horror movies

Saw IV

Year: 2007
Directed By: Darren Lynn Bousman
Written By: Three guys who should seek therapy

RYAN’S REVIEW

OK, full disclosure. I didn’t even bother watching this movie to review it and I don’t care to. I barely remember having seen it nearly ten years ago and I’m totally cool with that. I can’t even come up with a reason to subject myself to more of this crap. I’m sure there is probably a twist I don’t remember that makes it all worth wild but after sitting down to watch the third one I simply don’t care. I can’t imagine how immature I must have been to have actually included a fourth rendition of this madness to my collection but it does not belong.

These movies were successful enough to warrant seven films but even at the immature age in which I purchased the fourth movie for the collection I had simply had enough. I have never seen the fifth, sixth, or seventh film in this franchise and have lost no sleep whatsoever on not knowing how it all turned out.

As a fan of horror films these movies make me sad because they left an influence on a genre that used to be cool. This is the season for things that are spooky and somewhere along the line it became the season of disgust with seven years worth of Halloween releases for this awful franchise. If this wasn’t enough there were Hostels and even lower budget knockoffs peppered in between.

I don’t even watch the new horror movies coming out these days because of films like this. It seems the torture porn era might have faded in favor of the found footage era with movies like Paranormal Activity but I don’t go for those either. I miss the good old slasher films that gave us something to fear. The psycho killer that escaped to wreak havoc or the secluded inbred family that some poor soul accidentally stumbled across. Movies that invoke fear rather than disgust.

I have never been a fan of The Exorcist for the same reason. Though hailed as one of the greatest ever I just see something too vile. I only see disgusting green vomit and a little girl who violently penetrates herself with a crucifix. The power of Christ compels that movie be recreated over and over and over again! Will there ever be enough exorcism movies for the public? I don’t know but I feel like it falls in line with the same thing I see in films like this.

Why get creative and do something new when you can simply copy what worked before and make money on it? Why come up with fresh ideas when we can just spoil classics with a sub par remake? Need a “new” idea, let’s look across the Pacific and simply Americanize one of their films. The horror genre lost its way a long time ago and that’s so sad and disappointing.

I will always hold out hope that eventually some clever mind out there will get greenlit and offer us more than simply a rehashed or borrowed idea. I find with each succeeding year that disappointment is becoming the norm. So much so that I don’t even bother giving things a chance anymore. So for those of you out there that are still with me in this rant let me know if you have seen a horror movie in this era worth watching. I would really love something new to get on board with.

 

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Halloween

Year: 1978
Directed By: John Carpenter
Written By: John Carpenter and Debra Hill

RYAN’S REVIEW

I didn’t intend to review this film when we started this horror themed month for October but I got caught up in the spirit.  We have watched and reviewed several horror films this month but none quite as iconic as this one. Barring The Exorcist (which I refuse to see again) this is the big enchilada when it comes to the genre.  An iconic film that set the tone for the decades that would follow.  It was not the first slasher film but far and away this is the one that all the others would take the lead from.  Everything from who the victims were and what they were doing to setting the tone with music to who would win in the end was all in the blueprint for this film.  Seeing everything that comes after almost makes it redundant.

I was born in 1984, and by that time this franchise had already risen to the top and fallen from grace due to a horrible third film. The franchise would come roaring back with it’s fourth film in 1988 but it wasn’t so much a roar as it was a weep that kept it going for another 15 years.  When I was growing up it was Friday the 13th that was all the rage.  As a kid I specifically remember the hockey mask of Jason Voorhees being the thing to wear and while I didn’t know what it was I thought it was really cool.  My mom would never let me go as the bloody machete wielding villain though opting for more traditional and cute costumes that never impressed my friends. Nevertheless I was introduced to Jason long before I even knew anything about Michael Myers.  One of the first horror movies I ever saw was one of the Jason movies, no clue which one, and it scared the hell out of me. I remember going into dark rooms as a child and fearing Jason would be standing over me when I turned the light on.  Darkness is always scarier when the idea of a slasher who is there to kill you for no reason is introduced.  To a preteen child such irrational things seem possible when you are all alone.

By the time I actually saw this film I was in my later teens.  I watched it because I knew it was a legendary film, but having already seen so many movies just like it the film had little effect on me. I had seen it all before and in much more violent and bloody fashion.  Not only that, but Michael Myers’ white mask (a William Shatner mask turned inside out) had nothing on the hockey mask worn by Jason Voorhees.  Even Jason’s weapon was scarier than Michael’s because Jason used a machete while Michael simply used a kitchen butcher’s knife. When I finished this movie for the first time I found it not scary at all and anticlimactic as well.  I know now how wrong my initial perceptions were.

