10.31.2013

Horror Heroes & Foes

My sincere apologies for not giving you more Halloween themed posts throughout the month, so here's a small list I came up with to help make up for that lack. As I was watching my horror selections for 2013, I wondered who are the ultimate survivors of the genre. Who are the characters I'd cling onto like the dickens, in hopes that I'd make it out alive? And conversely, which threats would they have the hardest time beating? So I present you 5 horror characters you want for your BFF and 5 foes you'd never want to face. When each foe is listed, I'll tell you whether or not I think each hero could take them out...and if you disagree you can vote on it and let your voice be heard! We'll start with the good guys first.

5 PEOPLE YOU WANT AT YOUR SIDE IN A HORROR CRISIS



ASH WILLIAMS (Evil Dead Trilogy) 
This guy has gone through hell and back to survive. When he lost his hand it only seemed to give him more power (swapping it for a chainsaw definitely helped...) Basically, you just can't underestimate this guy and his instincts. Still... it's no guarantee that being around him will help YOU survive....because so far the track record of Ash's companion's mortality hasn't been so good. You can learn from him, but he'll be too busy trying to save his own skin, then to save yours.



ELLEN RIPLEY (Alien trilogy) 
Ripley, on the other hand, is always trying to save others...whether it be a cat or a young girl (preferably a cat). She probably has more determination than any person on this list and is basically a veteran of survival. Don't get on her bad side, because usually if you do...you'll find your comeuppance eventually.


LAURIE STRODE (Halloween series) 
Laurie is probably the most resourceful of our group of heroes (she was probably glad that the people's house she was in didn't listen to the no wire hangers EVER rule...), and she's very quick on her feet (both literally and figuratively!) She's a fighter...even when all hope seems to be lost. Your best bet is if you happen to be one of the kids she's babysitting...because otherwise she'll kind of expect you to have enough common sense to keep yourself alive.

TALLAHASSEE (Zombieland) 
I mean what can you say about Tallahassee? Even when he's surrounded by COUNTLESS zombies while the manipulative hero's death music is playing, he not only manages to come out alive, but also doesn't happen to have a SCRATCH on him. That and he killed EVERYONE. Yeah...Tallahassee would be a good friend to have.



ED & LORRAINE WARREN (The Conjuring) 
This ghost hunting couple have seen it all...and are pretty much well equipped to handle any supernatural threat that comes their way. Lorraine senses it, and Ed can cast it out. They make it their life's work to help people. All you gotta do is sit in on one class and beg for their help. Then boom. You're friends and they can solve all your problems for you...uh ghost related problems that is (but wouldn't it be kinda funny if someone tried getting dating advice from them? Or like meaning of life advice?)


5 FOES YOU NEVER WANT TO FACE OFF AGAINST!
Okay I'll admit, I have yet to see Silence of the Lambs or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (maybe next year..) so even though I'm sure Leatherface and Hannibal Lecter would both make the list here, I'm gonna go for some alternative foes.

CARRIE - If you piss off Carrie....there's realllly not much you can do to escape her wrath. And it will be pretty painful. But the plus side is, you'll have a mighty fine and stylish death. And you'll have plenty of company when you discover that pretty much the entire high school is dead too (so maybe the high school drama and cliques can continue after death?)

WINNERS vs. CARRIE: Ed & Lorraine - Maybe if she IS a witch like her mom thinks, Ed & Lorraine can drive it out of her? Plus Lorraine is just so nice, she could probably talk her off the crazy. LOSERS vs. CARRIE: Laurie - a high school peer? Oh no...she's toast, Tallahassee - he'd be too busy making some wisecrack about the girl being covered in blood that before he knew it, he'd be dead IT'S A DRAW: Ash - he would run the similar risk that Tallahassee did, but he seems like he could take her by surprise a little easier, Ripley - she could use those motherly instincts of hers to calm her down....but if Carrie's in a bad mood, that could easily backfire.

Who could take down Carrie?
Ash Williams
Ellen Ripley
Laurie Strode
Tallahassee
Ed & Lorraine Warren
Poll Maker



THE THING - What's tricky about the thing...is that it can disguise itself as anyone or anything. There's almost no way of detecting thing from...non-thing. It makes you completely paranoid and unwilling to trust anyone. The thing could easily trick almost all of the heroes, and is absolutely one of the most deadly foes you could come across.

WINNERS vs. THE THING: Ripley she handled this all before in Alien...even if this situation is a bit trickier, I think she's got this, Laurie - like I said...the girl is resourceful. She'd make use of what she has to defeat this creature...and she's learned not to trust everyone already, Tallahassee - he's a bit of a lone wolf as it is and doesn't like trusting just everyone anyway....plus he's an excellent shot, Ash - he's handled all sorts of weird crap, so this wouldn't even phase him. LOSERS vs. THE THING: Ed & Lorraine - they're so trusting of people and just want to help everyone. Plus they don't always know when people aren't themselves.

