Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hurry up, it's Halloween!

Before I get into today's marathon, what did I watch yesterday?

Creepshow - Continuing my King marathon (which I'll keep going the next couple months), we have the delightfully cheesy Romero-directed Creepshow. This movie delivers exactly what it intends to deliver, the feeling of being a kid reading an old horror comic under the covers in the middle of the night. I love the little animated interludes between each vignette, as well as the kid's story that bookends the movie. Each of the vignettes has its own creepy charm, but The Crate is my favourite and probably the most memorable. Great cast, great performances, great direction, with just the right amount of over-the-topness without descending into goofyville. A unique classic. (I've never seen the sequel. Maybe I'll watch it next month.)

Hell Night - continuing my Blair-a-thon, this is one of my favourite standalone 80s slashers. It's pretty standard in most ways, but what really sets it apart is the setting. Spooky old abandoned house with secret passageways and a deranged killer on the loose? Hell yeah, this is my jam. Oh, and don't go in the basement! I also love Linda Blair, she's right up with Jamie Lee for me. I'll be rewatching the Exorcist today for the first time in a long time. That movie scares me, but it's time.

Final Exam - this came up in relation to Hell Night (same year, also a college slasher), so I figured why not. It is a basic campus slasher in most ways, but I still enjoyed it. A reasonable late night diversion. Can I just say, I miss the 80s "nerd" trope so much? I hate the way "nerds" have sort of evolved, or devolved, but I hate the way most stuff has evolved today, so eh. The classic 80s nerds were these sweet, sincere, smart guys, and you can't really do that anymore unless you set your story in the damn 80s. That innocence is gone, and now nerds are just as jerky as everyone else. *sheds a tear for the bygone nerds* Anyway, the movie. The killer was kinda Michael Myers-y, I guess. No mask, but he seemed extra... durable? Also he was just some random dude. Not sure what was going on there. Not great, but fun if you wanna add a guy named "Radish" to your 80s nerd list. This thing is SO tropey it's almost like, is this the movie that MADE the tropes in the first place? It's kinda charming in that way, honestly.

Hack O'Lantern - oh, Lordy, children. I was gonna watch this tonight but I just couldn't wait, so I made it my Halloween Eve movie instead. I probably should have waited for the day after Halloween, cause this is one discarded candy wrapper of a movie. It's GLORIOUS though. This is perfect Rifftrax fodder. They'd have to cut some nude scenes, but it's not like they're integral to the plot. Well... "plot." They'd have a field day with the evil folksy grandpa alone. Driving his evil pumpkin truck! Spooky! (No. Pumpkin farmers are not scary, no matter how much they overact. No.)

Come for the dramatic pumpkin flinging, stay for the dramatic headband-tying-on! Enjoy a random music video with a lady shooting green lasers out of her eyes! Cool! Enjoy a random, unfunny stand-up act right smack in the middle of a "horror" movie! (My guess: dude helped fund the movie in exchange for getting his schtick on.) In fact, this movie is kinda The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies of the 80s, with all the weird padding that has nothing to do with the plot. Well... "plot." Then you have the girl who just found her boyfriend's murdered body and almost got killed by her folksy satanic grandpa and what does she do when she arrives at the party to find help? Fixes up her makeup, of course! Let's party! And then acts shocked when she finds more bodies, like that hasn't happened before! Oooh, short term memory loss? Spooky, I guess?

Best of all, I don't think this movie is meant to be funny, except the stand up act, which is the only part that isn't. I think this is pure, genuine, Troll 2 style badness. Rifftrax, I'm begging you, you've got a classic here.

I probably won't watch quite as many movies today as I was planning to, since I'm extending the marathon, but we'll see how many I get to! And Happy Halloweeeeen, though it's much more Overlook Hotel than Haddonfield here in Edmonton today. :(❄️ I guess it's an excuse to stay in and watch movies.

To-watch list (today and the coming week):

Conjuring 1 & 2
Trick r Treat
The Thing
The Exorcist
Halloween III
Stranger Things season 2
1922
Graveyard Shift
The Gate 2
Lost Boys
Legend of Hell House
Just Before Dawn

Monday, October 30, 2017

Morbid Monday

One more day till Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, one more day till Halloween, Silver Shamrock!

I've gotta get my butt in gear, I really slacked over the weekend. Only 3 movies. :(

Cheerleader Camp - It's an 80s slasher called Cheerleader Camp. It's exactly what you think it is. Is it worth watching? Of course! If you want a cheesy 80s horror featuring cheerleaders... at a camp... it's there for you. It's serviceable.

Ghostkeeper - This is an obscure one, filmed here in Alberta so of course I had to watch it. For a very low budget 1981 film, this was better and scarier than a lot of stuff made today. I mean, this movie has an honest-to-God Cat Jump Scare and that doesn't even kill the suspense. (Hey, it was 1981, was that even a joke yet?) Just goes to show you can do a lot with a little when it comes to horror. This would make a nice double feature with The Shining, since they both feature a creepy old hotel in the middle of nowhere (snowhere?) That's where the similarities end though.

Rifftrax: Wes Craven's Mind Ripper - Of course I had to get the new Rifftrax Halloween offering. I love me some Wes Craven, and most of the films he actually directed are great, but boy did he put his name on some stinkers. This one actually has a decent concept (reanimated corpse terrorizes people in the desert), but poor execution, terrible acting, and it commits the sin of wasting Lance Henriksen. Watch the Rifftrax of this, cause it's very funny, and then watch Pumpkinhead.

