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TheKingslayer
Sep 3, 2008

There are no men like me. There's only me.





I wanted to return to themes for this one since the past few challenges have been rather aimless for me. I was having a bit of a hard time with until it hit me.

School is about to be out for Summer here in the U.S. so I'm gonna take a look at horror films about students, academic institutions, etc. I'm hoping to find some new things that I maybe wouldn't normally watch by sticking to theme while also trying to cover as many sub-genres and different countries as possible.

So while the end is in sight, the term isn't quite over yet. Everyone find your seats, make sure you have a pencil, and let's all get excited for this challenge like a teacher just wheeled in the AV cart.

The curriculum is 13 movies on theme with additional reviews from any streams or other movies that catch my eye for the duration of the challenge.

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TheKingslayer
Sep 3, 2008

There are no men like me. There's only me.





1. Bride of ReAnimator (1990)

Watched On: Shudder
Doctors Herbet West and Dan Cain have returned to Miskatonic University Hospital to continue their experiments and rebuild Dan's lost love.

I haven't seen Bride nearly as many times as I've seen the original ReAnimator mostly because I've never liked it as much. On this viewing that still holds in that it's missing... something? I can't really put my finger on it. ReAnimator grabs me in a way that Bride fails to do. With that being said though, Bride of ReAnimator is still pretty good, it just feels like more of a spectacle. The crew seemed to know they needed to turn this one up to 11 because the monsters and gore are quite gnarly, though I thought I remembered the final scene with the Bride being more extreme than it actually was. I also think this story despite being weaker does a better job of making Herbert West a for sure villain. At this point he can't claim ignorance about the creatures he brings to life being able to feel or suffer and obviously he doesn't give a poo poo that they do. Seeing the various experiments that West leaves to rot (I assume) for eternity in a crypt is just disgusting and helped me turn the corner on loving to hate West. The changes to Dan's character to are pretty good, he seems traumatized beneath the surface about what he's experienced since knowing West. Dan seems to just be going along because he doesn't know what else to do.
While it'll never find it's way into my regular rotation of favorites, Bride of ReAnimator is still a solid movie on it's own and enjoyable to pick up every so often.

TheKingslayer
Sep 3, 2008

There are no men like me. There's only me.





2. Final Exam (1980)

Watched On: Tubi TV
A nameless killer stalks a group of college students still on campus just before Summer break.

I really didn't expect Final Exam to be any good but to my surprise it had way more going on than a lot of exploitation films I've seen. It's trying to be a mix of Halloween/Animal House with a focus on the characters before the killing starts and it kinda works. At times it's almost a downright wholesome movie. The characters have relationships and interactions with each other that feel genuine and you could forget your're watching a slasher movie. One scene though stands out as particularly jarring through modern eyes and it was a bit surreal to take in.

There's certainly an atmosphere that I like in my... I guess what I would describe as a comfort food slasher. It's like the Kraft blue box mac and cheese to Halloween's homemade meal. I'll say I could have used a little more creativity and blood in the kills. Lots of plain ol stabbings that aren't very imaginative much like the killer in question. I can't say I would suggest this movie to every horror fan, but if you have any interest in Halloween copycats then Final Exam is better than many.

TheKingslayer
Sep 3, 2008

There are no men like me. There's only me.





3. After Midnight (1989)
Fran Challenge 12: Cavalcade of Creepiness

Watched On: TubiTV

Coeds swap scary stories with a professor teaching a course in the psychology of fear.

Well there's certainly a reason I've never seen this anthology before. I feel like I sat through four very boring Tales from the Crypt episodes or maybe four bad episodes of The Hitchhiker because nothing really supernatural happens at all. And I'm not even going to be shy about spoiling the ending because it's the most cheap ending in storytelling. IT WAS ALL A DREAM. And all the stories feel ripped off from better anthologies which makes it even worse. Avoid this one even if it's free, I can't even imagine it would be a good time to make fun of.

TheKingslayer
Sep 3, 2008

There are no men like me. There's only me.





4. The Faculty (1998)

Watched On: Pluto TV

When Casey Connor, Herrington High School's newspaper photographer, witnesses the murder of a nurse and sees her alive again, he decides to investigate the bizarre happenings.

This is one of those movies I was just the right age for in the 90s. It tickles that same nostalgia part of my brain as things like Scream. For better or for worse The Faculty could have been called, 1998: The Movie. That being said though there's a film with some depth here and subtext you can sink your teeth into if you're so inclined, themes of teenage isolation, authority, conforming to norms, finding out who you are, and sexuality. This is all brought together by a great cast. Even Josh Hartnett is enjoyable even if his character is eyerollingly way cooler than everyone else and there isn't nearly enough Robert Patrick to go around. I've heard criticism that The Faculty copies a lot of other science fiction but I would say it's more of a homage to those influences and brings it's own new wrinkles to the party, like how in The Thing the characters are isolated by the environment and here they're isolated by the new alien social structure taking over their school. The biggest thing holding The Faculty back in my eyes is a lack of practical effects. Some of this CGI is just dated as hell and may have been for the time too and that may be one of the things holding The Faculty back from being a true horror classic. I say go out of your way to track this one down because it's just a treat.

