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The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




Here's my (very much still a work in progress) list for the challenge. I usually dump stuff onto a letterboxd list and pick and choose depending on how I'm feeling, so I'll shuffle this around and add/remove as I go, especially as new weeks are announced over in the bracketology thread. I already have too many movies on the list as it is.

My two 'must complete' goals are to hit 31 first-time watches and to complete the top 100 of the TSZDT list (I only have two films left). Secondary goals include the Fran Challenges and finishing the top 50 of indiewire's top 100 horror films (which is around a half dozen movies). We'll see how those go.

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The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




Let's go.


1. The Roost (Ti West, 2005)
I watched this for the Bracketology Tournament thread (which I highly recommend to anyone looking to find some stuff to watch for their challenge). It's clearly low budget, so they lean into it. Tom Noonan opens as a sort of fright-night TV host introducing us to the movie itself. Four people on their way to a wedding have bat-related car trouble, so they go searching for help. Instead, they find more bats, and anyone who gets bitten by a bat turns into a *checks notes* ... zombie? Look, I don't know, it's not very clear. The important thing is that West does a lot with a little - good use of shadow, you never know what is hiding in corners, especially since the threats can come from any direction. Jeff Grace composed this super oppressive, string-heavy score that kept making me jump and get mad at myself. Larry Fessenden shows up to play a Larry Fessenden character. I thought the ending was a bit weak, but that gets flipped on its head by having Noonan jump back in and pull a Funny Games-esque 'I don't like that, let's rewind and try something else' move, although the second ending wasn't much better, and the way the wrap-around concludes was also a bit of a letdown. Overall this was better than I expected, and if you're OK with rough quality, you can find it on Youtube.

3/5


2. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour, 2014)
I've been 'saving' this one for a while, and I'm glad I finally watched it because it was fantastic. So stylish, I love the shots of the deserted Bad City, a place pulled out of a western (if westerns had skateboarding vampires). Everything feels dreamy and floating (the vampirism? the heroin?) and I didn't mind the slow pace at all because it felt right for the story that was unfolding. It's quite romantic, for a film about a vigilante vampire who preys on men that commit gender-based violence. Sheila Vand (as the vampire) says a lot with her eyes, especially in scenes with Arash. The music is perfect - the scene with "Death" by White Lies in particular was my favorite. I'll be thinking about this one for a while.

4.5/5

Challenge Count: 2/31

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





3. Edge of the Axe (José Ramón Larraz, 1988)
This has a great opening scene at a car wash but the rest of the kills in this confusing slasher are mostly a rubber axe bouncing off the actors as much as I bounced off trying to keep track of the red herrings this movie throws at you every ten minutes. While the kills and effects are mostly mediocre, there's one cool scene by the train tracks that I really liked, and the killer looks genuinely spooky with that mask. This movie also features the classic trope of "local sheriff doesn't want to investigate anything, just write down 'suicide' and get me a beer" which is always fun. And yes, a woman breaks a computer by asking it if the computer's owner is gay. I can't believe that happened.

3/5


4. Winterbeast (Christopher Thies, 1986 1989 1992)
Apparently this started as a claymation school project and eventually was turned into a full movie, which makes a lot of sense in hindsight. This is totally incoherent. Within the first two minutes we have a stop motion skeleton waving its wobbly worm arms around while a skull bursts out of a man's chest (well, jacket), no explanation given. There's a magic (?) haunted (?) totem pole that comes to life and chases a guy, a claymation Groot that pulls a topless woman out of a window and smashes her into the side of a house, and I'm pretty sure I saw a dinosaur bite off a guy's head, and a giant turkey chasing somebody. One human villain wears a Colonel Sanders tie and a clown mask, dancing around a bunch of dusty old corpses singing an old children's song (no idea who any of the corpses are), he gets asked to explain what the gently caress is going on and his head catches on fire and melts. That's about how I felt.

2/5

Challenge Count: 4/31

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





5. House (Nobuhiko Ōbayashi, 1977)
I've been wanting to watch this forever, and I am glad I finally did. It's a total blast, and a classic for a reason. A group of high school girls go to visit one of the girl's aunt, but things are not as they seem and it goes off the rails quickly. I love the way each girl gets their own character-relevant side plot of how they get separated and so forth, it gave those moments more weight which is astounding since this plays out like a cartoon for a lot of the runtime. I had seen gifs and clips, so a lot of the wild stuff was not new to me, but this is a truly funny and inventive film with some moments I will never forget.

4.5/5


6. Varan (Ishirō Honda, 1958)
I watched this for the Bracketology Tournament thread. I didn't connect with this very much at all, it just feels like a crappy Godzilla ripoff with none of the things that make Godzilla an incredible movie. None of the characters have personality, Varan barely does anything, most of the movie feels like planes dropping bombs or getting swatted out of the air, tanks firing, and so on. It is not something I would recommend, I'm sure there are dozens of better kaiju movies that you could watch instead.

1/5

Challenge Count: 6/31

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




I saw some people posting about Neon Demon a few pages back, and I definitely recommend it. I watched it about a week before the challenge opened, otherwise it would have been on my list for this month.

Iron Crowned posted:

4) Winterbeast(1992, Blu-Ray)
it would make good background noise for a party, or perhaps something to project behind a band.

Totally - there's a bar near me that projects random stuff on the wall and I was thinking how perfect Winterbeast would be for that environment.

