Author Topic: Shocktober Group Marathon 2011  (Read 38948 times)

Beavermoose

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Re: Shocktober Group Marathon 2011
« Reply #300 on: October 31, 2011, 06:46:13 PM »
This is not really related to the marathon because I won't be writing something about all of these films but I'm trying to watch one horror film for everyday in the month of October. (31)
I'll edit this list as I go along.

1st: Transformers 3
2nd: Child's Play
3rd: Prince of Darkness
4th: Eyes Without a Face
5th: The Devils
6th: The Omen
7th: Suspiria
8th: Slither
9th: Wolf Creek
10th: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
11th: Paranormal Activity 2
12th: [REC]
13th: Slumber Party Massacre
14th: Tucker and Dale vs Evil
15th: Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw III
16th: The Birthday
17th: Pieces
18th: Don't Look Now
19th: Prom Night
20th: The Happening
21st: White Skin
22nd: The Devil's Backbone
23rd: The Funhouse
24th: Black Christmas
25th: They Live
26th: The Exorcist
27th: Rosemary's Baby
28th: Zookeeper
29th: Cannibal Holocaust
30th: The Howling
31st: Les diaboliques

I cheated a bit but I succeeded.

Corndog

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Re: Shocktober Group Marathon 2011
« Reply #301 on: October 31, 2011, 08:09:31 PM »
Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977)

Of the films I initially laid out to watch for Shocktober, I would have to say that Suspiria interested me the most. I think it was because of all I had heard and what little I had seen of it, which was that it was visually stunning and generally held as a great horror film. Even the name Argento was huge in the genre, yet I had not yet discovered any of his films (although he did help write Once Upon a Time in the West). So the main beef I really had when I sat down to watch this film was the DVD itself that I got from Netflix. It wasn't scratched or cracked or anything, but the quality was sub par, both visually and sonically. It was a lot fuzzier than I expected and the sound mix was way off, with moments that were very loud and the next minute very quiet dialogue. I assume this was just the DVD I got, but it peeved me. I really do help there is a better rendering of this film out there.

The film follows Susan (Jessica Harper), who is an American ballet dancer who has just been accepted in a very prestigious European ballet school. When she arrives, however, everything starts to go haywire for her. A girl, who had just been expelled from the school, is murdered the first night she is there. And then there are strange footsteps, freak maggots and the disappearance of one of her new friends, Sara (Stefania Casini). After consulting some psychiatrists, she begins to suspect witchcraft, and must evade the pressure as she investigates deeper into the strange happenings at the school.

Since I've already voiced my annoyance with the quality of the DVD, I guess I will start with what I liked about the film and move on from there. It definitely lived up to the visually stunning that I was expecting. The sets and colors were remarkable. The beautiful reds really popped off the screen and although there were no fancy camera moves, the way Argento captures this bizarre world is awesome, and the lighting definitely helps that. The mood created by the colors, which is predominately red, but also greens and blues, is great and really sets the stage for the high intensity ending. The mood is also carried by the music, which is perhaps the best part of the film.

Basically I said that the visuals and the sound were the best parts of the film, and yet they were the worst part of the DVD. How disappointing. But there were some other disappointing things in the film. The acting was subpar, which I have almost come to expect/accept in these classic horror films at this point. It is not like these are the types of films, or filmmakers, who would attract high end talent when these films were made. Also, apart from the initial kill, I was not all that engaged by the film for the majority of the run time. There was just something fairly ho-hum about it all, even with the nice sets and atmosphere.

But looking back at the film as a whole, I am able to forgive these minor qualms because the film builds, and builds to a brilliant finale. While I may have found the guts of the film middle of the road while they were happening, it really brought the ending to life, as did some great strokes by Argento with the camera. I was really surprised and taken with how effective the closing was. This is really an instance of wishing the quality of the actual film, not the content, was better. It makes me wonder how much more I might have appreciated it, but it was still a good experience which has me further interested in Argento's other films.
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Shocktober Group Marathon 2011 - My Bloody Valentine (1981)
« Reply #302 on: October 31, 2011, 09:59:02 PM »


My Bloody Valentine (1981)

So in the end, Shocktober 2011 ends not with a whimper but a big, gooey bang with the 1981 cult slasher, My Bloody Valentine. This film has stayed in horror consciousness longer than most from the 80s not because of the 3D remake (though that helped) or the many sequels (because there are none), but because this became an MPAA whipping boy. This is where the ratings board drew a line in the slasher sand and made them strongly suggested they edit out the bloody gore. Nearly all of the blood was removed from the 1981 release print. You can tell while watching the unrated edition because there's a major downgrade in the film quality every time something icky happens. The picture goes from soft focus 80s to Grindhouse.

