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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:13 pm 
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I have to agree on the Dark Shadows write-up. As I've mentioned here before, I'm a big fan of the Monster Party podcast and the Dana Gould podcast. Everyone involved in both of those vehemently HATES this film. They're all big fans of the TV series and wanted a straight adaptation, but I'm of the opinion that there's no way in hell that would work. The series was a soap opera with supernatural elements and putting that on the big screen would have been an instant flop. While Burton may have gone too far the other way with it (making it a comedy instead), I really like this film and think it's a lot of fun.

Great pick, Monty!

I'm going to have to check out 1922 now also.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:32 pm 
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Dark Shadows got mercilessly piled-upon in 2012 from critics still butthurt about the previous Burton/Depp joint Alice In Wonderland (which truly was both men on creative autopilot) and fans of the 70's TV series incensed that they turned their show into a COMEDY. Granted, I've never sat down and watched it, but I've seen some blooper reels for the show, and it's laughably poor and inept, even by soap opera standards. I certainly understand disliking the recent trend of turning dated TV shows from the 70's and 80's into wink-wink big-screen comedies (resulting in recent bullshit like Baywatch and CHIPS), but Dark Shadows works better than most such attempts because it actually works both ways, as satire and as a legitimately gloomy horror piece (the scene where Depp's Barnabas is released from his coffin after two centuries and enthusiastically slakes his thirst on the construction workers who freed him is legitimately frightening). And the fact that Depp keeps a straight face throughout gives even the sillier, on-the-nose lines a mischievous sparkle. It's certainly a messy, chaotic movie, but, like Burton's Mars Attacks!, the high points far outweigh the weak spots, and the movie looks and sounds great. certainly in the upper regions of Burton's "minor" outings. I like it a bit more every time I watch it.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:35 pm 
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caryc wrote:
Whoa! Is this the first time you've ever seen Phantasm?


Yes, it is. In the "what movie have you seen?" thread, I use a ^ to indicate what movies I haven't seen before.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:29 pm 
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“How’s about this… We all draw straws, and the loser runs across the parking lot with a ham sandwich.”

-Dawn Of The Dead (2004): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :half:

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On my list of the top-five best horror remakes done (for the record, the rest are Invasion Of The Body Snatchers 1978, John Carpenter’s The Thing, The Fly ’86 and The Blob ’88), Zack Snyder’s turbocharged updating of the George A. Romero classic does what any good update of an older film should…keep the core premise intact whilst delivering a completely new narrative with fresh characters and scenarios. Unlike such wan retreads as the 2006 Omen or the 2013 Carrie, this is no scene-for-scene Xerox…it’s a tight, visceral, action-oriented horror flick, lacking in the social satire that coursed through Romero’s original, perhaps, but more than making up for it in kicky thrills. It also boasts a fine cast (Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Webber, Mekhi Phifer), enthusiastic gore, some welcome comic aspects, and a terrific, Mad Max-ian climax with the surviving characters breaking out of the mall and careening through the deserted city streets in a pair of reinforced mall busses pursued by a relentless hoard of the Undead. Like the Wachowski Siblings, Snyder knocked it out of the park with his first crack at the bat, and has never been able to match it since, despite all of the money in the world, due to his own creative excesses and rampaging ego. Shame, because Dawn remains a fantastic zombie movie, one that just got reissued on a terrific new Scream Factory Blu-Ray (yes, the random boobs that were obstructed by a smear of CGI blood on the windshield of Polley’s car in every previous American release of the film are finally on full display, if you’re wondering).

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 6:44 pm 
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Watching the 1990 miniseries It, and I'm reflecting on something I noticed before when watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: kids that were cast as "the fat kid" decades ago don't look fat to modern eyes.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 6:46 pm 
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The mirror(s) crack’d…

-Oculus (2014): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :nohole:

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Mike Flanagan’s eerie haunted mirror thriller is a film that plays with past and present, “reality” and fantasy, with the cross-cutting skill of a natural-born horror master. Like a room slowly filling with nitrous oxide, Oculus builds its chills with slowly mounting incidents of this-isn’t-quite-right, and the fact that its primary protagonist, Kaylie (Karen Gillan), is a survivor of the mirror’s insidious influence and who takes a rational, scientific, carefully-thought-out approach to both proving the mirror’s sordid backstory and bring its centuries-long pall of evil to a definitive end neatly sidesteps the usual grousing about, “Well, why don’t they just leave the house?!” that scowling killjoys always drop about scary movies. Despite all of Kaylie’s meticulous preparations (and they truly are well-reasoned and intelligent), the mirror just manages to…well, outsmart her at every junction of the long night she and her brother, Tim (Brendon Twhaites), spend trying to get the bottom of the deaths of their parents (Rory Cochrane, Katee Sackhoff) eleven years earlier. It’s a truly effective, disorienting piece of horror filmmaking.

