Halloween Movies

31 Days of Horror – ‘Eight Legged Freaks’

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Eight Legged Freaks

Directed by: Ellory Elkayem

Starring: David Arquette and Scarlett Johansson

Review by Eric Scot Lemons

I love a good B-horror film. One that rides the line of camp and comes out with something both exciting and fun. It is a difficult genre though, for every Tremors you get four Sharknados. You expect the CGI to be bad, which in Eight Legged Freaks, it is. But not too bad for a film out of 2002. You got David Arquette, a sort of random crown prince of cult-ish horror after the Scream flicks and having written and directed The Tripper, a sort of ode to 80s slasher flicks that has Ronald Reagan like figure as the slasher. But in this movie, like many, he sucks. His line delivery felt like it came after a long trailer weed nap.

That being said, I really dug this movie. It was corny, but pretty funny in parts. In many ways, it felt like one of my favorite films, Slither, albeit only in tone and not in plot or quality. It really is an amalgamation of many different cool horror flicks. It takes place partially in a mall like Dawn of the Dead, and partially in a mine like My Bloody Valentine. The way they picked off their prey by sneaking into their homes felt like Arachnophobia, but on a comically larger scale. My one major complaint in the film that just got too annoying was they gave the spiders voices that sounded half the time like a mogwai and half the time like a minion. I don’t need a high-pitched squirrel voice from a spider to know it hates being shot.

I would recommend this movie to anyone who wants to watch some fun bullshit in which they know what will happen and they don’t have to think about it, but it is cool to see spiders take out tanker trucks and pile into malls and get shot. It isn’t perfect or really great in any feasible way, but you’ll enjoy it, especially with the help of alcoholic beverages or inhaled cannabis smoke

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31 Days of Horror – ‘2001 Maniacs’

2001

2001 Maniacs

Directed by: Tim Sullivan

Starring: Robert Englund and Lin Shaye

Review by Carson Labish

There’s a reason you’ve never heard of this movie. If slasher movie tropes, lighthearted southern racism, or 5 minute sex montages are your thing, I would still not recommend this movie. The only reason I watched it in the first place, was because Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) is in it. This wasn’t enough to save anything about it. The whole thing is really a mish-mash of nods to original and better horror films, except done poorly and for no other reason than to try and fool the watcher into thinking “it’s like that good movie, so I guess this is good too”.

The whole movie is basically broken down to a bunch of college students on their way to X spring break destination, turned down the wrong road and ended up where they don’t belong. That’s literally the entire thing. The thing with slasher movies, of course, is that you never really root for the victims, you root for the villain. There’s nobody to root for here. The characters are all bland and hard to tell apart, and every single one of the female characters talks almost exclusively in sexual innuendos and puns…..about sex. Really, all you are watching for are creative kills and gruesome deaths. I can’t really say there is much of either with this movie. Each of the characters killed is almost done in a formula. They are led off by one of the townsfolk, and end up in some kind of complex trap that kills them. That sounds kind of cool, but it isn’t.

Did you say you wanted awkward racism spread throughout the 86 drudging minutes of the movie? You got it! There are several shoehorned scenes of Robert Englund rambling on about how the south would rise again, and how they would “teach them Yankees.” I lost count of confederate flags flapping around the entire time. I guess they really wanted you to know this town was full of civil war buffs.

If you want to recreate the experience without watching the movie, watch Nightmare On Elm Street 2 and listen to Larry The Cable Guy stand up at the same time.

Fun Facts about 2001 Maniacs:

  • There were only like 40 people that played the 2001 townsfolk, and the other 1961 were chroma-keyed in occasionally.
  • Eli Roth has a cameo as a hitchhiker with his dog, Doctor Mombo, so technically this movie is a semi prequel to Cabin Fever.
  • Kane Hodder (Jason Vorhees) is in a single scene playing one of the townsfolk during the climax of the movie. His character’s name is “Jason”.

