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Old 09-04-17, 10:27 PM   #24
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Re: The 13th Annual "October Horror Movie Challenge" (10/1 - 10/31) ***The List Threa


Orange Title - Denotes first-time-ever viewing

Caution: Spoilers may follow!

Last year's tally: 52 films; 31 first-time viewings

This year's goals: 45 films; 25 first-time viewings; attempt to complete Theme Nights and Subset lists, and take a shot at the Checklist


Note: This film is not counted in my totals, as it was watched outside the actual month of October. I consider it to be a sort of pre-Challenge warm up.

XX Cronos (1993) (DVD) - I first watched Cronos for the OHMC six years ago, and here's some of what I had to say about it then: "While it's not my favorite of his [del Toro's] films (that title would go to The Devil's Backbone), Cronos is still an incredibly rich viewing experience. A singular take on immortality, the film is about a contraption (which is a little smaller than an adult's fist) called The Cronos Device. Invented by an alchemist in the 1500s, the device is found by an antique dealer, who happens to discover it hidden in the base of a statue that he's acquired. Unsure of what it is at first, he soon finds out that it has some very special powers, and that someone else wants it very, very badly that they would kill for it. To give away any more of the plot would be a huge disservice to first-time viewers. Cronos is a multiple award winner, even taking home a handful of Ariel Awards (Mexico's answer to the Academy Awards) the year it came out. It probably requires multiple viewings to catch everything that del Toro has loaded it with (and to figure out exactly what the ending means). Worth going out of your way to see." On second viewing, I still found it to be an interesting film, but I'm not quite as enamored of it as I once was...but I can say the same thing for pretty much all of del Toro's films. This time around, I found myself responding most to the fable-like aspects of the tale, although I still can't figure out exactly what del Toro's views on the pursuit of immortality are. Maybe a third viewing will make them more clear to me.


1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) (DVD) - I saw this in the theater on opening weekend in 1986, and I and the friend that I went with thought that it was probably just about the best sequel that Tobe Hooper could have made. That's not to say that we thought that it was flawless, but how can a film like the first be topped? In all actuality (and as years and years of sequels, remakes, etc. have proven), it can't. So the filmmakers had to find a different direction to go in, and this time around, they amped up the humor and the gore. I watched this film for my first OHMC back in 2010, and here's part of what I had to say about it then: "Here are a few things I love about this movie: Bill Moseley's exaltant cry of 'Humble Pie!' when raiding the record vault; Jim Siedow's very creative cursing; and, most especially, the scene when Stretch finds L.G. in the Sawyer family's underground lair. To me, that scene DEFINES 'over the top.'" This time around, I think that I appreciated it more than ever before, especially Caroline Williams's performance as Stretch. I don't know why she never made it any bigger than she did; still, she's kept relatively busy in the intervening years (and we'll see her again this month in another subset film, so there's that). I highly recommend watching the making-of documentary on the Blu-ray and DVD, It Runs in the Family; it's absolutely fascinating. Lastly, I doubly-love that the movie poster for TCM2 is a direct steal from The Breakfast Club; that was a stroke of genius.


2. C.H.U.D. (1984) (DVD) - It's been over thirty years since I first saw C.H.U.D.--I don't think that it played theatrically in my town, so I had to rent the VHS when the tape was first released. I didn't particularly like it then; I don't recall the exact reasons, but they probably had to do with there being so little monster action in the film. So, as is often the case with subset films that I've seen before, I found myself dreading rewatching the film. Sometimes, I'll find a newfound appreciation for films that I originally didn't like, but most of the time, I find that I still don't like the films. In this case, I liked the film even less this time around. For me, the film has multiple problems, including the aforementioned lack of monster action, a really awful lead actor, grimy cinematography, and a script that fails to generate any tension whatsover. The cast (except for the lead actor) is game, but they're given one-note characters to play. While I was watching it this time, it struck me that C.H.U.D. had a set-up that was similar to those of some of the films of Larry Cohen, but then I started thinking about how much better the film would have been if Cohen had indeed had a hand in it. For me, C.H.U.D.'s a dud.


3. Amer (2009) (Streaming--Google Drive [Alyxstarr's link]) - Strange, nearly dialogue-less film tells the "story" of a woman, Ana, in three acts. In the first act, Ana is a little girl who steals a watch from her dead grandfather, runs in terror from an elderly, veiled servant, and watches her parents have sex. In Act II, Ana is a teenager who walks to the neighboring village with her mother and runs afoul of a gang of bikers while her mother is getting her hair done. In the last act, Ana, now an adult, returns home via a sensual taxi ride and finds herself being stalked by strangers. If that synopsis makes little sense, then you've probably got a good idea of what watching Amer feels like. A friend of mine has told me several times that I have a pretty high tolerance for pretentiousness, but even my patience was taxed by this film. While the film looks incredible, its method of storytelling (if that's even the right word) is elliptical at best. There's no linear plot, as far as I could ascertain. The film gives off a giallo vibe, but there's no plot to untangle, no mystery for the audience to solve. The Italian influence continues with the music chosen for the film, as all of it comes from various Italian films of the 1960s and '70s. The first act of the film was the only one that really held my interest, as it seems to pay homage to Suspiria, with its use of oversaturated, unnatural colors. I can't say that I liked the film, but, overall, I feel that it's a film worth seeing once; at the very least, it's a piece of pretty impressive eye candy.


4. Mad Monster Party? (1967) (Blu-ray) - The only other time that I've watched this film in its entirety before tonight was when I was 9 or 10 years old. It came on the late movie one Saturday night, and I stayed up all by myself to watch it. I adored it, and when it was over I was in a great mood...until the station signed off the air with pictures of the ten most-wanted criminals. After I turned off the TV, I just knew at least one, and probably more, of those ten guys were lurking around my backyard, so I didn't sleep too well that night. What's funny about that now is that, in the intervening years between that night and now, I've attempted to watch Mad Monster Party? several times, and I've always fallen asleep while watching it. While I'm a huge fan of Rankin/Bass and their various Christmas specials, Mad Monster Party? doesn't engender the love in me that their other productions do. I can't fault the character design or the animation; the technical aspects of the film are up to R/B's usual standards. No, the problem with the film is its script. There's just not enough story there to sustain a 95-minute feature, and most of the songs are forgettable as well. I guess that I'll stick with Rudolph from now on when I need a Rankin/Bass fix.