And, just to keep the theme going, I popped in the 1986 “Mirror, Mirror” episode of Steven Spielberg’s mid-80’s NBC TV anthology Amazing Stories. Directed by Martin Scorsese(!), it’s a creepy little-half-hour exercise in paranoia about a successful horror novelist (Sam Waterston) who starts catching glimpses of a macabre, hooded figure in mirrors and other reflective surfaces. But whenever he turns around, there’s nothing there…until he looks back into the mirror, and sees the figure (played by an unrecognizable Tim Robbins) again, wielding a garrote wire and getting closer, and closer

It’s a nifty little suspense piece, given an insistent, Bernard Herrmann-esque score by Michael Kamen and stylishly directed by Scorsese (there’s a quickie locking-the-doors-and-windows montage that’s like a dry run for Cape Fear), that falters only in the unsatisfying concluding moments. Still, it’s one of the better installments of the lavishly-produced but uneven series.

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Flanagan, begin again…

-Ouija: Origin Of Evil (2016): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :half:

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Compared to the lousy first Ouija movie, Origin Of Evil is akin to the first Superman movie being Part IV: The Quest For Peace, and the sequel being Superman: The Movie. Flanagan, again, directs the admittedly-familiar material with screw-tightening skill, and gets fine performances from his talented cast (including Elizabeth Reaser, Oculus alumnus Annalise Basso – try saying “Oculus Alumnus” three times fast! – and E.T.’s Henry Thomas as a concerned priest). In the annals of possession movies, you’ve seen stuff like this a lot over the last decade, but rarely with such careful craftsmanship and intelligence, and Flanagan gives the film – set in 1967 – a pleasingly retro look and feel (replete with deep-focus split-diopter shots and even some faux-reel-change circles) that gives the film the tone of a classic thriller from decades past that you’ve just now come across.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 8:51 am 
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Four more quick ones.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
:hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1:

The Incredible Shrinking Man
:hole1: :hole1: :half: :nohole: :nohole:

Get Out
:hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :nohole:

10 Cloverfield Lane
:hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :nohole:


I really liked 10 Cloverfield Lane and Get Out much more than I thought I would. The latter had been so hyped up and the former had been recommended to me repeatedly. Usually when that happens, I feel let down but for both of these, I absolutely loved them. Get Out stuck with me more as I replayed scenes from the movie through my head over and over the next day, but I really love the way 10 Cloverfield Lane goes from abduction story to survival story to craziness in one film.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:06 am 
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Monterey Jack wrote:
-Gerald’s Game (2017): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :half:

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Coming hot on the heels of the phenomenal box office success of It (and the less-than-successful release of the wretched Dark Tower and that lousy, recently-cancelled TV version of The Mist), it’s looking like a Stephen King renaissance has begun, and the latest from screenwriter and director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, the terrific and underrated Ouija: Origin Of Evil) manages to craft a fairly superb movie out of one of King’s more “unadaptable” novels. Carla Gugino plays a middle-aged yet still-stunning woman named Jesse who heads off for a weekend of sexytime with her older husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) in hopes of reigniting the spark that has cooled between them over the past several months. It’s not enough just to pop a few Viagra tablets and model a sleek new nightie, though…Gerald breaks out a pair of handcuffs to add a dash of S&M kink to their foreplay. Cuffing her wrists to the bedposts, Gerald generally creeps out Jesse with his borderline-rape fantasies…then has the most ill-timed fatal heart attack ever, leaving his distraught wife screaming for help with little hope of rescue from their remote beach house. You’d think it’d be impossible to make more than a half-hour short out of a scenario so limited in scope, but Flanagan squeezes every bit of tension out of Jesse’s plight, and Gugino delivers a superb one-woman show as both her body and psyche slowly breaks down under the strain, with flashbacks to a traumatizing childhood incident involving her father (Henry Thomas, in a startling turn that might very well ruin E.T. for many viewers) adding extra layers of psychological torment as Jesse fights to keep herself sane and use what few tools she has at handcuffed-hand to extricate herself before the inevitable. Mainly a film of cleverly-staged interior monologues, Gerald’s Game does feature some truly disturbing moments of raw terror, including a moment that ranks with the “hobbling” scene in Misery and the botched electrocution in The Green Mile as one of the most effectively horrific acts of violence in any adaptation of a King novel (I was literally covering my mouth in astounded revulsion, and I have a pretty strong stomach for cinematic gore). Currently streaming on Netflix, Gerald’s Game can honestly be added to the upper-tier of King adaptations on either the big or small screen, and continues to place Flanagan as one of the brightest talents in horror right now.

I started watching this Saturday late-morning while Karen was cleaning the kitchen after I cooked a brunch for us. She sat down about the time it really started with the handcuffing. Not a woman-friendly scene or situation, at all (unless it is, I guess).

Karen asked if Gerald was nice and I told her I don't know, but he seemed friendly since he let the stray dog outside have $200 portions of Kobe beef.

We got about to the point where Gerald collapsed and Karen was back at the kitchen and asking me why I would want to watch this movie.

I shut it off and we went Halloween shopping for the day.

Randomly, Karen brought up the movie and that although it disturbed her, she wanted to try finish watching it. I didn't say much, but was agreeable and tried to hide my excitement as the story had already put its hooks in me.

