Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Movies to watch on Halloween (update!)


If you want strong female characters...The Descent

A rare quality horror movie with an all-female cast (except for one character who barely has lines and vanishes after the second scene), and zero objectification. Every woman in the movie is someone you know and understand, and their relationships with each other foster as much tension and interest as the terrors they meet in the cave. I'd watch this one with the lights on. 

Synopsis: A year after she survives a traumatic accident, Sarah and her five friends go on a restorative hiking/spelunking trip. When they get trapped in an unexplored cave, they start to suffer from limited oxygen, delusions (OR ARE THEY?), and rapidly fraying relationships.
Starring: Shauna MacDonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid
Money shot: Sarah crawling out of an underwater lake that may or may not consist entirely of blood.

If you need a retro fix...The House of the Devil
This movie does an excellent job of 3 things: looking, sounding, and feeling exactly like a late-70s thriller; making you fall in love with Samantha, the adorable button of a protagonist; and creeping you the fuck out for an hour until letting loose in a balls-out bloodletting spectacular. 

She listens to a Discman! Look at her feathered hair! I'm in love!
Synopsis: Samantha, desperate to pay the security deposit on her dream apartment and get away from her shitty roommate, takes on a suspiciously fortuitous and lucrative babysitting job. The house is well-appointed and a little spooky. The parents are well-appointed and extremely spooky. You may well guess that Angela winds up regretting her decision.
Starring: Joceline Donahue, Tom Noonan
Money shot: The entire last 10 minutes.

If you want camp done right...Little Shop of Horrors

This movie is everything. It's a spoof of and loving homage to corny musicals of the 50s and 60s, with terrifically catchy music. It's a time capsule of 80s talent, with people like Steve Martin, John Candy, and Bill Murray all making perfect appearances. And it's a straight-up puppeteering virtuoso. Audrey II is one of the most impressive puppets of all time, with a hell of a voice. 

And a scorching case of gingivitis, from the looks of it.
There's nothing particularly scary about this movie, with the exception of the "Suppertime" scene, but there's something kind of Halloween-y about it. Maybe the whole "talking plant who wants to take over the world" thing. 

Synopsis: A talking plant wants to take over the world.
Starring: Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops (that's exactly how he's billed)
Money shot: Almost innumerable, but I'd say the scene in which a talking plant pulls himself across the room to use a rotary phone.

If you're going old-old school...Les Diaboliques

This one is hella old, and hella creepy. I know that saying this goes against our spoiler-oriented culture, but I think the less you know about the plot, the more you'll enjoy it. (More about that here.) 

Synopsis: The ailing spouse and manhandled mistress of a sadistic boarding school headmaster plan and execute the man's murder -- but their plan goes haywire when the corpse vanishes. 
Starring: VĂ©ra Clouzot, Simone Signoret, Paul Meurisse
Money shot: The bathtub scene. You'll know it when you see it.

If you're going new school...The Cabin in the Woods

Absolutely one of my favourite movies of the year. I had always been on the fence about Joss Whedon - I love Firefly, but can't stand Buffy - but The Cabin in the Woods really tipped the scales for me. This is a horror movie for and by people who love horror but perhaps want something new from it. While Scream told us that horror movies had to be a certain way, CITW tries to make us ask why. Do we horror fans crave order and tradition so much that we forcibly reject anything that tries to be different? Do we like watching sexy people get gruesomely punished for their sexiness? Does it even matter to us how they die, as long as they do it in the right order? What does a merman actually look like, anyway? 

Synopsis: 5 friends - a jock, a stoner, a brain, a slut ,and a virgin - set out for a weekend in a small house in the forest. As the movie unfolds, we learn that these friends may not fit into these familiar archetypes so naturally, and something more sinister than usual is afoot.
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz
Money shot: The demons from our nightmares are unleashed.

These are the demons.

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