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31 Days of Horror - Day 31 "Ash vs. The Evil Dead"

Ash vs. The Evil Dead (2015)

Yessssssss, it's finally here! I can't tell you how many times I saw news on an "Evil Dead 4" and just rolled my eyes. There was no way it was going to happen and people just needed to accept that. Then they announced a new TV show.

This show is everything you could possibly want from an Evil Dead TV series. It's Ash-centric with some truly imaginative demonic scenes. There's plenty of gruesome bits, and also that trademark dark humor. And it does a great job of introducing new characters fluidly into the pre-established world without hiccups. I love just how much of an asshole Ash is. I mean, the Deadites are released again because Ash got high and some girl wanted to hear poetry so he read from the book of the dead. How ridiculously awesome is that?

I get the same type of vibe from this TV show that I did from the "Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash" comic series. It's pretty gory, with a high body count, but with Ash going through hell to ultimately save the day. I expect this show to follow a similar path and some of the side characters could easily be getting the shaft toward season's end. Either way, I'm on for the long haul and can't wait to see where the series goes from here.

31 Days of Horror - Day 30 "Halloween"

Halloween (1978)

As much as I wanted Halloween to be the Day 31 movie, I figured that'd just be too predictable. And hell, it's not like I won't be watching it again on this day (as is tradition) but I wanted to switch this up by not having Halloween be Day 31.

I like to view both taste and personality as a spectrum, where while we have the same range of things we like, we prefer a certain style depending on the time of the year. I say this because I'd be hard pressed to find a film I enjoy in the month of October more than Halloween. During these 31 days, it is my absolute favorite film and one I'm always itching to watch. It's how I always end up watching it at least three or four times.

And just what's so fantastic about it? Everything.

It's hard not to appreciate every aspect, given the low budget, and that they're able to make Southern California look like Illinois in the Fall (not an easy task). And the number of long takes, with full competence all around, is commendable. I can only imagine how difficult this shoot must have been, but I'm grateful for what ended up on screen. We'll go back to ignoring the remake now...

31 Days of Halloween - Day 29 "Saw II"

Saw II (2005)

I have such vivid memories of seeing this in theater. I'm not sure if it was the first horror film I saw in theaters, but it was pretty damn close. My father was nice enough to take me and a group of friends to see it as part of my annual Halloween party. Looking back on it, and his taste in movies, I'm sure he didn't particularly enjoy the experience but I thought it was a blast. I remember being totally blown away by that ending.

Now that I'm a tad more mature, the greatness of the Saw series has waned a bit. I understand the schlockiness of it and just how much has to go right for the twists to actually play out how Jigsaw plans, but that's really all the fun of it. Last year I binged all 7 movies in one night. Yeah, don't ask me how or why but it happened. In that process, I remember not taking too kindly to the second film. Not sure why, but something didn't sit right with me. This viewing, I loved it all over again, although that may have been due to my nostalgia goggles.

It's hard not to enjoy a film that I treasured as a teen. It's one of the reasons I think I'll always have a soft spot for the Saw series (except for The Final Chapter, that movie can go fuck itself). As needlessly brutal as it can be, the twists are fun, and it at least TRIES to spout out moral lessons, even if they don't always make sense.

31 Days of Horror - Day 28 "Trick R Treat"

Trick R Treat (2007)

I had planned on this being one of my Halloween movies but I just couldn't wait any longer. There's nothing quite like a horror film that completely envelops itself in Halloween. And this film does that and more. Better yet, the entire film is about punishing those that don't treat the holiday with respect. Want to take your decorations down early? Ya dead. Want to pull a prank rather than paying respects to the dead? Well guess what, you're dead. Want to knock pumpkins around and be an asshole-- okay, you get the picture.

One thing that I had failed to realize in my past viewings is just how layered the film is. You can hear the "Disney Princess" girls wooing, as they drive past in the beginning of the film, we hear the werewolves howl before knowing of their presence, and are given a good looparound back to the beginning of the film (the most obvious of them all). I can only imagine what the writing process of this must have been like, what with the intricacies of the stories at play here.

It's really a shame that we never got a sequel, although I have the comic that was just released pulled up on my Kindle right now, so we'll see if that lives up to the story.

31 Days of Horror - Day 27 "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (Producer's Cut)"

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers: Producer's Cut (1995)

It's crazy that I've finally seen this movie. I used to be a regular at the horror forums at Joblo.com during my teens and this film always came up in discussion. Bootleg versions of the Producer's Cut were always being talked about, especially how superior they were to the theatrical. This was easy to believe given the shittiness of the first, but I never managed to get a copy. Thankfully, executives have seen the money in releasing a legitimate copy, so I've finally been able to see it. And in HD no less!

I'm so glad that this film lived up to expectations. Sure, it's not some amazing film, but it's actually competent, which is a nice change. The Halloween series is so hit or miss, it's nice to see one of the lesser films be given a better treatment. There's a lot less gore in this cut, which you think would be a problem, but I actually preferred it. The death's that remain are still creative enough, whereas the gorier ones were a tad exploitative anyhow.

