Brainee's 2013 DVDTalk Horror Movie Challenge List
First Time Views
= first time viewing
1. ☼ Scream 4
(2011): Since it's listed as leaving Netflix streaming on October 7, I better get this in now!
Hard to believe how much I was into the Scream movies back in the 90s ... now a couple years go by and I just get around to the latest one. Not bad but really just more of the same old same old for the series.
2. ☼ Kiss of the Damned
(2012): I can see this not being many horror fans cup of tea. More of a Harlequin romance than horror story, and a rather shallow one at that. I wish the filmmakers went all the way with the 70s style, instead of little dashes of it surrounded by the production values of a soap opera.
3. ☼ American Mary
(2012): Maybe the most disturbing part of this body modification story is there are freaks out there really doing this stuff.
Pretty compelling viewing, with a kind of dream-like atmosphere for me (with the movie just askew of the real world). Just the ending felt a bit rushed and weak.
4. ☼ The Reef
(2010): Nothing really different from "Open Water", but well-made and suspenseful. A larger cast and a bit more variety in the ocean scenery made it a bit less tedious than that movie.
5. ☼ Dread
(2009): A real feel-bad of a movie based on one of Clive Barker's few non-supernatural horror stories. Unpleasant characters doing unpleasant things ... I guess that's the point, but as I get older I find I have less and less tolerance for these kinds of movies.
6. ☼ A Place of One's Own
(1945): After the previous evening of rape, torture, and downbeat endings it's nice to shift gears with an old-fashioned British ghost story. While not in the league of classics like "Dead of Night" and "The Uninvited", it's worthwhile if you like these kinds of things. Since James Mason was in "old man" makeup I kept waiting for the young version of him to show up in a flashback ... and it never happened. I never got the backstory of the haunting fleshed out like I kept waiting for, though the end had a nice creepy little twist to it.
7. ☼ Evil Dead
(2013): My expectations are ultra-low for remakes so this couldn't disappoint me. Smart move by the movie to be relatively short, to-the-point, and gory (no PG-13 here). Takes things very seriously, unlike Raimi's original. Characters aren't likable and there's no one in the cast approaching the charisma of Bruce Campbell. And Jesus ... that moronic hippy-dude character. The Book of the Dead is not only locked in a metal cage, but pretty much every page has warnings like: "DON'T READ THIS", "STOP!", "PUT THIS BOOK DOWN", "NO REALLY ... YOU'LL ALL DIE IF YOU KEEP GOING", "WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T READ THESE WORDS ALOUD. DEMONS WILL RISE AND EVERYONE YOU KNOW WILL DIE HORRIBLY". And the dude keeps plugging along, like a child reading Grover's "The Monster at the End of this Book".
8. ☼ Don't Go to Sleep
(1982): I'm usually all over these classic made-for-tv horror movies but somehow I missed this one. Maybe because it was released a little later for these kinds of things (they're heyday was in the 70s). Pretty creepy stuff. Though when your address is 13666, you should be ready for bad shit to down for your family. I hope things turned out ok for Ed the Iguana.
9. ☼ The Town That Dreaded Sundown
(1976): OK mix of pseudo-documentary, criminal investigation, and slasher. Marred by unwelcome comic relief (I'm looking at you, Spark Plug!) and a story that never really goes anywhere. First time I've ever seen a trombone used as a murder instrument though.
10. ☼ The People Who Own the Dark
(1976): What happens when you mix a cult of Marquis de Sade fanatics, a nuclear apocalypse, and a mob of angry blind townspeople? This movie, of course! Kind of a cross between Night of the Living Dead and Day of the Triffids (without zombies and man-eating plants). The proceedings don't always make sense, but it's interesting throughout its short running time.
11. ☼ V/H/S/2
(2013): Another entertaining anthology by Adam Wingard and company. No real weak links, though some of the plots were awfully familiar (zombie POV, guy sees ghosts after an eye operation, alien abduction). The third story kicked ass though (not surprising seeing the director did the similarly high enegy "The Raid: Redemption"). To say more of the story would spoil things.
