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Halloween 2018 Random Reviews

Halloween

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#1 Virgil Vox

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Posted 09 October 2018 - 08:03 PM

I thought I would create a thread where we could review Halloween (or just scary) movies, TV shows, books, etc. Halloween is my favorite holiday and every year I try to watch as many Halloween related movies and TV episodes as I can.

The Simpsons – Treehouse of Horror

This is the episode that started a great Halloween tradition. Watching this again I was hit with major nostalgia vibes.

There are three stories here, plus a wrap-around segment, something that later installments would abandon. The wrap-around here sees Bart and Lisa telling each other scary stories in the treehouse while Homer listens in, getting more scared with every new story.

The first segment, “Bad Dream House” sees the Simpsons move in to a new house that is haunted because it was built over an Indian burial ground, a fact that Homer was made aware of repeatedly but kept forgetting.

The second segment, “Hungry are the Damned” introduces Kodos and Kang as the aliens abduct the Simpson clan with promises of living in paradise. Lisa, however, believes that the aliens have a more sinister motive.

The final segment, “The Raven” is a parody of the Edgar Allen Poe story with Homer as the man being tormented, Bart as the raven, and James Earl Jones as the narrator.

This was a strong episode. None of the segments are weak. I’d say “Bad Dream House” is my favorite, partly because it involves a haunted house. It also has some actual scary moments along with some good jokes. The ending, where the house kills itself rather than live with the Simpsons, is simply great.

“Hungry are the Damned” is a good segment and has some funny moments but it is one I never really warmed up to. Still, it introduces Kang and Kodos who will be in every Treehouse of Horror episode, even if it is only a cameo.

“The Raven” was a bold segment, and it pays off. The combination of the classic poem with the Simpsons brand of humor makes for a pretty entertaining 7 or 8 minutes.

Honestly, you can’t go wrong with this episode around Halloween.

Boy Meets World – And Then There Was Shawn

This isn’t a Halloween episode. In fact, this season (the fifth) already had a Halloween episode featuring witches wanting to sacrifice Shawn and Jack. Still, this episode is a good one to watch around the holiday.

I was shocked when watching this episode when it first aired. It has more violence than I thought Boy Meets World could get away with and is a pretty big departure from the regular episodes.

The plot revolves around the characters (Cory, Topanga, Shawn, Angela, and Kenny) getting detention from Mr. Feeny. Eric and Jack show up later because they wanted to play basketball in the gym. Things go wrong pretty quickly as the gang realizes that they are trapped in a school with a psycho killer.

The episode is extremely meta, referencing horror movies and TV shows, as well as making up their own in a fun running gag. Shawn acts as the horror movie guide, explaining the rules and the likely order people are going to die in.

There is even a quick discussion about virginity, since Shawn says virgins usually live. Cory and Topanga are glad to be virgins, while Eric and Jack say they are dead. Shawn has apparently done everything but have sex so he isn’t sure if he is safe or not.

The first death is pretty shocking. A random student named Kenny (and yes, they do a “They killed Kenny” joke) gets stabbed in the head with a pencil. We actually see the pencil in his head as he slides down the wall, leaving a line behind. Mr. Feeny even gets killed, stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors.

That is part of what makes this episode so great. It is hilarious yet they don’t skimp on the horror.

Jennifer Love Hewitt guest stars as Jennifer Love Fefferman, a new student also trapped in the school. She has no problem making fun of herself. In one of my favorite moments she and Angela basically have a scream-off. Angela had been the screamer all episode, and when Jennifer shows up she screams loudly when she sees a dead body. Angela gets mad and screams, telling Jennifer that she is the scream queen here.

The episode of course ends up being a dream of Shawn’s. Cory and Topanga had just broken up, and Shawn was struggling with accepting that their relationship was over. The one thing he thought he could count on was Cory and Topanga’s love, and even that ended. It has rocked his world, and so he dreamed up a situation where he killed off everything he saw as an impediment to their love.

Seriously, if you have never seen this episode give it a watch. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
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#2 FarscapeOne

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Posted 09 October 2018 - 09:31 PM

Halloween is my favorite holiday and season, too.  It's just such a fun time.