The entire film seems much more coherent and like an actual horror film. Only a few days ago, I had watched the theatrical cut again since it was on Netflix. I couldn't believe how much I disliked it. Everything about it just screamed troubled production. And after years of disliking the Thorn cult on paper, I actually really enjoyed it, put to action. It added a layer to Michael that I didn't mind -- especially after seeing Zombie's terrible attempt at an origin story.

I'm glad that I was finally able to see it, especially since it may have swayed me a little more with the Halloween series. Or maybe I'm just talking crazy. Yeah, probably that.

31 Days of Horror - Day 26 "Halloween II"

Halloween II (2009)

Holy balls this movie is bad. I remember really hating it, but I didn't realize what a poorly made film it is. There are a lot of choices that make me question if any executive's actually gave this movie a look before Zombie gave them a cut. Because the writing is on the wall with every shot. There's a particular scene towards the end of the film that feels like it was edited in Power Point. And yes, I'm aware of what Power Point can do. That's the joke.

There's an Academy Award Winner in this film (Viola Davis) and she screams like she's in a Key and Peele sketch. So you can only imagine how much the rest of the cast stacks up. Scout Taylor Compton gives one of the worst performances I've seen in a movie. While I didn't have much of an opinion of her in the first film, this whole "broken Laurie" angle that Zombie was going for doesn't work when the actress is so unbelievable when she's hysterical.

And you've got to love how Zombie totally negates both his first film, and even the first twenty minutes of this film. What do I mean by that? Well two of the characters that you see die horribly in the first, are suddenly alive and kicking in this one... only to be killed off again. So what was the point? It's not like they were essential to the plot, quite the opposite in fact. Then there's the weird instance of the beginning of the film just being one giant dream sequence. So there's no reason to actually be invested in anything happening during the hospital sequence, which oddly enough is actually the best part of the movie, just adding fuel to the fire of hate.

If you like this movie, then I'm sorry but you have no taste. I really don't say that lightly, and usually just view film as such a subjective medium. But no, this movie is objectively bad. It's poorly edited, acted, plotted, and even shot. This was clearly made by someone that just wasn't told "no" enough and was the last straw for me as a viewer. I haven't seen a Rob Zombie film since Halloween II and have no intention to. If his track record is any indication, it'll just be tasteless smut.

31 Days of Horror - Day 25 "Behind the Mask - The Rise of Leslie Vernon"

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

This used to be one of my absolute favorite horror films but it's lost some of its charm with me in recent years. While I love the Vernon character, and find the mockumentary concept to be very good, it's when they depart from the concept that the film falls flat. The entire third act, while fine for any other slasher film, just feels so generic.

Still, Nathan Baesel is the highlight of the film, with one of my favorite performances in film as Leslie. His character is a little bit Jim Carrey, a little bit Dexter Morgan, and all completely insane, while still maintaining a high level of intelligence. It makes him even scarier. Unfortunately, Angela Goethels loses her charm with repeat viewings. Her poor acting really stand out the more and more I watch the film.

Again, I just wish that they had gone a different route for the third act. The idea works fine in theory but after spending the rest of the movie in the mockumentary style, it's a little discombobulating to have the sudden switch. It sounds like the sequel, which failed in its kickstarter several years ago, won't be happening. I think that's good in ways, but I also believe the filmmakers realized their mistake, and would have rectified it by making the sequel all-mock.

Oh well, a man can dream...

31 Days of Horror - Day 24 "Halloween '07"

Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007)

It still amazes me just how bad this movie is. It takes everything that worked in the Carpenter original and screws it all up. Like the mystery of Michael as a character? Well guess what, now he's a part of a despicable family, that all seem pretty deserving of their deaths. Don't believe me? Watch the first scene with the family in the kitchen, and count the number of times you want to kill everyone involved. It will reach a hundred before the scene is over.

Young Michael is just god awful. I'm not sure what made Zombie want to cast some blonde kid that looks like a girl in the role, but it clearly wasn't for his presence or acting ability. Whenever he puts on his "scary face" I just laugh and laugh. I mean, how did he seriously get cast in a big hollywood film like this? Just blows my mind.

One thing I'll give this film is that Masked Michael is pretty terrifying. Outside of the first two films, Michael can look pretty silly. Just watch H20 and Resurrection and see how awkward the stunt actor moves. It's not pretty. Tyler Mane does a good job of bringing the scary back to Michael. He's a brute force that is on a path of destruction. Unfortunately, the film he's in is just so bad that it's hard to even believe it's real and not just a bad, bad, BAD dream.

Seriously Zombie, what were you smoking?

31 Days of Horror - Day 23 "Evil Dead"

Evil Dead (1980)

This was actually a pretty special viewing for me because I was able to watch it outside, next to a campfire, with the moon out and shining bright. It was quite an experience, especially given the film's content. It may now be my favorite way to watch a horror film, given just how involved it really gets you, especially when the film itself is based outdoors.

