Category Archives: horror

Scary Movie October: A review of Shaun of the Dead

“You’ve got red on you.”

A lot of people in this country really like zombies. I get it. They can be kind of funny. They make strange noises. They are really gross looking and while you can totally defeat one or two on your own, they always seem to travel in packs and that spells trouble. Zombies, the world’s favorite type of monster.

A bunch of my friends love and recommended that I watch Shaun of the Dead, but I was hesitant to watch it for a while. After reading the Walking Dead comics, I decided to watch the show and only made it through one season. I was zombied out. It was time to hang my hat and try something else. Between my general dislike of horror comedies and being tired of zombies, I actively avoided Shaun of the Dead.

It turns out, this movie is really amusing. Some of the gore is so hilariously over-the-top; at one point a character’s stomach is ripped out and his head and limbs are torn off but it’s FUNNY. I think maybe it’s the dry British humor that really sat well with me, but I was thoroughly entertained while watching Shaun of the Dead. The movie is a romantic comedy as well, and although I’m not big into romantic comedies, it works well with the horror aspect of the film.

Shaun of the Dead blends together great elements of a horror film and great elements of a comedy and makes some really super enjoyable. I definitely recommend that anyone who has a bit of a sick sense of humor watch this movie. It’ll definitely be in my regular Halloween movie rotation.

RIYL: British people, zombies, Queen, dive bars


Scary Movie October: A review of Aliens

Newt: We’d better get back, ’cause it’ll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night… mostly.

Two years ago for my first edition of Scary Movie October, I watched Alien. My dad, who has a penchant for horror movies, absolutely loves Alien and not surprisingly, I did too. Many people told me I would love Aliens so I was excited to finally watch it this year.

Aliens Movie Poster

Aliens (1986)

Like everyone mentioned to me, Alien is definitely more horror and suspense-focused and Aliens is more action-packed. There are still some scary things that happen in Aliens, but there are a lot more explosions and loud guns and such. For that reason, I prefer Alien to Aliens, but only by a slim margin.

You do get more character development with Ripley, especially as she becomes attached to Newt, the lone stowaway they find during their rescue mission. The character development is great. Newt, on the other hand, is a tad annoying. Every time she shrieked I yelled at my television, telling her to shut up because the aliens will find her if she keeps screaming. Yeah, I get a little invested in movies. So what?

Overall, Aliens is beautifully made. The main alien in the battle you see at the end of the film looks very realistic and scary to me, which is just amazing considering when the movie was made. If this movie is ever remade with some CGI crap I will probably protest all movies for the rest of time. Aliens is just about perfect.

A few notes:

  • Paul Reiser,  I am one of only two people I know who watched and love Mad About You. I feel like I gave you a lot of leeway because of my MOA history, but oh my god you are the worst person ever in that movie.
  • Sigourney Weaver, how do I get my hair to look like that? And my butt? Please, send help.
  • Speaking of which, after seeing Gravity a few weeks ago I’m convinced that Hollywood believes everyone in space runs around in their underwear and hot bods.
  • If I were Bill Paxton in the knife versus finger scene early on, I would punch the dude. That scene gave me major anxiety.

RIYL: Alien, Die Hard, butts, Bill Paxton, small children

Scary Movie October: A review of Hellraiser

Frank Cotton: Jesus wept.

Three word review: Not enough Pinhead.

Hellraiser Poster

Hellraiser (1987)

Like, I cannot be the only person in this whole world who thought Hellraiser was about Pinhead, right? The tagline is “he’ll tear your soul apart” and it’s under a photo OF PINHEAD. What IS this, even?

Oh well.

I was excited to see Hellraiser because its director wrote the story of Candyman. And Candyman is some SERIOUSLY scary stuff. My dad started me on horror movies at an obscenely young age so I don’t get scared that easily, but Candyman always stuck with me. Even when passing by Cabrini-Green (before it was torn down), I would get goosebumps on my neck. It’s terrifying.

Hellraiser is decent, but not as terrifying. Basically, a dude finds a puzzle box (“WHAT’S IN THE BOX?”) and opens it, and all of these lights/demons/Pinheadies tear out his outsides. Some time later, the dude’s brother and sister-in-law (who is also his secret lover) move into the dude’s home for some reason. The sister-in-law/secret lover discovers that the main dude has, um, been turned into a weird corpse of sorts. In order to revive his body, he has to be fed blood. So S-I-L kills some guys and the dude’s corpse gets more and more alive. Cool story. As an aside, I don’t usually comment on the looks of ladies in movies but the S-I-L in this movie is really quite unattractive. This is only a point I need to make because she is some sexy sphinx of sorts who woos men into her home and then kills them. It’s a little unrealistic (whereas the skinless corpse is totally not). Yowzer. And so on and so on, the brother’s daughter figures everything out and saves the day, kind of. Oh and at some point you see Pinhead. Phew.

So, it’s not about Pinhead. It IS fairly gory and only ninety-ish minutes long, so it’s a decent quick-hit horror film. The acting is atrocious and all sorts of weird things happen without any explanation, potentially to make you think that the movie is super deep but, no, it isn’t. It isn’t bad, but it also isn’t amazing. And yes, there is a box.

