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Old 09-19-10, 01:26 AM   #43
nezumi
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Re: The 6th Annual "October Horror Movie Challenge" (10/1 - 10/31) ***The List Thread

10-02-10: Added titles 1-6
10-06-10: Added titles 7-12
10-10-10: Added titles 13-19
10-17-10: Added titles 20-24
10-24-10: Added titles 25-32
10-31-10: Added titles 33-43
11-01-10: Added titles 44-46; added reviews

LAST YEAR: 50 films
THIS YEAR'S PERSONAL GOAL: 50+ films

THE LIST
All films are DVD format unless noted.
Bold indicates a first-time viewing.
* = Wildcard selection
  1. Oneechanbara: The Movie (A.K.A., "Chanbara Beauty") - Based on a series of Japanese video games, the movie takes place in the distant future of 20XX. A swordswoman named Aya travels the zombie-infested wasteland with her chunky male sidekick in search of her sister, Saki. Along the way, Aya encounters a gun-wielding she-devil in black leather named Reiko. Together, they go off to confront the mad scientist responsible for unleashing the zombie plague. You would think that a movie about a sexy cowgirl in a fur-lined bikini dispatching zombies would be a lot of fun, but this movie proves it not to be the case. Eri Otoguro is attractive enough as Aya, but she just doesn't hit the proper emotional register. Too much CGI. It might also help to be familiar with the video games.
  2. The Girls Rebel Force of Competitive Swimmers (A.K.A., "Attack Girls' Swim Team vs. The Undead" A.K.A., "Undead Pool") - A mad scientist infects a girls' high school with a zombie virus in a bid to retrieve his erstwhile teenage sex slave assassin. The only students left unaffected by the virus are the swim team. The filmmakers attempt to overcome the apparent lack of a budget with a barrage of plot twists, nudity, high school lesbianism and outlandish gags (including juggling zombies and vagina laser beams). They nearly succeed at it, too.
  3. Spirited Killer - A voodoo witch doctor is seemingly slain on a cliff by an angry mob after he poisons a couple of people from a local village. Five years later, a mysterious stranger appears in the same tropical forest and begins killing bandits, field laborers and tourists. This Thai film is a no-budget mash-up of the martial arts and slasher genres. Don't be fooled by Tony Jaa's prominence on the cover art and special features; Jaa only appears briefly for a single confrontation with the killer. The entire affair is shoddily assembled and nonsensical, but its awfulness still left me entertained.
  4. Terrified - A masked killer traps a college student inside a ghost town and exposes him to a series of fear-inducing scenarios. The scenarios are horrific in theory, but they're awfully silly when presented in the movie. For instance, being buried alive must be a terrifying experience; but the grave in the film is so shallow that all the victim really needs to do is sit up if he wanted to rescue himself. It's a talky film, filled with too many passages where characters peer into the darkness and repeat another character's name over and over. Denver Pyle (TV's original "Uncle Jesse") stars as the sheriff.
  5. The Hearse - An efficient American gothic tale of a recently divorced woman who decides to spend the summer at her late aunt's home in the countryside. Mysterious things begin happening to her, and all of it seems to revolve around a hearse that perpetually tries to run the woman off the road. Starring Joseph Cotten, Christopher McDonald and Chuck "Porky" Mitchell.
  6. The Terror - Broadcast television, part of Elvira's Movie Macabre. A proper gothic horror movie set inside a castle. It's sort of fun to watch Boris Karloff, Jack Nicholson and Dick Miller together in the same movie. It's also cool to see Francis Ford Coppola and Jack Hill listed in the credits. Otherwise, the film is rather dull and light on the thrills.
  7. Terror (1978) - People begin mysteriously dying after a young British director debuts his latest film at his family estate. It turns out that his family was cursed by a witch long ago, and he and his comely distant cousin are the only remaining members. It's unclear who is responsible for all the murdering in the film. Is it the suspiciously detached director, who may or may not have psychic powers? Is it the director's cousin, murdering under the influence of the witch? Is it the witch, exerting her powers from beyond the grave? Is it a combination of all three? Unfortunately, the filmmakers never supply us with a satisfactory answer (a Fellini-esque scene involving a man entangled in reels of film may speak volumes of how they were feeling when making the movie).
