My Top Ten Stephen King Books

Happy Birthday to Stephen King, who turns 70 today!

Welcome to Day Four of Stephen King Week. I’m posting something King-related all week. One book review (End Of Watch), two movie reviews (including 2017’s It), and two Top Ten lists (including My Top Ten Stephen King Movies). Today I’m posting my list of My Top Ten Stephen King Books.

I love Stephen King’s books, which I’ve been reading ever since the age of about 12 when a friend let me borrow his Night Shift short story collection during study hall. I was immediately hooked. That version had the hand with the eyeballs on the cover (from the creepy short story I Am the Doorway):

It’s funny how the brain works: I remember the short stories in Night Shift as if I read them yesterday while I have trouble remembering some of King’s stuff that I read in later years. I suppose it’s a combination of it being a damn good book & the fact that we often seem to have a good memory for the things we loved in our formative years.

Anyway, I’ve always loved King’s short stories & novellas just as much as his full length novels so I don’t want to ignore the collections in this post. As they’d be too difficult to “rank” alongside one-story novels, my below list is a ranking of only King’s full-length fictional novels. But I’m going to talk a little about each of his short story collections at the end of this post too (Well, hell – there are ten so I suppose I can “rank” the collections as well. Oh I do love making lists!). 😉

First, here are My Top Ten Stephen King Full-Length Novels. As always, though, I’m doing a full ranking from least favorite to favorite book and I’ve read 37 in total. Here we go!

The Rest That I’ve Read

37. Dreamcatcher
36. The Regulators
35. Desperation (I honestly can’t remember which is which of The Regulators & Desperation – I barely remember either of them)
34. The Tommyknockers
33. Bag Of Bones
32. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
31. Dolores Claiborne (Could do with re-reading)

Top Thirty:

30. Finders Keepers
29. From A Buick 8
28. The Dark Half
27. Under The Dome
26. Blaze
25. Gerald’s Game
24. Thinner
23. Revival
22. Lisey’s Story
21. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger

Top Twenty:

20. Duma Key
19. Doctor Sleep
18. Cujo
17. Insomnia
16. End Of Watch
15. Rose Madder
14. Misery
13. Pet Sematary
12. Needful Things
11. The Running Man

Top Ten:

10. 11/22/63

9. Cell (I know I have this too high & will probably change my mind over time. I’ll be reviewing the movie tomorrow so will talk a little about the book too.)

8. Joyland

7. Mr. Mercedes

6. The Long Walk

5. The Shining

4. It

3. The Green Mile

2. ‘Salem’s Lot

1. The Dead Zone

Need To Re-Read:

Rage & Roadwork (I don’t remember them at all) & The Stand. I must have read three quarters of The Stand in my twenties then got too busy in life & took so long to get back to it that I’d have to start from the beginning again. It’s… long! It was great so I still regret not finishing.

Not Read:

Carrie, Firestarter, Christine, Cycle Of The Werewolf, The Talisman, The Eyes Of The Dragon, The Dark Tower Series (other than Book 1), The Plant, Black House, The Colorado Kid, Sleeping Beauties (book coming soon)

Now here are My Top Ten Stephen King Short Story & Novella Collections (ranked from least favorite to favorite). I’ve included my favorite stories from each collection as well:

10. Full Dark, No Stars: Big Driver & A Good Marriage. It’s weird that I don’t remember this collection that well when it’s not that old. I liked A Good Marriage but somehow didn’t even remember I’d read it until I was halfway through watching the film

9. Everything’s Eventual: 1408 is the only story I really remember from this collection. It’s a good one (and decent movie adaptation, as well).

8. Hearts In Atlantis: The story Hearts In Atlantis was very good but I somehow don’t remember the slightest thing about the other stories in this book…

7. Just After Sunset: Willa, The Gingerbread Girl, Stationary Bike, The Things They Left Behind, Graduation Afternoon. Looks like I remember quite a few, so obviously a pretty strong collection.

6. Skeleton Crew: The Mist (could do with re-reading), The Monkey, The Raft & The Jaunt (this last one haunts me to this day).

5. Four Past Midnight: The Langoliers, Secret Window Secret Garden & The Sun Dog (this creeped me the hell out). These stories were great but perhaps my absolute least favorite story of King’s is also in this book: The Library Policeman. Urgh.

4. Different Seasons: The book where only The Breathing Method didn’t become a movie because, seriously, that would NOT work as a film…! The Body became the brilliant Stand By Me, Apt Pupil was turned into an okay film, and it’s obvious what movie came from Rita Hayworth And Shawshank Redemption. I worship that film. Is it time to confess that it’s the only story in this collection that I can’t bring myself to read as I love the film so much? There. I’ve admitted it.

3. Nightmares & Dreamscapes: The End Of The Whole Mess, Chattery Teeth, You Know They Got A Hell Of A Band, Sorry Right Number, Crouch End. Another really strong collection I remember well despite it being fairly old now. It might help that several of these were made into shorts for the TV series.

2. The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams: The Dune, Ur, Under The Weather, Drunken Fireworks, Summer Thunder. A really recent book I was very happy with after King’s collections from more recent years have been a bit weak compared to his oldest stuff. And I reviewed every single story in full (I’m a nerd).

1. Night Shift: Jerusalem’s Lot, The Ledge, Children Of The Corn, The Last Rung On The Ladder. I love this book so much. My introduction to King & still possibly my favorite book overall. I think he writes fantastic short stories (as does his son Joe Hill, FYI – I highly recommend 20th Century Ghosts). Children Of The Corn is really good (I think it was a hard one to translate to film without it ending up as cheesy as it did). The Last Rung On The Ladder is heartbreaking and possibly the one that most got me hooked on his work (odd, considering it’s a non-horror). Actually, it was Last Rung as well as Jerusalem’s Lot that got me hooked. Jerusalem’s Lot is a story set in the same town as in Salem’s Lot, which I have very high on my novel list. I remember actually almost enjoying the shorter story even more. Sometimes less is more.

People skip these short stories & novellas sometimes but they really shouldn’t be ignored. I think there’s almost more skill to making a short story really good (which is why my posts are always too long. I’m no writer! Blah blah blah. I need to get to the point).

Phew. I think I’ve covered everything? I’ve read none of King’s Nonfiction but Danse Macabre does sound interesting.

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It (2017) Review

Welcome to Day Three of Stephen King Week! King turns 70 tomorrow so I’m posting something King-related all week. One book review (End Of Watch), two movie reviews, and two Top Ten lists (including My Top Ten Stephen King Movies). Today I’m reviewing the recent It film.

It (2017)

Directed by Andy Muschietti

Based on It by Stephen King

Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Nicholas Hamilton, Jackson Robert Scott

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of seven children in Derry, Maine, who are terrorized by the eponymous being, only to face their own personal demons in the process.

My Opinion:

Is it weird that I’m so happy that this film is kicking ass at the box office?? I just love it when one of King’s books actually gets a good film adaptation and, even better, when it gets a lot of really positive reviews. I did a list yesterday of My Top Ten Stephen King Movies (this film was at number five if you don’t feel like clicking that link). I admitted in that list that, while I always watch & enjoy all adaptations of King’s work, some of the movies have been pretty damn awful. But then we occasionally get masterpieces like The Shawshank Redemption & Stand By Me to make up for the bad ones. It (the film – such a confusing title!) isn’t quite up there with the likes of those two but I’m very happy to say that it’s easily one of the better Stephen King movies of the many that have been made. Yes! I love when the movies do his novels justice.

You’ve all probably seen reviews by now that compare this to Stand By Me and that’s a very accurate description. Stand By Me with added horror, of course. Like that, this is a coming of age tale first and foremost and I’ve always loved a good coming of age tale. That’s why I’m actually a bit surprised that this film has done as well as it has as I can’t see it being loved by full-on “horror” fans. Pennywise the clown is a great creation but I have to say that I don’t find either this or the 1990 version scary. The book is a bit unsettling but I wouldn’t say that feeling fully translated to the films. I’ve never been one to get too scared by movies, though. As far as “creepy” goes, Kubrick’s The Shining certainly has this film (and pretty much every other horror film) beat. It’s a shame that King hates that adaptation – I think it’s one of the greatest horror films of all time.

I think the main difference between the 1990 It and the 2017 It is that Tim Curry’s Pennywise is the true star of the 1990 film while the kids are what make the 2017 version so good. I think this version has done things right in focusing more on the kids & their relationships with one another. I will always be fond of the 1990 film & prefer Curry’s Pennywise to Bill Skarsgård’s somewhat dull (and a little too funny-looking) Pennywise. It felt like Curry was truly having fun in the role & his Pennywise had far more personality. But… This story is about the kids. It’s about all kids who felt like “losers” when growing up. Pennywise shouldn’t really be stealing the show and I’m glad this version gets the balance right in making the kids the stars while also giving us just enough of the monster to keep the story interesting.

The kids all did a great job in this film. As has been said, It has a very Stranger Things feel to it. But of course it would since The Duffer Brothers wanted to make It but went on to instead make Stranger Things, which is meant to feel like King meets Spielberg. Plus It used one of the same actors from that show (Finn Wolfhard, who bizarrely looks like The Shining’s Shelley Duvall). I have to say that the girl playing Beverly (Sophia Lillis) was especially good. She’s like a young Amy Adams (which is a compliment as I love Adams). I’d be surprised if Lillis, as well as most of the rest of this young cast, doesn’t go on to become a big star. However, I’m so glad they AREN’T big stars yet as having a cast of relatively unknown actors was a huge plus for this movie (in my opinion, anyway). I loved not having the distraction of having seen them in a million other things.


I do have to admit that the time period this is set in (1989 into 1990) was another huge plus for me in a way that may not work as well for the current younger generation. Or maybe that doesn’t matter? I loved Stand By Me & 1990’s It even though those kids were living in the late 1950s. I suppose the coming of age dramas tend to transcend their time period as kids that age still go through all the same sort of emotions. Although I found it kind of hilarious/scary reading this article about how the film’s director had to start a “bicycle camp” to teach these pre/early teen actors how to ride bikes for the film(!!).

But oh how I loved seeing kids the same age as me in this movie’s ’89/’90 time period. Well, sort of… I was the age of the slightly older bullies back then. And, like the bullies, I was also a huge fan of Anthrax. Anthrax! There’s an Anthrax song in this movie!!! But I’ll come back to that at the end of this review – I just want to point out that I was more like the kids being bullied than the ones doing the bullying, even though I was a metalhead. 😉 And I had way too much fun seeing the movie marquees in the film’s background accurately portraying the movie releases of that time (god I’m a nerd). And I enjoyed the fact that I could almost hear a massive WHOOSH in the cinema as the New Kids On The Block jokes went right over the heads of those in the audience. Not that I liked NKOTB… Anthrax!!! Oh, and there are lots of fun Easter Eggs in this film so, if you’re a King fan, be on the lookout for them. And read the IMDb trivia for the movie afterwards – there’s loads of fascinating info there.

I think I should try to wrap this up now or I’ll just continue to ramble on for ages. I’m clearly very happy with this adaptation of a favorite book by my absolute favorite author. The kids are fantastic, their characters are likeable (so rare in horror movies), there’s some Anthrax (and a few other soundtrack gems I won’t mention to keep some surprises), there’s a creepy clown who isn’t quite as cool as Tim Curry but still does the job, there are Stephen King and 1989/1990 pop culture references, poor little brother Georgie is still a cutie pie, “that” controversial scene from the book is thankfully again left out of the film, Sophia Lillis has true star power, the kids are the stars instead of the clown, this sentence is really long, and last but not least: this movie doesn’t rely on cheap horror movie “jump scares”. That’s not to say there aren’t some jumpy moments but I was impressed with how well the horror was handled. I especially loved the slideshow scene, which references a fantastic King novella in Four Past Midnight that really gave me the creeps. It focuses on telling its story and on its characters then it focuses on the horror. That’s what makes this a good film instead of yet another bland & predictable horror movie with expendable characters. I can’t wait to see the next film now, which will feature the kids as adults. However, as with the scenes involving the grown-ups in the 1990 film, I think the second film won’t have the same kind of magic as this one. There’s a special sort of innocence in these coming of age films and the ones that really capture that feeling end up being all-time favorites for some people. I know Stand By Me was that way for me when I was growing up & I can see It being that way for a new generation.

