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HORRORFEST '15: OCTOBER IS FOR LOVERS...of death gore fog and shadows

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Please don't remind me of being in music class in high school and having to hear the fucking MC Hammer Addams Family song over and over again. (I refuse to post it here. You look it up at your own peril.)

 

Then again, I was reminded of Mindy Clarke and her love for Curt (my real name, btw)...

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While some of you delusional psychos were watching an alleged "baseball game" that totally didn't happen today, I was doing something I never imagined I would do, and I hesitate to even bring it up again, but this is A CHRONICLE THREAD!!! and all must be revealed.

My wife and I watched the two Rob Zombie HALLOWEEN's over two nights (director's cuts off the box set).  It was in part because she wanted to try and had never seen either.   She professed to disliking the first but not so much that she didn't want to watch Part 2.  And she liked Part 2.

This was my first time watching the entire director's cut of either and really my first time actually making it through Part I without rage quitting.  The thing is, there's a decent movie in there that is lost in the absurdity of the opening three or so scenes of Zombie not having any sense of when he's crossed over to self-parody.  It's amazing how much more tolerable the movie is after those three scenes (with the one stupid hillbilly rape scene as the last obstacle)

But I can imagine a recut of Part 1 that would be pretty good, if you:

1) started with the asylum stuff up to where he says he can't remember anything (which was always good)

 
2) flash back to the stripperhouse/abusive boyrfriend/school bully parts up to where he attacks the other kid, and cut all that stuff to a total of 7 or 8 minutes, making it clear that he's a child locked in an unsafe and frightening home who is already exhibiting disturbing tendencies, but without every character being something Fred Durst might write into a screenplay.  It's okay for Michael Myers to come from a tense and abusive home without making him literally live in Here Comes Honey Boo Boo to the House of a 1000 Corpses.

3) Cut back to Smith's Grove to just before the attack on the nurse

4) cut to the murders in the house that night, which was a perfectly good sequence

5) cut back for more ominous asylum stuff leading to the nurse attack

and then proceed from there...It would be a really good movie.

There are a few astoundingly well done scenes in Part 1.  The attack on the nurse, when the audio goes out and all you hear is the alarm, and you quick cut to extreme closeups of each person in the room.  It's haunting. You end up thinking about how each of those people (including the dying woman) are experiencing this moment essentially "alone" in their own private way.  That's genuinely good film-making.

The attack on Laurie's parents was also really frightening.

Just lose the opening few scenes or strip down the amount of absurd cartoonish Kizarny crap...and cut the two orderlies raping that woman in a scene that looks more like it's out of a Natural Born Killers parody than a serious meditation on violence.
Get rid of those two elements, and you've got a good movie.

I've always actually liked Part 2.  I've put this here before, but I think the "family" scenes at the Sheriff's house are a really great image of a sort of Post-Traumatic Stress disorder.  The scenes between Lauri, Annie, and the Sheriff remind me of those, free, realistic domestic scenes Spielberg used to be capable of (in JAWS, in E.T., in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, shades of it in POLTERGEIST even though he wasn't directing).  The director's cut adds more of that and makes the characters really tragically shattered.  The are much more angry with each other and it plays up the idea that Laurie is beginning to have violent visions of her own...not necessarily out of some dumb "psychic connection" to her brother, but just because she's getting really shitty therapy in a small dump of a town where she has few options but to stare all day at the girl who's face is cut to pieces because of her somehow.  I can't think of another "slasher" with three such well-defined, realistic, and deservedly "in pain" characters as these.  It's not stated outright, for instance, but it seems clear that "party girl" Annie doesn't leave the house anymore, maybe hasn't in months or longer.

The hospital scene is also pretty brilliant, an uncomfrotable and unflinching view of the "aftermath" of an attack.  That plays into the psychology too.  We see numerous scenes throughout both movies of Laurie, for instance, begging Annie to "just live, Please don't die. I need you."  And then months later we see them resenting each other in other moments.  We end up seeing so many moments of conflicting emotional states in the short lives of these two characters, all of them pretty honest I think. 

 

It makes me wish there had been more time in Part 1 to make the Laurie/Annie relationship begin as more than just two sarcastic teenagers who show up in the last 1/3 of a movie that Zombie didn't want to make.  It's like he figured out too late that the real story is of this artificial family created by these attacks, this sisterhood of misery which can't survive.

