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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)


Just as it wouldn't be Christmas without watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas", it wouldn't be Halloween without watching, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"... so I did.

It's Halloween, and the Peanuts gang is trick or treating... except for Linus.

He's waiting... waiting for the mysterious Great Pumpkin to rise, and bringing Halloween goodness to the world.

I'm probably going to sound biased since I've been a fan of Charlie Brown since I was a kid, but that's because I am biased. LOL

This is one of those cartoons that is just a relaxing, charming tradition for me.  There's an innocence to it that is charming, and allows you to forget the sort of things that are part of our modern world.  There's no moral to the story- you're not being preached to about this thing or that thing.  It's simply meant to make you smile and forget your cares for a bit.

Yes, the animation is dated- but in my opinion, that makes it all the more charming.  It's perfectly in keeping with the simplicity of the story, and the childhood wonder of the characters.

And that's why I love watching it every year.  It's just a great way for me to pop my feet up, scarf down some Halloween candy, and simply relax and smile.  For that reason, it sits firmly in "The Good" for me.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Ouija (2014)


I suspect that everyone, at one point or another, has either played- or thought of playing with a Ouija board.

After her friend dies, Laine Morris and her friends use a Ouija board to contact her...

Too bad, they reached the wrong person...

The idea isn't a bad one.  It could support some decent scares and story- as demonstrated by the fact that there's a page dedicated to listing movies with Ouija boards.  This 2014 offering however, falls short of what it could've been.

The story itself isn't bad.  It's just not executed well.  There's no real suspense.  Most of the scares are variations of the jump scare that seems to becoming a huge part of the genre lately.  The writing felt lazy and... well, meh.

Ditto for the characters.  They're not developed very well, and it was hard to feel anything beyond apathy for most of them.  Once again, meh.

I'm just going to say that the acting was meh as well.  Just, meh.

I was just left feeling, meh by this movie.  I'm sticking "Ouija" in "The Ugly".

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Friday the 13th: The Game (2017)


It is inevitable that movies eventually get turned into a game, including horror movies.  "Friday the 13th" is no exceptional.

This is mainly an online multi-player game, though it does have a limited offline single player mode.  I wouldn't mind seeing a sort of campaign mode added at some point to give it more options for playability.

I don't have much to complain about this game, actually.  You, and up to seven other players are in a match.  One of you plays Jason, while the others are all "camp counsellors".  Jason's aim is to kill the counsellors (naturally), while the counsellors try to either survive to the end of the time- or escape.

As a counsellor, you move around the map from one cabin to another collecting items to aid your survival.  Along the way, you can also find parts of the escape car or boat- or you can find the parts to repair the phone, and call the cops.  In addition, there's a way to contact Tommy Jarvis, and resurrect a dead player as him.

As Jason, you stalk your prey, lay traps, chop through doors, and ultimately kill the counsellors.  You have a few special abilities to aid you, and can kill your victims with unique interactive points in the surrounding environment (door jams, wall mounted antlers, the classic sleeping bag, etc.).

These fairly simple mechanics make it easy to get started in this game, as you don't need to learn a lot of complicated button combos and such.  You spawn and go, pretty much.  But they do provide enough of a challenge for Jason, as there are multiple versions you can choose, and each one has slightly different advantages and disadvantages that help to keep game play interesting.

The counsellors for new players start out fairly out matched by Jason- but, unlike Jason, you can level up the skills for counsellors.  This means that players can level out the playing field a bit.

The original composer for "Friday the 13th", Harry Manfredini, also did the music for the game- which is just plain awesome.

My only real complaint about the game is that it can be hard to find matches to play at times.  Beyond, I find IllFonic's "Friday the 13th: The Game" an enjoyable game- and I'm putting it in "The Good".

Saturday, October 27, 2018

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Main Theme


Halloween is made for nightmares.  And horror movies are all about making nightmares real.  One of the best ones is "A Nightmare on Elm Street" from 1984.  Today, I take a quick look at the main theme.

The notes that open up this piece are dreamlike and misty before taking a turn into the dark realm of nightmares.  The whole piece feels like that ever encroaching shadow in the corner of the eye- the one that shifts and fades when you try to look at it... only for it to gently caress your cheek with it's razor sharp claw from behind you.

The music pulses and thumps rhythmically like the heartbeat of a person in the throes of a horrific vision flashing upon their closed eyelids- a vision they can't wake up from.  You feel the dread as shapeless, nameless horrors flit about in the crevices and hollows of your sleeping mind.  The music stalks you without remorse.

I love this particular piece.  It is so unique and fits in with the franchise, and Freddy Krueger so well.  It is a great expression of his character, and the menace he presents to the protagonists.  Definitely deserves a place in the horror music hall of fame if there were one.

Give it a listen below!

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)


I'm heading out for vacation today (don't worry I've got a bunch of stuff scheduled to auto-publish as part of #HalloweenDayByDay!), so I figured I would watch and review the 2012 film, "The Cabin in the Woods".

A group of college friends go to an isolated cabin for the weekend.  But it's not your garden variety cabin.  There's something sinister under it.  Something sinister that is the only thing standing between them... and a greater threat.