  8. The Devil's Hand - A man sees a doll that bears an uncanny resemblance to the literal girl of his dreams in a shop window. He's further shocked to find another doll inside the shop that looks like his fiancee. This discovery leads to his descent into the shadowy world of the occult, and he finds out that it's much easier to enter the occult world than it is to leave. Neil Hamilton (TV's "Commissioner Gordon") plays the shopkeeper and cult leader. The ending comes straight out of a Looney Tunes cartoon.
  9. I was a Teenage Zombie - VHS. A super lo-fi movie about a group of suspiciously mature high school boys looking to score a little weed along with some girls. A dope pusher named Mussolini sells them some bad pot, so the guys try to get their money back. They accidentally kill Mussolini and dump the body in a river by the local decommissioned nuclear power plant. When Mussolini comes back as a zombie and begins killing the boys off, they decide to resurrect one of their recently killed friends in the same radioactive river to act as their protector. In spite of the overall goofiness, the film is strangely sentimental and poignant at points. It's abundantly clear that the filmmakers had little money for special effects, but there's one particularly impressive kill. The film also features an absolutely killer punk and new wave soundtrack.
  10. Critters 3 - Nina Axelrod replaces Scott Grimes as the young hero for the third installment of the franchise, and the action moves from Grovers Bend to a Los Angeles apartment building. The film has its share of problems (including sluggish pacing and a tendency to draw gags out much longer than needed), but it is interesting to note that all of the action of the film is performed by female characters while male characters are often in the position of peril. It's an unexpected inversion of generic conventions. The film ends on a cliffhanger, but I think the series ends for me with this one. A prepubescent Leonardo DiCaprio plays the smart-aleck stepson of the apartment building's slumlord.
  11. Hell High - A disgraced jock falls in with a bad crowd at school. They decide to torment their Biology teacher at home one night, but their prank sends the teacher over the edge. I went into this film expecting something like a gorier Straw Dogs and was sorely disappointed. It seemed as though the filmmakers would occasionally be on the cusp of breaking some new ground in the genre, then veer away from it. Some egregious body-doubling and baffling lapses in judgment on display in this movie.
  12. Deadly Friend - A teenage genius and his robot sidekick B.B. move with his mother to a new town. When the girl next door (Kristy Swanson) dies after a fall down some stairs, the boy prodigy installs B.B.'s computer brain in the dead girl's head to revive her. It quickly becomes clear that things aren't back to normal, and the girl goes on a murderous rampage. The basketball scene with Anne Ramsey (playing the crotchety neighbor living across the street) is hilarious in its sheer impossibility. I still can't believe that this was directed by Wes Craven.
  13. Piranha - A drunken loner and a private investigator mistakenly unleash a genetically-engineered breed of piranha into the local water system in this Jaws imitator. Director Joe Dante's fingerprints are smudged all over this film. The script (co-written by John Sayles) injects some political commentary into bloody proceedings. How is it that I've seen the inferior sequel more times than the original?
  14. The Forest - Two hikers enter a forest to meet their wives for a weekend of camping and marital reconciliation. The hikers find shelter from a storm in a cave which happens to be home to a deranged mountain man. The mountain man's already murdered one of the wives, unbeknownst to the hikers. It turns out that the mountain man has developed a penchant for eating human flesh, and he's stocking up for winter. Meanwhile, the surviving female hiker is aided by the ghosts of the killer's children. The ghosts are a novel gimmick, but it doesn't do much to elevate this substandard slasher movie. The actor playing the killer is especially atrocious.
  15. Molly and the Ghost - A sexy teenager named Susan moves in with her sister Molly and proceeds to attempt to seduce Molly's new husband. Susan hires a hitman to take Molly out, but she winds up being murdered instead. Susan comes back as a ghost and eventually takes over Molly's body. Nothing about the plot makes any sense (especially the "twist" ending). The dialogue and performances are wooden and stiff. Although it looks like it was shot on film, the credits and visual effects seem to have been done after the movie was transferred to video. At least the actress who plays Susan has a nice figure.
