Halloween is almost here! And I’ve been busy watching some spooky things! Some are TV shows, some a YouTube videos, but for now I am sharing the movies I’ve seen. If you haven’t already seen my first list of films I’ve seen this October, you can check out my first post. I might have another coming up next week if I watch anymore films on Halloween Day. Last time it was movies starting with “the” (okay that wasn’t my intention, it just happened that way) and this time I have mostly foreign films! One from South Korea, Mexico, Italy, and Spain! And two from the US, but you know whatever.
Just wondering, do you guys like reading these reviews? I love films, and I feel like I’ve fallen out of the habit of watching them. I would like to watch more, and I love sharing what I think of them. But it is time consuming, so I am never sure if I want to share my love them. Anyways, enough talk about things, and lets talk about the films.
Directed by: Byeong-ki Ahn
Spooky Type: Vengeful Ghost
Plot: Se-jin Oh is a typical Korean “spinster,” living alone, single, and career focused. Her days are a little lonely, and it doesn’t help that it is the Christmas season. After a rough day at work, she witnesses a suicide on the subway. Shaken up by the accident, Se-jin starts to notice some odd occurrences in her apartment complex. The lights flicker on and off people are committing suicide throughout the building. She starts spying on everyone to try and figure out what is going on.
Review: The beginning of the film might seem confusing, it starts with a TV broadcast of various recluses in Korea. Then it cuts to a girl mutilating herself in front of the broadcast, which has nothing to do with the film’s plot. This is pretty common with Asian horror films to have an opening that is vague but sets the mood for the spooky story. It is also worth saying that I made a distinction between “ghost” and “vengeful ghost.” Why? Well, Asian ghosts are very different from Western ghosts. Our ghosts tend to be very untangle. Things move, we get followed, some are evil, some are sad, there are strict rules. While in Asian cultures, specifically Chinese, Japanese, and Korean folklore, most ghosts are ambiguous, touchable apparitions, and almost always vengeful females. That being said, there are lots of illogical spooks throughout the film.
The story is kind-of a refreshing twist to the haunted house trope, using an apartment complex as the central focus. What I tend to like about Asian horrors over Western/American horrors is that there is usually a message that the writer or director is trying to convey. Loneliness is definitely what is being talked about here. There are high suicide rates in Korea, and socialization is a big role in Korean culture.
Overall I think the pace is good, everything is evenly spaced. The story is intriguing, and I wasn’t fully expecting what was going to happen. But, the ending gets a little weird. We go from ghosts to recluses. Then back to ghosts. The police investigator, moves into the house, to basically give the viewer a quick scare before the end of the film, which was pretty off putting. The story was based on a comic written by Kang Full, which I am unsure how much differs between the two.
Overall: Okay. Different type of story for western viewers and still spooky
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Spooky Type: Vampires
Plot: In 1536, in Veracruz, Mexico, during the Inquisition, an alchemist builds a mysterious and sophisticated device named Cronos to provide eternal life to the owner. In the present days, the antiques dealer Jesus Gris finds Cronos hidden inside an ancient statue while cleaning it with his granddaughter Aurora. He accidentally triggers the device and soon his wife Mercedes and he note that he has a younger appearance. Out of the blue, the stranger Angel de la Guardia visits Gris’s shop and buys the old statue. On the next day, Gris finds his shop trashed and Angel’s card on the floor. He pays a visit to Angel that introduces him to the eccentric millionaire De la Guardia that explains the healing power and the eternal life given by Cronos. Angel is sent by De la Guardia to hunt down Gris to get Cronos no matter the costs –IMDB
Review: This is Guillermo del Toro’s debut film. It was independently made, which meant Guillermo had individuals invest money in the film, rather than going to a major film company. This is really rare to happen, especially at the time the film cost an estimated 2 million dollars, which was a lot for Mexican film. Because of this Guillermo had a lot of free reign as the director, probably saving the film from being a major gore-fest. Majority of the film is in Spanish with exception of the opening monologue and Ron Perlman’s character Angel.