I have a full slate of movies lined up for today and tomorrow, then I'm riding this crazy train right into November. Yeehaw! Or something.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Frightful Friday Part 3: Dream Warriors or Season of the Witch, take yer pick

Well, I managed to squeeze in three movies between yesterday afternoon and today. I'm actually a wizard, shhh. Two new-to-me's, one rewatch.

The Gate (1987) - Not sure how I missed this one in the 80s, I would have been the perfect age for it. Turns out, I'm still the perfect age for it. Holy shit, this was AWESOME.

The 80s was truly the golden age of kids in movies, especially adventure/horror type stuff. Before Disney Channel-style mugging became the go-to for child actors, we got to enjoy natural performances like this. Can we talk about Nerdy Metalhead Kid in the KILLER DWARFS jean vest?? Because he might be my favourite character ever. Killer Dwarfs is a real band, apparently. Guess I'll have to check them out. Man, I wish I liked metal music half as much as I like the aesthetic. Also, if jean shorts are jorts, would a jean vest be a jest?

Okay, that's all my tangents, back to the movie. Of course, Nerdy Metalhead Kid is your go-to for dealing with the occult, because he is both smart and into metal, and his favourite band "Sacrifyx" has some lyrics pertinent to the situation. This is the kid you want for your best friend when a gate to hell opens in your backyard, for he will calmly stare down into said gate and say, "you have demons," in the same way an exterminator would say, "you have termites." He is a DELIGHT, is my point. He will likely grow up to be the Badass Academic™ in another horror movie. Totally Metal Librarian. I'd watch the hell out of that movie.

Of course, I had to open "the gate" (groan) to 80s "fag" jokes in my last post, and wouldn't you know, this movie had one. It was at least from an annoying character you were meant to groan at (in the words of my new hero, Nerdy Metalhead Kid, "can we knock her out again?") I'll chalk it up to the times and move on, cause that two seconds of slur is my ONLY issue. If you like anything from Poltergeist to the Goonies to even the Harry Potter series, you'll probably enjoy this. This would be a great starter horror for kids, but I had a lot of fun with it as an adult. It's likeable, it's exciting, the effects hold up, and KILLER DWARFS RULE, MAN. 🤘 (I assume.)

This is my second-fave "new to me" this year, after Pumpkinhead. There is a sequel, and I will watch it. Apparently it's not great but has its moments. Nerdy Metalhead Kid is back, so that's all I need. He was never in anything else, which is a real shame. Dude had charisma.

Scarecrows (1988) - I'm on a roll, cause this is another cool atmospheric gem from the 80s. I LOVE scarecrows in horror, they're right up there with clowns* in creepiness factor. Scarecrows that MOVE. The scarecrow episode of Supernatural is in my top 5 for sure, and this movie lived up to it. Imagine a whole field full of different, creepy looking scarecrows and an old abandoned witchy house. There NEEDS to be a Halloween attraction based on this movie, it practically makes itself. Just put a bunch of scarecrows out in a field, some of them just scarecrows and some of them live actors that move, and you don't know which is which until it's TOO LATE. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Yeah, this was pretty much an automatic win for me with that premise, and the execution did not let me down. I'd never heard of this until this year so it might not be very well-known? Highly recommended, especially if you love the creepy farmhouse and scarecrow aesthetic like I do. I also like the idea that you can just randomly land a plane out in the middle of nowhere and you might end up in EVIL SCARECROW COUNTRY.

*my clown phobia is weird. I'm not afraid of them in their natural habitat, like a party or the circus, but say I was walking alone somewhere and no one was around and I heard a noise, the thing I'd be MOST afraid to see when I turned around would be a clown. :/ idk. Luckily that is an unlikely scenario.

Happy Birthday To Me - I hadn't seen this in a while and wow, it was different than I remembered. By that I mean I only really remembered two scenes, the guy getting crushed by weights and of course THE ENDING. This was longer and slower in parts than I remembered, like it's a cool little slasher but you could easily trim 20+ minutes off this thing. Totally worth watching for the ending though. The mask thing was silly and far-fetched, but I also feel like it inspired the writers of Pretty Little Liars, so I kind of dig it in retrospect.

After the opening kill there's a stretch where not much happens, the only really important part is the bridge scene, but be patient. It does pick up after that and of course, THE ENDING, which pleases my macabre little heart so much. The song that plays over the ending credits is great too; it's funny how some music just sounds creepy. I do recommend this to 80s slasher lovers, but not as highly as the first two.

I have some stuff to do this weekend, including the last Eskimos home game, but I'll try to fit in as many movies as I can. TBH watching and writing about these movies is the happiest I've been in like, a year? So I'll probably keep this going into November, and then of course winter-themed horror in December. (I've never seen Krampus! I haven't seen Gremlins or Nightmare Before Christmas in years! I've been dying to rewatch The Visit! The Shining counts, because snow! Can I possibly withstand another watch of Black Christmas?! Wheee!)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Uh, Thrilling Thursday!

What I watched yesterday, and a test of my alliterative skills (solid). Heck, might as well do one of these every day. I have a surprising lot to say about a silly 80s slasher.

The Initiation (1984) - Starring The Sure Thing's Daphne Zuniga, Psycho's Vera Miles, Clu Gulager alert! (hi, MST3K), some totally awesome 80s fashions, and um, Barb from Stranger Things??


Barb has always existed. Barb will always exist. All hail Barb.

