes three movies in a row to feature Mary Woronov!). Unfortunately, however underwhelming Chopping Mall and Night of the Comet may have been, they are downright masterpieces next to this grotesque excuse for a satirical creature feature. It's hard to gauge who this movie is for as it boasts a thoroughly hideous monster (think the giant head from Evil Dead II only much wetter and with more appendages) who nevertheless consumes various characters in comparatively bloodless and unimaginative ways, whereas its idea of biting satire is to create a bunch of loudly dysfunctional archetypes (swinger parents, survivalist grandpa, punk daughter, etc.) and have them rub up against one another (sometimes literally in the case of the parents and their fellow swingers) again and again as their numbers dwindle (and beyond). It soon becomes clear that the movie has no idea where to go once its monster shows up and starts killing people....and even less idea once it's killed most of them and has to struggle to come up with third-act twists in order to beef it up to the 80-minute mark. TerrorVision just ends up being a gaudy mess that has nothing to say through its already- blunt metaphor for how television destroys people's lives and even the odd remarkable choice (such as shielding the young son's eyes from the porn channel in the middle of a house full of wall-to-wall erotic paintings) does nothing to save what is already a contender for the worst movie I've seen this month - and I say this as someone who's already watched three DTV Hellraiser movies. Rodent, you owe me for this.

P.S. I still have the theme song stuck in my head and I f*cking hate it.

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



You ready? You look ready.
Can I participate but watch 31 days of happy-go-lucky movies?

What about Halloweentown? Does that count as horror?
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Halcyon days are not a thing
Nostalgia is no excuse for stupidity
I don't believe in golden ages
Or presidents that put kids in cages
America awaits on bended knee
Bad Religion



#12 Dark Touch (2013)

In small Irish town a little girl's family is murdered. She ends up in the custody of the neighboring family and things don't go too well.

Dark Touch is pretty much built on the idea of "evil begets evil" with pretty heavy Carrie influences thrown into the mix. Like many films I've watched lately it's not a happy one but I guess the topic doesn't really instill happiness. It's technically solid for low budget film and especially early on manages to build good atmosphere. It loses some steam along the way and the ending is little awkward. Not exactly good but not that far either really (and definitely better than Boyzone's music).




October 9t

Night School (1981)




October 10th

Pieces (1982)




Pieces and Night School are a pair of college slashers they both take different approaches to the story. Night School is much more about the eroticism, and suspense. A motorcycle riding maniac is focused on cutting off women's heads (nice). In Pieces a chainsaw welding serial killer is chopping up women on campus.


One is more of a whodunit while Night School is more of a mystery. Pieces has this nice weird quality to it where you'll have a kung fu guy show up and you think he's the killer but he's not. Night School on the other hand will have a prolonged shower sex scene.


They both have value but I was turned on by Night School and Pieces I just found watchable.


Night School

Pieces



October 11th




Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer(1986) unfortunately I saw this one after Silence of the Lambs and Seven when I was a teenager so I didn't appreciate it. I enjoyed it much more on second viewing, this is an attempt at mixing genres and it works well. Henry is a cypher you never really get to the heart of whats true and false in him. Otis is a very different style of killer more impulsive and Becky is the poor sister of Otis who has her own issues. The film is a bit of a slow burn, the horror is graphic but not exploitative. You understand why Henry does what he does but Michael Rooker always keeps Henry grounded.






Welcome to the human race...
DAY 12

The Little Shop of Horrors
Roger Corman, 1960


The put-upon employee of a cut-rate florist acquires a strange new plant for the shop and soon learns that it feeds on the flesh and blood of human beings.

Considering what I've learned about Roger Corman, it's perhaps not surprising that even the most famous of his directorial efforts effectively recycles the same narrative beats and character types as one of his other movies - in this case, the previous year's A Bucket of Blood. Sad-sack protagonist with overbearing boss and out-of-his-league love interest has the luck of discovering something that helps him improve his station in life but it involves death and murder so things naturally escalate from there until the film crashes to a halt within the hour. The film trades on a similar aesthetic with small sets being shot rather imaginatively and a tight-knit cast of outsized characters where even the bit parts have quirk to spare (Dick Miller shows up as a guy whose entire personality consists of eating flowers, to say nothing of Jack Nicholson's infamous early role as a dentistry-obsessed masochist). Though I'm still inclined to view it as a lesser version of A Bucket of Blood (swapping out the satire of beatnik culture and the modern art scene in favour of talking about flowers is definitely a strike against it) and I definitely don't consider it scary, it's still got its fair share of amusing moments and doesn't exhaust its short running time.




#13 [REC] 2 (2009)

This Spanish zombie/possession horror starts right where the first film ended. Despite the franchise being very different these two films remind me of Alien and Aliens; in their own ways both series take very similar approach to sequels by (mostly) replacing civilians with soldiers and putting more emphasis on action.

Writing isn't as tight as it was in the first one and new characters have very little personality. It's not nearly as intense and while some of the action is good the found footage style doesn't in general lend itself to faster pace that well (especially when the style is often used to hide the action or, I guess, hide the budget limitations). Maybe making it more different (i.e. normal movie instead of found footage) would have been better solution. It's still above average horror sequel but it's not the Aliens of this series.



Will watch rest of the sequels soon.



Welcome to the human race...
DAY 13

The Slumber Party Massacre
Amy Holden Jones, 1982


A group of teenage girls plan on having a slumber party but are preyed upon by a recently-escaped murderer.

