Near Dark just may be one of my favorite vampire films ever. This little horror sleeper features Lance Henriksen, which gets you off to a pretty good start right there. Throw in Bill Paxton, the criminally-underrated Jenette Goldstein, a Tangerine Dream soundtrack, a forbidden romance, cowboy vampires and have Kathryn Bigelow direct it all and you have the recipe for greatness.
In addition to adding the unconventional twist of combining the Western with a vampire film, Bigelow expertly handled how to do a vampire romance right. You have elements of forbidden love, a family that doesn’t like the boy you brought home, but it doesn’t fall into tweenie, puppy love drivel. It’s sort of a westernized, modern-day Romeo and Juliet. Or something like that.
All I know is that this movie is the shit.
Bigelow directed Near Dark long before her Oscar-winning days and even before her cult classic Point Break. I believe this wasn’t long after she divorced mega-successful director James Cameron, and she “borrowed” some of the actors he’s used in his films, including Goldstein with a small part in Titanic as well as Bill Paxton. She also throws James LeGros a small part in this film, who would go on to play one of the bank robbers in Point Break.
This film has a real dark, moody, gritty feel to it and the romance between Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) and Mae (Jenny Wright) feels real. Mae makes you want Caleb to run off with her forever, foregoing his human life for the eternal thrill of running with the night. It’s hard to capture in words in a review, but when Mae tells Caleb to listen to the night, you feel that lure of the inhuman freedom that’s being offered to him.
Henriksen and the rebel family he’s created are true sociopathic desperados, especially Paxton’s character with his jugular splitting spurs and sick humor. It’s all just perfectly woven together, and proves you don’t need a big budget or special effects to make an amazing movie.
This is simply a must-see film not only for horror fans, that anyone with a remote interest in the genre.
I’m really wish people would stop ruining vampires for me. You know what movies I’m talking about, without me even uttering the dreaded “T” word. And some of the lame, wimpy, effeminate vampires that have paraded around screen and in books in recent years. So I admit, I almost didn’t even bother to watch Dracula Untold. I figured it would be yet another disappointment.
Fortunately, I figured wrong, at least to a certain extent.
I could nitpick some flaws in this movie, but I’m going to give it a pass on a few things. Maybe my standards have dropped a little too low with some of the poor vampire movies out there, but I actually thought this was pretty damn good.
Dracula Untold tells the story of the origin of the great vampire legend, with an ancient vampire who has been cursed and dwells in a cave. And much like a Marvel superhero, he and his protégé he passes his curse along to can command bats. And let me tell you, they can make these bats do some bitchin’ things, as Ve Neill would say.
They can create storms and huge whirlwinds like tornadoes that the newly crowned Dracula uses as a cover to plow through entire armies by himself, trying to save his kingdom from being taken in a bloody war.
You see, this spin on the Dracula legend has him willingly taking the blood of the cursed vampire in the cave to take on superpowers, which will all go away and he’ll return to human if he can resist feeding for 72 hours. As you can imagine, this can sort of complicate date night with the wife, among other things.
All kidding aside, this movie has beautiful cinematography, fairly nice special effects — and yes, of course they use CGI for the bats (boo, hiss) — but overall this is a very solid entry into the annals of vampire movies.
It’s sort of like 300 with vampires and without the abs. Check out the trailer…
So, I started this last week of The Madness as the “dark horse” so to speak, no pun intended, in third place with 515 points + 20 early bird = 535. Ravyn was in second with 546 + 40 early bird + 25 handicap = 611, and Newt in first with 579 +40 early bird = 619. So that was 76 points to make up for 2nd place and 84 points to make up for 1st. Seems impossible, doesn’t it? Don’t be too sure…
Walking Dead – 60 minutes (no bonus) 1 point: Is he or isn’t he dead? I say no, since he wasn’t on Talking Dead and it’s ambiguous. But it’s cheap. Not cool, Kirkman, not cool. 2 stars
Talking Dead – 60 minutes (no bonus) 1 point: Whatever. Still pissed about them toying with us including Gimple’s “statement” but how much it hurts them too. There is a limit to how much you can manipulate something without pissing fans off. You found and surpassed it, because there is no way Glenn could have survived. After they ate through Nicholas they would have gone through him too. 2 stars
Face Off Season Finale Part 2- 60 minutes (no bonus) 1 point: I totally knew Nora would win. Her shit was together before and on set, so much more than everyone. 3.5 stars
