More Blood & More Masks: a 2016 Halloween movie collection.

Jane Levy

Well, it’s that time of year again. The pumpkins are carved and ready, people have their costumes ready (or already were in them if you go to Halloween parties), scary movies are being watched, candy is being devoured…yes everyone, tomorrow is Halloween. Halloween has always been kind of a funny holiday to me, because everyone dresses up, eats candy, drinks a lot (if you’re an adult), and everyone’s getting scared but I never really loved all that. Sure, when I was younger I would go to people’s doors and ask for candy with friends and be so happy when I would finally get home and empty my huge bag full of candy, but now especially, I really don’t find myself getting that excited for Halloween. I think I always preferred the buildup and the whole essence of Fall more than the actual holiday itself. I don’t know, am I weird? Am I the only one who thinks that? I’m sorry I’m just more of a Christmas person! The thing I do love about the month of October though is getting to watch a bunch of horror movies (not like I don’t during other months but still), and so I thought I would continue what I did last year and share what my Halloween movie picks for 2016 would be. Now, I thought it would be best to add a little diversity into the collection and rather having it be just all straight up classic horror or slashers I would mix in some others that I really enjoy. So let’s get this started!

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15. The Neon Demon (2016)

Like I said, I didn’t want to make every movie a straight up horror and this is the perfect example of that. I saw Neon Demon about a month ago, so I was a little late to the party by the time I watched, but man when I finally was brought into this crazy world I knew I was in for something interesting. It actually took me two sittings (the second time while I made my friend watch it with me), to full appreciate and kind of understand what this movie was about. I wouldn’t completely banish this movie from the horror genre though because there are moments of terror and I would fit it into the psychological horror/body horror category at least. As far as my criticisms go for the movie in general, I didn’t think it was perfect, it had some weak scenes that could’ve either been cut out or maybe just given one more take, but they’re nothing that really take away from the movie completely. Elle Fanning is good for what she has to be in this, a young small town girl trying to get into the modeling business, but I really thought Jenna Malone was the star of this whole experience. I don’t wanna say anymore because I feel like there could be potential spoilers if I do, so I’ll just say give it a shot and see what you think.

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14. The Witch (2016)

This is not a movie that I would recommend to everyone. I would say that you have to know what you’re getting into with this and don’t watch the trailer because it’s wildly misleading. The Witch is a slow burn about a family that has to move away from their town and into an area where certain situation occur and slowly start to break them apart. So yes, this is similar to Neon Demon in the sense that it isn’t specifically a horror movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s without it’s share of pure chilling scares. It’s not surprising to me that this didn’t receive very positive reactions from audiences because like I said, this isn’t for everyone and the marketing is so misleading it’s easy to think that you were walking into a completely different movie. When I finally saw this one I had kind of heard that this was more of a slow burn than expected and that people didn’t like it as much because of that, so I went in knowing what kind of atmosphere this was going to be in. I really loved it, I don’t mind a good slow burn as long as it leads to something, and oh man does this movie build to a climax. It’s not a traditional scary movie but it’s definitely one that will keep you enthralled, or at least that’s how it was for me.

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13. What Lies Beneath (2000)

I’d say What Lies Beneath heads a little more towards the horror direction, especially when you get to the third act. Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford are great in this chilling story about a wife seeing strange things and assuming the worst all while she’s not sure if what she’s seeing is real or not. It was fun for me to go back and watch this one because it had been so long and I remember really loving it the first time I saw it, and let me just say, it still held up for me and I found it creepy as ever. Sure it has a few cheesy over the top moments towards the end, but I think it’s a fun little mystery movie. Most probably remember this from the scene with Michelle Pfeiffer seductively walking towards Harrison Ford in a red dress and I don’t blame you because that’s just one of so many good scenes. If you want a chilly little thriller mystery movie, this is the one for you.

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12. Zombieland (2009)

We don’t want everything to be serious do we? I mean what’s better than a horror comedy with zombies? For me, Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead are two of the best horror comedies out there, they both have dead on hilarious jokes and great commentary about the zombie genre. I was considering putting Shaun of the Dead in here but I thought that Zombieland doesn’t get nearly enough love these days so let’s have fun with that one! This one also has a stellar cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg (no connection to Adventureland, even though I kind of wish there was?), Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin and Woody Harrleson. They all give stand out performances but I think that Woody Harrelson is the standout here with his fast hitting jokes and no fucks given attitude, he’s a blast to watch. There’s also a great Bill Murray scene with a little Ghostbusters love too that I always enjoy, just a side note. If you want to get in the Halloween spirit but don’t feel like being too scared to sleep than I would check out Zombieland.

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11. The Thing (1982)

I thought it would only be right to include some of the classics in here and John Carpenter’s The Thing is definitely one of them. You could watch this movie just for the practical effects alone they’re so good, but obviously that’s not the only reason this is on the list, it’s also a wonderfully suspenseful watch. There’s a whole cast of great actors in this (it’s actually funny thinking about it now that there are no females in this), but for me the obvious standout is Kurt Russell. It could just be that I can never not like Kurt Russell in whatever he’s in, but he makes for a great leading and almost kind of “final guy”, if you will, in this. My only gripe is probably that the ending is a tad anticlimactic but it really doesn’t take away from how great and terrifying the rest of this horror classic is.

