thirty one days of horror part 6

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wow, i’m writing this post just because I’m watching this movie right now and I’m so mad. Don’t worry, I have a list of horror films I plan to update you on, but also yeah so I haven’t been able to completely watch a new horror movie every single day (I blame half of it on available selection; guys, I’ve seen a lot of horror movies) so I might as well use my outrage to drive this blog along.

Where did I leave off?

October 16th (ah, yes, see, another little fib. but you can question my time continuity  — I promise, it doesn’t impair the two twin strengths I have which feed this blog. That is to say, my profound and innate abilities to both analyze, and complain) *I Don’t Want to Live in This World Anymore:* Jesus Christ the reason I’m writing to you about this movie on a horror blog is because that’s just how much of a mess this story makes with, first, its tone, and second, its overall – just —

Here’s the thing, folks. If *I Don’t Want to Melodrama In HD Anymore* had simply exercised a little restraint and settled for either a believable plot, or an emotionally convincing one, as a movie, it might have done kind of all right. It would have also helped significantly if the directors/producers/whoever is responsible for this decision had been able to figure out if they were trying to film a comedy, a grime flick, or a David-Foster-Wallacian-reality-set one.

Instead the movie fumbles clumsily between scenes that only make sense if they’re meant to be comedic, to scenes that are clearly supposed to make the audience feel some risk, some fear, at least some anticipation, for the main character(s), completely failing to live up to Netflix’s upbeat synopsis and, indeed, living exactly up to the expectations I formed when I read its title the first time. Cuz son, you know what? *I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore* is a damn depressing name, and I’m not in the habit of spending my leisure time crying over fictions. Or bothering with films about people who think they’re better off dead. Like, sheesh, impress me.

I’ll be honest I have no idea where Elijah Wood was in this movie. I’m also sad, because generally, I like Melanie Lynsky. I don’t know what promise she saw in this script. Her acting’s not bad, but that doesn’t mitigate my annoyance with the whole slopshow.

*I Fart When I’m Home and Call It Philosophy* could’ve committed to any single cohesive direction and potentially really succeeded. It would’ve been a great surprise dark comedy, but the few comedic moments – sorry, the few moments which accidentally happen to hit a comedy pitch – are too sparse. It might’ve been a touching story except for several bizarre scenes which stretch all bounds of belief. Not a single character has an emotionally relatable side.

I’m just extremely disappointed I wasted my life trying to watch this movie twice, and trying to believe that this could be a cool movie, only to feel that I should absolutely refuse to watch movies based on their inane titling or forgettable trailers. Judge a book by its cover, I say. At least that means an agent know how to market it. *I Have Such A Long Dumb Title* feels like it was just shit out and landed on the indie circuit. Sorry, Lynsky. Move on.

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thirty one days of horror part 3

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October 7: The Craft: This is a classic that’s worth revisiting every couple of years or six. I bit my teeth on 90s-witchy-magic films and series like this (see Charmed, Angel, Buffy, anyone?) and so it feels like home. That being said, there isn’t that much which is terribly original or terribly finely done here. – 1996; Netflix


October 8: Raw: Now, Raw was more of an interesting kind of movie. It’s a French language film, which made my viewing partner happy (as we are watching through several languages now which makes us very multi-cultural). This film was different enough that I did a fair bit of research online about its critical reception and interpretation. I would say there is a fair amount of jump/body/gore horror, which I am not a fan of. However, as a whole, the film is interesting and worth watching. I’m not sure how great it hangs together, as either a whole or a whole horror movie, but it’s certainly decent enough. This is sort of a zombie film. – 2016; French language; Netflix


October 9: The Rezort: This was a re-watch for me. It remained OK. It wasn’t terrible, it was a relatively different way to approach zombies, except the movie really is “Jurassic Park but with zombies, not dinosaurs” – most heavily in the first half but the impact is felt even through the score. – 2015; Netflix