Inkmaster Halloween Tattoo special – 60 minutes (no bonus) 1 point: God, dealing with watching St Marq again should be worth extra points. What a douche. The guy with the mohawk never had a chance, it was Clean (?) all the way. The Cheech and Chong costumes were funny but Dave Navarro should have worked a little harder. 3 stars
American Horror Story: Hotel “Mommy” – 69 minutes making it technically a feature. I totally missed that the rest of the Madness (vampires) 3 points: Love the idea of bringing in the Richard Ramirez thing in homage to the real hotel that inspired this, but that’s about the only thing good I can say. And the makeup job on Lily Rabe was so good I didn’t recognize her at first. Oh how you torment me Ryan Murphy with your flashes of brilliance, then your misguided need to go campy and overkill everything. STOP that please, except when it is appropriate, like that one dance number in Asylum. 2 stars
Supernatural “The Bad Seed” – 60 minutes (nemesis is The Darkness) 2 points: I love Rowena… “It’s the MEGA coven!” They just aren’t feeling it, sister. 3 stars
Supernatural “Baby” – 60 minutes (nemesis is The Darkness., werewolf/vampire hybrid) 3 points: Kind of dialogue heavy this episode. At first I was afraid they were going to “kill” off Baby in this episode, which would have pissed me off royally. Dean’s car is as much a character as anyone in this series. I’m referring to my big laptop as Baby now. 3 stars
It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown – 30 minutes 0.5 points: Caught this flipping through the channels. A classic. 5 stars
Halloween Wars finale with Elvira – 60 minutes (Elvira bonus) 2 points: Oh man, that zombie party could have won if they had laid it out better without so much dead space, no pun intended. One of the masquerading zombies was sort of hidden behind another. They should have had the table going straight back and two zombie masqueraders on each side. So close… 3.5 stars
Ash vs. Evil Dead premiere6 points: Now Bruce Campbell knows how to do campy, and this is awesome! Love his realness (and his humor about it) and not some buffed guy, and his two average sidekicks. Thank goodness I have Starz. 4.5 stars
Ghost Adventures “Deadwood” – 120 minutes feature (ATB willingly going into basement counts right? night vision) – 6 points: I got suckered into this 2 hour Halloween special from Deadwood. Sometimes Zak is such a douche, but sometimes I’m not entirely sure. Or at least he has moments when he isn’t a douche. I actually thought it was a fairly good episode, but would have been improved if they brought in Tim Olyphant to reprise his role as Seth Bullock. Anything is better with Oly. I intend to binge Justified once The Madness is over. 4 stars
Ghost Adventures “Island of the Dolls” – 60 minutes (Night vision) 2 points I was trying to find episodes that went into caves or basements for more bonuses but watching Zak whimper like a little girl over creepy dolls was worth it. What an idiot. Rating based on entertainment value rather than quality of investigation. 4 stars
Ghost Adventures “Bell Witch Cave” – 60 minutes (night vision, cave) 3 points – This was pretty creepy actually, at the beginning talking about the old legend, but descended into melodrama. I do not trust some of their so-called technology. 3 stars
Dark Father, Moses Rising challenge
Last week I watched the prequels (VOMIT) and the original IV, plus the special edition of IV, V and VI, the holiday special and Attack the Block.
Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back original (ATB Star Wars) 6 points: There’s a little difference in the special effects between the original and the special editions, but not much. All of the original trilogy are awesome. 5 stars
Star Wars The Return of the Jedi original (ATB Star Wars) 6 points: I really already talked about this last week. 4.5 stars
Uncut Fan film 1 (ATB Star Wars) 6 points: A New Hope… hands down the best sequence were the ones not trying to impress George Lucas and trying to be all professional and shit. 3 stars
Uncut fan film 2 (ATB Star Wars) 6 points: Empire Strikes Back I actually made notes about some of the segments somewhere, but can’t find them. I am so sick of Star Wars, I MAY be ready for the new one this Xmas. Maybe. 3 stars
And at the last minute, literally, did my sing along theme right before sunrise, as I almost forgot about it. It’s posted on the Facebook page where it will eventually fade into oblivion, rather than posted here for eternity. Fortunately, my favorite part of the theme is that melancholy “call to the hero’s adventure” thing where Luke is being all emo, because it’s very short. What’s really scary is the video posted was about my fifth try and the best of the lot. Note to self: don’t try to sing the quiet parts quietly unless you can actually sing. -5 stars, 10 points
34 points, plus whatever bonus points we get for doing the whole thingy…
LOTR trilogy: Quite frankly, I’m surprised these films didn’t come up more on peoples’ lists because the major points for these came up in a discussion before the Madness started. I had been meaning to watch them but simply didn’t get around to it until week 4. I was going to watch them before starting the Star Wars challenge when I realized most seemed to have forgotten them and it was good game to wait till the last week and not remind everyone.
