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

Spook Fest 2011 – Movie 2: In the Mouth of Madness

I had heard that In the Mouth of Madness was a good, scary film… and I guess I mostly agree with this, as the movie had its fair share of spooky moments.  Basically it’s the story of John Trent (played by Sam Neil shortly after he played the paleontologist in Jurassic Park) as an insurance guy who is checking the claim of a book publisher.  Sounds thrilling!

Basically this publisher has this writer named Sutter Cane (who is clearly based on Stephen King… I mean they even mention King in the movie) and he goes missing after writing his latest book.

So Trent goes and investigates it, trying to track down where Cane was.  It takes him to some small New England town (another King staple) where shit is going down.  It has the old grandma from Happy Gilmore as the psycho hotel manager, so you know things are serious.

The whole film is mostly a series of flashbacks and often times they’ll be repeated over and over, with perhaps a little difference to show just how crazy things are getting in Sam Neil’s head.  But there are some pretty dang scary moments too.  Like, he’ll wake up from a scary nightmare… and you’ll be all like “whew, glad that’s over” and they’ll hit you with a “FOOLED YOU, STILL DREAMING SUCKAS!” and have some horrible looking monster start screaming.

This film also presents one of the greatest arguments for contraception.

Overall, In the Mouth of Madness was pretty decent, but was confusing.  I probably need to watch it a time or two more to really grasp why some of the scenes were there and what they mean.  It reminds me of Alan Wake (which probably means Alan Wake ripped it off considering the game was released like 15 years later).  But if confusing movies that are very meta aren’t your thing, this won’t be for you.

3 pumpkins out of 5

In the Mouth of Madness on Amazon | In the Mouth of Madness on Netflix

Spook Fest 2011 – Movie 1: Hellraiser

For the first movie of the inaugural Spook Fest we watched Hellraiser.  I’m trying to pick out some films that I somehow have never seen, and this series is one of them.  When it was new, back in 1987, I was entirely too much of a wimp to watch anything remotely scary (I was like 6!), so I went into this movie not knowing a thing about it other than that it has Pinhead as the main villain.

Well it turns out even that isn’t entirely true, but in any case, Hellraiser turned out to be quite a fun movie.  If you too haven’t managed to see this before, basically it’s about a guy who accidentally summoned some demons by opening a puzzle box, and his attempt to return to Earth after  being torn apart in hell for a few years.  Returning to Earth though means he needs to suck the blood out of various innocent people, and needs a whole pile of victims.

The plot is sort of dumb, and I found myself early on rooting for the demons.  But where this movie really shines is the special effects, which are good even today (and must have been tremendous at the time they were new).  Instead of loads of CGI filling every scene like you’d see in a movie today, back in 1987 they had to use puppets, costumes, latex and lots of fake blood and gore.  It made for a messy, slimey, goopy, gorefest, but was a lot of fun to watch.

The demons (I guess technically they are Cenobites) have some interesting looks, such as Chatterer (who I call the Teeth Dude) who is seriously gonna suffer from dry mouth:

or Butterball who looks a lot like Cee-Lo Green.


Wikipedia says they are making a reboot of Hellraiser, and I can only assume that long gone will be the special effects that made the original great, to be replaced with CG.  I’ll stick with the classic!

4 pumpkins out of 5

Hellraiser on Amazon | Hellraiser on Netflix

Scott Topic Spook Fest 2011

I’ve done it unofficially for most of the last several years (usually in October) but this year I want to start a little earlier and keep better track. What am I talking about?

Scott Topic Spook Fest 2011! I plan to watch 1 or more horror films a day until Halloween. They will range from classic horror, big budget CGI fests, low budget cornball films, and everything in between. My girlfriend plans to tag along for most if them, and I’ll post my progress here and on Twitter.

So grab your popcorn fellow boils and ghouls and follow along as we ring in Halloween in style!