Brainee's 2015 DVDTalk Horror Movie Challenge List
First Time Views
= first time viewing
1. ☼ Oculus
(2013): Pretty good followup to writer/director's Absentia
. The siblings' plan to deal with the mirror wasn't very well thought out though, was it? And why are people still spending so much money to buy a mirror that kills everyone who owns it? Surprisingly a WWE Studio production (though there were a bunch of other studio credits too). It must've been tough for Vince McMahon to not have a wrestler appear in it (though we got a brief shout-out to his son-in-law Triple H).
2. ☼ Starry Eyes
(2014): I rather enjoyed this. Had a nice 80s indie vibe ... built up slowly but really busted loose by the end. And a little life-lesson: if you're ever interviewing for a position, and the interviewers are wearing satanic symbols around their neck ... you may want to look elsewhere. Unless of course, you're on board with devoting your life to evil ... then I guess you go for it.
3. ☼ Stonehearst Asylum
(2014): I didn't even realize this was a Brad Anderson movie (who did Session 9
and The Machinist
) until the credits. Despite the all-star cast, this felt like a tv-movie. A good tv-movie, mind you, but lacking the subtlety and style of Anderson's earlier movies. I wouldn't really consider this a horror, but imdb counts it as one so I am too!
4. ☼ The House at the End of Time
(2013): I really enjoyed this. Despite the trappings of a haunted house horror movie, it actually turns out to be
A refreshing change from other horror movies, this ultimately has an uplifting story (while pulling at the heartstrings along the way).
5. ☼ Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau
(2014): I'd heard many of the stories from this shoot before, but they're so hilarious it doesn't get old. Plus, hearing them first hand from the people involved is fantastic. I was worried that they wouldn't cover the craziness when Stanley wasn't involved (since his name is in the title), but they gave ample time to everything about the movie's shoot.
6. ☼ Kidnapped
(2010): Ugh, why did I watch this? I knew what it would be. And I knew that I get nothing out of movies that have no purpose besides being as unpleasant and nihilistic as they can be.
7. ☼ Creep
(2014): A nice change from the previous movie with a goofier lighter tone. I guess he did a good job, but I just couldn't see Mark Duplass as even remotely threatening. I love that rotten tomatoes lists "romance" as one of the genres for this! A + J forever!
(1977): I remember seeing this a long time ago in the late 70s at a drive-in my parents took me to. I think it was called Beyond the Door II
at that time (though it had no connection to that Exorcist knock-off). Of all the things that stuck with me, it was that scene where the woman hurt herself on a piano with a razor blade hidden between the keys. My parents were wanting me to take piano lessons, and I wanted no part of it then.
9. ☼ The Strain
(2015): "Night Train"; Fear the Walking Dead
(2015): "The Good Man"
10. ☼ Knights of Badassdom
(2013): A minor little movie, but I had fun with it. Dinklage, Kwanten, and Glau are vets of this kind of stuff and you can see it comes really easily to them.
11. ☼ Extraterrestrial
(2014): I liked the Vicious Brothers' previous movie (Grave Encounters
), so I thought I'd give this a shot (even if the reviews aren't very good). OK ... I guess. Awfully derivative of other stuff (even by horror movie standards). Michael Ironside is always fun to watch, but that's canceled out by an excruciating annoying character (that comes across like someone doing an awful Jason Mewes impersonation). Technically, this is a lot slicker than Grave Encounters
(and isn't found footage, thank god). I'd like to be optimistic about their next project, but it's being described as being a J-Horror homage to movies like The Grudge
and The Ring
... which doesn't sound particularly interesting.
12. ☼ Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead
(2014): I'm sick to death of formulaic zombie movies: handful of strangers thrown together fighting to survive in a world overrun with zombies. So it took me a while to warm to this (the awful CGI gore effects were another big turn off). But fortunately the filmmakers thought a few new ideas into the mix, even if some of them didn't make any sense at all.
13. ☼ The Canal
(2014): This was a good, creepy, atmospheric ghost story. Maybe nothing that I hadn't seen before, but still well done. And that ending literally made me drop my jaw:
14. ☼ Devil's Pass
(2013): This was pretty good, except for the obligatory 15-minute stretch near the end of nausea-inducing shaky cam. I like that things went in a sci-fi direction (rather than the overdone ghosts/demons). Too bad the still image on Netflix is kind of a spoiler.
