Special Features – Sean’s Halloween Horrorfest

With Halloween upon us, Sean Guard casts his eye over a spooky selection of scary movies…

The day that they call All-Hallows-Eve is upon us. Every year we think about creative ways to dress up our children in cute and funny little costumes so they can pretend to be someone else for a day. The more candy they bring home the higher their confidence and energy rises along with parents’ frustration of now having super-hyped children doped up on sugar running around the house. Halloween also gives women the excuse to dress in skimpy outfits and not be ridiculed for it. Honestly, I think if females could wear these outfits to work, they would. I mean we (men) aren’t going to stop them. We’ll simply have to sacrifice some production at work to get another type of sweets; Eye-candy.

Those of us who love film, however, coincide Halloween with the horror genre. Oh, how we love it so. For us, Halloween is an excuse for us to scare the liquid crap out of those un-brave souls who always prefer to watch another type of movie. Well this is our time and we reserve the right to embrace it. No, I haven’t seen every horror film in the very vast library of spookiness and I will even admit that I am missing some of the classics on my career list. But in my quest to see as many as I possibly can before the good Lord decides to return and place judgment upon us all, I was able to see and deem an opinion on these select couple that will follow below.

Some were good, some were bad and some shouldn’t have been allowed to be included in our proud genre altogether. After you check out some of my picks this year, please lend your voices – well, more like your keyboards – to give your thoughts on these flicks…

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE (FIRST SEQUENCE):

This one wasn’t as D-gusting as I thought it would be. The sheer idea or thought of having your mouth surgically attached to someone else’s anus was more disturbing than actually seeing it onscreen. Every good twisted film needs an equally as twisted mad scientist/doctor as its main character. Dieter Laser is just this as Dr. Heiter. Not too bloody of a flick and not much of a “jump-movie”, it still qualifies as pure horror. Roger Ebert regressed to assigning it zero stars along with its’ recently released sequel which I will be seeing soon. On my Halloween scare/gross meter, I’ll say it’s not for the squeamish.

DREAM HOUSE:

I had high hopes for this film dominated with English actors. Keyword here being had. Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts all star in a movie which begins having you think that it’s about yet another haunted house. If you have seen any part of the trailer, then you know to think differently. Those hopes that I had quickly drowned about 30 minutes into it and the ending did nothing to resuscitate them. Take my experienced horror-word for it and don’t waste your time. Please. I beg you.

SCREAM 4:

Yeah, I watched it. I figured I saw all of the previous three, why not? For those of you who haven’t seen the fourth Wes Craven installment in the franchise released earlier this year, it’s the same basic premise. Neve Campbell arrives back in her home town where the original Scream took place and people begin to die. Pretty cut and dry. The only thing that impressed me about this one is that I was unable to predict who the killer was. I usually pride myself on two things when it comes to horror flicks; not jumping and figuring out who the killer/slasher/masked bad guy is before they are revealed. This film did a decent job on keeping you guessing. If you’re a fan of the series, check it out. Oh yeah, there’s going to be more…

THE THING (1982):

John Carpenter’s remake of the 1951 original classic is a brilliant one. He really knew how to capture the essence of suspense and terrified anxiousness that the characters were going through and project it upon the audience. The special effects are superb and make you want to throw up (in a good way) every time they are showcased. Furthermore, it was another film that made me break the other one of my prided aspects about myself, it made me jump. I almost paused the movie to ask myself what had just happened. I haven’t seen the recent film that Hollywood has marketed as a prequel but with all of the state-of-the-art special effects that are at filmmakers’ disposal nowadays, it better be grrrreat.

NIGHT TRAIN:

More of a thriller than an actual horror flick, Night Train begins with a good ambience of mystery and suspense. It obviously takes place aboard a train and in the middle of winter. Danny Glover, Leelee Sobieski and Steve Zahn come across a box of jewels previously owned by a very recently deceased passenger. They wrestle among themselves about whether or not to turn them in or split them between each other. This one is more like a sit back and be disappointed than a be scared and entertained kind of movie. Enough said.

CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER

If you saw the first Cabin Fever, then you already know what to expect. If you haven’t then be prepared to be grossed out. Lots and lots of blood is spilled as the flesh eating virus from the first one makes its way to a high school and into the senior prom. Many students with college aspirations will instead have to settle for, well, death instead. Not much to the plot in this one. Just expect to see blood, body parts and then more blood.

RED STATE:

This action/drama/thriller/horror, as I categorize it, from Kevin Smith didn’t receive too many positive comments. But I liked it. Michael Parks plays Pastor Abin Cooper, a self-proclaimed “man of God” who leads a small following of people who are a part of his Five Points church. They are a serious group of extremists who kidnap a trio of teenage boys who think they are meeting an older woman for sex. Cooper takes it upon himself to teach them and everyone else a lesson that he doesn’t feel are following the good teachings of the Lord.

The movie has its’ slow moments, especially when the over the top Pastor gives a rather long sermon expressing pure hate and discontempt for those who are adulterers, homosexuals and participate in sex before marriage. John Goodman plays ATF agent Keenan who attempts to take down the pastor and his hate group. The story really opens your eyes to the many organizations out there who are truly blinded by their own goals and only see what they want between the covers of the Bible. The plot appears to begin to stall late in the movie but the ending wakes you back up and forces you to pay attention. The last line of the entire film is hilarious.

THE LAST EXORCISM:

A combination of exorcism and the documentary-style theme of “found footage” movies are borrowed in this flick. Patrick Fabian plays Reverend Cotton Marcus who is filming a documentary exposing exorcisms of “possessed” individuals to be fake and completely untrue. While he is a man of the cloth, he does not believe in demons and ghosts and things of that nature. He accepts a request from a single father who believes that his young daughter is possessed and needs help. Ashley Bell plays Nell, the sixteen-year old daughter who is afraid and has no idea of the gruesome killings of farm animals that her father has pinned on her. During his attempt to “help” the family, Marcus realizes that the girl truly is possessed and must try to rediscover his faith. In terms of being scary, it has its’ moments but doesn’t truly achieve a spooky factor until the very end, which of course is where the movie abruptly stops. Maybe it’s a good thing that there is a sequel planned for next year. Kudos to Bell for a great performance as the possessed victim however.

THE RESIDENT:

So here we have a horror film which takes place in my hometown of Brooklyn, NY. Hillary Swank plays a doctor who locates a great apartment right by the Manhattan Bridge. She also locates the buildings’ owner, Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Having just gotten out of a relationship where her ex-boyfriend cheated on her, she quickly makes the move on her landlord. Almost in mid-sex, she decides to re-nig on their newfound romance only to return to her ex-boyfriend. Morgan plays a very troubled man who simply melts when receiving “we’re good friends” as an answer. Stalking seems to be his career profession as the movie goes on. Quite predictable and taking way too long to hit any kind of climax, I would pass on this flick. Other than Morgan’s performance, it was kind of a waste. I will say however, that some of his “stalking” could have been interpreted as being sweet. He is clearly a man in love after she made the first move. Word to the wise ladies, be very sure before you offer even the slightest mention of nookie to a possible suitor.

DEVOUR:

I don’t have much to say about this one. Jensen Ackles and Shannyn Sossamon star in a movie where a group of friends begin playing an online game called “The Pathway” and then subsequently begin to die. The entire movie and especially the ending prompted one word to jump into my mind: Confusing.

So there you have it, my viewings for this year. Of course I will no doubt continue to watch and rate horror films but Halloween just makes it all the more fun. Television has even stepped up its game when it comes to horror by bringing us the great so far shows of The Walking Dead on AMC and American Horror Story on FX. The storylines are dynamic and continually force you to return each week for the next episode. So don’t worry horror fans, we are no longer subjected to only dry dramas and comedies lacking the ability to make us all laugh. Life is looking up. Scare forth and prosper fellow horror junkies and Happy Halloween!

This post originally appeared at Napier’s News.

Sean Guard
Follow me on Twitter @Sean_Guard