This is the most interesting thing about Valentine. The plot is fairly routine, with the usual band of bad teen actors getting hacked to bits in creative ways for 90 minutes. (Scream's major contribution was making the teens self aware of horror clichťs, but just as praiseworthy is finally casting good actors in the parts.) There are some creative setups and original bits of gore, but director George Mihalka doesn't know how to work the extreme violence to the film's advantage. You want to know why some of us believe Eli Roth has talent? Watch Thanksgiving and then watch this (which was clearly the biggest inspiration for that short.) Notice how Roth manages to play the killings for comedy. He's working the horror levers, but more importantly he's out to deliver a fun ride.

Mihalka takes things too seriously, so the bloody money shots do come off as excessively gross. For example, there's a moment where a body is decapitated and falls down a well. The kids climb down to escape the killer. The now headless body is right at the base of the ladder and the kids step out so as not to step on their dead friend. One girl hits it by accident and quickly leaps away. Had Mihalka known horror comedy gold he would've given a close-up of the kids stepping over their friend. Perhaps added a neck spurt from the weight. Instead, he tries to ignore the gaffe. Opportunity missed.

This isn't the worst Halloween ripoff I've seen. It's at least twice as good as other horror slashers I watched this month Motel Hell or Torso. I know it's too much to ask for good acting, but had there been a better spin besides the holiday decorations My Bloody Valentine might have lived up to its reputation. Instead it's more of a slasher curiosity, most pleasing to the gore hounds who had to wait so long to see the hardcore grue.
RATING: * *
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Bondo

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Re: Shocktober Group Marathon 2011
« Reply #303 on: October 31, 2011, 10:17:07 PM »
Misery (1990)

This is a film that has kind of worked its way into pop culture enough that I knew most of what happens. Steven King's story returns to Colorado, inspiration of The Shining, for another snowbound thriller. Author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) has just finished his latest book and is headed back from his writing retreat when he drives off the road in a blizzard. Annie (Kathy Bates), his "#1 Fan" saves him (it seems clear that he would have died without her intervention), but she's also crazy and it quickly becomes apparent she's not going to let him go.

I like a lot of what this movie does. It is a good capturing of a certain problematic hyper fandom and the way it can limit an artist, usually only metaphorically. It is also effective in portraying the terror of physical helplessness. Sheldon is in no position to bargain. Just thinking about how horror has changed in the past 20 years, I can't help but think this film could have become torture porn. You do get a bit of visualized violence in the hobbling scene, but on the whole this is a pretty tame presentation. It doesn't go to the extremes of something like Audition and I think that is largely to its benefit. This is a disturbed woman but she isn't just completely inhuman.

James Caan plays his part great with the cycling between terror, appeasement and plotting. I can't really believe that Bates won an Oscar for this role as it felt weaker. She plays the role big and unnatural. Yes, her character is crazy, but I want to believe that she's still a real person. Failing that the film feels more like a film and thus the stakes are lowered. I also felt they went a little too cloying in her fandom early on. It just felt a bit forced. Still, the good outweighs the bad; there is a reason this has become a classic thriller.

4/5

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Shocktober Group Marathon 2011
« Reply #304 on: October 31, 2011, 10:43:10 PM »
The Fog (1980)

John Carpenterís follow-up to the popular and influential Halloween, The Fog is perhaps the quintessential Carpenter film. Itís not his best, not by a longshot, but itís the best at demonstrating his strengths and weaknesses as a writer and a director. Itís also a lot of fun and perhaps his most straightforward film.

Set in a tiny coast town, The Fog deals with simple people in simple times dealing with a not so simple threat. After a night of strange electronic malfunctions, a heavy fog bank appears across the ocean and slowly begins to work its way towards the town. While itís likely to put a damper on the centennial celebration of the town, it carries with it an ancient threat from the depths of the sea.

As Carpenter stories go, itís a bit more on the hokey style, but the way he builds the air of mystery and leaves a lot of the logistics unexplained builds the story more around slow, deliberate pacing and gradually unfolding dread builds to a panicked last act. The suspenseful style makes for a more plausible and ominous horror flick where the cast of characters donít become the foolish ninnies that often permeate horror films.