We finished it and I have to admit that one haunting scene made my hair stand up on the back of my neck so creepily well-executed was the atmosphere.

Karen had to turn away from the gore scene Monty mentions and it was grueling, graphic, and painful.

It is interesting to note that this story predates 50 Shades of Grey by nearly a decade.

Carla Gugino's performance was really good. Solid. Torn between being victim at the start and elevating to a tragic heroic woman by the end was entirely believable.

Bruce Greenwood's performance was extremely good, as well. A cold-heartedly compassionate dick that operates from a power position over Carla's character.

Overall, this was a grade A spooky story that had plenty of twists and turns.

I really enjoyed the Devil on one side and the Angel on "the other shoulder" dialogue.

Thanks for the recommendation, Monty.

:thumbs:

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:06 am 
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2.5 for Incredible Shrinking Man? It has a giant tarantula!

But seriously, I love that film - purely for nostalgic reasons. Probably the first scifi film I watched that had a truly surreal ending.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:11 am 
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Chris Knight wrote:
2.5 for Incredible Shrinking Man? It has a giant tarantula!

But seriously, I love that film - purely for nostalgic reasons. Probably the first scifi film I watched that had a truly surreal ending.


I had this on Super 8 when I was a kid and the spider fight was a highlight!

Going back and seeing the full version now though, it got to be a bit of a slog toward the end and I think the big reason is all the narration. You're in the character's head for the last third of the film and he's been a complete ass to his wife, effectively driving her away. He just became really unsympathetic. The cat attack was cool and the spider fights were cool. I like the idea that he'll continue to shrink away and eventually become the largest entity in a new dimension but man did it take a while to get to that point.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 12:17 pm 
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caryc wrote:
Chris Knight wrote:
2.5 for Incredible Shrinking Man? It has a giant tarantula!

But seriously, I love that film - purely for nostalgic reasons. Probably the first scifi film I watched that had a truly surreal ending.


I had this on Super 8 when I was a kid and the spider fight was a highlight!

Going back and seeing the full version now though, it got to be a bit of a slog toward the end and I think the big reason is all the narration. You're in the character's head for the last third of the film and he's been a complete ass to his wife, effectively driving her away. He just became really unsympathetic. The cat attack was cool and the spider fights were cool. I like the idea that he'll continue to shrink away and eventually become the largest entity in a new dimension but man did it take a while to get to that point.

Definitely need to re-watch this soon.

A childhood favorite.

And not just because it was a Richard Matheson novel.

I think him being a complete dick was purposeful by Matheson since the character and story were based on a 1950s man losing what it was to be a man in the 1950s. The movie could have eschewed that whole aspect, but again, it is kind of pivotal to the time period.

To me, after I grew up a bit, watching it I felt that the story was more about a man removing himself from his life. Fading away to become nothing and by reaching the nothingness, he would become something else entirely.

Either way, I need to watch again as it has been a couple decades or more since I watched it.

:thumbs:

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:32 pm 
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They check in…but they don’t check out.

-The Shining (1980): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :nohole:

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-The Innkeepers (2011): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :nohole:

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A duology of haunted hotel movies today. Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s 1977 novel (one of the prolific horror author’s very best works) is one of the most iconic horror movies of all time, one of the most referenced and parodied movies ever (The Simpsons did the definitive, uproarious sendup of it with their Halloween episode segment “The Shinning”), and is an awesome example of Kubrick’s exacting attention to detail and impeccable filmmaking skill…and yet, I can’t quite bring myself to love it. It’s a cold fish of a movie, the brilliantly-realized sets and cinematography and camera placement never supported by characters you like or can identify with. King’s novel is clearly a personal exorcizing of his own struggles with alcoholism and substance abuse that were already a problem at the beginning of his career and only deepened into the 80’s before he finally cleaned himself up, but with Jack Nicholson mugging up a storm from frame one in the central role of Jack Torrance, you never get the novel’s relatable descent into madness for a fundamentally decent man led astray by his own addictions and how the spirits that infest the Overlook Motel use this to gain access into his strained psyche. Oh, the film is plenty effective in rattling the audience around, with its eerie music choices, Kubrick’s hypnotic pacing and the overall mood and vibe of the proceedings…it’s undoubtedly frightening, and Nicholson’s cartoon performance is certainly iconic and highly-entertaining, but the definitive adaptation of King’s text remains to be made (the 1997 TV miniseries was an honorable attempt, but the cheesy production values and edits for network consumption did it no favors). Like Blade Runner, it’s a film I watch every couple of years trying to see the brilliance that so many others do, and always come away marveling at the craftsmanship that went into it while my emotions remain unstirred.