5. Bad Moon (1996) (Streaming--Shout Factory TV) - I had a lot of fun with this movie, directed by Eric Red and based on the book Thor by Wayne Smith. In it, a guy moves to be near his sister and her son, but (as he's a werewolf) things don't really work out for the family. The sister and nephew are clueless that he's dangerous, but their dog Thor knows and protects his family the best that he can. This lean little film, which doesn't waste any time with anything not necessary to the plot, clocks in at only 80 minutes.

6. Grindhouse (2007) (Blu-ray) - It's a shame that this film underperformed at the box office, because it's a whole lot of fun, and I really enjoyed the format of it--it's a throwback to the days when prepackaged double-features played in theaters all across the country. Making it even better are the between-features stuff, such as ads for "local" restaurants, "Previews of Coming Attractions" and "Our Feature Presentation" announcements, and fake trailers (the best of which is Edgar Wright's "Don't"). I'm ready for someone to try doing something like this again.


7. Candyman (1992) (DVD) - Virginia Madsen plays a graduate student doing research into urban legends. While conducting an interview, she hears the story of Candyman and sets out to try to find the origins of the tale. She ends up finding a lot more than she bargained for. I saw this film when it first came out, and I really didn't like I was, as is often the case when I rewatch films that I didn't originally care for, not really relishing the idea of slogging through it again. However, this time around, Candyman turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I'd forgotten most of the plot, so it was almost as if I were seeing it for the first time. Philip Glass's score adds to the film's effectiveness immeasurably.

8. House of Dracula (1945) (Blu-ray) - Universal's last attempt at milking some scares from their stable of popular monsters before Abbott and Costello were let loose upon them, House of Dracula is fairly silly stuff. Onslow Stevens plays a doctor who, defying all odds of coincidence, winds up treating Dracula for his vampirism and the Wolfman for his lycanthropy at the same time. And, just because it seems to be his destiny, he finds the severely-weakened Frankenstein monster in the caves beneath his castle, so he starts toying with the idea of trying to fix HIM up. He's also got an assistant who's a hunchback, and because of some double-crossing by Dracula, the doctor himself starts having Jekyll-and-Hyde episodes nightly, wherein he turns evil for a few hours. Yeah, it's as dumb as it sounds, but it's mindless fun if you're in the right frame of mind.


9. The Void (2016) (Streaming--Netflix) - As I think that I've mentioned several times in these threads throughout the years, I'm not a fan of H. P. Lovecraft. Several of my friends think that's total heresy, and it may be, but I just don't like his whole Cthulhu mythos thing. Unfortunately for me, The Void owes a huge debt to Lovecraft. Up until the halfway point, though, I was quite enjoying the film. It has several plot devices that I'm quite fond of, including taking place in an isolated setting and pitting a small group of survivors against an unexplained threat. It even has Ellen Wong in the cast, and I've had a celebrity crush on her ever since Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. So I was really, really enjoying the film...and then, the characters went into the basement of the hospital. Once that happened, the pacing sputtered and then died, and then the whole Lovecraft thing kicked into hyperdrive. I have to give the filmmakers a lot of credit for working on what was probably a fairly limited budget (I mean, the film was funded through an Indygogo campaign), but in the end, it just really didn't appeal to me. I'll admit to finding the final shot intriguing, though. If you like Lovecraft and/or sci-fi, you'll probably enjoy this film; if not, you may find it best to avoid The Void.

10. Fading of the Cries (2008) (DVD) - Perfectly awful film has something to do with a necromancer (played by a slumming-lower-than-usual Brad Dourif) who needs a jewel to be able to bring back his wife from the dead...yet he's dead, too, so I think that he's just yanking everybody's chain. Said jewel is in the hands (well, to be exact, on a chain around the neck) of a teenage girl, whose uncle gave it to her when she was a child. The uncle just so happened to find it in a house that he had bought, and, as luck would have it, the house had once belonged to the necromancer. There's also a guy who wields a sword (who ALSO lived in that same house that the uncle and the necromancer lived in) who seems to know what's going on when the town is suddenly filled with...what? Demons? Zombies? Who knows? Brad Dourif gives it his best, but the guy that carries the sword seems to be near catatonia all the way through the film. He makes Keanu Reeves look like Lawrence Olivier. Did I mention how awful this film is?


11. Train to Busan (2016) (Streaming--Amazon Prime) - This was my second time to see Train to Busan, and I found myself just as caught up in the events of the film this time as I did when I first saw it back in March. It's the most kinetic horror movie that I've seen in a while--although I enjoy a slow-burn film such as It Follows or The Innkeepers, it's nice to see something every once in a while that MOVES. Not only does it move, it also isn't afraid to hit the viewer right in the feels. All of the actors are wonderful, as is the score. I could keep piling superlatives on here, but you probably understand by now that I really like this film. Oh, just one more thing: it's very subtle, but the film DOES give a reason for the zombie outbreak...and it's one that's both plausible and unique, as far as I know.


12. Raw (2016) (Streaming--Netflix) - I'd been looking forward to seeing this since I first heard about it several months ago, and now that I've seen it...I don't know what to think about it. The plot concerns a girl, Justine, who is a freshman at a veterinary medicine college. She and her family have always been strict vegetarians, but as part of a hazing ritual she eats a raw rabbit kidney, and she starts craving meat. Complications ensue. On the one hand, it's a very well-made film, with good performances, gorgeous cinematography, and appropriately icky gore. On the other hand, it seems to be an allegory about something (and I've thought and thought about what that something could be, and I haven't come up with anything really concrete yet). I also have some major issues with the end of the film--it reminded me of the ending of The Lost Boys, when Barnard Hughes says, "One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach; all the damn vampires!" I've always hated that line, because it shows that most, if not all, of what went before in the movie could have been prevented if he'd just told his grandsons to watch out for the vampires. The same goes for Raw and its last few lines (and I won't spoil it for those who might be reading this and haven't seen the film yet). Overall, I liked the film, but I feel that a second viewing is going to be necessary in order for me to figure out what the director was really trying to say with it.


