A Little Lost...

Since we've come back to America, I haven't been myself. It's like I lost myself somewhere along the way. The two years I spent in Korea were two of the best years of my life. Now that the dust has settled, the reality has finally hit me. Those years were a brief interlude but now I have to face the rest of my life. It's time to stop wandering and to become a real adult. The thought is scary, but it's something that every one of us has to face. It's really started to hit me that that part of my life is over. I think I've been in denial and I've been so overwhelmed. Today, it finally dawned on me. I'll never live in Korea again. That time of my life was beautiful, challenging and amazing but I can never go back.

In the past five months, I've gone through more changes than most people will go through in their entire lives. I've had a lot of ups and downs. I've stopped writing and taking photos. I stopped reading. It's like the happiness and joy I always had disappeared. I became a sad shell of myself. When I realized this, I was terrified. I didn't want to go from being someone who could go on adventures and live life to the fullest, to someone who went to sleep at 9pm because I couldn't deal with the reality of the day. I felt really bad for Markus because he had to deal with a depressed and emotional wife.

Dear readers, that person no longer exists. I made a resolution today. I will never be anything but myself. I will continue to write and blog. I lost that zest for life. I've always been a dreamer and that will never change. I can't be something that I'm not. I can only move forward and I'm really excited for what the future will bring. I don't know what it is, but that's always my favorite part, the unknown.

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.  

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 vicinity...in 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.

Adventures in Camping | Part 2

Last week, I posted about our first camping experience. It was definitley a whirlwind and it only gets better. I can't wait to share the rest of the story with all of you! In case you missed my Korean camping misadventure, you can read part one here.

Last I left you, we finished setting up camp and realized that we didn't have any food. Before setting up our tents, we drove from Busan to Pohang and from there to Gyeong-ju. Basically, we spent most of the day in the car and were pretty exhausted. Despite our feelings, we needed to fill our empty stomachs, so we all jumped in the car and searched for a place that would satisfy all our shopping needs.

We had many issues on this trip as I stated before. Our main problem was our location. We were far into the countryside and we missed our chance to go to a mart. On the way to Gyeong-ju, Gwang-jin missed the exit for Costco and instead of turning around, he decided to keep going. After driving for another 45 minutes we finally found a Mega Mart in Eonyang and we were able to get all the food we needed. We happily stocked up on all the essentials and headed back to Gyeong-ju..

Once we finally made it back to the campsite, we realized that we didn't have a table, seats or even a way to cook the food. By this point, I was beyond frustrated and just went with it. Thankfully, they found an old table and rented a grill. We didn't have any seats so we just found big rocks and sat on them. The boys also realized that they didn't have any way to start the fire. A nice Korean dad at the tent next to us came over and started the fire for us. I think he took one look at our "beggar" style camping and decided to help. I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have been able to eat if it wasn't for him.

Even though we all had a long frustrating day, the minute we started cooking, all our worries disappeared. We were all a bit annoyed with Junnie, but we know he meant well. He kept saying that he wanted to give Markus and I an unforgettable experience. How could I be mad at someone so sweet and sincere? We spent the rest of the evening stuffing our faces full of delicious barbecued meats and playing games. It was actually a fun night and it was like the stressful day didn't even happen. Around 11pm it started raining, so we all went inside our tents. We played a few more games and then around 1am we called it a night.

I would like to say that we slept through the night and woke up the next morning and made breakfast.  You would think that after all the stress we already went through that the camping gods were done toying us, but you would be wrong. Oh so very wrong.  It rained through the night and at 3am Markus and I were startled awake by something cold and wet. We sat up and realized that our whole tent was flooded with water. We woke up the boys and they told us to go sleep in the car. I slept for about 30 minutes but then woke up to metal hitting metal. When I looked outside, the boys had taken down both tents. They decided that we would either find a motel or go sleep at Junnie's grandmother's house in Pohang. Markus and I didn't want to stay at his grandmother's house so we decided on a motel. Although, we still had to go to Pohang to drop off the tents. After dropping them off, the boys again decided that we would skip the motel and drive the extra hour and half to Busan. At this point, all I could think about was my warm and dry bed. So, I readily agreed. When they finally dropped us off at our apartment, I looked at the clock and realized that it was 6am. We didn't even camp for 24 hours. We were out for only 22 hours! We waved goodbye to our friends and sought solace in our warm beds.

So this concludes, my first camping adventure. I know it was a crazy and unbelievable experience. Just writing about it, brought it all back. It's funny though. When I think back on it, I don't remember how annoyed or frustrated I was. I remember how much fun I had. I remember all our inside jokes and getting to know one another. It's one of those stories that I'll tell my kids when I tell them about my time in Korea. It'll be the time that mom and dad went camping in Korea and had the time of their lives.