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Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. So, since 2011, I have spent the entire month of October every year reviewing a horror movie each day. I've changed formats many times over the years, and in the past few years, I've even been joined by my wife Solee, as well as the occasional guest. We've got text, drawings, video reviews, audio reviews... we got it all! Wanna check out our reviews? Look below, or use the menu to the left to dig deeper!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Nine Dead 09:52 PM -- Wed October 19, 2011  

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: Somebody runs around town tasering and kidnapping people at random. Or is it random? The nine kidnappees wake up locked in a room together and are told that one will be killed every ten minutes until they can figure out why they are all there. Deaths ensue, at ten-minute intervals.

Scariness Type: There's gore, of course, due to all the shooting, but this really isn't a horror movie. It's a psychological thriller.

Rating: 4/5 Blue Masks.

Awarded: The Miss Manners Medal for jamming more racial slurs into one minute than a KKK rally. That's just one specific minute, most of the movie is not like that.

Good Stuff: A couple days ago, we got Topanga, and now it's Sabrina the Teenage Witch! Well, I don't know if that's really a good thing, but it happened (she didn't do badly at all, so good on her). There's also a Lesser Baldwin in a very tiny cameo. The good here is the movie. It was totally engaging. I even forgot I was going to get up and make dinner halfway through. The movie consists almost entirely of people in a blank room talking to each other, not even able to directly interact because they're handcuffed apart from each other, but that's all you need if you've got a fun script of things for them to say. I was kept guessing and thinking and evolving my opinions of the characters, and that's all good.

Bad Stuff: This may be a little controversial... You see, American movie casts are almost exclusively white, almost always with one or two token black people. The race of the black people usually comes into play in the movie in some small way, as it does with the token black guy in this movie. That's not usually too extreme, but it does kind of bother me how it always has to be an issue instead of just treating everyone the same. What gets me though, and is almost a constant in movies, is what happens if there is an Asian in the cast! Somehow, none of the other people can control themselves from spewing an endless stream of racist epithets. Well, there's always one who doesn't - The Virtuous Hero. These movies make it seem like keeping yourself from mocking Asians is an absolutely angelic trait, and hey, if you drop a few insults, well, we can't all be perfect! It's really honestly disgusting, and this movie lets it rip. It's to the extreme (in many movies, including this one) that it doesn't feel realistic at all. I don't know what your life is like, but the last time I heard someone publicly use an anti-Asian slur is absolutely memorable for me. It was a drunken rant by a frat boy in my freshman year of college. It was shocking enough that I remember it clearly thirteen years later. People just don't do that. Of course, I've never been handcuffed and threatened with death, maybe you get rude. Very specifically rude.

In other bad news, the ending of the movie was kind of a letdown. Not a big one, it had its twists and turns and excitement, but it felt like it should have been bigger. And most of all, the very last instant of the movie, as the credits roll, that part I don't understand at all... were they trying to set up a sequel? It didn't seem like it, it just seemed like they lost the footage of the scene that should've followed and just shrugged and shipped it out anyway. It's not even that what happens is wrong or too open-ended, just how they showed it, like they're fading out in the middle of a scene.

Classic Rules Of Film: If you are an evil person and you put a mask on, it will magically lower your voice three octaves and make you sound the same as every other serial killer. I even remember an episode of Bones where the killer in question was a woman and this worked. I think she used actual technology to do it rather than a rubber mask, though.

My Take: There are really two kinds of mystery stories. In one, the clues are there, and you can piece it together - they're usually far too obscure for you to do that until moments before the detective announces whodunnit, but it's theoretically possible. The other kind simply doesn't give you all the facts. You just hang around until the detective solves it and then say "ah, that was interesting!" I think the best mysteries in film are ones you can solve yourself. Both because you can feel smart if you do, and because even if you don't, you can still look back at the movie and say "oh right, I should've caught that!" That's a ton of fun, almost making a movie into a game.

Well, this movie is the latter kind. The information to solve the mystery is contained entirely in the characters' heads, and you aren't going to get it until they say it. But I won't complain too much, I had a blast watching the pieces gradually fall into place and being tantalized at ten-minute intervals with the thought that the solution was right around the corner. There's plenty of moments where you can still feel smart and figure things out, like noticing when somebody is holding back a key piece of information. It's fun, just good old-fashioned fun.

Artistic Nonsense: Fun is art! This is not high art of any sort, but it's fun.

