Andrea’s 31 Days of Halloween Horror

You survived the first 16 days of Alex’s picks, huh? Well, turn off your devices, dim the lights and brace yourself for the last 2 weeks of October!

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October 16: Night of the Living Dead (1968). Seriously, is there ever a bad time to return to this classic? Personally, I get hit with something new every time I watch it. Just don’t accidentally fire up the 20th anniversary edition – I can’t be held responsible for that.

October 17: Night of the Comet (1984). A comet crosses Earth’s orbit for the first time since the dinosaurs walked, turning people into either zombies or piles of red dust. The ’80s is strong with this one (in a good way), and the Belmont sisters are among the most badass ladies in horror.

October 18: Session 9 (2001). This film is a straight-up masterpiece of subtlety that I appreciate more with each watching. Bonus points: for a film with no female leads, its critique of the pressures of patriarchy is actually feminist AF.

October 19: Onibaba (1964). I’m a sucker for foreign horror movies about folklore and history. Whether you give yourself over to the supernatural, cautionary fairy tale elements or the sobering depiction of feminine wartime hardship, this one’s hard to forget.

October 20: Pin (1988). It might be a mission to find this Canadian made-for-TV gem, but trust me, it’s worth it. The story of a young man who learns about the birds and the bees from a medical mannequin and his emerging mental illness is told from the perspective of his sister, and the results are surprisingly moving.

October 21: I Walked with a Zombie (1943). Think of this film as something of a palate-cleanser – an incredibly beautiful and sensitive film that’s also one of the more accurate cinematic representations of Haitian Voodoo zombie lore.

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October 22: Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971). This movie‘s poster should appear next to the dictionary’s definition of “gaslighting”. Told entirely from the point of view of a woman who was recently discharged from a mental institution (internal commentary and all), Zohra Lampert’s empathetic portrayal of Jessica is sure to hit you in the feels.

October 23: Deranged (1974). Move over, Norman Bates! Ezra Cobb loves his mom just as much and boasts a higher body count. Based on the life of Ed Gein, Deranged uses a unique pseudo-documentary format that sneaks some clever satire into its narrative.

October 24: Buried (2010). 95 minutes of nothing but Ryan Reynolds to look at! I’m a sadist, I know. Most people caught on to the conceit of a whole movie spent in a coffin with someone who’s been buried alive, but people who didn’t see it missed out on some inventive cinematography, a politically-charged plot and a surprisingly raw performance from someone we mostly know for making fart jokes. Give it a chance.

October 25: Wyrmwood (2014). Billed as “Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead“, this one came at a time where post-apocalyptic zombie movies were well-trodden territory. Still, the feature film debut of Australian filmmaker Kiah Roache-Turner lulls you into a state of familiarity before smacking you upside the head with some incredible fight scenes and introducing you to a very powerful lady. I’m looking forward to the upcoming sequel in 2017.

October 26: Suicide Club (2001). Kids these days. You never know when the next big fad will hit. In Suicide Club, a rash of teens offing themselves in huge numbers has a pair of detectives baffled. You’ll be pretty baffled too, in the end, but not before witnessing some chilling scenes, including an unforgettable musical sequence by actual Japanese musician Rolly.

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October 27: Cube (1997). This horror/sci-fi feature debut by Vincenzo Natali proves that low budget is no constraint on high concept. Watch it in a big, spacious room, preferably with a window open.

October 28: Beneath (2013). Not to be confused with Larry Fessenden’s sub-par creature feature of the same name that came out the same year (because that’s not confusing), Beneath is a story of coal miners who get trapped in a mine shaft with limited air. Go crazy? Don’t mind if they do!

October 29: Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack (2012). Don’t be fooled by the cheerful anime; this bizarre-o body horror tale still haunts my dreams. The less I say about the plot, the better. It starts with fish; I’ll leave it at that.

October 30: The Gate (1987). It’s Devil’s night, and what better way to celebrate than inadvertently opening a portal to a demon-realm! The Gate is fun, funny and ’80s nostalgic as all heck. Plus, best see it now in case Alex Winter’s proposed 3-D remake actually happens and ruins it for everyone.

