Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reposting my mini-reviews of The Funhouse & The Monster…
The Funhouse (1981) (also released as Carnival of Terror)
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Starring: Elizabeth Berridge, Cooper Huckabee, Largo Woodruff, Miles Chapin, Kevin Conway, Sylvia Miles, William Finley
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film’s plot concerns four teenagers who become trapped in a dark ride at a local carnival and are stalked by a deformed killer inside.
My Brief Opinion:
Not only do I love 70’s horror… I also love cheesy 80’s horror! So this Tobe Hooper movie seemed right up my alley. PLUS it’s set in a carnival and I always love this sort of setting. And a Funhouse! What’s better than a creepy-ass Funhouse?! Well… damn. This movie isn’t exactly the worst 80’s horror I’ve seen since I’ve seen MANY bad ones – It’s just very forgettable. Maybe I hyped it up too much in my mind. Meh. Watch it only if you’re sad like me and feel the urge to watch every movie ever made in my favorite sort of genres…
My Rating: 5/10
The Monster (2016)
Directed & Written by Bryan Bertino
Starring: Zoe Kazan & Ella Ballentine
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Its plot follows a troubled mother and her adolescent daughter who find themselves stranded at night on a country road with a malicious creature hunting them.
My Brief Opinion:
This was fine for a (I’m assuming) low-budget indie “horror”. It’s more of a psychological horror, although you do see the monster (even though it’s symbolic of the mother and her strained relationship with her daughter). If you want a straight-up horror, this one probably won’t be your kind of thing. If you want an indie drama about a mother & daughter with some decent acting (for a “horror” movie), you might like this one. But I gotta admit it’s a little boring & the mother (played by Zoe Kazan) is a little too hateful.
– A Matter Of Life And Death – I loved this! Why isn’t this movie more well known?? I decided to check it out when I saw people on Twitter highly recommending it when it was on TV. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis if you’ve not heard of it: “A British wartime aviator who cheats death must argue for his life before a celestial court.” It’s a 1946 British film starring David Niven and Kim Hunter and it’s pretty damn epic. It reminded me of the great classics such as It’s A Wonderful Life. I loved the Technicolor look of it and the gorgeous elaborate sets (as far as 1946 films go). It also has a Wizard Of Oz vibe with the parts of the film that are set on Earth being in color and those in Heaven being in black & white. Fantastic!
This is also one of those old romantic films where the couple fall in love IMMEDIATELY. Like, they knew each for two whole seconds. Man I love that about old romances, like the super mushy Brief Encounter (which has the best sexual tension EVER). I love old movies and their sexless romance! I also love that everyone in old films looks at least 45. At one point David Niven said his age (27) and I was like “You’re shitting me!” Anyway. This movie was a lovely surprise and I highly recommend it if you like wartime romances and/or unique stories. There’s also some playful “American vs British” stuff that was quite fun and an enjoyable character in a small role as a stereotypical cocky American soldier (he was kind of hot, too). – 8/10
– Infernal Affairs (Mou gaan dou) – This was great. I’ve been focusing on watching the remainder of the movies for my IMDb Top 250 Project. I prefer to see the original film before a Hollywood remake but didn’t manage that this time. Martin Scorsese’s The Departed is very good and a fairly faithful remake but, as expected, the original is better. I have a lot of IMDb film reviews to catch up on this year so I’ll do a review of this one along with the rest at some point. I highly recommend it if you liked The Departed (and if you’ve not seen The Departed, watch this one first!). – 7.5/10
– Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner – I’ve been meaning to explore more of Sidney Poitier’s work so have finally managed to watch both this and In The Heat Of The Night, which was one that I chose as a 2019 Blind Spot film. In The Heat Of The Night is a better film but this one is also worth watching, mainly for the great performances (especially Poitier’s & Hepburn’s). I wasn’t crazy about his love interest but I think that’s just because her character was so annoyingly happy. She also just seemed a bit weak in comparison to the heavyweight stars in this one – these are proper ACTORS. The movie is obviously going to seem dated now and people might find it slightly uncomfortable to watch but, hell, I wouldn’t say that the times have changed as much as you’d have expected by now (just over 50 freaking YEARS later!). So I think it’s still a very relevant film & certainly worth a watch to see some classic actors at their usual best. The movie itself could’ve been slightly better – it does drag a little and the “stage play” feeling won’t be for everyone but I’m happy to say I’ve seen another Poitier film and think he’s fantastic. I don’t feel like the stars of today have the same sort of presence as classic stars such as Poitier & Hepburn. I should really watch more old films… – 7/10
