Favorite Songs: Pale Shelter

Pale Shelter by Tears for Fears is an excellent and new favorite song of mine. The video is also marvelous, further showcasing the great and fast guitar cords and Curt Smith’s melancholy vocals. Roland Orzabal backs him up too and the duo although having other band members were the heart and soul of the group. I recently acquired The Hurting from Half-Priced Books and it is awesome, so this video was posted with that in mind. “You dont give me love you give me pale shelter.”

Gobble Gobble


Happy Thanksgiving to all. Also I’ve been too busy to blog this month.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Housebound (2014, Gerard Johnstone)

Like many other twisty and novel horror movies Housebound isn’t easy to review.   One has to avoid spoilers and yet still discuss the film in solid if not extensive detail. What I did note is how wonderfully funny this movie is, and how it only has a few actual scares. Which is fine considering the events that occur and how the movie at times mocks horror cliches and is savvy and well scripted. I do wish this movie had been frightening yet it’s high level of quality over compensates. Also the cast does a great job, too.

The film’s dynamic centers on the troubled relationship between Kylie and her mother, Miriam. Since Kylie is a regular offender she has been sentenced to house arrest, trapped in her mother’s house. Which may or may not be haunted. And which is next door to a potential murderer, too. If that’s not horror movie territory I don’t know what is, and Housebound mines it very well.

Also what I like is security contractor, Amos, who is both funny and a great foil for Kylie as she investigates what is really going on. There is a scene that is timely and utterly hilarious, not to mention a number of thrilling moments. Housebound despite its flaws is an excellent addition to the horror genre. New Zealand has contributed plenty to the genre and will hopefully continue to do so in the future.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: The Babadook (2014, Jennifer Kent)

After watching The Babadook I realize that I’m glad I don’t have kids. Poor Amelia is a widow dealing with the fact that her kid’s birthday is on the same day her husband died. So things don’t get any better when her son, Samuel, believes that a monster is after them. Naturally things spiral downward from then on, eventually building up to the possibility that it may be all in their imagination. Or maybe not. Either way, not good. The rhyme describing the creature itself is beyond creepy.

Few horror movies adequately deal with female issues and problems. Well The Babadook does this in spades and is a truly frightening and nightmarish experience. The opening is a slow burn that eventually leads to a mass escalation and the Babadook making an appearance. I love how the monster is practical effects and not CGI, which results in attack scenes being highly effective. Also the ending was somewhat unexpected, a hallmark of a good horror film.

Despite some questionable moments this is a near great and terrifying horror film. Several moments recall previous classic horror movies and Essie Davis gives a brave and unflinching performance as Amelia, while Noah Wiseman is great and surprising as Sam. Without giving further details I must say that I like the story and feel that based on observation and basic knowledge this film does a fine job of covering what it’s like to deal with a troubled child while being a single parent.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Disturbing Behavior (1998, David Nutter)

Something is very wrong at Cradle Bay,  small town in Washington. The children are slowly turning into boring androids and anyone who opposes them and their handler, Dr. Caldicott (Bruce Greenwood) is changed over night. What is happening only a few people realize in the 1998 cult film Disturbing Behavior. The late 1990s had some decent and solid sci-fi/horror movies, and this is one of them despite it’s limitations.

The film has a great young cast: James Marsden, Nick Stahl, Katie Holmes and Katharine Isabelle. Also starring is cult movie veteran William Saddler as the famous cliche character: the old man who really knows what is going on. Even though the movie fails to really channel the better films it’s homaging it’s still an entertaining and watchable film. Also I laughed at the ending, and I can appreciate any movie with a Pink Floyd reference.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Vampire In Brooklyn (1995, Wes Craven)

Lost in the discussion about Wes Craven’s career is that he engaged in comedic moments in many of his horror films. One such movie was Vampire In Brooklyn, a rather entertaining and fun horror comedy that has some good funny moments and even a few scares. Eddie Murphy in a rare horror movie role stars as a vampire seeking a cop played by Angela Bassett, who happens to be half human and half vampire. Without her the line of vampires from the Caribbean will finally die off. This movie has some decent homages to previous vampire films, and is also Wes Craven’s own take on the sub genre.

Much like some of his other films Craven presents socialand political commentary. Murphy turns into a preacher and manages to convince an entire congregation that they should turn to evil. Unfortunately considering the hate many so called Christians push today such a moment is relevant and also darkly humorous to a degree. Also you have the police failing to comprehend and understand what they are dealing with, another theme that is prevalent in not only Craven’s work but also in many horror movies. I rather like how Craven is able to balance humor and horror, two genres that are tricky to get right.

Also it’s cool that he cast Zakes Mokae as a vampire hunter, since he was a horror veteran and he was great in The Serpent and the Rainbow, another Craven film. John Witherspoon and Kadeem Hardison provide additional comedic relief, yet it is Bassett who gives a strong performance and has superb chemistry with Murphy. It’s too bad that Eddie Murphy only made one horror film as he has a menacing presence. Despite its flaws this is an good, solid movie and is an example of how vampire movies contain views on society, religion and repressed feelings.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: The Conjuring (2013, James Wan)

Sporting a talented cast and channeling precious classic horror films The Conjuring is a near great film. James Wan seems to have a knack for horror, having also directed others such as Saw  and Insidious. Reportedly based on the cast files of a pair of psychic researchers named Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), this is a really freaky and entertaining movie. The 1970s setting is  a bonus, and I do like how this film answers the question of all haunting films: why don’t the people just leave? As in the good horror films the answer isn’t simple, and the solution may be unpleasant.

