halloween movie fest, 2014: nights 6-10.

Night Six: Peeping Tom

“Whatever I photograph, I always lose.”


Peeping Tom is another one of those brilliant encounters I’ve had with great cinema thanks to HMF. As I’ve written before, it’s also a great example of why critics often suck, since they didn’t just say it was a bad movie originally, they acted like it was going to tear down society as we know it. Eventually, they changed their minds, thanks in no small part to Martin Scorsese championing the film as a masterpiece decades later (I fucking LOVE that guy).

The story of a murderer who films the final horrified moments of his victims was way ahead of its time in 1960, and the film shares quite a bit in common with another ahead of its time horror film from that year Psycho. 

On my second viewing, I was struck even more by the film’s ability to have a main character who is at once creepy, evil, and heartbreaking.

One of my favorite HMF finds.

Will I ever watch it again? Yes. This was the second time, and there will be plenty more where that came from.


Night Seven: Come Out and Play

“We started to hear voices around 11:30 last night. It was as though all the children on the island awoke at the same time. They all started giggling. And then screaming. They packed into the houses. Among their screams we also began to hear the adults, screaming in horror.”


I didn’t realize this was a remake, and I should have watched that first. The story of a couple visiting an island town in Mexico before the birth of their third child, and find that the children of the town have playfully murdered almost all of the adults.

Come Out and Play is stark and unnerving, visually it is really solid, but in the end it somehow failed to really hit me the way it could have. It creates atmosphere and dread well, but then fumbles at the goal line in a way I can’t entirely put my finger on yet.

Will I ever watch it again? No, I’d try out the original adaptation instead.


Night Eight: Grabbers

“If we taint our blood with booze, we’re poisonous to eat.”


Grabbers was both enjoyable and a disappointment. It was good, but I feel like it should have been much better. So much more should have been done playing with the premise, which had tremendous potential.

Said premise being that an amphibious alien species crashes to earth off the coast of a small Irish island, requiring blood and water to survive. The monsters start feeding on the local humans until the humans realize that blood with alcohol in it is toxic to the aliens. Thus, the only way to survive is to be drunk.

The actors were lovely, there were plenty of very successful, very Irish jokes, but the film was flatter than it should have been with so much to work with.

Will I ever watch it again? Probably not, even though early on in the film I was really hoping this would enter the canon.


Night Nine: The Changeling 

“What do you want from me?! I did every thing I could!”

changeling_2After tragically losing his wife and daughter in an accident, a composer moves back to Seattle to take a teaching position at his alma-mater (UW) in the attempt to move on with his life. He leases a mansion owned by the historic society and then, as one would reasonably expect, it’s ghost time.

Ghost stories have always been my favorite. When I was young, I loved and hated stories of hauntings and unexplained sightings of grey ladies, restless spirits, paranormal hotels and the like. It’s a different sort of fear than the visceral response to slasher films and the like. Stories around a campfire, paranormal installments of Unsolved Mysteries, looking forward to Snick every week for Are You Afraid of the Dark… I was attracted to anything that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, that sent shivers down my spine, or created that odd pressure in my eyes that comes from a good ghost story, even though it would always make it impossible for me to walk down a dark hallway alone. It’s rare to find a good ghost story.

This one, for all its weaknesses, at least delivered the creepy goods several times because it didn’t rely on the usual over the top antics most “scary” movies use today. So many of the hauntings were so run of the mill and ordinary that they were creepier, because they felt more grounded in actual day to day experience.

Plus: George C. Scott!

Will I ever watch it again? Probably. Not for several years, but probably.


Night Ten: You’re Next

“I stuck a blender in his head and killed him.”


Brutal, and darkly funny, You’re Next celebrates but deconstructs the slasher/last girl standing genre. It does this by showing us what it’s like if you dropped a badass who isn’t a complete idiot into the usual group of buffoons being offed one by one by homicidal maniacs.

It’s fun when the heroine turns the tables and the line between hunter and hunted, or slasher and slashee, gets blurred.

This one was a really fun time. Thumbs up!

Will I ever watch it again? Absolutely. This will be an every few years in October sort of film.