my favorite evil clown movies (aside from It)

Stephen King’s It is generally considered the standard for the “scary clown” in horror movies, but there are so many other great ones! Here are my faves.

 

Stitches (2012)

(Stitches had quite the attitude, even before he died)

Highlights:

  • killer clown origin story
  • intestine balloon animals
  • pretty much the most clown-themed deaths of any movie I’ve seen except Killer Klowns from Outer Space*
  • or at least, the most punny deaths
  • Stitches’ potty mouth

 

Killjoy (2000)

(Killjoy the clown, apparently shooting someone with bullets from his mouth)

This gem was an extra in the Puppetmaster collection DVD.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an American horror movie with zero white people in it.  The highlights:

  • “Biiiiiiiiiitch”
  • Why won’t the hot girl give the nerdy guy the time of day?  Maybe because all he has is “Killjoy [his clown doll] and dark magic”?
  • The so-bad-it’s-good effect – pretty hilarious if you’ve had a few drinks (can’t say the same for the sequels, though…)

 

Clownhouse (1989)

(Cheezo the clown’s come-hither look, and this was before an escaped mental patient stole his costume)

  • a young Sam Rockwell acting like a complete asshole
  • I know what I like to do is make out with my boyfriend at a family circus
  • clown unibrown (clownibrow?)

 

Clown (2015)

(That wig is his hair now…)

  • creepiest/dirtiest clown costume (actually a demon skin, but whatevs…)
  • feeling dirty after watching it

 

The Last Circus (2010)

(The Sad Clown gets his revenge)

This Spanish film earns a spot on my list largely because it’s the one circus movie with a death by aerial silks! Highlights:

  • clown makeup applied by an iron
  • feuding clowns
  • lots of actual circus performing

 

In my opinion, a good evil clown horror movie should have a least a little humor – after all, aren’t clowns meant to make us laugh?  And while scary clown make up is, well, scary, I think it’s better for the clown to start out looking like all the other innocent clowns, and then grow more evil-looking – because clowns really aren’t meant to scare people!

 

*I personally didn’t like Killer Klowns from Outer Space, mostly because the clowns looked too fake for me (they were aliens, but come on).  But there is death by cotton candy, so you might find it worth watching.

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what is it about slow covers of happy songs in horror movie trailers?

It’s a trend that has been going on for years.  A slowed-down version of a song played during a horror movie trailer.  The slowness of the normally happy tune throws you off, and suddenly the song’s lyrics sound creepy.  Recently, I saw a trailer for A Cure for Wellness (2017):

Took me a minute, but I finally recognized the song as “I Wanna Be Sedated” by the Ramones.  The song is covered by Benjamin Wallfisch and features Mirel Wagner on vocals.  A song that is normally frenetic, about simultaneously hurrying around and being bored, now applies to patients undergoing some mysterious surgery and takes a dark new twist.

For some reason this led me on a hunt to find all those other horror movies featuring slow covers of songs.  I came up with:

Last House on the Left (2009) features a cover of the Guns ‘n’ Roses song “Sweet Child O’Mine” by Taken by Trees.  The trailer punctuates the rather upbeat cover version with dramatic drum stops, but keeps the upbeat feel of it as clips of the parents getting bloody revenge for their “sweet child” play.

Lorde’s cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” in the Dracula Untold (2014) trailer isn’t actually that much slower than the original, and the song is both lyrically fitting and super dramatic.

Victor Frankenstein (2015) uses an only slightly slower version of the Doors’ “Break on Through” by Josh Mobley.  Oddly enough, it isn’t the slowness but the guitar riff that really matches up with the feel of this movie.  It’s a bizarre version of the Frankenstein story that starts with Igor working in a circus.

The Nirvana classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” graces the trailer for The Gallows (2015).  The cover version, by Think Up Anger ft. Malia J. may have been chosen because it’s a teen slasher flick.  Or maybe because of that line, “Here we are now, entertainers,” because they’re all in drama club?

