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Thread: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

  1. #81
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    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    This is the Intruder that I was referring to, I watched it earlier this year in a horror movie Facebook group run by Jiggy and thought it was cheesy fun. I’m a sucker for slashers like this because there’s a certain charm to them despite how obviously bad it is.
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  2. #82

    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy King View Post
    This is the Intruder that I was referring to, I watched it earlier this year in a horror movie Facebook group run by Jiggy and thought it was cheesy fun. I’m a sucker for slashers like this because there’s a certain charm to them despite how obviously bad it is.
    I imagine Intruder would make for a great group watch thanks to all of its goofiness.

  3. #83

    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Day #10
    Title: Just Before Dawn
    Country: United States
    Year: 1981
    Director: Jeff Lieberman




    As five friends travel up a mountain for some camping fun, they will be seeing double once a machete wielding maniac comes after them.


    One of the benefits of running Fright Fest each year is that itís an excuse to watch movies Iíve been meaning to watch for ages. Case in point - Just Before Dawn. At this point, there canít be many more notable 80s slashers I havenít seen yet, so catching this 1981 movie was a long time coming. The aspect of the film that stands out the most to me is that the biggest highlight of Just Before Dawn was just the location. Filmed entirely in Oregonís Silver Falls State Park (Same park as the woods scenes from Twilight), itís legitimately the most beautiful slasher film of the 80s. Thereís waterfalls, large mountains filled with trees, and incredible landscapes. By the conclusion of the movie, one has to wonder if the sole purpose of the film was an advertisement for tourism to Silver Falls State Park. It may be a state park filled with maniac killer twins and werewolves, damn if it isnít a beautiful place to spend a vacation.

    The other main thought I had watching the movie was sadly how dull the majority of the film could be. Iíd say the core problem is that the film had roughly an hourís worth of materials, but then they stretched everything out to an hour and a half, making for a lot of filler or scenes that are dragging its feet to its conclusion. This becomes worse the longer the film goes on because initially Iím enjoying the interactions between the five friends. Their adventures arenít quite as strong as the hijinx exhibited by the campers in The Burning, but I can get behind a group of friends having fun in order to create a tighter bond for the sake of caring about the characters. Once the characters start to separate, you lose that appeal and the film resorts to being one of just wandering around.

    One of the strongest aspects of Just Before Dawn is the showcase of its final girl. In fact, it may be one of the best examples of all of 80s slashers. At the start of the film, Constance is a self admitted knowledgeable hiker and shows to be quite caring when her friends come across the drunken harbinger of doom, however; after a scare their first night in the woods, Constance realizes that for all of her smarts, when trouble came, she failed to act in the moment. Yet, over the course of the film, not only sexes up her appearance by wearing more revealing clothes and putting on make-up, something you sense that the character rarely, if ever wore, but also manages to find courage. Itís at the very end of the movie when the second twin comes to attack Constance and her boyfriend, Warren (Played by Gregg Henry, one of those actors you donít know by name, but will likely recognize if you saw him), itís Constance who defends the pair by leaping onto the back of the much larger man and hilariously managed to kill him by shoving her fist down the twinís mouth until he stopped breathing. This transformation is all the more jarring as Warren exhibits the more traditionally female characteristics in classic horror movies by becoming a blubbering mess and unable to find the inner strength to join in on the fight against the twin at the end. Following the death of the second twin, poor Warren is left on his knees, crying into Constanceís lap as if heís regressed into becoming a child.

    Speaking of the twins, that became a minor twist near the end as itís revealed that all of these murders hadnít been committed by one man, but rather a pair of twin brothers. This was foreshadowed at the start of the movie as the camper filled with Constance and company realizes that theyíre spotting multiple sets of twins as they were driving through a nearby town prior to fully getting into the great outdoors. Although it made for a fun visual of seeing these two foolish looking large men together, I wouldnít say that it added much to the movie besides making a great Halloween costume for a couple of guys that look similar. Apparently, the script was first written in 1978 and underwent multiple rewrites, drastically altering the story. I suspect that the purpose behind having a pair of twin killers was lost somewhere in the rewrites. This belief is further supported by the fact that the movie kept touching on religious tones with the residents mentioning demons when describing the twin brothers, but thatís as far as the discussions of demons went. Besides the multiple rewrites prior to even filming the movie, thereís also an extended edition of the movie, which adds an additional twelve minutes of footage. Some scenes such as Constance and her friends first coming across a singing Merry Cat Logan at the pond seemed badly spliced together in the cut that I watched.

    Overall, Just Before Dawn excels at being an advertisement for the beautiful Silver Falls State Park. When it comes to being an effective slasher, I feel it falls short primarily because rewrites cause important bits to be removed without fully removing nods to them. Thereís some swell ideas though and I dig the look of the twin killers. Just Before Dawn may fail to live up to its potential, but I believe itís the sort of movie that would be ideal for a remake.

    Grade: C

    Fright in Motion:

    Spoiler:


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    Coming up next, K stands for an early rape revenge tale.

  4. #84

    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Day #11
    Title: Kuroneko
    Country: Japan
    Year: 1968
    Director: Kaneto Shindo




    After a pair of women are brutally assaulted and killed by a gang of samurai, their vengeful spirits return to exact revenge.


    One of my blind spots in horror history has been classic Japanese horror, dating back to the introduction of horror movies in the country. Although Iíve seen plenty of J-Horror from Japanís glory years of the late 90s to the mid 2000s, I believe the oldest Japanese horror Iíve seen was just 1977ís Hausu. Despite being a couple decades earlier than the likes of Ringu, Ju-On, ect, Hausu was a movie so out there that itís difficult to lump it in with Japanís earliest horror movies. Itís my understanding that Japanese horror grew out of centuries old folktales and it was quite common for the tales to feature the samurai and some sort of wrongdoing committed by them. While the movie I chose to watch may have been Kuroneko, it doesnít sound like such a huge departure from 1964ís Onibaba, a film that is typically regarded as Japanís first horror movie.

    If Iím being completely honest, my biggest difficulty with Kuroneko was its slow pace. Much like with Hausu, Iím left kind of bored because itís such an ambiguous movie, but it goes by at such a snailís pace that itís not the easiest to keep caring about the movie when youíre not even entirely sure whatís going on from scene to scene. My lack of experience from this time period of Japanese cinema isnít helping matters either. I suspect if I fully absorb myself into the time period, both horror and non-horror, perhaps I would become more familiar with the pacing and structure of it all.

    Thatís not to say that the story wasnít interesting. I was taken aback by the fact that the movie began with the group rape of a mother and daughter-in-law due to the fact that this was a time period when such sexual assaults werenít so common to see in movies. Rather than witnessing a western style rape revenge tale, we get the proper Japanese folktale style by having the two women killed and come back as ghosts, looking to avenge their assaults and deaths by seducing and killing the samuri. That tale alone could have been the entirety of the film, but the film takes a hard turn in a new direction in the middle of the movie as weíre introduced to Hachi aka Gintoki. Heís the son and husband of the two murdered women, freshly back from being away at war, unaware of what had happened to his family. So now we have these two vengeful spirits hellbent on killing every samurai and their surviving loved one that had become a samurai. Hachi doesnít want to kill the evil spirits of his mother and wife and even as a crazed spirit, his mother sheds a tear based on this predicament that they found themselves in.

    While the film was a little light on typical, western horror, we did get some violence whenever the spirits would channel their black cat mode (At one point Haichi even asks his mom if sheís a spirit or a cat and I donít believe he got a firm answer) to savagely rip at the throat of the samurai. The first time it happened, it took me by complete surprise and certainly regained my attention for a bit after starting to lose some interest due to the pace.

    Iíve never been all that interested in martial arts, but if youíre a fan of kung-fu movies, Kuroneko has a lot of flying around scenes especially at the end as the motherís spirit is in battle with her son after already having her arm cut off. Thereís some great visuals throughout the movie. Whether itís heavy atmosphere thanks to fog that tends to fill the screen whenever the spirits are on screen or lush outdoor environments, typically featuring Hachi.

    Overall, I feel really torn on Kuroneko. In a lot of ways itís a great movie with some legitimate depth to it, but at the same time, I was mostly left bored. It deserves praise for not being a standard ghost tale, but instead had the whole dynamic of the vengeful spirits needing to kill all samurai and the problem that is created when their closest loved one is revealed to be a new samurai. As I said, it may be well worth it for me to give other classic Japanese horror movies a chance and see if a greater familiarity will cause me to find them more exciting.

    Grade: B

    Fright in Motion:

    Spoiler:


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    Coming up next, L stands for a foreign remake mentioned in last yearís Fright Fest.

