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Added by the giraffe on 2 Sep 2018 06:42
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October 2018 Horrorfest

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Noteworthy: The best films I saw this month

The breakdown: 42 films watched
30 first views, 12 re-watches
25 via streaming, 10 via DVD/BR, and 7 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1940s, 50s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, & 2010s

To say this was a productive month would be an understatement, but then October usually is for me. It certainly helped having reasons to go to the theatre this month, and most of those trips were worthwhile. It also helped that I'd been hanging onto some streaming options I had just for the occasion, so that I never had a shortage of films to watch. And the only film that I'd planned to watch and didn't get was Silent Hill, though from what little I did watch of it that's not an issue.

Now I'd like to note that for this section I'm excluding anything I'd seen before simply because I want to make sure I highlight the best new-to-me films rather than drag up a bunch of old favorites. That's generally my approach anyway, unless there's a shortage of excellent films for the month. But I wanted to stress that point because if I went the other way this section would probably be too big.

Hope everyone had a Happy Halloween! I enjoyed seeing everyone's lists, and if you haven't checked them out be sure to follow the links over there on the right. We'll do this again next year...
People who added this item 12 Average listal rating (22 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.4
First viewing - Oct. 27th

I took a little break on this Saturday afternoon from my horror run, so I could be sure to catch a couple of recent releases on the big screen. I began with mid90s, a film that I went into with lowered expectations after my co-worker friend told me he didn't care for it. Once again his distaste for a film was lost on me. It's a coming of age story that never feels like a Hollywood production. Now that's an easier thing to accomplish for someone like Bo Burnham or Greta Gerwig, but I didn't expect it from Jonah Hill. The whole film has a very Linklater vibe to it, as we watch these kids go through one summer together. It feels like Hill just showed up and filmed them hanging out at times, which makes it all seem more real. The actors do a wonderful job, especially Sunny Suljic as the main character. As someone who also came of age in the '90s, and used to hang out with some skaters (none with pro-level talent though), a lot of this film connected with me and in the end I pretty much loved it. It's not perfect, but then neither is life. I was blown away and will probably be thinking about it for a while. Oh yeah, and the soundtrack is pure perfection.
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People who added this item 153 Average listal rating (129 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.7
First viewing - Oct. 22nd

I had my daughter for the weekend of the 19th, and the night of the 18th as well, so Monday night was my first chance to finally catch the new Halloween and I wasn't about to let it pass me by. I caught it in a Dolby theater, which meant the sound was outstanding and the picture was excellent quality too. My only issue was that the theatre I was at has it right next to the IMAX screen and sometimes the sound bled over during the quieter moments & was distracting.

As for the film itself, I mostly enjoyed it. I was glad I recently revisited the first film since it's a direct sequel, because I had it fresh in my mind going into this one. I suspect this film plays even better when watched back-to-back. Curtis gives a wonderful performance, and there are some impressive moments of gore. The score was excellent, but that's to be expected of John Carpenter & his band. The story works pretty well, though there's one character moment that didn't track at all for me. I don't think it's a great horror movie, but it's far better than any new entry in this franchise should be at this point in the game and I'm thankful for that.
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First viewing - Oct. 23rd

So first off, a little personal history...I was first introduced to the Puppet Master franchise by way of the 4th film, which a friend had rented from Blockbuster back in the '90s. I remember enjoying it well enough, and the main thing that's stuck with me is the puppets. Now I think I've seen at least one other film in the series before now, but it's possible I'm mistaken. I know that I definitely hadn't seen more than 2 or 3 of them. Which means when I first heard about this entry I wasn't super excited for it. But the word of mouth was good, so I put it on my radar.

A buddy of mine texted me at the beginning of October and said he tried watching this & turned it off because it was "too cheesy". So I lowered my expectations and delayed watching it. So on this night I decided to give it a look anyway and make up my own mind. I knew Thomas Lennon was in it, and I've long been a fan of his so that was working in its favor. Then thanks to the opening credits I learned that Barbara Crampton and Charlene Yi are in this, which caught my interest, and then saw that S. Craig Zahler wrote it. Now anyone who's followed my lists in the past year or so knows I loved Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, so that got me really excited & I resolved to sit through it to the end no matter what.

