Summer Chillout: The Shining

It’s still damn hot outside, and I don’t know about you, but unless I’m in a pool, the outdoors are a no-go for me right now.  I hope everyone took my advice and watched The Thing last week to cool down.  Ice and snow are just very appealing to me right now.

So this week’s Summer Chillout is kind of a no-brainer: The Shining.  

And I’m talking about the 1980 classic, not the poorly-received 1997 miniseries.  It might have been more true to the book, but it just didn’t translate as well as the Kubrick version on screen.

Kubrick’s version is dark and depressing.  The snowy setting is beautiful but bleak, and it’s such a great movie that even Toy Story paid homage to it.  Check out these huge pros for watching this one again.

The Direction:  I mean, how many great scenes come to mind when you see this movie?  Danny’s run-ins with the hallway twins and Room 237.  Jack’s makeout session with a ghost.  His conversations with good ole’ Lloyd and Grady.  Red rum. Wendy finding Jack’s repetitive manuscript.  Jack walking menacingly up the stairs toward a baseball bat-armed Wendy.  An axe-wielding Jack tearing into the bathroom.  The death of poor Hallorann.  The maze chase.  I can’t even right now.

The Performances:  Shelley Duvall’s performance gets me every time.  She was basically tortured by Kubrick to get the right shot, but you can definitely feel her frantic panicky terror while her husband follows her up the stairs threatening to bash her brains in.  Jack Nicholson is always awesome, and his iconic performance as Jack Torrance is so hard to top.  His descent into madness was conveyed perfectly by Nicholson.

Three words: Elevator. Blood. Waterfall.  Just classic.

And the cons are…nothing.  I can’t think of any.

I really hope you’ve seen this one already because if you haven’t, I don’t know what to do with you.  Just get it, watch it, and cool off. Simple as that.  Fed

Summer Chillout: The Thing

Well, summer is officially here, and I couldn’t be sweatier.

Seriously.  It’s frickin hot around here.

There are many ways to cool down in the summer time – crank up the AC crazy high, swim, cover yourself in ice – but each of these is either expensive, requires you to be in the sun and/or around sharks, or might result in some light hypothermia.  So my favorite way to cool down is with a horror movie that reminds me of nicer (i.e., colder) times.

And my favorite movie to do this?  John Carpenter’s The Thing.

The Thing (1982) is not only my favorite movie for a summer chill session; it’s also one of my favorite horror movies period.  It’s even on my Top 20 list.

Although the movie was initially met with criticism, both it and its score are now considered classics in the movie world.  It’s even watched at British Research stations in Antarctica as part of their Midwinter celebration held on June 21.  There are so many great things going for it.

The cast is awesome.  Ultra-80’s coiffed Kurt Russell, always cool Keith David, Wilford “I have diabeetus” Brimley, and the rest of the ill-fated group of research scientists struggle to survive an attack from an other worldly being and their own paranoia, and they just make it all so believable.

The score is haunting and identifiable.  Although movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th have very recognizable themes (and good ones, too), the theme and score for this movie is probably one of my favorites.  It just sets the bleak and hopeless tone of the movie perfectly.

THE EFFECTS!  Sorry for screaming, but I freakin love the effects in this film.  I’m not totally against CGI, but practical effects are my jam.  They just look so much cooler, and the monsters in this movie, crafted by the so-talented Rob Bottin and crew, are so creepy and unique that I just can’t get over it.

I just don’t have any bad things to say about this movie.  And for a bonus, try watching the prequel released in 2011, which is definitely not a perfect movie,  but has its moments.  CGI is used pretty heavily, but I really appreciated how they tied everything together.  Watch it immediately after the 1982 movie, and you’ll see what I mean.

If you haven’t seen this movie, do yourself a huge favor and introduce yourself to it today.  Turn down the lights, set the AC to an acceptable temp, and just imagine yourself in the snow and ice.

It’s only a few short months away from fall and cooler temps, so keep checking back with me each week for another chillout session.

It Comes at Night…or Does It?

It Comes at Night, a film by up-and-coming director/writer Trey Edward Shults, was released on Friday, and the critical reception made this one a must watch for me.  It currently has a 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, which – for a horror movie – is rare.

I finally got to see it last night with a friend, and we both went in without any real knowledge of the plot.  I knew it was a post-apocalyptic thriller, but other than the brief (and uninformative) trailer I saw before Get Out, I had very limited exposure to anything prior to showtime.

Usually, this is a good thing.  Horror movie trailers (and most trailers, really) just give away too damn much.

I really wish I’d learned a little more about this one beforehand.

Warning: Here Be Spoilers.