– Touch Of Evil – This is another IMDb Top 250 film so I’ll review it in full with the rest in a separate post. It was good but not a favorite of mine compared to the others I’ve watched from the Top 250 since starting this blog. – 7/10
– The Wild Bunch – This is another Top 250 film as well as one of my 2019 Blind Spot choices so will get a full review later. I have to say that, while it’s a good film, I was a bit disappointed. I’ve watched several Westerns now since starting this blog and far prefer the others I’ve watched, such as Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy. – 7/10
– In Order Of Disappearance – The is the original Norwegian film of Liam Neeson’s Cold Pursuit (which I’ve not seen but the hubby enjoyed). It’s fine. It’s a decent revenge story and I can certainly see why they remade it with Neeson – it’s SO the type of film he’s typecast in now. To be honest, though, where I’m so behind on writing this I now don’t even remember it all that well. It’s an entertaining crime film but that’s never been a favorite genre of mine and I clearly find the movies in this genre a bit forgettable. – 6.5/10
– Snowpiercer – Hmm. After waiting YEARS to finally get the opportunity to see this 2013 film in the U.K. and all the hype surrounding it, I have to say I was pretty disappointed. I was very much looking forward to seeing John Hurt again, though (R.I.P.), and I did love seeing him in this. At least I did have my doubts beforehand as I didn’t really like Bong Joon-ho’s movie Okja. However, I liked his film The Host and loved the crazy ass concept in Snowpiercer so was very interested in seeing it. People live on a motherfucking train that never stops and travels around the entire frozen apocalyptic Earth. That’s nuts. I love a weird ass story. I bet the French graphic novelthis is based on, Le Transperceneige, is fun. I hope it’s better than this film, which was hard to fully get into as most of the characters are unlikeable and poorly developed. Strong characters are very important to me and annoying characters do seem to be a problem with Bong Joon-ho’s films that I’ve seen. I also hate over-the-top caricatures and hated Tilda Swinton in both this & Okja. Sorry, Swinton fans! It just threw me out of both movies. Chris Evans is fine but, again, by the end you kind of don’t care about him anymore (I won’t say why). I did, however, like the two characters who also happen to be the only likeable characters from The Host, so that helped the movie a bit and I was fine with how it ended. I’m just disappointed as the story itself had so much potential to be a really kick ass movie but it tries too hard to be weird & quirky and it fails massively in making you give the slightest shit about the characters. Great concept wasted. – 6.5/10
– Lu Over The Wall – This was an odd one. First of all, if you want to see a good anime film about a weird fishgirl, do yourself a favor and watch Ponyo. And watch all the other Studio Ghibli movies. And Akira. And Ghost In The Shell. And Wolf Children. And Your Name. I’m no anime expert as I clearly stick to the most mainstream stuff but Lu Over The Wall is the sort of thing you’d watch after checking out more well-known anime first. It’s a cute movie but definitely aimed at a younger audience (maybe 13 and under). The mermaid, Lu, is sweet but a fraction annoying. The story is simple and the characters are likeable enough but slightly dull. I just far prefer the artistic beauty & otherworldliness of Studio Ghibli. The best way to describe it is to say that Lu Over The Wall is the equivalent of a DreamWorks movie in the West: Enjoyable enough for a couple of hours of entertainment but ultimately forgettable. – 6.5/10
– Adrift – This was fine. I’d probably have liked it more with a different actress as I find Shailene Woodley annoying. But I’m always intrigued by true stories of people lost at sea (maybe because the thought of being adrift in the middle of the ocean freaks me out). If true story disaster dramas are your thing, this one is worth a watch. It’s exactly what I expected but most movies in this sort of genre are pretty predictable. – 6/10