The Lord of the Rings – 177 minutes (ATB Dark Lord Saruman) 9 points: Amazing opening film of the trilogy. A little slow in places while building characters, but really impeccable. And I was so excited to see Christopher Lee again. 5 stars
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – 179 minutes (ATB Dark Lord Saruman) 9 points: In some ways I love the second installment of trilogies best because of that whole “dark night of the soul” thing and that certainly applies here, with epic fucking battle scenes to boot. 5 stars
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 201 freakin’ minutes (ATB Dark Lord Saruman) 10.5 points: I have to say this was my least favorite film of the trilogy and I always hate the sappy celebration ceremonial scenes in theses epic adventures. Too Hollywood. 4.5 stars
John Carpenter’s Vampires – 108 minutes (ATB: death by sunlight) 6 points: This reminded me very much of From Dusk till Dawn 2 for the camp factor, but James Woods trumps the Terminator guy for the win. And it’s John Carpenter, yo. 3.5 stars
Night Breed director’s cut- 120 minutes (ATB death by sunlight) 6 points: Clive Barker always embraces the outsiders on the fringe and this dark underworld he created in Midian is populated with all kinds of fantastic creatures, and David Cronenberg puts in a chilling performance.4.5 stars
The Beyond – 87 minutes (ATB hellmouth) 6 points: If you ever inherit and old hotel in Louisiana — or anywhere — make sure it isn’t built on the gateway to hell, ‘kay? Very gory, and is it me or does Fulci really like to mutilate eyes? 3.5 stars
Frankensteins Castle of Freaks with Elvira – 102 minutes (ATB for finale in cave and Elvira clause) 9 points: If Elvira is hosting it, you know it isn’t exactly Oscar worthy. 2 stars
Dog Soldiers – 105 minutes (werewolves) 3 points: This little sleeper is a great werewolf movie, which is so hard to do, especially low budget. They wisely kept the bodies human and put really scary wolf heads on them, giving them a new look but also simplifying the special effects. Very well done. 4 stars
Silver Bullet – 95 minutes (werewolf) 3 points: Stephen King. Gary Busey. Corey Haim. What can possibly go wrong? At least with Busey and Corey before they went to shit.5 stars
Wolfman – 103 minutes (werewolves) 3 points: Lots of hardcore horror fans complained about this “remake” which really isn’t a remake but a film in its own right. I personally really love this film, although Anthony Hopkins is a little over the top. Benecio is perfect though. 4.5 stars
Full Eclipse – 93 minutes (werewolf, eclipse) 4 points: Pretty good TV movie with Patsy Kensit, Mario Van Peebles and Bruce Payne who plays the leader of a pack of vigilante cops turned werewolf-like humans. They inject themselves with a serum so they don’t have to wait for the full moon but little do they know its brain fluid from their leader, who is the real thing during the eclipse. “This is your brain, this is you on my brain.” Yeah. 4 stars
3 Tunnels 2 Hell – 85 minutes (ATB finale in underground tunnel system) 6 points: An island they have to turn into a horse camp so the owner can keep the property, but there are underground tunnels with a maniac. you want to hurry up and die. Loathsome characters you wish would hurry up and die already. Bad acting, bad script, bad directing… they actually showed a horse taking a dump for a joke. 0 stars
The Descent – 99 minutes (ATB finale in cave) 6 points: Very scary cave film, even if you aren’t claustrophobic or afraid of the dark. 4 stars
The Descent 2 – 93 minutes (ATB finale in cave) 6 points: Wait, this chick is really going back in the mine, even though she claims she remembers nothing? And they are taking an elevator down rather than going to the entrance used by the women? That ending was so cruel. 3.5 stars
The Cave – 97 minutes (ATB finale in cave) 6 points: In the description they mention these guys from Pitch Black, Coyote Ugly and The Brothers and no mention of Cersei? C’mon. The Descent meets Alien. 3.5 stars
Interview with a Vampire – 123 minutes (ATB death by sunlight) 6 points: I loathe Tom Cruise and even though this wasn’t as bad as expected, I still wish they had cast someone else. Brad Pitt is perfect as Louis, and it’s a pretty good film. But did I mention I HATE Tom Cruise? 3.5 stars
Fright Night 2 2013 – 100 minutes (ATB death by sunlight) 6 points: Pfft. I didn’t even like the original sequel so much so the remake of a sequel… nah. 2 stars
Evil Dead – 85 minutes (Bruce Campbell but no bonus) 2 points: One of those low point movies but how can you not watch, especially when they play these right before the Ash vs Evil Dead premiere. I may be in the minority, but this is my favorite. 5 stars
Evil Dead 2 – 84 minutes 2 points: Sam and Bruce cranked up the intentional humor in this one, and it’s a lot of fun, but I still like the first better. But hey, it’s GROOVY. . 4 stars
