Scary Movie Challenge 2017 Part 1

As warned, the Scary Movie Challenge has started. I tend to post these when I get around 10 films, so you’ll have to deal with it I guess. This one is 12.

Started the challenge with a dip into Arrow Videos Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box set.


292 10/01 Hellraiser (1987) 4/5   Nice to see this one hold up so well. Uncle Frank gets his hand on a puzzle box and solving it opens the gates to hell. It’s icky and thought provoking in both it’s horror and sexuality. It’s a shame the sequels never capitalized on it.


293 10/01 Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) 3.5/5   A direct sequel to the first one sees the characters return for more Cenobite action. This one goes quite big, with extended scenes in hell to keep it interesting despite a kind of dopey plot about a doctor investigating the goings on in the first film. Also features an origin story of sorts for Pinhead, so worth it for that too.


294 10/01 Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (1992) 3/5   Pinhead is back, this time trapped in a rich kids gaudy statue and a news reporter gets caught up investigating the weird goings on. This one isn’t terrible, but it is a step down in that the LA rock club setting and quipping new Cenobites just don’t match with what was built in the first two.


295 10/01 Rattlers (1976) 3/5   Rattlesnakes are ganging up and killing people in the desert and it’s up to a snake professor to figure it out! Yes, the movie  is corny as hell but it manages to mostly work with it’s dopey premise. It’s a fun watch at any rate which is more than you can say for most of these goofy animal attack pictures.


296 10/02 Phenomena (1985) 3.5/5    A young girl sent to a boarding school gets wrapped up in a murder mystery with the help of her psychic connection to insects and a monkey. Dario Argento’s weird “Nancy Drew” is a bit of a mess both story wise and production wise with its shifting metal soundtrack. This was my first time watching the 116 minute cut, and while I’m no expert I did enjoy this one more than I did my first go round. Jennifer Connelly is great as the young girl despite being a bit stiff as an actress at this early young point of her career, but her detachment largely works in favour of the picture. Anyways, no one will mistake this one as a masterpiece, but it is interesting and worth a look.


297 10/02 The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (1970) 4.5/5   Revisted the film that put Dario Argento on the map and solidified the Giallo as a genre. An American writer in Italy witnesses a murder and gets wrapped up in the investigation. It’s got a huge Hitchcock stamp on it plot wise, but where in a Hitchcock film you would see Cary Grant swaggering through the posh part of town, this one has a more gritty look and feel with a ton of style. The whole thing simply works and is a genuine masterpiece.


298 10/03 Popcorn (1991) 3/5   This is one I recall kicking around the video shops for ages but I never bit on since at the time I was completely over the goofy comedy horror brought on by the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels. Ends up being a fun little film about a bunch of film students who put on a horror-thon in order to raise funds. Ends up one of the students has a past that’s about to catch up with her. Basically a rip on Phantom of the Opera to a degree, it manages to not get too annoying and the movies in the movie stuff from the marathon are fun.


299 10/05 Caltiki The Immortal Monster (1959) 4/5   I’m probably rating this one higher than I should, but I love a good monster movie and this one is a GREAT monster movie! A group are exploring Myan ruins and boy, do they ever discover something. All signs point to this being a Mummy movie, but it’s much worse. Lean, mean and nasty, it’s a ton of fun with some shockingly graphic effects for the time. I guess I should also mention that cinematographer and effects artist Mario Bava’s hand is all over this one, stylistically.


300 10/05 Pulse (2001) 3/5   Another Japanese ghost story, this time with ghosts using the internet to come through? Maybe? I’ll be honest, I had a hard time following this one. I don’t know if something’s lost in the translation or what, but it didn’t make a ton of sense. What saves it is the atmosphere. It manages to be beautiful and creepy, and since the characters get a little foggy as the film goes on I think we can excuse the story for being muddled.