I was actually a little hesitant to watch this film for awhile, as I suspected it would be a mere copy of "The Evil Dead", or "Cabin Fever".  But in the end, I'm glad I did- and I was pleasantly surprised.

The concept- on the surface, is pretty simple and basic... but it's the parallel story going on that takes this concept, and makes it unique.  The way the two stories thread together and combine make you wonder what's going on- keeping you actively engaged and wanting to find out more.  Just a rare example of phenomenal, smart storytelling in a genre that relies so heavily on tropes and clich├ęs to breathe life into it's offerings.  I ended up with a feeling of satisfaction by the end of it.

The characters were great as well.  They provided an excellent platform in which to explore the archetypes within the horror genre.  They are all likable- unlike so many characters in recent years.  I wound up actually feeling regret when each of them got picked off.  I wanted them to win and survive- which, I admit has been rare lately... something that made me wonder if I was becoming jaded and cynical.  The fact I came to care about these characters helped to reaffirm that there is a problem in the genre in regards to how many of the characters used are just actually terrible people.

I wanna give props to the cast of this movie.  Each and every single one of them were great.  I could go on and on about each and every single one of the performers, since they all deserve praise for the way they portrayed both the characters- and the archetypes those characters were meant to represent, while subverting them at the same time.  They brought charm, humour, and humanity to their roles.  Even the antagonists were enjoyable to watch.  Bravo and kudos to one and all.  They made this movie a pleasure to watch.

Part of the excellence of this movie came from the camera work.  It used the same general techniques used in standard horror movies, while also bringing something new to the visual part of the storytelling.  The framing of shots, movement of the camera, and the editing of scenes created a great pace, and brought a nice dynamic and energy to the whole thing.

As you can imagine by this point, "The Cabin in the Woods" is a movie that I highly recommend.  Not only would I watch it again- I'm tempted to buy a 4K capable TV so I could.  Watch it.  Buy it.  Re-watch it.  It goes without saying that this one takes a place in "The Good".

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011)


Comics have come a long way in regards to being an acceptable form of entertainment- as has horror.  Which is why I was glad to find a horror comic movie... and Italian one no less.

Dylan Dog is a private investigator... one who used to be the investigator of choice for the undead.

Until an incident turned him into a pariah in the undead community.

But now... a long dormant evil is waking up... and Dylan's in the thick of things again...

The concept of a Private Investigator who's client were the undead really caught my attention.  The fact that it was based on an Italian comic really made me take notice.  It's a cool idea that I had to check out.

The story itself was quite well done.  It was well paced, and developed the world in such a way that drew you into it, and moved you along with little bumpiness.  It had a nice modern sort of detective noir tone and feel to it that I quite liked.

The characters were great as well.  Dylan Dog, Marcus, Elizabeth, Wolfgang, and Vargas are all well crafted, and developed nicely.  They were interesting, and as believable/realistic as vampires and werewolves could be in terms of personalities.  They were all very engaging characters that helped make the story all the more fleshed out, and entertaining.

I don't think this would've been the case if the acting hadn't be as good as it was.  Brandon Routh was great as Dylan Dog.  He brought a real depth of emotion to the character while also having some fun with the stoic, hard nosed PI persona. Anita Briem as Elizabeth was fantastic as well, making her character likable and important to the plot.  Watching Sam Huntington as Marcus was a joy- he really brought a  nice bit of levity to the character and the story, while not being too over the top or silly.  I also enjoyed Taye Diggs as Vargas- he infused his character with a wonderful suave arrogance and sinister charm that you couldn't deny.

I can't say much about the camera work as I was so charmed by the story and characters, I didn't pay any particular attention to it- which says something about the movie as a whole.

I would definitely recommend giving this movie at least one viewing, though I admit I will probably watch it again in the near future since it's simply a fun movie.  If I can find an English translation of the comic, I would love to collect it.  I'm putting "Dylan Dog: Dead of Night" in "The Good".

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Five Legendary Monster I Want to See in a Movie


Monsters are a staple in the horror genre.  They predate written history.  They serve as warnings about the dangers in the world around us- and the dangers inside us.  They scare us, and they fascinate us.  They are the first true horrors of the genre.

So, with that in mind, I present a list of five legendary monsters I'd like to see in a movie:

1.  Sea Bishop:  A sea creature claimed to have been captured in the 16th Century, and presented to King of Poland and some Bishops.  It was half fish, and half human.  Upon being released into the sea again, it made the sign of the cross and disappeared

2.  Gorgon:  Any of the Gorgon Sisters.  Women that had been cursed with a face that turned people to stone, and a head of writhing, hissing, venomous snakes for hair.

3.  Jinn:  Arabian spirits that can either be demonic, or angelic.  The basis of the spirit called a genie.

4.  Minotaur:  A man with a bull's head that lives at the centre of a labyrinth that required a sacrifice of seven boys, and seven girls.

5.  Yokai:  Seductive Japanese ghosts that can either be benevolent or malevolent.  Their "true forms" can vary.

So, there's a quick list of five legendary monsters I'd like to see in a movie.  What ones would YOU like to see in a movie?

Monday, October 22, 2018

Cloverfield (2008)


Is it just me, or is New York becoming the new Tokyo of monster movies?