 

In fact, I think the strength of that core relationship actually undercuts the "scariness" of some of the movie.  I was so concerned with what would eventually happen with them, that I really wasn't enjoying the mood of stalker, jump scares, and creeping around in all the scenes leading up to it.  They were just the next step toward the moment I was dreading.

I can't remember the last time the death of a character had as much impact as Annie's death which we don't even see but only hear.  When Laurie cradles Annie in her arms and processes that she is truly and completely alone.  The director's cut gives Brad Dourif a long and painful scene discovering her body.

And the ending of the director's cut was so much better than the theatrical release.  It caught me off guard and made the theme of bizarre family obsession more complete of a running thread, especially given that we have now seen Michael systematically slaughter two alternate families for Laurie to insure that she would be left with only him.

I think there was way less white horse stuff in the director's cut as well.  But the dumb dream sequences were still there.  They were both too long.  But Part 2 didn't drag as much as part 1.

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The things I like about Zombie's Halloween films I really really really love.

The things that don't work though... Yeesh.

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10. The Collector (2009) ... a fun attempt at SAW without being so torture-porny. I enjoyed it.

11. The Presence (2010) ... really well done but a little too artsy-fartsy and the finish reeked of pimping Jesus in an almost "Kirk Cameron" type of way. Plus the first 16 minutes was dialogue-free, which was a little weird for me. Some decent little jump scares, though.

12. Extinction: The G.M.O. Chronicles (2011) ... of course GMOs will create mutant zombies: this is a no-brainer. Interesting premise brought low by a plodding storyline, bad makeup and weak acting.

13. Scooby-Doo! Frankencreepy (2014) ... interesting premise that gets ruined by modern remakes of Scooby-Doo spending too much time mocking the gimmick, and a convoluted attempt at being a "smart" mystery inside the Scooby-Doo gimmick. It's Scooby Fucking Doo: you don't need to reinvent the wheel!

 

14. The Lords Of Salem (2013) ... what an utter disappointment. Here's hoping Rob Zombie's third wife is someone who can actually act so that when he crams her down our throat we won't care.

15. The Woman In Black (2012) ... I liked this one a lot. Pretty disappointed Harry Potter didn't use EVEN ONE magical spell to help save the day, though. Dummy.

16. Devil's Pass (2013) ... creative idea, with an interesting ending. I enjoyed it. I've realized there are some nagging flaws in "found footage" movies, like Irish Whips in wrestling, that you just have to accept and ignore when they happen.

17. Bad Milo! (2013) ... a ridiculous premise (a man has a demon in his colon that comes out and kills people that cause him stress), with a solid cast and some good writing. Surprisingly fun.

Edited by Marty Sugar

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Seems to be a surge of Dia de los Muertos merchandise this year.

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I was hoping that trend died out last year. White hipsters appropriating a holy Mexican holiday kinda sorta sucks.

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So, so pissed that this wasn't my Halloween Havoc pick this year. If you don't get into this then you're super stupid (TM Funkadelic)

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Having just moved into my new house and not having had much time to catch up on movies, Ive been catching up on Season 2 of The Strain each night in October.

 

The episode "Dead End" might be one of the creepiest episodes of TV I've seen in a while, sure it can be hokey but goddam was it fun.

 

Tomorrow night me and the other half are going to see Crimson Peak to stay on the Del Toro trip and then I've got my Halloween Havoc pick for Sunday.

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As you head into this Pre-Hallow-eekend here is:

 

AN IMPORTANT PUUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMEMT

FRORM JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS!!!!

 

 

 

 

Also note: Terri is a whiny little asshole.  GET OVER IT ALREADY!!!!

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One of you needs to watch The Borderlands / Final Prayer on or before Halloween.

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One of you needs to watch The Borderlands / Final Prayer on or before Halloween.

I was gonna. I thought "hey, I literally don't remember the last time I watched a random horror flick that I knew NOTHING about... why not?" I started it.

Twenty seconds later, I stopped. Fucking found footage! I am BEYOND tired of found-footage horror. I would be just fine if this genre died today and there was never another found-footage horror film made ever again forever.

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The explosion of shitty found footage horror films is the second biggest reason to hate "The Blair Witch Project."

The first being that it's fucking horrible.

The third is how much it rips from "The Last Broadcast." And I guess "Cannibal Holocaust," according to some people (except not really).

