Category Archives: spook fest

Spook Fest 2011 – Movie 12 – Bats

When a movie stars Lou Diamond Phillips you know it’s going to be good.  And by good I mean that in the “so bad it’s good” type of good.  Bats is a cheesy film about a swarm of bats that have some type of infection that makes them aggressive.  The only people who can stop them are local police officer Lou Diamond Phillips and bat researcher Dina Meyer, along with her colleague who (in real life) goes by the single name of “Leon”.  Yeah.

Now, when I was probably 16 I had a huge crush on Dina Meyer after she got nekkid on Starship Troopers.  We don’t get so lucky in Bats, and instead we get some silly bat special effects.

I can’t complain about this type of movie too much because I really actually like these cheesy monster attack movies.  This is no “The Birds”, and it doesn’t try to take itself very seriously, but it’s actually pretty fun to watch.  There’s a bit of gore, a few one-liners, and chest-deep bat guano.  Basically, what more can you ask for?

Sure, Bats is a terrible movie. But I guess that’s what I like about it.

3 pumpkins out of 5

Spook Fest 2011 – Movie 11 – Trollhunter

Troll Hunter is awesome.  It’s from Norway, and should really be watched in the original language if possible.  My girlfriend got me this on Blu-ray for my birthday and the English dub is just silly.

It’s a movie format I love: Found Footage.  Basically in all of these movies you follow a film crew around as they actually do the filming of the movie.  In Troll Hunter there’s a camera man, a sound girl and the interviewer, and they follow around a grizzled old Troll Hunter as he tries to kill various trolls that are wandering around the Norwegian countryside.

The setting for this movie is breathtaking and it’s all the better in HD.  I really want to visit Norway on vacation someday now.

The trolls are really well done too.  Sure they kinda look silly, but considering this didn’t have a huge Hollywood budget I was impressed.  There’s a good sense of danger too, as you don’t even see the trolls until far along into the movie.

This is a film, like most successful non-English films, that some studio snatches up the rights for a remake, and of course an English version is in the works.  But the original has a lot of charm and is definitely worth checking out!

4.5 pumpkins out of 5

 

Spook Fest 2011 – Movie 10 – Death of a Ghost Hunter

This movie was half good, and half atrocious.  You see, I liked the story.  A guy inherited an old house and he hires a Paranormal Investigator to check it out and determine if the rumors of it being haunted are true.  You see, a horrible series of murders took place in the house 20 years prior, and ever since it’s been full of hauntings.  Only a cleaning lady goes in anymore, and she only goes in once a month and leaves as quickly as she can.

The Paranormal Investigator wants to work alone but the owner of the house also hired a camera man and a local reporter to stick with her over a few days.  And of course, weird, terrible things happen to these people.

But the problem with the movie isn’t really the writing or the story or even the dialog, which isn’t that great btw.  It’s just the delivery of the actors.  It’s so awkward and unnatural, for the entire movie.  At no point did they sound comfortable or at all believable, and it just takes away from the movie.  There is some awkward nudity that comes out of nowhere.  And it has a bit of a twist ending, if that’s possible with this movie that tells you the ending in the title.

3 pumpkins out of 5

Spook Fest 2011 – Movie 9 – Population 436

Population 436 is about a census worker who has to travel to a small town and clear up what must be a paperwork problem: the town of Rockwell Falls has had a population of exactly 436 on every census on record.

I would NOT want to be a census worker.  This guy (Jeremy Sisto) has to drive to this tiny town that has only one road going in, and come on… you know towns like that have to be messed up.  There’s some communities like that in my neck of the woods in Central PA and there’s all sorts of local stories and such about the “locals”.

Well in Rockwell Falls has a town tradition where it is required that the population be kept at 436.  So every new birth, or any new member of the community has to be accounted for by removing someone else.

And I guess the townspeople are okay with this?  There seems to be some sort of brainwashing going on that people other than the town’s one hot chick aren’t all up-in-arms about it all.  I mean they literally have a lottery to see who will be the next person to go when somebody is about to have a baby.  And they’re happy when they win!

This is a pretty good movie, and Jeremy Sisto is a pretty good actor.  Oh and that cop you just saw (if you just watched this trailer)… it’s FRED DURST.  Yep, Fred Durst as in Limp Bizkit Fred Durst.  Gone is the goatee, and instead you’ve got a wholesome, naive country police officer who never is seen without long sleeves.  I was pretty darn impressed by his performance too.

All in all, Population 436 was a decent movie and worth watching on Netflix anyways.  It’s a good reminder to never go to small quaint towns.

3.5 pumpkins out of 5

Spook Fest 2011 – Movie 8 – The Thing

The theme for a lot of this year’s Spook Fest as you might have noticed is to watch as many classic films I hadn’t ever seen as possible, and The Thing is yet another of them.  The other motivation for this one is that the new version is in the works which is supposedly a prequel, so watching this one was a no brainer.