It's not hard to absolutely love this movie. Even when it gets cheesy, it is so over-the-top disgusting that it draws you into all the horror. Watching the film with a great surround sound elevates the film a ton, but given that we didn't want to disturb the neighbors, we had it relatively quiet during this viewing. Still, the effect of being outside was more than enough to make up for that. Especially during the tree raping (lol).

This just made me even more excited for Ash vs. The Evil Dead which comes out on Halloween. I don't have Starz so I'm not sure how I'll be watching it, but dammit I'll find a way. I need more Ashley Williams in my life.

31 Days of Horror - Day 22 "28 Weeks Later"

28 Weeks Later (2007)

God, I love this movie. As someone who's not a huge fan of 28 Days Later (the second half is uber "meh") I didn't have high expectations for this film back when I first saw it. But it's one of those movies that no matter how long ago I last saw it, I know I still love it because it's so in line with my tastes. The build-up music coupled with some truly gorgeous cinematography and a story that moves a mile a minute make it hard to dislike.

It's hard to not love just how far this film is willing to take matters. Nearly everyone dies, and I wouldn't have it any other way because it shows just how much we were able to get invested in them. Renner, in particular, really stands out as showing so much of his thought process without having to say a word. As a marksman put into an extraordinary circumstance, it really goes a long way to not make him seem like a jerk, which he very well could have.

I hadn't even realized just how big the cast had gotten in recent years. Rose Byrne, Idris Elba, Jeremy Renner, Imogen Poots. This movie wouldn't even be made nowadays because it'd be too expensive with a cast like that. And as anyone that watches horror movies knows, horror movies do not have big budgets.

The series has been in the news lately because Danny Boyle has said that he'd like to potentially direct 28 Months Later. While that's all well and good, I'd much rather have Juan Carlos Fernadillo, who directed Weeks. Boyle can stick to making biographical dramas.

31 Days of Horror - Day 21 "Wrong Turn 2: Dead End"

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)

I really enjoyed the first Wrong Turn and had always heard that the second film is better, but never got my hands on a copy. Cannibal movies aren't exactly my cup o tea and I remember some stuff from the first one making my stomach churn. Well, I finally took the step and I'm glad I did.

One of the few things I knew about this film beforehand (other than the obvious since I had seen the first) was that Henry Rollins was in it and that is an absolute badass in it. God damn were they ever right. He just won't fucking die! I would have been so happy if the film had ended with him opening his eyes. Instead, he just takes more than anyone should be able to and still Rambo's it up. So awesome. And the rest of the cast is full of familiar horror actors that immediately made me like the film more.

Texas Battle and Crystal Lowe! For those unaware, I have a bit of an obsession with Final Destination 3. Battle and Lowe happen to have roles in that film. It's weird though, because they certainly look younger here, but looking at the dates, Wrong Turn 2 was made after FD3, so that must be due to the lower quality cameras. Still, it was fun seeing those two pop up. And Battle actually does a damn good job, acting-wise which is a big improvement from his FD days. And I will never tire of looking at Crystal naked (see: FD3, Black X-mas) so that was yet another positive.

Ultimately the film doesn't really deliver enough for me to latch onto. I can see myself really getting into it the second time around if I pair it with the first, but as is, it's just a serviceable slasher film. It's cannibal hillbilly theme will probably keep me from putting it in my usual rotation, but there's still a lot of fun to be had. Well, mostly.

The cannibals here have absolutely zero redeemable quality, so it's easy to root for the contestants and not the killers. I'm sure that changes in later films (there's six of them now!) but as of now, the characters are pretty despicable.

31 Days of Horror - Day 20 "Hocus Pocus"

Hocus Pocus (1993)

Okay, this is really getting away from the horror theme of these but I figured, it's Halloween-related so that should be close enough. Plus, I didn't have the time for a super bloody movie, so this will just have to do.

I can't really remember the last time that I actually saw this movie. It's been quite some time but it always pops up every Halloween because it seems to be every girl 30 and under's favorite film to watch this time of the year. I had avoided a rewatch for so long because I was always too busy with the goriest and the bloodiest movies in October. So what better movie than Hocus Pocus, a film that's had many sequel talks in recent years and seems closer than ever to being greenlit.

The film itself is a really fun time. The cast is good and has a great understanding of what kind of movie this is. I remember being scared of the witches when I was younger, and watching now, I have no idea why. They aren't scary, nor do they try to be. Most of their lines are meant for humor yet my child mind thought they were threats, coming from witches. Oh silly me. Still, it's a nice reminder of just how easily children can be scared and while this movie seems light and friendly, its subject matter still brings some scares for kids. I may start putting this into my annual rotation.

31 Days of Horror - Day 19 "Maniac Cop 3"

Maniac Cop 3 (1993)

Why did no one tell me how fun this series is? It's weird to me that the worst in the series is the one with Bruce Campbell and Tom Atkins but that's just the way the cookie crumbles. And this one, while not quite as good as the second, really brought something to the table. I particularly enjoyed the look of the movie, and was surprised how with every film, the production values seem to increase.

