Happy Halloween, everyone! Welcome to The Viewer’s Commentary’s third annual Scary Movie Month – now redubbed Halloween Movie Month! Why the name change? Because the “Scary” in the title of Scary Movie Month just didn’t seem appropriate when the true spirit behind this theme month is not that I review just scary movies, but I could also include comedies, dramas, or even musicals! As such, I figured that it was time to make the title skew more towards the holiday theme, rather than make it seem like I was sticking to just the horror genre – I’d even broken the “rule” in the past, so it was already fairly inappropriate. That being said, you can pretty much still expect most of the movies being from or at least touched by the horror genre – but you’ll also see that I’m opening up to a wider range of movies, as well.
It’s funny — I had originally started out this theme month to broaden my horizons and explore a genre that I never really was that fond of. Now, in only two years, though, it’s actually one of the things I actually look forward to the most every year, even if I still wouldn’t necessarily call myself a horror connoisseur. Go figure!
October 2013 also marks the beginning of my third year writing for this blog, which had its first post all the way back on September 13, 2011! It’s been a fun couple years writing – though it’s still just a hobby, I’ve become rather well known amongst my small circle of people for being the guy who writes about movies, and I couldn’t be prouder of myself for having stuck with it so long and for still having such a passion for writing about the movies I watch, love, and even loathe – in total, I have written 197 posts, not counting this one, and about 147 reviews of individual titles have been written for this blog as of this writing, including an unprecedented mini-review of an animated short, Paperman. In the future, I hope to continue writing reviews as well as get back to more analytical articles and a few fun lists, as well, which I have admittedly gone away from for quite some time.
Until then, below is not only an alphabetical list of past scary movie and Halloween-appropriate movies that I’ve reviewed in the past, but also a very low quality upload of the hilarious Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode where they riff on the convolutedly titled The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed Up Zombies to sate your appetite until my next review, Zombieland, is posted. I cannot guarantee how long that video will be up, so my apologies if it’s no longer up by the time you get there. If that’s the case, I’ve also embedded the official YouTube video of the original movie itself, sans snarky commentary. (Your mileage may vary on that one…) Thanks again for reading The Viewer’s Commentary, and I hope you all have a great Halloween!
Halloween Movie Reviews: Sept. 2011 – Sept. 2013
It’s that time of year again. 2012 has nearly gone, and yet it always seems like there’s even more to do this time of year than any other time of year, what with Thanksgiving leading into Christmas and then into the New Year. I spent last week with my family for Thanksgiving, as well as my mom’s birthday soon after, and so I didn’t really get around to getting my Miracle on 34th Street review out around the time that I intended, so I basically considered it an unofficial start to my second Christmas Movie Month. It’s mere coincidence that my mom wanted to go see Rise of the Guardians, which features Santa, but isn’t necessarily about Christmas, so that was kind of a happy accident. Now, however, I’m switching gears fully into Christmas mode, once again!
In case you missed any of my reviews from last year, here’s a quick rundown of films that I reviewed for Christmas 2011:
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
The Polar Express
Meet Me in St. Louis
Scrooged, A Muppet Christmas Carol, and Disney’s A Christmas Carol in an ill advised Grudge Match Review that I came to despise doing – Part 1 & Part 2
For this year, I plan to stay on task a bit more, and I’ve already got several reviews planned! Let’s also not forget that the aforementioned Miracle on 34th Street pulls double-duty as both a Thanksgiving and Christmas film! I also promised last year that I would review Eight Crazy Nights for those of you who celebrate Hanukkah, but the film disappeared around that time from Netflix, and I wasn’t about to use up a Blockbuster movie exchange. This year? … Maybe. But I’m not making any promises. That movie was pretty awful… Anyway, aside from maybe a few incidental theatrical reviews and one “special” review that I’m planning on writing at the end of this week (hint: it’s all about the supposed oncoming of the end of the world, and I’m not about to watch that movie or write that review without a few drinks to help me along), you can pretty much just expect Christmas movies until that day comes!
