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piranesi

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

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Interesting point, piranesi. Going from Laurie Strode to Jamie Lloyd to... whatever the hell sort of vaguely-humanoid-lifeform that Joseph Gordon Levitt was supposed to be in H20 really was a neat precis of the evolution of the teenage homo sapiens over the decade. Or, at least the evolution of how such people were portrayed in genre films.

The Borderlands/Final Prayer wraps up with (to put it vaguely enough to not be spoilery) the heroes basically finding out that "it was built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground" is the explanation behind everything. It's got the depressingly common fundamentalist xenophobia about pagan religions. And, to solve everything, what's their brilliantly original idea which has certainly never ever been done in any found-footage movie ever, especially not the ones about hauntings? A fucking exorcism, that's what! What a novel and not-remotely-been-done-a-thousand-times idea!

And those GOD-DAMNED LAUGHABLE final moments:

Okay, fucking seriously, the final scene of this film is IDENTICAL to the final scene in The Blair Witch Project. Two cameramen, one charging ahead bravely and the other a blubbery mess behind him, are running around through a dark claustrophobic labyrinth with weird symbols painted on the walls. They're trying to find another member of their party, are constantly shouting his name. Occasionally, they glimpse the third guy... facing away from them, toward the wall. Then they're lured down some stairs into a final room, where they both die.

THIS IS BLAIR WITCH'S EXACT SAME FUCKING ENDING. Come on, J.T., honestly, explain how the hell this isn't ripping the living shit off of BWP.

And what the HELL was with the very end? They literally crawled inside Satan's asshole and are digested to death?! Where did THAT come from?! It wasn't built up, wasn't foreshadowed, wasn't even vaguely hinted at. And when they cut to silent black for like five seconds, and then suddenly cut BACK to the guys screaming and melting AGAIN, I burst out laughing. So poorly timed, so ridiculous looking. What a terrible ending.

Why the hell did you think this movie was good? It ripped off everything from everywhere: a lot of Blair Witch and every other found-footage ghost movie ever, a bit of Exorcist (and even a smidgen of Exorcist 2), a bit of Omen, and the one suicidal bit was pretty much a direct steal of the similar jumper from Ju-on/The Grudge. This movie contained nothing I haven't seen before, and I've seen it all done better as well.

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Was JGL one of the kids at the beginning?

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At first, I thought you were confusing JGL with Josh Harnet, before the kids at the start crossed my mind.

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The other hockey bro at the beginning was in MEAN CREEK then somehow went on to play "himself" on Entourage, got engaged and then un-engaged to Amy Smart, and is now a Hollywood real estate broker.

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Just going to throw this in here, we watched a bootleg copy of Blair Witch Project when we were 16 or so. This was before I knew anything about file sharing, I think, so having a copy blew us away. Anyway, in short, copy was in black and white and I had no idea it was supposed to be in colour until the trailers hit tv sometime later. Probably the last movie to ever scare me and I think the B/W helped with that. Last time I ever felt really engrossed in a horror movie but that was certainly a combination of age/mood/high-in-the-middle-of-the-night-with-the-lights-off.

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Why the hell did you think this movie was good? It ripped off everything from everywhere: a lot of Blair Witch and every other found-footage ghost movie ever, a bit of Exorcist (and even a smidgen of Exorcist 2), a bit of Omen, and the one suicidal bit was pretty much a direct steal of the similar jumper from Ju-on/The Grudge. This movie contained nothing I haven't seen before, and I've seen it all done better as well.

 

Okay so you did get the whole idea that:

 

The church is sitting on top of a pagan god (for lack of a better term) that controls the people of the village and they lure outsiders in to sacrifice the entity to keep it happy.  In the last scene, the documentary crew doesn't just die.  The being is digesting them in its gullet.

 

So if anything:

 

It kinda rips off of The Wicker Man with the rub that the pagan "god" the stereotypical weird English yokels worship is an actual physical being.

 

I suppose I enjoyed this movie a lot because I am a sucker for unstoppable chthonic, Lovecraftian horror (yeah, I know he was a racist asshole.).  Every monster since Universal always comes along with folklore rules and shit that gives humans some way to come out triumphant. Stakes for vampires, headshots for zombies and so on.

