Friday, 31 October 2014

What I've Been Watching In: October (Halloween Edition)

Since today is Halloween, I just had to dedicate this month's What I've Been Watching post to my very favourite Halloween movies. I've tried to include a real mix of movies, from a Disney favourite Hocus Pocus, to Scream and then everything in between. I hope that this means that there is something for everyone to watch in this special Halloween edition of What I've Been Watching.

What I've Been Watching In: October (Halloween Edition) Movie Review Scream Scream 4 I Know What You Did Last Summer

Scream (1996)
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Matthew Lillard
Out of all the horror movies that I've ever watched, I'm pretty sure that Scream is my absolute favourite. It's the one that I can watch time and time again without getting bored of it in the slightest and it's also the first movie that I think of when it comes to Halloween. I think that might have something to do with the fact that as I was growing up Ghostface (the Scream mask) appeared at every single Halloween party that I attended throughout primary and secondary school. 
The movie itself is pretty tame when it comes to horror stakes nowadays. It's not particularly gory or too jumpy either, just in case you're not a fan of those kinds of horror movies. But what I really love about Scream is the fact that it doesn't take itself too seriously by simultaneously parodying and embracing the horror genre.

Scream 4 (2011)
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts
Whilst Scream 2 and 3 aren't the worst horror movies that I've ever seen, they definitely pale in comparison to the original, whereas Scream 4 breathes new life into the Scream franchise. And how exciting is it to see a franchise bring the initial story bang up to date instead of just making a remake of the original? This has quickly become one of my favourite horror movies of recent years and definitely the best teen slasher movie that I've seen recently.
Ghostface is back, just as Sidney (Neve Campbell) returns to Woodsboro as part of her book tour. Emma Roberts plays Sidney's niece in this new twist on the Scream story and it really does have plenty of surprises throughout. It's also pretty comical at times, most of which is intentional, much like the rest of the Scream movies. The very fact that one of the characters in this basically live vlogs his life is pretty funny and as I said earlier, definitely brings the 1990's American teen slasher movie right into the 21st century.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Geller, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr.
Another one of the 90's teen slasher movies (can you tell that I quite like that era of horror movies?), I Know What You Did Last Summer centres around a group of friends who knock down and kill someone whilst they're out driving late at night. Or do they?
When they start to receive 'messages' from a fisherman figure wielding a fish hook, including a note stating 'I know what you did last summer,' the group of friends begin to wonder whether they really did in fact bury the body in the water.
Much like the original Scream movie, there's not too much blood or gore but it is a lot more jumpy than some of the other 1990's teen horror movies. I still get the creeps watching the scenes where Sarah Michelle Gellar's character is trapped in a department store in the middle of the night, which when you think about my shopping habits would ordinarily be my dream instead of my nightmare.
It's also got a star 1990's cast including Sarah Jessica Parker (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Ryan Philippe (Reese Witherspoon's ex-husband) and Freddie Prinze Jr. (I was rather obsessed with She's All That so him being in this always puts a smile on my face).

What I've Been Watching In: October (Halloween Edition) Movie Review The Conjuring Vacancy The Last House on the Left

The Conjuring (2013)
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor
I've not been that impressed by many of the horror movies that have been released in the past couple of years. I think the only real exception to that statement, above and beyond this choice, was You're Next, which I reviewed in July (link here). I don't know about you but the Paranormal Activity series and the movies that they have inspired, have never really been of any interest to me in the past. The Conjuring on the other hand, is far from the fairly laughable Paranormal Activity franchise.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play a husband and wife paranormal investigative team and it's packed full of creepy moments, more than a few jumps and most importantly; a pretty solid storyline. The Conjuring also features a rather creepy doll named Annabelle, which you might have noticed has been made into a movie in it's own right, which is out at the cinema right now. I saw it when I was on holiday at the start of the month and it is well worth a watch. If you're looking for a full review of that movie then I'll have it in next month's What I've Been Watching post.

Vacancy (2007)
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Luke Wilson, Frank Whaley
As soon as you've finished watching Vacancy I have a feeling that you won't be checking yourself into a motel any time soon.
Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson play a couple on the verge of divorce who's car breaks down after they stop at a gas station on an unmarked road. Now I'm more than aware that there wouldn't be a movie in the first place had they just stayed on the Interstate but that still doesn't stop me from shouting at the TV whenever someone in a horror movie decides that it would be quicker to come off of the Interstate in favour of driving around on roads with no signs or any real sign of life. Instead of sleeping in the car until the morning, when they could then phone a recovery truck, they decide to spend the night at the motel that they drove past a few miles back. It's only when they switch on the TV and the VHS player (I know a VHS player in 2007!) that they discover that the very room they are staying in has played host to the very horrific murders that they are watching on the TV. It soon becomes a cat and mouse game between the couple and the motel proprietors and is the kind of movie that has you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
Trust me, you'll never want to stay at a motel after watching this movie.

