Van Helsing – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 21

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van-helsing

The first time I watched Van Helsing, not too long after it came out, I did not like it very much. I think I was expecting something a bit more serious. This time around, knowing what to expect, I found it much more enjoyable. Still not a great movie, but a fun spectacle. I will say that I found the opening black and white sequence the best part of the whole movie, and it’s a shame the rest didn’t keep to a similar tone. Still, it’s decent entertainment for a couple of hours, if not particularly memorable.

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Dracula (1958) – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 20

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dracula-1958

Continuing my delve into Hammer films, we get to Dracula. Which turns out to be a rather refreshing take on the very familiar story. I hesitate to spoil a movie that’s only been out for 58 years, but I suppose I can say that the story is similar to the original while also being different in major ways. Christopher Lee does the most British Dracula I could possibly manage, and while I don’t think it quite suits the character it’s still a good performance. I’ll be interested to watch the sequels.

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Pumpkinhead 2: Blood Wings – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 19

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pumpkinhead-2

Well, this series went downhill fast. Pumpkinhead 2 takes many of the elements of the first movie, and proceeds to misuse pretty much every one of them. Whereas in the original the background for Pumpkinhead had a feeling of genuine mountain folk lore, here it feels like a bland urban legend. In the first movie most of the characters were flawed but believable, trapped in a bad situation. Here most of the characters are just unlikable assholes that I could not care less about. And while in the original Pumpkinhead was a relentless killer chasing down its victims, in the sequel it’s just another monster that takes a break between deaths for other stuff to happen. If I’m honest I might have enjoyed this a bit more if it hadn’t been a sequel to a really good movie. But it is, so here we are.

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The Mummy (1959) – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 18

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the-mummy-1959

I’ve never really watched any of the Hammer horror films, so I thought it was high time that I got started. And I did so with The Mummy, mostly because I really like Universal’s The Mummy from 1932. This wasn’t on the same level as that, but still entertaining enough. The plot is basic, archaeologists disturb Egyptian tomb, worshipper of an old Egyptian god send a mummy to punish them. But sometimes that’s all you need for a decent story. So we’re off to a good start, and I’m looking forward to delving further into the Hammer movies.

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Lost Hearts – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 17

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lost-hearts

Lost Hearts is an adaptation of the M. R. James short story, and is part of the series of short films broadcast by the BBC in the seventies known as A Ghost Story for Christmas. A young orphan boy comes to stay with his elderly distant cousin, and starts seeing the ghosts of two children who were previously taken in by his cousin. It’s a short movie, but fairly effective. It’s creepy in that way that makes you want to sleep with the light on. This is largely thanks to the two kids who play the ghosts, who in pretty simple makeup manage to convey a sense of relentless menace.

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Dagon – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 16

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dagon

Dagon is an adaptation of the H. P. Lovecraft story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”. And not, perhaps slightly confusingly, the story “Dagon”. It is also a very good adaptation, despite large changes to the setting, characters and plot. Because despite those changes, the movie stays true to the story. This is one of those cases where I wonder what people unfamiliar with the short story think of it. Because as a fan of the source material, I like it quie a lot. It’s not perfect, but it is definitely one of the best Lovecraft adaptations.

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Prince of Darkness – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 15

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prince-of-darkness

After watching The Thing I was in the mood for more John Carpenter. Enter Prince of Darkness. A movie that seems to divide opinion, but that I really like. The basic plot is fairly simple; scientists studying an ancient artefact at the request of a priest are manipulated by an evil force to bring an even greater primordial evil through to our world. But it’s the myriad details attached to that premise that come together to create an amazing creepy mood. The artefact being a container of swirling green liquid that might be the physical embodiment of Satan. The dream that anyone who sleeps near the container inevitably has, and which claims to be a transmission from the future. The menacing homeless people gathering outside the building (led by Alice Cooper I might add) preventing anyone from leaving. The gradual takeover of several of the scientists by the evil force, turning them against their friends. This movie really shouldn’t work, it is far too weird. And yet it does work brilliantly. It leaves you with a sense of unease that takes a while to shake off.

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The Thing – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 14

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thething

Time for a classic, namely John Carpenter’s The Thing. What can really be said about it except that if you haven’t watched it in a while, it’s probably time to do so. And while it’s not explicitly Lovecraft inspired, it is indeed a very Lovecraftian horror movie. Isolated researchers come up against an alien thing that threatens humanity itself, and there might be no way of stopping it. The creature effects might be a little dated (though still very good) but the rest of the movie is more than good enough to make up for that.

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Underworld 2: Evolution – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 13

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underworld-evolution

Underworld: Evolution is a direct sequel to the first Underworld movie. It simply keeps going where the last one ended. Which, despite (or possibly partly because of) a “previously on” style recap, caused me a whole lot of confusion as it’s been quite a while since I watched the first movie. I spent the first forty-five minutes or so not quite sure who most of the characters were or why they were doing whatever it was they were doing. I got the hang of it eventually, but catching the viewer up could have been handled so much better. Apart from that, it’s a decent action movie with cool looking creatures. That’s all it is, but sometimes that’s all that is needed.

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Call Girl of Cthulhu – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 12

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call-girl-of-cthulhu

I’m not quite sure what to make of Call Girl of Cthulhu. I think it might approaching the platonic ideal of a B movie. Decent to bad acting. Source material that it references liberally but has almost no similarity to. More gratuitous nudity than HBO. Lots of blood and gore (with some pretty decent practical effects). And a plot that’s good enough to keep the movie going but not much more.

Most of the movie’s humour wasn’t quite my taste, but some things did make me smile. Such as a commercial for an erectile dysfunction drug called Celephais. As a Lovecraft fan, I do appreciate all the more or less obscure references that the movie abounds with. The movie also does some weird swings between being (or trying to be) funny and serious, and it doesn’t always work. Although at one point it did genuinely surprise me with one of its mood shifts, so I’ll give it that.

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