The Fly (1986) – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 11

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the-fly

I had forgotten just how disgusting The Fly is. That’s not intended as a criticism of the movie, merely a statement of fact. The Fly is not for the squeamish. If you’re anything like me, it will make you cringe at points. The effects hold up fairly well after thirty years. Meanwhile, the movie could not look more eighties if it tried.

Story-wise, it’s decent. Eccentric scientist Jeff Goldblum invents teleportation device, accidentally gets the DNA of a fly mixed in with his own while testing said device, and bad things happen after that. Worth watching. But maybe not while you’re eating.

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Hellraiser 5: Inferno – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 10

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hellraiser-5-inferno

Hellraiser: Inferno. Very intelligent policeman is a bad person, finds the puzzle box and solves it, gets punished for being a bad person.

That’s about all I’ve got to say about this one really. There were a few moments where the movie threatened to get interesting, but ultimately it didn’t feel like a Hellraiser movie. The cenobites are interesting largely due to them being amoral, giving the people that seek them out what they believe they want. Whereas in this they have suddenly turned into regular demons punishing sinners. And even worse, being bland while doing it.

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Digging Up the Marrow – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 9

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digging-up-the-marrow

I wouldn’t be the least surprised if Digging Up the Marrow turned out to be the best movie I watched this month. I started watching it without any particular expectations, and only knowing that it was in a documentary format. I was very pleasantly surprised. The movie has among the slowest builds to the horror that I’ve seen, but also manages to stay interesting throughout. Which makes it very effective indeed.

I don’t want to spoil anything about the movie, but the basic premise is that a horror movie director is contacted by a man claiming to have evidence that monsters exist and inhabit an underground world beneath our feet. A great concept as it brings the horror close to our own lives. Something which is enhanced by the fact that most people in the movie play themselves, and there are only a couple of actors playing made up characters. Most notably Ray Wise (best known to me as Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks) doing an amazing job as monster chaser William Dekker.

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Pumpkinhead – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 8

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pumpkinhead

Another movie that I’d been aware of for a long time but never looked into is Pumpkinhead. And I’m really glad that I finally got around to it. True, it’s another movie where teenagers are stupid and get punished for it. But for once a movie takes that concept and makes good use of it. While one or two of the characters in the movie might deserve demonic vengeance, most of them are simply caught in the crossfire. And what truly elevates the movie’s story is that the person responsible for unleashing the demon recognises that.

Beyond the story itself, the tone of the movie is excellent as well. It has the feeling of Appalachian folklore, of mountain magic that is almost but not quite forgotten. And it is filled with characters that are downright believable. Mostly. Those that aren’t, well, they make up for it by being entirely entertaining.

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Phantasm – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 7

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phantasm

Phantasm is one of those movies of whose existence I’ve been vaguely aware, but somehow never gotten around to finding out what it’s actually about. By chance seeing that the fifth instalment had just been released, I got curious enough to go back and watch the first one. Which very handily was also just released in a remastered version. I think I’m glad that I did. Probably.

To be honest I like the premise of the movie better than the execution. An otherworldly, menacing mortician who steals bodies for presumably nefarious purposes. And can possibly take on the shape of a young woman who kills people to add to his collection. That definitely has the makings of a creepy movie. Unfortunately I found its atmosphere lacking. It never rose to the level of feeling scary or menacing. Mostly it hovered around slightly weird. Which may very well have been the point, but it just didn’t quite do it for me. But I’m intrigued enough to want to at the very least check out the sequel.

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Fun Size Horror Volume 1 – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 6

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As the name implies, Fun Size Horror Volume 1 is an anthology of horror stories. Quite short, a few minutes long at most, they focus more on mood than plot. Something which works very well for horror, or at least some varieties of it. And there are quite a few well told vignettes in this collection. For example the first one starts out with a woman sleeping alone in bed in her dark bedroom. The camera pans out to reveal that her bed is surrounded by several female figures, stretching out their hands towards her as if in worship. Then it’s suddenly morning, and we see the woman unknowingly going through her usual routine. But of course night falls again, and she’s in bed… The tense mood before she even falls asleep and the strange women inevitably appear again makes the lover of weird tales in me smile with delight. And also hide behind a pillow.

