halloween movie fest 2017, movies eight through fourteen.

Let’s keep it rolling! Here are seven more movies:

Movie Eight – The Shining

“Wendy… darling? Light, of my life. I’m not gonna hurt ya. You didn’t let me finish my sentence. I said, I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in. I’m gonna bash them right the fuck in!”

This film is a masterpiece. A fucking masterpiece!!

Nicholson is at his most brilliant and insane. It’s probably weird to say a performance like this is a joy to watch, but it’s true — especially on repeat viewings. I smile and laugh almost continuously while watching him do his thing in this movie.

Even more, Kubrick is fucking killing every aspect of the filmmaking game here. This is next level shit. I feel like if I learned more about filmcraft, I’d be even more in awe of every frame of this film than I already am.

Where is The Shining even taking us? What do all the background images and spooky tangents mean? What is Kubrick trying to communicate? Damned if I know. But with this level of meticulous filmmaking, it’s so easy to get lost in the mystery over and over again. It gets better each time.

Bonus: one of the greatest outcomes of starting to do HMF all those years ago is that this year, Emily watched The Shining and loved it. So… yeah, my life is set.

Will I Ever Watch It Again? Absolutely. What’s the over/under here? Ten more times? Fifteen? The smart money is on ‘over.’

Where Can You Watch It? No one has it streaming for free right now, but I own it, so come on over.

Movie Nine – Room 237

As mentioned above, The Shining is a pretty mysterious movie. Unlike most films, the mystery intensifies as you watch the film more closely and on repeat viewings. You notice more imagery, color choices, dialogue quirks, background props, etc., and the whole thing just keeps getting stranger and stranger. Like the Overlook Hotel, the film is one big impossible labyrinth, in which the dimensions and shapes don’t add up quite how they should.

Room 237 is a documentary featuring interviews with various devotees about their theories as to what the hell this movie is about. Mostly, their theories work to an extent, but become insane when taking to such an exacting degree.

It illustrates how immersive and mesmerizing this film is. The calculated brilliance of Kubrick’s filmmaking makes it easier to believe that each detail, no matter how small, means something in the larger whole. Details that would be accidents or errors in another film are more likely intentional in a Kubrick film, which intensifies the devotion from fans trying to find meaning and read themselves into the art they love, as we all do.

My favorite part: when an interviewee explained his creation of a print of the film that overlays the film playing forwards and backwards simultaneously. The clips they showed were amazing. I don’t see how Kubrick could have intentionally made the film work that perfectly, even he wasn’t that meticulous, but it was pretty eerie how some moments lined up. Someone please let me know if they hear of a screening of that print.

Will I Ever Watch It Again? No, but it was totally worth checking out.

Where Can You Watch It? Hulu

Movie Ten – The Void

“This isn’t the end.”

If The Thing, HP Lovecraft, and a book about dealing with death and loss had a horrible nightmare baby, it would look a lot like The Void. Obviously, this means the movie is super weird and dark as fuck.

The Void had its weaknesses, but overall I found it an engaging, solid, low-budget horror film. It leaned way into what it wanted to be, never pulling any punches, which really helped me root for this one to work.

Grounded performances contrasted with insane monsters and violence helped the interdimensional madness land.

The real star of the show was the practical effects. The reliance on CGI far exceeds what filmmakers can currently do with CGI — even in big budget films — and the result is a whole lot of films getting hamstrung by cheesy-ass effects. Filmmakers Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski leaned heavily into practical effects and gore, and the result is so much more immersive. 

Will I Ever Watch It Again? Probably not, but I’m glad I chose to include it.

Where Can You Watch It? Netflix

Movie Eleven – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

“I just can’t take no pleasure in killing. There’s just some things you gotta do. Don’t mean you have to like it.”

This movie spawned an entire sub-genre and inspired countless films and filmmakers afterward. It’s on 13 official lists on iCheckMovies, so the cultural influence is clear.

To be honest, this isn’t really my thing, but I’d gone too long without seeing a movie of such iconic status.