As for The Innkeepers, it’s a much more modest production, with writer/director/editor Ti West (The House Of The Devil) wanting to do no more than evoke a handful of pleasurable goosebumps, and he has a terrific sense of just how long to hold a shot, how to arrange the collection of sighs, whispers and piano chords on the soundtrack to escalate general unease into genuine tension as the film unspools with methodical efficiency. And he gets likable performances from super-cute Sarah Paxton and schlubby Pat Healy as the caretakers of the soon-to-close Yankee Pedlar Inn who investigate the potential spirit of a woman murdered there over a hundred years earlier basically to kill the time in-between very-infrequent guests (Top Gun’s unrecognizable Kelly McGillis plays a former actress who assists in sussing out the uneasy spirits that live in the walls). It’s not a great film, but it certainly has its share of effectively creepy images and ideas, and boasts an elegant score by Jeff Grace.

-Silent Rage (1982): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :nohole: :nohole:

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I’ve wanted to see this since Edgar Wright and Quentin Tarantino – on their commentary on the Hot Fuzz DVD – referred to it as “Chuck Norris vs. Michael Myers”. An odd mixture of Norris action flick and slasher movie, it features Chuck (in his trademark flannel shirt but sans his trademark beard) as a small-town sheriff pitted against an unstoppable foe (Brian Libby), who has undergone secret experiments from a mad doctor (Ron Silver), which allow him to heal at a ridiculously accelerated rate. It’s kind of a borderline to consider this horror, and yet all of the signposts of early-80’s slasher movies are there…the hulking killer who says little and keeps coming, no matter the punishment dealt upon him, the opening kill sequence (featuring a rather elegant one-shot take that has a heavy Carpenter/De Palma vibe), the “science gone wrong” hand-wringing. It’s also not that bad of a movie, all things considered, although it would have been punchier had they trimmed out some of the ridiculously-gratuitous nudity and extended Chuck’s final hand-to-hand throwdown with the killer, which is far too brief and routine.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:27 am 
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Man, The Innkeepers was totally lost on me. I watched it as soon as it hit DVD because of some good word of mouth but I felt it went nowhere. I liked House of the Devil well enough. I've seen a lot of those old satanic 70's flicks that House felt like a retread but I understood what he was doing. The Innkeepers just fell flat for me.

I've seen it one time since and got the same impression. It's got a ton of style but not enough substance for me.

I forgot about Silent Rage. I've seen it years ago but I've forgotten everything about it except the general premise. I should check that out again.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 9:42 am 
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Welcome, boils and ghouls… :twisted:

-Tales From The Crypt (1972): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :nohole:

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Merrily macabre Amicus horror anthology adapted from the pages of the classic EC horror comics from the 1950’s (which later became a long-running HBO television series in the late 80’s and early 90’s) features a quintet of scary tales imparted by the hooded Crypt Keeper (Ralph Richardson) to five people (Joan Collins, Ian Hendry, David Markham, Richard Greene and Nigel Patrick) who chance across his subterranean catacomb while exploring a local cemetery, in which all of them find a gruesome and fittingly ironic fate. Like all anthology movies, the stories are a mixed bag (the best – Collins menaced by a maniac dressed in a Santa Claus outfit just after she’s murdered her husband on Christmas Eve – was later adapted by director Robert Zemeckis for an episode of the TV series. The weakest is a Monkey’s Paw retread with Greene), but even the mediocre segments are short enough not to hurt the overall flow of the film, and it all goes down with a nicely mordant sense of humor.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:29 pm 
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You may not believe in ghosts, but you cannot deny TERROR…!

-The Haunting (1963): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :half:

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-Crimson Peak (2015): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :half:

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A pair of spooktacular tales of haunted abodes today. Robert Wise’s 1963 production of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting Of Hill House remains one of the greatest haunted house movies ever done, impeccably crafted, well-acted and goosebump-raising decades later despite virtually no physical manifestations of any of the spirits living inside the rotting halls of Hill House, currently being investigated by a quartet of guests (Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn, Claire Bloom, Julie Harris) all with their own reasons for being there. Aside from an ominously bulging door, Wise never lets us see any of the usual misty, translucent specters one usually expects in this type of film, relying instead on eerie sound design and innovative, careening camerawork (which almost seems like an inspiration for Sam Raimi’s later Evil Dead movies) to sell the film’s chills. It’s all frightfully fun.

As for Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak, it’s one of the most bafflingly underrated horror films in recent memory, probably due to it being too genteel and slow-paced for the Blumhouse crowd and yet too sporadically-yet-enthusiastically violent for the Merchant Ivory set. It’s a gorgeously gloomy chain-rattler that evokes old-school classics like The Haunting and The Innocents as well as those ravishingly romantic suspense melodramas that Alfred Hitchcock made for David O. Selznick in the 1940’s (Mia Wasikowska may as well be Joan Fontaine in Rebecca, and Tom Hiddleston may as well be a dangerously dashing Cary Grant in Suspicion). It’s all technically spectacular…the costumes, cinematography, music and especially sets are crafted with lavish care, and Del Toro (along with frequent writing partner Matthew Robbins) creates a narrative with all of his usual signifiers (insects, melancholy ghosts, whirligig machinery, atmospherically dank subterranean chambers) brought to life by a superb cast that also features a particularly great Jessica Chastain. I like this one more every time I watch it, and think it’s easily Del Toro’s best American production, and his second-best overall after Pan’s Labyrinth.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:50 am 
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Monterey Jack wrote:
I like this one more every time I watch it, and think it’s easily Del Toro’s best American production, and his second-best overall after Pan’s Labyrinth.


