Film Friday #204: The Halloween Edition

I am not generally a fan of horror movies, which is something that probably became very clear in my answer to The Oracle of Film’s Question of the Month. However it feels like Halloween is a time of year to put prejudices aside and take one for the team so I have watched and reviewed four horror movies purely for your titillation (yes, Eric… I said tit). I have tried to mix it up by going for one comedy horror, one found footage, one modern classic and one what the actual fuck was that. I hope you all enjoy it because I am probably not going to watch anymore horror movies for a whole year!

Sinister (2012)

Ethan Hawke plays, Ellison Oswalt, a true crime writer who had one major hit ten years ago. Since then he’s been looking for the next big thing and when a family is hanged in their backyard apart from one child who is abducted, he thinks he might have found it. Ellison uproots his wife (Juliet Rylance) and two children, Ashley (Clare Foley) and Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario) and moves them into the house where the murder happened… without telling them the history of their new home. While exploring the house, Ellison finds a box full of old 8mm home movies, which depict a series of murders which seem to be related to the hanging. As he investigates further, throwing himself into his work, strange things start to happen in the house – including increasingly strange behaviour from Ashley and Trevor. Is there a killer on the loose or is there something much more sinister underway? What I liked about Sinister was that time was taken to build characters you could care about and to develop a story line that was mostly coherent and cohesive. It was also really quite unsettling, not resorting to endless jump scares. You spend more time freaking out about what might be about to happen than what is actually happening. Hawke plays Ellison as a man so desperate to recapture his former glory that you can imagine he would keep watching the terrible videos without alerting the police. Ultimately the ending was a bit meh though and the “monster” was less scary than the idea of him. Not bad. 3.5/5

Ashley's new playmate was not mom approved

Ashley’s new playmate was not mom approved

Idle Hands (1999)

Anton (Devon Sawa) lives to smoke weed, hang out with his friends and watch as much TV as possible. Unfortunately his right hand has become possessed by the devil and is trying to kill everyone. That’s about the extent of this completely unfunny, unscary snoozefest. I am trying to think of a good thing to say about this but the best I can manage is that Sawa’s hand movements really do make his hand look like it’s possessed. Pity his face acting doesn’t live up to it. Idle Hands also features a young Jessica Alba sporting a hideous mushroom-like haircut that I also happened to sport in 1999. The shame. Her character’s sole purpose appears to be to parade around half naked while lusting after Anton for unfathomable reasons. There is one scene where she seems simply incapable of resisting her desire to shag him despite the fact that he is filthy, covered in blood, stinks of weed and he can’t stop waving his hand around. She doesn’t even react negatively when he tries to strangle her while they’re making out. I also couldn’t understand why Anton’s friends, Mick (Seth Green) and Pnub (Elden Henson) come back from the dead after he kills them. He kills his parents and they don’t come back. I can only imagine this was made by a fourteen year old boy with a similar audience in mind. Avoid. 0/5

What do you mean my hair looks fuggly, you're the one who looks like he's been dumpster diving

What do you mean my hair looks fuggly, you’re the one who looks like he’s been dumpster diving

House of 1,000 Corpses (2003)

While on a road trip, two couples come across a gas station with an attached amateur theme park. The creepy clown-painted attendant (Sid Haig) shows them around and tells them the legend of Doctor Satan, who supposedly performed loads of dodgy experiments on people and was hanged from a tree out in the woods. Of course the blokes want to go and check it out but the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and they’re forced take up the offer of a sexy hitchhiker (Sheri Moon Zombie) to seek shelter at her house. What they don’t realise is that she and her family are all complete hillbilly psychos and it’ll be a miracle if any of them make it out alive. I have to admit that this film was probably wasted on me. I didn’t get the point of all the weird visual effects and I found the endless ranting of the family patriarch (Chad Bannon) annoying… but not as annoying as Sheri Moon Zombie’s laugh. Maybe I’m missing something but it was all a bit too weird and off the wall for me. 1/5

I'm ready for my close-up

I’m ready for my close-up

Scream (1996)