  5. #85

    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Day #12
    Title: Lake of Death
    Country: Norway
    Year: 2019
    Director: Nini Bull Robsahm




    A year after her brotherís disappearance, Lillian and her friends head off to enjoy a long weekend at her familyís cabin only for strange occurrences to begin.


    Over the course of Fright Fest, one of the more satisfying explorations has been diving into the world of Norwegian horror. This dates back to the second addition of Fright Fest, the first to be held on Wrestling Clique, as I watched one of the standout horrors from 2010 with the nazi zombie film - Dead Sno. Since then, Iíve gone out of my way to praise the Fritt vilt trilogy, particularly the first two, any chance I got. Other Norwegian horror movies like Trollhunter continued to maintain my high opinion of what this Scandinavian country could produce to live up to the high expectations set by other Scandinavian countries like Sweden or to a lesser degree Denmark. Last year, I covered the 2003 Norweigian horror, Villmark, a movie that while not as impressive as others, was responsible for bringing horror back to Norway. In that review, I made mention of the very first Norwegian horror movie, 1958ís The Lake of the Dead, and the poor timing of a remake to that film set to be released on November 1, 2019. Although it took an additional several months to be available outside of Norway, thanks to those fine folks at Shudder, the remake to the first ever Norwegian horror movie is now accessible to most of the world. Has the one year wait been worth it or will the slightly altered named Lake of Death be a black eye on the prestigious world of Norwegian horror?

    Sadly, I have to admit that Iím a little disappointed and the more I think about the film, the more problems become apparent. The core issue with the film is just how disorganized the script became. Itís a chore keeping things straight and trying to understand such basic aspects as relationships. For example, Lillianís lovelife. Lake of Death began with a seemingly romantic rowboat date on a lake between Lillian and a guy who gives her a locket with their pictures inside of it. Itís then revealed that the guy is Bjorn, her brother, and sheís informing him that sheís planning on leaving the area to be with her boyfriend, Kai. Flash forward a year and Bjorn has gone missing and itís inferred that the trauma of losing her brother has caused Lillian to withdraw from Kai. Itís not entirely clear if theyíre still technically dating or not, but my assumption was that they were sort of on a break while Lillian tries to come to terms with what happened. The feelings are still there as exhibited by a kiss that the two shared early on. Things become more confusing when weíre shown scenes between Gabriel and Lillian where I was under the impression that they hadnít started to date, but things had recently been moving into that direction shortly before the events of the movie. Yet, Iím proven wrong as itís revealed in the third act that they had dated, but had broken up with Gabriel taking it hard. The pair still has affection for each other as they kissed in the middle of the film. So my understanding is that the Lillian/Kai relationship ended somewhere under a year ago due to Bjornís disappearance, she had started and ended a relationship with Gabriel, and was still trying to sort out her life in the aftermath of Bjorn. Considering there wasnít a bad break-up with Kai, I donít buy Lillian as a character that would find herself in a new relationship with Gabriel, and for it to already be a former relationship, when the whole reason why the relationship with Kai was put on hold, is still a fresh wound for Lillian. And this is just one of the relationship dynamics that I struggled with! Then thereís Harald and not understanding how he fits in with the group as I was under the impression that he was just one of the members of the friend group only for mentions of him being an outsider later in the movie. At the conclusion of the film, I had to re-watch an early scene where itís revealed that he had just recently started to date Sonja, a core member of the group, in a throwaway line in a scene where thereís already so much exposition thrown your way that itís easy to miss the significance of that line.

    Lake of Death also contains a lot of plot holes that the viewer will spend far too much time thinking about because of the high focus placed on them when they ultimately donít mean much to the story. For starters, who made breakfast early on in the film? If itís the killer who did it, why would they? Who tied up the dog and why did they? Why were some characters killed immediately while others were kept alive for days before the planned killing? Two characters completely vanish without an explanation for whether they were killed or not. Why did Gabriel have blood on his sleeve? Why was it so vital to keep reminding the viewer that Sonja was a professional swimmer prior to an injury?

    I did like the fact that the movie presented so many different options for the explanation for what was behind the strange occurrences. By my count, the following are my list of suspects: Lillian is clearly unstable and behind everything without realizing, the ghost of Bjorn, Bjorn isnít dead and heís secretly doing everything, Kai is doing it out of frustration for the relationship with Lillian ending, Gabriel is doing it out of frustration for the relationship with Lillian ending, Bernhard is purposely staging everything to help with his folklore podcast, Harald is the new guy in the group and canít be trusted yet, Gruvikís spirit is still haunting the lake, the lake spirit that caused Gruvik to go mad is still active, and the reported burglars that had been around town. Thatís a ton of suspects and at various points the movie leans heavily into a handful of them. Literally everyone is a suspect except for Sonja! Personally, I never bought into the idea of the burglars being behind it and considering the fact that weíre never shown any evidence of burglars elsewhere, Iím not sure why they bothered teasing that option. Without giving away the actual culprit, whether otherworldly, malicious, or unthreatening, Iíll admit that the reveal is one of the more likely outcomes.

    That fact sums up the reliance of typical horror tropes and formulas. If you werenít aware that it was a remake of one of the earliest horror in the woods stories, youíd think that itís a strict by the numbers Evil Dead rip-off. Similarly to 2009ís Dead Sno, thereís a lot of mentions of other well known horror movies with, ďIím your boyfriend now, NancyĒ even being jokingly stated by a character. Thereís two types of strange occurrences, the easily explainable odd events that all of the characters witness and then black ooze leaking out of all areas that is only seen by Lillian. As we know that Lillian isnít in the best head space, itís easy to dismiss most of these horror scenes as likely not happening. Regarding the ending, whether you guess it or not, it is such a commonly used horror trope.

    I suppose I donít have the most positive things to say about Lake of Death, but I enjoyed the actual watch. Nearly all of my issues only stem from the culmination of the movie and recognizing that the script had a lot of problems. I donít know where exactly the movie was filmed, but it was a beautiful location out in the middle of nowhere. Although I donít believe Iíve seen any of the prior work from any of the actors, the acting was strong for this sort of movie. Seeing that Iben Akerlie (Lillian) is set to be in a new horror movie called Prosjekt Z in 2021 has me interested in checking that out.

    Overall, Shudderís Lake of Death is about on par for the majority of their originals. I liked the premise of the movie, but the script came off as being too unfocused. It may be an hour and a half long, but with how much information seems to be purposely removed, the film may have benefitted from a two hour length instead. If youíre a fan of a hodgepodge of horror tropes ala American Horror Story, you might find some interest here. Otherwise, itís worth is simply an one time watch simply for the appeal of watching some Norweigian horror. Personally, Lake of Death has me more curious about watching the original 1958 version.

    Grade: C

    Fright in Motion:

    Spoiler:


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    Coming up next, M stands for the first horror film from the land of moose and maple syrup.

  6. #86

    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Day #13
    Title: The Mask
    Country: Canada
    Year: 1961
    Director: Julian Roffman




    After a doctorís crazed patient begins making wild claims about a mask, the doctor learns just how deadly the mask can be once he puts it on.


    Perhaps itís my own ignorance towards Canadian cinema, but I find it never gains all that much attention. This goes for all genres, but especially horror. I attribute this to the fact that itís not always so clear when a movie is made in Canada vs being an American movie. This is made all the more confusing once Toronto became such a hotbed for filming locations by American production companies. Prior to a few weeks ago, I couldnít begin to guess when Canada first started to churn out horror movies, but I naturally assumed that they had to have started not much later than their southern neighbors. After all, Canadaís entry into the movie business had been around the same time as Americaís, both kicking off with experimental films in the late 1800s. Imagine my surprise that the first Canadian horror film didnít arrive until the 1960s.

    Being released in 1961, the cult classic of The Mask, also released as Eyes of Hell, is a movie that feels as if it would fit in perfectly in the world of William Castle. Itís a pure gimmicky movie complete with an introduction hosted by magician, Harry Blackstone, explaining the schtick of informing the audience when to put on their 3D glasses to enhance the experience. Every time the main character, Dr. Barnes, put his mask on, the audience was meant to wear their 3D glasses with a trippy sequence following. These scenes happen a handful of times, but I canít say they ever make all that much sense. If youíre a fan of William Castleís antics, I think there could be some interest in this one too.

    Regarding the 3D scenes, theyíre the highlight of the movie, despite how little sense they make narratively. The best I can describe it is that each 3D scene is a surrealist trip to the underworld where a mask man longs after a masked woman, but the mask, now in human form, keeps preventing the two masked victims from uniting. With all of the fog, skeletons, and old school spooky visuals, these scenes would fit in nicely as a movie shown in the background of any modern horror rather than just using the standard Night of the Living Dead.