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10. Evil Dead (2013)

It’s clear that I don’t love the ideas of remakes, especially if they’re just pointless rehashes of the original but with a current cast and better effects. So when the remake of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead was coming out I was skeptical because I really loved the original, I saw it at a time where I was kind of angry at everything and it was a perfect outlet for me so it kind of has a special place in my heart. Luckily though, when I went and saw it I really loved it. I loved the idea that this was a fully serious version (the original is meant to be serious but there are some undeniably silly moments), and they weren’t going to be afraid to go all out with the gore from what I’d seen in the red band trailer. The amount of times I cringed and still do when I watch this movie is insane, there are so many gross out moments of craziness and gore. I’m sure the ultra bloodiness that I’m describing is probably a turn off for some, and that’s okay! I completely understand people not liking the kind of “torture porn” style, even I don’t really go for those kind of movies, but I wouldn’t necessarily call this a “torture porn” I would just call it a pretty graphic demon movie. But really I think this is a remake done right, it was different enough for me to where they weren’t just copying and pasting the original movie and there were some solid scares in there.

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9. Slither (2006)

I actually find that this movie grosses me out more than Evil Dead does, I think it’s just the idea of worms and things coming to get you that freaks me out more. I don’t know how many people actually know this movie because I certainly didn’t really know about it when I came across it a while back. I knew some of the actors and actresses in it like Elizabeth Banks and such, I just hadn’t really heard of the movie. But little did I know this would become one of my favorites with it’s gross out effects and little funny moments. This one definitely has it’s nasty moments (nasty as in slimey groseness), so I wouldn’t say it’s for the squirmiest of people, but I found the characters likeable and the things/stuff (don’t wanna give it away), that they fight against were interesting to the point where I wanted to see what would happen. If you know James Gunn’s humor (Guardians of the Galaxy was his big one),  this is just that and it’ll be your cup of tea. I always have a really fun time with this one and will always think of it during this time of year.

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8. The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg doesn’t really do horror anymore but man when he did they were great, and The Fly is no exception. The first time I saw this I was actually pretty young, probably too young, and I just remember being so confused but also freaked out by everything. Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis have some great chemistry and really make you feel for these characters which makes it even sadder the farther you get into the movie. Like The Thing, the practical effects in this are out of this world, and it’s hard to decide but I’ll even say that The Fly‘s effects may be even better than The Thing‘s. This is actually another remake, and this time it’s a remake of a Vincent Price movie from 1958 which I actually have not seen (I know, so much for the research aspect), but I would like to eventually just to see the differences. So like I said, Cronenberg is one of the best directors out there I think, especially of horror when he was in his prime of that genre and I would recommend checking this and his other work out.

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7. Don’t Breathe (2016)

Yes, this is another movie with Jane Levy and YES this is also directed by Fede Alvarez who also directed Evil Dead …I couldn’t help it, this one’s just too good to pass up. I actually watched this one about a month ago, unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to see it in theaters so I was a little late to the party, but I got there! When I first saw the trailer (which is a little too revealing in my opinion), I immediately thought of it as a reversed Wait Until Dark, which has a blind Audrey Hepburn being robbed in the middle of the night. But really to my surprise the movie has a few more layers to it than that, there’s much more to the story than them just robbing a blind guy. Once again, Jane Levy is great in this, she gives some truly fantastic face work with her frantic eyes and gasping face. I also thought Stephen Lang as the blind man that they’re robbing was really great too and gave a chilling performance. There’s not much else to say other than go see this one! It’ll keep you on the edge of your seat and is a great time.

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6. Ex Machina (2015)

Going back to the notion of not straight up horror, we have Ex Machina, which I think is one of the best movies of  last year and I regret not putting on my best of 2015 list. Seeing this movie for the first time is such an interesting experience because, for the most part, you don’t really know what’s going to happen. Looking at it now, the movie as a whole sort of reminds me a little of the show Black Mirror, which is a fantastic show on Netflix that you should watch if you haven’t …but that’s for another list. Black Mirror is an anthology series that deals with the different ways that technology can go wrong, and I see Ex Machina as kind of an expanded version of one of the episodes, in the best way.  The main three actors in this movie, Alicia Vikander, Domnhall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac are all really great and give their all to these characters, especially Vikander (it’s a crime she didn’t get nominated for this but was nominated and won for Danish Girl, I will never understand it). This whole movie oozes with this kind of cold atmosphere in this house that Oscar Isaac’s character Nathan lives in. This movie is perfect if you’re looking for a beautifully stylish thriller with a little bit of horror mixed in there too.

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5. Alien (1979)

There’s something about Sigourney Weaver in the alien movies and just in general that I really love, I don’t know what it is but she has this charm to her that I really love so much. Not only is the way she portrays Ripley in this (and Aliens), so believable but she’s also such a strong character. A lot of people like to debate whether Alien or 1986’s Aliens is the better movie, but I always say they’re two different movies. Sure they’re both related to each other, but Alien is a true horror movie with these few characters trapped in one ship with this alien, where Aliens is more of an action movie (hence James Cameron being at the helm), with more characters and, like the title suggest, more aliens. I think they’re both stellar movies in their own rights but I really don’t think you can compare them so easily. I favor this one a little more just because of how much simpler it is in the way of the setting and how scary it is that there’s just one alien versus a whole bunch. The actual alien is also what I love about this movie, when you finally get to see it up close and in your face it’s horrifying. This isn’t the most fast paced of the horror sci-fi movies, but I wouldn’t say it’s really slow it just has to build to certain points. If you haven’t seen this one I’d suggest checking it out.