Our next movie is The Last Exorcism, which has an intriguing premise. A priest is letting his last exorcism be filmed, where he plans to unveil how he's been faking them all along. Of course, you know what happens next.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Last Exorcism 11:32 PM -- Thu October 20, 2011  

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: A priest doesn't really believe in exorcism, but he's been doing them anyway, with the thinking that he's giving people peace of mind and it's worthwhile. Since reading an article about a kid getting killed during an exorcism, he's changed his mind and decided not to do them anymore. To make that extra positive, he's taking a documentary crew to one final exorcism, so they can see how it's all fake. Contortionism ensues.

Scariness Type: There are jump scares and gore, but the main thing that really had me creeped out was just the fear of what might happen next. I kept half-averting my eyes just in case something horrible was going to happen. I don't know if this was scarier than the other movies or it's just that I watched it alone at night... I tend not to, just because I don't want to have to write these reviews late, but it really seems to be effective. I probably should be doing that.

Rating: 4/5 Nice Boots.

Good Stuff: This is our second mockumentary (not sure that term applies to non-comedy, but it is indeed a mock documentary...), and that has a certain appeal. The plot really works here, where it has a bunch of layers, and you're constantly guessing whether it will turn out all real or fake (not real real, but real in the context of the movie, if you follow me). There's a certain point by which you're convinced it must be real, then a later point where that's turned back around. Then it twists around more! That certainly kept me interested. And the events of about the middle third of the movie had me trying not to watch, because it was some scary stuff.

There are basically three endings to this movie. The first one I was like "ooh, that's a really cool ending!". I liked how it worked and what it relied upon (the vaguest sentence ever written, but spoiler-free!). The second one twists that around and I was like "OH SNAP", and I really wish it had ended not there exactly, but that it had continued with that revelation and concluded accordingly (I can think of a couple fun final scenes for that). I was all amped up for that. But then there's the final ending, and I'm not gonna complain, it was exciting and enjoyable, but it certainly throws away any ambiguity we had previously, and takes the whole story in a pretty wild direction. I don't know, it was definitely interesting, and a truly good ending, but it took away the ending I was so excited about, so I begrudge it.

Bad Stuff: Unlike Lake Mungo, there was never any feeling that this could be a real documentary. It's too slick, the camera is too convenient, and the characters are too 'charactery'. No awkward slips of the tongue, just good clean acting. That's all okay, because if they hadn't done the documentary format, that would've been perfectly fine, so you can just let it go, but I give Lake Mungo credit for pulling it off a lot more realistically. However, back to Good Stuff, there's one scene that really takes advantage of the documentary format in a clever and disturbing way.

Speaking of unrealistic, the part where the priest is doing his exorcism, intercut with showing off the tricks to the camera crew, I don't buy that for a second. No exorcist in real life, no matter how big a charlatan, uses portable speakers and other big tricks like that in the room. First of all, you'd have to get them in and out undetected (it's never explained how he removes them). Secondly, hearing actual demon voices (out of tinny computer speakers!) would immediately convince anybody in this modern age that it was all fake. And it's so incredibly risky anyway. Somebody will spot your wires and tools one time, and then the jig is up. It's about subtlety, people. That's how I do my exorcisms, anyway.

Classic Rules of Film: I've got a good one here, the classic "show a gun, then it goes off later", but it's not any sort of weapon, and I can't tell you what it is, because it'd be a big spoiler.

My Take: I can't shake the feeling that I've actually seen this movie, or rather the second half of this movie, before. Only my memories are so vague that I wonder if it was just deja vu, or possibly some kind of behind the scenes special I caught in a hotel somewhere. I don't know. I must have! This is eating at my soul like a demon. Oh well. I enjoyed it, if being creeped out and disturbed is enjoyment. The plot was a lot of fun for me, I'm a big plot guy. Give me twists and mysteries and things that connect together later and I am just a happy camper. And you know, as an added bonus, the scary stuff in this movie basically ended about fifteen minutes before the movie did, and the rest was more interesting than scary, so it let me relax on my way out of the movie. Without feeling let down either. Well played, Last Exorcism, well played.

Artistic Nonsense: Ah, the skeptic vs. the supernatural. In fiction, it can only end one way. In reality, it can only end the other. Kind of silly really. There were points in this movie where I was almost cheering because it seemed like they were going to actually go out on the realistic path, without making it just a fizzle-out. On the contrary, the ending I wanted most would have been a huge earth-shattering conclusion, and I think all the stronger for not having to resort to magic.

