So it’s October, the month before the weather takes that final warm dump before passing into a new and cold season—further reminding us that the happy days are past us. It’s also fitting that within this same month, Halloween is king. Streaming giant Netflix has blessed Canada with more than a few thriller and horror movies on the run-up to October 31. You’ll see Halloween (1978), the only damn Halloween you should give a shit about. The Scream movie series along with the return of original content like To Catch A Murderer 2 and Riverdale.
Anyway here’s a list of a few movies you should pay attention to this October, and one you must absolutely avoid.
There’s some young one out there looking at this abbreviation without a single damn idea about what it means, and my gray-specs-on-my-chin self can’t stand it. For the sake of thorough descriptions here though, “REC” is that blinking message that popped up when you were video recording. It’s perfectly fitting symbol for a whole entire story told through a “found-footage” format (insert groan) as directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza. But resist your queasy recollections of Blair Witch, this one about an infection being spread within the confines of an apartment building is actually good.
It unnerves me to know that a movie managed to turn grown ass white yahoos rocking rubber mugs and coveralls into a thing of nightmares. Now I didn't actually need a movie to instill a fear of white dudes in rubber mugs and overalls, but I’m just saying. This John Carpenter classic takes us back to that scratchy B-movie period of the late 70s when a guy named Michael Myers escaped a mental institution and found a successful vocation for knifing folks for the pure hell of it—Jamie Lee Curtis being a prime target. It was a beautiful time before jumpscares contaminated the horror genre with general cheapness. Scares actually came from the silent sensation of being followed and stalked rather than the ear stabby screech of a violin, so before you watch that remake in October, witness where it all began.
Take a moment to remember a time when parody movies weren’t the giant wastelands of money grubbing bullshit that they are now. Yes, it’s hard I know, but it was the year 2000 when brothers Shawn and Keenan Ivory Wayans understood the value of a good dumb-as-rocks joke. What can be best described as a play on a slasher spoof movie disguised as a self-serious slasher movie called Scream (Yes, Scream was a spoof), Scary Movie takes it one step further and spoofs the spoofer. You’ve got classically foolish scene like Marlon the pothead getting shiftfaced with the masked murderer himself. Then there’s Carmen Electra’s ode to Drew Barrymore as she fights off the killer while being stripped to a her underwear; because it’s Carmen Electra I guess. You’re not watching this because it’s a scary movie, it’s about the gags. The people (Anna Faris, Jon Abrahams, Regina Hall) aren’t people in the sense that you’re meant to give a flying fuck about them, so turn your brain off for a second and enjoy some good Y2K humour.
Scary Movie 2
Now Scary Movie 2 as a whole is like an old dad joke. You know that at some point in some dank ancient time that this joke your dad just told you had some funny in it, but your sense of humour is young, and your dad’s rocking over 55. Scary Movie 2 aged in a similar way because it felt like the poorer-cousin knock off to the previous. Sure it had a heftier bank account, but with that came less of a need for the Waynes Brothers to sit on their everyday fart/shit/ass morals in favour of bigger set pieces. It tried to be overly self-conscious, mocking an excess of movies like it was proof that it was hip to the shit. There’s still something entertaining here with returnees Anna Faris Regina Hall, and new talents like Tim Curry and James Woods, but if you’re looking for the comfortable ridiculousness of the first entry, lower those expectations.
Scream is the vindication for every white girl that ever sat during a slasher movie in abject horror while the umpteenth half-naked chick walked toward the damn danger. The 80s and up embraced this convention of conventions—the titillation of violence with the blonde or brunette written in as the stupid-ass-death person. The late Wes Craven understood this like a mathematician in the most meta-way and gave us Neve Campbell and her band of straight edged teens attempting to unmask a strange killer with an obsession for horror movies. It knew what it was and ironically suffered because it forgot who it was in later installments.
This movie still has one of the most unintentionally dumb opening scenes in a thriller. My guy Omar Epps lends his ear to a bathroom stall because he could hear some whimpers, then our killer through what must be a case of x-ray vision flawlessly stabs a knife in the center of our noisy man’s ear. It’s unrealistic, because a black man will run away from a hint of danger like an unspiced piece of meat. No one is shoving their ear against a dirty bathroom stall. And Omar deserved to die for that. Anyway, get killed here too, and you won’t know who the killer is but you’ll guess and will probably be wrong like in the first movie. Maybe it’s the critic dude Jamie Kennedy from the first film like I guessed, or maybe it wasn’t.
