Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Horror Movie Marathon, Part 4

Halloween is almost here! Can you taste it? (It tastes like candy corn and fog machine, by the way.)(Which doesn't sound appetizing, but it's an acquired taste.)
Time for my last round of Halloween movie marathon reviews. I hope you've enjoyed them as much as I have enjoyed watching (most) of these movies. As before, these are movies streaming on Netflix and the descriptions are from IMDb unless otherwise indicated.

1. Darkness Falls

"A vengeful spirit has taken the form of the Tooth Fairy to exact vengeance on the town that lynched her 150 years earlier. Her only opposition is the only child, now grown up, who has survived her before."  
I found this only mildly frightening. The ghost is a bit spooky, but there seemed to be some big plot fails- namely the killing seemed rather random for a ghost who supposedly has one goal- to punish the town that murdered her by killing the town's children as they lose their last tooth. But...not all of them, I mean, that would mean the end of the town eventually, right? So we can't do that. And maybe sometimes other people who were just around the kids need to die...because of reasons. Basically, there are a few scary moments, but most of the time I was saying to myself, "Huh? Does this make sense or did I miss something?"

2. Pet Sematary

"Behind a young family's home in Maine is a terrible secret that holds the power of life after death. When tragedy strikes, the threat of that power soon becomes undeniable."
This has been around for a while, and probably a lot of people have seen it, but it really was a good one. If you missed it before, give it a chance now. It came out in 1989, and it still holds its own against modern day horror. Gabe, the little boy who came back from the dead, gave me nightmares for weeks. Ooooh...what a combo of cute kid turned evil little bastard. Yikes.

3. Shrooms
"3 couples go to Ireland woods to collect magic mushrooms and trip out. On their way they meet some strange inhabitants of the woods and it doesn't take long until a creepy story is being told at the campfire which might be more than just a story."
This turned out better than I would have thought. A girl on a trip to Ireland takes the wrong kind of mushroom and nearly dies, but having survived, she gains the power of foresight. Suddenly, she realizes things are about to go very wrong, but at first she has a hard time getting her group to believe her. There's an old boys' school at the edge of the wood that is said to be haunted by the ghosts of its vicious administrators, and it all might be more than just an old legend. I thought some of the acting was mediocre, but the story, the creepy setting and the twist ending make up for it.

4. Muoi: The Legend of a Portrait
"Muoi" charts the path of a Korean writer who travels to Vietnam in search of stories for her second novel. There she learns about a mystery centered around a century-old vengeful spirit"
A Korean writer travels to Vietnam to hunt down a ghost story to write about.  She goes to stay with an old friend and right from the beginning, her whole experience in the country is full of scary encounters and troubled dreams. She is startled to realize that her friend may have re-awakened Muoi, the spirit in search of revenge and a new human form.
This had a really intriguing ghost story, good acting, several scary moments, and a creepy ending. It is in Korean, so there are subtitles, but that never bothers me. This was one of the better horror movies I've seen in a while.

5. Re-Animator
"A dedicated student at a medical college and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue when an odd new student arrives on campus."
This movie sets Lovecraft's story in modern day. But you won't recognize much of it in between the gore-fest and the full-frontal nudity. It's pretty over the top. One zombie gets killed when Dr. West drills through him with a bone saw...a girl is almost raped by a headless zombie. Um...yeah. So THAT happened. Ew. I don't know what I expected from this movie...but I will say this- it didn't scare me, it didn't satisfy my desire to see a Lovecraft story on screen, and it didn't make me laugh. Basically, it's just pretty gross and then it's like "oh hey, here come naked zombies."

6. 2-Headed Shark Attack
"Survivors escape to a deserted atoll after a Semester at Sea ship is sunk by a mutated two-headed shark. But when the atoll starts flooding, no one is safe from the double jaws of the monster as it eats fresh delicious women and men. "
If you thought Sharknado was just the bee's knees, then you will like this too. This is another ridiculously implausible shark attack movie from SyFy Channel. I wouldn't say it was as funny as Sharknado or Ghost Shark, but it was still pretty chuckle-worthy. Combine bikini-clad teens with a monster shark and no way off an island, and you basically understand the whole plot. A lot of people are going to get eaten.