– The Wandering Earth – This Chinese sci-fi film was disappointing but had potential and certainly had plenty of ambition. Here’s the crazy IMDb synopsis: “As the sun is dying out, people all around the world build giant planet thrusters to move Earth out of its orbit and sail Earth to a new star system. Yet the 2500-year journey comes with unexpected dangers, and in order to save humanity, a group of young people in this age of a wandering Earth fight hard for the survival of humankind.” Hey – it’s no more outrageous than Snowpiercer! I just wish the characters had been stronger, which would have made up for the expected cheesiness of this story. The movie looked very good, which I enjoyed. It’s just a shame that the story is too much like cheesy Western sci-fi (I kept thinking of The Core from 2003). Oh well. It was entertaining enough for a couple of hours and I’m always happy to watch science fiction. – 6/10
– King Of Thieves – I found this a bit disappointing as well. Ever since the real life Hatton Garden raid, I’ve been wanting them to make a movie of it starring Michael Caine. Casting that’s predictable as hell, yes, but he had to be in it! No one was more perfect for this role. But, somehow, they managed to make a movie about an amazing heist quite boring. I guess that’s kind of the point, though – these old British dudes managed this huge heist but it won’t have been all sleek & stylish like Ocean’s Eleven. It was a real heist, not a sexy Hollywood heist. I just wanted to like it more and to kind of like the characters, even though they’re criminals. They weren’t well developed and I’m still not exactly sure why they even did this robbery. – 6/10
– The Monster – This was fine for a (I’m assuming) low-budget indie “horror”. It’s more of a psychological horror, although you do see the monster (even though it’s symbolic of the mother and her strained relationship with her daughter). If you want a straight-up horror, this one probably won’t be your kind of thing. If you want an indie drama about a mother & daughter with some decent acting (for a “horror” movie), you might like this one. But I gotta admit it’s a little boring & the mother (played by Zoe Kazan) is a little too hateful. – 6/10
– The Sentinel (1977) – Ugh. I love 70’s horror so had been meaning to check this out for a while as I’d never seen it. Plus, it has Burgess Meredith in it (love him!). I wasn’t missing much. There was some messy, incoherent story about, I dunno… priests or some shit? It doesn’t matter – the story was stupid. There was some fun weirdness in this, though, and some unnecessary nudity. Maybe that’s why some people remember this fondly; they got to see some boobies and therefore forgot that the overall film was a bit crap.
Oh, we also got to see Beverly D’Angelo playing with herself…
Yeah, that’s ruined National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for me a bit. What’s funny is that, for a crap 70’s horror, this had some very big names in it! Here are some of them: Cristina Raines, Chris Sarandon, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, John Carradine, Jerry Orbach, Tom Berenger, and, of course, Beverly D’Angelo masturbating. This movie was a real waste of some big stars. – 5/10
– The Funhouse – Not only do I love 70’s horror… I also love cheesy 80’s horror! So this Tobe Hooper movie seemed right up my alley. PLUS it’s set in a carnival and I always love this sort of setting. And a Funhouse! What’s better than a creepy-ass Funhouse?! Well… damn. This movie isn’t exactly the worst 80’s horror I’ve seen since I’ve seen MANY bad ones – It’s just very forgettable. Maybe I hyped it up too much in my mind. Meh. Watch it only if you’re sad like me and feel the urge to watch every movie ever made in my favorite sort of genres… – 5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
– The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – Don’t have much spare time at the moment so haven’t really been reading. I’m slowly working my way through this book as the movie is coming out in September. It’s good so far – I just wish it was much shorter! I shouldn’t have started such a long novel at the moment…
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Game Of Thrones– In my last Roundup post, I was partway through the final season and didn’t write much as the show was annoying me. I said I’d write more about it when it was finished. I can’t be fucking bothered to write anything now. Kind of like the writers clearly couldn’t be bothered to write the final season of Game Of Thrones… What a massive letdown after this started out as some of the best TV with the best writing in years.
– Grey’s Anatomy – Ha. Whatever. Fuck this show. I only continue to watch it since I have to now that it’s been on so damn long. Come to think of it, I can’t even remember what the hell happened this season. What was the usual cliffhanger? Wow. I honestly can’t remember. That’s bad.
Well, it’s July now and I’ve watched the first two episodes of season 3 of Stranger Things. Am hoping it’ll be better than Season 2.
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
My plan is to hopefully catch up on reviewing current films. I’ve just watched Spider-Man: Far From Home & I’m posting a review of Midsommar tomorrow.
