The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project' Premiered at Sundance 20 Years Ago

*Originally written in 2003

The wild hysteria surrounding this movie proves that the majority of the cinema going audience can still be fooled into believing anything they see or hear, or think they do, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is an extremely convincing and effective horror flick. A certain number of people on these boards (written originally on IMDb so refers to IMDb message boards), and who have reviewed Blair Witch Project HATE the film for varying, understandable reasons. When I first watched this, I watched intently, knowing exactly what the directors were playing at, and I found great enjoyment in watching the reactions of those who thought it was real. Did it unsettle me? No. Did it make me jump like the horror movies that rely on loud noises to scare (the recent Ring remake) – no. But it was the first horror movie in a very long time to put a smile on my face, and make me shiver. If you can remember back to when you played hide and seek as a kid – the feeling you had when the person looking for you was 10 feet away and coming closer – that is what this film gives, in a much greater quantity.

It is slow moving, and if you do not enjoy the pace, then you may not enjoy the film, but it compensates this by being short and concise, juxtaposed against how the 3 campers must have felt as the hours dragged by – the point I take from this is that in life we only remember a series of memories, images pasted together to make little sense, and life seems much shorter than it actually was.

The camera use and grainy feel again may be fuel for hatred or love, but it works perfectly – they don’t know what is going on, and neither do we, but that doesn’t matter because in an uncertain and threatening situation, the natural human reaction is to run or fight. Drained, exhausted, paranoid, they run. Ever had a nightmare about running away from something, but not knowing exactly what it was, or why you are running?

The best part of the movie (apart from the hilarious ‘I kicked the map into the river’ scene) is the last few minutes when Michael and Heather enter the house following Josh’s screams. This is perfectly spine tingling, and the ending is excellent as our feelings and fear somehow build and climax  in perfect harmony with what is happening on screen. The actors are clearly convincing, again look at the audience hysteria for proof, and although they are not called upon to do much, they do it well. Few great horror films come along these days, this is one- embrace it, let yourself be sucked in to feel the full effect, don’t be critical, and realize how good it is.

Let us know what you think of The Blair Witch Project in the comments!

Cell

CELL: Phoning It In | Horror Movie | Horror Homeroom

I bought Stephen King’s Cell when it was first released, back in 2006. It was one of the books which felt infused by King’s new found cynicism after almost being wiped out by an idiot in a car – the very same accident which wormed its way thematically and psychologically into the final chapters of The Dark Tower. Already in 2006, cell phones were the norm and much of the criticism of the book was from people who claimed the story would have had more foreboding impact had it dropped five years earlier. When I first read the story – I got the subtext, but I was much more interested in the simple fact that it seemed to be King’s take on the zombie genre, having spoken out in support of movies like 28 Days Later. I quite enjoyed the book, even if it was on the silly side and didn’t always make the most coherent sense. I additionally felt that the book would make a very entertaining movie – the zombies were fresh enough that a cinematic take could be unique, and there were several setpieces which could have translated well from page to big screen. I waited for years watching rumour after rumour drop on a film version – I was keen to see what Eli Roth could do when he was attached, and then I was excited when I saw the triple threat of cast of John Cusack, Samuel L Jackson, and the great Isabelle Fuhrman. Is it any good?

Where to begin with this mess? I saw some reviews when the movie was released – they weren’t good. I hoped that these were simply the usual snotty elitists who can’t appreciate a King translation for the silly fun they are usually meant to be. I waited until the film was available on Prime to stream, and lordy, it’s not good. The plot is taken wholesale from the text – an artist is in New York away from his family when some sort of attack takes place. Basically, anyone who was using a cell phone (making a call) is turned into a blood crazed maniac and begins bashing anyone and everyone in sight. Clay, the Artist, escapes this initial wave, allies with a group of survivors, and plans to make his way back to his family in the hope they were not turned. Throw in a Big Bad who can control the zombies, some psychic dream nonsense, and you have a recipe for something already convoluted and junky. King’s gift in the story is making all of this, if not plausible, but relatable. We know it’s silly, but we trust King’s eye for character detail, emotion, and story-telling. The film has none of these things –  major plot points are dropped (or not) without explanation, and the story unravels in sequence without emotion, suspense, or meaning – it’s just a bunch of stuff that happens.

King’s gifts are not equated by director Tod Williams or screenwriter Adam Alleca. Williams, I have gone on record as saying that he made the best Paranormal Activity movie – so he knows what he is doing. I can only assume the production was the negative opposite of lightning in a bottle – the stars aligned to ensure that the worst possible outcome in every facet of the movie was achieved. Cusack seems like he’s having a stroke when trying to force out a tear, Samuel L Jackson seems bored, a few of the supporting characters are apparently genuinely damaged people that the filmmakers decided to put on camera for a bit of a laugh. Stacey Keach is fine for the three minutes he’s there, and Isabelle Fuhrman thinks she’s in a better movie than she actually is, or at the very least she’s trying to elevate things. On top of this, the soundtrack is filled with bizarre musical choices, the dialogue is low in the mix, and there are are three endings which you are free to choose as the one you want to be real.

