Movies for halloween

Halloween Season 2017

It’s that time of year again! We haven’t made the most significant progress through our collection in the past year, moving only one letter in the alphabet, but we keep moving along albeit at a snails pace. Right now I find myself having trouble remembering how many Halloweens we have spent reviewing horror films and can’t even recall. Time flies and life stays busy but there is always time to get into the spirit of the year’s scary season.

This year we have five films we definitely want to fit in for the season. Having skipped it a couple months ago we’ll be reviewing Stir of Echoes this month. We will also be jumping ahead in the alphabet a bit to review both the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the 2003 remake of the film. At some point too we will be reviewing newcomers to the collection The Awakening and Get Out –  really looking forward to the latter there.

Who knows what else the month holds as we watch movies to get into the mood. I may finally publish that Psycho review that has been in draft for over two years now. Maybe I will make another trip to the theater and see IT again; it’s definitely worth a second trip to the theater and it’s in season now.

In closing I simply want to remind people to have fun this year. This holiday that pulls the strings of our most relevant emotions is one that we can all enjoy. It’s a fun month before we are overloaded with holiday season marketing and excessive power bills. It’s a time to relish in the dark and indulge on candy. The wind blows a little colder and the ghouls come out. We have some scary movies to check out this year and I can’t wait to get started.

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Sleepy Hollow

Year: 1999
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: Washington Irving (original story), Kevin Yagher and Andrew Kevin Walker

RYAN’S REVIEW

Our next movie lines up perfectly with the season and it will be where we kick off our month of horror movies for Halloween this year. This is a beautifully gloomy if not fantastic movie. It can set the tone for the season but it will never match up against the classics. It’s a spooky movie that looks great, but it doesn’t have that fear factor that the great horror classics utilize.

This is a fantastic Burton movie but I don’t think it’ll even stand up against others such as Beetlejuice or Edward Scissorhands. He got the look right but I find this to be Johnny Depp’s weakest performance among their collaborations. It’s not all Depps fault, the character of Ichabod is far from cool and hardly the type of character to carry a film.

I get that Ichabod Crane is supposed to be this way but the cowardly character does nothing to enhance the film, even with Johnny Depp in the part. He is so pathetically fearful, at one point even leaping away from a spider. He does nothing to evoke love or admiration and that’s a major flaw. You could argue Depp played the part well but it’s the character that is the problem. There’s no level of awesome or badass within him.

I really like Christina Ricci, but I grew up with a crush on her. I’m predisposed to like her whether she is any good or not. She’s not bad in this movie, but she’s no Winona Ryder.

The rest of this cast is full of regular Burton collaborators and they all help to make this movie really feel like Tim Burton. Depp, Christopher Lee, Jeffrey Jones, Burton’s then wife Lisa Marie, and Christopher Walken. With those guys in tow this movie looks awesome on paper. Burton gets to go wild with his spooky crap. Somehow he managed to miss the mark but at least it all looks good. The pumpkins, scarecrows, fog, and headless horseman give it a perfect Halloween vibe.

The headless horseman is awesome, played by Christopher Walken. He looks sadistic with no head and somehow more fierce with one. Even without his iconic voice Walken manages to be awesome. He has no speaking lines in the movie and that is a good thing. I love Walken’s voice but it would have been all wrong for the character he was playing.

I don’t love this movie by any means but I enjoy it. It is really aesthetically pleasing and it feels so perfect for the season. It’s a fun take on an old classic and they don’t pull any punches when it comes to chopping off heads. I remember when this movie was coming out it was a big deal how many people were losing their heads in this one. It’s not the best movie you can watch during this Halloween season but it’s not a bad one either. If you want something that feels right but isn’t going to scare or gore you then this is a perfect movie to watch.

 

Nightmare on Elm Street

Year: 1984
Directed By: Wes Craven
Written By: Wes Craven

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is the film you should be watching for Halloween. It is as scary as they come and it’s a horror legend. This film has created a franchise that has lived and thrived for thirty years now. To date there have been nine movies and countless other media featuring the character of Freddy Kruger. It all started with this movie and when you watch it you understand why it has lived on in this fashion. The long standing success of the franchise led to an unnecessary  remake about four years ago that nobody should waste their time seeing.