No. 1 Juicy Boi posted:

5) Kwaidan (1964)

I am glad you got around to this one!

dorium posted:

7. Dead & Buried [1981] - Dir: Gary Sherman

I watched this last year after it was recommended by somebody in the horror thread, and I think it's great. There are some really fun Stan Winston effects in it. Definitely would suggest people throw this on their list if they're looking to build up a queue, it also has a bad rear end ending.

M_Sinistrari posted:

4) Game of Death - Shudder - 2017
From what I gather, this was originally an eight episode series so that explains the odd pacing this had with me.

This explains a lot. It was a really weird watch, I think I called it 'murder Jumanji' at the time. The script was terrible. The music video part about 2/3 of the way through was unexpected, but pretty cool.

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





7. The Tingler (William Castle, 1959)
Every time I see the name of this, my brain goes to this. I added a few Castle films to my watch list after watching Mr. Sardonicus for the bracketology tournament, and while the gimmick for this one is not much of anything, I still enjoyed it. The premise is silly, but the tingler itself looks pretty good all things considered (it helps that it looks like a centipede, one of my least favorite creatures on earth). I love the brief use of color during the scene where Ollie scares Martha to death. Vincent Price is a delight, someone should make a 1 hour cut of him saying "the tingler" on repeat so I can use it as a sleep meditation.

4/5


8. Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino, 2018)
Wow this was fantastic, totally brutal and beautiful. I love the 1977 film but I'm not precious about it, and I think this does an excellent job of respecting Argento's work while still being its own thing. Some cute twists on references to the original. I was so sucked into the story that I didn't really expect the twist, but as soon as it kicked off I was nodding along and thinking, "sure, of course." I'm pretty sure I didn't blink during the dance sequences, or during the nightmares. I did find Swinton's performance as Klemperer kind of distracting, and some of the digital effects in the final sequence were rough and took me out of it a little bit, but I'm nitpicking. That final sequence was totally all out chaos, although I think my most visceral reaction was during Olga's body being contorted and thrown around the studio, goddamn that was gnarly.

4.5/5

Challenge Count: 8/31

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





9. The Orphanage (J.A. Bayona, 2007)

This GdT produced film was a good opportunity to practice my Spanish. Laura, along with her husband and adopted son Simon, move into the orphanage where Laura was raised with the goal of turning it into a facility for disabled kids. Simon has some imaginary friends who might be ghosts, and eventually he goes missing. I don't really want to say more than that, though I will say this was absolutely gut-wrenching. Light on scares, heavy on atmosphere, broke my heart. Belén Rueda was amazing.

4/5


10. The Funhouse (Tobe Hooper, 1981)
I'm a sucker for horror movies set at a carnival, circus, etc. and it's a good thing I am because the first half of this was so boring I wanted to turn it off. Then a Frankingstein gets a handjob and we're off to the races! It's pretty standard slasher stuff, and the kills are mediocre, but Gunther looks fantastic and I like that the hapless teens at least attempt to defend themselves. Nothing to write home about but it's a Tobe Hooper movie I hadn't seen, so I am glad I got around to it anyway.

2.5/5

Challenge Count: 10/31

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





11. Mark of the Vampire (Tod Browning, 1935)
I watched this for the Bracketology Tournament thread. This was a weird one, like they wanted to make a parody of Universal vampire movies. The actual vampire stuff in this is good, Lugosi obviously does a fine job and there's enough spooky atmosphere here that I never tuned out, but the non-vampire stuff is really flat. I shouldn't be thinking about fast forwarding in a movie that is only 60 minutes. It's also really silly? Like, tonally, it was a bit all over the place, and it ends on such a goofy punchline. My favorite moment involved a cute cat.

2.5/5


12. Tigers Are Not Afraid (Issa López, 2017)
I watched this for the Bracketology Tournament thread as well. The premise is pretty depressing and bleak, we have a group of orphans, trying to stay alive in a city overcome with human trafficking, cartel violence, etc. who wind up stealing a phone from someone who really wants it back. There are some fantasy elements throughout, and they take a bit more spotlight in the back half. This made things a bit surreal, since the core of this is a very serious scary reality, but there are also moving drawings, bad CGI, and a stuffed tiger that comes to life. The blend of fantasy elements and kids in horrific situations reminded me some of del Toro films, and while this isn't as good as say, The Devil's Backbone, it's still a solid watch especially due to the quality performances from the young actors.

3.5/5

Challenge Count: 12/31

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





13. Hell Night (Tom DeSimone, 1981)
Four college kids including Linda Blair have to spend the night in an abandoned mansion. This movie is way too long at 101 minutes since about 75 of those minutes are just shots of people walking slowly while looking a little scared and mostly bored. The crew spent the whole budget on candles so they couldn't afford to make the killer look cool, most of the deaths are just "a big hand grabs you to death". A complete miss.

1/5


14. Shakma (Hugh Parks, 1990)
A college lab worker, while attempting to give a baboon a lethal injection, accidentally injects it with what I assume is a combination of Viagra and the rage drug from 28 Days Later, since it's furious and bonered up the rest of the movie. Meanwhile a group of students are playing some scavenger hunt game in the same building - chaos ensues. It plays out like a slasher, but the killer is a baboon so most people die due to having their face ripped off, off screen. There are some really terrifying scenes, and a few wildly violent kills when they actually happen on camera, but I looked into it and the filmmakers basically just got a real baboon super pissed to the point that it was hurting itself slamming into stuff, dislocated its shoulder, which is horrible. My rating reflects my distaste for the poor treatment of an animal, if it wasn't for that this would probably be a higher rating.