A group of friends have a going away part interrupted by something very loud... and large, destroying New York.

This is their footage.  This is their story...

I have to admit that I wasn't really all that interested in seeing this movie because of the found footage aspect of it... but I figured I'd give it a shot.

The story:  Big Monster attacks city.  Army is fighting monster.  Non-army main characters are trying to save a friend while avoiding the monster.

There were some decent moments during this film- but nothing that really made me go, "cool", or "that's new and interesting".  To be honest, this movie is actually pretty standard for the genre.  Not bad, but not exactly outstanding in my opinion.

I had a hard time engaging with most of the characters- possibly because the acting was fairly... meh.

There are some great visuals, though when you see the monster in full during daylight, you can tell it's CGI... and not the best CGI either.

I just couldn't find it in myself to be engaged with "Cloverfield".  There was nothing really about it that took a hold of me and made it hard for me to not watch.  I even found myself wondering what a pumpkin spice latte slushie would be like.

I'm going to have to put it in 'The Ugly".

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Weird War Tales: Issue 107 (Jan 1982)


Growing up, I loved comics.  I especially loved the creepy ones... the odd ones... the weird ones.  DC Comics had one that mixed two of my favorite comic genres: war, and horror.

From 1971 to 1983, this comic presented short stories of supernatural war stories.  I rather miss this series, and would love to have it return to publication.

Today, I'll be examining Issue 107.  I like the cover art- which was done by the comic legend Joe Kubert.  His art was always so interesting and atmospheric.  The details he put into his panels, the way he used shadows and perspective was just genius.

Story One: "Seize the Time!"  In this short story, time travellers from 1989 travel back to the past to prevent the take over of their homeland.

This is certainly an interesting concept, and the execution was fairly good considering they only had five pages to tell it.  To be honest, this story could easily be extended to a fairly decent sized graphic novel in it's own right.  The artwork, was pretty good- though looked fairly standard for Sci-fiction type stories from the 80's... though I will say that the mustache that was worn by Laszlo was kinda outlandish.

Intermission: "The Monster Marines": The Creature Commandos come across a machine gun nest, and Gritteeth, the werewolf has to take it out.

A cute, and humorous little one page strip.  The art is amusing, and the punchline made me chuckle.

Story Two: "Last Chance!"  A UFO has landed... and sits in judgement of humanity!

This story isn't really a weird war one, but was still interesting.  It has some very strong echoes of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951).  The artwork used shadow and colour nicely to focus your eye on what was important, without sacrificing details on the surroundings- though I have to admit that the faces looked a little messed up.

Story Three: "The Avenging Furies"  Major Werner was warned not to enter the valley unless he wished to anger the Furies.  Ignoring the warning, the Major soon learns that "Hell hath no fury"...

I really enjoyed this one.  The Major is suitably mean, the Furies suitably eerie, and the climax satisfying.  I really liked the art on this one.  The colour palette was fairly simple, but when combined with the shadows and texture details, it looked really atmospheric and spooky.

Story Four:  "The Turnabout Battle"  What if, at the Battle of Rappahannock, General Ambrose Burnside had been victorious?

A simple two page story, with an nice little twist at the end.  Really nice artwork, with fantastic use of colour and shading- really set the mood for the story.

Story Five: "Death for Hire"  Mercenaries hired to force an African Tribe to give up their land soon find out that they aren't the only hired guns in this conflict.

A nice little tale, and an enjoyable twist ending.  Really quite enjoyed it.  The artwork wasn't bad, but wasn't great.

Story Six:  "The Return of Wanderer One"  The impending crash of a satellite has some dire effects for humanity's jump to the heavens.

Not really a war story, but an interesting concept that could be stretched out into a nice thriller of sorts.  Wasn't much for the artwork on this particular story.

The comic in its entirety is enjoyable, though rather dated compared to the artwork that's possible now a days.  This comic would be more for collectors than newcomers to comics.  I'm going to put this particular issue of "Weird War Tales" in "The Bad".

Saturday, October 20, 2018

7 Days to Die (2013)


When it comes to computer games, one of the biggest genres in recent years is the "Survival" genre.  One of the most prominent ones has been "7 Days to Die".

The end of the world has occurred.  All that's left is you... and the hungry undead.

Scavenge supplies.  Craft weapons.  Build your safe place.  Survive the Blood Moon.

Survive... if you can...

The Fun Pimps created a zombie survival game that is commonly described as, "Minecraft if it was a survival horror movie".  And it's a fairly apt description.  You have to find resources in order to craft and upgrade weapons, armour, and structures- all while surviving an unending stream of zombie stalkers.

The concept is a great one, and is actually one that's really well suited to the horror genre.  This concept is aided in how it's executed.

The mechanics are pretty simple to grasp, and fairly intuitive in that you don't have to waste time trying to figure out where everything is located in the interfaces.  This means someone fairly new to the game can quickly figure it out and actually get into the game's mood, and feel a bit more immersed in what they're doing.

You can do either single player, or multiplayer- which adds to the game's playability.  I tend to prefer single player, as I find there's more tension in trying to survive on your own in such a scenario.  I enjoy the challenge.  And the game is challenging.  As you, level up, the game slowly ramps up the difficulty to keep pace with, adding more zombies, and special zombies.

