October Horror Month Roundup & My Top Ten

Happy Halloween, everyone! This wraps up another year of October Horror Month for me, which always makes me a little sad (but also a little happy since I can go back to reviewing all sorts of genres instead of just horror). Until October 2018… 🙂

Ah, the horror genre. Between horror & comedy, I’d have to say we get the largest number of movies that are complete & utter shit. Very disappointing. I suppose part of the reason may be that they’re probably the cheapest types of movies to make but, also, people’s tastes vary so widely on these genres so only a small handful end up with praise & high ratings.

It felt like I reviewed only a couple of good horrors in 2016 & that the rest were dreadful. This year I’ve again seen some truly abysmal horrors but, overall, I lucked out and saw some really good ones. Yay! On this list of 32 movies: I loved numbers 1-4, I liked numbers 5-9 quite a lot, and I thought numbers 10-15 were fine & had fun with them. The rest were meh or awful. But 15 decent ones out of 32 is REALLY good for the horror genre! Oh, I should add that I cheated a little & threw a few “thrillers” in as well. 

So here’s my ranked list, counting down to My Top Ten Horror & Thriller Movies Watched For 2017 October Horror Month:

32. The Forest
31. Lifeforce
30. The Neon Demon
29. Poltergeist (2015)
28. The Girl On The Train
27. Byzantium
26. Only Lovers Left Alive

25. Cooties
24. 1922
23. Cell
22. Ghostbusters (2016)
21. Ouija: Origin Of Evil

Top Twenty:

20. Green Room
19. Mother!
18. Alien: Covenant
17. Split
16. Get Out

15. Monster Hunter (aka Dark Was The Night)
14. The Watcher In The Woods
13. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
12. Before I Wake
11. The Babysitter

Top Ten:

10. The Witch
9. Pontypool
8. The Wailing
7. The Gift
6. Coherence

5. The Final Girls
4. House (Hausu) (1977)
3. Gerald’s Game
2. Train To Busan
1. It (2017)

Phew. Horror Month is over! Now I can go watch something happy & fun. Any recommendations? 🙂

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Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016) & The Girl On The Train (2016) Reviews

Two quick reviews of two film adaptations of two books I read. My reviews of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs can be found HERE & The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins HERE. Okay, one is a thriller but the other is close enough to being a “horror” so I’m doing these for October Horror Month. Let’s see what I thought of the movies…

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016)

Directed by Tim Burton

Screenplay by Jane Goldman

Based on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, Ella Purnell, Judi Dench, Samuel L. Jackson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that stretches across time, he finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But the danger deepens after he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.

My Opinion:

When I was in the middle of reading this book years ago, I said to the hubby “Tim Burton needs to make this into a movie”. Imagine my surprise when Hollywood did something right for a change! He was the absolute perfect choice to adapt this book & he did a very good job with it. The problem is that 1) I didn’t exactly love the book, although I loved the “gimmick” of the old photographs that were used throughout it and 2) Tim Burton hasn’t made anything truly fantastic in years, which still breaks my heart as I absolutely adored his oldest films. I’d say this was somewhat a return to form for Burton but, as I said, I didn’t love the source material so was unlikely to love the movie.

From what I remember of the book, it seems a faithful adaptation until the end. But I didn’t care enough to continue reading the books so it’s possible the movie continues a bit into the next book for all I know? I wouldn’t say it renewed my interest enough to read the remaining books but I’d certainly watch a sequel if Burton makes one. The performances were pretty strong and, like Burton being the perfect choice for director, I think Eva Green was a perfect choice for playing Miss Peregrine. The child actors also all did a good job (I think Burton always does well in casting his films), with the lead young roles (played by Asa Butterfield & Ella Purnell) as the standouts. Terence Stamp & especially Judi Dench weren’t given much to do, which was a shame. And I enjoyed Samuel L. Jackson as always (who doesn’t love Sam Jackson?!) but he’s phoning it in a bit with this baddie role. Sorry, Mr. Jackson! I apologize a trillion times!


Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a good adaptation of a bizarre book thanks to its also bizarre director. And I liked the look & vibe of it, as I always do with Burton’s style. I wish I liked both the book and the film more than I do, though. I like “weird” so can’t really put my finger on why the story didn’t quite work for me. With the book, I think I just couldn’t connect with the characters. To be fair, I think Burton improved on this with the film and I’d say this is one of those cases where the movie might be slightly better than the book. It also helped that it got a proper ending, as opposed to the open-ended cliffhanger that just left me frustrated with the book.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Girl On The Train (2016)

Directed by Tate Taylor

Based on The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Starring: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Haley Bennett, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Édgar Ramírez, Lisa Kudrow

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.