My Rating: 8.5/10

**Back to Anthrax, as promised**

As I said, I was a big Anthrax fan in my high school days and the fact that they had an Anthrax song & t-shirt in this movie filled me with such boring old-fart joy. I’ll assume they were used on purpose as they were always big fans of Stephen King and their songs so often referenced his work (such as The Stand in Among The Living & Misery in Misery Loves Company). I bet Anthrax are happy as f*%k that their song Antisocial is in a Stephen King film. And this was possibly my favorite song of theirs at the time, being the socially awkward misfit that I was (am). Anthrax!!! \m/ 🙂

My Top Ten Stephen King Movies

Welcome to Day Two of Stephen King Week! King turns 70 on Thursday so I’m going to post something King-related all week. One book review (End Of Watch, yesterday), two movie reviews (including the new It film tomorrow), and two Top Ten lists. Here’s my list of My Top Ten Stephen King Movies.

I love when Stephen King’s novels are made into movies, even though some of the films have been atrociously bad. But I do my best to watch every adaptation that I can, and… Holy shit – I’ve watched a lot. I think this is the longest list I’ve ever done since I now choose to rank everything that I’ve seen instead of just the top ten. Wait – I lie! My list of My Top “Ten” Best Picture Oscar Winners is slightly longer. But not much.

For this list, I’ve excluded TV shows & most straight-to-TV mini-series(es?!). I cheated & included It (1990) & Salem’s Lot (1979), however. They’re so good we’ll pretend they were theatrical releases (which they actually were in the UK, I think). Some others may have been TV – hard to remember. Enough faffing! Let’s start this countdown.

Here are My Top Ten Stephen King Movies (from least favorite to favorite & not judging on if they’re “loyal” to the book). I could do with re-watching a lot outside the top twenty so don’t take the order of those too seriously… 😉

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

42. The Mangler
41. Sleepwalkers
40. The Lawnmower Man (WTF? Shares only the title.)
39. Dolan’s Cadillac
38. Rose Red
37. The Night Flier (Don’t really remember this)
36. Sometimes They Come Back
35. Dreamcatcher (Why, Morgan?!)
34. Quicksilver Highway
33. Desperation (Also don’t really remember)
32. Cell
31. Storm Of The Century
30. A Good Marriage
29. Carrie (2013)
28. The Dark Half
27. Apt Pupil
26. Dolores Claiborne (Could do with re-watching)
25. Thinner
24. Secret Window
23. Needful Things
22. The Langoliers
21. Hearts In Atlantis (I need to re-watch this – it probably deserves to be higher)

Top Twenty:

20. Christine (Again, I could do with re-watching this)
19. 1408
18. Firestarter
17. Cujo (Although the complete change of ending was odd)
16. Maximum Overdrive (I like this more than I should. The soundtrack helps.)
15. Children Of The Corn (I like this. Not ashamed. Malachai!)
14. Creepshow 1 & 2 (I could do with re-watching. To be honest, I’m not sure which is which so stuck them together)
13. Misery (I know this should be higher)
12. Silver Bullet (I know this should be lower but, you know, it has one of the Two Coreys…)
11. Cat’s Eye

Top Ten:

10. The Running Man

9. ‘Salem’s Lot

8. The Dead Zone

7. Pet Sematary

6. The Mist

5. TIE: It (1990) & It (2017) (In all honesty, the 2017 adaptation is the superior film but I’ll always have affection for the 1990 version and, of course, Tim Curry)

4. The Green Mile

3. Carrie

2. The Shining

1. TIE: Stand By Me & The Shawshank Redemption (Sorry. Don’t make me choose between them!)

Movies Not Seen:
Graveyard Shift, Tales From The Darkside: The Movie, Children Of The Corn II through VIII & TV Movie, Sometimes They Come Back…Again & …For More, Trucks, The Rage: Carrie 2, Firestarter 2, Carrie (2002), The Diary Of Ellen Rimbauer, Riding The Bullet, ‘Salem’s Lot (2004), Big Driver, The Dark Tower

TV Series/TV Movies:

Seen:
Golden Years, The Tommyknockers, The Stand, The Shining (1997), Nightmares & Dreamscapes, Haven (Saw most of. Stopped watching when it stopped being pretty damn good.)

Didn’t finish:
Under The Dome (Started. Stopped. Not bothered. Hated the book’s characters.), The Dead Zone (2002) (Saw most of this. Pretty good show. Need to finish.), 11.22.63 (Started. Just don’t have the time to devote to TV shows nowadays.)

Not Seen:
Bag Of Bones, Kingdom Hospital, Mr. Mercedes, The Mist (2017), Various short stories…

**I cannot WAIT for Castle Rock to start up as I adore King’s short stories & want to see more of them made! But it’s gonna air on this Hulu thingymabob so who the hell knows how/when/if I’ll ever see that in the UK… 😦

End Of Watch by Stephen King (Book Review)

Welcome to Stephen King Week! King turns 70 on Thursday so I’m going to post something King-related these next five days. One book review, two movie reviews, and two Top Ten lists. Here’s my review of his novel End Of Watch.

End Of Watch by Stephen King (Part III of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy)

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
Retired Detective Bill Hodges now runs a two-person firm called Finders Keepers with his partner Holly Gibney. They met in the wake of the ‘Mercedes Massacre’ when a queue of people was run down by the diabolical killer Brady Hartsfield.

Brady is now confined to Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, in an unresponsive state. But all is not what it seems: the evidence suggests that Brady is somehow awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.

The clock is ticking in unexpected ways …

My Thoughts:

I previously reviewed the first two books in this trilogy: Mr. Mercedes (HERE) & Finders Keepers (HERE). The first book is still the best but I enjoyed this final book much more than the one in the middle, which didn’t feature enough of our main Mr. Mercedes characters. It was good to again have Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney & Jerome Robinson as the stars of this one. Oh, and Brady Hartsfield, of course. The wanker.

I love King most when he’s doing his “supernatural thing”. Give me the weird stuff! So Mr. Mercedes being a straightforward crime novel wasn’t really my type of thing. However, he developed these really enjoyable characters who work so well together and it was such a good story that Mr. Mercedes is fairly high up on my list of my favorite King books (But does it make it into the top ten? You’ll find out on Thursday when I rank all 47 King books that I’ve read 😉 ).

I’d heard that this final book was a supernatural one so I was very much looking forward to reading it. I have to say that, yes, it was a little strange to go from crime drama to supernatural horror but I suppose King decided to end on what he does best. The story itself is fine. King has certainly had better stories within this genre so End Of Watch isn’t going to be one that really stands out compared to his very best books. I also felt that the story ended too easily & abruptly. We needed a bigger “end” (I won’t spoil what happens) to the story of Brady Hartsfield. He’s such a bastard, we needed a little something more than what we got at the end.

But the thing that has made this such a good trilogy, the characters & their relationships with each other, is done pretty well in this final book and I’m happy with the “end” we had for Bill, Holly & Jerome’s friendship. I’m especially fond of Holly, although she’s probably a love her or hate her character for some. What can I say? I can relate to her socially awkward weirdness! And she’s a movie geek – I gotta love that.

King doesn’t exactly do anything too unusual or original with these characters but you can’t help but like them. I know it may seem unrealistic or “contrived” sometimes but I want to like the characters in a story. If I don’t give a shit about the characters, I’m unlikely to care about the story. For example: I recently watched The Lobster & The Wave (the 2015 Norwegian disaster flick). The Lobster is extremely original and well regarded by critics while The Wave is a predictable disaster film. I far preferred The Wave, which spent far more time on its characters than you usually get within the disaster genre. I quickly grew bored of The Lobster’s quirk and didn’t care what would happen to anyone. I suppose that makes me mainstream. But so does liking Stephen King. I don’t care – I want to be entertained & King has managed to keep this fan happy for a good 30 years now. End Of Watch isn’t going to change the world or win any awards. It probably ranks somewhere in the middle of all his books if ranked on “quality” but, overall, this was a fun & memorable trilogy thanks to the characters King created.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Books I’ve Read So Far In 2017 (ranked from least favorite to favorite…)

– Tape by Steven Camden
– The Sisters by Claire Douglas
– We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
– If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Circle by Dave Eggers
– The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
– The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
– Blaze by Stephen King
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
– A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
– End Of Watch by Stephen King
– Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
– Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
– All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

**Currently reading some more of King’s son’s work: The Fireman by Joe Hill

Stephen King Week At CPD

Hi all! Starting on Monday, I’ve decided to do a Stephen King Week on my blog. King turns 70 next week so I’m going to post something King-related Monday through Friday. One book review, two movie reviews (including the new It film), and two Top Ten lists. Unlike certain political leaders, I’m a huge fan of Stephen King. I hope to chat with some fellow fans next week. 🙂

R.I.P. George A. Romero 

I was very sad to hear of George A. Romero’s passing. He’s a true master of horror and his Dead films have never been topped, although many have tried to copy them.

I’ve always wanted to review Night, Dawn & Day Of The Dead but never have as I always struggle to write about my all-time favorite films. Dawn Of The Dead is one of a very small handful of horrors that I consider to be all around favorite films despite being within the horror genre. I’m sad now that the only Romero film I’ve reviewed is Monkey Shines (which was a lot of fun to review!). It’s certainly no Dawn Of The Dead, though, which has topped many top ten lists that I’ve posted (such as My Top Ten Horror Movies & My Top Ten Horror Movie Quotes). Heck, I even managed to review the Dawn Of The Dead remake for Mike over at Screenkicker. Yet no review of the original. The best. I’ve never reviewed Romero’s TRUE ZOMBIE CLASSICS Night Of The Living Dead & Dawn Of The Dead. Or Day Of The Dead! Also love Day. And now we’re stuck watching the inferior The Walking Dead while humanity turns into a Romero mall zombie. The horror legends are dying. It sucks.

Rest in peace George Andrew Romero
February 4, 1940 – July 16, 2017

Oh, here’s an odd recommendation but Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, has a great short story in his collection 20th Century Ghosts called Bobby Conroy Comes Back From The Dead. It’s a love story, of sorts, between two extras on the set of Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead. Loved it! I highly recommend the entire book – it’s a fantastic short story collection.

**Seriously? I just finish this post then read that Martin Landau has died as well. I must admit that I didn’t know him from much but did love him as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood. His Oscar for that was well deserved!

Rest in peace Martin Landau
June 20, 1928 – July 15, 2017

Get Out (2017) Review

Get Out (2017)

Directed & Written by Jordan Peele

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, Lakeith Stanfield, Catherine Keener

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Get Out follows a young interracial couple who visit the mysterious estate of the woman’s parents.

My Opinion:

Get Out was a pretty good and enjoyable film, especially for something from the “horror” genre (90% of modern horror movies suck). Then again, it’s not exactly your typical shitty, slasher-type crap. It had some thought put into it, a decent script & acting, and some likable characters. It also feels somewhat original compared to the usual stale horror movie crap that Hollywood pumps out. However, I don’t think it’s as groundbreaking as I’d expected from the little I had read of it. To be fair, I’m old & watch too many movies so I’m harder to impress but I do feel like I’ve seen this movie a few times already, just with a different spin.

Okay, I can’t do this completely spoiler-free. HUBBY – STOP READING HERE. (He hates even the tiniest spoilers). I’m not exactly going to spoil this movie but I AM going to name a few movies this film immediately brought to my mind as I watched it. So, if you’ve seen them, I guess that spoils this one for you. I’d already heard this movie compared to one specific film when skimming some reviews & it ruined it a bit as it meant the ending wasn’t really a surprise to me. So, SLIGHT SPOILERS NOW:

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This is very much The Stepford Wives (with racism instead of sexism) and I wish I hadn’t read that beforehand. However, I think updating the concept behind The Stepford Wives was actually a good idea & it worked very well in Get Out. I’ve always liked The Stepford Wives (and, bizarrely, The Stepford Children, a cheesy 1987 TV movie that I was obsessed with at the time & reviewed HERE). The other two movies I was reminded of were two guilty pleasures: the body horror classic Society (which I sort-of-reviewed HERE) and the super cheesy but kind of fun The Skeleton Key (which unfortunately has Kate Hudson in it. Ew). Between those three movies, you have Get Out. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing as plenty of movies are influenced by others and Get Out is certainly a better film than The Skeleton Key, is probably better although less memorable than Society, and is a worthy homage to the Stepford films.

