Day 11: The Exorcist

Day 11: The Exorcist
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One of our first heavy hitters. The first time I watched The Exorcist, I wasn’t impressed. I was maybe 20 or 21 at the time. We rented it when Sarah‘s family lived in Paducah and watched it with her brothers. I didn’t understand all the fuss. Then I went to sleep. I didn’t have nightmares per se, but my dreams were a convoluted mess, leaving me unable to make heads or tails of them, but leaving me with the feeling of dread.
 
I attributed it to the movie, but didn’t really dwell on it. My mind kept wandering back to Regan’s raspy voice, the claustrophobic feel of her room, Father Karras’ doubt, and her mother’s utter contempt and fury at being unable to help her daughter. Naturally, the genius of the film was working on me. The Exorcist is usually in the top three of all time lists for the best horror movies ever made, often in the top spot.
 
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So, what’s it all about? A demon possessed girl and her exorcism. Yes, it really is that simple. Now, the film follows the entire possession, start to finish. It shows the evolution of Father Karras and his inner demons, no pun intended. We see Father Merrin, aware of the demon possessing Regan, ready to do battle again. It’s uneasy viewing at worst, and a masterpiece at best. I vote masterpiece.
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If you want a real treat, find the audiobook version read by William Peter Blatty (the author). His voice with this work is superb and a perfect fit.
 
Check out the television series on Fox as well. It has just entered into its second season and I can’t recommend it enough.
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Day 10: Zombeavers

Back on track! Yeah, baby!

 

Day 10: Zombeavers
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Yes, it is as silly as the title; a B-Movie to be sure. But, damn, I love this movie. Yes, it is a movie about zombie beavers. Yes, it’s campy. Yes, it makes no sense, but if you can put all that aside, you might just enjoy the movie. It doesn’t strive for perfection, unless you aim for B-Movie perfection and this kills that, and it has a lot of fun on the way.
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No big named stars in this one, though you might recognize one of the boyfriend’s if you watched It Follows (which will have its own day later in the month). We have three girls going on vacation to get away from one jerk boyfriend that cheated, off to a cabin of a cousin or something, doesn’t matter. Not important. Guys crash the getaway. “I feel like a Power Ranger.” (You’ll understand when you watch.) Then the zombeavers show up. Hilarity ensues.
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If you just want to kick back with something fun, you could do worse!
 
Oh, and the song at the end credits is pure gold.

31 Days of Horror: Days 7-9

A weekend of sickness (was really a bitch week for my immune system), so there are now three days to do.
 
Day 7: The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Day 8: The Conjuring 2
Day 9: The Ring
 
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
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This one caught me off guard and stuck with me. Starring Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch, with a special appearance by Roose Bolton (who I think has the facial shape for Freddy Krueger, just sayin’), as a father and son duo that work as coroner and assistant, they get a Jane Doe delivered late one evening. What ensues was a masterclass in suspense. I found it to be supremely eerie with an atmosphere of uncertainty. As the autopsy unfolds, things begin to spiral out of control. Reality bends, breaks, bends a bit more, and then reasserts itself. It left me guessing the whole way through, and it also left me with that feeling of someone watching me.
 
The Conjuring 2
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James Wan has my support when it comes to horror. I’ve loved each of his directorial efforts in horror (including the much maligned Dead Silence). The Conjuring series has proven that big budget, Hollywood horror can work. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as real life paranormal research couple Ed and Lorraine Harris. Now, let it be known, that I am not a fan of the Warrens. Never a duo to shy away from saying things were definitely haunted, I prefer a more cautious take on announcing some as haunted, not to mention announcing demonic activity. That out of the way, I absolutely love the Conjuring films. The second one took us across the pond into England and I think it is superior to its predecessor on all fronts, and that little Amityville section at the beginning? That beats all the Amityville movies released to date.
 
This film focuses on the Enfield Haunting. There is a boatload of information available on the haunting, so do feel free to do a quick Google to satiate your thirst for knowledge after finishing up here. In much of the same setup, there’s a haunted family. It focuses on the female. Ed and Lorraine are sent to save the day, and actually leave because they believe it to be a hoax. Watch the film to see how it spends the last twenty minutes of run time. The score is wonderfully created by Joseph Bishara (who also likes to get under the makeup and play some of Wan’s most devious devils) and it will tug emotion out of you. Ignore the critics that say Hollywood horror can’t be good and go watch it.
 
The Ring
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One of my favorite horror films. easily in my Top 10. Japan loves their long-haired, girl ghosts. Here, we are treated to the American remake directed by Gore Verbinski, who would go on to direct Pirates of the Caribbean. Naomi Watts stars as Rachel, a woman investigating the death of her niece, when she stumbles across the infamous tape.
 
Seven days.
 