The Last House on the Left (2009)
Starring: Garret Dillahunt, Monica Potter, Sara Paxton, Aaron Paul
A remake of the 1972 movie of the same name, The Last House on the Left, is a movie that I wouldn't necessarily recommend to everyone as it is one of the most shocking horror movies that I've seen in a long time. A lot of the movie revolves around the notion of revenge as two parents welcome in a group of strangers into their home during a storm. They soon learn that that very group of strangers are a gang who have attacked their own daughter.
Garret Dillahunt is incredible as Krug the escaped convict/leader of the gang who have kidnapped, sexually assaulted and shot Sara Paxton's character (ie. their daughter). As I can only reiterate, several scenes could definitely be deemed distressing for many different reasons.
Having seen this when it was first released I only realised in the past couple of months that one of the members of the gang in this is actually Aaron Paul (aka. Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad) which was quite the revelation for a big Breaking Bad fan like myself.

Now for a change of pace when it comes to Halloween movies. I promise that these next three movies will have you laughing and singing along (in some parts) instead of cowering behind your sofa.

What I've Been Watching In: October (Halloween Edition) Movie Review Scary Movie Hocus Pocus Shaun of the Dead

Scary Movie (2000)
Starring: Anna Faris, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Shannon Elizabeth
I'm a big fan of Scary Movie (Scary Movie 2 is also well worth a watch whilst you're at it too). It spoofs the most popular horror movies of the 1990's brilliantly and plays on the classic horror movie tropes to great effect. To truly understand the brilliance of this movie, you really need to have seen the majority of the movies that it parodies. The plot recreates I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream almost shot for shot at times, as well as featuring bits from The Blair Witch ProjectThe Sixth Sense and more. As you might be aware from the above choices, these are some of my favourite horror movies from that time so this movie was always going to be a big hit with me.
It might not be to everyone's taste humour wise as there are a couple of scenes that I know some might blush or squirm at but overall it's just such a fantastic spoof of some of my favourite movies and pop culture moments of the 1990's.

Hocus Pocus (1993)
Starring: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Thora Birch
For me, no Halloween is complete without watching Hocus Pocus at least once. I think I may have watched it every single Halloween since I was a child and I wouldn't have it any other way. Is it strange that I would much rather be one of the Sanderson sisters than any of the 'heroes' in this movie? I have a feeling that it might be but even as a child I felt a definite affinity with SJP.
Billy Butcherson will always be my favourite character in this and I have a feeling that he will be many others favourite too. There are a lot of puns and jokes that I didn't necessarily understand as a child and it could be viewed as corny or silly if you've not grown up with this movie but I wouldn't change it at all. I am now singing "I put a spell on you and now you're mine" at the top of my lungs though, so that might be a bit of a problem for anyone in an audible radius to me right now. Hehe.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Dylan Moran, Lucy Davis
I could have included a plethora of zombie movies in this list, some of which are real masterpieces; 28 Days Later for example, others which are just a fun frolick through the zombie genre such as Resident Evil and of course, Zombieland but there's only one rom-zom-com (romantic-zombie-comedy) and that's Shaun of the Dead.
I've watched this that many times that I could practically act out the entirety of this movie. It's one of the funniest movies that I've ever seen and the fact that it centres around the idea of a zombie apocalypse makes it the perfect movie to watch around Halloween. Even the characters in Scream 4 would agree. (There's a little shout out to anyone else who's watched Scream 4 already) Hehe.
I do think that I will need to watch the rest of the 'Cornetto trilogy' now though, so expect some reviews of the next two movies in the Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Edgar Wright collection in the next couple of What I've Been Watching posts.

Just in case none of these movies take your fancy, I have reviewed a whole host of other horror movies throughout the year; good and bad. Here are some other movies that you might want to give a watch (or not) this Halloween: Dark Water (link here), Sinister (link here), Urban Legend (link here)Insidious (link here), Insidious: Chapter 2 (link here), Friday the 13th (link here) and You're Next (link here).

What's your favourite movie to watch around Halloween? Have you seen any of these movies? If so, what did you think of them?


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