Surprise surprise, but I freaking loved it. There are some truly insane kills and effects throughout the film, and it's just fun from start to finish. I'm not saying it's great, but I had a ball with it. And it turns out the creative team behind it is already working on more of these, so it's safe to say I'm completely on board for however many more they wind up making (so long as the quality holds up). If you need something insane yet fun to watch with your friends this month, give it a try. Had I known what it'd be like (and I'm not complaining, I'm kinda glad I didn't) I might have saved it for my big marathon to end the month.
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People who added this item 43 Average listal rating (41 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.5
Summer of 84 (2018)
First viewing - Oct. 3rd

I've been curious about Summer of 84 for a while now, and missed its theatrical release. I'm glad I finally caught up with it now. The '80s setting could have led to an overindulgence in period-specific nostalgia, but the filmmakers wisely reign it in. The story takes a slow burn approach which works in the film's favor. Best of all though the central friendship felt organic and natural. I could easily believe that the boys had been friends for most of their lives, and yet the cracks in their friendship are popping up and you can envision some bonds outlasting others. I had some minor issues with the romantic subplot, but overall this was well worth checking out. I'd happily sit through it again.
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Big scream attackings

People who added this item 13 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 5.3 IMDB Rating 5.5
First viewing - Oct. 1st

I kicked off my Horrorfest with a trip to the theatre to catch Hell Fest which boasts a great premise. Too bad it's marred by a by-the-numbers approach. A couple times I was able to plot out exactly how a scene would go in my head and watch it follow suit. Not so good, dude. Thankfully there were some really fun moments to be had along the way, especially the way the finale plays out (even if it did remind me of Curtains a little bit). Not a great start to my Horrorfest, but it wasn't a total loss. Keep your expectations low and you might enjoy it.

Just a thought: How the hell do you put Tony Todd in your movie and then fail to give him enough screen time?
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People who added this item 421 Average listal rating (273 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.4
Re-watch - Oct. 10th

I've been trying unsuccessfully for a while now to track down a copy of The Blob so I could revisit it, so when I saw my favorite local AMC was screening it for its 30th anniversary I reserved my seat immediately. And it's safe to say it's been about 30 years since I last saw it. I remember back in 88 or 89 one of my best friends was obsessed with this film & on one of the times I slept over we had to watch it. I vaguely recall enjoying it, and was surprised that some of it had stuck with me all that time given I only saw it once.

The best thing about this film is easily the special effects, which still look great for the most part. They really got creative with the gory parts and it's a treat. Some aspects are a little cheesy now, but overall I'd argue this deserves to be held up alongside The Thing and The Fly as a remake that improves on the original. I appreciated the theme of being suspicious of authority that runs throughout the film, and the cast and soundtrack are pretty solid too. Now I'm even more motivated to track down a BluRay copy if I can just so I can watch it more often.
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First viewing - Oct. 13th

Since I wound up enjoying the first Goosebumps more than I'd expected, I was on board for this sequel. I'd hoped I'd be watching it next weekend to be honest, because next weekend is the drive-in theatre's annual Spooktacular & I thought I'd take my daughter and we could hit the family-friendly screen. But she's very strongly anti-Goosebumps, and since this was the first film on that screen she doesn't want to go. So I'm a little bummed but also okay with it since the other films are The House with a Clock in Its Walls and Hotel Transylvania 3, films we've already watched together this year. And since I know she won't sit through this film I took the opportunity to watch it without her.