Reading up on this movie seems to be a recipe for trouble since all I ever seemed to find was negative information. Apparently this entire film was plagued with difficulty throughout and even had the director storm off and leave production. Which is surprising because while the movie is silly, it still takes on the same tone as the others. And how about that Die Hard reunion? Or Robert Forster? Or... you know what, just do yourself a favor and go check out this series. It's a cheesy good time with real tension beneath it.

31 Days of Horror - Day 18 "Maniac Cop 2"

Maniac Cop 2 (1990)

This movie starts so abruptly that I was a little worried that I had a screwed up copy at first. Then I realized that, nope, they're seriously making me watch the end of the first one again and it's not even handled like most movies do in said situation. I'm not sure if it was a creative decision or just lack of experience from the crew but consider me confuddled.

Outside of that, I really enjoyed this movie. In fact, I'd say it's much better than the original film. It's just so damn ballsy and exciting throughout the entire runtime. Just when you think it's going to go one direction, it goes a completely different one. And that alone makes it superior to the original which is so predictable and even a tad boring.

I'm not gonna lie, I was really excited when Campbell and the girl from the first actually were back. I figured this was going to take an interesting direction but I certainly didn't expect them to both just die. It kind of makes what they did in the first kind of pointless, but dammit if it wasn't ballsy as hell.

I'm really looking forward to Maniac Cop 3.

31 Days of Horror - Day 17 "The Shining (Alternate Cut)"

The Shining (1980)

I've considered The Shining to be my favorite horror film for years. It's just so damn good from start to finish yet something always seemed off in recent years when I had watched the film. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why and then I was told there is an alternate cut, that gets rid of 30 minutes of film. That seemed like more film than I remember being extra but then I looked the list of additional footage and every single item rang a bell immediately. I had always wondered why skeleton's had showed up near the end when they weren't there before. And who is this doctor lady checking on Danny?

I had originally fallen in love with the alternate cut.

See, Stanley Kubrick decided to cut the film for European audiences after he was dissatisfied with that was running in US theaters. Unfortunately, the version that is most commonly available is labeled "Director's Cut" but that is, in fact, the longer version that Kubrick considered inferior. And while I still enjoy the additional scenes, I think that the movie is more rapid-fire intensity versus the slower burn of the US cut. Here's hoping they release it on BluRay for everyone to enjoy (I lucked into a copy, myself).

By the way, the video tomorrow at Wolf in a Gorilla Suit happens to be about The Shining, so check it out!

31 Days of Horror - Day 16 "Candyman"

Candyman (1992)

I had stayed away from Candyman for years -- I actually think that the first time I saw the movie was chronicled during the last 31 Days -- but I was given an opportunity I'm not often given: to watch a horror film with some who hadn't seen it before and had always wanted to. That was exciting enough prospect for me to want to write about it all again.

It still amazes me the amount of balls this movie has. It really just takes dark path after dark path and doesn't let up the entire film. Virginia Madsen just knocks it out of the park and is probably one of my favorite horror heroines of all time. Her character goes through a really interesting arc and impresses me to no end. She's such a unique lead and one we don't see enough in film.

And can someone please give Tony Todd another horror villain to convey please? Because in case you weren't aware, he kills it. Both figuratively and literally. Heh. Get it? Because he's Candyman and he gave a stellar performance? 

Yeah, okay, I'm going to bed now.

31 Days of Horror - Day 15 "Venom"

Venom (2005)

Is it weird that I was actually pretty excited when this movie came across my Netflix? It's one of those films that was released right before I was able to see horror movies in theaters. My dad used to let me watch films he'd already seen and deemed "not bad" aka no surplus of nudity, or language. But this was a transitionary period. I was seeing lot more horror movies because he never had an issue with violence, as I had gotten into the filmmaking process at a young age and therefore understood how fake everything was. Unfortunately I wasn't quite to the point of going to the theaters on my own, especially not to see what would clearly be terrible schlock. So I ended up missing out on Venom.

Until last night.

I'm not really sure what I was expecting but it was every bit as terrible as a film about snakes possessed by killer spirits that turn someone into super grey killer could be. The acting is terrible from every person involved, which isn't surprising given that most of the cast is a bunch of no names. Still, I was hoping maybe they'd get some moments right, but no. Every moment is played wrong and just reminds me that I'm watching a terrible movie.

The kills are so fucking lame. They tease one with Bijou Philips that you think is going to be absolutely brutal and even show the damage that the weapon can do beforehand. And then they just cut to black and don't show it. What's the point? This movie could have very easily been PG-13 with a couple cuts. I'm not sure why they even decided to go the hard R route.

There's nothing that makes this movie anything other than forgettable schlock, which sounds about right if you've seen just about anything from it. Oh 2005.

31 Days of Horror - Day 14 "Maniac"

Maniac (2013)

I had been putting this movie off every since it was first released and I'm not really sure why. I love Elijah Wood, especially when he decides to do something dark, and even own the original film on BluRay. And it's not like I hold that film with such high regard that I couldn't imagine a remake desecrating its sacred celluloid. Not at all. In fact, I'd say I found the original film to just be for shock value and never really drew me in. So having Wood take over the lead would seem like a home run.

