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  • Ben Staad
    replied
    Thank you for all those deep dives into the horror genre. So many interesting sounding films which I had never heard of before.

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  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    Typically for our Halloween viewing, we have a rule that at least one of us has to not have seen the film for it to be included in the viewing, but this year, or the day before Halloween, we decided to break that rule and pick two of our favorite horror movies to revisit.

    Halloween Horror Movie #12: LAKE MUNGO

    Released back in 2008 as part of the fourth year of After Dark Film's mostly forgotten "8 Films to Die For" series, this film just silently disappeared from sight. While it definitely was probably one of if not the best movie of all the After Dark films (though I do remember quite liking Dread), it did not quite fit into their mold. While most of the films were more in-your-face, Lake Mungo is the a low-key, quiet ghost story of a horror film. Presented as a documentary about the Palmer family's experiences after their daughter Alice mysteriously drowns at while swimming on an outing with her family. What happens is a winding trail of how a family both uncovers what was going on her with the teenage Alice before her death, but also how they work their way through their own grief. What makes the movie work so well is that it feels like a documentary. The film is mostly talking heads and their are not huge bouts of histrionics. Just a slow, deliberate pace and the creeping dread of the potential supernatural happenings. It's a movie that doesn't cheat the viewer and it's chills are not generated by jump scares, but by slow lingering reveals. I absolutely love this movie. It's a shame that the director has not done one since. Highly recommended for those that love their horror more on the quiet side.

    Grade: A (Watched on DVD, but also streaming on Shudder)

    Halloween Horror Movie #13: THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE

    When I walked out the screening the first time I say this film at a festival, I was convinced that this would HUGE. This film about a father-and-son coroner team that has to determine the cause of death of physically unblemished corpse at a bloody crime scene only to find themselves way over their heads just worked for me on every level. All the characters are likeable, the hook is interesting, the mystery is involving, the scares work, and just overall, it is a fun rollercoaster ride of a film. Suffice to say I was a little bummed when it only did like $6 million at the box office. Maybe it needed a lot more of marketing push to get people into the seats or maybe my taste just runs counter to popular opinion. Either way, I never felt like the film got enough love, even though it seems to have found a second life on DVD/streaming. Man, I really like this film.

    Grade: A (Watched on Blu-Ray, but also streaming on Shudder and, I believe, Hulu)

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  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    Halloween Movie #10: THE MEDIUM

    A mockumentary that follows the events of a local shaman in the Islan region of Thailand, who is faced with mounting evidence that her niece may be slowly succumbing to a possession, the film does a great job of both weaving cultural specificity into its narrative but still being very accessible to foreign audiences. The movie is a slow burn, clocking in at just over two hours, and while this may be a challenge to some viewers and the possible death knell for other found footage/mockumentary films, the pace allows the film ample room to breathe and develop the various threads that weave through the narrative. While the ultimate trajectory of the movie--and some of its scares--are not too far removed from other films in the possession subgenre, it still provides some jolts along the way. Only a couple of awkward acting moments and the long-bemoaned complaint about found footage movies of why someone would continue to film when the proverbial crap hits the fan (and this movie has two moments that are pretty egregious and clearly to provide the gore money-shots), but overall, it was an fun rollercoaster ride and the actress playing the possessed niece really gives it her all.

    Grade: B (Streaming on Shudder)

    Halloween Movie #11: THREADS

    Threads has built up one heck of a reputation since its initial BBC broadcast back in 1984. Crafted as a realistic take on the effects of nuclear war, the movie follows a family in Sheffield, England in the days leading up to a U.S./Russian nuclear exchange and the brutal ramifications on the town both due to the initial impact and the fallout that follows. There are a lot of television programs that had a big impact upon initial release yet find their power diluted as time passes, and I surely thought that Threads would fall victim to this as well as it surely couldn't be as bleak and disturbing as touted. I was wrong. This is one heck of a film. The first hour builds up this frantic tension leading up to the dropping of the nuclear bombs and then I was just shocked at just how brutal the film is moving forwards. The only possible drawback in recommending this film is that as the film progresses, especially in the last thirty minutes or so, it begins to jump weeks, months, and years into the future, becoming more a quick series of arthouse horror vignettes, which may turn off some viewers hoping for a more traditional narrative (as it did with my wife), but I found it captivating. Definitely not a horror movie in the traditional sense, it is still one that chills the viewer right to the bone.