Cell is a film I did want to love – I hold out hope that one day someone will make a good version of this, but I can’t see it. It’s a messy story, already dated, and that’s only going to get worse with time. There’s not a lot here for anyone to enjoy and everyone who you think would choose to watch the thing – horror fans, Stephen King fans – will be disappointed.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Cell!

Dead Of Night (1977)

Traumafessions :: Doomed Moviethon's Richard on Dead Of Night (1977)

This Halloween, and every Halloween, I try to watch a few portmanteau horror anthologies. Dead Of Night by Dan Curtis bares little resemblance to the Ealing film of the same name from three decades before, beyond the fact that they both offer little segments of horror and mystery for the viewer to enjoy. With only three stories and no wraparound it sets itself apart from many other anthologies, but thankfully the film still works thanks in a large part to the potency of its final piece.

It’s always interesting to me when an anthology film, ostensibly one in the horror genre, starts out with a segment which seems in no way related to horror. This is barely a Twilight Zone episode – one without an overly shocking twist or creep factor, but one which is still charming and watchable in its own right. Starring Ed Begley Jr as a car fanatic who picks up an old car to restore. The car has a bit of history, having been crashed 50 years earlier in a double death tragedy. Taking it out for its first spin, he finds himself somehow transported back to 1926 to learn the truth of the tragedy and maybe call upon some old relatives. It’s a strange, wistful tale which feels a little out of place but is still fun.

The second segment, is full blown Gothic Hammer goodness – creaking old mansions, butlers, sick busty women, and vampires. While this one does indeed have a macabre twist, you can see it a mile away if you’ve seen any horror movies of the last thirty years. It’s one of those segments which reminds me why I fell in love with Horror in the first place – even though it’s outdated and silly and not at all scary, it treats the material, and the vampire seriously – as this truly powerful and deadly threat rather than the lovelorn or easily slain anti-heroes we think of nowadays. It’s a piece which would be perfectly chilling and unforgettable for kids just dipping their toes into the genre. Plus you get Patrick McNee and Horst Bulchoz.

The final segment ‘Bobby’ is one of the most famous segments in all of anthology horror. Written by the great Richard Matheson, it’s the story of a grieving mother trying to raise her son from the dead using the dark arts. With little more than an exasperated sounding husband on the phone, it’s all about Joan Hackett and her attempts to resurrect her dead child. It’s a great performance, a chilling story, and one shot with literal thunderous aplomb – a stormy night becoming increasingly terrifying as Bobby teases his appearance, and proceeds to demand a game of hide and seek. It employs a lot of tricks to raise the hairs on the back of your neck, and it remains an effective and nasty tale.

Dead Of Night is a nifty little anthology to kick off your Halloween viewing, and a great introduction for younger viewers. Just snuggle up on the sofa and scar them for life, setting out with a gentle opener then racking up the tension until the final moments. Horror films aren’t made in this style any more – gore and swearing and sex free, but still scary enough that anyone can get a kick out of it and easily shared with younger family members who will get the thrill of the genre and hopefully want to explore further. Seasoned horror fans will enjoy the nostalgia factor even if the genre has progressed to deeper scares in the years since, but should still appreciate the dedication Curtis had for the craft.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Dead Of Night!

The Gift

The Gift (2015) : Movie Plot Ending Explained | This is Barry

As a seasoned Horror fan, there isn’t a lot out there which truly scares or unsettles me. We all have our thing, that type or subject which gets under our skin, be it jump scares or vampires, or spiders, or home invasion – whatever. I don’t really have a thing, I just enjoy all horror movies – even if they’re bad, there’s probably some funny kills or gore, and even if they don’t scare me, I can love them. The Gift feels more like a Thriller than an outright horror film, and there’s certainly nothing in the film or its synopsis which signalled to me that I would be scare or unsettled in any way. Nevertheless, The Gift made me very uncomfortable at certain points, which is not something I can say about even my favourite movies of the last few years.

Before we get into that – a quick plot description. Jason Bateman and his wife Rebecca Hall, have recently moved back to the suburbs due to Bateman getting a new Executive position, and allowing Hall to chill a little after some undisclosed mental issues. The seem to be back on the right path – new job, new house, a fresh start, and planning for a baby. While shopping, Bateman is approached by Joel Edgerton who claims to be an old school friend. At first not remembering, the penny eventually drops and they exchange phone numbers. Soon, Bateman and Hall begin to receive gifts and visits from Edgerton, who seems more than a little socially awkward, and these increase in frequency and oddity. Do they have a stalker? Is there something more sinister afoot? Is it all innocent?