 

thirty one days of horror

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October 1st, yesterday: *Gerald’s Game.* Quite good for a movie with about three actors, and a Netflix original. I heartily recommend. Having read the book years ago, I was intrigued to see how Netflix dealt with a plot which spent about 75% of its time on one woman trapped in one room with just her thoughts. I’m happy to report that the movie manages this brilliantly. The story is remarkably fast-paced and engaging when you consider this limitation; ignoring it, the movie exists as an impressive, cohesive, and yes, lingeringly terrifying tale of horror. – 2017; Netflix


October 2: 1) *The Reapening.* Biblical plagues and overly religious Southern towns. Pretty good, but the twist isn’t that surprising. Do recommend. – 2007; Hilary Swank; Netflix

2) *The Bar* – Spanish language horror comedy. Pacing is good, plot is twistingly interesting, and I enjoy the classic capsule episode feel. Sci-fi-esque and gov-conspiracy-lite, too. – 2017; Netflix

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BLOG: 1-YEAR RECAP STATS

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SHOULD I? STATUS: Nerds Only

Available Right Here, Right Now -Fresh As You Can Get It

Stats No One Not Writing This Blog Cares About

THE QUICK & DIRTY DEETS

  • 21 movies reviewed
  • 10 Bechdel Passes (Approx)
  • Introduction of Blackdel
  • No jump scares, CGI or gore!

THOTS

Well, it’s official – this little blog’s been chugging out posts intermittently for a full year, now. (Fine – almost.) In honor of this unanticipated occasion, here are some lists and some awards. Everyone likes awards, don’t they?

In preface: “Best Of” categories are divided into two. The “Recent” category is reserved for films released in 2016 only. “All Time” refers to movies released in 2015 or before.

Hooked On Horror: Official, Very-Official 1st Annual Best Of Film Winners: 2016 Edition

BEST ALL TIME MOVIE REVIEWED: Murder Party

BEST RECENT MOVIE REVIEWED: Holidays

runner up/close second: HUSH

WORST RECENT MOVIE: Don’t Breathe

BEST MOVIE I MEANT TO REVIEW ALL YEAR BUT NEVER DID: Session 9


Now Some Blog Stats

MOST VIEWS (DAILY): 14 – December 11th – Probably just me from a different IP

MOST VIEWS (MONTHLY): 30 – December 2016

runner up/second place: November

MOST POSTS/REVIEWS (MONTHLY): 4 (a mul-tie)


That’s all I got for ya, folks. I guess I could be a little more imaginative and churn out some more categories for you, but I have this super-long list to tack on to the end of this post, so I think it’ll plenty long enough as it is, or will be. First, a serious moment. What’s going to change here for 2017?

I’ve got three commitments I’m willing to make, Best Beloved. Hear me out.

First, I promise not to post any less frequently.

For the second, I have a sizable reading project on my plate for 2017 – to bring my reading up-to-date with Stephen King’s current catalog. I cut my teeth on King novels (no surprise, probably?) and at one point used to brag I’d read everything he’d even written, with a few categorical omissions for joint projects, so on. There is simply no stopping the man, however, and I’ve fallen behind. In 2017, I want to catch up. And what that means is I’m going to broaden the scope of this blog a little bit; I’ll be publishing intermittent reviews of other means of horror consumption, most prominently the novel. I refuse to establish any limits to this purview, for the time being

As my third, I’m going to introduce a new post format – side-by-side breakdowns of original films and their remakes. Again, this’ll be an occasional change, nothing more, but it is an idea I’ve wanted to pursue for some time.

On a related note, perhaps my 3(b), I’d like to one day be brave enough to share my honest opinions of the 1959 and 1999 House on Haunted Hill films. For now, let us say Ebert, IMDB, and Rotten Tomatoes have shamed my taste to silence.

I am looking forward to a bone-tingling 2017 with you, O Beloved. I wish you the best.