Our next movie is going to be Birdemic: Shock and Terror. From what I've read, it appears to be just about the worst movie ever made, so I'm pretty excited. Also apprehensive, because that can often lead to extreme tedium, but I'm just rooting for awful effects, fast pace, and nonsensical acting.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Birdemic: Shock And Terror 11:24 PM -- Fri October 21, 2011  

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: A guy drives really slowly, then walks really slowly, then talks really slowly as he somehow romances a model for no apparent reason (maybe his "one million dollar" deal was the key. He did give the client a 50% discount though, so I don't know if that's actually a 500 grand deal, or it was a two million dollar deal before the discount). Birds hovering nearby noisily ensue.

Scariness Type: You know how The Birds would've been scarier if the birds hadn't actually moved, except for when they occasionally divebombed into buildings and exploded in a ball of fire? It's that kind of scary. Also BEWARE OF GLOBAL WARMING.

Rating: 2/5 Hybrid Mustangs.

Good Stuff: There are quite a few individual moments that stand out as excellent, but they're a little hard to describe. Probably the best is the very first scene that contains dialogue (after about ten minutes of driving with nothing but music and credits). That's when you really know what you're in for. After that, I'd rate the first time you see the deadly birds in action (which is about forty-five minutes into the movie...) as the second best moment. It comes at just the point where you're reaching for the remote to turn off the movie because, funny as it is, it's just gotten too boring. Then everything kicks into gear, and it's bird city. Brilliantly done. The birds "attack" by hovering near things and screeching incessantly. Except when they dive into things and erupt in a ball of flame. Other highlights include the explanation of how birds killed by bird flu can't attack you, but they're attacking because of global warming; the terrifying and incredibly realistic CGI forest fire sequence; and of course all five minutes of "Hanging Out With My Family", the classic R&B hit performed live to which our heroes did The Robot.

Bad Stuff: It's awful. Absolutely horrendously horrible. If that's what you are in the mood for, get watching! But have something else to do, because there are long stretches that will bore you to tears. Even though you'll have a smirk on your face for the entire time you're bored. The most fundamental element of bad movies is lingering too long on something, and you'll know halfway through the opening credits that this movie consists almost entirely of that. You'll get to experience the wonders of unlocking a front door, walking out to a car, starting up the engine, backing it out of the driveway, and even driving (slowly) as far as you can before it's out of sight. But don't fret! Because then we'll cut to another street and watch it drive down there too!

Classic Rules of Film: Don't sit there on a scene for five more seconds after everyone stops talking!! This movie does not follow rules.

My Take: Okay, what I really want to say about this movie is that it's a JOKE. I looked around at various reviews for it and I haven't seen one yet that acknowledged this. They all seem to think that this just happens to be an unbelievably bad movie, done so poorly that I have seen at least two different people unironically state that it's worse than both Plan 9 From Outer Space and Manos: The Hands Of Fate. I declare that these people were fooled. Yes, it's terrible, and it's entirely possible that the makers really did lack talent. I'm fine with that. But they made it this bad on purpose. There are a lot of little clues, but the main character's incredibly slow driving and awkward-and-slow walking are among the biggest. That could only be intentional. So many other things were there that just would never be done on accident, like showing a scene of him driving to work in which he stops to get gas in the middle, gets it, and continues on. Like with Thankskilling before it, I honestly can't tell how talented the people making this were because they're (possibly) untalented people, acting like they are untalented.

It's one of the great Zen koans: When a bad actor intentionally acts poorly, can you tell?

I'd also like to point out that there's a Rifftrax available, and if you want to see this movie, I would strongly believe that adding the Rifftrax for a mere $3.99 will enhance your experience dramatically. I just checked out the sample for it on their website (I recommend you do too! It's not Hamumu-appropriate, however), and it seemed great.

Artistic Nonsense: There's a little bit of a theme you just might pick up after you sit through the multiple five-minute rants about it... apparently global warming is BAD. Now I just picked that up from the subtext, but I'm telling you, it's in there! You just have to pay close attention.

Our next film is Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, a Japanese movie that couldn't possibly be bad, based on the title alone.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl 07:08 PM -- Sat October 22, 2011  

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: Hmm, let's see... A new girl transfers to school and turns Jyugon into a half-vampire by feeding him her own blood. She wants him to become a full vampire and stay with her, but his previous girlfriend wants to keep him. Her dad happens to be the vice principal as well as a distant relative of Dr. Frankenstein, so you know... fountains of blood ensue.

Scariness Type: Oh, it's not scary. But there is more blood in any one of these students than in the entire student body of any other school on the planet (and rarely does it stay inside the student for long - understandable given the pressure it's kept under). The gore is off the charts, but so utterly ridiculous and bright and colorful that it's hard to be disgusted by it.

Rating: 5/5 Helicopter Legs.