31 Days of Horror – ‘At the Devil’s Door’

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At the Devil’s Door

Directed by: Nicholas McCarthy

Starring: Ashley Rickards and Naya Rivera

Review by CinemAbysmal

This a strange fucking movie. Not exactly in the good way, either. The acting is pretty underwhelming, the dialogue is laughable and it seems to be pieced together by a drunk person. However, there almost seems to be an underlying intent to all of this as the movie stumbles along.

What we have with At the Devil’s Door is a good enough horror film. It plays on concepts from other movies such as Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen, while mixing in some haunted house jumps. There’s even a mysterious girl donning a red rain jacket, which immediately reminded me of the creeptacular Don’t Look Now. There are some genuine frights in this and the Satanic storyline is actually pretty damn unsettling. It’s also really pretty. A lot of the shots are bathed in a greyed out palette and McCarthy is particular with his use of bright colors to surprise the eyes. He’s also very careful about his use of the devil in this. He is shown many times, a tall man with horns, but he is always blurry and it’s creepy as all hell.

The timeline in this film is probably the most distracting part. It begins with a teenage girl in the 1980’s and jumps around between then and now, but it feels forced and does not really come natural at all. I already mentioned the acting, but I think it’s worth talking about again. Most of it is pretty god-awful, and I can’t really tell if McCarthy meant for the hamfisted presentation of it all. I really think this would be a legitimately good movie if the dialogue was more carefully written and he grabbed some better actors.

At the Devil’s Door is currently streaming on Netflix. If you are into jump scares and some pretty damn good satan-soaked evil, this will probably satisfy you. It tends to move at a snail’s pace sometimes, but it really is a pretty vicious horror film. It’s just not that good of a movie-movie.

31 Days of Horror – ‘Sleepy Hollow’

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Sleepy Hollow

Directed by: Tim Burton

Starring: Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci

Review by Eric Scot Lemons

The moment Tim Burton busted on the scene with Frankenweenie in 1980-something, we all should have foreseen that he would eventually adapt Sleepy Hollow, the macabre tale of a man with a horse but without a head who beheads people cause why not? The film has two colors; grey and black. Sometimes blood is played for comical effect, but inexplicably so. Like during an autopsy (kinda, I guess) or cutting into tree roots (tha fuck?). It just isn’t interesting to look at. And I know that Burton is obsessed with German Expressionism and angular fucking lines and silhouettes, but those should not be the entire selling point of a film.

And this is yet another Tim Burton and Johnny Depp team-up. Usually these play along the lines of Johnny playing some weirdo forced to hang with normals, but it turns out this weirdo is wisest among them. Sleepy Hollow, however, is about a normal dude going to a place where everyone has weird beliefs, and then he turns out to be also weird, but in other ways. It really doesn’t gel. There are some jokes throughout playing on police procedurals and how much of the forensic philosophies that exist now were thought of as bunk in the late 1700’s. Also, there are some cool scenes involving decapitation and horses and men, but mostly the film is just boring. And after years of seeing the same shit from the duo, everything felt played out and numb, which is weird to say about a film that centers of cutting fops’ heads off.

Christopher Walken is the headless horseman and doesn’t have one line. An actor known primarily for his voice and he is a silent horseman who looks like young Rick Sanchez with a xenomorph’s grill. You know what else is stupid and makes no sense? The plot. It was witches all along. Fucking witches.

I just would not watch this. There are some flourishes that are fun, but overall, it feels half-hearted at best.

31 Days of Horror – ‘The Witches’

The Witches

Directed by: Nicolas Roeg

Starring: Anjelica Huston and Rowan Atkinson

Review by Eric Scot Lemons

Holy hell, this is such a good flick. Oh, you mean a movie directed by Nicolas Roeg with the help of Jim Henson based on a novel by Roald Dahl is good? You don’t say. But it really fucking is. I hadn’t seen this movie since I was a young child of 7 or 8 and it scared the crapola out of me then. It had always been a film I regarded as one for kids that probably shouldn’t be for kids. So, now my oldest is 7, so I fired it up for him, fully forgetting the monstrosity that Anjelica Huston becomes early in the second act as she confronts a large coven in a hotel convention hall. If you don’t remember, it is a Jim Henson creation that looks like a human condor in gaudy-fab makeup. It is startling because it is frightening enough to stand up to long takes, but human enough to be comical.