You think it's going to be different, and maybe it is, but not enough. The Slumber Party Massacre seems like it is going to distinguish itself in an ostensibly male-dominated genre through its behind-the-camera talent as it is written, produced, and directed by women. However, this does end up inviting extra scrutiny as to what tangible difference they really make to a movie that comes across as largely indistinguishable from other works of its ilk. Sure, you can definitely discern some more overtly feminist subtext from its imagery; the killer's weapon of choice is an electric drill, a weapon that's somehow even more phallic than a knife or chainsaw. The killer himself isn't some supernatural freak in a mask either - he's just a guy who wants to kill people and his boring appearance is ostensibly a feature more so than a bug as he represents the kind of everyday predators that walk around like normal people. In fact, I kind of have to wonder if this boring-by-design approach to the killer was also meant to be applied to the movie itself as it goes so smoothly through the slasher motions, but there seems to be little else in the way of subversion (it certainly packs a lot of male-gaze nudity into its 76 minutes, for instance) and even the characterisation of a friend group being mostly bitchy to their awkward neighbour isn't interesting enough one way or the other to make the wait for the real third-act excitement particularly worthwhile. What's really wild is that this made the Top 100 Films Directed By Women countdown. I know it was short on votes and I was taking whatever I could get to stretch it to a full 100, but man, I was hoping it would be better than this.



The Thing
John Carpenter, 1982


A team of American scientists stationed in Antarctica are threatened by the appearance of a shapeshifting alien.

Not going to bother writing anything too detailed. It's The Thing, if you're the kind of person who's reading a "horror challenge" thread then you know what the deal is (though I do have a review on here somewhere). Seeing as I watched this last October as well, I think I might make this an annual revisit. I will say that I watched it with the commentary and now I think I just want to watch every Carpenter movie with a commentary now.




#14 [REC] 3: Genesis (2012)

Third installment of the series is quite different from the earlier films. It has some comedic elements and is in general quite a bit lighter. It also does the unthinkable and ditches the found footage style along the way (something that's angered many fans, it seems, but I liked that decision). Being so unlike its predecessors it's actually quite surprising that it still feels more or less like a [REC] movie.

In a way [REC] 3 is a film I'm supposed to hate but it manages to do the tributes and parody in an entertaining way. There is some genuinely funny stuff (like SpongeJohn), some good horror scenes and pretty decent gore. After three films the series continues to be well above average horror franchise.




October 12th


Slaughter High(1986) Marty is a classmate who on his birthday is horrificly bullied and scarred for life by a gang of bullies. Years later the bullies return to the High School for a reunion where Marty goes on to pick them off one by one.


I love this movie, the accents are horrible the kids are all in their 30's and the film is incredibly disjointed. But the film has a great atmosphere, the kills are creative the FX work is really well done for the era and several of the scenes are classic.





A system of cells interlinked
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Ovredal, 2019





I head heard good things about this one, and it did not disappoint. Although I am an avid reader, I somehow had not only never read these books, but had never even heard of them. So, I can;t comment on the film's faithfulness to the books, but whether or not they did justice to the books, the film is pretty darned good. Great creatures, and a fun anthology format combined with well done atmosphere throughout. Will probably add this to the short list of every-year must watches around Halloween, along side Trick-r-Treat and Carpenter's Halloween.


Hellhouse LLC

Cognetti, 2015





Another in the somewhat overpopulated found footage genre, this fall in the slightly above-average range when compared to other films of its ilk. Not much else to say about it, except that I may have it rated a tad too high...perhaps 2.75 boxes is about right?


The Borderlands aka The Final Prayer

Goldner, 2013





More found footage. Again, probably a bit above average in the genre. This one is perhaps a stronger 3, as it had a couple of really gripping scenes, and due to the overtly religious nature, definitely got under my wife's skin more than Hellhouse LLC. A slow burner, this one is also worth a watch if you don't mind the obligatory shaky cam that always tends to emerge in the genre.



Welcome to the human race...
DAY 14

Christine
John Carpenter, 1983


A nerdy teenager buys an old car that secretly harbours a malevolent supernatural force.

After having watched both Carpenter's The Thing and Tobe Hooper's adaptation of Stephen King's Salem's Lot (which I didn't include here on account of it being a miniseries, but if it were to count I would probably give it a
), I figured I'd revisit Carpenter's own adaptation of a King novel. I initially regarded Christine as the sole dud in the middle of Carpenter's peak period (which I'd argue runs from Assault on Precinct 13 through to They Live) and a second viewing hasn't done too much to dissuade me from thinking that it really is a step or two below every other film from that period. It certainly has one very slow build-up that made me question if this revisit was worth it, but it's only once Christine really starts coming alive and causing problems (I'd say around the time that the football game ends) that the film really kicks into high gear and it starts being a Carpenter film, throwing out enough escalating developments and distinctive moments to push this up to a positive rating. I'd never quite clocked how Carpenter's score on this one is at once so low-key yet so effective (echoing his work on Halloween III in the process) with its tinny insistence adding much-needed atmosphere to the proceedings, to say nothing of the myriad ways in which he shoots the eponymous car (whether it's rebuilding itself through remarkable effects work or driving around on fire). The whole thing is anchored by Keith Gordon's layered performance as he goes from put-upon dork to increasingly deranged obsessive, managing to carry the film when most of the cast (Harry Dean Stanton obviously excepted) cannot. As such, while I still remain convinced that Christine is Carpenter's most mid-tier work and not particularly scary, I cannot call it bad either and have to admit that it has its good qualities (albeit not enough to make it a favourite).