Posts tagged ‘halloween’

03/11/2011

Halloween 2011 – a television review.

I think we can all agree that Halloween is quite simply the most wonderful time of the year. After all it’s that one time of each year you can dress up as a zombie Playboy Bunnygirl, and not wind up being arrested. Adding in insane amounts of sweet stuff, alcohol, and potentially embarrassing trysts to the mix is frankly just the icing on already very sweet cake. But one thing usually ends up being a massive disappointment. Television at Halloween.

This year admittedly was better than most. E4 again screened the wonderful zombie filled, reality television ass-ripping that is “Dead Set”. If you’ve missed it again, get it on DVD, buy some popcorn, and settle in for Zombie Shakespeare the way it was meant to be seen.

There were several slasher films shown on various channels. And the Horror Channel went all Hammer Horror, screening “The Scar of Dracula”, “Blood of the Mummy”, and its usual mixture of modern B-movie pleasures.

Of course Syfy joined in with the hilarious “Tremors 2: Aftershocks”, and “Tremors 3: Return to Perfection” on Saturday and Sunday. admittedly they’re B-monster movies rather than horror, but were still welcome additions to my televisual Halloween.

But here’s the sting in the tail. While “Dead Set”, and the Hammer movies are real horror.  The “Tremors” series are as I just said monster movies, and slasher movies to my mind simply aren’t horror either. Neither for the record is the torture porn that these days often masquerades as horror in the cinema. But worse still is the fact that all of them were shown on Saturday and Sunday. Or in other words, not on Halloween! No last night the only horror we had the choice of watching was “Halloween: Resurrection”, yet another badly written, badly realised, rehash of the classic “Halloween” franchise. Or Ashton Kutcher trying, and failing, to fill Charlie Sheens shoes in “Two and a Half Men”. Just so you know, in case you missed them, Ashton was far scarier.

So this leaves me wondering why is it that on what’s supposed to be the spookiest night of the year, I just watched “Mythbusters”, “Two and a Half Men”. Then, loathing what both time, and hollywood has done to John Carpenters classic, the only actually horrific slasher movie “Halloween”, curled up with a good book?

Why can’t the television networks, and companies get through their heads that on Halloween a good selection of genuine horror movies would go down a treat? Why not show a selection of classic horrors, “Dracula”, “Frankenstein”, “The Wolf Man”? Why not let a new generation discover the joys of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, or either of the two Lon Chaney’s? If they have to go more modern, why not show us “The Omen”, “The Amityville Horror”, or One of John Carpenters classics such as “The Thing” or “Prince of Darkness”?

No instead we get, if we’re very lucky like this year, a television show edited down into a movie, a couple of Hammer horrors, some monster B-movies that didn’t even scare the 5-year-old Force of Nature. In fact she fell asleep watching those. Well it’s over for another year, maybe next year we’ll be treated to some real scares. But in the mean time I think it’s time to make a date with a certain hot Russian girl of my acquaintance for a horror DVD marathon. Nothing like oceans of horrifying blood to wash away that bad post Halloween aftertaste.

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01/11/2011

A students guide to cooking – The morning after the night before.

Last night was Halloween. You dressed up as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (how original), you went out, you partied, you drank, you failed to score. But you still went to bed happy, secure in the knowledge that you would definitely not end up with a hangover the following morning. After all, on the advice of your best friend, you drank a whole glass of water when you got home. Unfortunately it turns out that what they actually meant for you to do was to drink a couple of pint glasses of water. Where in fact you drank one single, solitary shot glass of tasteless, flat water. Woops silly you.

Now of course you’ve been rudely awoken by the distinct sensation of your brain trying to exit your head, via your ears. It’s just a shame that your brains have been so poisoned that they’ve actually gotten rather lost. Instead of heading directly for your ear canals, they’ve somehow gotten turned around, and are instead trying to exit via your temples, eyes, and judging by the twitchiness in your stomach apparently via your mouth as well.

