Tag Archives: carpescream

Carpe Scream: Last Day!

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So okay! This is the last day of my Carpe Scream blog marathon! I hope you’ve enjoyed my write-ups of these 31 Halloween Movies. Some were scary, some were not, some were old favorites, some were new favorites, some were shameful new discoveries to be hidden forever and never spoken of again.

I’m closing out this first year’s marathon with the movie that taught me to love Halloween, back when I was a little chicken scaredy-pants who was afraid of everything ghosty and ghoulie and three-leggy-beasty: Tim Burton’s Masterpiece featuring the music of Danny Elfman: The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Time Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993, Touchstone Pictures

This is a great transition from Halloween to the upcoming holiday season. I’m going to disappear for a while, getting back to writing and tuning up old pieces as I start a new journey to getting published again. Hopefully I’ll devise something fun for Christmas like last year’s Advent Calendar for you all (but perhaps less ambitious).

I hope you all have a fantastic Halloween, a good NaNoWriMo, and I’ll see you all around on the vast and glorious internet jungle.

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Carpe Scream Day 30

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Today I watch a horror movie classic, in that it’s been widely lauded as one of the worst Science Fiction movies of all time: Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Plan 9 From Outer Space, 1959, Valiant Pictures

This movie has been a classic because of all the bad movies out there, it’s one of the most highly watchable bad films. It goes through bad and out the other end to where it’s ridiculously funny. Cheap sets, bad costumes and frankly weird directorial decisions and a nonsensical plot (space people raise 3 zombies for… reasons) line make this a drunken elementary school pageant of a production. Highlights include:

“My God, I’m SHINY!”

Gun Safety Poster Boy

Tor “Time For Go To Bed Now” Johnson

This is a great movie to watch with friends and a couple of beers. And for added fun, follow it up with The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera, which is a brilliantly funny parody movie that borrows all Ed Woodliness of this movie and hangs a lampshade on it.

Carpe Scream Day 29

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Okay, I was putting off this movie, honestly because my friends all warned me it was intense, but today I watched The Babadook.

The Babadook, 2014, Causeway Films

Quick premise: a widowed mother of a (possibly special needs) little boy is haunted by an entity named “Mr. Babadook” after reading a sinister pop-up book that mysteriously appears in her boy’s bookshelf.

First off this book needs some major awards for the prop-master who made that pop-up book. I remember seeing some vague sillouettes in the movie promotions (like above) which all reminded me of the Hatbox Ghost from the Haunted Mansion

“‘Sup, dawg” (property of Walt Disney Company)

Instead, when I watch the movie, I get THIS nightmare fuel.

I think it sees us.

And reading up on it, I discovered that MOST of the money in the movie’s budget (which was raised via kickstarter btw!) went to the amazing artists who made this book. There was also a backer level where you could get one of 200 identical books with EXTRA pages (sadly no longer available). In addition, the set design, the Tim Burton-y interiors and very stylized color palettes bring a phenomenal level of heart to the film.

Okay, I’m done gushing over the artwork. Now I’m going to gush over Essie Davis. I recently became aware of Davis through the Miss Fisher Mysteries by ABC (AUS) and I absolutely loved her in it. She impressed me no less as Amelia in Babadook. And she made a great character for the audience to follow.

The movie makes no bones about it’s theme, which is about how grief, stress, and isolation can wreak havoc on our lives, and tarnish our souls until we’re staring in the face of madness and oblivion. Essie is a very real vessel for all of that emotion as she deals with her son’s violent and hysterical outbursts, as her friends and family start to cut her off, and she even starts to cut herself off from life by not going to work.

Anyone who’s dealt with loss, depression and/or parenthood will tap into all of these immediately, and at times the movie was a little too real, especially when the viewer is forced to confront dark truths and the voices we all keep pent up in the back of our minds.

I won’t spoil the ending, but I will go so far as to say I loved it, and I agree with others that it was actually really cathartic. Unlike a recent online article, I don’t think it’s fatalist or a sign of how hopeless our world has become. I think it’s quite the opposite.

I’ll close with a fun fact, the Director of this film, Jennifer Kent, based the design of the Babadook off of a character played by the tragic Lon Chaney Sr. in “London After Midnight.” I’ll post it down here so you can watch if you like.

Carpe Scream Day 28

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Today’s another kids’ movie night so I’m reviewing “Monster House.”

Monster House, 2006, Sony Pictures

First off, I have to confess that kids’ movie or not there were elements of this that were pretty dang scary, not least of which is that the movie’s story, execution, and even film and color palette, are very reminiscent of old 80’s slasher movies. The movie is obviously set in the early 80’s and with a touch of Spielberg and Zemeckis (co-producers) over the whole, this has a very Halloween meets Goonies meets E.T. feel to it.

There’s a visceral grittiness to the characters and dialogue that feels unscripted and anxious which makes it scarier and more grimdark than your usual fluffy kiddy fare, and that’s very much on purpose. That’s solely for the purpose of making the viewers of ALL ages feel like the kid protagonists. We are transported back in time to when parents wouldn’t believe us, our hormones were turned against us, and when we were slowly becoming aware that real evil existed in the world, and not just in our books and movies. It’s a very helpless feeling and this movie cashes in on making the viewer feel vulnerable and alone.

