October Horror Movie Challenge 2013 – week two

Posted in Fun Stuff, Reviews on October 18, 2013 by annamae3

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I have been awful about blogging the Challenge this year! My apologies. Here’s week two of my views, all in bite-size review form! Continue reading

October Horror Movie Challenge 2013 – week one

Posted in Fun Stuff, Reviews on October 6, 2013 by annamae3

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Hello again! Welcome back to another year of the October Horror Movie Challenge! Here’s a round-up of the films I watched during week one of the Challenge: Continue reading

creepshow doppelgängers

Posted in Fun Stuff, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 1, 2013 by fawn krisenthia

This is a new series I’d like to call “Hey, this chick looks totally like that one chick in Creepshow!”

There is a small section of people in the world that might agree with me, or at the very least find it amusing.

Creepshow doppelgänger case # 1

This chick who played Debra’s psychiatrist in Dexter…..

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…..totally looks like Lois Chiles from Creepshow 2’s “The Hitchhiker”

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Creepshow doppelgänger case # 2

This chick who was The Door’s Jim Morrison’s muse (and longtime girlfriend)…..

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…..totally looks like ‘Rachel’ (ie. Page Hanna, sister to Daryl Hannah) from Creepshow 2’s “The Raft”

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Mad Cowgirl: You Are What You Eat

Posted in Reviews with tags , , on January 8, 2013 by fawn krisenthia

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Gregory Hatanka’s film Mad Cowgirl is an iconoclastic, absurd, hilarious and touching story of a woman’s mental deterioration.

‘The woman in trouble,’ is the beautiful and quirky Therese (played brilliantly by Sarah Lassez) – in one of my favorite themes in movies, especially in horror genres. For my money, it just doesn’t get any better than when you have a woman who has a gorgeous exterior, but is obsessed, mentally unstable or just a bit psycho in the interior – because a woman who has let go of conventional worries and day-to-day requirements is completely free in her actions. Watching a crazy, carpe diem woman is uplifting, in a way.

Therese’s plight involves a brain tumor that is quickly altering her perceptions in the world. As a meatpacking inspector, she is aware of the ‘mad cow disease’ that is emerging in Britain. This news, which is oft in the background of the movie, is not the reason for her despondent behavior, but is continually offered up as a red herring as the cause for her problems. Dying of a brain disorder is not ‘funny.’ But a meat inspector who is given tainted meat from her incestuous brother and is then convinced that she has the brain-wasting disease IS funny. This belief sets her off on a wild journey of pastor-banging, eating steak, brother-banging, eating more steak, girl-on-girl action, late nite kung-fu TV show obsession, eating raw steak, and, oh, a murder spree.

The overt campiness of some the shots were reminiscent of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers. The character portrayal, however, was strongly set on Therese with minor distractions, so her anguish and loneliness came through despite the wild and crazy situations she would find herself in, namely boning Commandar Chekov of Star Trek (the pastor), which is a heartache in itself. Her inappropriate relationship with her brother is also overwhelmingly sad, because the viewer knows he’s the only one that could save her from herself.

The beginning of the film (after the some minute cow interlude) there is a news brief from Japan that is explaining the dangers of eating cow, for fear of contracting the ‘mad cow disease’ that forms holes in your brain tissue. The brief offers an alternative lifestyle that will keep you healthy – a vegan lifestyle. Seeing as how the rest of the movie is absolutely littered with shots of (troubled) people devouring steaks like beasts, I’m convinced the director is making a statement on the carnivore diet. I could be wrong, and it’s probably my recent experiment with a vegan lifestyle coming through, but wouldn’t it be delicious if this movie was one giant propaganda tool to get people to lay off the beef? It’s as if the director is saying ‘Therese brought her problems upon herself.’ You are what you eat: ingesting a mad-cow steak will make you into a Mad CowGirl… with a thunderbolt kick!