7. Pontypool
"A psychological thriller in which a deadly virus infects a small Ontario town."
 This is a zombie movie that is truly unique. I loved it. It was incredibly suspenseful...I was literally on the edge of my seat for many portions of this movie. I was cranking up the volume on the TV and listening to the weird sounds come out of the dying kid's breath. (You just have to see it.)
 It's not a super-gory film. There are only a few bloody scenes, but the sense of dread builds throughout and they do a fantastic job of sucking you into this wild story and making you accept a really bizarre premise. Stephen McHattie's performance as Grant Mazzy absolutely makes this movie. He was brilliant. The end, though? Hmmm. It was a little weird, but so is the whole concept.  But as a whole, I loved this strange, creepy movie.

8. Black Sabbath
"A trio of atmospheric horror tales about: A woman terrorized in her apartment by phone calls from an escaped prisoner from her past; a Russian count in the early 1800s who stumbles upon a family in the countryside trying to destroy a particularly vicious line of vampires; and a 1900-era nurse who makes a fateful decision while preparing the corpse of one of her patients - an elderly medium who died during a seance."
This is exactly the sort of thing I want to watch for Halloween. It starts out with Boris Karloff's floating, disembodied head welcoming us to tales of the macabre. Beautiful. I can just close my eyes and listen to him and I feel like I'm in a haunted house. He's the voice of Halloween for me. Anyway, the first story has a great creepy setting- an old mansion full of cats and weird baby dolls is the home of a woman who died while attempting to speak to the dead. The nurse who comes to prep the body for burial steals a ring from the corpse, and well...that may have been her last bad decision. Then we go to a woman being pestered in her home by a pervy caller who appears to be watching her every move. But how? The third tale features Boris Karloff as a vampire, returned home to see his family. And he's sooo hungry.
I don't think this is going to really scare anyone, but it is a great creepy-classic movie to watch to get in the mood for Halloween.

9. Strigoi
"After his search for a new career in Italy goes bust, Vlad (Catalin Paraschiv) returns to the small Romanian village where he was brought up to discover things aren't quite the same. The town drunk has been murdered, and somehow Vlad has been implicated, even though he was out of town, and Constantin Tirescu (Constantin Barbulescu), the former Communist turned abusive Capitalist who owns most of the village, is looking strange and bloated while still making life miserable for those around him. Vlad thinks Tirescu is sick, but it's worse than that -- he's actually dead, but has become a strigoi, a vampire who rises from the grave to settle an old score. Vlad becomes a combination detective and vampire hunter as he tries to track down the truth about who is the killer, how Tirescu came back to semi-life and how to keep the walking dead from preying on the living..."  Source
This is a cute movie. I mean, if vampire movies can be cute. It's kind of funny and definitely a little bizarre, and charming in a way...when they aren't cutting the hearts out of vampires and burning them, that is. What it is not, is scary, so as long as you don't expect frights, but just watch this for the oddball indie-flick that it is, I think you'll like it.

10. The Moth Diaries
"Rebecca is suspicious of Ernessa, the new arrival at her boarding school. But is Rebecca just jealous of Ernessa's bond with Lucie, or does the new girl truly possess a dark secret?"
I enjoyed this one a lot. It is a modern day Gothic horror story, pulling inspiration from Dracula and Carmilla. The acting is brilliant- especially the vampire, Ernessa, who is played by a young woman, who looked sooo familiar to me, and it turns out she played the siren on the episode of Doctor Who, "The Curse of the Black Spot." So, extra geeky points for that. Also, I love the vampire mythos that they create in this movie (and of course, the book that this was based on). It is loneliness that creates this vampire...not the blood or a bite. So, overall, this is an eerie, well written and acted tale, but it is not terribly scary- more suspenseful.

11. Ju-On: The Grudge
 "A mysterious and vengeful spirit marks and pursues anybody who dares enter the house in which it resides."
This is the Japanese version, so you do have to read subtitles. I don't have a problem with that, so I like this version just fine. There are small differences between this and the American remake. Namely, Buffy the Vampire Slayer isn't the main character. But seriously, the Japanese movie has more stories about the people who had contact with the house and were murdered. The American movie creates more of a back story for the ghosts. Both are quite scary.  The creepy noise the female ghost makes is just horrifying, no matter which you watch, and the little boy in both movies is spectacularly creepy. I don't have a favorite. I think both are equally scary and worth watching.

12.  Devil
"A group of people are trapped in an elevator and the Devil is mysteriously amongst them."
I wasn't sure if a movie about people trapped in an elevator would be interesting or not. I almost just skipped this entirely, but it turns out it was pretty scary. The premise is that sometimes the devil walks on Earth in human form to claim the souls of evil people. Five such people are stuck in an elevator and things are becoming quite horrific inside. One of them is the devil, but which one? It combines claustrophobia with a 5-way Mexican standoff. My only major complaint is that many of the scares rely on that "suddenly it goes dark and you hear a bunch of scary noises and then the lights come back up and boom-someone's dead" kind of thing. And that really works...in a theater. It's less frightening when you watch it at home in the middle of the day. (Like I did.) If I had a do-over I'd wait until night, turn the lights off and then this would probably have had more of an effect on me.

