Here's Johnny!!!!!

Title courtesy of Sean....even though I thought of it moments earlier in my head, but of course he deserves all the props always. As I am writing this, the month of October and Halloween are almost to a close. And so too is my experiment of watching only horror or Halloween-themed films all month. It is really one of the most difficult genres because, as with my problems with the rom-com, the industry lives and breathes by the formula which results in a lot of crap getting churned out to make an easy buck. But, there are some real gems from this genre in all of movie history and those were what I chose to focus on all month....and it was a lot of fun! In fact, it was almost my only outlet all month since I worked all. the. time....and didn't get as much time as I would have liked to go out and do some actual Halloween related activities. So then....let's just go ahead and recap the second half of the month just as I did the first...only one sentence per movie!

Single White Female - Missed this one from last post, I caught it on t.v., it's the better, original of the crappy/silly/laughable remake The Roommate....still no masterpiece, but it contains some pretty real tension.

Drag Me To Hell - I love this movie so much, so totally, outrageously, entertaining from start to finish...I think it's become an annual must for me now.

Hocus Pocus - Speaking of annual musts, this one has nostalgia written all over it and is entertaining in its own right...plus the jokes that flew over your head when you were a kid are pretty hilarious now in hindsight.

Beetle Juice - This one also had some humor in it I didn't pick up on until I got older, but also loved as a child. This film is so bizarre, but I just love it, nothing like it and oh so quotable. (dang two sentences!)

Shaun of the Dead - The whole movie is very funny and entertaining, but one exchange makes the whole thing just so unforgettable and hilarious to me.

Liz: what makes you think I'm going to take you back?
Shaun: you don't want to die single do you??
single friend in the same room: I think I'd like that bullet now.

I hear ya mister. Haha!

The Haunting
- Very creepy and classy old film that has an unfortunate, laughable remake. (Laurie and I have some real fond memories of that one don't we?)

The Shining
- I had actually never seen this before, and honest to goodness it is one of the best horror movies of all time I think....very effective and featuring an unforgettable performance by Jack Nicholson.

The Ring - A horror classic of the aughts, don't let anyone tell you this film is not amazing because of shameless sequels or wannabes...because honestly this film is so well made. It was absolutely horrifying the first time I watched it, (right Courtney??) and, even though, subsequent viewings has lessened the horror, it is still a very well made film (and I gotta give a shout out to the fantastic cinematography.)

- I wouldn't necessarily say I saved the best for last (because I've watched some reallllly good ones), but I thought what better to watch on Halloween than Halloween? A very, very well made and solid slasher flick...the model for ripoffs and wannabes that plague the cinemas today, but as something new...in its day...it must have been just terrifying because it is verry tense.

I guess that begs the question...what IS the best one? I wish I had more time because there really were so many movies I didn't get to watch...some I'd recently seen (Let Me In, Paranormal Activity and Insidious) and some I've never seen (like the sequels to Evil Dead), but I am kinda looking forward to returning to my normal programming, if you will....especially since there are a few releases (DVD and theater alike,) I'm looking forward to!

Also, as a side afterthought I'd like to briefly say how much I just love Halloween specials of my favorite comedy t.v. shows. How I Met Your Mother and especially Community have done some pretty great ones lately and in the past, annnnnnnnnnnd today I watched a bunch of classic (90's only for Simpsons!!) Simpsons "treehouse of horror" episodes. Those were the best. That show just used to be so hilariously clever. Shame. Anyway...that's all. Here's to you October and scary movies. We'll have to do this again this time next year!


I See Dead People

Whoo. It's been quite a month...and it's only going to get crazier. True to my word, I've watched nothing but movies that can somehow be tied into my Halloween theme. I started a blog a week ago that I was hoping would be similar in vein to my other blogs where I just give short synopses...but then I realized...I had far more to say about everything than I could in a short paragraph dedicated to each movie. So... instead I'm going to just give a preview and hope that at some point I can write individual blogs for a few of these at least...and I'll edit this blog later with links to them once they're written... But at this point, if nothing else I'll give a VERY brief recap of everything I've watched so far (if I can remember them all...) I'm going to limit myself to one sentence per film...two at most! So let's begin!

The Sixth Sense. This masterpiece features incredible performances from everyone involved, and even if you know already what's going down it is definitely still worth watching as there are still so many layers to analyze and important human drama.

1408. The film is solid and I like how it examines both our fears arising from the physical as well as the psychological....great performance by John Cusack, but I'm not sold on the ending (I hear there is an alternate director's cut that is pretty interesting though.)

Clue. A nostalgic childhood favorite that is very clever and quotable...and complete with three endings for the viewer to choose from (however, I feel the movie isn't complete unless you watch all of them!)

Young Frankenstein. The very funny classic with director Mel Brooks at his finest directing a cast that clearly had a good time.