OHC – The Absolute Final Post of the Challenge For 2012 I Promise

Posted in Uncategorized on November 9, 2012 by annamae3

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The October Horror Challenge is done until 2013. I’d just like to thank everyone who read the blog, retweeted the links, commented, or gave kudos over the last month. Particular shout-outs to Christianne Benedict at Krell Laboratories, Renee Knipe at Gaming as Women, Scott Madin at Fineness & Accuracy (and also on twitter @ScottMadin), and to the fine people at the October Challenge Facebook page. If you’re so inclined, join us there for next year’s Challenge.

Here follows is a list of the films from this year’s views that I found to be particularly memorable, outstanding, and recommendable. Feel free to use this as a quick guide if you’re looking for a horror film to spend some time with:

Monkey Shines (1988)
The Comedy of Terrors (1963)
Island of Lost Souls (1932)
The Innkeepers (2012)
Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
Stage Fright (1987)
The Whip and the Body (1963)
Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Night of the Creeps (1986)
Frankenstein (1931)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Son of Frankenstein (1939)
Frankenweenie (2012)
Livid (2011)
Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Prometheus (2012)

Thanks once again for playing along, and stay tuned for more reviews in the future. In the past, blog posts here have been hit/miss, few and far between, and I’m hoping to rally some of my fellow contributors to write more for the site. I’m not alone in hoping to see this project continue on. If you like the blog, please feel free to share it, comment on posts, etc. and get the word out.

See you soon…

OHC – This is Halloween

Posted in Fun Stuff, Reviews on November 8, 2012 by annamae3

In wrapping up the October Horror Challenge, this penultimate post is dedicated to the most wonderful time of the year: Halloween. Halloween is like Christmas to me, but with less gift-giving and more horrifying things. Christmas does have Krampus, though, which is pretty terrifying. Anyhow, Halloween is reserved for the traditional viewings of three films, one of which only squeaks past the horror smell test, but since it’s so inextricably linked in my mind with the best month and holiday of the year, I have to include it. But let’s go back to 30 October first, and to a film that kicked off the seasonal love-fest for so many horror fans…

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Halloween (1978)
Directed by John Carpenter

Hailed by many as the origin of the slasher film craze (although Bob Clark’s Black Christmas [1972] should probably hold that title), this early John Carpenter film holds up incredibly well over time. I hadn’t watched Halloween in full for a while, and never in a theater setting before, so when ScreenVision teamed with Halloween Movies to bring the original film back to the big screen, I had to take the opportunity to go see it. After a particularly awful and poorly-made retrospective on the Halloween franchise, the film started, and I was completely blown away at how scary the film is after all these years. It has an absurdly basic plot – a young boy, Michael Myers, who killed his older sister escapes the asylum where he’s been for several years and returns home to terrorize a young woman on Halloween night – but the simplicity of it is where the horror lies. There’s no explanation for the killer, aside from a line spoken by his psychiatrist (Donald Pleasance) explaining him as “pure evil,” and there is no connection between him and his primary target Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), a misstep that the sequel makes when it’s explained that she is his little sister.

Halloween is almost a primer for how to make an effective horror film on the cheap and in less than a month. Although it does rely on several stingers for its scares, Carpenter really knew how to use the entire frame, positioning characters in a such a way as to create tension.

“Just the two of us…”

I’d forgotten how much foreshadowing takes place in this film, something that adds to the overall sense of dread that permeates the atmosphere. It’s nearly too heavy-handed in the beginning, particularly the scenes of Michael stalking Laurie at school while her teacher drones on about fate, but it also neatly identifies us with Laurie. We can’t change her course of events any more than she can, and so we’re forced to watch, helpless and impotent. And damnit, it works, even decades later – I found myself completely unnerved driving home alone in the dark. Halloween never disturbed or really scared me before, so I think I can safely say that yes, there is something to be said for watching horror films on a big screen, especially something like this film that isn’t a gore-fest or a constant stream of terror forced in our faces. Halloween works best in the dark and in the silence, and in a setting where our eyes never stop scanning the entire screen for a glimpse of the faceless killer who lurks about the edges.