Awarded: The US Government Corn Subsidy Award. Thank you, Japan, for using every ounce of corn syrup our country can produce, in a single movie!

Good Stuff: This is Scott Pilgrim on a small budget, except for the tons of gore. It's absolutely cheery and exciting, and never slows down. It's also very directly based on a manga, to the extent that you can almost see the frames of the comic as they happen. If you want to know what you're in for, just remember that: It's exactly like Scott Pilgrim with more violence (the plot is totally different, though). There are innumerable parallels. And that's definitely a good thing. I absolutely loved Vampire Girl, she was just the peppiest vampire since Harmony (without the attitude). Oh, and the movie was dubbed, which generally is a bad thing, but it was dubbed perfectly for what it is, and the actors had all kinds of personality. A couple of lines fell flat or were read wrong, but the vast majority were just hyperactive anime insanity.

Also good: the sheer ridiculousness of the whole thing. There are ribcage flails, blood roller skates, helicopter legs, a walking eyeball, a wrist-cutting competition, the cutest drop of blood you've ever seen (which gets the biggest laugh in the movie), and... oh yeah. Something that's ridiculous but goes in the other list.

Bad Stuff: Hoo boy... remember how we discussed racism back in Nine Dead? Whoa. I'll just say you'll know it when you see it in this movie! It's of course done with good cheer like everything else in this movie, and I was definitely laughing, but whoa.

There are also a couple of musical montages that go on about a minute too long each. Other than that, it'd be hard to find things to complain about! The effects are mostly quite bad, but that's more of a plus than a minus in this context.

Classic Rules of Film: If you show a single drop of blood on the floor in Act 1, someone will have to chase it around with a mop in Act 2.

My Take: Definitely see it! See Bloody Mallory, then see this (no relation, it's just that it's still Best Movie Ever). It might be bad if you faint at the sight of blood, or at the sight of oceans of blood raining down while people twirl in delight, but if you can handle extremely fake blood in extremely large quantities, you would have a very hard time not enjoying this movie.

Also, I'd like to say that this is effectively the third version of Let The Right One In I've seen now. This one is a bit sillier than the other two.

Artistic Nonsense: This movie offers a cogent theme that we can all understand: Don't take candy from strangers.

Tomorrow's movie is our third mockumentary overall and our third super long title in a row that makes tweeting difficult, Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon. It's supposed to be good! I probably should get back to movies that actually attempt to frighten at some point.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon 09:28 PM -- Sun October 23, 2011  

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: A documentary team is contacted by someone who's hoping to make himself the next Jason, Freddy, or Michael Myers (in a world where all those guys, even including Chuckie apparently, are real). They follow him around, recording his preparations and inevitable serial killing. Friendly banter ensues!

Scariness: Not really! There is gore, but amazingly little. There are also a few things that are intended to be jump scares, but really aren't shocking at all.

Rating: 5/5 Hand Scythes.

Awarded: The Scream Award for Excellence In Mocking Slasher Films. This is really what Scream should've been. Scream worked in that it was a fairly comedic slasher movie with a few little pokes at the 'rules', but this movie truly deconstructs and satirizes the slasher genre.

Good Stuff: This could've been very plodding, if the serial killer was the typical Jason type. Instead, when he's out of character, he's just making dumb jokes left and right and constantly chattering, keeping things very fun. The steps he goes through are amusing and make a great joke out of real slasher movies. Since the whole thing takes place in a world where those guys are real (but not supernatural - they just plan really well), there's a lot of fun with that premise, like meeting his friend from an earlier generation of slashers, who's now happily married to a very supportive wife, but still likes to spend time in his sensory deprivation tank, to train himself to fake being dead. The entire premise is completely ridiculous, because all the things he sets up and plans are pointless, unless you're trying to make a horror movie. This movie just glosses over that with a wink, with everybody acting like it makes perfect sense to walk towards your victims, but do lots of cardio so that you can do that fast enough to keep up with their running.

Most of the movie is in the documentary format, but every so often it will switch out to "reality", only reality is a total slasher movie, with the background music, polished look, and vapid characters. It's really fun how it will switch from very realistic banter in the documentary to suddenly showing a real world in which everybody acts completely cheesy. The movie does a whole lot with its premise, and you're basically grinning the entire time because everything is a little bit ridiculous but done in total seriousness.

Bad Stuff: Unfortunately, in the end it does pretty much boil down to a generic slasher movie after all the more inventive setup. There are some twists to that, but they were fairly predictable, and it's sad to see some of the characters making really dumb choices like they would in a regular slasher movie. Then again, maybe that's the point - this world wouldn't exist as it does if the people in it didn't act like slasher movie characters!

