Entries Tagged 'SHOCKTOBER' ↓

Who’s that a-tappin’ at my chamber window?

Why, it's none other than SHOCKtober!

Let me tell you, she is primed and gross and ready for action. She's got her candy corns on standby, alternating black and orange plastic spider rings on every finger, and chin putty liberally applied in many places that certainly don't qualify as chins. 

I admit, though, that I spent some time scratching my own "chins" figuring out just what to do for this year's celebration. It's not yet time to put out the call for y'allses Top 20 favorite horror films lists. Do I go in-depth on a single topic, à la the great 2019 Suspiria experiment? What topic could we all endure (and would hold up) for 31 days of posts? (I thought about doing 31 Days of Horror Movie Wigs, but honestly unless it's exceedingly obvious--like, slipping off of someone's head obvious--I never know if some coif is actually a wig. So the whole month would just be comments correcting me one way or the other. However...I'm not saying that this won't be a future SHOCKtober theme. Maybe after I take a class in Wig Recognition at The Learning Annex or something.)

After a whole lot of fussing and fretting, I took a cyber time machine back to 2005 (Can you believe it, girls? 2005!), the year this here blog emerged from my mind-womb, and dug around in the nooks and crannies of the inaugural SHOCKtober festivities. I was immediately brought back to the (pardon my nerdery) excitement of that first go at it: watching and reviewing a movie every day for a whole month! I'd never done anything like it, and lawd, I loved amassing the pile of movies I'd conquer. And I do mean "the pile." Streaming was not a thing, and while I had my Netflix queue all good to go, I was at the mercy of the postal service to shuffle the DVDs back and forth. I hit up eBay and grabbed a bunch of VHS tapes (I don't think the collector craze had hit yet, so you could still get good shit for cheap!). 

A couple of these piles consisted solely of Friday the 13th films and Halloween films because apparently in addition to the movie-a-day thing, I did the F13 and the Halloween all-in-one-day marathons that month?! GOOD LORD. What was I thinking? Ah, the folly of youth and too many Riunites on ice! Just look at this pixelated as all hell picture as I got ready to dive into the Michael Myers saga. So many Halloweens have happened since then! So many media format changes! I don't live in the state where that picture was taken anymore! I still have that Loretta Lynn's Kitchen mug though! 

It was also a real trip to get a re(peep) into ye grand olde horror blogosphere of yore. The heyday of horror blogging--if you want to call it that--was still a couple of years away, but the smaller sphere was mighty still! It was all so much more interactive than it is today, with all the cross-posting and reading each other's sites and commenting and blah blah blah. It was flashback-cool to see all kinds of blog and writer names from the ancient times, including Dark, But Shining, which a friend contributed to and which inspired me to give Final Girl a go in the first place. I clicked a lot of links on this reminiscin' journey, and Dark, But Shining is gone now, as are the vast, vast majority of the other blogs. Some have become blinking, flashing, Chinese cyber casinos. Others, the boring bot-driven page of random placeholder links (maybe you know what I mean). Others still are frozen in amber, their last few posts following the trajectory of many a blog's final days:

  • a post with actual content
  • (seven months later) a small update with a link to something
  • (16 months later) "I am sorry I haven't been updating this blog! I am back now, though"
And that was the last post, made in, like, 2008. It's understandable, and I am not judging! Seeing the graveyard filled with my earliest peers did, however, make assuage some of the guilt (yes, guilt, how silly, right) I feel over not posting here enough. Sure, Final Girl has had some fallow years, particularly when Gaylords of Darkness was running every week. Or that time I tried to retire Final Girl altogether, only to realize that I didn't actually want to. Simply, I am glad to be here, preparing for another SHOCKtober.

On the other hand, it all also made me wonder what will become of this place when either blogger or I shuffle off this mortal coil? Will Final Girl become a blinking, flashing, Chinese cyber casino? I hope whatever it is is eye-catching, at least. And I hope that at least one of you will bust out a Ouija Board, get in touch, and tell me!

Perusing that first insanely overambitious go at SHOCKtober got me all jazzed, though. I've got the whole month scheduled--think of it like that pile of Halloweens, except none of them are a Halloween (spoiler) and they're all in my mind--and let me tell you, it's a very exciting lineup of movies I'll be watching and writing about. Each movie is pulled from the 2020 master list of Top 20 favorites submitted by you guys; In other words, every day I'll post about someone's favorite movie. Many will be a first-time watch for me, while others I've seen but never written about. There are even a couple I have written about in the (relatively distant) past, but I think they're due for a rewatch and reassessment. There's a big variety of subgenres, a big variety of countries of origin and years produced and more. In the words of one Wendy Torrance, we're all gonna have a real good time. So as always...

Lock your doors...bolt your windows...pull up your pants...it's time for---


PS!! If you have subscribed to my newsletter feed thingy over at Avenue X (it's free!) to get emails about Final Girl updates...first of all, thank you! Second, I think maybe during SHOCKtober I will only send out the newsletter once a week with links to the week's posts...? I will be updating/cross-posting everyday, of course, but I don't know, I feel like daily emails would clog your inboxes and be a nuisance? Or would you like that? Tell me what you think! Man I need a "gen" "z" intern who can tell me what to do or something. 

a look back at the other day

Well, my friends...SHOCKTOBER is officially SHOCKOVER.

I know. I feel your pain. My jack-o-lanterns are already caving in on themselves as if they've each got a bad case of meth face...my local Target took down their display of horror movies...and -GASP- I watched 2 movies yesterday with no intent at all of reviewing them! It all feels so strange- although one of those movies I'm going to have to write about because...well, I just have to. But this post is not about looking ahead to the future, oh now- it's about remaining stuck in the past! I'm going to extend that Halloween feeling by doing a little post-game wrap-up of the month that was, using the same categories I did for my very first October wrap-up waaaay back in 2 thousand fucking FIVE! However, in the interests of being fresh and exciting, I'll use some new categories as well. Oh, SHOCKTOBER, I just can't let you go.

