Hallow-seen

….aaaand we’re back.

So how was everyone’s halloween party?

Wow, that crazy, huh? I went to one, which was more small and intimate than large and bombastic, but fun none the less.

But of course, everyone who is like me (there are some people out there like me, I can feel it in my soul) will know that the friendly gatherings are secondary. As a great philosopher once said; “parties come and go but movie marathons are where it’s at!”. That philosopher was me – and my pools of wisdom, much like chaps, are bottomless.

All self-praising aside, I had a great night with my carefully selected horror trinity. I promised I wouldn’t talk about horror films for a month after this was all over, and I won’t. However, I did also promise you that I’d review these movies after I saw them. Aarrgh, I promised myself into a corner!

But I have the give the people what they want, so here are three very quick reviews of the movies I watched.

Up first was…

As I’ve said, this was rumoured to be a return to classic gothic Hammer horror. Well, I can now confirm that it was. Good for Hammer, they need a little ‘return-to-form’!

“A young lawyer travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorising the locals.”

– IMDB

So, did I enjoy it? Overall, yes. It certainly wasn’t flawless, but the traditional nature of it was undeniably likeable. In keeping with that, the production design was clearly the best part. The creepy mansion really is creepy.  Best of all, however, is the scenery. I don’t know who did the location scouting for this movie, but…oh wait, I can look it up…

Now obviously the director really chooses the locations, with the producers weighing in heavily on the final decisions, but location scouts are the ones who go out and find them all. So, Vinnie Jassal and David Seaton (whoever you are), I congratulate you. Also, I just noticed that Charlotte Wilde was the animal wrangler in charge of “Birds and Abimals”. I should say, the abimals were impressive too.

Seriously though, a great location will drastically increase a movies horror potential. Much of The Woman in Black takes place in front of traditional bleak english countryside. That’s nothing new, but on the way to the house Radliffe passes some outlandish marshland backdrops which appear to stretch on endlessly into the horizon. These shots really help to establish just how alone he is when he chooses to spend the night there. You don’t need anyone to tell you that his screams won’t be heard for miles, you can see it.

Disappointingly though, the fright moments didn’t work for me. Nothing quite managed to make me jump out of my seat, but there were definitely some gripping sequences. The bit where Radcliffe sees a dead child rise from his grave and approach the house, followed by knocking on the front door, gives me chills just as I describe it to you.

Was Radcliffe the right choice? Well, I would have preferred if there had been some acknowledging reference or in-joke about the fact that he looks so young, but there wasn’t. Instead, the filmmakers just shuffled on with a “critics be damned” attitude. Alright, mostly it didn’t bother me, but I did not buy that Radcliffe’s character is meant to have a son. Sorry, I can’t accept that, he still looks like a child himself.

Scary? No. Chilling? Yes. Believable? …it’s a ghost movie!

It was a heavy one, so I shifted gears.

After the ghost movie, it was time for a monster movie…

…definately my favourite of the three. I absolutely loved this one! Comparing it to Re-Animator, it falls a bit short, but it’s still so much fun!

“Scientists create a resonator to stimulate the pineal gland (sixth sense), and open up a door to a parallel (and hostile) universe.”

– IMDB

Leave your intellect at the door, this movie is outrageous! It’s like a carnival of gore and sex. Don’t be a prude, admit that you think it sounds fun!

The alternate dimension that the characters tap into can be seen as a metaphor for the world of sensuality that we usually distance ourselves from. All the things that are seen as “distasteful”, are embodied by the stimulation of the pineal gland; food, sex, meat, horror…and leather.

If there’s anything I understand…it’s a fetish for leather.

Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun! That’s my quote for the poster. No, it wasn’t scary, it’s not meant to be. I know that fear is the staple of Halloween, but so is sugar. Well, this movie is a bathtub of sugar. As such, I bathed in it gleefully. Uncomfortable imagery, I know, but it’s the truth. You should really watch it! If you do, I promise I’ll stop saying “pineal gland”.

Speaking of uncomfortable imagery, this movie is full of that! Loads of genitalia-like tentacles and pulsing veiny orbs, how lovely! It’s like they got H. R. Geiger drunk and gave him a pencil.