15. ☼ American Horror Story Hotel
: "Checking In"; Darknet
: "Episode 1"
16. ☼ V/H/S Viral
(2014): I knew going in this wasn't going to be as good as the first two. And ... damn, it sure wasn't. It was halfway decent though. The first two story segments were entertaining, though silly and remotely scary. The wraparound story seemed kind of pointless. But that last segment (with moronic skaters fighting zombies in Mexico) was awful. So bad that if I wasn't watching for a challenge, I'd have fast forwarded through it. V/H/S is sorely missing guys like Adam Wingard, Ti West, and Gareth Evans. On paper, they had a couple of solid talents on board (the directors of Resolution
) but they didn't deliver here.
17. ☼ The Returned
(2013): Not a horror movie but a suspense/drama set in a world that has zombies. I thought it was quite good, though people watching it looking for zombie gore or anything scary won't be happy.
18. ☼ Eden Lake
(2008): I probably never got around to seeing this until now because it generally sounded pretty unpleasant. And yeah ... it was pretty much what I was expecting. Very well done, mind you. A cast far better than you usually get for this sort of thing (you know Fassbender will deliver the goods, but the hoodie monsters were outstanding ... and the movie really rides on them being believable). And the director (he followed this up with Woman in Black
) does a great job. This was much better than the similarly themed Them
. Though not a movie I ever see myself wanting to revisit.
19. ☼ The Walking Dead
: "First Time Again"; Darknet
: "Episode 2"
20. ☼ Mermaid Legend
(1984): Wow ... this was an odd, but very striking movie, movie from the director of Evil Dead Trap
(and a slew of sleazy exploitation movies). For a time it seemed like it would be a classy suspense/mystery/drama. Then it gets sleazy ... and then the blood starts to flow. Man, does the blood ever start flowing (as the movie takes a turn into the supernatural to boot).
21. ☼ Memory of the Dead
(2011): This has energy, atmosphere, and mayhem (and lots of gore) to spare. It's also a bit of a jumbled mess with poorly developed characters and an overall cheap feel.
22. ☼ A White Dress for Marialé
(1972): And here's a giallo I hadn't seen before! Not bad too ... great location of a spooky old castle with a group of friends getting murdered one by one (in between their hippie partying and lovemaking). Who could it be? I guess you'll have to watch to find out (though if you've seen enough of these, it should be pretty obvious).
23. From a Whisper to a Scream
(1987): I remember the swamp voodoo segment, but nothing about the other ones. And seeing this again ... yeah, they're not particularly memorable. This isn't a bad anthology, having a real EC Comics/Tales from the Crypt vibe. And despite coming out in a time where the MPAA was really cutting the balls off horror movies (that needed to get an R rating) this was quite gory. The first story was sordid but ultimately ludicrous. The swamp voodoo story still is a great blood-curdling twist. The carnival freak show story was alright. And of course its always a treat to see Vincent Price (even if he doesn't have much to do).
24. ☼ Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary
(1975): This was an interesting little movie and a fun snapshot of the mid 70s (even if those elements date things). I love how John Carradine is simply credited as "The Man". And I had no idea of the backstory of main actress Christine Ferrare (who was married to John DeLorean at the time).
25. ☼ American Horror Story Hotel
: "Chutes and Ladders"; Darknet
: "Episode 3"
26. ☼ Infestation
(2009): With the new season of Project Greenlight
underway, it seemed a good time to check out another horror movie from one of their alumni (Kyle Rankin, who did the Battle of Shaker Heights
season). This was ok (and far better than his PG movie). Still, I didn't enjoy it as much as I was expected. The whole story behind the gigantic alien bug monster invasion seemed woefully undeveloped, and I found the lead character extremely annoying (even when he was supposedly going through his "redemption" part of his characer arc).