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301 10/06 Shock (1977) 3/5   Mario Bava’s final film has budget issues that are apparent in it’s look, but aside from that ends up being a pretty good ghost story. A woman moves back to the house she shared with her late husband, and his ghost seems to be influencing her little boy. No one will mistake it for a masterpiece, but it manages to do the job and keep you interested which is more than you can say about most of these films.

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302 10/06 The Church (1989) 2.5/5   Dario Argento produces and his daughter has a role in this one about a church built on the site where crusaders killed a bunch of pagans back in the day. Now under renovations, they disturb the dead and you can just imagine how it goes. This was one of those pictures where if I wasn’t binge-ing films in October I might of gotten more out of it than I did. I also watched the version shown on TCM, so no idea if anything was cut or not, there was just nothing all that exceptional about it.


303 10/07 He Knows You’re Alone (1980) 2/5   Recorded this one off of TCM so I have no idea if it was edited. A run of the mill slasher short both on T&A and gore, it’s most noteworthy thing is a small bit part by Tom Hanks. Otherwise, you can find better.

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Scary Movie Challenge 2016 Part 4

Last week was the Presidential inauguration and I found it to be such a massive cluster fuck that I totally forgot to post this, the last of my Scary Movie Challenge list.The day that this posts is also the Bell “let’s Talk” day on Twitter, where every tweet using the hashtag  results in a $.05 donation to mental health initiatives. A large part of my mental health coping is watching movies.

I’m not sure if watching this many movies in one month helps your mental heath.

080 10/25 Leviathan (1989) Blu-ray 3/5   If I remember right this one came out the same year as The Abyss and was pretty much completely forgotten. The case claims it’s “Alien underwater!” and it really wants to be that. Sadly it’s just a really well done monster movie. No classic, but worth a watch.

081 10/25 Evilspeak (1981) Blu-ray 3.5/5   This is my favourite of the anti-Satan scare films of the early 80’s. A kid who’s being bullied at military academy finds a Satanic text and starts inputting it into his Apple II, awakening all sorts of evil stuff. Clint Howard is great in the roll of the kid, and the film gets totally nuts. Makes me want to track down Mazes & Monsters, the other great scare film from the era. It was also nice to watch this uncut on Blu-ray. My previous viewing was via a bootleg download that had the scenes cut during the Video Nasties period inserted but sourced from a bad VHS looking copy. Funnily enough, most of the cut footage was the goofy Satanic text on the Apple II as opposed to violence.

082 10/25 Attack of the Puppet People (1958) DVR 2.5/5   If your movie has something to do with people shrinking or growing into giants, odds are that Bert I Gordon is behind it. This one was too goofy to really enjoy. A weirdo doll maker is shrinking people into dolls for companionship. They never really “attack” either, and there’s a drive-in scene that showing Gordon’s The Amazing Colossal Man which is a massively superior film to this one and reminding the audience of that doesn’t help matters.

083 10/26 Cat People (1982) Blu-ray 3/5   It’s not as good as the original, but it’s not the worst thing either. It’s a case of style over substance, and it mostly works. I would rate it higher but it has some pacing issues. Gorgeous soundtrack though.

084 10/26 The Dark Half (1993) Blu-ray 2.5/5   George Romero tackles another Stephen King story and it’s just too much of a good thing. Basic story is a writer decides to “kill off” his more popular pseudonym, only to have the pseidonym manifest and start killing people. It’s not a bad idea, and the book is great. At 2 hours it makes for a plodding movie.

085 10/26 Bereavement (2010) Blu-ray 3/5   I forgot I had watched this one before. Not a bad movie that gets pretty crazy, about a madman that kidnaps a kid. I just found out this is actually a prequel to Malevolence so I guess I should track that one down.

086 10/26 Burnt Offerings (1976) DVR 4/5   This one is supposedly one of Stephen Kings favourite movies and you can certainly see aspects of The Shining in it. A family rents a house for the summer and starts to become affected. This one a really good, mainly due to Oliver Reed being so intense through out. The rest of the cast with Karen Black and Bette Davis were great too, but man Reed is shithouse bonkers in his intensity. Worth it just for Reed’s performance, with the movie being equally interesting.