1/5

Challenge Count: 14/31

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





15. The Phantom of the Opera (Dario Argento, 1998)
An absolute mess of a film, with some terrible performances, sloppy storytelling, bad jokes that didn't land for me, and some gore that felt out of place and also is not enough to make this worth watching. I usually try to write a little more but I honestly don't have much to say, this sucked. I watched this for the Bracketology Tournament thread.

1.5/5

Challenge Count: 15/31

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





16. The Clown at Midnight (Jean Pellerin, 1998)
Fran Challenge 8: Dead & Buried
I'll be honest, the challenge of 'watch something that features someone who died recently' is never my favorite, because I don't pay much attention to celebrity deaths and find it frustrating to try and figure out who died, if they have been in horror movies I haven't seen and so on. In this case, I knew Christopher Plummer died within the last few months, so I just picked something that he was in, that was horror, and was easy to find. My laziness in completing the challenge was reflected in the laziness of filmmaking on display here. From the writer of Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout, and the director of a bunch of Def Leppard videos, comes this half-assed slasher set entirely within some run down old theater in Winnipeg. Features Margot Kidder briefly, and 'extremely 1998' James Duval and Tatyana Ali. Christopher Plummer has top billing... he's in like 3 scenes. There is a killer clown, turns out it's an incel clown, oh wait there's two clowns actually. Well, three, if you count me for watching this crap.

1/5

I'll start tracking my Fran Challenges - I love doing them (except the dead people one). Retroactively counting Tigers Are Not Afraid for Fran Challenge 5: Cinco and Suspiria 2018 for Fran Challenge 2: Sometimes They Come Back both of which I logged earlier in the thread.

Challenge Count: 16/31
Fran Challenges: 1 2 (Suspiria 2018) 3 4 5 (Tigers Are Not Afraid) 6 7 8 (The Clown at Midnight) 9 10 11 12 13

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




Fran Challenge 1: Short Cuts
Not counting these towards my total films watched, just wanted to separate this out from my regular feature-length reviews to keep myself organized.


The Quiet Room (Sam Wineman, 2018) - 28 mins
We open with a man named Michael attempting suicide and then waking up in a hospital. He meets some of the other patients (and staff, including a nurse played by Brian McCook aka Katya out of drag). He is haunted by nightmares of his former partner Ben, who died during a camping trip, and learns about a demon named Hattie (played by another queen, Alaska) that stalks suicidal patients. It does a good job of keeping you guessing throughout, and doesn't feel like any time is wasted. I really liked this. Available on Shudder. [Letterboxd]


The Umbrella Factory (Nick and Lexie Trivundza, 2019) - 3 mins
A pretty standard interpretation of the monkey's paw story with some cool animation. I feel like having it be so short takes away the impact of most of the big moments, or maybe it's because I've seen a zillion versions of this story. If you know the monkey's paw story, you can guess exactly what will happen. Available on YouTube.


The Captured Bird (Jovanka Vuckovic, 2020) - 12 mins
This was EP'd by Guillermo del Toro and won a bunch of awards, so I decided to check it out. There isn't much to it - a little girl drawing on with sidewalk chalk is drawn to a spooky old building, inside she finds some spooky monster looking things and screams. It's absolutely beautiful, though. My little image above does not do it justice. Worth watching for the visuals alone. Available on YouTube.


Mama (Andy and Barbara Muschietti, 2008) - 3 mins
I watched the full-length for the Bracketology tournament somewhat recently, and thought I had seen this, but I hadn't. This 3 minute short is like, a million times more interesting than the full movie, because Mama is not exposed as much, and her movement is more stilted and spooky. I liked the short! Available on YouTube.


2AM: The Smiling Man (Michael Evans, 2013) - 4 mins
This short is apparently based on a reddit post somebody made about a scary experience, and while this is super simple, it scared me because I had a very similar experience one time. A man is out for a late walk, and sees someone smiling, and possibly following him. Very effective sound design on this one, or maybe I was just more susceptible because it was bringing up spooky memories. Available on YouTube.


Zygote (Neill Blomkamp, 2017) - 22 mins
Found this on a 'best short horror' list, and it was a great way to end this challenge. We're dropped into what feels like the start of the last act of a full-length feature, with Dakota Fanning and Ricky from the Crank movies being chased by... something. I think they said something about quartz, I'm not 100% sure, but I can tell you that it is a big gross monster that wails and is just a big mish mash of body parts absorbed by the people it has already killed. It's very The Thing, very Dead Space, and very fun. The creature looks great and both of our heroes have solid arcs considering the runtime. Now I want to look into other stuff that 'Oats Studios' has put out, because this was a bop. Available on YouTube.

Overall a good crop of shorts, but the standouts are definitely The Quiet Room and Zygote. If you're looking to complete this challenge and don't have any specific shorts in mind, I'd recommend those for sure.
(total: 72 minutes)

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





17. Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape (Jake West, 2010)
Fran Challenge 10: Behind the Mask
Rented this on Vimeo as I have been wanting to watch it for a while. I remember learning about censorship from my mother, who let me watch horror movies from a young age - conversations about those types of movies is where I first heard of 'video nasties', as my mom is from England. I always assumed they were the scariest, realest, most scarring movies in the world, although as an adult I've seen a ton of them and they vary wildly in quality and content, like anything else. This film is a great deep dive into where the movement came from, how totally nonsensical the criticisms were, and so on. It includes interviews with people on both sides which is quite interesting because you have conservative politicians like Graham Bright who still says these movies are "evil", along with commentators like Kim Newman or Martin Barker who rightly point out the rampant hypocrisy from those attempting to censor these films. It's fascinating to see how far people were willing to go in pursuit of control, the doc does a great job of breaking it all down (including an excellent moment where they explain how an incredibly small sample size of data from a very unreliable group got pumped up as this insane statistic of 40% of 6 year olds having seen a video nasty). I mean, for gently caress's sake, a man went to prison for 12 months because he sold an extended, unapproved cut of "Nightmares in a Damaged Brain". Worth seeking out. You can find a poor quality copy on YouTube.