    Where The Mask really fell short for me was the lack of a threat. The movie kicked off on such a high note with the first victim of the mask obsession, Michael Radin, attacking and killing a woman. As the movie begins to explain itself and how the more you wear the mask, the more addicted to it you become, which causes you to act on your most evil of impulses, even when youíre not wearing the mask, and has a lot of potential. Once the mask moved from Radin to Dr. Barnes, I figured weíd see multiple killings as Barnes slowly loses complete control. You know, the sort of thing youíd see in werewolf movies as the main character is unable to stop himself from killing each full moon while the man, himself, feels more and more distraught over it all. The closest we get is Barnes getting a little chokey with his assistant, but he fails to ever finish the job. How are you supposed to sell the threat of the mask if there arenít any grave consequences?

    Instead, the film relies on the mask becoming an allegory for drug abuse and addiction. Not only is Barnes having a greater time resisting additional ďHitsĒ of the mask, but he tries to tempt his wife into giving the mask a shot to experience the thrills that heís been experiencing. For 1961, this feels a little ahead of its time. Similarly to the lack of killings, this sub-plot of the mask being comparable to drug abuse feels as if it could have been explored deeper though.

    Overall, the appeal of watching The Mask is for the novelty of watching The Great White Northís first horror film and for the trippy 3d scenes. The rest of the film can be pretty slow and dull. That being said, it feels pretty on par with what America was producing in the 1960s. Iíve never been all that impressed with 60s American horror. Itís a decade that carries over a lot of the cheesiness and sci-fi vibes that dominated horror in the 1950s with only brief flirtations with more serious in tone horror that would help usher in a far superior decade with the 1970s. The best horror of the 1960s tended to come from Europe where England was finding great success with Hammer studios as the decade began and Italy would feature Mario Bava laying down the foundations for the countries future successes in giallo.

    Grade: C

    Fright in Motion:

    Spoiler:


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    Coming up next, N stands for a college campusí fight against alien control.

  7. #87

    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Day #14
    Title: Night of the Creeps
    Country: United States
    Year: 1986
    Director: Fred Dekker




    Decades after an alien parasite crashes to earth, itís freed to attempt to take over an entire college campus.


    Released one short year prior to informing the world that the ďWolfmanís got nards!Ē Fred Dekker was hard at work creating another 80stastic gem known as Night of the Creeps. Looking back at 1986 as a whole, it seemed as if the world of horror came together and decided that this would be the year of fun. With the exception of David Cronenbergís The Fly remake, Iím not sure how many of these other 1986 horrors would be considered to be ďGreatĒ, but so many seemed to have the purpose of being laid back romps. Just as a reminder, here are some of the horror movies that was released in 1986 - Night of the Creeps, April Fools Day, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Critters, Chopping Mall, Little Shop of Horrors, Slaughter High, Maximum Overdrive, ect. All of those movies have a connector of using comedy or absurdity to prevent their movies from taking themselves too seriously.

    That fun value is best exemplified by the dialog in Night of the Creeps. The two best characters in the movie are Detective Ray Cameron (One of Tom Atkinís more legendary roles) and the most reliable wingman a guy could have, JC. Despite Cameronís tragic backstory of discovering his hacked up exís body years ago, Cameron has such a high degree of sass every time heís on the screen. With his customary greeting of ďThrill me!Ē, Cameron isnít like most cops in horror movies. Itís that lighthearted tone that can sometimes cause a jarring moment when weíre then treated to a serious moment revolving around him such as when Chris came to Cameron with news of JCís death with it casually being shown that Cameron had been interrupted during his suicide attempt with the gas being left on on the stove. With how over the top Cameron can be, I do wonder if heís a little much for some viewers though.

    Then thereís the equally wisecracking JC. JC seemingly rarely takes anything seriously, much to Chrisí frustration, but when called out on it, heís able to fire back with enough ammunition that will leave you convinced that heís a contender for greatest bro in horror history. The fact that JC has a disability, but itís never really shown to hold him back seems progressive for 1986 particularly in the fact that itís just never treated as a big deal. As entertaining as JC is, he does represent a flaw in the movie. Due to JCís death taking place about the halfway point in the movie, I found myself missing his energy on the screen, causing the second half not to be as strong as the first. This sense of loss after JCís death may be attributed to the fact that Chris isnít all that likable as a main character. At least in the first half, nearly every Chris scene is with JC.

    When it comes to the alien parasite that takes control of its host body to attempt to spread its control to more people, I wouldnít say itís scary. In line with the rest of the movie, itís more goofy fun than trying to frighten its audience. The practical effects are pretty nice though especially once one of the parasites invaded a sororityís cat. Besides the rad Detective Cameron and JC, Chrisí love interest, Cynthia, is really likable as well. Maybe thatís more about looks though. Her ex boyfriend, The Bradster, is incredibly entertaining as a douchebag. Itís a shame that thereís not more scenes with him. It feels like overkill these days since so many other movies has done it, but I imagine that back in 1986, naming so many characters after famous horror directors was a fun treat for horror fans. For example, the ĎCí in JC stands for [John] Carpenter while JCís last name was [Tobe] Hooper.

    Overall, Night of the Creeps thrives in being an over the top explosion of all things 80s. As memorable as Tom Atkins always is, this is the role where I feel heís at his most memorable due to his attitude and of course his urging to ďThrill me!Ē The whole alien invasion story isnít all that original, but thatís where the significance of the goofiness helps carry the movie. For re-watch value, I prefer The Monster Squad, but Night of the Creeps is a lot of fun and nicely fits the same vibe as the horror scene in 1986.

    Grade: B

    Fright in Motion:

    Spoiler:


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    Coming up next, be sure to keep your eyes open wide for this ĎOí movie.

  8. #88

    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Day #15
    Title: Opera
    Country: Italy
    Year: 1987
    Director: Dario Argento




    After an understudy is elevated to the lead role in a major opera, her celebration is short lived as the fame attracts a killer who relishes in forcing her to watch his bloody murders.


    If I were to only watch one directorís work for the rest of my life, I strongly feel as if Dario Argentoís filmology would be in the race. Much like his contemporaries, you could argue that Argentoís peak had long since passed, but starting in 1970 with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, I know that I was still enjoying Argentoís work up to 1996ís The Stendhal Syndrome. Thatís a dozen films ranging between some of the best in horror in those twenty-five years to at least pretty solid horror movies. While I might still be a fan of some of Argentoís work in the 90s, I am confident that Opera was the last of Argentoís iconic movies.

    With the sole exception of Argentoís 1977 classic, Suspiria, Opera is the movie I most associate with Argento. Mind you, Iím someone who has a poster of Profondo Rosso (Aka Deep Red) up on my wall, yet itís still Opera that is often on my mind more. This has everything to do with a tactic used by the masked killer multiple times in the movie. Anytime the killer looked to force the lead, Betty, to bare witness to a murder of someone close to her while sheís helpless to prevent it or to look away, he would tape needs under Bettyís eyes. The result is that if Betty dares to shut her eyes, her eyelids will be pierced by the needles. This visual was used in a lot of the advertisements for the movie, even to this day with the Blu-Ray covers still containing that image for its cover art. Seeing as Iím someone who is quite sensitive when it comes to the eyes, both in person and in media (It took me ages to force myself to watch Fulciís Zombi because of its eye scene), this visual is burned into my brain. Itís not as if anything actually happens to Bettyís eyeballs and looking closely, Iím not even entirely sure if her eyelids would be pierced if she dared trying to close her eyes, but just the idea of it ranks up there for one of the most memorable visuals in all of horror. Apparently, Argento came up with the idea out of frustration with the moviegoers that would have the gall to look away at the most grizzly of scenes. So in some twisted way, when you witness Betty being tortured to keep her from looking away from the horror, realize that sheís merely a representative of the viewers.

    For a movie called Opera, thereís a fun juxtaposition in regards to the music of the film. Half of the score is dedicated to the opera in the movie - MacBeth. Half of the music are all songs from the opera, spoken in some language Iím not familiar with. For all I know, it may just be Italian. The first Macbeth based opera came in the mid 1800s, so itís quite classical in sound. Meanwhile, the other half of the music in Opera is representing the sound of (then) current day music. Itís all hair band metal, playing fast and loud. Some of these rock tracks are played more than once, but I didnít find it to be annoying since the soundtrack tended to go back and forth between classic opera and current day metal.

