Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Movie Marathon: Part 4

Halloween is 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 thought this was kind of a cult classic, and I hadn't seen it before, so I figured I should.  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." So, I guess some people really like this, but it wasn't really for me.

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 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, and 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 my horror movie marathons for this year. Thanks for reading, and Happy Halloween!

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

Horror Movie Marathon Part 1

Horror Movie Marathon Part 2

Horror Movie Marathon Part 3

Reviews originally published by SkyRhino at


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