2019 October Horror Month Roundup & My Top Ten

Happy Halloween! I’ve enjoyed doing Halloween Horror Month yet again but this was probably my last year. It’s too time consuming plus I’m now way behind on reviewing current non-horror movie releases. I’ve also once again watched WAY too many bad horror movies in the past year. Of those below, I only really loved the top two and thought the next few were quite good. The rest of the Top Twenty were decent enough to pass some time but my life would still be complete if I’d seen none of the rest (it might even be better!). I also have a few thrillers as well as full-on horrors on this list.

So, counting down to my favorite, here’s my ranked list of the 43 horrors & thrillers I’ve watched & reviewed since last October:

43-31:

43. Starry Eyes
42. In The Tall Grass
41. Better Watch Out
40. Winchester
39. Bird Box
38. Ghost Stories
37. Cam
36. The Love Witch
35. The Stuff
34. The Funhouse
33. Amber Lake
32. Unsane
31. Slaughterhouse Rulez

30-21:

30. Suspiria (2018)
29. The Sentinel (1977)
28. Shocker
27. The Monster (2016)
26. American Mary
25. The Legacy
24. The Addams Family (2019)
23. Happy Death Day 2U
22. Breaking In
21. Truth Or Dare

20-11:

20. Crawl
19. Curtains (1983)
18. Brightburn
17. Annabelle Comes Home
16. Repulsion
15. Greta
14. Zombieland: Double Tap
13. Pet Sematary (2019)
12. Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil
11. Searching

Top Ten:

10. Single White Female

9. Ma

8. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

7. Ready Or Not

6. Child’s Play (2019)

5. Us

4. Midsommar

3. It Chapter Two

2. Doctor Sleep

1. Deep Red (Profondo Rosso)

I did also do (very brief) reviews of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep novel and King & son Joe Hill’s short story In The Tall Grass HERE.

I keep using Deep Red imagery in this post because it’s awesome. As is the fantastic Goblin score…

Now I can move onto reviewing the non-horror 2019 releases that I saw in the past two months. Here’s what I’ll try to review over the next month:

Hustlers – 7.5/10
Judy – 7.5/10
Joker – 7.5/10
The Farewell – 7.5/10
I Am Mother – 7/10
Terminator: Dark Fate – 6.5/10 (My review for this is written – I’ll post it tomorrow)

*Yeah, I finally got myself an Unlimited cinema card. I watch way too many movies…

Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) (1975) Blind Spot Review

Deep Red (1975)
Italian: Profondo Rosso
(aka The Hatchet Murders)

Directed by Dario Argento

Starring: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Macha Meril, Eros Pagni,Giuliana Calandra

Music by Goblin & Giorgio Gaslini

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Deep Red stars Macha Meril as a medium and David Hemmings as a pianist who investigates a series of murders performed by a mysterious figure wearing black leather gloves.

My Opinion:

Happy Halloween! I thought I better finally review one of my Blind Spot choices this year so it seemed like the perfect time for Dario Argento’s Deep Red. I do try to explore a little bit of most every genre of film but my knowledge of the Italian Giallo horror thing is severely lacking. This is my third Giallo horror and I’ve only seen Argento’s movies so far; Suspiria, which I saw years ago and should really watch again, and Phenomena as a Blind Spot a few years ago. While I still think Suspiria is the best mainly due to being so iconic (and having that amazing Goblin score), Deep Red may actually be the more “enjoyable” and certainly the more accessible film. If someone was entirely new to this genre and wanted a good film to start with, I’d probably recommend this before Suspiria just because it’s a much more straightforward murder mystery and far less strange. Both are absolute must sees for film fans, though – Deep Red is just an easier starting point.

I’ll start with the obvious things that made this such an enjoyable watch for me personally: The look & the imagery, the atmosphere, and the score. These are extremely important elements to me when it comes to all films but especially for horror. I admit that I’m old but there’s just something special about the look & feel of Seventies & early Eighties horror movies that very few modern horrors manage to achieve. We do occasionally get some good ones now but it’s interesting how often they try to copy the look of old films. It never quite works, though. I appreciate things like The House Of The Devil trying to look like a Seventies or Eighties film but no modern movies ever manage to fully capture that mood and it always just feels like modern actors playing dress up (true for non-horrors too, such as American Hustle). Deep Red has a brilliant Seventies vibe. The clothing! The awful hair! The ugly decor! A stunning & creepy old abandoned mansion! Then we also get some amazing imagery, some of which I’ve posted but others that I can’t due to spoilers. We get a couple of creepy dolls (I love creepy dolls!), lots of that super bright red blood they seemed to use in Italian horror, a big sharp knife in a famous spoiler image, funky artwork on the walls, and closeups of the killer’s eye and the killer’s strange trinkets.