My Opinion:

I thought this book, although fun in a pulp-y sort of way, was pretty horrible. This was mainly because the characters were all truly hateful. The story itself was okay and I found it a very quick read as I wanted to get to the resolution of its mystery but, wow, I didn’t give the slightest crap what would happen to any of the characters. Not even ONE likable person? Really?? I’ll never understand stories that choose to make us despise everyone in them. And the thing with the baby upset me too much (and kind of pissed me off).

Well, the movie is a faithful adaptation, so… What can I say? I didn’t like the book so I wasn’t going to like a faithful adaptation anyway. The fact that is stars Emily Blunt, who is kind of a girl crush of mine, is what made me even bother to stick this on one evening & half pay attention to it. Meh. I don’t know. I just didn’t care. The actors did what they could with the material but the material was weak. Hold on a second – in this double review, Danny Elfman did the music for this movie but not the Tim Burton movie?! Now that’s bizarre.

My Rating: 5/10

The Gift (2015) & Coherence (2013) Reviews

Okay, these two aren’t horror films but they’re “mystery thrillers” (one a sci-fi mystery thriller) and it feels right to review them as part of October Horror Month. I love a good thriller! And these two weren’t too bad. Let’s discuss… 

The Gift (2015)

Directed & Written by Joel Edgerton

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, Tim Griffin, Allison Tolman, Beau Knapp, P.J. Byrne, David Denman, Busy Philipps, Wendell Pierce, Katie Aselton, Mirrah Foulkes, Nash Edgerton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years.

My Opinion:

I thought this was a good film in terms of “psychological mind-fuckery”. I love psychological horrors & thrillers and Joel Edgerton’s character was creepy as shit. It’s a hard film to discuss without spoiling the outcome. I’ll just say that the horrible thing that may or may not occur (and it is truly disturbing) is left up to interpretation. I love it when it’s left up to the audience to decide. Did he or didn’t he?! Oh man, I hope not. It’s my own personal opinion that he did NOT. But that’s the whole point of the psychological fuckery behind Edgerton’s character’s motives. It’s a well written psychological thriller and I did enjoy it (despite being somewhat offended and grossed-out…!).

Sorry for the vague review. If you’ve not seen it, it’s better if you don’t know much about it. I’d compare it to another rather random favorite “psychological mind-fuckery” film of mine: Malice starring Nicole Kidman & Alec Baldwin. I’ve not thought of that one in a long time. I can’t exactly say that was a “great” film but it was a thoroughly entertaining thriller. Hmm… Another one that comes to mind is David Fincher’s The Game (although I wouldn’t say The Gift was as good as The Game). Another fun one was Shattered (1991). Overall, The Gift is a decent psychological thriller & I wish more films like this were still made. It feels like we don’t get as many movies within this genre nowadays as we did in the 80s/early 90s. I’d like to see more being made again (even if they’re cheesy like those 80s/early 90s ones often were!). It’s a fun genre.

My Rating: 7/10

Coherence (2013)

Directed & Written by James Ward Byrkit

Starring: Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.

My Opinion:

This movie is very much my type of thing (mindfuck sci-fi!) and I really liked it. I need to see it again, though. This is one of those movies that you’ll probably need to rewatch to catch things you may have missed the first time around. So, hey hubby! I know you were annoyed I watched this without you. I’ll rewatch it with you sometime! 😉

I’ll say it starts out quite slow and some of the friends who’ve gathered for a dinner party had the potential to really get on my nerves. Why are people at dinner parties in movies so annoying? Who the hell has dinner parties in real life anyway? Maybe I just have no class. If you come to my house, I’ll just order a pizza & we can watch a movie! Anyway, this started out a bit like a thriller I reviewed last year for October Horror Month: The Invitation (which I also quite liked despite it starting out with some annoying dinner party wankers). But Coherence gets far more weird than that one. Oh I do love weird!

In reading about this, I read that director & writer James Ward Byrkit was inspired by The Twilight Zone, which would explain why I liked it since that’s my absolute favorite TV series ever. It does have a very Twilight Zone feel. I do have to compare it to a few other movies I’ve seen in the past few years to better give you an idea of what it’s like. By the way, I recommend all these films: Primer (although it was WAY over my head), Predestination (love this crazy time travel mind-bender), and Circle (fantastic story in which a group of 50 strangers wake up in a mysterious room and realize that someone will die every two minutes & that they have the ability to choose who will be next). To be honest, although I thought Coherence was pretty great, I think I was slightly underwhelmed simply because I saw Predestination & Circle first and I thought they were brilliant mindfuck science fiction films. If you watch them, just keep an open mind. Especially with Circle, which seemed very low budget but had such a good story that I didn’t care.