I may not have been impressed as a teenager but I was too young to really appreciate classic stories then.  At that age I was always looking for more blood, more explosions, and more boobs.  Some movies had been built up too much in my mind based on what I had already seen and I couldn’t look past something less to appreciate the fact that it was what started it all.  The Jason movies only seemed more frightening to me because with each new film it was both trying to one-up this movie as well as all the other slasher films that preceded it.  Jason would have never existed without this film and its success.  This movie was made on a really low budget and raked in tons of profit.  It became the blueprint for what many franchises would build their foundation on.  A killer who kills kids for no real reason, victims that are engaging in promiscuous behavior, and a musical score that would set the tone for the film.

It’s not until the sequel to this movie that you get any motive as to why Michael Myers has targeted these teens for killing.  I suppose the pointless killing adds an extra level of fear to the whole thing but this always bothered me, and I’ll admit it bothered me while I was watching it last night.  Don’t get me wrong, I think this is an awesome movie, but there is little point to it other than the guilty pleasure of watching violence.  The popular slasher film that came out when I was in high school was Scream which made a lot of the “slasher victim formula.” The formula being that the kids engaging in drinking, drugs, and sex were the ones to fall prey to the stalking killer.  This is the lead that the others followed because it’s the way it appears in this movie but I don’t see it this way.  John Carpenter has dismissed the notion before and I think it’s simply because he wrote the teenagers to act like teenagers.  What generation of teenagers don’t engage in drinking, drugs, and sex when the parents aren’t around? I think the fact that the victims in this movie were doing such is merely happenstance. Laurie Strode appears to be the angel of the group because she is the more innocent of the three girls terrorized by Michael Myers but she was getting high at one point in the movie.  According to the formula proposed by Scream this would have put her on Michael’s chopping block but it didn’t happen because that formula never really existed in this film. They were just kids being kids, coincidentally doing what kids do when the slasher came to kill them.

I think the greatest thing about this movie is the musical score.  That tune on the piano which has become legendary now is such an eerie and dramatic sound.  It sets the tone for the movie and moves it along at the right pace.  John Carpenter also did a lot of interesting things behind camera that added to the effect the movie had when it came out and was imitated by the filmmakers that would follow.  Shooting from the point of view of the killer was a new idea at the time and it allowed the viewer to fear for the unsuspecting victim as their death crept up on them. Both of the qualities, the musical score and the view from the killer were things specifically copied for the Friday the 13th franchise.

This was the first film Jamie Lee Curtis appeared in and was the beginning of what would eventually give her the title of “scream queen.” Curtis came by it naturally because her mother probably would have had that title had it been around twenty years earlier.  Her mother, Janet Leigh, was made famous for screaming in the shower scene in the original Psycho film.  I have always been a big fan of Curtis because of her role in True/Lies in 1994, and because I saw her boobs in Trading Places as a kid.  I was young when I saw that movie and instantly fell in love with her, her role in True/Lies only served to re-enforce that infatuation.  This infatuation has proven to be very troubling as I have heard many times over the last ten years that she was born as a hermaphrodite, meaning that she was born with both male and female reproductive organs.  I do not know if this is true or simply a popular myth but I don’t like it and find it really hard to believe. Curtis has fallen out of the limelight as far as films go these days but remains active in many notable causes.  I think she had many terrific roles throughout her career and it all started with this movie.

Aside from Curtis the most notable actor to be involved in this franchise on a regular basis was Donald Pleasence playing the part of Michael Myers’ doctor Dr. Loomis.  I have never really cared for the character because he always comes off as so annoying.  In every one of the Halloween movies he appears in he is always the guy running around trying to warn everybody but nobody will listen.  If he wasn’t such a whiney know-it-all maybe people would have listened to him.  He is specifically preachy in this movie and honestly, most of what he says doesn’t make any sense.  He says that he knows Michael Myers better than anyone but what can you really know about a person that hasn’t communicated in any capacity in fifteen years? His analogy that behind Myers’ black eyes is nothing but pure evil serves as nothing more than making the villain more ghoulish and threatening.  That is the point I suppose but this guy couldn’t have died soon enough in my opinion.  I haven’t seen the sequels in quite a while but if I remember right Loomis blows himself up at the end of the second film in order to kill Myers.  If anybody knows how he managed to come back to the franchise let me know because I have always wondered.

This movie may come across as boring to younger generations that have seen it all before, just as it did to me when I was younger, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.  There is a lot to be said about a film that sets the bar and leads the way for so many that will follow.  It doesn’t matter what film may have out done it later because it was merely trying to copy what was already achieved by this one.  I didn’t love this movie when I saw it the first time but I have grown to appreciate it for what it is worth and what it has done for the genre and industry.  This movie is one of the greatest horror films of all time and was a great way to spend Halloween night after the kids were done trick or treating and safely tucked into bed.  It goes without saying that this movie is worth your time to see.