13. Yongary, Monster from the Deep (1967) (DVD) - Sometimes, all I need to make me happy is to see a giant reptile stomping through an Asian metropolis (with this summer's bizarro Colossal being a notable exception). So, yeah, I loved Yongary. It was released directly to TV as part of a movie package from AIP, but somehow I missed ever seeing it on TV. It was also released as a Super 8 cutdown from Ken Films; I wanted it REALLY badly when I was a kid, but it never showed up in my local K-Mart. The things that I like about it: 1) Although the title of the movie makes it sound like Yongary came from the ocean, he actually comes up from underground. 2) There's a brief but really trippy scene set in a dance club that seems like it belongs in a different film. 3) Yongary dances. I can watch that scene over and over again. 4) Yongary's horn lights up sometimes. 5) I particularly like that, when Yongary is breathing fire, you can plainly see the metal pipe in his mouth that accomplishes that effect. Ponder this: Yongary comes up from underground to eat gasoline and oil, yet the world's reserves of crude oil are...underground. It seems to me that as long as he'd stayed underground, he'd have all the food he'd ever want. But if he'd stayed underground, then he wouldn't have gotten to dance as much. Yeah, Yongary is quite plainly a Godzilla rip-off, but that doesn't diminish my love for him in any way. In fact, as far as kaiju go, Yongary's kind of like that mixed-breed puppy at the pound that you take home for his personality instead of for his looks. I found Yongary to be pure, childish fun.


14. The Screaming Skull (1958) (Streaming--Amazon Prime) - A new bride finds herself being haunted by the ghost of her husband's first wife. This programmer from AIP breaks no new ground, but it does an acceptable job of conjuring up a few chills, especially if it's watched late into the night on the biggest screen available. The plot is reminiscent of Rebecca, but the resemblance between the two films ends there. As a kid, I had an overwhelming fear of skulls; I can only imagine what kind of a whammy this would have put on me if I'd seen it on the late movie! On a side note, Ken Films, as they did with Yongary, released The Screaming Skull as a Super 8 cutdown. I really wanted a copy of it when it was released in the late '70s, but I never got one. I'm still a little sore about it.


15. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002) (DVD) - As much as I love Don Coscarelli, as much as I love Bruce Campbell, and as much as I love Joe R. Lansdale, I've never gotten around to watching Bubba Ho-Tep, even though it's been sitting on my shelf for probably twelve or thirteen years. Once again, I'm glad that the Challenge forced me to dig out another film that I should have already watched. In this one, Elvis is living out his days in a Texas retirement home (along with John F. Kennedy--don't ask, just watch the movie) when a soul-sucking mummy starts picking off the residents. It's up to the former King of Rock and Roll and the former President to vanquish the mummy. This is, so far, my favorite first-time watch of this year's Challenge--it's funny, it's exciting, and it's oh-so-weird. Whatever happened to the sequel that was promised in the closing credits--Bubba Nosferatu?


16. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) (Blu-ray) - As far as sequels to Friday the 13th go, I've always found this one to be rather disappointing. When I saw it on its initial release (twice in a hard-top theater and twice at the drive-in), I found its lack of gore, due to pre-release cuts imposed by the MPAA, to be a major buzz-killer. I also have issues with the film's logic--exactly how DID Jason find Alice?--and the timeline seems awfully muddled. The first time that I saw it, I took a friend of mine to see it. Once the killing began in earnest, she started making this high-pitched keening noise (which I find impossible to put into a print equivalent). She was hunkered down in her seat, hands up to her mouth, making this weird noise. I leaned over and asked her, "Are you okay?" She stopped the keening and said, quite chirpily if the truth be told, "Yeah, I'm fine!" And then she went back to making the noise. She kept at it, too, and after a few seconds a guy in the row in front of us turned around and asked her, "Lady, are you okay?" She replied that she was fine, he turned back around, and she started up again. She didn't stop until the film was over. Needless to say, I never asked her to another horror film again.

17. Black Friday (1940) (DVD) - Okay science-fiction-y thriller stars Boris Karloff as a doctor who saves his professor friend's life by transplanting part of a criminal's brain into him. He probably would have let them both die, but Karloff found out that the criminal had stolen $500,000...and if his friend with the criminal's mind could lead him to it, he could fund a new laboratory. Bela Lugosi shows up a few times as a criminal crony of the dead guy, but the real star of the show is Stanley Ridges, who plays both the criminal and the professor. It took me a while to figure out that the same actor was playing them both; it's a great performance. Oh, and it fits today's theme too, as the film begins on Friday the 13th--the "Black Friday" of the title. It's not very horrific, but it's fairly fun if you've got an hour and some change to kill.

18. The Skull (1965) (DVD) - Peter Cushing stars as a collector of occult artifacts who comes into the possession of the skull of the Marquis de Sade, with "possession" being the key word here. The film's okay, and Christopher Lee shows up as a rival collector, but right when the film should be kicking into high gear, it slows to a crawl and never recovers. The visible guy wires that help the skull float around Cushing's house are a major distraction.


19. One Dark Night (1982) (Streaming--YouTube) - A girl who wants to be in the smallest high-school girl gang in history has to spend the night in a mausoleum as her final rite of initiation. As luck would have it, a guy renowned for his psychic powers had been interred there that very day, and he's not quite ready to rest in peace yet. I happened to catch One Dark Night theatrically when it was released in 1983, and, while it didn't knock my socks off, I found it to be reasonably enjoyable. Fast-forward to tonight, and my feelings haven't changed in 34 years. It's an okay way to spend an hour and a half, but it never really builds up much of a head of steam. Adam West shows up to lend support, and Elizabeth Daily, Dottie from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, appears as one-third of the girl gang. Meg Tilly went on to be a fairly high-profile actress until she dropped out of the business for fifteen years to raise her family.

20. Piranha 3D (2010) (Blu-ray 3D) - This was my second time to watch Piranha 3D, but my first to watch it in 3D. The 3D really didn't add all that much to the film; there were very few cool pop-out moments. Luckily, the film doesn't need 3D, really, because it's got 3B--Joe Bob Briggs's three essential ingredients for drive-in movies: blood, beasts, and boobs. And boy, does it ever have them! This could be the ultimate exploitation film. The plot, in a nutshell: An earthquake opens a passage from an underground lake to a lake above it, unleashing thousands of prehistoric piranha to munch on the mass of humanity that has descended on the lake for Spring Break. That's really all you need to know. I think it's a stone-cold blast; your mileage may vary, depending on your tolerance for carnality and carnage.