Another thing I’ve realized over the past few weeks is just how much I dig John Carpenter’s movies.  They’re not all exactly gems but I have really grown to enjoy his style.

So if you are also a “The Thing” novice, you may not know that it too is a remake of the 1951 film “The Thing from Another World“, with both films taking place in a frozen research facility (the older one in the Arctic and the other in Antarctica).

One team of researchers dug up a… Thing, which is able to shapeshift into other living beings.  It then infiltrates another research camp and, once people realize what it is capable of, the scientists all become paranoid that everyone else is actually a shapeshifted monster and not really who they say they are.

Being out in Antarctica in the winter (with a radio that doesn’t work of course) makes for a less than ideal environment to combat a shapeshifting killing machine, but it sure was fun to watch.  Overall I thought this movie was really well done, and I think the prequel-remake thing is going to be worth checking out.  Considering how nice and gory the 1982 special effects were, I can only imagine what they’ll look like this time around.

4 pumpkins out of 5

Spook Fest 2011 – Movie 7 – Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher could have been awesome, and it had some really good build up.  But when you kill off your best character and then have a crazy space alien ending… well let’s just say mistakes were made.

It’s originally a Stephen King book, and from my expertise from reading the book(‘s wikipedia entry) I know that many things were changed for the movie.  Why do they do that?  I realize some cuts have to be made in the interest of time.  But Dreamcatcher basically changed the entire ending.  I think the thing post people would have a problem with in this movie is not the action, the CGI, the character design, or even the sorta fruity way they portray the “memory warehouse”, but that the ending was just over the top and unfulfilling.

Basically it’s like Stand By Me, but replace Corey Feldman with Jason Lee.  Oh and add a kid with mental problems (who seems to be a psychic).  Then fast forward 20 years and they’re going camping out in the wood to drink (although they didn’t invite Duddits their challenged friend) and of course it’s the forest from hell, where a huge alien fungus is spreading and killing everything.  The US military (led by Morgan Fucking Freeman) is there using too much aggression to deal with it.  And, everybody has super powers.

Oh and that mental disability kid?  When he grows up, he’s played by Marky Mark’s brother.  Yes, Donnie from New Kids on the Block.  No lies.

I liked the performances from most of the adult actors, but all the child actors had horrible lines and horrible delivery, and it was pretty cringe-worthy.  The CGI was solid, with some pretty toothy creature designs.  Let’s just say it’s a step up from the monsters in the Langoliers.

I guess I mostly liked Dreamcatcher but I think it needed another couple of passes over with the script, and they really should have considered keeping the ending from the book.  It wasn’t scary though, but I suppose had a pretty positive tone to it.  I guess what I’m trying to say is… I didn’t HATE it.

3 pumpkins out of 5

Spook Fest 2011 – Movie 6 – Leviathan

I watched this whole movie waiting for that scene with the 80’s CG water to touch the guy.  Yeah, wrong effing movie Scott.  That of course was The Abyss which I also haven’t seen.  But what I did see was a pretty lame movie called Leviathan that was not even about a big sea monster leviathan (which could have been cool) but instead was about a virus or something that they caught from a shipwreck, and that ship was named Leviathan.  Considering like 2 minutes of the movie took place on that ship I would have picked a different name.

So basically what happens is the guy who plays Robocop is underwater in a base where they’re mining, and the company is run by the chick with the crazy white eyes from They Live, and one of the bumbling unprofessional miners (because every movie about people who work in some remote isolated environment immediately have to have somebody who acts completely unprofessional and reckless, right?) falls over an underwater cliff and finds his way into a shipwreck.  Somehow he catches a disease that turns him into a monster later on.  And it spreads to the crew and so on and so forth.

I felt like Leviathan has some promising moments, but overall I was unimpressed by the design of the monster, and I pretty much wanted it to eat most of the cast.

2 pumpkins out of 5


Spook Fest 2011 – Movie 5 – They Live

Despite being made in the 80’s, John Carpenter’s They Live could easily be a commentary on the modern day recession.  And wow, what a fun movie!  It’s got Rowdy Roddy Piper, Keith David, aliens, one of the most epic fight scenes in any movie, and probably the greatest one-liner ever.

This movie really does have everything, and it’s about as campy as it gets.  Rowdy Roddy Piper is a drifter who finds a construction job to try to make ends meet.  Until he gets back on his feet, he is staying at this little shanty town with other homeless people.  Nearby is a church that he gets curious about, and little does he know, it’s full of an armed resistance movement.  What are they resisting?

Well it turns out, the entire planet is being run by aliens who are disguised as humans.  They broadcast a signal that tricks people into not realizing what the aliens actually look like, and so they are able to go around in public without being noticed.  On top of that, the aliens are behind a huge propaganda campaign that leaves subliminal messages in basically anything printed.

The resistance movement has constructed sunglasses that allow people to see the truth.  And the truth looks like this.

I think I'll be leaving the glasses off, thanks.