Unfortunately, to talk about why the film excelled as instilling these levels of discomfort, we have to dip into spoiler territory – skip the rest of the review if you haven’t watched the movie. It’s quite clear early on that Bateman’s character is a bit of a dick. He seems dismissive and controlling of others, yet easily charming when he wants his own way. It’s this sly treatment of everyone around him which Bateman plays so perfectly, and which Edgerton directs so beautifully which really unnerved me. Not that this is particularly personal in any way, but to me Bateman’s character is someone I’ve seen all through life – from School with the privileged kids getting whatever they want and assuming they deserve everything and can trample over others to get it, to Office life where the smarmy insidious ass-lickers will crush those who just want to do their job and forget about it once 5pm hits. The movie does make it clear that this is not a good person, but it rarely makes it obvious if we’re meant to be rooting for him or not. As time goes on and the secrets are revealed, this contradiction becomes less jaded. If there’s one thing I would change in the movie, to even further blur lines between contradictions and blame, it’s in removing some of the more unnecessary moments concerning Gordo, such as learning about his discharge from the Army and his issues with the Law. I would have made Gordo’s character completely straight-laced and innocent, which would have meant re-writing the shock ending which makes us question whether or not a rape took place. Having Gordo potentially committing these acts makes it seem more like he had a plan all along, and therefore was just as capable of evil as Bateman, while I feel like him just being a random innocent weirdo would have been all the more potent.

The Gift is a well acted and directed thriller which has several twists and secrets which play on many tropes seen in past movies, from the likes of Fatal Attraction and Single White Female to Pacific Heights and Arlington Road. There’s always a seemingly happy couple, there’s always an intruder with an agenda who comes to disrupt this happy life, and there are always fatal consequences. The Gift is like those films but with added secrets to unravel, and with a less clearly focused single villain. It’s a film with the power to unsettle thanks to how closely it pinpoints cultural truths and norms, and one which may piss you off for all the right reasons.

Let us know what you thought of The Gift in the comments!

The Perfection

Netflix’s The Perfection came with the usual unseemly onslaught of praise and hyperbole. ‘The most terrifying horror film since The Exorcist’ – they proclaimed. ‘It’s the greatest movie since that time you snuck downstairs and caught your parents watching Basic Instinct together – in the nudey’ – they shrieked. Settle down, dude. It’s perhaps a step up from the usual 400 films an hour Netflix has been putting out; a film about ladies, and cellos, and bus vomiting, and hand chopping, with more twists than a Shyamalan coda.

The Perfection follows Miss Noticeable Teeth 2019 – Allison Williams – a former child musical prodigy who gave up the rock star life of playing the cello, to focus on the decidedly more avant-garde life of caring for a terminally ill parent. She visits her old teachers to help them select the new her – the next big thing in the exciting world of cello fiddling – but she seems a little off. Jealous? Out for revenge? Something? Lizzie – the new prodigy seems a little vindictive two. Surprise – they’re attracted to each other and after a night of boozing get down to a little fiddling with each other. Sorry. The next day, the pair take a trip and all manner of bodily fluids hit the fan as Lizzie seems to be infected with some apocalyptic, Cronenbergian funk-fest. Is it a dream? Is Perfect Teeth up to no good? Something? Turns out, the twists and turns have only just begun – just as The Carpenters predicted.

Lets get the obvious out of the way – many of the twists are convoluted and silly, and as far as revenge plots go, I can think of at least four million easier ways to go about things – with just as much satisfaction. I guess the avenging party wanted things to be ‘perfect’. As twisty as matters do get, a lot of it is telegraphed and it does seem geared to conclude in an Audition like fashion. Luckily it’s all ridiculous enough that once you’re strapped in you’re more than likely to go along for the ride, and any misgivings you may have had are generally smoothed out by how handsomely shot the film is and how competent the cast and grew are. It’s obvious Richard Shepard has danced around the bush numerous times, and faces old and new such as Steven Webber and Logan Browning are all committed to disguising their characters’ true intentions. As a horror fan I’m pleased to say that the film does go to some visually, graphically, and mentally disturbing places – there’s nothing a seasoned horror fan won’t have seen many times, but maybe not in such a glossy way with such an artistic bent. Non seasoned fans likely will be slapped about like a fat footy fan’s belly at five pm. It is one of Netflix’s best movies and another notch on the ladder in Williams’ interesting career – but will she ever break out of the ‘untrustworthy scream queen’ trap she currently finds herself in? Something?

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Perfection!

Girls Against Boys

I know, I’m slacking with the movie reviews at the moment. Which is only shooting myself in the foot as those were always what gave me the most traffic when I started the blog. It’s just that, recently, the music posts are taking my interest and they’re much easier to write. With the music ones, I’m just listening and typing, while the movie reviews I put 5% more effort into. Of course, I’m still posting all of the lists and writing a lot in the background which is zapping my creative juices. Having said that, I do have a tonne of old movie reviews written in the early 2000s that I haven’t yet published here – they’re not the most enlightening and I can’t be arsed updating them – so catch#22 – do I bother posting them and risk ridicule, or take the time and effort to update them when I’m a lazy bugger? Having said that, I also have a load of less old album reviews which I could be posting too. For whatever reason, I just keep pumping out new crap instead of old.

