13. Horror News Roundup
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been seeing a lot of horror-related stuff popping up in the news, and I felt like this would be the best place to organize my thoughts and share with you all. It’s safe to say it’s been an interesting time for horror, with the rise in recent successful horror films, such as It Follows, Get Out, Hereditary, and Halloween (2018). It’s also been a great time to be a fan of the genre as a whole, given the popularity of conventions and similar shows.
New Trailer for Pet Sematary Remake
This was a pleasant surprise, seeing the first trailer for the new rendition of Stephen King’s story about resurrection gone wrong. Pet Sematary isn’t a film I thought I’d be excited about, but the direction this remake seems to be taking is certainly interesting. Not that the original wasn’t dark, but with the latest iteration of Stephen King’s IT, I’m glad that this one is taking its own, more serious route. And the visuals look great—the animal masks worn by the children in what looks like a ceremony for a dead pet are creepy as hell. It’s safe to say I’m in!
First Still from Hellboy (2019)
Honestly, I am on the fence about a reboot to the Hellboy franchise. It feels like there should have been more to del Toro’s story of the red devil, lead by Ron Perlman. I enjoyed those films. But I do like the idea of Stranger Things’ David Harbour donning the horns, and he certainly looks the part. Upon out first look at the new Hellboy, I’ll say I was happy. It’s clear they’re going for a grittier take, which seems odd given del Toro’s already gritty repertoire. This first official still shows us the titular anti-hero in action, running down a hallway. To be blunt, his torso seems a bit large compared to his legs. But that could just be the camera angle! I think I’ll have more of an opinion on this upcoming project once we get a trailer.
Candyman Film Announcement
Okay, so Candyman scared the crap out of me as a kid. I know the film has spawned sequels, and I know they didn’t necessarily add up to the first (it’s rare that sequels ever do), but the Clive Barker adaptation definitely holds up. It was announced recently that Jordan Peele is co-writing the script to an upcoming sequel, possibly a “loose” sequel, at that. I’m intrigued to see where Monkeypaw Productions and MGM take this story. At the very least, let’s hope that Tony Todd is somehow attached! There’s no way his performance can be topped. But if he gives his blessing, I’ll still have faith in another installment.
Child's Play (2019) News
It was revealed recently that Child’s Play is another film receiving the reboot treatment (I see a theme in this blog post!), and mind you, this is a franchise that not only recently had a sequel released, but is also currently being produced into a television series. It’s unclear how one project will affect the other. I’m not the biggest fan of Child’s Play, as I don’t find Chucky scary—I don’t find most dolls scary, for that matter. Even as a kid, I wasn’t bothered by the first film, so I can’t say that news of a remake necessarily upsets me. What makes me happy, however, is the fact that it is set to come out on June 21, 2019… the same day as Toy Story 4. If that isn’t perfect marketing, I don’t know what is. And the studio put out some rather creepy fake advertisements online for the new “Buddi” doll, chock-full of new technology upgrades. Again, we’ll see what the eventual trailers give us. But right now, all I’ll totally agree with is the casting choice of Aubrey Plaza. I’m in it just for her!
What do you think about this latest batch of horror news? Are you over the remakes and reboots? Or are you just glad that the younger audiences get to experience the characters we know and love in a new light? Let’s discuss!
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12. Movie Review: Suspiria (2018)
After seeing so many fantastic posters for Luca Guadagnino’s highly anticipated remake of the classic giallo film, I finally watched Suspiria in all its hypnotic madness. Starring Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Mia Goth, Jessica Harper, and Chloe Grace Moretz, Suspiria follows a young American dancer who attends a German dance academy that holds dark, violent secrets. As a whole, the film is visually and thematically different than its predecessor, trading in Argento’s colorful and over-the-top styles for muted tones and increased intensity. Of course, this is a remake of a favorite among horror fans, but in many ways, Guadagnino’s vision dances to a different tune entirely. The idea of witches running the academy is introduced early into the film (save the original’s plot-solidifying musical score by Goblin, whose lyrics include the word “witch” from the start), implying that further twists will be revealed. And boy, they sure are. But this is a spoiler-free zone! You’ll have to see the film for yourselves for those.
What the film certainly gets right is its stellar cast. Swinton’s character is a somewhat softer version of the original, treating the girls at the academy as a family, and showing that she does care for them, if not a bit suspiciously so. As for Johnson, I have to say, her work as Susie Bannon is superb. In hindsight, the depth of her character glows throughout. Her dedication to dance runs deep, and her bond with the academy and its staff grows strong, whereas in the first film, Susie’s suspicions are alerted rather soon in the film. And Goth and Moretz’s characters are mesmerizing in their uniqueness. Their reactions to the goings-on at the school are magnified as the film progresses, resulting in some heart-pounding scenes.
Tone is used well in this iteration of Suspiria, which saves it from some rather forgettable and time-consuming subplots. We’re given a lot more of the psychologist’s character in this film, implying that he will provide more to the story than he did in the original. But it only seems to overstuff the film with characters who, to put it bluntly, we’re just not interested in. And the addition of political backdrop does provide some good layers of perspective and setting, but it’s long overdrawn and not entirely necessary. Cutting these down could have shaved a good 45 minutes off the film’s lengthy 2 hour and 35 minute runtime, a big portion of the film’s downfalls.