    The narrative has never been Argentoís strongest suits and Opera is no different. The backstory is fairly weak here as it eventually comes out that the killer has a history with Bettyís mother, who was also an opera singer. It seems as if Bettyís mother had a sadistic sign and got off on pressuring the killer into torturing and killing women. This reflects on dreams that Betty had as a child of the same masked wearing maniac before she realized that those dreams had been repressed memories. This backstory felt random and forceful especially once you realize that the age difference between the actors who played Betty and the killer was a mere two years. It makes it difficult to buy into the idea that this killer had been performing similar stunts for Bettyís mother for so many years. The lack of logic extended to smaller moments such as one kill when a woman was more interested in keeping control of a bracelet rather than recognizing the danger that she was in. I donít know about you, but if Iím hit from behind by an iron, Iím not going to waste time taunting a killer, showing that I still have a bracelet when itíd make much more sense to try escaping. At the very least, the victim could have been more driven to free Betty as this was one of the memorable scenes where Betty was tied up with the needles taped below her eyes, forced to witness it all. Thatís the thing though. If youíre watching an Argento movie, you should know that logic isnít going to be at the front and center. I think itís part of what made Argento such a brilliant horror creator - he could create such quality while still having this glaring weakness.

    Although the first person perspective had been a common element in Argentoís films, thanks to the very nature of Giallo films, Opera feels like Argentoís greatest film in terms of camera work. The camera practically becomes one of the main characters. When itís not prominent when itís providing the first person perspective of the killer, itís showing the viewers the perspective of ravens that fly around in the beautiful opera house. Elsewhere, I enjoyed all of the visuals when it came to the kills. Even ignoring the needles element, the kills are fairly vicious looking with the meanest being one involving a pair of scissors. While I am a big fan of Opera, I do find the final scene to be unnecessary and maybe even a little stupid. Itís set after the killer is seemingly dead and Betty is off enjoying the open land that was the Swiss mountains only for the killer to show back up. It seems as if movie studios agree with me as they tried convincing Argento to remove that ending for the American release, but he refused to do so. Even with the additional kill, I think youíre better off stopping the movie once the scenes in Italy conclude.

    Overall, Opera is one of a handful of Argentoís classics. The visuals of Betty being forced to witness all of the macabre killings remains one of Argentoís most memorable visuals. The story is a little flawed, but with contrasting musical styles in its soundtrack, great camera shots, and your typical Argento violence, itís well worth the watch.

    Grade: B

    Fright in Motion:

    Spoiler:


    ---

    Coming up next, be afraid for the scariest movie title in all of horror will be revealed with Pís offering.

  9. #89

    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Day #16
    Title: Pillow of Death
    Country: United States
    Year: 1945
    Director: Wallace Fox




    After a woman is found dead, everyone is a suspect. Could the identity of the killer be revealed by the victim, herself?


    In recent years, horror audio has found a renaissance in popularity thanks to podcasts drawing listeners back to this medium. There was a time, several decades ago, when audio stories were the main means of media entertainment. One of the more popular horror based radio shows was Inner Sanctum Mystery. This mystery, horror, thrillers, and comedy program lasted over a decade from 1941 to 1952. Guest stars included a who's who of horror of the day. Names include Bela Lugosi, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Orson Welles, and many more. A couple of years after the launch of the radio program, Universal Pictures, now at a point where they were actively trying to spend less money on their horror projects, saw potential to cash in on what Inner Sanctum had created. A deal was made between the two companies to have Universal create a series of Inner Sanctum movies. Starting in 1943 with Calling Dr. Death, each of these six Inner Sanctum movies made by Universal would star Lon Chaney Jr, fresh off becoming horrorís newest icon with his performance in 1941ís The Wolf Man. The last of these movies had a title so absurd that I couldnít help but to give it a watch.

    When you hear a title like ďPillow of DeathĒ, it conjures up some interesting mental images. In my mind, I saw a serial killer stalking women, pillow in hand, waiting for his opportunity to use the pillow to claim another victim. Maybe itíd even be even more absurd and itíd be about an actual pillow that had come to life and was killing people! Sounds awesome. In reality, Pillow of Death feels like a misleading title to me. While a pillow was used in the murders, because we never see the actual murders, it comes across as such a minor note in the story and one that distracts from the actual story.

    Pillow of Death is, in actuality, two sub-genres forcefully coming together following the death of Wayne Fletcherís (Lon Chaney Jr) death. The dominant story is this murder mystery focusing on the many suspects surrounding the death including Wayne and the Kincaid family. The Kincaidís relationships with the Fletchers is that Donna Kincaid is the secretary for Wayne with people in the neighborhood believing that the two may be too close and another member of the family, Julian, was the friend of Fletcherís wife. The other story focused on belief in the paranormal, particularly with how Julian and Mrs. Fletcher were medians together in trying to speak to the dead. Thereís also a minor sub-plot revolving around the old Fletcher mansion possibly being haunted due to strange sounds coming from the attic, but this story doesnít go anywhere. The ďHauntingĒ was just a racoon stuck in the attic. So just ignore that story.

    I enjoyed the mystery aspect of who killed Mrs. Fletcher as there were multiple suspects, at various points I suspected multiple characters. This was benefited by the fact that Donnaís aunt, Belle, hated Wayne and believed that her niece shouldnít even be working as the Kincaids were loaded and the Kincaid women never needed to work. Then there was Kincaid's neighbor, the ultra creepy Bruce Malone, who was obsessed with Donna and not all that fond of Wayne due to all of the suspicions of a love affair between Donna and Wayne. The most obvious suspects I saw were Bruce or Belle being behind Mrs. Fletcherís murder simply to frame Wayne. With Belle, itís unlikely that she would have been the one actually committing the murder, especially once the body count begins to add up, but pressuring Julian or Bruce to do her bidding? Seemed likely.

    Characters wise, the ones I got the most entertainment out of were Belleís brother, Sam, and the neighbor, Bruce. Sam is amazing because heís purely there to provide some comedic relief. He doesnít care about the murders or even his home being haunted. All Sam cares about is finding out when dinner will be served. On the flip side, Bruce is entertaining because heís so over the top in being creepy. Any time heís on the screen, heís doing something sketchy. Itís either fawning over a clearly disinterested Donna to the point that he even has a secret way into the Kinkaid house and begs Donna not to block it once he informs her how he keeps getting to the house, or Bruce uses his voice initiating abilities to imitate Mrs. Fletcher to mess with Wayneís mental state. Donna keeps playing Bruce off as some harmless guy to others, but heís crossing so many lines that itís mind bogglingly that she allows him to remain in her life.

    I doubt itís going to be all that likely that many, if any, will watch this movie, but the ending is a big reason why I enjoyed it as much as I did for such an average film. In a lot of ways, the ending is flat out stupid and comes out of absolutely nowhere, seemingly designed to be a twist for the sake of providing a twist. But thatís what makes it entertaining! As much as I enjoy the 1930s-1940s horror, thereís not much variety. Itís a pleasant surprise to come across a movie like Pillow of Death that provides an ending that feels entirely different from other movies from that time period. The ending is laughably bad, but it made the movie stand out in a great way.

    Overall, Pillow of Death was a low budget horror mystery that was admittedly light on the horror. The mystery was strong though and the majority of the characters managed to stand out. Thereís even one character who goes batshit insane near the end in trying to stop who they believe is the killer. At times, it felt a little clumsy, this forceful meshing of a murder mystery and a paranormal plot involving a medium trying to contact the victim to learn the identity of her killer. The ending may be terrible, but itís terribly entertaining. It may just be an average movie, but Pillow of Death has me curious to check out the additional titles in the Universalís Inner Sanctum series.

    Grade: C

    Fright in Motion:

    Spoiler:


    ---

    Coming up next, shhh, canít talk to give the clue for the Q movie.

  10. #90

    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Day #17
    Title: A Quiet Place
    Country: United States
    Year: 2018
    Director: John Krasinski




    After a breed of ultra hearing monsters have taken over the apparent world, a family, already coping with the traumatic loss of one of their own, is forced to prepare for the arrival of a newborn.


    Following the ultra success of the American version of The Office, which seemed to only grow in popularity after it went off the air and became a streaming juggernaut, it was going to be interesting to follow the careers of all of those talented actors in the years that followed. I feel you can break down the main cast into three categories. Those that have seemingly entirely disappeared from my awareness (Oscar, Kevin, Jan), those that have tried hard to remain relevant, but havenít been able to recapture the magic of The Office (Dwight, Pam), and finally those that successfully managed to make The Office just one of their successes in this industry (Michael, Karen, Kelly). The actor who I believe has had the best career post-Office has been that of Jim aka John Krasinski. Heís successfully turned himself into an action star, both on the big screen (13 Hours) and on the small screen (Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime), involved in family friendly projects, dramas, and even some horror. Itís the latter that helps Krasinski rise above even what Steve Carrell has been producing post-Office as the former Jim is now a highly praised director.