I had no idea if I'd seen this before I started watching it. I could have, I've seen The Initiation of Sarah, Sorority House Massacre, House on Sorority Row, Black Christmas, Sisters of Death, and probably some I'm forgetting. Sororities lend themselves well to horror movies, maybe because they're so damn weird. Think about it, you've got "normal" pretty people, the kind of girls you were probably afraid of in school if you were a shy bookworm like me, doing these crazy rituals and stuff they'd probably think were weird in any other context. It's like the closest they'll ever get to witchcraft. They also make great slasher fodder cause they're so easy to make bitchy. (At least, that's the stereotype. My knowledge of sororities is limited to well, slasher movies.)

Turns out, I hadn't seen this, and holy shit! First of all, this thing is pure, uncut 80s. If Material Girl-era Madonna licked a filmstrip, this is what would develop. It's also completely batshit. So it starts out as nightmare/repressed-memory-weird-family-shit movie. Okay, cool. Then it turns into sorority movie. Okay, cool. Then suddenly, it's Chopping Mall before Chopping Mall existed! Okay, cool?? It's also REALLY tonally weird. Most of the time it's your usual 80s slasher, screaming sorority girls, wisecracking frat idiots, nothing too serious. But then there's the underlying repressed memory story, which is played straight and seems like a different movie. AND THEN, in the worst tonal shift I've ever seen in a movie, 1000% SERIOUS TEARFUL STATUTORY RAPE STORY followed by TOUCHING SEX SCENE FEATURING SAID RAPE VICTIM?? And THEN, they get KILLED BY THE SLASHER. Really, 1984??? It's like when you watch an old movie and someone makes a "faggot" joke and you're like, oh yeah, that 80s. I don't miss that.

But other than the weird, unnecessary inclusion and treatment of a rape victim, I enjoyed the hell out of this mess. The ending is stupid. The whole thing is stupid. But it's mostly a fun kind of stupid. The part where the douchey frat guy starts randomly talking to the mall Christmas decorations made me laugh out loud. If you like Chopping Mall, you'll probably like this.

Because of Vera Miles, I was inspired to rewatch Rifftrax: Psycho II. I have a history with Psycho II. Believe it or not, it's the movie that started this whole crazy journey. When I was 13? 14? I watched this on cable late one night, and I was HOOKED. I'd never even seen the original, other than the famous scenes. But something about Anthony Perkins' performance (and Meg Tilly's) drew me in. I then watched the original Psycho and some of Perkins' other movies (most of them bad, sadly, for such an engaging actor). I started staying up and watching every horror movie I found. I know Psycho II isn't a great movie, but for me, it kinda is, not only because I genuinely like the story, characters, and performances, but for the memory of that night and what it represents. And of course, because I so often agree with her, my favourite youtube reviewer Allison summed the movie up perfectly.



That said, it's still very rife for riffing, especially the silly ending, and I love the Rifftrax version. "Welcome to the Bates Motel, please ignore our Trip Advisory reviews!"

I might skip Frightful Friday, unless I can squeeze in a movie tomorrow afternoon. Going to a beer event tonight so only time for one movie.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wicked Good Wednesday

The latest thrills. And chills.

The Babysitter (Netflix 2017) - Saw this on a whim after reading positive feedback and yeah, this is definitely worth a watch. Very entertaining with some laughs, some suspense, and some surprisingly heart-wrenching moments. Kinda the perfect popcorn movie. If you like "evil cult" movies like I do, and a good mix of bloody horror, humor, and heart, check this out. It's modern, but with an 80s heart.

My Stephen King marathon continues strong with two movies I'd never seen, The Dark Half and Silver Bullet. Silver Bullet, an 80s film, is kinda similar to how I described The Babysitter. Very different movies, but another good mix of horror and heart (with much less blood). Characters you root for, and great performances by Gary Busey, Corey Haim, and Megan Follows. It's a kid in a wheelchair who's just a kid, you know? I loved the believable relationship between him and his sister. And oh yeah, there's a werewolf in town killing people! By the way. I mean, that's the underlying story obviously, but I love how it's all character-driven. I like werewolf stories, but it's hard to find good ones. I wouldn't say this is a great werewolf story, as it isn't about him, but it is a great story with a werewolf in it.

I'm surprised I just got around to The Dark Half, as I read and enjoyed the book as a kid, but I'm glad I did. Again, really good performances by Amy Madigan, Michael Rooker, Julie Harris, and especially Timothy Hutton. From what I remember of the book, it was a good adaptation. I LOVED Julie Harris' character, and after seeing this and another movie I'll discuss shortly, I realized I freaking love the "badass academic" trope. Like badass in a librarian-y, I'm gonna defeat you with KNOWLEDGE kinda way, not "I will suddenly throw off my glasses and kickbox you!" (Because that would be unrealistic, in this movie about an evil absorbed twin come to life. Anyway.) That was her character, and she was so great. They're always open-minded too, like they're the character who will listen to you when you start spouting crazy shit and research a possible answer like they're just writing a paper, no big deal. LOVE. Also Timothy Hutton in the dual role was amazing, it actually took me a moment to realize it WAS him. This was directed by the late, great George Romero, as was another upcoming movie in my King marathon.

And I kick off my three-movie Linda Blair-a-thon with Summer of Fear, AKA Stranger in Our House. This was based on a novel by Lois Duncan I read as a kid, and I just love this little made for tv gem. This was my second time watching it and it was just as fun. This one also features a Badass Academic™, this time the local professor of occult studies or something (of course). Aww man, I love it. And of course, he listens to poor Linda Blair about her little witch problem when No One Else Will™. I am seriously gonna seek out every movie with that trope and watch it. It's just so comforting and makes me so happy, idk. Anyway, if you like late 70s/early 80s made for tv horror, this is a must see. I will also be rewatching Hell Night and The Exorcist. Hell yeah!