I’m not going to ramble on about this film. It’s had excellent reviews & a lot of people really loved it. I can understand why as it’s a well-written social commentary with some fun comic relief provided by the dog-sitting friend. The acting was better than you get in your standard sort of horrors (just Allison Williams was weak) and I really liked the tone & use of music. But I still feel like this story has been done before & the movie is probably getting a little more hype than is deserved just because of its message. And I prefer to think the message is “Rich people are assholes”. Right??? I think that’s something we can all agree on. Yeah. Rich people. Rich people suck. 😉

There is one very important life lesson that I gained from this film: Bangs (or a fringe as they call it in the UK) do NOT suit everyone. Allison Williams, you gotta grow that shit out. That was a very bad decision.

My Rating: 7/10

Split (2016) Review

**SPOILER-FREE (and meaningless rambling) REVIEW**

Split (2016)

Directed & Written by M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Brad William Henke, Sebastian Arcelus, Neal Huff

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After three girls are kidnapped by a man with 24 distinct personalities they must find some of the different personalities that can help them while running away and staying alive from the others.

My Opinion:

This is one of those movies where I walked out of the cinema not entirely sure how I felt about it. At first, I mainly thought it was just okay. But the more I thought about it, the more I disliked it. Now, writing this a day after seeing it, I think my main feeling for Split is disappointment. I didn’t hate it. I certainly didn’t love it. A return to form for M. Night Shyamalan? Possibly. But it’s mainly a return to his ability to make movies I’m really interested in seeing as I love the setups and I do enjoy them when I’m in the middle of watching them but, thinking about them later on, I realize they’re not actually very good films (other than The Sixth Sense, to which I still remain faithful).

I think I feel quite similar about Split as I do The Visit (which I reviewed HERE), although they’re very different. I don’t think either is a horrible film and they’re indeed much better than some of M. Night’s huge stinkers in recent years but both are still extremely flawed, especially in their final acts. Split is probably the “better” film in that it’s played straight with some acting that’s of a higher standard than you expect in the horror genre while The Visit is so over-the-top silly that I’m still convinced it’s a horror comedy despite not being labelled as such. But I think Split has made me like The Visit a fraction more in that the latter was a more enjoyable film to sit through despite its silliness. Let’s face it – M. Night’s ideas are silly. Perhaps he should do them in a more comedic fashion as he did in The Visit?? Split takes itself too seriously. The characters are unlikable whereas those in The Visit are so goofily f*%ked-up that you can’t help but kind of like them. Does that make sense?? I’m rambling. Here are all the Shyamalan films I’ve seen ranked from worst to best according to how much I liked them (including one he only wrote):

Lady In The Water
The Happening
Devil
Split
The Visit
Signs
Unbreakable
The Village
The Sixth Sense

Shut up and talk about the movie, right? You know how hard it is to discuss this dude’s films in a spoiler-free fashion! One thing I’ll say for his movies is this: The majority of them have pretty big name stars and some quality acting despite the horror genre and the often outrageous storylines. I think this has helped to give Shyamalan’s films a bit more credibility than is actually deserved?

As I said, I stand by my opinion that The Sixth Sense is a good piece of filmmaking although people are sometimes negative about it now since the ending is so well known. But everyone involved acted their asses off for that “horror” film (don’t forget that Collette & Osment were up for Acting Oscars as well as Shyamalan for Director & Screenplay and the whole thing for Best Picture!). I don’t think Split’s acting is Oscar calibre but it’s still very good for its kind of film. McAvoy is of course the standout having to play various personalities but I also thought his psychiatrist, Betty Buckley, was very good as was young Anya Taylor-Joy (this is her first film I’ve seen). Oh! And I loved finding out that Betty Buckley was the nice gym teacher in the original Carrie – I didn’t know that until I looked her up just now:

So, bravo to the actors who once again help to elevate an M. Night Shyamalan film. Without them, I think this would be very much in danger of being a bargain bin straight-to-video horror (okay – it’s not straight to “video” anymore, I suppose. Showing my age!). Thanks to the success of The Sixth Sense, I think Shyamalan has been able to continue making films that are just good enough to keep him in the game. I want to like his movies more. I like his ideas but rarely like his execution. I want one of his movies to fully reach its potential (funny, as I do believe this is a line quite often uttered by McAvoy’s character). I also want to stick to my 2017 blog resolution of not writing long, rambling reviews! Let’s wrap this up.

Summary:

Split isn’t horrible and has some very good performances but is as ultimately disappointing overall as I’ve now come to expect from M. Night Shyamalan’s films. I can see why it has a fairly high IMDB user rating so far as this will either be due to a) loyal fans who’ve watched all his films as he has a surprise in store for them OR b) full-on “horror” fans as this is the most straightforward horror film that Shyamalan has made. It’s more straightforward horror than I like, personally, so perhaps that’s partly why I was disappointed. I prefer bizarre & supernatural, which is why I’ve put up with a lot of the silly shit he’s come up with. So, in some ways, I do agree that this film is a better film than a lot of his work but I personally didn’t like it that much.

Also, two things quite bothered me. The main thing was that I didn’t like some of the treatment of the kidnapped teenage girls. Shyamalan mostly makes “PG-13 horror”. That’s its rating in the U.S. but I wouldn’t let a 13-year-old watch this (it’s rated 15 in the UK). Obviously I want to avoid spoilers but there are sexual themes that I don’t think are necessarily handled that well considering the film’s low rating & young-looking actresses. There’s also an implication that two of the girls “deserve” what terrible fate may await them because, I dunno… They’re popular? They don’t come across as really mean girls or anything.

The other thing is more minor but it just annoyed me. There’s an extra bit tacked onto the VERY end of the movie, as the credits have started to roll with the final scene still going, and it feels extremely out of place. This bit should’ve been a mid or end credits scene. This extra bit is for loyal fans and some of you will love it. Half those in my cinema walked out the second the credits started rolling despite the scene clearly still continuing (why the hell do people do that?!) so those type of people clearly don’t care about this small extra bit anyway. Hey, Mr. Shyamalan! Stick something like that halfway through the credits next time to reward those who stick around! (FYI – I rolled my eyes a bit at this tacked-on scene but also admit I kind of like Shyamalan’s obvious future plan…. Why do I never give up on his films?!)

My Rating: 6/10

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (Book Review)

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Batoru Rowaiaru
Japanese: バトル・ロワイアル

What It’s About: (via Wikipedia)
The story tells of junior high school students who are forced to fight each other to the death in a program run by the authoritarian Japanese government, now known as the Republic of Greater East Asia.

My Thoughts:

I watched the Battle Royale movie as one of my Blind Spot choices this year (review HERE). I really liked it but my one complaint was that it felt a bit more “shallow” than I’d been expecting. So I picked up the (very thick!) book in the hopes that I’d get more of an in-depth look into why these children are being forced to fight to the death and to also get to know the characters and their motivations a bit better. I now have to say that reading the book if you’ve already seen the movie isn’t necessarily needed…

Don’t get me wrong – I liked the book a lot so I don’t feel like I wasted my time on this (very thick!) novel. I did get to know the characters better, especially the main three that are followed (Shuya Nanahara, Noriko Nakagawa & Shogo Kawada). It was also cool to get a good few pages or sometimes even several chapters (mostly on the best friends of our main character) devoted to each and every one of the 42 students in the Battle Royale program.

However, the film is quite faithful to the book & I didn’t learn much more than I did from the movie. And what did get changed for the film actually worked for the better, I think. This was especially true of the changes to the man in charge of the group, Kinpatsu Sakamochi. I was surprised to find, in the novel, that he actually has no prior attachment in any way to these students while there’s an interesting link in the film. Also, the film pushes the girl (Noriko Nakagawa) front and center a bit more while she’s the least-developed of the main characters in the book & it’s very much the boy (Shuya Nanahara) who is the star. The book’s male characters are better developed overall than its females are but, again, I did appreciate getting to know the extra characters in the book as the movie obviously couldn’t devote time to all 42 of them.

All in all, Battle Royale is a thoroughly entertaining (and gory) book & film. It has a message of sorts but I feel it’s sort of lost in the gore. I can now see why Quentin Tarantino loves the film as it feels like violence for the sake of violence. I do now have to admit that The Hunger Games is indeed very close plot-wise in so many ways that it’s understandable why Battle Royale fans called that series a rip-off. The Hunger Games is Battle-Royale-Lite, though – both are considered Young Adult in their country of origin but the violence is far more excessive in this novel. Just a warning – I doubt anyone will be handing this book over to their 13-year-old to read anyway. I feel kind of “bad” for enjoying this one as the violence seems excessive. But I really liked the main characters & getting to know all the other students, the action and pacing worked well, it was a fairly quick read (despite being very thick!), and that whole Lord Of The Flies setup is still an intriguing one. But you really can just watch the movie if you don’t fancy the (really thick!) novel.

My Rating: 4/5

Revival by Stephen King (Book Review)

*I’m taking it easier on blogging so am re-posting some mini book reviews I did in one long post HERE at the start of this year. Here’s my mini-review of Revival by Stephen King…

Revival by Stephen King

What It’s About: (from StephenKing.com)

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs—including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of 13, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties—addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate—Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that “revival” has many meanings.

My Thoughts:

Stephen King is and always will be my favorite author so I’m going to put a book of his fairly high on any list (I ranked it 5th on my list HERE of the 14 books I read in 2015). I’ll say that this isn’t one of his best (it probably ranks somewhere in the lower middle for me if I were to do a list of all the King books I’ve read).

I find that I’m quite often a little disappointed with how King’s books end and this one has the same problem of starting out great but then kind of fizzling out at the end.

However, King once again draws a very detailed picture of small town American life which I can always relate to in his books and what makes me love his work so much. I was very much drawn into this small town where a young boy and tragic preacher reside. I just wish these two main characters had remained as interesting in the second half of the book as they grew older (the book spans many years).

Well, I enjoyed it anyway – read it if you love King. I enjoyed it more than his son Joe Hill’s book NOS4A2, which I read at the same sort of time, but will admit that Hill’s book was probably actually a little better than this one. *Note to add: I’ve read even more Hill books now and he’s great! But I still love his father’s books more and likely always will…

My Rating: 3.5/5

Note to add: I’ve also done a new review of King’s Mr Mercedes, which I read recently. I’ll be posting that tomorrow. 

Florence & Giles by John Harding (Book Review) 

*I’m taking a little blog break so am re-posting some mini book reviews I did in one long post HERE at the start of this year. Here’s my mini-review of Florence & Giles…

Florence & Giles by John Harding

What It’s About: (via Goodreads)

In 1891, in a remote and crumbling New England mansion, 12-year-old orphan Florence and her younger brother are neglected by her guardian uncle. Banned from reading, Florence devours books in secret and talks to herself—and narrates her story—in a unique language of her own invention. By night, she sleepwalks the corridors and is troubled by a recurrent dream in which a mysterious woman appears to threaten her younger brother Giles.

After the sudden violent death of the children’s first governess, a second teacher, Miss Taylor, arrives, and immediately strange phenomena begin to occur. Florence becomes convinced that the new governess is a malevolent spirit who means to do Giles harm. Against this powerful enemy, Florence must use all her intelligence and ingenuity to protect her little brother and preserve her private world.

My Thoughts:

I grabbed this from the library as I’d been wanting to read it for a while based on The Times quote on the front cover: “Imagine The Turn Of The Screw reworked by Edgar Allan Poe”. It sounded like it would be all gothic & atmospheric but it was pretty disappointing.

A young girl in the late 1800s must protect her younger brother from a sinister & otherworldly new governess after the mysterious death of the previous woman who cared for them. The girl (and narrator if I remember correctly??) isn’t allowed to read but teaches herself & reads loads of books in secret. It’s caused her to develop a strange sort of language of her own and having to read the book with all her odd words took some getting used to (and was slightly annoying).

The girl also isn’t that easy to like and the book is extremely slow until finally picking up in the final half. It was a good story but not a very fun read. I actually think it could make for a great film if the right people were involved.

