SHLOCKTOBLOGGER, Part 4

31 Days of Halloween Movie Mayhem

OCTOBER 21

I remember the first time I watched “Slither.”  It was before I’d really grasped how much fun horror movies can be, outside of a Sam Raimi movie.  After the first 15 minutes, the inner-critic in me had had enough, and I started to decry the outlandishness of the whole deal, and how absurd it was.  After 30 minutes though…it clicked.  I don’t know if it was because I was “in a mood,” when we started watching it or not, but once I got into “Slither,” I saw it for what it was: comic genius.  Gory-as-hell, comic genius.  And with that, it became a Hallowe’en staple for me, and I can’t believe it took me this long into the month to have a boo at this gem.  Perhaps, saving the best for last…but not having the patience to wait anymore.

This movie is great on so many levels.

Funny?  Heck yeah.  Nathan Filion has become a dead-pan comic genius (just watch the “Firefly,” series if you don‘t like horror movies, and you will see), and proves it again in this.  Gregg Henry as the a-hole mayor, also warrants some laughs, not to mention the “Something’s wrong with meeeee!”-moment.  It’s not just the performances that make “Slither,” funny though; the script is also pretty key.  It’s sharp and witty, so when something is said that really just a base, obscene comment, you don’t mind laughing at it.

“Slither,” succeeds as a total gore-fest as well.  Guys getting sliced in half (in either direction).  People who eat people (are the luckiest people, in the worrrrrrld), and dogs…and whatever else they can get their hands on.  Abdomen-intruding tentacles.  Then there’s the gigantic mess of a thing that Michael Rooker turns into.  It’s just awesome.

Oh yeah…it has Michael Rooker too.

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OCTOBER 25

I tried to watch “Evil Dead 2”…but I fell asleep.  I’ve been super-beat the last couple of days and haven’t been awake enough to really get through a movie at all.  Hopefully I can catch up over the next couple of days.  I’m pretty determined to average a movie/t.v. special per day.

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OCTOBER 26

Today is catch-up day.  I’ve got the day off and no initiative to do anything except watch movies.  This could be epic.

I start the day by finishing “Evil Dead 2.”  What’s to say about this movie that hasn’t already been said?  I already outlined my personal history with it in my blog about the first “Evil Dead.”   I’ve got the “Book of the Dead” versions of both…and I love them dearly.  I’ll watch them over and over, and never get tired of them.

Second movie for the day is “Vacancy.”  I haven’t seen this one before, but I’ve heard good things.  It definitely doesn’t disappoint, even though I did almost turn it off after 15 minutes of listening to Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale bicker.  It turns really creepy though and I’m surprised that it does so with the introduction of Frank Whaley (with a FANTASTIC moustache) into the fold.  This is actually one of the more frightening movies I’ve seen since it seems like it could actually happen.  The biggest thing working against it however, is my inability to take Luke Wilson seriously.

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I wanted to watch the remake of The Hitcher again because I remembered it being pretty badass.  I was mistaken.  Yeah, Sean Bean is awesome (as always) as the bad guy, and yeah, the car-chase with the Trans-Am from “Smokey and the Bandit,” set to Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer,” is one of the greatest things ever on film…but otherwise, this movie’s got nuthin’.  Well, except for Sophia Bush.  She’s not so bad for the viewing.

Off to the final outing in the flimgeeks sojourn into the Hammer studios Dracula series, as we watch “Dracula A.D. 1972.”  My hopes aren’t too high seeing as how the first three have not been all that outstanding.  This, is probably the worst of the lot.  It’s similar to “Taste the Blood of Dracula,” but instead of it being old sophisticates looking for a new way to have a good time, it’s young no-good-niks looking for a new way to swing.  It’s NOT good.  There’s some horrible hair and fashion…and cars…and music.  Stephanie Beacham looks like she’s wearing a tea cozy with hair extensions.  Not even Peter Cushing can save this piece of crap, as it takes him far too long to sort out that the no-good-niks’ leader’s last name, “Alucard,” is actually “Dracula,” spelled backwards.  Yeah, it’s that kind of crappy.

Dracula AD 1972

The final movie for the day is one that I’ve been extremely excited to see; the Nazi-zombie movie “Dead Snow.”  There’s been a lot of internet buzz about this Norwegian gore-fest for quite some time, and the trailer that I saw looks amazing.