Movie that kicked my ass the hardest: Hmm. I don't know, did any movie actually kick my ass this month? I liked- even loved- quite a few flicks this month, but nothing really threw me for a loop like The Brood did that first year. Splinter was pretty effing righteous, but the movie I keep coming back to, the one I keep thinking about, is Voice. Yeah, that surprises me, too.

Person I saw the most onscreen during the month: Terry O'Quinn made two appearances: The Stepfather and Pin. Dina Meyer was also in two movies this month: Crazy Eights and Saw. Good thing I like them...you don't want to know what would happen if I despised them! Okay, nothing would happen...so sue me.

Person I saw the most OF onscreen during this month: Oh, boobs. Where would we be without you? Wrong Turn 3, Trick 'r Treat, Slaughter High...and plenty of other movie featured this month featured women in all their glory. Then again, Slaughter High featured Marty in all his glory, too...equal opportunity and all that. Whether "glory" should actually apply to any of it is up to you.

Best moments: Really, any moment from Mausoleum applies here as the entire affair constitutes one 90-minute long best moment.

Reaffirmed infinite love: Slaughter High is the only film I watched this month that I'd seen before and yes, my infinite love was, in fact, reaffirmed. "Let's par-deeeeeeee!" Ugh...SO GOOD.

Most disturbing visual: Disturbing...well, the shitty latex mask in Wrong Turn 3 certainly disturbed me, and hairy people copulating in Nail Gun Massacre was something I never wanted to see. As far as, you know, disturbing in a deliberate, horror movie way...I don't know. Nothing's really jumping out at me. That gives me the sads, seriously.

Best comment: First of all, thanks to everyone who took a moment to chime in with a comment throughout the month (or anytime, for that matter). But! The prize goes to both Nick for "'..and of course you know my good friends Dr. and Mrs. Nietsneknarf...'"on Dracula A.D. 1972, and Joel Henry Minkin for "I wish I could cause spontaneous embroidery via combustion" on The Spell. Incidentally, the films that brought about the most conversation (as of this writing) are Saw and Wrong Turn 3, with 18 comments a piece, while no one gives two shits about Hardware or Crazy Eights- they finished with a whopping zero comments each! Harrumph.

Most infuriating: Obviously The Toybox can go fuck itself as I couldn't even make it through a viewing of that thing, and Stan Helsing bit it hard, too...but Wrong Turn 3 was absolutely the most infuriating. It hurt my heart place to watch such a shitariffic sequel to a movie I love so much.
Theme of the month: Houses, buildings, more houses, and more buildings. From The House with Laughing Windows to Mausoleum to Catacombs to Black House to The Morgue to House of Seven Corpses to Slaughter High to Haunting of Winchester House, I certainly had my fill of plaaaaaaces of terrrrrror.

So there you go. I'm sad to see SHOCKTOBER come to an end, but it's also a relief not to review a movie every day. It takes it out of ya! Oh, yeah, I did cheat that one day where I talked about video games. But it's my site, I can do whatever I want! See? I can post a picture that doesn't have anything to do with anything if I want to, just because I can.

Oh, who am I kidding? Match Game (you want to click that link) has everything to do with everything.

I can't wait 'til next October!

Day 31: “Always check your candy.”

I know some people who flip out over Christmas- people who get excited when the radio stations switch over to holiday music, when it's time to dig the decorations out of the attic, when Rankin-Bass takes over the TV. I get it. Christmas is cool...but come on, let's not pretend for even one minute that Halloween isn't the best. I get jazzed when TV stations show nothin' but the scary stuff, when haunted houses are open for business, when my grocery store has glow-in-the-dark skeletons for sale, and for that one night a year when everyone is a horror movie fan. Mind you, it doesn't feel the same as it did when I was eight- I mean, that's a big doy doy if I've ever written one- but still, once September turns to October, there's a vibe in the air that I adore...and once October turns to November, I get a little bummed. If there's ever been a movie that's captured that feeling, that air of macabre fun I associated with Halloween, it's Trick 'r Treat.

The film is an anthology of sorts, relaying four stories set on Halloween night in the small town of Warren Valley, Ohio- a place that pulls out all the stops when celebrating the holiday. Writer/director Michael Dougherty tells the tales in a fashion more akin to Pulp Fiction than to Creepshow; that is, the stories are interwoven into one narrative that jumps back and forth through time, rather than presented as separate segments. History and some familiar urban legends are explored, from razor blades in the candy to the roots of Samhain- and the film that results is the biggest celebration of October 31st since It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Trick 'r Treat is destined to become an annual viewing tradition, much like A Christmas Story is 'round December.

As a pure horror film, it's a bit uneven. It's not entirely scary and there are a few missteps (the climax of the 'party girls' storyline was a let down), but overall there's an exceptionally dark EC Comics tone that's fun and mean. The legend of the children who died on the schoolbus is a highlight, both horrifying and heartbreaking- man, the chubby kid in the bunny suit really got to me. Then there's Sam, the burlap sackheaded boy/monster who ties it all together...he could become a bonafide holiday icon, but I wish in the end we'd seen a little less of him.

The production design is amazing- despite the many instances of child murder, I sort of wish Warren Valley were a real place. It's my Halloween dream town. While it's not the scariest thing you'll see, Trick 'r Treat is perhaps a dream Halloween movie...undoubtedly it's a perfect way to bring SHOCKTOBER to a close.