Roddy Piper enlists the help of his friend, Keith David.  Although for some reason Keith David is really pissed at Roddy Piper.  I really didn’t understand how their conflict escalated like it did.  But before you know it, they’re kicking each other’s asses gloriously.  I had no idea this is where the fight on South Park between Timmy and Jimmy originated, but it’s literally a mirror image, shot for shot, of the They Live fight!

Everything is pretty much over the top here, such as when the chick with crazy white eyes tosses Roddy out a 3rd story window, or when he busts into a bank with a shotgun and says “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum.”  But They Live also has a deeper meaning, trying to tell us to be aware of the commercialism and how much control it has over us.  This movie could easily be remade in 2011 and have just as much of an impact.  This is easily my favorite movie of Spook Fest 2011 so far.

5 pumpkins out of 5

They Live on Amazon | They Live on Netflix

Spook Fest 2011 – Movie 4 – Poltergeist

I can believe I have never seen Poltergeist before.  It was my girlfriend’s turn to pick the movie for Spook Fest and it was a 3 way tie including Poltergeist and a couple other movies that weren’t immediately available on Netflix.  I had seen a few scenes from this movie before, namely the thing with the kitchen chairs, but I pretty much had no idea what it was really about.  After Penn State got killed against Alabama this past Saturday, I decided I was done watching football for the day, and it was time to put on Poltergeist.

For those who are likewise uninitiated, it’s got the guy from Coach and his family, and his adorable little daughter starts seeing ghosts and gets sucked into the house.

Despite being a fairly old film, the effects for the most part hold up well.  The one that particularly fails though is the melting face of one of the paranormal investigators, which just looks silly… although I’m not so sure I’d like to see that scene given a modern realistic CGI treatment.

The movie really had it’s share of over the top moments that had me laughing too.  The psychic, Tangina, is this tiny old lady (Zelda Rubenstein) who I’ve seen in a million other movies… it turns out this was her second movie ever.  She had a few lines that cracked me up, especially when she strikes a pose and declares the house “clean”.

So what made the house all evil?  Oh I dunno, maybe the ANCIENT BURIAL GROUND they built it on?  I don’t really understand how the entire housing development could have been built without the construction crew having bumped into a casket or something.  I mean, isn’t there a house on the block that actually has a basement?

Poltergeist was pretty awesome though, and I can understand why it’s a horror staple.

4 pumpkins out of 5

Poltergeist on Amazon | Poltergeist on Netflix

Spook Fest 2011 – Movie 3 – Carriers

I know that by randomly picking movies off Netflix to watch for Spook Fest 2011 I’m going to run across some real stinkers.  I had never heard of Carriers but I figured it would be a pretty bad low-budget thing.

Surprisingly, this movie that nobody ever heard of and nobody ever saw was actually pretty respectable.  It’s got some famous people in it too…  I mean, it’s got mofo’ing James Tiberius Kirk for starters.  This is the closest any movie has gotten to achieving my 3 minutes old dream of having Star Fleet fight a planet of zombies.

But actually there are no zombies in this movie.  It’s just a disease that’s spread through contact with sick people.  Which clearly would wipe out the entire human race.  I mean, it’s not like people infected with a disease that’s transmitted this way would be immediately quarantined from the general population.  I like these post-apocalyptic tales though so it gets a pass.  All that’s left are a few bands of survivors who must scrounge for any supplies they can from each other.  And by scrounge I mean take by extreme force.

It’s also got Elliot from Law & Order SVU, but there’s nary a murdered prostitute in sight.  He gets to be the overprotective father of an infected child.  I guess you can’t blame the guy for being protective but I think sometimes Christopher Meloni is just a bit too intense.

And so you get to see the small band of survivors take advantage of this guy and his sick daughter, but of course the kid  is going to cough on one of them and make them regret ever crossing their path.  Of course.  Captain Kirk should have known from his days fighting Klingons:

“Revenge is a dish best served cold.”  Also, it is best served pre-emptively.

So not only do they get to deal with this disease, they end up driving their stolen car directly into another movie, 28 Days Later, where they run into the crazy military types who want to kill the guys and have their way with the group’s women.  I mean, it’s literally the exact same idea.

Sure, at first they’re all concerned that OH NOES, THEY HAS TEH GERMS, DON’T TOUCH ME…. and then like 3 seconds later their penises kick in and are like “dude, I don’t even care, we need to hit that.”

While this actual disease isn’t all that interesting (it basically gives you a rash and you cough. oh and i guess you die)… the movie does do a good job of making you care about the characters.  I honestly think Chris Pine was awesome in this movie, playing the tough older brother who tries to stay positive on the surface but in reality the conflict and horror of what he’s seen and done is ever present.

Despite being a movie I’d never heard about and just randomly picked on Netflix, I was pretty impressed with Carriers, and you should check it out.  Just don’t let any sick children touch you on the way to the couch.

3.5 pumpkins out of 5

Carriers on Amazon | Carriers on Netflix