My wife has these decorations, and I have been naming them.

There is one called 'Napoleon Blown-apart', but his real name is Yorick.  (I usually name the items.)  He is a skull with ribcage, heart, and hands that glows.

The pillow pumpkin is named Jack.

I have a whole list of them.

#3 RJDiogenes

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Posted 10 October 2018 - 04:32 PM

Halloween is my favorite season, too.  I have to decide what DVDs and books I will get for my Marathon.  I've been collecting the Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella archives, so I'll get the next volumes of those, but I haven't decided about anything else. I'm thinking about a movie called Freaks of Nature, which looks like a nice Horror homage. And, of course, there will be TCM.
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#4 Mary Rose

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Posted 10 October 2018 - 08:17 PM

What do you guys think about remaking classic horror flicks, aka Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street Friday the Thirteenth?  Me, personally, there is no Freddy but Robert Englund.  I think I spelled that right and some things should just stand for all generations.  They don't have to remake everything, do they?
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#5 FarscapeOne

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Posted 10 October 2018 - 09:51 PM

I agree that some things should be left alone, not remade.

The FRIDAY THE 13TH remake was horrible for one reason... Jason does NOT take prisoners.

I never saw the new NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET remake, but I heard it made it more sympathetic toward Freddy.  That just ruins it for me, because of the Unholy Trinity, Freddy Krueger was the most sadistic because he really ENJOYED killing all those people.  Jason did it just to do it, and Michael Myers was mission driven... he didn't kill anyone unless you were the target or you got in the way.

#6 Virgil Vox

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 06:29 AM

I don't mind remaking old horror movies. The problem is that most of them turn out bad. Rob Zombie's two Halloween movies were terrible. The new Friday the 13th was just boring, and as FarscapeOne said, Jason doesn't take prisoners.

The new Nightmare on Elm Street wasn't terrible but it didn't have the same punch as the original. I wouldn't say that the new Freddy was made sympathetic. If anything, they made him more repulsive by playing up the child rapist angle.

I do think the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre was good. Granted, I haven't seen it in years but I think it turned out really well.
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It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#7 RJDiogenes

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 05:19 PM

I am always against remakes, reboots, and re-imaginings.  Continuations and expansions are good, remakes, reboots, and re-imaginings are bad.

I forgot to mention something else that I'll probably get for Halloween:  A TV series called Ultra Q, which is somehow connected to Ultraman. I've seen it compared online to The Outer Limits-- of course, it's probably not that good, but it does look like it has some really cool monsters.
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#8 G-man

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Posted 12 October 2018 - 05:29 AM

I would describe Ultra Q as the Japanese version of the Twilight Zone, but with a core cast of characters.  It served as an experimental platform for Effects Master Tsuburaya where they discovered that the most favored episodes were those that featured giant monsters.

The next series Tsuburaya produced (this time in color) was Ultraman, which, in turn was followed by Ultra 7.

I recommend all of these series.

/s/

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#9 RJDiogenes

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Posted 14 October 2018 - 02:16 PM

That sounds pretty good. I used to watch Ultraman all the time on a local station back in the 60s.  The stills I've seen from Ultra Q look really nice, so I'm almost certainly going to get it for Halloween.  I'll look into Ultra 7, too.
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#10 Virgil Vox

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Posted 15 October 2018 - 05:54 PM

Hell Fest

Hell Fest was a surprisingly good slasher movie. Not great, mind you, but a fun hour and a half at the movies.

Hell Fest has a similar premise to Blood Fest (another movie I plan to review). Several friends go to a horror themed amusement park on Halloween only to get stalked by a masked killer. Unfortunately, they can’t get anyone to believe them because they are in a horror themed amusement park and because the killer is wearing a costume similar to several employees.

I think setting a horror movie in a horror amusement park is a good idea and Hell Fest uses its setting well. The park is definitely creepy and the mazes the characters go through are pretty terrifying.