My Rating: 2.5/5

My Blog’s October 2016 Horror Month Recap

Hi all! Happy November! October’s month of horror-related posts is always fun but I’m also happy to move on once the month finishes. So let’s just have a quick recap of the 31 horror movie reviews & four horror top tens that I posted in October. 🙂

POSTS

My Most Popular Post: My Top Ten Crazy Ladies In Movies. This was by far my most-viewed post. It was a hard list to do as there have been so many fantastic actresses playing the “crazy” thing brilliantly. Plus I did all genres, so this one wasn’t horror-only. Us crazy ladies cross all genres. 😉

I was also very surprised that my list of My Top Ten Devil & Hell Songs, which I posted last year, was my second most popular post. Strange… Not sure where those views were coming from. The bowels of Hell, maybe?? Awesome.

My Favorite Post: Phenomena (1985) Blind Spot Review. I don’t have a lot of experience with Dario Argento’s films but I had fun reviewing this as one of my Blind Spot choices. It was seriously nuts & didn’t make much sense. I can relate to that…

MOVIES REVIEWED

My Most Popular Movie Review: Don’t Breathe. Ugh. How disappointing that this was my most-viewed review! I didn’t like this film very much & honestly don’t understand the decent reviews it’s had. But, as always, current releases get the most views which is why I try to at least review everything I manage to go to in the cinema. But I have a lot more fun reviewing unpopular old shit… 😉

All Movies Reviewed (ranked favorite to least favorite):

Magic (Blind Spot Review)
Phenomena (Blind Spot Review)
Trick ‘r Treat
Eyes Without A Face (Blind Spot Review)
Honeymoon
Absentia
Hush
The Invitation
Goosebumps
The Visit
Audrey Rose
A Good Marriage
John Carpenter’s Vampires
Fright Night (2011)
Deathgasm
Annabelle
Don’t Breathe
Housebound
Finders Keepers

Reblogs (Okay, I cheated a little by reblogging old horror reviews of mine at the weekends to make it up to 31 reviews. Again ranked favorite to least favorite):

The Descent
Dead Of Night
A Tale Of Two Sisters
The Boy
The Host
What We Do In The Shadows
Krampus
Dolls
The Innkeepers
Lights Out
Dog Soldiers
Oculus


Cutest. Puppy. EVER.

MOVIES WATCHED

Yep, I only actually watched two horror movies in October. All my reviews were for movies I’ve watched over the past year & saved up to review in October. Time management!

In Cinema:
Kubo And The Two Strings
Trolls

At Home (ranked favorite to least favorite):
Trick ‘r Treat
Desperately Seeking Susan (re-watch)
Blended (You know what? I liked this Adam Sandler film. Deal with it!) 😉
John Wick
Manhattan
Brooklyn
John Carpenter’s Vampires

TOP TEN LISTS

Top Ten Crazy Ladies In Movies
Top Ten Horror Movie Scores & Soundtracks
Top Ten Creepy Dolls In Movies & Television
Top Ten Horror Movies Of The 21st Century

SEARCH TERMS

My Top Search Term: “Michael Jackson Songs“. I posted the Thriller video for my Music Video Friday series to kick off my month of horror. Funny that this was the top search term (by far). Good to know his music lives on! This album is an all-time classic.

My Favorite Search Term: “Jennifer O Connelly horse ride gif“. Mainly because I like the added O. It’s just Jennifer Connelly, not Jennifer O’Connelly! I like that, though… How very Irish. By the way, here’s the link to that horse ride gif that pervs keep searching my blog for: Career Opportunities (1991) Review.

I also like “French blue movies” (that would be Blue Is The Warmest Color & Three Colors: Blue, I guess?) and “swimming pool scenes in movies” (because I liked doing that top ten list HERE).

Here are my top search terms for the month:

BOOKS

Book Reviewed: None – I focused on horror movie reviews instead.

Books I’ve Just Finished: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel & Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

Book I’m Currently Reading: Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Very little. I’m in serious need of a blog break & focusing on real-life stuff. But I’ll never give this hobby up completely. I love watching movies & chatting with you guys about them far too much to fully give this up! So I have no specific plans other than to post reviews of current films when I happen to go to them & do the occasional top ten or older movie review when I have the time & feel like it.

On November 12th & 13th, I’ve signed up to do one review for the At The Circus Blogathon hosted by Serendipitous Anachronisms & Crìtica Retrô. I love that theme & had to grab the opportunity to finally review the fantastic 1932 film Freaks. Am looking forward to re-watching and reviewing that and to reading all the other bloggers’ entries.

Upcoming Movies:

There are two November cinema releases I’m desperate to see: Arrival & Your Name. Due to lack of time, my excessive movie-watching days are now behind me but I will NOT miss these two. Both are total “me” films. Sci-fi and critically acclaimed Japanese anime?! Yes, please! 🙂 Arrival is mainstream enough to not be a problem but I’m unlikely to find anywhere near me showing Your Name. I really need to live next door to an indie cinema…

Okay, I’m going to rank these like a loser! In order starting with what I want to see the most (aside from the first couple, I’ll probably wait for Netflix):

Cinema:
TIE: The Arrival & Your Name
Potential Netflix-watching:
The Wailing
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
Bad Santa 2
Gimme Danger
Maybe watch if I ever have time:
Nocturnal Animals
The Edge Of Seventeen
The Accountant
Paterson
The Light Between Oceans

I always end recaps with a movie-related song so I have to go with Iron Maiden’s Flash Of The Blade as heard in Phenomena. MAIDEN!!! \m/

Eyes Without A Face (1960) Blind Spot Review

Happy Halloween, everyone! Here’s my final review for the day, after my review of the surprisingly fun Trick ‘r Treat posted earlier today. Now let’s look at a cult French horror classic…

Eyes Without A Face (1960)

Directed by Georges Franju

Based on Les yeux sans visage by Jean Redon

Starring: Pierre Brasseur, Edith Scob, Alida Valli, Juliette Mayniel

Music by Maurice Jarre

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A surgeon causes an accident which leaves his daughter disfigured, and goes to extremes to give her a new face.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank Eyes Without A Face:

10. Eyes Without A Face – 7/10
9. Phenomena – 7/10
8. An Education – 7/10
7. Magic – 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’d been wanting to see this for years as it sounded quite bizarre. Hence, it ended up on my Blind Spot list & I finally got around to buying it on DVD. I can’t say it quite lived up to my high expectations, although it’s a very good movie and I would imagine it must have been very shocking back in 1960.

The story here is the exact one I expected. Although similar stories have been done since, I’m thinking this must be one of the (and maybe the very) first to do it. I was extremely surprised at just how much was actually shown… I expected to see nothing but we see it all in graphic detail (for 1960, anyway). Wow! No wonder it angered some people at the time from the little I’ve read of it. Don’t get me wrong – it’s funny now how blatantly obvious the special effects & make-up are but this must have been like the Saw of 1960.

I’m struggling with what to say about this film as I’m not as well-versed on those that are pre-1970 but I do wish to expand my knowledge in this area. The main thing I’ll say is that I absolutely loved how stylish this film was. The mask the disfigured daughter is made to wear is fantastic. So frightening in its simplicity. Plus she wears the best nightdress/housecoat thingy EVER. I wear sweatpants & T-shirts to bed. Why the hell don’t we still dress the way women did in the 1960s? They looked so groomed & lovely at all times. Even one of the film’s victims still looked immaculate afterwards & I just thought “Damn! Poor girl… but I love that dress!”.

I know I’ve put this as my “least favorite” of my Blind Spot films so far but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not good – I just enjoyed the rest slightly more. I think I was mainly disappointed that it was more straightforward than I expected plus the acting was a little off (mainly the father & daughter, although the father’s “secretary” and the other women in the film were good). It also wasn’t all that deep – this is a topic that could’ve been explored in-depth. Beauty on the inside, the ugliness of human nature, blah blah blah. But it’s just a pretty basic crime thriller, albeit with a gruesome twist.

However, it’s stylish as hell. Just look at the images in this post – I love the look of it all. I’m very glad that I put this on my Blind Spot list & finally got around to watching it. Black & white horror is something I truly wish to further explore & will happily take recommendations from fellow bloggers on this genre. I would imagine that Eyes Without A Face is one that will easily remain a favorite of mine within the black & white horror genre, though, as it’s one that could never be easily forgotten once seen. Shockingly beautiful, I’d love to have seen the reaction of audiences when this came out. It’s not quite up there with either Nosferatu (1922) or The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920) for me but, like those, it’s so ahead of its time & there’s no denying the amazing imagery in all of them. We need more horror movies with style nowadays…

My Rating: 7/10

Oh! I totally forgot to mention that I found the movie’s score, from acclaimed composer Maurice Jarre, interestingly bizarre. It was at times too distracting but I love the Jean-Michel Jarre connection (he’s Maurice’s son). Who doesn’t like a bit of Oxygène??

However, I have to end with this music clip instead. I’m sorry! This is just SO stuck in my head since watching this. 😉

Trick ‘r Treat (2007) Review

Happy Halloween, everyone! This movie was an unplanned watch over the weekend. So, there will be two horror reviews from me today: this one and later on one of my Blind Spot choices I’d already planned to be the end to my October Horror Month. As for Trick ‘r Treat, I’d not even heard of it until fairly recently. I didn’t necessarily expect much from it as the majority of modern horrors suck. Well, Hell – this was a pleasant surprise! Let’s talk about it…

Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

Directed & Written by Michael Dougherty

Starring: Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Rochelle Aytes, Quinn Lord, Lauren Lee Smith, Moneca Delain, Tahmoh Penikett, Leslie Bibb

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Trick ‘r Treat centers on four Halloween-related horror stories. One common element that ties the stories together is the presence of Sam, a mysterious child trick-or-treater wearing shabby orange pajamas with a burlap sack over his head, that makes an appearance in all the stories whenever someone breaks Halloween traditions.

My Opinion:

This movie somehow completely passed me by when it came out. I saw a couple of bloggers give it positive reviews last year so I’ve since been curious about it but still didn’t rush to try see it. Thank you to the hubby for seeing the DVD cheap the other night and picking it up for me as a Halloween treat! 🙂 I hadn’t planned on actually watching any horror movies for Halloween this year but I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed this one. It has the best “Halloween spirit” of anything I’ve seen in a very long time.

I do love horror anthologies. I’ve always been a fan of this format, though it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Yes, this film could be accused of being somewhat derivative as it’s very much like watching Tales From The Crypt meets Creepshow meets Goosebumps. It even throws in the comic book panel thing. Well, I’m not going to complain as all work is derivative anyway. As long as something good & enjoyable comes from it, I don’t really mind.

I thought this film was quite clever in the way it connected these four stories (actually five stories, including the opening to the film). Sam the adorable/creepy trick-or-treater with the sack on his head makes an appearance in each story as do the various characters within each of the other stories. It all takes place during Halloween festivities in a small Ohio town.

What I love about anthologies is that you get a variety of stories and everyone will have a different favorite. I’m still not sure which is my favorite from Trick ‘r Treat. Possibly the school bus massacre? Or maybe the Sam segment… I don’t know! The cool thing is that I liked all of them. And I’m super picky, especially with this genre.

I’ll say something quick about each segment (using the names for each as listed at Wikipedia – I don’t know if they have specific titles):


The Opening:

This is a short story that opens the film and for some reason doesn’t seem to get counted as I keep reading that there are “four stories”. Like the rest, though, it’s interwoven throughout the film as we see these characters again (a Halloween-hating woman & her Halloween-loving boyfriend). It’s a decent opening and a throwback to Eighties slashers.


The Principal:

This is one of the two segments that I’d label “horror comedy”, yet I haven’t seen this movie called a horror comedy anywhere. Actually, the entire film has fun comedic elements so I’m not sure why it’s labelled strictly as horror/thriller.

When I got this DVD, I immediately looked up the film’s director & writer (because I’m a weirdo nerd) and discovered it’s from the guy who did Christmas horror comedy Krampus (Michael Dougherty). Krampus wasn’t perfect but I did really enjoy it and you can very much tell that these films are from the same person (especially the Meet Sam segment below, which had a very similar feel to Krampus). Dougherty hasn’t done a lot of directing – he’s mostly been a writer for things like X-Men 2, Superman Returns, X-Men: Apocalypse… Screw that superhero stuff – he needs to make more stuff like Trick ‘r Treat & Krampus! This is what he seems to be best at. Where’s the Trick ‘r Treat sequel supposedly in development? I now want a sequel.