Classic Rules of Film: If a journalist is warned not to talk to somebody in Act 1, that journalist will be nosy like they always are in Act 2!

My Take: It's yet another really great movie showing up during this month! It's been a very successful month in movie-picking. I was expecting to plod through all kinds of garbage, but I think I've been hitting a lot of good stuff and I didn't think I'd find any truly excellent movies, but I can name at least three so far off-hand! Hint: they're the ones I gave 5/5 to. So yeah, great movie. Just a lot of fun, much like Vampire Girl yesterday.

Artistic Nonsense: This movie actually contains a fair amount of artistic nonsense of its own, where Leslie explains some of the psychology behind his plans (which really means the psychology behind slasher movies, since he's performing one live). You can just go watch it and hear the nonsense for yourself!

Our next film will be Spider Forest, a Korean movie about a guy who goes into a forest (I can't imagine what the forest's name might be), and then emerges with unexplained wounds. Presumably, explaining ensues. Also of note is the fact that The Nameless appears to be playable now, so I will probably slip that into the coming list in place of a movie that is very unscary that I have planned. I really want to watch a bunch of scary stuff and stop being sidetracked with the horror-based comedy and unintentional comedy. I love those movies, but they feel like cheating.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Spider Forest 10:53 PM -- Mon October 24, 2011  

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: Er, I'm not really sure. There's this forest, and a guy stumbles across some bodies in a house in it, then gets beaten down by another guy, then stumbles out into the street where a car hits him. Confusion, altered realities, and marginally successful recuperation from cranial damage ensue!

Scariness Type: There is gore, even one of those lovely (and so realistic) fountains of spraying blood. Mostly though, this is a very confusing mystery, not anything trying to scare you at all.

Rating: 2/5 Hand Scythes. Believe it or not, the same rating scale is appropriate twice in a row.

My Take: I can't do the Good Stuff and Bad Stuff and all that this time... I'm just too confused. The first hour of this movie was completely disconnected, all strange events that didn't seem to fit with the introduction. It was flashbacks within flashbacks within stories being told within flashforwards (I don't think it really had that many layers at once, but it did have all of those things). It wasn't until more than halfway through that the threads start pulling together. Thankfully, they did pull together, and it all manages to make a sort of cohesive sense (well, sort of), even if I don't entirely understand the conclusion. It's doing a certain type of story, that I've seen more than once before, but the end result just doesn't click together for me this time. I know when you mess with time and ghosts (which, I believe we've discussed, are essentially the same thing!), that you can be left with things that the viewers watch, but they didn't officially happen in the final outcome. We have that here, but also some arbitrary changes that seem meaningless.

I have an interpretation of this movie, and if you don't want to be spoiled, skip to the next paragraph. Ready? Okay, I'm not actually going to tell you anything, I'm just going to say that this is the same story as the movie Stay in several ways. So if you haven't seen that, I have spoiled nothing, but if you have seen either this or that, I've spoiled the other. I liked that movie, it fit together nicely and didn't leave me so confused. Hooray for movies made for dumb Americans!

So anyway, yeah! I don't really stand too strongly by my rating. There was a lot of complexity here (and a foreign language to deal with, and making dinner, and my cats interrupting me like five times to deal with their issues, and two phone calls), and I'm afraid that I'm rating it lower than it deserves. It's a fun and complex idea, so if it really does all come together in a good way for people who are smart enough to get it, then it deserves a much higher rating. But part of my low rating is also because it takes forever to get going. I was interested in all the threads they were dangling and the hope of getting to tie them together later, but it just felt like an awful lot of backstory and setup before anything really happened. That may have been the interruptions talking though, so again, not too sure of my rating.

Hmm, to help me write this, I scanned some Netflix reviews just now and I see a common theme in them that helps explain the confusion: it's repeatedly referred to as being in the tradition of David Lynch. There you go. Confusion is to be expected. Although to my credit, I clearly understood things a lot more than some of these reviewers... wow. One of them is particularly amusing, but I guess you'd have to watch the movie to appreciate it.

Tomorrow's movie is nice simple American fare that's made for idiots like I like it! It's The Skeleton Key, in which a hospice worker finds a key that unlocks some kind of secrets. Fingers crossed for some sort of scares. Come on movies! I can take it!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Skeleton Key 11:17 AM -- Wed October 26, 2011  

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: Deep in the swamps of Louisiana, a girl gets a job doing in-home care of an old man who's had a stroke and can't talk. The man's wife is not too keen on hiring her, but needs the help. They have no mirrors anywhere in their house. The girl is quite curious about what's up in their attic. As you can imagine, bad hoodoo ensues.