The imagery is fantastic but the score is just as important for setting the mood in this sort of film. I don’t know why modern movies so often seem to care so little about the score. A great score can turn a movie I like into a movie I love. Hell, I know I rated The Good, The Bad And The Ugly much more highly than I would’ve without Ennio Morricone’s masterpiece score (Italians do it better! Wasn’t that on a Madonna t-shirt?!). Goblin did the Deep Red score and I already love it along with the soundtracks for Suspiria and Dawn Of The Dead (1978), an all-time favorite film of mine. Many of my favorite films also have brilliant scores so I do think the music is important. I’ve added a clip of this Goblin score at the end of this post. Goblin feature heavily on my phone’s playlist. I know the scores to these Argento movies better than I know the movies themselves. I now want to watch every single movie that has a Goblin score (but I think a lot of them are very obscure and I’m sure the music is much better than the films).

Atmosphere & music aside, Deep Red also has a decent murder mystery as well as some good characters. David Hemmings is good and I enjoyed watching him investigate these murders, especially when he explores a lovely old mansion as the main Goblin theme below plays. Daria Nicolodi is great as the female reporter who joins Hemmings in his investigations. The two had really good chemistry and I liked her sassy attitude. She added a bit of humor to the movie, which I wasn’t expecting in a Dario Argento horror. So, while I personally always prefer the supernatural and things like witches in Suspiria to murder mysteries, I can see plenty of people actually preferring Deep Red. I’m not sure why it doesn’t seem as popular or quite as well known as Suspiria? I think Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso) is a brilliant horror classic and I’d recommend it to anyone curious about this genre. I’m glad I finally watched it as I’ve seen way too many bad horrors in 2019. Deep Red is by far my favorite of those I’ve watched in the past year.

My Rating: 8/10

Here’s part of the fantastic Goblin score. Love it. I wish movie scores were still as brilliant as they were in the Seventies & Eighties…

**As this posts, I’ll be watching Doctor Sleep. I’ll try to do at least a quick review by the end of today, although I may not have time. I love Stephen King and have very high hopes based on the trailer…

Suspiria (2018) Review

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reposting my mini-review of (well, it’s more of a rant about) the pointless 2018 remake of Italian horror classic Suspiria

Suspiria (2018)

Directed by Luca Guadagnino

Based on Suspiria by Dario Argento & Daria Nicolodi

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Angela Winkler, Alek Wek, Ingrid Caven, Elena Fokina, Sylvie Testud, Renée Soutendijk, Christine LeBoutte, Fabrizia Sacchi, Małgosia Bela, Jessica Harper, Chloë Grace Moretz

Music by Thom Yorke

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Suspiria is a 2018 supernatural horror art film directed by Luca Guadagnino with a screenplay by David Kajganich, inspired by the 1977 Italian film of the same title directed by Dario Argento. Guadagnino’s film, which is set in 1977, stars Dakota Johnson as an American woman who enrolls at a prestigious dance academy in Berlin run by a coven of witches.

My Opinion:

What. The. Actual. Fuck. Okay, I admit I’ve only seen the original Suspiria once and don’t remember much other than the Goblin score, which I fricking love and listen to regularly. I know I liked the overall vibe. I really should watch the film again. Italian horror is one of the very few genres I’ve not yet really explored. This remake is an incoherent mess. It’s laughable, especially in the final half hour. At least I was “rewarded” with a good laugh over the ending’s absolute ridiculousness after suffering through this otherwise boring thing for HOURS (2 hours & 32 fucking minutes!!!).

Why do they keep remaking films that are considered classics?! WHY?!? I don’t get it. I understand that there are fans of the giallo horror thing but don’t understand why, if people want a 2018 giallo movie, filmmakers can’t just make an original film with the same characteristics???? I’d totally watch that. Why shit on a classic’s legacy?

I think this was also disappointing as the trailer and especially the above poster (which is great!) almost made this look promising despite it starring Dakota Johnson. As much as remakes & reboots piss me off, I admit that they occasionally work and have even liked a few. I’m a fan of 2004’s Dawn Of The Dead even though the 1978 film is one of my all-time favorite movies, probably because it wasn’t a straight remake but more of a respectful & enjoyable reimagining. It almost felt as if 2018 Suspiria had zero regard for what made the original such a beloved classic for many horror fans.

