For the month of October, I will be doing the Shocktober Weekly column once each week. I will give a report on the horror movies I watch whether they be ones I’ve never seen before or ones I rewatch. I’ll jot down a few thoughts and maybe I’ll save you from sitting through a terrible movie or inspire you to watch a good one! Each week will have a different subtitle that I come up with that pokes fun at a movie or is a hint to one of the film’s that I watched (it’s usually kind of stupid but hey I’m in the mood for stupid fun this time of year!). So be sure to watch some horror movies yourself and feel free to leave comments on what you’ll be watching this Halloween season!
Sinister is pretty darn effective and probably the best horror offering of the year thus far. Cabin in the Woods may have been a really creative affirmation of the horror genre but it never creeped me out, Sinister did. The movie permeates with a sense of unease that gets under your skin and doesn’t ever let up. The sound and music in the film all seem to be designed to throw you off and create that uneasy feeling which makes you start to be apprehensive of what is about to happen and then it instills that feeling in you until you just can’t take it anymore (unless you’re a brazen, strapping young man like myself…). Similarly to Cabin in the Woods, Sinister also seems to have some commentary on our horror movie watching habits. It’s not something I picked up on right away but after discussing the film with my brother and his friend, there were some definite elements that suggested that there was something being said about the genre.
There were a few things that I took issue with in Sinister, though they typically were all minor things that didn’t affect the overall impact of the movie. While it was still kinda creepy, the design of Bughuul seemed a little underwhelming, at times looking like a gothic clown, and some of the make-up effects seemed cheaply designed (the ghostly children specifically). Despite this, director Scott Derrickson, who redeems himself from the pointless The Day the Earth Stood Still remake, creates some really great tension and atmosphere throughout the film that makes for a fun horror experience. If you are a fan of the horror genre and want a way to celebrate the spookiest of seasons, Sinister is a must-see.
Sinister is currently only available at your local theater.
The problem I had with Wolfen was mostly the result of mislead expectation. If you look at the poster (or the DVD cover art) and read the tagline, it sounds like you’re being set up for a werewolf movie. Wolfen was released in the same year as The Howling and An American Werewolf in London, two quintessential werewolf movies, so I couldn’t help but anticipate something possibly in the vein of those films. While Wolfen does feature people who turn into wolves (not werewolves mind you), its story is more concerned with revealing a mystery surrounding some unexplained murders. In some ways, I kind of dug what it was trying to do even if I felt it wasn’t doing it in the most effective manner. There were many times where I felt bored or impatient in the uncovering of the “wolfen” evidence as I just wanted to see monstrous werewolves tearing people’s limbs off, but this isn’t that kind of movie (think Indian wolf-spirit men). I also really didn’t care for the “wolf-vision” they utilized a lot in the movie. I think I’d have to rewatch Wolfen knowing now what it is really about to see if I’d appreciate it anymore. I just don’t know that I’d take the time to do that. Oh, and if you watch this, be prepared to see Admiral Adama himself, Edward James Olmos, run around like a crazy person buck naked. The film also features a young Tom Noonan.. fully clothed.
Wolfen is currently only available on DVD.
Alone in the Dark (1982)
I dug this off-kilter slasher film that stars Donald Pleasance, Martin Landau and Jack Palance. Often times in slashers, they leave the killer or killers’ identity as a mystery for the audience to figure out, Alone in the Dark shows you right away who your murderous fiends are, well most of them anyway. They do shroud the face of one of the four killers for most of the movie before they reveal him but the filmmakers don’t really set him up as a “guess who?” character. That being said, they do make good use of the reveal of the fourth killer’s identity later in the film. All of the killers are escaped mental patients out to kill their new doctor. Martin Landau stands out the most to me as he plays crazy well and he just naturally creeps me out as he’s kind of an odd looking fella. The protagonists are all fairly forgettable, with exception to Lee Taylor-Allan (though just because she was kind of hot) and Donald Pleasance who plays a kooky doctor. Alone in the Dark tries to be something a little more than a standard slasher and for that I applaud it. It doesn’t quite fall into the realm of my favorite slasher films of all time but it is most definitely worth a watch.
Alone in the Dark is currently only available on DVD. (WARNING: The trailer below does contain brief nudity. NSFW.)
It’s alive… it’s alive… it’s ALLLLIIIIVVVEEE! I feel like out of any horror classics that I hadn’t seen, Frankenstein is the one I’m most familiar with, or at least with its story beats. While I was well aware of the general gist of the story, I was still pleasantly surprised while watching the original film. It was interesting seeing Boris Karloff’s take on the monster and it was a lot more raw than I would have imagined. I also expected Dr. Frankenstein’s hunched assistant to be named Igor but was a little surprised when his name was Fritz since the character in other variations seems to always be Igor, or maybe I’m just being ignorant. I did have to laugh a little when Fritz goes to pick up the brain that Dr. Frankenstein requested and picks up an abnormal one instead, thanks to the joke in Mel Brooks’ classic Young Frankenstein. After finally watching Frankenstein, it’s gotten me pretty excited to watch Bride of Frankenstein, especially since I’m pretty unfamiliar with it and I’m curious to see how the Frankenstein story evolves.
Frankenstein is available on Blu-ray and DVD.
by Ben McBride