Girls Against Boys then. Yes, this is a movie review for anyone who hasn’t been scared off by that unrelated intro. I’m planning to post a few more movie reviews, that’s all I’m saying. I can’t recall where I first heard about Girls Against Boys, but it had been on my radar for a few years. Starring Danielle Panabaker (possibly why it was on my radar) as Shae, a Student who is having a relationship with an older, married man. When he scorns her, she drowns her sorrows at a bar and meets colleague Lu and bunch of standard Bro scumbags. One of the scumbags doesn’t take no for an answer and rapes Shae. If there’s a common thread running through the film, it’s that people are scumbags – men, women, single, married, young, old. I’m sure that’s not the intent and that the film was designed to be an empowering rape revenge feminist film, but the message is muddied to prevent it from being meaningful.

The film’s central problem doesn’t lie in the handling of the sexual assault, or the subsequent violence, but more in the handling of the two protagonists. Lu is clearly unhinged from the beginning but rather than being some powerful avenging angel, she instead devolves into a crazy white woman trope – an obsessive just as evil as the clueless men she kills, except more calculating. She comes across as someone who will attack at the merest sniff of male sexuality; yes, those she attacks are, at best assholes with boners and at worst, serial rapists, but the fact that she attacks with little provocation in some cases, and ultimately that she is revealed to want Shae for herself paints her as just another collection of tropes shoved inside an alluring body. Shae seems a little to easily led along the path of destruction – from the outside I can understand the desire for revenge, but there is little inner anguish or display of such drive or emotion. Neither actress is at fault here, rather the writing and direction – muddled when it should have been clear, and focused on violence instead of turmoil. The flawed cherry on top is the nailed on ‘shock’ ending which closes the film suggesting Shae is now the obsessed, or the possessed, even though she has no reason to be. It’s a tacky, groundless ending which serves no purpose other than to further muddy those already churning waters.

Elsewhere the movie works. As mentioned, the two leads are captivating while the assortment of side characters play up to their roles as Type A to Type Z scumbags efficiently. There are a couple of exceptions to the scumbag rule – again no complaints with the performances, and one character does elicit a drop or two of sympathy. Director Austin Chick doesn’t dwell on the sexual assault – this is in no way in the same league as something like Revenge or I Spit On Your Grave in terms of graphic depictions or exploitation which makes the film all the more frustrating – this could have been a more powerful piece dealing with how women are viewed in society, with how such crimes are investigated or ignored, and how the victim is often made to feel guilty or forced into finding justice outside of the law. Instead it feels like Single White Female for a new generation, but without the conviction or smarts to decide what it wants to be or say.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Girls Against Boys!

 

TTT – The Shock Waves 100!

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Greetings, Glancers! It’s time for another overlong list – yay! I’ve been listening to the Shock Waves podcast for a while now – for a anyone who doesn’t know it features four horror fans (who also work in the industry) chatting about their love of horror, which movies they have seen recently, and then in the second half they bring in a guest – typically a horror legend/actor/director/effects guy/distributor etc. It’s a great listen. Anyway, I recently listened to their 100th episode (which is actually a couple of years old now), which sees the team of four picking 100 movies which they all agree upon, that they feel every horror fan, and every film fan, needs to see. Naturally, I wanted to give my thoughts, which absolutely no-one asked for.

So below I’m going to list the films below and give a couple of one-liners on each. I’ll give some semblance of form by splitting each movie into three parts – have I seen it, is it in my top movies of the release year, and a brief sentence explaining my high level thoughts. As always, stick your thoughts in the comments!

28 Days Later

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Brought the zombie genre running and screaming into the new Millennium.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y (Favourite Horror Movie Of All Time)

My Thoughts: Yes, it’s my favourite Horror Movies Of All Time. That about covers it.

Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A (But probably)

My Thoughts: One of the earliest and still finest examples of merging Horror and Comedy, and a great gateway film for younger viewers to be introduced to the world of Monsters.

Alien

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s the critical pick for best Sci-Fi horror. It’s deceptively simple – unstoppable killer in space stalks ill prepared crew. It’s basically another Slasher movie, but with one of Cinema’s best Monsters doing the killing.

Angel Heart

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: A stylish mix of noir and horror and boobs. It’s good, though I don’t love it as much as the Shockers.

Angst

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

An American Werewolf In London

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: I’d agree it’s the best example of horror comedy out there. It’s also a fairly downbeat movie, even with the laughs. Jenny Agutter is gorgeous, the creature work is superb, and it has some classic jump-scares.

Asylum

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: For the longest time it has been my favourite anthology (outside of Creepshow). The wraparound actually makes sense, and each of the stories is strong. I saw this one young, probably why it has stayed with me.

Audition

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Classy, confusing, creepy.  Stylish, scary, soul-scarring.

Basket Case

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I like the first one, but my more or less dislike of the series brings down my enjoyment of the first – something about the creature effects and camp sounds in the later movies once I saw them took away from how I view the first.

The Battery

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

The Beyond

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s Fulci doing what Fulci does, but dialled up to 69, with just enough Lovecraft to nudge the WTFery into the next realm.

Black Christmas

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: A fine slasher, but one I came to later than most so it had a lesser impact.