The film is set up perfectly for kids. While the first act is almost entirely exposition, it is fun and prepare you for the rest of the film. It sets in motion a mythology surrounding witches that makes the film a sort of guessing game; stating witches have purple eyes and no toes, left my children interrogating every person in the film for these hidden features. We are told growing up that strangers are possibly dangerous, but never fully understand why. This film is a super fun and interesting display of actual physical attributes to make one suspicious of their fellow humans. Now, I don’t know if creating monsters out of people is beneficial for children in the long run, but the film is fun.

My kids love spooky shit. They loved this. This is the type of horror that is much more difficult to classify cause it relies on real terror, instead of cheap camera tricks. You see the monsters throughout. You know the danger. Whether you succumb to it is up to you

31 Days of Horror – ‘Dreamcatcher’

Dreamcatcher 

Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan

Starring: Damian Lewis and Morgan Freeman

Review by Eric Scot Lemons

Dudes and dudettes, you have to see this movie. It is fucking weird. It is so fucking weird, I was convinced that English was the second or third language for the entire production team. And this was after discovering that it was directed and co-written by Lawrence Kasdan. I love a couple movies written by Kasdan. The ones about Empires and Jedis striking back and returning, but this movie is nothing like those films. This movie features a cast of mostly likeable actors; Damian Lewis, people seem to have a thing for him. Jason Lee and Thomas Jane and Timothy Olyphant, then add Morgan Freeman and you have a cast of characters that I can get behind.

Until they start talking. I love Stephen King as a person. He seems cool and down to earth, but he also loves to write about children friends who grow up to be adult friends that still talk like children. IT suffers heavily from this. Let’s just say, the acting and dialogue choices in this film are strange. It features wise-cracking that takes away from tension and plotting. 

When shit goes to hell in this film, I thought the principal actors were in on it, just because they are laughing at fart jokes instead of showing concern for the man who is clearly dying out his butt. Then Morgan Freeman shows up as a general in charge of killing whatever the fuck is attacking these people, and he lives, speaks in monologues, and dies at the end without contributing one iota of a shit cell to the plot.

But it is entertaining in that way that a bad magician is interesting. Yeah, he just cut off his finger, but attempting to figure out what the trick was supposed to be is the most fun part. Did Lawrence Kasdan just shit the bed at every turn or was this all intentional and meant to redefine the alien invasion genre? Oh yeah, there’s aliens in this movie. Surprise! Enjoy!

31 Days of Horror – ‘Krampus’

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Krampus 

Directed by: Michael Dougherty

Starring: Adam Scott and Toni Collette

Review by Eric Scot Lemons

First things first, Krampus makes no fucking sense. I don’t really know what happened in that film. I am not going to say it was bad, but it was utterly confusing on a level usually reserved for avant-garde flicks, not holiday B-spoofs.

Here is the first confusing thing about Krampus: the casting ages. The child in it (Max), is played by like a 12 year old, yet is fully devoted to the concept of Santa Claus. Now, I am not saying Santa Claus isn’t real. I am just saying that this kid is a little old to be believing it. I honestly spent one-third of the film trying to figure out if he was mentally handicapped. Also, Adam Scott is his dad. Adam Scott is like, in his late thirties. Adam Scott’s mother in this film looks to be in her eighties. This film makes no fucking sense.

The next confusing element; what was the transgression that this family committed in order to get the wrath of Krampus? People not having Christmas spirit? Don’t get it. The pacing was all off. I couldn’t tell you if this film took place over the course of one day or a week. There is a huge blizzard and people seem to be dying in it, but I can’t tell if anyone exists in their world other than the family in this film. Do you realize how much you have to fuck up as a filmmaker so that this is unclear? The deaths were laughable and presented no consequence other than lessening the amount of people in the room. People’s children are being eaten in front of them and they don’t seem to care.

I legitimately love the cast (for the most part) and was not expecting a straightforward horror movie, but this was just too nonsensical. And I love nonsensical. I spent the entire film thinking outside of it in order to figure it out. I would not recommend this even for a fun, bad flick.