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4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

This is another remake where I will admit that I have never seen the original of, and like with The Fly, I’m sure it’s great and I’ll hopefully get to it someday. But if we’re talking about this ’78 version, this movie truly terrifies me. I’m not sure what it is, because hearing the plot of it doesn’t scare me really it’s just the way it’s executed and filmed. There’s an almost claustrophobic feel to this movie when we start seeing that everyone is being taken over by these things, or aliens if you want to call them that. One of the things that really stuck with me too was that these alien type things came from a plant and kind of made their way to humans, that always terrified me. It’s the fact that it’s something so simple that could take over such a huge population of people, and I think that’s also why I like this movie the best of all the invasion type movies, it’s so simple. There’s a good number of haunting scenes that have stayed with me, whether it’s the way that your body gets wrapped in this giant plant thing when you get invaded by these things or just the last scene of the movie in general. It’s one of few movies that really gives me a true sense of terror, and I love it so so much.

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3. You’re Next (2011)

You’re Next is really the only true slasher that I put on this list, I guess you could count The Neon Demon or Don’t Breathe as slashers a little, but even those don’t feel like it as much as this one does. Either way, this is one of my favorite horror movies to come out in the past few years and I feel like I probably would’ve put it on last year’s list, it just didn’t come to me at that time. The second half of this movie is what I really love because it almost turns into a kind of revenge movie and it just gets so fun and sometimes, that’s what I look for in a good horror movie. Sharni Vinson plays who kind of becomes our main character and our final girl, and she’s fantastic. She’s front and center once this movie really starts going and she really owns the role. Another thing that I loved is the kind of dark comedic tone to it, there are some jokes at some points where you wouldn’t expect them to be, yet they weirdly fit in with the flow of the movie, especially when the “twist” is revealed. If you’re looking for a fun, fast paced and crazy slasher then this is your pick.

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2. The Faculty (1998)

My god, I love this movie. I’ve seen this one about four times at this point and it never gets old for me, it probably helps that Kevin Williamson (wrote the scripts for Scream, Scream 2, I Know What You Did Last Summer, etc.) wrote it and that the plot seems slightly inspired by Invasion of the Body Snatchers. There’s also something about the teen horror movies that were coming out in the 90s like Scream that I really love, there’s a certain way to them that I really like. This movie is also just tons of fun and has a jam packed cast of young actors like Elijah Woods, Josh Hartnett and Clea DuVall. There’s oddly a large amount of well known actors in it too like Salma Hayek, Bebe Neuwirth, Usher (?), Jon Stewart and more. I find it funny that this movie got kind of a negative feedback when it came out because I find it so great, but it is possible that everyone was getting sick of these movies when they were coming out, it’s understandable and happens with plenty of repetitive genres today. But coming from me, I’d really say if you haven’t seen this watch it, it’s a fun ride.

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1. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

I knew I really liked this movie when I first saw it, but when I went back and watched it again the other night I guess I didn’t realize how much I loved it. To me this is an almost perfect horror movie. It successfully combines horror and comedy, it’s constantly creative, it has likeable characters and it has so many references from previous horror movies …it’s a meta treat and I love it. Now I know I’ve said “I love this so so much” to pretty much all the movies on this list and yeah, I really do love all these movies (some more than others, but y’know), but this is the one where I mean it to the biggest extent. I don’t even want to explain what this movie is about because it’s so much more fun if you just watch it, go in blind. You can tell that the makers and writers of this movie truly love the genre of horror and wanted to pay omage to it, you can tell that when they make jokes about certain tropes in a slasher that it’s from a place of love. And that’s why I put this at #1 and I think if you really love horror you should watch this movie.

Well, thanks for reading! Hope you like what I had to suggest and have a great Halloween!!

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The Night He Came Home ….Again.

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Sure, that title may be a little misleading because you might think I’m going to be discussing the Halloween franchise or just Michael Meyers himself? But oh no, this post is strictly about sequels, (get it? Cuz I stuck again in there?…I know, I’m lame).

Sequels, they’re made to be bigger and better …that’s what I look for in a sequel and what I need to make it good for me. I think for a successful sequel you need to up the stakes or at least change up the game a little to the point where it’s not the same as the first. Originally I was gonna just make a list of best horror sequels, but then I thought why not throw in the shitty ones too? There are just as many bad ones as there are good ones, probably more bad ones actually. So this is gonna be a first on this blog where I stick two lists into one post, just cuz! Let’s get started shall we?

Best

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6. Saw II (2005)

The Saw franchise really isn’t what I choose to watch when I think horror, the mega gore isn’t really my thing, but this sequel is my one exception. I think the first three are the best of the series and they kind of just became tropes after that, so I kind of like to think of the first three as their own trilogy and this one is my favorite. The original Saw was actually much more psychological than people like to remember and I think it was good for when it came out because it was something new and shocking (similar to how I feel about Blair Witch Project), but I definitely don’t see myself going back to rewatch it. But this followup is another story, it’s the beginning of the “torture porn” craze that gets brought up so much when these movies are mentioned, but this time the torture and the gore works with the story. You have this group of strangers stuck in an unknown space and they have to work their ways through these various torturous traps and deaths, you know how it goes at this point. The reason why this is the one I put above all the others is because of some of the deaths, there are so many chilling and toe curling deaths (one having to do with a bed of needles in particular), and it stays with you. So if you’re in the mood for a balls to the wall bloody horror movie that will keep you on your feet, Saw II is your forte.

