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!
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:
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!
A 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!).
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.
After 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.
Somehow, 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?
Obviously, I am speaking about the season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead. This series has always had the ability to shock me, and this episode was no different. I had suspected who was killed at the end of last season, and for about 20 minutes I thought I was safe. Then, WRONG. Super wrong.
I won’t be posting spoilers, don’t worry. But this episode was probably the goriest ever on the series. Generally we get the big deaths at the end of a season, and this time it came at the beginning, which I hope breaks up the formula of the crew finding a new “safe” place to stay and then it being destroyed in the finale – especially since the comics do not follow the same predictable formula.
28 Days Later (2002) – The opening of this movie is almost exactly the same as the scenario at the beginning of the Walking Dead series, but these zombies are fast and the virus infecting them is called “Rage.”
Dawn of the Dead (2004) – This remake of the 1978 film ups the scares and the gore while keeping the same social commentary that comes along with a group of survivors holed up in a shopping mall. Bonus: zombie birth!
Game of Thrones – A rival for the “don’t get too attached” tenet.
No matter how much Stephen King hates this adaptation of his book, I love it. I also love the book form of The Shining, but they certainly are different animals.
Right from the ominous music that plays as an otherwise innocent-looking Volkswagen drives through beautiful mountain landscapes, we know something is not right. Something is going to go wrong. Only a few minutes into Jack’s interview at the hotel and his impassive face as he learns about the horrific murder that occurred there only a few years earlier. His response? “And as far as my wife is concerned… I’m sure she’ll be absolutely fascinated when l tell her.” Quite odd, especially given what we’re shown of Wendy throughout the film. One of King’s complaints about the movie is exactly this, whereas in the book we have a Jack who is really trying to resist the evil of the hotel. He’s made mistakes, but he’s still a good person at heart. In the movie this is not so. And I love this quote from King, “And it’s so misogynistic. I mean, Wendy Torrance is just presented as this sort of screaming dishrag.” She really is one of the most irritating horror movie heroines ever. That was the one improvement seen in the TV-miniseries remake of 1997.
But there is so much good here, if one can overlook some stilted, over-the-top acting. The way many of the scenes are framed and filmed are just so darn effectively creepy. Those twins. That strange encounter in Room 237. The elevator full of blood. Danny’s REDRUM voice. The ominous music at surprising moments.
While we do get the sense that Jack was probably not the most mentally stable person to take on the Overlook hotel, the hotel has a very strong presence, therefore my recommendations tonight will be based on hotels:
1408 (2007) – Stephen King must have a bit of a thing about hotels… This is one of the better adaptations of his works – but this is based off of a short story. I believe I recommended this one in another recent post… it really is worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.
American Horror Story: Hotel (2015) – You don’t need to have watched any of the other seasons to enjoy the 5th season of AHS. This hotel is quite evil, being populated by both vampires and the ghosts of serial killers (among other ghosts). I haven’t been a huge fan of many of the AHS seasons aside from the first, but I really loved the music and tone of this one.
The Innkeepers (2011) – Another one I think I’ve already recommended. Two amateur ghosthunters decide to try to get evidence of a hotel’s haunting before it closes.
Room 237 (2012) – Some of the conspiracy theories in this documentary are far-fetched, but others make a lot of sense, especially those surrounding the change made from the book’s Room 217 to the movie’s Room 237 and what that means.
Vacancy (2007) – A couple stays at a sketchy motel, only to discover that they are being filmed.
Whew, where to begin with this one! Firstly, this is one of those horror movies trying to tell you a message, and the message is, “Birth control pills are bad!” Lenore is pregnant with her second child after years of taking contraceptives, but something is different this time! The baby is a monster!
After the baby kills the doctors and nurses assisting in its birth, he flees the scene, and his father is horrified. However, he receives this gem of advice from his boss: “You know O’Connors down in Accounting? He’s got a retarded kid. Insists on keeping him in the house, too. Nobody thinks a thing of that. Nobody blames him.” Whoa. That’s something you wouldn’t hear in a movie today. Never mind that we never see a clear image of this hideously deformed child – apparently so monstrous that the doctor attempted to kill him at birth. The father likens himself to Frankenstein (the doctor) and his baby as the monster. I guess it’s mostly the fact that the baby kills that makes it such a monster? But how would the delivering doctor come to the conclusion that he needed to kill the baby right away? Before it had killed? Troubling, to say the least.
You want more murderous babies?
The Brood (1979) – These murderous babies are the literal brain-children of a psychotic woman.
The Eye 2 (2004) – After a pregnant woman attempts suicide, she begins to see ghosts… and those ghosts have plans for her unborn child. [note: you do not have to watch the first Eye movie to understand this one, they are completely separate as far as I can tell]
Grace (2009) – When your baby would rather drink blood than breast milk, you know there’s something wrong.
Splice (2009) – A childless couple of scientists decide to make their own baby by splicing some genes. The result is… special.