4.5/5


18. Cheerleader Camp (John Quinn, 1988)
Fran Challenge 3: Camp BLOOD
I've seen most of the more popular summer camp horror films, so I decided to check this out because I remember the cover (a cheerleader jumping with pom poms, but with a skeleton face) from wandering the video rental store when I was a kid. This is ostensibly a "horror comedy" except you won't laugh, unless you're the type to lose it over a fat guy getting his bare rear end stuck hanging out a car window while he farts. The premise of this slasher is pretty simple - there's a camp, and there are cheerleaders, and they're competing. The girls all fit your typical tropes - the mean one, the meaner one, the dumb one, the awkward one who has to wear the mascot outfit, and the hero, Alison (Betsy Russell, from most of the later Saw movies). The men also fit your typical tropes - the jock who cheats, the fat guy who makes jokes, and of course George 'Buck' Flower as the handyman who says the girls will "make your pee pee harder than a ten pound bag of nickel jawbreakers". There are boobs, and neon blood, and some "well we tried" effects. The hook is that Alison, stressed out from the competition, is having visions and nightmares and might actually be the one responsible for all the killings! She isn't, it's the mascot girl, who frames Alison and laughs as we fade to black. It's pretty much exactly what I was expecting, and certainly meets the criteria of "summer camp horror movie".

2.5/5

Challenge Count: 18/31
Fran Challenges: 1 (Various) 2 (Suspiria 2018) 3 (Cheerleader Camp) 4 5 (Tigers Are Not Afraid) 6 7 8 (The Clown at Midnight) 9 10 (Video Nasties) 11 12 13

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





19. On the Silver Globe (Andrzej Żuławski, 1988)
I watched this for the Bracketology Tournament thread. It's a tough one to really review, since it's almost three hours long, and unfinished - Żuławski was essentially forced to abandon it by the Polish government and had to come back to it a decade later, so he narrates the missing stuff himself. It's dense and confusing and difficult to follow but the general outline is that a group of astronauts are leaving Earth for... reasons, and they land on another world and eventually that civilization makes all the same mistakes. I think this will click more on a rewatch but it was really interesting and while I'm a little lost on what to say about it, I think it's certainly worth watching.

4/5


20. Cannibal Holocaust (Ruggero Deodato, 1980)
I watched this specifically to cross it off my watchlist, as it was the last of the top 100 movies from the TSZDT list that I had yet to see. So, that sub-challenge is complete. Anyway, the film - it's notorious. I knew what I was getting into, so I skipped all of the animal cruelty, which means all I was left with was a plodding, poorly made movie full of rape and racism. Guess what, it sucks.

0.5/5

Challenge Count: 20/31
Fran Challenges: 1 (Various) 2 (Suspiria 2018) 3 (Cheerleader Camp) 4 5 (Tigers Are Not Afraid) 6 7 8 (The Clown at Midnight) 9 10 (Video Nasties) 11 12 13

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




Spatulater bro! posted:

Did you at least like the music?

Sure.

E.G.G.S. posted:

Dolly Parton's cover of 'Save the Last Dance for Me's opening note sounds just like Cannibal Holocaust music.

Hahaha, you're right.

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





21. Goodnight Mommy (Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, 2014)
Fran Challenge 7: Mother's Day
Not sure I can talk about this without spoiler tags. While I didn't know anything about this going into it, I knew the directors were the same who made The Lodge, so I expected some twisty elements and some 'things are maybe not as they seem' moments. I figured out pretty early on that Lukas was either dead or not real or something along those lines, I guess they wanted me to wonder why Mother was ignoring him entirely, but she straight up never looks at him or anything so it was pretty apparent that he wasn't real. With that suspicion, I was pretty much suspicious of everything after that, and at no point did I really think that Mother was a villain or whatever, which made the first two-thirds pretty slow moving. The last third, where the boy(s) take control, is really great and tense, and I like the ambiguity of the ending quite a bit. Definitely worth a watch!

3.5/5

Challenge Count: 21/31
Fran Challenges: 1 (Various) 2 (Suspiria 2018) 3 (Cheerleader Camp) 4 5 (Tigers Are Not Afraid) 6 7 (Goodnight Mommy) 8 (The Clown at Midnight) 9 10 (Video Nasties) 11 12 13

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





22. April Fool's Day (Fred Walton, 1986)
Fran Challenge 13: Horrible Holidays
It didn't occur to me until after this was over that I don't know if April Fool's Day counts as a holiday, but it probably does, right? Anyway, a group of college students (including Julie from Valley Girl, Ginny from F13 Part II, and Biff from BTTF - so totally 80s) head up to one of their cousin's remote mansion on a lake for spring break. Sound familiar? Yeah, it's basically the same set up as a million other slashers, and plays out mostly as expected. There are some good gags and fun surprises, until it all comes to a head at the end and we learn that nobody died, it's all a big prank fest, and Muffy explains that she's hoping to start a business that sounds like "what if a B&B was also a slasher movie" and we all celebrate listening to Three Dog Night and popping bottles. Uh, sure. I had a good time!