    Grade: A (Streaming on Shudder)

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  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    Halloween Movie #7: KILL LIST

    Even mentioning the subgenre that Ben Wheatley's Kill List falls into ruins some of the fun of the film's twists and turns so I'll just say that the film involves two hitmen that begin to suspect something nefarious is going on behind the scenes during their latest assignment. I saw this film a few years ago and it holds up about the same. The film plays like a dysfunctional family drama for the first third before shifting into the hitman action angle during the second third and finally sliding into horror during its final fifteen minutes or so. I still enjoyed the friendship between the two hitmen and still thought the ending packs a punch. What's interesting is that this time I felt that one of the film's strengths--its ambiguity as to the where the film ends and what it all means--just as compelling, but this ambiguity and the film's rather abrupt ending also make the film's mythology rather slight. It's an angle that I'm rather torn on, but skew more towards liking it than not. Overall, the film is still an effective entry into the subgenre.

    Grade: B (Watched it on DVD, but is also streaming on Shudder)

    Halloween Movie #8: MOLOCH

    After an excavation reveals the body of a woman buried in the bog near her house, a woman and her family are attacked by one of the excavators, leading the woman to unravel the mysteries that surround her and her family. I took a chance on this one after reading some middling reviews about it and I'm kinda glad I did. While there are a few notes of familiarity, the film takes some interesting twists and turns in its final act that make it a little more compelling. Once again, to talk it about too much would ruin the fun for anyone looking to give it watch, but if you are a fan of folk horror, then I'd say give this one a shot.

    Grade: C+ (Streaming on Shudder)

    Halloween Movie #9: BLACK DEATH

    Sean Bean and a young Eddie Redmayne lead the cast in this film about a young monk (Redmayne) during the middle ages who agrees to guide a knight (Sean Bean) and his group to an isolated village in the neighboring woods that been purportedly spared the effects of the plague ravaging the country due to the work of an necromancer. While the film plays mostly like a medieval action drama, the final act allows the horror to seep into the film, while also deftly holding a mirror up to both the godly knights and the pagan town folk. Viewers going in looking for a full-blown horror movie will be disappointed, but otherwise it's a interesting film that expands the folk horror subgenre a little further in it's debate about Christianity versus paganism first begun in The Wicker Man.

    Grade: B- (Watched on DVD)

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  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    Well, my posting has not kept up with my movie watching at all during this Halloween season, so I'm going to try to keep my reviews rather short.

    Halloween Movie #4: MONSTER INSIDE: AMERICA'S MOST EXTREME HAUNTED HOUSE

    I don't typically include documentaries in my Halloween viewing, but since Hulu presented this as part of their "Huluween" programming, I figured I'd slot it in. The documentary focuses on an "extreme haunt" called McKamey Manor, which the owner/operator Russ McKamey describes as a "survival horror boot camp experience," but the individuals in the documentary describe as more like torture. McKamey videotapes the sessions and posts them online, allowing the documentary to use that footage to show the Manor's participants being subjected to all kinds of unpleasantry, including stuff that is pretty darn close to waterboarding. There are interesting angles here for the documentary to explore, but unfortunately the doc seems to skirt along the surface of most topics. The evolution of the Manor is barely touched upon, along with no details as to why the Manor was forced to move from its last location, with the documentary citing simply that the "town made them move" or some such phrasing. Similar interesting avenues to explore like one person's journey from going to Manor to working with Russ McKamey to coming out against is brought up only for it be skimmed over. Even when the documentary tries to engage deeper into the subject like one person's military experience leaving them with PTSD and this urge to seek out extreme situations like McKamey Manor aren't really explored with any depth. The film was 87 minutes long, but it felt like very little was actually being said, except that the Manor is dangerous, which I have a hard time arguing with.

    If you are interested in McKamey Manor, I highly recommend watching Haunters: The Art of the Scare instead. It includes a section on McKamey Manor and other extreme haunts and does more with less time.

    Grade: C- (Streaming on Hulu)

    Halloween Movie #5: DELIVERANCE

    Now, I wouldn't necessarily classify DELIVERANCE as a horror movie, but it is at least horror-adjacent, touching on the subgenres of survival and backwoods horror, and without that particular scene (you know, the scene), it would be more of an action thriller, but, man, is that scene dark and brutal, especially considering that this film came out 51 years ago. For those that aren't familiar with the plot, the film follows four middle-aged professional men as they go on a canoe trip down a river before construction turns the whole area into a lake. Along the way, they wind up encountering some locals of the area and violence, both physical and sexual, is perpetrated on one of the men, leading to more bloodshed. Interestingly, as the quartet try to find their way back to civilization, the movie plays a lot more with ambiguity, causing the viewer to question whether they agree with the characters' perception of the events unfolding around them. Viewing a movie like this, one that permeated the pop culture and created a slew of imitators and knock-offs, its hard to understand the impact it must have had for viewers at the time of release. The movie still has some bite, though, and raises some interesting, if now familiar, questions about facade of the civilized man. It makes me want to read the book.

