Horror Movie Marathon 2014 - Reviews:
(1982) - I felt compelled to kick things off this year with this movie because I remember it as being the first memorable horror movie that I ever watched in my life. I was just 11 years old when I saw this for the first time, and when I saw it, the special effects were still cutting-edge. This movie had me questioning whether I still wanted a television in my bedroom anymore and the story had a deep impact. As I was watching this again, it gave me chills thinking about how it affected me when I was young. 5 out of 5.
Poltergeist II - The Other Side
(1986) - I originally saw this in theaters when it came out and have to admit that I was disappointed at the time. In retrospect, I think a lot of my disappointment had to do with the brilliance of the first movie and how this movie went in a totally different direction than I was expecting. I did re-watch it about 7 or 8 years ago, and while my impression improved somewhat, I still wasn't totally impressed. Fast forward to now and I really don't think it is a bad movie at all. No, not as good as the first movie, but a respectable second installment especially considering the change in director. 3.25 out of 5.
(1988) - Not quite as good as the first two movies, and totally missing Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams, but still not bad. Suffers from some of the cliches of 1980's horror movies and has something of a (good) cheese factor, but still an okay movie and also better than I remember it. The whole thing with the highrise works and the story is alright. Glad they were able to finish this before Heather O'Rourke passed away. 3 out of 5.
(2013) - Pure horror! Though not too deep, I was quite surprised at how good this remake is. The gore factor is pretty heavy too. Definitely a must-watch if you have not seen it before. Be sure to watch the credits to the end. 4.25 out of 5.
Atom Age Vampire
(1960) - I went into this expecting something of a bomb, and the review ratings on IMDB would have you believe as such, but I thought this was pretty good low-budget B-horror typical of the 1950s and 60s. More sci-fi than horror for a good portion of the movie but then the horror elements surface more as the movie goes along. The strongest part of this movie is how well the story is put together. A woman is disfigured in a car accident and ends up seeing a scientist who promises to restore her appearance as though the accident never happened. How will the treatments go? What complications will ensue? Watch and find out! 3.25 out of 5.
Werewolf In A Girl's Dormitory
(1961) - Another B movie from the 1960's, in this one, a professor arrives at a boarding school for troublesome girls and shortly thereafter an intern at the school who is attempting to blackmail another teacher is murdered. Her death is deemed to be caused by a wolf and a murder mystery soon ensues as other deaths occur. Again not a bad movie, very story-driven, but nothing scary or special. Perhaps worth seeing once. 2.5/5
The Werewolf of Washington
(1973) - A reporter in Europe on his way back to the United States gets into a car crash on the way to the airport. Unfortunate events ensue and he is bitten by a werewolf. He returns to the U.S. and is given a position as a press assistant to the President. Soon things start to unravel but I can't say much more than that. I will say that even though it is low-budget, I had some fun with this movie and even a couple of laughs. It has a pretty decent ending too. Be sure to watch this one to the end of the credits. 3 out of 5.
Moon of the Wolf
(1972) - This one is definitely a slow burn, the first half of the movie deals with the sheriff investigating a murder that is out of the ordinary. When some action finally does happen, not much actually occurs, but the final 20% of the movie is where things start to really pick up. I can't fault the story, the movie is interesting in certain ways, but too little really happens and this mostly fails to deliver on the horror side of things. 2.25 out of 5.
(1980) - Here's Johnny! What more can I say? Though I am not quite in the perfect 5 camp with this movie, it is very well crafted and put together with great pacing. The last time I saw this movie was on a tube television so it was nice to see it on my 55 inch screen in high definition as well as the 1.85:1 aspect ratio which filled the screen. 4.25 out of 5.
(1980) - After a composer's family is killed in a tragic accident, he moves away and rents out an old mansion run by a local historical society in hopes of being able to write music and engage with local musicians. He gets far more than he bargains for renting the old house. A pretty decent haunted house story and the final ten minutes of the film are especially well done. 3.75 out of 5.