And home run it was.

Goddammit does Wood give an absolutely phenomenal performance. Achieving that level of emotion and character depth while being off camera most of the time is a testament to both him and director Franck Khalfoun. Speaking of which, whoever's decision it was to make the film mostly in first person should be applauded. I say that both creatively and the person putting up the money to allow it because that's ballsy. It paid off though, really make you feel like you were in on the crimes, not just a viewer, which added to the disturbing aspect. I was wincing during this entire thing, feeling sorry for the girls and not wanting them to fall for Frank's timid charm. That's good filmmaking.

I watched two really bad movies last night (See No Evil 2, The Final Destination) so getting to watch something that was actually competent may have clouded my judgment a little bit, but I still found it to be an extremely thrilling horror film. I found it a little odd when the camera would pull away from first person perspective given that gimmick's prominence in the film, but it wasn't enough to make me dislike it. I hope we keep seeing Elijah Wood step foot into the horror genre.

31 Days of Horror - Day 13 "Re-Animator"

Re-Animator (1985)

It took me far longer than I'd like to admit before I finally recognized where the score came from and I was rather ashamed of myself when did. I feel like the last time I reviewed this movie, I thought that it was familiar but still considered it original music. Oh how silly of me. Borrowing the music from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho is one of the more tasteful decisions the movie makes.

It crazy how schlocky this movie is. I still haven't seen the rest of the series (although that may change with this horror marathon) but it's hard to imagine it getting any more absurd. There's a decapitated head that goes down on a girl. To make matters worse, the girl's father is mere feet from the act being perpetrated. How fucked up is that? For some reason that never stood out to me as severely as it did this time.

With all that said, it's still Re-Animator and it's still great. Even though I started noticing the trashy elements, it's such a well-made film that it's hard to hold that against it. Combs will always be remembered for his role as Herbert West and with good reason: he provides just enough creep, without every taking away his redeeming qualities. The beginning makes him into a monster, while we learn to understand his ways, and he's a misunderstood hero by the end.

Now on to Beyond and Bride...

31 Days of Horror - Day 12 "Slumber Party Massacre 2"

Slumber Party Massacre 2 (1987)

I have to admit, I only half paid attention to this film. I had rented the original Slumber Party Massacre when I was younger and didn't really get it then. It seemed more silly than anything. I don't even remember being too impressed by all the nakedness. Deciding I needed to experience the full trilogy, I ran through them all this morning. The first was pretty much how I remembered, only I was much more impressed with the girls. It's kind of absurd how gorgeous they are, and they partake in like a five minute shower. I somehow "get" why this series is an underground classic.

I had such high expectations for this film, but not in the way you're probably thinking. I remember hearing that 2 had more tits and better gore than one and was an all-around more fun time. And while it does seem like more fun is being had onscreen (probably as a result of off-screen fun) it doesn't really outdo the original. Especially when it comes to nudity. The girls that do go nude, aren't the ones you want to see and the ones you want to see (like Playboy Playmate Kimberly McArthur, who had a no nudity clause in her contract). After the shower scene from the original, my expectations for this one were too high, I suppose.

It's certainly more ridiculous than the original, so I'll give it that. The killer being some crazy 80's dude with a guitar drill was so absurd but gave it some unique quality that helps it stand out. And given that the series was already pretty stupid due to the drill being the main weapon used -- something would likely be the worst possible killing tool ever, given its awkwardness and the fact that it runs on gas. It may be the easiestSo absurd. Which is all I can really ask for. At least it doesn't fall by the wayside with so many other generic slashers and at least does SOMETHING to try and separate itself from the pack, even if it doesn't entirely work out.

And how funny is the lead girl? She's supposedly going through this psychologically traumatizing experience and keeps getting haunted by visions yet every time she sobs, it sounds like she's laughing hysterically. Then a giant pimple pops all over her face and she thinks that her friend died because of it. Not a lot makes sense in this movie until you see the name of one of the producers.

Roger Corman.

Now everything makes sense.

31 Days of Horror - Day 11 "Dead Alive"

Dead Alive (1992)

I've been away from my dvds for quite some time, which means I've been away from 90% of my horror collection. Dead Alive happened to be one of those films; so I hadn't seen it in ages. 

It's insane just how violent this movie is. And just when you think it can't get any more insane, a baby crawls out of someone's head. No really, that actually happens in this movie. I'm telling you, it's fucked up. Still, it's done in such an over-the-top way that it never sways into disturbing territory. Or maybe I'm just too desensitized to it all.

Peter Jackson pretty much treats this like a comedy from the lighting to the bouncy music to the overexpressive acting. I think that's really the only way he was going to get away with such a gory movie. It's not hard for me to place this as the goriest film I've ever seen. 

I've been watching a decent number of horror movies from New Zealand this year. I think I may just have to continue that trend with some more picks from Kiwi-land down the road.

