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.

Godzilla & Toho Studios | Tokyo, Japan

If there was one thing on this earth that Markus loves as much as me, it would be Godzilla. This kid is a fan of all things kaiju. I think it stems from his childhood and watching anything involving the Japanese monsters. I'm not joking. When he found out that Toho Studios was breaking Godzilla's ten year hibernation, he was ecstatic. All he talks about is this new Godzilla movie, it's quite funny. He owns almost every Godzilla movie and is constantly searching for the ones he's missing. The other night I walked into the bedroom and he was watching Gamera, the other famous Japanese kaiju. He even loves Ultraman, which has heaps and heaps of giant monsters. Personally, I think this obsession is adorable and unique. When we decided to travel to Japan, it was really his decision. The UK was my dream trip and Japan was his. In order to really make this an unforgettable trip, we had to trek to Toho Studios, the home of Godzilla.

Unfortunatley, Toho Studios does not offer tours. It totally stinks, but real diehard fans, still visit the exterior entrance.  Markus did all the research and figured out a way to get there. There isn't a direct way there and you have to walk through various suburban neighborhoods. To be honest, I really didn't want to go. It was out of the way and difficult to get there, but for Markus I relented. When we finally got to the exit after an hour, we walked for a bit and got lost a few times. I remember walking through this random gate and we finally found it. Toho is pretty brilliant, because the outside has a mini Godzilla and a huge wall homage to the Seven Samurai. It's enough to please any fan and Markus was more than pleased. I looked over at him as soon as the studio was in sight and he was more than happy. It's like he was a kid again. I've never seen him like that and it made all the trouble worth it.

Creepy Cinema: Cult Camp | Week Two

The second week of Creepy Cinema: Cult Camp was both good and bad. It was good because I saw some really scary and terrifying movies but I really liked them. I think I saw what will probably be my favorite film this year! I also saw probably the worst movie on the list as well. Overall, it was a pretty well rounded week and I can't wait to see more!

1. Evil Dead (1981)  
This is one of the few movies on the list that I knew. I’ve actually seen Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness. I enjoyed both those films and was excited to see the movie that started it all. Evil Dead is about a group of friends that drive to a cabin in the woods and inadvertently end up releasing demons in the process. This is the sort of movie that I avoid.

Way back when I saw the other Evil Dead movies, Markus intentionally left out this one, because he knew it would be too much for me. I have to admit that I loved this movie. It was terrifying and I enjoyed every minute. Evil Dead is a low budget film and it honestly looks like a student project. Despite all this, the film really delivers. I think of all the films that we’ve seen so far, this one was my favorite. It has everything that you could want in a horror flick. I spent the entire movie screaming at every little thing and watching with my hands over my eyes. It was perfection. 

2.  Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
If there is one thing that creeps me out, it’s clowns. They’re always smiling and hiding their real faces. I think it has a lot to do with accidentally seeing clips of Stephen King’s “It” when I was a kid. Since then, I’ve always had a fear of clowns. Killer Klowns from Outer Space is about alien clowns that come to earth and start attacking and harvesting humans for food.

I was expecting to be super creeped out by this movie and I really wasn’t. There were a few moments that were scary, but overall, it’s an 80s movie about clowns from outer space. How scary can it really be? The designs for the clowns were really amazing and jarring when I first saw them. I also enjoyed the super sweet and cheesy theme song. It was perfectly 80’s sounding for a cult classic.

3. Re-Animator (1985)
I was really excited to see this movie. I knew that it was very popular and beloved among its fans. The film is based on an HP Lovecraft story titled, “Herbert West-Reanimator”. It follows West and his quest to unlock the power of reanimating the dead, hence the title. This film is known for being able to combine gore with comedy.

I think the driving force for all the love is Jeffrey Combs, who plays Herbert West.
West is an amazing character, he’s so strange and creepy, however you can’t help but root for him. It’s strange because he’s such an anti-hero. Combs is an incredible actor and was also the lead in From Beyond, viewed in last year’s Creepy Cinema. I really enjoyed this film and I think a large part of that is because of Combs’ incredible acting. 