October 31: Hausu (1977). It’s Halloween night already? Let’s face it, you’re probably either wasted or being interrupted every 5 minutes by some pumpkin-costumed brat at the door, so here’s a super-fun, wack-a-doodle oddball that doesn’t require too much concentration.

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Happy Halloween, everyone!

Alex’s 31 Days of Halloween Horror

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Hi gang! I’ll be kicking off the list taking the first 16 days of October with a curated day-by-day breakdown and Andrea will follow up with her list for the second half of the month shortly.

My list is focused on horror films that veer more towards fun and that evoke an autumnal sense of terror in me (hence films like Black Christmas, The Thing and Inside are saved for winter). I hope you enjoy this list, I can’t wait to read Andrea’s and please comment with what your favourite Halloween movies are. Enjoy… if you DARE!

October 1: Prom Night (1980), starting things off nice and breezy with this early slasher featuring Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis. Prom Night takes a lot of now infamous slasher tropes and blends them nicely together for an entertaining thriller-chiller that takes itself about as seriously as that dance sequence.

October 2: Wake Wood (2009), slightly off the beaten track of contemporary horror films, Wake Wood provides an interesting analogue to the classic Pet Sematary while adding another film to the list of great British folk horror.

October 3: The Dead Zone (1983), terrified of the upcoming American presidential election? So are we! Now is the time to revisit Cronenberg’s under-appreciated classic meditation on life, love and liberty.

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October 4: The Silence of the Lambs (1991), a rare horror classic that swept the Oscars! Sit back, relax and remember a time when Anthony Hopkins tried to act in films rather than just show up in them.

October 5: Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), I know I may be as alone on this one as Paul Rudd is in the actual film, but I love the silliness of it. It exemplifies everything horror audiences were getting tired of before Scream re-leveled the playing field rendering H6 a wacky, borderline parody.

October 6: Mr. Jones (2013), an underappreciated gem of a horror film which develops a really great mythology. And, if we’re being honest, it’s what I wish Blair Witch would have been like.

October 7: Ginger Snaps (2000), Ginger’s first period coincides with a werewolf attack – womanhood ensues.

October 8: Pontypool (2008), Canadians win at horror again with Bruce MacDonald’s nervy, claustrophobic and fresh take on the zombie apocalypse.

October 9: House of the Devil (2009), Ti West’s debut and best to date in my opinion. The film offers the slowest of burns that leaves you with an unsettled feeling that lasts for days.

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October 10: Pet Sematary II (1992), I went from saying this was my guilty pleasure to out and out loving it to the point where I currently wave my PS2 flag loud and proud. It’s a terrific sequel that incorporates the original without becoming subservient to it.

October 11: Candyman (1992), adult and supernatural all at the same time. One of the best films about urban legends that manages to be academic and supernatural without losing elements of either.

October 12: Creep (2014), another underrated found footage gem, but this one situates the horror firmly in the real world.

October 13: Eyes Without a Face (1960), lyrical, beautiful and a great grandparent to the New French Extremity movement.

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October 14: Blair Witch Project (1999), if there’s something more autumnal than getting lost in the woods and being terrorized by a witch, I don’t want to know about it.

October 15: The Loved Ones (2009), a near perfect balance of humour, terror and a pop song.

October 16: Trick ‘r Treat (2007), I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to not watch this movie in October.

**Bonus round: I add a sprinkling of all the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes throughout the month**

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYBODY!

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Review: Martyrs (2015)

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Starring Bailey Noble, Troian Bellisario and Kate Burton
Directed by Kevin and Michael Goetz
Written by Mark L. Smith
Anchor Bay Films

Admittedly, it’s tough to approach a remake of a film like Martyrs with an open mind. The announcement of Kevin and Michael Goetz’ remake met with some serious fan backlash online, and rightfully so;  the original 2008 film, written and directed by Pascal Laugier was not only a critical success, but a cinematic blast of such vicious violence and originality that it cemented the significance of the new French Extremity movement in horror.  Is Martyrs a wheel that needs reinventing for a subtitle-phobic American audience? You already know the answer, but let’s get it on the official record.

