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Alex’s 31 Days of Halloween Horror 2017 (October 16 – 31)

 

Alright, it’s mid-October. Are you tired yet? Thought not. Onwards!

October 16: Scream 2 (1997). Scream is a classic, but Scream 2 is a classic sequel. The original dynamics of my favourite Scooby gang (Sidney, Gale and Dewey) are at play and Wes Craven’s direction easily guides their story forward for a fun and violent late 90s romp. Also, Courteney Cox deserves all the praise for rocking those chunky highlights with minimal embarrassment.

October 17: The Omen (1976). It’s all for you Damien! Watch adults get whipped up into a tizzy over the son of the Devil that ends with one of cinema’s most chilling endings.

October 18: The Eyes of My Mother (2016) I want to talk about this movie to EVERYONE! But the less you know going into it, the better. So all I will say is, give it a watch.

October 19: I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016) Another recent film I’m shocked I haven’t heard more people talk about. I Am Not a Serial Killer is beautiful, gruesomely nostalgic and chilling, highly recommended. Again, the less you know going in – the better.

October 20: The Hills Have Eyes (2006) I prefer Aja’s remake for its visceral, unflinching violence that escalates in every screen. Aja and his team created images that are still seared in my brain.

October 21: The Strangers (2008) Quiet terror perfected, crush on Scott Speedman confirmed.

October 22: Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (2004) A Faculty of Horror listener turned me on to this series (thanks Allen!) and since it’s all on YouTube you don’t have an excuse not to watch this joyfully bonkers cult-British series.

October 23: The House on Haunted Hill (1959) Speaking of joyfully bonkers, have you accepted our Lord and Saviour Vincent Price?

October 24: Under the Shadow (2016) I wanted desperately to love The Babadook, thankfully there’s Under the Shadow which is everything I wanted for my parent/child terror dynamic.

October 25: Cat People (1942) Classics are classics for a reason. Jacques Tourneur’s film holds up with elements of campy horror and female psychological dread. The film has gone on to influence a litter of other films because of its beautiful and stylistic simplicity. If you’re interested, here’s a longer piece I wrote about the film.

October 26: The Fog (1980) The film responsible for my lifelong dream of owning a lighthouse.

October 27: Prevenge (2016) Part horror comedy, part gore-stravaganza, part meditation on impending motherhood, all awesome.

October 28: Orphan (2009). One of the great contemporary camp classics held up with great performances all around.

October 29: Beware the Slenderman (2016). Sorry, were we having too much fun? Check out HBO’s documentary which examines the sociology of internet phenomenons and a chilling true crime case.

October 30: Black Swan (2010). I love Vincent Cassel. It also captures the competitive mania that artistic communities can breed with horrific accuracy.

October 31: Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982). Happy, happy Halloween, Halloween, Halloween. Happy, happy Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, SILVER SHAMROCK!

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Andrea’s 31 Days of Halloween Horror 2017 (Oct 1 – 15)

Pumpkin spice everything? Check. Weekly trips to home furnishing stores to pick up housewares that they consider “seasonal”? Check. Premature pumpkins that will likely rot before Halloween day? Check, checkity-check! You’re ready, I’m ready, let’s do this.

October 1: Death Note (2017). I’ll be first to admit, this Netflix-exclusive feature had “bad idea” written all over it, in spite of director Adam Wingard’s obvious talent and credentials. Wingard defended the film, saying he’d take a unique spin on the source material and I found myself able to get on board. Bonus points for another ’80s-inspired synth-drenched prom scene.

October 2: Maniac (2012). I often cite this film as the last one to scare the shit out of me at the cinema, to the point that I needed an escort home and slept with the lights on that night. It’s not because Franck Khalfoun’s remake of William Lustig’s 1980 sleazebath is particularly scary, it’s because it remains the first and only slasher flick I’ve ever seen where the killer’s victims and scenarios felt like they’d been pulled right out of my life. Maniac hits too close to home, but in a good way, and the POV cinematography and unsettling soundtrack don’t hurt either.

October 3: A Dark Song (2016). Imagine being so desperate to communicate with the other side that you commission the services of a creepy occultist and agree to do whatever he says to make that happen. I’d be remiss not to mention that A Dark Song falters in its ending, but the tension and ick factor that permeate throughout more than makes up for it.

