16 October 2010

Fright Fest: It's all in the gory details

With a little over two weeks until Halloween, now is the time to move all those horror movies to the top of your queue. Every year I watch "Beetlejuice" and "The Worst Witch" in honor of the day. "Beetlejuice" is one of my favorite movies (and arguably one of Burton's best) that I watched so often I erased the tape. Oh yea, we're talking VHS. When I bought a new copy, I discovered it had been edited. WTF?! The horror! The entire brothel scene was deleted. Dear Disney: That is not cool!

When I was very little, HBO played "The Worst Witch" every day, every year in October. I finally found a copy online and am sad to say it has not held up. Fairuza Balk goes to an all girls school of witchcraft (a la Harry Potter), where she is the worst student. Throw in Charlotte Rae as the headmistress and Tim Curry (I just LOVED Rocky Horror at the time too) as the grand wizard, a bit of impromptu song and dance, and you have a big 80s mess. Oh well, it's now hilarious and I can't help but watch it.

Whether you need a fright, have little ones, or love a good psychological thriller, I don't discriminate! Over the next week, I will give you my picks for this Halloween:

For the Gore Hounds:

"Hostel: Part II"- Eli Roth's gory sequel to his hit "Hostel", follows three girls studying abroad who decide to take a break in Prague. Poor Prague, it gets all the heat. They check into the same hostel and needless to say, chaos and death ensues. Roth sprinkles homages to some of horror's greats throughout (you can find out who and what in the bonus features), and plunges into what would entice another person to pay to kill.

Sure I fell asleep during part 1, I really am going to try and watch it again I swear; but I really loved part II. Maybe it's because we get to see the clients and their motives for the first time. Maybe it's because this time it's a bunch of female co-ed's getting tortured and regaining control. Whatever the reason, it's gross and bloody and I like it!

"Event Horizon"- Laurence Fishburne leads a rescue mission into deep space to track an SOS signal. Once aboard, he and his crew realize something sinister has happened and they must get home if they are to escape the same fate. Of course, Sam Neill is there to muck it all up.

Baby bear!!! God I love scary space movies. I saw this in the theatre with my Dad and sister and fell in love. So scary! My sister may still have nightmares. It's everything you love about "Alien" except here the monster is the human mind.

"The Ruins"- Again some co-eds (this time in Mexico) get into a world of trouble when they hike out to a mysterious Aztec temple that happens to be cursed. Trapped atop the ziggurat, the kids are taunted by local tribesman and picked off one by one by an unforeseen force. Based on the book of the same name by Scott B. Smith.

Who knew plants could be so scary? Director Carter Smith crafts an elegant and edgy movie from a premise that is laughable at best. Still, good performances and special FX can save anything. I expected this movie to be more gory based on what I was told by friends, but either I have no concept of gore anymore (quite possible) or they don't (also possible). There are moments when this movie could have turned into more traditional "torture porn", but instead they reigned it in and played it cool. PS- I heart Jonathan Tucker & Jena Malone. Who would have ever cast them in a horror flick? Someone pat the casting director on the back, please.

"House of 1,000 Corpses"/"The Devils Rejects" Double Feature- Musician Rob Zombie translates his Universal Studios Funhouse into two truly enjoyable homages to 70s grindhouse horror. In "Corpses", more co-eds (I see a theme here) pull over to Captain Spauldings fried chicken shack and gas station to visit his museum of oddities. Next thing they know, they've blown a flat and are taken to the dilapidated Spaulding mansion to wait out the storm (think "Texas Chainsaw Masacre"). There's always a storm, old house, and weird tow truck in these kinds of movies. Who will survive? In "Rejects", the Spaulding clan are on the run from the law following a shoot out at their house. The movie has more of a Western feel and casts the villains as the protagonist. It is a mark to Zombie's brilliance that you find yourself rooting for the serial killer by the end of the film.

Love. Love squared. I saw both in the theatre and remember being the only person impressed by "Corpses". If you grew up on these kinds of movies, you should too. With "Rejects", I went to an advanced screening and people got a lot more into it. It helps when you know what to expect I guess.

"Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight" - The Cryptkeeper's first movie (and only good one) is another Western-feeling film about a small town that unwittingly invites the Devil into their midst. At the old hotel, a wanderer stumbles in and soon after the Demon's appear. They're after a key, or a bottle really, that houses the blood of Christ. Oh yea, they went there. Billy Zane is the Collector, a demon/devil tasked with stealing this key and bringing it to Hell.

Let me tell you about my love for Billy Zane (bald Billy only please). He was probably the hottest Devil character until Viggo Mortenson in "The Prophecy". This movie is at times funny and gory, just like the TV series. There are some great actor's here to and hilarious one-liners. I was a bit torn whether to include this here or later in my Hilarious Horror post. I think the scene with the kid and the comic firmly places it here though.

"Book of Blood" - Based on a book by Clive Barker, "Blood" takes a page from "The Haunting" as we follow a paranormal expert and her team investigating a haunted house. Needless to say, the spirits are annoyed by this and start carving their story into the skin of one of the investigators.

Is this the best movie ever made? Not hardly. However, there is something mesmerizing about it. You have to leave your brain at the door, other wise you'll spend the who hour and a half yelling, "Just get the hell out of there idiot!" at the TV. There are some good gross outs and FX.

"In My Skin" - After an accident, a woman develops body dysmorphic disorder and begins mutilating her body in more and more dangerous a fashion. In French.

I don't know how I got turned on to this movie, it must have been on a best weird list; but it's not at all what I expected. Thank god it's only 93 minutes. I don't know if I could ever watch it again as it is deeply disturbing yet relatable. That's the scary (and brilliant) part of the movie. You identify with her psyche and rationalization of what she is doing to herself. Again, I thought this was going to be more gory, but like a great psychological thriller; you don't need it to be.

"Trick 'r Treat" - A series of vignette's silently narrated by a child in a scary pumpkin costume, everyone tries to stay alive on Halloween night.
It took forever for this film to make it to your house, but don't be quick to judge. While that is usually a bad thing, the circumstances here were different. While not necessarily scary, there is a lot to be disturbed by in this movie. A lot of people, children included, are killed in creative and bloody ways. I particularly liked the stories with Anna Pacquin and the one centered on a young gang of misfits.

"May" - In the vein of "Carrie", May has been bullied and misunderstood her whole life. She seeks solace and friendship in a toy doll and cannot maintain real human relationships. That doesn't stop her from trying though, with disastrous results.

I think I unfairly rated this movie (I gave it 3 stars) because I paid to see it in the theatre, promptly spilt wine on myself when I sat down, then saw it for rent at Blockbuster the next day. Ugh! Anyway, I remember a scene towards the end with Jeremy Sisto that totally creeped me out.

See Also: Dead Alive, Saw 1-3, Cannibal (2006), Hatchet, Dahmer, High Tension, Jason X, Anatomy, Black Christmas, Blood Feast, Demons, Dead Girl, Cube, Suicide Club

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