I continued my three-film John Carpenter-a-thon with The Fog (the first was Christine). What can I say about The Fog, another stylish, classic 80s gem with one of the best casts you'll see in a horror movie. We've got Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, Hal Holbrook and Tom Atkins (from Halloween III and Night of the Creeps!) all giving good performances but of course Barbeau steals the hell out of this thing. The way she switches between her sultry radio persona and concerned single mother, damn girl, just one of my favourite performances of all time. Talk about a character you root for. This is also right up there in the coveted "atmosphere" department. VENGEFUL FOG SPIRITS, people. It doesn't get much more atmospheric than that, the monsters are literally IN THE ATMOSPHERE. I'll be concluding this marathon with The Thing.

Rifftrax: City of the Dead - Rifftrax does a lot of "you have to see it to believe it exists" level crap, but they've also riffed some enjoyable old horror like Carnival of Souls, House on Haunted Hill, and this creepy little witch movie. There's nothing too outstanding about this, it's your basic "old timey witches come back in modern times" trope but dammit, I LOVE that trope and this one has a cool, fog-shrouded setting and Christopher Lee glowering! I could easily watch this unriffed, but of course the Rifftrax guys make it extra fun.

Dead and Buried - this is a 1981 film that was New to Me, and just another great 80s watch. This one was really different, a take on "zombies" (of sorts) I've never seen before. I did guess the final twist, but it's still fun and suspenseful even if you do. Great concept, well-executed. It kind of seemed like a Stephen King story, mysterious goings-on in a small town, locals who aren't what they appear, spooky!

I still have lots more to watch, including my Halloween All Day and All of the Night Spooktacular, which I've tentatively scheduled as: The Conjuring 1 and 2, Trick r Treat, The Exorcist, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, and possibly the hilarious Hack O'Lantern if I have time. If I have even more time, Rifftrax Plan 9 is always fun to throw on. I might go to sleep to that one lol.

I'M RUNNING OUT OF OCTOBER

I think I'm adding horror movies to my list faster than I can cross them off, there's a new Stephen King movie on Netflix, and Stranger Things season two starts in two days! HELP MEEEEEEEEeeeeee.......

Okay, so what are some horror movies that aren't on my list, and some I'll probably never watch at all?

I'll start by saying that I use "horror" as a very big umbrella term, from the obvious slashers and supernaturals to creature features and psychological thrillers. Gone Girl, for instance, which I watched last month, is not a horror film but definitely a psych thriller, so it will end up on my "watched" list. I say this because I'm very fond of psych thrillers, and maybe some other genres that aren't strictly horror. I love old school slashers, supernatural stuff like witches, ghosts, and possessions, and good old-fashioned mindfucks like The Gift or Gone Girl or Get Out. I also like creature features but I tend to watch those all year round, especially with MST3K and Rifftrax.

Then, there are certain kinds of horror I'm not really drawn to.

1. "torture porn" - I've never seen any of the Saw movies and probably never will. They might be good for what they are, but if I want to see people being cruel to each other I'll watch the news. I prefer my scares more on the fantasy side than something I find actually unpleasant.

2. vampires - maybe Twilight did them in for me, maybe they were just overdone, maybe I just don't find them scary. But other than Fright Night, Salem's Lot, and Buffy, I can't think of much vampire stuff that interests me. I mean, zombies were overdone as hell and I still dig good zombie stuff, so eh. Blame Twilight! (I guess technically Let's Scare Jessica to Death is a vampire film, but it's SO unstereotypical I hardly count it.)

3. sci-fi - idk, science just isn't scary to me? I prefer the unknown of the supernatural world or the mind. Some alien stuff can be creepy, but sci-fi will never be my first choice. I guess I find old-timey stuff scarier than futurey stuff? I mean, high tech isn't scary, rural farmhouses are scary.

4. certain found footage - I'm not opposed to these in general. Two of my favourite recent horror films, The Last Exorcism and The Visit, are found footage. But I've never seen any of the Paranormal Activity movies, they just look boring to me. Long stretches of nothing actually happening but jump scares, pass. Never seen Blair Witch because I have motion sickness. I guess I'm not drawn to a movie because it's found footage, but I might like a few that happen to be in that format. It has to feel natural. Anything that feels gimmicky takes me out of the movie.

5. foreign language - speaking of taking me out of a movie, subtitles or bad dubbing do it every time. For me to enjoy a foreign language film it has to have pretty spot on dubbing, which I don't think I've ever seen in a horror. Bad dubbing is fine for a goofy Rifftrax movie, but not when I'm actually in the mood for a scare.

I also want to mention, with my ongoing Stephen King marathon, that I haven't delved into his work past, like, the early 90s much if at all. There were a couple books in there that I couldn't get into, and I just kind of stopped reading his newer stuff at that time. This is actually something I want to go back and remedy, so I will not be watching anything based on those books until after I've read them. This is a diehard rule I have with King novel adaptations, always read the book first. (Only the novels though, I'll watch the short story stuff cause I'm unlikely to ever read all of those.)

And now, back to movies. Next up... stay tuned!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Man, October *ahem* Rocktober is just Peak Content time here at Straight on Til Morning. After this I probably won't post again till next year lol. Or maybe I'll keep the horror stuff going... Frightful Friday Part VIII, Melissa Takes Manhattan?? No, I'm in Canada. Melissa takes Manitoba. Okay, well now it HAS to happen.