    Grade: B (Watched it on Blu-Ray)

    Halloween Movie #6: WHAT JOSIAH SAW

    Twisted family secrets lay at the heart of this film that follows the three estranged Graham siblings as they have to face their collective past upon coming back to their father's farmhouse. The movie's strength is in its complete sense of oppressive dread and simmering violence that threatens to swallow everything, so talking about any plot points at all might just be too much. It's a pitch black movie that will definitely not be to everyone's flavor, but in a genre that can sometimes fall victim to a certain level of familiarity, the movie does offer something different. Both Robert Patrick and Nick Stahl are fantastic in the movie, but I was really taken aback by Kelli Garner as the the sister of the Graham family, whose performance is brimming with this manic desperation. Due to it's subject matter--this film goes DARK--it's hard to that it was enjoyable, but it was really well-crafted and would recommend it to those who like their psychological horror bleak.

    Grade: B+ (Streaming on Shudder)
    Last edited by Sock Monkey; 11-01-2023, 03:29 PM.

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  • sholloman81
    replied
    Originally posted by Sock Monkey View Post

    God bless Vinegar Syndrome. Those guys put out some incredibly weird and obscure stuff. Not a lot of it is in in my wheelhouse and the price points make it difficult for me to blind buy stuff, but I always keep a close eye on what they put out. Arrow tends to be my go-to, but occasionally VS and Severin will but out something that I just have to have. I picked up Penitentiary and Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff quite a while ago that is still in my To-Watch pile. I have been eyeing their Villages of the Damned set so I might need to pull the trigger on that one as well.
    Yeah, I personally love me some Vinnegar Syndrome! Their stuff is usually right up my alley. I usually wait until one of their sales and then stock-up. So many of their titles are the kinds of movies that I used to rent at the local videostores with my dad when I was a kid. Those awesome covers in the horror/sci-fi sections would always draw us in and give us a reason to try some truly low-budget gems & trash. So many good memories...

    As for the other half of the dual disc Blu-ray, "Schizoid", I enjoyed it a lot but was also extremely frustrated by it. For the positives: it had loads of cool kills, the right amount of T&A for these sorts of Giallo/mysteries, and a very cool cast with some unexpected surprises such as a very young Christopher LLoyd as well as a very young Donna Wilkes. What truly frustrated me and what holds it back from being a classic Imo is that they basically give away the killer at the beginning of the movie. They show a good quarter of his face. This is especially problematic as you are supposed to buy multiple female characters as potential options as the killer. No way was that face shown earlier in any way able to be passed of as potentially female. It looks exactly like the male actor who turned out to be the killer. Excluding this issue, which is a biggie for A Giallo, it's still a pretty cool film with lots going for it. Overall, I'm glad to have seen it and add this dual disc to the vinegar syndrome/horror section of my Blu-ray collection.

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  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    Originally posted by sholloman81 View Post
    Recently picked-up the dual-feature Blu-ray of Schizoid/X-Ray as a part of a Vinnegar Syndrome sale. Had never heard of either film but decided to give it a go since it was on sale. Just got around to watching the first half, X-ray, and was very impressed. I mean, it's obviously low budget but there were tons of cool kills and the lead actress was very easy on the eyes. Also love hospitals as a horror film location. Really this film has just about every element you could ask for in a good 80's slasher. IMO, the biggest thing holding it back from being a true classic is that the main villain is so non-threatening looking. Just your basic crazy guy. Nevertheless, this film is still very enjoyable!

    I plan to watch the second half, Schizoid, tonight. Hopefully, it will be as good as X-ray was!
    God bless Vinegar Syndrome. Those guys put out some incredibly weird and obscure stuff. Not a lot of it is in in my wheelhouse and the price points make it difficult for me to blind buy stuff, but I always keep a close eye on what they put out. Arrow tends to be my go-to, but occasionally VS and Severin will but out something that I just have to have. I picked up Penitentiary and Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff quite a while ago that is still in my To-Watch pile. I have been eyeing their Villages of the Damned set so I might need to pull the trigger on that one as well.