Black Sabbath

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

The Blob

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s better than the original and it has some yummy 80s effects. I must revisit it as it’s been too long.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: I loved this when it was first released, a big budget sumptuous, serious vampire movie with a legitimate cast and director – and that rare example of such a thing being done correctly.

The Bride Of Frankenstein

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A (But probably)

My Thoughts: Probably James Whale’s best movie. He has a few classics.

The Brood

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Mehhh, I always classed it as a lesser Cronenberg movie, but it’s been probably 20 years since I’ve seen it so I suppose I should go back again.

Cabin In The Woods

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s basically a Whedon movie with lots of Buffy related shenanigans, so of course I was going to love it. It’s also very funny and clever too.

Candyman

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s funny how life imitates art. Or is it the other way around. The film itself became something of an Urban Legend when I was young, when it was released. Older siblings would explain the Bloody Mary-esque plot to creep out the younger kids, and I was somewhere in the middle, intrigued by the vision of a hooked man hunting down, well, anyone.

Cannibal Holocaust

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year:

My Thoughts: It’s not for the faint of heart, not really because it’s overly bloody or obscene, but because of how grimy and docu-real it feels. It’s cheap and nasty like an Abel Ferrara movie, and it gets under your skin. Plus there’s the animal torture stuff. Plus an all time great main theme.

Carrie

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: King’s first book and King’s first movie – it does come across as dated and cheesy now, but it still features two great lead performances and De Palma sense of style brings the most out of the shocks.

Cat People

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year:  N/A (but probably)

My Thoughts:

Cemetery Man

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: One in a long line of bizarre zombie movies which tries to do its own thing, this one blends comedy, horror, romance (of sorts) and introspection as one man’s malaise deepens.

The Changling

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s another I came to late – I saw it in pieces when I was young – but it never had the effect on me that it seems to have on everyone else. It’s certainly moody and downbeat, but others love it a lot more than I do.

Child’s Play

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Some good performances and effects, and the whole series is entertaining, but at the end of the day – it’s still a fucking doll; punt that shit.

Christine

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Lesser Carpenter, and lesser King for me, this tale of obsession has some good performances, some great effects, but the soundtrack and the scares aren’t as impressive as most of Carpenter’s work and it’s one I rarely revisit.

Creepshow

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s probably my most loved anthology – Romero, King, ideas, comic, gore, laughs – what else do you want?

The Conjuring

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: Of all the modern series, The Conjuring manages to be the best melding of classic scares and atmosphere, newer sensibilities and fresh ideas, and a good cast attempting to make something legitimate.

Dawn Of The Dead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s the greatest Zombie movie ever made. It’s one of the best horror movies ever made. It passes from being merely a great movie, to an all time movie, to one which is rarely far from my thoughts.

Braindead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s a top 5 all time horror comedy for me, one of the bloodiest movies you’ll ever see, and one which will unquestionably make you laugh your ass off.

Deathdream

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Demon Knight

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s a long time since I saw this – I think I’ve only seen it once, in my early teens. I remember enjoying it well enough at the time.

Demons

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s a fun time in its own right, but I truly do think this one would benefit from a remake – or maybe the time it would have had a decent remake has since passed. It’s the premise I love more than the execution.

The Descent

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: I must say I didn’t care about, or remotely think about, the fact the cast is all women/any feminist issues, until several watches later. All I cared about was that it was a kick-ass movie. It’s not as flawless as some – I think too many of the characters are similar and similar looking, but as far as claustrophobic horror goes, there aren’t many better/

Don’t Look Now

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s heartbreaking, stylish, unique, haunting. I know a lot of people won’t appreciate the approach but it’s a lyrical, layered movie.

Drag Me To Hell

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: From lyrical and layered, to cats, gypsies, and saliva. This is pure entertainment which delivers precisely what it promises – scares, laughs, and fun.

Event Horizon

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I’ve personally found it overrated, but I’m not going to moan at the people who love it. I think there’s a better movie in here than what we got, but it’s still okay.

Evil Dead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s Evil Dead – no brainer.

Evil Dead 2

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: See above

The Exorcist

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: See above – but adding that it’s one of a very short list of horror movies which garnered critical acclaim from those outside the horror community.

The Exorcist III

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I need to see it again, but it’s a fun movie which is better than it has any right to be, and tops it off with some impressive, memorable scares.

Eyes Without A Face

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: One of those foreign horror movies which horror fans quickly find when they start branching out. It’s best to see this early in your Odyssey, but it’s still shocking and surprising after all these years.

The Fly

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Possibly Cronenberg’s most accessible and well-known body horror movie, it made stars of Goldblum and Davies, and features some of the best make-up and effects ever put on screen.

The Fog

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s one of the great ghost movies and one which doesn’t get as much praise as some of Carpenter’s works. It’s an exercise in atmosphere which every budding filmmaker should see.

Friday The 13th 4

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Lets be clear; in terms of the great trilogy of horror franchises, Friday The 13th is dead last in terms of quality. The original is clearly the best, but it’s barely on terms with the mid tier Elm Street and Halloween sequels. Part 2 is okay, three is a laugh-fest, Part 4 is the Corey Feldman one, 5 is trash, 6 is marginally better… you get the idea.

