Sunday, September 30, 2018

31 movies for October

Seems like every year the Internet floods with lists of 31 movies to watch in October. So who am I to buck the trend?

Obviously the list draws almost exclusively from the horror genre. But these aren’t necessarily my favorite horror movies, nor is this a list of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. Instead, these movies all have a certain Halloween look and feel to them. It’s hard to define, but it’s kinda a mix of seasonal setting and campfire tale quality.

Unless otherwise noted, titles refer to the original version rather than remakes, reboots and the like. Also please note that the first two entries on the “kid-friendly” list are rated R, so the MPAA and I disagree about how appropriate they are for children. I’d say tweens and older or those two.

Kid-Friendly Fare
Sleepy Hollow - Tim Burton’s take on Washington Irving’s classic tale
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark - Kid moves into a mansion full of monsters
Something Wicked This Way Comes - One of the strongest October-themed movies on the list
Beetlejuice - Ghostly fun without too many bad scares
The Addams Family - The family that was practically designed for an October movie marathon

House of Wax - Vincent Price at the top of his game
Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors - An oddly unsettling British anthology piece
Freaks - Todd Browning’s tour de force, not necessarily for everyone
Dracula - Bela Lugosi is the iconic Count Dracula
Bride of Frankenstein - No October marathon would be complete without Frankenstein's monster
The Mummy - Boris Karloff is wonderfully creepy in the title role
Cat People - 1942 original is a masterpiece of subtlety, 1982 remake is more visceral
The Omen - The demonic king of evil kid movies

The Fog - A classic ghost story told in classic ghost story style
Poltergeist - A fun combination of ghost story elements, too intense for its PG rating
The Frighteners - Guy who can see ghosts starts to really wish he couldn’t
House on Haunted Hill (1999) - Spending the night in a haunted asylum is a bad idea
The Ring - Watching a video causes an evil ghost to kill you in seven days

Dawn of the Dead - Or if you’re in the mood for a triple feature, add #1 and #3
The Crazies (2010) - Oddly better than the Romero original
The Howling - Sayles writes, Dante directs, Bottin makes the werewolves. Great stuff!
Candyman - Creepy combination of urban legend, Clive Barker story and Phillip Glass score
Bram Stoker’s Dracula - Do fangs make it hard to chew scenery?
Fright Night - For real. One of the few vampire movies that’s both fun and scary
Creepshow - Romero directs Stephen King’s take on EC-Comics-style storytelling
From Hell - The Hughes Brothers adapt Alan Moore’s telling of the Ripper myth

The Final Five
The Burrowers - Settlers beset by a new kind of horror
Cabin in the Woods - A meta mash-up of horror clichés that’s actually original and entertaining
Exorcist III - Consistently frightening, it features one of the best jump scares ever
The Crow - A murdered man seeks vengeance on his killers during Devil’s Night in Detroit
Halloween - Because what else would you watch on October 31?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Review - The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I figured this would be more or less the same experience as the first one, but I actually didn’t like this round quite as much. The familiar characters and elements are here. But they’ve played up some of the goofier stuff, turning more than one scene into an expensive music video for cheap tunes from the 1970s. And oh so many in jokes, sub-references and other fodder for fanboys. Mildly amusing

Friday, December 8, 2017

Review - 1922

This Netflix Original most likely wasn’t ever headed for greatness, but whatever chance it might have had is thoroughly ruined by Thomas Jane. Normally I’m a big fan, but here he plays the lead like an awful blend of Billy Bob Thornton and Jim Varney. His performance significantly detracts from what would otherwise have been a mediocre story about a farmer who murders his wife and suffers the supernatural consequences. See if desperate

Review - Temple

A threadbare plot struggles to connect a parade of scares mostly borrowed from other movies. American tourists run afoul of Japanese forest demons. This plays like a low-budget indie reheat of The Forest, which of course was no great shakes either. See if desperate

Review - Iron Jawed Angels

The campaign to secure the right to vote for women in the United States gets an uneven telling from HBO. The parts that actually focus on the issues and history are fairly good. But along with it we get a big dose of soap. It really cheapens the storytelling – almost negating the picture’s better purposes. In particular, it would be easier to buy Hillary Swank as a feminist leader if we didn’t have to watch her go all goony-eyed over a man. Mildly amusing

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Review - Cherry Pop

This amateur production plays like a video adaptation of the final project from someone’s undergrad playwriting class. Performers at a drag show cope with their personal dramas. There’s a funny moment here and there, and fans of Ru Paul’s Drag Race will find some familiar faces. Otherwise there isn’t much to it. Mildly amusing

Friday, November 24, 2017

Review - Dracula (1974)

Jack Palance place the titular count in this faithful-yet-mediocre adaptation. This obviously isn’t a western, and Palance seems out of place amid the British cast and Victorian settings. The movie also suffers from woes typical of low budget productions from the UK in the mid 70s. Mildly amusing