October horror wrap, 2019 edition

Date:2019-11-03 23:31:51
I have/had no intention of making this an every-year thing, but I was in the mood again this year so what the hell. I dialed down my goal to 31 movies, but ended up making it to 42, just three fewer than last year. Below are my short-takes. Please weigh in at will.

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010). It occurs to me I don't think I've ever actually watched the original straight through, only caught chunks of it on television through the years. This version is serviceable though un-scary, although most of the time I was just thinking about how the Johnny Depp role is played by someone who clearly isn't Johnny Depp.

2. Scream 3 (2000). I only previously watched this once when it was new in theaters, so I figured I'd give it another go-round, well aware that it is widely regarded as the worst Scream movies. I might put it a notch above 2, though.

3. Scream 4 (2011). In my opinion the most entertaining of the Screams, perhaps because of rather than in spite of the fact that the entire movie is a patchwork of scenes copied from other movies.

4. Lost After Dark (2014). Tropey throwback no-budget slasher starring Robert Patrick. It even has a simulated "film error" in the middle.

5. Winchester (2018). Throwaway Jason Clarke-Helen Mirren flick actually was not all that bad. As far as spooky old mansions go, Winchester house is hard to beat.

6. Carrie (2013). Chloe Grace Moretz was stirling in the 2010 American version of Let Me In, so I figured I'd give her a shot in this one. Unfortunately, she can't save this from being just another empty 2000s remake.

7. Don't Breathe (2016). This was a hit but I missed it in theaters. Better late than never because it is awesome! There are some truly impressive long takes and some David Fincher-esque "impossible tracking" shots, especially in the scenes when the kids are first entering the house. Thumbs up on this one.

8. Devil (2010). Maybe the most overtly horror Shyamalan movie, Devil features an early-career Logan Marshall-Green, who last year put on a great performance in Upgrade.

9. Ju-On (2002). The soundtrack feels like it was imported from a 1950s sci-fi movie. But good acting, atmosphere, and unusually extensive plotting combine to make Ju-On a modern masterpiece.

10. Ghost Team (2016). Napoleon Dynamite and the always-irritating Justin Long star in this alleged comedy that forgot to include jokes in the script.

11. Intruders (2015). Home invasion with a twist thrillers are familiar by now, and can be very entertaining when executed well. Rory Culkin, villain from Scream 4 and future Lords of Chaos Euronymous, stars in this stopgap movie about some generic thugs that try to burglarize a timid woman's home and find out that the timid woman is a lot more than they bargained for.

12. The Girl Next Door (2007). The most in/famous Jack Ketchum story.

13. Event Horizon (1997). This movie predicted that we would still be using CD-ROMs for data in the year 2047. The computer graphics look silly by today's standards. But this is still probably the best blend of sci-fi and horror that I know, and probably my all-time favorite.

14. High Tension (2003). If you want blood, this movie's got it.

15. I Spit On Your Grave (2010). Not much of note about this yet-another-ho-hum remake. Similar to the contemporary remake of Last House on the Left, but without Rikki Lindholme.

16. Climax (2018). Starring the other spy chick from Atomic Blonde, this famous/infamous movie by the guy who directed Irreversible features the most impressive long take since Victoria in 2015.

17. Lake Mungo (2008). A ghost story with an emphasis on sadness moreso than fright. Made like a mockumentary and superbly done - possibly the best entry on this year's list.

18. Rosemary's Baby (1968). This was...long. Despite the title, it's not really about a baby, who is only in the movie for five minutes way at the end. Mostly it's about Rosemary's anguished decision to get a haircut and the psychiatrical fallout that ensues. It should be called Rosemary's Haircut and Eventual Baby.

19. A Haunting At Silver Falls (2013). Probably the most disappointing entry. The ghosts look like members of Marduk. The low-budget and therefore ineffective special effects are forgivable, but everything else is not. The main actress is overdramatic, everyone else is wooden and uninterested in their roles. The main chick's mom is max ten years older than her. The story plays out like a long episode of the Jennifer Love Hewitt show Ghost Whisperer.

20. Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988). Thaaaaat's more like it.

21. C.H.U.D. (1984). A distant early ancestor to The Walking Dead in that it is mostly people melodramatically arguing with each other, with the Chuds relegated to an afterthought.

22. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (2005). Pleasant, charming, short.

23. Apollo 18 (2011). Found footage flick about a secret moon mission that ended in everyone getting killed by rock monsters. Sounds like a recipe for disaster but this actually was pretty decent. Yes and Jethro Tull on the soundtrack.

24. Under the Shadow (2016). Really good festival favorite that takes place in Tehran, under attack from Iraq in the 1980s, centering on a mother and daughter who don't want to leave their increasingly endangered apartment building and start to realize that Iraqi shells aren't the only threat to their safety.

25. The House of the Witch (2017). Made-for-TV movie on Netflix. After Under the Shadow I was in the mood for a traditional brain-off creepfest, and this didn't disappoint.

26. Coraline (2009). Sometimes it's interesting to go back and re-watch movies that I didn't realize featured significant actors at the time. This has Ian McShane!

27. Goosebumps 2 (2018). Watched for nostalgia since I read Goosebumps a lot when I was in grade school. Wish this was an anthology rather than a whole movie about Slappy from Night of the Living Dummy, which wasn't one of my favorite books.

28. The Clown at Midnight (1999). Much tamer than expected. I think this was a made-for-TV movie. Features Christopher Plummer in what must have been a time in his life when he just needed some money.

29. Carrie (1976). Has a hypnotic quality that's been rarely matched since. Phantasm and Let Me In are close examples. The storytelling-type score, which rarely is used in horror movies, has a lot to do with it.

30. Hatchet (2006). Reasonably amusing comedy-horror featuring some big-name horror luminaries in the cast.

31. Zombieland: Double Tap (2019). I can't give this enough thumbs-up. Delivered everything I wanted and more. And Bill Murray's cameo in this one is way more entertaining than the first one.

32. Last House on the Left (1972). Lots of really nice nature/forest shots here. Everything looks like an Anekdoten album cover.

33. Sinister Circle (2016). Peruvian movie about a kid who plays with a Ouija board and winds up the target of a sacrificial cult. Not spectacular, but not bad either.

34. Cutting Class (1989). Archetypal who's-the-killer movie that was Brad Pitt's feature debut. Boasts an extremely 80s soundtrack with pulse-pounding electronic drums and screaming electric guitars during kill sequences.

35. Countdown (2019). Surprisingly not as bad as I expected, mainly due to some comic relief from supporting characters. Decent use of Narcan as a horror plot device.

36. Firestarter (1984). Heather Locklear, we salute you!

37. Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994). Very entertaining.

38. Cult of Chucky (2017). This is almost ridiculously good. Like, no seventh movie in any franchise, let alone a "horror" franchise, has any business being this awesome.

39. The Similars (2015). Clunker about some people who get stranded in a bus station and everyone starts turning into the wolfman. There's some convoluted explanation about aliens stealing human individuality, but by the time the movie gets there my attention has wandered to the point where I didn't really absorb it. It takes place in 1968 but for some reason the film has a faded-technicolor look that is both unrealistic and unnecessary.

40. Shutter (2004). Now this was excellent. A Thai film with a familiar idea, about a ghostly figure appearing in Polaroids, but very good execution. Also, the production values are higher than what I'm used to seeing from Japanese movies from the same period.

41. The Invitation (2015). I wasn't going to watch this until I found out Logan Marshall Green was in it, and I like Devil and Upgrade and this got some good reviews, so I gave it a whirl. One of the other actors was the second Daario Naharis from GOT. There's a music cue early on that is practically identical to a more recent movie, but I can't place it.

42. Black Christmas (1974). I figured it was appropriate to wind this whole marathon down with a movie themed on the next major holiday.
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