An creepy phone call from Samara, a deadly hunt for answers, a surprise appearance by Brian Cox, and that creepy ghost girl played by Daveigh Chase. She voiced Lilo in Lilo and Stitch. So yeah, let that into the back of your mind the next time your kids pull out Lilo and Stitch. Creepy ghost girl is just right there, waiting to call you. I hope your phone rings just after the film. Bet you have a moments hesitation on answering it.
 
This film really got into my head. I slept with the light on for a bout a week. One scene terrified me, literally stuck in my head and would not let me go, until one night, in a fit of hysteria from waking up scared, I screamed into my pillow. The spell broke after that, and I eventually returned to normal…normal for me.
 
Watch for the scares. Watch for a well filmed horror movie. Watch it because you want to, but don’t answer the phone after. Seven days and all that.

Day 6: Books of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

Day 6: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
 
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Ever heard of the saying “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”? This doomed film falls directly under that category. It is one of my favorite sequels of all time, and I would have loved a Director’s Cut of this film. Joe Berlinger’s original vision for the film was a take on the obsession with the original film and the hysteria around the single best film marketing strategy created…and then the studio got involved. They wanted a little more blood, and so we got this final iteration, which I still enthusiastically enjoy.
 
I think more people wanted another romp in the woods, shaky cam style, just like the first one. I can see the appeal in that as The Blair Witch Project (TBWP) made a lot of money at the box office versus the budget of the film. This is also why you see a glut of cheap horror films in the market every year. If you can make a film for less than $100k or even $50k and it makes $9m to $10m at the box office, it’s considered a huge success. We, however, didn’t get that version, and I am ever so grateful for that. It was done with little fanfare in last year’s Blair Witch (which was still a good romp, especially at the end), but this wanted to be something more. And for me, it was.
 
We still follow people taking advantage of the popularity of TBWP. We still see loads of fans wandering around in the woods, and the town of Burkittsville dealing with the hassle of the influx of tourists. We then get a cat and mouse whodunnit as their reality begins to meld with group hysteria. I think it was well done and a load of fun.
 
Tell me your thoughts on this one. I know it’s a divisive picture.

Day 4: Dawn of the Dead (remake)

Had to take the day off yesterday. We’ve got a lovely stomach bug floating around our home.

Day four: Dawn of the Dead (remake)
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While I am generally okay with remakes so long as they are done right, most are not. Dawn of the Dead, however, was a fantastic piece of work by Zack Snyder. Starring Ving Rhames, Sarah Polley, and Ty Burrell before he took off in Modern Family.
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In this film, we are once again treated to the mall location made famous by the original Dawn of the Dead. This time, however, we are introduced to fast zombies. These creatures can run, climb, and forcefully tear into your soft, supple flesh. The effects are superb, masterfully created by the great Tom Savini. This helped reignite the zombie craze that led us to The Walking Dead and the glut of zombies films that we endured post Dawn of the Dead remake.
 
I think my favorite scene may be the rooftop scene where they are picking off zombies that look like celebrities. That little bit of humor in a world as bleak as this one was a breath of fresh air.
 
Zombie fans should check this one out. You could (and probably have) done a lot worse than this well-received film!
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31 Days of Horror: Days One and Two

I started doing this on my personal Facebook page, and my wonderful wife said “Sounds blog worthy to me,” and as usual, she is absolutely correct. Now these 31 days of Horror aren’t an end-all-be-all list. It’s not even a top 31 list of the all time greats. For me, this is a way to let you into my world a bit more and share with you 31 horror movies that I like. So, without further adieu, here are the first two days:

Day 1: The Babadook

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The community seems pretty split on this one. Some people love it (me) and others do not. The film is an excellent portrayal of someone that is struggling with depression. Amelia (Essie Davis) lost her husband in an automobile accident, leaving her as a single parent to soon to be born Samuel (Noah Wiseman). The kiddo’s a nutter, and at points during the film, you will want the Babadook to just go ahead and kill the kid. The kid’s redemption, however, is that he loves his mother. We are able to witness her spiral into madness, and his attempt to save her. The Babadook is introduced in a well crafted storybook. If for nothing else, watch the scenes with the book. It’s one I wish I had the chance to order when they offered them.

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Day 2: Grave Encounters

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I really liked this little gem by The Vicious Brothers. Sarah (my wife) and I found it one night on Netflix while prepping for one of our annual Halloween parties. Needless to say, we didn’t get much done until after the party. This is a found footage horror flick. Found footage done right. We open with a TV producer talking about how the show, Grave Encounters, was cancelled in 2003 after the team and all their equipment disappeared while filming episode six of the show. They are investigating Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital (a fake location but shot at Riverview Hospital in British Columbia).

The footage was found in 2010 and thus we have our film. What happens next is Ghost Hunters gone to the extreme; a fall into madness for the team. The scares are effective and the film was an absolute blast. If you like Ghost Hunters or found footage films, you owe it to yourself to watch this one.

So, there you have it! Stay tuned for day three tomorrow!