 

I am a big believer in respecting the unknown and giving it a wide berth.  The best way to beat some monsters is to avoid their gaze entirely and I am a big fan of horror stories where scientist ending up worm food because they are so vainly human-centric that their curiosity runs amuck and they discover that we are not as high on the cosmic food chain as we thought. 

 

That is the appeal of Final Prayer. Leave well enough alone.

 

Blair Witch innovated marketing, but you make it sound like it innovated everything, Jingus.  Not every astounding facet of horror films is directly attributed to Blair Witch the way you make it sound like it does.  Blair Witch had some jump scares and muddled psychology that was totally blown by completely inept dialogue and implausible situations. 

 

There are far more better ways to build tension by screaming and swearing and I have been scared shitless dozens of time in my life and my reaction has always been to run away from the danger, not painstakingly capture it on film. 

 

Blair Witch has the same point of failure that is the bane of most found footage movies with the possible exception of [REC].  The creepy images we see in the witch house in the pivotal scenes of Blair Witch are obviously meant to frighten us as the audience while [REC] excels in keeping the horror as the backstory even when it jumps into your face. 

 

The characters in [REC] are the ones experiencing the horror and we are bystanders.  It terrifies without shamelessly breaking the third wall and even favorite found footage horror movies make this occasional gaffe.

 

If wandering around in the woods is a rip off of Blair Witch, then Blair Witch along with every horror movie out there rips off of Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood.  I'm often critical of most horror movies, but I try not to hold a movie in such high regard that it tarnishes my enjoyment of others.  One thing I cannot afford to be is a snob when it comes to horror films given that we're not exactly watching Citizen Kane every week.  Best to have low standards and be pleasantly surprised.

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The ending was "found footage of: one brave person with a camera charges into a basement of a creepy rural building, followed by a less-brave person with a camera; they're looking for the missing third person of their group, screaming that guy's name over and over; they stumble around a dark labyrinth with weird symbols painted on the walls; they hear inexplicable sounds, including children crying; they see their missing third guy staring at the wall; they walk down some stairs into a final room and then they die". I just precisely, accurately described the final moments of both The Blair Witch Project and Final Prayer. THAT'S A FUCKING RIPOFF. That's doing the exact same thing in the exact same manner. I'm not claiming that BWP inspired ALL horror movies, like you said; I'm saying that a very specific part of that movie was clearly copied in this very specific part of this movie.

And while I did get a little bit of a "The Shunned House" sort of vibe from the overall story, I never got the impression that the locals were involved in any kind of conspiracy. There was nothing about the whole thing which felt like they were enticing the Vatican dudes into a trap. The intimidators in the pub and the hoodie thugs were clearly trying to get the investigators to leave. The entryway to the final labyrinth had obviously been shut for years, nobody was going down there. Everything about the place said "get the hell out", nothing about the place said "hey, please stay here, and please just so happen to find this ancient doorway which hasn't been mentioned before!".

 

Okay so you did get the whole idea that:

 

The church is sitting on top of a pagan god (for lack of a better term) that controls the people of the village and they lure outsiders in to sacrifice the entity to keep it happy.  In the last scene, the documentary crew doesn't just die.  The being is digesting them in its gullet.

Okay so did you miss the whole part where I wrote:

The Borderlands/Final Prayer wraps up with (to put it vaguely enough to not be spoilery) the heroes basically finding out that "it was built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground" is the explanation behind everything.

They literally crawled inside Satan's asshole and are digested to death?!

 

I suppose I enjoyed this movie a lot because I am a sucker for unstoppable chthonic horror. Every monster since Universal always comes along with folklore rules and shit that gives humans some way to come out triumphant.

I am a big believer in respecting the unknown and giving it a wide berth. The best way to beat some monsters is to avoid their gaze entirely and I am a big fan of horror stories where scientist ending up worm food because they are so vainly human-centric that their curiosity runs amuck and they discover that we are not as high on the cosmic food chain as we thought.

That is the appeal of ___________. Leave well enough alone.

You sound exactly like you're describing Blair Witch. Every word fits.

 

__________ had some jump scares and muddled psychology that was totally blown by completely inept dialogue and implausible situations.

There are far more better ways to build tension by screaming and swearing and I have been scared shitless dozens of time in my life and my reaction has always been to run away from the danger, not painstakingly capture it on film.

You sound exactly like you're describing Final Prayer. Every word fits.