I don’t have much to say about this one.

Where Psycho took its inspiration from Ed Gein and dove way into the weird relationship with his mom, Texas Chainsaw Massacre went hard into the whole ‘grave robbing and making housewares and clothes out of people’ aspect of Gein’s story.

I was actually a little intimidated — which explains why I waited so long to see it — because I don’t enjoy watching torture scenes in any genre. When that’s the point of the whole movie, I was prepared to spend 83 very uncomfortable minutes. As it turns out, this film is so tame by today’s standards that I had built it up to be far more disturbing in my mind than it was ever going to be in reality. I actually found it less scary and more silly, at times even annoying.

At least now I can say I’ve seen it, and for a completionist movie nerd, that’s no small thing.

Will I Ever Watch It Again? No.

Where Can You Watch It? Amazon Prime.

Movie Twelve – Beetlejuice

“As soon as we get settled, we’ll build you a dark room in the basement, okay?” 
“My whole life is a dark room.” 

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!

Hm. I thought maybe that would cause weirdo Michael Keaton to come help me write this entry.

Remember when Tim Burton was actually inventive and interesting? Or pre-Batman Michael Keaton? Or when Alec Baldwin was super skinny? Or when Geena Davis was rising to the peak of her fame? Ok, I was too young to be aware of Geena Davis as a rising star, but it’s all been recorded.

I think the biggest takeaway I got this time was that this was really a movie for teens — or at least that’s how it plays to me watching it now. Since it came out when I was six, I never really got that.

Anyway, remember the cartoon?! That was a thing that happened.

Will I Ever Watch It Again? Maybe?

Where Can You Watch It? Nobody has it streaming for free right now.

Movie Thirteen – It

“Derry is not like any town I’ve been in before. They did a study once and, it turns out, people die or disappear at six times the national average. And that’s just grown ups. Kids are worse. Way, way worse.”

This one launched onto my radar because its huge critical success.

The tone and production are a little cheesy early on. Also, as opposed to The Void‘s practical effects, It features many scares that rely solely on CGI. For me, that drained the terror right out of any scene leaning heavily on less-than-stellar computer animation, which includes the opening murder. If you love obvious CGI in a scary scene, this movie will be your jam.

Negatives aside, It really is a solid film.

All the fear and foreboding that isn’t rooted in CGI was superb. The cast of kids were charming and their terrifying adventure worked perfectly at the heart of the story. I would assume King’s source material should get the bulk of the credit for how real and well-drawn the kids were. The nostalgia came from how close this felt to my own school-age summer vacations. Obviously, I mean that on a relational level, not as a claim that my friends and I fought a fear monster who likes to take the shape of a clown, because that’s all still classified by the government… er, I mean… because that never happened to me as a kid.

Will I Ever Watch It Again? I’ll definitely watch this again.

Where Can You Watch It? In theaters.

Movie Fourteen – Phantasm

“You play a good game, boy, but the game is finished. Now you die.”

This is one of those fan favorites that I just couldn’t get into. I think things would have been different if I’d seen it as a kid, because it really is an R rated kids movie about coping with death and loss. Since I didn’t see it when I was a kid, it’s just a big incoherent mess.

The story doesn’t make sense, the biggest moments in the movie make even less sense than the overall story, the things that work don’t happen enough, and I feel like Angus Scrimm’s Tall Man character was unintentionally hilarious instead of haunting — although, maybe that’s part of what people love about it, which would be far more understandable.

Some stuff I read after watching it defends the nonsensical story by saying it’s intentionally dreamlike, but to me that seems like more of a weak defense for a terrible story. In part, my enjoyment suffered from the comparison to House, which really was a nightmare logic, but took the absurdity to such extremes, which is why it works.

JJ Abrams can name and design Star Wars characters based the franchise all he wants, I’m still not going to understand what people love about this movie.

Will I Ever Watch It Again? I doubt it.

Where Can You Watch It? Shudder, otherwise no one else has it streaming for free right now.