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graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

I'm in for 13 and the challenges. I never make a list in advance, but I hope to tackle some of my quarantine purchases that I still haven't seen.

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graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

Um, did you like it?

graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

1. 3615 code Père Noël AKA Dial Code Santa Claus AKA Game Over

How did I watch this? – 4K Blu Ray
How long have I owned this? – According to my email I picked this up on Black Friday, so it’s been sitting on a table for about five months.
Why do I own this? – I’ve seen a ton of recommendations for it in previous challenge threads here and in the Horror Thread. Also look at that loving cover, it’s awesome.

The way I remember this movie pitched is that it’s Home Alone, but more badass and realistic. Which, honestly, is a pretty good encapsulation of the film. My mind conveniently either forgot or ignored any descriptions of the realism, because drat, it is dark.

Ten-year-old Thomas lives in a incredibly cool mansion with his working mother and grandfather. His mother runs a department store, and due to guilt over his father, or maybe it’s just a French thing, spoils the poo poo out of Thomas. He gets every toy, and is very smart, so as the movie opens he already has the house fully rigged with trap doors and cameras everywhere.

Thomas still believes in Santa Claus, though he is wavering, and wants to prove he exists this year. He connects to Santa through his computer, but unfortunately the man he’s talking to is instead a local maniac, who targets Thomas on Christmas. Soon enough it is Thomas and his half-blind grandpa fighting for their lives.

When the movie started, I honestly thought I was going to be in for something a little more comical and light, but under the cool exterior Thomas is, through it all, a very young scared boy. This is an incredibly traumatic experience for him, from the minute Santa comes down the chimney, to the incredible end.

It was pretty great.

4/5

Was it a good purchase? - Yup! I enjoyed the film and will rewatch it at perhaps more seasonally appropriate times. I have friends who would enjoy it though I think a number of them will get turned off by the trauma.

graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

2. Tammy and the T-Rex

How did I watch this? – 4K Blu Ray
How long have I gone without watching this? – This was another Black Friday purchase.
Why do I own this? – Because eeeeeveryone talks this up as an incredible find.

I think maybe the story behind how this movie got made is better than the movie, but honestly, the movie is a lot of fun too. I just really enjoy the “Hey I’ve got this T-rex for a couple of weeks you wanna make a movie?” aspect quite a bit.

Tammy and Michael are in high school and in love, and Michael is in danger because Tammy’s ex is not a supporter of their relationship. Meanwhile a mad scientist has a robotic T-Rex that he thinks would work a lot better with real brains instead of computer ones. Soon enough their paths will cross, and the newly dinosaur’d brain will be out for vengeance.

It’s pretty fun, and markedly goofy. I’m a big fan of basically everything that they do with the puppet arms: they pick up a friend and dust off their shoulders, they perform charades to try and explain what’s going on to a very dense Tammy. It's great.

I suspect my rating will go up with repeat viewings.
3.5/5

Was it a good purchase? – Yeah, it feels like the kind of movie that’ll really grow on me, and a fun one to watch with a crowd.

3. M.F.A.

How did I watch this? – Plex, but it’s on Amazon Prime and Tubi

Art student Noelle gets raped, then develops a taste for revenge.

I despise sexual violence, so, really, rape revenge isn’t my favorite subgenre, though it can be handled well. M.F.A. does ok, but it has a too heavy a focus on the rape for me.

Actually in sitting down to put thoughts into words, my opinion gets more negative. It’s pretty rote. The revenge is cathartic, but that path is destructive, as you might expect.
2/5

graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

4. Castle Freak (2020)

How did I watch this? – Plex, but it’s on Amazon Prime

So, there’s this castle, right? So inside the castle, get this – there’s this freak. You following me so far?

The original is, I think, the worst of the Stuart Gordon trilogy. That’s not saying much, all three of those films are pretty great.

The remake follows the same basic plot of the original, with some tweaks. Instead of a family inheriting a castle, it is the blind Rebecca, traveling with her lovely boyfriend. Instead of a freak, we have a freakess. Instead of pretty light Lovecraftian touches we dive deep into the mythos.

It’s not great. There is a character called the Professor who basically just reads the plot outline out to the viewers. I’m still not entirely sure why he hangs out with this group of lowlife partiers, but he can read Latin which comes in handy when we need to hear what the Necronomicon has to say.