That being said, The Fog is filled with a cast of almost completely forgettable characters. Itís endemic of Carpenterís larger problem of not having a good grip on making complex or empathetic characters. While the way they respond to the horror is interesting, as actual entities, theyíre about as dull as they come.

But, like most Carpenter films, the real character of the film is the atmosphere. The small, picturesque town gains a whole other dimension in the dark where Carpenter is able to bring out the texture of the shadows and slowly invade it with the softly glowing fog that descends upon the town. Carpenter is able to give shape and form to that tingle in the back of your spine or the sensation that makes you spin around suddenly in the dark, just to make sure thereís nothing behind you.

The Fog ties these fears into a number of places. On a purely physical level, itís the idea of not knowing or understanding the unusual and odd. The fog comes in against the wind and shrouds our sight, leaving us unable to make out anything from a distance. Therefore the horror becomes intimate, that itís not something easily divorceable from ourselves or something we can observe from afar. Itís here, in our faces, by the time we notice it and weíre forced to deal with it.

But The Fog also demonstrates deeper cultural anxieties, rooted in the horrors of the past when we realize that our heritage and past is built atop the lives of many we exploited along the way. Itís almost always the subtlest strand of horror movies, but here Carpenter faces it in some charged imagery that attacks several modern institutions at once.

Like all of Carpenter Iíve seen so far, I enjoyed the mood, atmosphere and horror, but the characters and story are too simplistic to fully immerse me in the terror they must endure. The Fog is still a fun film, its oozing visual display and eerie monster design make it enjoyable to the eye, but by the time the credits roll, the details and character had faded from my mind.

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Re: Shocktober Group Marathon 2011
« Reply #305 on: October 31, 2011, 11:34:14 PM »
Was it a deliberate choice to watch The Mist followed by The Fog?

I didn't realize this was his follow up to Halloween. Such a jump to his glossy, high-production values. If I had to name a film that feels like a transition it would be Escape From New York. Then again there's Assault on Precinct 13, which is just as low budget as Halloween. I'm not even sure that one's in widescreen.

Man, he used to be so good. Then around 1990 he just deflated into a terrible director. Escape From L.A. was the definitive proof that he couldn't make a good film anymore.
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MartinTeller

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Re: Shocktober Group Marathon 2011
« Reply #306 on: October 31, 2011, 11:37:12 PM »
Was it a deliberate choice to watch The Mist followed by The Fog?

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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Shocktober Group Marathon 2011
« Reply #307 on: October 31, 2011, 11:42:42 PM »
Was it a deliberate choice to watch The Mist followed by The Fog?
I didn't realize it until after the fact. A happy coincidence...

...or is it?

Bondo

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Re: Shocktober Group Marathon 2011
« Reply #308 on: October 31, 2011, 11:56:04 PM »
Man, he used to be so good. Then around 1990 he just deflated into a terrible director. Escape From L.A. was the definitive proof that he couldn't make a good film anymore.

I found Escape From L.A. to be great fun. Almost as great as Judge Dredd.

Beavermoose

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Re: Shocktober Group Marathon 2011
« Reply #309 on: November 01, 2011, 08:34:07 PM »
The Exorcist

Well I'd been traumatized as child having accidently watched scenes from the exorcist on TV. Now that I've actually watched the movie I feel like I've somewhat overcome what was troubling me. It didn't quite frighten me this time around. What it did do was keep me really intrigued and invested, despite the fact that I already knew every single plot point. Its a brilliantly constructed movie. Probably one of the best made horror films ever.

Rosemary's Baby

Another movie that I thought would be scarier. Rosemary's Baby is like a slower more tame version of Repulsion, which I enjoyed a greater deal more. I'm aware that the movie is supposed to be more a psychological horror film but the movie's pace is dreadfully slow and the main character often makes really stupid decision. My favorite scene is the dream/impregnation sequence and I wish more of the film had experienced with horrific visuals instead of simple paranoia.

Les diaboliques

Another movie which is oddly paced. The first half consists of two women planning and executing a murder, and the second half is part police investigation part supernatural-thriller. It is an interesting film which is very well constructed, but apart from its final few scenes isn't all that frightening either.

[Rec]

Really overrated. I enjoyed it but found the story to be quite empty. Apart from the found footage gimmick it doesn't really bring much to the zombie genre. The ending tries to bring in some sort of mythology which is pretty much just unnecessary, unexplained crap.

« Last Edit: November 01, 2011, 08:36:39 PM by Beavermoose »