Creepy Cinema: Grab Bag | Week Four

I can't believe that this is the final week of Creepy Cinema! I feel like it was only yesterday that I watched Tales from the Darkside. I hope that you enjoyed all my reviews and look forward to doing this again next year! 

1. What We Do in the Shadows - 2014
For a while now, Markus and I have heard nothing but great things about this vampire mockumentary from New Zealand. When I heard that Jemaine Clement wrote and directed the film with his co-star Taika Waititi, I knew we had to watch it. We’re huge fans of Flight of the Conchords mainly because Clement is a comedic genius. The film follows four vampires that share a flat in Wellington, New Zealand. They range in age and have very different ways of doing things, but they’re best friends. Since it’s a mockumentary, we get to see all aspects of their lives and it’s fun to see all their weird quirks, insecurities, and shortcomings get dragged into the light. It was a refreshing take on the vampire genre and awesome to see something different. I also loved seeing the mini-reunion with Jemaine and Murray, from Flight of the Conchords. If Brett showed up, it would’ve been even better!

2. Harbinger Down - 2015
Every Creepy Cinema, there is one movie that Markus and I look forward to, but then ultimately disappoints us. Markus is a huge fan of John Carpenter’s The Thing because of its brilliant use of practical effects and intense storyline. In 2010 StudioADI, the creators of Harbinger Down, were hired by Universal Studios to do the practical effects for a The Thing prequel. Once the film was finished, the post-production department covered all of Studio ADI’s practical effects with CGI enhancements, which virtually replaced all of ADI’s hard work. Later they released a YouTube video that sparked a Kickstarter campaign, which helped fund Harbinger Down. Sadly, the most interesting part of the film is the backstory of it’s production. The plot was clumsy, the direction wasn’t strong, and the acting is so stilted that it makes watching the movie unbearable. There were moments that should make you emotional and sympathetic to the antagonists, but they just end up being laughable and make you want the movie to end. I will say the practical effects are incredible and well executed, but it’s not enough to hold up the entire movie.

3. White Zombie - 1932
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a Bela Lugosi film, I think the last was Plan 9 from Outer Space from a previous Creepy Cinema. I’m a huge fan of classic movies and always enjoy watching those from the horror genre. White Zombie is a 1930’s voodoo zombie film set in Haiti. I found the premise actually quite intriguing and thought the ambience only added to the eeriness of the film. The film almost puts you in a dreamlike state, much like that of a zombie. The pacing is very slow and there isn't much action, so I did start to lose interest. However as usual when Lugosi would enters the scene, it became much more interesting and I really perked up. White Zombie was good, but it wasn’t great and I probably wouldn’t watch it again.

4. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night - 2014
Of all the films this year, this film surprised me the most. I had a feeling which films I would and wouldn’t like, but A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night was a bit of a revelation. I never heard of it before, but Markus watched it a while ago and raved about it. I was eager to watch what has been described as, “the first Iranian vampire Western.” The film is set in a small Iranian town named “Bad City” that follows the goings on of a lonely vampire. There is very little dialogue, thus causing the actors to emote everything. The leads, Sheila Vand and Arash Marandi, are fantastic and really make you feel everything their characters are going through.  I’ve never seen anything like this movie and I loved it. It’s like watching an old movie, but with modern sensibilities and is absolutely so beautiful in its simplicity.

Creepy Cinema: Total Invasion | Week 3

This week was packed full of intense and entertaining movies. I watched some hilarious and campy films, but also some bleak and depressing ones. It was a great seven days and I'm excited for the final ten films of Creepy Cinema 2014: Total Invasion.

1. Slither - 2006
This film is directed by James Gunn, who also directed this year’s amazing Guardians of the Galaxy. Since I loved that movie immensely, I quickly agreed that we should add Slither to this year’s list. The film opens like most other films in the sub-genre, with a meteorite crashing to earth and releasing an alien parasite in a small town. In Slither its a small South Carolina town. Slither is actually really great,  and I enjoyed it immensely, screaming at every turn. It’s everything you could want in a horror movie. It’s gross and disgusting with parts that are almost too much. Throughout the film there are some genuine scary moments, but there are funny moments peppered throughout to relieve some of the tension. It’s a great film and one that I recommend you watch. 

2. Big Ass Spider - 2013
This film has one of the greatest openings I’ve ever seen. The film opens with exterminator Alex Mathis, played by the delightful Greg Grunberg, standing in the midst of chaos on a city street. A haunting song starts to play and we see Mathis intensely staring up at something. Everything moves in slow motion and then the camera pans over to a tall building and literally, a big ass spider scaling it. Unfortunately, the movie isn’t as good as it’s opening. The premise follows Mathis as he tries to take down a spider that has been exposed to alien DNA, causing it to grow immensely. I did enjoy that the plot was a bit original, I’ve never seen an exterminator as the hero, and his sidekick, Jose, is the best part of the movie. Jose is hilarious and spits out tons of one-liners that are simply comedic gold. As for the rest of the film, it’s just okay. The CGI isn’t  the best and the movie is definitely cheesy, but it’s worth at least a one time watch.