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18. You're Next (2011) ... started out fine and then the final kills got comical. Also I have an issue with our protagonists all being such assholes that you don't really care if they survive this ordeal they're in.

19. Rites of Spring (2011) ... Interesting premise that is hampered by a shitty monster, an awful heroine and a shit ending. So disappointing and annoying.

20. The Watcher In The Woods (1980) ... Surprisingly scary for Disney, but the planned ending that never happened would've been so much better than the rush ending they slapped on get it out in time for Bette Davis' 50th anniversary as an actress.

21. **Halloween Havoc review** (will update once Fowler posts it online)

22. It Follows (2014) ... really interesting take on hauntings/spirits/demons/etc. It was very subtle but it had an amazingly creepy synth score, some great camera angles, and some nifty jump scares. One annoying bit in the middle, but otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed it.

23. The Fog (2005) ... a shoddy remake of John Carpenter's 1980 version, that deservedly won a lot of "Worst Movie" awards in the Horror community. Shoddy acting and piss-poor special effects ruin what could've been a good story.

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The explosion of shitty found footage horror films is the second biggest reason to hate "The Blair Witch Project."

The first being that it's fucking horrible.

The third is how much it rips from "The Last Broadcast." And I guess "Cannibal Holocaust," according to some people (except not really).

Bullshit on every count.

1. It's one of my favorite horror films. I say it's AWESOME. And the filmgoing public (over $350 million in adjusted worldwide gross) and the critics (87% score on RT, especially impressive for typically-underrated horror flicks) and the film industry (won a at least dozen different awards from various festivals and awards bodies) all back me up on this one.

2. Don't blame successful people or products for their imitators. I don't fault Steve Austin for the career of Chad Austin, not to mention the several trillion indy "workers" who decided that Dumb Violent Redneck was a perfect gimmick and used a stunner for their finish. And besides, the current found-footage overflow clearly didn't start until after the megasuccess of Paranormal Activity; even after Blair Witch came out, the number of FF flicks that immediately followed it was pretty small.

But, most importantly:

3. Have you SEEN The Last Broadcast? Because, I have. And hell fucking no, Blair Witch didn't rip anything off of them. For one thing, BWP's filmmakers have an ironclad alibi: their principal photography took place in October '97, while TLB's premiere debut was in March '98. So even if they were Deep Impact/Armageddon-level identical, it wouldn't matter because both films were made at pretty much the same time.

But let's ignore that for a moment, and look at them on a level of content and artistry. Aside from being horror mockumentaries which involve a certain level of weirdness in the woods, they don't have much in common. TLB is structured much more like a fake episode of a Discovery Channel show, with a narrator and editing and clearly having been shaped into a story by outside hands. That's nothing like BWP's structure of "you're watching their unedited footage in chronological order" and nothing else, no frills. BWP takes place almost entirely in the woods, cut off from society; TLB is mostly shot inside people's houses in the suburbs. BWP has some clearly supernatural shit going on; in TLB the weird events are all eventually explained in (allegedly) a plausible manner.

The Last Broadcast also differs from Blair Witch in the fact that it is a total piece of shit. It had the budget of a student film, and it shows; every location is somewhere they didn't have to pay for or set dress, there's a ton of re-used footage that keeps getting recycled to pad out the running time, and the visual quality of the footage in general is pretty bad (the very few "special effects" all look pathetically phony). The acting is downright incompetent, just indescribably awful from every single onscreen performer. And finally, TLB has, without any exaggeration or hyperbole, THE WORST ENDING I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE:

It turns out the narrator, the guy making the documentary, is actually the killer. Which is especially weird, since we have no idea who this guy is and we've never seen him interact with the subjects of said documentary (which included the murder victims). This is fucking lame, a worse twist than "it's Mrs. Voorhees, whom we've never met before!", the film hasn't set up at all that there's any reason for this character to have committed these actions.