The movie stars Joel Edgerton (as Paul), Carmen Ejogo (as Sarah), Kelvin Harrison Jr. (as Travis), Christopher Abbott (as Will), and Riley Keough (as Kim) as survivors of a seemingly worldwide plague that has wiped out much of mankind.  Will breaks into the home of Paul, Sarah, and Travis, and after he’s knocked out and tied to a tree for the night, he’s interrogated before Paul agrees to take him back to his wife and son and bring them back to live at the house.

There are rules for living at the house.  Everyone must go everywhere in pairs.  No one goes out at night.  And the red door stays locked all night long.

Seems easy, right?

After bringing them in, all seems to be going well until the family dog, Stanley, sees something in the forest and runs away.  The dog shows up at the house later that night, bloody and sick, and has to be put down.  Both families agree to be isolated from one another after realizing the red door had been unlocked.  By whom?  We don’t know.  Neither do they.  All they know is there might be a risk for sickness.

Paranoia increases as Will’s family discusses leaving, and Paul’s family, afraid that someone would now know where to find them, decide not to allow that.  Fearing that Will’s child is sick, Paul and Sarah mask and arm themselves to confront the other family, and all hell breaks loose, ending in the deaths of Will, Kim and their toddler son.

At the end, all is hopeless.  Paul and Sarah try to cope with what they have just done, and although the point of the isolation was to prevent any illness, Travis still comes down with it anyway and dies.  The movie ends with Paul and Sarah staring at each other across the dining room table.

Roll credits.

I understand that this is a film about hopelessness and paranoia.  It did a great job at conveying that.  I was tense.  I felt sad for the characters, especially the dog (always the dog).  I just didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I wanted to.

Throughout the whole movie, Travis has nightmares about his dead grandfather, the door, and the forest.  The forest seems to hold a lot of dread for him, as he frequently dreams about seeing something terrifying in the trees. He even draws a picture of scary things in the forest.  Stanley chases after something in the woods, and his barking is abruptly cut off when he’s out of sight.  It just seemed like it was leading up to some big reveal about what was in the woods.

Nothing.

And then the unlocked door.  Who unlocked it?  What happened there?

Nothing.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad movie, and if I had gone into it knowing the plot, I might have been fine.  But IMDb says in its description of the movie that “an unnatural threat terrorizes the world.”  To me that doesn’t say sickness, so that threw me off, too.

Should you see it?  If you go into it knowing that what comes at night is actually paranoia and there are no creepy creatures in the forest, you’ll probably enjoy it.

But maybe go to a matinee.  Save your big bucks for something else.

How to Enjoy a Horror Movie

If you don’t like horror movies, I don’t understand you.  I just don’t.  Are you scared?  Squeamish?  Do you just think they’re stupid?  What’s your problem?

I have always – ALWAYS – loved horror movies, so not enjoying/watching them has never occurred to me.  They’ve just been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

Maybe you have a significant other that really loves them, or maybe you’ve been called a wuss for whatever reason.  The point is, now you want to try them out.

Well, let me help you.

I recently watched The Bye Bye Man, a movie that just came out earlier this year and was universally not-so-loved by people who watched it.  Just check out the reviews.  Rotten Tomatoes currently scores it as 24% rotten.  It’s got a 37% on Metacritic, 0.5 stars out of 4 from Roger Ebert, and a 4.2 on Imdb.

So yeah.  Not a great movie.

But guess what?  I enjoyed it.  I’m not saying it’s a good movie by any means.  I just know how to enjoy a horror movie, so that’s what I did.

So how do you do it even if it’s terrible?

  1. Know thyself and pick accordingly.

Not every movie is meant for every person, and that can definitely be said for the many variations in the horror genre.  If you can’t stand gore, it’s probably not a good idea to jump right in to Saw.  If ghosts are too much for you, stay away from The Conjuring.  Oh, you run screaming and hyperventilate at the thought of possession?  How about you avoid The Exorcist?

Maybe you want a little comedy in your horror.  Maybe  you want something critically acclaimed (few and far between for horror movies).  The point is this: pick something that you might like, not something you know you’re going to hate.

I don’t watch sappy romance movies for exactly that reason.

2.   Know the rules.

If you’ve seen Scream or just have a working knowledge of pop culture, you know that horror movies have rules.  Don’t have sex. Don’t drink and/or do drugs. Don’t say “I’ll be right back.”  And so on, and so on, and so on.  These rules don’t apply to real life, but there is a formula to a lot of scary movies, especially slashers.

And if you know the rules, you can probably catch when something’s about to happen.  That’s part of the fun.  It doesn’t work for every horror movie, of course, but you can have a pretty good time catching these little clues as they come.