Scariness Type: There's a few false-scare jumps (somehow they managed to avoid having a cat jump out and hiss at people though, it's amazing how much cats do that in movies), but otherwise it's just tension and mystery. This is more of a thriller than a horror movie.

Rating: 3/5 Chicken Feet.

Upsetting: I wasn't scared by any monsters, but I was sure horribly uncomfortable seeing how intensely flooded their yard got when it rained. I don't know if that's my California sensibilities, or the fact that my current yard is very adversely affected by heavy rains (and like in the movie, I live on a dirt road), but it causes me great discomfort.

Good Stuff: There's a mystery, and you really don't know what kind it's going to be - are there ghosts, is the homeowner out to get her, is it a curse, did she poison her husband, what's the deal? And in the end, it's a little more complicated than all of that. There are no big shocks and surprises, but it does twist around a fair amount, and the movie you see in the end isn't what you thought you would be seeing at the beginning. So that kept my interest going as things kept changing. I feel like I'm not giving it enough credit, because I like what the twists ended up twisting to. No big shocks, but fun minor surprises. While I don't want to see the movie again, it is interesting to think back to earlier scenes and see them in light of what I know to be true now. And as I like to point out when a movie is kind of middle-of-the-road, it's got good acting, sets, lighting, all that big-budget Hollywood pizazz that's pretty much a given with a big budget.

Bad Stuff: In the end, I know I just said it twists around a lot, but it's also rather predictable. Not over the whole arc, but when a new piece of information comes your way, that information pretty much leads right where you'd expect it to. I was kind of counting on a big turnaround at the end, but I didn't get that.

My Take: Nothing really wrong with this, it was reasonable experience. It's a true 3/5. It works, it's okay, it's not pointless and flat, it has a twisty little story to tell, which is better than a lot of movies that are just straightforward from beginning to end. I don't have much else to say. It's just okay, and I'm glad it is of sufficient twistiness that I don't want to spoil it.

Artistic Nonsense: This is a pro-skepticism movie. Don't believe in things without evidence, or bad things will happen. That's just plain good advice.

Our next movie will be Paranormal Activity 2, which finally is one that I know will be scary, because I saw the first one! I wasn't super crazy about it, but it was quite creepy. I guess we're straying dangerously close to mockumentary territory again... it's a "found footage" movie, a la Blair Witch, but you know, those are probably the scariest kinds of movies. They feel real.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Paranormal Activity 2 11:45 AM -- Thu October 27, 2011  

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: A family that's really into filming themselves comes home to find their house all trashed. Instead of getting an alarm system, they decide they need cameras in every room (they really like filming themselves). Every room, because entrances wouldn't be sufficient? Eventually, after a very very long time, spooky events ensue, on film.

Scariness Type: Jump scares, jump scares, jump scares. Plus a lot of tension waiting to see what will happen. And waiting, and waiting.

Rating: 3/5 Toy Trains.

Good Stuff: I would say this is the scariest movie I've seen this month. In fact, I had some real problems with my sleep (but I also had caffeine for the only time in months, so who knows the cause?). This is a movie where it forces you to stare closely, searching the screen for the hint of something strange happening, and then when you're focusing so intently BAM! Huge noise that makes all the cats in the room jump up. I've seen the original Paranormal Activity too, and it's cool how this prequel is very strongly intertwined with it, basically expanding the same story. In effect, this movie explains why the first movie happened, but leaves you wondering why this movie happened. The third movie just came out, and I read a review which indicates that it wraps the whole thing up (it's a prequel to this prequel). That's really nice, rather than just random scares. This isn't Friday The 13th Part 2 where Jason goes and kills some different people, this is all one cohesive story.

Bad Stuff: The very primary issue I have with this movie is much worse than the first movie: their obsession with filming everything. The first movie kind of made an issue of it that was unrealistic, but not extreme. The husband was really into his camera, and when they decided they were being haunted, he was dead-set on getting footage of it. It made sense, and there weren't too many scenes where I asked "Why are they filming this?" In this movie, pretty much every scene has you asking that, except when it's security camera footage, when instead you are asking "why did they get cameras instead of an alarm or just calling the cops and making sure they locked their doors from now on?" It seems very contrived. The worst scene for me was when the daughter was sitting and reading a website on her laptop. Her boyfriend films her doing it, for absolutely no reason. When she passes him the laptop to read a passage for himself, he trades her the camera so she can film him doing it. Now that's home movie excitement! I also liked when the daughter would wake up at night because she heard a noise, and she'd use the camera (recording, of course) to light her way as she looked around. Who doesn't do that? Light switches are so inconvenient. These people went through a lot of hard drive space.