Army of Darkness – 81 minutes (dropped in pit, darkness in title) 4 points I missed the viewing party but caught this on Starz before the Ash vs Evil Dead premiere. This seems to be everyone’s favorite, but I would rate this last of the trilogy. I’m in the minority.4.5 stars
Graveyard Shift – 80 minutes (ATB, willingly goes into basement) 6 points: If you are cruel to animals — even rats — you’ll get what you deserve in this movie inspired by a Stephen King tale. Some poor drifter gets like, the worst job in the world andgets trapped with a monster and the co-workers from hell 3 stars
Jeepers Creepers – 90 minutes (ATB finale underground) 6 points: Eh, okay movie. Honestly, I watched it because I saw the Hauntress label it as ATB somewhere, for finale. The sniffing thing is pretty creepy and that noise it makes when it finds something it likes. 2.5 stars
Blair Witch Project – 81 minutes (ATB willingly go into basement) 6 points: This is a great slow burn film that gets under your skin, and I can forgive it for the onslaught of bad found footage movies since. Still very unnerving, and it was a long time before I could go hiking by myself after this one. 5 stars
House of 1000 Corpses – 89 minutes (ATB finale in underground tunnels) 6 points: This used to be my go to movie when I wanted something fun and mindless to watch, but hadn’t seen it in quite some time. Love Chris Hardwick and Walt Goggins’ small role. I love a lot of things about this movie, but Zombie tried to throw in too many things in the second half. Is it homage or rip off? I say homage, and fall on the love it side of this one, which seems to be love it or hate it. 4 stars
976-Evil – 92 minutes (ATB Englund character is “Master of the Dark”) 6 points: I LOVE this movie, and its one of my go to movies now for the nostalgia and old school horror. I love how Robert Englund scattered so many devil references throughout as director and the voice on the phone. Heavy handed but fun. Sandy Dennis was brilliant as the holier than thou mother, and of course “Evil” was perfect for this one. 5 stars
Halloween – 91 minutes (no bonuses) 2 points: I hated doing a 2 point movie, but I had to do Halloween on Halloween. If I can’t win with this one, I don’t want to win. And none of that Rob Zombie shit. 5 stars
Suspiria – 92 minutes (witches attack at night, blind character) 4 points: My favorite Argento film of all time. Deliciously beautiful AND gory. And scary as hell. 5 points
My Bloody Valentine 2009 – 101 minutes (ATB finale in mine) 6 points: I saw this film posted on the Madness page and totally forgot about the mine factor.Normally I would prefer the original, but hello Dean Winchester! definitely tongue in cheek remake but without going overboard on humor. 3.5 stars
Seasonal walk throughs – 3 total: Quarantine, Hospital and Haunted House/Carnival themes at Wicked World Scaregrounds 6 points 3 stars, 3 stars and 4 stars
C’mon, y’all didn’t really think I’d pass up that Mammoth Cave bonus when its like, 2 hours from me, right? Plus it was my only way to have a shot at winning because I knew I could never catch up with Ravyn and Newt on watching points alone, especially once the secret bonuses were gone. So it comes down to special bonuses — if they have some, I’m screwed most likely, and if they don’t, I can take this. I really had told myself after last week winning one week was good enough and was thinking of blowing it off, but Emily convinced me to go, so if this gives me the win, it’s a collaborative effort in that sense.
Having said that, it was well worth it, The Madness aside, and I’m happy to say I had no claustrophobia freakouts, even on the tour that was lantern light only. So, yes, I did TWO tours. I wanted to go for three, but two of the tours I felt I could handle weren’t offered that day because of work being done on one and the other only being offered weekends, or I would have broken the overall points record. I guess it just wasn’t mean to be. But anyway…200 effin’ points + 2 for mileage (mileage is only one way? If not, then 4 points for 2 hours each way)
31.5 (TV) + 34 (Dark Father/Star Wars) + 154.5 (movies) + 208 (Special bonuses) = 428 + 515 (previous total) + 20 (early bird) = 963 + special bonus for doing ALL Star Wars (including video)
Read it and weep, or if you other two did any special bonuses, read it and laugh at my feeble attempt to take it all. Time will tell.
If I had a weak week last week for The Madness, I sure made up for it this week, being off work and all. I went for the bigger point items, going for those 4-6 pointers and some super bonus Elvira. I focused a lot on vampires, hoping to hit lots of ATB “death by sunlight” points, but damn if I could remember how vampires died in a lot of older films… stake or sunlight? So it was hit and miss.
I really never want to see another vampire movie as long as I live. But this was my big play to try to win one week before I get back to work next week.