3.   Turn off your brain.

Yes.   I know they should be going down the stairs and out the door instead of straight to the killer’s loving arms, but this is a horror movie.  People make dumb decisions in a horror movie.  It’s okay. You don’t have to make these same mistakes when you have a homicidal masked crazy person slowly following you.  These are not instructional videos, and on that note…

4.  Don’t be “that guy.”

Everybody loves to hear a know-it-all, right?  WRONG.  Trust me.  Absolutely no one cares that you could have totally gotten out of whatever horror movie situation you’re currently watching.  It doesn’t make you cool; it makes you annoying.

Also, if you just plain don’t like the movie, don’t be an ass about it.  Not scary to you?  Don’t bitch about it.  Everyone is scared of different things.  I, for instance, have never been actually scared by a movie, but I still love them.

5.  Don’t give up.

There are as many different types of horror movies as there are stars in the sky.  Well, not really, but you get the point.  If you pick a movie you’re not really pleased with, try something new.  If you decide ghosts aren’t for you, try a slasher.  Slashers out?  Try a zombie movie.  There’s also psychological horror, possession, splatter, survival, found footage, paranormal, and various types of monster movies to try out.  There’s bound to be one you’ll like somewhere in the mix.

Scary Easter?

So I’m all about horror and making things fun and scary, but I’m really struggling with a creepy way to celebrate Easter, the most pastel of all holidays.  There just aren’t a lot of options here.  I mean, the holiday mascot is a fluffy bunny.

But I’m going to try my hardest.

First of all, the Easter horror movie selection is (not surprisingly) lacking.  There are only a handful, so I would recommend watching Easter Sunday (2014) and Peter Rottentail (2004).  I haven’t seen either, but Easter Sunday has some pretty good reviews, and Peter Rottentail just looks weird and funny in a very B-movie way.  Just Google it to look at the villain.  Michael Myers he (she?) is not, but it’s still promising.

Also a good idea would be to check out Critters 2.  It takes place near/on Easter, and there’s an excellent scene of the Easter Bunny getting attacked and killed.  Not the real one, just a guy in a suit.  Check it out:

Pretty cool, right?

Second, maybe find a way to maximize the creep factor of the day by being creative.  Start by making some spiderweb dyed eggs.  Just check out the many tutorials online.  You could even draw some skulls on non-dyed eggs with a sharpie.  That’s pretty simple.  And if you have kids that are on board the horror train (Side note: I feel like if that’s not a thing, it should totally be), give them some scary movies and gross toys in their Easter basket, which could totally be jet black, by the way.

Pastel is not a requirement.

So there you have it.  I tried and – just maybe? – succeeded.  I hope you all have a very creepy Easter.  Let me know if you have any other scary ways to celebrate.

April Fools

Prank day!  Has anyone gotten fooled yet?  Fooled someone yourself?  I don’t normally take part in this holiday.  Not willingly, at least.  I appreciate pranks, but I’m just too lazy to pull them off.

And it’s too bad that I’m lazy because this day is full of scary possibilities.  Have some costume blood handy?  Fake an injury.  Know one of your friends is home alone?  Maybe a creepy stalker decides to call them from a random number.  Just use your imagination.   But be careful.  You don’t want to scare someone so badly that they have a heart attack or shoot you if you surprise them.  Use your head.

On that note, severed head pranks are good, too.

One thing I will do to celebrate is watch the 1986 horror classic April Fools Day.  I suggest you do the same.  Maybe you’ll get some good ideas for next year’s pranks.  I won’t give any of the plot away, but I will say there are some bloody shenanigans going on.

I do not recommend watching the 2008 version of April Fools Day unless you just want to waste an hour and a half of your life.

Happy April Fools Day to everyone out there!

Stephen King’s IT Remake Trailer Is Here!

Oh.  Em.  Gee.

The first trailer for the remake of Stephen King’s It is finally out, and I’ve already watched it about 20 times.  Exaggeration?  You’d think so, but no. I’m freaking obsessed with this thing, and I’ve only seen 2+ minutes of footage.  If you haven’t seen it yet (oh, you weren’t constantly refreshing your browser this morning? Weird…), check out the link below:

DID YOU LOVE IT??!?!!  (Whoa. Settle.  Stop screaming.)  Did you love it?  Because I did.

I’ve been a little worried about this one because the original made-for-tv version of Stephen King’s It holds a very special place in my heart.  As you can see, I’ve mentioned it several times on different posts like here and here.  I even gave it lucky #13 on the list of my favorite scary movies.  But after seeing the trailer, I am SO EXCITED!

Seriously.  I’ve got to stop screaming.