Ugh, "to a close"! It's over already. I suppose by tomorrow afternoon, stores will take down the masks and put up the wreaths, and all the candy will be wrapped in red and green instead of orange and black. Guess that means I'll just have to stay inside, where the fake gravestones are always out, the wigs are always close at hand, and there are always horror movies playing ad nauseum.

awesome movie poster friday – the SHOCKTOBER PART 3 edition!

Wow, I can't believe SHOCKTOBER is winding down! Slim pickin's this week, for as you all know I had a spate of dookitastic movies, many of which don't even have posters. Thank Charles Nelson Reilly above for Splinter!

Day 30: “No flesh shall be spared.”

Richard Stanley's 1990 sci fi/horror flick Hardware, has been considered a cult classic by many. Until recently, it'd only been available on VHS or an exceptionally cruddy DVD release; well, Severin has changed all that, giving Hardware to the masses on Blu-Ray as well as a deluxe 2-disc DVD for those of us still living the lo-res life. So, should said masses be excited about getting their mitts on this long-lost & beloved film?

Nuclear war has transformed the world into a radioactive desert wasteland, but glimpses of its former glory peek through: cabs still run, TV still plays, and people still have jobs. Moses Baxter (Dylan McDermott) has been out scavenging in the wastes when he comes across a super neato robot head. He brings it home to his artist girlfriend Jill (Stacey Travis), thinking she'll find a use for it. She welds it into a sculpture and all is well...but what neither she nor Moe knows is that the robot is a M.A.R.K. 13, a deadly military-grade bot that can reassemble itself. Soon the M.A.R.K. 13 is awake, complete, and ready to kill kill kill!

While Hardware's narrative is fairly thin and a bit slow to get rolling, it's still an enjoyable ride through that dystopian '80s-flavored future; I, for one, am glad that not even nuclear annihilation can apparently stop people from quipping "Take a chill pill!". The film certainly pales in comparison to its obvious cousins, Mad Max and The Terminator, but if one can overlook the shortcomings of plot and, at times, the performances, there's a lot to appreciate.

The visuals are really where Hardware shines. Stanley and cinematographer Steven Chivers have created a complete, if small, world. The production design is top notch; though the action is largely confined to Jill's apartment, there's always some new detail to take in, from package design to the retrotastic computer graphics.

Frame after frame is simply gorgeous. This is masterful low-budget filmmaking that's all too rare; I didn't care if the story was a bit anemic, I still dug looking at the purty pictures.

Of course, your results may vary, and that's the tricky thing about films considered "cult classics". Some folks are going to rejoice over discovering something so long hidden, while others are going to wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place. Then again, that's probably true of all movies to an extent- yes, I know, I'm particularly profound today- but when a movie is buried for decades only to be unleashed, at last, with some fanfare, expectations run high. Were Hardware's visuals not so delightful, honestly, I'm not sure how much people would be talking about it. It's got some novelty in terms of music and cameos from musicians (Lemmy as a cab driver, putting on Motorhead's "Ace of Spades"? Yes, please.), but the story is familiar and there are several films in this genre that are far superior.

Still, it ain't a bad way to spend 90 minutes- when are non-CGI killer robots ever truly a bad thing?

Day 29: “It’s gonna get in here…it’s gonna kill us.”

When I watch a kick ass little movie like Splinter (2008), I wonder why there's so much moaning and groaning about the state of modern horror. Yes, there's plenty of direct-to-DVD caca out there- not to mention the output from the major studios- but man, there's also gold in them thar whatevers. The genre is certainly riding an upswing, I've come to think, so I'm gonna stop my bitching. Things certainly aren't any worse than they were in, say, 1988. There are more remakes, sure, but the indie scene is thriving. So there.

A trashy couple carjacks a yuppie-ish couple, but they don't get far before an overheated radiator forces them off the road. They stop at a gas station/convenience store in the middle of nowhere, only to find the attendant has been turned into...something poky and deadly. There's a mysterious parasite on the loose that immediately transforms the hosts into splinter-laden abominations. Everyone holes up in the store and simply tries to survive the night.

If John Carpenter's The Thing had a baby with the baby that Romero's Night of the Living Dead and Zach Snyder's Dawn of the Dead had, then that baby would be Splinter. It's a tried-and-true formula- people must overcome their differences and work together to survive!- but somehow this creature feature feels as fresh as a blood-soaked daisy made out of fleshy bits.

It's almost a miracle when characters are actually more than just tolerable- in Splinter, the characters actually have small arcs, acting in ways you may not expect when you meet them early on. For once, the a-hole with the gun stops being an a-hole when the shit hits the fan. People really do work together as they try to figure out a way out of the mess- you know, like they might in real life.

Syfy Channel has wrapped their tentacles around this flick and they air it from time to time as a "Syfy Original"- if that's the only way you watch Splinter, however, you're really cheating yourself out of some killer effects. There's plenty of cringe-inducing goodness here, and the creature- when you can see it- is mind-blowing. I only wish you could see it a bit more; whenever there's an action sequence, we get "action cam", and it's too frenetic at times. It would've been nice if the monster(s) truly had their moment in the spotlight, when we could get a really good look at 'em.

Still, that's really my only complaint here- well, maybe that it was all over too quickly. Splinter's 80 minutes flew by, and the proceedings never dragged. It's just...a damn good movie. Yeah, they're making those now.

Day 28: “He’s hunting us.”

Okay kids, I'm going to try something a little different for today's film, Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead. I'm gonna do a sort of live blog, just kind of typing my thoughts as they happen whilst I watch the movie. It'll be a bullet pointstravaganza that's so in the moment you'll feel as if you're right here with me gettin' yer deformed backwoods cannibal on. Won't that be neat? Yes, it will.

