October Horror Movie Challenge 2013 – week four, part one

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[part one of a two-part post]

It’s over! The October Horror Movie Challenge has ended. While I’m sad that the month-long horror marathon is over, I’m happy to move along to calmer waters for a little while.  I love a good scare, but I like changing paces, too. So here are the last several films I watched in October…

Carrie – repeat – Brian De Palma’s classic adaptation of early Stephen King still holds up very well and still remains the gold standard for horror films about lonely outcasts. Sissy Spacek embodies the shy, awkward kid everyone knew (or was) in high school, and the bloodbath at the end is just as satisfying and terrifying as ever. There have been remakes and a sequel and even a stage musical version, but none compare to the first.

Martin – repeat – full review at Bemused and Nonplussed.

Devil – ftv – a frustrating and incredibly uneven film produced by M. Night Shyamalan, based on a story by him. His fingerprints are all over this variation on “And Then There Were None” set in an elevator. What might have been an interesting fable on the nature of evil is overshadowed with absurdities and the shoehorning-in of a BIG MESSAGE. If Shyamalan keeps insisting on making films to teach us a lesson, it’ll be a hugely disappointing mark on his career.

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Oh man, who farted?

Dark Night of the Scarecrow – repeat – hands down, one of the best made-for-TV horror films, from a time when those were actually a thing. The story is a revenge tale, in which a simple-minded man is murdered by a group of bigoted townspeople for an attack he didn’t commit. With a cast headed by Charles Durning as a malicious postal worker, this is a must-watch.

Ghoulies – ftv – when a young man inherits a decrepit old mansion, he and his girlfriend decide to fix it up. In the basement, there’s an altar and a strange-looking sigil on the floor…and something seems to be calling him to raise the demons of hell. A bizarre mix of Satanic horror and Gremlins make for a fun but odd bit of entertainment.

Ghoulies II – ftv – what happens when the Ghoulies get out of the basement and hit the circus? A far more enjoyable film than the first movie, and the payoff to a sight gag that’s set up on both of the films’ posters. I suspect this is where the series peaked, given that in Ghoulies III, the Ghoulies go to college.

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“I can’t watch this. It’s terrible.”

Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit – repeat – Wallace and Gromit have always been a joy to watch, and their version of a werewolf movie is such fun. This time around, our heroes are running a humane pest control service in preparation for the local giant vegetable competition. However, a brainwave-swapping experiment goes terribly awry, turning Wallace into an enormous were-rabbit. Gentle enough for kids to enjoy, and with enough references and genre in-jokes to entertain most horror fans.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers – ftv – I watched this one very very late at night during AMC’s Fear Fest, so my memory of it is kind of fuzzy. However, it does seem that Donald Pleasance likes yelling at little girls to help him find Michael Myers, and there was some actual quality acting from young Danielle Harris, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time. Still, this is one series that just never captured my interest.

Madhouse – repeat – full review, for the Nitrate Diva Vincent Price Blogathon, at Bemused and Nonplussed.

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“Say it once…”

Beetlejuice – repeat – a perennial classic. Tim Burton was never better, and Michael Keaton was hardly funnier than he is here. A young girl decides to help a married couple in their new lives as ghosts and all sorts of shenanigans ensue. Creepy, kooky, and a sharp poke at all those snooty city art snobs.

Day of the Dead – repeat – full review at Bemused and Nonplussed.

Cat People – ftv – a sexy thriller from Val Lewton about a woman who believes herself to be descended from a race of people who become panthers when sexually aroused. The use of shadows is particularly effective during a the kill scenes, and this might have one of cinema’s earliest appearances of the “bus scare,” where a character is running away from something evil in the dark, only to be startled by…a bus that’s pulling up to a nearby stop. Classic, classic fright film.

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I’ll report the final tally on the next post, but suffice to say, I destroyed the Challenge this year.

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