087 10/27 The Believers (1987) Blu-ray 2.5/5  I had memories of this one being hot stuff and controversial on release but it ends up being a pretty boring thriller. Martin Sheen is a police psychologist who gets mixed up investigating Voodoo crimes in New York. Some neat ideas and fine acting but it never really adds up to much.

088 10/27 Mazes and Monsters (1982) YouTube 2/5   Evilspeak had me craving this one and I should have left it alone. I recall it being great, but it’s just plodding and stupid. Tom Hanks and his friends get way to into Dungeons and Dragons and the result is boring.

089 10/28 Deathrow Gameshow (1987) Blu-ray 2.5/5   Goofy comedy that doesn’t work as a comedy or a horror film where convicts compete for pardons. It’s over the top in 80’s smarm and is more annoying than good.

090 10/28 Nightmare Sisters (1988) Blu-ray 3.5/5   A trio a sorority girls become succubi after playing around with a crystal ball. It’s painfully bad in the acting department, but the trio is played by Scream Queens Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer, and they turn into naked succubi which makes it all worthwhile. It ends up being a lot of fun.

091 10/28 Hobgoblins (1988) Blu-ray 2/5   Not as bad as Troll 2 as far as Gremlins rip-offs go, but it ain’t very good. When you can’t do better than Ghoulies as a horror comedy, you know you’re in trouble.

092 10/28 Pretty Maids All In A Row DVR 2/5   Rock Hudson stars in this thriller about a series of high school girl murders. Except the majority of the film is about a high school boy with boner problems. This one is supposed to be a black comedy but it never really worked and worse, felt like it would never end. Written and produced by Gene Roddenberry. Gene’s better in space.

093 10/28 Murder Weapon (1989) Blu 3/5

094 10/29 Deadly Embrace (1989) Blu 2/5   A pair of erotic thrillers, meaning “Skinimax” type fair in which women with big hair really get off on kissing guys bellies. Both star Linnea Quigley with “Murder Weapon” about a pair of mob daughters getting out of an asylum being the better of the two mainly due to how insanely gory it gets in the latter half. “Deadly Embrace” sounded like more of the same but sadly it’s just a mediocre skin flick about a neglected wife who hires a pool boy. It’s boring.

095 10/29 The Exorcist (1973) (Theatrical Cut) Blu-ray 5/5   First time watching the original version in years and it still holds up as one of the greatest films ever made. It’s genuinely spooky, of course, but what’s equally impressive is the craft behind it. The score, sound design, acting, shots, editing, all in perfect harmony.

096 10/29 The Doctor & The Devils (1985) Blu-ray 3.5/5   This one is a retelling of the story of “Burke and Hare” legendary grave robbers turned murderers who sold bodies to the London Medical College. This one was really well done. It’s shot more like a drama as opposed to a comedic horror film that the story usually gets. Really worth checking out.

097 10/29 The Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) blu-ray 2.5/5   This one isn’t actually one of the worst films ever made, as it’s routinely championed to be. It is a mess though. Adding a bunch of unnecessary psychic mumbo-jumbo to the story doesn’t help. It’s full of ambition and big ideas, it just never actually works. I think this is at least my 3rd time seeing it, and I have to admit it didn’t drive me crazy like it did previously. That said, why Martin Scorsese thinks it’s so great is still a mystery.

098 10/30 The Exorcist III (1990) Blu-ray 4/5   This is one that I never found that great but really clicked with it on this viewing. George C. Scott takes the role of Detective from the first film, this time investigating the murders of the “Gemini Killer”. This one ditches the psychic stuff and concentrates more on the nature of evil. It’s also hilarious while being scary.

099 10/30 Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005) Blu-ray 2.5/5   Better than the Renny Harlin re-shoot, but it still doesn’t work. This one follows the story of Father Merrin that is mentioned in the original film, but they change the entire thing for reasons unknown. It’s interesting, but ends up being too muddled to work.