    When A Quiet Place came out a couple of years ago, it received a lot of attention, not only for the curiosity factor of seeing what Krasinski could pull off creating a horror movie, but also for how fresh of a scary movie it was. Weíve finally reached a point in time in which disability (Whether naturally or created) based horror can be considered its own sub-genre. Along with A Quiet Place, thereís Mute Witness from the 90s, Netflixís Hush, and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode entitled Hush for sound based, thereís also Bird Box, Donít Breathe, Late Phases, and Wait Until Dark that focuses on lack of eyesight. This twist on horror is allowing moviegoers to experience a different type of fright as itís far easier to feel concern for a character when theyíre presented as having such a disadvantage.

    The sound work in A Quiet Place was top notch. So much of the film has such low volume that whenever there is a sound, it heightens the emotion with such ease. I never got around to seeing the movie in the theater, but apparently it was common for theatergoers to feel as if they couldnít make a sound themselves. Similarly to Hush, since there is a deaf character in the movie, thereís times when the viewer is forced to experience things how these characters experience the world around them. I really dig these little moments where the sound is completely absent from the film. One of the better emotional scenes took place at a waterfall as Lee (Krasinski) and his son are able to experience life how it used to be, actively talking to each other thanks to the waterfall drowning out the volume in their voices.

    Although the sound work is great in A Quiet Place, its greatest strength was the emotion. Thanks to the start of the movie death of the youngest child, all four of the remaining family members are struggling to cope with their own guilt and difficulty connecting with other members of the family. The relationship between Lee and his deaf daughter, Regan, is particularly strained as Regan blames herself for her youngest brotherís death and as a result believes her father no longer loves her. For Leeís part, heís not very good at expressing how he feels towards his daughter. My impression is that despite how willing Regan is to volunteer for tasks, due to her disability, Lee is so hesitant about including her in anything. The result is that Regan believes her dad wants nothing to do with him and any time he tries to connect with her, namely surrounding his nonstop work in trying to fix her cochlear implant is met with such great resistance. You also canít fault Regan for being frustrated with all of the attempts at fixing her hearing as thereís been so much disappointment regarding it and sheís stuck in this incredibly lonely (and dangerous) world alone. Similarly to 2015ís The Final Girls, the payoff for this is a surprisingly emotional scene as parent and child connects in saying goodbye.

    Regarding that first death of the movie in which Leeís youngest child is suddenly and shockingly killed, itís the scene where I find myself most frustrated over. While Leeís wife, Evelyn (Played by Krasinskiís real life wife, Emily Blunt) does express guilt over her youngest sonís death, there're so many mistakes made by the parents that I struggle not to blame them. Their youngest child was clearly a big fan of rockets, so when he found a toy rocket, it only makes sense that heís going to want it. Initially, the parents handle things well by carefully taking the toy from the boy and removing the batteries before the rocket could make any noise, but what do they do? They put the rocket on a shelf away from the poor kid. Why canít he have the damn toy? Meanwhile, the parents leave with the sick middle child held by Lee. With Regan and her brother the only ones left in the store, Regan does what any older sister would have been tempted to do - she gives her brother the rocket. Maybe you can argue that she shouldnít have done that, but itís not as if she gave him the batteries for it. The only reason why he was able to put the batteries back into the rocket is because he was left alone in the store. From there, the walk back to their farm saw the parents leading the way? Why would both parents lead the pack? Considering how dangerous each trek is outside, every trip should see one parent leading the line with the other parent being at the very back. Evelyn may have guilt for not carrying her youngest, but the real guilt should be her failure to keep an eye on him. If that wasnít frustrating enough, these parents, who witnessed their own child killed in front of them, grieved in the most sensible manner possible - by getting pregnant! In this world where you canít make any noise without risking the wrath of alien creatures coming to rip you into pieces, getting pregnant is one of the most reckless things you could do.

    Mind you, although I consider these two parents as candidates for worst parents of the year, the pregnancy sub-plot went a long way in terms of building a story and creating tension when it came to the night that Evelyn went into labor. Between the horrific moment in which she accidentally steps on an exposed nail on the staircase to kick off the night of terror to Evelynís arduous journey to get to an area to best give birth while her family has to set out to create enough noise to ensure that the labor wonít draw even more attention Evelynís way, the rest of the movie is nothing, but high tension. Every emotion is heightened especially the heart in regards to the strained relationship between Lee and his daughter. Like most horror movies, thereís multiple times in which it feels as if the close is clear before the family realizes that theyíre still in danger. Thanks to having this new ďBundle of joyĒ, thereís yet another high risk element that the family has to look out for with the viewer just waiting for the baby to cry and get everyone killed.

    As this is my second time watching A Quiet Place, looking back at my original thoughts, it seems as if theyíve remained the same. One glaring similar thought is built around the fact that A Quiet Place captures the feel of a M. Night Shyamalan film to a tee sans twist ending. The Shyamalan film Iím reminded of the most while watching this would be 2002ís Signs. Both A Quiet Place and M. Nightís horrors feel closer to being scary family dramas rather than be over the top horror. Thereís a past tragedy that has shaped the characters in the present day. The big bad threat is stopped by something core to the story. Hell, A Quiet Place and Signs is both set on a farm. Essentially, Krasinski had created an M. Night Shyamalan picture better than Shyamalan.

    Overall, A Quiet Place was a stand out horror in 2018. I had it ranked as the second best horror movie of the year behind only Hereditary. Some diehard horror fans may not be too invested in it as the movie instead thrives to be a heavy family drama that happens to be taking place in a horror world invested by alien-like maniacs that are drawn to and feast on anyone who dares to make a noise. For me though, Iím a huge supporter of any horror movie that can affect me on an emotional level. Although Iím not feeling this great need for there to be a sequel, considering what a guy job Krasinski did with his first horror movie, Iím curious to see what he had in mind for A Quiet Place II. Thanks to COVID, the wait will have to continue.

    Grade: A

    Fright in motion:

    Spoiler:


    ---

    Coming up next, donít forget to hit the Record button for this night of nonstop mayhem.

  11. #91
    The Flow
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    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    I really enjoyed A Quiet Place, Krasinski really nailed it


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


    The only time WWE came close to a good story line post Attitude Era was Undertaker/Mordecai - Dakstang
    [06:01 PM]Dakstang
    :
    Yeah I guess you are right. And I only want to be Daddy to my own kids. Sorry.

  12. #92

    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Day #18
    Title: [REC]
    Country: Spain
    Year: 2007
    Director: Jaume Balaguerů and Paco Plaza




    ĎWhile Youíre Sleepingí with Ńngela Vidal shines a light on an average night in the lives of firemen. When a call finally comes in for an incident at an apartment building, you may never sleep again.


    The most consistent element in horror throughout history is different sub-genres enjoy some periods of being the flavor of the month. These boom periods are typically kicked off by one movie drawing inspiration from older films to create this urgency to try and replicate the movieís success. From there, imitators all rush out copying the style with a few managing to add in new rules. For example, 1978ís Halloween drew inspiration from the likes of Psycho, Peeping Tom, A Bay of Blood, ect but it was Friday the 13thís attempt to copy Halloweenís success that helped create the slasher boom of the 80s with everyone then trying to copy Friday the 13thís style, including Halloween II. Despite The Blair Witch Projectís immense popularity back in 1999, it didnít directly lead to the creation of a new fad thanks partly due to the post-Scream meta fad still trucking along, the Asian remakes then flourishing, and torture porn coming after that to carry horror into the end of the decade.

    Iím a supporter of the original Paranormal Activity, crediting it as the reason why found footage became all of the rage as we headed into the 2010s decade. Although I find it to be a terrifying film that stays with the viewer long after itís over, it did follow Blair Witchís lead of being a movie where ďNothing happensĒ. Itís all pretty subdued and the scares really comes from putting yourself into the charactersí shoes. From then on, all of these small budget found footage films attempted to follow that restrained style. Ironically, the found footage boom could have gone in a very different direction had the followers copied the style of a movie that created buzz about the same time as Paranormal Activity, but offered a very different movie experience than the standard Blair Witch approach.

