2016 Halloween Moviefest - Week 1 Recap

It is here!  Halloween season has begun!

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I broke with the Halloween moviefest tradition this year.  Just a bit.  Of course I watched the original Halloween on October 1, but the Friday before I was like a kid on Christmas.  Or a kid on Christmas Eve.  I decided to watch the movie that currently holds the award for my scariest movie.  The Conjuring.  In my book this movie is scarier than The Exorcist, which kind of sets the standard for most people if that helps with the context.  I usually save this one for well into the season, you know building up to Halloween night, saving the best for last, that kind of stuff.  Or scaring somebody who drops over on Halloween and doesn't like scary movies.  I admit that I had just received Conjuring 2 from Amazon which I really wanted to put on the calendar.  So it was Friday night, and I was excited about October, and in the mood for a good scare ... so I watched it.

The Conjuring combines "based on a true story" with demons, possession, a remote house, the paranormal, moms with little girls, and exorcism.  Let that sink in.  The movie features Ed and Lorraine Warren who are real.  Well, they were real.  Ed passed away ten years ago.   The Warrens were professional paranormal investigators, which incidentally may be my dream job, and the The Conjuring is taken from one of their files.  (So was The Amityville Horror, if anybody is counting.)  For me, that adds a layer of scary and increases the skull factor.  You can read about Ed and Lorraine Warren on your own time, and you will find a lot of criticism about their work with people debunking their theories.  That doesn't bother me.  I believe in the  paranormal and although I don't know what creative license the producers took with the movie, it's a better film if you believe it.  If I wanted to introduce somebody to a really good, scary movie, it would be this one.  I have received mixed reviews on its sequel so stay tuned.

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On October 1, I did indeed watch the original Halloween.  This movie never bores me.  The opening scene when the one - handed piano cuts in - yeah, magic. Musicians will say that is due to the theme's 5/4 time signature.  Made on a shoestring budget with a Captain James T. Kirk mask, this film will always define the perfect Halloween movie.  Did you know that the original screenplay was not about Halloween at all?  The events were supposed to take place over a series of days but to keep costs down, the story was changed so that it occurred all on one night.  No costume changes.  And what better night than Halloween, the scariest night of the year.  Talk about ironic.  I will say that I wouldn't ever move to Haddonfield.  A smart, sweet teenage babysitter pounds on the door of her neighbors screaming for help and they turn her away?  Worst neighbors ever.

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I followed up Halloween with The Ring.This film is really original, or it was at the time of its 2002 release.  I mean, we'd never seen anything like this right?  A cursed video that kills anybody who watches it.  A modern-day Medusa.  And just when you think the restless were put to rest and the curse is lifted, you're wrong and it's worse than before.  "You let her out?"  That's right, it ain't over.  Okay, that part isn't terribly original but it is way better than the dead person that reaches out for one last grab at the end.  I didn't see The Ring on the big screen.  Movie crowds annoy me.  If there is one person in the theater talking or kicking the seat or reeking from cigarette smoke, that person is seated squarely behind me.  But I digress.  The DVD includes an easter egg that plays the cursed video when you click on it, and supposedly it takes control of your remote until the video ends and two telephone rings follow.  I remember watching the cursed video but I didn't remember losing control of the remote.  So I went back to check it out  and . . . no Easter egg.   What?!?!  I played the video on all of the DVD players in the house, including my computer - no egg.  Being the scary season, I naturally concluded some supernatural force had intervened.  But the logical and most likely reason is that the DVD I watched back then probably came from Netflix (before streaming) or even a video store for those of you who remember the dinosaur era.  I purchased the DVD several years ago, probably from eBay.  So it isn't the same disc and I don't have the egg.  Anyway, if you have a video of The Ring, click on "Look Here" from the main menu and see if you have the egg.  Then watch it and hold your breath for, oh, about seven days.

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I finished out the weekend with Twilight Zone: The Movie.  This is one where you can argue whether the film qualifies for the moviefest.  And I will take that argument because remember -   we're talking scary movies here, and  the movie pretty much starts . . . and ends . . . with scary.  It's why I included a couple of extra screen shots...

So the question is, Do you want to see something really scary?