100 10/30 The Puppet Masters (1994) Blu-ray 3.5/5   Another retelling of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This one switches things up a bit by concentrating on a government agency trying to figure out and contain the invasion. Think “The X-Files” only with Donald Sutherland. It works, though it plays more like an action film that a horror.

101 10/30 Darkman (1990) Blu-ray 4/5   Mix-up the best traits of the Universal Monsters and slam them into a pulpy superhero story and you get another winner from Sam Raimi. Raimi nails this stuff with style and humour and the cast featuring Liam Neeson and Francis McDormand manage to pull this one off.

102 10/30 The Conjuring 2 (2016) Digital 3.5/5   I’m a big fan of the first one so I was looking forward to this one. It’s good, and I found it to be pretty spooky. Only problem is they go too big in the second half so it loses a bit of its charm. That said, it’s still a fun journey.

 

103 10/31 The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976) Youtube 2/5   After hearing about this one for years I finally gave it a watch. I have zero nostalgia for Paul or the 70’s, so my interest was only out of the cult/campy aspects. It’s simply bad. Painful skits, painful jokes, Kiss rock and are hilarious and yeah, it all adds up to being weird. It’s still not any good.

104 10/31 The Initiation (1984) Blu-ray 3/5   The latest from Arrow arrived in my mailbox so I gave it a spin. It’s an okay slasher but nothing special despite one of the most convoluted plots I’ve encountered yet. An amnesiac college girl is being stalked by a killer from her past, only it’s way more complicated.

And that is it. I broke 100 films in the 2016 challenge, the “winner” was 149. Oh well, there’s always next year.

Movie A Day! 397-407: Last Christmas To The Head

We have nearly made it, only a few days left and 2014 is put to rest. Everyone making out okay? This time of year can feel like survival sometimes. My holidays are going okay, so far. It’s been mostly quiet and low key, which is what I wanted. It’s the first Christmas without dad, and mum and I are accepting it quietly while cracking the odd joke about how dad wouldn’t be impressed with us and our celebration since we’re going small.

I passed 400 titles this past week. Not bad. Watched some great, classic films, and some not so great films. As per usual. Here they are!

397 12-21 Christmas Evil (1980) 4/5
My (and John Waters) favourite Christmas movie looking fantastic on Blu-ray via Vinegar Syndrome! This one came out in the midst of slasher mania and was obviously designed to be the Christmas version of HALLOWEEN. Surprisingly, they went more psychological, so the first half plays more like a TAXI DRIVER style character study before going completely loopy. Believe me, it gets deliriously loopy, so check it out.

398 12-23 Kelly Clarkson’s Cautionary Christmas Music Tale (2013) 3/5
Yup, still watching Christmas specials. This one was one of the better ones mainly because Clarkson can sing anything in a way that doesn’t drive you up the walls. The sketches aren’t as good as the performances, but the performances are all good and Clarkson has a fun personality.

399 12-23 Masterchef Canada Holiday Special (2014) 3/5
Stumbled on this one. They brought back 5 contestants from Season one, who along with their families compete in cooking challenges with the winning family getting $10,000 for their favourite charity. It was surprisingly fun, and since it’s Canadian, everyone was happy, working together and having a good joyous cry instead of baiting and trying to screw everyone over like the American version.

400 12-24 Hot & Saucy Pizza Girls (1979) 4/5
This is one of the porno chic titles that gets tossed around as being a classic so it was nice to finally view it via Vinegar Syndrome’s release. Directed by Bob Chinn, this one fits right in with the teen sex comedies that were popular at the time. Think of PORKY’S or ANIMAL HOUSE type comedies, except with hardcore sex. John Holmes starts as an owner of a pizza shop who has a gang of sexy, skateboarding delivery girls who deliver pizzas throughout San Francisco on their skateboard as a cover for hooking. There is a mysterious “Chicken Rapist” out to get them, run by a fried chicken group who want to put the Pizza Girls out of business. Desiree Cousteau is back playing her naive dumbbell persona that she did so well in PRETTY PEACHES, and future feminist porn director Candida Royalle is memorable as well as one of the Pizza Girls. Cut out the porn, and it would still be a fun and funny little film.