    One of the more consistent titles that gets brought up on any ďBest Found FootageĒ lists is Spainís [REC]. Depending on where in the world you lived, it was released between 2007-2009, if I was to only use one word to describe [REC], it would be ďFranticĒ. This is not a film that relies on walking around and talking for the duration of the entire film while only including a couple of creepy moments near the end. In this tightly compact film that barely lasts an hour and ten minutes, once the action begins, it never lets up. Itís not as if [REC] was some world trotting adventure film like World War Z, all of the horror was set in one apartment building, but with each of the residents slowly becoming infected and joining the frantic onslaught with lots of screaming, bloody attacks, and running around unsure of where could possibly be safe. If found footage typically strives for being realistic, to a point, [REC] relishes in being balls to the wall crazy.

    Yet, thereís also a story developing over time with some emotion tied to it. Like with any infection based movie, the stories feel especially relevant during these COVID times. As knowing of the infection grows amongst the residents, theyíre quick to turn on each other, blaming the different parties for bringing the infection into the building and having their own ideas of how to handle the situation. However, this isnít your standard infection/zombie film as thereís little time to be bogged down with debates over what to do or the morals of it all as the rage causes the infected to quickly go on the attack. [REC] almost feels as if itís striving to be the anti-found footage and zombie movie with how it never wishes to settle down into rest periods. If youíre invested into the story, the viewer can dive deeper into the backstory, whether through theories surrounding events near the end of the movie or even relying on the tie-in comic - [REC] historias inťditas. The nice thing is that if you watch the American remake, Quarantine, the explanation for the cause of the infection is different.

    Scare wise, the film keeps building and building. This can be associated with the camera and how the viewerís field of vision lessens as the film goes on. Initially, the apartment building is all lit up and it isnít any problem seeing all over whichever room the action is currently in. Maybe a little beyond the halfway point, the lights are cut forcing Pablo, the cameraman following our host, Ńngela, to use the cameraís light to provide some sight. With that field of vision being limited to whatever it directly in front of the camera, it gets even worse when the scariest scene of the entire film happens inside of the empty apartment as Pablo attempts to make an escape through the attic only for the cameraís light to be shattered. That results in Pablo having to turn on the night vision on the camera and simply instruct Ńngela to remain behind him, blissfully unaware that their safety inside of this believed to be an empty apartment could not be farther from the case. The final scare of the film is a now legendary moment in modern horror as the camera is dropped to the floor, Ńngela is crawling on the floor, completely blind, before being dragged away to screams. That last segment is so unnerving and one of the true highlights of found footage horror. Getting back to that closet scene, that is the scene I think about first and foremost when I think about the scariest jump scares in all of movies. The jump scare is still relevant today as the scene found itself receiving some recent attention this spring when Rob Savage (Director of the lockdown Zoom horror, Host) released a short built around a Zoom meeting that takes a horror turn as the [REC] attic scene is added into the short to scare his fellow Zoom peers. Considering the fact that Host was released a few months later, I have to imagine this short is what gave Savage the idea for the full length movie. All of this was triggered by utilizing that [REC] scene.

    Overall, [REC] is great. If youíre someone who isnít typically a fan of found footage films, [REC] may be the found footage film for you. After a little introduction at the start of the film as Ńngela wanders around the fire station as she waits for a call, but once the action moves over to the apartment building, itís utter insanity. The film recognizes how to build fear the longer the movie goes on until it reaches its absolute peak in the abandoned apartment. The attic scene is now a classic moment in horror history and Iíll call [REC] worthy of being in the top ten for horrors of the 2000s.

    Grade: A

    Fright in Motion:

    Spoiler:


    ---

    Coming up next, itís time to take a stab at Hollywood.

  13. #93

    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Day #19
    Title: Scream 3
    Country: United States
    Year: 2000
    Director: Wes Craven




    As Stab 3 starts production, the survivors of the previous two encounters with a masked Ghostface will come to realize that in order for the trilogy to conclude, secrets from the past must come out.


    Smack dab in the middle of the 11th edition of Fright Fest, I finally got around to covering some of the Scream franchise. While there isnít some juicy reason as to why it took me over a decade to finally cover a Scream movie, between seeing the movies a million times and watching the films at other points in the year, it just wasnít all that enticing of a pick to cover in Fright Fest. A phenomenal first movie and a really good first sequel aside, I ended up opting against covering the latter half of the series. Despite being a big fan of Scream 4, I ended up not covering it last year because to do so meant I had to re-watch Scream 3. Scream 3 is not only the weak link in the franchise, but itís a movie where I never go out of my way to watch it. If Iím subjecting myself to this disappointing entry in an otherwise fun series, itís because Iím watching it as part of a franchise review. That can mean either in a binge session of watching the full series in a day or two or like Iím doing today where I need to get Scream 3 out of the way if I wish to ever cover Scream 4 in Fright Fest.

    First and foremost, what stands out to me initially about Scream 3, as a negative, itís the location. Part of the appeal of the Scream franchise is that itís relatable. Whether itís set in the small town of Woodsboro or at a college campus, I understand what itís like to live at either location. Hollywood though? I have no concept of what itís like to live in Hollywood and that world. Itís one thing had the entire franchise been set in Hollywood, but it isnít. It makes the move to Hollywood a jarring one that Iíve always struggled with.

    Iíve never been all that impressed with the character of Sidney Prescott, she certainly has never been someone Iíve immediately thought of when the topic of best final girls has come up. That being said, the lack of Sidney is a detriment towards Scream 3. In the first half of the film, Sidney is completely in her own world, in hiding due to the previous trauma caused by the various identities of Ghostface. This reminds me of Laurie Strode, both in Halloween H20 and in 2018ís Halloween. While the Ehren Kruger (Taking over writing duties from Kevin Williamson) script tries to make it seem as if Sidney is paranoid about being safe by living out in the middle of nowhere, having a fence around her property, and owning an alarm system, none of this feels all that protective. Maybe this is just Scream 3 feeling dated, but prior to moving houses in the summer, I had lived at a house that had a fence and an alarm system for years. An alarm system is pretty standard safety protocol these days. Sidney still lives out in the middle of nowhere (Which means longer response times from police), doesnít have any visible weapons, and has a ton of windows without any bars on them. Sidney may have changed her name and lives out in the middle of nowhere, but is she being safe? Eh, I wouldnít say particularly. Even when Sidney finally joins the action in the second half, she still disappears from time to time. What can I say? I miss the girl. I imagine it was a conscious effort to keep Sidney off the screen for long periods of time to play into the idea that she may be the killer, but I know I never bought into that theory. Did anyone truly believe that Sidney fín Prescott may have been Ghostface? You can include as many possible hallucinations of her mother scenes as youíd like to, Kruger, but Iím not buying into your teasing. Youíre a poor manís Kevin Williamson.

    Although the cast seems really impressive in 2020, the only new addition to the cast that I found myself really digging was Parker Posey as Jennifer aka Stab 3ís Gail Weathers. Much like Cotton Weary himself, Liev Schreiber, Posey had been a big independent movie darling of the 90s. After spending several years being a part of some quality independent films, Posey came into a mainstream film like Scream 3 ready to take over a new world. Any time thereís a scene between the two Gails, both the fake Gail (Posey) and the real Gail (Again portrayed by Courteney Cox following a horrendous hair cut), itís quite entertaining. Posey hams up her performance, but rather than it being too much, I think it adds to the fun value. The rest of the new cast is pretty forgettable though. Itís disappointing considering the fact that that includes the likes of Emily Mortimer, Scott Foley, Patrick Warburton, and even Lance Henriksen. The new characters, minus Poseyís Jennifer, are too forgettable.

    My favorite character in the entire franchise of Scream is Randy Meeks. Iím a horror geek, heís a horror geek. Heís easy to relate to. As much as I wish Randy would have survived Scream 2, I dislike the fact that the actor, Jamie Kennedy, was included in this film. If youíre going to kill off a character, that should be it for them. Yet, when it came time for Scream 3, the creators brought Kennedy back into the fold to film a video that was apparently recorded over the course of Scream 2, just prior to his death, to explain the rules of a horror trilogy. If Randy was going to be brought back for Scream 3, he shouldnít have been killed in the first place. Itís a cheesy saying, but you canít have your cake and eat it too. Either you have the emotional impact of Randyís death or you have Randy there to explain the horror facts. To try and have both is a cheap ploy.

    Although the Scream franchise is already highly meta, Scream 3 takes it even farther. One of the hindrances of Scream 2 is that the script leaked online, forcing reshoots to completely alter the film, including the identities of the killers. In Scream 3, this becomes part of the meta world. As Ghostface kills the cast members of Stab 3 in order of their on screen deaths, thereís some confusion over who will be next due to the script rewrites, just as there had been rewrites on Scream 2. The best kill of the entire film focused on Sarah Darling (Jenny McCarthy) called into the office, only to learn that there had been a new rewrite. After being called into the office by director, Roman, Sarah was then attacked by Ghostface in a scene inspired by the original My Bloody Valentine as Ghostface hid in a sea of many Ghostface costumes before stepping out to attack Sarah. The film tries to be meta with its approach at explaining movie trilogies, but it feels as if horror trilogies are so rare that there fails to be much of a connection between these established rules and the awareness of the viewers.