“Every breath you take… I’ll be watching you…” The extremely slowed down cover of the classic Police song in the Blair Witch (2016) trailer is covered by… Pia Ashley?  I think?  There’s no official recording.  But it’s certainly creepy enough – suddenly a love song has become one about stalking.  Or maybe that’s what it was about in the first place.

The Pride and Prejudice, and Zombies (2016) trailer features a cover of “Born to Be Wild” (by J2 ft. Blu Holliday) doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, lyrics-wise.  Or tone-wise.  But since this film is a mash-up of classic literature and zombie gore, I suppose it works on that level.

2009 is really the earliest movie I could find that had a slow cover song in the trailer, but I have to give a shout out to a couple of cover songs in horror movies that weren’t in the trailers: Gary Jules’ cover of “Mad World” from Donnie Darko (2001), and Richard Cheese’s cover of “Down with the Sickness” from the end credits of Dawn of the Dead (2004) – both for entirely different reasons.  The first is simply one of the most haunting songs I’ve ever heard.  The second perfectly captures the social commentary of spending the zombie apocalypse trapped in a mall.  Oh, and the cover of “Paint it Black” by Gob for in Stir of Echoes (1999).  And The Sunday’s version of “Wild Horses” in the movie Fear (1996).  And Mona’s cover of “Stand By Me” which was featured in the commercials for the Hannibal TV series.  And if I’m going to start throwing out TV series, I might as well add Placebo’s cover of “Running Up That Hill” from Vampire Diaries.

I honestly love this trend.  There are a few songs I’d love to see slow covers of in a trailer:

  • Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel
  • Mercy Street by Peter Gabriel (Fever Ray does a great creepy cover of this)
  • Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by the Eurythmics – Marilyn Manson has already done a creepy cover, but it could be EVEN CREEPIER
  • Hello by Lionel Ritchie
  • I’m on Fire by Bruce Springsteen – there’s a cover by Bat for Lashes that I love
  • The Killing Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen – it was used in Donnie Darko, and there’s a quirky cover by Nouvelle Vague, but just the title of the song would be PERFECT for a slow cover and a horror movie trailer, perhaps one about werewolves?
  • Maneater by Hall & Oates – the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” used a cool cover of this by Grace Mitchell, but same reasons as above: title is perfect
  • Toxic by Britney Spears – ditto, again

 

For more non-horror trailers featuring slow cover songs, check out http://screencrush.com/movie-trailers-sad-covers/ and http://screencrush.com/movie-trailers-sad-covers-2/.  Clearly the slow cover song thing isn’t just for horror movies!

 

 

horror movies “based on a true story”: House of the Devil

mv5bmtaxmdaxodg5odreqtjeqwpwz15bbwu3mdi5odyxodi-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_“During the 1980s over 70% of American adults believed in the existence of abusive Satanic Cults… Another 30% rationalized the lack of evidence due to government cover ups… The following is based on true unexplained events…”

This is the text which opens the 2009 film, The House of the Devil.

What is true:

  • The statistics – which don’t actually say that any Satanic ritual abuse (SRA) occurred.  The stats are about beliefs.  I don’t know which survey was used to cull these particular statistics, but I found this article which mentions a 1990 study that reported “that 90 percent of Utah citizens believed that ritualistic sex abuse was occurring.”  So the belief was certainly there.

What is not true:

  • Any of the actual events depicted in the film.

The verdict: This film is more an homage to films made in the 1980s.  It was recorded on 16mm film to give it an authentic early 80s look, and uses familiar tropes, like the baby-sitter under attack.  The use of a “based on a true story” tagline is likely an homage as well, since many films of that era used it.  “True unexplained events” could mean anything, really.  There were thousands of cases of SRA reported in the 1980s, most of them after a few high-profile cases such as the one described in the book Michelle Remembers, and the McMartin preschool trial.  In the end, however, the preschool trial led to charges dropped and dismissed, with no evidence of any actual Satanic abuse, and Michelle Remembers was largely discredited.  In many cases of alleged SRA, recovered memories (which are highly questionable and often false memories) played a large role.

