Wednesday, October 23

31 Horror Movies in 31 Days

Kiah: I'm not a fan of Day of the Dead. After Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, Day is where Romero let his thematic tendencies run a little wild, to the detriment of the overall film. We get it, George, man is the real monster. Even in the face of certain doom we are selfish, ugly, and cannot work together. This was more elegantly treated in the original Night, and perfected in Dawn. However, it'd been awhile since I'd seen Day, and I forgot how awesome the final kills all were. Practical effects are just so much more... effective.

Rhiannon: I remember enjoying this movie more the first time I saw it. This time it was just sort of these guys in a bunker and I was bored. All of the military dudes had haircuts totally out of regulation even for the 80's and there was a zombie bride. This is what's sticking out as memorable to me. I don't know.

Kiah: I wish we hadn't wasted one of our 31 days on this. We could have watched The Cell!

Rhiannon: Rude.

Kiah: */***** Rhiannon: */*****

Rhiannon: The Cabin in the Woods is one of the most innovative, interesting horror movies to ever be made and if you haven't seen it you should before someone spoils it for you. Also, stop reading. I've seen Cabin four or five times now and the movie does lose a lot of steam after you're aware of the twist. It's got some really memorable funny and scary points, but not enough to hold up to multiple viewings without it getting a little stale. However, the thing that continues to fascinate me is the monsters. In fact, the monsterpocalypse seems to be a fairly popular point of interest in the film. This cool guy did a top 30 of his favorites! My favorite is the cenobite homage Fornicus (Never, EVER play with a puzzlebox, guys!) but the Buckners are disturbing/amazing enough that they should probably have their own movie.

Kiah: The Monster Mash was pretty intense, and remains a high-water mark in horror for me. I mean, how do you top that? LITERALLY ALL THE MONSTERS. Good luck, future horror movies. This film deconstructed you, then beat you at your own game as a final screw you. I've seen this thing a million times and always notice something new. This time I really appreciated how the film comments on modern culture. Aside from the obvious remarks about how society's cracks are "filling in" I also liked how the bad guys were all professional, white-collar office dorks. Gone are the robes, the sacrificial slabs, the "fancy daggers" of the old days. Now it's all golf carts and neckties, a drab and efficient approach to something once sacred. Very understated but smart commentary.

Kiah: *****/***** Rhiannon: ****/*****

Kiah: Pumpkinhead is classic 1950's Vault of Horror comics brought to life by Sam Winston. The monster himself is well-crafted and creepy, and the kills are all pretty well executed if not especially imaginative. What I really like about this film is the color palette; the blues and oranges and reds that cast an old time comic ink pallor over the entire affair. Also of note is Florence Shauffer as Haggis, the creepy swamp witch. EXCELLENT WITCHING, FLORENCE. The acting in this is horrendous, with stilted line delivery from the college kids and Lance Henriksen phoning it in for most of the film. However, in terms of straightforward monster flicks, you could do much worse than Pumpkinhead.

Rhiannon: If this movie had just been this picture I probably would have paid more attention to it. I had papers to grade, though, so it was a little lost on me. How sad that the little boy from My Girl was cast only to die another tragic death, though!

Spring Break '88

Kiah: **/***** Rhiannon: **/*****

Rhiannon: Okay so first of all The Witches of Eastwick is a perfect. Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer and Cher as a vaguely polyamorous coven and Jack Nicholson as the devil and he's gross but still kind of sexy and I'm literally never attracted to him unless heeyyyyy... Cher wears sweatpants in the second scene we see her in, her hair is literally out of control for the entire movie except for a little bit when they're in crazy and adorable pigtails, I think she also has a scene in overalls, and at one point she wears this skirt. Queen! Susan Sarandon really has the best outfits, but how cute is Michelle Pfeiffer in this hat? 10/10 call the cops IDGAF.

Kiah: This movie isn't so much scary as it is kind of wild. From the moment Jack Nicholson blows into town and throws everyone's world into a tizzy, this thing is kind of a surrealistic black comedy with supernatural overtones. I suppose when your movie is rife with witchcraft and Satan, the distinction is academic. That said, excellent effects and performances all around with a special mention going to the psychotic breakdown of Jesus Freak Veronica Cartwright. I also like that this movie made a very unconventional relationship seem like the most normal thing in the world. Sure, the townsfolk freaked out, but the ladies themselves all seem like they view one expression of love to be much like another, and so long as they're together, nothing else matters. That's pretty amazing in a mainstream film filled with Oscar-bait from 26 years ago.

Kiah: ***/***** Rhiannon: ****/*****

Kiah: I love this film. Horror in a vacuum that doesn't obviously rip off previous films or cave to popular tropes, The Descent does the seemingly simple task of placing five self-reliant, adventurous young women (with no men, how novel!) in danger and just rolling the damn camera. Yet this movie is easily one of the most claustrophobic, gory, monster-infested nightmares I've ever seen. The way the movie performs this bit of magic is by sketching in the outline and letting the horror of your imagination fill in the rest. The creatures are never clearly seen, the relationships of the protagonists are built on events mostly unsaid, and the implication of each grisly bone-snap is teased out more in the mind of the audience than the (little) light of the screen. The Descent is much more interested in letting the viewers scare themselves by suggesting a scary story, and letting the shadows in the room do the rest. Do not watch with the lights on, or alone.

Rhiannon: I'm also a big fan of The Descent. Bad ass ladies with accents go caving and fight horrible troglobites? Hell yes. What the movie really does, though, and does perfectly, is accurately depict the real life horrors of spelunking. Fuck caves, ya'll. Every time I watch The Descent I recall the old Internet legend of Floyd's Tomb. If you haven't read Floyd's Tomb you definitely should. It's literally ancient (ANGELFIRE GUYS) and a long read, but it's super creepy, like all caves. Stay out of caves!

Kiah: ****/***** Rhiannon: ****/*****

Kiah: A surprisingly well-done interpretation of the classic tale that pays its respects to both Washington Irving's original lore as well as the timeless Disney animation. Burton and Depp still make it their own with the stylistic quirks (some would say paint-by-number habits by this point) that define most of their collaborations. Nonetheless, the performances from an all-star cast of character actors and beautiful set design make this a version of America's first horror story worth visiting. BONUS POINTS CHRISTOPHER WALKEN.

Rhiannon: Sleepy Hollow was a lighter choice I made because I need to break up scares so I'm not constantly having nightmares. And it was a good choice. As dark and full of splatter as it is, it still manages to be very sweet and funny at times. Johnny Depp plays an adorably wimpy Ichabod Crane and looks remarkably young despite being 64 years old at the time the movie was made. In addition to it occasionally being a nice respite from horror, there are still some great creepy moments. Primarily this one. Perfect.

Kiah: ***/***** Rhiannon: ***/*****

For anyone interested, here is an updated calendar. We are still behind! but we're catching up, and we've made some adjustments.

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