Covering movies during the work week is hard because the days start soooooo early.  I target an 8:30 bedtime, which I never make but it's always a goal.  Yes, I am a child.  So weekday movies are nearly always reruns because they are easier.  But they are good reruns.  Like Trick 'r Treat, a comic book come to life. I love the way this film opens with a 1960's era commercial warning of the dangers of Halloween and to check your candy.  Did you know that there has never been a documented case of Halloween treat poisoning?  Snopes it.  And while you're at it you can also read about the hoaxes involving razor-blade tainted apples.  It seems that while these legends have been around for decades, the post-Tylenol poisoning of 1982 resulted in an increase in these tales.  The Tylenol poisoning was real and never solved.  Now THAT'S some scary stuff.

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Trick 'r Treat is a compilation of five interwoven stories on Halloween night.  This movie had been out several years before I accidentally found it while entering search terms into Netflix one day.  If it hadn't been included in the streaming package, I might never have found it.  Trick 'r Treat gets skulls for several reasons.  It is classic Halloween stuff full of costumes and legends, it is well written, well cast and well produced, and it takes place on Halloween night.  I often watch this movie more than once during the season.  There is a bit of nudity in this film if that is something you need to know ahead of time.  (It hadn't occurred to me until just now that maybe this matters.  I will go back and add ratings to the quick look.)

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Another re-make I watched this week is House on Haunted Hill.  The original 1959 version starred Vincent Price (in my book, the original horror movie star whose voice - and laugh - you hear at the end of Michael Jackson's "Thriller").  I've never seen the original but I think it is no coincidence that the main character in the re-make is named "Price."  Screen shots of the Vincent Price version look pretty scary for 1959, I think I'll search out a copy.  The plot is a familiar one that requires the victims to survive the night in a haunted house in order to collect the reward.  That got me thinking of researching films with the familiar plot which I will probably do at another time.

The Halloween test kitchen opens along with the Halloween moviefest.  I was playing with a new frosting recipe so I turned on The Craft to keep me company in the kitchen while I baked.  I do love me a good movie about witches.  Not the kind with the pointy hats, but the kind that you might consider a counterpart to a wizard like Gandalf.  Real powers that come from somewhere, but get a bad rap when used for evil.  The story here is well written and well cast.  Tell me you haven't tried to levitate your friend during a sleepover.  I'm not sure why The Craft has an R rating but I'm guessing it is for profanity.  I don't screen well for the f-bomb unless it is overdone.  Like in Scarface, or The Big Lebowski, or the Wolf of Wall Street which currently holds the record.  Look it up.

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I closed out the week with a new movie, the one I mentioned in my second post about clowns.  For some reason, the country has gone all clown crazy recently.  One news story called it a Clown Apocalypse with real and fake reports of clown sightings, clown attacks and even clown murders.  I mean clowns doing the attacking not being attacked, although there is a meme going around showing clowns holding signs that say, "Clown lives matter."  That cracks me up.  A local story of stalking clowns turned out to be real when the culprit fessed up.  It turned out he was pranking his fellow students but parents, teachers and cops were not amused.  I saw a photo of this guy who obviously meant for his appearance to be creepy and wondered if anybody would actually accept his friend request.

I liked Clown, it pretty much met my expectations.  A really nice guy puts on a clown suit for his kid's birthday party after the hired clown bailed on the gig.  Clown gigs can't be easy to come by so what self respecting clown even does this?  Anyway, dad can't get the suit off and evil ensues and you'll have to watch it for yourself to find out why.  There is a decent legend to back up the plot.  By the time the clown becomes fully demonic (oh, come on, you knew it was coming) the character is really scary, and removing the curse is even scarier.  A warning to watchers that there are kid victims.  Naturally you would expect this because clowns are made for kids, but the fictional screenplay might be disturbing for some.

This week's tally (including the September 30 jump the gun movie) sits at 8.  Eight movies in one week, all reruns but one.  I'm not sure what that says, other than I have a stack of new movies to get through in the next three weeks.  Or that I have favorites that bring out the Halloween in me (not that I really need it).  I also went back and updated the moviefest quick look and it looks like most of these films are rated R.  Again, I'm not sure what that says.  Maybe it says that Halloween isn't for kids, or maybe it says I should be watching movies like Nightmare Before Christmas and Halloweentown instead.  Maybe it's just that Halloween movies are scary.  What do you think?

Halloween Moviefest Quick Look