HORROR MOVIES I WASN’T TOO LAZY TO WATCH IN 2016 BUT WAS TOO LAZY TO REVIEW: A LIST (PARTIAL)

Session 9
The Darkness
Ghost Team
From Dusk til Dawn
The Legend of Hell House
AHS: Lady Gaga
The Taking of Deborah Logan
The Houses October Built
Stranger Things
Ava’s Possessions
Oculus
The Diabolical
The Haunting
Bates Motel: Creepy 3
Stonehearst Asylum
The Seasoning House
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
The Faculty
The Burbs
13 Ghosts
Jessabelle
Hocus Pocus
Hellraiser 1-3
The Reef
Splinter
The Mist
A Lonely Place to Die
Sun Choke
Behind The Mask
Perfect Host
American Mary
Tucker & Dale Vs Evil
Cabin In the Woods
Jugg Face
The Pact
Shutter
The Theatre Bizarre
Patrick
Stitches
Rest Stop

DEAD SET

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SHOULD I? Status: Would Watch

Availability: On Netflix

Zombies + Big Brother. British accents, a collection of cads. Who’ll be killed off next?

THE QUICK & DIRTY DEETS

  • No CGI, moderate jump scares
  • Zombie genre, NOT found footage, surprisingly
  • Zombie Deets: moderate speed, not daylight sensitive, drawn to ?? energy??, life??, not sound-oriented
  • Black humor

Bechdel? NOT SURE Blackdel? YES

THOTS

I really liked the concept of Dead Set; it’s about what happens on the Big Brother set when a zombie outbreak infects England. When I saw that, I started the miniseries immediately. That’s right – Dead Set isn’t a movie but a 5-part miniseries. Don’t let Netflix fool you with its “1 season” garbage. The series was released in 2005 and besides, Episode 5 doesn’t leave much room for hope.

Overall, I think Dead Set is a success. There’s a wide variety of personalities across the characters, who are complex while also believable. The unfolding zombie drama is interspersed with enough short flashes of comedy to lighten the tone, at times, somewhat. That’s a needful thing in this grim scenario, where nearly all our surviving characters are trapped on a set with no outside world contact and no knowledge or hope that anyone else is alive out there.

Because the characters have such strong personalities, the audience gets a nice glimpse into several possible reactions and different characters’ attempts to come to grips with their new situation. This is pretty satisfying, as it provides multiple options for any internal “What would I do?” which might be happening.

However, Dead Set isn’t a total home run. The major problem is, simply, time. Over the series’ first two hours(4 episodes), a lot of care is given to characterization, development, and connecting with the audience. This is successful; the first four episodes are genuinely interesting, build on each other, and increase their hold on our attention. Unfortunately, that leaves 30 minutes to deliver the whole of a satisfying conclusion, and that just doesn’t happen here. It’s a tall order, to be sure. Instead, the 5th episode devolves into shrieks and conflict noises so quickly as to become shrill, and the dialogue devolves until you might as well spare your ears and turn the volume down. Watch it if you’re want to, if you’re really really curious, but I found it a total turn-off.

If you like Big Brother, you’ll get a kick out of Dead Set.

A CHRISTMAS HORROR ANTHOLOGY

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SHOULD I? STATUS: Would Watch

Available on Netflix

Watch William Shatner return to his roots in this surprising holiday anthology.

THE QUICK & DIRTY DEETS

  • Moderate jump scares, moderate-high CGI
  • Surprisingly large cast in this expansive, multi-genre collection
  • Blackdel: Y / Bechdel: N

THOTS

Join William Shatner as the appealing “Dangerous Dan,” a local radio station DJ, as he broadcasts his way through Christmas in annual tradition. While Dan drinks, opines, and keeps those classics coming, A Christmas Horror Anthology cycles through four concurrent small-town tales. Basically, the film provides a peep into several lives, as their stories progress over 12 hours or so from Christmas Eve into Christmas. Admittedly, it doesn’t help to consider this construct too hard: it’s difficult to believe anyone with a kid would wait until Christmas Eve to obtain a tree; maybe less so, yet still specious, imagining that 3 teenagers would use the day to finish a school project. Surely, they’re on holiday. But I speak this on removal. In the movie universe, small errors such as these are easy to gloss over. They don’t impair the film.

Many of the horror anthologies I’ve seen have stories which are barely, if at all, interrelated: V/H/S, V/H/S 2, The ABCs of Death 1 (and 2?), Holidays, and The Theatre Bizarre are all evidence. Sometimes there’s a frame narrative to explain this; sometimes there isn’t. When there is, the strength of that narrative tends to vary. A Christmas Anthology provides a pleasant variance from these traits. Including the frame, the movie presents five related narratives using a small-town, everyone-knows-everyone herringbone weave. It gives the collection a very “jes’ folks” feel I enjoyed.