(2007) - Following a storm, a strange and thick mist consumes a town where terrors bound within. Local citizens trapped in a supermarket by this threat look for solutions of how to solve the problem. This movie didn't quite grab me as well as I'd hoped but it does do a fairly good job in the suspense department and has a few scares. Does have a decent ending. 2.75 out of 5.
Exorcist movie series
(various dates) - I watched all five movies in this set in one day, Exorcist - The Beginning, Dominion - Prequel to the Exorcist, then the original 1973 Exorcist, then Exorcist II, then finally Exorcist III. The movies are something of a mixed bag with Exorcist II being the weakest and the original Exorcist being the best. I felt that Exorcist - The Beginning was the best of the two prequels. Exorcist III was a passable final entry in the series.
(1997) - Set in the future, a search and rescue ship is sent out to the planet Neptune to investigate another spaceship by the name of Event Horizon which vanished seven years earlier but has now suddenly returned. When they arrive, horrors abound and never seem to end. A little dated now but still a very good science fiction horror that kept me glued to my seat from beginning to end. 4 out of 5.
(2007) - A skeptic author who debunks and discredits ghostly phenomenon ends up staying in Room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel despite warnings from the manager not to do it due to numerous deaths occuring in that room over the years. Though this movie didn't interest me as much as I thought it would in the first half and generally left me with some feelings of sadness in parts, things really picked up nicely in the second half and the main character was left wondering what is real and what is not. Reminded me of another movie called Jacob's Ladder in that respect. 3 out of 5.
My Bloody Valentine
(2009) - I won't get too much into the story and outline of this movie since it would be a little complicated but will leave some of my impressions. Although somewhat predictable (although not entirely), the movie does a good job in the second half creating tension and suspense and leaves you guessing. The gore factor is also pretty decent. 3.5 out of 5.
(1963) - Very worthwhile! Melanie Daniels heads to a community called Bodega Bay to return a practical joke on a lawyer who spoofed her the day before. Not long after she arrives, birds including seagulls and crows start to attack the townsfolk and the attacks intensify as the film progresses. This film did a good job of holding my interest throughout and had a few well done key scenes. I really liked the sound effects of the birds themselves. 4 out of 5.
(1932) - Archaeologists in Egypt in 1921 unearth a Mummy...and a curse. Not scary by any means but reasonably enjoyable with a good story. 3.5 out of 5.
The Invisible Man
(1933) - A chemist secretly works on an experiment to turn himself invisible but one of the ingredients unknowingly also turns him mad. He soon has visions of power and money and terrorizes local townsfolk. Not without a few holes and a little freaky but very well done for a movie this old. Certainly better than some much newer movies based on the same concept. 3.75 out of 5.
Phantom of the Opera
(1943) - A violinist is dismissed from the Paris Opera and suffers other misfortunes. He comes back to "haunt" the opera house in ways I won't describe. More of a murder mystery than anything, but well put together. I don't even really like opera but I admit that I enjoyed the plays in the movie. 3.75 out of 5.
(2011) - A "found footage" movie. A paranormal investigation team checks out a mental hospital closed since the 1960's for episode six of their television show. Previously at other locations they never encountered anything real but things change when they go into this hospital! While there are better horror movies out there, I was impressed by the fact that this movie did put a small number of genuine scares into me and gave me goosebumps at other times and I say this because few horror movies at this point have such an effect on me anymore. I was sure to watch this with no lights turned on and the volume turned up. Definitely recommended to anyone who has not seen it before. 3.5 out of 5.
(2008) - A radio station begins to report a riot happening in a small town community but it turns out to be something much bigger. Although I wasn't a big fan of this, the story was good and the approach to this movie is a unique take on the zombie genre. I give them credit for originality! 3 out of 5.
House of Wax
(1953) - Business partners in a wax museum are at odds and soon thereafter the museum burns down with one of the partners apparently still inside. Soon thereafter, murders take place. The outcome is more or less predictable early on, and it doesn't have much of an actual scare factor, but it is a pretty good murder mystery movie with horror overtones. Vincent Price stars. 3.75 out of 5.
Mystery of the Wax Museum
(1933) - Essentially an older and less detailed version of 1953's House of Wax but still perfectly serviceable and interesting enough. 3.25 out of 5.