Frightful Friday Part 2: The Revenge

The last few night's fine film selections.

Rocktober Blood - That's right folks, I just watched an 80s rock n roll slasher movie called ROCKTOBER BLOOD. This exists. And it's AMAZING. I think I have fulfilled my final purpose on this earth. Farewell.

Okay, maybe not. So who's the real star of this movie, Headband Skeleton (totally metal, man!) or the worm playing pinochle on his snout?


Bloody Birthday - not to be confused with the gleefully demented Happy Birthday to Me, this is a decent watch if you're looking to complete your cheesy 80s holiday horror bingo card. (Y'know, My Bloody Valentine, April Fool's Day, Trick or Treat, Hack O'Lantern, Home Sweet Home, Silent Night Deadly Night, New Year's Evil, etc. Has there ever been an Easter horror film... other than Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny, that is? Which is maybe more Christmas-themed and definitely not an actual film.) This one has killer children by way of astrology, so if that sounds like a good time, go for it.

Oh and the real star of this movie, this sweet vintage 7up can!


It's probably no surprise that I'm obsessed with old-school labels, signs, etc.

And continuing down the holiday road, I rewatched April Fool's Day. WARNING: SPOILER FROM 1986 LOL

Usually the fake slasher thing would get under my nerves, but this is just campy enough to be fun. I like how it's set up so you think it's gonna be an April fool from the start, but as the movie goes on you're like, is the twist that it's NOT an April fool? Has Muffy (yes, MUFFY) really gone off the rails on the crazy train? I love how forgiving all her friends are (oh, that wacky Muffster!) and how she didn't get like, totally murdered by any of her "victims." Ridiculous, but fun if you like 80s slashers and the girl from Valley Girl.

I have lots more movies left on my list, and I'll be staying Up All Night* to watch them all. Stay tuned!

*Man, I miss that show. Nothing else will ever be watching Prom Night II: Hello Mary Lou or Night of the Creeps at 2AM when your mom's asleep and you're a dumb kid and the rest of your life kinda sucks but that night, man, that night of watching horror movies... that belongs to YOU.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

It occurs to me that some people might think using horror movies to escape, well, the horrors of the world is a bit odd. But give me a good old fashioned spine-tingling SCARE over the real life creeping dread of say, a disgusting stupid bigot who might blow us all up, any day. Most of the movies I watch tend to be supernatural themed. I'm not saying that witches, ghosties, demon possession and the like are 100% not real, because idk for sure, but I can tell you they're not plastered across the depressing ass news all day long making me want to hide under a rock. Horror films are fantasy, often with a note of reality to make them actually scary. But not this reality, not the constant onslaught of man-made injustices, cruelties and atrocities. So yes, I escape that stuff with the kind of fear that gets my blood pumping, not the kind that defeats me.

Wicked Good Wednesday

In which my horror movie marathon is going strong, and I discuss the changes in this blog.

In times of trouble, or just in general really, my motto has always been "surround yourself with the things you love." It doesn't matter what those things are, it can be your family and friends and pets, or something as seemingly insignificant as a favourite song or nice smelling soap. Whatever makes you say "yes, I am at peace in this moment."

The "world," and I put that in quotes to indicate the world the media feeds us, not the world we make for ourselves, is a damn junkyard fire right now and I for one am finding comfort in the things I love. So I don't listen to shitty music anymore, not even to laugh at. Oh, I still hear it sometimes at shops or bars, but I try to not let it get under my skin. And since I'm focusing completely on things that make me happy, that means no more delightful snark in this blog, at least for now.

I miss the snark, but not what fuels it. My goal was always an MST3K/Rifftrax type thing - turn something bad into something good by making it funny, or occasionally having a good cathartic rant. But with the climate of the world right now, and the year I've had, that's just not what I feel like doing. I feel like watching old horror movies and listening to classic rock in my metaphorical blanket fort*. I want comfort food, and lots of it. (Also, I find that bad movies are generally more enjoyable than bad music. That's right, Manos the Hands of Fate > Sam Hunt.)

*who am I kidding, I have an actual blanket fort.

I might not even do a worst songs list this year, because I haven't sought them out and don't want to. Body Like a Backroad is the worst song, in concept and execution, I've probably ever heard. There, we're done. And "The old Taylor can't come to the phone right now. Why, cause she's DEAD!" is a firm number two. Actually, I might upgrade that one to "so bad it's good" status. That is some pure camp right there.

With that said, on to some scary movies I've watched this past week!

New to me:

The Witch
The Woods

Purely coincidentally, this would make a great double feature. Both are period pieces, though set in very different times, both are about witches and woods, and both are recommended by me. The Witch is the better of the two, but both are worth watching. It seems one way to make effective modern horror is to set it in a different time (or make something totally original like Get Out). With period pieces, you're almost forced to film them in a more old school way. The Woods did have a couple cheesy CG moments, but they didn't take me out of the film overall.

Rewatch:

Let's Scare Jessica to Death - a top 10 favourite of mine, this is a perfect example of what I like in horror. Atmospheric, with a steadily unsettling buildup to an intense end. The kind of movie that gets under your skin with storytelling and imagery, not cheap scares. They really knew how to do pacing in the 70s. Even with the hippie stuff, I don't find this to be dated at all. It's seriously creepy.