Well then, as of now the single most burning question in your mind has to be, “How do I survive my brains attempts to murder me?”. Well fear not Auntie Amanda is here with her guide to making the perfect hangover survival breakfast. That’s right just follow some simple steps, and you too can turn from a soon to be corpse, to a soon to be 24 hour zombie.

  1. Without opening your eyes sit up and place your feet firmly on the floor. Don’t be too concerned if this takes you several attempts, instead think of it as reliving a key part your very early childhood.
  2. Open your eyes.
  3. Regret opening your eyes, and slump back on to your bed, while moaning for your mommy.
  4. Remember that your mommy is another county, and can’t help you.
  5. Remember that if even if she was in your house all she would do is laugh at you, before slamming your bedroom door shut as loudly as possible.
  6. Holding one hand over your mouth, again with your eyes closed, lever your complaining body upright once more.
  7. Dash to the bathroom, and proceed to be heartily sick.
  8. Remind yourself to reread Terry Pratchett’s “Feet of Clay” with its very amusing reference to being “heartily sick”.
  9. Stagger unsteadily downstairs to the kitchen. While you do this please remember to hold on tight to everything, whether it will actually help you to keep upright or not.
  10. Sit at the kitchen table, and contemplate having some breakfast.
  11. Wake up again one hour later, with your face slightly glued to the table by what you hope is your own drool.
  12. Stand up determined this time to actually make some breakfast.
  13. Realise that not only did you forget to do your food shopping, but you actually drank your food money for the week, last night.
  14. You start to panick until you notice 2 eggs, a knob of butter, and a splash of milk in a carton.
  15. Right, you think to yourself, Scrambled eggs it is then!
  16. To cook scrambled eggs when you find that all the pots have been used as “flower” pots by your hippy housemate, take out one bowl.
  17. Wash said, bowl.
  18. Grease the inside of the bowl with the knob of butter. Do your best to ignore the slimy sensation of the butter in your hands.
  19. Break both eggs into the bowl.
  20. Pour the splash of milk into the bowl.
  21. Whisk the mixture well with a fork, having cleaned it first please.
  22. Place the bowl in a microwave for one minute.
  23. After the microwave signals that it has finished, by setting off what sounds like a church bell, open the door and stir the mixture in the bowl again.
  24. Put the microwave on again for a further two minutes.
  25. While you wait try to find a slice of bread to make into toast.
  26. Remember that you thought it was a great idea to feed the ducks, at three this morning, hence no more bread.
  27. Jump out of your skin when the microwave goes “BING!” again.

At this point one of two things is going to happen. If you didn’t use  a microwave safe bowl you will…

  1. Open the microwave.
  2. Pick up the bowl with your bare hands.
  3. Half way to the table realise that you can smell burning flesh. You will then look down and realise it’s your own fingers.
  4. Drop your breakfast. Breaking the bowl and spreading the last of your food across the floor.
  5. Make a half-hearted attempt to clean it before going back to bed, and crying yourself to sleep.

However if you used a microwave safe bowl you will…

  1. Open the microwave.
  2. Carry the bowl to the table.
  3. Shake a little salt over it.
  4. Realise that what you thought was a little salt, was in fact half the salt production of the Dead Sea area for the past 2 years.
  5. Shrug, and pick up your fork.
  6. Look closely at what you have made for the first time.
  7. Realise that instead of delicious smelling, fluffy, slightly moist scrambled eggs you have somehow ended up with what appears to be a circular, sort of rotten egg scented, brick.
  8. Shrug again. After all you’re hungry, hung over, and this is the last of your food. Jab your fork into it.
  9. Scream as your fork rebounds and embeds itself in your forehead. Turns out that the circular, sort of rotten egg scented, brick, is actually made from some kind of high density rubber.
  10. Leave the first fork where it is. It must have hit an acupuncture spot, you head actually feels a little better with it there. Get another fork.
  11. Try again, this time more carefully.
  12. Without looking too closely at what’s on your fork pop it into your mouth and chew thoroughly. This may take some time depending on how dense a rubber the eggs have formed.
  13. Repeat until the bowl is empty.
  14. Return to bed.
  15. Wake up the following morning, use part of next weeks food money to buy Ramen noodles, and walk to class. Wondering the whole time why people look at your face, and scream in horror.
  16. Sit quietly at the back of the first lecture. Feel yourself slowly drifting off to sleep.
  17. Wake up screaming when you hit the desk face first, jamming the fork ever deeper into your skull.
  18. Still it was a great Halloween, can’t wait for next year!