The Blood Moon every seven days really adds to the tension and challenge.  When the Blood Moon rises, the night turns into a crimson skied hell with a continuous stream of howling, snarling zombies pounding against the walls of your shelter.  Even in a pretty much impenetrable fortress, the nonstop sound of the zombies outside is terrifying.

In terms of graphics, this game is pretty damn great, and keep getting improved.  The different biomes are well crafted with a distinct, but natural palette for each that blends in fairly nicely as you go from one to another.  The model for the different types of zombies are interesting, and appropriately creepy.  The zombie dogs are especially noteworthy for being just plain outright nightmare fuel.  Really adds to the feel of the game, and allowed me to put myself into it more easily.

I love playing this game.  It's challenging, but not frustratingly so, and often forces you to be creative with how you design the defenses for your shelter.  You also have a lot of choice in this game as to how you play.  I like to play a more defense based game with the occasional foray into the wilds.

I'm definitely going to put "7 Days to Die" in 'The Good", and recommend you give it a go.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Top Ten Stephen King Adaptations


I can easily be described as a pretty serious- almost hardcore Stephen King fan.  I just absolutely love his books.  I also really enjoy seeing what film makers do with his books as well.

So, without much further blather from me, here is a list of my favorite adaptations of Stephen King horror books (in chronological order):

  1. "Carrie" (1976);
  2. "Cujo" (1983);
  3. "The Dead Zone" (1983);
  4. "Christine" (1983);
  5. "Pet Semetary" (1989);
  6. "Misery" (1990);
  7. "Secret Window" (2004);
  8. "The Mist" (2007);
  9. "Carrie" (2013);
  10. "IT: Chapter One" (2017).
There you have it.  What are some of your favorite Stephen King adaptations?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Psycho (1960) Main Theme


I don't think that a discussion about horror movie themes would be complete without visiting one of the true classics- the main theme for the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film, "Psycho", which was composed by Bernard Hermann.

This piece is not as simple in appearance as the ones for "Halloween" or "Friday the 13th".  It is very orchestral in nature.  There are layers of string instruments, percussions, and wood wind instruments.  Each layer is like a personality unto itself, with each dancing around each other, vying for dominance over the main... much like the conflict between Norman Bates and "Mother".

The music flows from a calm, idyllic, though wary "Norman" type of personality to a more discordant, jealous, vengeful "Mother" type of sound.  The "Norman" parts are a great contrast with the "Mother" parts.  Really expresses the emotional conflict between the two halves of the Norman Bates.

The strident "stabbing" segment is just amazing, but is sadly, the most remembered part of the piece due to the shower scene.  I love it, and it signals a very distinct start to the disintegration and sublimation of the soothing "Norman" parts by the sinister, enveloping "Mother" part.  Just a masterful piece of musical storytelling that echoes the general mood and atmosphere of the movie itself- which is what any great main theme should do.

Give it a listen below:

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

It: Chapter One (2017)


One of the most talked about horror movies in 2017 was the most recent adaptation of Stephen King's "IT".

Well, it's 2018, and I'm going to be talking about it.

What?  Too soon?

The small town of Derry, Maine has been plagued for centuries by strange disappearances of children.  Unknown to the residents, something sleeps beneath them, waiting until it's time to feed again.

But it's waking up now... and only a group of teenagers called "The Losers" can save them...

The book it self is long.  Really long.  Which is why it had been done as a mini-series back in 1990, and has been split up into two movies- with this one being "Chapter One".  The two movie breakdown is actually quite appropriate since the book is pretty much two stories.  The first one is from the teenage perspective, while the second is from an adult perspective.

The characters in this chapter were really well done, and likeable.  You come to sympathize with each of them, and relate to them in one way or another.  Basically, you want The Losers to win.  Pennywise was suitable creepy, sinister- while still be interesting as well.

I have to say that the acting was great.  All the young stars brought life and depth to their characters, making them quite believable.  Special note needs to be made of the performances of Sophia Lillas (Beverly), and Bill Skarsgard (IT/Pennywise).  Both blew me away.  Lillas, in my opinion, stole the movie in terms of The Losers.  Just a really powerful, amazing performance.  Skarsgard's Pennywise was true to the book, while being entirely unique from Tim Curry's famous performance.  The look, movement, sound of Pennywise was just a fascinating portrait of nightmarish fun.  And that smile... just... that smile...


Frankly, when it comes to Stephen King adaptations, I'm going to have to put this one near the top of my favorites along with "Misery" (1990), "Carrie" (2013), and "Pet Semetary" (1989).  I'm putting "IT: Chapter One" into "The Good".

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Five Actresses I'd Like to See in a Horror Movie


One of the key parts of the horror movie genre is that of the "Scream Queen"- those women that make a living, and a name for themselves by starring in predominantly horror movies.  Without them, the genre wouldn't be what it is.

But what about actresses that haven't been in a horror movie?  What sort of roles would they play?  Would they perfect for a slasher movie, a psychological thriller, or an old school ghost story?