    Leave a comment:


  • sholloman81
    replied
    Recently picked-up the dual-feature Blu-ray of Schizoid/X-Ray as a part of a Vinnegar Syndrome sale. Had never heard of either film but decided to give it a go since it was on sale. Just got around to watching the first half, X-ray, and was very impressed. I mean, it's obviously low budget but there were tons of cool kills and the lead actress was very easy on the eyes. Also love hospitals as a horror film location. Really this film has just about every element you could ask for in a good 80's slasher. IMO, the biggest thing holding it back from being a true classic is that the main villain is so non-threatening looking. Just your basic crazy guy. Nevertheless, this film is still very enjoyable!

    I plan to watch the second half, Schizoid, tonight. Hopefully, it will be as good as X-ray was!

    Leave a comment:


  • Hermit
    replied
    looks like ive got a lot of catching up to watch specially some of the recent Stephen king movies. Im not an avid movie fan, I much prefer to watch serialised stuff. but I do want to have a look at The Boogeyman.

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  • Ben Staad
    replied
    I recently re-watched this as well. I enjoyed it even more the 2nd time around and caught a few DT easter eggs in it. I would give this a solid B+ and rather liked the adaption from the book.

    Halloween Movie #3: DOCTOR SLEEP

    Since we just watched THE SHINING, I figured the best follow-up would be the director's cut of the Mike Flanagan-directed sequel, DOCTOR SLEEP. On a side note, I did consider doing THE BOOGEYMAN, but the middling reviews kept me away. Anyways, while I wasn't a big fan of THE SHINING, my hopes were elevated for this one as I'm a big fan of Flanagan and tend to enjoy Ewan McGregor. I enjoyed picking up with young Danny Torrance and seeing where he wound up as an adult was compelling. Actually, I found all the stuff with adult Danny seeking sobriety and finding his place as "Doctor Sleep" very compelling and would have loved to live in that world a little bit longer. When the movie slides into its main plot with Abra and the True Knot, it feels a little disjointed from Danny's narrative, almost feeling more like a dark action movie. The movie works hard to marry those together, but I kinda feel if the story had stayed a smaller story in scope, dealing with just Danny, it would've been more powerful. Maybe watching this and THE SHINING close together didn't help. THE SHINING is claustrophobic and SLEEP becomes rather expansive, so maybe that created some dissonance for me. Also, save one particular scene, the movie isn't particularly scary. The True Knot are evil, but I never thought they were scary. I will say, though, that Rebecca Ferguson was fantastic in the movie.

    It sounds like I didn't like the movie and that isn't necessarily the case. I rather enjoyed it and would probably be more likely to revisit it than Kubrick's THE SHINING. I guess I enjoyed more of the character study of the adult Danny more than I did the psychic vampire stuff. Grade: B[/QUOTE]

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  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    I've been working my way through the requisite annual Halloween horror movie viewings. I decided to kick this year off with a trio of Stephen King adaptations.

    Halloween Movie #1: 1408

    It's been a very long time since I watched 1408, but I do remember liking it when it first came out back in 2007. Being both a John Cusack and horror movie fan, this one was primed for me to enjoy. That being said, this time around, watching Cusack's cynical Mike Enslin endure his time in the titular hotel room just didn't do that much for me. It's not necessarily a bad movie. There were still elements that I enjoyed, but this time I found Enslin's backstory to rather perfunctory. This could be the jaded horror fan in me, but I also didn't find any of the hauntings scary. The room didn't feel evil as much as it did just an overbearing bully. It's by far not a bad movie and I definitely reserve the right to switch positions on subsequent viewing, but this time around it was pretty much just a "meh." Grade: C

    Halloween Movie #2: THE SHINING


    Stanley Kubrick's film has the distinction of both being famous and infamous. Famous for being considered one of the scariest horror movies of all times, while also being infamous for how much King despised this adaptation. I had always thought that I'd seen the movie, but after finally sitting down to watch it, I think I've just seen bits and pieces of it throughout the years. As for my thoughts about Kubrick's take on the Torrance family's ordeal at the Overlook Hotel? Well, I'm of two minds.

