Shocktober: Drag Me to Hell

Drag Me to Hell (2009)

A good PG-13 horror film is a rare and beautiful thing. Because of the way the genre has evolved, as perhaps the only type of movie that can find audiences despite budget, star power, or IP; I think it makes sense that the luminaries are drawn toward taking advantage of the most creative freedom they possibly can… and that means an R rating. But every once in a while, someone who really knows their shit takes a shot at playing within the boundaries that confine most bigger movies. Sam Raimi, hot off doing his Spider-Man trilogy, was extremely up for that challenge when he made Drag Me to Hell. He had worked his spooky quirks into the mainstream and succeeded and naturally the next step was to see if he could bring his new audience with him to something much further out of their comfort zone. So he went and found out exactly how gross a movie can be and still get a PG-13 rating. Bless him for it.

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Shocktober Day 8: Idle Hands

Idle Hands (1999)

For me, Idle Hands is one of those movies that you vaguely remember coming out when you were a kid, but also left such a small cultural footprint that it almost feels like you dreamt it. Was this good? Was this bad? What’s the deal here? Well, for the most part, Idle Hands is pretty fun, even if it feels very much of that late ’90s period of mainstream high school comedies of varying quality that were flooding theaters. Still, combining this vibe with a horror movie aesthetic, filled with lots of blood and elaborate make-up work, makes for an enjoyable — if shamelessly silly — time. Continue reading

Shocktober Day 7: Amityville II: The Possession

Amityville II: The Possession (1982)

The Amityville franchise is beyond repair. Just to fill in the uninitiated, Amityville is a town in New York and thus the title, “Amityville” cannot be copyrighted. What this means is that any slob with a camera can film anything, call it “Amityville BLANK”, and people will watch it. Why? Morbid curiosity? Absolutely. Then again, I think it can be said the original story of the Amityville Horror still resonates with people today.

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Shocktober: Constantine

Constantine (2005)

Honestly, watching Constantine left me with more questions than answers. As one of the dwindling number of comic book super hero movies I hadn’t seen, this has been on my radar ever since it came out 18 years ago. And yet, back then people HATED Constantine. On the other hand, it was really trendy to make fun of Keanu Reeves in those days too, and we all know how wrong the haters were. Now Constantine is a cult classic with some passionate fans and maybe a sequel coming someday. But also, it’s a mid-2000s Alan Moore adaptation, and those tended to always miss the point. So I didn’t know if I would like it or not, and that kept me away until John dared me to take it on. And now that I’m on the other side, I still don’t know how to feel!

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Shocktober Day 5: Prince of Darkness

Prince of Darkness

I didn’t realize it until I watched Prince of Darkness, but viewing it completes me having seen every movie director John Carpenter made during the ’80s, the decade he’s probably most synonymous with. His work during the decade saw a run that’s fairly unparalleled in genre filmmaking, even if not every entry in this string of films was properly appreciated during its time. Carpenter was in such a self-contained groove during this period that even his films that aren’t successful in every aspect are extremely watchable, as is the case with 1987’s Prince of Darkness, a film somewhat overshadowed by the two cult classics in Carpenter’s filmography that it’s sandwiched between, Big Trouble In Little China and They Live. Continue reading

The Pick: Cat People

As we make our way through Shocktober, this week we take a look at a horror movie of sorts (or perhaps an “erotic fantasy”) with the 1982 remake of Cat People. We discuss how effectively the film expands on its horror-noir inspiration and whether director Paul Schrader was the best person to bring this source material to the screen. But mostly we rag on John Heard and how ill-equipped is to be the leading man in a film that needed someone a little more sexy and charming (our apologies to the memory of Mr. Heard). Continue reading

Shocktober Day 4: Beyond the Door

Beyond the Door (1974)

It’s funny that I rewatched the OG Exorcist the day before I watched Beyond the Door. Funny, because I had no idea that this Italian possession film was not only an Exorcist ripoff, it was actually sued by Warner Bros. for copyright infringement and lost. Well, at least it’s a good movie–wait, it isn’t? Oh god, is there any value in watching this cheap cash-grab in the year 2023? Stick around to find out.

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