RIYL: corpses, manly-looking women, nails, demons, boxes

Scary Movie October: A review of Slither

Starla Grant: Baby, what happened to your face?
Grant Grant: It’s just a bee sting.

Slither (2006)

I have a really bad habit of judging a book by its cover. Or at least movies, and especially in this case. Flipping through suggestions of scary movies to watch for Scary Movie October, I came across the movie poster for Slither. The poster made the movie feel like The Host (which I love) meets Alien (which I love) meets What Lies Beneath (okay now I’m just listing movies with bathtubs in them). I thought Slither would be a really good, scary alien/critter invasion film.

Okay, so… not quite.

Slither is a horror-comedy, and I’m really torn about my feelings towards horror comedies. I did not really like Drag Me to Hell but I loved Zombieland. Fine, I’m torn. I think the comedy piece to Slither wouldn’t have bothered me had I not had some preset notions about the movie based on nothing but worms and a bathtub and a lady’s leg. My wrong impressions just made me really grumpy at first, and some of the big jokes falling super flat didn’t help. Looking at it now, I think Slither was fairly amusing but I was being a jerk and didn’t connect well with the movie.

Also, Slither is really gross. Not quite as gross as The Fly or the barfing-into-a-dog-bowl-and-making-someone-else-eat-it scene from Audition, but close. I’ve realized that I can take gore all day but squid-like creatures with slime EV-ERY-WHERE? Please, no more.

I know a lot of people think the zombie plots are played out (hi, I stopped watching Walking Dead after season one), but I thought this was a decent and fun take on the genre.  There were also a handful of scenes that made me jump out of my seat, so Slither gets points for that. If you are looking for a gross-out horror movie that is fairly funny but probably won’t scare you much, this is a pretty good choice. Just know what you’re getting into before you start watching.

RIYL: Dreamcatcher, zombie movies, slugs, anything really really really gross, Elizabeth Banks

Late to the Scary Movies! A review of The Last House on the Left

Cover of "The Last House on the Left (Unr...

Last House on the Left (1972)

[Editor’s note: since I like scary movies and I like October, I decided to continue on from Scary Movie October from last year. I haven’t had a ton of time to watch movies this month, but figured I’d review what I had time to review.]

Fred “Weasel” Podowski: I wonder what the meanest, foulest, rottenest, woodsiest sex crime ever was? Hey, Krug, what do you think the sex crime of the century was?

When asking for suggestions of scary movies to watch, I get this suggestion a lot. It’s written and directed by Wes Craven, and it’s from the 70s. Of course I’d love it, right?

This turned out to be quite a  weird movie, and I wouldn’t completely define it as horror. Yes, there is an awful rape scene in the woods. Yes, there are people who are murdered with knives and guns. But it didn’t feel particularly tense, like movies with similar plots. For instance, the first time I watched Funny Games, I was completely terrified. I could barely watch as these two fairly normal looking dudes (except for the shorts) tortured and killed a family for no reason. My favorite types of horror movies tend to be the movies where the plot is completely possible– “it could be you!”– which is one reason I was really looking forward to seeing this movie. Instead, Last House on the Left felt goofy, which is not really a feeling I want from a horror movie. It completely missed the mark.

The three criminals and their “druggy” sidekick reminded me of something straight out of the old Scooby Doo cartoons, maybe mixed with soft core porn. I read on the Internets that many of their lines were improvised, and maybe that’s the issue– they suck at improv? I can definitely say that the choose of music was very curious. As the criminals sneak two women out of their home and into a convertible (sidenote: if you were on the run from the cops, would you ride in an open top convertible with a lady in your lap? I wouldn’t, but maybe that’s just me), very upbeat, almost circus-like music, plays. Is this what it’s like to watch the Three Stooges? I wouldn’t really know, but it’s what I imagine it is like. I know that Wes Craven can get a little goofy with his characters– I love Nightmare on Elm Street and I feel like Freddy Krueger always has his little one liner before slashing someone from limb to limb. It just didn’t work for me here.

The scenes in the woods where they brutally beat and rape two female characters are pretty brutal. But because of the setup of the characters I wasn’t particularly fearful, or even interested in what was happening. While these scenes happen, you see little clips with these two strange cops who may or may not understand what’s going on but also provide some completely unnecessary comic relief. Finally the characters rape and murder the main character. They cackle throughout the entire scene, and suddenly after the girl is dead their demeanor changes. Maybe they feel remorse? Maybe they want a do-over? Maybe they feel shame? I wouldn’t really know, because they don’t get into it any further.

By the time the viewer reaches the most dramatic part of the movie as the parents find their daughter, there is maybe twenty minutes left in the movie. You see a short little Home Alone-style montage as the parents realize that they’ve allowed these murderers to stay in their home and set up traps so they can more easily kill the trio. Why the parents let these strangers stay with them in the first place, I’ll never know. But they’re there, and the parents obviously must kill them. Boom, bam. It’s over. And then the cops walk in. Okay.

I hear this movie is a classic movie, and maybe it’s just because I’m particularly grouchy these days but I simply don’t get it. The good news is that it’s relatively short, but meh. I still wouldn’t waste your time on it.