6WH: Speed Round and Halloween

Six weeks sounds like a long time, but time flies when you're cowering in abject terror. As per usual, I have not actually written up every movie I saw during this festive Halloween season. Sometimes a movie just doesn't fit with a given week's theme, or perhaps I only caught a portion of it on television, or I've already written about it, or sometimes I just don't have much to say about a movie. So every year, I close out the marathon with a quick roundup of everything I saw that hasn't already been covered.
  • You're Next - This was one of my favorite movies of 2013 and revisiting it reveals that it gets even better when you know where it's going. Much of the initial portion of the film, which I didn't particularly love the first time around, becomes more palatable when you know where it's going. And where it's going is a whole lot of fun! ***1/2
    Sharni Vinson, kicking ass
  • Blood Glacier - Unquestionably the worst movie of the marathon, and will probably be the worst 2014 movie I've seen. The premise is ok, a group of scientists studying a glacier notice a quickly emerging red color on the glacier and find that it's.... ALIVE! Or something like that. They don't really go anywhere with it, instead focusing on some terrible creature effects that wouldn't be a problem if the characters and dialogue and general story weren't so awful. Stay away from this one! *
  • Hellraiser: Inferno - Since all of the Hellraiser movies are on streaming, this was a potential marathon this year, but I only ended up watching this one. This may tell you something, but on the other hand, while I wasn't particularly taken with this, it was fine. It had some pretty good ideas to it, an expansion of the role of the Engineer, some fanciful dreamlike imagery, and the makings of something pretty interesting. There's promise here, but it's lacking in execution. It might have been better if the protagonist was someone we could be a little more sympathetic towards, or indeed, care about at all. He's a bit muddled, such that you don't even get the sort of vicarious revenge feeling when he gets his comeuppance. That being said, I may have to revisit some Hellraiser next year... **
  • How to Be a Serial Killer - Another movie that had the makings of a pretty interesting and fun horror comedy, but unfortunately, it feels like the filmmakers didn't really know where to go with it, so it just sorta devolves into boringness. The premise is kinda fun, a serial killer who addresses the audience directly about the ins-and-outs of serial killing as a hobby. Or something. It starts out well enough, but it loses energy about halfway through and never really regains it. Also, while the guy seems charismatic and confident at the start, the way the film plays out contradicts that, which makes this less fun. Not the worst way to spend 90 minutes, but you could probably do better. **
  • Oculus - I was surprised at how effective this movie wound up being, though again, it feels like it runs out of steam right at the finale, which is exactly what you would expect from the beginning of the movie. Fortunately, along the way, we're treated to lots of creepy happenings and a rather fantastic premise, that of a mirror which toys with your perceptions. The ways in which the characters explore the powers of the mirror is quite effective, all the moreso because the mirror seems to be working despite their efforts. There's some flashback sequences that are also pretty effective, and the movie is overall well done. Not quite a classic, but certainly worth checking out. **1/2
  • The Exorcist - I liked this movie the first time I saw it, but it's become more effective every time since then, and this time was no exception. I do still think the book is a better experience, but the movie is nevertheless a classic. ***1/2
  • Eye See You - Hey, you remember that time Sylvester Stallone made a slasher? Yeah, me neither, and that probably tells you something. This is paint by numbers stuff, and in truth, not much of a slasher (more of a body-count thriller or serial killer movie), but perhaps worthwhile due to a pretty great cast. **
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street - I've obviously seen this a few times before, and it holds up reasonably well, thanks mostly to it's pure horror premise of a monster that can get you in your dreams. The thing that differentiates these movies from the throng of other slashers, of course, is Freddy. He talks, he's got a personality, he's sadistic, and one thing that struck me this time around is how much of the horror he delivers by performing some sort of self mutilation.
    Freddy
    It's all in dreams, so he can do whatever he wants. And the dreams in this original installment are the most effective. I find that a lot of movies use dreams as a crutch, and while it's often imaginative, it takes something special to make the dreams tangible enough to be horrific. Wes Craven really structured these dreams well, and later installments somehow don't manage to capture that X factor that I'm having a hard time describing. There are some things that don't hold up that well, but they're far outweighed by the premise and effective and very creepy visuals. ***1/2
  • The Fly (1958) - After watching Cronenberg's exceptional remake, and given the earlier theme of the Remade, I decided to rev up Netflix and check out the original. I had completely forgotten about the framing narrative, where the wife is telling the story we all remember in flashback form, and that was the part I liked the best. The actual core of the story isn't nearly as effective as the remake, but it has its hokey charms, and the symmetry of the two creatures created is pleasing in its own way. **1/2
  • Curse of the Demon - Caught this one on TV, a Jacques Tourneur joint, and as such, there's a fair amount of decent suspense in a story we've all probably seen before. A skeptic man investigates the mysterious death of a colleague who was cursed by some sort of occult practitioner.
    Curse of the Demon
    It's one of those things about once you receive the parchment with the mysterious symbols on it, you will be killed by a demon exactly 7 days later. There's perhaps not enough here for the full run-time, but it has its moments, and when you get towards the end, there's some mildly clever machinations to get out of the curse (or, as is usually the case in these movies, transfer it). It's clearly an influential film, and stuff like Ringu/The Ring or Take Me to Hell are kinda remakes or more accurately, reimaginings, so it's worth watching for that, though it's clearly not as effective as more modern takes. **1/2
  • House of Wax - Another film watched because of the whole original/remake theme that was the general throughline of this year's proceedings. This is mildly effective, and of course, you've got to love Vincent Price, but on the other hand, it's quite old-fashioned and with a couple of notable exceptions, not quite as effective as it must have once been. I'd put the remake about on par with this one, maybe a slight edge to this, simply for the originality factor. Worth checking out. **1/2
  • Urban Legend - I originally wanted to include this on the Neo-Slasher week, but I was foiled by Nextflix and had to fall back on reviewing both of the Cold Prey movies... It's mildly fun, but falls down on a lot of the slasher conventions. That being said, the notion of staging the murders like urban legends is a reasonably good idea that is reasonably well executed. It's not quite as tight as it needs to be, but it has its moments. **1/2
  • Halloween - I watch this every year on Halloween night, and I can't get over how effective it remains, despite having seen it so often. It is truly a classic. ****
  • Trick 'r Treat - Another movie that's becoming an annual tradition, for good reason. Really looking forward to the sequel, apparently due next year!
And that just about covers it. It's been a great year, I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. As always, check out fellow travelers at Six Weeks of Halloween and Film Thoughts for more (a lot more than me, and probably more insightful analysis as well)... Already thinking ahead to next year.