I couldn't agree more.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:05 am 
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-The Vault Of Horror (1973): :half: :half: :nohole: :nohole: :nohole:

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Mediocre follow-up to the previous Amicus EC Comics adaptation, Tales From The Crypt, has a weaker wraparound gimmick (five strangers enter an elevator in a high-rise building, are trapped in the subbasement, and sit around discussing their personal nightmares), and five segments that range from adequate to outright lame. Stick with the original.

-Split (2017): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :nohole:

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Has the last fifteen years of M. Night Shyamalan’s career been some kind of elaborate, long-con, Andy Kaufman-esque prank? The man who gave us such indelibly absurd moments as Mark Walhberg apologizing to a potted plant (that turns out to be made of rubber), Paul Giamatti reading mystical clues to the universe off of the backs of cereal boxes and a kid getting a doody-filled adult diaper smashed in his face has actually made a GOOD MOVIE again, and it’s so disorienting I almost want to go outside and see if the sky is now bright green. Split is so tense, so well-acted, and so meticulously-shot and edited, it’s hard to imagine it’s from the same man who gave us such legendary stinkbombs as Lady In The Water, The Happening and The Visit. James McAvoy is a big part of the reason the film works…with a lesser actor in the key antagonist role(s), the film might have tilted over into Full Retard camp absurdity, but McAvoy skates right up to the line where his performance might have tipped over into unintentional comedy without ever quite getting there. There are moments of uncomfortable humor squiggling around in the margins, but you’re never allowed to forget the genuine menace and threat bubbling away below the surface. It’s a real performance masterclass, and I’d honestly like to see him not be forgotten by the Academy when next year’s Oscars roll around. Anya Taylor-Joy (The VVitch) is equally great as the most level-headed and resourceful of a trio of young girls kidnapped by McAvoy’s multiple-personality baddie, and the way her backstory (delivered piecemeal throughout the film) collides with her current predicament comes together with a satisfying narrative click. Even the authentically surprising “stinger” at the end feels justified, and for the first time in a long time, I’m honestly looking forward to Shyamalan’s next movie. Bravo.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:51 am 
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I completely loved this film also. I saw it on a long flight and when I came back I wanted to show it to my wife but so far, no luck. She was creeped out by the trailer. I've almost got her convinced to see it now though. It won't make our Halloween viewing list but we'll probably check it out in the next couple of months.

Like you, I'm actually excited to see his next film and genuinely intrigued by what he's creating here.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:05 pm 
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Dial “Z” For Zombies…



-Resident Evil (2002): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :nohole: :nohole:

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-Land Of The Dead (2005): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :half: :nohole:

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On the scale of rating movie adaptations of video games (which – to put it charitably – have been less-than-good over the years), Resident Evil is resoundingly…okay. It’s also got to be the most blood-free zombie movie I can think of to still receive an R rating. I guess that fleetingly seeing one of Mila Jovovich’s boobs and hearing the F-Bomb more than once is enough to earn an R these days, because the movie squeamishly cuts away from headshots and zombie bites so often it’s like you’re already watching the edited-for-TV version. If you can deal with a zombie movie about as tame as World War Z, and characterization and plotting so thin it makes “Ninjas have kidnapped the President…go get him!” seem as plotty as a Tom Clancy novel, Resident Evil is sorta fun in a glib, slick, perfunctory manner, and I’ll admit seeing Jovovich ninja-kick a zombie Doberman in the face is amusing. It’s still highly forgettable cinematic Fast Food, though, and ends on a who-cares apocalyptic cliffhanger that I don’t care to see resolved in any of the movie’s fifty sequels.

As for Land Of The Dead, the late, great George A. Romero’s return to the zombie genre after a two-decade absence is certainly a step up from the likes of Resident Evil…it’s actually got something to say on a level slightly deeper than the schlock videogame thrills (although the subtext about the Haves vs. the Have-Nots is laid on with more heavy-handed obviousness than his previous films in the series), is peopled with characters that, while not especially deep, are nevertheless likable and played by a talented cast (Simon Baker, John Leguizamo and Asia Argento – daughter of Dawn Of The Dead producer Dario – chief among them), enthusiastically gruesome and briskly to-the-point. It’s no Night or Dawn, but it’s a damn sight better than the sad mediocrity of Romero’s final two movies, Diary / Survival Of The Dead, and stands as a fitting tribute to one of the greats of the genre. I raise a glass of gore to you, good sir.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:11 pm 
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I kinda sorta liked the 1st RE when I saw it on the big screen, HATED the 2nd one, but Russell Mulcahy's brilliant direction of part 3 got me to retroactively love part 1 and 2. Part 4 is about as good as the first 2, and then the next one is unbearable -so I never finished the saga.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 7:22 pm 
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Baby, it’s cold outside…

-Harbinger Down (2015): :half: :nohole: :nohole: :nohole: :nohole:

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-The Thing (2011): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :nohole:

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A chilling Arctic double-header tonight. 2015’s Harbinger Down is borne of a noble intention of doing a modern-day monster movie entirely with old-school practical effects sans CGI enhancements, but director Alec Gillis (who, along with longtime partner Tom Woodruff, Jr. has been at the forefront of the animatronic creature F/X craft for decades) forgot that, without a good screenplay, competent production values or good acting, even the niftiest rubber-tentacle effects are for naught. Sad to say that Harbinger Down is dreadful…inert, dankly-lit and filled with a cast of nobodies (save for genre fave Lance Henriksen, slumming for a paycheck) spouting awful lines like, “What do you call a frozen Communist? A hammer & pop-sickle!” Coming in at a scant 81 minutes, it’s direct-to-Netflix horror dreck of the most boring sort.

And to think…the main reason Harbinger Down even exists is due to the disappointment from Gillis and Woodruff, Jr. about the majority of their hard work on the 2011 prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 classic The Thing getting painted over with last-minute CGI when the suits at Universal complained that they didn’t “move fast enough”. While I’d love to see the “all practical-effects” version of the movie one day come to light, the movie itself is actually very underrated, a faithful, respectful companion piece to the Carpenter film that – the occasional, admittedly dodgy CG shot aside – offers plenty of gruesome thrills, anchored by the easy authority of leading lady Mary Elizabeth Winstead, the rare knee-weakening beauty who’s every bit as believable wielding an electron microscope as a flamethrower. The movie evokes the gliding craftsmanship of Carpenter’s film with an impressive eye (on his audio commentary track, director Matthijs van Heijningen, Jr. even notes he used vintage Panavision lenses from the early-80’s to get that classic Dean Cundey lighting just right), and while some of the minor details don’t quite jibe with the continuity of the 1982 original (uhhhh, original remake), it gets so much right I’m willing to let it slide.

Also kept the theme going with the first-season X-Files episode “Ice”, where FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) travel to a remote research station in Alaska to investigate a curious video only to the find the entire outpost dead in an apparent spate of murderous rage, and with a team of scientists (including guest stars Xander Berkeley and Felicity Huffman) they find themselves exposed to a lethal parasite let loose from the ice after thousands of years. The series was still finding its footing this early in its run (this being only the eighth episode overall), and it’s so heavily indebted to The Thing (even lifting stock shots of U.S. Outpost #31 from it) that it should have given outright credit to it. Still, it’s The X-Files…it’s always fun to see Duchovny and Anderson riff off of each other, and the paranoid tension is kept high throughout.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 6:11 pm 
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“Is this the face of a bat who would lie to you…?”

-The Bat People (1974): :hole1: :half: :nohole: :nohole: :nohole:

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Tiresome schlocker about a doctor (Stewart Moss) who is bitten by a bat during a spelunking expedition and starts a slow transformation into a bloodthirsty cross-species mutation. Aside from the novelty of an early screen credit for makeup master “Stanley” Winston, The Bat People is slow, dull and plodding, with a dearth of interesting death scenes. Hell, even the title is a misnomer, as it should have been titled The Bat PERSON.

-The Beast Within (1982): :hole1: :hole1: :half: :nohole: :nohole:

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Unsatisfying riff on I Was A Teenage Werewolf about a young man (Paul Clemens) born of a rape committed against his mother (Bibi Besch) seventeen years earlier, and how his genetic lineage compels him to kill those who did his father wrong. Fairly routine stuff most of the way, but if you stick with it long enough, the last twenty minutes at least offer up some ballooning, show-stopping makeup effects concocted by Thomas R. Burman that definitely typify that gooey Baker/Bottin early-80’s heyday. It’s impressive work, but too bad you have to wade through an hours’ worth of tedium to get there.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 6:16 pm 
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“You’re so cool, Brewster…!”

-Fright Night (1985): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :nohole:

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-Fright Night Part II (1989): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :nohole: :nohole:

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Fangs for the memories, 80’s style, with one of the better vampire flicks of the period and its not-bad follow-up. The 1985 original, written and directed by Tom Holland (Child’s Play), features William Ragsdale as Charlie Brewster, a normal suburban kid with a jones for old-school horror flicks who becomes convinced that his new neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is not only a killer (shades of Rear Window), but also a vampire, and that he’s the next target for his nocturnal pursuits. Unable to convince his girlfriend Amy (a pre-Married…With Children Amanda Bearse) and buddy “Evil” Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) of the danger, he turns in desperation to Peter Vincent (a wonderful Roddy McDowell), a washed-up former horror movie icon now frittering away his twilight years hosting the cheesy public-domain TV horror program “Fright Night”. Vincent goes along with what he believes to be Charlie’s adolescent delusions, but is nonplussed when Dandridge actually IS a vampire, and he and Charlie must join forces to put an end to his reign of bloody killings. It’s a great little horror movie, filled with affectionate nods to the genre, a good sense of humor, and top-notch makeup and visual effects turning the film into a showcase for the best in 80’s-era monster fare.