 AMBER’S REVIEW

Classic. That’s really all that can be said about this movie. So classic in fact they made many, many, too many more. It’s a really cool horror movie that isn’t as scary as it probably was back in its prime, but I think it still holds it own. And nothing is more Halloween iconic than the theme song. I made it my ringtone this year.

Halloween PosterI am going to say here that I feel kind of bad for the designer. They didn’t know what an iconic movie this would become. I am not a fan of this at all. I don’t like the illustration, the typography is just plain bad, and the copy-writing is worse. “The Night HE came back.” Who, Jesus? I actually want to recreate this one. I think it could be a lot of fun.

House of 1,000 Corpses

Year: 2003
Directed By: Rob Zombie
Written By: Rob Zombie

RYAN’S REVIEW

When this movie came out I remember hearing really bad things about it and never giving it a chance. I can’t remember who I heard those things from or why I listened to them but if I knew I would find them today to tell them they are crazy.  When I saw this movie for the first time years later it instantly became one of my favorite horror movies of all time. It has an awesome cast made up of people I had never heard of, it has one of the coolest intros I have ever seen in anything, and it was made by a man who has a thing for horror movies. The story may be a typical one on the surface, as far as movies in this genre go.  It scares me though; it gives me the thrills I look for in a horror movie and at the end of the day that is all that matters.  As Halloween is approaching there isn’t a movie I would have rather reached in this collection.  I love this time of year, and this is one of my favorite movies to watch when the holiday approaches.

I had never heard of Sid Haig before seeing this movie but I have never forgotten him afterwards. As Captain Spaulding he makes an awesome and memorable character.  I think the opening scene in which he stands tall and belligerent against his would be robbers is one of the coolest I have ever seen. When it comes to clowns there is fine line between being funny and creepy.  As a clown Captain Spaulding is right up there with Pennywise when it comes to clowns from horror stories.  Spaulding himself doesn’t really bring the element of horror to this film but he brings plenty to the film in small doses.  If the horror element was brought by any one person it was from Bill Moseley.  That man has a voice that strikes fear into my soul and his appearance in the movie is enough to make anyone turn and walk the other way.  The whiteness of his skin, the unkempt nature of his hair, and the blood spattered on his clothes make him look scary enough.  It’s when he starts talking that really brings the fear full circle.  Not only does he have a menacing voice but his character in the movie is so utterly insane and in control.  When he starts talking you might have no idea what is coming next but you know that it will be bad.

I think Sheri Moon is incredibly sexy, but like the guy playing her brother she scares the shit out of me in this one.  It’s that laugh she has, it’s disturbing. She looks so seductive and sweet until something sets her off and then before you know it you see the psychotic side of her.  In the sequel to this movie we find out that her father is actually Captain Spaulding but I thought that was a bit of a stretch.  I would have preferred a more creative connection between the clown and the crazy family.  Karen Black played the part of the crazy family’s mother and I thought she was great.  Her character was obviously once a prostitute and her wide variety of children reflect that.  She was replaced for the sequel and I have never known why but I didn’t like the change. In the role of Tiny some might recognize Matthew McGrory who played the giant in Big FishMcGrory is also known for a role he played in Deliverance as a child, he was the kid playing the banjo in one of the movies most memorable scenes.  In smaller roles you can see notable TV stars of today like Walton Goggins and Rainn Wilson.

This was the first movie made by long time rocker Rob Zombie and I think he did an incredible job.  I remember seeing his house on the MTV show Cribs years and years ago when I still watched MTV and distinctly remember him having an entire closet top to bottom full of horror movies.  Clearly the man has put his work in understanding the genre.  Everything he did from set design to camera angles to the dialogue he wrote was on the spot as far as I am concerned.  I haven’t really been a fan of most of what he has done since this movie.  I did not like his remakes of the Halloween movies.  Yet I like this movie so much that I will always give anything he makes a chance.  He has a lot of potential as a filmmaker.  The story he wrote was pretty basic as far as horror films go but he did many things that make this film stand apart from others with similar themes.

This is a movie I strongly suggest as we enter into the spooky time of the year.  Movies are a great medium to get us into the spirit and movies such as this one are always popular this time of the year.  This is probably one of my favorite horror films but the original Dawn of the Dead is a very close second. For most people anything featuring zombies, vampires, or ghosts will serve their purposes during this season but if you want something that packs more of a punch check this one out. It’s not one I often recommend because it is such a rough movie but this time of the year it is just right.  This movie is more than worth your time during Halloween season and may you have a fun and frightening holiday.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is beyond creepy. It’s not even in the horror genre; it’s a genre all in its own. Family is crazy as shit genre. I really like watching this movie and that worries me sometimes because this film is completely crazy and demented.

This is such an interesting poster. I like the typography; you have a gross looking head looking at you. It’s pretty cut and dry, but I like it and I think it’s a great poster.

NEXT MOVIE: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)