I’ve read no reviews of this version but am *assuming* that those who love the original hated this and those who loved this hated or probably didn’t even see the original. I’d like to hear from anyone who loves both versions of Suspiria – I’d love to know the reasons why. I saw so many people on Horror Twitter raving about this remake so I’m actually quite confused as I thought it was a dreadful mess. Give me Mandy instead of 2018 Suspiria! It’s hard to not compare the two as they’re both pretentious artsy horror films that came out the same year and are both extremely divisive. Mandy is weird as hell but has originality and style. Suspiria tries too hard and just comes across as desperate and phoney.

I should say something nice… Um. I think Thom Yorke was a great choice to do the music for this and was one of the reasons I wanted to watch the film. The music starts out promising in the very beginning but then I no longer noticed it. I don’t know if there was less music in the second half or if I just no longer noticed it as I slowly lost the will to live. But nothing will EVER beat the original’s Goblin score anyway so why bother.

My Rating: 4.5/10

My Top Ten Horror Movie Scores & Soundtracks

A movie’s score and/or soundtrack of songs is extremely important to me as I think the right music can make a good movie into a great one or even a bad movie into a cult classic. When you think of the biggest Oscar films, almost all of them had award winning scores from highly respected composers. When I think of my own personal all-time favorite movies, the majority have brilliant scores that helped to suck me into that magical movie world that only the very best composers can help create. Can you imagine The Good, The Bad And The Ugly without Ennio Morricone’s amazing score?? (No. You cannot.)

I’m very picky when it comes to the horror genre & have loved very few horror films since the 70s & 80s. I do find it interesting that most of my all-time favorite old horrors are on this list of scores, though. It goes to show that they used to put so much more effort into these films than they do now, even down to the scores (but I do have a couple fairly current films on the list too). I think the score is even more important in horrors as the mood & atmosphere are fundamental to this genre. I don’t understand why so many modern horrors put so little effort into using a score effectively to create the right mood. Oh well – this genre is showing more promise again so maybe we’ll see a return to great horror scores.

More than anything, I love a good musical score that has been composed for a film but do also appreciate when a soundtrack of great songs, whether existing or new, are put together for a movie’s soundtrack. So my top ten will consist of scores but there are a few horror soundtracks that I really love so I didn’t want to exclude them.

Here are a few Horror Movie Soundtracks That I Love:

Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Composer: AC/DC

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Composer: Danny Elfman

The Lost Boys (1987)
Composer: Thomas Newman Score/Various Artists Soundtrack:

Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
Composer: Tyler Bates Score/Various Artists Soundtrack

And now onto My Top Ten Horror Movie Scores (and their composers):

Honorable Mentions:

The Fog (1980)
Composer: John Carpenter
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Composer: Krzysztof Komeda
The Shining (1980)
Composer: Wendy Carlos/Rachel Elkind
The Omen (1976)
Composer: Jerry Goldsmith

Top Ten:

10. It Follows (2014)
Composer: Disasterpeace

9. Suspiria (1977)
Composer: Dario Argento/Goblin

8. A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
Composer: Charles Bernstein

7. Psycho (1960)
Composer: Bernard Herrmann

6. The Thing (1982)
Composer: Ennio Morricone/John Carpenter/Alan Howarth

5. Jaws (1975)
Composer: John Williams

4. 28 Days Later… (2002)
Composer: John Murphy

3. The Exorcist (1973)
Composer: Mike Oldfield

2. Dawn Of The Dead (1978)
Composer: Goblin/Dario Argento/De Wolfe Music Library

1. Halloween (1978)
Composer: John Carpenter

Phenomena (1985) Blind Spot Review

Phenomena (1985) (aka Creepers)

Directed by Dario Argento

Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Daria Nicolodi, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Donald Pleasence, Patrick Bauchau

Music by Goblin, Claudio Simonetti, Bill Wyman, Simon Boswell, Pina Magri

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Phenomena is a 1985 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento and starring Jennifer Connelly, Daria Nicolodi, and Donald Pleasence. Its plot focuses on a young girl at a remote Swiss boarding school who discovers she has psychic powers that allow her to communicate with insects, and uses them to pursue a serial killer who is butchering young women at and around the school.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank Phenomena:

8. Phenomena – ?
7. An Education – 7/10
6. Summer Wars – 7/10
5. True Romance – 7/10
4. THX 1138 – 7.5/10
3. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
2. Battle Royale – 8/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10

I don’t have any experience with any Dario Argento films besides Suspiria or with any of the Italian “giallo” films. I’ve thought about exploring them but am pretty sure I’d find them too graphic – they don’t really look like the sort of thing for me. So this is written by someone with very little Argento knowledge & I have no idea if Phenomena is typical of his usual work or not.