The Shuttered Room - A 60s classic, complete with isolated setting, creepy locals, and what's behind the mysterious door, oooooooo! They don't make 'em like this anymore. I do feel the couples' trouble with the townsfolk could have been solved if they'd thought to arm themselves before coming to the strange, desolate island, but whatever. It's still great, with the near-lost arts of pacing, buildup, mystery, and - say it with me, kids - ATMOSPHERE.

And now, inspired by IT, I've begun a mini Stephen King marathon. I will not be rewatching Carrie, as I've seen it too many times. Probably not Salem's Lot either, as I've seen it a couple times and it's SO long and slow in parts (the good parts are really good, though). That one is rife for a remake, if they do it right. Oh and I rewatched The Dead Zone last year, so that's likely out too. Here's what I have watched so far.

EDIT: Apparently there WAS a 2004 Salem's Lot miniseries starring Rob Lowe. I will be getting right on that.

IT (Theatrical) - I loved this so much. Moving the kids' story to the 80s and giving it that Stranger Things feel was 100% the right call, especially since Stranger Things is such a King homage in the first place. Of course, the kids' story is the good part. I worry about part two, not because they won't do it right, but because the source material itself isn't all that great. King is notorious for bad endings and honestly, a lot of them are okay, but THIS one is the king of bad endings (LOL, GET IT?? the KING? Oh, me).

Pardon me while I tangent on the ending of It, and why a horror master should have known better. Okay, see, the book is called IT. As in, a mysterious entity, we don't know what IT is. THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT OF THE STORY. To reveal what IT is is an automatic mistake. At the end IT should have been shrouded in darkness or fog so it's just a vague shape. That's way more disturbing. Then on TOP of that, the final form itself was so cheesy and un-scary in a way the word "anticlimax" doesn't begin to cover. The Pennywise form was creepy as hell. To make the final form LESS scary than the form already presented makes no sense. When they make part 2, I'd love to see them throw out the stupid spider ending and shroud that thing in mystery instead. I guarantee the audience will leave feeling unsettled instead of LOL *eyeroll* big stupid spider!

Whew. Okay. I've been wanting to get that off my chest for a while.

It (miniseries) - Okay, of course I loved this thing when it was first on TV. Tim Curry's Pennywise is a part of so many of our child and teen-hoods, and he's the best part of this by far. I liked the kids' parts, but when it focuses on the adults it's not nearly as good. Still, worth a watch for some iconic scenes, even if the ending is bloody awful.

Christine - I hadn't seen this in so long, and it held up pretty damn well. The car effects still look really cool. A great thing about King is the underlying themes in his stories are timeless, so even 70s and 80s stuff doesn't feel dated, other than the superficial clothes and hairstyles. And those are enjoyable on a different level.

Cujo - I actually don't remember if I saw this before. I thought I had, but when I watched it it didn't seem familiar. Maybe I only read the book back in the day. Anyway, I really liked it and I'm glad I saw it. The screaming child got on my nerves a little, but hey, it was realistic, of course a child would scream his head off if a rabid dog was attacking him. What's worse is the more modern thing they do where kids act eerily calm like little adults. It kinda makes me want to punch the kid in the face tbh. So I can't really fault this movie, nothing amazing but a good solid watch.

Needful Things - Oh man, did I love this book as a kid. I think it's one of his best-written and crafted books, the way all the characters interconnect. So of course I saw this movie as soon as it came out. While it's not one of the better-received adaptations, I actually like it a lot. It held true to the spirit of the book and the acting was good, led by Max von Sydow's Antique Store Satan. If nothing else, watch it for the delightfully unhinged performance by the late, woefully underrated JT Walsh. Something that struck me about this story now, that didn't when I was a teenager - the overwhelming lure of the nostalgic objects offered by Gaunt. As a teen I understood it in the abstract, but had never experienced actual nostalgia. Now, it resonates even more. What would I do to have a piece of my childhood back? Hmmmmmmmm ;)

I'll be back with more spooky delights next Wednesday. Oh, and I should add that I watch most of these movies surrounded by two black cats. Ambience!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Creeper update

http://www.altpress.com/news/entry/creeper_drop_from_canada_tour

Turns out they're not touring with Silverstein at all anymore, and I was looking at out of date info. I wonder what happened? Still super bummed, but no longer feel conspired against by the universe so got that goin for me. 👌

On the subject of live shows

I used to go to quite a lot of them, rock and country, mostly smaller shows. Biggest name I saw was probably R.E.M. A lot of my concert-going has been dictated by geography and having someone to go with, obviously, which brings me to where I am now. I moved to Canada five years ago and haven't been to a show since. To put this in perspective, the last show I saw was DIO, and he died in 2010 (RIP man).

This isn't all a bad thing. My husband and I are into a lot of things like sports, beer shows, hikes, travel, etc. which take up a good part of our time and finances. It's not like I'm suffering not going to concerts, it's just something that's been put on the back burner. I remember a few years ago when Tim McGraw came here, and my first instinct was yes, he's a 90s country legend I haven't seen, I should go! But he was playing a big arena. It was expensive. It would have been crowded and trafficy and my husband doesn't even like country music. So all that hassle and expense for a show only one of us would enjoy, not worth it. And it's kinda been that way ever since. Miranda Lambert came here this month, she's one of my favourite artists and I've never seen her, but I missed the boat on that one. I was into her from the very beginning, before she was huge, and I should have seen her then. Now it'll be the same issue as Tim - a lot of hassle.

So that's the situation in Edmonton. A lot of big names come here, but I like smaller shows. If it wasn't too much of a hassle or too expensive, my husband could probably endure a few evenings of country music a year, but it's all these huge venue shows. A mid-tier artist like say, Sunny Sweeney, just isn't going to come here unless as an opener.