12. ☼ Antarctic Journal
(2005): The (at the moment) uppermost user review title sums this up perfectly for me: "Nice pictures and atmosphere leading nowhere". A doomed, and gradually deteriorating physically and psychologically, expedition across the antarctic wastes should make for a good movie. It looks great are there are little bits dropped occasionally that keep your interest. But at nearly 2 hours, I needed a little more substance (or a little less running time). Though I was kind of expecting this, since I heard this movie compared to "R-Point" which was similarly frustratingly vague. I highly recommend director Pil-Sung Yim's followup movie, "Hansel & Gretel" (a Korean movie, not the 3D horror/action movie). It's on Netflix streaming at the moment I believe.
13. ☼ Sightseers
(2012): Part 1 of a Ben Wheatley double-feature (I had seen "Kill List" earlier in the year). I quite enjoyed it. Drolly funny and didn't overstay its welcome, though there's nothing terribly new or original about the story. The lead actor reminded me of Simon Pegg (in voice and character ... not looks). So this'll have to do until Simon Pegg plays a serial killer.
14. ☼ A Field in England
(2013): I watched it but I can't say I have any idea what it was about. It had moments where there was a teasing of coherence, only to quickly vanish. I liked the hallucinatory bits ... but to be honest, I literally dozed off a couple of times. Movies like this I can appreciate what the filmmakers are trying to do, though I can't say I enjoyed what it was or have much of a desire to watch it again.
15. ☼ In the Shadow of Kilimanjaro
(1986): In my desire to have a baboon double-feature, I had to suffer through a poor youtube VHS conversion. Though not a great movie there are some definite positives. John Rhys-Davies and Timothy Bottoms are good leads, and I was glad to see the movie didn't take the easy route and make Rhys-Davies' character a villain. On location shooting adds authenticity and I'm really impressed with the baboon effects (pre-CGI ... they were wrangling real Kenyan baboons). Dramatically the movie isn't quite so good, but you can't have everything. I like how the credits mention the movie was sponsored by the Kenyan board of tourism. Packs of man-eating baboons on the rampage? Let's book a trip!
(1990): My first repeat viewing of the month, though I hadn't seen this since the early 90s. Not as scary as it was to me then. When all is said and done, baboons are too silly looking to be scary (even though they're legitimately dangerous animals). And seeing Shakma repeatedly throw his little furry body into doors just made me giggle.
17. ☼ Texas Chainsaw 3D
(2013): We open with a bit of an interesting move, taking a page from "Superman Returns": this is a direct sequel to the 1974 original, ignoring all other sequels and remakes/reboots. And that's about the end of my positive comments for this movie
Annoying characters doing dumb and inconsistent things. Plot-lines just dropped without mention. Filmmakers aren't even trying to avoid anachronisms and continuity goofs. 3D effects are nothing to write home about (with some pretty obvious "chainsaw in your face" shots). And some eye-rollingly awful dialog. Yeah there's gore ... no nudity though. Supposedly the filmmakers have 5 sequels planned to this. Good luck with that ... I'll find something else to watch.
18. ☼ Tormented
(2011): I'd heard mixed reviews about this movie (including a bad one here at DVDTalk
). But I've enjoyed some of director Takashi Shimizu's other work, and I was itching to see how Netflix's streaming 3D looked. And I was glad I watched it. I think the problem people have with this movie is they're approaching it like a horror movie. And despite that's how it's classified, I don't think it is a horror movie. It's more of a psychological fantasy-drama, and was actually a bit emotionally movie at times. I don't think the giant bunny was supposed to be scary. I saw as more of a surreal visual (which this movie has plenty of). akin to the giant bunny in "Donnie Darko". Really nice use of 3D throughout, too.
19. ☼ The Shock Labyrinth
(2009): I screwed up and should've watched this before Tormented (the two are intended as companion pieces). I like it more than most people seem to, but its not quite as good as the later movie (both technically and story-wise). It's not a bad little variation of a haunted house story, and I liked how everything eventually folded in on itself. It requires a little work on the viewers part, as characters and events are criss-crossing in time (and its not always clear what was happening until you see the same events repeated from a different perspective later on). I appreciated how the filmmakers didn't just make a generic ghost movie, and tried to infuse some emotional heft to the story.