Who would come out victorious against THE THING?
Ash Williams
Ellen Ripley
Laurie Strode
Tallahassee
Ed & Lorraine Warren
Poll Maker



MICHAEL MYERS  (Halloween) - The thing with Michael Myers is that somehow he just never seems to die. Add to that that the guy is completely ruthless and has no regard for human life....and that's a pretty bad combination. You'd think as a simple mortal the guy would be easy to off, but for whatever reason, that just doesn't seem to be the case...

WINNERS vs. MICHAEL MYERS: Laurie (9 times out of 10 she'll win this one..) Tallahassee, Ash, Ripley are all stealthy enough to get the better of the serial killer I think.  LOSERS vs. MICHAEL MYERS: Ed & Lorraine They can sense the paranormal and such..but can they tell when someone is just a psychopath?...but I think they all, if given the proper chance COULD beat Michael. But under the wrong circumstances, he could probably catch all of them by surprise too...except Tallahassee.


Who could escape Michael Myers?
Ash Williams
Ellen Ripley
Laurie Strode
Tallahassee
Ed & Lorraine Warren
Poll Maker



SAMARA MORGAN (The Ring) Yes she's just a kid...but she is perhaps the most evil of ALL the evil kids. Plus she can kill you (as well as deform your whole body...) in one single stare. Annnnnnnnnnd she never sleeps. Annnnnd she puts images into your mind (and can make you kill yourself pretty much...) And and and.... she's pure EVIL!

WINNERS: Ed & Lorraine this would be the easiest foe for this duo. They'd drive Samara back where she came from, no problem! Laurie - I could see her taking a similar approach as Rachel Keller did in The Ring and that worked out for her, Ash - he basically can sneak up behind Samara and chainsaw her in half. He's dealt with equally weird spirits.  LOSERS: Tallahassee is easily fooled by children and I think this time one might get the better of him, Ripley probably could beat Samara...but her mothering instincts could doom her into being tricked.


Who could defeat Samara?
Ash Williams
Ellen Ripley
Laurie Strode
Tallahassee
Ed & Lorraine Warren
Poll Maker



THE BODY SNATCHERS - Similar to the thing, the body snatchers make it extremely difficult to know who you can trust. Who are the impostors and who are your friends? There's an easier tell in this situation as opposed to the thing (the thing was better at mimicking "normal" behavior...) but on the other hand, the rapidity and widespread of the body snatchers makes it almost impossible to combat. Plus they get you when you sleep! And we all gotta sleep sometime riiiiight?

WINNERS: Ash and Tallahassee I see as having no problems with murdering an entire population that was infected, and Ripley knows how to deal with species from other planets! LOSERS: Ed & Lorraine probably could sense something is up. But can they drive aliens out of bodies? I don't think so. Laurie is good in a one on one match, but when she gets outnumbered...I'm not sure she'd be able to make it, even if she is such a fighter.


Who could survive the body snatchers?
Ash Williams
Ellen Ripley
Laurie Strode
Tallahassee
Ed & Lorraine Warren
Poll Maker

Well that's all for now. I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween!

10.30.2013

Terrorthon 2013 Part Deux

Tomorrow's the big day, and while I might watch a couple more horror movies before the end of the season, I wanted to do a recap of the awesome ones I've been watching since the last time I posted.

THE CONJURING - I finally got around to seeing the most talked about horror film of the year (and one I'd been wanting to see from the moment I was haunted by its trailer..) And yeah, it was pretty terrifying. At first it kind of seems like your standard haunted house fare, but once the story gets rolling, the tension never lets up. The thing that makes it even more disturbing is that this is an allegedly true story, based on the files of the famous ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren. There's plenty of scares to be had here, and a few might be too much for some people. [SPOILER HIGHLIGHT TO READ] A possession takes place in this film, and it's pretty disturbing. [/SPOILER]

SINISTER - I've been wanting to watch this one all horror season as well, and time was running out. So instead of waiting until next Halloween and watching it with my friends, I opted to watch it in the middle of the night, alone. Not the smartest decision I've ever made...especially when my apartment is decorated with a vintage projector (the main character has a few run-ins with a similar projector is all I'll say...) This film was very effective, and pretty good considering the horror films in the last little while had been going through somewhat of a slump (maybe it's revived??) I really loved the music and the plot, though I will say it isn't perfect. I'm not completely sure how satisfied I am with the way things went in the second half, but that doesn't keep me from loving it as a whole.