Also, much like the first movie, the final supernatural events are very hokey and ridiculous, after all this creepy leadup. Overall, I think the first movie was notably better and scarier, though I don't remember it all that well, so maybe I'm wrong.

Oh, wait, I was wrong about what the primary issue is. I can pretend like I'm suspending my disbelief on all their filming. The real biggest problem with the movie is the waaaaaaaiiiiting. I totally get that the individual scenes need to leave you sitting and staring at nothing for a while so you're shocked when something happens. But did I need to sit through sixteen days of nothing more than maybe a clunking noise happening once or twice, before something dramatic occurs? It's really painful how long it takes for this to get going, and they could've cut out almost all of that leadup. The characters are established in a few scenes, and the rest is just padding. What I honestly think is that the story is just too simple. To get that story told really only takes about fifteen minutes, so they had to pad that out with as much regular home life and tiny little oddities as they could to reach proper movie length. This, I think, is the biggest flaw in the movie. It'd make a much better short, though it would lose impact if you were being hit with freakout after freakout.

Classic Rules Of Film: If you have a hispanic maid, you can bet she knows all about the occult, especially your particular issues. She just does.

My Take: The good and bad pretty much covered it. It's a scary movie, with a ridiculous format, though the format is what makes it feel real and therefore scary. There's really nothing to the movie other than the scares, no character development or interesting plotline, although I confess an interest in seeing the third just to find out how it all happens.

Our next film is Forget Me Not, another ghost story! It's graduation weekend, and people are vanishing, vengeful ghost style.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Forget Me Not 11:47 AM -- Fri October 28, 2011  

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: A bunch of utterly forgettable, yet attractive and sporty, teens (AKA actors in their twenties) celebrate their graduation by getting drunk and having a good old-fashioned game of tag in the cemetery. A mysterious extraneous teen joins them, then jumps off a cliff and vanishes. One by one, the other teens become even more forgettable as they are murdered by ghosts and the other characters forget they existed. Attempted J-Horror ensues.

Scariness Type: No scariness. There is some gore, and I'm pretty sure most of the movie is supposed to be jump scares, but they failed utterly at it. It's very odd. They'll quickly cut to a scary ghost face, make a loud noise, but I'm just sitting there going, "Oh, okay, there's a ghost."

Rating: 2/5 Forget-Me-Nots. The flower, not the movie title.

Good Stuff: The idea of the killed people vanishing from memory was pretty fun. The entire world actually changed so that they had never existed, which was a bit odd. After the initial extremely-cliche beginning, I remained interested to see how that would play out as the group was whittled down, so it kept me watching. I also liked the source of the ghosts, to not spoil anything. There was an episode of Buffy that was quite similar.

Bad Stuff: But that's about it. It's a bunch of kids wandering off alone to get killed, one after another. There's really nothing else to it. Towards the end the heroine starts to piece things together and try to solve the problem, but the ending was very disappointing. There was nothing exciting about the kids getting stalked and killed, it was more like "Here goes this one. Now it's this one." No tension of "will they get away?" Well, one scene had some of that, but only because the laws of physics stopped working (someone yelling for help thirty feet away from you in a very sparse forest and an entire group can't find them?). Speaking of laws, this movie didn't really have any logical rules to the ghost stuff. I saw what they were doing, with the nursery rhyme and all, but it didn't actually tie together into anything that made sense, and in the end it came to nothing. There was no sense of "oh, this is how this works, so if they just did X, they would succeed". Nope, just random death.

Also, what an absolutely stupid rhyme. If it were more on-the-nose, it would be a pair of glasses.

Classic Rules Of Film: How many times do I have to tell you people? Don't go off alone when everybody is getting killed! Actually, this movie subverts that, by virtue of the fact that only the heroine even knows people are getting killed. Everybody else forgets they ever existed, so they never think they're in danger. Clever!

My Take: This is a total 80's throwback, to when jock teens would gather and get murdered every time they did something immoral. The heroine is of course the one girl who doesn't do anything wrong, and always looks disapproving at their drugs and drinking. They're really channeling that 80's style. On the other hand, they tried to also capture the style of J-Horror. The ghosts in this movie are ripped straight from any Japanese horror movie - people in monochromatic makeup, with distended faces, that jitter and vibrate, moving towards you slowly, unless they're far away in which case they skitter rapidly. All they're missing is long black hair. Yet somehow, unlike every Japanese horror film, they're utterly unscary. I'm not even sure how, they just have no scariness. I never once jumped even a little bit, I never cringed in anticipation that something was going to happen that I wouldn't want to watch. Whatever it is they did wrong, it was something subtle in the edit timing and sound effects, because all the factors were right, they just came out bad. It's an interesting lesson in horror design. I do know one thing they were missing: they never lingered for long enough on ghostly things before they jumped at you. They didn't give you that time to build up anticipation of when they would attack.