So that leaves rock, which still suffers from the Edmonton Problem of being mostly big arena acts, but at least my husband likes it so that's one barrier removed. Then, the seemingly perfect thing happened. I got into up and coming UK band Creeper, started following them, and learned they're touring with Canadian band Silverstein and coming to Edmonton! Now that's one way to see a smaller act here, if they get on a tour with a mid-tier Canadian act. I looked up the venue and it sounded great, a cozy tavern with tables and a dinner menu and great craft beer selection. My kind of place, 100%. I looked today to make sure tickets were still available, and saw Creeper had been removed from the lineup. :(

Okay, shit happens, but here's where I feel angry and fucked. It's not like they cancelled the Canadian leg of their tour, NO, they're still playing SK the night before and BC two nights later! It's JUST EDMONTON that's been cancelled. Why? They have to bloody well pass through AB to get from SK to BC!!! So, with the kind of year I've had, I can only presume it's to personally fuck me over. They're apparently coming next February with another UK band, but at a different venue that sounds awful. Some shitty nightclub with no craft beer. I'd say I'm too old for that shit, but I've never been young enough for that shit.

So the quest for my 1st Canadian show continues. Will it ever happen? Who will it be? Stay tuned I guess, but not like, too closely. It has been five years already. 🙄

Friday, October 13, 2017

Feel Good Friday the 13th

Rewatching The Midnight Hour reminded me of how much I love this song. Awoooooooo!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

tbt ~ Stevie Nicks

Bella Donna is a beautiful album. Everyone knows the duets with the great Tom Petty and Don Henley, but this gorgeous, country-tinged track needs more spins.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wicked Good Wednesday ~ scary movies!

Let's talk about three more movies I watched this past week.

1. Don't Go To Sleep

You might not believe it, but THIS THING SCARED THE CRAP OUT OF ME. Yup, a TV movie from 1982 scared the pants off of this veteran horror fan. Like, you don't expect an old TV movie to be too hardcore, but this one goes there, man. This thing murders small children and has one of the scariest-looking apparitions I've EVER seen in a movie. If it were redone today, it would be fakey-looking CGI going BLARGH at you, and not scary at all.


AHHHHHHHHH WHAT IS IT I THINK IT JUST TOOK MY SOUL 😨

2. Rifftrax: When a Stranger Calls Back

I have vague memories of watching the original When a Stranger Calls, but did you know that 14 years later, the stranger called back? I remember liking the original, and I usually enjoy Carol Kane. Well she's back for this one but yeeeeah, that didn't save it. Nothing could save this bizarre tale of mullets, ventriloquists, and Charles Durning's... Charles Durningness. (Seriously, his girth should have been billed as its own character.) However, I highly recommend the Rifftrax version because it's hilarious, and the end of the movie is absolutely BATSHIT. Like, it's worth seeing the ending even unriffed, but the rest of it would be a slog, unless you're a big fan of lady hockey hair.

3. Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings

Hoo boy. I said I would watch it, and watch it I did. Welp, nothing about it is remotely as good as the original, the end! Okay, okay. So there's a Pumpkinhead, and an old witch, but not the same old witch, and maybe not the same Pumpkinhead?? Yeah, it's one of those "sequels," where nothing actually continues from the last one. Not exactly Halloween II. In fact, if the original is comparable to Halloween in quality, the sequel is more like a lower-budget I Know What You Did Last Summer, or one of those generic 90s teen horror movies. They actually make for a pretty good contrast between 80s and 90s horror. Not that all 80s was good, or all 90s was bad (though I can't think of many good horror movies from the 90s to the mid-2000s, honestly), just generalizing.

I'll put aside that the acting, writing, story, and most sadly, the effects and cinematography are noticeably lower quality. It's a direct to video "sequel," I don't think anyone from the original returned to work on this, and boy does it show. But I could excuse all that if it wasn't missing one important thing the first one had - heart. What happened to Lance Henriksen's character was truly tragic and you felt for him, and understood why he did what he did. The stock "city kids on a weekend trip to the boonies" fish out of water trope was actually done pretty well, for that kind of thing. None of the actors were bad, only one character was unsympathetic and he was supposed to be, at least until the end.

That brings me to another crucial missing element - a damn point. The plot to the first movie made sense - kid gets hit by bike, revenge ensues. It wasn't contrived, it was something that would actually happen. But in part II, a bunch of dumb kids just randomly decide to raise the dead, spur of the moment like! No build up, just "welp, we're here, might as well do this!" In other words, pure horror movie contrivance. There's no reason for any of it to happen, and therefore there's no real reason to watch this movie.

The main character girl, we'll call her not-Nicole-Eggert cause I kept having to remind myself it wasn't her, was SO DUMB. The guy she hooks up with is obviously a creep, and not in a charming "bad boy" way, he has all the blank faced charm of Michael Myers. But this girl is just like "tee hee, whatever!" I guess to show she's rebelling against her cop dad, but it would have worked better if the guy was remotely appealing. She just comes off as a future abuse victim here, and it's kind of unsettling how it's glossed over. I don't feel like she learned anything about future boyfriend selection, though I'm pretty sure her head is stuffed with circus peanuts so she might not have learned to tie her own shoes either.