20. ☼ Silent Hill: Revelation
(2012): With a 6% rating at RT, I just knew this was gonna be good
Well, not really. But I enjoyed the atmosphere and visuals of the first Silent Hill movie, and I'm a sucker for 3D, so why not. Maybe you need to play the games (I never have) to make sense of the story. To me it just sounds like fantasy/horror gobbledygook. Visuals were rather disappointing. We didn't even into the city of Silent Hill until the two-thirds point, and even then there was nowhere near the visual style and creativity of the first movie. Though the mannequin spider was cool ... too bad there wasn't more stuff like that.
21. ☼ Errors of the Human Body
(2012): I added this to my viewing list after seeing it make the "top 31 horror movies of the last year" list at AICN. Though that list has already included "Texas Chainsaw" and has some really dubious-looking titles in it - I'm beginning to suspect that list is full of shit
"Errors" doesn't belong on any "best horror" list. It's not an awful movie, but it's not horror. I suppose it threatens to become Cronenberg-esque body horror for a little bit ... but doesn't carry out with it. OK as a sci-fi/drama, but I suspect a lot of viewers are going to be upset when they don't get what they were expecting. Grim little twist ending though,
22. ☼ The Moth Diaries
(2011): Am I a glutton for punishment, watching these movies with terrible reviews (15% at RT)? And do I have awful taste for kind of liking it?
This isn't really a movie for horror fans. If you approach it as an artsy boarding school lesbian romance, with a touch of the supernatural, you'll be better prepared. And I'm not ashamed to say I don't mind the occasional schoolgirl lesbian in my life.
23. ☼ The Valdemar Legacy
24. ☼ The Valdemar Legacy II: The Forbidden Shadow
(2010): Two movies that really form one long movie (since the first just ends and the second would make no sense by itself). The last movies Paul Naschy ever filmed. Probably would've been better off as a more tightly edited single movie. While the first part is (mostly) a solid period-piece gothic horror story, the second goes off-the-wall with cultists, a telekinetic H.P. Lovecraft, bug-collecting madmen, creepy gypsies, and Cthulhu himself showing up. And it doesn't work as well ... Lovecraftian mythos stories need some subtlety and a building sense of dread. Not chases and CGI monster fights.
25. ☼ West of Zanzibar
(1928): A Tod Browning and Lon Chaney Sr. movie I hadn't seen before. Much tamer than it's remake "Kongo" (made just 4 years later in 1932 ... and people complain how quick remakes are made today). While that movie is easily horror, this one is more of a melodrama. Chaney shows he doesn't need crazy makeup to give a standout performance.
26. The Vampire Bat
(1933): A lot of familiar faces in this one (Fay Wray, Lionel Atwill, Melvyn Douglas, Dwight Frye). Short but enjoyable with a nice little mystery underlying everything (and its not a vampire bat). Dwight Frye steals the show as Herman, the friendly bat loving town idiot. It warms your heart hearing him defend his little friends: "Bats ... GOOD!!! Soft ... like kitten!"
27. The Vampire
(1957): Despite the direct and clear title, not really a vampire movie ... much closer to a werewolf story (but instead of turning into a beast on the full-moon, our good doctor turns at 11 pm sharp every night). Classic monsters weren't too popular in the 50s, so it makes for them to give this a sci-fi twist. Solid little movie if you're game for this kind of thing.
28. ☼ The Possession
(2012): By-the-numbers but reasonably well-made movie. The one wrinkle that's new is basing this on Jewish (rather than Christian) mythology. Oy vey! But in the end it doesn't really matter that much. You're essentially swapping in a rabbi (rapper Matisyahu) for the priest and the Torah for the bible. And since its PG-13, the worst things the possessed girl can say is that she doesn't like her daddy anymore. Regan would not be impressed.
29. ☼ Sleep Tight
(2011): While it may be too sedate (and take too long to get to any violence) for many horror fans, in its own way the villain of this movie is much more disturbing than the movie monsters with much higher (or more gruesome) body counts. Because I've known people like Cesar ... depressed people who seem to derive pleasure by pulling others down to their low mental state. Granted they don't go as far as Cesar, but still.