Much like the original the action picks up towards the end, but not enough for me to recommend it. You do get full frontal freak, if that’s your thing.
2/5

graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

5. The Witch Who Came From the Sea

How did I watch this? – Blu-Ray
How long have I gone without watching this? – Less than a month! I picked it up in the last sale on Grindhouse.
Why do I own this? – I thought multiple people were gushing about it on these very forums but I can’t find those posts, so, I don’t know. Perhaps I hallucinated the whole thing to cover up for childhood trauma?

drat, ok.

This was not what I was expecting at all, though I was thoroughly prepped by watching the introduction by Stephen Thrower. Millie Perkins is really wonderful as Molly, a woman with a traumatic past that she has hidden behind a carefully constructed façade. As that begins to crack and we see the truth of what had happened, Molly’s fantasies of violence against the men in her life begin to manifest as reality... I think? It’s a trippy film, but I’m pretty sure she’s killing those dudes.

I mean it has to be the most contemplative look at sexual trauma on the Video Nasties list, that’s for sure.

3.5/5

Was it a good purchase? – It’s not a fun movie to watch, exactly, but it is a really interesting and pretty good film.

2. Witchboard (1986)
Fran Challenge #8: Dead and Buried

How did I watch this? – Plex. Also on Tubi and Prime.

At a party, Brandon pulls out his Ouija board and wows the crowd with his spirit contacting shtick, particularly Linda. It ends with the spirit of David, a ten year old boy, lashing out and throwing the board across the room. Linda becomes captivated by the board, and talking to David. Meanwhile people in her circle begin to be killed, and Brandon and her boyfriend Jim search for answers.

Tawny Kitaen, rest in peace, is pretty good as Linda. The plot is pretty dumb but it’s an enjoyable watch.
3/5

I'm retroactively counting two more Fran Challenges:
Dial Code Santa Claus as Fran Challenge #13: Horrible Holidays
Castle Freak (2020) as Fran Challenge #2: Sometimes They Come Back.
I'll tally everything at the end for simplicity's sake.

graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

7. Student Bodies (1981)

How did I watch this? – Blu-Ray
How long have I gone without watching this? – Well, I ordered Jekyll & Hyde Together Again because it was a hilarious hidden gem introduced to me by the Scream Stream. In October of 2016. This dragged itself along with that in the form of a combo pack!
Why do I own this? – Goooood question.

It’s the "first" horror spoof, a “zany send-up of teen slashers”. Maybe it was just ahead of its time? Not enough to spoof? Whatever the case may be, it just doesn’t really work. There were a few gags I found genuinely funny, but they were overwhelmed by the repetitive, and the stuff that hasn’t aged well.

1/5

Was it a good purchase? – Well hopefully I still like J&HTA, but on it’s own Student Bodies is a miserable experience.

8. Tigers Are Not Afraid
Fran Challenge #5: Cinco

How did I watch this? – Plex, but available on Shudder.

When her school is shut down due to escalating gang violence, Estrella home to find her mother missing. She unites with a gang of four similar orphans, and they try to survive.

It’s a movie that I think would really thrive on the big screen, with no distractions available. The magical realism is great, and the fairy tale setup really works wonderfully with the dark, sad world the children exist in.

The ending is brutal.
5/5

graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

Basebf555 posted:

I'm gonna watch Madman too because there's only so many camp slashers I haven't seen and Madman is readily available.

Yeah, I feel like my only real options for fresh movies here are Madman or Cheerleader Camp, and neither is too exciting.

I'd like to find a good option for videogame movie that isn't just Silent Hill 2, I've seen most of the obvious ones.

graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

Whoa hey let's not get ahead of ourselves. This is their first horror challenge! They shouldn't attempt a marathon of a complete series until at least the second. Build that horror spirit a little before you crush it under, say, Hellraiser 7.

graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

9. Saint Maud
Fran Challenge #9: Scream, Queen!

How did I watch this? – Plex, but now available from multiple streaming services.

Maud is a hospice nurse, assigned to be the caretaker of Amanda, a former dancer in the last stages of a battle with cancer. Maud’s deep religious beliefs begin to convince her that she needs to save Amanda’s soul, and that mission quickly becomes an obsession. Is Maud crazy or is God actually working through her?