Until then, just in case I don’t get around to that awful Adam Sandler Hanukkah movie, please enjoy this classic Saturday Night Live animated music video instead, “Christmas for the Jews”:
It’s that time again! Halloween is coming up, and so it’s time for scary movies! Last year, I wound up focusing a great deal on classic slasher films, with a few other sub-genres thrown in for good measure. For your convenience, I’m including a link to all the scary movie reviews I wrote right here, in order:
The Last House on the Left (1972)
The Last House on the Left (2009)
Friday the 13th (1980)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
28 Days Later
Shaun of the Dead
I list these because, as you can see, it’s a lot of slashers, sequels, and remakes, with Contagion being arguably the only odd duck, as it is a scary movie, but not necessarily horror. I felt it necessary at the time to explore these slashers, largely because they were films I wasn’t that familiar with. I didn’t particularly enjoy watching all of these grouped together, but I did enjoy the learning experience. This year, however, I’m going to focus more on scary movies that I, personally, enjoy. I intended to review some of these films last year but, for several reasons, did not get around to doing so.
Seeing as how Halloween is also my birthday, I’m feeling a bit selfish this year, I guess. I’m turning 26, and I’m feeling as though my youth has peaked, and I’m now beginning the downward spiral. Call me dramatic, if you must! So, yeah, you’re mostly going to see reviews of films that I actually do enjoy, though I’ll try to sneak in a few that I don’t as well. You’ll also likely see a few reviews of films that are not scary or horror, but those will only be theatrical reviews. One you will most certainly see sometime soon is a review of Looper, for example. (Go see it — It’s fantastic!)
So, yeah, that’s my plans for my second annual Scary Movie Month this year! I hope that the scary movies that I enjoy will lead some of you to new and enjoyable experiences, though I can’t exactly say that I’m all that adventurous when it comes to this genre. Feel free to chastise me if that is the case, though I doubt I’m going to get as sidetracked as I did last year, when I let some Elm Street fans hijack my attention and ended up reviewing a whopping four Freddy Krueger films.
What I am going to do, however, is provide you with a great horror film to kick things off. This year’s public domain YouTube post is The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a horror film hailing from Germany that had a great deal of influence not only on Tim Burton (an obvious point), but also features Conrad Veidt, an actor who would go on to play another scary character in The Man Who Laughs and would directly influence the creation of Batman’s arch nemesis, The Joker. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was one of the first full length silent films that I watched, thanks to my freshman year, second semester film history class in college. The bizarre visuals, freaky makeup, and shadowy, brooding atmosphere is fantastic and still effective at inducing fear and anxiety, even after over 90 years have passed since its creation. I hope that you will enjoy it as well as the rest of Scary Movie Month this year!
The Michel Gondry/M. Night Shyamalan Parallel, feat. KIDS SWEDE MOVIES presents: ALIEN – CHEST BURSTER SCENE
You know, despite the presence of children in the scene, this is still pretty horrific. But also kinda cute.
I need to rewatch Be Kind Rewind, as I enjoyed it the first time, but it’s also kinda like M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs in that it was the third major feature film from a director whose first made me love them, but made me also realize that they were losing their creative edge, followed by a fourth film that was a huge disappointment.
Michel Gondry / M. Night Shyamalan:
1) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind / The Sixth Sense* — Visually stunning masterpieces with wonderful ideas and brilliantly moving performances.
2)The Science of Sleep** /Unbreakable — A welcome, enjoyable, and visually stunning shake up of a familiar genre (rom-com / superhero) that’s not quite up to par as their predecessor, but still pretty awesome.
3) Be Kind Rewind / Signs — Halfway good films that start to show that the director is fallible and is starting to trip up and they’re making some bad decisions with their creative freedoms. Enjoyable for what they are, but you kind of expect more, and the films leave you hoping for a return to the breathtaking form that made you fall for the directors in the first place.
4) The Green Hornet / The Village — The law of diminishing returns takes effect, and you begin to think that maybe it was all a fluke. They may redeem themselves some day, but, man, did this really suck!
And, so, yeah, there’s where my mind went when I saw this video. Alien parody -> “sweded” -> Be Kind Rewind -> Michel Gondry -> parallel with M. Night Shyamalan. That’s my random morning post and a little example of how my mind works. Hope you enjoyed it! I’m going to go enjoy my day off now!
[Video found via io9.com]
* The Sixth Sense technically came after Shyamalan’s Praying with Anger and Wide Awake, but those didn’t really put him on the map, so they don’t count as “major” films in my eyes, regardless of their quality.