 4. Mad Monster Party (1967)
Words cannot express how much I adore this movie. It was a lot of fun to watch.  It’s a stop motion comedy film that features all the classic monsters we all know and love. The film is about the gathering of said characters and the lure of total destruction. I’m a huge fan of old movies and this one didn’t fail to deliver that same sense of nostalgia. 

I really enjoyed this movie and there was so much to love. It has that style of the 60s that anyone can appreciate. It’s campy and kitschy. All of the characters are incredibly designed. My favorite character was Felix, the only human in the entire film. He’s adorable and sounds a bit like Jimmy Stewart, who I adore. Although the love story with Francesca felt really forced. One minute she hates him and then he slaps her and she’s instantly in love. I don’t get it, but I guess that’s how women fell in love back then. 

 5.  The ABC’s of Death (2012)
I thought that The Toxic Avenger was the worst movie this year, but I was sadly mistaken. Little did I know that the worse was yet to come. When Markus and I read the synopsis for this film, we thought that it would be a nice addition to the list. The film is a horror anthology directed by 26 different directors and spans the alphabet, exploring different words associated with death. According to the Internet, it was toted as a cult classic “in the making.” 

I didn’t think that I would dislike this movie so much, but I did. It was so blasé that I had to stop watching in the middle. I think the main problem with this anthology film is that there were a few good shorts immersed in a sea of horrible ones.  I just really didn’t like most of them, and I think the crux of the problem is that there were 26 shorts.  That’s way too many. Most horror anthologies boast four or even 6 shorts, which is more than enough to deliver quality stories and great characters.  I think The ABC’s of Death would have been better suited for an online horror short competition, not a full film. 

 6.  C.H.U.D (1984)
This movie is one of those movies that you’ve heard of but have no idea what it’s about. Sometimes, it’s best to go into these movies not knowing anything because you don’t have preconceived notions. There were so many famous people in this movie and it was kind of surprising! This film is about strange, mutated, underground dwellers that eat and kill humans.

I thought C.H.U.D. was good, but it was really slow. The story is really interesting and the parts that were meant to be scary were just that. It just took forever to get to the point. I think that’s the thing about 80s movies. They really take their time explaining. The creatures themselves were really gross and I screamed a bit. Not as much as I did during Evil Dead, but it still had its moments. 

 7. Splinter (2008)
Again, Splinter is the kind of movie that I try avoid. It’s the epitome of a horror movie, and evokes so much anxiety. It doesn’t employ jump scares; the entire movie is just terrifying and really scares the junk out of you. This movie was a little known film that has become popular over the years on DVD and streaming. Splinter is your basic bottle movie that has a small cast and focuses on the paranoia and terror of something infecting and killing anyone in the a very horrific way of course.

When the movie starts, it hits the ground running, and it feels like it’s never going to stop. I spent the entire movie cringing and screaming. There were several moments when I had to close my eyes and plug my ears. I think this is the scariest movie we’ve seen in this year’s Creepy Cinema. It’s the kind of movie that traps it’s characters in a small space and pokes at them in horrible ways. I really enjoyed watching it, especially with friends, but I don’t think I could ever watch it again.

Creepy Cinema: Cult Camp | Week One

I'm so excited to finally share my thoughts on this year's list of cult classics. The first week of Creepy Cinema was a nice mix of films and for the most part I enjoyed most of them. Although, it's possible that I saw the worst film I've ever seen. It was pretty awful. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my reviews and let me know what you think in the comments below!
1.   Nosferatu (1922)
This film is the oldest on this year’s list, and since I didn’t want to jump in head first, I dipped in slowly by watching this one first. Nosferatu is probably one of the most iconic horror films of all time. It has such a cult following that they even made a movie about the filming of Nosferatu, called Shadow of the Bat.  The film is such an obvious rip off of Dracula, but that’s what makes it great. The makers of Nosferatu couldn’t obtain the rights to make a movie adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, so they told their own version, which was just as good in its own right.

I actually wanted to watch this movie last year, but Markus wanted to save it for this year. The movie itself is pretty good, but it isn’t my favorite “Dracula” film or vampire movie. The cinematography is amazing and there are so many iconic shots. I absolutely love the look and feel, but it did lag a bit. I know it has a lot to do with the time period in which it was made, but it was still too slow for my taste. Also, I know the Dracula story really well, so there was no mystery to keep me going.