Altitude – 90 minutes (Secret bonus 2010 fog/mist?, Jessica Lowndes) 20 points or 3 points: A bunch of annoying young people run into The Mist in an airplane. Sure, they added a twist at the end, but not the best I’ve seen by a long shot. 2 stars
Nightfall – 83 minutes (Secret bonus 1988 descent into darkness? Sarah Douglas) 20 points or ATB 6 points for extended night at the end: I swear this must be the prequel for Pitch Black, telling the story of what happened to the people who had lived on that planet before Vin and Radha crashed there. The very BAD prequel. Apparently going from endless day to into an extended night of unknown duration takes you from kites and hippie free love to homicidal madness. 1 star
40 points if I got the bonuses
Walking Dead – 60 minutes 1 point: Whoa, just when you think this is going to be one of those slow episodes again, BAM! someone’s smoking a cigarette and one of the Wolves bashes their brains in. Is Carol the badass to end all badasses or what? 4.5 stars
Talking Dead – 60 minutes 1 point: It occurred to me this should count as it talks about the Walking Dead plus they had Kevin Smith this week with his infamous comparison of the episode to “oral that doesn’t stop after you’re done.” 4 stars
Face Off – 60 minutes 1 point: the finale has started and this was the first of two parts. I’m thinking Nora is going to come out on top, but the fact it looks like that could be deceptive editing. 3.5 stars
AHS: Hotel – 60 minutes (Vampires, secret rooms) 3 points: I don’t know, I wasn’t feeling it so much this week. This is how past seasons have gone — start with a really strong premiere then just go down the toilet. More Sarah Paulson please. And Denis O’Hare. 3 stars
Halloween Wars – 60 minutes 1 point: I always love these competitions, creating Halloween scenes with pumpkin carvers, candy makers and bakers. Amazing creations. 3.5 stars
Scream Queens – 60 minutes (there was another secret room/passage reveal this week) 2 points: Sweet homages this week to The Shining and if you were quick to catch it, an ode to the scariest moment in Exorcist III. 3.5 stars
Underworld: Evolution – 106 minutes (vampires/werewolves) 4 points: I admit the Underworld movies are played out, but I dig them. I love the aesthetic and Kate Beckinsdale, even if it’s taken directly from the artwork of Monolith Graphics. 3.5 stars
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans – 92 minutes (ATB death by sunlight) 6 points: This one returns to the backstory between Lucien and Sonya, so I knew it would be an ATB. But it’s a slightly different spin on the series with the different time period. 4 stars
Blade II – 117 minutes (ATB death by sunlight) 6 points – Norman Reedus plays a Judas here, just like in that damn Lady Gaga video, but without the Gag Hag, as I call her. Bonus for Norman fans. Blade’s lady vampire friend has mad style., but too bad she had the brother from hell and had to do that whole suicide by sunlight thing. 4 stars
Fright Night – 106 minutes (ATB death by sunlight) 6 points: One of my favorite vampire movies ever and one of my favorite vamps ever. You can bite me any day Chris Sarandon. 5 stars
Dark Places – 91 minutes (Dark in title, Christopher Lee, walled up people) 5 points: Older film where poor Christopher Lee stumbles on a mad man rehabbing an old house where there is hidden money. It doesn’t work out well for him. 2.5 stars
Tomb of the Blind Dead, Spanish version – 101 minutes (tombs, blind, vampiric Knights Templar zombies that attack at night) 5 points: Silly film where some dingbat jumps off a train in the middle of nowhere and goes camping in abandoned ruins by herself, making sure to change into her nightie and turn on her portable radio to give it that homey feel. And no one can escape from blind, slow, Knights Templar, zombie vampires. 1 star
Elvira Mistress of the Dark – 96 minutes (Elvira bonus, personification of dark ATB) 9 points: I get the whole schtick with Elvira, but the humor works best as brief commentary on horror films, not making her own full length film. But I seriously want her car. And that house. I could work that space y’all. 2.5 stars
Elvira: Count Dracula’s Great Love – 97 minutes (Elvira bonus, ATB death by sunlight) 9 points: What is it with the telepathic voice most of the film from Count Dracula? He hardly ever moves his lips, which I suppose makes those foreign language dubs a lot easier. And he commits hari-kari? I know it’s supposed to be bad, but wtf? 0 stars
Dracula AD 1972 – 95 minutes (Christopher lee, vampires, fog/mist) 5 points: “Dig the music kids!!” while you resurrect Christopher Lee in this shagadelic feature with the fab Caroline Munro. Oh Christopher, really? 2 stars
Horror of Dracula – 82 minutes (Christopher Lee, vampires, ATB death by sunlight) 6 points: Sweet, SWEET move by Peter Cushing to tear down the drapes and destroy poor Dracula with sunlight, and get me my max points. 5 stars
Dracula: Prince of Darkness – 90 minutes (vampires, Christopher Lee, Darkness in name, personification of darkness ATB) 6 points: Christopher Lee is my all time favorite Dracula, and was my primary influence in a life long love and sympathy for the monster. He is why I always root for the vampire to win. 5 stars
Bram Stoker’s Dracula – 128 minutes (vampires, phantom mist) 4 points: I am so disappointed no death by sunlight, but Gary Oldman is definitely my second favorite vamp of all time. Pure gothic romance where even Keanu Reeves manages not to be too annoying. And a cameo by Tom Waits. 5 stars
Raw Meat – 87 minutes (London underground, Christopher Lee, power outage, secret room, ATB finale in transportation tunnel) 6 points: This must have been a film that influenced Creep, with a lunatic in the London Underground. I also noted in the credits a makeup artist named Peter Frampton. Do you suppose it was THAT Peter Frampton? Anyway, Christopher Lee verbally bitch slaps Donald Pleasance. 3 stars
Elvira: The Devil’s Wedding Night – 99 minutes (Elvira bonus, vampires, startled by bat, Shout Factory TV) 8 points? Boobs and blood sums this up. Lots of boobs and blood. Oh yes, there was something of a plot, sort of, with vampires and a wedding ritual involving virgin sacrifice. Did I mention boobs and blood? 1.5 stars
Daybreakers — 98 minutes (ATB destroyed by sunlight) 6 points: I used to hate Ethan Hawke but warmed to him just a bit in this film, as well as Sinister. I can’t say I love him, but I love the style of this film, which has a very noir feel to it. And some scary vampire mutations. 4 stars