21. Tales of Halloween (2015) (Streaming--Netflix) - What hath YouTube wrought? A horror anthology for those with the attention span of a gnat, Tales of Halloween is made up of ten different segments, each helmed by a different director, but all supposedly taking place in the same town on one Halloween night. With each segment running an average of nine minutes, there's not a lot of time that the filmmakers can waste on such minor details as pacing, characterization, or atmosphere. Instead, we get the horror film equivalent of a string of jokes--just enough exposition is given to set up each segment's punchline. Of the ten vignettes, I thought that only one was really good, but I found another four to be at least tolerable. Of course, that leaves five that were dead weight (heh heh). Even though the film's black little heart was in the right place, I really can't recommend the film overall. However, if you get the chance to catch the "Grim Grinning Ghost" segment, don't pass it up--it's a treat.

22. Tales of Terror (1962) (Blu-ray) - This, the third AIP Poe film directed by Roger Corman, written by Richard Matheson, and starring Vincent Price, is notable for a few things. It's Corman's only anthology film as a director; it brought both Basil Rathbone and Peter Lorre into the AIP fold, where they remained until their deaths; and Richard Matheson's script allows Price and Lorre to flex their comedic muscles a bit, which led to two more films starring the two of them which emphasized laughs over scares, The Raven and The Comedy of Terrors. In this one, Matheson adapts Poe's "Morella," "The Black Cat," and "The Case of M. Valdemar" (in that order) with varying levels of success. All of the stories are at least interesting, but the first one, upon reflection, really doesn't make a lot of sense. The second tale, which also incorporates plot elements from Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," is probably the most fun of the three, and the last one is the creepiest. If you like old-school horror films, you'll probably find Tales of Terror to be a satisfying way to spend ninety minutes.


23. Martyrs (2008) (DVD) - This transgressive horror film generated a great deal of discussion when it was released nine years ago due to its unrelenting sadism and graphic bloodletting. A friend of mine bought it due to its reputation, but when he watched it, he hated it--loathed it, in fact. It wasn't the unrelieved nihilism that disgusted him about the film; it was the fact that the film used its realistic makeup effects to try to hide the pretension that was at its core. He has told me several times over the years that it's one of the films that he hates the most. He never recommended that I see it, but he asked that if I ever got the urge to see it, to let him know what I thought about it. So now I've seen it, and I see his point to a certain extent. For me, the film joins others of its ilk like Funny Games, Human Pork Chop, and The Girl Next Door in making the viewer question his or her relationship to horror films. I've loved horror films since I was a kid, but after watching Martyrs, I (thankfully briefly) thought that perhaps it's time to give them up. I watch horror films for the thrill--for the roller-coaster aspect of the experience of being pleasantly frightened. I found nothing whatsoever pleasant about this film. The realism that it exhibited in depicting its atrocities left no room for entertainment; its goal seems to be to erase any hope in the goodness of the human race. Admittedly, the film HAD to be graphic to achieve its intended effect (just like The Exorcist--William Peter Blatty once wrote that The Exorcist wouldn't have worked as a novel if he'd simply written "And then Regan did some very naughty things"), but to what purpose? At least Blatty had some points about faith and redemption that he wanted to make, but Martyrs doesn't seem to have any point to make except that people are bad. It's an effective film, but I'll never watch it again.


24. Pin (1988) (Streaming--YouTube) - Pin is another one of those films that I'd heard good things about over the years but had never taken the time to track down and watch. Now that I've finally seen it, I have to admit to being let down quite a bit. This tale of two siblings whose best friend is an anatomical medical dummy was well-made, but it never really gets out of first gear.


25. Seeding of a Ghost [Zhong gui] (1983) (Streaming--Google Drive [Alyxstarr's link]) - Just when I thought that I'd seen everything, along comes a Hong Kong film to show me that I've barely scratched the surface. Due to a curse being put on her husband and his family by a sorcerer, a taxi driver's wife has an affair with a married gambler, then gets raped and killed by a couple of young punks. The husband goes back to the same sorcerer and blackmails him into helping get revenge for the wife's death. Once they dig up the wife's corpse, the film goes totally bonkers. It's not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, but you sort of have to give Seeding of a Ghost at least some grudging respect for combining elements of, among many other films, Alien, John Carpenter's The Thing, The Exorcist, and Mr. Vampire. It also has lots of nudity, ghost sex, mahjong, and sodomy by giant matchstick. It's a must-see film, obviously.


26. Under the Shadow (2016) (Streaming--Netflix) - Finally! This is the first film that I've watched for this year's Challenge that actually scared me. As I've written in my comments for films seen in previous Challenges, I know a film is working if it gives me gooseflesh. Under the Shadow sent a minor ripple through me about halfway through the film, so I was pretty happy...but then later I got a full-body skin-crawl from it. I hate that most American horror films have pretty much given up on trying to be scary; instead, they tend to use jump scares to goose the audience, but they're never really frightening. As I think Mr. Cellophane wrote a few years back, most American horror films should really be called "startle" films. Thank goodness that the rest of the world hasn't jumped on that bandwagon yet. Under the Shadow is a film that those who love actual horror films (as opposed to those to who think that dreck like The People Under the Stairs is a good horror film) should seek out and watch as soon as possible.


27. Ganja & Hess (1973) (DVD) - Marlene Clark (Night of the Cobra Woman) and Duane Jones (Night of the Living Dead) star in this perhaps sole example of an arthouse blaxploitation film. After being stabbed with an ancient dagger by his assistant, Dr. Hess Green develops a craving for, then an addiction to, blood. His assistant's wife, Ganja, takes up with him and, soon enough, she's craving blood, too. I really wanted to like this film, but I found it quite a bit too self-indulgent and meandering to make much of an impact. Apparently, so did the company that produced and released the film, as they yanked it out of theaters after a week and sold it off, where it was refashioned using footage from the cutting room floor to make it more commercial. That version, which went under quite a few titles (Blood Couple and Double Possession, to name two) would probably be more to my liking. As it stands, Ganja & Hess never engaged me enough for me to say that I enjoyed it.


