Creepy Cinema 2014: Total Invasion | Week 1

I'm so excited that Creepy Cinema is back. This first week had a lot of great films and helped me once again become acclimated to scary movies. Despite having quite a bit of alien story lines, every film was different and had it's own unique story to tell. I hope enjoy my thoughts and opinions and continue to join me on this journey through the month of October! 

1. Phantoms - 1998
Originally, Phantoms was a book written by Dean Koontz. The film is set in a small town and something isn't quite right. Everyone in the town has disappeared and a force of evil takes over. The story is quite original and doesn't follow the same tropes you see in scary movies. It’s mildly Lovecraftian in the fact that it deals with a shapeless evil. The film was well acted with veteran, Peter O’Toole and relatively unknown actors Ben Affleck and Liev Schreiber. Every time I heard the song "I Fall to Pieces" in the film, I knew something bad was going to happen. As for Affleck, he was totally the bomb. (If you get that reference, you're okay in my book).

2. Them! - 1954
Them! was one of the first atom age monster movies from the 1950s and formed a cult following. The film is about giant radioactive ants that begin terrorizing human civilization. For a film made in the 50s, it was very impressive. The ants themselves looked amazing and very believable. The special effects team were even nominated for an Oscar. Despite being an older film, I was hooked from the beginning. I thought it was going to be a poor B-movie similar to Plan 9 from Outer Space, but it wasn't even in the same realm. Them is a clever movie which uses science fiction to it's advantage to create a world where giant ants could possibly take over the world.  

3. Evolution - 2001
This film is one of the funniest on this year’s list. I was so pumped to watch it again. Following the same tropes as its 1950s predecessors, a meteor crashes on earth and is, of course, infected with some sort of alien substance. Then, two community college professors, Orlando Jones and David Duchovny, investigate the meteor, only to realize that the substance is an extraterrestrial organism that evolves at an extremely rapid pace. There is so much to like about this movie. Jones and Duchovny are hilarious and carry the movie with great comedic delivery. I was surprised that even 13 years later, this movie still holds up and is a great popcorn film.

4. Night of the Creeps - 1986
This 80s classic is often overlooked and definitely one that I’ve never heard of. The film is an homage to 50’s horror films as well as some of the big names in the horror genre. The main characters are all named after a famous director like Romero, Raimi, Carpenter, etc. The film is a grab bag of all the things that make horror movies great.  It has aliens, zombies, axe murderers, you name it, it's in here. Surprisingly, this movie is a lot of fun and better than some of the movies that it pays an homage to. I think that’s partly due to the fact that it’s a comedy wrapped in horror. Sure the acting is a bit off, the lead female is hard to watch, and a lot of things don't make sense, but that’s 80s at its best. I enjoyed it immensely and it definitely deserves, at the very least, a one time watch.

5. Monsters - 2010

Of all the movies we've watched so far, Monsters is my absolute favorite. The film takes place in a world that has been invaded by aliens after an infected NASA probe crashes on earth. We follow the main characters, Sam and Kauler, on their journey from the "infected area," in Mexico, back to America.  It's an intense, intelligent, and dramatically moving film. The actors are brilliant and it’s their chemistry and character development that really drives the movie. If you only watch one movie from this year's list, I highly recommend Monsters. You won't regret it.

6. Invasion of the Body Snatchers - 1978
If there was one movie that was on all the lists of alien invasions movies, it would definitely be Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It’s one of those films that everyone knows about and has seen. The 1978 version is a remake of the original 1956 version and stars Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy and a hunky Jeff Goldbum. The story revolves around an alien species that begins to replicate and replace human beings to form a conformist society. Despite the film being iconic and highly regarded, I didn’t really like it. It felt really long and suffered from what Markus calls “The 70s pacing.” The special effects were great, there were a lot of great scenes, and the story was well done...but it was just way too long. In the end it just fell flat for me. Unfortunately, this isn’t a film that I would watch again.

7. Invaders from Mars - 1986
This film follows David Gardener, a young boy, that watches as his parents those close to him slowly become overtaken by aliens. It’s similar to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In order to overcome these aliens, he enlists the help of the military and his school nurse. Sounds a bit ridiculous right? Well it was! Out of all the movies this week, this one was probably my least favorite. The acting was horrific. The actor that played David was the worst. In fact most of his co-stars were just as bad, and I cringed so many times during the film. There were certain parts that were good, like the creature designs. I was really impressed and creeped out, but I thought that maybe the ending could’ve saved the movie. However it was the worst! I would rather watch Invasion of the Body Snatchers again than sit through this film.