30. ☼ Maniac
(2012): In some ways, this improves upon the original (which, let's be honest, isn't some kind of masterpiece). Wood is more believable as a harmless seeming everyman, especially one who could successfully romance a beautiful photographer. The grimy city atmosphere is well-captured, and there's a superb early 80s-sounding score. The POV-style takes some getting used to, but it works in this context.
31. Let's Scare Jessica to Death
(1971): Goal hit! Looks like I'll be able to pass 50 (no chance at 100). I saw this movie as a kid but hardly remember anything about it. To be honest, it was probably too slow for me then. I can appreciate this a lot more now. Very ambiguous, but in a good sense. I think the movie has greater power when the viewers remain as conflicted as Jessica is (wondering whether she's relapsing into insanity or there really is something supernatural going on).
32. ☼ Escape From Tomorrow
(2013): I love Disneyworld, so it's fun recognizing all the rides/places and imagining how they could possibly film scenes there without Disney authorities catching on. The first hour sets up a number of things that promise to become something interesting - only for the last 30 minutes to blow most of that potential and leave viewers wondering "WTF?!?". A guy like David Lynch might get the benefit of the doubt for a move like this ... but not writer/director Randy Moore (this is his first film credit of any kind).
33. ☼ Pacific Rim
(2013) Wildcard #1
: If I was 12 years old, I'd think this was the greatest thing ever. Then again, if I was 12 years old all the Transformers movies would be in top 10 too ... 12 year olds have kind of crap taste in movies. This was good for what it was. I think the recent Blu Ray review here
is pretty spot on. Good robot/monster fights, cliched and stupid characters and dialog. Charlie Day is particularly grating in an annoying comic relief role, and Idris Elba gives a pep-talk that's laughable instead of inspirational. del Toro gets a lot of fanboy love, but to be honest this isn't really that much better than Bay's Transformer movies.
34. ☼ Wound
(2010): In the mood for incest, rape, S&M, penis mutilation, surrealism, and very little plot? Well, have I got a movie for you! Actually, this movie has some of the makings of a good movie. Unfortunately, writer/director David Blyth is too much of a hack (check out his filmography) to realize them.
35. ☼ The Devil's Carnival
(2012): Loved Repo, so this was certainly up my alley. Though a couple of things keep this at a lower level than Repo. First, it really shows that the movie was made in a week (as opposed to Repo's sumptuous visuals). And I never really generated any emotional connections to the characters. It sounds like the road show these guys did was a lot of fun though.
36. ☼ Szamanka
(1996): Yup, this is a movie by Andrzej Zulawski all right. A lead female character in hysterics, loads of symbolism, surrealism, graphic sex, unexpected gore, and a WTF ending. Made additionally disturbing by the knowledge that the lead actress may have suffered some kind of nervous breakdown as a result of what she went through in the filming. As with the other Zulawski movies I've seen, I feel iffy about whether I liked it at the conclusion. But his movies have a way of sticking in my head, and I eventually go back for repeat viewings to try to pick up new things.
37. ☼ Resolution
(2012): A nice little surprise on Netflix. It was a great way to stumble on this ... see a recommended horror movie with a strong rating, have the synopsis be kind of vague, and just start watching having little idea of where the movie is going to take you. And this is one of those where you don't really know where you're going until it's over. Gorehounds look elsewhere ... there's none of that, no sex, or really much action. There is some good character work and a subtle story that gradually unwinds. And if I'm understanding things correctly, the "resolution" of "Resolution" ends up being brilliantly meta:
38. ☼ The Walking Dead
(2013), "30 Days Without an Accident"; American Horror Story
39. ☼ Little Deaths
(2011): Erotic horror anthology that mostly misfires for me. The first story features a twist that was cliche back with 50s EC comics. The second is so silly there really isn't any impact to the horror. Only in the last 10 minutes of the last segment do things get good - a brilliant revenge montage nicely set to music. I don't think it was worth putting up with the previous 80 minutes to get there though.
40. ☼ Dr. Satan
(1966): No, not the Rob Zombie character. This Dr. Satan was played by the prolific Joaquín Cordero. He's not into torture porn. He is into raising an army of indestructible zombies to assist him in his evil plan to conquer the world! No, actually he just uses his zombies to be part of a counterfeiting ring
Not very satanic if you ask me.