No punches are pulled either. The evil’s origin story is as dark as you can get for a kids’ movie. This is not a movie for the real young’uns. This one is for the kids who think, “maybe I’m too old to dress up this year.”

Carpe Scream Day 27

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Today’s movie is a double feature: both the stage production and the Tim Burton film of Sweeney Todd. First up, is the filmed production of the Broadway Version with George Hearn and Angela Lansbury.

Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 1982, Turner Home Entertainment

This is really the bible of this show as far as precedent and how to beat it. Hearn and Lansbury are superior as the demonic and impish Todd and Lovett. Hearn’s deep basso and terrifying expressions really make him a fantastic tragic villain.

“At last, my arm is complete again!”

I’m only sorry that Angie’s comedy chops aren’t as good in this as they’ve been in other things I’ve seen her in. She’s a little too over the top and her stiff-legged waddle and monkey-faces aren’t as funny as if she’d played it more straight. Yes, it’s stage. Yes that’s how 70’s theatre was, I get it. I think I was spoiled by seeing Emma Thompson do it in the staged concert on PBS. She is my favorite Lovett.

Dat hair tho.

All in all, this version is a bloody good time and worth watching.

And then there’s this:

Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Demon, 2007, Warner Bros. Pictures

I’m pretty sure the creation of this was Helena prancing around Tim in a sexy lingerie and singing “Do it! Do it! Film it! Film the musical, baby! Come on!” and him eventually saying yes. It’s clear that Tim had no desire to make a musical. Half of the numbers were cut out, all of the crowd’s lines were cut (so you can sing it yourself at home!) But for that, it’s not a terrible version, if you look at it as bringing demension to the story that you can’t on the stage, the quick cuts, the crowd shots, the action, and the blood. SO MUCH BLOOD. LITERALLY BUCKETS OF BLOOD.

“Do I got a little something on my face?”

That’s really the fun part. In the stage show, the producers have to be conservative with blood in the show, so the actors aren’t slipping in giant wet lakes of it during the production. In the movie we get to see graphic portrayals of real blood, bugs, meat and other delicious closeups and subtle winks and nods that we’d never get to see on a far away stage.

“I’d gander at that.”

Where it falls short is, sadly, the lack of experienced singers in the major roles. They managed to find great performers and singers for the secondary players, but Depp’s gritty constipated grunts, and Helena’s flat whistles utterly fail to enchant, and are perhaps the bigger reason Burton cut out more musical numbers. So this makes a great sing-along and it’s visually exciting. And for all the weak singing, Depp summons a wonder pathos for Todd and Helena brings the subtle quirky funny no problem. Of course, this is the REAL reason we went to go see this when it came out.

Carpe Scream Day 26

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Feeling sick today, so this will be a quick one. Today I watched The Brothers Grimm.

The Brothers Grimm, MGM Pictures, 2005

This movie has the rare distinction of being a completed Terry Gilliam movie. And right from the get-go it’s told to us in no uncertain terms, that this movie is a fairytale, a gothic, beautiful, funny fairytale. So don’t ask why this guy is cartoonishly evil, don’t ask how we have all these anochronistic inventions, don’t ask how a kiss can cure multiple puncture wounds. No. That’s not what this movie is for. This is for Matt Damon and Jude Law playing a Croby/Hope comedy team next to a swanning evil Johnathon Pryce.

My only annoyance was that there was (yet again) another shoehorned love interest with no real chemistry or reason to like either of the main characters and whose sole purpose was to be a hostage in need of rescuing or a kamikaze in need of talking down. At least they twisted the ending a bit concerning her. Anyways. Great movie. Great fun. I’m going to bed now.

Carpe Scream Day 25

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We’re in the final week of Carpe Scream and today’s movie is a great one to watch after 24 days of horror movies: Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil

Tucker and Dale VS. Evil, Magnet Releasing, 2010

I’ve wanted to watch this one for a while, but it required a brew and a bunch of Friends. Well the stars finally aligned and I was treated to a hilarious, fun, bloody, treat. Alan Tudyk, Tyler Labine, and Katrina Bowden had fantastic chemistry, timing, and some great comic acting chops to boot. This movie takes horror movie tropes, hangs a lampshade on them, whacks them with a hammer, and then invites them to have a cup of tea and talk about their feelings.

“I notice your collar is up. Do you want to talk about that?”

The premise is: two unassuming hillbillies are having a vacation weekend in their new cabin when suddenly a group of college students start freaking out around them and subsequently dropping dead.

A comedy of errors worthy of Abbot and Costello ensues, with over-the-top violence, hilarious one-liners and huggable characters you just want to invite over for a cookout and PBR.

I highly recommend it to all horror fans: it’s great for hard-core enthusiasts who can spot all the references or for light horror fans looking for a good time that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Check out the trailer, if your curious. It’s currently streaming on Amazon and Netflix.