And to be fair I don't think this would have scared her, though it's possible Slappy would've creeped her out (which, you know, fair). It's a step down from the first film which I'd anticipated somewhat while hoping it could surprise me. It rehashes some of the same ideas the first had without the same level of passion behind it all, which is probably what disappointed me the most. But the cast is solid all around, and there are some fun moments to be had. I admit I geeked out quite often at some parts, and I really wish I had someone like Ken Jeong's Mr. Chu living in my neighborhood with his over-the-top decorations. I know not everyone is a fan of Mr. Jeong, but I am and found his presence to be very welcome and appreciated here. The effects are solid and yield a few moments of awe, the best of them in a scene involving gummy bears. It's all entertaining enough, but I couldn't help feeling that if it had been directed by someone who deeply loves everything involved with the film it might have turned out even better. If you're looking for a family-friendly Halloween-time movie you're better off with the aforementioned House with a Clock....
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Haunted home viewings

People who added this item 568 Average listal rating (378 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.1
Re-watch - Oct. 2nd

Bubba Ho-Tep is still infectious fun from start to finish. Possibly Bruce Campbell's best performance, and his scenes with Ossie Davis are pure bliss. I love everything about this movie, and I'll keep coming back to it. It's also responsible for launching my interest in and still-growing love for Joe R. Lansdale's writings.
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People who added this item 3580 Average listal rating (2304 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.9
Re-watch - Oct. 5th

The kiddo wanted to watch a movie Friday night, so I insisted it be something worthy of October. She wisely agreed to watch this with me again. To my delight she wound up enjoying it even more this time around, and when it ended she asked if we could watch the sequel. Unfortunately for her it was her bedtime, but I told her we could definitely watch it before the weekend is over.
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People who added this item 9 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 5.3
First viewing - Oct. 5th

Blood Fest is pretty fun. I appreciated the conceit, and I was entertained all the way through. It's nothing great but it won me over. It's a little cheesy at times, but in a good way. And it was fun exploring the titular event from different angles. In hindsight it would pair really well with Hell Fest as a double feature, should anyone be so inclined.

Just a thought: Is it wrong that what most excited me was recognizing the video store at the beginning as being the Vulcan Video in Austin that I used to rent from most of the time?
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People who added this item 1861 Average listal rating (1183 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.7
Re-watch - Oct. 6th

She enjoyed this one more than last time as well. I don't have much to say, though I will state for the record that each time I watch it I'm even more impressed by the performances of the entire cast. Christina Ricci is the film's secret weapon (OK, not so secret), and Joan Cusack slays all over the place. It's a shame we lost Raul Julia before we could get another entry with the entire cast...though to be fair Ricci soon outgrew the role...tough to keep a cast looking timeless.
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First viewing - Oct. 8th

Xmas Horror double feature


Silent Night, Deadly Night is a slasher movie blast of fun. It wisely takes its time developing the main character so that later on his actions will make sense. Well, for the most part. There's one scene where he stops at someone's house, and that kinda doesn't work for me. But what happens after he's there is so fun it outweighs the lack of logic behind him getting there, so I can let it slide. The effects are very well realized, and overall I enjoyed the story. Some of the acting could be better though, and it's quite predictable at times. And you'd think that if you were helping someone find a job, and that person was traumatized by Christmas as a child, you wouldn't allow them to work in a toy store. But hey, if it didn't happen then the last half of the movie might not have happened either. So yeah, while it's not a great movie it's a lot of fun and well-suited to a Horror marathon.
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First viewing - Oct. 8th

Xmas Horror double feature


I knew nothing about Sick for Toys beyond that it was a Christmas horror movie, but I thought I'd give it a shot. In retrospect it would've been better had I watched these films in reverse order, but that's fine. This one is more psychological, and kind of a mixed bag. If nothing else it's worth seeing for Camille Montgomery's performance, which was the main thing that kept me into the film. It's a different movie for sure, and I appreciated what it was going for. But some aspects rubbed me the wrong way, and so I wouldn't sit through it again. But it was worth seeing.
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People who added this item 11 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 3.8 IMDB Rating 0
Slice (2018)
First viewing - Oct. 9th

Slice is an oddball of a film, and one you have to be willing to meet on its own terms. It's very much a B movie, and while I never fell in love with it I did appreciate it more often than not. The humor was hit and miss for me, but at least when it hit I dug it. The effects could be better, and yet the simplicity of them is kinda charming. I mostly appreciated the subtle handling of the themes which fully emerge in the film's final moments in a rewarding enough way. I'm not sure whether I'd sit through this again, though it might be fun to make someone else watch it & see what they think.
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First viewing - Oct. 12th

Some of you might be surprised that I skipped this movie back when it came out and waited until now to bother with it. At the time it came out I took one look at the cast and refused to sit through it. I was reminded of this when the opening credits rolled past and I saw the names of a bunch of actors I still dislike. I can't recall anymore if I was unimpressed by the trailers too, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case.

