The original Halloween circa 1978 kicked off the moviefest as is tradition - but this year, it was made better as I look forward to the new Halloween. Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie Strode as she returns to Haddonfield 40 years later - that is, 40 years after the original movie ended as if none of the sequels occurred. Yes folks, my 5-skull film is particularly sweet this year with anticipation. I also plan to break from my tradition and go to this film on opening weekend. Mostly because I can’t wait, but I admit that I don’t want anybody to see it first and tell me it sucks or some equivalent. That would ruin everything. I mean, I am okay if it sucks, I sort of expect that. But I want to see for myself. And maybe . . . just like IT, the film will be awesome.
Week 1 ended with an overachievement. Ten movies, including five that are new to the moviefest this year: Winchester, A Quiet Place, Mr. Jones (2013), Hold the Dark and The Others. Detailed movie reviews for Winchester and A Quiet Place were posted earlier in the week and both are really good films at 3½ skulls. I may bump the score up later but that was my first assessment so I went with it.
Mr. Jones, on the other hand, just sucked. A found footage film, it took about forever to get going - I fell asleep a couple of times and got distracted a bunch more and had to keep rewinding to give it a chance. In my opinion you could skip to the last 20 minutes of the movie to watch the best part, but then you wouldn’t know why it was the best part and it probably wouldn’t matter. A boring sabbatical sprinkled with relationship issues and all the time my brain keps asking, who is funding all this? But we have the discovery of the mysterious “scarecrows” and the den of their maker while the hero rushes off to New York leaving his girlfriend behind (again - who is funding this?) so he can market the documentary to end all documentaries. The last 15 minutes I admit I watched without interruption (which may tell you everything you need to know) because it looked like they were onto something. The overuse of the fade to black combined with crummy special effects just did me in. Even as I write this, I struggle to remember how it ended, made more complicated by watching a good movie while I write.
I had high hopes for Hold the Dark, a Netflix original that released earlier this month. The trailer didn’t grab me and neither did the storyline, but Netflix has a strong history in my book so I dove in. By the time I climbed out, I was soaking wet with WTH? I mean, Netflix, come on! First The Open House, and now . . . this? For strong points, the movie is well cast with Andrew Skarsgård, real-life brother to our new favorite Pennywise, along side Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, Riley Keough. And while I’ve never heard of the actor who played the Wolf Man, his performance was great as was officer Dale. Or Sergeant Dale. Or whatever. When I researched the cast I couldn’t believe the irony of Riley Keough starring in It Comes at Night which I drew as an immediate comparison when I finished this film. Like the former, I have no idea where Hold the Dark was going - I couldn’t detect plot beyond the shallow summary. Now, I’m okay with a slow burn or a thinker film, but I had a long day at work so don’t make me make up the plot. My job now is to sit back and enjoy. I did not.
The remaining 7 films (including Halloween) are trustworthy stand-bys that never disappoint. I always watch Insidious and it’s first sequel together because they are masterfully interconnected. Brilliant. And The Cabin in the Woods, a solid 4-skull film that you get when you cross The Evil Dead with The Hunger Games and Thir13en Ghosts. Perennial favorites. The Others has inexplicably escaped the moviefest list in the past - I have no excuse, other than I saw it for the first time on the big screen while vacationing in Maui. Even the most exotic place on earth needs a bit of horror.
We finish out the first week of moviefest with The Exorcist. Terrifying as a book in 1971, as a movie in 1973, and as a series in 2016. And all still terrifying today. There is something to be learned by simply watching a great and truly terrifying horror film.
I close out the first week with a visit to a full contact haunted house on extreme night. An experience my brother will describe in detail to help you decide whether extreme haunting is for you. For me, full contact is more than enough.
Happy October, I hope your own moviefest is bringing you chills and thrills as we count down to half time.