BURNT OFFERINGS - This little-known gem was one of my favorite discoveries of the season. The film gives off a very Shining vibe which I love, even though it actually came out before! Karen Black is terrific as the enthusiastic matriarch, who along with her family, inherits the caretaking duties of a beautiful mansion. A mansion, that, of course, has a spooky secret: it rejuvenates itself based on the amount of deaths that occur on its premises...meaning the house is pretty much has got it out for anyone who lives there. Horror ensues!


THE OMEN (1976) - Each year I try and include a true horror classic (last year: Rosemary's Baby,) and this year was time for the original The Omen. Let this be a lesson to you not to take mysterious children into your care...even if you think it would be a good idea to trick your wife into thinking that the real baby she gave birth to didn't die and the replacement is just as good. You don't know where that thing came from! In this case...you just took in the Anti-Christ. Oops. However, he's not even the scariest person in the movie! His Satan-worshiping nanny is actually far creepier in my opinion, and I felt myself more unsettled when I didn't know HER whereabouts.


CARRIE (1976) - In honor of the remake, which I'll actually save for next year... I decided also to add the original Carrie to my viewing. This really is a very straightforward film. Not a lot of it (AKA no real jump scares here), but the classic prom scene is pretty fantastic. As is everything that follows. Plus it's definitely quotable. "They're all gonna laugh at you!!" Too bad it couldn't have ended halfway through and been a heartwarming teen romance about an ugly duckling finding herself. Instead, it just HAD to go and be a horror classic. Sheesh.


INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978) - This film features perhaps my favorite ending to all of the horror films I watched all season. Seriously. It's fantastic and kind of haunted me. The plot is the one you've heard countless times before, (aliens come to earth, infect us and take over our bodies. repeat) but the way it is executed in this film is very well done. But I think we can all agree that it could have used more Jeff Goldblum.


FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) - Yama hama it's Fright Night! Last year I watched the remake, so this year I figured I'd give the original a shot. It was loads of fun to be sure, but I actually think I preferred the remake's take. Still, it wouldn't exist without the original...so credit where credit is due. I had fun with the original Fright Night though, and there's definitely something fun about movies that revel in their 80'sness.


THE MONSTER SQUAD - Speaking of which, so too does The Monster Squad own its era. This movie is basically the Halloween version of The Goonies...(only with saltier language) so really how can you go wrong with that?? The Halloween part that is, not NECESSARILY the language part...though I must admit I was dying at some of the lines in this film. It's just a fun little film with all the famous film monsters in one package. Plus they're facing off against silly 12-year-olds! You can't get much better than that.


VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (1960) - Creepy kids are a classic horror movie staple...as I wrote about last year HERE. But if somehow ONE kid per movie isn't enough for you, check out the 1960 creeper Village of the Damned. Here the kids have glowing eyes, speak in British accents and can read your thoughts. There is no escape. Ha! This one was a little slow moving for me, but pretty chilling once it got going.


SALEM'S LOT (1979) - This made for TV movie has been on must see Halloween lists everywhere I've looked. So I made it a higher priority and rented it from the library to give it a view. I read that there were a few different cuts of the film, and I really wish I'd watched a different one than the one I had. What's the difference you ask? AN HOUR give or take (meaning the film goes on for over 3 hours...when 90 minutes would have been MORE than sufficient.) As an editor who likes thing as nice and concise as they can be, this uncut edit has a lot of unneeded content (trust me I didn't even know which cut I was putting on when I started it...) Shame, because the scary moments are fantastic...and the makeup is a lot of fun. These aren't your Twilight vampires! Well...maybe they are. I guess I've never seen it to truly make the comparison haha.

Well that's all for the recaps, but come back tomorrow and I'll have one more Halloween post!

10.17.2013

Terrorthon 2013: Installment the First

Well, readers, October is in full swing and if you've been worried that I haven't been keeping up with my now annual horror movie terrorthon, fear no more!  I've spent the better part of the month investing my time with some of my old reliables (Zombieland and Drag Me To Hell,) a few family favorites to please my nieces (Hotel Transylvania and Corpse Bride,) and then a bunch of cult classics (as well as a few too obscure for even the cults) from the 70's and 80's. Oh and one Paranormal Activity. Here are some thoughts on the films that I haven't already written about a billion times...

THE OTHER - Who doesn't love a story about an evil twin?? This 70's tale of a set of twins is a little slow moving, but once it gets into the meat of the story it's the type of film that can be dissected and interpreted in a number of ways. The film definitely gets extra points for this, as I love films that make you think about them long after you watched them.

THE THING - Such was also the case with The Thing, the John Carpenter classic which featured a fantastic ending that sparks its own debates. This remake of an earlier 50's film (and also an adaptation of a short story), definitely gives off an Alien vibe. Not that I'm complaining because both films sure are fun. But this one gets an added edge with the inclusion of the "trust no one" plotline that enters into the film once we see what The Thing is truly capable of. I gotta say, I was truly entertained.





THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE - Yes this is basically the plot of The Haunting and any other "strangers stay in a haunted house for money/experiments/solving mysteries"plot...but it has something in it that none of the others had. Kinky ghosts. Annnnnnd cat attacks. In all seriousness though, it definitely had its creepy moments, (they just happened to coincide with some rather head-scratching moments.) Also, I must say...the "Darwinism" in this movie didn't make a lick of sense!

LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH - Another obscure 70's film I wanted to watch purely for the title alone. And what do you know? It actually happened to be pretty darn creepy. It was a little slower too, but I really enjoyed the unsettling tone that is ever present in the film. The last bit doesn't make a whole lot of sense (by today's horror standards and myths...) but it's definitely fun and creepy! (Also in case you're wondering, that isn't Jessica...that's just one of the "people" trying to scare her to death. And yeah if it were me that'd probably work.)

THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS - The childhood classic that everyone and their dog seemed to watch in their youth except me. So I figured it was probably time to see what all the hullabaloo was about. It's definitely a fun and freaky little film (and Bette Davis always is good at freaking you out...) I can see why kids were so enamored with it! Still I'm not sure I'm completely satisfied with the ending.

EVIL DEAD II - A few years back I saw the first film and only now am I getting around to its two sequels...but it was well worth the wait. Evil Dead II is just as outrageous and fun as I always hoped it to be. The site gags are completely over the top, and everything is just nonsensical.....but a thrill ride filled with hilarity. I was laughing the whole time. This film definitely is my favorite of the trilogy (though I must admit I do need to see the first film again to truly say that with confidence since I quite enjoyed that too..)




ARMY OF DARKNESS - A little campier than its predecessors, this film probably has some of my favorite lines from the trilogy. It had some nice homages to other horror films, but I think I like Evil Dead best when it's being purely Evil Dead. Still...you can't really go wrong with sassy Ash.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY - I saw this movie a few years back and remember feeling that it was pretty good, but the scariest part far and away was the last 10 or so minutes. Seeing it a second time a few years later? I still think those minutes are what makes the movie, but otherwise it just doesn't hold up too well. The problem with the movie is it relies on the typical moments that should set up the first half hour of a horror movie, but then stretches them for the course of the WHOLE movie. You're always just waiting for something to happen...but it only scratches the surface until the end...and then it's too late. Maybe I should see the sequels...but none of them have been better reviewed than the first, so I  really can't imagine that I'm missing anything. But maybe I'm wrong.

Anywho that's it for now. But stay tuned, they'll be more to come!

10.04.2013

Greater Than Gravity



A few weeks ago, I got to attend a 3D screening of the Alfonso Cuaron film Gravity. First and foremost I gotta say, no matter what your stance is on 3D...SEE THIS FILM IN 3D!! The 3D was spectacular and made the film a total experience! Gravity is an amazing film; both beautiful and intense. Truly this is a visually stunning film, and as a person that loves visual films, I definitely ate it up!


But I have to be honest...there is something that kept me from LOVING this film...and that would be that I don't quite think Sandra Bullock is a capable enough actress to truly make this part memorable. Don't get me wrong...she carries the film well enough, but she doesn't CARRY the film. The problem is, she doesn't make you feel for her.

The best example I can give is of Castaway Yes I think Gravity is the superior film, but it does not contain the superior performance. Bullock maybe had one or two scenes that made us see what makes her character tick...and to be honest... it's not all that interesting and has been done before. Tom Hanks? He made viewers care about a volleyball! When he screams WILSON, you scream Wilson!! Many critics are throwing around the word "masterpiece"... but few mention Bullock in their immediate words of praise, and there's a reason for that: it's forgettable. The movie and its imagery certainly aren't though! The film is absolutely mind blowing...but Sandra is just no powerhouse.


To be honest, I wish the film had included a lot more of George Clooney's terrific performance. Yes, I know Sandra is supposed to be more relatable to the audience since she's not an expert and is supposed to be the "everywoman... But Clooney was far warmer, more likable and interesting in his short time on screen. Call me a Sandra hater if you like...but as much as I was wowed and impressed by this film, I think it would have been truly incredible had a more talented actress taken the helm (my picks? Amy Adams, Kate Winslet, or Cate Blanchett would have done just fine.) 

So yeah... My apologies for that rant, because I really did think the film was great. As a film and as a 3D experience, Gravity is absolutely worth your time. It is breathtaking and very solid as a whole, it just could have been better. That said, I'm sure the average movie goer won't notice and they'll be just fine. EMILY RATING: 8/10