Thursday, October 30, 2008

1,440 Minutes of Screams, Thrills, and Gore

Ah....so glad you could join me for my Halloween horror marathon.  I toiled and wracked my brain to find the perfect repertoire of films -- some well-known with a few missed or forgotten gems for good measure.  While they may not be the choices of the masses, they're certainly some of my favorites.  I hope you like them, and I hope I can bring you one or two titles you may have missed, but will come to love as much as I do.  


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12:00 – 1:31am

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Directed by Wes Craven

91 min

Let’s start the witching hours off right – a classic that steals the security from the one place you could explain away fear – “It’s only a dream.” just doesn’t cut it anymore.  Wes Craven’s classic introduced the world to a new iconic villain – Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) whose trademark finger-knives created a screeching sound on those boiler room pipes that would keep anyone awake all night.   His clever, snide comments and brutal killing methods (when was the last time you saw someone dragged across the ceiling to his/her death!?) brought much needed style to the slasher genre.  Oh, and watching Johnny Depp get sucked into his mattress is pretty entertaining as well! 

Snacks to be served --- coffee, of course!!  Lots and lots of black coffee!!

 

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1:32 – 3:02am

House of Wax (1953)

Directed by André De Toth

90 min

Can’t have a horror marathon without the master – Vincent Price in all his 3-D glory.  This great work does NOT include the hotel heiress we’ve all come to know and loathe (though her death in the 2005 remake certainly was very satisfying!), but brings us into the twisted world of Prof. Henry Jarrod, a disfigured man whose passion is creating wax statues for his museum…but…they look so REAL!  This brings some old school camp to the evening to help chase the nightmares away.

Snacks to be served --- a nice bean salad, complete with wax and green beans

 

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3:03 – 4:39am

Brainscan

Directed by John Flynn

96 min

Edward Furlong and Frank Langella lead a cast with zero acting talent – especially not the main character’s little girlfriend.  Furlong plays Michael Bower, a kid who’s got a great techie setup in his room (including a computerized servant I want in my house), who comes across the ultimate horror video game.   A villain named The Trickster (T. Ryder Smith) who calls upon the worst of Freddy Krueger and Dee Snyder + some heavy metal music + some disfigurements close to ten years before Saw = a mindfreak that is completely craptastic.  One of the underappreciated camp classics.  

Snacks to be served ---  Mt. Dew, Cheese Puffs, Doritos – what else do teenagers eat???

 

 

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4:40 – 6:11am

Thir13en Ghosts (2001)

Directed by Steve Beck

91 min


One of the very few horror remakes that actually improves upon the original without destroying the original’s style.  Tony Shaloub stars as Arthur Kriticos, a man whose uncle Cyrus (the great F. Murray Abraham passes away as a result of a ghosthunting accident, leaving his nephew a stunning glass house.  Arthur and his family move in and are subsequently haunted by a number of beastly spirits who have been held captive in the basement.  Dark Castle brings William Castle’s classic 13 Ghosts a long way from their visible strings and cheesy jump scares; each categorical ghost is fascinating in its own way and the effects are REALLY cool.

 Snacks to be served --- White Castle burgers from the freezer to counteract the Dark Castle production…and we’ll make them cheeseburgers to counteract this terrible joke.  

 

 

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6:12 – 7:49am

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Directed by Zack Snyder

101 min


Sarah Polley (actress, director, screenwriter, and zombie hunter) teams up with Ving “Marcellus Wallace” Rhames team up in this recent remake of the George Romero classic followup to Night of the Living Dead.  If the mobs of teenagers on a Saturday night won’t do it, this film certainly makes you want to stay far, far away from the mall. Target shooting celebrity-lookalike zombies + a newborn baby zombie = a must-see for all.  Plus, the sun will be rising about this time, so obviously, we have to match Dawn for dawn.

 Snacks to be served --- Orange Julius, Auntie Anne pretzels, and other tasty mall-fare

 

 

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7:50 – 9:25am

The Legend of Hell House

Directed by John Hough

95 min

 

A haunted house movie that actually delivers.  It takes the classic “your imagination is worse than the real thing” trick of the 60s haunted house flicks and pushes it one step further.  Similar to The Haunting (1963), which was based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, this Richard Matheson adaptation features a group investigating the psychic phenomena in an old house – can they survive a week? I’ve read a lot of haunted house stories and I’ve seen a lot more haunted house movies.  This book is spectacular, and the movie carries the same tension.  Plus, Roddy McDowell rules, and you know it.  