3/5


23. Tales of Halloween (Darren Lynn Bousman, Lucky McKee, Neil Marshall, Ryan Schifrin, John Skipp, Dave Parker, Mike Mendez, Adam Gierasch, Andrew Kasch, Paul Solet, and Axelle Carolyn, 2015)
Fran Challenge 12: Cavalcade of Creepiness
This comes out swinging as Adrienne Barbeau radio DJs over the opening fog, but my enthusiasm waned when I realized there were ten -- ten! -- stories in this 90 minute anthology. As a result, none of the stories have a lot of room to breathe, but there are some standout moments and the stories overall have a silly fun Halloweeny feel, with most of them happening around the same town and characters in the background of one story showing up as players in another. Strangely, this is the second thing I've watched this week with Jose Pablo Cantillo, and the second thing I've watched this week with James Duval. On the stories: Ding Dong, Lucky McKee's entry, was just 'fine' but was elevated by a campy, delightful performance from Pollyanna McIntosh, and Friday the 31st was a very charming riff on F13 tropes. My favorite of the bunch was the last story, Bad Seed, where a pumpkin starts chompin' down on folks. As with most anthologies, it's definitely a mixed bag, but you can play 'spot the cameo' - lots of horror legends are hidden throughout in brief roles - and overall it's definitely worth watching at least once.

3.5/5

Challenge Count: 23/31
Fran Challenges: 1 (Various) 2 (Suspiria 2018) 3 (Cheerleader Camp) 4 5 (Tigers Are Not Afraid) 6 7 (Goodnight Mommy) 8 (The Clown at Midnight) 9 10 (Video Nasties) 11 12 (Tales of Halloween) 13 (April Fool's Day)

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





24. Patrick (Richard Franklin, 1978)
Patrick is a comatose patient who has psychokinetic powers, which he uses for hijinks like making a typewriter say rude things, shaking a man around a pool like he's getting laid in Showgirls, and stopping doctors from experimenting on him. Most of the movie is just this dude buggin' his eyes out like an Australian Marty Feldman or spitting on nurses and pretending he didn't. It feels like one of those films that is going to spend 90 minutes building up to 20 minutes of chaos, but it isn't, it's just 110 minutes of coma. At the big climax, the murderous comatose incel demands that the nurse he's into choose between him, or her husband who she loves, as if it's supposed to be a difficult decision. This film is so, so boring, and it looks like they killed a few frogs along the way.

1.5/5

Challenge Count: 24/31
Fran Challenges: 1 (Various) 2 (Suspiria 2018) 3 (Cheerleader Camp) 4 5 (Tigers Are Not Afraid) 6 7 (Goodnight Mommy) 8 (The Clown at Midnight) 9 10 (Video Nasties) 11 12 (Tales of Halloween) 13 (April Fool's Day)

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




yeah, Don't Panic is a hoot

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





25. The House that Jack Built (Lars von Trier, 2018)
I don't want to do the cliche thing and say Lars von Trier needs professional help, but like, he really does, right? I watched this for the Bracketology Tournament thread and I'll be honest, going into this week I was considering skipping this match-up entirely, but I'm glad I didn't, because despite its faults I thought it was pretty good. Jack, a serial killer, is talking through a random sampling of his victims to Virgil who is leading him, unseen, through the circles of hell. Matt Dillon does a great job as Jack, a loser who thinks he's more sophisticated than he is. We see a series of killings, varied in their gruesomeness (personally I found the taxidermied kid stuff and the stuff with Simple to be the toughest to watch), dipping in and out of Jack's life. In between and during, we get some dark comedy, talk of OCD (which Jack has) and how he thinks that impacts him, and a lot of talk about 'the artist' that someone else can write about as this is clearly Lars reflecting on his career but I don't feel equipped to get into it.

3.5/5


26. Sightseers (Ben Wheatley, 2012)
Also watched for the Bracketology Tournament thread. Tina, a woman who seems to have some issues but mostly wants to be loved, goes on a road trip with her new boyfriend Chris. Unfortunately, a few bodies drop, and while it's initially played as accidents, Chris is a killer with a temper. Tina gets into it and even murders a few people herself, seeking validation, while they continue their road trip around the countryside. This was fine - it has a few great moments but a fair amount of drag, I didn't find it very memorable but it wasn't bad or anything. I liked the ending.

3/5

Challenge Count: 26/31
Fran Challenges: 1 (Various) 2 (Suspiria 2018) 3 (Cheerleader Camp) 4 5 (Tigers Are Not Afraid) 6 7 (Goodnight Mommy) 8 (The Clown at Midnight) 9 10 (Video Nasties) 11 12 (Tales of Halloween) 13 (April Fool's Day)

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




If anyone has a self-imposed challenge related to the They Shoot Zombies, Don't They? list of horror movies, be aware that the 2021 edition has dropped - here's a link to it on Letterboxd.


27. The Lodger (John Brahm, 1944)
Jack the Ripper is on the loose, and everyone is on high alert! Unfortunately, everyone is also a total moron, because when Mr. Slade moves into a rented room in the neighborhood, he's pretty much wearing a sign that says "I'm 100% Jack the Ripper btw" and nobody seems to pick up on it for a very long time. Eventually, Inspector Warwick (the best character in the movie, played by George Sanders) figures it out, and stops him from murdering his latest target. There are some fun song and dance numbers (the target is a performer), and it's not bad, but it's pretty flat and I really didn't get into Laird Cregar's performance very much at all as the Ripper.