So to begin the trailer, we’ve got the iconic scene of Georgie’s death.  Not the whole thing.  Just a taste (forgive the wording).  And as is tradition, Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgard, pops up in the drain.  Skarsgard looks pretty cool and creepy but doesn’t get to talk yet.  I’m really interested in hearing his voice because I just don’t know what direction they’ve taken with it.  Is it gruff like Tim Curry’s Pennywise, or is it creepy clown high pitched?  We just don’t know.

Then we have a glimpse into the lives of the members of the Loser’s Club.  I’m so happy to see them all in action.  That scene where they’re looking at a family photo slideshow was freaking awesome.  So creepy.  Those things aren’t usually very entertaining, so Pennywise just brought a little excitement.

I also was pleased to see the scene with Beth in the bathroom because it looks like they definitely upped the gore factor in this one.   Very pleased with that.

Oh, I could go on and on and on, but I’ll stop here.  We’ve got a little over 5 months until this movie comes out on September 8, so I’m sure we’ll have much more to look at before then.  Until then, keep an eye on the blog for updates, and let me know what you’re most excited about in the comments.

Also, make sure to subscribe to the blog and follow me on Facebook so you can be sure not to miss anything important.

#stephenkingsit #itmovie

 

 

The Belko Experiment: A Gore Fan’s Review

Last night, I watched The Belko Experiment, a film written by James Gunn, the same guy who gave us Guardians of the Galaxy, Slither, and the screenplay for the 2004 Dawn of the Dead.  Mr. Gunn is quite talented, and he’s already proven that he can write horror, so I was excited to check out this movie.  The trailer promised a violent, gory ride into the world of office politics.  It did not disappoint on that front.

Is it of the same caliber as Guardians?  Absolutely not, but it was pretty entertaining, although frustrating at times.  As with many horror movies, it’s very easy to settle into the “I can’t believe they’re doing that.  If I was them, I would…” way of thinking.  It’s best to just sit back, turn off your brain, and enjoy the ride.  Unfortunately, my brain’s ‘OFF’ button wasn’t working.

WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS

Belko has been described as a mix of Battle Royale and Office Space, and I think that’s a fair assessment.  Belko is funny at times and shows the monotonous side of the workplace environment before settling into murderous mayhem.

If I find out who took my stapler, I’ll kill em.

What starts off as an almost normal morning for the employees of Belko Industries quickly devolves into the most terrifying office meeting anyone’s ever been a part of.  Ever have a group project at work go south?  Kinda like that but with more blood and exploding heads.

A voice from the building’s intercom interrupts the peaceful day by telling everyone that two people have to be killed within the next 30 minutes.  Of course, everyone thinks it’s a prank, but then the building’s defenses kick in.  Metal plates slide over the windows and doors, and before you can say “dead end job,” they’re trapped.  Everyone groups together in the downstairs lobby, and after 30 minutes pass, a few employees get some strong headaches.  Like so strong their heads explode.

BC Powder ain’t gonna fix that.

Not surprisingly, everyone panics, and one of the characters figures out that the tracking chips implanted in the employees when they each took their jobs are to blame for the violent migraines.  Tracking chips, you ask?  Well, Belko is located in Bogota, Colombia, and the employees were told the chips were implanted to locate them in case of a kidnapping.  Just a normal day in Colombia, I guess.

Now that everyone knows Mr. Intercom was serious, he gives them another task.  This time 30 people have to die within the next 2 hours or 60 will be killed.  This is where things turn into a free-for-all between those who still believe in the sanctity of human life and those who just say “Screw it. Let’s get to killin.'”

I don’t want to give everything away here, but let’s just say lots of people die.  Very violently.  I was extremely impressed by the special effects in this film.  They gave us not one but two head smashing scenes and so many head explosions that I lost count.  I’m a gore fan, so I was not disappointed there.

The one thing that did bother me is the main character.  Now, I don’t really know how I would react in that situation – and it goes without saying that I hope I never do – but the main character just really got on my nerves at times.  Good ol’ Mike Milch, played by John Gallagher Jr., is appalled at the idea of killing his friends and co-workers like any normal person would be, but he takes it to a level that I just found annoying.  This is where I wished my brain could have turned off, but it just wasn’t happening.  I found myself not really rooting for anyone to live or die and just sat back to enjoy the violence of it all.

Okay, I take that back.  I did root for John C. McGinley’s character to die.  He did a really good job playing a creep in this movie, so yeah – he needed to go.  There was also another annoying character or two that I wasn’t sad to see kick it.  I guess I just didn’t really root for anyone in particular to live.