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[31 October]
Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Directed by Michael Dougherty

There’s no tradition like a new tradition, so every year since I bought Trick ‘r Treat on DVD, I’ve watched it on Halloween night after handing out candy to the kids and stuffing my face with anything that’s leftover. There is no film that captures the spirit of the season better, no film that is as much of a love letter to All Hallow’s Eve as Dougherty’s film. He manages to uphold classic Halloween urban legends, like the one about poisoned candy, while weaving them into entirely new ones in a story that loops back on itself several times. It’s a perfect treat with a handful of tricks – both delightful and delightfully nasty – that never fails to entertain me. But it isn’t all just marshmallow fluff; there are scenes in Trick ‘r Treat that are emotionally powerful as well, including a flashback to a story about a bus full of mentally challenged kids whose parents no longer want to deal with the burden of caring for them.

The wheels on the bus go down, down, down…

That story has a particularly satisfying conclusion by film’s end. The fun of Trick ‘r Treat comes primarily from all of the surprises, twists, and developments. Everyone gets what they deserve, and if you don’t respect the spirit of the season, you get the biggest, deadliest surprise of all.

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Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
Directed by Frank Capra

Okay, so this movie isn’t really a horror film, but it does have two murderous old ladies, a Boris Karloff lookalike, and Peter Lorre playing a creepy plastic surgeon. It’s also set on Halloween night, making it a sweet companion film to Trick ‘r Treat. Arsenic and Old Lace is the tale of one Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant), a publicly confirmed bachelor and drama critic who just got married to his childhood sweetheart. He returns home to tell his two sweet little old aunts and finds that they’ve been doing their idea of charity work – poisoning lonely old men with no families who rent their spare room. Not only that, but they’ve been employing his brother Teddy (who believes he is Teddy Roosevelt) to dig graves in the basement under the premise that he’s digging locks for the Panama Canal. Into this fray comes another, creepier brother, Jonathan, who is on the run from the law with his alcoholic sidekick and bears a resemblance to a popular horror actor…just don’t mention his name.

Don’t call me Karloff.

Like most Frank Capra comedies, this film can best be described as madcap, but with the added bonus of being a little spooky on the side. I mean, think about it: two adorable little old ladies, serving poison with a smile. It kind of ties back to the poisoned candy urban legend. And a brother that cuts worms in half with his teeth? That’s just gross! So okay, it’s not a horror film, but as a Halloween film, Arsenic and Old Lace is perfect, like a handful of fun size candy bars in the chill of an October night.

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That wraps up this year’s October Horror Challenge. Thanks for sticking it out with me, and look for my wrap-up post in which I list my favorite and least favorite films of the Challenge. Also don’t forget to listen to the latest Dreams in the Bitch House podcast, in which we go over the Challenge as well as other horror films good and bad.

Final tally:
32 FTVs
19 repeat views
51 total

OHC – Bits and Bobs

Posted in Fun Stuff, Reviews on November 6, 2012 by annamae3

In this brief post, reviews for two films that I knocked out right before Halloween night. Nothing special, although one is immensely better than the other. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first…

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Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) – FTV
Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

I’m honestly not sure why I watched this one. It’s not like I’m a fan of the series. I went to see the first one in the theater, and was impressed by a couple of the effects in the film. I liked the presentation of it – no credits at the beginning or end, cast of unknowns, so on. Ultimately I wasn’t overwhelmed, and when a sequel was announced, it didn’t fuss me much. Eventually Paranormal Activity 2 showed up on Netflix Instant, so I gave it a go. It was pretty terrible, not only as sequels go, but for these kinds of movies to work as a series, the action has to be ramped up each time. There should be better effects, ones that make the audience really scratch their heads and wonder how it was done if NOT by poltergeists? PA2 seemed to drag forever until an obnoxiously loud ending, and an epilogue that promises another sequel. But Paranormal Activity 3 doesn’t exactly follow the first two films – it’s a prequel in which we get more backstory to the whole damn thing. We get to see the main characters of the previous films as children.