This movie appealed to me as I of course like Labyrinth-era Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasence is pretty cool, the plot sounded interesting, and I’m a sucker for good cover art & like the above poster. Oh, and it’s from 1985. I’ve been wanting to see this for a long time, which is why it ended up on my Blind Spot list. I’m afraid it didn’t live up to my own hype but I’m glad I finally saw it & it’s one I think I like slightly more now, months after seeing it. It’s bizarre & I can’t honestly say it’s “good” by any means but bizarre is better than boring in my book.

I’ll say that this movie certainly doesn’t follow any Hollywood conventions (not that it would since it’s Italian, obviously) so I don’t know anyone I could recommend it to who doesn’t have a bit of an interest in film or filmmaking & wanting to explore the work of certain directors. I’m sure some fellow bloggers love this one, though, as it’s a movie blogger’s sort of film. Thinking of the ONE other Argento movie I’ve seen, Suspiria, I suppose Phenomena has a very similar structure. Actually, now that I think of it, I can see some similarities in the layout of Once Upon A Time In The West, which was co-written by Argento. What I mean by that is that I didn’t know what the hell was going on in West either (but it’s an absolutely beautiful film).

Phenomena’s plot is all over the place, to the point where it’s kind of hard to follow what’s going on. There are elements thrown in which seem completely unnecessary, like the whole thing with Connelly being able to communicate with insects. I thought that would be more important to the story but only one silly insect scene, which made no sense, seemed to be mildly important so it felt like something thrown in to make this movie sound more interesting than just a “killer is killing schoolgirls” slasher. It also unfortunately made Donald Pleasence’s character feel unnecessary as some kind of weird bug expert that Connelly just happens to stumble upon when becoming lost in the woods. Okay – I just re-read the entire plot at Wikipedia & Pleasence is a “forensic entomologist” helping work on the case of the murdered girls. Is that actually a thing? Can you use bugs to track down killers? Well, he’s in a wheelchair with a chimp as his assistant so that was cool – it reminded me of George A Romero’s Monkey Shines, which I had loads of fun reviewing HERE. Hmm… as Romero & Argento are friends, I wonder if Monkey Shines was partly inspired by this.

But I digress. As always, my reviews are all over the place. Kind of like this movie! I get the feeling that the visuals & general weirdness are more important to Argento than the plot anyway & I can appreciate that – I almost find these elements more important in a film as well. Make it an interesting enough film to look at and/or listen to and I won’t care if the plot isn’t the best (I’m thinking of movies like The Man Who Fell To Earth, which I loved but was seriously WTF). Speaking of being interesting to listen to, Argento used the great Goblin once again for the score. And he threw in some heavy metal songs which I can’t honestly say fit in AT ALL but I will never complain at an Iron Maiden song featuring very heavily in a film since that’s my favorite band. I guess the music helped add to the bizarre nature & very non-Hollywoodness of the movie. I made up a word there! I sound so professional.

I think I’m talking myself into liking this a bit more. The chimp helped – there should be more chimps in movies. I didn’t understand what the hell was going on half the time, the insect thing was honestly pretty stupid, it was a little too gory for me, and I’ve never been a big fan of slashers which show great delight in specifically killing women (which is why I know that “giallo” films probably aren’t for me). However, there are scenes I’ll never forget which is more than I can say for the majority of boring horror movies that get churned out by Hollywood with all its Hollywoodness. The visuals are interesting, the silly ending that turns this into something more like a typical American slasher like Friday The 13th, etc, has really grown on me as I think that’s what Argento was actually aiming for, there’s some Goblin & IRON MAIDEN!!!, there’s Dr. Sam Loomis & the President of the United States, there’s Jennifer Connelly’s eyebrows, and there’s a chimp. Who cares about the plot when you have all of these things?? Okay, I’m upping my rating by half a point. I’ve talked myself into liking this f*^ked-up movie.

My Rating: 7/10

**Here’s Iron Maiden’s Flash Of The Blade, which was used so heavily in this film that I’ll now never hear it without seeing Jennifer Connelly’s face…

And here are two interesting facts that I just read in IMDB trivia:

– “The film was inspired to Dario Argento after he learned that insects are sometimes used during murder investigations.” – Okay, so I guess that’s an actual thing.

– “Jennifer Connelly had part of her finger bitten off by the chimpanzee in the final scene at the end of the film. She was rushed to the hospital and the finger was re-attached.” – DAMN! I don’t like that chimp so much anymore.