Having previously dealt with a creepy looking doll (interestingly the most eerie thing in the entire movie) called Annabelle, the Warrens seem content to rest and spend time with their daughter. However a Rhode Island couple named Roger and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor) approach them in a desperate bid to defeat the malevolent spirit that may be threatening them and their children. Naturally there are horror cliches such as the dog refusing to enter the house (dogs always sense the evil, don’t they?) and strange sounds echoing throughout the house. Wan uses plenty of slow burn and intense close up shots to make the audience feel as if they are in the house, and he actually doesn’t abuse jump scares or offer cheap moments, something that too many directors overuse in movies such as this one. Also it helps that the cast is all top notch, as Livingston and Wilson have also appeared in horror movies and Farmiga has a knack for playing both strong and vulnerable. However it is Taylor, who also starred in the remake of The Haunting, who is the main attraction of this movie. She has the difficult task of playing a woman that at first wonders if she is crazy, then slowly accepts what is going on, and in the end is forced to deal with the evil on a personal level.

Thanks to this movie I will never be able to think about a game of hide and seek again, not to mention whenever I hear multiple clapping. Plus I dug the scenes where the Warrens host question and answer sessions with local colleges, as they show footage of some of their encounters. The film even uses found footage style film making at one point with a valid reason to do so, which is cool too. Whether or not the actual incident in question ever happened I’m not sure, yet I am curious to learn more about the Warrens and I look forward to the planned sequel, which will feature both Wilson and Farmiga returning along with Wan, who is a promising young horror film maker in his own right. Also this film has a great original score, something that is worth mentioning as not too many modern horror films have exceptional original scores or original scores in general. This one does.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: What We Do In The Shadows (2015, Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement)

Just when you think the found footage/fake documentary style horror film has run its course there comes along another film that proves the doubters wrong. What We Do In The Shadows is one such film, and it is a hilarious entry in the sub genre that has recently been overwhelmed by Parnamormal Activity and it’s endless sequels. Lately Twilight has caused a good response in terms of some great vampire moves, so that’s good, I guess.

Living in an old house, hidden from society are a bunch of old vampires. What I love about this movie is that the jokes are well executed and range from slapstick to witty, often all in the same moment. The cast is top notch and each member adds to the funny proceedings. One of my favorite jokes is the bat fight scene, which is as amusing as it sounds. Although the last act wears a bit thin you have to laugh at Vlad going on and on about “The Beast.” Not to mention smile at the idea of werewolves and vampires talking smack to one another. Based on this and Housebound New Zealand horror has a very bright future indeed.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: IT (1990, Tommy Lee Wallace)

All too many Stephen King adoptions don’t work out. Yet still there are ones that manage to at least properly tackle his material, IT being one of those adaptations that works rather well. Such a novel is immense and rather hard to tackle, especially considering the novel’s use of flashbacks, many which intercede with the present setting of the novel in the 1980s. And just like the novel the 1950s flashbacks work the best.

Oh and Tim Curry is wonderfully creepy as Pennywise, the villain of the piece. He has hilarious one liners and manages to even terrify in some parts. Particularly when poor grownup Bill recalls what happened to his brother Georgie. So much teeth…how they bite. Some of the adult versions of the young cast don’t quite fit with the novel’s descriptions of them, however. Especially John Ritter and Richard  Thomas, although both give quality performances. Also while I like Harry Anderson as Ritchie it oddly feels a bit too obvious of a casting pick. That said the rest of the cast is spot on, particularly with all of the young kids (Seth Green and Emily Perkins being notable standouts); also Annette O’ Toole is perfect as Beverly and Tim Reid is a great Mike.

Also they get Eddie right despite changing a few details. The second half isn’t as strong as the first, mostly since the kid actors play their parts with the utmost sincerity. Still I also enjoy the second half and naturally due to budget and length issues certain other aspects of the novel had to be cut. I wonder how the planned new version will work out, and I am hoping that it’s an improvement. Still I rather like and enjoy this slice of 1990s TV miniseries, a reminder of the days when such programs existed.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Campfire Tales (1997, Matt Cooper, Martin Kunert, and David Semel)

Overall this isn’t a bad anthology even though some of the tales are stronger than others. Also the overall wrap around story has what is now considered to be a cliche twist. I wanted to really like this film yet Campfire Tales is not consistent and has only really great story out of the whole bunch. Too bad since focusing on urban legends is a cool idea. Which reminds me that I need to watch Urban Legend at some point.

The film opens with a good yet very short tale, called The Hook. It’s a nice creepy beginning and is also notable for staring Amy Smart and James Marsden before either one became famous. This segways into the main wrap around story, called The Campfire, which stars Christine Taylor as one of the four young adults that share stories after surviving a car crash.

Now the best story of the bunch is The Honeymoon, which stars Ron Livingston and Jennifer Macdonald as a couple that have the misfortune to break down in the desert. It’s a really frightening entry and is mostly responsible for the film’s barely fresh rating. This is followed by People Can Lick Too, which although merely solid/good has a nice buildup leading to an eerie conclusion and is a modern day twist on an old tale.

Unfortunately the last story, The Locket, is really boring which is a shame considering it stars Glenn Quinn. Nothing of note really happens and the twist is rather awful in terms of being a bad attempt at shock value. Better anthology choices exist out there although Campfire Tales is not a complete waste of time.


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