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5. Evil Dead II (1984)

A lot of people like to say that they like this movie better than the original Evil Dead but I have disagree. The original Evil Dead is a movie unlike anything I’ve seen in horror for it’s time and I don’t think it will ever be beat (I do enjoy the 2013 remake but still), that being said though, this is a damn good sequel. I can just see Sam Raimi thinking about making a follow up to the first movie and thinking “more blood, more over the top and more comedy!”.  Evil Dead II basically hits the same beats of the first movie but with more heightened gore and a little more goofiness. So I think if you’re in the mood for a bloody horror movie but one that won’t completely make yo shit your pants, this is the one. I think really my only complaint is our side characters (basically everyone that isn’t Bruce Campbell), for some reason I really couldn’t get into them the way the movie wanted me to, but it’s nothing that ruined my experience, I would still suggest this as a great sequel for anyone into horror.

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4. The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Seeing The Conjuring in theaters was one of my favorite horror movie experiences I’ve had. It was exactly what I wanted when I went to go see a scary movie, there were jumps, there were screams and there was a lot of freaky shit. So going into The Conjuring 2 I really wasn’t sure what I was going to get because I was excited in general but wasn’t completely sold on the movie. The trailers and ads for this movie just really didn’t get me excited for some reason, but much to my surprise this movie was just as good, if not even a little better, than the original.  I know a lot of people disagree with that, but I really do think that this sequel has some distinct moments that are better than the original for me. I don’t know, maybe it’s the rainy setting of London that sucked me in or that creepy nun (those damn nuns). But I think really the thing that pulled me in the most was Vera Farmiga’s performance and her chemistry with Patrick Wilson, they really sold me on the fact that they were this happily married couple trying to do what they can to help this family that’s in need. I would say don’t listen to the people that say this isn’t good or that you shouldn’t go see it because I think that it deserves a chance.

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3. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

How about that picture, eeh? If that doesn’t make you want to watch this movie I don’t know what will! I’ve mentioned my fondness for this horror movie before in a past Halloween list, and I still feel the same way I did before …it’s better than the original. Yes you heard me, I don’t like the original Friday the 13th and I like it’s follow up more! It does exactly what I listed above; it ups the stakes, it differentiates itself from the original enough formula wise but still connects to the original perfectly, it’s got a better final girl and it’s far more exciting. I’ll be 100% honest, I have not seen every single film in this franchise, but from what I’ve read I don’t really need to because like many other horror franchises the charm dies off after a while, so I’m gonna stick to my opinion! I’m not going to say anything else other than go watch this movie for a good ole bloody time.

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2. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)

I’ll just say this, this is one of many horror movies (and horror sequels), that I love because it’s just so stupid and ridiculous. I wanna say that this movie knows what it is and it has fun with it, but at the same time it feels like the makers could’ve taken this so seriously and it just turned out to be hilariously over the top. Here’s what you need to know, this is I Know What You Did Last Summer if you set it on an island and replaced Sarah Michelle Gellar with Brandy. For some reason I like this one more than it’s original. I guess I never really fell for the original the way some did because I love the Scream movies so much that it felt like a rehash in a way (probably helps that both movies were written by Kevin Williamson), but with a less interesting killer and a really weak “twist”. There’s something about horror movies on islands with lots of rain and dark rooms that really fascinate me for some reason, it’s just such a good setting for a horror movie and I like to see what the creators will do with it. And I would say that, for better or for worse, this one does a lot of fun stuff with that.

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1. Scream 2 (1997)

If you’ve read this blog before then you know I really enjoy the Scream franchise (3 and 4 are significantly weaker than the first two, but they’re still fun). So when I say that this is in my top 3 of best sequels, I mean it. This is another one where the stakes are brought up to a level that is so crazy and fun to watch but it also has enough of a connection to the original that it feels like we’re still in a franchise of movies. You could argue that this is basically the first movie all over again but in college and with more deaths, and you I wouldn’t say you’re wrong, but in the case of this movie it works. Somehow, Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven were able pretty much recycle the plot of the original, twist things around a little and make it work. There are so many great thrills and scares in this one that it’s hard to try and figure out where to start. Really my only thing I don’t love is one scene in particular that has to do with singing and has nothing to do with moving the story of this movie forward, but other than that I’d say this is a pitch perfect follow up to 1996’s Scream.

Worst

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6. Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before, but the “found footage” horror genre is most definitely my least favorite type of scary movie. Blair Witch Project is one of few times that I think it’s actually worked, but even that one I’ve only seen once. There’s just something about the kind of lost footage thing that I find sort of phony and just not scary, and good god is this movie not scary. It’s actually more boring than scary just due to the fact that a majority of the movie is taken up by shots of a baby’s crib. I will mention that I think the first Paranormal Activity movie was at least a tad interesting and definitely was treading new water when it came out but it’s a movie for me that is just not interesting when you know what’s going to happen because it feels like it’s built on that sort of iconic ending. So yeah, it’s clear that I really don’t like this movie and find it snooze worthy, so maybe just skip this one if you see if on Netflix or something, it’s not worth your time.

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5. The Grudge 2 (2006)

The funniest thing about this movie is that it was my favorite thing in middle school. I must’ve watched this with my friends about 10 times and thought it was the coolest shit. Fast forward to about 10 years later, I watch this and am blown away by just how shitty it is ..and by how much hair is in it, seriously there’s so much hair in this movie. This is one of those mid 2000’s PG-13 horror movies that were constantly coming out for a while there. They were released to appeal to horror fans but at the same time a younger, teenage audience so they would make what would be a usually bloody or gory scene into a stupid CGI sequence. This movie does that but x10 and all with hair coming through people’s mouths. It’s funny because going back and watching it I realized that this actually has a relatively big cast, in terms of actors and actresses that we know now. I mean there’s Amber Tamblyn, Arielle Kebbel (also in The Uninvited, which is a fun little horror movie), and Teresa Palmer. I’ll also just admit that I really don’t enjoy the Grudge movies at all, or really just the asian ghost genre all that much. I think that The Ring is really my only exception, but other than that it’s not really my forte, just thought you should know that. But if you were, for some reason, thinking of turning this one on ..I’d say skip it.

