31 Days of Halloween! #4. The Shining

I’m counting down my favorite 31 Horror Movies of all time. Every day this month I’ll feature one movie from my list – starting on Oct 1st with #31 and ending  on the Oct 31st, Halloween, with my #1 favorite scary movie.

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THE TOP 31 HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

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#4. The Shining (1980)

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall,Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers

Plot: A novelist – Jack Torrance take a job interview as winter caretaker of the isolated, old, huge and beautiful Overlook Hotel. In the interview, Jack is told by the manager himself, that the previous caretaker – Grady, chopped his family and later killed himself with a shotgun. Ignoring the story, Jack brings his wife – Wendy and his son Danny. It happens that Danny, has a mysterious power known as “The Shining” that shows him things from the past and future. Some of the visions come from Tony – “the little boy who lives in Danny’s mouth”. Danny meets Hallorann – the hotel cook in their first day arriving at the Overlook, who also has this “Shining” and he warns him about the hotel and the sinister Room 237. As the days go by, Danny has visions of previous guests and employees who died at the hotel years before, meanwhile Jack starts driving into insanity, turning more and more aggressive, at the point that Danny and Wendy gets convinced that Jack might try to do the same thing, Grady did.

My Thoughts

I’ve written about The Shining about a billion times, the most recent being when this 1980 classic made my Top 50 Movies of All Time List at #30 (Check out what I said HERE). So, forgive if this blurb strays a bit. Everyone knows The Shining is based on a Stephen King novel of the same name, but the funny thing is, if you read the novel it is almost a completely different story. Kubrick only takes a few beats from King’s novel and goes from there to make his own version of The Shining. And honestly, I sorta like Kubrick’s vision a little bit better. Here, in the movie, the sense of utter dread begins right from the opening shot. There is no, “oh Jack Torrance is a nice guy and gets corrupted by the evil of the Overlook Hotel.” as it happens in King’s story. Not in the movie though, Jack is already on the edge when we first meet him, and to me, this enhances the horror 10 fold. We know this dude is a hair away from snapping and the tension is incredibly thick because of this – almost too tense to watch. The film builds and builds and builds on this tension until Jack comes bursting thru the bathroom door looking for Wendy and Danny so he can split their heads open. It is a moment that has gone down in film history not only because of Nicholson’s ad libed line “Here’s Johnny!” but because we as the audience over the course of the two hours have looked for someone to relate to – to latch onto as our link to something good and pure – and Wendy Torrance has become that person. We ARE Wendy by the time she is facing off with her husband. And when she is screaming in that bathroom, crying for Jack to stop, we feel her terror. Jack is coming for us.

31 Days of Halloween! #5. Halloween

I’m counting down my favorite 31 Horror Movies of all time. Every day this month I’ll feature one movie from my list – starting on Oct 1st with #31 and ending  on the Oct 31st, Halloween, with my #1 favorite scary movie.

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THE TOP 31 HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

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#5. Halloween (1978)

Directed by: John Carpenter

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, P. J. Soles, Nancy Loomis

Plot: On a cold Halloween night in Haddonfield, Illinois in 1963, six year old Michael Myers brutally murdered his teenage sister after she had sex with her boyfriend. Michael is then locked inside Smith’s Grove Warren County Sanitarium where he is placed under the care of Dr. Sam Loomis who is the only one who sees the pure evil within the soul of Michael. On October 30, 1978, Michael escapes from the sanitarium. After witnessing the escape, Dr. Loomis heads back to Haddonfield where he knows Michael will kill again on Halloween night. Michael begins stalking three teenagers, Laurie Strode and her friends Annie and Lynda. With the help of the town sheriff, Loomis hunts for Michael and hopes to put an end to his grisly murder spree

My Thoughts

There are two main reasons why Halloween is one of the scariest films of all time: One, it convinces us that the boogeyman is real. Two, the music. John Carpenter originally set out to make an extremely low budget horror flick about a dude that kills babysitters. In fact that was the name of the project in the early stages, “The Babysitter Murders”. But during post production something happened – they stumbled upon a formula that since 1978 has been copied more times then I can count. Using a cheap mask bought at the local grocery store and hiring a non-actor to play the killer, Carpenter created the ultimate boogeyman. A faceless, emotionless killing machine that you cannot stop  and that will always be around the corner in the dark. The Fucking Boogeyman! Then, to top it off Carpenter himself scores the most bone chilling music in the history of film. Like theme to Jaws, the music in Halloween is the harbinger of evil. Nowadays we hear it playing in the aisles of Target in the costume section, but can you imagine back in ’78 and watching Halloween in a dark theater and that music comes on? Jesus Christ. This is a perfect horror film. I suggest watching it again but try and get rid of all the stuff that came after it, all the sequels, all the cliches that it created, everything. Just watch it tonight, with the lights off, hopefully it’s windy outside, turn off your cellphone, put that laptop down and just give yourself over to the movie. I guarantee that for the rest of the night every bump you hear will be the boogeyman coming to get you. Happy Halloween.