Lost Boys – 97 minutes (vampires, cave, startled by bats) 5 points: How can you not love this 80s classic? A Kiefer Sutherland motorcycle gang, a cool California boardwalk carnival, the two Coreys, Jason Patric and Dianne Wiest doing her ditzy thing she does so well. 5 stars
Fright Night 2011 – 106 minutes (ATB death by sunlight ) 6 points: Another of the useless remakes, but I suppose I must concede it could have been much worse. Colin Farrell is no Chris Sarandon, but I’d still hit it. 3 stars
Fright Night 2 – 104 minutes (ATB death by sunlight) 6 points: Meh. Chris Sarandon’s vampire sister wants revenge. I just couldn’t get into it. The story was over guys. 2.5 stars
From Dusk til Dawn – 105 minutes (ATB death by sunlight) 6 points: Greg Nicotero was pretty fucking hot back in the day, wasn’t he? Rockin’ a whole Gregg Allman thing. Anyway, great vampire flick from Rodriguez with a lot of Tarantino snark and humor. And Tom Savini for the win. Oh yeah, George Clooney, too. 5 stars
From Dusk till Dawn 2 – 87 minutes (Bruce Campbell? I had no idea, startled by bats, vampires… Ah, ATB for death by sunlight) 6 points: Whoa, I wasn’t expecting that Campbell cameo. Obviously I hadn’t seen this campy sequel before, and I mean campy even by the original’s standards. Right at the boundary of too much, but it works. 3 stars
Prince of Darkness (John Carpenter) — 102 minutes (ATB, antagonist embodiment of darkness and willingly enter hellmouth) 6 points: I love this film, from Donald Pleasance to Alice Cooper’s deranged homeless guy and that bike scene. 5 stars
Hellraiser – 94 minutes (ATB entering hellmouth) 6 points: The puzzle box is a gateway to hell, adn Frank does enter it willingly at the beginning, hence my ATB claim. I love, love, LOVE Clive Barker, and even though the acting is terrible here by the lead and the budget is low, meaning some cheesy effects, Pinhead was a whole new beast in the horror villain worked, and he stands up well to the test of time. But an even more chilling one is Clare Higgins as Julia, working that high gothic femme fatale thing. 4.5 stars
Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 – 97 minutes (ATB entering hellmouth) 6 points: Julia’s back and bitchier than ever. We get Pinhead’s back story, and why is everyone so anxious to visit hell? Clive’s pal Pete Atkins penned this sequel which worked out pretty well. Then the rest of the franchise pretty much went to hell, no pun intended, and in a bad way. 4 stars
Daughters of Darkness (Director’s Cut) — 99 minutes (ATB antagonist personification of darkness) 6 points: Lady Gaga seduces Ann Coulter and her boyfriend. The Hunger may be an influence on this season of AHS, but so is this. 3 stars
Nosferatuthe Vampyre – 107 minutes (ATB death by sunlight) 6 points: Remake of the 1922 classic, which was one of the rare scary vampire approaches, influencing many other films such as Salem’s Lot and 30 Days of Night. 3.5 stars
Lord of Illusions: Directors Cut – 121 minutes (dropped into pit, buried, Shout Factory DVD) 5 points: I love this movie more every time I see it. I love the dark side of the magic world, and wonder if this was based on Criss Angel, who Clive knew before he was famous. Extra bonus for using Diamanda Galas for the score as the disciples sink into the mud and are buried. 5 stars
The Dead Zone – 103 minutes 2 points: Not really part of my plan to focus on big point movies this week, but it was on Syfy while I was multitasking a bunch of internet junk. Plus it’s a great movie. I was trying to remember if Christopher Walken’s multiple references to Sleepy Hollow in this movie were before or after Tim Burton’s film. But it was ironic either way. 4 stars
Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace: 136 minutes (ATB antagonist personification of the dark) 7.5 points: I had hoped that the passage of time might make me say “That wasn’t as bad as I remembered.” I hoped wrong. Still dumbfounded by the awfulness of Jar Jar Binks. I got the worst one over with first. 1 star (only for special effects)
Star Wars II Attack of the Clones – 134 minutes (ATB antagonist personification of the dark) 6 points – Better than that goddawful Phantom Menace, which doesn’t say much except that it doesn’t make me want to beat George Lucas with a stick. And Christopher Lee always elevates whatever he is in, but I hate that Count Dooku name. It sounds like a baby trying to pronounce Dracula or a nickname for poop. 2 stars
Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith – 140 minutes (ATB antagonist personification of the dark) 7.5 points – Okay, the most bearable of the prequels, this wasn’t too bad. And of course, we finally got to see the creation of the Darth Vader we all know and hate today. 3 stars
Star Wars IV special edition – 125 minutes (ATB antagonist personification of the dark) 6 points: I vaguely remember seeing this in the theater when it came out, but I definitely remember the huge Star Wars mania after it came out. When I watched that trailer for The Force Awakens, I felt a huge surge of nostalgia, but this also reminded me that this really is one of the great spiritual stories of our times. Which is why the prequels piss me off so much. 5 stars
The Empire Strikes Back special edition – 127 minutes (ATB antagonist personification of the dark) 6 points: Some people prefer this sequel over the first and sure, the effects were improved in the originals, but I still like the first the best. or in this case, IV. But of course, the classic “I am your father” revelation is pretty freakin’ awesome. 5 stars
Return of the Jedi special edition – 135 minutes (ATB antagonist personification of the dark) 6 points: I could live without Jabba the Hut, but this did give us an iconic Halloween costume with Princess Leia in bondage. 4.5 points
Star Wars IV original – 121 minutes (ATB antagonist personification of the dark) 6 points: Yeah, the special effects are kind of primitive in some places, and the special editions that reworked some of them improved the films. Sorry purists, but deal with it. 4.5 stars
Attack the Block – 73 minutes (ATB Star Wars challenge) 6 points: I couldn’t understand half of what they were saying with that thick cockney accent, but campy horror comedy where some south London wayward youth find themselves under attack by werewolf-like aliens. What? Just go with it. 3.5 stars
The Star Wars Holiday Special – 117 minutes (Star Wars ATB) 6 points: That wookie kid is freaking me out. And what is with all the psychadelic music and dance numbers? Maude and Harvey Korman in the space bar, with Maude singing? I really needed to be in Colorado or Oregon to watch this, as the creators had to be high on something when they wrote it. 0 stars or 5 starsdepending on how stoned you are.