It’s always fun with anthologies to try to kind of crunch some numbers and see if there are any common themes or genres or sort of general bents among the stories. In this film’s established universe, everyone is deeply flawed. Even happy endings have a cost. This seems to imply that, when bad things happen to people, they tend to deserve it – except for the frame tale, which ponders the randomness of fate’s pain. It’s fun to look a little too deep like this. Just keep a little skepticism about planning and intent.

If you’re going to watch a holiday horror movie, A Christmas Horror Anthology’s a pleasant use of your time.

TURNING OFF THE IDIOT SCREEN FOR A MOMENT

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Going Beyond the Bechdel Test

Early in the history of this blog I read an analysis of female vs. male representation in movies, wholesale and across-the-board. Someone interested party took the scripts for every movie they could find and parsed them for number of lines per character/per gender/per vectors that eventually yielded those results. This Hollywood breakdown provided a quick, approximate-but-really-close-enough, picture of gender representation in film as a whole. The population of analyzed scripts is not limited by any vector like production company, genre, film release, and etc, so the data provides a comprehensive image of the film industry whole. In a “this sucks” sort of way, the analysis is interesting and cool, so for the third time I’ll drop you the link: click. 

As a female person, I generally believe I care a lot about the issues of being a female person. This includes fair gender representation in all areas. However, I wasn’t woke regarding the film industry until I read that analysis. After that, I began to track gender representation in the movies I watched. I looked for Bechdel passes. Most importantly, I shared what I saw in my reviews on this blog. To me, that data is important. I mean –

that data is important.

Past the Bechdel: We Can Call it the Blackdel Test!

After some lightning-bolt realizations last night, I decided Bechdel isn’t all I want to track anymore. While I’ve mentioned race representation in a review here or there, going forward, just as I do with female representation and the Bechdel test, I will figure race representation and treatment into every god-damn review I post.

Here are my 3 Blackdel parameters:

  • Does the movie have at least one black character?
  • Does the character have a name?
  • Does he or she speak any lines?

It is a sad truth of the film industry at the minute that if I set my first parameter to require two black characters, I could get rid of the following 2 and the industry pass percentage would be a fraction of a percent. Blackdel is technically a looser standard than Bechdel. I bet it gets met far less. Tell you what: in a year, I’ll parse my reviews and report back.

Again, a film can pass Bechdel and suck. It can pass and be sexist. Bechdel, and now Blackdel, test for a minimum standard of inclusion. As an example, see the end of this post for a short list of horror films which contain one token black character who functions, to the utmost woke cringe-rating, as a stereotypical, one-dimensional representation of “the whole black race.” Each of them registers a Blackdel pass.

So I’ll be tracking for that as well; when there is a black character, are they a “token black?” Is there character development, growth, are there reasons for the character behaving and acting as they do beyond their blackness? Beyond “because that’s how black people act!”

I’m adding these observations into my future posts because I just want to see more black lawyer extras in movies instead of black janitors. I want to see more three-dimensional black characters with real desires at stake instead of sassy black nannies and security guards or warehouse workers.

In my heart I think the film industry is so far from representing both race and gender equally that it’s foolish to hope the disparity will resolve in my lifetime. There are people out there who this post would make angry. People who would fume or ask “Why do we need more black people in films?” or “If they’re good enough, they’ll be cast! This isn’t about race! It’s about talent!”

From my perspective, diversity and equal representation is not a question of whether there should be more black folx in our movies. That isn’t a question: it’s a fact. If you happen to agree with me, and you want to get woke to films, too — all you have to do is pay a little attention. Don’t accept the face a movie presents. Instead, ask.

Why isn’t that character black?

Why aren’t any of the other characters in this movie black?

Why is it the black character that [insert action – is full of sass; hits on/checks out every woman he encounters/turns immediately to violence/beats his child/dropped out/Solves The Problem With Ethnic Magic/etc]

Ask why isn’t every character in this movie black? That is the right perspective.