Upcoming Movies I Want To See:
As I’m so far behind on this post, I’ve already seen all that I could have of June’s cinema releases. So here’s a quick list of the 2019 movies I saw in June (and which I’ll also try to review at some point):
Toy Story 4 – 8/10
Yesterday – 7.5/10
Rocketman – 7.5/10
Ma – 7/10
Child’s Play (2019) – 6.5/10
Booksmart – 7/10
Wine Country – 6.5/10
Brightburn – 6.5/10
Boogaloo Shrimp Documentary – 6.5/10
Murder Mystery – 5.5/10
There was no memorable music in the movies I watched in May so let’s just watch this video of Keanu Reeves with puppies.
I love Dean Koontz. Yeah, I’m a huge Stephen King fan but I’ve spent almost as many years obsessively reading Koontz books as well. I started reading King in my teens but was introduced to Koontz in my early 20s when a relative recommended him and let me borrow some of her books. I was immediately hooked.
I’ll always remember the very first Koontz books I read (The Funhouse was my first and then Whispers, The Servants Of Twilight & Dragon Tears). So each of these make it into my top ten but this may be partly because of the fond memories I have of reading my first Dean Koontz books. The Funhouse was admittedly cheesy & pulpy but it’ll always be special to me since it was my first. And I do love that sort of setting for stories (as you’ll see by my number one choice).
In looking up his books on Wikipedia for this list, I’ve now seen JUST how many books Koontz had written. Wow! His first novel was published in 1968 when he was 23. No wonder I can’t keep them all straight in my head. As so many involve similar supernatural stories & characters, there are some books where I honestly can’t remember if I’ve read them or not and some I know I read but can’t remember a thing about. I’ve listed everything after my top ten. As with Stephen King books, I do find it interesting that I remember some of the books I read 20 years ago more than some that I read more recently. Why is that?
Anyway! Dean Koontz books are a hell of a lot of fun and I recommend his stuff if you love supernatural stories (and horror and a bit of sci-fi). He also always writes very likable characters, which is important to me. And dogs! The guy loves dogs and you’ll find plenty in his books.
So here are My Top Ten Dean Koontz Books (at the moment). Counting down to my favorite…
10. TIE: Dragon Tears & The Servants Of Twilight 9. Whispers 8. The Funhouse 7. Strangers 6. Fear Nothing & Seize The Night (Moonlight Bay Series) (I could do with re-reading – think a 3rd in this series is coming out?) 5. Cold Fire 4. Lightning 3. Odd Thomas Series(I’ve read books 1 through 4 so far – the first is the best by FAR but the character is fantastic and I’ll definitely read them all) 2. Watchers 1. Twilight Eyes
Life Expectancy, Darkfall, Phantoms, Sole Survivor, Hideaway, Ticktock
More Honorable Mentions:
The Moonlit Mind, The Face, The Good Guy, The Darkest Evening Of The Year, One Door Away From Heaven, Dark Rivers Of The Heart, The Door To December, Mr. Murder
I Read But Didn’t Love:
From The Corner Of His Eye (was this the puking & pooping one??), False Memory, The Key To Midnight, Shadow Fires, Winter Moon, The Mask
Think I Read But Can’t Remember:
The Voice Of The Night, The House Of Thunder, Midnight, Strange Highways, Velocity, The Husband
Honestly Don’t Know If I Read:
Night Chills, The Face Of Fear, The Bad Place, Intensity
Some I think I Definitely Haven’t Read: (Christmas present ideas!) 😉
Frankenstein Series (I have the first book – should I make a start?), Makina Series, Jane Hawk Series, Demon Seed (but I’ve seen the movie), Shattered (I have this so I’ll read it soon), The Vision, The Eyes Of Darkness, Icebound, By The Light Of The Moon, The Taking, Your Heart Belongs To Me, Relentless, Breathless, What The Night Knows & Darkness Under The Sun, 77 Shadow Street, Wilderness, Innocence, The Neighbor, The City, Ashley Bell, Ricochet Joe (I have this – it’s an interactive Kindle book with moving images. Sounds interesting!)
By the way – Koontz has also used ten pen names & I’m now determined to find a copy of all his oldest & most obscure books. I’ve not even listed his most obscure. This dude has seriously pumped out loads of books! And I hope that continues for many more years. Happy Birthday, Dean Koontz!