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Tuesday
Oct072014

31 Days of Pure Horror (Day Seven--Fright Night 1985 and a new podcast)

On our most recent Body Count podcast we settled on this classic as maybe the perfect film to try to get our non-horror-watching friends to start appreciating the genre.  The truth is, however, it has been a decade, at least, since I watched the movie from start to finish, so I thought I would make it the film to end the first full week of horror films.  

Fright Night Original Trailer 

 

 

Did I mention the podcast.  Our first Podcast in over a year is up on iTunes.  Please listen to it, subscribe,and rate it to help us get more exposure.  This episode is Horror Films for People who hate Horror Films.

Body Count on iTunes

Direct Download

 

Monday
Oct062014

31 Days of Pure Horror (Day Six--Horns)

Horns is based on a novel by Joe Hill, one of Stephen King's horror-writing sons.  As I have mentioned already this month, I'm a huge fan of Hill's comic series Locke & Key.  I've been a little more lukewarm on his novels.  However, I really liked Horns from start to finish.  This is the story of a young man who is a suspect in the murder and rape of his girlfriend.  His life is spiralling out of control until one morning when he wakes up with horns budding from the top of his head.  He figures out pretty quickly that people he is in contact with suddenly can't lie to him, and they all reveal their baser nature.  It is a bit like when Young Goodman Brown is walking in the would to the ritual and runs into all the supposedly upstanding citizens who are actually in league with the devil.  Of course, he uses his new powers to attempt to solve his girlfriends murder.  Things grow progressively darker as the novel goes on, and I found it compelling throughout.  The movie adaptation stars Daniel Radcliffe as the protagonist.  I really like him as an actor, so I have high hopes for this one.  

Horns Trailer

 

Monday
Oct062014

Quite Quotable

“Intelligence resembles insanity only on the stupid.” 

Harry Harrison, The Technicolor Time Machine

Sunday
Oct052014

31 Days of Pure Horror (Day Five--A Review of Oculus)

Oculus (2013)

I had high hopes of Oculus.  Andrés Muschietti’s Mama was one of my favorite horror films the year it was released.  I thought that film was truly scary, especially the scenes with the feral kids moving unnaturally through the cabin.  The basic story has potential, but sadly, the film isn’t what I had hoped.

When they were children, Kaylie and Tim Russell survived a terrible experience which left both their mother and father dead, the latter at the hands of 10 year-old Tim.  Tim ends up in a home for the mentally ill and his sister is put into the foster care system.  Oculus takes place eleven years later as Tim is released from the hospital and his sister lures him back to their family home to confront the evil that killed their parents (an evil that resides, as the title would suggest, in an antique mirror that appears to absorb the souls of those it kills).

It is a decent set up rife with opportunities for eerie moments and pedestrian jump scares.  Unfortunately, Muschietti’s film doesn’t deliver either in any measure. The creepiness is minimized by the poorly designed “ghosts” which just look too much like those we’ve seen in dozens of other films.  The jump scares are so telegraphed that I can’t imagine many people would be caught off guard by them.

The key conceit in the filmmaking is the parallel editing of the events of the past and the present.  We learn what happened in the past at the same time we are watching the current events play out.  I can see what the director and editor were going for, but instead of feeling me with mystery and fear, each time they use sleight-of-hand editing to make me unsure which era I was in any sense of dread that had built up simply vaporized.  By the time the final events unfolded, I was completely emotionally divorced from the proceedings. 

It isn’t all bad.  Karen Gillan turns in a believable performance as the adult Kaylie, and Benton Thwaites  is even better as her brother.  The two children playing the characters in flashback are even better than the adult leads.  Additionally, the film is well shot, for the most part, and though it is far from the feast for the eyes that Mama was, the mise-en-scene in general is well done.  My main problem, in the end, is that I didn’t care what happened to the adult versions of these characters, especially Kaylie, who seems oblivious to the effect her efforts are having on her younger brother.  

Saturday
Oct042014

31 Days of Pure Horror (Day Four--The Monster Squad + Haunted)

The Monster Squad came out when I was a Sophomore in college and was aimed well younger than my demographic.  As such, I never got around to seeing it despite hearing from others that it was really good.  Years later, I started getting students in class that saw Monster Squad as one of the films that got them into the genre.  Eventually I picked it up, but I still haven't got around to watching it.  Tonights is the night.  Given my love for Fright Night and the classic Universal monsters, this 80's tale of a group of youngsters trying to fight off Dracula and his cohorts should be right up my alley.  

Ghosted (Image Comics)

The other horror on my to-do list for tonight is to read a few more issues of Ghosted, one of the best horror comics out at the moment (I'll probably discuss Rachel Rising and Afterlife with Archie later in the month).  Ghosted features a protagonist partially inspired by Danny Ocean from Ocean's 11.  He is capable of putting together a team and stealing anything that he (or a client wants).  When we meet Jackson Winters, however, he is in prison after a failed heist that left all of his crew dead.  He is broken out of prison at the whim of a mad billionaire who need him to steal a ghost from a famous haunted mansion.  The story is interesting and well-told.  The art is great throughout.  I really enjoyed the first three issues and have high hopes that it will join Locke & Key and Rachel Rising as horror comics that elevate the genre in that format.