41. ☼ Dr. Satan versus Black Magic
(1968): A sequel that is superior to the original in many ways. While the first movie went for a gothic feel with B&W, this is wonderfully colorful ... feeling more like those psychotronic Euro-spy movies than horror. King Devil kicks Dr. Satan out of hell with a mission ... track down and stop the vampire magician Yei Lin, who is on the verge of building a ray gun that turns any metal into gold (it can also disintegrate dead bodies and blow up building, depending on the setting). Dr. Satan makes an immediate improvement in his choice of zombie slaves - instead of middle-aged men in black suits, he goes with beautiful young women in mini-skirts. I like his style
Yei Lin has style too. It's heartwarming how much genuine joy he seems to take in his evil-doing. There are many times he breaks out in a big evil laugh, with his henchmen joining in. And unlike many villains, he honestly seems to care about his henchmen (at one point paying a ransom to Dr. Satan after he kidnapped one).
42. ☼ The Walking Dead
(2013), "Infected"; American Horror Story
(2013): "Boy Parts"
43. ☼ Miracles for Sale
(1939): Todd Browning's last movie fits nicely into his filmography. It's a fun little B-movie for the time. Not quite horror, but enough elements of the genre to fit in for the month (ghosts, psychics, and perhaps a strangling demon on the loose!). Movies about magicians and stage magic are enjoyable to me, and this is a really early example of that sub-genre.
☼ American Horror Story
(2013): "The Replacements" [when I watch the next "Walking Dead", I'll count that as a full entry]
44. Burn Witch, Burn
(1962): It's been a while since seeing this, though I watched the earlier Lon Chaney adaptation (of the Fritz Leiber novel) more recently. This is much better ... a superior film all around (though "Weird Woman" was probably the best of the Inner Sanctum movies). It helps that this isn't shy about being upfront with the supernatural. Though the giant eagle was scarier when I didn't notice the obvious wire tied around its leg.
45. ☼ Suck
(2009): Decent little movie that doesn't overstay its welcome and has a number of fun cameos. Queeny is a really freaky looking vampire. Very cool how they integrated footage of a young Malcolm McDowell into a flashback scene.
46. ☼ White: The Melody of the Curse
(2011): This is a little late to the Asian long-haired ghost-girl party (invoked by a haunted videotape no less). Well-made movie with some effective scare scenes and some jabs at the Korean music scene. But unlikable characters, an overly familiar story, and the same damn K-pop song playing over and over made it feel stretched out a bit for me.
47. Diary of a Madman
(1963): Another solid period piece horror by Price from the 60s. I just wish the Horla was less talking and more doing. Or at least, if he had to talk so much, to not keep breaking out in a silly exaggerated evil laugh. The Horla was rather clumsy as well. The whole point of being invisible is that he should be able to sneak around. But that's impossible when he can't walk anywhere without knocking shit over.
48. ☼ Curse of Chucky
(2013): I appreciate that they went "back to basics", though there's nothing here that we haven't seen before. The ending puzzled me though:
49. ☼ Frankenstein's Army
(2013): I probably would've been more forgiving if my expectations hadn't been raised by some fans raving about this. I do love the various creature designs and the idea of the movie. Don't like the "found footage" style for this one: the picture quality in no way looks like WW2 footage, the Russians are speaking English, and the damn thing has a musical score. Why didn't they just shoot it "regular"? Always a problem with "found footage" movies, but it's more blatant here: how the hell can the cameraman continue filming while he's in the middle of a battle with freakin' nazi-robot-zombies?!?
50. House of Wax
(1953): First time seeing it in 3D though. It's even more noticeable how gimmicky the cinematography is. "Creature from the Black Lagoon" does 3D the way I like it: uses the format to add depth and realism to the story being told, not for an endless parade of miscellaneous objects shooting out of the screen (many of which have nothing to do with the story).
51. ☼ The Walking Dead
52. ☼ American Horror Story: Coven
(2013), "Fearful Pranks Ensue" Wildcard #2
53. House of Usher
54. The Haunted Palace