Now, I haven't heard good things about this film. As you may or may not know (or care), I'm a fan of the original film...don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but I'm not a fan of the second one. Such is life. I'm inclined to think that the series probably should have ended after two films at most, but who knows? Perhaps I'm about to dig in to one surprisingly awesome movie. If the cover is any indication, then the series is really getting back to its roots- you know, a brunette in a tank top and all that (I mean, really??). Anyway, enough intro. Time to hit play!

Oh yes...there will be spoilers.
  • Wow, this opens with some ragin' water kayaking. How very The Descent!
  • The woman get topless and smoke a joint while the men look for firewood. The acting (and dialogue) are so atrocious, I can only hope they get killed quickly...and they do! Or at least titso does...arrow through the breast and through the eyeball.
  • There's the archer cannibal dude, munching on said eyeball. Wow...that looks like a latex mask. And there goes the last remaining shred of mystique the Wrong Turn killers had...
  • Holy shit, the picture is pixelated something bad...hopefully that's just because I'm watching a screener copy.
  • Okay, the sliced-n-slowly-fall-apart death is in effect, and it's truly some of the worst CGI I've seen in a while. Stan Winston is flipping this shit off from heaven.
  • Not even seven minutes in. This does not bode well.
  • Aaaaaaaand we're at a prison. It seems that the hispanics and the caucasians do not get along.
  • So there's going to be some sort of a prisoner transfer...I'm guessing that the bus is going to crash or get hijacked or something something, resulting in a WRONG TURN into Cannibal Country. Let's see how my prediction pans out.
  • Oh. My. God. The driving in the bus sequence is some seriously...it's not even greenscreen. It's like...car driving shit from the old days- sitting in a fake car while a moving road is projected on a screen behind them. OH. MY. GOD. What the fuck was the budget on this? 50 cents and a pack of gum?
  • Ugnnnnnn backlot.....
  • Wow, no signal on the cell phone. Shocking.
  • Okay, yup, the bus is getting run off the road by a truck driven by the cannibals. Mmm hmm.
  • Everyone's out of the bus...oh no, now the prisoners are in charge! This is such an unexpected turn of events. They'll get theirs, I'm sure- hopefully soon. Probably in shocking ways, like a sudden arrow through the face or some such.
  • The bus exploded...is it just me, or are explosions in movies rarely exciting?
  • Annnnnd tank top just came running out of the woods. Yeah, right into the mass of hardened prisoners who, uh, haven't seen a woman in a while. She'd be better off with the cannibals.
  • Oh, she's a bad actress. Eliza Dushku, where are you? We desperately need your two facial expressions!
  • I hate all of these people. I can't wait for them to die. This doesn't make for a pleasurable viewing experience, especially when all they do is blah blah blah. It's blah blah blah but it's not character development, which would be fine...instead, it's just people yelling at each other. Wheeeee!
  • Cannibal child was lying in wait underneath some leaves...just in case someone happened to wander by this neck of the woods, I guess.
  • Ooh, the prisoners are slowly killing the cannibal child. Who are the monsters now? WHOOOOO?
  • Another sliced-n-slowly-fall-apart death? Okay, it's just the face, but still. Merrrr.
  • I guess it's just the one cannibal in this flick (aside from the child). It's one of the original dudes...Snaggleface? Three-toe? One Eye? T-Boz? I don't know...one of 'em.
  • Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. 50 minutes in.
  • Boy, with all the woods to walk around in, people always manage to walk right into traps. Weird.
  • Okay, days 29, 30, and 31 better blow my fucking mind, lest SHOCKTOBER die a horrible death. It's not supposed to be this way!
  • This movie is nothing but jerks running through the woods at night. There's no suspense, there's no atmosphere, there are no scares...sheesh. Please excuse me- I'm going to zone out now and think back to the original film...specifically, the scene in the house, where the kids are exploring and then the cannibals come home and they all have to hide and be quiet and the cannibals start eating one of their friends and they're forced to watch...yeah...zoning....zooooooo...ninnnnnng....
  • Oh dear lord, she's such a bad actress.
  • I wonder if that's a deliberate homage to Cannibal Holocaust.
  • How many shells can a pump action shotgun hold?
  • Annnnd the cannibal has kidnapped the girl. Scream scream, drag drag, lick lick, eww eww.
  • Gosh, can't have a horror movie without an eeeevil house with a room made just for torturin' nudies!
  • So many instances of characters punching each other where the fist is clearly kept about 18 inches away from the face.
  • Well, there's lots of blood, I'll say that much.
  • Wow, it's surprisingly easy to take off the top of someone's skull.
  • Gosh, I guess the bad guy is dead...with ten minutes left...
  • OH. MY. GOD. Really? REALLY??? So the heroes drive off in a truck (more bad car effects)...then a few miles away from the house the cannibal is STANDING IN THE ROAD?? This is not possible. THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE. NOT POSSIBLE. FOR MANY REASONS. And he jumps on the speeding truck? And there's atrocious CGI?
  • Okay, I guess he's dead now.
  • Ah, another vehicle explodes. Excitement.
  • This really needs to be the last Wrong Turn. Really. No, really. This series needs to be euthanized.
  • Annnnnnd there's the lame fucking coda that leaves the door open for another film.
Whew, I made it! For a while there, I didn't think I would. Don't you feel like you watched it with me? Aren't you glad you didn't actually watch it with me? You should be. Wrong Turn 3 is a big pile of dook. Horrible, horrible, horrible...in case you couldn't tell what I thought from this post.