Well, what follows is a list of five actresses I personally would love to see in a horror movie:

1.  Julie Andrews:  I can say without a doubt that she tops my list, because it would be such a departure from the family friendly roles she's known for (ie- "Mary Poppins", "The Sound of Music", "The Princess Diaries", etc).  I could see her in the role of the traumatized, and guilt ridden matriarch in a remake of Coppola's 1963 "Dementia 13".

2.  Dame Margaret Smith:  Better known as "Maggie" Smith, she definitely makes the list as well.  She's no stranger to death, having starred in multiple adaptations of Agatha Christie novels.  I see her as a crazed, domineering mother who's so afraid of losing her son, that's she's willing to do anything to keep him near... including murder...

3.  Cate Blanchett:  Another great actress with iconic roles- Queen Elizabeth, Galadriel, and even Katharine Hepburn.  She has done ONE supernatural thriller, so I feel it's okay to still included her.  I think I would enjoy seeing her in a gothic period piece as a Countess Bathory sort of character who bathes in the blood of virgin women to keep her youth.

4.  Anne Hathaway:  Just like Julie Andrews, she's known for mostly charming, humorous roles ("Princess Diaries", "Ella Enchanted", "Alice in Wonderland", etc).  It would be really quite interesting to see her in a traditional modern slasher movie... possibly as the real estate developer who raises the ire of the killer by building on the land where their mother is buried.

5.  Emma Watson:  An rising star, who I think is going to have  long, successful career in front to her, even if she'll always be remember for her role as Hermione in the "Harry Potter" films.  I think that I would probably enjoy seeing her in a film noir supernatural thriller- one where she's a Private Investigator who is investigating a murder... while experiencing ghostly events and visions surrounding the people involved.

So, there we have it- my list of five actresses I'd love to see in horror movies of one sort or another.

Who would YOU like to see in a horror movie?

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Children (2008)


Halloween and children go together like peanut butter and jam.  Murder and children... not so much, right?  You might be surprised...

Two families come together to share the holidays together, and ring in the New Year.

Unfortunately, their children start to fall ill, and act irrationally.

The New Year's going to be rung in with murderous intent this year...

The story's concept brings to mind the classic "The Children of the Corn", in that it too has kids killing adults.  That is where the similarities end though.  While the other film gives a fairly cohesive reason as to WHY the kids have turned against adults, "The Children" does not.  It's simply waved off as a virus.  There's no clue given as to why the virus does this... and given the reveal later, there's no mention of something similar happening elsewhere on the news or anything.  It's an interesting concept that unfortunately has the holiness of a soup strainer when examined a bit in detail.

Most of the characters, except for Casey, and her mother aren't all that sympathetic.  Most of them are kinda… mean and almost cynical.  The children are too... though considering they fall sick to the "hate virus" fairly early on, they can be excused for that.

The acting was pretty good.  I especially have to give credit to the kids, Eva Sayer (Miranda), William Howes (Paulie), Rafiella Brookes (Leah), and Jake Hathaway (Nicky).  They did a fantastic job making their characters creepy, and murderous as fuck.  The look on Paulie's face in the shot below is amazing- just a look of pure, unhinged fury.


Eva Sayer as Miranda, was great as well.  She brought a nice calculated psychopathic touch to her character.  Really quite impressive.  And of course, the look on Leah's and Nicky's face in the shot at the top of the review is quite chilling and disturbing.  Loved it.

While most of the camera work is fairly standard, the editing for most of the kills was phenomenal.  It's done is such a way that you're tricked into thinking you saw more blood and gore than you actually did.  I also really liked the way this movie was lit.  The house interior was lit so that it felt warm and cozy, up until the climax, when it took on the same sort of cold, dreary look as the exterior shots.

Although there were some great things about this movie, those great things aren't quite enough to get me to watch it a second time.  I would probably recommend it for a single viewing, though.  I'm going to put "The Children" in "The Bad".  Now, if you'll excuse me... I seem to have the sniffles...

Friday, October 12, 2018

Unfriended (2014)


Social Media is a huge part of our lives.  It keeps us connected to friends and family, and news.  It allows us to share our lives with a multitude of people.

But, it has a dark side as well.

Blaire Lily and her friends are talking on Skype, when a mysterious seventh person logs in.  Soon, they learn that they are the target of a vengeful killer determined to expose their roles in the suicide of a fellow classmate... even if it means killing them one by one...

This is going to be a fairly short review.

Why?

Because this movie isn't very good.  Period.

The concept is interesting, but is also heavily influenced by movies like "I Know What You Did Last Summer".  Interesting, but overused.

The characters aren't very sympathetic from the start- except for maybe Blaire.  They're all just callous, self-centered shits.  Their "secrets", ultimately aren't very shocking because you're already convinced that they would do such mean-spirited things to begin with.  Even the killer isn't very sympathetic, despite the "righteousness" of their vengeance.  You're not rooting for anybody to survive.  At all.  You just want it to end.

The acting, when the performers are on screen isn't bad.  It's not good, but it's not bad.  It's... meh.

The camera work is also pretty dull, but that's understandable since it's mostly using webcams.  I could handle that.  What I had a hard time with was when it was just the computer screen, and Blaire was going from window to window, etc.  It looked fake.  It felt fake.  It looked cheap.  It felt cheap.

Worse thing of all is they ended it on a cheesy, cheap, poorly done jump scare.  Just fuck you, movie.