  16. Scanners - Derelict Cameron Vale is rescued by Dr. Paul Ruth, who informs Vale that he is a "scanner" -- a person with the psychic ability to synchronize his nervous system to another person's nervous system. Vale is sent on a mission to stop a powerful scanner named Darryl Revok, and he encounters an attractive female scanner named Kim Obrist along the way. Obrist and Vale uncover a sinister conspiracy that leads to a final confrontation between Vale and Revok. This thriller could easily have been David Cronenberg's breakthrough into the mainstream if some of the gorier/horrific elements had been toned down, but then it wouldn't be a Cronenberg film.
  17. Mark of the Witch - The film begins with a witch being led to the gallows. The witch curses those in attendance, and it feels as though the curse goes on for an interminably long time. Mercifully, the executioner cuts her short and drops the trap door. Three hundred years later, the witch takes possession of a young female college co-ed. Her professor just happens to look like the witch's male counterpart from 300 years ago. This film commits the worst offense a horror film can commit: it's not horrifying! It's boring! Far too much time is spent explaining modern innovations to the witch. The Professor and the co-ed's boyfriend spend the majority of the film doing research on witchcraft. That's right: the witch is defeated by studying. Studying! The actress playing the possessed co-ed really plays it to the rafters, but somebody should have reminded her that she was shooting a movie. She just seems obliviously loud. Finally, all the murders take place off-camera. We only get an oblique glimpse at the bloody aftermath. An early frontrunner for the worst movie I've screened for this challenge.
  18. C.H.U.D. - New York City's homeless begin mysteriously disappearing, and a photographer (played by John Heard), a maverick police captain (Christopher Curry) and a soup kitchen operator (Daniel Stern) discover that mutant cannibals are the culprits. Some decent rubber monster effects on display.
  19. Grizzly - This Jaws derivative moves the action from the ocean to the wilderness. A park ranger, a helicopter pilot and a naturalist (played by Richard Jaeckel) go on a hunt inside a national park for an eighteen foot tall Grizzly bear that's killing off campers. The film pretty much falls into lock-step with Jaws all the way through the ending, but it's all executed with notably less proficiency than the Spielberg film. The script probably could have benefited from another revision to get rid of some the bloated plot.
  20. The Toolbox Murders (1978) - A masked murderer goes on a grisly rampage in an apartment complex, killing off women with a variety of items in his toolbox. The killer kidnaps a young teenage girl, and it's up to the girl's brother to solve the mystery. The filmmakers really ought to have parsed out the murders a little better. As it is, the majority of deaths occur in the first third of the film. To their credit, they are all memorable deaths. Cameron Mitchell gives an impressively loony performance as the apartment complex landlord.
  21. Frankenstein's Bloody Terror - Paul Naschy debuts as Waldemar Daninsky, the man cursed to be a werewolf in a long-running series of films. A pair of gypsies unwittingly awaken a werewolf while robbing the ancestral tomb of Castle Wolfstein. In the subsequent hunt for the werewolf, Daninsky is bitten and becomes a werewolf himself. His young companions write to a doctor who may hold the cure to Daninsky's affliction. However, the doctor and the doctor's wife have a secret of their own. Despite the title, there's nary a Frankenstein to be found in the film's running time (A narrator quickly explains at the very beginning of the film that the Frankenstein family changed its name to Wolfstein)! However, there are two werewolves and two vampires (one vampire of the swishy variety) in the film. Quaintly entertaining in some ways, but I wouldn't categorize the film as being corny.
  22. Deadgirl - Amazon Video on Demand. Two Columbine-type high-schoolers find a seemingly alive corpse shackled and gagged inside the basement of a condemned mental institution. Obviously, their natural inclination is to have sex with it. Even if you overlook this ridiculous premise, there are scripting problems that aren't as forgivable. You would need to have your stomach pumped if you drank a shot every time a character said "J.T."
  23. Dog Soldiers - A team of British soldiers on a training operation encounter a pack of werewolves in the Scottish highlands. They find shelter in a cabin, only to find that they have fortified themselves inside the wolves' den. Director Neil Marshall delivers a satisfying and surprisingly layered werewolf movie.