Not every piece works very well, but they’re short enough that they’ll be over before you have time to grow bored with them. And the whole thing is worth watching for the handful of gems that will make you want to sleep with the light on.

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Yakuza Apocalypse – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 5

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yakuza-apocalypse

People often say that Japan is weird. Yakuza Apocalypse is an excellent example why. In a good way, I hasten to add. Reading the description of the movie one might get the impression that it’s just another monster movie that happens to also involve Japanese gangs. A perception I was disabused of when it became clear that the yakuza vampire’s bite didn’t just turn other people into vampires, but also into stereotypical yakuza. And that might well be the least weird thing about the movie. Take, for instance, the imprisoned rival criminals who are being reformed through knitting (and some light torture to make sure they are sincere).

The first twenty or so minutes of the movie didn’t quite grab me, but after that I was thoroughly invested in seeing what weirdness was to appear next. The movie made me lough out loud several times just because of the sheer absurdity of what was happening. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but if you appreciate some well made weirdness you should probably give this movie a try.

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Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 4

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jack-brooks

I’m of the firm conviction that any movie with Robert Englund in it can’t be bad. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer did nothing to dissuade me. In fact my only quibble with the movie might be the title. I expected a B movie with action and terrible jokes, and instead got a B movie with horror and slightly more subdued humour. It was a pleasant surprise.

I also loved the special effects. It was obviously people in rubber suits. But the important thing is; it was people in really good rubber suits. Movies like this is why suspension of disbelief was invented. There might not be anything entirely new or surprising about it. But it’s a well made movie that does exactly what it set out to do, and that is rare enough.

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Hellraiser 4: Bloodline – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 3

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hellraiser-4-bloodline

If you want horror, it’s hard to go wrong with Hellraiser. The series could very well be the type specimen for the species. Hellraiser 4: Bloodline has parts I really like, but unfortunately its three interconnected story-lines (set in the past, present and future) don’t quite feel like they fit together properly.

The future story has a descendant of the original maker of the demon summoning puzzle box deliberately using it to bring forth the Cenobites in order to take revenge on them. I love the concept of this, so it’s unfortunate that this part ends up feeling somewhat neglected. It does lead into the most interesting part of the movie which tells the story of the original creation of the puzzle box by a skilled toy maker. This is suitably gruesome and obviously very interesting to fans of the series. We then skip forward to the present, i.e. the nineties, for a story of an architect descendant of the toy maker being coerced by the demons to create a much larger version of the box. Unfortunately this is where the movie lost me. It doesn’t have the novelty of the future segment (underdeveloped as that is) nor the interesting lore of the past. And it doesn’t connect the past to the future in any meaningful way.

In the end the movie is worth watching for fans, but it feels like it could have been so much better.

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The Last Witch Hunter – Halloween Horror Month Movie Spectacular 2016 Day 2

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The Last Witch Hunter was a pleasant surprise. The reviews for it that I’d seen were not very good, so I went into it with tempered expectations. And was rewarded with an entertaining couple of hours. It’s not a timeless classic, and probably not a movie I’ll go back to again and again, but it was perfectly solid entertainment.

Ever since I watched Highlander at a far too young age, I’ve been a fan of stories about what immortals do with their long lives. Mainly killing things according to most of them. Which is also what Vin Diesel’s immortal witch hunter does in this movie. Cursed with immortality by the witch queen he killed 800 years ago, he’s spent his life enforcing the agreement which has since kept witches from using magic on ordinary humans. And he keeps doing that in the movie, with some nice special effects and a decent plot. It’s mainly an action movie, but there’s some thought behind it too. Well worth a watch.

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