3/5


28. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (Paul WS Anderson, 2016)
Fran Challenge 6: Playing With Power
I'm not really sure when I fell off the Resident Evil cinematic universe, or whatever you want to call it. I know I've seen the first two, and I've seen parts of the other ones on TV over the years, bored on a weekend afternoon. I remember seeing some of the video game characters show up along the way. I decided to just jump to the final one because it's on Netflix. Helpfully, this starts with a bit of a recap of the series, and I didn't really feel like I missed anything in however many movies I skipped, because in this one, they go back to the facility from the first movie (The Hive) and do a lot of "hey, remember this?" type of poo poo. It felt designed for people who skipped a bunch of the series but came back around for the end. Apparently, they also dumped a ton of characters who were still alive in the previous movies, with no explanation or reference to them, so I guess it's fine that I never knew who they were. We have to go back to Raccoon City, because uhhh there's another virus, or an airborne version of the existing virus, or one of the viruses got a new hat, I don't really know and frankly it doesn't matter. Alice is joined by a group of red shirts who get shot or squished or zombied or whatever along the way as Anderson makes a billion cuts a minute so you can never tell what the gently caress is going on or exactly how bad the CGI is. I think they used some of the creatures from the games (maybe I saw a Regenerator?) but it's all so dark and doofy that I am not really sure. Eventually they release some sort of cure into the air and also all the bad Umbrella people explode and die and a couple recognizable characters survive and despite this being called The Final Chapter, it does end with a character saying that the work isn't done. Let's hope they're wrong.

1.5/5

Challenge Count: 28/31
Fran Challenges: 1 (Various) 2 (Suspiria 2018) 3 (Cheerleader Camp) 4 5 (Tigers Are Not Afraid) 6 (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) 7 (Goodnight Mommy) 8 (The Clown at Midnight) 9 10 (Video Nasties) 11 12 (Tales of Halloween) 13 (April Fool's Day)
TSZDT Challenge: 100/100
Indiewire Challenge: 47/50 (Remaining: Pulse, Hangover Square, I Saw the Devil

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





29. The Wild Boys (Bertrand Mandico, 2017)
Fran Challenge 9: Scream, Queen!
I watched this for the Bracketology Tournament thread. In this film, a group of boys, played by women, who raped their teacher, are sent off with a sea captain who promises to return them more docile and civilized. He takes them to an island where they begin to turn into women. Feels like there's a message here about how masculinity is a prison, or if I was less generous something about how men are animals and women are easier to control, but it's complex and I don't feel fully equipped to write about the ways this examines gender. But: I would certainly suggest anyone interested read Deb's post in the Bracketology thread about this, because it's tremendous work. At times, this feels like different movies stitched together because of the way it shifts from B&W to color and other changes, it made the whole thing a bit disorienting, dreamlike and unsettling in a very pleasant way. Definitely want to revisit this one, maybe I will watch it again in October.

4/5

Challenge Count: 29/31
Fran Challenges: 1 (Various) 2 (Suspiria 2018) 3 (Cheerleader Camp) 4 5 (Tigers Are Not Afraid) 6 (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) 7 (Goodnight Mommy) 8 (The Clown at Midnight) 9 (The Wild Boys) 10 (Video Nasties) 11 12 (Tales of Halloween) 13 (April Fool's Day)
TSZDT Challenge: 100/100
Indiewire Challenge: 47/50 (Remaining: Pulse, Hangover Square, I Saw the Devil

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





30. The Lure (Agnieszka Smoczyńska, 2015)
Fran Challenge 11: Myths & Legends
This is so much fun! A stylish and inventive horror movie that is also a musical and a romance story about two mermaids who try to blend in as people by becoming star singers in a lounge, and if that sounds like a lot, the reality is it all feels totally natural and is really well executed. It looks great, the performances are strong, the soundtrack absolutely slaps, and it still manages to incorporate most of the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale. I particularly love the song when they first perform as The Lure, they look like they belong in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains.

4/5


31. Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001)
An eerie, atmospheric ghost story where ghosts are maybe re-entering the world through the internet, and yes this is a gross oversimplification. If you're like me, it will give you a lot of depressing thoughts about how while the internet helps people 'stay connected' it also isn't really the same type of connection we were used to, and in a large city (like Tokyo where this takes place, or like where I live) it really hammers home the weird isolation and loneliness you can feel. But it's also a great ghost story with spooky ghosts and shadows and all that stuff too. It goes pretty bananas in the last twenty minutes and I'll probably need to watch it again, but I think I'll wait a while, as this hit a little harder after 14 months of rarely leaving my apartment due to a global pandemic.

4.5/5

Challenge Count: 31/31
Fran Challenges: 1 (Various) 2 (Suspiria 2018) 3 (Cheerleader Camp) 4 5 (Tigers Are Not Afraid) 6 (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) 7 (Goodnight Mommy) 8 (The Clown at Midnight) 9 (The Wild Boys) 10 (Video Nasties) 11 (The Lure) 12 (Tales of Halloween) 13 (April Fool's Day)
TSZDT Challenge: 100/100
Indiewire Challenge: 48/50 (Remaining: Hangover Square, I Saw the Devil)

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




Spatulater bro! posted:

Since you liked Pulse, be sure to watch Cure. See my review above. Seriously incredible.

It's on the list!

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





32. One Dark Night (Tom McLoughlin, 1982)
The opening of this is cool - Raymar, a man with magic telekinetic powers, dies and the resulting energy blast kills a bunch of people. We meet Meg Tilly who wants to join The Pink Ladies But Meaner, and for initiation she has to spend the night in a mausoleum - the one where Raymar has been buried, but isn't finished doing magic power stuff yet! Then, you could skip ahead about 70 minutes, as nothing happens besides a grave shaking a little, Meg Tilly looking bored or asleep, and Adam West standing around. The last twenty minutes things get really fun and chaotic and goopy and gross but it too waaay too long to get there.

