Scary Movie Challenge 2017: The End

Here it is! The end of the scary movie challenge. Final total was 113 films with 80 first time viewings. I’m pleased. More first timers this year than any previous year, and more recent titles too. Anyways, this means this blog will start posting once a week again, maybe less since I plan to catch up on special features from the piles of physical media I watched. Here’s the last few films.

The Little Shop of Horrors Poster
396 10/28 The Little Shop Of Horrors (1960) 3/5   Roger Corman’s 2 day wonder has tons of charm but I don’t love it as much as others. Still a fun little film and Jack Nicholson’s bit is worth hanging around for.

The Hills Have Eyes Part II Poster
397 10/28 The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984) 2/5   While I didn’t find it to be the worst film ever as some think it is, it’s far from good. Holding no comparison to the quality of the original, it’s a run of the mill “Teens stuck out in the middle of nowhere” type deal that has zero charm and just plods along.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Poster
398 10/28 A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) 4.5/5   Wes Craven’s classic hold up just fine. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it, it always delivers though and manages to be scary.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge Poster
399 10/28 A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) 3.5/5   I actually enjoy this one more now than I did back in the day. Clever switcher-oo with a boy being the one pursued instead of the girl

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors Poster
400 10/28 A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) 4/5   It’s not as good as the first one, but it’s my favourite in the series. I love the idea of the kids banding together to fight back. It’s also great catching up with the characters from the first one. It’s as if part 2 never happened.

Saturn 3 Poster
401 10/28 Saturn 3 (1980) 2.5/5   I haven’t seen this one since I was a little boy and watching it now as a big boy, it’s not good. A sci-fi film where you are lead to believe that Farrah Fawcett is in a consensual relationship with million year old Kirk Douglas, it also features the great Harvey Keitel sounding like you have never heard him before since they dubbed his voice. Directed by the great Stanley Donen – Singing in the Rain will always be one of my most favourite movies – and featuring a killer robot, it’s ridiculous how they get everything wrong. You know you’re in trouble when the opening shot references Star Wars and the music is like a Star Wars/2001 A Space odyssey blend.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master Poster
402 10/28 A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) 3/5  I actually enjoyed this one more than I remembered liking it. Continues on from the last one, Freddy has sadly turned into a pun-machine. That said, it’s fun if not a bit forgettable.

A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child Poster
403 10/29 A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) 2/5   Everything I’m willing to give a pass to in the fourth one gets far too annoying in this. The child stuff is corny, none of the characters are likable and not even Freddy can bring the fun.

Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare Poster
404 10/29 Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) 2/5   You couldn’t ask for a worse ending, despite a good cast. It’s more goofy Freddy’s kid stuff and it’s simply a drag.

New Nightmare Poster
405 10/29 Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) 4/5   The series goes meta with this one, finding the actors of the first film having to deal with Freddy in the real world. It works really well, but I find it runs a little long. That said, I’ll take this one over the last couple films any time.

Rabid Poster
406 10/29 Rabid (1977) 4/5   I really got a kick out of this one during this viewing. Cronenberg’s take on a zombie like plague has the body horror he’s known for and is admittedly a little corny in some of it’s stings. Not enough to annoy though, it’s always enjoyable.

Dead Ringers Poster
407 10/29 Dead Ringers (1988) 4/5   A story about identity between two identical twins that swap roles, it’s the kind of thing that most filmmakers would use as a surprise ending. Cronenberg starts the film with the “twist”, and then dwells on the ramifications for the rest. Lacking the graphic shocks of his earlier films, this one manages to be more disturbing. It might be Cronenberg’s best film, which is saying something considering how solid of a director he is.

Green Room Poster
408 10/30 Green Room (2015) 2.5/5   A punk band take a gig at a nazi bar and witness a murder. I just never got into it despite a great cast and a film that does everything right for the most part. I’ll probably revisit it to give it a second chance since I feel like I’m missing something.

Shin Godzilla Poster
409 10/31 Shin Godzilla (2016) 3/5   If you ever wondered how the Japanese parliament would deal with a giant monster attack, this one is for you. The monster stuff is amazing! Using CGI to build the ultimate “rubber suit” style monster to wreak havoc, it’s a stroke of genius and some of the best giant monster stuff you’ll see. Sadly it’s bogged down in never ending political bureaucracy that is so detailed in its minutia it’s ridiculous. Why no one can make a dead solid Godzilla film in this day and age is beyond me. That said, it’s light years better than the 2014 American film.

 

 

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Movie A Day!: Imitation of Jacks

Another mixed bag of a week. Sort of. I decided to watch some un-watched Criterion Collection discs this month, which lead me to watching all my David Lynch titles that are not in boxes in prep for re-watching Twin Peeks before the new series. Despite only two of those Lynch titles where from Criterion. Mix that up with some oldies and a cheeky Vinegar Syndrome title and it’s not a bad week at all.