A scene from the trailer, but not the final film.

The sisters, Katie and Kristi, live with their mom and her boyfriend in a suburban California home. Kristi, the younger of the girls, has an invisible friend named Toby. If you’ve seen any kind of horror film with children and invisible friends, you can tell what’s going to happen. It’s the same sort of set-up as the first two films: weird stuff is going on, the man of the house decides to record what’s happening, freaky shit is caught on tape, the film ends with a bumrush of what-the-funkery before roll credits. I should note that PA2 and PA3 have closing credits, unlike PA1, which kind of ruins the mood a little. I mean, we all know these movies are fake, but do the filmmakers have to stick it in our faces like that?

Anyhow, many people were disappointed in Paranormal Activity 3, because there were apparently several scenes in the trailers and previews that didn’t make it into the actual film (example above, although there is a similar scene in the movie). I understand that disappointment, but since by the time I saw PA3 I’d forgotten the previews entirely, so I didn’t feel too bad about any of that. I actually found myself enjoying the film, despite its major flaws – things like the film being widescreen and high definition when it’s supposed to have been shot all on VHS tape, the cheap fake-out scares, and the effects that are relatively easy to figure out for anyone who’s seen their share of ghost stories. I rather liked the backstory it provided, because let’s face it, I like [SPOILER WARNING] movies about witches’ covens. I think it’s why I liked The Last Exorcism so much, despite THAT film’s massive flaws. I didn’t expect that weirdo ending, even though it was obviously foreshadowed. I thought it was creepy as heck. Paranormal Activity 3 is not a great film, but it kept my attention and it added more to the overall storyline, and it was better crafted than the second film in the series. It helps to keep your expectations low, though.

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Son of Frankenstein (1939) – FTV
Directed by Rowland V. Lee

Since I’d already watched Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein (twice!), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, and Frankenweenie (both versions!), it seemed natural to sit down with Son of Frankenstein, which was the last time Boris Karloff would play the famous monster. I’d also kept my expectations low for this one, because I’d been jaded by Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, which only exists for the final reel, where Frankenstein and the Wolf Man beat the snot out of each other. That particular film also retcons both of its original films’ storylines so much that there’s no real connection to any previous film. So something like Son of Frankenstein sounded like a pure cash-in, and maybe it was, but damn does it ever click.

Well, hello!

Set several years, a generation actually, after the first two films, this movie is about the Victor Frankenstein’s son Wolf returning with his wife and son to his father’s hometown, where the villagers are entirely unwelcoming save for the lead police inspector. Wolf vows not to continue his father’s experiments, but soon he finds that a condemned man who survived a hanging (for the crime of body snatching) has been using the infamous creature to carry out a series of murders around the countryside. The creature, however, has fallen ill and Wolf’s natural curiosity has him finding a way to bring the monster back into consciousness. Of course none of this goes well, and Wolf ends up destroying his father’s greatest work, which isn’t quite as poetic and touching as the monster destroying himself in Bride of Frankenstein, but it’s still effective.

For those of you who are fans of Young Frankenstein, like my parents as I mentioned before, you’ll notice many familiar scenes and characters in Son of Frankenstein, particularly the police inspector with the wooden limb. Mel Brooks took the plausible absurdities in the first three Frankenstein films and turned them just counterclockwise enough to make them completely absurd. Frankly, though, he didn’t have to turn them too much. Anyhow, while Son of Frankenstein isn’t as great a sequel as Bride, it’s a wonderful film all on its own and a brilliant addition to the Frankenstein family.

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One more post, all about the films I watched in honor of Halloween, and then a big wrap-up post as a companion to the podcast, and the October Challenge blogging is closed for this year. However, I will remain here to write about other horror, exploitation and cult films on a semi-regular basis. See you all soon.

Views so far:
32 FTVs
16 repeat views
48 total