The characters themselves are okay. There’s not a lot of meat on the bones, so to speak. Natalie is the main character. She has become estranged from her old friends since she moved away but is back hoping to make up for lost time. Her best friend is Brooke who wants to help Natalie get laid. Taylor is Brooke’s new roommate and doesn’t get along with Natalie. Gavin is an adorkable guy who Natalie is into. Quinn and Asher are dating Brooke and Taylor and are pretty interchangeable.

The actors do a good job of trying to make the characters likeable but there just isn’t much to them. Still, I liked them enough to feel bad when they started dying off.

The killer, known as the Other, is good but I doubt he will ever be iconic like Michael, Jason, Freddy, or Ghostface. I’ve seen some reviews say they didn’t like the fact that we are never given a reason as to why the Other is killing people at an amusement park but that didn’t bother me.

The kills are pretty good, with one involving an eye that freaked me out. I don’t like anything having to do with eyes getting impaled. There isn’t a big body count here but that was fine with me.

The characters do usually make smart decisions, which isn’t always the case in slasher films. The only truly dumb decision is towards the end when the surviving characters run into what is clearly another maze thinking it is an exit. My friend and I were rolling our eyes at the screen.

Hell Fest doesn’t re-invent the slasher genre but it is a nice addition. It has a likeable cast that does their best with thin characters, a great setting, a decent killer, and some good death scenes. I’m sure the new Halloween will blow this one out of the water but I’d still give this movie a try if you are jonesing for new horror movies.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#11 Virgil Vox

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Posted 21 October 2018 - 04:24 PM

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Halloween Rain by Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder

This was the first original Buffy novel I read, and considering it is the second book in the line (the first being a novelization of The Harvest) the first original Buffy book.

The novel takes place during season 1 and was written before the “Halloween” episode aired so some of the things presented here contradict what we learned in the episode but not enough to take away from the novel.

All Buffy wants to do for Halloween is dress up and attend the Halloween party at the Bronze with Willow and Xander. Giles, however, believes that the creatures of the night will come out in force on the holiday and wants Buffy to patrol. What neither of them know is that Samhain, the embodiment of fear and Halloween, has set his sights on the Slayer.

There is a lot to love here. The authors have the voices of the characters down, with only a line here or there seeming out of character.

It was actually interesting to read this novel again, since it features just the main season 1 characters and doesn’t even include Angel.

I also liked that vampires here were still seen as a big menace. Willow and Xander hadn’t become vampire hunting badasses yet so when they are stalked by two vampires there is an element of suspense because we don’t know how they will escape.

Samhain makes for a terrific villain. He doesn’t show up until the end of the novel but he makes a big impact. He radiates fear, causing Buffy to break down and run away at first. The authors describe him in vivid detail and I remember being afraid of him when I first read this back in the sixth grade, I think.

I also liked how the authors fleshed out the Slayer lineage by introducing a Slayer named Erin, who fought Samhain twice, and was murdered by the demon the second time.

It isn’t all good. At 160 pages, the novel is short and not as fleshed out as I would have liked. A character named Mr. O’Leary is introduced but serves no real purpose except to add a body count to the novel.

Halloween Rain is a worthy addition to the Buffy-verse and a quick, fun read for a dark Halloween night.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#12 RJDiogenes

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Posted 22 October 2018 - 05:31 PM

Well, I sent away for Ultra Q and Get Out-- Get Out is the movie by the guy who is producing the latest Twilight Zone revival, and I've heard good things about it.  I will probably also stream Freaks of Nature through Amazon Prime. For books, I got a collection of of Victorian-Era Horror stories, with some big-name contributors, and also a paperback collection of the Scary Gary comic strip. Very likely I will also get the next volumes in the Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella Archives.
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#13 FarscapeOne

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Posted 22 October 2018 - 09:41 PM

GET OUT is a really good movie.  Very creepy elements, and the atmosphere just feels off the whole time.  Definitely a must see.

#14 RJDiogenes

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Posted 23 October 2018 - 05:50 PM

I'm looking forward to it.  It really sounds like a big Twilight Zone episode.  And if it's good, that justifies my high hopes for the new TZ revival.
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#15 FarscapeOne

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 05:39 AM

My hopes are up BECAUSE I heard about his involvement.  I can't wait.