So my guy Ethan Hawke is a true-crime author who decides to commit to a project involving a real serial killer; because that’s a Hawke-ish thing to do. The problems start during a research phase when he comes across few Super-8 films in a basement. These films aren’t so nice, they end up actually being a set of gruesome snuff films. With predictable caucasity, he decides to stay in this house for the purposes of further research until said house ends up not being so pleasant…because…really. What you’ve got here is a Scott Derrickson directed film in a good’ ol bundle of hard-rated-R joy; far and away from that one horror snuffy movie that had the nerve to be PG-13 ( The Ring).
This makes perfect sense. Adam Sandler is high-key mad in everything he’s in; Angry Gilmore, The Waterboy… Mr. Deeds. In general, he should be angry all the time ( Jack and Jill). Then there’s Jack Nicholson, a guy with the face of self-compressed rage. Peter Segal’s opportunity to put these two together around a story about anger management was a match made in heaven. If seeing people be mad is funny to odd soul, it’s a watch. If you’re looking for something funny, you’ll be angry.
The Purge: Election Year
It’s the sequel to that one Jason Blum “movie” about government-backed visions of lawlessness: once a year, some rich folk up above give the regular folk down below an opportunity to kill, rape, and pillage each other for the purpose of purging society of the poor and weak. It’s that “message” brand of left-leading ideology from last year fixed into the DNA of this sequel—our stars (Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Michell, Betty Gabriel etc) are however now taking the offensive against the man. I say minus the killing and shit, this is redundant to what we know, but bask in the illusion that we aren’t already heading in this direction though. It’ll be educational.
What happens when a video-game theme comes in contact with a movie? The same damn thing that happens with every other one—insert trash into thy mouth. We’re talking about a flick based around a massively multiplayer game that began losing steam a half a decade ago. No one “really” gave two shits about the lore or orcs and wizards. It was about the experience of playing with another player—something director Duncan Jones tried his damndest to replicate. So why am I putting it here? So it can serve an example to anyone with the belief that The Witcher series is going to be good on Netflix. It’s not, and don’t get my hopes up.
Jesus Christ my childhood. I loved Brad Silberling’s Casper (1995) but don’t think I ever took in how depressing of a concept Casper was. Talking and making friends with a formally rich dead kid. You can’t spin that at my age. I’m not supposed to feel good in knowing this. But still, Casper and his three dimensional self felt adorable in an E.T. formula sort of way. You’ve got Dr. James Harvey, the ghost therapist (of course) played by Bill Pullman and his daughter who naturally runs into Casper at his particular residence. It’s a great feel good movie, but the moment your younger brother, sister or whatever asks about what happened to Casper, just know you’ve been warned.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Classic George Romeo story of a bunch of Zombie survivors of every creed and colour entering a mall to escape said Zombies, because a mall is the absolute perfect place to survive an apocalypse and live happily ever after. Yes, consumerism killed them.
Dank faces, blue eyes, lasers, 80s hair, funky costumes, big worms, messiahs, Sting, David Lynch, nothing can possibly go wrong here. In regular Lynch fashion, he uses his ability to think like no human being can and expertly adapts Frank Herbert’s series of books about galactic emperors on alien worlds. And it made some actual sense. Also, shoutouts to Kyle MacLachlan’s first of many roles that would further enable David Lynch’s insanity.
I know I’m supposed to recommend titles here, but this is an ample time to let my inner jaded critic vent out in a public space. Robert Redford is a boring human being and Brad Pitt still hasn’t made up for that cheap emotional pony called Meet Joe Black. So in this one Redford is a veteran CIA operating instructing Pitt about espionage things. Pitt gets held in a Chinese prison and boring Redford as to play another game, bore his superiors enough to not notice that he’s actually outsmarting them. This movie isn’t as boring as Robert Redford, so it’s why I’m recommending it.
The Cabin in the Woods
It’s a generic horror movie concealed as a completely non-generic horror movie spoofing the generalities of most horror movies. Drew Goddard directed one genius of a film and I think to say anything more would destroy the fun of seeing this for the first time. Let’s leave it at that. I did interview one of the characters who was killed though. That was fun.
Batman and the Joker are some god damned sword wielding Ninjas in China. I shouldn’t have to write a damn summary to tell why this Junpei Mizusaki is lit and why you should go watch it.
I’m putting this here to remind you not to watch this Will Smith led trash. Don’t be tempted to press play. This is like if Christmas Carol was a M.Night Shyamalan adaptation after he started sipping on that “Happening” sauce. They were actual angels…there, I saved you.
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