3. Day of the Dead - 1985
This film is the last of the George A. Romero Living Dead trilogy. I’ve seen all three and this one was a doozy. I’ve been told by Markus that this movie is for real trolls who love zombie flicks. The film follows a small group of survivors consisting of an army unit and a few scientists, who are researching zombies. They are hoping to find a cure or a solution for the epidemic. I can see why zombie aficionados love it, but it was really hard for me to watch. I had to stop watching in the middle, because it was too intense. The acting was great because all I felt was depressed and desperate. The villain in this film is so awful and disgusting that I was waiting for his inevitable death. Of the three films, this is probably the one that I wouldn't watch again. It’s a great movie and really captures the desperation of a helpless situation, but it’s just a little more than my sensitive heart can handle. 

4. 28 Days Later - 2002
Even though I used to steer clear of horror movies, my friends managed to coerce me into watching 28 Days Later. Strangely enough, I loved it and I’m still a huge fan. I have to admit, I think a lot of my love comes from my adoration of Cillian Murphy, but it’s hard not to get lost in those baby blues. The film follows Jim, a bicycle courier, who wakes up from a coma and has to deal with a world that is reeling in the aftermath of a highly contagious virus.  I’ve seen tons of  zombie movies, thanks to Markus, and I can honestly say that 28 Days Later is one of my favorites. It’s real, gritty, and focuses on how people react and deal with extremely dire circumstances. At times, it can get really intense, but it’s such a great movie that I’ll suffer the stress of suspense.

5. Cloverfield - 2008
An action-packed entry in the Found Footage subgenre, this film takes place in New York where a mysterious alien rises out of the depths of the ocean to terrorize America’s most iconic metropolis. I remember Markus being so excited for this movie because it was the closest he was going to get to an American kaiju movie. Cloverfield is very successful due to it’s originality, and at the time of its release there weren’t many giant monster movies, especially ones that were found footage. This film was really clever and I spent most of the film sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen. Even though this was another alien movie, it was unlike anything on the list. The CGI, effects and acting are exceptional and this is definitely a must-see invasion film.

6. They Live - 1988
This film was made by the prolific and delightfully cheesy John Carpenter. I haven’t seen many of his films, but one that will always stand out is The Thing. That movie terrified me and I still cringe whenever Markus talks about it. I thought that They Live was going to be just as scary, but I was surprised to find that it wasn’t. Despite They Live being a popular, cult classic, I knew nothing about the movie. I even knew the famous line, “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubblegum,” but I didn’t know where it originated from. The film follows Nada, played by Roddy Piper, an unemployed drifter as he discovers a huge secret about the upper class. I really enjoyed They Live, the acting might have been stale at some points, but I think Piper was quite good as the lead. The campiness of this movie is what makes it so great. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and I’ve seen a lot of serious movies this month. It was like an oasis in the midst of body snatchers and meteorites, and for that alone, I loved this movie.

7. Signs - 2002
This is easily one of M. Night Shyamalan’s better movies. Once there was a time when people enjoyed his movies and actually rushed to see his films, alas the Shyamalan empire is no more. Signs follows an ex-preacher, played by Mel Gibson, who discovers a series of crop circles in his cornfields. He becomes convinced that the occurrences are not manmade, but created by extraterrestrials. The film has genuine scary moments especially when they are trapped in the house. I really like Signs, despite the ending being a bit weak. How could the alien’s weakness be something that is so prevalent on earth and conveniently all over the house? Despite all this, Signs is one of the strongest of Shyamalan’s movies and one that I enjoy immensely.

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: Cult Camp | Week Three

This week, I watched one of my favorite movies. Even though I'm not a fan of horror movies, there is one film that holds a very special place in my heart. I like this film so much that it's definitley in my top 5 movies of all time. Also this week, I saw one of the worst made films, but wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I would probably watch it again! I thoroughly enjoyed this week and I'm a bit sad that we're past the halfway point. There are only ten more films left this year. I can't believe how fast time flies. Hopefully the final ten films will be just as good!

1. Mars Attacks! (1996)
If you know me, you know I’m a huge fan of Tim Burton’s earlier work. Some of my favorite movies were written and/or directed by Burton. I hate to say that his recent work hasn’t been as good, but Mars Attacks is from the 90s when he was still making quality movies. I’ve never seen it before and I was excited to possibly watch a hidden gem. The film pays homage to the sci-fi and horror B-movies from the 50s. There is definitely a heavy Ed Wood influence throughout the film. Mars Attacks is an ensemble film of many famous actors. The film is about aliens that come to America and how their invasion affects people from many different walks of life.

I hate to say it, but this wasn’t a great movie. There were some good parts, but it wasn’t what I expected from a Burton film. I will say that for the time that it was made, the CGI was really good. Most of the actors were enjoyable to watch, but there were a lot of really awkward scenes. I watched Plan 9 from Outer Space, earlier this month and this film was meant to be a tribute to that. Personally, I think Plan 9 is much more enjoyable to watch. 

