Creepy Cinema 2014: Total Invasion | Week 2

The second week of Creepy Cinema was chock full of alien invasions. Despite sharing similar premises, the films were all so different. I saw one of the most depressing films I've ever seen and it was a bit difficult to watch. The other films were less depressing, thank goodness! Right now, we're at the halfway point and I'm a bit sad. This month is moving way too quickly. Can't wait to share the rest of Creepy Cinema: Total Invasion with you!

1. The Mist – 1997

This is the second film based off a Stephan King novel on this year's list. The Mist is a classic bottle movie, with a large ensemble cast spending a majority of the film trapped in a supermarket. We basically see these people slowly begin to unravel as they deal with unforeseen monsters. Despite having terrifying creatures invade the world, the real villains are the people. The writing and acting were so good in this film, because I really began to resent the antagonists. They were so awful and I spent the whole time being annoyed. As the film progresses, everything slowly erodes to a very dismal and hopeless situation. I mean it genuinely shifts to an oppressive tone, and it’s hard to want to watch something like this again. I felt depressed afterwards.

2. I, Frankenstein - 2014
After being thoroughly depressed watching The Mist, I needed to see something a little lighter and a bit more fun. I, Frankenstein was exactly what I needed and even though it has a B-movie quality, it was still enjoyable. This film follows Frankenstein's monster as he prowls about the earth, brooding about his existence and soon becomes a pawn in the war between gargoyles and demons. I know it sounds slightly ridiculous, and it was, but it was the levity that I needed in between dark and depressing films. The storyline is a bit convoluted and hard to follow. There was so much potential with this movie and it could’ve been something really awesome, but it fell a bit flat.  

3. Seed People – 1992
When we were creating this list, we watch the trailer for Seed People. Just from the trailer, we thought that this would be another Troll 2 and be full of bad acting, classic lines, and non-stop fun. We were so wrong. The film is based in a small town where people begin to act strangely. Like most of the movies I’ve watched this month, aliens are converting humans into “seed people.” The design for the creatures was really good, but that was the only good thing about this movie. I had a hard time watching this because it was so slow and the acting was terrible, but not in a good way. By the end of the film, I was ready to watch something else.

4. The Day the Earth Stood Still – 1951
This is one of two 1950s films on this year’s list, which makes me a little sad. I love old movies and it’s slightly crushing that there aren't more for me this year. The Day the Earth Stood Still is a great movie and has been regarded as one of the greatest films released in 1951. There are so many iconic things about this movie and it’s highly recognizable. This film follows an human-like alien that travels to earth with a powerful robot that is charged with delivering a message to the people of earth. Despite being a film from the 50s, the look and feel was quite impressive. The design for Gort, the robot companion of the main character, is really cool and has that retro atomic age look.

5. The Faculty – 1998
I don’t know how I escaped the late 90s without seeing this movie. There are so many famous people in this film, directed by Robert Rodriguez, and serves as a who’s who of 90s teen actors. It has Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett, Usher and that girl that always plays a manic depressive goth (Clea DuVall).  This movie follows a group of misfit teens as they fight against an alien species that has taken control of their teachers. I really enjoyed watching The Faculty. Even though the themes and plotline are similar to other film’s on the list, it was different because there was never really a feeling of helplessness. It stars a band of teen outcasts that normally can't stand each other, but eventually have to work together to save the world from an alien invasion. It’s kind of like The Breakfast Club meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It’s a great movie and I’m glad that I finally had the chance to see it.  

6. Starship Troopers – 1997
The year 1997 was a great year for movies. There was Titanic, Batman and Robin and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Of all these great movies, there was only one that won its way to my heart, Starship Troopers. I know it sounds strange to think of 14-yr old me being obsessed with this film, but I was. I had an intense and unreal love with it and everyone knew. My brother even bought me the dvd for my 15th birthday. Starship Troopers, originally a novel, stars Casper Van Dien as Johnny Rico, a man that made my teenage heart flutter. Arachnid aliens are at war with humankind and it’s up to Rico and his comrades in the Mobile Infantry to overcome their enemy. It’s a fun film and one that I still enjoy to this day.

7. War of the Worlds – 2005  
This film is based off the classic novel of the same name by H.G. Wells. It’s such an iconic book and any version of film should be amazing. The movie follows Ray, portrayed by Tom Cruise, a divorced father reunited with his two children during an alien attack. Ray treks from New Jersey to Boston in the hopes of reuniting his children with his ex-wife. The aliens in War of the Worlds are so memorable because of their look, and I love their design in this film. It’s something that originates from the novel, and the huge tripod machines that loom over their prey gives such a strong feeling of dread and hopelessness. I’ve never read the novel or seen the 1953 version, but this adaptation was very enjoyable. It’s not the greatest movie I’ve seen, but it’s definitely not terrible. It was overall pretty enjoyable.

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.

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