Day 27: “Nothing’s going to hurt you now.”

Wowee, what to luck to happen upon yet another film that begins with a gang rape! First it was Nail Gun Massacre, and now the 1973 Curtis Harrington film The Killing Kind; boy oh boy, I've practically got a theme week here. While Nail Gun Massacre veered off into sub-sub-sub-par slasher territory, however, The Killing Kind veers off into a Psycho-on-steroids kind of squidginess that's bound to leave you in need of a shower when all is said and done.

Terry (John Savage) was forced by his friends to partake in the gang rape of young Tina (Sue Bernard) under the boardwalk on that fateful day. It's questionable whether he could actually "perform", but regardless he ended up doing a 2-year term in the clink. Once he's out, he heads to the boarding house run by his mother Thelma (Ann Sothern) where he's treated to gallons of chocolate milk and sexually-tinged oppression.

Thelma's constant deriding of anyone else on the planet with a vagina (they're not good enough for Terry, they're all whores, blah blah blah) coupled with "affection" that's a bit too...affectionate for a mother and son have clearly rendered Terry with a muddled idea of sexuality.

He's plagued by visions of Tina under the boardwalk, and anytime he's confronted by a woman- whether a magazine photo staring back at him as he tries to masturbate or a repressed, older neighbor coming on to him, Terry flips out and loses control. Before too long, he takes revenge on those who put him behind bars, including his defense lawyer as well as Tina herself.

Terry's homicidal ways begin to worm their way into his home life once Lori (Cindy Williams) moves into mom's boarding house. Events escalate until there's a dead Shirley Feeney-to-be in the bathtub, and Thelma must finally face up to the fact that her beloved son is a certifiable cuckoo nutso.

The Killing Kind features the most inappropriate familial relationship I've had the "pleasure" of watching since I popped in Night Warning some time back. While the Terry - Thelma dynamic is going to send you running for your toothbrush the moment the credits start rolling, it's thanks to veterans Savage and Sothern that their relationship isn't just a sideshow. Each actor gives a performance hinting at the pain and loneliness that are part and parcel of what results in such antisocial behavior. It's almost impossible to like either one of them, but they're also hard to hate.

All in all, it's an expectedly solid effort from the underappreciated Curtis Harrington. The Killing Kind has the feel of an especially lurid TV movie- and that's certainly not a bad thing.

Day 26: “Groooaaannnnnnn.”

For Day 27 of SHOCKTOBER, I will be watching something that is widely rumored to be good, very good, or pretty fucking great.

For Day 26, however, I watched Stan Helsing...and after a 3-day stretch consisting of The Toybox, The Nail Gun Massacre, and Stan Helsing, well, the "groan" up there in the post title is coming from me. If I don't get the antidote stat, this bad movie streak may very well be the end of ol' moi.

Stan Helsing is a slacker who works in a video store. On Halloween night, he and three of his friends head off to a party, but they're waylaid in Stormy Night Estates, where Stan has to deliver some tapes to his boss's mom. The town, which used to be a movie studio, has been cursed ever since a fire burned it down ten years prior. Stan and his friends try all night to get past the locked gates and get back to their van.

That's it. Drag that premise out for 90 minutes, douse it liberally with the worst, laziest jokes to ever grace a horror spoof, and you've got yourself a copy of Stan Helsing.

Stan and his friends have to face off against parodies of some of horror's finest villains, which...I don't know, maybe there's some humor to be mined there. If there is, then writer/director Bo Zenga has missed it entirely. Behold, the wit: Pinhead- excuse me, "Needlehead"- has darts and hypodermic needles in his head! Har, har. Freddy Krueger has been transformed into some Flava Flav ripoff (though the only real effort here is the clock around his neck), while Michael Myers is...is...he wears a yarmulke, which I suppose makes him Jewish, which is...funny?

Leatherface wields a leaf blower instead of a chainsaw, while Jason (played by Ken Kirzinger of Freddy vs Jason) wears a hockey jersey in addition to his mask- oh, and his name is...get this you guys, so funny...Mason. Get it? Instead of Jason, he's called Mason! Yeah, hilarious.

I don't see how anyone in their right mind could have read this script and thought it would make a great comedy. I don't see how it's possible that someone read this script and decided to throw money at it. This fucking movie got funding- probably several MILLION dollars. I'd say I don't know why anyone would read the script and then agree to appear in the film, but things are tough all over and it's best to take the money and run. Still, it's obvious that the actors know they're appearing in a piece of shit- they're all a bit dead behind the eyes, and the performances are largely lethargic. Steve Howey did better work on Reba, Kenan Thompson did better work in All That, and hsofga;oVDSFva;sdfa; bjakaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Sorry. I was just getting a bit worked up at how FUCKING INANE this movie is. It's also heartbreaking to see Leslie Nielsen here for absolutely no reason, given nothing to do except dodder about a bit...in drag. ISN'T THAT FUNNY?

A few bloopers are sprinkled in throughout the end credits, and during one bit, one of the actresses- one of the actresses!- sums up Stan Helsing best: "It's so stupid."

Fuck this movie.

Day 25: “Remember when you could sit outside and not worry about the mosquitos and the killers?”

Going into a flick called The Nail Gun Massacre (1985), well, I suppose I should know what to expect: some deadly nail gun shenanigans, a fine patina of sleaze, and a distinct absence of quality. Sure enough, my expectations were met! The only shock I suffered was that in the end, the movie wasn't nearly as lurid as I was expecting.

