Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 15, 2013
Every year, my wife and I watch a bunch of scary movies for October. It started as an attempt to cover as many of the creepy classics as possible. There’s a lot that we don’t like: excessive gore, the trend towards torture movies, slasher flicks, etc. Not our thing. What we like best is ghost stories – the real creepy ones – but we’ll settle for really well-made horror movies that don’t turn our stomachs.
I’ve tried to post these over the years on the blog, for those who might have similar tastes, and like a good creepy movie. Over the years we’ve already grabbed most of the low-hanging fruit – the most notable classics. So now we’re taking a lot more chances – more foreign and off-beat movies. Last year, we hardly got to see any, due to scheduling. This year we have a few more suggestions already, and the season isn’t over yet. So maybe I’ll have some more suggestions in a couple of weeks, but I wanted to share some that we’ve watched over the last year or so while the season was still relatively early.
For the purpose of simplicity, I’m going to provide a rating of “Good”,”So-So”, or “Weak.” There’s a ton of wiggle-room there, and I make no apologies for my opinions being biased, so this is far from the last word. (By comparison, I hated the movie “Hellraiser,” which apparently people consider a classic…)
#1 – The Ju-On Series – I haven’t watched all the movies in this series, but so far they’ve been really good. They are foreign, subtitled, and creepy. They were remade in the U.S. as “The Grudge,” which I didn’t think was nearly as good. The Ju-On series is a little strange, because they are actually a collection of stories merged together into one movie with occasionally overlapping storylines. But the stories don’t necessarily appear in chronological order. The common theme is – effectively – a “viral” haunting. The haunting is so horrible that anybody that it kills becomes another angry, killer ghost, and anyone THEY kill becomes another angry, killer ghost, and so on. Anyway, it is a decent movie series. Rating: Good so far.
#2 – The Hole – Directed by Joe Dante. A family moves into an old house in a small town, and discover a locked-up trap door in the basement. Unlocking it, they find that it covers a bottomless pit, with horrors inside which come out to torment them. This one started out on the creepy side, but by the end had devolved into serious cheese levels that resembled a bad Twilight Zone episode. My 15-year old liked it, so it while it’s too scary for younger kids by far, it might be appropriate for older kids. Rating: Weak, but with a solid premise and start.
#3 – Paranormal Activity Series – we haven’t seen #4 yet (this weekend?), but #1-#3 were good. The first was by far the best, and they’ve been getting progressively weaker – but still enjoyable – ever since. This is a series in the “found footage” genre – where the movie pretends to be a collection of videos or security tapes from some horrendous event, made famous by The Blair Witch Project. I like ‘em. Rating for the series: Good to So-So.
#4 – Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter – I’ve never read the book, but the movie is good. Not great, but fun. This movie chronicles the secret history of Abraham Lincoln, for whom pursuing politics, becoming President of the United States, and winning the great civil war were just stepping stones to his greater purpose – to destroy all vampires! It’s just fun to see Abe Lincoln as a superheroic, badass, axe-wielding monster hunter. Rating: Good.
#5 - Carrie – The 1972-ish original classic with Sissy Spacek. I think this one might go beyond criticism, but a lot of it hasn’t aged very well. Sissy Spacek is completely awesome in the role, however. Even in her monstrous, murderous, telekinetically-empowered rage, you can’t help but feel sorry for her. Rating: So-so.
#6 – The Awakening – Taking place in post-World War I England, a boy’s boarding school is supposedly haunted by the spirit of an unknown child, which is frightening the boys. The school calls upon a woman famous for debunking supernatural hoaxes to solve the mysterious haunting so that things can get back “to normal.” However – things might not be so simple as that, and while she easily debunks some aspects of the story… there’s more. A lot more. I really enjoyed this one too. It’s a creepy ghost story with some decent surprises. Rating: Good!
#7 – Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil – This was an awesome surprise. It turns the cabin in the woods / psychopathic hillbilly horror genre on its ear. Two really nice, harmless hillbillies go to their newly acquired “summer home” – a cabin in the woods of dubious previous ownership – and get set upon by terrified and stupid college students in a case of paranoid misunderstanding. It’s dark, it’s much more gory than I usually like – but I laughed myself hoarse watching it. It was awesome. Rating: Good with a side of disturbingly gory hilarity.
#8 – The Caller – big points for originality on this one. A troubled divorcee moves into an old apartment in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with an old-fashioned, rotary phone – which is nice, ‘cuz her cell phone reception sucks. She takes a call that she originally mistakes as a prank from her ex-husband, or a crazy woman. It’s the latter – and it gets a lot weirder. The movie has a couple of truck-sized plot holes, forced character actions, and extreme predictability. Normally that would make it a total dud, but it is rescued and dragged kicking and screaming into “So-so” territority because of a really original plot (for this kind of horror movie) and villain. It’s kinda twisted and brain-bending. Rating: So-so thanks to extra credit from twisted originality.
#9 – The Woman In Black – With Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter). This is a good, creepy, scary ghost story. A junior lawyer must go to an old house of a deceased woman and perform an inventory for the upcoming estate sale. But – he gets way, way more than anticipated. Rating: Good.
#10 – Let Me In – A young, awkward boy has a mysterious new neighbor girl with a strangeness all her own. They become friends, against her own warnings, and her support and friendship gives him the courage to stand up to bullies. But… yeah. She ain’t normal. And Chloe Moretz (soon to be in a Carrie remake) can really, really do the creepy. Rating: Good.
#11 – The Eye – a girl who has been blind most of her life receives new eye implants… which allow her to see into the supernatural world. The problem is, as she is doesn’t really understand her new powers of sight, she can’t tell what is “real” and what might not be. Rating: So-So.
#12 – Skeleton Key – I don’t think I’ve written about this one before, but it was a while ago when we saw it. A twisted, creepy, voodoo-oriented movie with some wild supernatural twists. It quickly became a favorite. Good.
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