Fright Night

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I like it, I saw it young, it just didn’t have the profound impact on me of say, The Lost Boys. It’s one I revisit less than others so it’s probably due another watch.

The Funhouse

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I’m not sure what this is doing on the list, beyond the fact that it’s Tobe Hooper. It’s fun, but it never feels more than just another 80s Slasher. Again, it’s the premise I love more than the film we got.

Get Out

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: I like it. Is it the greatest horror movie ever, or of the year it was released – no. But credit for making people who don’t usually watch or care about our dirty little movies sit up and take notice.

Habit

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Halloween

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Nuff said.

The Haunting

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Any number of films on this list I can call out as being must sees for aspiring film-makers, but The Haunting should be one of the first. Atmosphere, tension, sound, and how to make a terrifying film without a lick of gore or obvious scares.

Hellraiser

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: There’s something seductive about Hellraiser, which is apt. It’s bloody, grim, imaginative, and has a style which I don’t believe has been coined yet – neo-gothic? Gothic Noir? Post-gore? Sado-masochistic appreciation?

The Hitcher

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: I don’t remember when I first saw The Hitcher. I was pre-teen in any case. It blew my mind. It still does.

House Of The Devil

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: It’s a great love-letter, like several Ti West movies are, but it’s more than that as he seeks to and successfully makes a film which is more than a series of nods and winks.

Insidious

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: A dry run for The Conjuring, but it’s more twisted cousin. The first one is great, the rest are increasingly silly and convoluted, but this one has scares never seen before.

Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: A film with an idea and a twist so good that I used to tell school friends and kids about it, have them hanging on every word, and have them shocked by my retelling of it. Which, looking back now kind of spoiled the movie for them, but still made them all go off and watch it.

Jacob’s Ladder

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s a very odd movie, there isn’t a lot like it, and it make me question why there aren’t more war/PTSD related horror movies. With lizards and chiropractors.

Jaws

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Perhaps the greatest gateway horror movie of them all.

Just Before Dawn

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Some of the make-up is cool, but it’s a very silly film. It’s impressive thatit ever got made, with its premise, with how amateurish it all is, and it’s definitely worth seeing, but I wouldn’t have it anywhere near any sort of Top 100 list.

Let The Right One In

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Maybe the first of the new wave of classy horror (as opposed to elevated horror), it’s a chilling, thought-provoking, beautifully shot and acted film with doses of grisly action.

Lets Scare Jessica To Death

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: A disturbing, atmospheric film which builds upon Repulsion and The Haunting, but is more visceral.

The Lost Boys

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: A rites of passage classic – one which remains fresh even though it’s deeply entrenched in the 80s.

Malevolence

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Martin

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Romero proving he wasn’t just a zombie, gore guy.

Martyrs

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: The pinnacle of the French Extremism New Wave, brutal and unforgettable.

Messiah Of Evil

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

The Monster Squad

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Another one of those movies with a poster which drew me in as a kid on the video store, but one which actually live up to the promise of the poster.

Near Dark

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Maybe my favourite Vampire movie.

Night Breed

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I need to see it again, it always felt messy when I was young, and a let down after Hellraiser. 

Night Of The Creeps

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s fun. Funny. Never impacted me as much as it did others.

Night Of The Living Dead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: A near flawless exercise and example of how to do low budget horror.

The Omen

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Great kills, iconic scenes, wonderful score, stellar cast.

Peeping Tom

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Pushed under the rug after Psycho, but just as notable.

Pet Sematary

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: King’s scariest book goes heavy on the shlock, but still packs a few potent punches.

Phantasm

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I never grew up with these movies like others did, but the first is fun and innovative.

Pieces

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Poltergeist

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Another rites of passage movie for when kids are getting into horror.

Possession

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Psycho

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s Hitchcock, and the daddy (Mummy?) of modern horror.

Pumpkinhead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I’ve only seen it once, can’t remember a whole lot about it.

Re-Animator

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Gory 80s fun, the likes of which you don’t see anymore.

REC

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: The pinnacle of hand-held horror.

Return Of The Living Dead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: One of the premier mixtures of horror and comedy.

Rosemary’s Baby

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: While dated, and while it relies a little too heavily now on the ending, it’s a masterclass of paranoia with some great performances.

Scream

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Another Wes Craven classic which remains clever and funny decades on.

The Shining

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Kubrick. King. Nicholson. Overlook. Saggy bewbs.

Slumber Party Massacre

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Society

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: A front runner for title of goriest movie ever, it’s a funny, often John Waters-esque satire, with added fisting.

Sole Survivor

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Suspiria

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Argento’s best, and one of the most visually stunning horror movies you’ll ever see, with a typically bewildering plot, inventive kills, and terrific score.

Tenebrae

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Argento again, maybe the finest Giallo movie with plenty of up close and nasty violence and memorable moments.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: A clear contender for best of all time, while it’s rough around the edges in places, their’s no doubting the emotional, visceral, and cinematic impact.