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4. The Hills Have Eyes II (2007)

How can a sequel to a pretty great remake be soooo boring? Yes everyone, this is another painfully boring sequel that had no business being made in the first place, especially due to the fact that it’s about something completely different (which is fine if you make it work), and has nothing going for it. This movie’s main scare and advertising tactic was of a mutant human (whatever they’re called), dragging someone in bag, also a lot of licking. I remember seeing the remake of the Wes Craven original and actually liking it a little more than it’s original and being kind of excited for the fact that there was another movie, but little did I know what I had to sit through. I’ll sum it up with the fact that probably no one remembers or even knows about this movie is for a reason.

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3. A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

This is that movie in the Nightmare franchise that I always forget about. I remember 5, 6 and 7 but always forget about this one for some reason. The thing about Freddy’s Revenge is that it’s not hard to sit through or anything it’s just nowhere near as good when you compare to the original and some of it’s sequels (Dream Warriors especially). So I guess I could’ve cut this one some slack and put it at #6 or something but I’m going to keep this one where it is because it’s just such a weird movie that really doesn’t belong in this franchise. It’s more of a body dismorphia movie that has a lot of undertones (and some super on the nose moments), about coming out of the closet. When I first watched this  sequel when I was younger I didn’t really catch the references to being gay or hiding yourself that the movie unsubtly makes by having Freddy be inside of our main character for a good bit of the movie. But now watching it again I caught on to everything and saw what they were kind of trying to do with the movie, and honestly I think that subtext is what brings the movie down a little? Look, I’m gay myself and think you should be able to love who you want but it just doesn’t work here. Aside from all that, I just don’t think it’s a very good movie when you look at it on it’s own, or at least a very good horror movie. As a sequel to what I would call Wes Craven’s iconic A Nightmare on Elm Street, this doesn’t work, so I would say skip over this one and just go straight to what I would consider the true sequel to the original, Dream Warriors.

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2. Halloween II (2009)

I talked about the first Halloween remake from Rob Zombie in the last horror post where I discussed remakes, and it wasn’t my favorite. I think that version had some interesting ideas and a few scenes that I liked but overall it just was nothing when you compared it to John Carpenter’s original. The sequel from Zombie is a whole other story, it’s just so much worse and makes so much less sense. First of all, it’s a remake of the 1981 sequel but it also isn’t because it’s so different, we get a small chunk of the movie in a hospital but it’s not really like that original sequel at all. I’m not saying that this needed to be a direct remake of the ’81 sequel, it’s actually kind of nice that they went a different route (I did really enjoy the ’81 sequel so I like that they left that one alone), but how the final product turned out just isn’t good. The whole movie is preachy and has a lot of Sheri Moon Zombie walking around with a white horse telling Michael things, it’s a mess. I would suggest checking out the 1981 sequel to John Carpenter’s Halloween because it’s just so much better.

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1. Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)

Funny enough, that picture I chose is wildly misleading for this movie and doesn’t represent it at all because this is not really an exorcism movie. Sure, there are a few scenes where our characters are trying to communicate with certain forces but we don’t really get anything in relation to the first movie, the most we get is the return of Linda Blair. Another thing is that it’s just not very scary at all, it’s actually more silly than scary. I’ll just tell you that there’s a whole section of the movie where James Earl Jones walks around in a giant bug suit, and if that doesn’t give you an idea of what this movie is than I don’t know what will. Shit, the trailer for this movie is even scarier than the final product, the soundtrack is scarier!! (but also a tad annoying). The Heretic is horrible even just as a movie on it’s own, but when you compare it to the iconic 1973 original, it’s just a whole lot of bugs and Richard Burton running around and yelling …don’t waste your time with this one.

So there ya go! Those were my best and worst sequels, hope you liked it!

A New Side of GaGa

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I’ll admit it, in High School I was a big Lady Gaga fan. And I mean big, like Born This Way (the album), was my religion. I would listen to that album every second I could, there was just something about it that spoke to me. Now I’m not bowing down to Gaga the way I used to, but I still enjoy her; I’ll listen to Fame Monster or something every now and then just to revisit. But today of course is the release of her new album, Joanne, an album that unlike some of her previous releases (Artpop era I’m looking at you), was announced pretty recently and quickly pushed out a few singles before it’s release. It’s 11:45 now and I just finished listening to the deluxe version of the album so I thought, like I did when new Britney came out, I would rank all the Gaga albums from my least favorite down to my favorite. Thought it would maybe be nice to take a break from all the blood and guts just a for a second, so as Gaga would say in A-YO … here we go!

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5. ARTPOP (2013)

I’ll never forget the anticipation I had for this album when it was slowly being released. Like I said, I was in love with Born This Way, thought it was a masterpiece at the time, and was ready for the next chapter. I honestly really don’t know what I expected firstly because it’s Gaga and she can be so unpredictable but also did I guess I expected a BTW part 2? Well either way, BTW part 2 is not what ARTPOP was or is. ARTPOP is definitely the strangest album Gaga’s ever put out (which is saying a lot), it’s got an odd blend of songs about fashion, sex and space?? I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to put this last because there actually are some really solid EDM/dance Gaga songs on here (Venus, G.U.Y., Mary Jane Holland, etc.), but when you think of the album as a whole, it’s a mess. There’s a great blog out there that I really like called Hardinthecity that kind of reviewed ARTPOP and rearranged the album by cutting out certain songs and moving others around so they play better and honestly it’s the only way I listen to the album now. They perfectly captured what I think the album was trying to be?? Anyway, here’s the link if you want to read it, which I think you should….Rearranging ‘Artpop’: An Edit of Lady GaGa’s Latest.

