2017 Moviefest - Week 1

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It is October 8 which means the first week of moviefest is over. If you have to ask how week 1 of the moviefest started ... well ... 

We always start the Halloween season with the original Halloween.  Sometimes we end it that way, too.

Week 1 ended with 3 new films and 5 repeats. I have been doing moviefest in some form for a really long time and it amazes me that I find new horror to add to the list every year. Like Ouija. Not a new film, but new to me and while it was not the best horror movie I've ever seen - or even the best movie based on the Ouija board - it was solid enough. Way better than the movie that ranked #1 on the Rotten Tomatoes list of the 75 top rated horror films ever.  Ever. Like 100 years of horror movie ever. That sort of implies the best horror film, doesn't it? 

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Get Out is billed as a comedy-horror. The same genre that brought us Tucker & Dale vs. Evil and What We Do In The Shadows - a couple of films I really liked, as well as Tusk - which I didn't like. Bruce Campbell films are in there, too. To be clear, the TSA agent in Get Out is one funny dude but his witty dialogue was really the only humor in the movie that wasn't so much a horror film as it was a social statement on racism.  The subplot was ripped off from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers (even though the producer claimed to be inspired by "Night of the Living Dead") in a weak attempt to disguise its agenda as a scary movie.  The producer also claimed to be inspired by the "black lives matter" movement and that is what this movie is really about. Except it isn't even a good commentary on social injustice so if that is what you are looking for, there are much better examples.

I gave Get Out just two skulls. I really wanted to like it but drawing me into Hollywood's statement about white privilege by playing on my passion for horror films is below the belt. There are no spoilers here so if you know what you are getting into and you expect the overt racial themes, this film may very well work for you. The acting is good and it is decently cast. But the top horror movie of the last 100 years? Come on. If you are looking for a new horror film to feed your passion, I would skip this one and choose Annabelle: Creation or It.

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The third new film this week is Southbound. This movie was taken from a list of the most underrated horror movies. I disagree; the movie is not underrated at all. In fact it scored 81% on the critics' tomatometer. The audience was less generous with a 51% rotten tomato rating. Southbound is in the style of interwoven stories with a common theme - in this case, travelers on a deserted road headed towards or away from something. The movie makes liberal use of gore which turns into a substitute for a good plot. This is one of those movies where you find yourself saying, "What?!?!?!?" as the credits start to roll. I gave it 2 skulls against an audience average of 3.2.

That does it for the new stuff this week and 40 years later, I am not tired of Halloween.  And I still notice things I hadn't noticed before. Like the Raggedy Ann doll in Laurie's bedroom - which makes me think of the Annabelle doll from a story that wasn't around in 1978. Or the hat on Laurie's bedroom wall that is the same as the hat she wore in her later horror film, Road Games. And as I watched Laurie and her friend on her way home from school with their books and sweaters and purses, thought how nice it would have been if we'd had backpacks then. As good as this film was, it is tragic that none of the sequels have come close to the magic of the original. But that doesn't stop me from waiting with anticipation for Jamie Lee's return next year.

Insidious is on my Top 5 list. I visited my post from last year where I placed it in the Top 10. Today I rank it up there with my definitive Halloween movie. I haven't seen anything come along in the last couple of years to challenge this movie or my other favorites. When It comes out on video, we'll see how it climbs the charts, and I expect it will. What makes Insidious so great is the originality of the screenplay combined with some really scary demons. I actually fell asleep the first time I tried to watch this movie, waking up just as those 33 violins were playing the closing credits. Falling asleep during movies is an occupational hazard and one of many reasons why I avoid the theater. At home I have pause, rewind and replay buttons - because I have early mornings so I nod off during the best of movies.

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I can turn Paranormal Activity on just about any time. Like Insidious and unlike Halloween, it has a strong sequel - actually, it has two strong sequels if you like this type of film. I favor the first one probably because I didn't know it wasn't real the first time I saw it so that originality comes back when I rerun it. But I could take any Paranormal Activity 1-3 on a stormy night - or any evening when I am not exactly sure what it was I just heard in the other room. Seriously, a strong windstorm blew the window in the spare bedroom out of its frame in the middle of the night with a terrifying crash. We found it on the floor. That ever happen to you? I keep talcum powder in my bathroom just in case.

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I hadn't seen Lost Boys in years when I picked up the video for last year's moviefest - and then I didn't get around to watching it. I popped it in on Friday afternoon while I was making dinner for some friends. This movie is actually a throw back to Peter Pan who could fly and never grew old because, it was suggested, he may have been a vampire. And while the original writer may have taken characters from Peter Pan, the fictional city of Santa Carla was based - and filmed in - the real murder capital of the world: Santa Cruz.  At least that is what the city was called in the 1970s thanks to the work of several independent serial killers. Creepy, huh? 

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I didn't love Annabelle the first time I saw it and wrote it off as an exploitative prequel to The Conjuring. It was okay, but just okay. And then I saw Annabelle: Creation with some fellow horror fans and I was inspired to go back and watch Annabelle again. It was a good move. Was it the prequel to the prequel that elevated the film or was it just the fact that watching a movie a second time helps fill in the gaps you miss when you get distracted.? I gave it more skulls the second time around.

And that does it for the first week of the moviefest. Eight movies down, 23 to go. Oh, who are we kidding? 31 movies is just a really good start. I hope you are enjoying your own moviefest even if you liked Get Out. It's okay, we can still be friends.