I have always found born-again Christians to be insufferable in their religion. Maud is Catholic, which, I guess, doesn't really uses that terminology, but it seems to be pretty much the same level of zealotry and drive to convert others. I thought the movie was pretty ok, mostly quiet moments punctuating by something shocking. It didn’t grab me but it was well-constructed.
3/5


10. In Search of Darkness 2
Fran Challenge #10: Behind the Mask

How did I watch this? – Plex, but available on Shudder

It’s four more hours of the same thing that was the first movie, so if you enjoyed that you’ll enjoy this: brief overviews of 80s films, in year order, punctuated by occasional forays into Oscar-like montages of genre staples, like ‘kids in film’ or ‘Savini effects’. The overviews are all narrated with interviews by a few horror hall of famers, and a bunch of random online horror writers and Chris Jericho for some reason.

They used up the cream of the crop in the first film, so here we have a whole bunch of second-tier horror. Which is totally fine, I’m interested in deep cuts, but there are a few that are included only because they have a star or two present to comment on it, and frequently, those comments are just “oof, yeah, that movie”. It's nice that they included Tetsuo, and a bunch of Italian horror, but, were there no other foreign films they could consider before some of the crap they did include?

I’m not really a spoiler person, generally speaking it doesn’t bother me to learn that the butler did it ahead of time. That said, this one really spoils a number of the best scenes from these movies, and, weirdly enough, a good amount of the nudity. I think part of why I find Halloween III so great is the sheer unexpected malice of the ending, and part of why I enjoy Night of the Demons is the crazy unexpected special effects shots. I don’t really recall that being a problem with the first documentary.

2/5

graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

11. Serial Mom
Fran Challenge #7: Mother’s Day

How did I watch this? – Plex, but it’s streaming on Peacock

Kathleen Turner is the perfect “50’s sitcom”-style mom, except she also has a deep hunger for revenge, and she won’t stop until everyone who has slighted her pays with their life.

This is the first movie I’ve seen directed by John Waters, and by all accounts it’s barely dipping your toe into the river of filth. Come on in, the water’s fine! Serial Mom is a great campy satire of a film, with an excellent cast.

I’ll have to check out the rest of his work that isn’t Seed of Chucky!
4.5/5

12. Cheerleader Camp
Fran Challenge #3: Camp BLOOD

How did I watch this? – Plex.

Well, it’s a movie about camp all right. Allison has crazy dreams or hallucinations about killing the people around her. Never mind that, it’s probably no big deal! She and her squad head to cheerleader camp to..uh.. I think they said win an opportunity to perform at the state championship?

The movie is loosely plotted, almost like they came up with a series of unfunny skits and/or murders, filmed them, and then had to figure out how to fit them all together. The unfunny skits come out of a Porky’s style, horny 80’s comedy, without much of the comedy part. You get girls sunbathing and having some sort of a boob competition. You get the camp director accidentally showing everyone footage of her having sex. You get the very obviously lesbian Corey flirting hopelessly with main character Allison.

It’s ok for what it is. I found the villain reveal pretty disappointing, because it was maybe the one character in the movie I kind of liked, but I suppose I can be happy that they get away with it.
2/5

graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

13. The Carrier (1988)
Fran Challenge #4: Movie of the Month


How did I watch this? – Plex

A local outcast is attacked by a local mythical creature, which causes him to be infected by a strange disease. Everything that he touches becomes a conduit, and any living thing that touches those conduits is stuck, like a fly trap that melts the fly. The town descends into apocalyptic conditions as they search for answers and for the source of the malady.

The acting is pretty rough, with monologues that feel like attempts at Shakespearean level drama, but unsurprisingly fall short. That said, the imagery is kind of incredible, and as the movie went along it really won me over. It nails small town paranoia and hypocrisy really well. The costuming is wild and slapdash, and pretty much exactly what you would expect from a town told “cover yourself in plastic for protection”.

There’s a scene in the middle where a jealous boyfriend strongarms his girl into the woods, and she chooses to touch an infected tree and kill them both, rather than submit to his rape. Later we see the two sides of town erupt in violence over unshared resources. By which I mean they yell at each other “CATS OR DEATH!”

In conclusion The Carrier is a land of contrasts.

3.5/5


14. Godzilla (1954)
Fran Challenge #6: Playing with Power

How did I watch this? – Plex, but on Criterion and HBO Max

An undersea monster has awoken, and its wave of destruction slowly approaches the shores of Japan. What caused this? Can it be stopped?