31 Days of Halloween, Days 28-31

It’s been a busy weekend, and I haven’t had time to post (or watch many horror movies, for that matter…).  But I did do many things to celebrate Halloween so here they are!

On Saturday morning I ran in the Costume Dash 5K, which was my only costumed event of this year.  My friend dressed as a cookie and I dressed as a carton of milk.  There were lots of Mario Karts, mermaids, and super heroes.  It was fun puzzling out what some of the costumes were meant to be, and I got a pretty good time (for me, anyway) of 36 minutes.

Saturday afternoon involved a hike to the Freetown State Forest in Fall River, MA (home of Lizzie Borden!).  This forest is located in the Bridgewater Triangle, a hotspot of strange paranormal events.  Specific to the forest:

  • Creatures called Pukwedgies by the Wampanoag are claimed to roam there, causing all kinds of dangerous mischief such as kidnapping people or pushing them off cliffs (to their deaths).
  • The quarry (which I visited) is a site where many people claimed to feel a sense of foreboding, and a number of suicides have occurred there.  Also, President Ronald Reagan apparently saw a UFO here?
  • UFOs, Pukwedgies, and apparently Bigfoot have all been sighted here.
  • A number of murders have occurred in the forest.  One missing girl was found dead and tied to a tree, and a prostitute was found brutally murdered (murdered by her pimp, who was also a Satanist).  In 2001, two bodies riddled with bullets were found on Bell Rock Road (which we drove down to get to the hiking trails…).
  • Other reports of Satanic cult activity, reports of an aggressive pack of dogs, an escaped emu, and as recently as May of this year, wire was found stretched across the trails at a height meant to decapitate dirt-bike riders.  Yikes!
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Not far into the trail, we came across what I call the “Death Camper” – a totally trashed trailer inside a locked fenced-in area.

Later we watched a few fun Halloween movies: Teen Witch (again) and Hocus Pocus.

Last night I attended Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns, which involved lots of professional pumpkin carving.  There were some amazing horror movie themed pumpkins, such as this one:

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mv5bmtm2otm1mty5nf5bml5banbnxkftztcwnjawmzkymq-_v1_uy268_cr20182268_al_Then last night I watched a doozy of a horror (?) movie called Brain Damage.  The description called it “surreal” and I certainly got that… It’s about Aylmer, some weird phallic-looking worm, that can give people drug-like trips.  In exchange, while you’re high, Aylmer likes to eat brains.  He also likes to sing… There were some bizarre deaths, including one where a girl goes to give Aylmer’s host a BJ and instead ends up with Aylmer in her mouth.  Just bizarre all around.  Recommendations if you enjoyed this one?  The only one that comes to mind is Eraserhead

Tonight will probably involve watching The Walking Dead, so I will leave you with a simple Happy Halloween!

31 Days of Halloween, Day 27: The Fog (2005)

the-fog-2005-16361A rewatch for inspiring my upcoming Nanowrimo novel, which will involve mist and fog…

This movie is surprising less about fog and more about people catching on fire and turning into mummies and ice?  Apparently the fog is so cold it freezes people?  The fog kinda reminds me of the sandstorm in The Mummy movies, as it can turn into a face.  It can also suck people right out of windows, but closing the door will keep it out!

What’s scary about fog is what you can’t see.  Here’s what you can see in the fog: pirate ships, ghosts, an entire tableau of a horrific event that happened in this little coastal town a hundred years ago.

Personally, I like this remake better than the original, which I found kind of… boring – it’s more centered around the storyline involving the radio station. Maggie Grace’s character was not in the original movie, and it almost makes the radio station plotline with Selma Blair superfluous (although I will concede that Selma Blair is no Jamie Lee Curtis!).