401 12-25 2014 Disney Parks Christmas ‘Frozen’ Parade (2014) 2.5/5
This was on Christmas morning and was probably your last chance to see Ariana Grande soullessly warble out a Christmas song. Seriously, if it was a variety type special from this year, Grande was part of it. I guess she won the magic ticket.

402 12-25 All Is Lost (2013) 3/5
This one has Robert Redford as a guy dealing with sail boat that has a hole in it. In a twist, that it all this movie is about. All of it. No kidding. A guy on a boat, by himself. So your enjoyment will be based on if you don’t mind watching a guy on a boat with a hole in it for ninety minutes. I liked it, and I thought Redford did a really good job. That said, I don’t think I’m going to be spinning it a ton. It’s a neat experiment and change of pace, but not completely successful. I have a sneaky feeling that this one was made as Oscar bait to get Redford a statue.

403 12-26 The Green Mile (1999) 4.5/5
This is the best of Frank Darabont’s Stephen King prison novel adaptations, which is saying something since the other one he did was THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. I like this one better though, since it has gruesome executions and Tom Hanks pissing all over the place to balance the sentimentality that is borderline over-sentimental. Plus it has that god damned mouse!

404 12-27 Doctor Who Christmas Special – Last Christmas (2014) 2/5
405 12-27 Black Mirror – White Christmas (2014) 4/5
These should be the last of the Christmas specials for me. Doctor Who had Nick Frost as Santa, sorry, as Father Christmas since it’s British. Anyway, he was a great Father Christmas but the episode dealt with Jenna and her dumb boyfriend. For fuck sakes, that shit was wrapped up in the season finale! I thought we were done with her and her horseshit. I’ll give next season a chance, but I’m far from excited for it.

I never did watch BLACK MIRROR SEASON 2, and I’m going to rectify that toot-sweet since this Christmas special was excellent. John Hamm and some other guy are working at some unexplained job on Christmas, and Hamm is telling stories of what brought him to the isolated outpost. It’s smart and cynical, Brooker has a dead tight script and Hamm has never been better. I want more Black Mirror please, even though season two is supposed to be a bit dodgy.

406 12-27 Bullet To The Head (2012) 2/5
Walter Hill finally gets a new movie out, and it sucked. Walking human Growth hormone experiment Sylvester Stallone is a hitman who gets set-up on a bad job and has to work with a cop to sort things out. It hits every dumb cliche there is to hit. The cop is Korean, so there is way too many Asian jokes at his expense to get a pass in this day and age, and 90% of the dialogue seems to be exposition to explain what the characters are doing, and why they are defying all common sense and logic. So skip this one.

407 12-27 Oui, Girls (1981) 2/5
A detective goes undercover at a swingers ranch to solve a murder. I think that’s the plot. This one was spoken of pretty highly in the book THE OTHER SIDE OF HOLLYWOOD, and was considered to be director F.J. Lincoln’s best film. As a porno, it’s not bad, but as a movie it just didn’t make any sense with way too many plot holes. I know, it’s a porn, but I expected more. Pizza Girls delivered a plot, no reason this one shouldn’t have. F.J. Lincoln is also mostly known for his role as one of the attackers in Wes Cravin’s LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, so between that and the hype from the book, this one was a let down.

That’s it for now. There will be one more post, The wrap up for 2014! I’ll try to post it this week anyway.

I’m on the fence with continuing this blog into 2015. It’s actually a bit of work writing these dumb mini-reviews and finding the posters and math. Ugh. Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Movie A Day! 383-389 – White Guys In Peril

Another short week. Well, short based on my usual standards. I’m still playing around with my PONO player (LOVING IT) and staying on top of the holiday stuff. I don’t go big on holidays, but there always seems to be some little, dumb stuff to do and it all takes time. I still have to wrap presents. I’ll get to it one night. I hope. Blurgh.