But it gets EVEN WORSE: the reveal is made by a video editor who is trying to clean up a ruined piece of footage. She, oh-so-shockingly, manages to filter it until it shows the narrator's face. AT THAT VERY INSTANT, the narrator leaps out of nowhere and kills her. (How the hell he timed THAT, it's never explained.) But, worst of all: it suddenly stops being found-footage!!!!! The movie, which has been entirely presented in documentary format until the last three minutes, arbitrarily turns into a standard narrative film. We're suddenly watching from an ordinary 3rd-person camera angle as the narrator smothers the editor, and the first question on everyone's mind is "who's holding THIS camera?!" and the answer is "fucking nobody". It's the single most mind-boggling error I've ever seen committed in any film, something which so thoroughly breaks The Rules of how this shit is supposed to work that it feels like the filmmakers suddenly reached out of the screen and slapped you in the face. With their dicks. And then laughed about it.

And finally: there were other found footage flicks besides Cannibal Holocaust in the years before 1999, yet somehow the likes of UFO Abduction, 84 Charlie MoPic and Man Bites Dog never get mentioned as possible inspirations. CH only gets brought up because it's the one everybody's heard of; much like kids today tend to namedrop it as "That ONE Movie where they really killed animals onscreen" despite that being an everyday thing in 70s Italian exploitation flicks.

 

23. The Fog (2005) ... a shoddy remake of John Carpenter's 1980 version, that deservedly won a lot of "Worst Movie" awards in the Horror community. Shoddy acting and piss-poor special effects ruin what could've been a good story.

Oh hell yeah, that one was turrible. Can you even imagine the pitch for this garbage? "The director of the "2 Legit 2 Quit" video helms a pointless remake of a mostly-forgotten horror flick with practically no mainstream name value, with a script in which no major plot points have been changed from the original (except now the leading lady is a reincarnation of the villain's dead wife); the original starred Hal Holbrook and Janet Leigh, but this one stars Clark from Smallville and Shannon from Lost, the original was rated R but this one is rated PG-13 and HEY YOU, STOP RUNNING AWAY, GET BACK HERE AND WATCH THIS BULLSHIT!"

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Just watched The Babadook on the insistence of the same friend who suggested You're Next...and HOLY SHIT, what a great movie. Blew me away. The two leads are astounding, and they take such a simple little premise and minimal effects and just scared the piss out of me. So good.

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1-3) You're wrong. No matter how many freshman film class essays you write about E-V-E-R-Y F-I-L-M Y-O-U'V-E E-V-E-R S-E-E-N, you aren't right every fucking time.

And the only way "Blair Witch" is "horror" is if you were made to sit in a corner by the teacher for fucking off in class, and now it's become PTSD fuel for you.

87% of RT reviews don't mean shit, except that 13% of reviewers actually paid attention to the film and not the hype. Here, here's the whole "Blair Witch" film, summarized: "Oh shit!" "Oh fuck!" "Map?" "Oh shit!" *thud* ~FINI~

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Jingus, I apologize. Bad handful of days, and it's easier to snap off at a faceless entity online than to confront all of the recent stresses I've had.

Point being, we agree to disagree. I was a ass and shouldn't have said all that shit. I stand by not liking this film or that, preferring this actor over that one, but that personal stuff, that wasn't cool.

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One of you needs to watch The Borderlands / Final Prayer on or before Halloween.

I was gonna. I thought "hey, I literally don't remember the last time I watched a random horror flick that I knew NOTHING about... why not?" I started it.

Twenty seconds later, I stopped. Fucking found footage! I am BEYOND tired of found-footage horror. I would be just fine if this genre died today and there was never another found-footage horror film made ever again forever.

 

 

You are a quitter, Jingus.  That movie is fucking awesome.  Your prejudice betrays you.

 

If there is a bullshit found footage movie, it is Blair Witch.  Three assholes wandering through the woods and dropping just enough F-Bombs to earn an R rating and further force word of mouth and heresay advertisement by limiting the scope of the audience pool. 

 

The strategic marketing and the mission to sell this movie off as an authentic yet manufactured urban legend is a far more interesting tale than the movie itself and that is probably the quality that earns the movie its stellar reviews.

 

The payoff at the end is totally implausible. How anyone explains away the ending in a remotely acceptable escapes me.   Heather is carrying five to ten pounds of camera equipment while supposedly physically depleted, possibly malnourished, and terrified out of her mind, yet she strategically manages to film all of the creepy bits in the haunted witch house before the bitter finale.  Total bullshit.

 

Apologists continue to excuse this awful and unfrightening movie.

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Blair Witch frightened the shit out of me the first time I saw it, that's all I can say.

Your prejudice betrays you.