28. Day of the Dead (1985) (Blu-ray) - There was a time when I thought that Day of the Dead was great. I watched the VHS over and over, marveling at Tom Savini's effects. In fact, if I'm remembering correctly, I went through three copies of it on VHS. Once the DVD came out, I heard that it had some soundtrack issues, so I never bought it...but I rented it, to see it with more clarity than I ever had before. And I was disappointed--not in the DVD's picture quality, but with the film itself. I guess that in the VHS era, I was too enthralled with the gore effects to notice that the film had some rather glaring flaws, such as bad dialogue and worse acting. And I REALLY hated that Romero had given us Bub--the zombie designed to evoke sympathy in the audience. So, I was sort of dreading watching the film again...and I found that I dislike it more than ever these days. It was nice to discover that most of the effects still hold up well, and I'll happily admit that Howard Sherman did a wonderful job of bringing Bub to life, or a semblance thereof, even if I don't like the character. But, and it pains me to admit this, I found pretty much everything else about the film, except for John Harrison's score, to be awful.

29. Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) (DVD) - I had really high hopes for this, as I'd heard a lot of good things about it. Although I had really, really disliked director Mike Flanagan's Oculus, I'd seen Hush and enjoyed it, so I figured that I'd give Flanagan another shot. Ouija: Origin of Evil has a great setup, some really good performances, and a wonderful feel for its time period...before it lapses into a totally unsatisfying ending. It's certainly worth a watch, but I doubt that I'll revisit it anytime soon.

30. The Belko Experiment (2016) (DVD) - I kinda liked The Belko Experiment, even though it's just a mash-up of The Cabin in the Woods and Battle Royale. Still, I always enjoy what Stephen King referred to as "Spam in a cabin" films. In this one, a building in Colombia is sealed shut and the eighty people within the building are forced to kill each other until there's only one survivor...or be killed by the "tracking devices" that the corporation had implanted in each of their heads as a precaution against kidnapping. There are no huge surprises in the film, but sometimes all I need from a film is for it to tell its story without somehow screwing things up. The Belko Experiment did just that.


31. +1 (2013) (Streaming--Shudder) - Utterly pointless film asks what would happen if, during a fantasy party that could never, ever happen in real life, an asteroid crash-lands nearby, causing electrical surges that cause people to suddenly have doubles. And that's it--really. Some whiny people at a party happen to notice that there are two of everybody at the party, and that the second set of people are doing exactly what the first set of people were doing earlier. As further power surges and blackouts happen, the time lag between the real people and their doppelgangers gets shorter and shorter. What will happen once the duplicates catch up in time to the originals? Will you be still be awake enough to care? What starts out as an interesting idea quickly loses its interest until the film ends without really resolving anything. Or maybe it did, and I just didn't care enough to try to think it through.

32. Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (2011) (Streaming--Amazon) - Man, but I felt icky just typing out the title of this movie. If you knew me, you'd know that this is the kind of film that I avoid on principle, because life's too short to waste it on movies that are conceived and executed to be merely product. And, let's face it, nobody hires '80s teen idols Debbie Gibson and Tiffany to star in a film because they want to make a genuine statement about the ecological balance of the Everglades. No, I watched this just to see if I could make it all the way through it. It was a litmus test of sorts to make sure that my critical faculties weren't slipping. As it turned out, the film was actually a lot worse than I expected it to be, which is right there a pretty amazing feat. It's just wrong for a film called Mega Python vs. Gatoroid not to have an epic battle between the two titular monsters, and yet we never get one. And have there ever been any less-convincing CGI monsters than these? It looks like the producers gave a bunch of fifth-graders some Commodore 64 computers and some basic modeling techniques and whatever they came up with went into the movie. Beyond awful.


33. Dolls (1987) (Streaming--Vudu Free with Ads) - When I first saw Dolls on VHS shortly after it was released, I couldn't help but be a bit disappointed--after all, it was directed by Stuart Gordon, who had just come off Re-Animator and From Beyond, which, while they had their flaws, had at least been something different and boundary-pushing in the horror genre in the mid-'80s. But I felt that Dolls wasn't anything really different, and it certainly didn't forge a new path for horror. It seemed more of a throwback than anything else, and I found it to be forgettable. Flash forward to tonight's viewing, and I can see that I was a little harsh towards the film, mainly due to its not being what I wanted it to be. It's not bad, but with the hindsight that the last thirty years have brought, it's quite obviously one of the first in Empire/Full Moon's never-ending parade of "horror" films about dolls and puppets. Gordon tries mightily to escape what was soon to become an all-too-familiar formula, and to his credit he mostly succeeds. I got excited when I saw Ed Naha's name as writer; he wrote one of my favorite horror movie guides from the '70s, Horrors: From Screen to Scream. But then I looked at his filmography and saw that he also wrote Troll and C.H.U.D. II, so that pretty much told me that I need to stick to his movie criticism. Overall, I'm still not a fan of Dolls, but at least I like it a little better than I used to.


34. Alucarda (1977) (DVD) - Alucarda is a rather unique horror film, in that it borrows a lot of tropes from various horror sub-genres and mixes them all together to create something new and different. I don't know that the finished product is particularly successful as a horror film, but it's never boring. The plot, such as it is, has a young orphan named Justine getting sent to a convent/orphanage where she meets another of the orphans there, Alucarda. Together, they get into a lot of trouble. The film takes its cues from everywhere, it seems--there's some obvious nunsploitation going on, and some more pointed nods toward Ken Russell's The Devils, as well as swipes from "Carmilla," The Exorcist, and the Elizabeth Bathory legend. It may not tell the most linear of stories, as it's impossible to tell where it's going to go next, but it's fascinating in its unpredictability. It's worth a watch for the more adventurous horror fan.


35. Hobgoblins (1988) (Streaming--Vudu Free with Ads) - Oh, but watching this was painful. Some none-too-articulated puppets terrorize about six bad actors by fulfilling their their deepest, darkest sexual fantasies. Like that's a bad thing? I guess that it is when there's no nudity in the film. Although the IMDB shows that the film was rated R, I can't find any hard evidence of that. The MPAA film ratings website shows the film as never having been rated. I think that it would garner a PG-13, tops. Hobgoblins was purportedly made for around $15,000. I believe it. Stay far, far away.