13. Stevie
"After a long and unsuccessful period trying to have a family, Claire and Adrian finally adopt a girl. The coming of Isabel is desired by almost the whole family but making a eight-year-old girl with a past of her own fit into her new life might be something more complicated than they expected. Strange things start to happen from the moment Isabel "and her imaginary friend, Stevie", come to live with them."
This was decent. The scares are all poltergeist-style- objects flying around, messages left in mirrors and the like. The acting was fine, and the characters and the plot kept me interested throughout, but I was able to guess what the ending might be early on. I stuck around because I wanted to see if I was right. They tried to throw you some curve-balls and make you think it might be something else haunting the family, but if you pay attention, you'll get it pretty easily. Still, not a bad film, I say.

14. The Relic
 "A homicide detective and an anthropologist try to destroy a South American lizard-like god, who's on a people eating rampage in a Chicago museum."
I watched this years ago, and just re-watched it. This was pretty good. There's a monster running around, ripping the hypothalamus out of humans and  one cop and a evolutionary biologist are the only ones who are going to be able to figure out how to stop it. The premise might sound a little hokey, but the movie had decent acting, good shock scare moments and special effects that are good for the time when it was filmed. You don't see much of the monster early on- mostly there are lots of gory, mutilated corpses- but when you do see it finally, it's pretty scary looking.

15. John Dies at the End
"A new street drug that sends its users across time and dimensions has one drawback: some people return as no longer human. Can two college dropouts save humankind from this silent, otherworldly invasion?"
So the premise is that a drug called soy sauce can give you abilities like psychic powers, the ability to speak to the dead, and manipulate time. John and David are best friends, but John died after taking soy sauce. But John made a few thousand calls to David and sent them back in time to help David solve his death and save the world. Or is he dead? That's not always a simple answer in this movie. Anyway, David and John need to hop into another plane of existence and stop a giant brain monster with tentacles from coming to our Earth and enslaving our people. And yes, Paul Giamatti is in this too.
Right from the first seconds, this movie sucks you right in. It is WEIRD. But incredibly entertaining. Weird how? You might ask. Here's an example scene: David fights a man in the police station. The man's moustache rips off of his face, becomes a moth-like creature and attacks David while the man is choking him. David gets out of the man's grip by ripping one of his arms off. The arm then tries to strangle David.  Shortly after that, David uses a hot dog as a cell phone. Yep. A hot dog. That's the sort of thing that happens throughout the movie. But seriously- don't ask me what's up with the slugs...I have no idea.

Well, that wraps that up for this year. Thanks for reading, and Happy Halloween!

If you missed my other Halloween marathon reviews, you can check them out here:

Scary Movie Marathon #1 

Scary Movie Marathon #2

Scary Movie Marathon #3

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My Halloween Playlist

I was trying to come up with an awesome playlist of music selections for Halloween night. So, I googled lots of ideas, and there are many lists out there to help you, but...they had a LOT of the same few songs suggested over and over, and I knew that many of them were just not quite what I wanted, so I revved up my OCD and spent an entire afternoon creating my perfect mix. It's spooky and a little funny...and just what I wanted to have playing outside of my spooky abode for the trick-or-treaters. All of these songs were available on I-Tunes. So here's my epic list of 31 Halloween songs.

1. This Is Halloween,  from the Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack

2. Halloween theme from the Halloween movie soundtrack

3. A Gorey Demise, by Creature Feature, album- The Greatest Show Unearthed

4. Ave Satani, from the movie, The Omen

5. Time Warp, from Rocky Horror Picture Show

6. Friday the Thirteenth,  main theme, from the movie. version I have is done by 101 Strings Orchestra

7. The Addams Family song from TV Themes

8. X-Files main theme, also done by 101 Strings Orchestra

9. Jump Rope, from the Nightmare on Elm Street Soundtrack

10. Somebody's Watching Me, by Rockwell, album- 20th century Masters

11.  Ghostbusters, by Ray Parker Jr. from the movie soundtrack

12. Slipping, by Neil Patrick Harris, from the Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog Soundtrack

13. The Twilight Zone theme by Jerry Goldsmith

14. Mommy's Little Monsters, by Creature Feature, album- It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

15. End Credits, by Bruno Coulais from Coraline Original Soundtrack

16. Oogie Boogie's Song, from Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack

17. Monster Mash, by Bobby Boris Pickett and the Crypt Kickers

18. Edward Scissorhands Theme, by Danny Elfman, from movie soundtrack

19. 999 Happy Haunts (also called Grim, Grinning Ghosts on other albums), by The Happy Haunts