I'd hoped the fact the film was written by Kevin Williamson might have proved worthwhile, but it's not at all. This may have more to do with the director though, who has no idea how to properly set up horror set-pieces in any meaningful way. It's like he just let the cast run through the script while he thought about his paycheck. There's not a single scary moment here, and the film failed to give me any newfound appreciation for its cast. I suspect as well that the only reason this film managed to get made is because of the success of Scream and Hollywood's attempts to cash-in on that success as fast as possible. It's a shame too, because there's a decent enough story here that might have been turned into something better in the right hands. It's all watchable, but forgettable. So yeah, I shouldn't have let my curiosity get the better of me...I should've gone on ignoring the film entirely.
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First viewing - Oct. 12th

On the upside, I Know What You Did Last Summer gave me a higher appreciation for this movie, and as it turns out they share some similar elements. Unlike that film, however, this one knows how to deliver solid horror sequences. That's not to say it's a great film, but I got far more out of it than the previous one. It's a fairly standard slasher film, and some of the effects are obviously fake which makes it unintentionally funnier than it should be. It also doesn't help that there's no time spent developing the characters, which could have pushed it toward greatness. When you're in the middle of a movie and unsure of the names of half the main cast, that's a problem. But I had fun with it regardless, and would be more likely to sit through it again than the film above.
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First viewing - Oct. 14th

Zombie romance double feature


As someone who prizes zombies above the vast majority of horror creations, I always appreciate a fresh take on the genre. So I enjoyed the approach to zombies this film takes, and of course Aubrey Plaza's performance is the best reason to watch the film. There are some really hilarious moments throughout, which is to be expected given the cast involved. It's not great, but I had a fun time with it and would possibly even watch it again at some point.
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People who added this item 969 Average listal rating (621 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.9
Warm Bodies (2013)
First viewing - Oct. 14th

Zombie romance double feature


OK, so technically this wasn't a back-to-back double feature as I took a break for dinner in between. But still, Warm Bodies paired nicely with the above film. I'd wanted to see this back when it came out, but mixed reviews led to my delaying sitting through it. Turns out I should've gone ahead and seen it, because I enjoyed it about as much as I'd figured I would. Much like the previous film it's not great, but it's a different approach that works well overall. The cast does a good job all around, and I liked the way the story played out. I'd watch this again too.
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People who added this item 9 Average listal rating (11 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 0
First viewing - Oct. 15th

This was amusing, and could theoretically have been paired with the previous two films as another version of a zombie story. It often reminded me of The Belko Experiment but with more comedy than horror. And hey, here's Zachary Levi in another horror movie I've seen this month, paired with the always excellent Jane Levy. Some aspects of this film rubbed me the wrong way, so I doubt I'd watch it again. But it was fun to sit through once.
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People who added this item 1432 Average listal rating (880 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7
First viewing - Oct. 16th

I honestly wasn't excited for this film back when it came out, and then over the years the twist was spoiled & I was reluctant to watch it at all. Thankfully if you know the twist to the film it doesn't take away much from the overall execution (though of course the reveal is more powerful if you don't know it). The cast is excellent all around, and I really got caught up in the familial drama at its center. It's more grounded in reality than most horror movies, and I appreciated that too. I don't know that I'd call it great, but it's very good & I'd gladly sit through it again.
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People who added this item 126 Average listal rating (82 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.2
Tourist Trap (1979)
First viewing - Oct. 17th

I've been seeing Tourist Trap pop up around the internet lately, so I thought I'd give it a look. When I found out Chuck Connors was in it, I was on board. That guy was a great werewolf once upon a time. He's excellent in this (no surprise), though the film gets most of its mileage out of the weird-ass set design and abundance of mannequins. It clearly takes cues from Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but never matches that film's excellence. There are some really dumb moments, but the atmosphere of the thing made them tolerable. I'm glad I checked it out, but I'm not sure I'd sit through it again.