October 4: The Fly (1986). Cronenberg’s take on The Fly is my go-to for horror fans who don’t yet know that they’re horror fans. Less scary than it is gut-wrenchingly tragic, the film stars then real-life couple Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum and their onscreen chemistry is so palpable, it upset me to discover that they broke up for real in 1990. Considered by many to be body horror’s crown jewel, share it with someone special.

October 5: Sunshine (2007). Also known in my personal catalog as “the Danny Boyle movie that nobody talks about for some reason”, Sunshine evaded me until earlier this fall and I’ll preach its gospel to anyone who will listen. It’s a clever riff on Event Horizon sets a group of astronauts on a mission to save humanity by reigniting the sun with a bomb.

October 6: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). The Cloverfield franchise is as known for the quality of its films as it is for its brilliant viral marketing techniques and 10 Cloverfield Lane is no exception. John Goodman’s Howard Stambler gives Misery‘s Annie Wilkes a run for her money as horror’s most terrifying turnkey.

October 7: Spoorloos (1988). Young couple Rex and Saskia are on holiday when Saskia suddenly disappears at a truck stop, sending Rex on a cat-and-mouse chase with her kidnapper who toys with him for three years before revealing her grim fate. Known as The Vanishing in English (but not to be confused with the 1993 remake) Spoorloos’ ending is a kick to the gut that you’ll feel until Christmas.

October 8: The Evil Within (2017). Created over the course of 15 years, we’re lucky that the late Andrew Getty’s labour of love ever saw the light of day. Concerning a mentally challenged man who develops a strange relationship with his reflection in an antique mirror, The Evil Within should be forgiven its plot holes in favour of its disturbing visuals and unforgettable tableaus.

October 9: Let the Right One In (2008). Think vampires are played out? Think again. While most bloodsuckery in film concerns teens or adults who are tempted into immortality without fully considering its terrible price, this moving Swedish film about lonely, bullied 12-year-old Oskar is so full of heart, you’ll forget where to put your stake.

October 10: The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007). Ok, that’s enough sweetness: let’s get to the fucked-up shit. This lesser-known faux-documentary that pretends to be pulled from the tapes of a serial killer who tortured his victims in an old, abandoned house never saw a theatrical release and languished in the land of bootlegs for ten years until Shout Factory released it on DVD and Blu-ray… TODAY! Harrowing and frankly pretty friggin’ ugly, it’s a must-see for fans of found footage and cinéma vérité.

October 11: Train to Busan (2016). Zombies ain’t dead! Well, they are – I meant the subgenre. Last year’s Korean breakout Train to Busan blew festival audiences away with a frenetic energy that breathes new life into the  overplayed topic.

October 12: The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009). Rob Zombie rouses my ire when he takes himself too seriously, but this full-length animated feature is a bit of silly fun for a Friday night; packed with solid horror references and voice work from an all-star cast, including Rosario Dawson, Paul Giamatti, Ken Foree, Dee Wallace and (of course), Sherri Moon Zombie.

October 13: The Belko Experiment (2017) It’s Friday the 13th, but you don’t have to ch-ch-ch that ka-ka-ka just because. It’s the end of the work week and maybe you’ve daydreamed about murdering your co-workers. Sublimate that fantasy with this Battle Royale-meets-Office-Space setup, directed by Wolf Creek‘s Greg McLean.

October 14: Pumpkinhead (1988). You know Pet Sematary. You love Pet Sematary. Pumpkinhead is Pet Sematary‘s red-headed stepbrother, starring the always-fantastic Lance Henrikson.

October 15: Night of the Living Dead (1990). Wait – check that year again. That’s right, this is Tom Savini’s weird and sort of unnecessary but still strangely endearing remake of George A Romero’s original classic.

Onto Alex’s picks! Happy Halloween, everyone!

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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

GamesRadar – June 29, 2016

“Andrea and Alex question every element of their subjects but never take cheap shots at them… Their love for an often maligned genre is inspiring and positive, making them essential voices in the movie podcast community.”

Read full article here