20. Tubular Bells, Theme From the Exorcist, by Halloween Sound Machine

21. Halloween, by Heywood Banks, album-Picky, Picky, Picky

22. Beetlejuice Main and End Titles, by Danny Elfman, from movie soundtrack

23. Re: Your Brains, by Jonathan Coulton, album- Thing a Week Two

24. The Walking Dead Theme, by London Music Works

25. Thriller, By Michel Jackson, album- Thriller

26. Goosebumps TV show theme, by The Evolved, album- Halloween Children's Party Fun and Games for Kids

27. You Can Be Mean to Me, by Heywood Banks, album- Big Butter

28. Headless Horseman, by Kay Starr, album- Monster Mash Halloween Party

29. Brand New Day, by Neil Patrick Harris, Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog Soundtrack

30. Boris the Spider, by The Who, album- Greatest Hits

31. The Boogie Monster, by Gnarls Barkley, album- St. Elsewhere

So, if you're looking for ideas for Halloween music, I hope this helped. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Horror Movie Marathon, Part 3

Time for some more horror movies! We are going to start with some more movies currently streaming on Netflix, and then talk about some that are on HBO right now. The descriptions are from imdb.com. So, let's get scary! First, from Netflix:

1. House
"Roger Cobb is a Vietnam vet whose career as a horror novelist has taken a turn for the worse when his son Jimmy mysteriously disappears while visiting his aunt's house. Roger's search for Jimmy destroys his marriage and his writing career. The sudden death of his aunt brings Roger back to the house where his nightmares began. The evil zombies in the house force Roger to endure a harrowing journey into his past."
We're starting off with a blast from the past. Straight from 1985...its one part horror, one part comedy, and chock full of giant puppet monsters. And it has George Wendt and Richard Moll in it!! (aka- Norm from Cheers, and Bull from Night Court) If you're old like me (Ha) or you are one of those young folks that didn't live through the 80s, but likes the decade anyway (like my kid) then this is a must for your Halloween party marathon.

2. Lovely Molly
"Newlywed Molly moves into her deceased father's house in the countryside, where painful memories soon begin to haunt her."
These next two movies have a common theme going for them. A girl goes back to an old family home, and suddenly she remembers things she wish she hadn't, and ghostly occurrences are  taking over her life. Lovely Molly is a really shocking movie, though. It is scary and disturbing on a psychological level. And forewarning-this is a very adult content kind of film. Lots of nudity, many sex scenes, and even ghostly rape scenes. This is one that will stick with you, though. Gretchen Lodge plays Molly beautifully, and the film is legitimately scary. But it will disturb you.

3. Silent House

"A girl is trapped inside her family's lakeside retreat and becomes unable to contact the outside world as supernatural forces haunt the house with mysterious energy and consequences."
This handles a similar theme as the previous movie, but it is far less graphic. I don't think there was any nudity at all in this. The content however, is pretty adult, so its another I wouldn't watch with kids. It was very good and creepy, but of the two movies, Lovely Molly is scarier to me.

4. Nosferatu
"Vampire Count Orlok expresses interest in a new residence and real estate agent Hutter's wife. Silent classic based on the story 'Dracula.'" 
This is a classic. It's black and white, and silent, so don't expect great special effects...it was made in 1922. But this is the original Dracula movie, and for its time, this was awesome. If you're in to classic cinema, or you're open-minded enough to give this old film some love, you will not be disappointed. Max Schreck was so good in this, that some people believed he really was a vampire. Well, maybe people were more gullible back then, but anyway- this is a must see for dedicated horror fans.

5. Intruders
"Two children living in different countries are visited nightly by a faceless being who wants to take possession of them."
This was pretty creepy and bizarre. I wasn't sure what in the heck was going on for quite a while, but I knew it was creeping me out. Clive Owen is pretty good in this, and Hollow-Face was a scary monster. The whole thing ends up being very mind-trippy, and surprising. I say watch it.