It was really hard to categorize this film, because vampires is a little misleading. Gris only becomes a vampire from the cronos device which houses a bug inside of it. There is only one vampire, so there isn’t the threat of “spreading” the disease. The horror in the film I think also lies in the little girl seeing her grandfather become a monster, not the vampire himself. All of these factors makes the story refreshing to the vampire genre, heck the horror genre.
Although I loved this film, take a grain of salt, this is a slow moving and understated film. One might debate if it is even a horror film (but it totes is, it follows the rules of Art Horror) so sit back and don’t expect buckets of blood. The film has beautiful set design and great acting. Basically you should be in the same frame of mind as you would be for a regular old film.
Overall: Beautiful film, totally new twist to vampire genre.
Directed by: Dario Argento
Spooky Type: Slasher
Watch: Youtube Trailer
Plot: Betty is a young opperata, getting her first role as Lady MacBeth, a role in a cursed opera. Betty is nervous taking the role, thinking her talent isn’t strong enough, and perhaps because the opera is off to a rough start since the original Lady MacBeth has hurt her leg. During the debut performance, there is a homicide, shaking up Betty. But the killing keeps following her, with the murderer forcing Betty to watch by placing pins near her eyes.
Review: This movie was a big surprise. I love Susperia, Dario Argento’s classic film. Some of his other films I liked aspects of it, but not the whole film. Deep Red was alright, but I think it was so different from Susperia that I didn’t know how to react. Then I watched Inferno, and visually it was amazing, but the plot and characters were… uh awful. So awful I can’t go into them right now. But there is an easy way to sum up all of Argento’s films, lacking in story and character depth but strong auteur vision. Visual cues and filming techniques help fill in the gaps of the characters and helps progress the story.
This is considered the last “great” Dario Argento film, as there has been a downward spiral in quality with his films. This is probably the biggest budget for all of his films, which becomes obvious. The effects are more impressive than any of his other films, beautiful costume design, and over the top sets. This not a film you want to turn away from, and trying to touch all the different themes of the film is difficult.
The idea of keeping Betty from turning away with pins near her eyes was a joke with Dario Argento. He was tired of seeing viewers cower away from the gore of the film, and joked he would force the viewer to keep their eyes open. In fact the idea of seeing and not seeing is played up through out the film. We see the killers point of view, we don’t see the star opera singer in the beginning of the film, we see things from a birds eye view, we rarely see the anything of the killer outside of his hands. And what we see onscreen is visually overwhelming.
Two big notes to the viewers. This is a vegan based blog, and this is probably the only movie that I would give a big “vegan warning” as it seems obvious that the crows are not treated properly in the film. It seems that Italian horrors have a reputation for not being animal friendly, as many people know Cannibal Holocaust for being the worst (coatimundi killed with a knife, large turtle decapitated and its limbs, shell, and entrails removed, tarantula killed with a machete, snake, killed with a machete, squirrel monkey decapitated with a machete, and a pig shot in the head with a shotgun at close range) Supposedly the movie was so awful the actors were near to tears during the filming of the turtle scene. But Opera isn’t that bad, just a few birds punches and batted at. Not ideal, so use your judgement.
The next note is that this is an Italian film, which almost always involve dubbing. Higher budget films have pretty good syncing, but this film is particularly bad at dubbing. It is in English, so there won’t be any subs. But most of the actors are Italian, so English is not their first language, which might explain why the lips are so far off. Take a deep breath, and try not to get too annoyed by it.
I am not one who loves a slasher film, but this was well crafted. Dario isn’t know for slasher films, but at the time there was a rise in popularity and it worked his way around it. I think he handled it well, adding his own flair to the genre. Truthfully, not that many deaths happen, but they are indeed memorable.
Overall: Great gory film, visually amazing!
