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October 2016 Horrorfest

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The breakdown: 21 movies watched, 14 on DVD, 1 via streaming (Vimeo), 1 via Netflix, and 5 in the theatre. Of those 5 were first views, 16 were re-watches, and they came from the following decades: 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s & 2010s.

As has been stated elsewhere throughout this list, my month didn't go at all as I'd hoped or intended. Fortunately I watched a lot of quality horror movies, even if I'd seen most of them before, and I did manage to get through all of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Anything I'd meant to watch via Netflix will have to be picked up next month. I definitely enjoyed my trips to the theatre this month, and am looking forward to visiting other theatres in the months ahead.

With all that went on throughout October, I didn't get to keep up with others' lists as well as I'd hoped to and for that I do apologize. Hell, even these breakdown notes were delayed almost halfway through November...but hopefully soon everything will settle down and I'll be able to get back into the swing of keeping everything updated around here.

Best new-to-me film for October: Prince of Darkness
Best hidden gem: Nightfall
Worst film: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
People who added this item 3776 Average listal rating (2574 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 8
Re-watch - Oct. 3rd

OK, let's get this out of the way first. I didn't intend to start this year's celebration off with this film, nor even include it among my viewings for the month. As I mentioned last month I moved to Pittsburgh, and I arrived in town on the first of the month ahead of my stuff. I'd signed up for Internet service, but that wasn't scheduled to be installed until the 16th, which meant I had a long wait ahead of me to watch anything online. I hadn't planned ahead by bringing any of my films along with me unfortunately (assuming my stuff would be along soon enough), but as fate would have it the previous tenants of my home abandoned their belongings which I've adopted (some temporarily, others permanently, and we need not go into the details of why they abandoned their stuff & former home). Among them is an old box TV that amazingly has a built-in DVD player which has served as my main source for watching movies in the meantime. And I'm thankful for it now, as I found out on the 14th that my stuff won't arrive until the end of the month due to unforeseen circumstances.

So, since I had much to do in the first few days after I arrived I raided my ex's DVD collection in search of horror movies I could watch & this was the only one present. Thus it kicked off my annual horrorfest on a high note because as you all know I love this movie, and I shouldn't need to go into all the reasons it's great again as they're documented elsewhere. Had I been able to pick from all the options I can think of though, I would have kicked off the month with Spring instead which I still hope to get to before the month ends.
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People who added this item 175 Average listal rating (115 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.2
First viewing - Oct. 8th

Within walking distance of my new home is a store where you can trade in your media for other media, so they have a decent selection of used DVDs, Blu-rays, music, video games, etc. I dragged the kiddo along with me during the day Saturday, and found a trio of films I was interested in that were inexpensively acquired. The kiddo also picked out an animated film which will likely pop up later in this list, and a Tom & Jerry Halloween collection of shorts which we watched over this weekend but I'm not counting here.

That night after she was in bed I sat down with House by the Cemetery for a dose of Fulci. The film has its moments, and not surprisingly the effects/gore parts are the strongest. Everything else is a mixed bag, and there was plenty of room for improvement all around. But it was entertaining enough to sit through once.
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People who added this item 787 Average listal rating (514 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 5.8
Re-watch - Oct. 9th

Yep, I still dig the hell out of this sci-fi horror flick that serves as an alternative version of Frankenstein. The creature designs are imaginative, the leads do a solid job, and the story is consistently entertaining. It's not a great film by any means, but I'm glad to finally have it in my collection.
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People who added this item 87 Average listal rating (34 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 0
First viewing - Oct. 10th

I'd heard of this movie but knew pretty much nothing about it so I figured I'd give it a shot. It's based off a Manga which I haven't read either, and I probably should have read the synopsis on the back of the box because it hardly counts as horror. It's more like an action-comedy that just happens to have zombies in it, and the tone didn't really work for me. There are some amusing moments throughout, and I was fairly entertained despite some very predictable directions the plot went. Overall I thought it could've been a lot better, and I wound up taking it & House by the Cemetery back to the store to trade in for other films.
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People who added this item 356 Average listal rating (208 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6
First viewing - Oct. 22nd

The kiddo picked this up earlier in the month, but after we got home she lost her courage for watching it. So we didn't watch it that weekend & afterward she kept asking to watch it on school nights which wasn't going to work. So it was inevitable we'd watch it this weekend, and a cold front with rain rolling through town was reason enough to stay home as much as possible & get in some movie time.

Neither of us had seen this before, and I think it's safe to say she enjoyed it more than I did. The humor works more often than not, and I like the ideas the film is presenting even though they've been more expertly handled in far better films than this one. The animation & character designs are pretty cool though, and I was entertained. It's nothing great, but worth checking out once if you're curious about it.