Just a thought: The biggest surprise for me here was finding out one of the young women is played by the actress who went on to play Donna's mom on That 70's Show.
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People who added this item 1218 Average listal rating (761 ratings) 5.4 IMDB Rating 5.6
Re-watch - Oct. 20th

It's been over 10 years since I last watched this one, and I wasn't sure how it'd hold up. I remembered being really into the mythology involved back when it came out & enjoying the character designs for the ghosts. Those things still held up for me. The story is decent, though somewhat slight, and I was left wanting more depth. My biggest gripe though is the excessive use of slo-mo which is rarely effective. Most of the time it seems like a way to pad out the run-time instead of bothering with character development or actually building tension or what have you. It comes off lazy, though perhaps someone thought it was enhancing the experience in a positive way. So yeah, I still like the film fine, but it's definitely dropped down ratings-wise for me and I'm now less likely to sit through it again.
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Re-watch - Oct. 21st

Marathon with the kiddo


It's possible I haven't seen Gremlins 2 since its theatrical run. If I caught it at home back in the early 90s then I only did so once, but I'd bet money this was my second time ever watching it. Since the kiddo enjoyed Gremlins I figured I'd revisit it with her, and I think we both enjoyed it equally. She was less scared of the Gremlins this time around, even commenting that they weren't so bad since she's seen them before. This film is far more heavy on fun than the first, which was deeply appreciated. I'd remembered some of the creative ideas they had for changing up the Gremlins, but had forgotten exactly how they got there. And I definitely didn't realize Christopher Lee was in this, though back then it wouldn't have meant a thing to me. I'll be revisiting this one again more often in the future, as it was so much fun I'd gladly sit through it again.
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People who added this item 674 Average listal rating (435 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.8
First viewing - Oct. 21st

Marathon with the kiddo


Growing up I'd missed The Witches entirely, but word of mouth in recent years has encouraged me to give it a look. Since I knew it was family-friendly I made sure to include it when my daughter and I had our brief movie marathon, and it wound up being her favorite film we watched. Anjelica Huston is wonderful as always, and I thought the story was decent up until the final scene which didn't feel right to me. The make-up is excellent, though I thought at times the puppetry hasn't aged well. That sort of adds to its charm but I found it occasionally distracting, breaking the film's spell for me (no pun intended). Overall I enjoyed it though, and I'd sit through it again if she wants to. Now I need to read the book though to see how it measures up.
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First viewing - Oct. 21st

Marathon with the kiddo


OK, so I ignored Frankenweenie because the short exists and is outstanding, so the existence of this film felt unnecessary while indicating that Burton had run out of ideas. The kiddo had seen it before, and since my goal in pairing these three films was to find ones that fit in for the month while also being ones she'd enjoy I wound up including it instead of continuing to avoid it. And it's fine. It keeps the same basic story and characters while fleshing it all out a bit more to justify the full-length run-time. The character designs are really well done, and I never felt like it detracted anything from the original. I still think the original is better, but this wasn't as bad as I'd feared.

Oh yeah, and it was a pleasant surprise to have our marathon bookended by films with Christopher Lee in them.
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People who added this item 263 Average listal rating (174 ratings) 5.2 IMDB Rating 5.1
Re-watch - Oct. 24th

I've always enjoyed this film just because it delves into the mythos and history of the Lament Configuration, and that hasn't changed. It's a little odd in that the film treats the box's relationship to its creator & his offspring as something central to its existence after three films of it being passed around among other people, but it keeps the story focused at least. The cenobites look outstanding as always, Pinhead gets some choice moments, and it was especially amusing seeing Adam Scott in an early role here. I'm not sure why I'd previously thought it was great (youthful ignorance perhaps) because while it's good enough I'm able to sit through it the acting is a mixed bag, some of the story aspects could be better handled, and it's not aging so well. I still dig it enough to watch it again though, and at least it doesn't actively annoy me like the third film.
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People who added this item 2139 Average listal rating (1344 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.5
Re-watch - Oct. 26th