Other than this review, "Unfriended" won't be shared by me on Social Media... which lands it in "The Ugly".

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Friday the 13th (1980) Main Theme


I'm back with a quick look at another iconic horror movie theme.  This time it's the one for "Friday the 13th".

Just like the theme for "Halloween", this one is deceptively simple.  There isn't a huge diversity of notes or rythms in this piece, but they are still effective at giving us that feeling that something is in the woods watching us... waiting for us... getting nearer and near with each breath we take.

The music is the sound of inevitable Death, and lets us know that we can run- but we can not hide.

The notes and chords are discordant- reflecting the insanity flowing through the killer's veins- the rampaging thoughts driving them to murder... the chaos of trying to avoid our Fates.

One of the most iconic parts is the "Ki ki ki… ma ma ma" whispered through out.  It is like a religious chant... a mantra of destruction... the obsessive single note ringing in the ears of the psychopath.

This piece is truly one of the genre's masterpieces of musical composition.

Give it a good listen below:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Salem's Lot (1979)


Vampires.  Stephen King.  Halloween Day By Day.  The Corner of Terror.

A match made in heaven, right?

Writer Ben Mears returns to his home town of Salem's Lot to write about the local "haunted house"- the Marsten House.  His arrival seems to herald a plague: children disappearing... locals feeling tired and run down... and growing fear and suspicion.

Did Ben bring death to Salem's Lot... or did Straker, another mysterious stranger.

And who exactly is the never seen Kurt Barlow?

1979 saw Stephen King's novel "Salem's Lot" adapted for television.  This novel is one of King's more iconic works, and a great modern take on the classic, "Dracula".  I'll save a review of the book for another time.  Today, we're going to discuss the mini-series.

The story is essentially based on Bram Stoker's classic.  It is however nicely updated for a more modern audience, and set in a more grounded population.  It progressed nicely and tensely, and certainly kept me engaged from the start to end.

I have to say that the characters were well rounded, and each received screen time and development.  There were very few that didn't serve a purpose within the plot.  While I found the main character, Ben Mears kinda bland, I really quite enjoyed "Weasel", Mike Ryerson, and Larry Crockett.  These three were quite unique and quirky enough to like them.  The rest were a bit more interesting than Mears, but only marginally.

This could've been due to the acting.  For the most part, it's fairly typical of made for TV movies from the late 70's and early 80's- which is usually a little over the top.  Having said that, I have to also admit that I have always enjoyed the acting of Fred Willard (Larry Crockett), Geoffrey Lewis (Mike Ryerson), and Elisha Cook, Jr. ("Weasel") precisely for their somewhat overacting.  Probably because the overacting is perfectly keeping with the quirky characters they play.  Seeing all three in the same movie was a real treat for me.

There isn't much to say about the camera work in this mini-series.  It's the sort of angles, framing, etc you'd find in any other made for TV (or direct to DVD) project.

As much as I enjoyed seeing three of my favorite character actors in the same movie, and as much as I enjoyed the story itself... I feel that "Salem's Lot" is good for a single viewing.  Maybe a couple with sufficient time in between them.  Because of this fact, this Stephen King adaptation lands in "The Bad".

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Five Horror Novels I'd Love to See as Movies


I love movies.  And I love books.  So it's only natural that I'd love movies based on books, right?

Right.

So, without too much ado, here are five horror novels I'd love to see as a movie:

1.  "Bag of Bones" (Stephen King)- Widow Mike Noonan returns to his summer house after his wife passed away.  Soon, he is drawn into a ghostly mystery of what the local millionaire, Max Devore wants with three year old Kyra... and how it's connected to an old curse that was put upon the town by blues singer Sara Tidwell...

2.  "The Servants of Twilight" (Dean Koontz)-  After Christine Scavello and her son, Joey are accosted in a mall parking lot by a crazed lady they find themselves being stalked by a mysterious cult.  Hiring detective Charlie Harrison, they hope to discover what the cult wants with her son, and stop them.  What they discover leads them down a rabbit hole of religious fervor as they learn the cultist are willing to die... and kill in order to have her son.

3.  "Haunted" (Heather Graham)-  People keep telling Matt Stone that his house is haunted, much to his annoyance.  To end the speculation, once and for all, he hires Harrison Investigations to get to the bottom of the claims.  The lead investigator, Darcy Tremayne is a gifted psychic who is intent on solving the mystery behind the ghostly apparition that's been reported.  Her questions stir up more than ghosts as haunting memories from the past shadows on the present.

4.  "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" (H.P. Lovecraft)- After his patient, Charles Dexter Ward, escapes from the mental institution, Dr. Marinus Willett tries to track him down, and find out the cause of his madness.  He soon discovers a tale of necromancy, eldritch beings, and plans for murder on a grand scale... and it's up to him to end it.

5.  "The Premature Burial" (Edgar Allan Poe)- A person is sleeping, and thinking about how they suffers from a disorder wherein they fall into a death-like trance at random times.  As they ponder their fear of being buried alive, they recount other occasions where people have been.

And so, there we have it.  What five horror stories would YOU like to see turned into movies?