Just a thought: Buscemi as a suicidal rabbit seems too dark for a kid's movie, but I dug it.
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People who added this item 3580 Average listal rating (2304 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.9
Re-watch - Oct. 22nd

The kiddo has seen Addams Family Values before (though today she didn't recall having seen it), but hadn't watched this one yet so I figured we'd give it a shot together. It had been longer than I realized since I'd last watched it, and I'd somehow forgotten about the scene above which freaked her out for a moment before she realized it wasn't real. Of course my laughing hysterically during those moments probably helped calm her down too. I've always loved the way they adapted the show into this film & its sequel, and over the years I've had some moments where I wished Raul Julia hadn't died when he did so maybe we would've got a trilogy out of it. The casting is perfect across the board, and the films are a wonderful mix of darkness & humor.

This time around, however, I mostly enjoyed the kiddo's responses to the film. She admired Wednesday's dresses, commented on how beautiful Morticia was, and decided she should go as Cousin It for Halloween next year since she already has her costume for this year (Batgirl). I suggested she could also be Wednesday which she then tried to turn into a group costume idea. We'll see if that sticks for next year or not. She got a fair amount of the humor in the film and wasn't scared by it, so we both had a good time.

Interesting how things are connected: The boy from Nightmare on Elm Street 5 is in this, and I don't know that I ever realized it was the same actor before.

Currently streaming on Netflix
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People who added this item 372 Average listal rating (263 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.7
First viewing - Oct. 24th

There are way too many revisited films on this list, so it was time to watch something I wasn't already familiar with. Even if it wasn't a solidly entertaining film, Prince of Darkness would be worth watching for Carpenter's score alone. Fortunately it's also consistently engaging throughout, and in my humble opinion it's a film that's best watched without knowing much of anything about the plot. That way you're discovering what's going on along with the characters, which worked wonderfully for me. The cast delivers decent performances, though I didn't think any of them were exceptional. And while I'll definitely hang onto my newly-acquired copy of the film to revisit, I didn't think it crossed the line of greatness either. Still, it's totally worth watching and possibly underrated as well.
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People who added this item 115 Average listal rating (71 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.7
Re-watch - Oct. 31st

Since I couldn't start my month off with Spring I chose to end the month with it, and thus ended my Halloween night on a highly satisfying & rewarding note. I love the central characters and could easily spend more time with them than the film allows. And if you couldn't tell from my rating (which stands from the first viewing, by the way), everything else about this film blows my mind and makes me happy. October may not have been the best month overall, but at least it ended well.
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Big screen attractions

Films I caught in the theatre
Re-watch - Oct. 14th

Drive-in triple feature


The weekend of the 14th was the first weekend I didn't have the kiddo around, so I looked up what all was playing in the area that would fulfill my horror needs. I couldn't resist the temptation of a 3-film horror bill at a drive-in theatre, the admission for which was only $7.50 per adult for the whole thing (especially given the fact that at this point I'd only been able to watch 4 horror movies, which is an unusually slow start for me). And it boasted the unholy trinity of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th, on a full moon night too.

I arrived just in time to catch the opening of this film, and wound up missing the first 10 minutes getting food from the concession stand. Not to worry, however, as I've seen this film enough times to know what I was missing. Once I got settled in I got caught up in the movie & had a blast with it all over again.
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Re-watch - Oct. 14th

Drive-in triple feature


This film was next on the night's entertainment, which was wonderful because I'd planned to watch the whole series this month anyway. Had my stuff showed up when it was supposed to I might have caught it twice this month, so in that respect I'm kind of glad it got delayed. Seeing it on the big screen a second time was quite a treat (and hey, this was my second time seeing the film above on the big screen too), and I think I've gone over how much I love the film enough over my years here.
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People who added this item 1520 Average listal rating (951 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.5
Re-watch - Oct. 14th

Drive-in triple feature


The trio of terror ended with this film, which is easily the weakest of the three. Personally I would have preferred that it be the first film with Nightmare at the end because that way you have the best last rather than diminish the power of this film by having it try to follow a masterpiece. I still find this movie to be a joy, though admittedly it's a flawed one. The characters aren't great & the fact that the film refuses to give us any single one to clearly latch onto doesn't help. But the kills are excellent thanks in large part to Savini's effects skills, and I love the way the plot handles its villain. Not to mention a stellar if minimal performance by Walter Gormley (whose name I can recall without having to look it up, and that should tell you something).

