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piranesi

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

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I am an idiot, nate.  REC definitely belongs in the hallowed halls of truly great horror mockumentaries / found footage films and it is totally fucking smart about what it does. 

 

The insertion of the camera as our eyes and ears does not feel artificial and the directors even have the common decency to allow the camera to be used as a fucking zombie bludgeon to show that the guy holding the camera isn't some passive bystander.  He is right in the middle of the shit with everyone else.

 

IIRC, it did precede Paranormal Activity.  There is so much to like about PA and then there is so much to hate.  Like NOROI or Blair Witch, you know things are going to end badly, so you are already dialed in.  You watch in the hope that fate will be kind when you know that eventually tragedy will strike.

 

But, boy, if there were a way to break the third wall and punch Micah in the throat, you'd do it.  What an asshole.

 

You have solid evidence that something malevolent and preternatural is harming your woman, yea, consuming her very soul, Micah. 

 

WHY DO YOU INSIST ON CONSTANTLY PISSING IT OFF~?

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[Rec] and Paranormal Activity were both made at about the same time. They had their debuts within a couple months of each other in autumn of 2007, and then bounced around various film festivals for over a year before being picked up for American distribution. And for the record, I quite enjoyed both of them. But they're the lightning-in-a-bottle exceptions. I thought [Rec] 2 was a definite step down from the first one; and I've avoided watching any of the PA sequels, because I can't imagine that specific gimmick working more than once.

Hell, if we're gonna mention sequels, why bitch about how bad the first Blair Witch was, when fuckin' part 2 Book of Shadows is sitting right there?! MAN, that movie SUCKED. I kinda want to admire its ballsiness in going a completely different direction from the first film, but the end result was so atrociously awful that it just didn't matter. It's hard to believe that such a misfire could've been made by Joe Berlinger, the guy who did the stunning Paradise Lost documentaries. Of course, why the fuck would you even hire a celebrated documentarian to direct the non-mockumentary sequel to a mockumentary in the first place?

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[REC], Paranormal Activity, and NOROI are all perfect storms of greatness and purposeful attempts to recreate random magic will tend to end in abysmal failure.

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I can't say that I disagree with too many entries in that list and (not surprising) I have seen all those movies.

 

It Follows seems a bit high for a movie that just recently came out.  I'd probably have found a way to worm in Dog Soldiers, Ils (Them), NOROI, Frailty, The Mist, Session 9, and Trick R' Treat but I am not sure what I would cast aside.

 

Guilty favorite / totally unjustified inclusion on my list would be Dead Snow.

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Heh, I read that last night after reading Daily Grindhouse's response to it: http://dailygrindhouse.com/thewire/overlooked-horror-movies-2000-2015/ Apparently Film School Rejects also made their 15 Best List too http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/best-horror-films-of-the-millennium.php I really don't have any complaints with any entries beyond the ones I haven't seen before which is actually quite a few.

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Shock 'Til You Drop's list is also fundamentally sound and full of good picks.

 

http://www.shocktillyoudrop.com/news/12920-shocks-top-25-horror-films-of-the-decade/

 

Definitely wouldn't have put Hannibal on my list, though, and I am always conflicted on whether or not to consider American Psycho to be a horror film.  It is horrific, but not for the reasons you'd expect from a film in the genre.

 

Happy to see Inside make so many lists.  That movie totally jacked me up for days.

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Man, they're the only ones that gave American Psycho a nod? Damn.

 

See, I would also be hesitant to put it on my list but not because it isn't a really good movie.  IMO, the story is social satire, not horror. 

 

The whole point is that the reason Bateman gets away with his grisly crimes is because everyone is so self absorbed with their own lives and pursuit of material things that they fail to notice the killer in their midst.

 

It is a total smash on the Me Generation.  IMO, it was mis-marketed as a horror film to bring in an audience they knew would bring cash with them.

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I still think it falls under horror in the same way that, say, The Stepford Wives (not that fucking remake) does. Maybe it's just that I like the film and the book so much.