2.     The Toxic Avenger (1985) 
If there ever was a movie that I could un-see it would be The Toxic Avenger. I don’t even know what possessed me to allow this on the list. What kills me is that in earlier versions of this year’s list, this movie wasn’t even in the running. If I could turn back time…

I don’t think there is anything good about this movie. I wrote notes for all the other films, but I only wrote one sentence for this movie: “ This movie is so gross.” Markus was telling me that all the movies made by Troma Films (the creators of The Toxic Avenger) are like this. It’s just gratuitously disgusting. They basically take every extreme and nasty thing you could think of and intensify it. I will never ever watch another Troma Film movie again.

3.     Atom Age Vampire (1960)
Markus and I saw this movie on Hulu and decided to add it to the list. This was a huge mistake. There probably is a good reason why I’ve never heard of it. The basic premise is that a beautiful woman is scarred in an accident and a scientist cures her, but at a high cost.

The beginning started out really good. I liked the opening sequence and I thought it was the start of a hidden gem. I was definitely wrong. There are some good things about the film, but the woman’s overacting is just too much. She spent most of the movie crying, weeping and screaming. I mean, I get that women tend to be emotional, but this was too much. Also, what is it with men always choosing women that are all wrong for them? I don’t understand why the antagonist in this movie goes crazy for this woman. She doesn’t even feel an attraction to him. Her kindness to him is solely based on her gratitude for having her beauty returned to her.

4.     Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
This film has been heralded as the “worst movie of all time”, but I may have to disagree. I’ve definitely seen worse films. Plan 9 was created by Ed Wood, which also happens to be the subject of one of my favorite Tim Burton films. Since I know a little about Wood, I was excited to see this film. He’s known for making a slew of really low budget movies ranging from sci-fi to westerns.

I have to admit that this isn’t a well-done movie, it’s actually really bad. There isn’t any care to continuity and the sets look like they were made by middle-schoolers. Despite all of this, I really liked this movie. Since I knew it was the “worst movie of all time”, I expected it to be badly made, but I think the terrible acting, poor shots and juvenile sets are what made the movie worthwhile and enjoyable.

5.     Children of the Corn (1984)
This is one of those movies that you know about, but haven’t watched because it’s too creepy. I think that Stephen King is quite brilliant and always delivers, but I have a confession to make. Before Children of the Corn, I’ve never seen a Stephen King film or read any of his books. I know, it’s so strange. When I told Markus, I think he was really perplexed.

Children of the Corn was quite good and I enjoyed watching it.  It’s such a creepy movie, and it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. I didn’t know much about it and I honestly thought it was about kids who really liked corn. Or maybe they liked to terrorize people with corn. Or they were actually children made of corn. Either way, the movie will make me think twice before wandering into any fields of corn.

6.     Carrie (1976)
I watched this right after Children of the Corn. I guess after 29 years of a Stephen King-less life I had to catch up. Carrie is one of those movies that you know about without having to watch. That’s the thing about pop culture; you can “know everything” about a film without ever seeing it.

Watching Carrie was a lot like watching Psycho last year. I thought I knew the whole story and I would be bored, but it was the complete opposite. Even though I knew exactly what was going to happen, there was so much more that I didn’t know. Actually seeing the relationship with her mother explains a lot of what motivates Carrie. Every time her mother came on screen, I was instantly irritated. I probably would’ve gone crazy too if I were Carrie and had to deal with an overbearing mother like that.

7.     Pumpkinhead (1988)
Like many movies this year, I’ve never heard of Pumpkinhead. I try not to read anything about the movies before I watch them. It definitely adds more mystery and suspense. The main premise of this movie is revenge and the endless cycle of hate that it perpetuates. It’s set in a small backwater country town where a lot of weird voodoo and occult stuff is present.

Pumpkinhead wasn’t too scary and was easy to watch. It’s got all the fixings of a cult horror: a small budget, great practical effects, staple characters like an old crone, creepy hillbillies and a menacing humanoid creature. When the creature is finally revealed, I thought it looked a lot like the alien from Alien. The story is pretty good and it has it flaws, but like most 80s movie I don’t expect the script to be airtight. I was able to predict the outcome of the story way before it even happened. Nevertheless, it’s still enjoyable and definitely a hidden gem. I can see why this film has a cult following.