The belated, barely-released 1989 sequel, helmed by Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween III: Season Of The Witch, the 1990 version of It), finds Charlie in college and undergoing therapy sessions to cure him of what he now believes are false memories of the previous movie, but when a new rash of killings occur, he finds himself in the crosshairs of a new vampire, Regine (Julie Carmen), who claims to be the sister of the late Jerry Dandridge (yes, it’s that kind of sequel), and who wants to turn Charlie into a vampire so she can enact her revenge on him over the course of decades if not centuries. So it’s up to Peter Vincent and Charlie’s new girlfriend, Alex (the incredibly lovely Traci Lind) to save Charlie and defeat Regine and her vamp minions. Fright Night Part II is perfectly acceptable as far as 80’s horror sequels go…it’s got most of the key original cast back, the production values are solid, and the makeup and creature effects are often very well-done. But what keeps it from equaling the first is the lack of a villain as juicy and theatrical and magnetic as Sarandon in the original. Carmen certainly looks alluring, and her mingled hench-vamps have some fun quirks (one glides along on roller skates), but she’s simply not a very interesting antagonist, and thus the film as a whole seems rote and perfunctory compared to the original. It’s perfectly serviceable, and has glimmers of wit, but even the surprisingly good 2011 remake of the original had a far more compelling villain in Colin Farrell, and that’s the real key in making the whole thing work.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:13 am 
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I'm happy to see you refer to the remake of Fright Night as "surprisingly good". I hear so many people slagging on it, but I really liked it. It will never be my favorite but there was absolutely nothing wrong with it and I liked Farrell's desert dungeon house. That put a nice, dark twist on things.

Also, on The Beast Within post above I have to disagree. I've always liked this movie just the way it is. This was one of those films that was talked about at lunchtime when I was in Jr. High, especially the incredibly lurid opening rape scene. It had built up to mythic proportions by the time I finally saw it, but I wasn't let down. I thought it was a solid early 80's horror flick.

One final note on that. Only in the late 70's/early 80's can your leading man be as ugly as Paul Clemens. For the uninitiated, he's the guy on the left in this picture.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 8:48 am 
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The Fright Night remake was excellent, IMHO. It had a lot of same feel to it but all of it properly updated and none of the original intent lost in how fucked up modern shit is.

We watched Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow and a few things I had not recalled about it until watching it again over the weekend:

1. Nods to Hammer Films - Complete with blood splashing up on Depp.
2. Probably the only film that has Walken with no Walken Lines - All mouth noises from Christopher Walken was weird, the closest he gets to an actual word is "shhhhhh".
3. A Child Dies by Beheading - Now granted this happens off-screen, the impact of it was still felt by Karen and I am sure it soured her against this version. I greatly enjoyed that the "Evil" Horseman wasn't impaired by killing a child most gruesomely.

:hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :nohole:

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:17 am 
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People shit all over Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem, but the movie kills off a kid in the first 15 minutes. Then a very pregnant woman gets mouth raped and eviscerated an hour later. None of it off-screen. If you accept that you're watching a slasher movie, it's a ton of fun.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:10 pm 
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Chris Knight wrote:
People shit all over Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem, but the movie kills off a kid in the first 15 minutes. Then a very pregnant woman gets mouth raped and eviscerated an hour later. None of it off-screen. If you accept that you're watching a slasher movie, it's a ton of fun.

Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem is definitely a "fun romp" into the worlds and it delivered what many people wanted from the series at that moment. Namely, blood and guts. People dying badly. Etc.

:thumbs:

I do admire films that don't back down from the typical "off-limits" targets like kids.

Not all are admirable just because of this open season attitude, but it definitely goes a long way if it is done correctly.

Most notable is probably the "Holy fuck, Henry Fonda just shot that fucking kid!" moment in Once Upon A Time In The West.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:09 pm 
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Eric wrote:
Watching the 1990 miniseries It, and I'm reflecting on something I noticed before when watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: kids that were cast as "the fat kid" decades ago don't look fat to modern eyes.


...and eight days later, I've finally finished the damn thing. Watching horror movies when everyone else in the house has gone to bed and you tend to have a drink or two in the evening breaks them up into tiny chunks. I was constantly fast-forwarding, trying to find the last thing I remembered before passing out.

Tim Curry was awesome. The remainder of the cast, John Ritter and a bunch of actors you vaguely remember from a bunch of bit parts, was TV-quality. And the special effects were decidedly TV-quality. In each case, I mean 1990 TV-quality; it's weird to think how much better TV shows have gotten, compared to movies, in the last 30 years.