2/5


33. Hack-o-Lantern (Jag Mundhra, 1988)
On Halloween night, Tommy's Grandpa shows up with a truck full of pumpkins and murders Tommy's dad. We flash forward and Tommy is now turning 18 (looks 30), while someone in a rubber Satan mask is running around murdering people with gardening tools. This whole movie is carried on the back of Hy Pyke as the insane satanic Grandpa who, in some scenes, sounds like a New Orleans Harvey Fierstein (and in other scenes, totally doesn't). This also has some wild padding - early on Tommy has a dream that turns into a full music video, there are strippers stripping at parties, a guy even leaves a party and does a tight five minutes of stand-up for a group of partygoers standing around outside of a barn. None of it has anything to do with the satanic ritual story.

3/5

Challenge Count: 33/31
Fran Challenges: 1 (Various) 2 (Suspiria 2018) 3 (Cheerleader Camp) 4 5 (Tigers Are Not Afraid) 6 (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) 7 (Goodnight Mommy) 8 (The Clown at Midnight) 9 (The Wild Boys) 10 (Video Nasties) 11 (The Lure) 12 (Tales of Halloween) 13 (April Fool's Day)
TSZDT Challenge: 100/100
Indiewire Challenge: 48/50 (Remaining: Hangover Square, I Saw the Devil)

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





34. I Saw the Devil (Kim Jee-woon, 2010)
I have mixed feelings about this "consumed by revenge" story. Jang Kyung-chul is a school bus driver and serial killer. The movie opens with him murdering a woman who was stuck with a flat tire. It is brutal, and he dismembers her body and gets rid of the pieces. However, a kid later finds an ear while playing near a stream, and an investigation beings. Of course, Kyung-chul didn't count on being hunted by Kim Soo-hyun, an NIS agent who vows revenge, as the woman who got fridged in the opening minutes was his pregnant fiancee (btw the whole movie is full of women who exist pretty much only to be kidnapped, tortured, raped, murdered, or some/all of the above). Soo-hyun eventually finds Kyung-chul when he's about to rape and murder a girl who rode his bus, and after an incredible fight in a greenhouse, our protagonist (???) chooses to knock out the killer, shove a GPS down his throat, and leave a letter on his unconscious body basically saying that he's going to make his life hell. This becomes a bit of repetitive business (the movie is 2.5hrs) as the killer goes somewhere, murders more people or does other awful things, and then the hero shows up to, uhh, beat him up some more and then let him get away and continue doing terrible things. It lost me a bit here because the hero's choices are so stupid - if you're that consumed by a desire for revenge, get your revenge, already! Instead, his nonsensical toying with the killer lead to numerous murders, including the father and sister of the dead fiancee from the beginning. Nice work, you dopey poo poo. In the end, our killer is tied up in his own guillotine, while our hero leads the killer's elderly parents, and his estranged son, to the warehouse he's tied up, and when they open the door the guillotine drops. I guess they deserved to be totally traumatized for no reason. Anyway, despite all of my problems with the script, it's a beautifully shot film with some truly awesome sequences that made it worth watching... but god did it ever irritate me.

3.5/5

At this point, I just have to do one more Fran Challenge (the MOTM one - probably going to watch The Cremator), and watch Hangover Square to complete the top 50 from indiewire's top 100 horror movies of all time list.

Challenge Count: 34/31
Fran Challenges: 1 (Various) 2 (Suspiria 2018) 3 (Cheerleader Camp) 4 5 (Tigers Are Not Afraid) 6 (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) 7 (Goodnight Mommy) 8 (The Clown at Midnight) 9 (The Wild Boys) 10 (Video Nasties) 11 (The Lure) 12 (Tales of Halloween) 13 (April Fool's Day)
TSZDT Challenge: 100/100
Indiewire Challenge: 49/50 (Remaining: Hangover Square)


Debbie Does Dagon posted:

Explosion of a Motor Car (1900) - 1 min
Directed by Cecil M. Hepworth
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHYb0D1PPv0

lmao

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




STAC Goat posted:

Judging from Berzerker's review I feel comfort saying I'd loath the film.

I feel like I know your tastes and boundaries fairly well at this point, and yeah, I don't think you would have a good time.

I do agree that it's a good movie though! I mean I gave it a 3.5 despite hating the script which says a lot for the quality of the overall filmmaking. But goddamn I was wandering around the house ranting about it afterwards.

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




twernt I love the theme of your challenge, I might do that in October.

I beat my goal of 31 last week but as of this week I've finished the top 50 of Indiewire's Top 100 Horror list, I'm done the top 100 of TSZDT, and I've finished the Fran Challenges. I might still throw a few more reviews in before month's end, if I am not too lazy to do so.


35. Army of the Dead (Zack Snyder, 2021)
This was stupid, and fine. I didn't really get a lot out of it but it was very watchable. The two and a half hour runtime did not feel like it (this could either be good pacing or because I was stoned but I'll take it). Bautista was great, and I love to see Tig Notaro in anything especially if she's replacing a scumbag. I think like most ensemble zombie movies, there are a lot of characters that basically get one trait and have to lean into it as their whole deal, but it is forgiveable because there were a lot of things crammed into this (some executed better than others). Really uninterested in the whole alpha zombie nonsense and probably wouldn't watch a sequel, but hey, it was fine.

