October 9th: Vincent Price

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October 9th: Vincent Price

Prolific, yet stereotyped, actor, Vincent Price, starred in numerous seminal horror films. Price built a lucrative career drawing on man’s evil proclivities. I’ve selected three favorites that every horror film aficionado should know.

  1. House of Wax (1953): This GP (General Public) one hour and 28-minute film was in 3D. Professor Henry Jarrod creates wax figures. When his gallery burns down, Jarrod opens a new horror-inspired gallery where the wax works are created in an unconventional way.
  2. House on Haunted Hill (1959): This unrated one hour and 15-minute film features Price as a wealthy man who invites 5 people to stay at his and his wife’s home. Anyone who survives the visit receives $10,000, which equates to $86,000 in today’s dollars. The creepy house hides ghosts, secrets, and the macabre.
  3. The Tingler 1959): Price stars as Dr. Warren Chapin in this unrated one hour and 22-minute film. Chapin is a pathologist who performs unorthodox experiments on prisoners. He theorizes that fear resides within a creature living inside every human. Chapin takes on a deaf/mute as his next patient to see whether the creature grows when the woman is terrorized.

October 8th: Super 8 (2011)

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October 8th: Super 8 (2011)

It’s the summer of 1979, and walking corpses have taken over cinemas. A group of kids are attempting to produce a short film about the walking undead without realizing their town has been taken over by an alien held captive by in a secret covert US government facility. One of JJ Abrams best films. The PG-13 film was produced on a $50 million-dollar budget and recouped $260 million in its first theater run. Abrams, who learned from the blockbuster master Steven Spielberg, used the show little approach and hid most of the creature nicknamed “Cooper” from the camera. The soundtrack captures the 70’s, too.

October 7th: 3 Films Based on Real Stories

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October 7th: 3 Films Based on Real Stories

There are plenty of horror films and made-for-television adaptations of stories based on real events. Unfortunately, most of them do not make the cut. Others that may have stated they were based on real life events or inspired by real life stories didn’t make the cut either. The three motion pictures below are based on real events that were also published in books.

  1. The Amityville Horror (1977): Jay Anson wrote a book about a family over-mortgaged and experiencing strange events at their Amityville, NY home. The film’s credits stated: “This motion picture is based on the book The Amityville Horror. Certain characters and events have been changed to heighten dramatic effect.” So, yes, the film isn’t really, really what occurred; however, it makes for some white-knuckled moments. View the original and not the reboot or the sequels.
  2. The Conjuring (2013): In 1971, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren visited the family home of the Perron family. What ensues is a fight for the soul of the mother, Carolyn, played by Lili Taylor. Director James Wan created a popular franchise beginning with this horrifying dark tale.
  3. The Exorcist (1973): William Peter Blatty wrote The Exorcist based off the 1949 possession story of a teenage boy. Blatty changed some names and facts to hide the identity of the young man. Instead, his book focused on the demonic possession of Regan, played by Linda Blair. This film won Blatty an Oscar for his screenplay and forever cemented the image of pea soup in audience minds.

October 6th: Best International English-Speaking Horror Film

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October 6th: Best International English-Speaking Horror Film

Taken from my 2014 review:

The Babadook: The Best Horror Film of 2014 that You’ve Never Seen

Mister Babadook is a pop-up book discovered in Amelia’s house six years after her husband, Oskar, died en route to the hospital. The day Oskar died was the day their son, Samuel, was born. Amelia still grieves. And Samuel is odd. Only the neighbor, Mrs. Roach, seems to like him—including Amelia.

Samuel believes in monsters. He creates primitive weapons to keep them at bay. After reading Mister Babadook, however, Samuel fears this new bogeyman has taken over the family home.  The Babadook is this year’s best horror film.

This highly anticipated horror movie started as a short film, Monster. Through online campaign funding, the movie was extended to full-length. It debuted at Sundance Film Festival in January 2014. Currently in limited American release, it can be rented through various video on demand services.

More of a psychological thriller, The Babadook follows grief-stricken Amelia, played by Essie Davis, as she becomes possessed by this shadow figured bogeyman. Davis shines. Equally impressive is Noah Wiseman’s portrayal as 6-year-old Samuel. Samuel seeks to protect his mother.

The film is very Hitchcockian, although the official website likens it more to Polanski. Both were great directors in this genre. Writer/Director Jennifer Kent employs minimalistic camera techniques and little background music. Absent are the cheap horror tactics of slasher films. And this is appreciated! Furthermore, the ending is more realistic than recent horror films, thus setting up the potential for sequels. The Babadook will be a franchise worth watching. Every horror film aficionado must see this film. Every budding horror film writer should take notes and see that there is more to horror films than graphic violence. Horror movies can have a plot and great actors.

Jennifer Kent has created one wicked creature. The Babadook creature is more than a children’s book. He can be anywhere. The pop-up book is simply sinister. Fans had the opportunity to purchase the pop-up book. Bet they’re a hot collector’s piece now!

 

October 5th: When in New Orleans

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October 5th: When in New Orleans

…And You’ve Brought the Kids: When visiting New Orleans with children, check out Disney’s The Princess and the Frog (2009) set during the Roaring Twenties in New Orleans. Although full of references to Cajun lifestyles and voodoo, the movie is family-friendly with a G rating.

…And You’re Looking for a New Movie: Released in 2005, The Skeleton Key hasn’t had much success. It may because it is not a slasher film or doesn’t incorporate a lot of jump scares. The acting is solid; the plantation house location creepy. It bears all the markings for a horror film showcasing some of the best acting from some of the best in the business. Check out my review.