Psycho. One of the greatest films of its kind of all time, this Hitchcock thriller is just amazing and still holds up extremely nicely. Honestly, you can't not watch this movie around Halloween. Dangit...that's two sentences...now three.

Strangers on a Train. Another Hitchcock thriller featuring a very real and terrifying premise, and of course it is very finely executed with high suspense!

Zombieland. Oh so violent, but oh how I love the characters, dialogue and a certain plot point that just elevates the movie to unforgettable.

The Addam's Family. Where did this one dud come from on the list? Ann made me do it. 90's remake of a classic 60's t.v. show does not equal a good movie or classic in its own right. Broke the sentence rule again, but the mini rant was worth it.

Rope. Another terrifyingly real concept of murder and suspense from Hitchcock...what can I say? The man is good.

Sweeney Todd. Incredibly dark, but the fantastic story of how revenge eats away at the soul directed by one of my faves Tim Burton. Great soundtrack too.

Dracula Dead and Loving It. Okay, this isn't the greatest or refined comedy ever....but there are just a few moments that really make me laugh...even just thinking about them.

Les Diaboliques. Saw this first a year ago in my film class in Paris and was absolutely terrified...still good the second time around but I was more negatively affected by pacing. Still a terrific film with a fantastic ending.

The Innocents. I'll give them major points for the creepy kids, as well as the ambiguity, it presents in the whole thing...but sometimes too much ambiguity can drive me nuts when I think "now what the heck did I just even watch??"

I feel like for sure I'm missing some...and if so, I'll have to include them in the next blog I guess....because there's still plenty more I plan to watch including Drag Me To Hell, The Shining, The Ring, Beetlejuice, Hocus Pocus and Shaun of the Dead among others. This has been so much fun watching all these movies this month...this might just have to become a tradition. It really makes you appreciate the genre and the holiday! Anyway, feel free to share your opinions on what I've listed and what else I must watch before the month is through!!


This is Halloween

As I mentioned with my Insidious blog a little while ago, I am determined to make the most of the Halloween season this year. So with October arriving....it begins. If I'm watching a movie at all this month, I'm going to make it a scary one....or a Halloween themed one. Tonight AMC aired a double feature of the underrated 2001 Nicole Kidman vehicle, The Others, and the 2003 Dennis Quaid/Sharon Stone "thriller" Cold Creek Manor. As I mentioned with the Insidious blog, well-made scary movies are pretty few and far between. And this double feature perfectly illustrated both ends of the spectrum. The Others is a simple, understated yet stylish ghost story...great when it came out ten years ago (oh my!) and still holds up today. Cold Creek Manor is just a preposterous piece of crap. And I'm not even through the movie yet. In fact, I just kept it going on AMC after The Others was over while beginning this blog to continue on in the scary movie tone. But it reminded me more of Thanksgiving than Halloween...because this movie is one big turkey. Haha

Watching the crappy latter film made all of the strengths that I came here to write about The Others stand out even more. As I mentioned, The Others is simple. It doesn't over-complicate things. While some might have issues with the pacing, (and I myself wish one certain subplot could have been a bit tighter) it does deliver some genuinely creepy moments...and when it gets near the end it really gets rolling. It's unfortunate that it was so close to when The Sixth Sense was released... yes there was a two year gap, but Sense was so powerful and stayed so much in the minds of people that many instantly dismissed this as being some sort of a rip-off or lesser version. It's not. It is its own film that works largely due to Nicole Kidman's gripping performance.

Technically, as a whole, the film is very well-made. Everyone aside from Kidman too, turn in solid performances, the direction is beautiful, and the perfect mood is set throughout that leads itself right into its clever finale. For good suspense films to work, most importantly they need to be focused. If a movie doesn't know what it's trying to be, an audience doesn't really know what to make of it either. What does that make? A pretty messy, uneven film. The thing about The Others is that it's not just a pretty decent movie of its genre, it's a pretty decent film period because it gets so much right.

Not that I had high expectations with Cold Creek Manor or anything...but I could have saved myself a lot of "stupid movie induced headaches" by reading up about it online before investing the time. I'm not even going to waste your time in analyzing it...I'm just going to say that it's awful and you can take my word for it. That's why you always should check out IMDB ratings and Rotten Tomatoes scores. The proof is in the pudding: Here are scores for The Others: IMDB rating - 7.7/10, Rotten Tomatoes score: 84%. Cold Creek Manor? IMDB rating - 4.8/10, Rotten Tomatoes score: 12%. Yeah...seriously these two sites basically always have the right idea. Gotta include two of my favorite RT blurbs because they're just too clever:

"As scary and predictable as a trip to the supermarket."
"The real suspense is whether or not we will ever get to the end of this movie."

Anyway, even though Manor was awful, The Others is a very good watch and a nice way to ring in the Halloween season. Let the creepy times roll!

Oh and the Emily ratings? The Others 8/10, Cold Creek Manor 2/10