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The thing about American Psycho is that it implies so heavily that Bateman never actually did this stuff. I've never bought the "it was all real, everyone was just too oblivious to notice it" argument; the film gives more weight to the interpretation that it was all a fantasy. And if you've ever shared my misfortune of having read the fuckawful Bret Asshole Ellis book that it's based on (EDIT: aw, Curt, you like that piece of shit?), you'd know the movie left out a bunch of even less plausible bullshit which simply couldn't have possibly happened. But I guess it could technically count as psychological horror, yeah.

I'll always maintain that the greatest blood-soaked ultraviolent satire of the Me Generation was Robocop, anyway.

 

It Follows seems a bit high for a movie that just recently came out.

Boy, don't it? That's like how Guardians of the Galaxy so easily won our Best Comic Adaptation Ever poll. Shiny new toy is new and shiny, I suppose.

I also wouldn't have even put Drag Me To Hell on a Top 5 Sam Raimi Movies Since 2000, let alone any kind of best-of horror list. It's a lousy Evil Dead retread with none of the humor or energy which made that series so special; plus tons of plot holes, questionable-at-best miscasting, unfinished-looking special effects, and an infuriatingly un-earned ending which made me want to put my fist through the screen.

 

Definitely wouldn't have put Hannibal on my list,

In the context of this list, I actually don't mind it so much. Funny Games being one spot ABOVE it? That I do mind. SO much. Motherfuck that movie.

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I've read American Psycho several times, matter of fact. I like being able to pick and choose between what is fantasy and what is reality in that world I guess, since it offers so many possibilities of what is hallucination and what is him likely getting away with doing some unspeakable things; also how it gradually moves from full-on social satire with the daily routine and dinner scene and then kind of drops you into the pit all of the sudden and leaves you to choose your path from there. Anyway, that's the only defense of it I'll offer.

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More than anything, I hated the repetitive filler bullshit. All the didactic lectures on pop culture, the inexplicable running joke of returning the rental tapes, the page-after-page babbling about his expensive lifestyle, all that stuff just felt like Ellis shoehorning shit into a novel which would've been better served as magazine articles or blog posts.

Hokay, restarting The Borderlands, it immediately reminds me of one reason why I turned it off so quickly last time: goddamn, but this footage is shaky. HOLD THE CAMERA STILL, YOU BASTARDS! I'm legit a little bit depressed that this headache-inducing aesthetic has become such an accepted part of modern mainstream filmmaking. Look back at Blair Witch, and the cinematography seems like you're watching a Bela Tarr movie in comparison.

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No worst 25? That, I'd be interested in.

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2 tales into Tales of Halloween and I'm all in on this shit, it's amazing.

I've informed the wife that the Halloween party has to have Twilight Zome reruns in the background on Saturday, anthology horror rules!!!!

Edit: Also, UK band Slaves is the soundtrack to the weekend. Awesome Dead Kennedys style punk rock mixed with UK grime with a weird trip.

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No worst 25? That, I'd be interested in.

I was just about to start whining about how The Borderlands is totally ripping off Marble Hornets's "supernatural crap makes camera equipment start glitching" gimmick, but this sounds way more fun.

Taking from my Flickchart list, my quick-and-dirty Worst 25:

25. From Hell (Hughes, 2001)

24. Cursed (Craven, 2005)

23. Hannibal Rising (Webber, 2007)

22. Saw V (Hackl, 2008)

21. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (Liebesman, 2006)

20. Flight of the Living Dead (Thomas, 2007)

19. Homecoming (Dante, 2005)

18. Sands of Oblivion (Flores, 2007)

17. Resident Evil: Extinction (Mulcahy, 2007)

16. Slayer (VanHook, 2006)

15. The Hitcher (Meyers, 2007)

14. The Forgotten Ones (Ihle, 2009)

13. Alone in the Dark (Boll, 2005)

12. The Fog (Wainright, 2005)

11. fear dot com (Malone, 2002)

10. Alien vs Predator (Anderson, 2004)

9. Thir13en Ghosts (Beck, 2001)

8. House of the Dead (Boll, 2003)

7. The Twilight Saga: New Moon (Weitz, 2009)

6. River of Darkness (Koehler, 2011)

5. The Wicker Man (LaBute, 2006)

4. Prom Night (Balderson, 2008)

3. Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (Greutert, 2010)

2. Zombies Gone Wild (Robert, 2007)

1. Chaos (DeFalco, 2005)

I apparently have grown much less tolerant of watching shitty horror movies in the last five years, there were barely any truly-terrible ones on the list.