The movie begins with a gang rape. It's not explicit, nor is it terribly long...but as it literally opens the film, it's a propos of nothing. A woman is surrounded by a bunch of workers at a construction site while a peppy '80s synth tune plays, and it's all so sudden that by the time you've processed that yes, Nail Gun Massacre opens with a rape, it's over. It's not traumatizing for the viewer- it's probably the only instance of cinematic rape where I've claimed that- and one can only assume that it's going to provide the impetus for the titular nail gunning to come.

And provide the impetus it does, in the very next scene! A hairy slob is yelling at his wife (who's outside hanging laundrey on a line) when he's visited by someone dressed in camouflage, wearing a duct taped motorcycle helmet, and wielding a massive nail gun. Judging by the figure's diminutive size and vaguely hourglass figure, it seems this is the rape victim out for a bit of pneumatic-powered revenge.

But is it revenge? Is the hairy slob one of the construction workers who raped that woman? We don't know. We never really know any of the people killed in Nail Gun Massacre- their names, how they may or may not relate to anything that already transpired in the film...it all seems completely random. Oh well, might as well just roll with it.

After the hairy slob is killed and his wife runs off into the woods with her baby, we're treated to the opening credits sequence, which surely ranks among the worst credits sequences of all time. Plain text slowly gives the names of cast and crew while the theme song...isn't a theme song at all. There's no music, only someone's voice filtered through a vocoder, going "muaa...MUAA...MUAA...MUAA" ad nauseum. It turns out that this voice belongs to the killer. Nail Gun Massacre then quickly establishes a pattern:
  1. People you don't want to watch engage in sex engage in sex
  2. Ample bare bottoms and bare boobs are on display
  3. Nail Gun Killer arrives
  4. BANG BANG BANG goes the nail gun
  5. UHHNNN...NO...UHHNNN goes the victim
  6. Nail Gun Killer cracks wise through via vocoder (eg, "Oh, don't you just hate headaches?")
  7. Sheriff arrives, is perplexed by the body, calls the doctor
  8. Doctor arrives in a Camaro, clad in a tank top, says the victim died "hours ago"
  9. They both suspect "Old Mrs. Bailey" of the killings
Add a heaping vat of inept filmmaking, a dose of a horrible script, atrocious acting, and repeat, repeat, repeat.

If anything, Nail Gun Massacre proves that decent slasher movies are much more than the sum of their parts. Though there's nudity, blood, and a masked killer, this is far worse than even the weakest entry in the Friday the 13th series. You've got to have a modicum of skill in at least one essential area (writing, directing, FX, acting) for the movie to work, and Nail Gun Massacre fails on all fronts.

Mind you, this doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the damn thing, because I did. I think the moment it won my heart came during a scene set in a grocery store. An elderly clerk is adding up an order (apparently without the aid of a cash register), and the actress is clearly reading her lines from a script on the counter. She fumbles over a few sentences, and when the scene is finally over...she looks directly at the camera with a look that says "Is that it?" According to imdb, the woman isn't an actress at all, but the director's grandmother, who actually worked at the store- she filled in when the actress originally cast didn't show. I loved her, and it filled me with a sort of "Aww, none of these people are professionals...they're just making a movie, how sweet!" Of course, this doesn't make the affair any better, or really worth your time. It basically endeared the awfulness to me because that's how my brain works.

As I said, it is awful. Another "highlight" occurs during one of the film's copious sex scenes, where a couple is trying to have it off in a 2-seater car. It's not working because there's no room for them to maneuver, and at one point the couple stops moving around completely...while the car still bounces up and down as if they're humping away. The shadow of the person repeatedly pushing down on the car is clearly visible on the hood. The killer soon arrives, prompting the man to ask "What are you, a cop?"- I don't know, how many law enforcement agencies wear camouflage jumpsuits, duct taped motorcycle helmets, and wield nail guns? Maybe things are different elsewhere in the country. At any rate, Ol' Naily makes short work of the couple- the man dies immediately after being shot in the elbow with a nail.

The killer drives a massive, golden-puke hearse and leaves it on the road whilst off wielding the nail gun; the sheriff encounters this hearse many times in many places, but thinks nothing of it. Eventually, he and the doctor stop blaming "Old Mrs. Bailey" (whom we never meet) for the crimes...the sheriff finally begins to think that the rape victim from a few months back might have something to do with this, but the doctor remains unconvinced. After all, he spoke to her after the rape and "She never showed any signs that the rape pushed her mind into a state of killing." The state of killing is so dangerous.

Still, the men go to talk to her...there's a lengthy Camaro vs Golden-Puke Hearse "chase" sequence, and all parties end up at the gravel pit. The killer is soon revealed to be...the rape victim's brother. Yes, despite the fact that the role has been played by a woman throughout the entire film, it's actually a man under the helmet. Uh huh.

Totally. Horribly. Ridiculous. And yet, I could not bring myself to be angry with Nail Gun Massacre. I mean, I'm the one who popped it in the VCR and should have known what to expect. What I didn't expect was that the director's gramma would steal my heart!

Seriously...watch at your own risk.

Day 24: “Midfolker.”

I'm not sure whether or not you should spend any time reading this, because I'mma be real wit chall: I didn't finish watching The Toybox (2005). Nope. Couldn't do it. I gave it a half an hour, and then I had a little epiphany: yes, I decided that SHOCKTOBER would feature a review every day...and for Day 24, I tried. I really did, I swear. I did a little more Hulu research- after all, The Spell was swell- and I decided to give this film a whirl despite its low rating. Apparently the end makes suffering through 75 odd minutes worthwhile...well, it's up to someone with a stronger constitution than my own to find out. I felt guilty turning it off, as if I was failing to fulfill my duties as proprietress of This Old Blog, but then I figured hey, no one would want me to suffer, right? Right. Life is short- too short, really- to be spent watching caca when I could be watching something rad. Occasionally it's worth pushing through the pain to write a fun negative review...or maybe a film will end up hurting so good. I'm not sure where The Toybox would have ended up in that regard, but I'm already moving on to greener pastures.