Overall I left the drive-in quite satisfied, though I wished I'd planned for it better as during this film the temperature dropped down into the lower 40s. Next time I go there I'll know better.
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Re-watch - Oct. 16th

I couldn't resist this one either. I got to finally see my favorite horror movie on the big screen, in the city it was filmed in, at one of the first theatres you could buy tickets to see it back in 1968, and during the same month it originally opened wider than its original screening. Turns out of those theatres that screened it back then, the one I attended is also the only one still operating all these years later (though the name has changed), so there was a deep appreciation from me for the history behind this particular viewing. Surprisingly (well, to me) there were only 16 of us in the audience including myself watching this midnight screening, but I'm deeply glad I went and will definitely be returning to the theatre again. In fact, I'll go back again in two weeks because when I bought my ticket for NOTLD I got one for Monster Squad the weekend of the 28th. How's that for a slice of fried gold?
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Re-watch - Oct. 30th

As I said above, admission to NOTLD got me into this film as well, so I headed back to the theatre Saturday night for the midnight screening (hence the date not being Saturday's). It was super fun to see it on the big screen for the 2nd time, and that's two more times than I thought I'd ever see it on the big screen in my life given that I missed its original theatrical run. For reasons I don't understand I was the only person in the theatre laughing at most of it though. And this time around I did notice some flaws, but I have so much fun with the film I won't dock it any points for them beyond what's already been counted.
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Running the series: Nightmare on Elm Street

Everything but the remake, which I refuse to watch.
Re-watch - Oct. 15th

With my personal effects still stuck in Texas, I thought I wouldn't get to complete my goal of watching this series this month. Seeing the first film on the big screen, however, convinced me to head back to the store up the street from me to see if I could maybe acquire the other films on the cheap. Amazingly I managed to pick up two two-disc collections, each with 4 of the films spread across them for $11. The films I took back gained me $5 in store credit, which means I spent $6 to have all 8 films handy to complete my focus. Not too shabby.

Maybe my opinion will change as I go through the rest of the films, but I don't see why this one is so poorly regarded. It may not be the best sequel, but it earns points from me for taking a different approach as it blurs the lines between the nightmares & reality. It also seems to take some cues from Cronenberg's body horror entries. The cast is solid enough, though the best performance is easily Englund's. There are some really interesting effects throughout that have mostly held up well too (a few not so much). If anything the film's biggest problem for me is how dated it is thanks to poor costume choices & song selections. And yeah, the homophobia that runs throughout isn't so great, but it spawns some worthwhile ideas. It's definitely not great, but not awful either.
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Re-watch - Oct. 16th

There are those who would argue this is the best of the sequels. It's definitely on the upper end of the spectrum, but for me it doesn't come close to matching the excellence of New Nightmare. It's solidly entertaining throughout, the cast is better than average, and it's all more memorable than most horror sequels. The deaths are wonderfully creative, and the effects are mostly excellent once again. Heather Langenkamp doesn't perform as well as she did the first time around though, and Freddy starts to get more comedic which will be amped up even more over the next few sequels. And the whole thing about the teens having special powers in their dreams kinda doesn't work...if you're going to give them powers they can use, at least let them do so in ways that suggest they could overpower Freddy before he destroys them. In some cases it's like, yep, your power sucks, you're going to die, which shouldn't be the case. In the end it's still fun to watch & consistently engaging, just not great.
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Re-watch - Oct. 18th

Well, this one was far worse than I thought I'd remembered. I guess it's a horror movie by association, but it pretty much fails as one in execution. Of course, the warning signs are present from the opening credits which state this one stars Robert Englund & throws the rest of the cast behind him listed in alphabetical order. Patricia Arquette clearly had better things to do than reprise her character this time around, so we're stuck with a forgettable actress in her stead. So the sole reason for the film's existence is because people wanted more Freddy movies, though the creative forces behind the film aren't sure why that is beyond him killing off teens.

The previous film ends with Krueger being laid to rest, so the only reason they could think of to bring him back is revenge since that's what worked before. There's nothing compelling about it this time around though. Director Renny Harlin has no idea how to set up a scene to be scary, so he goes the campy route instead and trusts in what's admittedly a stellar effects team to deliver the goods. And the effects are probably the best part of the entire film, and certainly responsible for the main parts of the movie that stick with me over time. But great effects alone aren't scary, and when they're wasted as set-ups for one-liners they're even less so.

The cast of nobodies clearly tries their hardest to be great, aware they're in a franchise that'll draw a big audience for what may be the only major opportunity to shine during their careers. History will tell you, however, that it didn't pay off much...especially for the Christian Slater-wannabe kid they got to play Kristin's boyfriend. But hey, at least they cared enough to make the best of this film. And of course Englund is having a blast, so that kinda helps things along.

