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!

Halloween Horror Films 2010

Every year around Halloween I go a little nuts about horror films. This year was no different, as I had a few different horror movies playing about every night in October. These are some of the ones I watched this year. Sure some of these aren’t “horror” but they are seasonal at least. 🙂

Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

Kill Theory (2009)

The Willies (1991)

Body Bags (1993)

Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)

The Monster Squad (1987)

Paranormal Activity was creepy beyond reason.

Last week I went to see Paranormal Activity. It’s a low budget thriller about a couple who film (Blair Witch style) the strange things that happen in their house. It’s been circulating festivals for a couple years, trying to find a distributor. Finally Paramount picked it up, and did a limited release. Luckily, and surprisingly, State College was one of the towns that got to show it.

The theater in State College was doing midnight shows only, but I went on a Thursday night anyway with a friend from work, and found a packed house. They had sold out the screen they planned to show it in so they moved it into 2 other screens, both of which sold out as well.

The crowd was made up of several types. But was predominantly groups of 4 to 6 people, as though everybody wanted a large gang to ease their tensions. The hype for this movie had been getting outrageous, with people calling it the best horror film they’d ever seen, with nightmares for days afterward.

Let me say this: it was pretty damn scary.

Paranormal Activity was filmed on a $15k budget in the director’s own house, with a single camera. Yet the story is well written (despite some air-headed characters who should probably have called the cops and/or a priest about 20 nights earlier). It’s got one of the best build-ups I’ve ever seen in a horror film, with each night of their experiences getting progressively worse and worse as the activities get more intense.

I have been a horror fan for years and yet this is the first movie in a long time that gave me some honest-to-goodness creep-out moments. Unlike the grotesque torture of the Saw films or the shocks of a slasher, this film scares with realism, in that it feels much more tenable than most supernatural horror films.

It’s scary sure, but it’s fun. Everybody needs to go out and see this when it comes to your town.

My Official Spoiler to Star Trek

Note: not really a spoiler.

No, Jeri Ryan does not appear in Star Trek 2009.

(No, Jeri Ryan does not appear in Star Trek 2009.)

scott (3:58:47 PM): finally watched star trek
luke (3:59:09 PM): what’d you think?
scott (3:59:10 PM): it was pretty good
scott (3:59:19 PM): here’s my synopsis:
scott (3:59:22 PM): kirk gets beat up
scott (3:59:27 PM): then he gets beat up more
scott (3:59:34 PM): and then, in a new twist, he gets beat up again
scott (3:59:50 PM): finally, somebody beats up kirk
scott (3:59:52 PM): the end

To be honest I really did like the new Trek.  I think it was full of action, gave a lot of nods to the original series in good ways, and hopefully points this franchise in the right direction.  The casting was great for the most part… the new Chekov and Sulu were a lot of fun to watch.  I thought Simon Pegg was trying a bit too hard to emulate James Doohan, but he was certainly tolerable.  And of course Kirk and Spock were pretty much what you’d expect.  I really don’t think Nero was given enough back story to ever feel like the ultimate villain, and he in no way surpassed Khan.  But otherwise, the movie felt like a great success and breathed new life into the Star Trek story.