Stilted, unnatural dialogue that was virtually all exposition...a molasses-slow plot train that seemed headed to nowhere...unlikable characters...yes, this film truly had it all. As I said, it seems that those who managed to push through found some sort of gold at the end of the painbow, but no your humble proprietress. Nope. Couldn't do it. Couldn't stand the crap for Day 24, sorry- my standards are much higher than that.

Coming up for Day 25: Nail Gun Massacre!

awesome movie poster friday – the SHOCKTOBER PART 2 edition!

SHICKTOBER keeps a-roll, roll, rollin' along to its inevitable conclusion: the 31st! Eyaahhh!

Day 23: “He’s family.”

Sex has played a large part in horror films virtually since the inception of the genre: Frankenstein's monster wasn't around very long before he needed a Bride, Dracula and company are all about romance and seduction...if a slasher film doesn't feature a set of boobs somewhere, audience disappointment will be noted. From Slaughter High's awesome "Tits...screw..." sweet-talk to the gentle petting of your favorite 70s lesbian vampire movie, sex in horror is generally meant to titillate, make us laugh, or simply put characters in compromising positions to the advantage of the killer.

Then there are movies like Pin (1988), which explore sexuality in ways that make the audience squirm uncomfortably for 90 minutes. Hooray!

When we meet Ursula and Leon, they're small children growing up in a wealthy, strict household. Mom is a wackadoo clean freak, and dad (Terry O'Quinn!) is a pediatrician who quizzes the kids before bed and is generally a no-nonsense guy. Both parents withhold affection from Ursula and Leon, and the only real emotions on display are anger and frustration. Has this approach to child-rearing ever resulted in well-adjusted adults?

"Pin" is a life-sized, anatomically correct medical dummy that Dr. Dad keeps in his office. Using ventriloquism, he makes it seem as if Pin is alive- Pin talks to the patients and explains things to them, providing a calm, reasonable voice to assuage any fears the kids may have. Ursula catches her father's lips moving during one of Pin's lectures and figures out the secret. To Leon, though, Pin is alive...and a friend, providing advice or sometimes just listening.

Leon sneaks into his father's office after hours to spend some one-on-one time with Pin; one of the doctor's nurses stays late for her own special kind of one-on-one time with Pin- he's anatomically correct, after all. One can only assume that Pin is also anatomically excited when the nurse pulls the dummy over to the examining table and...well, she humps him for a while. Poor Leon is trapped in the corner, forced to watch (and listen to) his best friend used as a gigantic sex toy. He reacts pretty much the same way any of us would (or do, as we're watching this film).

The kids become high schoolers and, as you may expect, they've got some issues. Ursula, at 15, has become what my gramma would call "the town pump"- she's got a well-deserved reputation at school for being easy. Leon doesn't cope well this and beats up anyone who goes near his sister.

By the way, my gramma also says that only whores have pierced ears...just so you know.

Leon still doesn't know that Pin isn't actually alive. He lashes out at anyone who dares call the dummy a dummy, and he spends as much time in dad's office as possible hanging out with his friend. They have long, soulful talks and do math (heh..."do math") together. They're just like anyone, except, you know, one of them is a mannequin. Before you judge, you should remember how that idea worked out for Andrew McCarthy. Wait...did it work out? I've never actually seen Mannequin. Anyway.

Doin' math

When dad catches Leon and Pin hanging out, he realizes that his son may have an unhealthy attachment to his lifeless pal. He realizes that his son may, in fact, be...a kookadook. He grabs Pin, stuffs him in the car, and decides he's going to donate him to a medical foundation. But...is Pin alive?

As they're driving along, mom seems to think Pin is moving around in the back seat. Is he? Or is dad simply taking corners too fast? Whatever the truth is, the car crashes and Ursula and Leon find themselves orphaned.

Having given up her randy ways (an abortion will often do that to ya, at least for a while) Ursula gets a job in the library while Leon gets weirder and weirder. He insists that Pin be treated as a member of the family, going so far as to dress the dummy in one of dad's old suits. He also gives Pin a wig and mask, just to complete the extremely fucking creepy ensemble.

Leon is also working towards his dream of becoming a writer; when he's not hanging out with Pin, he's penning poems about raping his sister. But, you know, that's totally fiction!

Ursula knows there's something extremely wrong with her brother, but she thinks he's ultimately harmless. They're wealthy, after all, so Leon couldn't possibly be mentally ill- he's eccentric. When Ursula brings home a boyfriend, though, it throws off the family dynamic. This guy not only thinks Leon needs help, he thinks Pin is just a dummy! This cannot stand.

So is Pin alive, or is Leon projecting? Writer/director Sandor Stern (Amityville IV: The Evil Escapes...oh fucking YEAH) manages to maintain the mystery throughout the course of the film until its bizarre (and bizarrely awesome) conclusion. Pin is a movie that manages to feel extremely sleazy without its ever actually being sleazy, if you know what I mean. The undercurrent of incest (or at least unspoken incestual desire) is enough to make you feel squidgy. Then there's the whole medical teaching dummy-as-sex toy scene...aaaah! In the end, this Psycho-esque little flick is a real perverted treat.

Day 22: “It’s the hour of dogs and wolves.”