27. ☼ Anguish
(1987): Another one of those "how did I not see this before now?" movies for me. Maybe because what I saw about it (an eyeball-themed slasher movie starring the little person from Poltergeist
) didn't sound particularly interesting. And as it turns out, that's not what the movie is about at all (though posters and VHS boxes keep up the illusion). When watching this now, I didn't remember the story about the "twist", so for the first 20 minutes I'm wondering how this cheap-looking silly slasher (with ludicrous overlong hypnotic sequences) has any kind of following. And then:
28. ☼ Eden and After
(1970): One movie site listed horror as one of the genre for this. And my rule for what counts in this challenge, is that if that happens and I watch for challenge, it counts. Even if what I saw isn't a horror movie (and I think it's a giant stretch to call this movie one). I had seen several movies of Alain Robbe-Grillet so I knew what was coming (and his Successive Slidings of Pleasure
would qualify easily as horror). Like that movie, instead of a narrative this is a series of strung-together hallucinatory set-pieces. I rather like his style (though its clearly going to divide viewers). There's always something interesting to focus my eyes on (including the frequent nudity of the cast of really cute French girls), and the running time moves right along.
29. ☼ WolfCop
(2014): What can I say ... I enjoyed it
I don't know how you can go into a movie called WolfCop
and not get something close to what you were expected. And it does a first (that I've seen, at least) by showing a werewolf transformation scene starting with the penis (while out at a urinal)
30. ☼ Doctor Who
: "Under the Lake", "Before the Flood" Wildcard #1
31. ☼ The Beast
(1975): I was prepared for the animal sex, simulated bestiality, and Sirpa Lane covered in monster semen. What I wasn't prepared for was just how dull (and talky) this movie would be for the first hour.
32. ☼ The Houses October Built
(2014): I like the premise (and enjoyed documentaries with related themes like Hell House
and The American Scream
). It's just that the big payoff in the final 20 minutes really underwhelmed me.
33. ☼ Grabbers
(2012): Great fun. Had to feel a little bad for the monsters. You're allergic to drunk people, and of all places to pick to attack you've gotta choose Ireland
34. ☼ All Cheerleaders Die
(2013): And the first big miss that I've seen from Lucky McKee. Just a mess. Thoroughly unlikable characters all the way around. Nothing terribly original or interesting about this. Even on just an exploitation level, the gore and sex are pretty weak. I got the sense that the filmmakers think they're a whole lot more clever than they are. Laughing about how much smarter they are than generic stupid teen horror movies when that's exactly what they ended up making themselves.
35. ☼ Come Back to Me
(2014): Better than the 20% on Rotten Tomatoes led me to believe. It may not be the best made movie, but it has a twist on serial killer horror that I've never seen before:
36. ☼ The Walking Dead
: "JSS"; American Horror Story Hotel
37. Sleepaway Camp
(1983): First time watching my Blu Ray. The acting is really crappy and for the most part the movie is surprisingly tame. But the use of early and mid teen actors (as opposed to twenty-somethings pretending to be teens we almost always get instead) adds a layer of unsettling. And yeah ... there's still that ending
38. The Cabin in the Woods
(2012): The stoner guy really is an asshole, isn't he? Acting like he's better than everyone else (despite being a complete waste of space). Which gets put to the test when he essentially destroys the world to satisfy his own stoner-philosophy.
39. ☼ As the Gods Will
(2014): He's so prolific I've pretty much given up trying to keep up with everything Takashi Miike does. But, while it's not perfect, I'm glad I watched this one. If a movie opening with a high school class kept captive by a game-playing doll head that makes losers heads explode in a bloody shower of red marbles doesn't get your attention ... not much will
40. ☼ The Fall of the House of Usher
(1949): I can see why this has been forgotten. Really dull and slow moving (despite short running time), and horribly acted (except for the actress playing Lady Usher no one in this movie has any other imdb credits). Some creepy shots with a psychopathic old woman and a menacing decapitated head (neither of which have anything to do with the Poe story), but it's not enough to save things.
41. ☼ Angst
(1983): Released at the height of the American slasher craze, this Austrian movie does in a completely different direction. It brings to mind a bit Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
and Funny Games
(both released later) ... but with the unusual camera work and ongoing internal monologues of the killer, has its own style. Quite effective and years ahead of its time.
42. ☼ Graduation Day
(1981): And now for a first-time view slasher double-feature from 1981. This was cheesy but a lot of fun. Linnea Quigley shows off her breasts and a pre-Wheel Vanna White gets a chance to scream. Add in the sports-theme gimmick of the killer (a stopwatch, death by football impalement, pole vault onto spikes, fencing attack) and a couple of full-blown musical numbers (one of student sing-along like something out an old Elvis movie) and a good time is had by all.