Snacks to be served ---  Wine, scotch, and other classy drinks to match the sophistication of the Hell House guests 

 

 

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9:26 – 10:59am

House on Haunted Hill (1999)

Directed by William Malone

93 min

 

Another Dark Castle remake.  Geoffrey Rush brilliantly channels Vincent Price in his role as Stephen Price, an amusement park mogul (whose roller-coasters are the best in the biz…I’d certainly stand in line for these!) who offers a few party guests $1,000,000 to survive one night in a haunted mental asylum.  Famke Janssen (of X-Men  fame), Taye Diggs (who helped Stella get her Groove back), Ali Larter (in her post-Varsity Blues but pre-Heroes days), and Chris Kattan (whose performance is the only one close to being as entertaining as Rush’s) round out the rest of the cast in this creepy tale.  The twitching-shaking head effect hasn’t been so effective since Jacob’s Ladder.  Unfortunately, the original 1959 film had a cliffhanger ending, so we’ll use this new, yet terrible ending as time for a bathroom break. 

 Snacks to be served --- Various Halloween candy – tricks abound in this film, might as well add some treats

 


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11:00 – 12:35pm

In the Mouth of Madness

Directed by John Carpenter

95 min

 

A movie twisted enough to warrant watching it in the daylight.  Jurassic Park’s Sam Neill plays John Trent, an freelance investigator who investigates seemingly false insurance claims.  A huge publishing company has apparently misplaced its biggest writer, Sutter Cane, and hires Trent to find him.  Cane, who has outsold the likes of even Stephen King, has created a series of books that quite possibly could drive you insane.  Trent travels to New England and finds a town that exists only in Cane’s novels.  The characters and events call to mind the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Carpenter’s film is certainly another great mindfreak that helps us question reality.   

 Snacks to be served --- Chips that are NOT to be thrown at the driver and blueberries, since they’re Sutter Cane’s favorite color

 


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12:36 – 2:01pm

The Strangers

Directed by Bryan Bertino

85min

 

Every so often, a horror movie is released that finally gets it right.  They’re few and far between, as we all know so well, and it seems that originality has breathed its last.  Then comes The Strangers, a film amidst far too many unnecessary remakes and movies that focus more on gore and torture porn than authentic scares.  Starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, this film tells the story of a young couple who are tormented by two women and one man who decide upon them simply “because [they] were home.”  The psychological terror involved in this film is brilliant and it’s a fantastic throwback to the classic horror that didn’t need CGI or huge budgets to be effective.  One of the best films of 2008, in my humble opinion. 

 

Snacks to be served --- Cigarettes….since she needed them so badly at 4am, we should have a few in her honor. 

 

 

 

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2:02 – 3:30pm

Campfire Tales

Directed by Matt Cooper, Martin Kunert, and David Semel

88 min

 

In 1997, a little horror flick showed up, straight-to-video, on New Release walls in Blockbusters across the country.  Starring lesser known (at the time) actors like James Marsden, Amy Smart, and Ron Livingston, this series of horror tales is sufficiently creepy enough to be considered a smaller gem in the echelon of anthology films.  While “The Hook” is a take on a commonly-told urban legend, the third installment of the film is quite unsettling and the tale that shook me up enough to cause my leaping from the door to my bed every night for a little while. 

 

Snacks to be served --- s’mores and hot dogs roasted on that cracklin’ campfire!

 

 

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3:31 – 5:30pm

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Directed by Scott Derrickson

119 min

 

The thinking man’s horror film of 2005.  While The Silence of the Lambs certainly is an intellectual horror flick, this brilliant story of a young Minnesota girl (played by Jennifer Carpenter) is both chilling and though-provoking.  Was she crazy?  Was she actually possessed?  Laura Linney plays a prosecutor accusing a priest (Tom Wilkinson) of negligent homicide.  Based on the true story of Anneliese Michel of Germany, Emily Rose makes waking in the middle of the night an extremely unpleasant experience (especially at 3am – which is why we’re watching it around 3 PM).  The barn scene is spectacular, and is on par with the horrors of The Exorcist….and that scene in Emily’s dorm room when her boyfriend wakes to find her on the floor still gives me the willies. 