Oops – I went off on a tangent. The Principal! This was a funny segment & you gotta love Dylan Baker as the “school principal with a dark secret”. He was perfect for this role – that dude is so weird. Anyone here ever watch The Good Wife besides me? Probably not but he’s so similar here to his great unhinged character from that show. Not my favorite segment but it’s good & probably the most “Creepshow“-like.


The School Bus Massacre Revisited:

I really liked this story, although I’ve seen it compared to R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps stories. I can see why there’s the comparison as, overall but especially with this story, this movie was far more tame than I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, though – this is not a kids’ film so don’t gather the family around for this one on Halloween! 😉 There’s still plenty of blood & violence but it has a great cheesy 80’s vibe as opposed to the sick torture porn shit of today (I can’t stomach those). This story, starring kids telling the tale of the legend of a “school bus massacre” in the town’s past, is minimal on gore but probably the one that’s most in the spirit of Halloween & the scary tales we liked to hear as kids. Fun stuff!


Surprise Party:

This story revolves around four (teenage? twenty-something?) girls on their way to a party & doing the typical “let’s dress slutty for Halloween” thing. Oh, but one of them (Anna Paquin) is a virgin & looking to find a date & make her first time special. I’d assume this is possibly the most popular segment? It’s probably actually the best of the five. It wasn’t the most original if you’ve seen enough horror films but I really liked the direction this story took. Plus there’s some boobage for the male viewers, if you like that sort of thing…


Meet Sam:

If I had to pick a favorite segment, I’d probably go with this one in which we finally meet that adorably creepy sack-head trick-or-treater we see throughout all the stories. “Sam” is a great design – it had to be difficult to make something so cute yet scary as f*^k at the same time. This bit is silly in a wonderfully retro-Eighties way and I would assume this is either people’s favorite or least favorite of the five. If you just go with it & have fun in the way I believe the director/writer intended, you should really enjoy the Meet Sam segment. If you liked Krampus, you’ll like this. And vice versa.

Conclusion (the movie’s & mine):

After our five stories, the movie neatly wraps things up for each of them and gives a satisfying conclusion as far as horror films go. Again, I liked how cleverly interwoven the stories were and would only have one small complaint about something that felt forced & didn’t quite add up (involving the other story the school principal is a part of – it made no sense how he came to be there…). That’s a minor thing, though – I really enjoyed this film overall and think it’s a fantastic one to watch each Halloween.

But I admit that this movie is going to be more to my taste than to a younger generation because of its obvious Eighties influences. I looked up the director’s age afterwards to see if he was the same sort of age as me since it felt like he must have grown up on the same kind of horrors that I did (he is so he clearly did). Younger audiences may not appreciate the tongue-in-cheek humor and may mistake this film for “cheesy” as opposed to an homage to the fun horrors I grew up on and which weren’t meant to be taken so damn seriously. Yeah, I enjoyed Trick ‘r Treat quite a bit and am even giving it the highest rating of everything I’ve reviewed this month. Good old-fashioned horror fun. Bring on the sequel!

My Rating: 7.5/10

John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998) Review

Vampires (1998)

Directed by John Carpenter

Based on Vampire$ by John Steakley

Starring: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee, Thomas Ian Griffith, Maximilian Schell

Music by John Carpenter

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
James Woods stars as Jack Crow, the leader of a team of vampire hunters. After his parents were bitten by vampires, Crow was raised by the Catholic Church to become their “master slayer”. The plot is centered on Crow’s efforts to prevent a centuries-old cross from falling into the hands of Jan Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith), the first and most powerful of all vampires.

My Opinion:

I watched this a couple of weeks ago but had no intention of reviewing it yet since I’ve been saving up to do a John Carpenter Week (or two) on my blog at some point. Well, damn – I didn’t make it to see Ouija: Origin Of Evil to review it as part of my Mike Flanagan Week so I was left short of one horror film to review this month. Is anyone interested in helping to do guest reviews for a John Carpenter Week if I ever get off my ass & do that?? This blog thing is so dead lately that I haven’t felt very motivated to put posts together… I’m cutting back massively once October is over!

I did a list of My Top Ten John Carpenter Movies HERE without having yet seen a few of his biggest films. In preparation for a John Carpenter Week & to be able to update my Top Ten, I’ve since watched these: Prince Of Darkness, Dark Star, Escape From New York, and Vampires. One of those is awesome and will be high on an updated Top Ten, one is okay, and two are pretty sucky.

Vampires is one of the pretty sucky ones but it was less sucky than I was expecting. In fact, as I had low expectations thinking that most people hated it for some reason, I ended up liking it a bit more than Prince Of Darkness. I must be missing something with Prince Of Darkness – I thought it was very badly dated. Vampires is far from good but I did get some enjoyment from it and, shockingly, I probably liked Daniel Baldwin’s character the most in this thing. A Baldwin! WTF?! I’m not sure it’s a good thing to have a Baldwin be your favorite character in a movie. I think I just liked the fact that he was quite nice (eventually) to the poor hooker (Sheryl Lee) after she got bitten by the main vampire dude. I liked Lee’s character as well and the psychic link she ended up having with the main vampire was a good plot device. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen Lee in anything before (I never saw Twin Peaks).

Speaking of nice & not nice, I think the main reason I didn’t like this movie as much as I’d hoped was because of James Woods and his complete asshole of a character. Hmm – Yes, I entirely blame James Woods for this movie not living up to its potential. He doesn’t have the “star power”. He doesn’t have the cool factor, the attitude, the charisma… Can you imagine this movie instead starring Carpenter’s favorite, Kurt Russell?? Russell had all those things in Carpenter’s films. He was a stud. He could get away with being kind of a jerk because he had that same sort of lovable rogue thing going on as Han Solo. Woods doesn’t have that. Sorry! I think I’m just not a Woods fan. Don’t tell him!!!

Oh, I also liked that priest dude in the above picture. He was another one, along with the prostitute, who was treated like complete shit by Woods for no reason. Okay, okay – Woods’ parents were killed by vampires so I suppose he holds a grudge but, sheesh! No need to be so damn grumpy. Sorry – I need to let this go. I’m sounding as grumpy as him! At least I liked three of the characters, which helped make up for Woods and for the rather bland vampires. Vampires are meant to be cool, sexy & menacing. The vampires in Vampires are so dull compared to those in some of the all-time great vampire classics. Like The Lost Boys! Did I just lose my argument? Lol. Don’t care – The Lost Boys rules. 😉

Summary:

Erm. I dunno. I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about Vampires. It has some good points but the good points don’t fully make up for the fact that both the lead vampire hunter & the lead vampire are such weak characters. They’re the two most important roles so this obviously lets the movie down. However, I did enjoy the likable lesser characters as well as some fairly original vampire hunting (like the way the hunters dragged the vampires out into the sun). It also had a decent level of fun gore that I could stomach (I hate too much gore). Vampires is just a rather uneven movie and not one that I can either fully praise nor fully criticize. I’ve definitely seen worse vampire movies but I’ve also see many FAR better ones. It won’t be making a Top Ten Vampire Movies list of mine but maybe I’d give it a small honorable mention. Guess I need to make that list now. Maybe next October – I think I better watch some Hammer Horror first!

My Rating: 6/10

**I’ve just realized that I have a bit of a vampire theme going on with this & with my review of the pointless 2011 remake of Fright Night on Wednesday. Woohoo! I’ll pretend that I planned that… 🙂

My Top Ten Horror Movies Of The 21st Century

It’s probably obvious to regular readers that I’m rarely a fan of modern day horror films. I’m sure I come across as quite picky since my ratings for current horror films, even ones I seemed to enjoy, are usually pretty low. I’d never call horror my favorite genre but that’s partly because there are far more horribly bad films within this genre than in any other. But when a genuinely good horror comes along, I love it! Unfortunately, the good ones have just been few & far between since about 1987 (when the awesome A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors was released). 😉

So, even though horror films of the Seventies & Eighties will forever be my favorites, I wanted to prove that I’m not always so old & grumpy and have actually liked a few since 1987. I’d call the top 7 or 8 on this list quite good and would rate them at least 8/10. And two are even from the last couple of years – I think there’s been a slight improvement in the quality of these films lately & I’m hoping that continues. However, the movies on this list still come nowhere near the genius of things like The Shining & The Omen and I only think one of them has the possibility of being a highly respected classic years from now (it’s number two on my list…).

One quick note: I’VE EXCLUDED HORROR COMEDIES! When working on this list, I ended up with lots of them as I’ve liked so many since the year 2000. As I already did a list of My Top Ten Horror Comedies, I’ve decided to leave them out to keep things simple. I’m also leaving out some films I like that I don’t consider “horror” and see more as “thrillers”, such as the underrated The Purge films & some monster movies like Cloverfield & The Host.

So! Here are My Top Ten 21st Century Horror Movies counting down to my favorite (but let’s be annoying & make it 15…):

15. TIE: A Tale Of Two Sisters & The House Of The Devil
14. The Others
13. Final Destination
12. [Rec]
11. Ginger Snaps

10. Land Of The Dead

9. The Orphanage

8. The Descent

7. Let The Right One In

6. It Follows

5. The Mist

4. 28 Days (& Weeks) Later…

3. Slither

2. The Babadook

1. Dawn Of The Dead

Some Honorable Mentions:
The Conjuring
30 Days Of Night
Saw (first film ONLY – hate the rest)
The Innkeepers
The Boy
Ils (Them)
The Strangers
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane
Absentia
Honeymoon

One I Really Want To See:

The Witch (aka The VVitch)
– This looks like my type of thing & I’ve been desperately waiting for it to show up on UK Netflix after my stupid local cinemas didn’t give me a chance to see it…

Fright Night (2011) Review

Fright Night (2011)

Directed by Craig Gillespie

Based on Fright Night by Tom Holland

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a teenage boy who discovers that his neighbor is actually a vampire, which culminates to a battle between the two.

My Opinion:

I might as well start by pointing out the obvious to anyone who knows me: I prefer the original Fright Night and remakes piss me off. I haven’t actually watched the original in years, though, which is why I’m not going to do a comparison review. But I’ll always be fond of it as, along with A Nightmare On Elm Street, it was my introduction to 80’s slasher-type flicks at a junior high spin the bottle party. Ah, good times!

So, this is indeed yet another completely pointless remake but is it any worse than all the other pointless remakes? I guess it’s probably at the ever-so-slightly better end of things. It at least didn’t completely piss me off & make me want to shout at my TV like that godawful A Nightmare On Elm Street remake. Argh!!! That one actually damaged the franchise & I wish it didn’t exist. This Fright Night is just a bit “so what?”. It’s ultimately forgettable but is luckily different enough from the 1985 film that it hasn’t damaged it in my mind.


These signs seemed extraneous at the time…

The only reason I decided to watch this was to see Anton Yelchin (R.I.P.). I’ve liked Yelchin ever since Charlie Bartlett & was saddened by his untimely death. He was uniquely talented and the absolute perfect choice to play Charley Brewster in Fright Night so I have no complaints there. I also liked Toni Collette as his mother and had no problem with Imogen Poots as Charley’s girlfriend even though she’s too hot for him. But that’s movies for you! The nerdy guys always get the hot girls. Anyway – She’s a cutie & the name Poots never fails to make me giggle. Finally, I loved David Tennant as “vampire hunter” Peter Vincent. He’s my favorite Doctor Who and I found him strangely attractive in his leather pants & eyeliner…


Unfortunately, while the casting of these actors/actresses was spot on, I really disliked Colin Farrell as our main vampire baddie Jerry. I don’t normally like him much anyway but he really didn’t have the charisma or the sexy charming thing going on that I expect from a vampire. As for Christopher Mintz-Plasse, I can see why they chose him as Charley’s nerdy friend Ed but he’s so typecast now that he’s starting to get on my nerves & just ended up an annoying distraction. Massive fail with the casting of these two, which was disappointing as everyone else was so good.

Summary:

Fright Night (2011) is pointless but I suppose it’s not horrible. I’m not stupid, though – I know that younger people don’t like watching older movies so are very unlikely to seek out the original. Therefore, I’m not going to waste my breath (er… fingers?) telling everyone to just watch the 1985 film. If you like Yelchin & think this looks like your type of thing, give it a go. As a standalone film, it’s a fun vampire flick. I’d have liked more humor & it dragged to begin with but it did really pick up once Tennant came into the picture more about halfway through. Tennant & Yelchin are both very good and made a fairly mediocre vampire movie not feel like a complete waste of time. Meh. I’ve seen worse.