43. ☼ Final Exam
(1981): I saved this for last because reviews said it was better. I strongly disagree with reviews
After an opening couple of murders we go nearly an hour before the killer shows up again. And without the slasher part of the story, you're left with a grade-Z Animal House
rip-off with cardboard characters and unfunny humor. I know it was an earlier time and all ... but I can't imagine a gag where a frat house simulates a mass shooting on campus to be terribly funny even then (followed by getting off scott-free by officials with a "kids will be kids"
). Sure things pick up when the killer shows up ... but man, what a dullard he is. No mask (just looks like some random dude), no motive, no style. And on top of everything else, the movie is very tame as far as sex and violence are concerned.
44. ☼ The Simpsons
: "Treehouse of Horror XXVI", The Walking Dead
: "Thank You", Darknet
: "Episode 4"
45. ☼ Curtains
(1983): Quite a classy slasher, straddling the line between slasher and (the more socially acceptable) psychological thriller. It's troubled production shows a few times (the director was replaced half-way through production and many scenes were trashed and/or reshot). But all things considered, a solid movie for the genre.
46. ☼ Helter Skelter
(2012): A movie by a former fashion photographer ... and it really shows. Lots of pretty colors and shots ... dull characters and storyline. Nowhere as deep as it thinks it is. Way overlong at 2+ hours. And not really much of a horror movie.
47. ☼ American Horror Story Hotel
: "Devil's Night"; Darknet
: "Episode 5", "Episode 6"
48. ☼ Goodnight Mommy
(2014): I hope that the "twist" about the twins wasn't supposed to be a big deal, because I found it really obvious right from the start. Still, good movie ... with a nice slow buildup of creepiness. One thing that I learned: there's just no saying no to the Red Cross asking for money in Austria.
49. ☼ Storage 24
(2012): Not bad, but just awfully generic and unoriginal. Not sure how this made its way onto my Netflix queue. Fans of the "teal and orange" lighting scheme will have a field day, since that's about the whole movie (at least all the "meat" of the story in the warehouse). I did like the very ending, which finally answered why this monster is running around in London in the first place.
50. ☼ Let Us Prey
(2014): I quite like this ... though I'm a sucker for people talking in Scottish accents. I wish all the reviews didn't spoil the fact that
since the movie treated it as some kind of reveal.
51. ☼ The Nightmare
(2015): I was thinking I was going to have to count this as a wildcard since its relationship to horror movies seems tangential (a documentary about night terrors). I kept waiting for doctors and scientists to be interviewed (I lecture a little on night terrors when I teach neuroscience). And it never happened. Instead, the filmmakers lead the viewers to draw the conclusion that nightmares really are attacks by demons!
52. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
(1987): For me, hands down the best of the NOES sequels. It's fun seeing young Patricia Arquette and Laurence (Larry here!) Fishburne. What's the story with director Chuck Russell (debuting here)? He has a great run from this movie to Eraser
(also directing The Blob
and The Mask
). In the early 2000's did Bless the Child
(his first non-hit, but shouldn't have been a career killer) and The Scorpion King
(while not great, did well at the box office). And he never directed another movie.
53. Dust Devil
(1992): Seeing the Lost Souls
doc earlier in the month, I wanted to revisit one of Richard Stanley's movies. As I remembered it, great looking (wonderful use of desert colors) and has style to burn.
54. Dementia 13
(1963): Not a particularly good movie, though worth seeing for horror and Coppola fans. Clearly riding the Psycho
wave (even having a story structure similar to the Janet Leigh character), but with a bit more blood and a lot less sense. If the killer's identity was supposed to be a secret, an earlier scene blew it by actually showing the killer's face
55. The Masque of Red Death
(1964): Super classy and stylish. Though supposedly this was a box office disappointment at the end, and the studio head hated it because he thought it was too "arty farty"
For me, it's between this and Pit and the Pendulum
for the best of the Corman Poe movies.
56. The Fog
(1980): As a kid, this was the first John Carpenter movie I saw (my parents were leery of letting me see Halloween
between of the drugs, sex, and nudity). Like Halloween, the violence in The Fog
is incredibly restrained. Today, I'm not even sure it would get an R rating (instead of PG-13). There's no nudity and I don't think there were any f-bombs.