  24. The Brain That Wouldn't Die - Broadcast television, part of Elvira's Movie Macabre. A surgeon exploring the cutting edge of medical science manages to save his fiancee's head from a fiery car accident. He spends the rest of the film trying to find a suitable transplant body for her at nightclubs and modeling parlors. Meanwhile, the head makes friends with the unseen monstrosity living inside the laboratory closet. It's amusing in that way that only awful movies can amuse, but I wouldn't recommend that anybody actively seek it out.
  25. House (1986) - William Katt plays a horror novelist who moves into the house of a recently deceased aunt. Strange things begin happening, and he recruits his next door neighbor (George Wendt) to prove that he isn't going crazy. The film's a little unusual in that the haunted house isn't isolated from society. Katt's character actually has neighbors (one played by the sexy Mary Stavin) and police officers to deal with in addition to the ghouls and goblins. Most of the scares are played for laughs, with mixed results. I was a little surprised to see Kane Hodder's name listed in the stunt credits.
  26. The Return (2006) - Broadcast television. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a woman seemingly haunted by memories of a murder that happened when she was a child. No explanation is given until the end, and it's doubtful that anybody still cares at that point. The movie's sloppily cut, the scares are weak and Sarah Michelle Gellar doesn't make for a good salesperson.
  27. The Descent - A group of British women head to the Appalachian Mountains to do some spleunking and wind up dealing with something completely unexpected. It's been a few years since I've seen this one, and I had forgotten how well Neil Marshall ratchets the tension from start to end.
  28. Yo Gabba Gabba!, "Halloween" / The Andy Griffith Show, "The Haunted House" / Castle, "Vampire Weekend" *
  29. Mr. Vampire - A Taoist priest and his two bumbling assistants inadvertently awaken a cursed entity while moving a body from a family plot. All sorts of Chinese supernatural folklore on parade in this film, including an otherworldly romance between an attractive ghost and one of the priest's assistants. The hopping vampires will be a little jarring to new viewers; but the sooner you buy into it, the better.
  30. Devilman - For a movie that involves the accidental release of demons around the world, the reactionary formation of fascist police states, a global military conflict and the destruction of the world, I sure did spend a lot of time fidgeting in my chair. The CGI is pretty mediocre, the acting is abysmal and the script makes no sense. Disappointing.
  31. The Satanic Rites of Dracula (A.K.A. "Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride") - Broadcast television, part of Elvira's Movie Macabre. The British Secret Service uncover a Satanic cult whose members includes some of England's rich and powerful. They call in a special inspector from Scotland Yard and an academic named Lorrimar Van Helsing (played by Peter Cushing) to assist with the investigation. They eventually discover that the head of the cult is in fact Count Dracula (Christopher Lee)! Dracula's end is fun in a goofy way. The henchmen in their matching sheepskin vests gave me a chuckle, too.
  32. Son of Dracula - Broadcast television, part of Svengoolie. Lon Chaney, Jr. plays the infamous vampire in this film. Dracula arrives to the United States ("cleverly" traveling as Count Alucard) and seduces a Southern belle with an affinity for the occult. Her mortal suitor attempts to prevent the unholy union but is too late. A local doctor and a visiting Hungarian professor suspect the Count's secret identity and take it upon themselves to stop Dracula and his new bride. Chaney gives a satisfactory performance as Dracula but fails to surpass Bela Lugosi in the role.
  33. Re-Animator - A new medical student at Miskatonic University brings an experimental chemical reagent from Switzerland that seems to bring the dead back to life. However, there are some highly adverse side effects. The film devolves into cartoonish, grand guignol theatrics by the third act, but it remains entertaining throughout. Barbara Crampton shows that she's one heck of a trouper. Based on a story by occult novelist H.P. Lovecraft.