This was my second time watching The Fly, and I appreciated some aspects far more this time around. I was more invested in the characters than the last time I watched it, and the central relationship has moments that are genuinely heartbreaking. Of course Goldblum's performance is still the best thing about the film, and Geena Davis is great as usual. The effects still hold up, and the music is brilliant throughout. There's really nothing to complain about here, and yet for some reason it doesn't quite earn a higher rating from me than an 8/10. Maybe when I watch it again in another 10 years or so I'll be able to figure that out.
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People who added this item 229 Average listal rating (166 ratings) 4.3 IMDB Rating 4.9
First viewing - Oct. 26th

Knock Knock wound up being better than I'd anticipated. It's an interesting spin on the home invasion trope, and the single location helps keep the tension up. It's amusing and disturbing in equal amounts seeing these girls torment Keanu. I would've liked a little more depth to the story though, as it's unclear why Reeves's character is targeted and there's no clear motivation behind the girls' actions. My guess is that Roth thought it was better to leave out any explanations so it'd all be more frightening, but it also leaves the film without any rewarding payoff. Still, I thought it was worth seeing once.
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First viewing - Oct. 27th

This was not the droid I was looking for I guess. I've seen a fair bit of praise for this film which led me to give it a look, but I can't say I share such sentiments. Oh sure, it's watchable enough I guess. The acting is pretty good, and the story takes a unique approach among the "dark rituals" films by focusing on the ritual itself rather than the consequences. As such it makes the ritual process look tedious and shows that it requires far more effort than most of us would be willing to put forth. I went into this figuring it'd take its time getting where it was going, and that's absolutely the case but the payoff was lacking I thought. By the time things finally started happening I'd basically checked out on it, and none of the events helped turn that back around. Clearly others are finding it more worthwhile than I am, so your mileage may vary.
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People who added this item 60 Average listal rating (38 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.1
First viewing - Oct. 28th

A good friend of mine tweeted about this film one night last month & I remembered I own it & made a point to include it for this month. I'd kind of forgotten about it, to be honest, and the fact that it's in the cheap 50 horror movies DVD package I picked up years ago doesn't help that. I'm glad she put it back on my radar (no pun intended) as it wound up being very worth seeing. It's also ridiculous at times, some of the dialogue is a bit ludicrous and they go all out to keep you guessing who the titular character really is. Vincent Price is excellent as usual, and watching this on a Sunday afternoon was quite a treat. Curious to see how it holds up on a second viewing, though I think I'll wait several years before I find out.
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People who added this item 2189 Average listal rating (1435 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.8
Re-watch - Oct. 28th

I figured I should have a dose of Stephen King in here as well this month. I hadn't seen 1408 since its theatrical run, which meant the film felt mostly fresh to me. I still remembered some aspects of course, but there were a few moments I'd forgotten entirely. It's so immersive, I really get deeply engaged in what's going on and all that our protagonist goes through. And it's pretty intense at times, which makes it perfect viewing this time of year. I still find it quite outstanding and it maintains its place among the best of the King adaptations.
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People who added this item 3582 Average listal rating (2348 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.6
Re-watch - Oct. 29th

I didn't initially set out to watch 28 Days Later on this particular night. Actually I attempted to watch Silent Hill first, but about the time the poorly-rendered CGI creepies turned up I decided I wasn't in the mood for its shenanigans. And since it had been a while since I last watched 28 Days Later I figured it would be a preferable alternative. And of course it was, because the movie's still a damn masterpiece & one of the best things Danny Boyle has ever made. But I don't need to tell you this, do I? I mean, the music in it isn't even my usual style & yet I've owned the soundtrack for years (though I rarely listen to it...but it's perfect within the context of the film). And I dig how it takes a cue from Day of the Dead by making the military guys as much of a threat as the zombies. Surviving the horrors of toxic masculinity is no picnic either, clearly.
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People who added this item 1009 Average listal rating (635 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.4
First viewing - Oct. 30th