My Rating: 6/10

Hush (2016) Review

Welcome to Day Three of my “Four Days Of Mike Flanagan Movies“! Let’s see what I thought of home invasion movie Hush… I’ve already reviewed Oculus & the unique Absentia. Tomorrow I’ll hopefully be reviewing his new release Ouija: Origin Of Evil (if I’ve managed to see it by then!). 🙂 **Okay – it’s unlikely I’ll be reviewing that tomorrow as I’ve still not seen it. 😉 Have any of you seen it? 

Hush (2016)

Directed by Mike Flanagan

Starring: John Gallagher Jr, Michael Trucco, Kate Siegel

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window.

My Opinion:

Hush is a worthy addition to the home invasion subgenre & I’d say it’s Mike Flanagan’s best film (of what I’ve seen so far). I slightly prefer Absentia just because I usually like supernatural horror more than straight-up home invasion flicks but Hush feels like Flanagan’s most well thought-out film whereas it seemed like he was making the story up as he went along in others. Hush has the best pacing, acting, and style of those I’ve seen and is the one I’d be most likely to recommend to people as it’s so straightforward & far less divisive than his other work.

The setup, a deaf woman being terrorized in her home by an intruder, is extremely simple but very effective. Has this been done before? The idea is so simple it feels like it must have… I know there was the Audrey Hepburn film where she played a blind woman terrorized in her home (Wait Until Dark – I just looked that up). Well, whether it’s been done before or not, Flanagan did well to include some very creative ways of using this setup (unlike in the thoroughly overrated Don’t Breathe, which makes a big deal of the “victim” being blind but then does nothing interesting with that plot device).

I especially liked the use of technology in Hush. This is an intelligent writer living on her own and, especially being deaf, she’s going to rely on a lot of modern technology for writing, communication, safely running a household, etc. The use of technology wasn’t overdone, however, and felt natural instead of forced. I liked how it made the usual “home invasion” thing feel more modern. Again, it’s a simple thing but helps give the film a further unique edge. Although, I suppose it will also date the film in the future…

Hush gives us yet another “strong female lead” (played fantastically by Kate Siegel), which is becoming more & more of a common theme in films (not something I’ll ever complain about!). However, she’s not perfect & I appreciated that. She’s real. As much as I’d like to kick ass like Furiosa or Ellen Ripley, I know I never could. I’d be seriously f*^ked in any extreme situation as I’m a serious wuss & even the simplest tasks in life give me panic attacks. Home intruder? I can’t even handle a spider in the bathtub! Siegel’s character makes mistakes. She makes some iffy & dangerous decisions while dealing with the man who is terrorizing her but she’s doing her best in a situation that most of us couldn’t handle. She’s very relatable & you care about what will happen to her (again – it’s very a simple thing to make your main character likable yet so many horror films fail to do this for some reason).

Hush is a good film with a strong central performance & I would definitely recommend it to fans of the home invasion genre. It takes a simple concept & does it very effectively, making use of the main character being deaf and having to use other senses & means of working around this in order to defend herself. I wouldn’t say that home invasion films are a favorite thing of mine but I’ve seen quite a few & enjoyed this one much more than most. Hush is definitely one of the better examples of this genre.

My Rating: 7/10

Absentia (2011) Review 

Welcome to Day Two of my “Four Days Of Mike Flanagan Movies“! Let’s see what I thought of the thoroughly strange Absentia… Yesterday I reblogged my review of Oculus & tomorrow will be reviewing Hush. On Wednesday I’ll hopefully be reviewing his new release Ouija: Origin Of Evil (if I’ve managed to see it by then!). 🙂

Absentia (2011)

Directed & Written by Mike Flanagan

Starring: Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Justin Gordon, Morgan Peter Brown, James Flanagan, Scott Graham, Doug Jones

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A woman and her sister begin to link a mysterious tunnel to a series of disappearances, including that of her own husband.

My Opinion:

I wasn’t crazy about Oculus, the first movie I saw of Mike Flanagan’s, so I didn’t necessarily think I’d watch another one of his films after that one. I’m glad I did, though, as I liked Absentia & Hush just fine. I’ll even admit now that I was a little hard on poor Oculus (but only a little). It had potential, though – I just thought it fell apart at the end.

Absentia was my favorite of the Flanagan films I’ve seen so far but it’s probably the most divisive. This is a real “like it or hate it” movie. The pacing is very slow & there’s no “in your face” horror or gore. It’s more about the overall mood & atmosphere of the film, which I think is done really well. It’s nice & creepy with plenty left to the viewers’ imaginations. This is the type of horror that I prefer, of the supernatural psychological variety, but I know it won’t be to everyone’s taste.

The main focus of this film is on two sisters & the mysterious disappearance of the husband of the (heavily pregnant) sister. This woman’s husband has now been missing for seven years & the start of the film sees her preparing to declare him legally dead “in absentia”. Here’s the Wikipedia definition of this legal term if you’re curious:

“A person may be legally declared dead (declared death in absentia or legal presumption of death) despite the absence of direct proof of the person’s death, such as the finding of remains (e.g., a corpse or skeleton) attributable to that person. Such a declaration is typically made when a person has been missing for an extended period of time and in the absence of any evidence that the person is still alive – or after a much shorter period but where the circumstances surrounding a person’s disappearance overwhelmingly support the belief that the person has died (e.g., an airplane crash).”

Good! That filled up a decent amount of space in this review as I honestly don’t know how to go about discussing this one. This film is a bit bizarre and, if you’re someone who likes all the blanks filled in & all questions answered, you may not appreciate it. It’s a bit like Honeymoon in that way (which I reviewed HERE a couple of weeks ago & is one of my favorite horrors I’ve reviewed for my October Horror Month this year). Honeymoon goes full-on crazy at the end, though, whereas Absentia stays pretty calm. However, I found Absentia much more unsettling.

Give Absentia a go if, like me, you prefer strange supernatural horror to gory slashers. To be honest, it sort of has a Stranger Things vibe & makes you wonder if the show’s writers saw this film first. Hmm… If you watch this, just be aware that it’s slow going and you’ll need patience. My only small complaint is that, like with Oculus, I feel like Flanagan has great short story ideas that are difficult to stretch into feature length films (a bigger problem with Oculus, which was first a short film). I liked the sisters & their relationship so that helped as I think it would be harder to get into this film if you didn’t care what would happen to them. Like most modern day horrors, though, it won’t become an all-time favorite of mine & I’m unlikely to ever watch it again but I appreciated the unique story & the film’s mood. The majority of horror movies use the same recycled stories over & over again so it’s great to see one with some originality.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Goosebumps (2015) Review 

I’ll be finishing Creepy Dolls Week tomorrow with a reblog of a review I did of a British horror classic which happens to contain a creepy ventriloquist’s dummy. Today I’m reviewing a fun recent kids’ film which also happens to contain a creepy ventriloquist’s dummy. What is it with dummies?! They’re clearly evil. Let’s have a look at the Goosebumps movie… 🙂

Goosebumps (2015)

Directed by Rob Letterman

Based on Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Starring: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Amy Ryan, Ryan Lee, Jillian Bell, Halston Sage

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A teenager teams up with the daughter of young adult horror author R. L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Madison, Delaware.

My Opinion:

This was my seven-year-old’s first proper live action “scary movie”. I’m happy to report that she loved it. I was too old for R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series when he started it but know I would’ve absolutely loved those books if they’d been around when I was younger. I grew up watching (the original) The Twilight Zone & The Alfred Hitchcock Hour from a very early age (probably 7 or 8) and have loved strange, scary, and/or supernatural & sci-fi stories ever since. As a pre-teen I got into Christopher Pike books (nice & weird – I loved those) and remember reading some pre-Goosebumps R.L. Stine (Twisted, The Babysitter, Blind Date – I had fun looking these up just now & remembering the covers!).

Anyway, I’m not going to force it but I’m hoping that this movie gets my daughter into liking these kind of stories a bit more now. Then she can be as weird as her mother! 😉 I’d love to read the Goosebumps books with her at some point. For those who’ve read them, what sort of ages would you recommend them for? I always thought they were aimed slightly older than this movie, which felt quite “young”. The movie stayed the right side of the line for my daughter – she was a little scared by some bits but I didn’t feel anything was too scary or at all inappropriate. If your kid doesn’t scare easily, I think this is fine for ages 7 & up. Goosebumps is a really fun family movie and, believe me, when you have young kids you appreciate when you start getting to watch some movies with them that you yourself can get some enjoyment from as well!

I of course won’t have had as much fun with this movie as those who read the Goosebumps series, though. I imagine this film was a real treat for his fans. The story’s setup is fantastic, which sees various R.L. Stine monsters brought to life when they’re accidentally released from the manuscripts he keeps locked in order to keep his out-of-control creations imprisoned. Jack Black plays R.L. Stine, which was fine by me as I’m a Jack Black fan & my daughter already liked him thanks to School Of Rock. The film’s concept was very bold & I think it works really well. Imagine this same story with Stephen King. That would be interesting! Can you imagine someone letting Pennywise loose?! (Although, that’s kind of happening in the US & UK at the moment with those asshole clowns running around). Look! Gnomes! I adore garden gnomes. I never thought of them as murderous before this movie…

The werewolf was also pretty cool…

But, of course, the main “monster” unleashed from R.L. Stine’s books is Slappy, this evil-looking ventriloquist’s dummy…

Yep. Dummies are evil! I’ve always known that. There are other creatures that are set loose but these were my favorites & Slappy is definitely the best (and most evil) of them all. He’s not overly terrifying, though – he’s “kid-friendly scary”. If that makes any sense. He won’t be in my nightmares but my daughter might now have a lifelong (healthy) distrust of creepy dummies. Oh, there’s also an abandoned amusement park in this movie (complete with working electricity somehow). I loved the amusement park scenes – what a perfect setting for a kids’ film.

There’s not much more I can really say about Goosebumps other than that it’s great when they actually make decent family films like this one. However, I know you’re unlikely to watch this unless you have children between 7 & 13ish or if you grew up reading the Goosebumps books. Dylan Minnette is fine as the lead teenage boy & I have to say I far prefer this film to the wildly overrated Don’t Breathe (so very NOT a family movie, FYI! Just comparing as he starred in both plus I just reviewed that one recently). I enjoyed Jack Black as always but I thought the biggest stars of this film were Slappy & Stine’s daughter (played by Odeya Rush). She’s a strong female character, which is always important to me as the parent of a girl. I loved a final twist to this movie, which I saw coming from the very start since I’ve lived & breathed these types of stories for 30+ years but know my daughter will have thought “Wow!” to the twist. That’s what I want to see! Her loving a strong story & great twist ending in the same way I did when watching all those Twilight Zone episodes as a kid. I can see Goosebumps being a favorite movie for a lot of kids & thinks it’s one that my daughter will forever be fond of.

My Rating: 7/10

CREEPY DOLLS WEEK ROUNDUP:

The Boy (2016)
Magic (1978)
Dolls (1987)
Annabelle (2014)
Finders Keepers (2014)
– Goosebumps (2015)
Dead Of Night (1945)
My Top Ten Creepy Dolls In Movies & Television

My Top Ten Creepy Dolls In Movies & Television 

Well, you knew this would be my top ten list for Creepy Dolls Week. I hate dolls, puppets, marionettes, ventriloquist’s dummies, and mannequins (unless there’s some Starship on the movie’s soundtrack). Evil f*^kers! All of them!!!

It was hard to decide on the order for this top ten. I’ve kind of done a combination of how much I liked the movie crossed with how creepy the dolls are. Well, don’t take the order too seriously but I’ve ranked each doll’s creepiness factor.

So here are My Top Ten Movie & TV Creepy Dolls:

10. TIE: The Twilight Zone: Episode – Living Doll (1963) & The Boy (2016)
The Doll: Talky Tina (The Twilight Zone) & Brahms (The Boy)
Doll’s Creepy Rating: Tina: 6/10, Brahms: 7/10

– I adore The Twilight Zone & this episode, starring Telly Savalas as a mean step-father, is a great one. The doll isn’t that scary but it’s a fun story. The Boy, starring The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan, has a story with a retro 80’s feel & I really enjoyed it even though it’s predictable. Loved the design of the porcelain doll with the “sweet” face. Not all dolls have to be ugly to be creepy.