THIS IS AWESOME. WATCH THIS YOUTUBE CLIP WITH AUDIENCE AUDIO TAKEN FROM A 1979 VIEWING OF HALLOWEEN.

31 Days of Halloween! #6. IT

I’m counting down my favorite 31 Horror Movies of all time. Every day this month I’ll feature one movie from my list – starting on Oct 1st with #31 and ending  on the Oct 31st, Halloween, with my #1 favorite scary movie.

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THE TOP 31 HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

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#6. IT (1990)

Directed by: Tommy Lee Wallace

Starring: Tim Curry, Harry Anderson, Dennis Christopher, Annette O’Toole, John Ritter, Seth Green

Plot: In the quiet town of Derry, Maine, Seven friends  Bill, Eddie, Mike, Bev, Stan, Richie and Ben (the losers club) have all been seeing and hearing strange things. Most of which revolve around a Clown called Pennywise in which they all admit being real, the kids eventually discover that the leader of the club, Bill’s little brother fell victim to this evil. The group sets out to stop the force and put it to rest once and for all. 30 years after defeating IT, Mike Hanlon, the only Member who remained in Derry, is suspecting that IT has returned and is forced to call back all of the Losers club, due to a promise they all made to return if its evil shall ever resurface. Uncovering new powers, clues and evil the club reunites as adults and come face to face with the evil that has haunted and fed on Derry for the last centuries.

My Thoughts

This is Stephen Kings love letter to his childhood growing up in Maine in the 1950’s. In a way IT, along with The Body (Stand By Me), is almost his autobiography instead of a work of fiction. You can tell that the characters in this story are based on real friends and enemies and episodes that may have really taken place in young King’s life. If so, then no wonder Stephen King writes some of the most fucked up scary shit ever. Although I think Salems’ Lot is his most frightening novel, IT scares in a different way, it taps into our early fears. Fears that we had as kids that over the years faded – replaced by real world problems: Mortgages, Jobs, Economy, etc. King captures in his story those nights alone, in our bedroom, when the shadows of our closet held monsters. IT the movie does a fantastic job of adapting the novel and translating those pages, realizing Kings world for all of us to see. Unfortunately this 2 part made-for-TV mini-series loses a lot of its steam in part 2, which focuses on the adults. It is in part 1 where this mini-series truly shines and where the clown Pennywise makes the strongest impact.  In the book Pennywise the Clown is a malevolent force that haunts the kids but as with all novels, we make our image of what Pennywise looked like. In the movie Tim Curry brings Pennywise to life with such flair and power that cast members would avoid Tim while shooting the film. Pennywise is one of the greatest horror creations of all time.

Movie Clip of the Week! 1975

Every Thursday I post a clip from a film you may not have seen but should. This week it’s a film from 1975.

Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins (1975)

Directed by: Dick Richards

Starring: Sally Kellerman, Mackenzie Phillips, Alan Arkin, Harry Dean Stanton

Plot: Hapless driving instructor and former Gunnery Sergeant Rafferty, living in squalor near Hollywood, California, doesn’t put up too much of a fight when two ladies hitch a ride and attempt to kidnap him in their attempt to get to New Orleans; while initially put off, Rafferty finds he’s charmed by the kooky pair of misfits and the three of them drive to Las Vegas, Nevada and later Tucson, Arizona, where their bond eventually unravels.

31 Days of Halloween! #7. The Ring

I’m counting down my favorite 31 Horror Movies of all time. Every day this month I’ll feature one movie from my list – starting on Oct 1st with #31 and ending  on the Oct 31st, Halloween, with my #1 favorite scary movie.