31 Days of Horror - Day 10 "The Shining"

The Shining (1980)

God, do I love this movie. For someone that considers themselves a huge horror fan, I don't take this lightly when I say that Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is my favorite horror film of all time. The tone, the characters, the story that unfolds, all of it add to the perfect film.

Jack Nicholson's performance is truly a spectacle to behold and Shelly Duvall is equally captivating in a role that so few people give credit to. Having Kubrick mentally harass and torture her for her performance is something we'd likely not see nowadays, and hasn't really earned her any accolades in regards to the role. But to those that understand the process, there's an appreciation that exists for her role. I understand why others don't dig it -- I was in the same boat several years ago -- but now I find it fascinating and one of my favorite female performances ever.

I usually try and seek out the books for films that I enjoy but I've never brought myself to dive into King's opus. I think part of that has to do with the fact that King himself doesn't like Kubrick's film. I can't seem to comprehend how it is that someone could have such an aversion to such a perfect piece of cinema. If I read the book will it ruin my view of the movie? Or will it just ruin my view of the movie and make me dislike all the things that I used to like? It's always seemed like a bit of a no-win scenario for me.

One day I'll get to it.

Until then, I'm fine with being absolutely obsessed and fascinated by this classic. Every time I watch it, fearing that it may lose some of its charm, I'm then blown away by the film in all new ways. And that's really all I could ask for in a movie.

31 Days of Horror - Day 9 "The Last House On The Left"

The Last House On The Left (2009)

This was actually a first time viewing for me and was quite the fan. Sure, it's not quite the same effect as the original but I was surprised at how well it translated to modern times. Knowing where the story was going kind of took the tension away from me, but I'm glad they made the changes that they did.

It was so weird seeing Aaron Paul in this. I assume that this was all prior to Breaking Bad which makes me kind of sad since it likely means he won't be making a return to the genre. Still he's awesome in the role and really plays a psycho well. Speaking of weird, Garret Dillahunt as the main psycho! Now, I watch a lot of Raising Hope so to see him pop up and be terrifying took a little bit of getting used to. Then Riki Lindhome was naked throughout half of her role! What on earth is going on with this movie and why is throwing so many polarizing things my way?

I was a little disappointed in the cinematography, which is a little odd to say. I guess I was just really expecting more ethereal shots. Instead it's too clean to be visceral and too shaky to be creative. Which ultimately made it feel a little pointless. Why make the movie if you're going to stick so closely to the original? I found it even more odd reading that it was originally intended to be a direct-to-dvd release. It never loops cheap, which is more than I can say for the original.

When all is said and done it's a little odd that this movie was even made. What was the point really? Were they just hoping to cash in on the name and ride off into the sunset? I'm not sure what happened but here's hoping Craven made some solid dough off the deal.

31 Days of Horror - Day 8 "Night of the Living Dead"

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

It's hard to be a horror fan and not love this movie. It's just oozing with atmosphere and has a good social message on both race and gender. I love how each of the character's end up being introduced so naturally. And there's something about Black and White movies that will always hold a certain charm.

The acting can be a little stiff but something about the material elevates it to still create a satisfying movie. I just love the atmosphere that Romero is always able to achieve with his movies. Putting yourself in the situation at hand is what he does best and this film really takes advantage of that line of thinking.

I'm one of those people that love Romero's Dead trilogy. Sure, he falls off the wagon with the second half of his series, but still those original three are legendary. Each of them are so different while still commenting on the decade from which it came. I've only ever seen the Tom Savini remake once but I think it proves why the first one works so well: the simplicity. Everything gets too complicated in the remake and the charm is drawn out.

31 Days of Horror - Day 7 "Hellraiser Bloodline"

Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)

It's actually kind of funny how this viewing actually happened. I was talking with a friend about the "Hellraiser" series and he happened to rank this one above Hell on Earth, which I remembered quite liking. Given that this was "Pinhead in Space", I had always held an aversion to it and even gave my friend shit for it. After seeing it, I'm amazed at how enjoyable the movie actually is.

Sure, it's famously edited to pieces (with the director even taking his name off the final product and refusing to finish filming) so it's not like this is some fantastic movie. But dammit if it isn't extremely entertaining. It feels very thrown together and while there are some really great moments/kills they often feel misplaced. I couldn't count the number of awkward fades that happen during a scene.

They make Pinhead into such a generic slasher villain but that's okay, given that's always what I thought Pinhead was when I was growing up. It wasn't until much later that I learned of all the subtleties with his character. Even with the ridiculous surroundings, Pinhead is so clearly the best part of the movie, but unlike the other times, he's not quite as terrifying.

I had to do a bit of a double-take for the release date because I wasn't expecting it to have the level of CGI that it did. Most of the effects are on par with Jason X, which while I know that's not exactly a high bar, surprised me since Jason X came years later. Also, who else got a kick out of seeing Adam Scott in a Hellraiser movie? Has me tempted to create an "actors who started out in horror" video.

I really enjoyed this movie and it's actually made me rethink the entire series. I used to think it was the worst of the main horror franchises but that honor may actually go to the "Halloween" series instead.