(1979) - I wasn't sure what to make of this at times, but at other times things got interesting. All said and done, it came together well enough and I can conclude that this is a reasonably good movie that is also both weird and fun at times. The Tall Man is an unusual and welcome change from the main villains you normally see in horror movies. 3.25 out of 5.
(2010) - A family moves into a house and strange and disturbing events which cannot be explained start happening. Things take an unexpected turn about halfway through the movie but that's about all I will say about the story. But wow! Not too many horror movies these days genuinely scare me but this one was very effective, even more so than Grave Encounters. Even after the movie ended, I still found myself with goosebumps and raised hairs on my arms for a while afterwards. Yes it is guilty of some jump scares, but the feeling of tension, suspense, and terror was amplified further with effective use of music and sound effects. This movie is a little thin in parts but definitely very impressive overall with a very high scare factor in my books. Normally I would rate a movie like this a 4 but since it did a fantastic job of scaring me, I have to award this movie a 4.5 out of 5.
(2012) - A writer of true crime books moves his family to a house where murders previously took place to start his investigation for his next book. Of course, strange and unexplained events happen with the movie largely centering on some old film footage found in the house. Although this film is creepy and does a lot of things right as things slowly come together, it didn't really grab me too much. There are some good moments and the ending is decent, so I can't explain why I didn't like it more, but I still award it a 2.5 out of 5.
(2009) - A pair of crew members awaken on a ship sent on a deep space mission. When they awaken, they have little to no memory of their mission or how long they were out for or where they are. They also quickly discover that other crew members are missing. Horrors await. Not the greatest movie by any means, but too bad, it was able to hold my interest just enough, and the dread of the situation soon becomes apparent to the viewer. Does have some jump scares but also gets you thinking of how it would be if you were in their shoes. Has a decent and unexpected ending. 3 out of 5.
Horror of Dracula
(1958) - A man by the name of Jonathan Harker travels to Dracula's castle after being hired as the new librarian, but his real intention is to kill Count Dracula. What ensues is an unfortunate series of events, and as you might expect, Doctor Van Helsing plays a prominent role in this movie. Typical of classic horror films, this movie is not at all scary but is strong in the story department and offers some well done scenes and settings. This Hammer Horror movie features Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Worthwhile. 3.5 out of 5.
(1985) - Deaths start occurring in a small town. At first accidents are suspected, then a serial killer, but a disabled child with a souped-up motorized wheelchair begins saying it is a werewolf responsible for the murders and is initially met with resistance. A pretty decent werewolf movie and one of the better Stephen King movie adaptations that I have seen. For sure worth seeing. 3.75 out of 5.
Halloween III - Season of the Witch
(1982) - This has remained a favorite horror movie of mine since I first saw it many years ago. Featuring a good story as well as music and sound effects, it is truly something of a cult classic with a cheese factor that I find irresistible. Who can forget such things as the main villain Conal Cochran and his persona, the homeless drunk, the gas station attendant, the "misfire", and of course those Silver Shamrock commercials! For me this movie is pretty much required viewing at least once every two to three years in October. Most people would probably think I am cooked for saying this, but I rate it 5 out of 5.
(1980) - A seaside town celebrating its centennial falls victim to a strange glowing fog where horrors abound within. Nothing complicated here, just a good pirate-curse type of movie that finishes in a nice and tidy 89 minutes. 3.5 out of 5.
(2014) - A man purchases a doll for his pregnant wife who needs it to complete a set but soon afterwards a bad event befalls the couple. This leads to a chain of more unfortunate events with the doll being the centerpiece of the trouble. Good movie, has some jump scares but offers credible tension and suspense as well. I had goosebumps a few times while watching this. 3.5 out of 5.
(1989) - A family moves to a small town where tragedy soon follows. A special cemetery with certain powers is nearby and the father ends up doing something unthinkable more than once. This movie offers a few small nuggets in the first half but takes a while to really get going. When it does, the events are shocking, disturbing and gruesome all while offering the quirkiness that you might expect from a Stephen King movie. 3.25 out of 5.