Ghost story double feature


What struck me the most about this film is how well they nail the atmosphere and deliver some truly creepy moments. The story is somewhat predictable in places, but also manages to deliver some twists that work in its favor and offset the obvious moments. The cast is pretty solid, and I'm definitely a fan of Radcliffe's darker film work. He's really done a respectable job of proving he can do more than just be Harry Potter. I don't think it's great, but this was definitely worth seeing once.
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People who added this item 391 Average listal rating (253 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.5
The Awakening (2011)
First viewing - Oct. 30th

Ghost story double feature


First off, it should be noted that The Awakening nicely complements The Woman In Black. Both are set in England, not too far removed from the turn of the century, and involve ghosts and children. They also each have a super creepy rabbit doll, and it's not even the same doll which makes it more eerie that they'd have that in common. You could probably even turn this double feature into a drinking game if you were so inclined, where you'd drink every time something happens in one film that happened in the other. I suspect they'd work just as well in the reverse order too, though I personally think this film was the better one to end on given that I'll be going to sleep soon. It's got some skin-crawling moments too, but not as many as the film above. And it's more of a mystery film than a straight-up horror movie, which isn't a complaint but it does mean the tones are a little different. I enjoyed this one about as much as the film above. It's not quite as predictable, the cast does well, and I like how you could take away what you want from the ending. It's nothing great though, just a solid little movie that's worthwhile for a single spin at least.
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Monster Mash Marathon

I decided to end the month by taking the day off work and having an all-day marathon, but it took some thinking to figure out what approach to take. Then it hit me...why not use the lyrics to "Monster Mash" as a jumping-off point and a framework to build it? Here we go then...
First viewing - Oct. 31st

"The guests included Wolf Man, Dracula, and his son..."

I kicked the day off with a morning viewing of Son of Dracula, chosen mainly because it fit the line in the song quoted here. Amusingly enough with this film you technically get all in one since Lon Chaney Jr. played Wolf Man and the son, and with the original Dracula dead he's the only living Dracula here. Anyway, the film is all right I guess. Chaney lacks the strong presence of Lugosi (or Schreck or Langella or Oldman or...) and seems ill-fitted for the role. He tries, but I didn't think it totally worked. It seems like the filmmakers realized this too because at least half the film is focused on everyone else. The rest of the cast is fine, some of the effects are really good for their time, and the story has its moments, but overall I thought it was pretty forgettable and not the best way to start the day. I'm just glad I didn't attempt to watch it at night because I probably would've slept through it.
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Blacula (1972)
First viewing - Oct. 31st

"From my laboratory in the castle east / To the master bedroom where the vampires feast..."

By comparison Blacula was far better. I've known of this film for a long time, but never had much luck tracking it down so I was pretty happy I finally found it. William Marshall does an excellent job in the lead role, and I thought the rest of the cast was decent. There are some unintentionally funny moments, like the vampires at the beginning having unnaturally long fangs or the detective claiming vampires multiply "geometrically" instead of exponentially. I personally thought Blacula should've wiped out a lot more people when he first shows up given the way the film starts out, but that's a minor gripe. Overall it was a fun time and I'm glad I finally saw it.
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First viewing - Oct. 31st

"The zombies were having fun / The party had just begun"

Since Return of the Living Dead spawned so many sequels I figured I should check at least one of them out. I liked that they brought back a couple of the same characters from the first while also acting like two of them weren't the same people. The effects are solid, with the best example being a zombie that gets cut in half in a hospital. There are some silly moments that work to varying degrees here. Some of the cast is annoying though, and it's nowhere near as good as its predecessor. I wouldn't bother with it again, but I don't completely regret sitting through it.
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First viewing - Oct. 31st

"The coffin-bangers were about to arrive / With their vocal group, "The Crypt-Kicker Five""

It took me a while to get into this movie, and that detracted quite a bit from my enjoyment of it. It didn't help either that the characters are vague sketches rather than having even one with actual depth. The effects are good, but the longer it went on the more I was ready for it to be over with. There's a lot of sexist bullshit in this too, which annoyed me. The last scene was the best part of the entire movie, so at least I felt like I was rewarded for sitting through it all.
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Re-watch - Oct. 31st

I mentioned Wolf Man was a guest, right? OK, good, I thought so.