If you want to drop everything smart, focused, and rational…go beyond! You won’t regret it…until it starts burrowing into your eye socket!

Stuart Gordon, you’re a genius. Let us all agree to forget our inhibitions…just for a moment…have some fucking fun!

But, we can’t have too much of a sexy thing. From Beyond is more comedy than horror, so we must digress…back into the ghostly world of spookishness.

Here was one I was eagerly anticipating, the third act of my self-assembled annual ‘shriekathon’…

…and I’m sad to say that it was also the most disappointing one.

No no, don’t freak out. I didn’t hate it. It just wasn’t scary…at all. The Woman in Black wasn’t that scary, but it at least had some creep-factor.

“During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel’s haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay.”

– IMDB

This movie has endless amounts of buildup, but no satisfactory payoff. You spend so much of the movie waiting for a ghost to show up and when it finally does…

Ok, it’s not quite that disappointing, but it’s pretty lame. Also, it’s very brief – taking place almost entirely in the last 5 minutes of the film. Not a great way to structure a horror movie, I have to say.

So is there anything that I did like about this movie? Yes…all of the rest of it!

The majority of this film actually plays like a Kevin Smith flick. It reminded me hugely of Clerks. The two main characters are in charge of running an Inn, meaning that they have to live and work in this building where almost nothing ever happens. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve had some experience with minimum-wage-minimum-effort routine administrative jobs, but I loved this portrayal of it. It’s so accurate! Being payed to sit at a desk just in case something should happen really does rot your brain and cause you to partake in exuberent behavior to pass the time. Large portions of the film question whether or not the ghostly experiences are just a result of the boredom and paranoia built up inside their minds. I won’t spoil whether or not it actually is, don’t worry, and will instead switch topics to a new discovery that my heart has made…

I remember seeing Sara Paxton in Shark Night 3D and…actually I don’t remember. It was a terrible film and she played a ditzy little useless blonde pretty-girl part that swam past my attention with a mere graze. But in this film…I completely fell in love with her!

I didn’t so much fall in love with her, as I did with her character. In this movie she plays Claire; a tomboyish shorthaired makeup-free geeky girl. No joke…that’s just my type. Her natural beauty shines through all that, of course, but the most possessing thing about her is that she’s a total screw-up.

Everything she does she fails at, and it’s lovely to watch. Forget the ghosts, the scares, the stories…I just want to watch Claire be Claire. I honestly sat with my head in my hands throughout most of it – wishing that she was a real person. If she was I’d marry her on the spot. The fact that she becomes neurotically fixated on the idea of discover ghosts in the hotel only serves to make her more charming. She, along with her relationship to the other characters in the movie, ends up making this a surprisingly funny character study. You end up just wanting to sit and talk to these people all night long, and that makes it worthwhile. Still, the scares aren’t there, ergo; not successful as a horror film.

All of this is not to say, however, that I was at all disappointed by my choices. I had a blast! No, they weren’t the most terrifying cinematic experiences imaginable, but I’m happy with this years results none the less. It was better than last year’s, which I won’t even go into, and all the planning was definitely worth it. I hope everyone else had a good time and got hold of a scary video at some point. So that’s it, until next time!

– Rant Over

2 thoughts on “Hallow-seen

  1. I’ve been holding my tongue all month because as soon as you posted about The Innkeepers I could not wait to see it. I was disappointed. I kept waiting for the big thing to happen and then it finally did and I was all “that’s it”?

    As for The Woman in Black, I saw both the original and remake. So I am curious for you to watch the original. They have some differences in techniques and also story details that I think do make a difference. I won’t tell you which way though.

    We watched Trick ‘r Treat and that was good! Now I think I need to make sure next Halloween I have a jack-o-lantern and some candy for the ghouls!!

  2. I know what you mean about The Innkeepers. Good setup, good characters, good setting…totally wasted horror-wise.

    You’re talking about the Tv-movie version of The Woman in Black, yeah? I found a copy online, so hopefully It’ll be ready to watch soon.

    So jealous of you being able to watch Trick r’ Treat for the first time…on Halloween? Aaah! I love that movie, it’s so sad that it didn’t get a theatrical release when it came out.

    Candy for ghouls, yes, but please tell me you had some candy for yourself this year!

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