Monday, October 8, 2018

Happy Death Day (2018)


Birthdays are great.  Dying on them, not so great.  Having to repeat your birthday over and over again?  Hilarious...

It's Theresa's birthday today.  After going to a party, a masked person kills her in a dark tunnel.

It's Theresa's birthday today.  After going to a party, she goes straight home... but a masked person kills her in her bedroom.

It's Theresa's birthday today.  It will always be Theresa's birthday unless she can identify and stop the masked person from kill her again... and again... and again.

"Happy Death Day" is essentially "Groundhog Day" meets "Scream".  A great concept, that is executed extremely well.  The story is surprisingly well developed and engaging, while utilizing the same framework of events over and over again.

The characters to, are well crafted and rounded.  All of them get some depth and growth as the story progresses.  You come to like both Theresa and Carter- the boy whose dorm room she starts her journey in.  Each character is interesting to watch.

This is helped by the acting.  Jessica Rothe as Theresa was great.  She brought humour, seriousness, and depth to the character.  I also liked Israel Broussard as Carter.  He helped to make his character quite likable, and a good balance to Theresa.  Ruby Modine brought a nice, understated performance to her character of Lori, while Rachel Matthews made an excellent "Alpha Bitch" as Danielle.  All in all, a great collection of performances.

There was also some great camerawork and editing that helped to set the mood, pacing, and tension of each scene.

Jay said that "Happy Death Day", "charmed the shit" out of him.  I have to agree.  This is a great little "feel good horror movie" that I'm going to put in "The Good".

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Five Canadian Hauntings I'd Like to See on the Big Screen


Every country has their famous ghosts and hauntings- Canada included.  Often, famous hauntings will be turned into movies (a la "The Conjuring").  Well, today I'd like to present my list of five Canadian hauntings I'd love to see turned into movies.

1.  The Great Amherst Mystery- During the 1870's in the small Nova Scotia town of Amherst, the cottage of Esther Cox and her family was plagued by poltergeist activity.  Some of the activity experienced were small fires, moving objects, Esther's limbs swelling to abnormal size, and the words "Esther Cox, you are mine to kill." appearing on the wall.

I have always been fascinated by this case, and would love to see it on the big screen.

2.  The Old Hag of Newfoundland-  Many Newfoundlanders believed that a certain type of sleep disorder was caused by "The Old Hag", who would lie on people's chest, giving them sleep paralysis.  Those that did not wake from their dreams would die.

3.  The Baldoon Mystery-  The 1820's saw Wallaceburg and Chatham, Ontario become the site of a poltergeist that resided at a sheep ranch in between them.  Bullets, stones and pellets of lead would rain down on the farm house.  Fire fell from the sky, and small decorations would be flung around and smashed.  The baby was rocked by an some unknown entity, while chairs slid across the floor.  The disturbance only ended after the house burnt down.

4.  The Red Lake Windigo-  An Algonquin spirit that possesses people, and turns them into flesh eating ghouls.  Police arrested Jack and Joseph Fiddler in 1907 for the murder of Joseph's daughter-in-law, Wahsakapeequay.  They claimed she had turned into a Windigo.

5.  The Mackenzie River Ghost-  Augustus Richard Peers- a Hudson Bay Company fur trader was found frozen to death in the Northwest Territories during the 1850's.  While his body was being transported to Fort Simpson for burial.  His voice could be heard ordering the dog sled team to continue on, "Marche!  Walk!".  The sled dogs went mad.

And there we have it.  Do you have any famous Canadian Hauntings you'd love to see on the big screen?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Rosewood Lane (2011)


As much as I love slasher horror movies, I still find time to enjoy the more subtle suspenseful psychological horror movies.  I recently took a visit to "Rosewood Lane"...

Dr. Sonny Blake returns to her childhood home in Rosewood Lane after her alcoholic father dies.  Her arrival attracts the attention of the local newspaper deliverer, who offers her a free subscription.

Her refusal begins a dark game of cat and mouse that can only end with one of them dead...

There are some things I liked about this movie, and some I didn't.

The main storyline was a little choppy and to be honest, kinda weak.  Nothing about it really hooked me.  And the big reveal left me more "Meh," than "OMG!".

While there are some great, tense, and eerie scenes, the non-scary ones were rather tepid emotionally. I found it hard to feel invested.  This could be due to the characters in general, since we're not really given much of a reason to actually like- and care about them.  I liked Sonny- played nicely by Rose McGowan, but not enough to be emotionally gripped by what was happening around her.  The boyfriend was a bit of a jerk, and the rest weren't really developed... as if they were there just to provide grist for the mill.

There was some great camera work in this film, though- complimented with great editing to create a real creepy mood, and tense story pacing.  I really found myself enjoying that aspect of it.

Unfortunately, when all is said and done, "Rosewood Lane" wasn't all that satisfying to me.  I'm going to have to put it in "The Ugly".

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Halloween (1978) Main Theme


One of the must important elements of a horror movie is the music- especially when it's subtle enough to go unnoticed, but still creep into your soul and chill your blood.  Most horror movie themes are rather ordinary sounding, but some... some transcend the ordinary, and become iconic and set the bar high for those that come after...

John Carpenter's main theme for his 1978 feature, "Halloween" is one those iconic songs.