Well, I got several secret bonuses last week for The Madness by being totally OCD and posting right at noon Friday, but lost Saturday and reaping the consequences this week of the lost day and lost momentum. Fortunately I had a lot of time to try to make things up this week or this would have been a lot worse. Plus I didn’t realize how much horror I watch without trying, particularly TV.
The Shrine – 84 minutes (Secret bonus, mist/fog) – What is with people who insist on doing stupid things that put themselves and others in danger? Some pesky reporter gets her friends to go to Poland looking for a missing person and they stumble upon some unfriendly locals who chase them away. Then they go back and find a dense and very defined fog. That’s where I would say, “Bye!” But no, they enter and right off the bat it’s demon statues that turn and face you when you aren’t looking. BYE, already! Started good but degenerated into shameless Linda Blair ripoff. 2 stars
Pitch Black – 109 minutes (possible secret bonus? Radha Mitchell, Vin Diesel, monsters that attack at night, holed up in cave?) – Great action movie with a new twist on monsters that attack at night, with the unpredictability of a different planet’s solar schedule. So disappointing that Vin and Radha never got to hook up. 4 stars
Dracula: 2000 – 99 minutes (other possible secret bonus from 2000? Wes Craven producer, vampires, destroyed by sunlight) I know it’s kind a cheesy, but I’m a sucker for New Orleans and I love the Judas twist. 3.5 stars
Willow – 125 minutes (Billy Barty, descent into darkness?) I was convinced this was going to be the 20 point bonus, but the descent into darkness element isn’t clear to me. Willow and Meegosh fall through the ground when they encounter the Brownies, so maybe that counts? They all enter Queen Bavmorda’s castle, which is a place of darkness, literally and metaphorically, yet I’m not sure that qualifies? I’m not sure this is the one. There really should have been a Val Kilmer wild card though. This kind of fantasy is not really my thing, but I’ll give it 3.5 stars for having such an unconventional hero.
Madness Viewing party (30 points):
The Darkness – 102 minutes (darkness in title, attacks in dark, secret room, power outage, Anna Paquin, Lena Olin) – Creepy little thriller in Ana’s pre-Sookie days. 4 stars
The Hole – 91 minutes (pit) – How many dirty “hole” double entendres can be packed in one film and how many creepy doll attacks before you burn that fucking house down already! 4 stars for creepy doll, even if it did get silly in the end. 3.5 stars
The Ghost and the Darkness – 109 minutes (Darkness in title) – Is it just me or is Val Kilmer popping up a lot? I couldn’t help but think of Cecil through this and it made me sad. 3.5 stars
More Horror Movies
The Company of Wolves – 95 min (Werewolf) This is one of my favorites, directed by Neil Jordan with a twist on the Little Red Riding Hood theme, and some serious sexual tension from the Big Bad Wolf. Dreamy and surreal… 4.5 stars
Ginger Snaps – 109 minutes (Werewolves, Emily Perkins, Mimi Rogers used to be married to Tom Cruise, can that count?) I obviously love weird sisters with the same interests and the photos are amazing in the opening credits, even inspiring me on a photoshoot to make my own poison tea party. Mimi Rogers is hilarious as the clueless mom. 5 stars
Darkness Falls – 85 minutes (darkness in title, attacks in dark, destroyed by light) A sick twist on the tooth fairy legend, which is sort of predictable but I sort of like this one anyway. 3.5 stars
Silent Hill – 125 minutes (attacks during darkness, Radha Mitchell, going down into underground?) I sort of wrote this off when it first came out, not liking the monster in it, but now love the creepy atmosphere and you have to love the skinning scene. 4 stars
The Mist – 126 minutes (mist,) What a cruel, cruel ending. Half the cast of The Walking Dead and yes, Carol is a badass survivor even before zombies. Didn’t love or hate it particularly. 2.5 stars
30 Days of Night – 113 minutes (vampires, killed by daylight, extended darkness) Finally some scary vampires in the age of twinkle toes Edward. That’s how you make a damn vampire movie, and Ben Foster may have had a small role, but was brilliant as always. Am I the only on who thinks Danny Huston sort of reminds you of a vampiric Anthony Bourdain? 4.5 stars
The House that Dripped Blood – 102 minutes (vampires, Christopher Lee) I love these three stories, featuring Lee and Peter Cushing in separate tales. 5 stars