Also unlike the first movie, not all of this made sense. The Pumpkinhead in this one was... son of Pumpkinhead? How the hell did Pumpkinhead conceive a child with a human woman? I know that kind of thing has been done before but there's no explanation for it here, just "well, this thing happened," like you're ordering a sandwich and a demon baby from the deli, no big deal. Also, were there two Pumpkinheads in this world, or did this one just become the new Pumpkinhead? IS IT POSSIBLE I'M OVERTHINKING THIS? I should not be so confused by a movie called Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings.

So, any positives? Well, the opening scene was interesting, if disturbing. It drew me in. Then the dumb kids showed up, and NOPE. When your most interesting character is the deformed guy that doesn't speak and gets killed in the first few minutes, you might have a bad movie.

Umm... Kane Hodder, Roger Clinton, and Punky Brewster are all in this, so that's a sentence I just got to say.

The blood wings imagery was cool and creepy, and I liked that mystery element, even if it wasn't really a mystery since you saw what happened in the opening scene. Still, I'll take what I can get. I did watch the whole movie, it wasn't boring or anything, it just didn't live up to the original and could have been way better. There was a semblance of an idea here, but it never took shape.

And NO PUMPKIN GRAVEYARD, boooooo! 😡

Friday, October 06, 2017

FRIGHTFUL Friday ~ horror movie spotlight

PUMPKINHEAD (1988)

You know when a movie just hits you, just right? That's what happened with my first viewing of Pumpkinhead last night. HOW did I miss an 80s movie with pumpkin in the title all this time?? I would have loved staying up late and watching this as a teenager. Hell, I loved staying up late and watching it as an adult.

This movie has a pumpkin patch graveyard. A PUMPKIN PATCH GRAVEYARD. All your spooky Halloween imagery in one convenient location!


So first off, this movie LOOKS gorgeous. It has those perfectly creepy, atmospheric settings you want in a horror movie, from the pumpkin patch graveyard (still not over the awesomeness of THAT) to the old witch's cabin. I love movies that take place in isolated, rural settings, it just amps up the creepiness, and this is one of the best examples I've seen. Not only does it look great, it actually has a good and occasionally heart-wrenching story, as well as good acting. Lance Henriksen gives a great understated performance, you really feel for him, and what happens at the end makes sense and feels like a logical conclusion to the movie's events (sometimes horror films devise endings that feel like they were pulled from the nearest ass). The monster and the visual effects in general are awesome. This film is a great argument in favour of practical effects vs CGI in horror, and how much more they make you feel the movie. Not surprising, as it was directed by special effects master Stan Winston.

This is the first of two movies I'll be discussing this month that I have a vague personal connection with. I once met John D'Aquino, who played the handsome jerky guy who redeems himself at the end, at a party in LA and he was super nice and cool. A little flirty. Good memory. :)

So, if you're like me and think atmosphere is one of the most important things in a horror movie, check this one out. This is in the same category as Halloween for me, a genuinely good (not cheesy) film that really captures the spirit of the season. I didn't even mind the few jump scares. Funny how they seem more effective than annoying when the movie's actually good. A new favourite I'll be returning to often!

I am planning to check out the sequel made in 1994. I doubt I'll check out any of the other sequels, as they were made in the 2000s (ugh).

Feel Good Friday ~ 80s Fall playlist

I grew up in the 80s, and for me three things are forever linked with the decade of my childhood - Fall/Halloween, horror movies, and rock music. GOOD rock music, back when it popped, before it sludged into Nickelback and wannabes. 😡

(Forgive me if I'm a little salty. They were playing that awful "I'm sorry I'm bad" song at the supermarket.)

Anyway, here are some classic power pop/rock songs that are perfect for long walks in the crispy leaves. You can close your eyes* and pretend Journey is still together. (Just open them again before you cross the street.)

*When you close your eyes, do you dream about me? Okay, guess I have to add Night Ranger now.

Way too many songs to post videos, so here's a Spotify playlist. 31 songs (cause there's 31 days in October, GET IT??) Ft. Journey, Pat Benatar, The Cars, Huey Lewis, Marshall Crenshaw, Stevie Nicks, Asia, The Moody Blues, Prince, Tom Petty (RIP), and more.

https://open.spotify.com/user/emperorcupcake22/playlist/0jiriOlHOHVvHRMGBrwj2q

Have a spooktacular Rocktober!🤘

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

New Music Tuesday

I haven't listened to The Killers' new album yet. It's gotten kinda "okay" reviews and of the three songs I heard, only this one grabbed me. But boy, did it ever grab me. This is my official Rocktober™ jam, crank it!





Horror movie list 2017

All the horror movies I've watched this Halloween season. Will update as I go along.

New to me:

It (theatrical)
It Comes at Night
Split
Gone Girl (not horror per se, but close enough and SO GOOD)
The Innkeepers (Ti West of "House of the Devil" fame is a damn good horror director)
The Sacrament
The Roost
May
How Awful About Allan (not very horror-y, but I'll watch almost anything with Anthony Perkins)
Mark of the Witch
The Coming (AKA Burned at the Stake) Man, I love me some 70s witch movies
The Evil (AKA House of Evil)

Rewatch:

It (miniseries)
The Midnight Hour (Quintessential 80s with a GREAT soundtrack)
Something Evil
The Initiation of Sarah (I LOVE 70s and 80s made for tv horror, they remind me of staying up late and watching tv as a kid)
The House that Wouldn't Die
House of the Devil (a newer film that PERFECTLY captures the look and tone of 80s horror)
Mazes and Monsters (young Tom Hanks is driven mad by Dungeons and Dragons!)
Chopping Mall (oh, 80s)

To-watch list (new):

Conjuring 2
The Witch
It Follows
Crimson Peak