36. The Crazies (1973) (Blu-ray) - I've been wanting to see this film for years, but I've never actually taken the time to pop it into the Blu-ray player until now. Again, I'll admit to being a little disappointed in the film now that I've seen it, but I was also extremely tired when I watched it, and that may have a lot to do with my opinion of the film. A plane carrying a biological weapon crashes near the town of Evans City, Pennsylvania, causing the townspeople to turn murderous and go mad, not necessarily in that order. The army is brought in to try to stop the effects of the weapon from spreading into neighboring towns, martial law is declared, and, as happens in so many of Romero's films, things quickly go straight to hell. If he'd had more money and a tighter screenplay, Romero might have had at least a modest hit on his hands, but as it stands, the film is far too talky, with too many arguments between characters that serve only to eat up running time, not advance the plot. It's worth seeing if you're a Romero fan, but I'm hesitant to recommend it to anyone else.


37. Messiah of Evil (1973) (DVD) - I've seen this film a few times now, and I've grown to like it quite a bit. A woman comes to the small California town of Point Dune to locate her missing artist father, and instead finds a bunch of ghouls who are waiting for the "blood moon" to come and bring back the titular character. The film has a creepy ambiance that reminds me a lot of Carnival of Souls, but it also has echoes of Let's Scare Jessica to Death. It doesn't make total sense, as the filmmakers ran out of money before completing the film and had it taken away from them, but it's still got enough atmosphere and a couple of great scenes to make it well worth your while to seek out.


38. The Initiation (1984) (Streaming--Amazon Prime) - Entertainingly stupid slasher film shot in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area stars Daphne Zuniga as Kelly Fairchild, a college student who's pledging a sorority. She's also having a recurring nightmare that she discusses with one of her instructors, which turns real when she and her pledge sisters have to undergo an initiation challenge involving her father's huge department store. Even though the film gives Daphne Zuniga the "Introducing" credit, she had actually been in another film a couple of years earlier, The Dorm That Dripped Blood. Clu Gulager and Vera Miles show up to add a little class to the proceedings. The killings in the film aren't terribly graphic, and I found one of them (the security guard's death) to be hysterically funny. I guarantee that there's absolutely no way that you'll see the ending coming; I don't know that I've ever seen a twist handled with less panache. If you're in the mood for something that you don't have to think about too hard, The Initiation should fit the bill nicely.


39. The Fog (1980) (Blu-ray) - This year marks my eighth Challenge, and this is my third time to watch The Fog in those eight Challenges. The last time I watched it was only last year, but I watched it with the Carpenter and Hill commentary track. Here's part of what I had to say about it the first time that I watched it for a Challenge: "Too bad that The Fog came out in 1980; if it had come out only a year earlier, it might have had a fighting chance at becoming a classic. As it stands, it had the misfortune of coming out at the dawn of the slasher craze, and it was deemed too old-fashioned to fully compete in the marketplace (also see Ghost Story). I really can't count the number of times that I saw The Fog at my local drive-in, as it tended to play throughout most of 1980 and 1981 first as the main feature of double-features, then as the supporting feature for pretty much all of the Avco Embassy horror releases for those years. I'm pretty sure that I saw it double-featured with Phantasm, Fear No Evil, Prom Night, Scanners, and The Howling at one point or another. And that's okay, because it's my second-favorite John Carpenter film. I love the atmosphere, the score, and the fact that it IS a throwback to an old-fashioned ghostly revenge tale." I still feel the same way; I never get tired of this film.


40. Witchtrap (1989) (Streaming--Google Drive [Alyxstarr's link]) - Guy owns haunted house. Guy calls in team of paranormal investigators to get rid of ghost. Guy ALSO calls in group of detectives with guns to make sure that nothing goes awry. Things go awry. This has to be the worst-acted film of this year's Challenge--I've thought about it long and hard, and even Hobgoblins had better acting. When Linnea Quigley gives a film's best performance, you know that, as a viewer, you're in for a long slog. It seems to me that the part of Tony Vincente was written for Bruce Campbell. You won't be missing a lot if you take a pass on Witchtrap.


41. Ghostwatch (1992) (Streaming--Shudder) - I've seen Ghostwatch several times now, and I find myself admiring it more and more with every viewing. The film's become somewhat legendary in that the BBC has refused to show it again ever since its first airing caused such a ruckus. If you don't know about the film's history, read up about it online--it's fascinating. Ghostwatch is a film that requires multiple viewings to be able to catch everything that its creators have layered into it, including both the background story of "Pipes" and all of the appearances of him in the film. If you're the type of viewer who prefers Hostel to The Changeling, you should probably just skip Ghostwatch. All others should find a great deal to admire in it.