Creepy Cinema 2014: Total Invasion

It's October and you know what that means over here at Ganda-Ganda, Creepy Cinema! This month is probably both my favorite and dreaded time of the year. I love that I can spend 31 days overcoming my fears and watching scary movies with Markus. This year's theme is Total Invasion, and we selected movies that are strictly focused on humanity being invaded by some inhuman element. I can't wait!

At the end of every week, I'll be posting reviews and informing you of the best and worst (in my opinion) of the lot. For your convenience, I've included the list of films that we'll be watching. Feel free to watch along with us, and enjoy this year's installment of Creepy Cinema! 

  1. The Day the Earth Stood Still - 1951
  2. Them - 1954
  3. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes - 1978
  4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers - 1978
  5. The Fog - 1980
  6. The Deadly Spawn - 1983
  7. Day of the Dead - 1985
  8. Night of the Creeps- 1986
  9. Invaders from Mars - 1986
  10. Critters - 1986
  11. They Live - 1988
  12. Seed People - 1992
  13. Starship Troopers - 1997
  14. Phantoms - 1998
  15. The Faculty - 1998
  16. Dark City - 1998
  17. Evolution - 2001
  18. 28 Days Later - 2002
  19. Signs - 2002
  20. War of the Worlds - 2005
  21. Slither - 2006
  22. Planet Terror - 2007
  23. The Mist - 2007
  24. Cloverfield - 2008
  25. District 9 - 2009
  26. Zombieland - 2009
  27. Monsters - 2010 
  28. Attack the Block - 2011
  29. Big Ass Spider - 2013
  30. Pacific Rim - 2013
  31. I, Frankenstein - 2014

Movin' On Up

I thought this day would never come, but it's finally here. Markus and I are moving to the city! We spent a year in the burbs and while they've been pleasant, it just isn't for us. The past six months were very challenging and it seemed pretty dismal. I was starting to get discouraged, but then things started to fall into place. We found an awesome apartment in Logan Square, one of the best neighborhoods in the city. Also after five months of patiently searching for the right job, I found it! I'll be working for an awesome company in the Loop, the heart of downtown. It all still seems so surreal, but it's really happening and I'm so excited for this new chapter in our lives. I can't wait to share all of our new adventures with you, my dear readers!

Edinburgh Revisited | 2 of 2

Sadly, this is my final post about Edinburgh. In this last batch of photos, there is an extra large Tardis that we happened to pass by on the street. It was the only police box we saw the entire time we were in the UK. I was really hoping to see another one in London, but we didn't. I've gone through all the Edinburgh photos and have reminisced long enough on the beautiful Scottish city. I'm a bit sad about it, but there is still heaps of photos from the rest of the UK! Dear readers, please enjoy this last glimpse of a wonderful city!

Edinburgh Revisited | 1 of 2

I love this city, it's so beautiful and I could spend years exploring it. I can't believe that I still had so many photos to edit. This post is basically composed of random shots from around the city. I had a lovely time going through the photos and remembering all the wonderful things we did in Edinburgh!

Monkey Park Iwatayama | Kyoto, Japan

When Markus and I visited the Philippines, one of our biggest regrets was missing the tarsiers in Bohol. We decided that if we had a chance to see exotic animals, we would take it. Markus is a huge fan of animals. He loves them and even knows random facts for heaps of animals. As soon as he knew that we were traveling to Japan, Markus requested that we see the snow monkeys. I readily agreed, but I was worried that since it was summer, we wouldn't be able to see them. The most famous spot for snow monkeys is Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano, but we weren't traveling in that direction. Thankfully, Kyoto has Iwatayama Monkey Park and they are open year round. 

The park is located on a mountain, so you have to hike quite a bit to get there. The day that we visited was so hot that the park gave us plastic bags of ice. At first, I thought it was kinda strange. Although after 20 minutes of hiking, it was a lifesaver. After about 30-40 minutes, we finally reached the top and monkey paradise. It was pretty awesome seeing so many in one spot. My favorite thing was feeding time and seeing them chase a guy tossing out food. It was both cool and scary. Imagine seeing about 30 monkeys running toward you, definitley terrifying. Either way, it was a great time and I'm glad that Markus was able to finally have his monkey experience.

Eteaket: Tea Boutique and Cafe | Edinburgh, Scotland

One of the greatest things about traveling in the UK is having access to an endless amount of tea. We spent most of our trip trying to find the perfect afternoon tea. Early on, Ari found Eteaket in the heart of Edinburgh. We discovered that it was the perfect spot for brunch. Everything was amazing. The tea was great, the sandwiches were delicious and I loved all the dessert options. I loved Eteaket and for the rest of the trip, I compared all other tea places. Unfortunately for us, we did not find an equivalent in England. I'm just thankful that we were able to discover a great place and didn't leave the UK disappointed!

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