    On one hand, the film is a technical masterpiece. The direction, sound design, and editing are simply astounding. For example, the rhymical sound of Danny riding his bike over the hard floors of the Overlook hotel, followed by the muffled sound as bike's tires hit the rugs, and then back to hard again has this uncanny ability to both immerse and unsettle. It's truly a great film to watch from a technical perspective. On the other hand, like some other Kubrick films I've watched, I find the movie cold and detached. I want to care about the Torrances, but I just never seem to make the leap while watching the movie. There's a lot of complaints that Nicholson plays Jack Torrance as crazy from the beginning, which I tend to disagree with. Where the movie struggles with Jack's character as they never make him at least a little likeable. Even in the car ride up to the Overlook, he's pretty much a jerk, so there is no tragedy as he succumbs to the Overlook, but rather the movie elicits a mental shrug of "Well, you shoulda known that was coming, Wendy." I will also go on the record in saying that Kubrick's ending of the movie is just so anti-climatic compared to the book and that last shot of Jack is rather ridiculous.

    I will say that I picked up the new 4K version of the film on a pretty good deal on Amazon and the movie looks beautiful. Occasionally movies will get these upgrades, especially from blu-ray to 4k, and it just really doesn't make that much of a difference, but the picture on this was so good, especially for a movie this old. I can't compare it to any previous blu-ray releases as this is my first purchase of the film, but I can say that I was very impressed.

    If I was grading the movie on the technical merits, I'd give it an A. On the story, I'd go a C. So my overall...Grade: C+ (I like technical stuff on films, but it never trumps story and character for me).

    Halloween Movie #3: DOCTOR SLEEP

    Since we just watched THE SHINING, I figured the best follow-up would be the director's cut of the Mike Flanagan-directed sequel, DOCTOR SLEEP. On a side note, I did consider doing THE BOOGEYMAN, but the middling reviews kept me away. Anyways, while I wasn't a big fan of THE SHINING, my hopes were elevated for this one as I'm a big fan of Flanagan and tend to enjoy Ewan McGregor. I enjoyed picking up with young Danny Torrance and seeing where he wound up as an adult was compelling. Actually, I found all the stuff with adult Danny seeking sobriety and finding his place as "Doctor Sleep" very compelling and would have loved to live in that world a little bit longer. When the movie slides into its main plot with Abra and the True Knot, it feels a little disjointed from Danny's narrative, almost feeling more like a dark action movie. The movie works hard to marry those together, but I kinda feel if the story had stayed a smaller story in scope, dealing with just Danny, it would've been more powerful. Maybe watching this and THE SHINING close together didn't help. THE SHINING is claustrophobic and SLEEP becomes rather expansive, so maybe that created some dissonance for me. Also, save one particular scene, the movie isn't particularly scary. The True Knot are evil, but I never thought they were scary. I will say, though, that Rebecca Ferguson was fantastic in the movie.

    It sounds like I didn't like the movie and that isn't necessarily the case. I rather enjoyed it and would probably be more likely to revisit it than Kubrick's THE SHINING. I guess I enjoyed more of the character study of the adult Danny more than I did the psychic vampire stuff. Grade: B

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  • Ben Staad
    replied
    Fantastic. I will keep an eye out for it. Looking forward to tracking this down and watching it.

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  • brlesh
    replied
    Originally posted by Ben Staad View Post
    Sounds cool. I hadn't heard of that one. My local theater isn't very robust with it's selections.


    Same here.  
    I don’t know if it’s due to the Hollywood strikes, but my movie theater rarely runs these indie, foreign horror movies.
    When I saw this was playing I jumped on it, as it was in & out in less than a week.
    B

     

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  • brlesh
    replied
    Originally posted by Sock Monkey View Post

    I caught this one at Fantastic Fest a few weeks back and I agree that no punches are pulled in this flick. There's that scene--I mean, THE scene--that literally sent a jump and a gasp through a theater full of pretty hardened horror fans. Though liked the movie overall, I did have a few small quibbles with the movie, but I'll wait until I post my review when I finally get around to doing all of them from the festival.

    I do agree with you in that I would absolutely recommend the film for horror fans. My minor quibbles aside, I was engaged all the way through.
    Yeah, I left the theater thinking ‘damn, I need to see that again’.
    ¬†Certainly some things that didn’t line up.
    But all in all, it’s been a long time since I’ve left a movie theater with this kind of visceral reaction to a horror movie.
    B

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  • Sock Monkey
    replied
    Originally posted by Ben Staad View Post
    Sounds cool. I hadn't heard of that one. My local theater isn't very robust with it's selections.


    I believe it's going to start streaming on Shudder beginning October 27th. If you haven't checked out the director's previous movie TERRIFIED, I enjoyed that one quite a bit as well.

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