31 Days of Horror - Day 6 "Friday the 13th Part 3"

Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)

One day I will see this movie in all its 3D glory in a theater but until that day, I can still appreciate all the absurd 3D effects littered throughout. Just as I didn't understand the 3D crazy five years ago, I really don't get it in the 80's, where the technology was primitive and headache inducing (hmm... still sounds familiar). I can only imagine what it was like trying to film one of these, especially with how cheap the Fridays were.

This is really the first "Friday the 13th" film that captures the same type of atmosphere as the rest of the series. That could be attributed to the first inclusion of the classic hockey mask, but I'd say it nestles itself into the same light more due to the story and how it handles the characters. While I love the first and the second, they're outliers of the series in terms of tone and style. They take a long time to play out, whereas the other films have action beats and more elaborate chase sequences. Not to mention the characters have a less gimmicky kind of humor.

This is honestly my favorite of what some call the "Hillbilly Jason" period (he becomes some kind of weird zombie in 4,6,7,8). I think it's fun and does a good job of continuing the Jason saga without becoming too absurd, which can sometimes happen in the later films. This is going to be the only "Friday the 13th" on here, although I do plan on watching the series this month. I like to write with a movie on in the background so I've been flying through horror films all October so far.

Maybe this 31 Days of Horror won't be as difficult as thought.

31 Days of Horror - Day 5 "Housebound"

Housebound (2014)

I'd seen this on Netflix but I just never could seem to pull the trigger. Then I needed more movies to expose myself to and it ended up being on a list of recommendations. So it's weak concept finally won me over with positive word of mouth. Really, all that I needed to know was that it was from New Zealand and their track record would have been enough to win me.

I always thought the concept of house arrest was intriguing for a haunted house movie, and I think it's fully taken advantage of, drawing parallels between cabin fever and actually seeing ghosts. It gives those that don't believe of the haunting a little more leeway and doesn't immediately just label them as assholes that should be listening to our poor protagonist.

The lead girl in this looks like a girl I recently dated. It was eerie but made me crack up though. My luck right? Still, I ended up enjoying the overall dynamic of the characters at play. They feel stereotypical while branching out in more dimensional ways. I really like that as soon as one of the characters sees something out of the ordinary, they don't just shrug it off, they treat it like it's totally out of the fucking ordinary. As it should be in horror films but so often isn't.

I saw this labeled as a horror/comedy and I'm not really sure if I understand that designation. Sure, there are funny moments but they're small and situational. The rest of the movie plays out like a standard horror movie. Just seems like an odd decision.

I'd call most of the decisions made in the second half frustrating at best but then that ending comes and I applaud the film for doing something different. It really turned the tired ghost story genre on its head and gave it new life.

31 Days of Horror - Day 4 "The Burning"

The Burning (1981)

I first heard about this movie through Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments. They hailed it as one of the biggest special effects horror movies of the 80's done by none other than horror maestro Tom Savini. To say I was excited when I finally got my hands on a copy would be a little bit of an understatement.

Really it's just a simple revenge story. But it's a revenge story where you understand both sides in a crazy way. Obviously the kids didn't mean for him to get burned alive and were just trying to scare him. Yet to Cropsey, he's being burned alive by some little shit teenagers so in typical fashion he goes and blames all teenagers for it. And I love the natural progression of the story. One of the main problems with horror movies are unrealistic character motivations and The Burning does a good job of letting everything unfold as it should, without forcing any ridiculous twists.

The characters and the dialogue always stood out to me as being shockingly good for such a low budget horror movie. Good dialogue is a lot harder than people give it credit for and the banter between the campers excels beyond the standard "Friday the 13th' riff.

And they kill off a shitload of characters in very close succession. After so much building you'd think they would spread them out a little more but no, they end up completely taking out a group in one big go and its one of the ballsiest moves I've seen in a horror movie. They still have such a high body count that it's hardly notice so the move is more commendable than anything. My favorite part of the scene is how much of an impact the shears have due to having it hit up against physical objects repeatedly and show the reality, before cutting to a prop knife/limb. It's all the genius of Tom Savini.

I really like this movie and am truly shocked it hasn't been given the remake treatment but I'm grateful for that. At least for now.

31 Days of Horror - Day 3 "Cabin in the Woods"

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

God do I love this movie. I'd say this film reached my top 10 horror movies the moment I first saw it and I continue to be amazed by it to this day. It's just the most perfect and smartly structured story for a horror movie out there. It suddenly becomes applicable with so many other movies and adds so many levels.

It's pretty crazy that this film had such a difficult time getting released, especially when you see it. It's not just good, it's mind blowing in ways that only Joss and Drew could do. And boy does it get violent. It's amazing the shift that goes on as soon as the blonde is killed. 

And how crazy is it to see Hemsworth so small? For those unaware, he found out about getting the role of Thor while filming Cabin. Pretty cool considering Whedon's relationship with both the production and the MCU.