And oh yeah,

how did the former priest apparently murder DOZENS of children in this small town yet nobody ever noticed it was happening?

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I just precisely, accurately described the final moments of both The Blair Witch Project and Final Prayer. THAT'S A FUCKING RIPOFF. That's doing the exact same thing in the exact same manner.

 

In the vaguest and simplest of terms, man.  The manner in which the parties in either movie meet their respective ends is startlingly different. 

 

How you conclude that they are so identical as to infer that one copies the other is astounding. 

 

That's like saying that all possession movies rip off from The Exorcist while failing to note that Blatty did extensive research on alleged possessions and used those concepts in his novel.  Arguably none of those films rip off from The Exorcist since they also draw their inspiration from alleged real life source material and half of the demonic or evil entities we see in films come straight from regional folklore and religion anyway.

 

There is no need to copy The Exorcist when truth (or supposed truth) is far more frightening and stranger than fiction.

 

Now everyone is jumping on the Krampus bandwagon like it is a completely original idea, when that concept has been around forever.  Same with the slug of movies where all evil in the world was caused by the Dybbuk.  I'm still waiting for Baba Yaga to have her day.

 

There are few things that are new under the sun and Blair Witch certainly did not invent the best of them.  TBH, Blair Witch did not invent anything. 

 

The most innovative thing about Blair Witch was the way it was marketed and I've already covered that.

 

The ending was "found footage of: one brave person with a camera charges into a basement of a creepy rural building, followed by a less-brave person with a camera; they're looking for the missing third person of their group, screaming that guy's name over and over; they stumble around a dark labyrinth with weird symbols painted on the walls; they hear inexplicable sounds, including children crying; they see their missing third guy staring at the wall; they walk down some stairs into a final room and then they die".

 

Okay so you get that the sounds are actually:

 

The collected "souls" of the people sacrificed to the god.

 

So, yeah.  could be assumed to be contextually similar to the ending of Blair Witch but even so, Blair Witch does not hold a patent on scary sounds and bumps in the night and IMO the events when placed in the context of what we're dealing with make far more "horror sense" in Final Prayer than they do in Blair Witch.  Final Prayer at least has the decency to chalk all of the strange events and noises up to  

 

an angry preternatural creature

 

while Blair Witch thinks it is scary by not revealing anything about the wahahahaha mysterious children crying noises or mysterious sounds which just telegraphs the fact that all of that lame crap is designed to scare the audience. 

 

NOROI and Paranormal Activity also fall into the same trap but they have far better mechanisms to bullshit you into thinking that everything that happens is all random.  Blair Witch fails because it is obviously, purposefully, and clumsily engineered just for us. 

 

The strength of [REC] is that it seemingly treats the horror as incidental while all the while acknowledging it is the primary threat.  We feel more like bystanders and observers rather than the direct targets of the fright and that is what I believe all found footage horror movies should strive to do.

 

Since we're criticizing movies for ripping off others, let's malign Blair Witch for ripping off Rocky Horror Picture Show, both of which are rather mundane and almost nonsensical on their own, but become different experiences entirely when you factor in the meta elements they both depend on for context or enhancement.

 

What is Rocky Horror without the live show?  What is Donnie Darko without the home companion of The Philosophy of Time Travel by Roberta Sparrow? 

 

What is Blair Witch without the manufactured urban legend that tricked people into believing that what they were watching was actually real or the idea that we are following their story saddled with the terrible reality that something terrible is going to happen to our hapless trio of film students?

 

Or perhaps we shall say that Blair Witch rips off every Hitchcock movie ever made by building tension and dread by making the audience powerless witnesses to the danger about to strike completely oblivious characters?  A display that uses our own empathy against us and targets us as viewers, not the characters as victims.

 

Oh, that's right. You actually like Blair Witch so you are more inclined to applaud that schlock for "adhering to proper tenets of horror / thriller / suspense filmdom" rather than say that it ripped something off from anything.  A bullshit double standard that we all hold dear.

 

Blair Witch even goofed up on the Hitchcock tension element because you actually have to care about the characters for that to work and yeah, after three time compressed days of Heather and company wandering around the same damn log and shouting obscenities at each other, I was more than ready for them to kick the bucket so that the movie would finally come to an end. 