    Iíve been watching Scream 3 for nearly two decades now. As with any movie youíve seen far too many times, particularly with its low level of quality, it can be interesting to see what you pick up on with fresh watches. I believe this is the first watch where I saw Det. Kincaid (Played by McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey) as a top suspect. Although heís not connected to Sidney in any way, it is quickly established that heís a movie buff that seems to relish a little bit too much when it comes to intimate talks with Sidney regarding her mother. In previous watches, I saw these scenes between Sidney and Kincaid as low level romances, but if it was the first time I was watching Scream 3, I would see Kincaid as a top suspect for Ghostface. Elsewhere for possible suspects, thereís not much to go off of in this movie. Thereís the previously mentioned attempt at making Sidney a suspect that fell flat on its face, but beyond that? I guess thereís the creepy old producer, John Milton (Played by Lance Henriksen), but heís in so little of the movie that I see little reason to accuse him of being the killer. Who else is there? The young inspiring actor, Angelina (Emily Mortimer)? Meh. You end up with Ghostface being revealed to be the director of Stab 3, Roman (Scott Foley).

    I hate the idea of Roman being the killer. The idea that Maureen Prescott lived this whole other life in Hollywood where she was tainted by the sex parties hosted by John Milton, which turned her into a married woman who would sleep around, causing the events of the original Scream to take place felt incredibly forced. Itís not uncommon for TV shows to include a similar plot where whatever youíve been told to be true is not the case. Typically that means a dead parent returns (For example, in the NBC series, Chuck) or a long lost relative joins the fray. Part of what made the original Scream effective is how simple it all was. A whiney mommyís boy was upset that his parents split, so he decided to punish the family he deemed responsible for it. To suddenly reveal that Maureen had had a secret child while in Hollywood that she ended up deserting prior to starting a family that led to Sidney being born is unimaginative and frankly cheap. I donít care about Roman as a character or a killer. Itís adding twists for the sake of twists in the mythology that is Scream. With that being said, considering the fact that attempting to guess the identities of Ghostface has been part of the fun of the Scream franchise, I think it was a brilliant move to make Ghostface be one sole person in Scream 3. Why would anyone suspect that Ghostface would only be a singular person when the prior two films (and then the last film) taught audiences to expect two killers? I wish the reveal of the killer had been more fulfilling, but I fully support the decision of going with a single killer.

    Overall, am I a fan of Scream 3? No, Iíve never been. However, Iím also someone who just forked over a few bucks to buy the digital copy of Scream 3 on Vudu because I realize that for as average of a film as it may be, itís a movie Iím going to be watching in the future. Thanks to the Scream franchise being retained in its amount of sequels, itís pretty easy to go back and re-watch the full Scream series. Parker Posey is a great addition to the franchise, as is the decision to alter the amount of killers in the film. The lack of writer, Kevin Williamnson, stands out harshly though. Ultimately, I donít feel as if anything truly vital happens in this conclusion to the Scream trilogy. If you choose to jump from Scream 2 to Scream 4, not only do I donít think youíre missing out on anything important, but I donít even recall any mentions of Scream 3 in the fourth installment. If nothing else, Scream 3 has a rocking soundtrack for which Iíve owned the CD for ever since it came out.

    Grade: C

    Fright in Motion:

    Spoiler:


    ---

    Coming up next, itís time to look at an unlucky number as we examine this digit.

  14. #94
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    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    REC is on my top 10 of all-time, after a decade that didn't do much for me(I didn't see The Descent until 2012), REC really reinvigorated my admiration for the horror genre, it led me to find Broken, which also became one of my favorite horror movies.

    Glad to see REC even holds up in old man Jim's eyes.

  15. #95

    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Suntan Superman View Post
    REC is on my top 10 of all-time, after a decade that didn't do much for me(I didn't see The Descent until 2012), REC really reinvigorated my admiration for the horror genre, it led me to find Broken, which also became one of my favorite horror movies.

    Glad to see REC even holds up in old man Jim's eyes.
    Apparently it's held up so much that I had previously given it the same grade when I covered it in Fright Fest 4. Oops. I thought I had only covered [REC] 2 in the past. If only there was an easy way for me to go back and check whether or not I had covered a movie in Fright Fest before.

    I'm going to fix this because this feels like a massive mistake to my plans this year.

  16. #96
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    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Points for consistency on the grade.

    Pencil me in as another fan of REC. I didn't mind the American version but really like the original Spanish one. Find it one of the better first-person perspective horror flicks. Haven't really thought about going back and rewatcing in the COVID era but that would be some rather topical horror.
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  17. #97

    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Today's 'T' movie will still be coming later today, but since I don't want to use up a letter with a movie I've already covered, enjoy Day 18...part 2.

    Day #18b
    Title: Right to Die
    Country: United States/Canada
    Year: 2007
    Director: Rob Schmidt




    After a car accident pushes a man to decide to pull the plug on his wife, heís in for a terrible surprise when he learns that his wife isnít finished with him.


    The mid 2000s saw a dry spell for horror on television. The 90s had produced a lot of horror TV including for adults (Tales from the Crypt, The X-Files, ect), teenagers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and children (Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark, ect). The end of the 2000s would see horror returning to television in a big way with the likes of The Walking Dead, Bates Motel, and American Horror Story. Horrorís one bright spot in the mid 2000s came with a pretty fun concept. Masters of Horror was an anthology horror series created by Mick Garris where the literal masters of horror came together for one hour movies on Showtime.

    The first two seasons featured a whoís who of horror including John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, Dario Argento, John Landis, and Joe Dante. There was also an effort made to include new directors that had started to make waves in recent years with a lot of hope that these newer directors would carry horror for the next decade or two. These new star directors including Brad Anderson (Session 9) and Lucky McKee (May) didnít end up living up to their potential, but the appreciation is still there to not just make Masters of Horror a showcase of former legends past their primes. To go along with the Showtime series, each short movie was released on DVD. The season 1 DVDs even included trading cards for the directors. You havenít lived until youíve owned a John Carpenter trading card. Season 2 was even better than the first. In the end, the show ended up dying through what seemed to be a promotion. With Masters of Horror receiving some attention, it got the attention of NBC. A third season, now under the name of Fear Itself, premiered on NBC in 2008. The magic was gone though as there were far greater restrictions on what could be shown in these short movies now that it was on national television. The violence and gore was cut back and all nudity was naturally scrapped. Thanks to the 2008 Olympics, the series was put on a hiatus midway into the season, but due to low ratings, NBC never bothered bringing the series back to air the remainder of the episodes.

    Right to Die was the ninth episode of season 2, stuck between what I recall being two of the better episodes in the series with Valerie on the Stairs and We All Scream for Ice Cream. Director, Rob Schmidt, had been one of those young directors who seemed like the future of horror. He had previously directed the original Wrong Turn, one of the highlights in a really solid 2003. This episode focuses on the ramifications following a car accident that saw the husband, Cliff (Played by Martin Donovan), escape mostly unscathed, but his wife, Abbey, suffered horrible third degree burns all over her body. The burns are bad enough that it quickly becomes apparent that Cliff has some difficult decisions to make when it comes to whether to institute a DNR or not. As Cliffís dilemma becomes more chaotic due to Abbeyís mother fighting to save her daughterís life, his lawyer informing him that a massive payout will likely be coming from the car manufacturing after a lawsuit, and Cliffís prior infidelity tempting him into pulling the plug on his wife in order to nab that massive payout.

    I had little memories of watching this when it originally debuted and itís for good reason. Itís not a standout episode and most of it can be pretty dull. At the time, it was topical. This was right around the time of the real life Terri Schiavo case where Schiavoís husband fought with Terriís parents over what should be done with Terri as she remained in a persistent vegetative state. The horror comes into the picture as Abbeyís soul begins to haunt Cliff, demanding that he fights to keep her alive. Where the episode picks up is where you see the influences from Clive Barkerís Hellraiser. Not only is Abbeyís soul looking like a bloody Frank, but due to all of the skin loss due to the burns, in order for Abbey to survive, she needs a skin graft transplant. Things get very gory and itís quite the visual as Cliff wanders into the hospital with blood dripping out of a cooler containing skin he had recently collected for his wife. To no surprise, when looking up who was responsible for all of the wonderfully bloody make-up work, I see that KNB had been responsible for it. KNB were the true stars of the episode.