Some of my favorite things about this film are its uses of camera techniques and its score, helmed by Radiohead frontrunner Thom Yorke. They each lend a lot of tension and character to the film, much like that of the original Argento classic. Quick cuts during scenes of violence and intriguingly awkward camera tracking movements create the unease that serves as Suspiria’s foundation. And Yorke’s score, while sometimes oddly placed, is looming and creepy, which is just what makes the film thrive. In a way, the score leads the way in this beautiful, horrific dance. And the technical aspects of the film pay homage to 1970’s horror while also laying more bricks onto this road of modern psychological horror. I would place this into many of the same categories as The Witch and Hereditary, two recent horror films that pepper in unforgettable scenes into well-written stories. They each have simple concepts wrapped in layers of complexity that leave their audiences dumbfounded and in need of a cold shower.
While Suspiria does receive this baton from similar recent films, it doesn’t exactly run with it with the right speed or pace. It suffers from some coughs and hiccups, but doesn’t keep me entirely fed up with it. I’m still itching to revisit it after some time, perhaps with a coffee or a soda. And although strange and baffling, I’m still interested in seeing that big climax again, in all its red-soaked insanity. So, if you’re willing to sit through 2 ½ hours of detail-oriented pseudo art-house horror, I’d say to give it a shot. It’s thought provoking, enticing, and a fun conversation starter. Otherwise, if you’re looking for a colorful slasher like the ‘70’s giallo film, you might want to stick with that one.
Let me know what you thought of Suspiria! Were you as roped in as I was? Leave a comment below.
Until next time!
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11. October 2018, part 4
It's time for the final batch of October watches! Let's just get right into it.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)
Anyone who knows me knows I’m up for a dark re-imagining, and the Sabrina series is no exception. I’m a big fan of the original comedy series, but this new Sabrina is outright dark. It stands on its own, and I love that for it. Sure, it has some of the original show’s quirkiness, with almost tongue-in-cheek themes of hell and Satan. But it takes itself a lot more seriously, and Kiernan Shipka is marvelous as the titular witch. Her Sabrina is outspoken, powerful, and looks out for her loved ones. She’s a strong female, and I’m sure she’s making Melissa Joan Hart proud! I loved the first 10 episodes, and I can’t wait for more.
This one was a first-time watch for me. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the remake, and while the original isn’t necessarily a standard horror film, it still contains horror elements. I mean, who wouldn’t squirm at least a little upon the sight of a horde of rats? The film itself is a bit slow, and arguably dull, except for when Willard is with the rats, but the story is interesting enough to keep the plot moving along. I would recommend maybe a one-time viewing, but I will say: I did wish for a bit more payoff in terms of the rats being totally at Willard’s beck-and-call.
Return of the Living Dead, Part II
Another first-time watch for me, the sequel to the zany Return of the Living Dead is a bit less zany, but is still out there in its wackiness. It’s a crazy zombie movie, but these zombies weren’t nearly as fun and weird as they were in the first film. It definitely did seem to have a larger production budget than its predecessor, but in ways, that took away from its value. If you’re going to watch either of these, definitely watch the original first.
Like Willard, I wouldn’t categorize Apostle as a full-on horror film, but again, it does contain horror elements. It’s gory, it’s mysterious, and it’s got a religious cult. Good enough for me! It went to places I didn’t expect, and the visuals were outstanding. From the start, we can tell that something is awry in this village on a secluded island. As the events of the film unfold, things really get wicked. I’d definitely recommend this one!
An American Werewolf in London
One of my favorite werewolf movies, American Werewolf stands out for its dark humor, its soundtrack, and most certainly its unforgettable transformation scene. I could have watched that one scene for hours. And as dark and gory as it is, it’s a funny movie; I always find myself cackling throughout. It’s so strange, but a really fun watch. It’s a Halloween-time must.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
It isn’t easy having a good time. But it is easy having a ball with one of my favorite Halloween season treats; Tim Curry shines, and not only when he’s covered in blood. Everything about this film is so tongue-in-cheek, and practically self-aware, that it’s impossible to not enjoy yourself at least a little with this mad musical. Oh, Rocky!
Based on the Lovecraft story, Re-Animator spins the Frankenstein story on its head. From the undead cat to a man’s body carrying its own severed head, everything about this film is pure insanity. It’s dark, it’s funny (I guess I had a theme going on, this week!), and it doesn’t hold back. Sure, it may suffer from some poor writing, and some questionable acting, but I still enjoy re-visiting Re-Animator, an underdog of horror classics.
Halloween isn’t perfect, but I love it and it’s special to me as my go-to film to answer the question, “what’s your favorite movie?” I always get weird looks, considering it’s a low-budget slasher film, but I stand by my choice. The concept is basic, allowing creativity to flow and imaginations to run wild, the music is damn near perfection, and it’s got a brave teenage Laurie Strode facing off against the unmistakable Shape. How much better can it get? Plus, I won’t watch anything else on Halloween night. My October 31sts are dedicated to the first appearance of Michael Myers.
There we have it! 31 Halloween haunts for October! What are your favorites from my lists? Did you watch anything that I should have, this season? And, am I done with horror for the rest of the holidays, do you ask? Of course not. I hope everyone had a great Halloween! I’ll see you all back in the bi-weekly blog cycle. And be sure to follow my social media to get regular updates!
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