Classics should never be touched. It’s a crime to remake a popular classic film for the sake of making money. There was nothing wrong with this original film and nothing to be improved upon. This was a great movie that scared us with an original idea and effects that were far ahead of their time. They did things in this movie that had never been done before and it looked great. Johnny Depp falling into his bed and exploding into the ceiling is insane. Freddy stretching through the wall look great. Technology didn’t need to improve upon these effects even if it could. This movie shouldn’t be touched and it angers me to think a new generation of fans might bypass the original and just watch the new one. The new one wasn’t as well received and I don’t even know that I saw all of it. It can splash all the blood and provoke a scream now and again but it can never recreate the magic of the film made in 1984.

Despite the presence of this franchise throughout my entire life I haven’t seen many, if any at all, of the sequels. I was born the same year this movie came out and for as long as I can remember I have known about it but not dared to actually sit down and watch them. In my oldest memories Halloween always stands out and Freddy has always been present during the holiday in some capacity. Be it a neighbor who gets a kick out of dressing like him for trick-or-treaters or simply trick-or-treaters themselves he was always around and I thought he was really scary. So I think I subconsciously avoided this series for as long as I could simply because it reminds me of the fear I felt as a kid when things were much scarier. I am more interested than ever now because this movie so thoroughly impresses me and I will seek out some of the films that follow. If anybody has any thoughts on the quality of the sequels leave us a comment and let us know if they are worth our time.

Happy Halloween everyone and check out this movie once the kids has eaten their candy and had their sugar crash. When the doorbell finally stops ringing and you can sit back to look for your own fear for entertainment watch this movie. It’s scary and it’s for real. It’s a perfect evening for a scary movie and you can’t go wrong with this one.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I had never seen this movie before. I know it’s a classic, but my step sister was always terrified of this movie so I never wanted to see it. I know why she was terrified now; this  movie is one of the creepiest hrror movies I have ever seen. Freddy is creepy looking and does scary, gory things and the whole plot line is terrifying in itself. I felt extremely sleepy the whole movie, just knowing that she couldn’t sleep or he was going to get her. Overall, this is a great movie, and stands legend today for a really good reason. I think this might become a regular Halloween movie for us from now on.

Halloween II

Year: 1981
Directed By: Rick Rosenthal
Written By: John Carpenter and Debra Hill

RYAN’S REVIEW

What a disappointing evening we had with this film. I had remembered it being pretty good and was looking forward to it. I didn’t take into account I was probably 14 the last time I saw it and it turned out to be like any other typical slasher sequel. There are efforts made to deepen the Michael Myers lore but they are weak at best. This is really just more of the same with less purpose.

I was under the mistaken impression that John Carpenter was behind camera on this film. I think that misconception went a long way in my memory of it being better. You can clearly see that a different director made this film and I think that is the problem with it. Carpenter did serve as producer and writer for the film but that wasn’t enough. It starts with the score of the film. It’s similar to the first film’s but just different enough that it doesn’t have the same effect. Part of what made the first film great was how the music intertwined with the action on screen and that was missing this time around. Michael Myers looks different as well and that is something that happens when a new director takes on the work of another. Myers looks smaller in this movie and the mask looks slightly different. I don’t know if the director is to blame for Michael’s choice of weapons in this film but they couldn’t be any less intimidating. Scalpels can be deadly when used against someone but I hardly think it is a practical weapon for a ghoul who will spend an evening stabbing lots of people. When he gets his eyes shot out and is swinging it randomly trying to hit anything I just felt like it was stupid. A scalpel is not a slashing weapon, and by that point I was so bored and disappointed it just seemed like something else annoying.

The story here is really lame and not at all cool like I remembered it being. In the first film Michael Myers was a stalking killer who seemed to have no purpose to his killing and that made him scarier. In this film they gave him a reason but it was as loose a reason as it could be. They decided that Laurie Strode was his sister and that was his motive to kill her as his first kill was of another sister but I think this is weak. I think it even weaker that Laurie Strode seems to figure it out on her own and tries to talk to her brother before he again attempts to kill her.