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I've not seen every film on that best of list, but I've seen a lot of them.

None of the ones I've seen are as good as Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.

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I wonder why Trick R' Treat didn't make that Top 25 list. It was awesome.  I would have also had the Evil Dead remake on there. It's brutal in a good way. As I said before, the spirit of the original is present in that remake. 

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Alright, back to The Borderlands: forty minutes in, it's not the worst thing I've ever seen... it's more like, every found footage movie ever. Lots of time spent with the lead characters arguing with each other about dumb nonsense (although this one hits that button much earlier than most, they usually wait for the actual conflict to start before everyone gets at each other's throats). Cheap jump scares, half the time being those fake scares where "AHHH!!!... oh, dammit, it's only my friend pranking me" harmless shit is the punchline. Shots in near-total darkness where you can see absolutely nothing whatsoever. Mysterious creepy sounds that happen offscreen, of unknown origin. And the aforementioned BLATANT theft from Marble Hornets of "the camera starts glitching when the ghosts are near".

And this one is kinda annoying, and doesn't always happen: the movie is unfairly picky when deciding which viewpoint to cut to. You see, all the characters are wearing point-of-view cameras plus several other stationary cams in various locations; at least twice now, the film has blatantly picked to cut to a camera which obscures the action, in order to artificially heighten the tension. This is a cheap fucking gimmick, like back in the day on wrestling shows when the backstage camera would only show the feet of a mystery opponent who was walking down the hallway. THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE "REAL" CAMERA FOOTAGE WE'RE LOOKING AT. No actual documentary of the facts would shoot or edit it in this manner. When you've got one guy's camera slooooowly creeping around a corner to look at something that might be scary, it's fucking cheating to have another guy already around the corner whose P.O.V. we could cut to, but we just arbitrarily don't because that would ruin the phony tension that they're trying to build.

And weirdest of all: avoiding spoilers, let's just say... something really violent and unexpected happens at the protagonists' house at night. It's a shocking event, at least one of the dudes is clearly experiencing emotional trauma over it. It's also a crime, one which would certainly be taken very seriously by the police. AND IT'S NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN. For the next fifteen minutes of film, the next day of movie events, nobody even brings it up! It felt almost like the movie was edited out of order, like this scene was meant to take place later but then they just decided "eh, the first act needs a scare, bump it up a few reels".

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I wonder why Trick R' Treat didn't make that Top 25 list. It was awesome.  I would have also had the Evil Dead remake on there. It's brutal in a good way. As I said before, the spirit of the original is present in that remake. 

Somewhat. Less winking to the audience and the tone is much grimmer than even the first Evil Dead.

 

I know I said I had a hard time watching slashers in the general horror thread but I went ahead and watched the first six Friday the 13th movies. What an awful series. Jingus nailed the primary issue with the first one (Mrs. Voorhees isn't introduced until the end), the second had the one cool scene with Jason's altar for his mother but otherwise was the drizzling shits, and the third one had some really cool scenery of the cabin and the barn (similar visuals I'm sure I've witnessed in nightmares) but wasn't good... Really, the only one I enjoyed was Jason Lives because it was irreverent and self-aware (the kids in the cabin popped me, "So, what were you gonna be when you grew up?"). Fuck that series.

 

I had seen the original A Nightmare on Elm Street with a friend years ago and enjoyed it and I later watched A New Nightmare and thought it was the third best slasher I'd seen behind Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I've watched the first three sequels and thought each of them had some merit, as minor as that may be. From a psychological perspective, I like the idea of the cold, emotionless, juggernaut killer with a blank mask so we can transpose our own particular fears upon him (like what Frederic Jameson writes about Jaws), but Freddy toying with his victims and trash talking is way more entertaining. The Friday the 13th series didn't even really get the idea of the killing machine right until the fifth or sixth installment, as Jason would run down his victims, struggle, and even cry out in pain. Like Michael Myers, he's a symbol of inhuman horrors... motherfucker shouldn't be trying, just doing. Failure and pain are too human for either of them to experience. That's like having Superman sweat. 