Theme Nights -- Completed


-X- 09/30: The Criterion Collection Crossover - Cronos
-X- 10/01: R.I.P. Tobe Hooper - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
-X- 10/02: Slime, Goo & Toxic Waste Horror - C.H.U.D.
-X- 10/03: Slashers/ Giallos / Serial Killers - Amer
-X- 10/04: Animated Horror - Mad Monster Party?
-X- 10/05: Werewolves / Were-Creatures On A Full Moon - Bad Moon
-X- 10/06: Folklore, Urban Legends & Fairy Tale Horror - Candyman
-X- 10/07: Nightmares & Dreamscapes / Hallucinations & Drug Trips - The Void
-X- 10/08: Zombies - Train to Busan
-X- 10/09: Day of the Woman: Female Directed Horror Films - Raw
-X- 10/10: Chronological Horror Years Faceoff - 1967 (Gold) Vs. 1992 (Silver) - Yongary, Monster from the Deep
-X- 10/11: Skull & Bones - The Screaming Skull
-X- 10/12: Mummies - Bubba Ho-Tep
-X- 10/13: Unlucky Charms - A Celebration of Friday the 13th: Black Cats / Broken Mirrors / Ladders / F13 Films - Friday the 13th, Part 2
-X- 10/14: Splatter / Gore - Piranha 3D
-X- 10/15: Horror Anthologies - Tales of Halloween
-X- 10/16: R.I.P. Fangoria / Video Watchdog - Martyrs
-X- 10/17: Friends 'till the End: The Good, The Bad & The Imaginary - Pin
-X- 10/18: Pregnancy Horror - Seeding of a Ghost [Zhong gui]
-X- 10/19: Supernatural / Quiet/Soft / Seances - Under the Shadow
-X- 10/20: Vampires - Ganja & Hess
-X- 10/21: 1980s Video Companies Spotlight: Media Home Entertainment / Video Stores - Day of the Dead
-X- 10/22: Evil Twins & Doppelgangers - +1
-X- 10/23: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night... - Dolls
-X- 10/24: Coffin Joe's Caribbean, Mexican & Central/South American Cruise to Port Oblivion Featuring Hispanic Icons - Alucarda
-X- 10/25: IMDB Lowest Rated Horror - Hobgoblins
-X- 10/26: R.I.P. George A. Romero - The Crazies
-X- 10/27: Small Town Horrors - Messiah of Evil
-X- 10/28: Mass Marathon of the Damned 8: Horror Parties - The Initiation
-X- 10/29: The Synth of Fear - The Fog (1980)
-X- 10/30: Devil's Night Debauchery: Demonic Possession / Satanic / Witchcraft / Hell - Witchtrap
-X- 10/31: All Hallows Eve Horrifically Hideous Hellfest / Samhain: An Evening of Celtic Horror - Ghostwatch
--- 11/01: Horror Comedies Crossover -

31 Films Subset -- Completed


--- 10/01 - 10/31: BONUS WILDCARD - any horror theatrical showing (2017)
-X- 09/30: group vote - Cronos (1993) OPTIONAL
-X- 10/01: Dick Laurent - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
-X- 10/02: shellebelle - C.H.U.D (1984)
-X- 10/03: ororama - Amer (2009)
-X- 10/04: clckworang - Mad Monster Party? (1967)
-X- 10/05: Darkgod - Bad Moon (1996)
-X- 10/06: hbsvb - Candyman (1992)
-X- 10/07: Gobear - The Void (2016)
-X- 10/08: arw6040 - Train to Busan (2016)
-X- 10/09: jacob_b - Raw (2016)
-X- 10/10: nezumi - Yongary, Monster from the Deep (1967)
-X- 10/11: rbrown498 - The Screaming Skull (1958)
-X- 10/12: Trevor - Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
-X- 10/13: tarfrimmer - Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
-X- 10/14: Chad - One Dark Night (1982)
-X- 10/15: Mondo Kane - Tales of Halloween (2015)
-X- 10/16: Bladz - Martyrs (2008)
-X- 10/17: mallratcal - Pin (1988)
-X- 10/18: numbercrunch - Seeding of a Ghost [Zhong gui] (1983)
-X- 10/19: pacaway - Under the Shadow (2016)
-X- 10/20: Shack - Ganja & Hess (1973)
-X- 10/21: The Man with the Golden Doujinshi - Day of the Dead (1985)
-X- 10/22: Undeadcow - +1 (2013)
-X- 10/23: TheBigDave - Dolls (1987)
-X- 10/24: alyxstarr - Alucarda (1977)
-X- 10/25: WillieMLF - Hobgoblins (1988)
-X- 10/26: PCBreakdown - The Crazies (1973)
-X- 10/27: DaveyJoe - Messiah of Evil (1973)
-X- 10/28: SethDLH - The Initiation (1984)
-X- 10/29: Darth Maher - The Fog (1980)
-X- 10/30: SterlingBen - Witchtrap (1989)
-X- 10/31: cwileyy - Ghostwatch (1992)
--- 11/01: group vote - Arachnophobia (1990) OPTIONAL

The Checklist


Select 10 actors:
--- Kevin Bacon -
--- Tobin Bell -
-X- Michael Biehn - Grindhouse
--- Doug Bradley -
--- Veronica Cartwright -
-X- Peter Cushing - The Skull
--- Jocelin Donahue -
-X- Brad Dourif - Fading of the Cries
--- Ethan Embry -
-X- Boris Karloff - Black Friday (1940)
--- Brea Grant -
--- Kane Hodder -
--- Elizabeth Kaitan -
-X- Bela Lugosi - Black Friday (1940)
-X- Christopher Lee - The Skull
-X- Rose McGowan - Grindhouse
--- R.A. Mihailoff -
-X- Dina Myer - Piranha 3D
-X- Meg Tilly - One Dark Night
-X- Mary Elizabeth Winstead - Grindhouse

Select 5 recently deceased actors -or- directors
--- Don Calfa -
--- John Vulich -
--- Ted V. Mikels -
--- John Zacherle -
--- William Peter Blatty -
--- Carrie Fisher -
--- Miguel Ferrer -
--- John Hurt -
--- Bill Paxton -
--- Robert Day -
--- Alessandro Alessandroni -
-X- Michael Parks - Grindhouse
-X- Adam West - One Dark Night
-X- George A. Romero - Day of the Dead
-X- John Heard - C.H.U.D.
--- Sam Shepard -
--- Robert Hardy -
--- Haruo Nakajima -
--- Sonny Landham -
--- Jay Thomas -
-X- Tobe Hooper - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
--- Martin Landau -
--- Harry Dean Stanton -
--- Bernie Casey -

Select 2 film composers:
--- Antón García Abril -
--- John Carpenter -
-X- Daniel Licht - Bad Moon
-X- Harry Manfredini - Friday the 13th, Part 2

Select 5 directors:
--- Dario Argento -
-X- Don Coscarelli - Bubba Ho-Tep
--- David DeCoteau -
-X- Mike Flanagan - Ouija: Origin of Evil
--- Tom Holland -
-X- Mary Lambert - Mega Python vs. Gatoroid
--- Jean Rollin -
-X- Steve Miner - Friday the 13th, Part 2
--- James Wan -
--- Adam Wingard -

Select 2 makeup effects artists:
-X- Patrick Baxter - The Void
-X- Jason Collins - Bubba Ho-Tep
--- Mark Shostrom -
--- Bud Westmore -

Select 2 producers:
-X- Bradley Fuller - Ouija: Origin of Evil
--- Dino De Laurentiis -
--- Roy Lee -
--- Lloyd Kaufman -