9. Trilogy of Terror (1975): Part 3 – Amelia
The Doll: A Zuni fetish doll
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 6.5/10

– It’s been a long time since I saw this horror classic starring Karen Black but I certainly remember the “Amelia” segment, unlike the others in the trilogy. The doll was kind of more funny than scary but it’s a must-see of the killer doll subgenre.

8. The Conjuring (2013) & Annabelle (2014)
The Doll: Annabelle, in real life a Raggedy Ann doll
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 7.5/10

I was quite harsh on Annabelle in yesterday’s review. The movie isn’t very good but the doll itself is effectively creepy while the real life story, as shown in The Conjuring, is far more scary than the made-up story in Annabelle.

7. Pin (1988)
The Doll: Pin (short for Pinocchio) – a doctor’s medical dummy
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 8.5/10

I caught this bizarre movie on TV late one night when I was maybe about 18 or so & that creepy medical dummy has stayed on my mind ever since. Ugh! Look at it!!! From what I remember, this was actually a pretty good psychological thriller (despite some, er, Flowers In The Attic-y incestuous brother/sister stuff).

6. Dolls (1987)
The Doll(s): Various – there’s a creepy old mansion filled with loads of them
Dolls’ Creepy Rating: 7.5/10

This cheesy 80’s horror is loads of fun (and very tame for a Stuart Gordon film). And the chick from the A-ha Take On Me comic book video is in it!

5. Magic (1978)
The Doll: Fats – a ventriloquist’s dummy controlled by Anthony Hopkins
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 8/10

I reviewed this William Goldman written/Richard Attenborough directed film on Monday as one of my Blind Spot choices & recommend it for the great performances from Anthony Hopkins & Burgess Meredith. Good psychological character study also starring Ann-Margret.

4. Dead Of Night (1945)
The Doll: Hugo – a ventriloquist’s dummy controlled by Michael Redgrave
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 8/10

This British horror anthology classic is most memorable for the segment involving Michael Redgrave’s ventriloquist & his dummy, which he believes is alive. Fantastic film that was ahead of its time.

3. Child’s Play (1988)
The Doll: Chucky (aka Charles Lee Ray)
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 7/10

I always had a soft spot for the Child’s Play films (well, the first three – I’ve not watched any further). They’re bad. They’re cheesy. They’re SO Eighties (even though the second two were early Nineties. Never mind). They’re from my teen years, though, and we all like what we grew up on. I was in America & knew nothing of the banning in the U.K. & the reason why. I’ve not watched them since but I can’t leave Chucky off a “creepy dolls” list.

2. Poltergeist (1982)
The Doll: A toy clown
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 8/10

Who doesn’t hate a creepy clown? It’s a well-known phobia, which is why there’s a current “crazy clown” phase going on in the U.S. & U.K. Poltergeist is easily the best film on this list & its clown, although only a small part of the film, has haunted us 80’s kids forever.

1. The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: Episode – Where The Woodbine Twineth (1965)
The Doll: Numa
Doll’s Creepy Rating: 4/10
The Episode’s Creepy Rating: 10/10

This had to be my number one as it’s the one thing responsible for my fear (or, more like a deep distrust now in my old age) of dolls. As you can see, the doll itself in this story wasn’t creepy. Well, there’s a slight creep factor as ALL dolls look like they have murder on their minds but the doll in this was actually very cute and, slight spoiler… Friendly. She’s the best friend of the little girl in the story & the ending of this story scarred me for life. Seriously. The entire episode used to be on YouTube but, at the moment, I can only find a clip of the ending (watch it HERE if you’re curious but I obviously recommend seeing the entire episode if you can). I also found the whole short story, by Davis Grubb, online HERE if you’d like to read it (just remember that it was written in a very different time period). It’s funny – I can barely remember things I watched a year ago but the ending of Where The Woodbine Twineth, which I must have seen at the age of eight or so, is forever burned into my brain. I watched that clip just now, which I last saw probably 30 years ago, and I remembered it like I’d seen it yesterday. That’s the power of good storytelling.

Honorable Mentions:
– The Saw film series (first one 2004) (Doll: Billy The Puppet)
– Dead Silence (2007) (Doll: Billy, a ventriloquist’s dummy)
– The Fear (1995) (Doll: Morty, a wooden mannequin)
– Goosebumps (2015) (Doll: Slappy, a ventriloquist’s dummy)
Finders Keepers (2014) (Doll: A possessed doll that may have had a name but I can’t remember & don’t want to watch the movie again because it’s BAD)

A Few Movies I’ve Not seen:
– Puppetmaster (1989) & its sequels
– Demonic Toys (1992)
– Two truly bizarre looking films I’d never heard of until I started looking up creepy doll movies and now I really want to see them! Tourist Trap (1979) & The Pit (1981). Anyone seen these??

Annabelle (2014) & Finders Keepers (2014) Movie Reviews

Welcome to Day 4 of Creepy Dolls Week here at Cinema Parrot Disco! I’ve already reviewed The Boy, Magic, and the imaginatively-titled Dolls. Now let’s have a look at two creepy doll films that, quite frankly, sucked. But, hey – most of the films in this subgenre are pretty crap anyway. More importantly: Are the dolls creepy or not?? Let’s find out…

Annabelle (2014)

Directed by John R. Leonetti

Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard (Oh, the lead actress is named Annabelle. Spooky!)

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A couple begins to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists.

My Opinion:

Annabelle the doll appeared in a short story at the beginning of the rather good (for a modern horror film) The Conjuring. She is a possessed doll from the real life case files of supernatural investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (or whatever title they go by). The “true story” of Annabelle the doll, as told pretty accurately in The Conjuring, is quite interesting & unsettling. (Read it & see the real pictures HERE. Although you may be a little less creeped out when you find out that “Annabelle” is, in reality, a Raggedy Ann doll). The completely made up story in the movie Annabelle is a pathetic attempt to cash in on the interest shown in the creepy doll at the beginning of The Conjuring. The true story is far better and I’m confused as to why they didn’t just use that instead of making up a silly (and not at all scary) story.

Well, no – it’s obvious why they made up a new story. The story of Annabelle works best as a short story & the whole thing was already covered in The Conjuring. But Hollywood has to make money. Like a vampire, it has to suck the lifeblood out of every idea it can sink its teeth into.


Look! A pram/buggy like on the cover of Rosemary’s Baby! Don’t be fooled – Annabelle is no Rosemary’s Baby…

I think one of my biggest problems with this film, meant to be set in 1970, was the look of it. Look at the pictures in this post – it looks like a low budget TV movie. It felt like they bought all the movie’s sets from IKEA’s retro ’70s Ödmjuk Smörboll line. Yeah, I totally Googled “IKEA product names” just now & then got sidetracked and read an article about the system IKEA uses to come up with those strange product names and, seriously, the article was a million times more fascinating than this movie. Anyway! The furniture, clothing, hairdos, etc, just looked so fake and the main actress looked more like she should be on the set of Friends with that hair & makeup. What’s most surprising is that The Conjuring got the look of this time period SO right and, if I’ve read this correctly, Annabelle’s director was the cinematographer for The Conjuring?? Hmm. Well, to be fair: I’m guessing that Annabelle had a far smaller budget.

I really like Alfre Woodard so it was nice to see her in this & she was great as always. But I like when we see her in bigger roles as it feels like she’s often on the sidelines and the same happens again here. Also, I can’t believe that the story used her in such an outdated fashion! I realize it’s set in 1970 but the movie was made now. Why are they still using this ridiculous trope? Oh well – at least we got some quality acting (no one did a bad job in that department, really).

I’m sounding way too bitchy. It’s not like I’ve ever made a movie, right?? To be fair, Annabelle was exactly what I expected: a braindead cash-grab that I could zone out to for an hour & a half. Not gonna lie – I’m tired & I don’t always want to think. No one wants to think all the time! Sometimes we just want to stare at a TV screen like zombies while chewing on some flesh (although I prefer popcorn). Therefore, I didn’t have a horrible time watching this. I enjoy movies about possessed dolls & have watched a lot of them even though very few of them could be called “good”. Annabelle probably ranks somewhere right in the middle if you were to compare the movies in this subgenre (I’d need to see quite a few more before I could really rank them, especially as I shockingly haven’t seen the Puppetmaster films).

Meh. Whatever. I’ve seen this now. I won’t remember much of it in a year. Annabelle herself is a pretty creepy looking doll, though, so they did an okay job with her design. Like the movie, she’s probably somewhere right in the middle of a “creepy movie dolls” list. Yes, I’ve made that list! You can see where I’ve placed her tomorrow. Unless, like the real doll, she mysteriously moves. 😉 (Oh crap – I’ll shit myself if that happens… Why did I type that?! SHE’S NUMBER NINE!!!! Remember that!)

My Rating: 5/10

Finders Keepers (2014)

Directed by Alexander Yellen

Starring: Jaime Pressly, Patrick Muldoon, Tobin Bell, Marina Sirtis, Justina Machado, Kylie Rogers, Mary Pat Gleason

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A divorced mother of one is thrown into turmoil when her young daughter becomes obsessed with an evil doll left behind by the previous occupants of their new home.

My Opinion:

I really went off on one there on Annabelle! I didn’t even hate that as much as it probably seemed. Annabelle deserves an Oscar compared to this. Don’t worry – I promise to not be as bitchy this time & I’ll keep this one short. 😉 This is a TV movie & I watched it with very low expectations. I suppose I was more harsh on Annabelle as I do have higher standards for a Hollywood film with a bigger budget.

I watched this for three reasons: 1) I knew I’d be doing Creepy Dolls Week and 2) It was on Netflix and 3) I noticed that the little girl in it (Kylie Rogers) was the girl from the underrated Space Station 76, which is one of my favorite films I’ve watched this year. I loved her character in that movie: sweet, lonely, and heartbreaking. She’s fine in Finders Keepers but it’s such a poorly written character. What a shame. At least she has SS76 in her credits – it’ll be interesting to see if she goes on to do many more films.

If you’ve ever watched another horror movie in your life, you’ll know the whole story already. Newly divorced mom moves into new home with daughter, daughter finds super ugly doll hidden in the floorboards which is naturally possessed because all super ugly dolls are possessed, mother has to investigate the history of the doll in order to save her daughter (using the expert opinion of a friend who falls into the same sort of ridiculous trope as Alfre Woodard’s character in Annabelle).

SPOILERS – I’m going to tell you who dies! Because you already know as everything is so damn obvious & cliché.

Oh look! It’s Marina Sirtis from one of my favorite ever TV shows (Star Trek: TNG) as the new friendly neighbor. She’s so dead! Wow – they got Saw’s Jigsaw himself, Tobin Bell, to play the child psychologist who suspects the girl’s mother of child abuse instead of the crazy psycho doll hurting the girl. Jigsaw: So Dead. Ex-husband’s new girlfriend: DEAD. Mother’s friend, a college professor (I think?) who is an expert on the type of voodoo or whatever the hell was going on with the doll – I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention because I was bored: So VERY dead! Professor’s assistant: Dead. Um, who else? Oh, that woman with the really recognizable face! Wow – I can’t even remember her character now. Was she a waitress? This movie doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page so I can’t check. Ha! She’s such a “Hey, it’s that gal” actor, though. She was clearly brought in just to: BE DEAD

I think there may have been more but I can’t remember. Guy who sold them the house, maybe? This movie had a high death toll! What about the mother, daughter & ex-husband (who turns out to be nice)? ALIVE! Of course. And living happily ever after. At least, until that cliché “let’s leave this open for a sequel” ending. 

So, yeah – Finders Keepers isn’t a good movie. But it’s a TV movie & I’ve seen worse (I was obsessed with TV movies when I was younger & had spare time to watch loads of shit. So. Much. Wasted. Time.)! At least it had recognizable faces in it (stick to comedy like My Name Is Earl, Jaime Pressly! Loved that show). Is the doll creepy? Fairly. I’d say the doll has a decent design. It doesn’t have a massive head like in the movie’s poster at the top, though. It’s hilarious that it looks as big as the girl in the poster.