 

The Blair Witch put everyone out of their misery, including those of us who paid money and sat through that chore of a motion picture.  I saw it during a matinee, so I did not feel completely robbed of my cash or my time.

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The article itself is mostly generic and obvious observations, but for one line it was truly doing the Lord's work: it hipped me to Lloyd Kaufman's blog... wherein he reviews Cannibal Holocaust!

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THIS YEARAS PUMPY-KINS!!!!

 

 

 

IMG_1367.jpg

 

Note: these were made while watching: HALLOWEEN: H20.

 

So Clearly one of these is an atrocious, clumsy attempt at the pumpkin that's on fire at the end of TRICK-R-Treat but with less X-ed eyes and ended up looking more like Scratchy from Itchy and Scratchy if he had his mouth sewn shut by Ithcy.

 

One of them is an absolute disaster of an attempt to make a Pumpkin Count Chocula

 

And one of them is...clearly ill.

 

The overall theme is "I should not be allowed to use knives."

 

 

NOW YOU GO!!!!!! PUMPY-KIN POWERS ACTIVATE!!!

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Starting Wer, it perks me up right away by killing off a little kid. That sort of thing is considered such a taboo even in most R-rated horror, that it makes me much more hopeful that the movie will be willing to differ from generic traditions in other matters. (Although the opening montage of news reports is, itself, pretty damn generic.)

EDIT: wait... IS this found footage, really? Half of these shots seem to be filmed in a standard third-person narrative style, with no actual camera operator standing there to make the shot.

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Okay, Wer is definitely not found footage. Most of the movie is just filmed in that modern faux-documentary style with handheld cinema verite camerawork, but only a tiny fraction of it is seen from the point of view of diegetic cameras that exist within the storyline of the movie. J.T., why'd you think this was FF?

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You're only missing unnecessary 3D and an all time awful franchise ending.

That's not fair. The first hour is pretty good. And if it wasn't the *last* one it'd be fine. But it is so it's not.

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None of the theaters around here are playing the new Paranormal Activity. Why, I don't know. That surprises me.

A lot of chains refused to play it because it's going to VOD very quickly.

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That's such a weird decision. They're still missing the Halloween season, so why bother moving the VOD date up so far? Are they really making that much more money on streaming than they are on theatrical ticket sales? I wish the sales figures from home video, TV, and other ancillary income sources were reported at all (let alone with such nitpicking attention as is paid to theatrical films).

Wer was okay. The plot was kinda predictable, but more in a "this is the logical way for things to progress" manner than anything else. I appreciated that the very end went in a completely different direction than where I thought they were going; the movie starts to tease a deeply unsatisfying climax, but then yanks it away at the last moment and tries something more interesting. The violence was handled very well, it was nicely snappy and visceral. And it must be said, the acting in this one is way better than what you usually get in modern direct-to-video horror flicks. Especially one Brian Scott O'Connor, a gargantuan bass guitarist who'd never been in any movies before this one. That guy made one hell of an impression, almost in the realm of what Karloff did with Frankenstein's monster: he's equal parts adorable and terrifying, gentle and brutal. I can't believe that guy doesn't have an acting career, he was incredible; I guess he must simply be happy playing music.

Two complaints, though. Firstly: the movie tries to explain lycanthropy as a medical disease, and good on 'em for that; but they did a lousy job of it. They try to act like this is a completely natural phenomena... while we're given werewolves who constantly do things which simply aren't physically possible, no-selling damage that even Michael Myers would've stayed down for. Don't pretend that being a werewolf is simply a legitimate disease, and then make the same werewolf bulletproof. But that's a minor gripe, compared to the big one: why the fuck was this pretending to be a found footage movie? It wasn't one, at all; there's a few brief moments when we're looking through the POV of a camera in the movie, but not many. Meanwhile, the entire damn film is shot as if we ARE looking through a camera. There's one camera angle at the end (in the basement) which is trying SO hard to look like security footage that it not only sports a fisheye wide-angle lens, but the sound effects go muffled while we're watching from this perspective! It's a truly inexplicable stylistic decision, one which does serious harm to a movie which is otherwise a perfectly decent bit o' horror. (I guess I should be glad that this is the worst stylistic decision, coming from the same director who did the infamously terrible The Devil Inside for his previous project.)