6. The Prophecy
"The angel Gabriel comes to Earth to collect a soul which will end the stalemated war in Heaven, and only a former priest and a little girl can stop him."
This was a great movie. Christopher Walken and Eric Stoltz are fantastic as the angels- Gabriel and Simon. Viggo Mortenson is Lucifer- what else could you want in a movie? The premise is- Heaven is at war- the angels have been fighting each other since the time when Lucifer first challenged God, and the war has been devastating to both sides. The souls of a few humans could change the course of the war and mean either salvation or devastation to humanity, and both sides have sent soldiers to secure their own interests. This is not a straight horror movie, rather it's a religious-themed thriller with horror elements. Well worth the watch, though.

7. The Frighteners
"After a tragic car accident that killed his wife, a man discovers he can communicate with the dead to con people but when a demonic spirit appears, he may be the only one who can stop it from killing the living and the dead."
This is another blast from the past. Michael J. Fox plays a psychic who has been using his abilities to talk to the dead to run scams. However, he runs into a real evil spirit who was a serial killer in life, and is bent on resuming his work in the after life. Only Fox's character can solve the mystery behind the string of deaths and stop the spirit before he kills again. This is more comedy than horror, but it's a fun watch and perfect for  Halloween party viewing.

8. The Amityville Haunting
"This movie is a 'found-footage' film about the Benson family who move in to the infamous house where the DeFeo family were murdered in the 1970s over 30 years earlier. Things start happening to anyone who visits this house, and whoever lives there. This is the footage retrieved from the camera."
UGH. This film was a waste of time. The "found footage" is so jumpy and awful. They made the middle-school age child the supposed videographer...and it looks like a child actually DID film this. The acting was atrocious as well. It was boring and jumpy and eventually I was so sick of watching it, I turned it off. Did not even finish it.

9. The Skeleton Key
"A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house's dark past." 
Ooooh. This creeped me out so bad when I first saw it! There is no real gore, and only a few violent scenes, but they work the suspense of this right up to the end, and it had me hooked. There is voodoo and evil spirits and some twist ending work going on. I loved it, and I've watched it several times. It has become a new favorite of mine.

And now from HBO GO:

10. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
"Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them."
I have mixed feelings about this. I think the movie was pretty good, had some scary moments...I think the actor who played Abe Lincoln did a fine job. However, I read the book, and absolutely LOVED the book. This movie just is not as good. They left out LOTS of scenes from the book that made it fantastic, and they reorganized events a bit to fit into a film. I know that movies are never as good as the books, but...I wanted this one to be. I really did. If you have never read it, you'll probably feel more favorable toward this than I do. It really is quite creepy and very unique.

11. Dead Silence
"A widower returns to his hometown to search for answers to his wife's murder, which may be linked to the ghost of a murdered ventriloquist."
This sounded ridiculous, but I watched it anyway, and guess what? I was pleasantly surprised. It's a little bit hokey at times, but not nearly as bad as what I anticipated. And really- ventriloquist dolls ARE scary. And now...they are even more scary to me for having watched this. Plus they had a thing going on with the ghost in this- you can't open your mouth when she is haunting you. If you can just keep it closed you can live. But just TRY not to scream when she is right in front of you. Just try.

12. Dream House
"Soon after moving into their seemingly idyllic new home, a family learns of a brutal crime committed against former residents of the dwelling."
Ok. First of all, Daniel Craig is hot, and I will happily watch anything with him in it, so it gets points for that without even trying. Then, the movie itself- not bad, I say. It is suspenseful more than all-out scary. It is a twist ending movie, but expect more than one twist.

13. Prometheus
"A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race."
This is sort of a prequel to the Aliens movies. It's set in the same universe, and tells part of the story behind the creation of the Xenomorphs, and yes, even humans, and it shows you what the Space Jockeys actually were under those suits. However, you won't get all of the answers and it takes maybe a couple of viewings to pick up every little geeky info nugget. But even if (God forbid) you haven't seen the other movies, this works fine as a stand-alone. It's still scary, gory and you can understand what is happening here without needing to know anything else about the Aliens. Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender were stellar in this, and all of the acting was in fact, pretty awesome. I highly recommend it.

14. Shaun of the Dead
"A man decides to turn his moribund life around by winning back his ex-girlfriend, reconciling his relationship with his mother, and dealing with an entire community that has returned from the dead to eat the living."
Oh man. This is so much fun. If you love zombies and comedy- this is your movie. Brought to you by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who are always a riot together, this movie examines all of those quintessential zombie movie gags and makes them both horrific and hilarious all at once. There are LOADS of little homages in this movie, so watch it and pay attention for extra giggles.

Alright, kids. That's all for now. Keep checking back for more horror movie reviews all throughout October!