The People Under The Stairs
(1991) - A family living in a badly run down apartment in the ghetto face eviction for non-payment of rent and the mother of the family is suffering from cancer. A criminal-type family friend learns of possible valuable coins inside a house that is owned and occupied by the landlord which of course they end up checking out to help with the family's predicament. The landlord's home turns out to be a real house of horrors. I felt this movie was a little better than average, it wasn't what I was expecting and neither were the people under the stairs in the house, but it is a mix of action, horror and some comedy that works reasonably well enough. 3 out of 5.
The Wolf Man
(1941) - This classic is about a man who after an extended absence returns home to his father but ends up getting bit by a werewolf not long afterwards. Of course, he himself then turns into a werewolf and goes on something of a killing spree. Well acted and engaging throughout, the mystery of the murders are soon enough revealed. 4 out of 5.
Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man
(1943) - Pretty decent loose follow-up to 1941's The Wolf Man, this involves Larry Talbot coming back to life complete with the werewolfism that he suffered from in life. Deaths inevitably result and soon Frankenstein's Monster comes into the fray. Not quite as good as The Wolf Man but still good in the story-telling department and the gypsy woman makes a return in this film also. 3.5 out of 5.
She-Wolf of London
(1946) - A different twist on the typical werewolf tale with the werewolf of the movie being a woman. Very story-driven although the actual werewolf scenes themselves are a disappointment. This film does have a good scenery as well as a decent ending with a couple of unexpected twists, but ultimately there are better choices for classic werewolf movies. 3 out of 5.
Werewolf of London
(1935) - A doctor travels to Asia in search of a rare flower that will help cure werewolfism. When he returns to London, he ends up having good reason to search vigorously for a cure but in the process strains his relationship with his wife and other people. This movie is pretty much typical of classic werewolf movies, well done in the story department, a few werewolf scenes and a good ending, but no real surprises. 3.5 out of 5.
(2010) - This film mostly has the same basic main principles and ideas behind it as 1941's The Wolf Man, but with a twist in the relationship between two of the main characters. A very good movie with great scenery and a gothic-like feel which also expands on many elements as the classic 1941 movie. 4 out of 5.
The Devil's Rejects
(2005) - Set in the late 1970's in Texas, this bizarre film pits the police against the infamous Firefly family who are responsible for more than 75 murders. A sometimes violent and gruesome movie, this one has a lot of things going on...nudity, action, kidnappings, sadism, you name it. Definitely much different than anything else I have seen this month but still an okay movie. Not for everyone. 3 out of 5.
House of 1000 Corpses
(2003) - A pair of young couples traveling the U.S. in search of bizarre places and museums and the like for a book they plan to write end up looking for a legend by the name of Dr. Satan. They end up in the house of a family where they are subject to all sorts of horrors. Again definitely different than your average horror flick but good for what it is. 3.5 out of 5.
The Lords of Salem
(2012) - A radio DJ receives a strange package containing an even weirder record inside and ends up experiencing all sorts of dreams and visions as she slowly but surely slips more and more into madness over the course of a week. I didn't think this was a bad movie. 3.25 out of 5.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
(1978) - A strange flower is discovered and soon people start to notice that other people they know aren't quite themselves anymore. At first there are doubters but it soon becomes an epidemic and the horror of what is really going on eventually comes to light. Brooke Adams looks great in this film and having Leonard Nimoy amongst the cast was a pleasant surprise to me. 3.5 out of 5.
most scary movie that I watched out of the list was Insidious
The 2nd most scary movie was Grave Encounters
The 3rd most scary movie was Evil Dead
Honorable mention goes to Annabelle
The most bizarre horror movie award goes to The Devil's Rejects
Biggest disappointment (based on my expectations) was Sinister
Best B-Grade horror movie award goes to Atom Age Vampire
Most disturbing movie award goes to The Exorcist
Best Pre-1970 classic horror movie award goes to The Birds
Most amusing film award goes to The Werewolf of Washington
Best Science Fiction Horror movie award goes to Event Horizon