Directed by: J.A. Bayona
Spooky Type: Ghost/Haunted House
Watch: YouTube Trailer
Plot: Laura, a former orphan, raises her adopted son Simón together with her husband Carlos in an old house and former orphanage where she was raised. While at the orphanage Simón tells Laura that he has five invisible friends which she believes are a product of his active imagination. Laura decides to reopen the orphanage to cater for disabled children and throws a party. During the party Simón tries to persuade Laura to go and take a look at his friends cabin but she’s too busy. Later on she sees a mysterious masked boy and realizes that Simón has also disappeared. Laura feels the presence of other people in the house and months later Laura invites a team of parapsychologists to try to unravel the mystery. –IMDB
Review: We sure have a lot of subtitled films for this batch? This film was produced in Spain and was produced by Guillermo del Toro. I remembered the film getting good reviews when it came out, but never got around to seeing it in theaters. So now was the time. This movie is heavily based on plot and the horror is from the point of view of parents that loose their child. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t enough atmosphere in the film. The ghosts play heavy role in the film, Laura comes to the edge of insanity, there is blood, and there are creepy kids.
Although I loved the film and I think it is an excellent horror film, there are plot holes or things that don’t really make sense. Like how does Simón not know he has a disease? I mean, he is taking pills often, and I can’t imagine the doctor just “pretending” everything is honky-dory. And there are others that would give away the ending, so I will just stop there. That said, it is a good film to watch once, I think watching it over and over would make this holes seem much more obvious. Besides, I’ve seen much more weakly put together scripts for horrors.
Overall: Good for a good spook and mystery
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Spooky Type: Ghosts
Watch: YouTube Trailer
Plot: A young family are visited by ghosts in their home. At first the ghosts appear friendly, moving objects around the house to the amusement of everyone, then they turn nasty and start to terrorise the family before they “kidnap” the youngest daughter. –IMDB
Review: This is a horror film classic, and it does have some spooky value to it. There is tons of action and horrific elements. I guess my beef is that it is definetly a blockbuster film, and therefore has only so much depth to it. Well, it does present itself with the horrors of being a new parent. Yes, the family featured has three children, but the first born was an accident. The parents, Steve and Diane rush to get married and settle down together. Overall the story is about the fears of becoming a parent, Can you provide? Can you protect your children? How much can you shelter your children from the outside world? How to do you cope with all the responsibility? Because of this message, I think the movie is saved from being a spectacle of special effects and shocks.
The special effects are a little dated, but some really hold up the test of time. I guess my only word of caution is that if you are big ghost freak like me, you will probably find it way over the top. But I can see why so many people love this film.
Overall: Pretty good and mainstream.
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie
Directed by: John Harrison
Spooky Type: Short Stories
Plot: This is really three shorter movies, bound together by a fourth tale in which the other three stories are read. The first segment features an animated mummy stalking selected student victims; the second tale tells the story of a “cat from Hell” who cannot be killed and leaves a trail of victims behind it; the third story is about a man who witnesses a bizarre killing and promises never to tell what he saw, and the “in-between” bit is the story of a woman preparing to cook her newspaper boy for supper. –IMDB
Review: This was a pick from my husband. He is a fan of Tale from the Crypt tv series, and had this one on queue. There were two films made before this one Creepshow and Creepshow 2, which was based on the original comic books. But some of the shorts from Tales from the Darkside are actually based on shorts stories. One based off of Stephen King’s The Cat from Hell, and the other Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lot No. 249. But both stories have some classic feels to them that I could picture in an old horror comic book.
I wasn’t blown away by these shorts, but then again, I think I might of been sick when watching it. I found them entertaining, and the stories are short so if you aren’t feeling the story, it will end soon. There are some notable stars in it including Debbie Harry, Christian Slater, Steve Buscemi, and Julianne Moore, and Matthew Lawrence (though he might not of been famous at the time). What I liked about this film is that the stories are very different from most modern horror film plots. So this is a perfect film if you want something really different from your average slasher film.
Overall: Bored with most horrors? Check this one out.