My Rating: 3.5/10

Dolls (1987) Review

I originally posted this review for the Recommended By Blogathon over at Head In A Vice. Hopefully Tyson doesn’t mind me re-posting it in full now as it’s the perfect fit for the Creepy Dolls Week I’m doing here. 🙂

Dolls (1987)

Directed by Stuart Gordon

Starring: Stephen Lee, Guy Rolfe, Hilary Mason, Ian Patrick Williams, Carolyn Purdy Gordon, Cassie Stuart, Bunty Bailey, Carrie Lorraine

Running time: 77 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of people stop by a mansion during a storm and discover two magical toy makers, and their haunted collection of dolls.

Why I Chose This For The Recommended By Blogathon:

Dolls was reviewed HERE by Laura over at FILMNERDBLOG & I thought it sounded hilariously bad but fun. Laura reviews a wide variety of films but seems to especially have a love/hate relationship with cheesy horror movies. I started following her when I saw she was reviewing things like Basket Case. 🙂

I thought it was time I return the favor as Laura has watched a couple of movies based on my reviews (From Beyond, which is from the same director as Dolls, and the awesome Hardware). I think she regretted both, especially From Beyond. Lol! I mean, check this From Beyond shit out – what a trooper she is:

My Opinion On Dolls:

I don’t think I liked this QUITE as much as Laura did but I did have a lot of fun with it. It’s pure 80’s cheese with dodgy acting & fake-looking gore so it’s totally my type of thing (I can’t watch modern horror – too gross!). And the DOLLS… Man I hate dolls – I can’t think of anything much creepier than going into some strange old mansion in the middle of nowhere & finding it’s filled with THESE:

The characters in Dolls are exactly what you’d expect from a horror movie like this (and I mean that in a good way). The main character is the young girl and she’s cute & sweet and you want everything to turn out okay for her as she’s stranded in this mansion with her father & step-mother who are both complete assholes. I really thought the step-mother was a man until I looked her up at IMDB. Turns out she was also in From Beyond! Ha!


Also stranded in this mansion on this stormy night are two girls dressed as “punks” crossed with Madonna and they speak in ridiculously bad Cockney accents. I think? I’m bad with accents. And there’s a nice dorky guy who gave the punk girls a lift and he’s the only one of the bunch (besides the little girl) who isn’t an asshole. Finally, we have the fabulously cliché owners of the mansion: an old doll maker & his wife. These two are great – they totally look the part. Both British actors, the woman was in Don’t Look Now & the man was in movies such as And Now The Screaming Starts! with Peter Cushing and was the Puppet Master in several of the films in that series. Look at these two! Perfect for Dolls:

Anyway – everything you expect to happen, happens. Everyone you expect to die, dies. It’s predictable and the acting is pretty atrocious but… C’mon – Who cares? It’s a movie about dolls that go around killing people! It’s fun! It even has a bit of a moral (which is more than can be said about most horror films). Basically, the moral is that you should always stay young at heart. If you don’t, DOLLS WILL COME TO LIFE & KILL YOU!

Awesome. Thanks, Laura! I really enjoyed watching this one. 🙂

My Rating: 6.5/10

*I’ve upped my rating by half a point. This was a fun watch*

**Can I just add, as I didn’t realize this when I originally posted the review, that the girl (Bunty Bailey) from A-ha’s Take On Me video is in this?! She’s one of the two Cockney punk girls. Hilarious. 🙂

Magic (1978) Blind Spot Review

Welcome to Creepy Dolls Week! Let’s look at Magic’s impressive set of names: Richard Attenborough, William Goldman, Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith… Wow! This is why I added Magic to my Blind Spot list. Was it as good as the talent involved would suggest?

Magic (1978)

Directed by Richard Attenborough

Based on Magic by William Goldman

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith, Ed Lauter, David Ogden Stiers

Music by Jerry Goldsmith

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A ventriloquist is at the mercy of his vicious dummy while he tries to renew a romance with his high school sweetheart.

My Opinion:

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

9. Phenomena – 7/10
8. An Education – 7/10
7. Magic – 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

Of all the impressive names attached to this film, it was actually William Goldman’s that convinced me I should put this movie on my Blind Spot list & finally get around to watching it. Written by the same guy who wrote The Princess Bride, one of the best movies in the history of history??? Oh hell yeah – I had to see this. Plus I admit I have a strange fascination with/fear of ventriloquist’s dummies and this film’s cover has a suitaby creepy one (named “Fats” in the movie). Look at that face! What an evil looking bastard. Can you imagine that thing sitting in your home? Staring at you? Watching you dress? Hogging the remote control? Leaving the toilet seat up? Well, Ann-Margret seemed to find it charming…

Anthony Hopkins is great in this & it’s easy to see why he’s become such a highly respected actor. This is the type of role that can go seriously wrong if not played right but he does the “vulnerable, possibly insane, slowly becoming unhinged” thing perfectly. Then we have the brilliant Burgess Meredith as Hopkins’ high-powered agent who is trying to get a TV show deal for Hopkins & Fats. Aww. I love Burgess Meredith! I’ve had a soft spot for him ever since his various roles in my absolute favorite TV show growing up, the original The Twilight Zone (he just wanted to be left alone to READ!). I suppose I should get around to watching those Rocky films someday, huh? Anyway, he was a delight in Magic & probably my favorite thing about it. He looked weird with a partially shaved head, though.

Speaking of The Twilight Zone, I suppose I have to admit that Magic’s story doesn’t feel totally original as it was done before in things such as, yes, The Twilight Zone as well as in the not-as-well-known-as-it-should-be British horror anthology Dead Of Night. However, this story is often repeated because it’s a damn good one & Goldman has created very strong characters in order to pull it off. I’ll always happily watch the various ways of going about telling this same “crazy ventriloquist OR crazy dummy?” story.

Unfortunately, while I adore movies from the Seventies, this one hasn’t aged quite as well as some. The strong characters stop when we get to the one female in this film: Ann-Margret. She played the role fine but her character is flaky & far too forgiving. But I suppose that’s kind of the point of her character as she’s married to a possessive man, meaning that when she has an affair with Hopkins & he starts displaying bizarre behavior she just puts up with it as it’s the sort of behavior she’s come to expect. It was a different time, though, and I can’t say this hurt the film too much overall. But I couldn’t help but think that I’d kick that crazy dude & his ugly dummy the hell out of my house! No, wait – I wouldn’t let them in in the first place. You are NOT coming into my house with that dummy. I don’t care if we were friends in high school! And don’t send me any social media friend requests, either. Weirdo.

Magic is a good film. It won’t become an all-time favorite of mine but I’m glad I finally watched it. The story is well told with strong characters but I have a feeling it maybe worked slightly better in the book? Has anyone here read it? However, the acting really makes this film far better than it would’ve been had less talented people been involved. I do recommend Magic if it appeals to you in any way as I think it would be worth your time, especially if you’re a fan of Hopkins & appreciate good performances.

My Rating: 7/10

This song is in no way, shape or form related to this film. It’s just now stuck in my head. And I like it. 😉

Audrey Rose (1977) & A Good Marriage (2014) Movie Reviews

I appear to have watched one too many horror films in the past year so I’m doing a special 2 for 1 deal for my dear readers. Today only! Get it while supplies last! I figured I’d put these two together as I don’t have a whole lot to say about either. I don’t mean that in a bad way – I really liked them both but, well, sometimes there’s just not a lot to say. This is why I’m not a writer… 😉 Let’s have two quickies, shall we?

Audrey Rose (1977)

Directed by Robert Wise

Based on Audrey Rose by Frank De Felitta

Starring: Marsha Mason, Anthony Hopkins, John Beck, Susan Swift

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A stranger attempts to convince a happily married couple that their daughter is actually his daughter reincarnated.

My Opinion:

This is the kind of supernatural story that’s right up my alley PLUS it’s set in one of my two absolute favorite decades (the groovy Seventies, when everyone looked like an ugly porn star) so I jumped at the chance to finally see this when it popped up on Netflix a while back. I love the pulp novel feel to the film’s story and I found out after watching it that it is indeed adapted from a book (with a great pulpy cover, which appears to have been partially used on that cool orange poster up above).

I find reincarnation a fascinating topic & thought this film had a pretty strong story. I’d probably enjoy the book (has anyone here read it?). The movie is helped by some very good performances, especially from Marsha Mason as the young girl’s mother & Anthony Hopkins as the heartbroken stranger who is convinced that Mason’s daughter is the reincarnation of his own daughter, who died in a car crash at the same time this girl was born. Hopkins was very convincing as a man, understandably, slightly crazed with grief while the girl’s parents were very believable as a loving, close-knit family who would do everything possible to protect their daughter.

Unfortunately, and I feel super bad saying this, the girl (Susan Swift) is the film’s weakest link. Which isn’t good as she’s the character who links everyone together… I can handle this as I grew up on 70s & 80s movies but younger people who watch these older films nowadays have to remind themselves that the quality of acting from children wasn’t in the same league back then. It still almost freaks me out how amazing Jacob Tremblay was in Room! Or Sennia Nanua in The Girl With All The Gifts (a fantastic “zombie film with a brain” that I highly recommend, by the way). “Bad” child acting was common in older movies, though, and I don’t think it’s the fault of the kids – I think maybe they just didn’t know how to direct them back then. But other than the girl’s distracting acting… Ha! That could be a song. Like Conjunction Junction! What’s your function? Distracting Acting! What are you, um, lacking? That doesn’t quite rhyme. What rhymes with acting?? I’m off topic! Now back to your regularly scheduled review:

I think Audrey Rose is a decent psychological thriller (despite distracting acting!) that’s been forgotten about as it’s definitely not at the same level as others from the same decade such as The Exorcist, Don’t Look Now, The Omen, etc. With so many greats being released at the time, it’s easy to see why this gets overlooked. Audrey Rose is more psychological than a full-on “horror” like those, though, and I’d compare it more to something like The Changeling (1980), which had a similar feel. I really did enjoy it and want to give it a higher rating but I have to admit it’s not perfect & I was sadly disappointed with the ending. It’s worth your time if you’re a fan of this decade & genre, though. I’m happy that I finally saw it.

My Rating: 6/10


“Distracting Acting! It’s DETRACTING!” *sing it!*

A Good Marriage (2014)

Directed by Peter Askin

Based on A Good Marriage in the short story collection Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Starring: Joan Allen, Anthony LaPaglia, Kristen Connolly, Stephen Lang

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After 25 years of a good marriage, what will Darcy do once she discovers her husband’s sinister secret?

My Opinion:

I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I’ve read almost every single one of his books (other than The Dark Tower series & Carrie for some strange reason – I love that movie). I think his short stories are just as fantastic & I recently reviewed one collection, The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams, in great detail HERE. That took me ages! And two people read that post. Thanks, you two! 😉 Anyway, you would think it would occur to me that I’d read the short story this film was based on but, nope, I totally didn’t remember reading it. Then, as I watched, I was like “Why does this seem familiar?”. What an idiot. I worry about my memory lately. I think it’s partly why I keep this blog going! Someday I’ll look back at that Bazaar Of Bad Dreams post to refresh my memory on what I read.

A Good Marriage is from King’s Full Dark, No Stars collection & it’s odd I didn’t really remember it as it’s a good, basic story of discovering that the person you married isn’t who you thought they were. This is one of those very “straightforward” King stories. I don’t want to give too much away but this isn’t in any way weird or supernatural, which may be why I didn’t remember it as I usually love his weirdest stuff the most.

Joan Allen gives a great performance as the wife who must decide what to do when she finds out the truth about her husband (Anthony LaPaglia, who perfectly plays a creepy horndog). Allen is the true star of this film and helps elevate it from something that otherwise had the potential to feel like a made-for-TV Lifetime movie. I’ve always thought she deserves more recognition than she seems to get. I also found her quite attractive in this… She has that “sexy older lady” vibe. She plays this character well, going from vulnerable & insecure to a woman determined to take charge of the situation in which she finds herself. And… I like the ending! I’m so rarely satisfied with the conclusions to films of this nature that I feel the need to point it out when I do like an ending. So, once again, good job on writing an enjoyable story Mr. King! Sorry I didn’t remember it. I think it’s just because I’m getting old. Old but with a sexy vibe, hopefully!

My Rating: 6/10

Okay, this is totally stuck in my head now…

**Starting Sunday, join me for Creepy Dolls Week! I’ll be reviewing some “creepy doll” movies, including a Blind Spot review for yet another Anthony Hopkins film released a year after Audrey Rose… 🙂