I am well-rewarded for my patience.  This movie is everything that “Zombieland” isn’t.  It delivers a new story to zombie canon, as far as the reasoning behind the zombies’ rising from the dead.  It also serves up some of the most glorious mutilations I have seen on film.  And finally, it exhibits some of the most creative uses I have ever seen, for human intestines.  Not only am I thoroughly entertained by this movie, it really gets me to thinking about why I didn’t enjoy “Zombieland.”

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OCTOBER 27

Big setback in my Shlocktober duties today as I bought DJ Hero for the XBOX 360.  In an effort to spread the joy of my purchase, I went over to DJ’s (appropriately) to play.  Afterwards we were going to watch a movie, but ended up watching the Scream awards, since it seemed appropriate.  It was…barely.  It would have suited me better if there wasn’t so much “Twilight” crap in it.  Since “Drag Me To Hell,” won best horror, and the head splitting scene from “Dead Snow,” was nominated for best mutilation…I will allow it.  Besides, it’s my tradition, so I’ll do whatever I want.

OCTOBER 28

Time for an old-timey classic.

I bought the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” DVD a few years ago, because I’d found it for $5, and it had both the 1931 and 1941 versions, and I thought it would be pretty cool to have both and to be able to compare and contrast the two.  On this night however, I’m just going to go with the 1941, Spencer Tracy version.  I’m really surprised that “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” ISN’T campy.  Or, at the very least, it’s so well done that the camp is easy to overlook.  This is a good movie.  It’s well-acted.  That is to say, of course there’s the melodramatic antics that are present in a lot of older movies, but it’s not off-putting in any way.  I really enjoy this a lot more than I thought I would as Tracy’s performance is great, and even the make-up and camera effects are very effective.  I mean, I have to overlook the fact that turning evil makes Dr. Jekyll’s eyebrows bushier and his nose larger (and, when needed, imbues him with mad ninja skills), but the way they show the transformation take place via camera and editing trickery, doesn’t seem hokey at all.  This is definitely something that I can watch multiple times, and I kinda can’t wait until I get to compare it to the 1931 version.

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OCTOBER 29

Every year I try and listen to the original “War of the Worlds,” radio broadcast, ever since we read the script for it back in Grade 7 or 8.  The great thing about the internet is that it was very easy to find and download this piece of history, so now I can enjoy it every year.

What can you say about Orson Welles?  That was one grandiose fella.  And I don’t just mean that in a physical sense.  He really had a gift for huge productions, even if they were audio in nature.  There’s nothing about his “War of the Worlds,” production that points to subtlety or reservation.  Even in his narrative sections, the wording is dramatic and over-blown…which really adds to the awesome nature of it.  Unless I’m mistaken, there isn’t even a disclaimer until about 40 minutes in stating that this is all just a production, so knowing people like I do, and knowing that the majority of them don’t fully pay attention, it’s really easy to see why this broadcast caused so much panic.  Orson Welles, you were a master shit-disturber, and for that…I salute you!

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OCTOBER 30

Usually the weekend before Hallowe’en, I always try and catch “Beetlejuice.”  I’d go into how it started, but it concerns something that is now irrelevant.  It started a few years ago though, and since “Beetlejuice,” is usually on TV about 5 times the last weekend of October, it’s easy to catch.  This year though, I opt to get it on DVD so I can see the un-cut version.

This would the only Tim Burton movie that I’ve never had a problem watching.  The biggest reason for that can be summed up in two word: “Michael,” and “Keaton.”  I watch this and Keaton makes me laugh, but at the same time it makes me wonder why his career seem to dissolve.  I really can’t think of a bad Keaton performance, although there’s no way I’m ever going to watch “My Life,” (too sappy) or “Desperate Measures,” (because Andy Garcia’s in it).

The other source of joy comes from the scenes in the offices of the afterlife.  The waiting room alone is hilarious, but the all the goings-on in these scenes are definitely something to behold as they are Burton at his playfully macabre best.  Shrunken-head guy never fails to make me giggle.