3/5


36. The Legend of Hell House (John Hough, 1973)
A solid haunted house movie where a team that includes a physicist, his wife, and two mediums are sent to investigate the Belasco House. It plays out like most haunted house movies, with some of the guests experiencing different types of paranormal phenomena (horny ghosts, angry cats, and chandeliers dive-bombing to the floor as often as possible). One fun early 70s ghost banishing machine later and the problem is solved - or is it!? (It isn't.) The reveal, when they find Belasco and make fun of him for being a ~Short King~, is totally bananas and at first I thought I was being pranked. Enjoyable lazy Sunday afternoon type of movie.

3.5/5


37. Hangover Square (John Brahm, 1945)
Laird Cregar is a criminal being chased by George Sanders who plays a Scotland Yard employee. If this sounds familiar, it's because I recently reviewed The Lodger which had the same actors in this same scenario, though that one was about Jack the Ripper, and this one is about George Bone, a composer who experiences episodes of amnesia when he is stressed, during which he worries that he is doing bad things. He's right - the film opens with him stabbing someone to death and then lighting their shop on fire. Dr. Middleton basically tells him he needs to learn to relax, which leads him to a concert at a pub where he meets Netta. George is immediately smitten despite having a girlfriend, and Netta starts manipulating him into buying her things, writing songs for her, and so on. A few amnesia-driven crimes later (including George throwing a body in a public bonfire during Guy Fawkes Night) and the cops start to figure things out, eventually leading to a completely unhinged George banging away on a piano while the building burns down around him. I liked this more than The Lodger, though whether or not this is a horror movie is debatable (LB has it tagged as Drama, Thriller, and Crime, but it was on the indiewire top 100 horror list so I watched it for the sake of crossing it off).

3.5/5


38. The Cremator (Juraj Herz, 1969)
Fran Challenge 4: Movie of the Month
What an amazing film. Rudolf Hrušínský gives an incredible performance as Karel Kopfrkingl, a man who runs a crematorium in late 1930s Czechoslovakia. Karel has an interest in Buddhism and believes that cremation helps speed people along into reincarnation over traditional burial, and liberates their souls. He meets Reinke, an Austrian, who wants to sway Karel's political affiliation. I won't say more about the plot, but it's an excellent story - certainly a horror, but also funny (Karel choosing a sex worker who looks exactly like his wife, played by the same actor, is a hoot) and shows some incredible technique - the camera work in the boxing match, the way Herz zooms in for a close-up and zooms out to find us in a different scene, etc. all feel very modern and slick. More than anything else though is Rudolf Hrušínský, he can play slimy and scary and weird-but-charming very well and does so many subtle things I stopped noting them (but here's one: at the carnival wax museum, the way his expression changes when the barker says that one victim committed suicide because he had the plague - "He died rather than contaminate others" - tells you so much). This is an underrated absolute banger of a film that I can't wait to watch again.

5/5

Challenge Count: 38/31
Fran Challenges: 1 (Various) 2 (Suspiria 2018) 3 (Cheerleader Camp) 4 (The Cremator) 5 (Tigers Are Not Afraid) 6 (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) 7 (Goodnight Mommy) 8 (The Clown at Midnight) 9 (The Wild Boys) 10 (Video Nasties) 11 (The Lure) 12 (Tales of Halloween) 13 (April Fool's Day)
TSZDT Challenge: 100/100
Indiewire Challenge: 50/50

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog





39. Night of the Comet (Thom Eberhardt, 1984)
Imagine waking up one day and just about everybody is dead. Not just dead, but turned to dust (thank goodness - less cleanup and disease). In this film Earth is going to pass through the tail of the same comet that showed up when the dinosaurs got bopped, so naturally everyone wants to have a big party (a la the rooftop fools in Independence Day). They're pretty much all vaporized (leaving hilarious piles of clothes behind). Some of those who didn't die have become goofy looking zombies(?). Two sisters, Reggie and Sam, are among the only non-mutated humans left the following morning, as they both slept in steel-lined rooms/buildings. I expect this to be a typical zombie movie but it's more interesting than that - yes, there is a montage of the girls looting the mall to Cyndi Lauper, but there's a lot of ruminating on the point of existence as well. It also looks amazing - everything has this red and orange tint because of the comet. It's not perfect, but it was better than I expected by a miracle mile.

4/5



40. I Saw What You Did (William Castle, 1965)
I watched this for the Bracketology Tournament thread. This one didn't do much for me. A few girls spend an evening making prank calls, typically telling the person on the other hand that "I saw what you did, and I know who you are". At the beginning they prank guys named William Harrison and John Adams - presidential pranks! Eventually they call a man who just finished murdering his wife, and he now thinks he'll need to track them down and silence them. It felt very rote and none of the performances stood out. Not much tension (except maybe in the last ten minutes) and this is exacerbated by the score, which is so goofy and light it sounds like an episode of Leave it to Beaver. It's also devoid of any fun William Castle gimmicks.

2/5

Challenge Count: 40/31
Fran Challenges: 1 (Various) 2 (Suspiria 2018) 3 (Cheerleader Camp) 4 (The Cremator) 5 (Tigers Are Not Afraid) 6 (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) 7 (Goodnight Mommy) 8 (The Clown at Midnight) 9 (The Wild Boys) 10 (Video Nasties) 11 (The Lure) 12 (Tales of Halloween) 13 (April Fool's Day)
TSZDT Challenge: 100/100
Indiewire Challenge: 50/50

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The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog




I watched Prevenge today for the bracket thread but am too lazy to do a write up so I'll just say I did 40.

Best of the month for me were The Cremator, Suspiria 2018, House 1977, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, and Pulse. Oh and the documentary on Video Nasties should be on there too.

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