** Dave Chappelle’s Block Party also isn’t counted here because it’s a documentary, rather than a story-driven film. Again, regardless of its quality, I’ve disqualified it.
I kinda missed updating last week. I promise to you and myself that I will have a new review up this week, but I kinda needed a mental break and had a lot going on. To ease back into things, how about a new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, eh?
So, what do you think? Like the new Batwing (or whatever its equivalent is in this film)? Like the eerie No Man’s Land vibe of the trailer? This its definitely more of a larger scale movie than the first two films, that’s for sure!
The new glimpses of Catwoman are pretty interesting. I’d previously thought that they had possibly made her it to be a reluctant(?) henchwoman for Bane, but it looks like they’re going with the antihero after all, though she definitely still has tires to Bane in some way, since you hear Bruce asking her questions about him.
Bane looks pretty fierce himself and is also notably more intelligible than previous audio from him showed. Dare I say it, but it does sound a bit… off, but we all hour through The Dark Knight despite Christian Bale’s apparently chronic throat condition and it was still a brilliant film.
Notably, we also get way more footage of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s cop character, albeit in silent clips of his reactions to the happenings in Gotham. He’s still fairly shrouded in mystery, and, to be honest, I’m kinda glad since I’ve pretty much a given that so many other spoilers are likely to reveal themselves as truth. It’s nice having one original character who can be dealt with in so many ways and who brings up so many questions, isn’t it? Like, why do we see him kneeling as if in the presence of… something? I don’t know if it’s malevolent or not, and that is probably going to help bring a great deal of tension to the role.
I’m obviously a Batman fan, as the past few weeks have proven (I promise my next review will be of a very different type of film), so to say that I’m extremely excited for this film is an understatement…
It’s officially after Thanksgiving and, therefore, it is officially time to start thinking about Christmas movies here at The Viewer’s Commentary! As with Scary Movie Month in October, I will be making my primary focus this December on Christmas movies! And, even though I’m not Jewish, I’ll even try to find a few good Hanukkah films, too! (And I’ll try to make sure that the only Hanukkah film I find isn’t just Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights, which is all I could really find at the local Blockbuster, I promise!)
I broke a few promises with my Scary Movie Month line up due to time issues and a detour thanks to the response to my review of Nightmare on Elm Street, but I’ll try not to do that this time around. There are far more diverse movies in this category than the horror category, and I’m certain that everyone will find something to enjoy this month, including myself! Some reviews to look forward to are National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Polar Express, Elf, Meet Me in St. Louis, and, of course, the holiday classic… Die Hard!
Of course, I’ll try to make sure to throw in a few more surprises and classics, too! I’ll even try to throw in a few features here and there to keep you interested. My Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies, anyone? I’m way more excited about this than I was Scary Movie Month, as Christmas is seriously my favorite holiday of the year. I’m like a freaking little kid when it comes to this holiday, and it’s not just the presents, either. (I get presents on Halloween, too, since it’s also my birthday, so I’m totally unbiased in that regard.) I love the sense of togetherness, family, and giving, and, of course, it’s also a time for us Christians to remember Christ’s birth, even though it totally wasn’t originally for that purpose, as we Christians just usurped a pagan holiday… but let’s not get into that now, eh?
In the meantime, as I make preparations to deliver my Christmas cheer, why don’t you celebrate Christmas the same way we kicked off Halloween by watching an embedded movie, right here on my site? This one’s a public domain classic! However, it’s all for unintentional reasons, as Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is about as bad as it sounds! Like fruitcake, it’s probably best to serve it up with a heavy side of libations, here taking on the form of the comedic commentary of Joel Hodgson, Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, and the rest of the gang from Mystery Science Theater 3000! Hurry, though! I don’t know how long this video — not posted by me! — will actually be up!
UPDATE: Turns out, Eight Crazy Nights might actually be the only Hanukkah film out there! Seriously, do a search for “Hanukkah movies” and this very post on The Viewer’s Commentary is on the first page as of right now, and this post is only a couple hours old! What gives, Hollywood? There are so many Jews involved in the entertainment business, you’d think a few more than just one Hanukkah movie would exist, right? Oh well… Looks like I’m already breaking promises. Guess I’ll be getting coal this year.