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Okay, Jingus, so are you being nitpicky as a matter of recourse and desire to establish metrics or do you just have an issue with me because I dared to question your near reverence for Blair Witch and countered with the expressed the opinion that it is a lackluster piece of work that benefits from meta and you simply just want to attack my picks as a matter of retaliation?

 

One I can reasonably understand and respond to rationally to and the other... well...

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You calling something a found footage movie when it totally isn't a found footage movie, and me going "no it's not", is nitpicky? You defined something as being a thing that it clearly wasn't. That's like saying "my favorite French new wave films are Band of Outsiders, Cleo 5 to 7, Hiroshima Mon Amour, and The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas"; and when someone points out that one of these things is not like the others, one of these things does not belong, you accuse them of being pedantic. C'mon, logically debate a point on how Wer somehow counts as being found footage when the vast majority of it is shot in standard 3rd-person narrative cinematic style.

And you haven't proved jack shit about BWP, all you've done is state your subjective opinions on the film. And that's fine, I've stated plenty of my own subjective opinions on it; but don't pretend that subjective opinion is objective fact. Even when I have used some facts to objectively prove a few points, you mostly just ignore them and go back to complaining about the movie and even putting words in my mouth that I never said.

How about we agree to disagree on this one? We're clearly not gonna find any common ground here. And it's cluttering up the thread, we've been bitching back and forth for multiple pages now.

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Okay, so you are being a dismissive asshole because I don't share your opinion about BWP (which really is a lousy film) and the criticism launched at my picks and my definitions is personal.  Gotcha. 

 

I will talk about horror movies elsewhere with other more receptive people. Dominate the discussion as you see fit.

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I hold out an olive branch and you shit on it. Nice. Thanks. EDIT: and don't run off yet, I've still got Noroi sitting here waiting to be watched and debated (although considering you're apparently refusing to say a single word about Wer now...).

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STOP BEING DOUCHES IN MY FAVORITE THREAD!!!

 

So, in 1949 a little song called Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer showed up and became a surprise?  mass hit for Gene Autry first I think. 

 

Well, music being what music is, it was decided by the next year that EVERY FUCKING HOLIDAY NEEDED A RUDOLPH!!!

 

The Halloween version was written by Cy Coben who was a frequent collaborator with Chet Atkins and by the August following Rudolph's debut, it was ready to go and was given to Rosemary Clooney, whose cover of "Come on a my house" had just hit it huge making her a top act.

 

Here's the sheet music the cover of which is pretty great:

 

50c766a22e0c09c16fe6adedaced63ae.jpg

 

At times it is literally a note-for-note ripoff of Rudolph and you listen you will be tempted to chirp in "like monopoly" and "like a light bulb!" like you did with Rudolph in 3rd grade.

 

So, in the interest of historical completeness, I give you...

 

PUNKY THE HAPPY PUMPKIN!!!

 

 

 

"Punky Punkin the happy punkin'....

and do you know why

Because he's a jack-o'-lantern

instead of being a pumpkin pie!

 

...and it's B-side,

 

THE WOBBLIN' GOBLIN!!!!

 

which is actually textually closer to Rudolph and is a bout a poor Goblin who cant' fly because he has a shitty busted up old broom:

 

 

Neither was much of a success and you can see why...they couldn't quite make up their mind which one would be the one, and so one "sounds" like Rudolph but doesn't have a cute story, and the other has a cute story but doesn't really sound as catchy.

 

Also, The Wobblin' Goblin solves his problem by buying a fucking airplane, which is both a cop out and raises many questions about the the wealth and leisure of the Goblin class.  Nevermind that on the cover it is clearly a ghost and not a goblin which means they managed to conflate witches, ghosts and goblins without getting any of them right !

 

Ironically, years later, the song was referenced around Lockheed's F-117 nighthawk stealth fighter which was nicknamed the "Wobblin' Goblin" because it was so shaky in its early versions when not flying at top speeds.

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HOLD THE FUCKING PHONE

 

SCARECROWS

 

IS ON CHILLER RIGHT NOW. 

 

I've been waiting all goddamn season for a film worth its salt that I don't have on DVD or VHS to show up on satellite and here it is. Replay is at 2 AM Central if you're missing it. You best recognize.

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The 1980s film about the bank robbers who crash at a seemingly abandoned farm?  Not a bad little movie for it to have been made for the price of an used car.

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