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THE TOP 31 HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

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#7. The Ring (2002)

Directed by: Gore Verbinski

Starring: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman

Plot: A mysterious video tape is killing off anyone who watches it. Whenever the victim watches it, the phone rings, telling them they have only one week to live. A young reporter named Rachel is investigating these events, but after she and her small son watch the tape, it becomes a race against time to find out why the tape is killing everyone and how it could be stopped

My Thoughts

This remake of the Japanese film Ringu is a total downer – but in a good way. The whole movie has this grey/blue tone to it that just makes you feel depressed the moment the movie starts. Nothing in this film is happy. Nothing makes you smile. This is all out fucking bleakness at it finest – and I love it! The Ring makes you want to run out and spend a week at a sunny beach afterwards, just to wash off all the creepiness. And this movie IS creepy. Great performances and directing help bring The Ring above all the rest of the “Scary Kids” Horror Sub-Genre. This one is the best and most worth your time.

quick side note: I had bought this movie when it first came out on DVD back in the days and after watching the film I went to check out the special features. The DVD had the “video” that they watch in the movie where after you watch it the phone rings and someone on the other end tells you you are going to die in 7 days. Well, I watched the video. Pretty weird shit man and I have to say, there was a little apprehension right before I hit play. I mean, what if this video really is cursed? Naaa. So I watched it. After it was over the DVD went back to the main menu. I had gotten up to go to the kitchen or something when all of the sudden THE PHONE RANG! But it didn’t come from my home phone, it came from the DVD. Sneaky fuckers scared the shit out of me.

Watch the Cursed Video here for yourself – if you dare!

New Comics Day! Best Bets

Sorry I missed last weeks New Comics Day, but I’m back to let you know which of the new comics coming out today are worth your 2.99, or 3.99, or 4.99, or…..

10. Batman, Incorporated #4 – DC Comics

Written by: Grant Morrison

Drawn by: Chris Burnham

• BATMAN and TALIA AL GHUL continue their fight for control of their son DAMIAN – better known as ROBIN!

• WINGMAN and REDBIRD descent upon GOTHAM CITY! Who are these heroes, and what is their relationship to THE DARK KNIGHT?

My Thoughts

The Batman Incorporated train keeps a rollin’ along and Morrison’s opus is drawing closer and closer to its epic conclusion as he will be leaving the title early next year. It’s not too late to hop on board and take the ride.

Continue reading

31 Days of Halloween! #8. The Sixth Sense

I’m counting down my favorite 31 Horror Movies of all time. Every day this month I’ll feature one movie from my list – starting on Oct 1st with #31 and ending  on the Oct 31st, Halloween, with my #1 favorite scary movie.

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THE TOP 31 HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

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#8. The Sixth Sense (1999)

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette

Plot: Malcom Crowe is a child psychologist who receives an award on the same night that he is visited by a very unhappy ex-patient. After this encounter, Crowe takes on the task of curing a young boy with the same ills as the ex-patient. This boy “sees dead people”. Crowe spends a lot of time with the boy (Cole) much to the dismay of his wife. Cole’s mom is at her wit’s end with what to do about her son’s increasing problems. Crowe is the boy’s only hope.

My Thoughts

Most of “My Thoughts” have to do with the first time I saw the film I’m talking about. Remembering that thrill and excitement of the experience is half the fun of doing these posts – so, I’ll make no exception here with The Sixth Sense and recall my first viewing way back in the days of 1999. I first saw the trailer for The Sixth Sense during some summer blockbuster. I remember not being terribly impressed with it and said to whoever I was with, “That looks sorta lame.” And soon after all but forgot about it. Then the month of August rolls around and I had pretty much seen everything there was to see at the movies so when The Sixth Sense opened I decided I would waste 10 bucks to go check it out. My expectations were low – there had not been a great scary movie is such a long time and I was sure this one would join the long list of failures. Then the movie started. And from the opening shot of that basement lightblub slowly turning on and the woman standing there, off to the far left of the screen, staring at something “not there” in the right side of the screen I knew something special was about to happen. I felt goosebumps. And the movie just got better from there. This was a freakin’ scary ghost story and I gave myself over completely to M. Night’s masterpiece. I left the theater seats and was there with the Malcom and Cole and the dead people that made the hair stand up on your neck. This was brilliant film making and  I was  enthralled and invested  so much that when the “twist” happened I couldn’t breath. I was dumbfounded and ecstatic that a movie had just taken me on such a ride. This was epic. This was powerful. This was moving. This was horror at its most delicate. Wonderful.