Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Horror Movie Marathon, Part 3

Welcome to the third and final installment of my week in horror.  I swear, I’ve seen more people die on screen in the past week then I usually do in an entire year. 

Thanks to everyone who read/commented on the first two parts.  I pose a question at the end of this post, and I hope you will take part.  Happy Halloween!

The Thing (1982)
After live-tweeting my distaste for John Carpenter’s apparent horror classic, people, I found out, love The Thing.  Me?  I was bored to tears.  About 40 minutes into the film, I started keeping track of all the continuity/narrative errors I found, but I soon lost count.  This is a sci-fi/horror film, which means in order to enjoy it, you must suspend some (if not all) logic.  But the gaffs in this flick were just maddening.  All, however, was not lost.  The make-up was beyond superb and Kurt Russell was good in that brooding Kurt Russell way.  But the film as a whole wasn’t for me.  Glad I skipped the new remake.

Body Count: 12

Scariest Scene: Gotta be the first time we see the titular beast, as it protrudes itself from a helpless dog.

Misery (1990)
Villainous performances don’t often merit an Academy Award, so when they do, you know you’re in for a frightful treat.  Kathy Bates is nothing short of terrifying as Annie Wilkes, the manic depressive (and utterly insane) ex nurse who, after rescuing her favorite writer from a car crash, slowly tortures him into what will surely be certain doom.

Let me put it this way, any actor who can make the line, “He didn’t get out of the cock-a-doodie car!” utterly terrifying has seriously got something going for them.

With the exception of Richard Farnsworth’s Sherriff getting needlessly hasty at the end, the film has held up extremely well.  “I’m your number one fan...”  Gives me the creeps just thinking about it.

Body Count: 2

Scariest Scene: The sledging of the feet is the obvious choice here, but for me, the most brutal moment of Misery is when Annie makes James Caan burn the only copy of his latest manuscript.  Every writer can feel the pain of that one.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
I’ve spent many a paragraph bitching about the pointlessness of horror film sequels/prequels/remakes etc.  Rarely – and I mean rarely – does a sequel hold a hand to the original.  Halloween H20 is the exception. 

Jamie Lee Curtis wanted to keep everything from the original Halloween intact.  Same cast, same crew, same director, etc.  And although she didn’t get everything she wanted (John Carpenter refused to direct), she got damn close.

H20 gets it right in a number of ways.  Like its predecessor, the movie isn’t as much about the kill as it is about the suspense.  Its narrative is focused and brief (the film is a breezy 86 minutes), and its script is driven and concise.  Sure there are plot holes, but with a ferocious Jamie Lee Curtis, a remorseless Michael Myers and an ending that will drop anyone’s jaw, I feel confident in recommending H20 to any fan of the original.

Body Count: 7

Scariest Scene: There’s something supremely badass and uniquely terrifying of the sight of Michael Myers flipping tables over to uncover a scurrying Laurie Strode hiding beneath them.

Red State (2011)
I plan to expand on Red State in full soon, so I’m going to make this review a short one.  No one dislikes Kevin Smith more than I do.  Aside from two (possibly three) good movies, Kevin Smith is a no-talent hack.  Red State, his new, self-financed, self-distributed, religious horror frenzy is, however, nothing short of a schizophrenic wonder.  It reminded me a lot of Robert Rodriquez’s violent action films, which, if you’re a Robert Rodriquez fan, should serve as a compliment.

I was expecting to absolutely hate Red State.  There’s nothing better than having your premature judgments thrown right in your face.

Body Count: I lost count. says 17, but I would guess more like 50.

Scariest Scene: I don’t want to give too much away, but let me say that Red State is the kind of film that does not side with characters or the actors who play them.  If you are in the movie, you may be killed at any moment, no matter the status of your celebrity or the size of your paycheck.

Friday the 13th (1980)
After Halloween, slasher films were a dime a dozen.  For whatever reason, Friday the 13th made it, and we’ve been reaping the benefits (sarcasm) of the original’s success ever since.

Friday the 13th defines camp horror cinema.  The setting is cheap, the blood is too red, the dialogue is laughable, the acting is forced; it’s all so horribly divine.  This isn’t a particularly well made film, but the confusion on people’s faces when they discover the film’s killer never fails to amuse.

Body Count: 10

Scariest Scene: Nothing in the film is really scary.  But a naked, post-cotial Kevin Bacon having an arrow shoved through his back and then burst out through his chest is as awesome as it gets.

Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
The girlfriend wanted to actually see Jason, so we watched Part 2.  She was disappointed that Mr. Voorhees didn’t don a hockey mask just yet, but pleasantly amused by the film’s quick runtime and creative death scenes.  Which, let's be honest, are about the only things a Jason movie has going for it.

Body Count: 10

Scariest Scene:
Ext. Back Porch of Cabin – Night

Guy in wheelchair rolls onto back porch.  He sits idly for a few moments.  Out of nowhere, a machete slams into his face.  Blood squirts as the chair begins to roll back. 

Jump cut: Wheelchair guy is now rolling backwards down a huge set of stairs that is nowhere near the porch he was just on.  Freeze frame.  Zoom in.  Flash fade to white.  Cut to a couple sharing orgasms together in bed.  Scene continues.

Pure horror movie bliss.

Saw (2004)
I like Saw.  I really do.  I find it to be an ingenious concept that lives up to the expectations set by its many awful sequels.  And therein lies the oft dismay of rewatching a film you think you like: you see it again, and you wonder why the hell you enjoyed it so much in the first place.