So should you go see The Belko Experiment?  It definitely placed third out of the three movies I’ve seen in the past few weeks, which includes Logan (So awesome!) and the highly-praised Get Out, but I think it was absolutely worth the price of the ticket.  Like I said earlier, I enjoy gore and violence in movies, so if that’s not your thing, this movie isn’t for you.  But if you’ve dreamed of killing any of your co-workers, this movie might be a cathartic experience.  Enjoy it, and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

And just as a side note: If you haven’t seen Get Out yet, what the hell is wrong with you?! Go! Go now!

Pot O’ Gold: The Leprechaun Series

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!  I’ve always enjoyed this little holiday.  Green is my favorite color, and green beer – well, that’s just smart.  I’m not Irish or Catholic, so the religious aspect of the day isn’t something I usually think about, and I understand that celebrations of the holiday have been criticized for being too commercial and for playing on offensive stereotypes about the Irish people.

But I’m going to wear green and enjoy the day anyway. You do you.  I’ll do me.

But you didn’t come here to read about green beer or the commercialism of America.  It’s a cool topic, but – you know – horror blog.  So let’s talk about the horror movies you should be watching today.

Yep.  The Leprechaun series.

Not this guy.

Believe it or not, there are seven of these guys.  SEVEN.  And the last one just came out in 2014.  Yes. This decade got its own Leprechaun movie. There’s even one with aliens.

They get pretty wild.

The first movie came out in 1993 and starred pre-nose job future “friend” Jennifer Aniston and the ever-awesome Warwick Davis.  Davis actually plays the title character in each movie except the most recent.  You should also know him as Willow and, of course, Professor Flitwick.  He’s a pretty cool guy.

You can check out the summaries on imdb.com:

Leprechaun (1993)

Leprechaun 2 (1994)

Leprechaun 3 (1995)

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996)

Leprechaun in the Hood (2000)

Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (2003)

Leprechaun: Origins (2014)

Now, don’t they sound like fun?  They might not have the highest ratings, but did you really expect masterpiece theater from a series of movies about a murderous, evil leprechaun?  I didn’t think so.

If you’re looking for a seriously scary group of films, these ain’t it.  But they are very entertaining and pretty damn funny.  It’s nice when movies like these don’t forget what they are, and the Leprechaun series is just a bunch of fun. Plus, Leprechaun in the Hood has Ice-T.  That’s something.

So check these movies out.  Give them a chance.  What else are you going to do tonight? Go out and get drunk?

Oh. Right.

Pulsing Hearts & Bloody Arrows: Scary Valentine’s Day

Even if you don’t celebrate it, I’m sure you have an opinion about Valentine’s Day.  Love it or hate it (or just plain don’t care), if you have to do any kind of shopping, you just can’t avoid all those pink and red hearts, cupid cutouts, and chocolate, chocolate everywhere.

I fall in the category of “Hey, at least it breaks up the first quarter of the year with an event.”  I use to be one of those people that just thought it was made up and stupid, but I grew out of that because hating stuff for no good reason is just dumb.

Anyway, it’s a cutesy holiday, and while I have no problem being nice to my husband, cute just ain’t for me.  Romance movies? Blah.  No, thank you.

So what kind of creepy fun can you have for Valentine’s Day?  Well, of course, there are movies, and we can’t really talk about Valentine’s Day without mentioning THE scary movie of the holiday: My Bloody Valentine.

I own both the 1981 original and the 2009 remake starring none other than the elder Winchester, Jensen Ackles.

They’re both okay.

The original was creepy when I was a kid, and I really enjoyed the (SPOILER) twist at the end.   The remake was also fun, but it was also a little cheesy – probably because it’s made for 3D, and I didn’t watch it that way.  Lots of crazy stuff flying at the screens, which is cool, but it loses a little something in 2D.

If you haven’t seen either of them and want to hear the legend of Harry Warden, you should totally watch them now.  They aren’t the best horror movies, but they’re also not the worse.

And I will say, they’re much better than another Valentine’s Day horror movie I feel like I should mention: Valentine starring Denise Richards, David Boreanaz, and Katherine Heigl.  Very meh.

Aside from movies, you have a few other options.  Valentine’s Day cards can be made creepy with a few tweaks.  I made one a few years ago for my husband (I’ll post a pic if I can find it) that had Frankenstein’s monster and the Bride on the front with the words “Made for Each Other.”  Just because it’s not Halloween doesn’t mean you have to phone it in.

You can give your Valentine some cool flowers, like this black rose:

vA

Also, a bloody steak seems appropriate for the day.  And chocolate. Don’t forget about the chocolate.  That’s non-negotiable (unless you’re allergic and then you get a pass).

I hope everyone has a very Happy Valentine’s Day!