After Night of the Demons I took a dinner break and then dove back in to wrap up my Halloween night. And given the fact that everything prior to this film was good but not outstanding it was nice to end on a pair of very strong films. Werewolf is, of course, perfect. Not a single frame of film is wasted here, the characters are interesting and amusing, the humor is wisely used to provide relief while not being overdone so that you question whether you're watching a horror movie. The transformation scene is still one of the greatest things every shot, and I love that the soundtrack is full of songs that involve the moon. In recent years much ado has been made about comedians like John Krasinski and Jordan Peele making horror movies, and it's worth noting that John Landis was more known for comedies before he made this film and proved he could do horror too. I can't say enough positive things about this film. I love it and will keep coming back to it.
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Re-watch - Oct. 31st

"I was working in the lab late one night / When my eyes beheld an eerie sight / For my monster from his slab began to rise / And suddenly to my surprise"

Ok, so Jane Doe doesn't actually rise from her slab, but I thought it fit well enough. She's definitely full of surprises. I was very impressed when I caught this in the theatre, and it was just as powerful watching it at home alone in the dark. If you haven't seen this and are into horror, you need to seek it out immediately.

Just a thought: This was the film that broke my run of movies that had a cemetery scene. All 5 films above had them, and you'd think given the story here there'd at least be a glimpse of a cemetery but no dice. It did tie in with the first two films by having a trip to the morgue though. And all six films shared a used of reanimated corpses in various forms. Other connections: the first four films had coffins turn up. Most of the films had a major character die (given the ensemble nature of Return of the Living Dead and Night of the Demons it seems more accurate to say major rather than lead). And the police were in four of these films, five if you count military police as being the same thing (I kinda don't, so the closest it came to having any was an empty police station which definitely doesn't count).
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Non-horror fare

New releases I couldn't allow myself to wait to see
First viewing - Oct. 12th

I managed to catch this shortly after Goosebumps 2, and was pretty excited for it given the trailers and the positive critical feedback I'd seen scattered around. And the good news is that's it's a lot of fun and solidly entertaining. The cast is mostly excellent, with Cynthia Erivo proving to be the film's secret weapon. Evidently this is her first film, and given her strong performance I'm hoping we get to see her in many more in the years ahead. I appreciated that the characters are all gray ones, and the music throughout the film is excellent. The only trouble is I couldn't help feeling like it was too obviously influenced by Tarantino, to the point where you'd think it should've come out in the late 90s. And as such I couldn't help feeling that the film would've been even better if it had been one of his instead. I still enjoyed it, obviously, but it fell short of greatness for me as a result.
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First viewing - Oct. 27th

OK, so if this winds up being Redford's last film then at least he's going out on a high note. For a while he said it would be his last, but then he backtracked on that statement so we'll have to see if he makes another one. The story here is spellbinding and wonderfully told, if a bit slow in places. I was quite fascinated by his character, and knowing that it all really happened makes it even better. I don't know that I'd go so far as to call it great, but it's absolutely worth seeing and I might even watch it again at some point.
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Back with my annual celebration of horror movies in honor of my favorite holiday Halloween! This year I'm mainly trying to watch some films I've never seen, and will be ending the month by taking the day off from work on Halloween and doing a marathon of films (TBD). If I wind up catching anything that's non-horror it'll be in a theatre as anything I can watch at home can wait a month. Let's get spooky!

Signal boosting some other similar lists:
Mackenzi's Fall Horrorfest 2018
AVPGuyver21's 31 Days of Horror
Queen of Horror's October Movie Diary
Hootsaidtheowl's Watched in October 2018
BAMF's 2018 October Horrorfest

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