"Betrays"? My prejudice isn't hidden. I said right up front, "FUCK new found-footage movies, period, I don't ever want to watch another one". I'm not exactly implying a secret message when I'm so up front about it.

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After eleven or twelve F-Bombs into Day 3 wandering around lost the woods, I was begging the Blair Witch to come and kill them all and fade to end credits.  Anything to shut up Heather's incessant shrill whining and potty mouth.

 

If there is anything frightening about the movie it has to do with the footage itself.   The idea that the film was found buried and the fact that we are pre-spoiled to the tragedy and know that none of the film crew survived to hide the film begs the question of who hid the movie, or more importantly did the party that buried the film canisters deliberately leave them someplace where they would be found?

 

As I said before, the meta of the movie is far more fascinating than the movie itself.  The directors created a mythology around the movie so convincing that people subscribed to it as a legit urban legend despite knowing that Blair Witch was a pure fiction.

 

Rational people subconsciously believed in something they knew to be patently false.

 

The Slender Man meme come to life years and years before its time.  This is what makes Blair Witch a groundbreaking film.

 

As for Final Prayer / The Borderlands, I am just sad that your predisposition prevents you from watching a perfectly fine horror motion picture.  A far better example of found footage than Blair Witch. 

 

Blair Witch doesn't even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath with found footage horror films like Final Prayer / The Borderlands, NOROI: The Curse, Afflicted, or Wer.  That being said, I still have an appreciation for Myrick and Sanchez's genius and creativity.  Blair Witch itself is a dreck film but the rub is that it keeps you theorizing and speculating months after you've watched it.

 

Even my most favorite found footage horror movies have a story that ends at the final credits.  Blair Witch?  That thing still lives on and you respect and fear the unknown in spite of yourself.  You may be confident in your belief that the dead are merely dead but every time you pass a graveyard, you hold your breath.

 

Just in case.....

 

My house is in Odenton, MD and the Blair Witch Project takes place in Burkittsville; a couple hours drive from me.  Even today and even with the miles and miles that separate me from where the story takes place, I still cast an occasional wary eye at the woods near my subdivision. 

 

Because you never can tell...

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I agree that the story surrounding the film is fascinating, the making and the marketing. But for me, it's not like El Mariachi where a fun-but-forgettable movie is immortalized by an unbelievable backstory. It's more like Clerks, where said unbelievable backstory just helps deepen my overall love for a movie that I already adored after the first time I watched it, when I was largely ignorant of the backstory in the first place.

And nate, thanks for the apology. But for the record, in order to facilitate future discussions: 1.I only had two film theory classes ever (I was an English major, switched over after I realized my school's "film" department was basically a scam); and more importantly, 2.for the love of God, folks, please stop perpetuating the "Blair Witch ripped off Last Broadcast" myth. The timelines simply don't add up. There's no way that the filmmakers of either movie could've seen the other until they were already well into production (if not postproduction) on their own projects.

And fine, JT, I'll expose myself to a bit of ye dreaded FF which I haven't seen. It's not like I'm too busy anyway. I'll watch Final Prayer. AND Noroi. AND Wer. And report back in this thread. (But not Affliction; a marathon of German scheiße porn sounds infinitely less unappealing than "a found-footage version of Cabin Fever".)

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Sorry, I meant to say Afflicted which is actually the found footage bastard love child of Chronicle and Dracula.  It is a slow burn but the payoff is fucking sweet.

 

Wer is no Dog Soldiers, but I found it refreshing that someone remembered that werewolves are monsters, too.

 

I cannot say enough good things about NOROI and this is surprising given that the director, Koji Shiraishi, has made a career out of directing some of the worst J-Horror movies ever and his only decent films are (guess what?) found footage movies. 

 

You can skip the downright awfulness of Carved, Ju-Rei:  The Uncanny, and Grotesque or the mediocrity of the Teketeke films, but Occult and NOROI are quite good.  

 

Shiraishi unfortunately went to the well once too often.  He deliberately tries to duplicate the microbudget found footage magic of NOROI when he made Shirome, Cult, and Cho Akunin but ultimately they fall flat. 

 

Shiraish's K-Horror offering, A Record of Sweet Murder, is not entirely bad, but watching NOROI and Occult will make you expect excellence that simply is not there.

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Isn't "[rec]" a found footage film? I liked that one. Did it precede "Paranormal Activity?" (Can't readily check, at work in a mtg.)

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