Rigor Mortis – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2017 Day 11

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Rigor Mortis is definitely going to be one of my very favourites from this year’s batch of movies. It starts dark and keeps growing darker, with occasional glints of light. Something which contrasts with the relative bright lighting, in a physical sense, of the movie. It rarely hides its ghosts and monsters in the shadows, and yet the light doesn’t rob them of their malice. It’s not really a creepy movie, nor does it go for jump scares or the like. The horror here is more existential. It’s horror born of people being unable to let go of the past, and instead of leaving their old sorrows behind letting them give birth to new ones.

Added to the good story and likable characters is a rich grounding in Chinese folklore. I have only a vague familiarity with the subject so I’m sure there are myriad details that I missed. But it’s another strength of the movie that no such familiarity is required. The movie builds its own world that can stand on its own.

I did not care for the last minute or so from the movie, but apart from that, I have nothing but good things to say. Except that afterwards I had an urge to watch cartoons for a bit to escape the darkness.

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Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2017 Day 10

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I’m not a huge fan of slasher movies, but Behind the Mask is a very entertaining take on the genre. The movie follows a documentary crew following the next would-be Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger. It deals with the tropes of the genre, explains them, plays with them and, most impressive of all, uses them to good effect. Well worth a watch for fans of the genre or horror in general, if you like a bit of humour with your horror.

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Creature Feature – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2017 Day 9

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Creature Feature is another anthology, but unfortunately it lacks the style of Chillerama. The opening vignette made me think I was in for something creepy and quite good. Unfortunately the rest of the movie was relatively uninteresting retellings of urban legends mixed with mild softcore porn. Fourteen year old me would probably have liked the movie because of that last part (in the dark times before the Internet). These days… there are better options both for porn and horror movies.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2017 Day 8

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We continue our walk down Elm Street with the second movie, Freddy’s Revenge. A somewhat hollow revenge, it seems, on people completely unconnected to those that wronged him before. And hollow is a good description of the movie, in my opinion. It’s lacking the soul of the first one. While certainly not terrible in the way of certain Hellraiser sequels, it’s not as good as the first one. I appreciate that it tries to do some things different from the first movie. A sequel that’s just a copy of the original is rarely worth watching. But while it tries new things, it’s also missing things that were essential to the original. Most notably, I miss the sense of humor. There are glimpses of it, but it’s not the same.

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Chillerama – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2017 Day 7

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Well, that was… different. I started watching Chillerama without knowing anything about it except that it was an anthology. It turned out to consist of three short films with the wraparound story taking place during the last night of a drive in cinema making up a fourth film. It also tuned out that the monstrous sperm from the first story (“Wadzilla”) very much set the tone for the rest. Not quite my kind of humor, but so well made that I enjoyed it nonetheless. In a sense Chillerama is the opposite of Bloodrunners. It’s got so much style that it makes up for its stories being terrible. Deliberately terrible, it should be pointed out, but still. A fun watch if you’re up for rampaging sperm and werebears. No, the other kind of bear.

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Bloodrunners – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2017 Day 6

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Bloodrunners is almost a good movie. Almost. Which is not to say that it’s a bad movie. There’s an interesting core there, good ideas that don’t quite get the treatment they deserve. I love the premise; vampires use a speakeasy as cover for actually dealing in blood, but run into problems when the local police come looking for their share to look the other way. There are some interesting characters, such as the policeman who is haunted by memories from World War I and finally realises that he’s encountered vampires before.

However, the parts don’t quite come together in a satisfying way. There’s something lacking. You never quite feel yourself transported to the thirties, the sense of time and place is lacking. The vampires never feel very menacing, nor alluring (which would have been a decent alternative). The police are probably the most convincing characters, but there’s still something stiff and unconvincing about them.

Now, all these complaints withstanding, as I said at the beginning this isn’t a bad movie. It’s worth watching. But probably not more than once.

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Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2017 Day 5

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Well, that was a disjointed mess. Stories where what is real and what is not is in question can work (hello, Dark City, favourite movie of mine). But they have to be well made. Hellseeker isn’t well made. It doesn’t make me care about which parts, if any, are real. And so it’s just one scene after another, like a fever dream. And just like a fever dream it’s a relief when it’s over.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2017 Day 4

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It’s been quite a while since I last watched A Nightmare on Elm Street, and I’d forgotten how good it actually is. There’s little gradual buildup. The movie starts as it aims to continue; graphically violent. And somehow it makes that work. Having watched Friday the 13th just a few days ago, I can’t help but think that the two movies are each others’ opposite, despite superficial similarities. Elm Street gets to the action almost immediately, while Friday builds slowly. Elm Street is explicitly supernatural, where Friday is for the most part more mundane. Friday has a serious tone, while Elm Street isn’t afraid to be silly. That last part is probably why I by far prefer A Nightmare on Elm Street. That, and I do like a good ghost story.

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The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2017 Day 3

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The special effects of The Best From 20,000 Fathoms may be far from realistic, but that doesn’t make them less impressive. The craftsmanship alone makes the movie worth watching. And if I’m being honest, that’s probably the main reason. The story is not exactly gripping, nor the action very exciting. But sometimes that’s perfectly OK. Sometimes you just want to watch a stop motion lizard invade New York.

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2017 Day 2

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Horror movies rarely scare me anymore. There are certainly moments that make me jump, occasional scenes that make me uneasy. But whole movies that make me want to hide under a blanket, only I’m too afraid to look away? Very rare. So that makes The Autopsy of Jane Doe a rare movie. Halfway through I turned the lights up. It’s the kind of movie that’s likely to have me want to look behind me for days afterward.

Nearly the whole movie takes place in a mortuary with three characters; a father and son medical examiner team performing an autopsy on the third character, the body of a woman found at the scene of several other murders. A fairly simple premise used to extremely good effect. I’m hesitant to say more, because this is definitely the kind of movie that benefits from the watcher not knowing quite what to expect. I won’t claim that it’s groundbreaking or completely unpredictable, but it is so well made that it doesn’t have to be. Go watch it. Preferably with company.

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