  34. Three... Extremes - Three Asian directors (Hong Kong's Fruit Chan, South Korean Chan-Wook Park and Japan's Takashi Miike) deliver three distinctive tales of horror with varying results. Of the two horror rookies in the group, Fruit Chan (aided by Christopher Doyle's cinematography) acquits himself well with the entry "Dumplings," while Chan-Wook Park's "Cut" is maybe a little too stage-y for its own good. Miike's "Box" has a lyrical restraint that's atypical of the director's body of work, but the head-scratching ending doesn't let you forget that your watching a Miike film.
  35. Blood: The Last Vampire (2000) - Animated. Set during the months leading up to the Vietnam War, a mysterious schoolgirl with a katana searches a U.S. Air Force base in Japan for vampire-like creatures. Not much is explained during the film's brief running time. The whole thing plays like an extra-humorless episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  36. Blood: The Last Vampire (2009) - Some liberties are taken in this live-action adaptation of the anime feature, but the basic premise remains the same. Korean superstar Ji-Hyun Jeon plays the lead character in the live-action version. Corey Yuen delivers a pretty fun ninja attack sequence with martial arts veteran Yasuaki Kurata in the middle of the film, but the rest of the movie is ruined by some atrocious CGI and an abrupt ending.
  37. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown* - Broadcast television.
  38. Countess Dracula - Ingrid Pitt stars as the titular countess in this story that's loosely based on the real-life Countess Elizabeth Bathory. The countess of the film accidentally discovers that bathing in the blood of virgin girls restores her beauty and youth and proceeds to impersonate her daughter to bed the son of her husband's friend. However, the effects of virgin blood do not last for very long. It's up to the countess' long-suffering companion to acquire fresh sources. The title is misleading in that the countess isn't actually a vampire of any sort and is only referred to as Countess Dracula at the very end of the film.
  39. Blacula - An African prince travels to Transylvania to ask Count Dracula for assistance with stopping the slave trade back in his home kingdom. Big mistake. Dracula turns the prince into Blacula and locks him inside a coffin. Two centuries later, a couple of stereotypically gay interior designers unwittingly transport Blacula to New York City. Blacula immediately begins to build a vampire army, and it's up to two New York cops to stop him. The special effects are pretty lackluster, bordering on comical. Fortunately, this isn't a film that lives or dies by the quality of its effects.
  40. The Corpse Bride - Animated. Victor (voiced by Johnny Depp) and Victoria (Emily Watson) are to wed in an arranged marriage, but Victor inadvertently proposes the the titular corpse bride, Emily (Helena Bonham Carter). Victor is swept away to the land of the dead for the wedding, while Victoria faces a threat from a mysterious new suitor (Richard E. Grant). I'm a sucker for any movie with dancing skeletons.
  41. The Thing from Another World - An Air Force captain and his crew take a reporter along on a trip to the North Pole, where researchers have discovered a UFO. The flying saucer is destroyed, but they manage to salvage a humanoid being frozen in the ice. Naturally, the creature doesn't stay frozen for long. I think that I enjoy John Carpenter's remake more than the original, but I was pleasantly surprised at how modern the film felt at times.
  42. The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant - Bruce Dern plays the world's unlikeliest medical genius. After a fugitive psychotic killer kidnaps his girlfriend (Pat Priest), Dern and his laboratory assistant seize the opportunity to graft the killer's head to the hired help's giant manchild son. It's up to Casey Kasem (yes, Casey Kasem) to save the day. Yeah, it's pretty lousy. AIP would later recycle the premise of this movie to greater effect in The Thing with Two Heads.
  43. The Munsters, "Munster Masquerade" / The Munsters, "My Fair Munster" / The Munsters, "Herman, the Master Spy" / The Munsters, "Zombo"
  44. Night of the Living Dead - An all-time horror classic. I really don't know what else to add.
  45. Shaun of the Dead - Director Edgar Wright and star/co-writer Simon Pegg have created a modern horror-comedy classic. It plays like an adaptation of a Nick Hornby novel (with zombies). Infinitely re-watchable.
  46. Monster House - A trio of kids take it upon themselves to stop a dilapidated house in the neighborhood that's seemingly alive. I'm not a fan of computer animated motion-capture films, but I really am enamored with the art direction in this film.
That's all for this year!
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Last edited by nezumi; 11-01-10 at 08:57 PM.
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