TheKingslayer fucked around with this message at 10:46 on May 14, 2021

TheKingslayer
Sep 3, 2008

There are no men like me. There's only me.





5. Scream (1996)

Watched On: HBO Max
A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a new killer, who targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game.

A classic. A favorite. One I've slotted into challenges many times over the years because it's something comfortable to reset me when I'm not exactly feeling the things coming up on my list. It also just happened to be a nice follow up with The Faculty. As usual, I'm left with a good feeling and memories of the Halloween season in the late 90s. One thought I'll go out on is how drat good the the villains are in Scream and none of the rest from the sequels come even close.


6. Scream 2 (1997)

Watched On: HBO Max
Two years after the first series of murders, as Sidney acclimates to college life, someone donning the Ghostface costume begins a new string of killings.

The survivors of the Woodsboro slayings are going to college! Scream 2 certainly gets a little more fanciful than Scream but I think it maintains a level of quality just a notch or so below it. The surviving characters have grown from their experiences (most of them anyway) and we get the addition of a newly free Cotton Weary who's out chasing his fifteen minutes of fame, which is one of my favorite parts of the movie. Another favorite thing of mine is the introduction of the slasher Franchise, Stab, based on the events of the first film. I also have to appreciate the effort in the story and in real life that was put in to try and keep the actual killers a mystery until the climax. There was a apparently a leaked ending that would have brought the series to an end that's kind of interesting and I'd be interested to get a peak into the world if they'd actually used it.


7. The Craft (1996)

Watched On: HBO Max
A newcomer to a Catholic prep high school falls in with a trio of outcast teenage girls who practice witchcraft, and they all soon conjure up various spells and curses against those who anger them.

Ok so maybe I'm on a Neve Campbell kick. I hadn't really sat through The Craft since the very late 90's and it was a treat. It's very late into the last shift of my week so I didn't watch with a super critical mind but I would love to read or watch any analysis on The Craft if anyone knows some good ones. Superficial stuff though, The Craft has so much atmosphere. There were times I was just lost admiring some of the sets and how lightning and thunder were used in scenes. I fully intend to come back around to The Craft when I'm less exhausted.

TheKingslayer fucked around with this message at 10:06 on May 23, 2021

TheKingslayer
Sep 3, 2008

There are no men like me. There's only me.





Scream, Queen is one I tell almost everyone I know even loosely into horror to watch. Mark Patton kicks rear end and I think some of the topics touched in the documentary could enlighten some people.

TheKingslayer
Sep 3, 2008

There are no men like me. There's only me.





8. Urban Legend (1998)

Watched On: Tubi TV
A college student suspects a series of bizarre deaths are connected to certain urban legends.

After going through a nice streak of great 90's horror, Urban Legend was such a chore to get through. A horrible copy of more successful films that came before it with no characters worth attaching to for their demise to even matter to you. Everyone is just a mean rear end in a top hat or impossibly stupid. On top of that you get a terrible ending that probably confused a poo poo load of people in the theater. But drat if it didn't make money and there are two more of these with an announced remake down the pipe... I guess I should say something positive and it's that I do really like the idea of Urban Legend and the opening sequence featuring an appearance by Brad Dourif is pretty good.


9. Prom Night 2: Hello Mary Lou (1987)

Watched On: Shudder
Thirty years after her accidental death at her 1957 senior prom, the tortured spirit of prom queen Mary Lou Maloney returns to seek revenge.

While this is a poor sequel to the original Prom Night (since it wasn't a sequel to it at all), on it's own merits this movie is pretty good. Michael Ironside and Wendy Lyon are doing great work through the movie and I don't think it could have worked nearly as well without them on board. It's a shame there aren't more movies quite like this, with a spirit possessing a character and using an array of powers to do sweet kills that don't exactly have to make sense or be realistic. During the climax when Mary Lou returns at points her portrayal strikes a balance that I found attractive and repulsive at the same time and that's hard to nail down.

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TheKingslayer
Sep 3, 2008

There are no men like me. There's only me.





10. The Woods (2006)

Watched On: Tubi TV
Set in 1965 New England, a troubled girl encounters mysterious happenings in the woods surrounding an isolated girls school that she was sent to by her disinterested parents.

Well I honestly didn't expect to find such a decent little folk horror movie in this challenge but The Woods had my attention. A bit of a cross between The Wicker Man and Suspiria where a boarding school of young women is menaced by mysterious forces in the trees. A few bits of CGI or shaky and the movie does sag just a little at points but the cast is putting in good work and The Woods has good atmosphere and an earthy range of colors that looks really nice on screen. You also get some good doses of Bruce Campbell and you can't hate that.

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