On with the movies. I seemed to have a “White Guys in Peril” thing going this week, only one of them was really good. As fate has it, I watched the good one first.

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383 10-07 Dallas Buyers Club (2013) 4/5
Finally got around to seeing this one, and I don’t have much to say about it. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto are as good as everyone says they are in it, and they manage to tell the story straight forwardly instead of trying to hammer you over the head with the emotional stuff like most films of this type. For a film dealing with AIDS, that’s a rare thing. I give it a recommend.

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384 10-08 Night Monster (1942) 3/5
Another loopy “Old Dark House” style mystery/horror from Universal. A paraplegic rich guy and his crazy sister have invited a bunch of Doctors over who tried to save his limbs after some accident, and they start getting knocked off by some mystical creature from folklore. The doctors get knocked off, not the rich guys limbs. Like I said, it’s loopy, but well done with a neat mix of science and hoodoo to the whodunnit aspects to keep you interested. Sadly, Bela Lugosi is completely wasted in the role of “Butler”, but thankfully a swami is able to “will” a skeleton holding a chest of jewels into existence, WITH THIS MIND!

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385 10-09 Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (1964) 5/5
I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t watch this one at Christmas. You’d think it would be corny, but I’m constantly entertained by Santa Claus, and how much of a total asshole he is in this. Fun stuff, and every person currently employed in the field of CGI should watch this one as a masterclass in restraint in animation. Sure it’s due to a low budget, but the puppets in this display about a billion times the personality that the majority of CGI characters with their 10 trillion strands of independently moving hair have.

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386 10-11 Zatoichi At Large (1972) 4/5
Another week, and Zatoichi. This one has Zatoichi stumbling upon a pregnant woman who has just been robbed, and taking charge of delivering her newborn baby to her husband’s village when she dies in childbirth as an excuse for Zatoichi to get mixed up in Yakuza subplots. At this point, Zatoichi as a character is pretty much reviled by all, so there’s a constant sense of dread that really ups the plots and performances. So yeah, I’m still loving this series.

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387 10-11 Eric Andre Show Season 2 (2013) 4/5
Breezed through these 10 episodes. It helps that they’re less than fifteen minutes each, but more importantly they continue to be deliriously hilarious. Even when bits flop (and a bunch do), it’s still dead on funny. Episode 10 has got to be one of the strangest, most demented twelve minutes of TV to have aired.

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388 10-12 Captain Phillips (2013) 2.5/5
Tom Hanks. As soon as you see Tom Hanks in a movie now, you know it going to be the type of film that tries to push you emotional to be a bit weepy. Tom Hanks though typically is really good and makes good films. This one, based on a true story about a cargo ship that is attacked by Somali pirates and the title Captain kidnapped for ransom, fits the bill of a “typical Tom Hanks” film. the problem with it is, the pirates are more interesting than the white guys on the ship, and Captain Phillips is such a fucking idiot making lousy choices that you never really care if he gets saved or not.

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389 10-14 Lone Survivor (2013) 2.5/5
This is a pretty typical modern day war film, in that they try to hit you over the head with the “ra ra BAND OF BROS!” bullshit before showing you the horrors of combat in an attempt to squeeze false sympathies from you. It can work (as it did in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN), it doesn’t work here. The actors are game, but director Peter Berg (BATTLESHIP) can’t handle the subtlety required, so despite it being a true story, you never really give a shit. That said, the combat bits, basically the last three quarters of the film, are pretty good and pretty gory so you at least stay interested, just not invested.

Some of these posters kill me. That CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, spoiler alert, but his tale of survival is nothing to write home about. In fact, you could argue that he was inept and the whole thing was his fault. The weirdest thing with that poster though, is you can’t help but think “Oh dear, black people on my boat!” I should dock this one another star, but I wont. This was also a rare week where I didn’t watch a single adult film. No naked penis or boobs in sight. I’ll have to double up next week!