It’s interesting because I really like where this album was going in the beginning with Venus and G.U.Y., where we have this sort of sexual space journey thing, I bought it completely! But then we sort of take a left turn into this weird blend of bad rap songs and mediocre sex songs. The biggest flaw of this album for me is the lack of focus, which was an issue for Born This Way too, but somehow I felt it worked better there. I would’ve liked to stick with the space like theme a little longer rather than just with two songs. And sure the sex songs can stay and maybe one or two of the fashion songs, but have them interwoven with the overall theme. That’s why in the end I decided to stick ARTPOP in last place, it has some great songs here and there but overall it’s a mess that can be hard to sit through at times.

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4. Joanne (2016)

I just finished listening to this album about a half hour ago, so all of it is still fresh in my head. My thoughts as a whole on this album are very mixed and I was actually considering maybe putting it at #5, but I think it’s just a little better than ARTPOP, so I’ll let it stay here. The idea that I liked about this whole album initially was the fact that Gaga was trying something new, which I think is a great step for her. I love when an artist tries something new musically because it shows range and even if it doesn’t work out at least they were willing to go there. But as far as the turnout of the album itself, I think it’s just fine. I think it has a strong first half, once you get to the 8th track, Sinner’s Prayer, things started to get a little mixed for me. I think Sinner’s Prayer and Come To Mama have to be two of my least favorite songs on here and I’m not entirely sure why. I think when I heard them I just felt a sense of underwhelm and I just wasn’t feeling either of the those songs. One that I was actually looking forward to was Hey Girl, which features Florence Welch from Florence + the Machine, and I think it’s fun, I think I expected more from a duet with them but it does the job for the most part. Then there’s the closing track (on the deluxe only I think), Just Another Day, which sounds straight out of A Hard Day’s Night or something, which I don’t know if that’s something I need from Gaga, but it’s alright. That was my main issue, kind of like I said, it’s all just okay, there was nothing that majorly stood out to me. I really liked Dancin’ In Circles and the title track; Perfect Illusion is fun but I don’t know if it really fits in this album actually, and Million Reasons is a nice little country type ballad. So really I think it’s not necessarily bad, it’s just fine..but maybe after a few more listens I’ll get to like it a little more, we’ll see.

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3. Born This Way (2011)

Like I said, I lived by this album in High School, and I’m pretty sure I still know all the words from listening to every song so many damn times. Looking at it now, it’s definitely not the masterpiece I once thought it was, it’s fun but it’s definitely got flaws. One flaw being that this album is just all over the place, we explore a song about hair and a song about a highway unicorn, it’s a wild ride. But isn’t messy in the way ARTPOP was where it felt like there was no cohesion to the album, here at least we get the feeling Gaga tried to kind of make this an experience about being a wild child (hence the song Bad Kids), and she kind of explores a lot of different sides of herself. Some of my favorites are Marry the Night, the oddball Government Hooker, Bloody Mary, Heavy Metal Lover and Edge of Glory. I think listening to it again, the title track is maybe a tad overrated? The message is nice but it’s definitely a mess of a song production wise. If you’d asked me what the best Gaga album was back when I was a freshman I would’ve almost immediately told you this was the one, but now I see it as something that I loved at a certain moment in time and it was fun but it’s really just nice little dance album from 2011, what a time to be alive for music.

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2. The Fame (2008)

This is the Gaga I’m most nostalgic for. This is the Gaga that everyone was introduced, this is when the whole facade of the costumes and craziness started. Releasing Just Dance as her first single, I’ll never forget it, that song just oozed ’08 and kind of that pop dance music that was coming out at the time. It’s definitely her most straight up pop album with Poker Face, Paparazzi and Eh Eh. This is the album that I listen to a lot these days and I think it’s mainly just because it brings up so many memories, it came out when I was a certain age where I was growing up and going through puberty and all that good ole teenage stuff that was starting to happen. Poker Face and Paparazzi were probably the two I listened to the most, although I did love Beautiful Dirty Rich as well and Money Honey (you get your fill of money songs on here). Paper Gangsa is another fun one that I don’t think anyone ever really listened to much, it’s definitely cheesy and a little much but I enjoy it. There’s not much else to say about The Fame other than that it’s definitely a fun little pop album from 2008, very of it’s time and the start of a character a lot of people wouldn’t forget.

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1. The Fame Monster (2010)

This is when I remember really kind of falling in love with Gaga. Bad Romance, I think still her best song, was this big song when it came out and was what brought out the crazy side of Gaga that no one had really seen (crazy in the best way possible I mean). Sure, this isn’t a full album and you can come for me because of that but I think it deserves just as big of a spot as any of the other albums have. It’s just filled with so many great pop songs like Alejandro, Monster, Dance in the Dark, Telephone, Teeth, etc. And it borrows from so many artists that she loves, it feels like a love letter to pop in a way. This is that album I think of when someone says Gaga, it’s the one that defined her career with her dark sense of fashion and style, it’s a tight 8 tracks (not including the Bad Romance remix at the end), and it’s essential Gaga.

Well, hope you enjoyed the list and hope you get a chance to listen to Joanne at some point because I’m interested to know everyone’s thoughts on it.

Thanks!