So there you have it a survival guide to the morning after the night before. Complete with the recipe for Microwave Scrambled (Rubber) Eggs.

Next time we will finally get around to my famous recipe for non-crunchy porridge, I promise.

24/02/2011

Movies I wish I could see again and again – Horror Movies.

While there are many movies that I loathe there are far more that I adore.  So as a companion set of reviews to my “Movies I hope I never have to see again” posts I will also from time to time post a list of movies I consider to be wonderful.

There are only two rules to make it onto one of my favourite movie lists an those rules are very simple.

1: The movie has to have had a general cinema release. That’s it.  I’ll end up dealing with straight to television or DVD movies on their own at a later date.

2: They have to be a movie which I have or would have paid to go see at least twice in the cinema.  The would have simply because so many of my favourite movies are significantly older than I am.  Not a difficult feat when you consider that as an art form film is over a century old.

Just as with my lists of bad movies I won’t be giving much in the way of a synopsis with each entry.  If you’re unfamiliar with the movie and interested I will be including in the movie title a link to its Wikipedia page, at least where one exists.  (I will also be adding these links to my older movie reviews also.) These will be about why I think they are the best of their genre.

So we shall begin today with a treat for myself, my second favourite genre.  Horror movies.  I have almost no horror movies in my DVD collection.  This probably strikes the people who know me well as odd when they consider how I truly adore them.  But I have done this quite purposefully.  Horror movies are my illicit viewing treat.  Something which I use very occasionally to reward myself with.  But despite this I have seen a huge number of them.  In this list I will share with you my top five horror movies and though they are numbered one through five in all honesty it’s virtually impossible for me to set them apart.

Enjoy.

5: Alien

Typically unnerving shot from the 1979 classic.

Released in 1979 this is the movie that has gone on to fuel half of my teenage and adult nightmares. It’s set on a huge but somehow incredibly claustrophobic spacecraft where the crew are being hunted down one by one by an alien creature which they have accidentally set on themselves.  Though really if you haven’t seen this movie by now where have you been for the last 32 years?

There are two things which really make this movie one of the best of its type .  First the cast are top-notch.  In there you have Tom Skerrit, Ian Holms, John Hurt and best of all Sigourney Weaver who was a virtual unknown in film at the time.  As a cast they just work.  By the time everything starts to go wrong for the characters you actually care a lot for them.  This is in part due to the great, real feeling of everything said in the script.  But mostly it’s down to the brilliant performances by the entire cast.  Ian Holms especially is wonderful as the sort of villainous Ash.

The second thing that makes this movie unforgettable is the atmosphere of it.  It’s dark, dingy, cramped and vaguely unpleasant throughout. This is not the bright clean future of Star Trek.  Everyone smokes, they swear and while the living areas of the ship are clean, it’s not sterile.  It’s more like the cleanliness of the average home; clean but would you really want to eat off the floors?

Then the planet is dark.  The alien spacecraft is like an erotic nightmare.  Basically to me the whole movie feels kind of like a science fiction film noir set in your worst nightmare.  And that’s without even mentioning the Alien itself and the way it’s even more terrifying when you don’t see it.

This movie is everything a good sci-fi horror should be.  It’s not wall to wall technobabble.  It’s a good human story with a brilliant script, cast and story. And even though the sequels and spin offs  are all far more thriller/action movies the original is pure horror through and through.