I guess I'm tearing this film apart, but that doesn't mean there aren't aspects I enjoy about it. It's just such a drop in quality from what preceded it that the parts I enjoy are diminished somewhat by the awfulness of the rest of it. Most of the death scenes are memorable, I dig the part where Alice & Dan get stuck in a loop, and the character arc for Alice is well-handled overall despite the silliness of her mimicking her friends. But watching it again this time around I was struck by how empty the proceedings are, so it was kind of a slog.
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Re-watch - Oct. 21st

While this one is far from great, it's at least an improvement over the previous entry in that it actually maintains a darker tone overall. Freddy still gets plenty of quips along the way, but it doesn't seem like the deaths are designed solely to deliver the punchlines. The film earns points for finding a fresh spin to put on the idea, but also loses some points for being obvious about what's going on. Granted I've seen this before, but it's always been apparent early on what's happening here. Fortunately it works more often than not, and again the effects throughout are well-handled. There are a few moments of ridiculousness (baby Freddy being able to run around immediately after birth comes to mind, though I think it's supposed to be occurring in a nightmare rather than a depiction of his actual birth...still kinda stupid though) and so again it never reaches a point of greatness despite having some very memorable moments to deliver.
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Re-watch - Oct. 26th

The originally intended final film in the series gets its only points by having fun with things, but unfortunately winds up being more comedy than horror which doesn't send Freddy off in a satisfying way. Parts of the film are beyond ridiculous, and we wind up getting a new back story for Freddy that doesn't make much sense. Oh wait, much of the film doesn't make much sense. Again the characters aren't very well-developed and thus wind up being forgettable. Hell, I didn't even realize Breckin Meyer was the long-haired kid in this. In the end it's a good thing Wes Craven decided against letting this be the finale for the series.
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Re-watch - Oct. 30th

Yep, this one is still easily my 2nd favorite of the entire series, and favorite out of all the sequels. In fact if you didn't want to go through all the films you could stick with the first film, skip to the third, and wrap it up with this one and you'd be set. Craven wisely restores the darkness & evil to Freddy this time around, and his best decision is to minimize the amount of screen time given over to him. The meta approach is both genius & ahead of its time (in fact, Craven wanted to take that angle for the 3rd film), and the execution of everything works so well that it sells the characters as real in a franchise that had forgotten to bother with taking that approach in favor of elaborate nightmares & wacky powers. This time around I couldn't think of anything that could be improved on, though it didn't quite earn a perfect score from me either.
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Re-watch - Oct. 31st

And if you take my advice & narrow down your experience of the series to the top three, you can watch this one just for fun & not miss a beat either. I dig the ways it approaches the story, mixing up the highlights of both franchises with satisfying results. And the final titular battle plays out in entertaining ways while going over-the-top which just makes silly sense here. I mean if you're going to have two titans of horror duke it out you've got to go big. In the end it may not be great, but it's a damn good time.
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Non-horror fare

First viewing - Oct 16th

I promised Cal, AKA PvtCaboose91, that I'd watch his latest film as soon as I had internet again. And I personally think it's his best one yet. He's found an excellent lead in Ashley Shaw, who shows a range of emotions and plays a complex role wonderfully. The story is well-told, peppered with humor that works while delivering solid drama. It's not a new idea, but it all comes together in a way that both makes sense and ends in a satisfying way. The camera work is impressive in places, and it's clear that most of the technical aspects have improved over past efforts. And kudos to Cal for making sure the action scenes made sense visually unlike most of today's filmmakers. The score for the film is also effective and impresses at times. There was one scene where ambient noise distracts from the dialogue though, and the scenes involving phone calls could have had smoother sound balance. Or maybe the latter is the fault of my being stuck with watching it on my laptop instead of via a better set-up. The only thing I thought didn't work so well was the special effects which looked more like video game effects than something realistic. Probably that's due to budget limitations, in which case someone should give Cal whatever he needs so he can take that side of things to the next level. Overall though I really enjoyed it and encourage others to give it a look.

Streaming on Vimeo here
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It's the most wonderful time of the year! No, not Christmas, screw that nonsense. October has arrived and it's time for me to watch primarily horror all month long. Any exceptions I'll be sure to separate just to keep all the festive entries together.

At the center of my month-long celebration this year is the series that ignited my adolescent love of horror movies: A Nightmare on Elm Street. I'll run through all seven films, plus the documentary Never Sleep Again and may even throw in Freddy Vs. Jason for good measure. Those films and the few Netflix items I have queued are the only definite plans for the month, so check back to see what ghoulish fun I get into. Enjoy your celebrations too, and Happy Halloween!

See also:
Moviewatcher122's 2016 Horrorfest
BAMF's October 2016 Horrorthon!
Hootsaidtheowl's Watched in Oct. 2016
SwornShadow's 2016: Films I've Watched in October
Paula Muaddib's Spookfest 2016
rewster's 2016 Horror Movie Marathon
CD Smiles's Movies Watched in 2016 (which has gone all horror for the month)

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