The Thing

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: When it comes to best Sci-Fi Horror film of all time – it’s this or Alien, right? Aliens is more all out action. The Thing is my favourite of the two, and it’s a Top 5 all time favourite Horror movie for me.

The Tingler

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s fun – we need more interactivity in our Cinemas.

Tourist Trap

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Trick R Treat

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It still hasn’t really found an audience outside of dedicated horror fans – if TV channels would show this every Halloween like they do with Christmas movies in December, this would be much bigger – it deserves it.

The Wicker Man

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: The pinnacle of folk horror, British horror, and not a bee or bear suit in sight.

There you have it – The Shock Waves approved 100! Which films have you seen, which ones are you yet to see, and which films would make your list. Remember, this isn’t necessarily the best 100, or your favourite 100, more of a ‘100 we can all agree should be seen by horror fans’. Let us know down below!

Children Of The Corn

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I can’t be specific on dates, but Children Of The Corn was one of the first horror movies I remember discovering. Like I mentioned in my Creepshow 2 review, posters can have a powerful effect on a growing, inquisitive, impressionable mind. Over time I somehow gained information about the story and the movie and began to form my own version of it in my head, but I didn’t get to see it until years later. There’s a danger of being let down after consciously or subconsciously hyping a movie, but where Children Of The Corn is concerned, the mystery and tone conveyed in the opening portions of the movie aligned with the picture I’d created in my mind. Watching again years later, it’s clear that there are better King adaptations and it that it has plenty of shortcomings. I still feel that it captures the essence of the unknown which juvenile and growing horror fans find so alluring, even if it doesn’t have enough bite to hold an adult audience in its thrall.

Adapted from King’s 1978 Night Shift short, Children Of The Corn is the first of (somehow) ten movies in a series which I can only assume grows increasingly <corny> as it progresses. King wrote the original screenplay, but as was normal for the time another writer would come in to usurp the script and focus more on violence than drama. The original story is a simple one – a bickering couple are driving through the US heartland, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, only to become lost and encounter a savage backwater. The key difference here being that the savages are a bunch of kids, creepy religious zealot kids who follow an unseen God known as ‘He Who Walks Behind The Rows’. The movie keeps the basics in check, albeit offering less in the way of marital distress and more in the way of heroic dads and wholesome family dynamics.

We open in pleasingly creepy fashion, as Isaac – moon-faced pre-teen leader of the group sends the crazed Malachi and friends on a poison and murder spree through their hometown, Gatlin. It’s a simple farming town, and the crops have been failing, which Isaac takes to mean their God is not pleased. And we all know how to appease an angry, malevolent God. Cut to a few years later and a ‘just about to be famous for Terminator’ Linda Hamilton (Vicky) and boyfriend Peter Horton (But) heading up river to start a new life. Driving through endless miles of nothing, their subdued fears about the future are disturbed by the sudden appearance of a child bouncing under the wheels of their car. After initially thinking they hit and killed him, they come to understand that he was already dead. The boy was trying to escape Isaac and his murderous ways, but ended up being sacrificed to the God of Buick. Should they leave him and go on their way? Should they drop the body off in a local town? Should they take him to a big city hospital, or the Police Station in local Gatlin? This being a horror movie, the pair make the wrong choice and quickly find themselves in a world of pitchforks and pasty teens.

The film isn’t as shlocky as some early King adaptations, surprising perhaps given the subject matter. Likewise, it isn’t anywhere near the level of his biggest films of the period – Carrie or The Shining. To its credit, it isn’t all silly surface scares – that sense of the unknown and of being lost permeates the atmosphere in the opening scenes and its an atmosphere which works for me personally having been a child with a heightened fear of being lost or left behind in a new place. Outside of personal feelings, the film is an obvious parable for religious fundamentalism and the dangers of allowing any cult to take power. I like this angle, as ham-fisted as it may be delivered here, and I’m sure a more dedicated experienced director and writer combo could do something stronger with the material viewed in this way. There are of course numerous departures from the source material, fleshing out the cult and delivering a less downbeat ending for example. It’s well enough shot, using the open and wide landscape to decent effect, and by and large the cast serve their purpose – all the more impressive given that many of them are kids. Hamilton doesn’t get to show off her later chops, but is more than the withering lead lady of the piece you might expect from such a film, and gets just as much screen time and action as Horton. They work well as a couple and spend much of the film apart dealing with various factions within Gatlin, again equipping themselves admirably.

Is it top tier King? No, but that’s generally reserved for his more classy material or when a classy director gets a hold of his work. But it’s serviceable enough for most viewers to get something out of it, and good enough that many King and horror fans might rank it as a second tier adaptation. In any case, in this strange time of locked doors and empty streets we find ourselves in it’s worth a watch to remind ourselves what the outdoors look like – and that what’s out there may want us for lunch.

Let us know what you think of Children Of The Corn in the comments!