House of 1000 Remakes

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Oh the 2000’s, what a time for horror movies. Just filled to the brim with endless remakes and so-so ideas, which clearly are still happening today. It occurred to me the other day when I was watching one of the many remakes from the 00’s, that there’s enough of those damn remakes to make a post about them. It also occurred to me that I kind of grew up with a lot of these mostly shitty remakes of older horror classics and have seen a large chunk of them. But while a lot of them may have been less than great, some of them definitely formed my opinion and taste for scary movies today, and while I love the classics, sometimes these crappy remakes are what I crave when the Halloween season kicks up again. And what better way to start off the month of October than with a compilation of some bad and some just okay horror remakes? Your answer, like always, is none.

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11. When a Stranger Calls (2006)

Yikes this movie! Now, I wouldn’t necessarily call the 1979 original a classic but I would say it’s worth watching for Carol Kane’s performance alone. We also got an actual sense of terror that this babysitter was stuck in the house with a psycho, but in this washed down 2006 snoozefest we get Camilla Belle giving a sub par performance. Look, I really don’t have anything wrong with Camilla Belle (I mean I don’t remember her from anything else other than The Lost World but still), but man she really does nothing for this movie especially considering that she’s meant to carry it. Also, when I said snoozefest before I really meant it, this thing is a slow, meandering hour and a half with really no payoff in the end. There isn’t really much else I can say about this forgettable piece other than just don’t even try with this one.

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10. Prom Night (2008)

Once again, the original version of this film is really nothing special other than the fact that Jamie Lee Curtis is in it, and like Carol Kane in the previous entry, she carries most of it. In this updated version we have Brittany Snow looking pretty in her prom dress and screaming/running away from Johnathan Schaech. If you haven’t already noticed, there’s a pattern throughout all these movies, crazy serial killers chasing pretty girls around and for the most part all of the girls are helpless. Helpless is a perfect word for Brittany Snow’s Donna in this, she kind of just runs around and screams a lot…and when I say scream a lot I mean a LOT. And okay, I’m not saying I wouldn’t be stupid and scream my ass off if I was being stalked and chased by a lunatic but still, this is a horror movie and I like when the main female antagonist has at least a few interesting qualities to offer. I have nothing against Brittany Snow, (she’s great and gives the performance of her career in The Vicious Kind), but she really isn’t given anything to do. Like I said, the 1980 version isn’t really that special either and I don’t know if I could even recommend it, but this is merely a waste of your time.

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9. Black Christmas (2006)

Now this one is really hard to sit through knowing that there is an original version that is so much better and you’re stuck with this. Why they had to remake a perfectly chilling horror classic, I really don’t know. This remake is the prime example of changing things and having new ideas with the original story gone wrong. Similar to how I feel about the Halloween remake, this version of Black Christmas explains way too much. Adding a little bit of explanation is one thing, but they just went too overboard in this, the use of not knowing who this crazy killer is in the original is what made it scary. There’s definitely a studded cast of young actresses like Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Windstead, Lacey Chabert and Katie Cassidy along with a warmly welcomed Andrea Martin (who was also in the 1974 original). I actually didn’t really have a problem with any of the casting in this, they all do what they’re there to do, they scream a lot and have some good lines here and there, but it’s really with the killer (or killers, spoiler alert), where they messed up. It just gets to the point of being silly in the end and it doesn’t even feel like a horror movie anymore, it feels like a parody of one.

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8. Halloween (2007)

Where do I start with this movie? It’s not that I hate it, I just really don’t love it..I do have thoughts though! When this came out, I do remember actually enjoying it quite a bit, I was also younger and wasn’t really sure what to expect. But seeing it now, it kind of leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Like I said with Black Christmas, TOO MUCH EXPLANATION. There’s nothing wrong with fleshing out a specific character in a movie but there’s a fine line you can cross and I think Rob Zombie’s version of Halloween crosses that line. With Zombie’s Michael we get a full back story on him and get to see him as a child and on in the institution, which I think can work in a few scenes but it really goes on too long for my taste, I mean it takes up a good 20, 30 minutes of the movie for god’s sake! And then there’s the amount of meanness, which once again, you can have but there’s a fine line. In the beginning scenes with Michael’s family alone (which also go on for what seem like forever), we get this over the top abusive stepdad and what feels like Rob Zombie saying “be as white trash and nasty as you can”, and it’s just too much. I think for me, it would’ve been so much more effective if we got maybe one scene that showed this man has fucked up Michael’s childhood, or that his home life isn’t great, but instead we get beat over the head with it for 20 minutes. It’s clear that I’m not a huge fan of this one (don’t get me started on the sequel), but I think if you’ve seen the original and want another take on it, maybe check it out?

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7. Friday the 13th (2009)

I think I’ve said it before but, I really don’t love the Friday the 13th movies much. Part 2 is the one I can sit through the most, but it’s really a series that never stuck with me and was always just there to be a slasher franchise, which is fine but not particularly for me. Sure, this remake has plenty of the character tropes (horny stoner, asshole jock, dumb blonde, smart nerd, final girl), that we see so perfectly displayed in something like Cabin in the Woods, but for the most part I kind of had a good time with this. It’s nowhere near perfect but I think the makers of this one did a good job blending a lot of the aspects from the first three original movies and making a jumpy good time. Is it super scary? no, but it has some genuinely good jump scares and a few likeable characters. There’s not really much to say about this one because it really is just rehashing what we’ve already seen with Jason Vorhees in a modern setting, but I think I could possibly see myself recommending this to someone who knows the genre well.