2. Hellraiser (1987)
This movie is the main reason why you don’t mess with joo-joo. Hellraiser has always been one of those movies that I purposefully avoided, and not something I would ever watch by choice. Even the cover of the VHS/DVD always freaked me out, but I guess Creepy Cinema is the perfect time to try new things? Right? Well Hellraiser is hard to describe, but it’s basically about a man that unlocks a mystical box which unleashes demons or other-wordly beings that torture people. Although, the demons are only part of the movie, while the crux of the film focuses on the main character preying on people for their flesh.

I have to admit that while I was watching this movie, I was pretty freaked out. It was intense and quite deranged; definitely something that gets under your skin. I wasn’t really a fan, and I don’t enjoy movies like this. In fact when it comes to demons and things like voodoo or torture, it’s just too much. There is just something about that kind of stuff that I don’t ever want to deal with or experience in any way shape or form. This movie was a bit too much for me, so I’ll pass. 

3.  The Equinox (1970)
This 70s flick is well known for being super long and campy. Dennis Muren, the creator and an award winning special effects artist, decided to create a horror film with his friends. This film actually has been noted for its similarities to Evil Dead, which I don’t 100% agree with.  Yes, there are many similarities. Both films involve young couples that go on an outing that ends in disaster. They both unknowingly unleash an evil force and experience the terrifying consequences. However I think that’s where the similarities end.

The Equinox is an interesting movie to say the least. It’s obvious why it’s a cult classic, but its not that great. The acting is flat and melodramatic. It comes across that Muren enabled the help of his friends and not professional or even budding actors. The villain, disguised as a park ranger, is such a creep and constantly makes this strange twisty-face throughout the movie. The film is really long and becomes quite taxing, and I lost interest about halfway through. I will say that the special effects are pretty cool, which was the only part of the movie that I truly enjoyed.

4.  Horror Express (1974)
This film is a moody cult classic that stars one of last year’s Creepy Cinemahotties, Peter Cushing as Dr. Wells.  The plot revolves around an English anthropologist, played by Christopher Lee, who has discovered a frozen monster in the wastes of Manchuria, which he believes, may be the Missing Link. He brings the creature back to Europe on a trans-Siberian train, but during the trip the monster thaws out and starts killing the passengers.

My initial thought was…SO MUCH FACIAL HAIR. But once I got over that, the story was quite interesting. The movie is a bit slow, but many of the films this year have been slow. I really enjoy both Cushing and Lee. I loved watching them last year in The Mummy. I was a bit surprised at the real culprit in Horror Express. I thought it was going to be something very simple, but it ended up being something completely different and that was a nice pleasant surprise. I was happy to finally watch something that wasn’t what I thought it would be. 

 5. Troll 2 (1990)
I think this movie is the epitome of a cult classic. It has all the qualities of what would be expected. The film is called Troll 2, but not once do they say the word troll in the movie. The movie takes place in the fictional town of “Nilbog” where strange things start happening. Creepy goblin like creatures start turning humans into plants and eating them. This is the source of that famous clip, starring Darren Ewing, that went viral on YouTube a few years ago. “They’re eating her…and then they’re going to eat me…OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOD…”

Even though this is probably one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, it was so good. I really liked it. It’s so bad it’s good. I read a bit about the movie and learned that the director was Italian and didn’t speak a word of English. The entire crew also didn’t speak English. They cast inexperienced actors who had to read their script verbatim. The director wrote the film because many of his friends were becoming vegetarians and he wasn’t too keen on that. It’s pretty incredible and a movie that I suggest everyone sees at least once. 

6. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
This film is the George A Romero classic that kick-started the zombie genre for years to come. It’s an undead legacy that’s inspired generations of moviemakers, most notably Edgar Wright with Shaun of the Dead. The film focuses on one night and the “living dead” that terrorize a small group of people.

Since Markus is a huge fan of zombies, I’ve seen almost all of the zombie movies out there. It was pretty cool to finally see the film that started it all. Even though Night of the Living Dead is from the 60s, it still holds up. It was fun to watch and it was really interesting. I loved finally knowing where the famous line, “They’re coming to get you Barbara,” came from. Speaking of Barbara, she was incredibly annoying in this movie. She spends the entire movie in a catatonic state, and even manages to get punched in the face. This is definitely a must see.

7. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
I cannot express how much I love this movie. Even before Creepy Cinema, this was the one film that I’ve watched so much that I could quote it to you in its entirety. I really, really, really adore this movie. It has tons of gags and dialogue that tips its hat to great cult classics like Night of the Living Dead and Evil Dead. I love the comedic take on the zombie genre. The film is about a lazy loser who becomes a bit of a hero during a zombie apocalypse in London.

As I said before, I love this movie. I remember that the first time I saw I instantly fell in love. Edgar Wright makes such great films. They’re always witty, tightly edited and have great comedic timing…just fun to watch.  Somehow it manages to combine comedy, romance and horror. Even after watching it multiple times it never gets old. To me it’s as close to a perfect movie as you’re going to get.