…And You Need Your Anne Rice Fix: Anne Rice’s epic novel featuring the Vampire Lestat, played by Tom Cruise before he jumped on couches, made it to the large screen in 1994. Interview with a Vampire created a cottage industry of vampire lore leading to witch lore for New Orleans. Take a tour and visit the sites and cemeteries made famous by Anne Rice after watching. New Orleans truly is bewitching.

 

October 4th: 3 Comedic Horror Films to Lift Your Spirits

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October 4th: 3 Comedic Horror Films to Lift Your Spirits

It’s difficult to combine the horror genre with comedy. Few films succeed. Here are three films to tickle the funny bone, provided it’s still attached once the monsters arrive.

  1. Shaun of the Dead (2004): Zombies force relationship reconciliations. Shaun, played by the versatile Simon Pegg, is having the worst day. The zombie apocalypse has arrived, and Shaun sets out to save his ex-girlfriend, while mending his relationship with his mother. The quick camera cuts and snappy dialogue showcase the writing talents of Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. This film rapidly became a cult classic.
  2. Tucker and Dale v. Evil (2010): Is That a Banjo I Hear? Eli Craig’s 2010 cult classic Tucker and Dale vs. Evil features two hillbillies, played by Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk, heading out to fix up their waterfront vacation house. The house is an abandoned cabin set deep in the West Virginian woods. While loading up on supplies, “Tucker” and “Dale” encounter a large group of college students heading out on a camping trip. Queue the banjos. Not so fast. As NPR’s film critic Ian Buckwalter asks: … “what if that banjo were just a bango?” This limited-release feature film upends the horror genre by injecting comedy into the plot.
  3. What We Do in the Shadows (2014): A Kiwi Delight. A film crew follows three vampires as they adjust to modern living with roommates, assign chores from the chore wheel, and navigate the singles scene in Wellington, New Zealand. Filmed for $1.6 million dollars, the film grossed over $6.9 million in the United States alone. The film is probably one of the most financially successful horror/comedy films Americans haven’t heard of. That is until now. Amazon Prime is streaming the film for free.

 

October 3rd: The Largest Blockbuster Horror Film

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October 3rd: Largest Blockbuster Horror Film

Hands down: It (2017). A blockbuster film is one that is insanely popular and financially successful. Horror movie franchises may be blockbusters; however, single horror movies within the franchise rarely are.

Stephen King’s 1153 page, 2 and ½ inch thick tome hit the theaters on September 8, 2017 with low, really low, expectations. The studio was hoping to double their $35 million-dollar investment. Bad weather was forecasted and would surely hinder theater attendance. Instead, the weather and the trailers couldn’t draw movie-goers in fast enough. Until It. The R-rated movie grossed $123 million in the US over the opening weekend and $770 worldwide during its theatrical run. It was a blockbuster movie and worth an investment of 2:15 minutes of audiences’ time.

Set in Derry, Maine in 1989, It: Chapter 1, as it’s now referred, introduces audiences to little Georgie, a bored boy with a mission to sail his toy boat down the bloated streets during a thunderstorm, where he encounters “Pennywise,” a sinister clown who lures unsuspecting minors to their deaths. The first film follows older brother Bill and his friends trying to sort out what is happening.

Although the book jumps back and forth between the teenagers and then adults, the movie focuses on the teens. Chapter 2 will pick up with them grown, yet still sorting out Pennywise with flashbacks to the younger kids. Grab some popcorn and get comfortable, Pennywise has just begun to frighten.

 

October 2nd: Top 5 Halloween Flicks Featuring Teenagers

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Top 5 Teen Halloween Flicks

Teenagers are ripe for the picking in horror movies. Here are 5 Top 5 Halloween Flicks Featuring Teenagers. Note: Other teen-inspired films not appearing on this list may appear on another listing. Stay tuned!

  1. Carrie (1976). Stephen King’s Carrie captures the angst of high school. Add a Pentecostal controlling mother and supernatural powers, and you have one seriously dangerous female. Makes your high school prom pale in comparison. View the original. Outstanding performances by actors who would go on and highly successful careers.
  2. The Craft (1996). Teenage girls using witchcraft rarely goes awry. The new girl transfers to a Catholic high school and is befriended by three girls who are obsessed with the occult. The filmmakers attempted to persuade the Motion Picture Rating (MPAA) to give the film a PG-13 rating. Efforts failed since the movie dealt with underage girls practicing sorcery.
  3. The Faculty (1998). Students suspect the faculty of the high school are aliens. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got. Still worth watching. Was rushed into production after the success of Scream (1996).
  4. Fun Size (2012). This movie isn’t a horror film, merely a film that takes place on Halloween night. Wren ditches her Halloween plans in order to locate her little brother who ran off in a crowd of trick-or-treaters. She enlists the help of her friends and set off on a funny adventure.
  5. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). The dead janitor Freddy Krueger haunts the dreams of teenagers in Wes Craven’s masterpiece. Filmed on the low budget of $1.8 million, this film grossed over $25 million in the US alone and generate numerous less-worthy sequels.

 

October 1st Best Family Halloween Movie

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Each day this week, I will be posting my personal listing of the best Halloween-themed and Halloween-inspired movies based on ratings and the best horror movie to watch around Halloween. This will be eclectic and purely based on my own system of ratings.

Join me on my monthly journey. I will post a combined listing near the end of the month.

October 1st: Best Family Halloween Movie is Monster Squad (1987).  A group of tween-age kids battle Count Dracula and his gang of monsters to keep the streets safe. It’s rated PG-13 and runs 90 minutes. It’s a fantastic film for families with small children.