    As I said, Right to Die wasnít a remarkable episode of Masters of Horror. If you wish to view some good episodes, I recommend Imprint from season 1 and Family, The Washingtonians, Sounds Like, We All Scream for Ice Cream, and Dream Cruise from season 2. While Rob Schmidt would never recapture the attention he had with Wrong Turn, he did direct an episode Fear Itself entitled, The Spirit Box. That one stars Right to Dieís Martin Donovan and of all people, a young Anna Kendrick. Itís nothing special and unlike with Right to Die, it fails to have any gnarly gore.

    Grade: C

    Fright in Motion:

    Spoiler:


  18. #98

    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Day #20
    Title: 13 Sins
    Country: United States
    Year: 2014
    Director: Daniel Stamm




    After receiving a mysterious call, Elliot Brindle is pushed to perform more and more daring stunts in order to make some serious money. When the dares do too far, will Elliot have enough strength to resist the temptation or will the money cause him to go betray his own values?


    As this is now the 12th edition of Fright Fest, readers may be curious as to what goes into the selection process each year. Hereís the secret to Fright Festís selection process - there isnít one. I go into every Fright Fest with a few movies in mind that I wish to cover, in previous years I tried finding a birthday based movie to cover on day #17, a family friendly film is debated for the majority of the month for day #30 (Except for that one year where it was inexplicably day #29 because Iím a fool), and I try to sort out covering one request per poster that sends in recommendations. Beyond that, thereís a lot of playing by ear. That means thereís a lot of planned movies that go uncovered and even more requested movies that go unfulfilled. Over time though, there've been some movies that I only became aware of because it had been requested in previous Fright Fests with those movies keep popping up in the requests from year to year. In some weird way, I end up forming a connection with a movie because of this despite having never seen it. When the time comes to finally watching it, itís a bit of a special occasion. This isnít simply a day #20 movie, but rather a movie that has been requested multiple times since Fright Fest 7 way back in 2015. Let this be a lesson though, just as Wolf Beast requested this movie in back to back years and others have done similar things, such as Ed requesting Cockneys vs Zombies for seemingly years, if you keep requesting the same movie year after year, chances are sooner or later Iíll cover it.

    Despite the long wait, 13 Sins is the sort of movie that I find quite fun. The premise isnít all that unique, lest for the fact that itís a remake of the 2006 Thai film, 13: Game of Death. Although I havenít seen that particular film yet, I have seen similarly structured films such as Michael Douglasí The Game and Cheap Thrills, the latter being a movie that reunited Pat Healy and Sara Paxton, stars of 2011ís The Innkeepers. Part of what makes these films where a character is prompted with a series of ever increasingly dangerous or morally questionable dares in exchange for large sums of money is that theyíre pretty relatable. If someone approaches you with an offer to say...kill someone for a lot of money, chances are youíre going to instantly refuse. However, a slow build-up in dares starting with something as harmless as killing the fly that is bugging you in your car or even eating the same fly? That begins a person on a road of slowly loosening up their morals and ethics to the point that killing someone doesnít seem like such a difficult line to cross. A couple of years ago, Netflix released a special that looked at how easy it is to lure an audience into being compliant with what they believe is a murder with Derren Brown: Pushed to the Edge. This topic is one that I find quite interesting because while one would like to think that theyíd never go beyond their moral limits, itís not so easy to remember that line when youíre essentially tricked into forgetting all about that line.

    The key to making any such film work is to make the lead, in this case a soon to be husband and father, Elliot Brindle (Played by Mark Webber of previous Fright Fest film, The Green Room), likable. If Brindle is going to end up committing awful acts, there needs to be a way to ensure that the audience can still find him to be the hero. In this case, itís using some standard tactics that are often found in such films. Elliot has a baby on the way, a disabled brother that he cares for, and bills that are piling up. Itís made all the worse as Elliot is fired at the start of the film from his sales job all because heís too nice of a job and wonít stick it to the customers in unnecessary upsales. Likewise, Elliot isnít seen relishing in what he has to do. He often questions the dares heís presented with, looks for the most harmless method to go about the dare (EG. When needing to make a child cry, he just tells the little girl that sheís being sent to an orphanage rather than take the easy way out and shove the little brat to the ground like my mind immediately went towards when hearing the dare), and actively tries to stop the game when it goes too far. For whatever reason, I often confuse Mark Webber for Ethan Embry (Coincidentally, one of the stars of Cheap Thrills). I find both actors to be naturally sympathetic and itís easy to root for them.

    Violence and gore wise, itís pretty tame for the first half. Minus one ceremony scene where a womanís finger is cut off, thereís not much to see. The third act is where things get bloody and when that happens, the movie succeeds at it. The bloodiest scene of the movie occurred in a Ghost Ship-like incident where Elliot is helpless at preventing a group of bikers from being decapitated as they race down a street, unaware of a wire at neck level across the road. One dare saw Elliot cut a portion of the arm off of an old bully, who was apparently enduring his own series of dares. The big end battle saw one man cut his own throat, another getting shot in the midsection, and Elliot stabbed. The violence ends up reminding me some of the original Saw as it plays out more of a thriller/police procedural, but itís not afraid to get bloody.

    The third act of 13 Sins has two big twists to add to the emotional department of the movie. The first twist is one I saw coming from pretty early in on the movie. It eventually becomes known to Elliot that not only is he competing to accomplish thirteen dares, but heís competing against another person with only the one who accomplishes all thirteen dares first will be the one who wins all of the money. From the moment of the wedding reception when the police come to question Michael, Elliotís brother, about publicly exposing himself earlier in the day, I began to suspect that something may be up with Michael. Although Michael was mentally disabled, committing a sex crime seemed out of character for him, particularly when it comes to his weak excuse for why he did it. Lo and behold, when it came time for the identity of the other mystery contestant to be revealed, it would be Michael. The twist I hadnít expected was for Elliot and Michaelís dastardly father to have partaken in the game years before. Initially, it made me question if this could be the reason why he was seen as so unlikable, but revealing that he had been the one that had killed his wife and mother to his children made it clear that he was just an awful person, with or without the game. Their father cemented this belief with the biggest surprise of the movie after it comes out that in order to complete the 13th dare, Elliot and Michael have to kill a family member. Being that their father has never been a good man and had just admitted to killing their mother in his own 13th dare, he was the most obvious choice to be the family member to kill. Instead of defending himself or at least channeling his inner Han Solo to sacrifice himself for the good of one of his sons, the father takes the easy way out and slashes his own throat. The result is that neither son is able to kill him to win the game meaning that the only way either one of them can win and escape punishment for all of the crimes they committed, the only target is each other. Poor Elliot is at the point of tears as he begs Michael to just leave with him as his brother suspiciously digs into his bag. Naturally, that prompts Elliot to shoot his brother in self defense, leading to a brief struggle with Michael stabbing his older brother before dying allowing Elliot to complete his 13th dare. The emotional impact is there though as the viewer should feel even more sympathetic towards Elliot as Michael is understandable not able to understand the importance of all thatís happening.

    Overall, 13 Sins was a breeze to sit through. The various dares keep the movie feeling lively. The likable star allows the viewers to remain on his side, even when things become complicated near the end. The biggest negative against 13 Sins is just that thereís been so many films like it, whether movies that follow the same formula like Cheap Thrills or The Game or films that follow the same spirit of the movie like Compliance or Would You Rather? Although I enjoyed 13 Sins, I donít know if Iíd say I enjoyed it any more than any of those other titles I just listed. Still, 13 Sins was a fun popcorn flick that should have been watched far sooner than in the five years in which Iíve been urged to watch it.

    Grade: B

    Fright in Motion:

    Spoiler:


    ---

    Coming up next, youíll be seeing double in this voice altering movie.

  19. #99
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    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    Canít wait for your thoughts on that ending


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  20. #100
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    Re: Fright Fest 12: The Horrors of Learning Your ABCs

    I didn't even realize I'd requested 13 Sins last year too

    Thanks for doing that one. As you said, it's a fun/easy watch, but there's a lot of movies it's in the same vein of.

    Of the other films so far that I've seen, Brightburn was a decent idea, and another fairly easy watch, but it just felt as if the kid embraced the evil too easily without any kind of struggle with his conscience between good/evil. Wasn't very keen on The Dead Don't Die. There's good performances, and that was about all that kept me watching, but the story didn't really do anything for me.

    Been about ten years since I've seen REC, but remember enjoying it immensely at the time and it's good to see it holds up for you on a second review!

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