Tuesday, September 18, 2018

31 days of horror: October 2018

This year's list! I started not knowing what to add to it, and have ended it with a tonne of extra choices. As ever, I'll no doubt shuffle, replace and update as mood and availability allow - and I'll attempt to review most of them throughout the month 💀

I think it's a nice mix of films I'm curious/actively excited about, ones that have languished on my list forever, and classics...

October 1st (Mon) - The Cabin In The Woods
October 2nd (Tue)Sorority Row
October 3rd (Wed) The Eyes Of My Mother
October 4th (Thur) Critters
October 5th (Fri) - Veronica
October 7th (Sun) - Willow Creek / The Conjuring
October 8th (Mon) - Hell House LLC
October 9th (Tue) - Prom Night
October 10th (Wed) - Cargo
October 11th (Thur) Frontier(s)
October 12th (my birthday!) The Witch in the Window
October 13th (Sat) Ravenous (Les affamés) (2017)
October 14th (Sun) - The Devil's Candy
October 15th (Mon) - Southbound
October 16th (Tue) - Ruin Me
October 17th (Wed) The Wailing
October 18th (Thur) -The Interior
October 19th (Fri) - Digging Up The Marrow
October 20th (Sat) - Little Deaths
October 21st (Sun) - Creep / Black Death (Christopher Smith double bill)
October 22nd (Mon) Tragedy Girls
October 23rd (Tue) - Halloween (2018)
October 24th (Wed) - Beyond The Black Rainbow
October 25th (Thur) - The First Purge
October 26th (Fri) - Dog Soldiers
October 27th (Sat) - Dawn of the Dead / Day of the Dead
October 28th (Sun)Inside
October 29th (Mon) - Halloween II (2009)
October 30th (Tue) - Halloween (1978)
October 31st (Wed) Trick 'r Treat

Substitute bench:
The Fog (1980)
You're Next
The VVitch
Horror/horror movie themed documentaries (suggestions welcome)

If you're on Letterboxd, then you can see the pretty but-not-ordered version (and feel free to add me on there, too!) - letterboxd.com/relaxcupcake/watchlist

Roll on October! 

Monday, September 03, 2018

The Mutilator (1984)

Okay, I think I finally realised something. It's taken my entire history of watching horror movies for this to click, which is kind of embarrassing, but I think I just figured out that my approach to slasher films has been all wrong.

So my main complaint with a lot of these movies always seems to be the interminable downtime between the kills. For me to really enjoy a slasher film, there has to be something interesting happening to bridge the gaps between the blood being spilled. It doesn't have to be Citizen Kane over here, it just needs to hold my attention and, ideally, lay the groundwork for actually giving a shit about who survives and who doesn't. I don't necessarily mind a conveyor belt of victims steadily making their way toward death; I just want to care, just a little bit!

The Mutilator (original title: Fall Break) is a perfect example of the giddy highs and woefully bad lows of films like this.

Written and directed by first-timer Buddy Cooper - a film reviewer for a newspaper who wanted to make movies, so he did. I have to respect that! - this is part of what must have been a bloody cascade of films made after the success of Friday the 13th in 1980. In it, we see a group of college kids staying in a beach house and being murdered using a different weapon each time (hence that awesome tagline).

And the gore, courtesy of SFX man Mark Shostrom (Videodrome, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Evil Dead II, a couple of Phantasms) is really good, but the price of admission for it is TERRIBLE dialogue, DELIVERED TERRIBLY for extended amounts of time. 

At one point, we follow the worst character in the entire film (the "joker" of the friend group 😐) for fucking ages as he walks around looking for his mates. He cracks jokes and does voices and funny walks to no one in particular for soooo looooong until he's finally killed. There's no tension here at all, and just like in The Prowler, it gets boring and frustrating waiting through these slumps.

I found myself wishing I were a) more drunk, b) with a group of friends, or c) drunk with a group of friends. And that's when I realised that my sitting alone or with my husband just chilling and watching this stuff isn't how it was originally meant to be consumed. Stuff like this was meant to be drive-in fodder; where you're laughing and goofing around with friends and/or making out while the movie is playing. That's what passes the time while you're waiting for fucking Ralph to die. You're meant to be throwing popcorn, cracking open another beer or making snide comments - that's what makes this stuff bearable.

So, mental note for the next 80s stalk and slash that I suspect might be like this: cheap beer, funny friends are essential.

Unless you're coming to it armed with the above, I'd say The Mutilator is a "fast forward between the kills" kind of situation, as everything else is painful to sit through. The odd, melodramatic feel, the sluggish pacing, frankly insane theme song, the appalling acting... it's a lot.

Streaming on Shudder right now. What a waste of such an amazing tagline.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Dead End (2003)

If you'd have told me this was an episode from the 1995-2002 run of The Outer Limits series I would have totally believed you. 

That's not meant in any way to disrespect Dead End - for one, I loved The Outer Limits! - but it's just that in its 1hr25min runtime it's so simple in premise and so restrained, almost coy in its gruesomeness, reminiscent of such TV-friendly horror back in the day. And it feels delightfully nineties, too, mainly due to daughter Marion's style (those highlights and that lilac palette!) and a passing mention of Marilyn Manson.

Alexandra Holden, Ray Wise as daughter and dad, Marion and Frank.

However, Dead End is indeed its own movie. Written and directed by French natives Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa, it's technically a French movie, even though it was filmed in the US, and all dialogue spoken is in English by a majority American cast.

The plot: It's Christmas Eve, and the Harringtons are driving to visit family when dad Frank (Ray Wise, always a delight to watch) decides to take a shortcut. What they encounter as a result is actually the opposite of a "dead end" in the literal sense, as for the rest of the movie they find themselves on a seemingly neverending road through a forest.

In frightening succession, horrible, urban legend-worthy things start to happen: they pick up a woman in white, standing dazed at the roadside clutching her baby; Marion's boyfriend Brad is seen being driven off in a hearse (hammering at the rear window, clearly still very much alive and terrified); son/brother/horny brat Richard meets a sticky end, and they pass a sign for a town that seems perpetually unreachable. The road never turns - cue some really lovely shots of endless trees and their little station wagon trucking along - and yet they keep coming back to landmarks from earlier on.

When the family begins to get picked off, some of the remaining members have a hard time holding it together, and it's these scenes above anything else that I found unsettling. Genre pillar Lin Shaye as the mother makes your skin crawl as she grapples with what's going on, reverting to a childlike insanity that is at once so horrible and very darkly funny (see: eating an entire pie, saying she's fine and then a quick cut to her puking in the background of shot).

The moments of the Harringtons just struggling, arguing and trying to remain calm are written brilliantly. Coming from a family not without its own dysfunction, I really enjoyed the dynamic of underlying love with a sheen of passive aggressive and irritated attitude. Just because you are all facing certain death together doesn't mean you're all suddenly going to get along!

I want to call this one "quirky" but I mean that in the best way. It's so odd at times but it all works together to make a solid, dark, entertaining film, right through to its "shock" ending - which also feels quite television script-y. Again, not a complaint! 

It's streaming on Shudder right now so check it out - and make sure to watch to the end of the credits.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

(trailer) Hold The Dark

Exciting news! Jeremy Saulnier, of Murder Party, Blue Ruin and The Green Room has directed an intense looking Netflix movie, due to drop September 28.

Saulnier's long-term collaborator Macon Blair wrote the screenplay, too. 

I was intrigued by the premise, but knowing it's Saulnier makes me full-blown excited for this one. What do you think?