At first listen, it's not a very complex piece, but as you listen further... it turns out to be comprised layers of dark, sinister intent stalking you from the theatrical shadows of the movie screen.  It is slow and rhythmical, like a heartbeat- your heartbeat as you check behind the couch, in the closet, under the bed for The Shape that lurks out sight... picking up speed as your realize that it's right behind you.

This music is an ominous blanket of shadows falling over a quiet, idyllic neighbourhood, as Death flits from hedgerow to cellar door to your closet.  You can't escape the feeling of closing dread as you listen to it.

This piece is in my opinion a masterpiece... truly and iconic work that deserves all the fan love it receives, and the place in horror music lore that it deserves.

Give it a listen below:

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Prince of Darkness (1987)


As most people who know me are aware, I have a fondness for the older horror movies, so it's no surprise that I would be willing to pop back to 1987 to find an interesting one to review.

That interesting one just happens to be John Carpenter's "Prince of Darkness"...

A small church in Los Angeles is hiding a secret... a secret that has been guarded for thousands of year.

A secret that has existed since before time began.

A secret that is finally waking up...

The story concept is fascinating as far as I'm concerned.  The idea, and the basic story was able to carry me along, even though I could unfortunately predict many of the events to occur.  This is probably due to fact that, while the idea was unique, and interesting- the actually telling of it was done in the fairly standard format of the time for such movies.

I liked the characters- especially the Priest (Donald Pleasance), Professor Birack (Victor Wong), and Catherine Danforth (Lisa Blount).  While I enjoyed Dennis Dun's acting, his character, Walter grated a bit on my nerves.  The rest of the characters weren't bad- but they were, sad to say... fairly standard characters who really didn't do much to advance the plot- except to serve as fodder.

The acting was quite good- especially the four I mentioned above.  Peter Jason as Dr. Leahy was also good considering his character wasn't overly important to the plot beyond making trombone noises... and dying.  Special credit has to go to rocker Alice Cooper for his role as the leader of the homeless people surrounding the church.  He didn't say much- but was quite capable of making his role memorable.

I found this movie was a bit of a mixed bag in terms of camera work.  There was a lot of the usual sort of camera angles and movement that you'd find in a horror movie from the 1980's... but there was also some really cool ones too.  Luckily, the cool stuff outnumbered the standard fare.

Ultimately, I have to confess that of Carpenter's films, this isn't one of his stronger ones in my opinion.  It's certainly worth a look- but I'm not sure I'd be compelled to watch it multiple times.  I'm going to have to put it in "The Bad".

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Poltergeist (James Kahn)


If you're a horror fan- or a fan of Steven Spielberg, you're aware of the movie "Poltergeist", right?  Well, what you may not be so aware of is the fact that there was a novel done based on the movie.

Though, it's not too far-fetched, since pretty much every movie in the 1980's had a novel done for it...

The Freelings are a happy family: A loving father and mother, two daughters and a son, and a lovable dog.  They are a happy family living in a cozy little community called Cueste Verde.  They have a comfortable home, and a comfortable life.

Soon, however, things take a turn for the worst when their daughter, Carol Anne disappears... only for her voice to start transmitting through the family television...

The only thing I'm going to say about the movie this book is based on is that I loved it when it came out.  I'll save the rest of my thoughts for a proper review at some point.

This, however, is about the book.

The book is actually pretty faithful to the movie in terms of character portrayal, quotes, and events.  However, it takes the opportunity to explore a bit of the backstory behind the investigators and the psychic Tangina.  This exploration gives these characters the "flesh" they lacked in the movie- especially the relationship between Tangina and the lead investigator, Dr. Lesh.  It was both neat, and actually quite gratifying to get such fullness to these characters- rather than them being relegated to dues ex machina roles to resolve the situation- especially Tangina.

The text itself is easy to read, and flows smoothly.  It sets up the scenes nicely, and creates a decent mood for each moment... even if it is a little dated, and not as tense as it could've been at times.

I was quite pleased with this book.  I would recommend that fans of the movie give it a read.  It might be worthwhile for the casual reader, but I wouldn't bet my money on it.  Since this book would be more for a niche of fans, I'm going to have to put "Poltergeist" in "The Bad".

Monday, October 1, 2018

Halloween Day by Day in The Corner!


Greetings, everyone.
 
Welcome to October... a month of chilly breaths seen on the air, and shadowy phantom shapes seen flitting through the corners of our eyes.
 
The month of Halloween!
 
To celebrate this, our favorite month of the year, "The Corner of Terror" and "We Came From the Basement"  are teaming up to bring you 31 days of horror goodness.
 
That's right- 31 days of horror!
 
Every single day this month, both sites will be posting reviews, articles, and news about the horror genre we love.  We'll be offering fresh movies upon the altar of the damned, and possibly digging up some old classics for a stroll through the cinematic graveyard.
So, won't you take a sip from our bubbling, smoking cauldron, and see what terrible and horrific visions overtake us at this time of the year?
We won't judge you for howling at the moon... though we suggest not biting off more than you can chew...
 
HALLOWEEN DAY BY DAY
 
31 days of horror- brought to you by:
 
The Corner of Terror
and
We Came From the Basement