4: Nosferatu

A much lampooned image, but imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery so...

Released in 1922 this is the first, though unauthorised Dracula movie.  If you’ve seen any version of Dracula you already know the story but this movie even ninety years after it was shot is still far more creepy than any of the others.  Not even the great Béla Lugosi could make his Dracula as horrifying to watch as Max Schreck did in Nosferatu.

While the story does deviate a lot from the novel in places, such as in how the vampire eventually dies, I have since my first time seeing it considered it the best Dracula movie to watch.  Especially with Schrecks Count Orlac creeping through every scene, a scrawny, ill-shaped creature who moves in a disturbingly non-human way.

Being silent it has no script as such but what it does have is the ability to make you start feeling anxious from the moment it begins.  And after all that anxiety, the sitting on the edge of your seat when you don’t know why combined with disquieting imagery is at the heart of great horror.

3: Prince of Darkness

The poster for one of the most unnerving movies ever made.

The second of John Carpenter’s trilogy of apocalypse horrors this 1987 release is one that I was so tempted to put at number 1.  It combines classic Satanist horror with some really odd metaphysics to give us the story of Satan’s attempt to escape into our world.  I won’t say too much about this one because it really needs to be seen to be believed.  But I will say that it was all shot through a weird lens that distorts every shot and man does it start to mess with your head eventually.

Also it has Donald Pleasance in my favourite of his roles as the head of a small group of researchers.  He really is at the top of his game in this and so is Carpenter. Leaving us with a movie which I feel is far superior to either it’s predecessor The Thing or the third film in the series In the Mouth of Madness.

2: Halloween 3: Season of the Witch

Nothing in common with the other Halloween movies but to my mind the best of them.

The only episode of the Halloween movie franchise not to include Micheal Myers as a character this one is an often overlooked gem.  It is also the movie that started my love affair with horror.  Sent into the world in 1982 this was the only attempt to make the franchise into what it had always been intended to be.  A series of horror films each of which explored a different horror theme each year.

Yes that’s right Halloween was never intended to be just a slasher movie series.

I have to say that the other Halloween movies leave me cold.  Slasher films just bore me and whenever I try to watch them I always end up drifting away to do something genuinely scary.  Like try to edit the grammar or punctuation in one of my novel projects.

But Halloween 3 is different.  It feels almost like a 1980’s attempt at an American Hammer horror set in the modern age.  Though this really is more in feeling than anything else.  The story is a bit silly, the sets vary from very normal to overblown and the villain of the piece is almost Brian Blessed-like in his over acting.

But this is all good stuff because it leaves you more open to the rare and never really expected moments of intense gory, violent horror.  This movie gave me nightmares for a year after I first saw it and to this day I still get unnerved when I see people wearing those rubber hood type Halloween masks.

1: The Omen

Simply the best.

I am speaking here of the original 1976 version here.  The 2006 version while a good movie with a strong performance by Julia Stiles just doesn’t have the same impact as the original.  But anyway this is simply the best horror movie ever made.

It was shot on a small budget with very few special effect shots.  Though the impalement and decapitation scenes are both spectacular to watch.

But this movie is not about horrific violence in the scenes.  The true horror in The Omen is all in your own mind.  Everyone involved in this movie created a piece of cinematic perfection where everything from the script to the score, the casting to even the weather winds the viewers anxiety levels up and up from beginning to end.  Speaking of the score it is the most disturbing but most beautiful collection of pieces of music ever written for any movie.

I think this is Gregory Peck’s greatest work.  Through out the movie he becomes the rock your control over your own fears is built on.  You just know that somehow he will win in the end and good will prevail.  Of course he doesn’t but that makes the ending all the worse emotionally to watch.

The Omen puts you through a ringer and leaves you in the end with a deep sense of dread that takes an age to go away.  And isn’t that what a good horror should do?

So I guess there’s only one thing left to say;

Damien, it’s all for you Damien!

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