During this most recent viewing, I become increasingly annoyed by its editing (it’s as if the editor was on coke the whole time), its flashback-within-flashback narrative structure, and the awful acting by screenwriter Leigh Whannell, who plays the photographer chained in the bathroom with Cary Elwes.

Saw is still a good horror movie, but just imagine if it never left that shitty bathroom.  Forget the subplots on sidetracks, stay where the story is.

Body Count: 6 (and a foot)

Scariest Scene: That final whopper of an ending.  You didn’t see it coming, don’t even lie.

Deliverance (1972)
I’m often asked what I consider to be the scariest movie of all time.  The answer for me is immediate: John Boorman’s 1972 masterpiece, Deliverance.  I know people who have not stepped foot in the ocean since watching Jaws.  After seeing Deliverance nearly 15 years ago (yeah, I was young), I have not spent one enjoyable night camping in the woods.  This is no exaggeration.  The film ruined any sense of calm that isolated nature can bring.

Deliverance is primarily known for one horribly gruesome scene.  That scene, which I don’t want to fully reveal in fear of ruining the film for fresh viewers, is by long and far the most terrifying sequence I have ever seen in a movie. Every single time Jon Voight and Ned Beatty pull their canoe up to that river bank, I think (hope, pray) that they will talk their way out of what is going to soon happen.  They, of course, do not, and the movie is off and running.

As an audience, Deliverance never gives us a moment’s rest. The brilliance of the film is that there is still much more story to be told after the brutalization occurs.  Sure, the four city boys accomplished something, but there is more river to be tread.   “We’re not out of this yet,” Voight tells Beatty late in the film.  No, they certainly are not.

Body Count: 3

Scariest Scene: see above

So my question for you folks is: what is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?  Just one.  Look forward to your answers, thanks to everyone for reading/commenting!


  1. I have to be boring and go for a classic; either The Exorcist, Nightmare on Elm Street 1 or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Exorcist and Chainsaw have lost none of their power, Elm Street, I was 10 when I first saw it so that could be the reason for the sleepless nights!

    Great post; NEED to see Red State!

  2. Exorcist and TCM may seem like obvious choices, but they're both completely legit. Terrifying stuff.

    Red State blew me away. I was stunned.

  3. Have you seen the horror film REC? That scared me! (the Spanish original is regarded as the better movie, I have not seen the US version)

    I think actually I'm more scared by brutal violence in for example Drive (2011), than I am of horror, cause at least you know you are watching a scary movie, whereas in Drive it came as a complete shock

  4. I actually saw Quarantine first, was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and then went back and watched the original REC, which I loved.

    I completely agree with you that sudden violence you don't see coming is far scarier than violence you expect.

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. REC and Quarantine were both amazing!!! REC 2 is bloody good too though i hear Quarantine 2 sucks!

    Been a big fan of Kevin Smith since Mallrats so will be very interesting to see his take on horror!

  6. I really liked REC 2 as well. Didn't even know there was a Quarantine 2... must have been straight to DVD.

  7. Hard to say the scariest movie I've seen. Jean-Luc Godard's WEEK END is easily the most disturbing movie ever made, though.

    DELIVERANCE is an all-time favourite of mine. It's my Dad's favourite film, and I love it to pieces. So chilling, brilliant and unforgettable.

  8. Admission of guilt: I've never seen WEEK END. I've been trying to get a hold of it here without having to buy it, but to no avail.

    Glad to hear you like DELIVERANCE, what an ass kicker of a film.

  9. Oh no. It's very upsetting that you don't like the masterpiece which is The Thing. Check out my recent post.

    Misery is great. The "God I love you," line is one of the creepiest for me.

    Surprised you like H20, probably because of the sequel aspect you mentioned. It's alright in my book.

    Couldn't really get into Red State but I intended on getting back to to it. Nick from the blog insists that it's not a horror film.

    Friday the 13th - now we're talking. Love all those movies, even the goofy ones. Tiff and I were talking about unintentionally funny wheelchair scenes, forgot about that one.

    Saw's a pretty good film, but I have a feeling it and the however many sequels were just an excuse to get to that one twist in the 1st one, although it is awesome.

    Scariest movie for me - gotta go with Blair Witch. There's just something about horror you have no chance of escaping from. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn't get out of those woods. Plus, I was like 14/15 or something. Me, my older sister and our parents starting watching it together, but my parents went to bed or something by the last third. My sister and I considered turning off the movie - we were that scared.

  10. Ok so apparently I stand alone in my aversion to The Thing. But dude, there were so many continuity and narrative errors, I'm just at a complete loss.

    Yeah, H20 is only good from a sequel standpoint, not as its own film.

    Best Friday the 13th kill has to be the chick in the sleeping bag, in, what, part 7?

    Sounds like we saw Blair Witch under very similar circumstances. I was 15, sold out theater, utterly terrified. Like Paranormal Activity, some of the fear of Blair Witch is lost in a bright living room. But I'll never forget that first, mortifying experience.

  11. Awesome to find someone else who liked RED STATE as much as I did. It's a frenetic mess, but so compelling and totaly unpredict able.

    I too am a big fan of DELIVERANCE - haven't seen MISERY, but it's definitely one I'm planning on catching soon.

    My favourite horror films are THE SHINNING, then probably THE EXORCIST (obvious choices I realise). Recently though I'd go with THE DESCENT, which I think is pretty terrifying.

  12. Oh man The Descent is fucking brilliant. Love that flick.

    "A frenetic mess"....perfect way to describe Red State.

  13. The baby halucination scene from Trainspotting. Real horror.