There's been talk of a sequel and as great as the first was, I'd really rather they just leave it at one. Not that I can even see how they'd possibly do a sequel, given the ending. But if anyone could find a way, I'm sure it's Whedon and Goddard. 

Still, I vote no on that one.

31 Days of Horror - Day 2 "Cursed"

Cursed (2005)

That picture brings back memories. It was used in Entertainment Weekly and just about every movie website used it when they reported on it. In case you weren't aware, this movie was supposed to be a really big deal. A werewolf movie -- a genre known for misfires -- written and directed by the team that brought us Scream. It was going to be the 2000's version of said slasher hit and we were all going to be amazed. How stupid we were.

It had been so long since I've seen this movie, and while I love bad movies, this one enters the territory of "So bad, it's awful." Oh don't believe me? Jesse Eisenberg literally howls at a bunch of dogs outside his house. Then there's the dog that turns into a ridiculous CGI abomination with the explanation of "my dog bit me."

Even the incident that sets the whole story up comes out of absolutely nowhere. We don't know anything about how the story is, have no sense of tone and suddenly, midsentence and without much forethought, they're in a car accident. It's not like it was so sudden that they were going for shock factor, because it leaves no impact whatsoever and instead you're just left wondering what in the hell just happened. And this is all within the first ten minutes. The movie just becomes even more of a mess from there.

The lack of logic runs throughout. There's a scene with Mia where the werewolf chases her around this building that just minutes before we saw was FULL OF PEOPLE. How is no one hearing her scream? It's like a five minute scene where suddenly the entire building is abandoned and empty. And she makes stupid decision after stupid decision.

Then there's the wrestling scene where Jesse Eisenberg, at school wrestling tryouts, starts doing a whole bunch of professional wrestling moves to impress everyone and get on the team. He's doing jackhammer suplexes, hurricanranas, and slew of other things you'd never see at an amateur wrestling tryout. It was a joke. Then there's one of Ricci's co-workers who decides she needs to OPEN UP THE BATHROOM STALL EVEN THOUGH RICCI IS TELLING HER NOT TO. Who the fuck does that? "Oh hey, I know you're in a super private area and are probably pooping, but I'm gonna open the door even though you're telling me not to. And we're at work so this will probably get me fired." It just lacks all logic.

If you were to look at the cast on paper then you may be convinced that it would at least be somewhat entertaining but no, everyone is awful and makes it surprising that they ever continued acting. Do I sound annoyed with this movie? Well that's because while I knew that it was not a good film, I was expecting to enjoy it on a so bad it's good level. Nope, it's truly just awful dreck.

Every aspect of the movie is bad. The structure, the lighting, the editing, the music, the acting. I just don't understand how a major Hollywood studio could actually produce such dreck. It's honestly one of the worst movies I've ever seen. I feel stupider for having put myself through it for the second time in my life.

One day there will be a documentary made chronicling how a film directed by Wes Craven, written by Kevin Williamson and starring Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg turned out so bad but until then, we're just left trying to figure out what in the hell went wrong.

31 Days of Horror - Day 1 "Scream 4"

I honestly can't believe I'm even doing this on top of everything else I have going on (finishing a book, 31 video review for WIGS, a top 10 video, and a weekly Fantasy Football video) but I figure, what the hell? I'm only going to have x amount of free time so much in my life, so I may as well do something I can look back on with enjoyment. I always get a kick out of going back and seeing my reviews for the last time I did this. They'll probably be short like the old ones but who knows. No limitations!

It'll be a little confusing since that means I'll be doing two separate 31 film horror lists and there could be some overlap but whatever. Halloween is awesome. Let's get to the main course...

Scream 4 (2011)

I saw this in theater at a pretty shitty time in my life. I loved the Scream series but wasn't expecting it to blow me away. Instead I immediately went home and got my hands on any info about the movie possible. I was obsessed. I loved the twist, I love how they threaded in talks about remakes without having gone through with an actual remake. We still have all the original characters doing their thing and bringing the "Screaminess" to it.

I hadn't really realized it until this most recent viewing but I really wish a similar story had been done for the TV series. Rather than going with a super generic backstory, I would have liked for it to exist in the same world as the Scream movies. And yes, it hasn't been stated whether or not Woodsboro exists in the TV show--though some people are saying it is. But doing it as a continuation would have made more sense and is a big reason why Scream 4 works so well.


My one big gripe with the film is the ending. No, I'm not mad that Jill and Charlie are revealed as the killers. I just wish that the entire hospital scene didn't happen. While it's a moot point now since the series doesn't look to be continuing (until the inevitable remake in a few years) the intrigue of Jill being out there, having finally succeeded where so few others had. It would have been refreshing and made for a unique Scream movie where we actually know who the killer is. Or do we?

Okay, sorry. I'm not pitching that movie, it's just something that always goes through my head. Plus, I was really hoping Kirby would be back for it too. Oh well.


Ultimately I really love this movie. The only film in the series that I enjoy more is the original and that's probably because of how it pays its respects to the it while still becoming its own thing. If only the TV series had done the same...

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