I have never seen the original movie, although I kind of thought I had thanks to cultural osmosis. It’s good! It holds up to my imaginary memory of it pretty well! It’s a very human-focused story, with (as all good monster movies should do) very little actual Godzilla for the first hour or so. The scream is iconic for a drat reason. The monster suit still holds up, and is a fairly intimidating.

I didn’t write the actual line down but I’m a big fan of the scene where the one-eyed scientist says ’I have to find a humane use for my invention, Oxygen Destroyer’ Delightful.

I have chosen to find the most accurate videogame based upon Godzilla, so I present to you the Gameboy release.


In it you push and punch rocks, punch monsters, and climb vines. Sounds like the movie in game form, all right.


5/5

Thanks for the John Waters recommendations! I'll add them to my post-May list.

graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

15. Paganini Horror (1989)

How did I watch this? – Blu-ray
How long have I gone without watching this? – This was another Black Friday 2020 purchase
Why do I own this? – I mean, did you see that poster? It’s a masterpiece! Some people here probably said it was ok too.

An all-ladies rock band is desperate for a hit, when their manager delivers: a secret, unrecorded song by Niccolò Paganini, said to be the music he used to summon the devil and sell his soul for musical success. They rent a nearby spooky house to film the music video; a house also associated with Paganini. Then the murdering starts.

It’s dreamlike, by which I mean meandering, confusing, and pretty much forgotten after it ends. Which I guess kind of describes a lot of Italian horror, although usually there’s more substance. It’s mediocre, but not offensively so.

I agree with STAC: the ending has a lot more promise than the actual story they told.

2/5

Was it a good purchase? – Ehhhhhh… no.


16. Tales From the Dark 1 (2013)
Fran Challenge #12: Cavalcade of Creepiness

How did I watch this? – Plex

There are three chapters to this Hong Kong cavalcade. In the first, Stolen Goods, a man loses his job and turns to a life of crime: stealing urns from the cemetery and ransoming them back to their loved ones. A Word in the Palm features two mall fortune tellers, who team up to solve a haunting. The last, Jing Zhe, features a someone who performs ‘villain-hitting’ magic dealing with an unexpected client.

I don’t think it starts very strong, the first segment has a bland, predictable nature; some slight twists but nothing to really spook or get your attention.

The second segment is great! It has a Scooby Doo kind of goofy vibe to it, the Velma-like crystal fortune teller is great, and plays really well with the more serious guy. I would pay good money to see these two solve The Conjuring films, instead of the Warrens. All that said I’m not happy with the message of the segment: the ghost turns out to be a high school swim club team member. The coach sleeps with her, gets her pregnant, and then abandons her. She commits suicide, and then haunts him and his wife. The ghost girl is made out to be the problem here, which I was not a fan of. Still it did redeem itself a little by calling him a douche at the end.

The third segment was neat, just a weird local magic thing I’d never heard of. Villain-hitting is basically just taking a picture of the person you want to curse to the local witch, and she will literally beat them with a shoe and curse their existence. It’s the most famous director in the bunch, Fruit Chan, who directed Dumplings and a segment from Three…Extremes. It does a good job of building up creepiness and dread but it ends almost like a bad-CGI Final Destination.

On the whole it’s pretty uneven, but I enjoyed the goofy/creepy nature of the second one a lot.
3.5/5

graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

17. King Kong (1933)
Fran Challenge #11: Myths & Legends

How did I watch this? – Via this neat 2-disc Collectors Edition DVD set

How long have I gone without watching this? – I’m going to guess about 15 years.
Why do I own this? –Shortly after I saw Peter Jackson’s King Kong in theaters I said to myself, “self, we should watch the original let’s add it to our Christmas list”. And then I got it for Christmas and put it on a shelf forever.

An adventure film director hires a boat and kidnaps a waif on a mission to find the elusive Skull Island. There’s a big monkey.

There’s quite a bit of racism and sexism, and, it’s worth knowing that up front. Despite that, it holds up really well. The stop motion animation is still very impressive in parts, and a lot of the shot compositing is done really well. Not everything, but still it’s impressive for 90 years ago.

Was it a good purchase? – I mean not really because I’ve owned it long enough for new media formats to be invented, but it seems like a nice set and I’ll have to check out the extras.
4.5/5

18. Army of the Dead

(That’s a good poster, and the movie has almost none of that visual style.)
How did I watch this? – Plex/Netflix

Las Vegas has been overrun with zombies, and the US plans to nuke the whole thing in a few days. That gives us just enough time to attempt a heist – assemble a team of malcontents, sneak in to the city past zombie hordes, and try to make out with hundreds of millions of dollars. It sounds cool, right?