I remember thinking this was pretty scary when it aired. I remember watching it with my then-10-year-old brother, and laughing that he wouldn't go to the bathroom with the door shut after one of the episodes. It's pretty cheesy these days. Hoping the remake, which I haven't seen yet, is better. Though I'll still have to watch it in 15-minute slices between my wife and kids going to bed and me passing out.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:43 pm 
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There was a crooked man, he walked a crooked mile…

-The Conjuring (2013): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :half:

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-The Conjuring 2 (2016): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :nohole:

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Hitting the home stretch with director James Wan’s pair of terrific haunted-house pictures. The 2013 original – inspired by the case files of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, expertly-portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga – takes on the 1971 haunting revolving around Roger and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) and their brood of five daughters, whose new Rhode Island abode is invaded by a nasty, poltergeist-like spirit looking to drive a wedge into the family’s happiness. One of the best haunted-house movies made in the last decade, the gifted Wan is working at the peak of his abilities with this frequently nerve-rattling shocker, with his innate skill of knowing just how long to hold his sinuously elegant camera movies and when to break them up with cunningly-orchestrated bouts of clangs, bangs and shrieks on the soundtrack. But it would all just be a routine roller-coaster ride were it not for the grounded presence of Wilson and Farmiga, thankfully portraying the Warrens not as ass-kicking ghostbusters, but as a loving couple whose fervent religious beliefs are – for once – not portrayed with the usual skepticism that most Hollywood movies view them. And the fact that the film is also built around a likable, well-adjusted family unit is also key to the film’s success…like Poltergeist, it knows that the scares are only as good if you honestly fear for the protagonists’ lives.

The 2016 sequel thankfully retains Wan behind the camera, and he brings his customary style to the 1977 “Enfield Poltergeist” case, where another family unit – living in the London suburb of Enfield – find themselves terrorized by another vengeful spirit conspiring to drive them out of “MY house!”. In many ways, this is an even spookier piece of work, with the cloudy, rain-swept London streets making for an ideal setting and boasting an exceptional performance from Madison Wolfe as the youngest daughter who becomes the conduit through which the Warrens communicate with the croaking old man who haunts the Hodgson clan’s home. It’s really only the fact that this film came out second that makes be knock a tiny bit off the overall grade (well, that, and it’s the five-thousandth movie to annoyingly score a cut to Jolly Old England with The Clash’s “London Calling” on the soundtrack, despite being a single that would not be recorded until two years after the film’s setting). It’s scary, stylish and ultimately moving, and it’s a shame that Wan won’t be calling the shots on the third Conjuring movie currently in the works…for all of the fine work contributed by Wilson and Farmiga, Wan’s ability to wrench fresh tension out of the hoariest creaky-door clichés is a big part of why these films work as well as they do, and if that lame third Insidious movie was any indication, the third Conjuring is likely going to suffer from his absence aside from a token “produced by” credit.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 8:30 pm 
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I hated Alien vs. Predator: Requiem...it's hands-down the worst film to come out of either franchise that spawned it. Some of the worst cinematography of a major theater release I can think of.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:52 am 
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Monterey Jack wrote:
I hated Alien vs. Predator: Requiem...it's hands-down the worst film to come out of either franchise that spawned it. Some of the worst cinematography of a major theater release I can think of.

:lol:

Dude, they weren't concerned about cinematography more than they were concerned about how to put people in the most awesome death scenarios.

Hate is a strong emotion for such an obviously frivolous affair as AvP:R.

You take it too hard, Rafter Man.

8-)

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:57 am 
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Pender wrote:
Dude, they weren't concerned about cinematography more than they were concerned about how to put people in the most awesome death scenarios.

Except, they were. You could jump to any scene in AvP:R:
Spoiler: show
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and see that the directors and DP cared about lighting and composition, as much as the gore. Every frame looks like it jumped out of a comic book. I don't understand that criticism at all*, especially considering how awful the cinematography was in both Prometheus and Covenant.

*aside from the ever-present O&T, but Monty seems to be desensitized to that.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 8:37 am 
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Chris Knight wrote:
Except, they were. You could jump to any scene in AvP:R... and see that the directors and DP cared about lighting and composition, as much as the gore. Every frame looks like it jumped out of a comic book. I don't understand that criticism at all*, especially considering how awful the cinematography was in both Prometheus and Covenant.

*aside from the ever-present O&T, but Monty seems to be desensitized to that.

And yet, as nicely as everything is framed and lit, the real hero, IMHO, is still the fantastic death scenes in this movie.

I really have no problem with this one at all. It actually surprised me how good it was considering how much people fucking slammed it.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:03 am 
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I never did check out Requiem. I'll have to add it now.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:27 am 
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…smell my feet…give me something good to eat…

-Trick r Treat (2009): :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :hole1: :nohole:

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Delightful horror anthology has become one of my favorite ways to say farewell to another year’s worth of ghouls n’ goblins. [*snif*] Four ghoulish tales overlap and intertwine with each other with a Tarantino-esque cleverness, and writer/director Michael Dougherty (Krampus) keeps both the frights and laughs coming at a perfect clip. It’s also the rare anthology feature where no individual segment makes you want to hit the “chapter skip” button to get past it…every tale (including a childish prank that goes horribly wrong, a homicidal high school principal, a tides-have-turned riff on Little Red Riding Hood and a home-invasion climax with nods to vintage John Carpenter movies) feeds off of each other ingeniously. It’s prankish fun for all. And remember…always check your candy. :)

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