Artistic Nonsense: What a nice anti-bullying message. Don't pick on people if you don't want them to turn into a vengeful ghost and vanish you from existence. Very clear and straightforward. Be nice! I was a little disturbed by the ending of the movie which seems to have forgotten that this was the point.

Our next movie is the epic smash hit of unimaginable chilling terror: Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid! It's got both Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, and my sister recommended it to me! This can't go badly. I've seen Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus (I think that's the title?), and that was excellent, so I have high hopes. Man, it's almost Halloween. Soon no more movies!
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Megapython Vs. Gatoroid 11:59 AM -- Sat October 29, 2011  

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: Debbie Gibson and Tiffany reignite the cold war of the 80's - the conflict between pop stars. Only this time, it's as an ecoterrorist and park ranger. Terrible CGI snakes and alligators, also appearing to be from the 80's, wander around in the background. Explosions ensue.

Scariness Type: Come on. Well, there's really cheesy gore.

Rating: 2/5 Walkie-Talkies.

Good Stuff: I have a few favorite moments. The first and best is when a giant python is attacking Tiffany's deputy (do rangers have deputies? She does). They ran into this python because they heard a walkie-talkie scritching, so they thought they had found the person they were looking for. She stabs wildly at the python to save the deputy, and in the process, ends up cutting a hole in it, through which a walkie-talkie just pops right out. Awesome.

Secondly, best line in the movie: Tiffany and Debbie have been fighting in the swamp (of course) and suddenly realize they can no longer hear the high-society party of people with guns (of course), so Tiffany says "I think we're alone now... there doesn't seem to be anyone around." Which you younguns won't get. Well that's just a joke for me to get!! And that last sentence was actually a reference to the commentary for the Clerks animated series, if we want to get seriously into references for a limited audience. I like to entertain myself.

Oh, but as far as stuff actually being good, I'd say the cleverness of putting that line in there is about as good as it gets. And that isn't exactly sterling.

So Bad It's Good: The effects are amazing. I know these guys don't have access to top cutting-edge techniques and gear, but even with what they had, they must have done it badly on purpose. They'll cut from a practical rubber snake to a CGI snake that looks completely different, only vaguely the same color. The acting, similarly, is absolutely horrid, and I hope nobody was actually trying to do well. There's also some great 50's-B-Movie level science going on. And my favorite thing, also from 50's movies, is where the effects are so different from the live scenes, and not green-screened over them but just shot separately and cut between. So you end up with completely random threats, like an alligator looking like it's wandering in the swamp, then suddenly a guy is being eaten by it on a street, with no chance to run. You can never tell how close or far the danger is, or how big the creatures are. They really did a great job all around making a bad movie. Kudos.

Bad Stuff: Well, it's all absolutely terrible... horrific. The worst. But let's see... what is bad in a bad way? Well, without spoiling much of the brilliant writing, I will say that the two "heroes" get lauded as heroes at the end when in fact they were both directly the cause of the entire problem. That's really about the only thing that somebody could complain about.

Classic Rules Of Film: If you explain to people that snake's heads can live for up to an hour after being severed in Act 1, then somebody is going to get bit by a severed head in Act 3 (and chopped in half!).

My Take: If you want to watch a bad movie, there's a ton of these movies by The Asylum, and they all do a pretty awesome job. Plus, they're not as boring as the 50's movies they emulate - they have a much faster pace and don't sit there lingering on pointless exposition. In fact, they pretty much don't bother with exposition. Like the awesome scene where Tiffany goes to get steroids and magic super-steroids from... some guy who does steroid research, I guess? They don't even discuss it really, he just says sure, you can have it, but don't use this stuff, it's very dangerous! And uses one science word, once. Myostatin. It all makes perfect sense that this would create Godzilla-sized alligators. Perfectly reasonable.

Artistic Nonsense: I would suggest that there's an anti-steroid message in this movie, but there really isn't. In fact, the steroids seem like a mighty nice thing! The alligators thrived and grew to enormous size thanks to the wonders of steroids. Maybe we should all take them! I guess they did point out that they can cause aggression.

Up next, we have The Nameless, at last! Hooray! Unless it stops working again. Hope it was worth the wait.
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