Another thing I think takes away from this movie is Michael’s seemingly immortality. In the first film he was a boogyman but in this one he is an unstoppable mindless killing machine. They vaguely try to explain it with a ritualistic word scrawled on the chalkboard at the local school but his immortality takes something away from him. If there is no real hope to kill him then there is no anticipation of how anyone will escape. It makes little sense why he would survive so many gunshots, including one to each eye, but die from catching on fire. He walks out of the explosion before appearing to die but why does that kill him when nothing else would? It seems he could have stopped, dropped, and rolled if for no other reason than to offer the audience a more terrifying looking slasher but I guess they didn’t do fire drills in the mental institution he grew up in.

Regardless what I think this movie is still a pillar of support for a franchise that has continued for more than twenty five years. It would be awesome to see the horror genre diversify but why do so when you can keep making money doing the same thing over and over again? I think if you have seen the first film you have seen them all. One slasher film is really no different than any other once you’ve seen the first. The only differences being the weapons wielded and the one doing the wielding. You have a good chance to see a set of boobs in any of them but not from the heroine that ultimately defeats the unkillable slasher.

Seems to me it’s always a woman who wins out in the end of these films. Gentlemen, if you find yourself in a slasher film scenario then make the most of your final hours of life. If these movies have taught us anything then we know we aren’t beating the bad guy. It’s most likely going to be the girl that you, or any of your buddies, didn’t try to hook up with. She will kill the bad guy and/or be the only survivor. There is no hope for us guys, so go wild if you find yourself in this unpractical and unrealistic situation.  Such a thing is unlikely but in a society where we all like to joke about our readiness for the zombie apocalypse anything is worth being prepared for.

If you are looking for a good movie to watch for Halloween then don’t waste your time with this one. If the first one isn’t available there are still several better options to spend your time with.

 

Dawn of the Dead (1978) Take Two

Year: 1978
Directed By: George A. Romero
Written By: George A. Romero

RYAN’S REVIEW

To read our original review of this film follow this link. If you would like to read our review of the 2004 remake follow this link.

This is my favorite horror movie of all time and without doubt one of my favorites films to watch during this time of the year.  What this film does right is capture the fear that has taken over society.  The desperation that rises as the enormity of the situation sets in.  The movie doesn’t waste time with any build up it just drops you right into the thick of things and we follow the four main characters as they get the heck out of dodge and seek refuge in a shopping mall. We see the weight the new world has laid on their shoulders and we see how futile their efforts are in the face of the threats that rise after the zombies do. The zombies we see in this film aren’t all that intimidating.  They are slow-moving, clumsy, and they aren’t overly aggressive.  The zombies we saw in the remake are the complete opposite.  In the 2004 film we see what I like to think of as the new age zombies.  Zombies that don’t just run but sprint at full speed with an intensity and aggression that will scare the hell out of anyone.  The differences in these two zombies completely change the face of this title in the remake film but it wasn’t for the better. It was nothing more than just shock value because these upgraded zombies were scary but they didn’t make for better film, only better scenes on occasion.

I had a discussion this weekend with someone about the merits of the two differing zombies and that’s what I’d like to focus this post on.  I can completely understand the new generation of viewers that prefers these new age zombies.  It’s shocking to see these zombies with such ferocity like we see in the 2004 remake of this movie, World War Z, 28 Days Later, and other new zombie films.  These zombies are scarier when watching the movie but they are almost too much.  This type of zombie is practically an overwhelming threat that can’t be subdued and therein lays the problem.  With zombies, I don’t think the real threat is the one they pose but the consequences they have on society.  When a zombie epidemic spreads throughout the world governments fall, the infrastructure falls apart, and society crumbles.  If they are the slow-moving stumbling zombies they can be defeated but the overwhelming amount of them is too much for anyone to handle. By the time some survival group does get a handle on the zombies the damage is done, and the way the world was working is just too big a puzzle to simply put back together again. When everything is lost and everything stops the people of the world have to learn to live again. We have become too reliant on technology and too many can’t live without it. The fear then doesn’t come from the zombies but from the world they have created because in the new world anarchy reigns. The zombies are simply a manageable threat that’s overwhelming at first but can be subdued over time. When they simply become another part of everyday life the real threat comes from the people who want what you have, because they will do anything to get it, and there is no authority around to stop them. With these new aged zombies that simply can’t be stopped, because they are so fast and aggressive, I see no possible outcome other than the extinction of humans.  Maybe that is what some people like about it but I think the threat of evil men, who are capable of thinking, who can take over society in the aftermath is much scarier.