136 05/07 The Incredibly Strange Film Show: Russ Meyer (1988) 3/5   A very well done biography on Meyer hosted by Jonathan Ross that manages to hit all points of his career included his start as a combat photographer in WWII. It also shows a clip of a possibly 8 hour documentary that Meyer was working on his own life that would of been amazing but was apparently never finished. A real shame. I would love to see a proper feature length doc on this man.


137 05/07 Imitation of Life (1959) 4/5   Lana Turner stars in this soapy melodrama from Douglas Sirk about a struggling, mature actress in New York who befriends a black housekeeper, Alice (played by Juanita Moore, and she is fantastic) and together they find success. Well, sort of, they stay in their roles based on race and that’s really what this movie is about. Alice has a real struggle with her rebellious, white passing daughter that is far more interesting than the trials that Turner has that leave her in a near constant state of helpless hysteria. You can clearly see a through-line from these style of Sirk pictures to John Waters since his characters are always in the same state hysteria. Anyway, this was pretty great since you don’t think of these sort of topics in 50’s films. Also, Sirk really is great at this stuff. He has a workmanlike sense of direction, but it’s pretty perfect.


138 05/07 Blue Velvet (1986) 4/5   After Dune floundered, David Lynch somehow got the chance to make a film closer to his sensibilities first explored in Eraserhead. It was interesting watching this one on the back of Imitation of Life since they have a pretty similar world of 1950’s like innocence, only Lynch’s small midwest town is a perverted nightmare. Jeffrey, played by Kyle MacLachlan, finds and ear in a field and becomes obsessed with solving it’s mysteries that leads him to a world of pain. Dennis Hopper is absolutely brilliant as the force of nature Frank, Isabella Rossellini is fantastic as the damage nightclub singer Dorothy and Laura Dern manages to hold her own as the symbol of everything good, the girl next door. It’s aged very well, and still holds all it’s power to remain one of Lynch’s best films.


139 05/09 Wild At Heart (1990) 4/5   David Lynch does the Wizard of Oz as a bonkers Elvis inspired road movie with Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern starring as Sailor and Lula who spend most of the film either ruminating or fucking. It has no business being as good as it is. Lynch went genuinely weird with this one and it completely works. Willem Dafoe is unforgettable in his small role and it’s fun to see legends Harry Dean Stanton and Diane Ladd go a bit bonkers. Crispen Glover, man, priceless. I’m too much of a Lynch fanboy to call this one my favourite, but it just might be.


140 05/11 Champion (1949) 4/5   Kirk Douglas takes the lead in this boxing noir about a guy and his handicap brother who is on the skids so Kirk gets into the fight game for the money. It starts off pretty standard, but soon Douglas’s mercilous ambition creeps through and the emotional bloodletting eclipses what’s in the ring. I don’t think I have seen Douglas more unlikable in a movie. This one was a real treat, and recommended.


141 05/11 Mulholland Dr. (2001) 3.5/5   David Lynch’s Neo-Noir about an actress caught up in a mystery is considered a classic, but I just can’t get into it. It’s gorgeous, everyone is on point, it’s delightfully “Lynch-ian” and I can’t knock a thing about it. I have just never warmed to it. Maybe I’ll “get it” the next time I watch it.


142 05/12 Funny Face (1957) 4/5   I really enjoyed this one. Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire star in this musical about a frumpy beatnik girl that gets whipped up into the world of high fashion. Hepburn is far too adorable to be frumpy, but she’s surprisingly good in this musical and manages to steal the film with her avant-garde beatnik ballet sequence in a cafe that’s supposed to be played for laughs. Astaire more than holds his own and it’s all looking spectacular under the direction of the legendary Stanley Donen, who also directed one of my all time favourite films, Singing in the Rain. It’s crazy that it’s taken me this long to watch this one.


143 05/12 Her Wicked Ways (1983) 3/5 Jesie St. James stars as a gold digging heiress who has just inherited a billion dollars and Joanna Storm is the daughter trying to get the money back in this adult romp directed by The Lewis Brothers. It’s not the greatest adult film you’ll ever see but it’s just so well done compared to the regular fare in the period that it it ends up being pretty fun. Storm is a real scene-stealer and definitely helps to keep the film moving. The Peekarama DVD from Vinegar Syndrome is a real winner.


144 05/13 One-Eyed Jacks (1961) 4/5   The only film that Marlon Brando directed is this western. I think it’s just me but I think it’s weird that his only directed film is a western. Seems weird, right? Anyway, this is a typical vengeance tale with Brando’s Rio seeking out old partner Karl Malden’s “Dad” Longworth who ditched him during a bank robbery. It’s a gorgeous film and done with the naturalistic acting style Brando was known for and just completely works. There’s a feeling of distance and brooding that is tricky for films to nail, and the support cast featuring Ben Johnson, Slim Pickens and Katy Jurado are all perfect as well. Recommended.

One-Eyed Jacks also ended up being the last film shot in VistaVision so I managed to watch two VistaVision films over the weekend. You just never know what’s going to happen when you blindly watch stuff.  Isn’t the world marvellous?

Hold your loved ones tight.