Select 2 writers:
--- Jaume Balagueró -
-X- Robert Bloch - The Skull
--- Jack Ketchum -
--- H.P. Lovecraft -

Select 30 of the following sub-genres / types:
-X- *3-D Film - Piranha 3D
--- Agoraphobia -
-X- Anthology Film - Tales of Terror
--- Appears on BFI's 100 European Horror Films List -
--- Appears on Video Nasties List -
--- Based on a True Story -
-X- Based on a Novel - Bad Moon
-X- Cannibalism - Raw
-X- Cinema Inspired By: Edgar Allan Poe - Tales of Terror
--- Cinematic Titanic / Horror Host / MST3K / RiffTrax -
-X- Classic Universal Monsters Movie - House of Dracula
-X- Comedy / Spoof - Bubba Ho-Tep
--- Criterion / Masters of Cinema Version Film -
-X- Death by: Fire - Messiah of Evil
--- Distributor / Studio: Vinegar Syndrome -
--- Documentary -
--- Extraterrestrial / Takes Place in Space -
--- Film From Someone Else's List You've Never Seen -
-X- Film From TCM's October Schedule - House of Dracula
-X- From a Basil Gogos Painting - Tales of Terror
--- Found Footage -
--- Frankenstein -
-X- Ghost / Haunting - Ghostwatch
--- Giallo -
-X- K-Horror - Train to Busan
-X- Killer / Evil Animal - Piranha 3D
--- Killer / Evil Child -
-X- Killer / Evil Doll - Dolls
--- Made-for-TV Movie -
-X- Monster / Creature Feature / Godzilla - Yongary, Monster from the Deep
-X- Mummy - Bubba Ho-Tep
-X- Musical / Rock ‘n Roll Horror - Mad Monster Party?
--- Nation of Origin: China -
--- Nazi -
--- Psychological -
-X- Rape / Revenge - The Fog (1980)
-X- Slasher / Psycho / Homicidal Maniac - Friday the 13th, Part 2
-X- Takes Place on a Holiday - Tales of Halloween
--- Takes Place on or Under the Sea -
--- Three Installments in a Franchise -
--- Vampire -
-X- Werewolf - Bad Moon
--- Witchcraft / Satanic / Religious -
--- With Commentary -
-X- With Two or More Horror Legends - Black Friday
-X- Zombie - Day of the Dead

Watch 1 w/commentary from the "Masters of Commentary":
--- Joe Bob Briggs -
--- John Carpenter -
--- Larry Cohen -
--- Joe Dante -
--- Tim Lucas -
--- Guillermo del Toro -
--- David del Valle -

Watch films in at least three formats:
-X- First format, (DVD), (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2).
-X- Second format, (Blu-ray), (Mad Monster Party?).
-X- Third format, (Streaming [Netflix]), (The Void).

Watch films in at least three languages:
-X- First language, (Korean), (Train to Busan).
-X- Second language, (French), (Raw).
--- Third language, (insert language), (insert title).

Watch 3 films that you've never seen before that:
--- Stars a Barbara (Steele, Crampton, Hershey, Shelley) -
--- Features music by Richard Band -
--- Was made in the 1950s -
--- Features a Disembodied / Possessed Hand -
--- Was written by Jimmy Sangster -
--- Features a solar eclipse -
--- Has the words "It" in the title -
--- Was directed by David Cronenberg -
--- Stars Michelle Bauer -
--- Takes place at a cemetery -
--- Features an actor who played Michael Myers, Jason, Freddy, Pinhead, or another pop culture horror killer in a different role -

Select 8 decades of film history:
--- 1890 -
--- 1900 -
--- 1910 -
--- 1920 -
--- 1930 -
-X- 1940 - House of Dracula (1945)
-X- 1950 - The Screaming Skull (1958)
-X- 1960 - Mad Monster Party? (1967)
-X- 1970 - Ganja & Hess (1973)
-X- 1980 - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
-X- 1990 - Bad Moon (1996)
-X- 2000 - Grindhouse (2007)
-X- 2010 - Train to Busan (2016)

Select 1 from the "Chronological Horror Years Faceoff":
--- 1942 (75th) -
-X- 1967 (50th) - Mad Monster Party?
--- 1992 (25th) –

Select 2 from the following anniversaries:
--- 100th Birthday of Santo -
--- 15th Anniversary of The Rondo Hatton Awards -
--- 20th Anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer -
-X- 25th Anniversary of The Sci-Fi/SyFy Channel - Mega Python vs. Gatoroid

Select 4 ratings:
--- G -
-X- PG - One Dark Night
-X- PG-13 - Under the Shadow
-X- R - Grindhouse
--- NC-17 -
--- X -
-X- Unrated - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
--- M -
--- GP -

Attend a live event (convention, play, haunted house, ghost tour, etc.):
--- (insert event). OPTIONAL

Venture Into the Literary World:
--- Read a Horror Novel or Novella (insert title). OPTIONAL
--- Read a Horror Comic Book or Graphic Novel (insert title). OPTIONAL
--- Read a Horror Magazine (insert title). OPTIONAL

This Year's Stats

This year marks my 8th Challenge.

Goal: 45 Total Watched: 41

First Time Viewings: 23 (56%)

Formats Watched:

18 Streaming (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Vudu Free with Ads, Shudder, Google Drive, YouTube, Shout Factory TV) – 44%
14 DVD – 34%
9 Blu-ray - 22%


1940s: 2 (5%)
1950s: 1 (3%)
1960s: 4 (10%)
1970s: 4 (10%)
1980s: 12 (29%)
1990s: 3 (7%)
2000s: 5 (12%)
2010s: 10 (24%)

Longest Film Viewed: Grindhouse (191 minutes)
Shortest Film Viewed: House of Dracula (67 minutes)

New favorites: Under the Shadow, Bubba Ho-Tep, Bad Moon

Will never watch again: Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, Fading of the Cries, +1

October Horror Challenge: 2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017
DVD/BR Spending Tab: 2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018
My collection at Film Aficionado
My blogs: Psychotronica Redux / Unpopular Culture

Last edited by rbrown498; 11-05-17 at 12:12 PM.
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