We see these differences in the two versions of this film.  In 1978 the survivors find peace in the mall for a long time. The zombies outside their fortified home are still a threat but one they have learned to keep at bay and live with. Their safety and livelihood isn’t threatened until evil men come to take what they have.  The men in the motorcycle gang haven’t lived in the comfort of security, they’ve been out there in the dog eat dog world and they are looking at the mall with hungry eyes.  Not for the security it offers but the spoils available to them from within. They ride in and destroy the mall and everything the main characters have worked to achieve because they can. They are the real threat in the world created by zombies, and they are much scarier than the zombies ever could have been. In 2004 things are much different. The threat posed by the zombies is too great and the survivors are simply fighting to survive, but there is no survival in this scenario. We see some of the characters escape but there is no hope for them out there in a world full of new age zombies and eventually we are led to believe that they all die. The 2004 ending is scary but it’s all over then.  There is something to be said about that outcome and I can understand the appeal.  I just think there is so much more potential the other way around.  Things get bloody and awful in 2004, but in 1978 a story was told, and it was a story with the possibility to continue and offer us so much more. Speaking only under the parameters of “scenario,” I think the 1978 type offers more because the door is open for things to come, crazy things that might blow our minds like what we have already seen has.

This is what makes The Walking Dead so good.  Since reading the comics the show is based on I have become obsessed with the series.  The zombies are merely a dangerous annoyance in The Walking Dead world.  The real threat comes from the men who have risen out of the ashes to seize power for themselves. The Governor, the roaming cannibals, or the current and most awesome badass of all time Negan. Negan is such a cool bad guy I actually find myself wanting him to defeat Rick and following him through this new world of the undead as it is.  Negan actually berates Rick at one point, calling him an idiot because he actually uses guns on the dead.  Negan doesn’t do this; he saves his bullets for the enemies that require more than a simple head bashing to beat. In a world where the old school zombies have destroyed everything it’s better than new age zombies taking over because there are men like Negan out there, and Negan is scarier and more dangerous than all the zombies in the world put together. I have read that people really want Negan on the show but I don’t.  I love the show and I love Negan but it’s not a union that will work the way it should.  One of the things I really love about Negan is his proficiency with the Fuck word and profanity in general.  To take it away from him to put him on TV would seriously drop his cool factor, and I don’t know that any actor in the world could live up to the expectations I would have as a fan of the comic.

I think Hollywood is destroying the effectiveness of the old school zombies because they keep going for that shock factor.  It’s like overloading a film with too many explosions because you want to blow people away instead of getting inside their heads. The top example that comes to mind is World War Z. So many things are wrong with this film.  First of all it’s rated PG-13 so that they could take advantage of the teenage market, but no zombie film should be PG-13.  The Walking Dead is literally more graphic and it is contained by the limitations allowed on television.  Secondly, they are the new age zombies in World War Z and it wasn’t like that in the book.  The movie shows zombie running at full speed in hordes and building giant zombie ladders.  In the book the zombies aren’t like that, but that is why humanity was able to eventually prevail. In the book society crumbles due to the threat and the story is really about how the world survives and then manages to put itself back together.  The consequences are so significant. The damage done isn’t because of the zombies but because of the chaos and fear the zombies create.  When society breaks down resources become scarce, communication falls apart, and the world as we know it comes to an end.  People are forced to adapt if they are to survive and it’s not a simple thing to do.  The movie was really nothing at all like the book and just a pathetic attempt to make money on something that was successful.  Everything that made the book successful though is gone from the film and it’s just taking advantage of the name recognition.

This is all just my opinion but I’d invite you to sound off now on how you feel about the new age zombies vs. the original.  I think it is an interesting topic and there are valid points to both sides of it.  Let us know how you feel about it. Also, if you are a fan of The Walking Dead and know who Negan is let me know what you think about the guy.  To put it as Negan would, “I fucking love the fucking guy.” I don’t know anybody who has read as deep into the comic as I have so I have nobody to talk to about him.  I’d love to hear what someone else thought about him.  Otherwise, check out the original Dawn of the Dead as Halloween approaches, it’s a great movie that really sets the tone for the holiday.