February (The Blackcoat’s Daughter)

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Two things brought me to this film – beyond it simply being a horror movie. The first, is that I love Emma Roberts as an actress, and second is that the guys over on The Shockwaves Podcast wouldn’t shut the hell up about it. No-one else loves horror more than those guys and as well as being involved in the industry, their regular show features horror writers, directors, actors and more – with one episode featuring February’s director Oz Perkins (son of Anthony). I’ve watched it – is it any good?

Aside from what I’ve mentioned already, the film has two major things going for it – how it looks, and its atmosphere – both cold and distant, both interweaving, and that coldness blitzes its way into every other aspect. The characters speak and act in a disaffected way, there are long staring shots of emptiness, and the snowy landscape a la The Shining adds to a sense of unease and claustrophobia. It’s a frequently beautiful, startling movie which aims at the heights set by Let The Right One In, but doesn’t quite get there. The unease is shown to be formed by and coupled with an unraveling mystery and twists which, me being me, were fairly obvious. Unfortunately the film by its very nature will likely frustrate casual viewers and if Perkins has his heart set on loftier ideals and audiences the coldness emitting from the characters is one I reciprocated towards them – I just didn’t care about them or any of what was going on, as intriguing and watchable as it was.

February (or The Blackcoat’s Daughter) will find a cult audience but I don’t think it’s a movie which will demand the rewatches which cult movies often do. Certainly once certain reveals are made some may want to revisit to tie the various strings together, but for me a revisit needs to be fun. Ostensibly, the film is about girls in a secluded Catholic school, staying behind while most of the students and staff have left for a week. One of the girls is an unusual Freshman, the other a promiscuous older teen. It would be unfair to say more, but there are creepy figures, rituals, blood, and blades. It’s a film which has been marketed as a straight horror film but it’s not so simple dealing instead with mental illness, possible possession,  guilt, and loss.

The cast fare well with the material – Shipka, Boynton, and Roberts are each compelling performers, and the cast is rounded out by the likes of James Remar and Lauren Holly in minor supporting roles. There’s plenty for them to do but they are restrained by Perkins’s direction and vision for the film meaning that most lines are delivered as if from behind a curtain, most performances being more like a ventriloquist’s dummy. That’s what they’re going for and if you’re into the style then it’s perfect. For me, I felt like I was being asked to care about these people but being given no reason to. Unlike many horror films, the characters aren’t jerks – they’re just faceless shells who suffer some terrible shit. The film isn’t as good as it thinks it is, or as it needs to be, but what do I know – check it out for yourself.

Let us know what you thought of February in the comments!

Wake Wood

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Wake Wood is somewhat of a downer. There have been quite a few horror films in recent years dealing with how parents cope after the death of a child, some dealing with the psychological trauma, others taking a more visceral approach following the lengths some parents will go to either to get on with their lives or bring their child back. It’s a tradition going back most famously to Pet Sematary, but naturally it’s a fear as old as time with numerous fairy tales, myths, and stories from antiquity using this unimaginable tragedy and the associated grief as a starting point. Wake Wood lies somewhere in between the visceral and the psychological, not truly succeeding at either, but not truly failing either.

Make no mistake – Wake Wood is a Serious Horror Film – Caps all the way. It wants to hurt, and it wants to remind you of folksy tales like The Wicker Man and drama like Don’t Look Now. It doesn’t have the money or the directing chops of either of those, but it also doesn’t want to scrimp on the gore. It’s difficult to see who the film is really for then because, while plenty of people will want to see a film like this if you heavily market it towards one crowd they’re likely going to be pissed of by the blood or by the artistry. As mentioned – the artistry is more akin to someone just learning the ropes by mimicking their forefathers, while the blood is limited by budget and, well, good taste.

We open with the fairly upsetting mauling of a child by a dog – the girl, Alice, does not survive. Her mother and father – Louise and Patrick – move to a rural village called Wakewood and try to get on with their lives. The people of Wakewood seem friendly enough, though like any of these off the grid towns, there’s something a little off about them. Turns out they have a history of resurrecting the dead via a ritual with a series of rules. This is where some of the more interesting parts of the film come in, hinting at a sprawling history. There are various ancient trinkets and tools and rules employed, but they’re not really discussed or explained. These sorts of things are always interesting to me and I’d like to have known more about their purpose or origin. The main guts of the rules are straightforward enough – to raise the dead, you need another corpse. The person you want to raise must have been dead for less than a year. The person can only return for three days, and the person cannot go beyond the borders of the town. Naturally, as Patrick and Louise makes their decision, each of these rules comes in to play.

Everything about the film is cold, sullen, the muddy brown of a forgotten English graveyard – the performances (featuring Aidan Gillen and Timothy Spall), the direction, the look of the thing right down to the costumes. It’s mournful and bleak, even in its happiest moments and anyone looking for a slice of quirky horror or a hint of joy should shuffle by. It’s not without it’s charms – watching it reminded me of many a gloomy painting or Doom Metal album cover. It’s played out with conviction and its sense of grit and foreboding feels real – if there is a town out there which can bring people back from the dead, this certainly feels like it – insular, brow-beaten, and with the look of a tweed clothed farmer nonchalantly pistoning a bolt through a bull’s skull.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Wake Wood!