Recommendation time:

  • The Mist (2007) – There’s some creepy shit in this fog, way creepier than anything in either of The Fog movies.  Big things.  Prehistoric things.
  • Pontypool (2008) – Really the only similarity here is that this movie takes place largely in a radio station, but this is a pretty creepy ass movie – if you watch any of the movies on this list, make this be the One.
  • Silent Hill (2006) – While the fog here isn’t what the characters are battling, it certainly marks the territory of Silent Hill and adds to the strange atmosphere.

31 Days of Halloween, Day 26: Dawn of the Dead (2004)

large_yfqsgzw6aqymbjieiq0y9eb1rglAfter mentioning this in my recommendations a few days ago, I realized it was high time to give this one a re-watch.

This is still one of my favorite “the beginning of the apocalypse” scenes ever.  And then when they finally get to the mall and the Muzak version of “Don’t Worry Be Happy” is playing?  The lounge cover of Disturbed’s “Down with the Sickness” played later in the movie is awesome as well.

I really love the group dynamics in this movie, how the original survivors meet up with the mall cops and then a second group of survivors.  I love seeing Phil – I mean, Ty Burrell – play a super dickhead.  I also really like Sarah Polley as an actress.  The moments of terror are interspersed with lighter moments, which is something many horror movie remakes don’t seem to realize is needed.

The one change from the original that I wasn’t so fond of was making the zombies fast.  While it does add a lot of scariness, I just feel like zombies should be slow!  But who really is to say how fast or slow real zombies would be, so I can forgive it.

On that note, I’m going to recommend movies with fast zombies:

  • 28 Days Later (2002) – At least they explained the speedy zombies, by not calling them zombies and instead calling it the Rage virus.
  • World War Z (2013) – This was explained in great detail in the book (can’t remember if they mention it in the movie) – about how the zombie virus wants to spread quickly, hence new zombies being faster, and also how the zombies slow with colder temperatures, hence people fleeing to Canada.
  • Zombieland (2009) – This is more comedy than horror but a great ride all the same.

31 Days of Halloween, Day 25 – The Purge: Election Year

purge3_posterartSomehow, this wasn’t as frightening as the real-life election year we’ve got going on.  I had a hard time paying attention to the politicians debating Purge Night on something like the 20th year of its occurrence, until a car blasting Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA” rolled down the middle of an empty street and three chicks in masks carrying guns got out.

The Purge movies are always great for creepy masked people.  This time we have an insane Uncle Sam and a psycho Statue of Liberty and a blood-spattered Abe Lincoln.  And they’re Russian, come to America just to enjoy Purge Night!  I even understood some of their swearing!

The timeline seems a bit off in this movie.  The first Purge movie (in which the main character of this movie, Presidential candidate Charlie Roan watched her family die) took place in 2019, 18 years ago.  The Purge: Anarchy took place in 2023, but apparently has had a huge impact on this particular election?  13 years later?  (When Frank Grillo has only aged two years?)

The Purge movies are also great for having people seem like victims when they turn out to be pretty awful themselves.  For a while this seemed super conservatives vs. liberals, the conservatives with their NRA supporters enjoying their guns to hunt down this female presidential candidate, who seems to have the backing of the minorities.  But naturally, things are not what they seem.  And even the Catholic Church gets involved, as they seem to have in this election.

If you’re not into watching the real-life horror on the news, vote for some of these films:

  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) – Is this what they mean when they say “Make America Great Again”?
  • FDR: American Badass (2012) – I actually haven’t seen this, but it’s going into my Netflix queue, because FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT FIGHTING NAZI WEREWOLVES.
  • Freddy vs. Jason (2003) – If you’re tired of The Donald vs. Hilary…
  • The Hunger Games (2012) – (Interesting how so many of these I’m recommending came out the last election year??).  Instead of Purging, this government randomly selects 2 children from each district to enter a fight to the death.  The only unfortunate thing about these movies is how Hollywood glossed over the horror of children murdering each other and made this basically what the Capitol showed as entertainment.
  • The Running Man (1987) – Based on a Stephen King story about criminals (“runners”) who have to survive professional hunters in order to be pardoned by the state, it’s interesting that this movie is set in 2017… A hint of what’s coming?