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OCTOBER 31

It’s the big day!!  And I don’t have to work, so that means one thing: movie marathon!!  I get up a little earlier than usual, and after breakfast I decide to get right to it and throw on “Monster House.”  Unfortunately, since I got up earlier than usual, I need to take a nap earlier than usual as well, and I fall asleep about 20 minutes into it.  It’s really too bad because I enjoy this movie quite a bit…even though the one kid “Chowder,” is pretty annoying…but he’s so annoying that I can’t help but laugh.  Plus, it’s got some great lines in it.  My favourite: “Are you guys mentally challenged?  Because, if you are, then I’m certified to teach you baseball!”

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After waking up, again, I opt to go for something light, again, and throw on the original “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”  Funny (funny-strange) thing about this movie: it’s really not that good.  I mean, there’s the occasional moments of great Whedonesque dialogue in here, but there are parts of it that are particularly painful to watch.  I’m lookin’ at you Hillary Swank.  I get that she’s supposed to be annoying, but they definitely over-shot the mark with her character.  I want to slap her out of my TV.  However, the other funny (funny-haha) thing about “Buffy,” is Paul Reubens.  Seriously.  His death scene is one of my favourite things ever.

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After an awesome dinner and some DJ Hero, I go into the grand finale of the month: my zombie trilogy of “Shaun of the Dead,” “Dawn of the Dead (2004),” and “Night of the Living Dead.”  I love all three of these movies and can watch them over and over, for so many reasons.  This time though, as I’m watching them, all I’m doing is comparing them to “Zombieland,” and finally I come up with the reason as to why that movie didn’t work for me.  “Zombieland,” at no point, makes me feel like the zombies are really any kind of threat to anyone.  I know there aren’t many “uninfected,” people left in that movie, but at no point do I believe that any of the characters are really in any danger.  The zombies are comedic props, and that’s all.  Even in “Shaun of the Dead,” while the zombies are, at times, comedic props, there is still some sense of urgency on the part of the characters to do away with them.  In “Zombieland,” there is no urgency, other than the fact that Woody Harrelson just really likes to kill them.  Therefore, once we get to the climax, there’s no reason to be concerned.

That isn’t to say that I don’t notice what I enjoy about these movies.  I do.  “Shaun,” is hilarious.  Every time.  And there’s such a smooth transition between full-fledged comedy to full-fledged horror that I have no problem buying into what’s going on (unlike “Zombieland,” where things get “serious” very suddenly at the end, and tension isn’t allowed to build at all).

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“Dawn of the Dead,” succeeds for me every time because this is the first time I saw zombies RUN.  That scene when the survivors are tying to get into the mall, and that one zombie starts tearin’ ass right at them while his arm is hanging off…brother…that’s the point of no return for me.  At that point I’m sucked in and I’m going to watch this whole movie and I will not be interrupted.  The one thing that I do notice this time, is that it’s directed by Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and written by James Gunn (Slither), and it all comes together as to why I love this movie so much.

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Finally, there’s “Night of the Living Dead.”  The first time I saw this was on TV, Hallowe’en night, about 10 years ago on this local TV show called “Off-beat Cinema.”  The three subsequent times I saw it were the three following years on Hallowe’en.  I love this movie so much.  George A. Romero created a masterpiece (if you don’t consider the really bad acting) of the simplest kind.  An easy story with genius special effects while throwing in a little social commentary (having a “negro” take charge of a situation in the late 60’s?!  Unheard of!), just to spice things up…and you’ve got yourself a classic.  There’s nothing more I can say about this that hasn’t already been said.  I’m all too happy to watch it again…and again…and again.

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EPILOGUE.

SUCCESS!  The final Shlocktober tally is as follows:

Movies watched: 31

Failed attempts: 3 (“Amityville,” “Monster House,” “Laid to Rest.”)

TV Specials: 2

Radio Programs: 1

TV Awards Shows (?!): 1

So I was able to average a movie a day for the first time in 3 years, and even average more than one “program,” per day.  I’m pretty certain I lost a little bit of sleep due to some screwed up dreams, and I gained six pounds.  I’m a little annoyed that I forgot to watch “Let the Right One In,” “Pontypool,” and “Midnight Meat Train,” but that gives me something to shoot for next year.

Coming out of this whole deal, next year I would also really like to try and check out a lot more of the “classic” movies like the old Lon Cheney and Boris Karloff movies…but we’ll see what happens.  Needless to say this has been a lot of fun, but I’m a little excited to see some “regular” movies again.  Assuming, of course, that there are any that I want to see.

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DVD Reviews, Media Reviews, Shlocktober