Sleepy Hollow – 105 minutes (attack at night, Christopher Lee, horseman and witch buried in tree) Still my favorite Tim Burton film, paying homage to the days of Hammer with Sir Christopher and throwing in Johnny Depp as bonus. Divine. 5 stars
Underworld – 121 minutes (both vampires AND werewolves, subway/underground tunnels, destroyed by sunlight) Vampires vs werewolves. Like vampires could really win. 4.5 stars
The Thing – 106 minutes (Rob Bottin, arctic, hidden tunnel under floor) The winter/arctic movies we did for the warm up were good, but this is the best. When John Carpenter is on he’s really on. 5 stars
Queen of the Damned – 101 minutes (vampires, Lena Olin) I really like this one because I want to live in London and join the Talamasca, so I live vicariously through Jessie. (Yet another use for a degree in demonology) 4 stars
The Ninth Gate – 133 minutes (Lena Olin). Vintage books on the devil. French apartments with massive libraries of aforementioned books on the devil. Johnny Depp. Castles. How can I not love it? 5 stars
The Howling – 91 minutes (Rob Bottin, werewolves) This is still one of the scariest werewolf movies to me, and those smiley face stickers get under my skin. 4.5 stars
Trick ‘R Treat – 83 minutes (werewolves, quarry qualifies as big pit?, Anna Paquin, victim being buried comes to life) This is a modern classic and now a Halloween tradition. Just the right mix of cheeky and creepy. 5 stars
Walking Dead – 90 minutes Season Premiere I wasn’t too impressed with the season premiere, or maybe my expectations are just too high. 3 stars
Fear the Walking Dead X2 “Cobalt” and “The Good Man” – 60 and 60 minutes (power outages) I just didn’t get into this spinoff, and didn’t watch the last two episodes till this week. Pretty strong ending, but the whole season I kept wondering why that girl never did go back and check on her boyfriend. Huge plot issue for me. 3 stars, 3.5 stars
Face Off – 60 minutes The finalists were chosen but none of the makeups really blew my away this episode. Kinda “meh” 2.5 stars
Scream Queens – 60 minutes “Pumpkin Patch” (night vision) More silly, campy fun and sorority hijinks, but the novelty is starting to wear off a little. Need a little more than Chanel being a bitch and Niecy Nash. 3.5 stars
American Horror Story: Hotel – 60 minutes “Chutes and Ladders” (vampires, forcibly walled up, “buried” alive in mattress?, secret game room for vamp kids) Uh-oh, I’m seeing signs of going campy again this season, with Evan Peters’ flashbacks of a serial killer and a fashion show? Oh please, keep it dark and glamorously creepy. 3.5 stars
Supernatural – 60 minutes S11E2 (darkness spreading thoughout world) I love Sam and Dean, but oh, it’s getting really tired. And they are tormenting us with the impending death of Cass, making it look like he’s about to be a goner, then saving him. You are cruel Robert Singer and company. 2.5 stars
Long before The Midnight Meat Train, subways and the London underground have been the setting for horror, like the famous scene in American Werewolf in London. But 2004’s Creep stays down in the dark, with poor Franka Potente finding herself locked in after falling asleep and missing the last train home.
Yeah, I know, who would really sleep through the last train, but just roll with it on this one. Because this little sleeper is definitely one of the better examples of subterranean monsters run amok. Where is Jason Bourne when you need him?
After leaving a party, Potente finds herself wishing she had stuck with cocktails and boring small talk. She encounters an acquaintance who tries to take advantage of them being alone, and a homeless couple who she tries to help by paying the young man to help her find the next security guard station.
Emphasis on tries to help, because as you can imagine, this does not end well. Especially for the young woman in the couple, who is an integral part of a particularly gruesome scene for the women watching. Like we don’t hate going to the doctor enough already, thank you.
Instead of just going with a deranged serial killer, Creep twists its monster into some kind of lost boy lost boy born into the London underground tunnel system as a nocturnal creature who has never seen the light of day. And who tries to mimic the adults who “took care” of him with disastrous results.
Creep is definitely not a film for the squeamish, but is well worth seeking out despite being fairly rare and a bit hard to find. But isn’t that the fun in discovering those of secure films that none of your friends know about? Then scaring the shift out of them because they have no idea what they’re getting into. That’s what friends are for.