A word of advice to the fine folks at Genius Products (because I'm sure they're reading this): I understand that you're trying to horn in on the Asian Horror market dominated by Tartan/Palisades. That's swell- more product for we humble horror hags is always welcome. However, as I noted in my review of Black House earlier this month, you sure are mis-marketing this shit. The covers are super duper misleading, which is only going to drive away customers for two reasons: 1) People expecting something extremely violent based on the Photoshopped grotesqueries you slap on the box are going to be disappointed when the films aren't extremely violent, and 2) People are going to be driven away by those covers because they don't want to watch something extremely violent (or the same old same old that Asian horror is getting a rep for)...and those folks are gonna miss out on some really fantastic films...like Voice (2005). I mean, get a load of the DVD cover art:

I don't know what kind of impressions that gives you, but I certainly wasn't expecting a terrifically moody and artistic examination of friendship and death...but that's what I got.

Young-eon (Ok-vin Kim) decides to stay late into the night at school to rehearse her singing; her best friend Seon-min (Seo Ji-hye) reluctantly leaves her behind. Before long, Young-eon hears a voice harmonizing with her. She promptly gets freaked out and decides to split, but a shadowy figure in the hallway stalks her and kills her- with a piece of sheet music. Yeah, it sounds ridiculous, and it probably is, but by the next scene the implausibility is forgotten.

The next day, Young-eon is missing from school, but she's trapped in the school as a spirit. Confusion turns to slight relief when she figures out that although she can't be seen by anyone, Seon-min can still hear her. The two continue their friendship as best they can while they try to figure out who killed Young-eon and who's behind that voice she heard the night she died.

Differences in...you know, living status put a strain on their relationship. Young-eon is intensely jealous when Seon-min becomes friends with the class weirdo, Cho-ah (Cha Ye-ryeon), who can also hear Young-eon's voice. Secrets are revealed and nothing ends up the way you think it's going to, especially if you think Voice is simply going to be another run-of-the-mill ghost girl movie.

Though it's not billed as such, Voice is actually the fourth film in the Whispering Corridors series, all of which are related only in that they're set in South Korean girls' high schools. Voice is quite possibly the strongest in the series; while not the most violent, it's the most thought-provoking. It's a frank look at the relationships between young women, which often skirt the line (or dart back and forth over the line) between friendship and romance. The idea that we keep loved ones alive after they're gone as long as we remember them is heartbreakingly familiar to anyone who's lost somebody. When Seon-min begins ignoring Young-eon after she decides that all she can do is move on and live her own life, Young-eon literally begins to lose her voice as she starts to disappear. Voice packed an unexpected emotional wallop, bolstered by strong performances across the board.

As a horror film, it's not the slam-bang, visceral flick that Genius is pitching it as, but there's definitely plenty of blood and chills to be found. However, the action doesn't truly pick up until after the one-hour mark; the film never dragged, but it's more akin to a drama with tinges of horror than the other way around. I wasn't bored even for a moment- I was sucked into the mystery and loved the movie for what it was.

The color schemes, at times, recalled another school-bound horror film: Suspiria. Yeah, I said it! While Voice isn't nearly as stylized as Argento's masterpiece, director Ik-hwan Choe and cinematographer Yong-Heung Kim clearly have an eye for art.

I loved this. In fact, it was so good that I can only imagine how bad a Hollywood remake would be.

Day 21: “I don’t know if this is life or death.”

10 years after The Blair Witch Project, writer/director Daniel Myrick has left the mysterious, cruel woods of Burkittsville for the mysterious, cruel desert of Afghanistan. The result is the engaging and enigmatic sci fi/war thriller The Objective, film that raises far more questions than it answers.

In the weeks following September 11, 2001, CIA agent Ben Keynes (Jonas Ball) is sent into Afghanistan to investigate a radioactive heat signature picked up on surveillance photographs. He's embedded with a small groups of Special Ops soldiers (which includes Blair Witch's Mike Williams) as they head off into the remote desert mountains- of course, the soldiers don't know the true motivation for this trip. They believe they're seeking an esteemed religious figure who can help the U.S. turn the local populace against the Taliban...and while that is one facet of the mission, there are government secrets at play here. There's a very good chance that they're on a one way trip to the middle of nowhere.

The soldiers are ambushed by the resistance and soon find themselves wounded and running dangerously low on supplies with no backup coming. The human threat gives way to the unknown, and the platoon dwindles rapidly in the face of a faceless enemy. Exactly what does Keynes hope to find? Will he find anything?

The Objective succeeds tenfold in raising expectations. As the men draw closer to the source of the mysterious signals, the curiosity about what they'll discover becomes almost unbearable. Bright lights dart around the sky and vaporize soldiers in a flash- is there some sort of alien force holed up in the desert? The Afghanis call this area "sacred"- what do they actually know? The questions that will cross your mind during the film are not all be answered, which, while not completely surprising, is almost satisfying. Unfortunately, it's in the resolution that the movie falters- a problem some audiences had, in fact, with The Blair Witch Project. Undoubtedly this is a film that will be best enjoyed by those who find just as much pleasure in the journey as they do the destination.

The cinematography is simply stunning. The desert (Morocco masquerading as Afghanistan) feels like another character here, watching the men and waiting for them to falter so it can pounce. The word "remote" doesn't do justice to the sense of isolation that comes across here: this is a truly unforgiving and dangerous landscape.

Keynes uses a special infrared video camera on the journey to relay images and data back to the CIA, and as he draws nearer the target,we're treated to some creepy imagery- even if we don't know exactly what we're seeing. Though the "character with a camcorder" has been overutilized (and has lost most of its potency) in horror these days, it's effective in The Objective, as it adds to the mystery.

The Objective defies easy categorization- there's not much by way of "horror" here beyond a relentless feeling of the uncanny. Sci fi purists may bemoan the lack of...well, sci fi. The film is an intriguing exercise in "less is more", although for some less may simply be not enough.