This came out right around when An American Werewolf in London did and I understand why the latter film gets all the attention while this one feels like a completionists' choice. There's so much going on in AAWiL where The Howling has some nice creature design and an admittedly fun atmosphere but not much in the way of scares or even tension. I wonder how much of the failing comes from Rob Bottin's not-great werewolf transformation effects. There's nothing like the impeccable sequence in AAWiL and it instead feels like a dry run for Bottin's incredible work on The Thing a year later. But what works for the Thing doesn't work for werewolves. There are pulsating sacs and that's about it. Pulsating sacs work for an alien creature with no set body structure, but as a vehicle for transformation between man and beast, they fall short. Most of the changes happen between cuts, too. It's a shame, because the kooky cult thing that is going on here storywise is a fun take on the wolf pack concept and, although it stretches plausibility, it does provide for some funny scenes. A nice effort, but not a favorite by any means.
B, C for scares
Not much to say here, obviously a classic. I saw it on the big screen and that made the all-white sequences more blinding while also showing off the Norwegian base in a little more detail. I always zoned out during that sequence but this time I was enthralled. I still think the climax is weak compared to the stuff in the middle, but damn if that last scene isn't pretty much perfect.
A, A for scares
When an American woman is raped by her lovers' friend while another friend lets it happen and then is left for dead, she goes on a revenge quest against all three of the men with the help of some drugs and a beer can. It's not exactly the most complicated story, but the direction gives it a vivacity and propulsion that I couldn't help but get into. Matilda Lutz plays the woman who almost becomes a force of nature by the time the movie comes to an incredibly bloody end. Not for the squeamish, but it pushes all the right buttons for me, even though I have come to dislike revenge stories.
A-, B for scares
A rewatch that reminded me how much bugs crawling inside people freaks me out. Thanks, The Bay. If only the acting was better!
B, B for scares
I was hoping for Cronenberg to take this in the direction of The Fly but instead he indulges in his love of psychological mumbo jumbo. Luckily you get two Jeremy Ironses for the price of one and he does a great job, even when awkward camera angles and body poses must be used to cut down on costs or whatever. He plays twin gynecologists who push the limits of their field while crossing all kinds of boundaries. Maybe the most realistic horror film I've seen this year so far, but I don't really come to horror for realism, so it fell a little flatter than it might have had I watched it outside the Shocktober context.
B+, C- for scares
Dario Argento wrote the screenplay for Lamberto Bava's (son of Mario) wild, meta horror film. A bunch of randos get offered tickets to a special showing at a movie theater displaying props from the film in the lobby. One patron gets cut when she tries on a mask and then watches in horror as the same thing happens to a character within the film who quickly turns into a demon. Guess what happens to her. This has gore, puss, and screams coming out of every orifice and while that's fun for a while, it quickly starts to lose some steam. I'd love to see a remake of this that treats it with some degree of seriousness and restraint, because a tighter story and proper scare-building could make this into something really special. This version, however, is a fun enough time at the movies. Just don't mess with the decorations.
B, B for scares
This Argentinian movie has a really great premise and an exciting build to a third act that doesn't exist. A semi-suburban city block experiences an infestation of ghosts and ghoulies that manifest differently for three different neighbors. The first act covers each house one-by-one and introduces new characters while freaking me the CINECAST! out. The next act sees paranormal investigators and a cop on the verge of retirement come to the neighborhood and set up shop in the houses. Even more scary stuff happens. Then it ends. What? Where's the climax? There are some great creature designs and the movie opens with a really great, shocking scene of supernatural violence. But then the whole thing just ends with a modicum of closure. I don't demand explanations, but I would like to see a movie end conclusively. This one feels like they ran out of time or money. It's still worth a watch, just don't get your hopes up.
B, A- for scares
I saw this was playing at a movie theater near campus and was excited to see a favorite of mine on the big screen, especially given the wonderful experience I had at the same place a few weeks earlier with The Thing. Here's a word of warning, don't go to a movie theater near a college campus for a late showing of a horror movie on Friday night. The audience laughed every time Michael showed up on screen and howled through the kill sequences. It was the worst. The movie was still great, though.
A, F for audience
From the writer-director duo who made Resolution and Spring, The Endless is another fantastic indie horror-ish movie. Two brothers who escaped from an UFO death cult at a young age go back to see them before they kill themselves. At the compound they find an idyllic way of life that doesn't seem so bad, at least as long as you aren't looking too closely. Some supernatural shit starts happening and as the reality of their situation became increasingly apparent I became more and more enthralled with the film. It looks really good for its small budget and they use suggestion and off-screen happenings really well so that I never felt cheated and was always more curious to see what would happen next. This one is definitely worth a watch, especially if you know and like these guys from their earlier works.
A-, B for scares
You put Dan Stevens in folk horror movie directed by Gareth Evans and I'm gonna watch the crap out of that. Safe Haven, his segment from VHS2, is one of the best horror things of the past decade and I had high hopes that this full-length effort would expand on that promise. It does and doesn't. There's a greater sense of character and place here, the film's two biggest strengths. But what starts as a more-violent Wicker Man doesn't quite turn into the bat-shit insanity of Safe Haven's wild ending. There are suggestions, hints here and there, that what you are seeing isn't exactly what is happening, but Evans doesn't deliver on that as much as he might have. Instead, we get a satisfying story of familial dedication and the madness of small religious communities. I would have liked to see more, but this is a good enough start on bringing the qualities I loved from Safe Haven to the big time.
A-, B for scares
I'm working my way through Mike Flannigan's The Haunting of Hill House and its the best new thing I've seen this Shocktober so far, but I don't want to write about it until I've seen the whole thing. Same goes for season 2 of Channel Zero, which I'm liking a lot.