#16 RJDiogenes

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 05:53 PM

Yeah, that's what I meant.  The reviews have been so good and the descriptions so Twilight Zone-y that I'm quite optimistic.
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#17 Virgil Vox

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 07:41 PM

I watched the new Halloween movie tonight. I quite liked it. It's not perfect but it stays true to the original and offers up some genuine scares.

This movie ignores all of the other Halloween movies aside from the original (so here Laurie and Michael aren't siblings). That's fine, but it did make it a stretch that Michael would hunt down Laurie or that Laurie would spend 40 years thinking he would come for her one day.

Michael is getting transferred to a new facility and of course breaks free on the bus ride there. He gets his mask back and starts killing people on Halloween. Laurie, meanwhile, lives in a well protected compound and has been preparing for this day for years. It has put a strain on her relationship with her daughter and her granddaughter.

The movie is pretty brutal. It doesn't pull any punches, and no one is truly safe. Michael's kills are pretty vicious.

There are some nice nods to the original movie.

The ending, with Michael stalking Laurie in her house is pretty suspenseful and a great way to end the movie.

On the dull side of the knife, most of the characters are pretty thin, especially when it comes to the teenage characters. They exist mainly to die and since we don't care about them the deaths don't have much of an impact.

There also isn't a ton of tension. In the original Michael stalked his prey for a while. Here he mainly just goes in for the kill.

Jamie Lee Curtis is great as Laurie, of course. It is interesting to see how Laurie is portrayed here as opposed to H:20. She has become a survivalist here, arming herself to the teeth and preparing for the day Michael will come back. In H:20 she changed her name and became a pill popper.

If you are a fan of the Halloween series or of slasher films you need to watch this.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#18 RJDiogenes

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Posted 28 October 2018 - 04:24 PM

I watched the first few episodes of Ultra Q and it's really enjoyable-- I can definitely see the comparisons to Outer Limits (and Twilight Zone.  The episodes are in Japanese with really bad subtitles, but easy enough to follow.  There's a significant amount of swearing, which is amusing since this was thought of as a kid's show-- I wonder if that was invented by the bad subtitler in an effort to appeal to an adult audience.  The stories are interesting so far.  One of them, despite the continuing cast, had a twist ending more typical of an anthology-- after the monster was defeated, the ball on the woman's necklace turned out to be another egg and hatched out an identical monster.  And another episode had none of the continuing cast.

I've also watched an old 50s movie called Frankenstein's Daughter, which I had never seen before.  If you like old Drive-In type movies, you will enjoy this one a lot.
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#19 RJDiogenes

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Posted 01 November 2018 - 05:11 PM

Well, this year's Halloween Marathon is winding down.  I managed to get quite a few things in.

I did watch Get Out, which turned out to be very nice, with a couple of great twists, and-- most importantly-- very Twilight Zone-ish. The ending turned out to be unexpectedly violent, but I'm sure the guy has the sense not to go that route with the new TZ show.

The other new-ish movie that I watched was Freaks of Nature. I was expected a comedic homage to Horror movies and it wasn't quite that, but it was still pretty amusing, with a good cast.

Let's see, what else?  On TCM, I saw at least parts of Carnival of Souls, Cat People, Last Man On Earth, House of Wax, and Valley of Gwangi.  I also watched Fury of the Wolfman, a Paul Naschy film, on Amazon Prime-- I actually regret that one, since it was of the so-bad-it's-bad variety. I also downloaded a couple of movies from YouTube-- Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks (with Michael Dunn) and Slaughter of the Vampires-- both of which were of the so-bad-it's-good variety.

Aside from that, I've been digging into a couple of new anthologies on my Kindle-- Ghostly Tales: Spine-Chilling Stories of the Victorian Age (stories by Robert Louis Stevenson, Charles Dickens, and Arthur Conan Doyle, among others) and Kolchak, the Night Stalker: Passages of the Macabre-- as well as some Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella Archives.  Oh, I got "The Werwolves" (Cryptofiction Classics - Weird Tales of Strange Creatures) for my Kindle as well.  It was okay.
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