 

While the misogyny and deep social conservative nature of slashers is still something I have real issues with, I find the Friday the 13th series to be a way bigger perpetrator of those ills than the Nightmare series, as Freddy is more of an equal opportunity killer than Jason from what I've seen. I've only seen the original Halloween, I may give II and Rob Zombie's first a shot. Is H20 worth watching? I've heard mixed things. 

 

I feel like a shithead for watching so many movies I knew I wasn't going to like but it's mostly done. I had a way, way better experience last year watching something like 30+ Hammer films. Those were right down my alley.

 

Anybody else incredibly excited for Ash vs. The Evil Dead? My cable provider doesn't carry Starz, but I'll find a way to watch. Will it be available for streaming off of iTunes or some other similar service? Or am I going to have to do that other thing...?

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Ugh yeah I don't have Starz either.  I enjoyed H2O myself. I thought it would have been a nice conclusion to the series. Now, Halloween Resurrection was a complete piece of shit. It's just awful in every way.

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For what it's worth, I like Paranormal Activity 2 better than 1. But then, I enjoyed every entry in the franchise including the seriously lacking 4 and the shitty, shitty ending that came out this month. (It's good until it isn't but there's a point where even the people terrified by slasher films thought it was hilariously stupid. Every review echoes why the film is a failure as a final installment and despite franchise fatigue, every review wanted another one just so there could be a less shitty ending.)

Also Jingus, I'm disappointed by your hatred of Thirteen Ghosts. It's not a good film by any measure. But it's at least fun with a sort of interesting concept which is more than I can say for a lot of bad horror.

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Oyaji, do check out Halloween 4, it's the only sequel that I actively liked. (And if you watch any further sequels, just try to ignore how they quietly retcon the events that occurred in this one.) As for H20, the short version is "skip to the end".

Dragon, I thought Thir13en Ghosts did have an intriguing setup... and then did NOTHING with it. Why even bother having the Ghost Glasses, when 1.we're never allowed to actually see the ghosts in anything more than split-second flashes, and 2.the glasses are never actually used in any meaningful way to affect the plot. The characters never use them to go "oh, I see a ghost, that means I should do This instead of doing That". And the individual ghosts' identities are rendered meaningless when they all kill people pretty much the exact same way. AND holy shit, but this movie had some BAD acting who are almost always great; I've never seen Tony Shalhoub put forth less effort into any part ever.

J.T., right now in The Borderlands, our hero is... running through the dark woods, with his camera barely seeing anything but the bouncing circle of illumination from his flashlight. (EDIT: and NOW he's inadvisedly going down some stairs, alone, into a creepy basement while hearing a bunch of inexplicable sounds, including children crying.) Uh. How is this so much better and different than Blair Witch? And speaking of mockumentaries, they almost just reenacted the "provincials in the local Scottish pub are angry at an intruding film crew which is trying to investigate spooky stuff" scene from Incident at Loch Ness, a much better found-footage movie than this one.

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The last twenty or so minutes of H2O are incredible.

The rest... Well, those last twenty minutes are incredible.

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In retrospect the most enjoyable thing about H20 is getting to see a franchise stretch on long enough to represent like a 4th generation of youth culture.  You have the 70s in the original, by Part 4 it's so 80s, complete with dude looking over the top of his shades.  By the time you get to Part VI, it's pretty well into late 90s shock jock culture and then in H20 we get sarcastic Y2Kl ennui.

 

If part of what is supposed to be horrific about the slasher genre is the desecration and destruction of youth, then its kind of fun to see so many eras of what it means to be "a teen" get the Michael Myers treatment.  And there is something grotesque and vulgar about the scene where he is slowly following the sort of "gothy" chic who had been the bubbly lively girl as she's desperately trying to crawl away from him.  It's revolting and unpleasant.  So....thumbs up!

 

But the score is so oppressive it ruins whatever mood they were trying to set.  I guess there's a bit of a story behind that.  I'm actually listening to the first score by John Ottman on the Blu Ray right now and it's just as bad.  It's way too Poltergeist/Spielbergy'John Williamsy although it at least uses themes from Carpenter's score as raw material unlike the mess they ended up with.

 

And is there any single better symbol of what went wrong with horror after SCREAM than the atrocity that happens over the closing credits....and the poster...fucking 1998 man.

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