Lucie (Ever Prishkulnik) and Anna (Elyse Cole) have been besties ever since Lucie was brought to Anna’s orphanage following some severe, unexplained trauma. Anna comforts Lucie when she has nightmares, soothes her through horrific hallucinations that distort her sense of reality and quickly becomes the only one Lucie can truly trust. That trust faces the ultimate test, however, when now-adult Lucie (Bailey Noble: TV’s True Blood) believes she’s found her childhood tormentors and calls Anna (Troian Bellisario) for backup. Unfortunately for Anna, her efforts to help her friend only serve to ensnare them both into a horrific nightmare of captivity and abuse.

Predictably, Martyrs follows in the shallow footprints of the Americanized remakes that came before it: it’s neutered, watered down and stripped of all that made the original film so iconic. The brilliant performances by the lead players? Gone. The boundary-pushing graphic violence? Nope. The philosophical mindfuck of a twist ending that continues to haunt our dreams? Nowhere to be seen. The result is a teen-friendly thriller that’s so pointless, audiences unfamiliar with the original won’t be interested enough in the concept to seek it out – which is perhaps its most egregious crime. Even rated on its own without comparison to its predecessor, Martyrs is a forgettable grind, making it a solid contender for the most loathed and unnecessary horror remake since 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm St. If it’s career martyrdom the Goetz brothers seek, they’re one movie closer to accomplishing their goal.

ANDREA SUBISSATI

Episode 42. French Kiss: Calvaire (2004) and Martyrs (2008)

nfeDiving into the depths of France and Belgium, Alex and Andrea examine the politics and borders of New French Extremity. Confronting the complex historical narrative that France has created for itself, all is not as it appears as these films bring the repressed to light.

REQUIRED READING

Calvaire. Dir Fabrice Du Welz, 2004.
Martyrs. Dir Pascal Laugier, 2008.

EXTRA CREDIT

Films of the New French Extremity: Visceral Horror and National Identity – Alex’s book on things French, filmic and extreme.

Saint Joan of Arc’s Trials – a fascinating morbid legal procedural.

COURSE NOTES

 Intro song: Nail Ballet from Nightmare Picture Theatre, courtesy of James Zirco Fisher.
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Episode 41. Ghost Girls: Ghostbusters (2016)

Ghostbusters

After some spectacular “pre-lash” (preemptive backlash) from the online community, Paul Feig’s all-women Ghostbusters has finally hit the screens. Alex and Andrea take a break from their summer sabbaticals to reflect on their love of the original films, what this reboot means to them in terms of representation and why safety lights are for dudes.

REQUIRED READING

Ghostbusters. Dir. Paul Feig, 2016.
Ghostbusters. Dir. Ivan Reitman, 1984.
Ghostbusters II. Dir. Ivan Reitman, 1989.

EXTRA CREDIT

Reminders That Representation Really Is Important – A handy, dandy visual guide to the argument for representation.

Was ‘Ghostbusters‘ Too Expensive to Launch a New Franchise? Variety’s article on Ghostbusters‘ budget.

Why Being Honest about Ghostbusters is Important – Comic Book Girl 19‘s theory on Sony’s strategic marketing of the film.

Your Face is Tanking – An examination of the reporting of Ghostbusters box office numbers versus other tentpole offerings.

COURSE NOTES

 Intro song: Nail Ballet from Nightmare Picture Theatre, courtesy of James Zirco Fisher.
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Episode 40. ReVamp: Fright Night (1985) and The Lost Boys (1987)

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In the 1980s, vampires left their castles and European hideaways for American suburbs and small towns. In this episode, Andrea and Alex examine what happens when the monster you fear is part of your community and discuss what is to be done when they want to borrow more than just sugar….

REQUIRED READING

Fright Night. Dir. Tom Holland, 1985.
The Lost Boys. Dir. Joel Schumacher, 1987.

EXTRA CREDIT

The Growth of the Suburbs. An overview of the suburban expansion following WWII.

The Films of the Eighties: A Social History by William J. Palmer – A look at sequels and nostalgia in the 1980s.

Check out Alex and Andrea‘s guest spots on The People’s History of Film for some more of our favorite nostalgic movies over at GoodTrash Media.

COURSE NOTES

 Intro song: Nail Ballet from Nightmare Picture Theatre, courtesy of James Zirco Fisher.
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