A masked killer is stalks the sleepy town of Woodsborough on the eve of the anniversary of Sidney Prescott’s (Neve Campbell) mother’s murder. There’s nothing particularly complex about the plot of this modern slasher classic but what makes it stand out is the way it self-consciously plays on all the typical horror movie tropes following, and occasionally breaking, the rules that seventies and eighties slashers all seem to be based on. It’s like a fan love letter to the genre. I have probably seen it about fifty times and I bet most of you have as well but I am still not going to spoil by telling you the twist. What I will say is what also helps Scream stand out is its great characters. Sidney is a tough yet vulnerable heroine that you can root for and she’s backed up by a brilliant turn from Courtney Cox as a bitchy, cut throat reporter called Gale Weathers. Even Skeet Urich (what happened to him?) is suitably charming/creepy as Sid’s boyfriend and David Arquette makes a great rookie deputy. An absolute must watch for any movie fan, whether you love horror or not. 4/5

Hey baby... wanna spoon?

Hey baby… wanna spoon?

20 Comments

  1. Love Scream, it just never seems to get old.

    1. Abbi

      I know! It’s 18 year old and somehow it’s still fresh.

  2. Bronwyn

    Must agree on Scream. Still my Fav horror movie because of the comedy, and all the horror movie analysing within the movie.

    1. Abbi

      I still remember going to see it at the movies with you!

      1. Bronwyn

        🙂 Yip. Movie Buddy!! 🙂

  3. theipc

    Awesome post!! I thought House of 1000 Corpses was a terrible thing….

    1. Abbi

      It was like one long weird music video which probably makes sense considering the director. I prefer a little more plot.

  4. I used to love Idle Hands when I was seven or eight. Not sure what I’d think about it now.

    We are the complete opposite on Sinister. I love Hawke. Yet I thought his character was a complete piece of shit for the most part. He was a self-centered prick and I did not care a single bit about him. I did think the monster looked really cool though. And liked the movie as a whole. So we agree there haha.

    1. Abbi

      I think Idle Hands is perfect for an under 10 age group although it’s messages about women could do with some work.

      I think what I meant about caring about his character, hoping something bad happens to him is still kind of caring. He provoked a reaction of real dislike for you. I thought he was a douche as well. But in most horror movies you don’t form any kind of opinion about the characters because they’re just cannon fodder.

  5. Happy Halloween! We are actually watching House of 1,000 Corpses tonight, so thanks for two weeks in a row of suggestions!

    1. Abbi

      Let me know what you think… I was definitely not a fan.

  6. Oh dude, come on, Idle Hands is funny as hell! You just need to turn your brain off for a while :-p
    Scream is definitely one of the best (if not the best) slasher films of all time. It’s well written,well acted, sometimes funny, sometimes tense, overall a fun film.
    Sinister I also loved. With all the horror I watch, I don’t get scared much anymore (not that I ever did, but I digress..), but this one solidly creeped me out.
    And finally, House of 1000 Corpses was 89 minutes of pure crap. Copious amounts of gore + people acting gonzo does not = a good movie. A good amount of the effects were cool looking, but they were wasted on this boring turd of a film.

    1. Abbi

      I feel like Idle Hands could have been funny but it’s so dumb that I just got really bored. I’ve seen some great horror comedies but this just wan’t one of them for me.

      I am so glad I am not the only one who didn’t get on with House of 1,000 Corpses. I thought maybe I was missing some kind of brilliance.

  7. Still love Scream. Remember watching it on Halloween night back in the 90’s at least once. I was looking for to Idle Hands and it just seemed to miss on all levels-not funny, not horrific and not so appealing.

    1. Abbi

      I feel like Idle Hands could have been funny if it was a bit more intelligent but it’s pandering to the lower common denominator at every turn.

  8. I have to admit that I watched Scream after I’d watched Scary Movie about twenty times, so I kind of came at it a bit backwards! It’s a great film and certainly made Scary Movie make more sense! 🙂

    1. Abbi

      That must have been a really interesting way to approach it.The first Scary Movie film is actually pretty hilarious.

  9. Hey Abbi! Glad you did some horror for Halloween as I know it’s not your favorite. 🙂 Agree Scream is the best one here by far. I hated Sinister at the end – it started out with a lot of potential but got too silly. Not seen Corpses & never exactly want to anyway. Idle Hands is a HORRIBLE piece of shit. :-/ Abbi! Watch Grabbers instead for comedy horror! Or Tucker & Dale Vs Evil. 🙂

  10. Sheri Moon Zombie’s laugh was SO annoying. I think they toned it down for Devil’s Rejects because so many people hated it!

    1. Abbi

      It was like something possessed.

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