It’s just so bloated. We spent over half an hour assembling the team, but by the time we get to Las Vegas I don’t even know why half the people are there. Fodder, I guess? We do at least take time to see at least three characters raid their personal John Wick-style gun cache to arm up for the mission.

Once inside the movie is slow-paced enough that you start to question how dumb it is. There's basically not a single aspect of this movie that makes sense when you think about what's happening. At times the depth of field is so low that I started to wonder if maybe every single actor was filmed separately, not just Tig Notaro. I found the whole thing very disappointing, and I *liked* the goofy musical drops.
1.5/5

graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

19. Tales From the Dark 2

How did I watch this? – Plex.

I kind of enjoyed the first one, so why not watch the second part of this ‘film project’, as Letterboxd calls it. Three more spooky tales, based on the stories of Lillian Lee. We get ‘Pillow’, about a obsessed woman dealing with insomnia after a breakup, who finds relief in a medicine pillow, AND something else. ooOOoo. ‘Hide and Seek’ is about a group of kids playing hide and seek in an abandoned elementary school. ‘Black Umbrella’ is about an old man doing good deeds to the people he meets, until he gets pushed too far.

This triptych is profoundly mediocre, unfortunately. Pillow is ok, but long. The girl can’t sleep because her boyfriend is gone. Someone recommends a new pillow, and the creepy shop (which you can tell is creepy thanks to a loud musical cue) sells her a medical pillow, basically a pillow with lavender in it. The pillow lets her sleep, but also gives her incredibly vivid, rapey sex dreams of her boyfriend, only, of course, it’s not her boyfriend it’s some sort of incubus/succubus situation. Also she accidentally killed her boyfriend, which is probably why she can’t sleep.

Hide and Seek is very simple, and straightforward, and filled with ghosts that only the audience sees accompanied by loud musical stings. The only interesting part was that the ghosts were children who died to SARS (yay pandemics) but even that isn’t much.

Black Umbrella is ok, about an old man doing good deeds as he travels around the city, until he runs into a prostitute, and things take a gory turn. She is a terrible actress; I think maybe it comes across better if you speak the language, but there is no life at all to her performance.
1.5/5

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graventy
Jul 27, 2006




Fun Shoe

I'm only slightly behind in reporting but not that far behind. All I got left is the shorts!

Fran Challenge #1: Short Cuts
I’m going to use this to crank out some longer shorts that have been on my ‘to watch’ list for a while.
The Signalman (1976)
38m
Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XL_4VHxdXng
A man on vacation runs across a train signalman, and hears his spooky story.
Based on a Charles Dickens story, this is just a simple, foggy, ghost story. I liked it.
3.5/5

Un Chien Andalou
16m
On Tubi https://tubitv.com/movies/574791
Yeah you try and summarize this one. It’s like watching a series of unsettling dreams.
A good dose of surreality.
4/5

Interestingly (or, perhaps, not) Letterboxd lists it as 21 minutes, but the version on Tubi is 16. Nothing seems to be missing, so, maybe, credits?

Foxes (2012)
16m
On Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/B00HN1JNNE/
After a recent move to the suburbs, a couple deal with the stress and some local foxes.
It’s pretty simple and short, and I liked the look of endless suburbia.
4/5


With that, my May is over, here's the full list.

1. 3615 code Père Noël AKA Dial Code Santa Claus AKA Game Over
2. Tammy and the T-Rex
3. M.F.A.
4. Castle Freak (2020)
5. The Witch Who Came From the Sea
6. Witchboard
7. Student Bodies (1981)
8. Tigers Are Not Afraid
9. Saint Maud
10. In Search of Darkness 2
11. Serial Mom
12. Cheerleader Camp
13. The Carrier (1988)
14. Godzilla (1954)
15. Paganini Horror (1989)
16. Tales From the Dark 1 (2013)
17. King Kong (1933)
18. Army of the Dead
19. Tales From the Dark 2

Nineteen movies all new to me, and the challenges complete. Fun times!

I unequivocally recommend Serial Mom, Tammy and the T-Rex, and Tigers are Not Afraid, but there were some other fun ones in there too.
Please avoid Student Bodies.

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