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6. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

This one really surprised me with how much I actually kind of enjoyed it! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the Wes Craven original, but it’s not nearly as bad as most have said it is. It’s nowhere near perfect, especially in the third act where I feel like it drags, but it has a promising setup and kept me interested throughout. Another example of changing things enough to differentiate them from the original in some ways, we get a Freddy (played by Jackie Earle Haley this time around), that talks more and is more of a child molestor than a child murderer. I was skeptical with the change at first but I think they did a pretty good job with it, and Jackie Earle Haley is no Robert Englund but he gives it his all. I think it’s worth giving our young cast a shout out too, Rooney Mara was very good as always even if she regrets the movie, Kyle Gallner is a nice Johnny Depp replacement and Katie Cassidy plays a good scream queen in the beginning. Like I said, it doesn’t get close to the greatness of the ’84 original, but it’s definitely not bad. So I’d say this is proof that critics and other reviews aren’t always 100% right, you have to kind of just go for it with movies sometimes and see what you get…that’s what I did with this movie and I’d say it wasn’t so bad.

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5. Sorority Row (2009)

I don’t know what it is, but I think Sorority Row is a really cool name for a horror movie, it has a ring to it that I really like. This little movie is a remake of the 1983 slasher, The House on Sorority Row. The general plot is pretty much the same for both of them, I’d just say both movies differ from when they were made and released. The original being made in the 80s, definitely has the feeling of all the slashers that were coming out in the 80s and the 2009 version is very much the updated one with more sex and violence. This was another one I shockingly didn’t hate! It’s fun when it wants to be and has some pretty good kills in there. Briana Evigan as Cassidy, who’s basically the final girl of the movie, is a nice combo of scared and fierce. The rest of the girls are also great (including a few scenes with the great Carrie Fisher), and are definitely what stand out most. The weakest point has to be the ending/the reveal of the killer. I’m not gonna give it away but it seemed more like a cop out and just sort of happened, very anti climactic. It’s fun in the way that something like Jennifer’s Body or Heathers is, so I’d say if you want a fun horror movie then this is the choice for you.

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4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

I remember seeing this movie in middle school and just kind of being blown away by it. I’ll just say it, I saw this before I saw the original, which I’m not proud of trust me. With that being said, I do think the original is far superior…but this one isn’t all bad either! Sure it’s a lot more violent and has a lot more blood (which the original surprisingly has very little of and is still effective), but somehow it works. Jessica Biel is a great final girl (with her insanely skimpy top), and gives a good holy shit/what the fuck/scared face. The rest of the cast is mostly forgettable because they kind of mesh together and a lot of them get killed off so quickly but they’re serviceable. While it is an effective remake, my least favorite aspect of it has to be the version of the cannibalistic family that they created, they weirdly weren’t as freaky or scary as they wanted to be. None of the casting is bad or anything, they just weren’t anything close to how creepy that family is in the ’74 version. So I guess that’s what I’d say this one is missing; a little bit of that raw creepiness that the Tobe Hooper version was able to capture.

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3. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

There is a scene in this movie that scarred me and really stayed in my head for a while when I first saw it (it involves a trailer, you’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen it). Alexandra Aja has remade two movies (this and 2010’s Piranha 3D), and I actually liked both of them more than their originals. While I do think Wes Craven was the best horror director out there, this ’06 version really stuck with me. I’ve only seen it twice and I’m not really sure if I’d ever go back and visit it again. There’s that scene I mentioned that happens pretty early on and it really hits a nerve with me for some reason, there’s just something about the way it’s shot and acted. But just because I won’t go back and watch doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s good. Aja’s interpretation of Hills Have Eyes is much darker, less silly than the original and has more guts (and blood), and I think if you love intense, graphic, grungy horror than you’ll be into this.

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2. The Last House on the Left (2009)

This movie has something in it that is in a lot of horror that I don’t like at all, rape. Yet, I still think it’s a great remake and update of a just alright horror movie from the 70’s. The original is once again, a Wes Craven film, one of his first actually, and it shows that it’s his first because it’s not exactly the best quality and has it’s share of faults. In the ’09 go at it, it felt like there was that same strong plot but they made it even stronger. Like I said, I don’t really love the whole rape thing, but it does lead to what is a stellar third act. Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn are great as the parents seeking revenge for their daughter that’s been brutally taken advantage of and Garret Dillahunt is good as our main baddie. Like Hills Have Eyes and a lot of Craven’s earlier work, it’s not the easiest to sit through at times, but it definitely has some strong scenes in there and top notch acting so I’d say check it out if you have the guts for it.

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1. House of Wax (2005)

Out of all the movies that are on this list, this is the one that stands out to me the most, hence me putting it in the #1 slot. I’ve seen it multiple times and each time I just have a great time with it. Maybe it’s the sexiness of Chad Michael Murry or the loveliness of Elisha Cuthbert, I don’t know, but I really like it. Fun is the key word here, this movie is a good time, it’s that popcorn horror movie that is just easy to sit down and watch with some friends. You could say it’s serviceable, which it is, but it feels like it’s even more than that, I don’t find it forgettable or bland at all. It could be the wax people that freak me out or watching a finger get yanked off like it’s nothing, but I find that certain parts of this are genuinely terrifying. There’s also something about that damn ghost town that a few of our characters walk into that I find intriguing in a strange way. Sure, our villains are a little cliche and could’ve been fleshed out a tad more, but other than that I can’t find much else wrong with this. It’s not really that similar to the Vincent Price movie other than the wax people and it knows what it is. So I would say if you’re with a bunch of friends on Halloween and you don’t know what to watch with them, check out House of Wax, it’s a damn good time.

 

Hope you liked the list and make sure to stay around during October because I plan on posting plenty more Halloween type of things!