 

Snacks to be served --- None; Carpenter’s contortions are so freaky, I’ve lost my appetite. 

 

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5:31 – 7:01pm

Final Destination 2

Directed by David R. Ellis

90 min

 

The sequel that makes up for the original.  A year before the release of Saw, writers prove that they should be locked up – the most creative ways to kill off a character and make the audience squirm I’d seen to date.  A. J. Cook plays Kimberly Corman, a young girl who has a premonition of a horrific traffic accident on a highway and manages to prevent it from occurring.  As a result, Death has returned to claim its victims.  Unlike the first film, where victims died in more traditional, ho-hum ways, FD2 serves up a heaping plateful of suspense as the audience waits in terror of the ultimate killing.  The premise was always interesting, but the ways these writers kill off the characters is pure entertainment…they always keep you guessing, and shocks and surprises wait just around the corner…and down the garbage disposal, and at the dentist’s office…

 Snacks to be served --- Chinese food a la magnet, straight from the microwave

 

 

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7:02 – 8:47pm

El Orfanato (The Orphanage)

Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona

105 min

 

This Spanish horror film traces the story of Laura (Belén Rueda), a woman who buys the orphanage in which she grew up and decided to open a home for special needs children.  Her adopted son, Simón (adorably played by Roger Príncep), is an imaginative boy with a great personality, invisible friends, and, tragically, HIV.  One day, he disappears and Laura begins hearing strange noises in her home and a small boy with a sack mask appears in the halls.  Like El Labertino del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth)El Orfanato utilizes a classic piece of children’s literature in a remarkable way and makes this chilling tale a heartwarming story – not something you see everyday in the horror genre. 

 

Snacks to be served --- peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and milk – in honor of the children

 

 

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8:48 – 10:18pm

Identity

Directed by James Mangold

90 min

 

A group of people find themselves stranded at a motel during a violent rainstorm in the middle of nowhere.  Strange occurrences abound – everyone has the same birthday, people begin dying, yet disappear shortly afterward.  John Cusack, Amanda Peet, and Ray Liotta lead this ensemble cast of characters who are trying to survive the night.  What’s spectacular about this film is that any summary you read, anything you hear about it, whatever you think this film is about…you’re not even close…and boy, do I LOVE a surprise ending. 

 

Snacks to be served --- soda, chips, and candy out of the motel’s vending machine

 

 

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10:19 – 12:00am

Scream

Directed by Wes Craven

111 min


The only way to end the 24-hour homage to great horror films is a film that graciously tips its hat to them all while taking its own place in the upper echelon of the genre.  In the mid-90’s, the horror genre had waned to extended sequels of 80s slasher flicks and not much else.  This film took a tongue-in-cheek approach to the slasher movie and incorporated the greatness of all the films leading up to it.  Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is a teenaged girl whose town is plagued by a series of murders.  Everyone is a suspect and along the way, teens use their vast knowledge of horror to keep themselves safe…or not.  Before the travesty that was Scary Movie, there was the clever film Scream to sufficiently scare us enough to remind us about the rules of horror – don’t do drugs or drink, never have sex, and never, NEVER say “I’ll be right back.”  Oh, and don’t answer the phone, either.   Aside from all that, it’s also fitting, I think,  that I begin and end my marathon with films by the legendary Wes Craven.  I mean, how could you NOT have one of his films on your list?  Oh wait…my cohorts who have posted before me don’t.  Ah well…that’s why I’m your resident horror geek, my trusty PCPV readers.  LOL – Thanks for hanging with me on this All Hallow’s Eve.  Hope your candy stash is plentiful – and coconut-candy free…yuck!

 

Snacks to be served --- popcorn, beer, chips, beer, sandwiches, and….hey!  Who’s bringing the beer!?    

2 comments:

Paranormal Dog said...

This was great! I love reading your reviews!

My list for the night was:

Satan's School For Girls (soooo bad, and not in that bad/good way)

Don't look in the Basement

Gregory Horror Show (an old Japanese computer-animation that was really creepy and full of morals)

And have you seen "Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon?"

If not, you really should. It's horribly funny and decently scary!

Lisa Pas said...

Yep! I saw it just after it was released...loved it! :)