Child’s Play

Year: 1988
Directed By: Tom Holland
Written By: Don Mancini, John Laffia, and Tom Holland

RYAN’S REVIEW

I’ll admit this probably isn’t the best horror movie to kick off our Halloween movie month with but it isn’t a bad one either.  I bought this movie because of the memories it brings back for me.  I have never forgotten what this movie did to me as a child.  I don’t think it was this movie specifically because I was only four when it came out.  It was most likely one of the sequels that scared me so bad but I can’t be sure because I never actually saw the movie.  I will never forget being a young kid at 7 or 8 and having trouble sleeping because I had simply seen a preview involving Chucky.  I hadn’t even seen the movie but the mere image of Chucky carrying around a knife scared me so bad.  I had a bunk bed at that age and I specifically remember laying awake on the top bunk unable to go to sleep for fear of Chucky climbing the ladder to come and kill me.

This movie doesn’t scare me like it did in passing when I was a kid but it’s still a cool horror movie.  The idea of killer dolls is always frightening whether it’s a wooden puppet or a creepy ginger doll in overalls.  I think with Chucky what specifically makes him so scary is the anger that comes from the character.  That anger fused with the creepy appearance is what has made this such a long lasting horror franchise. I haven’t seen many of the films from this franchise because I think I’ve subconsciously avoided them because of the long ago fear I had as a kid.  I don’t intend to get any of the other films but if anyone thinks any of the sequels are worth seeing let me know which ones to check out.

I think Brad Dourif is a really menacing looking guy and liked him as the initial criminal that uses voodoo to bond his soul with the doll.  I read that he would really work himself into a fit when recording the audio for the character and I think that came through really well in the final product. He brought such anger and evilness to the character with only his voice.  The doll was creepy all by itself when it would transform from that innocent looking face to the evil one but Dourif’s voice really put it over the top. The special effects for the doll weren’t anything exceptional but I think they were good for 1988.  I specifically like the charred Chucky that just won’t die in the end.

Overall I enjoyed this movie but I don’t think it is anything special.  I chose to add it to the collection for this month because it scared me as a child and because it is the first film in a long standing horror franchise.  If I’m not mistaken there are six films to date about Chucky with the most recent one, Curse of Chucky coming out only a couple of weeks ago. If you have seen any of the sequels leave us a comment and let us know if we should check them out.  Otherwise I think this is a good movie to watch in the days leading up to Halloween.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I am pretty stoked that Ryan decided to do this for the month. I really like Halloween. I LOVE it actually. Let’s go ahead and get started on the posters. These can be the best posters. There are clever ones, cheesy ones and then even cheesier ones.

childs_play (1)This one is cool. It’s using the “rule of thirds” nicely by having the building come up at an angle.The guy that has possessed the doll of Chucky is slightly in the background. The babysitter is also falling out of the window, which gives some question to the movie and helps the viewer want to watch to find out what is going on.

My favorite part is the typography of the title. They made the letter “y” into a knife-like image and splattered the end of the title in blood. You know automatically when looking at this movie that it is a horror film. It is dark and alludes to murder and thrill. Halloween approved.

Halloween Season

We are going to take a break from the norm this month in recognition of our favorite holiday season.  This year we are going to put our journey through the DVD rack on hold for the month of October to focus specifically on Horror films.  This is the season more than any other that really relates to one specific genre of film and we have a few films we’ve saved specifically for this time of the year.  So as the rest of the month progresses we will be publishing reviews for new horror movies we have added into the collection and probably republishing some of our older reviews for horror movies we have already done.

We started last night by watching Child’s Play and will have a review published for it soon.  Also coming this month with be Stephen King’s It, Candyman, Event Horizon, Arachnophobia, and possibly others as the month progresses.  We will be revisiting some great films we have already reviewed such as House of 1,000 Corpses, Alien, Dawn of the Dead (the original version), and In the Mouth of Madness. We won’t be watching all the horror films we have done over the past two years so be sure to check out our Horror section for other movies that set the tone for the season.

Halloween is out favorite holiday because of all the holidays it is the most fun and stress free.  We are looking forward to the line up of films we are going to watch this month and if you have any scary movies you want to suggest please let us know your favorites.  Also this month we have the return of both The Walking Dead and American Horror Story and we are both really excited about both of those. Kathy Bates has joined the cast of American Horror Story this year and that is going to be awesome.  There isn’t another actress out there with the acting talent and the ability to invoke fear like she can.  Come to think of it, Misery should really be added to our list.  Kathy Bates is absolutely terrifying in that film.