As for Coherence, I’d probably again say it’s best to not know too much beforehand so I’ve not gotten into any specifics about the story. I love the idea that comets could totally mess us up, though. That’s such 1950’s Twilight Zone thinking! I will just say that they don’t all turn into weird comet-zombies like in Night Of The Comet (that movie kicks ass, by the way). 😉 I do recommend this movie to lovers of sci-fi weirdness and promise you’ll enjoy the story after the dinner party wankers stop being annoying once the weird shit starts going down.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Music Video Friday: Michael Jackson – Thriller

Today’s video is Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

As usual, I’ll be posting nothing but horror reviews & horror top ten lists through all of October so I’ll be skipping Music Video Fridays. I’ve already started my “Halloween Month” a little early by posting My Top Ten Chocolate Bars yesterday so figured I’d post a Halloween-y video today. What better choice is there than Thriller? 🙂

I’m not going to write much about this video as I can’t exactly add any facts that won’t be known by most people anyway. Right??? I hope you’ve all seen this video, directed by John Landis after Michael Jackson saw his film An American Werewolf In London. And you all know that Vincent Price does the spoken word in the song, I assume. Everyone has seen this video. Thriller is probably the greatest & most well known video of all time. My kid keeps bugging me to see this video (I’ve told her she’s not old enough yet but she loves Jackson’s songs).

Here’s one interesting fact from Wikipedia that I didn’t know:

“To qualify for an Academy Award as a short subject, the film was shown in a theatrical screening along with the 1940 Disney animated feature Fantasia, in December 1983; however, the video failed to earn an Academy Award nomination.”

I’ll never forget this being shown all the time in the good old days of MTV when they actually showed music videos & the neighbor boy running out of his house one day & yelling “Thriller is on MTV!” at me & then running back into his house. I of course ran straight inside to watch it as well. I also remember the slight controversy when we watched the “Making of Thriller” documentary at school since we were maaaaaybe a little too young to be shown that. Ah, the good old days when people didn’t freak the hell out & sue people over every little thing! I turned out just FINE even though I saw that documentary. RIGHT??!?!!?!?! 😉

Well, here’s the video even though you’ve all seen it. See you next week for my Month Of HORROR!!!! *Insert Vincent Price laugh here*

Music Video Friday: Pat Benatar – Love Is A Battlefield 

I managed to do 2 weeks of Music Video Friday without posting a video from the Eighties! So I think it’s time to post this 80’s classic: Pat Benatar’s Love Is A Battlefield. Get your shoulder shimmy shake ready!

I wouldn’t say that Pat Benatar was a favorite singer of mine growing up, although I did like several of her songs. As far as female singers go, I was more of a Heart fan. Although, looking up Pat Benatar’s songs now for this post, there are some good ones I’d forgotten about. Shadows Of The Night! Invincible! Maybe I need a Best Of!

Love Is A Battlefield, released in September 1983, reached number one in the U.S. charts (while only reaching 17 in the U.K. Boo!). Anyway, the video was one of the staples of MTV’s early days. Remember when MTV was good?!? No, most of you are too young but, trust me, MTV used to be the greatest damn thing EVER. It was all MUSIC. Man I miss those days. I’ll never forget being outside my house at the age of about ten when the cute neighbor boy ran out of his house & shouted at me “Thriller is on MTV!!!!!” and then ran back into his house like a maniac. Lol. God he was adorable…

Where was I? Oh! Pat Benatar! I love how Eighties videos so often had cheesy little melodramatic stories. So… Pat Benatar runs away from her parents even though she looks about 30 then ends up some weird kind of dancing hooker or something. But she’s able to escape her pimp by doing an angry shoulder shimmy shake at him! Take that, you nasty dancing pimp! I’d love to be a superhero where my superpower was the shoulder shimmy shake. How awesome would that be?! You have to admit it’s less lame than an Ant-Man. The logo could be like Superman’s but with a triple S instead of just the one S. I like it! I’d photoshop that if I was any good at that sort of thing! 

Well, this post has kind of gone off track. Here’s the video but I’d be very surprised if there’s anyone who has never seen this work of art. Ah, the good old days! 🙂

*chart information from Wikipedia 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Book Review)

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

What It’s About:

On the morning of Nick Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary, his wife Amy goes missing. The police immediately suspect Nick. The mystery unravels as we get to know Nick in present time throughout the investigation and Amy through her past diary entries.

My Thoughts:

This isn’t normally the type of novel that I read. I’m always reading Stephen King (or Dean Koontz when I need something lighter than King) or the tons of quite good young adult fiction that’s floating around these days. But sometimes I grab one of these best seller types for proper “adults”. I really did enjoy the story in this book and would possibly read one of Flynn’s other books in the future (after Doctor Sleep, of course).

This book is pretty much impossible to talk about without spoiling the entire story so I’ll have to focus more on the characters. It’s definitely the story that had me hooked. I always prefer when the main characters are likeable in books and in Gone Girl they definitely aren’t. Nick & Amy got on my nerves. They’re both writers (absolutely nothing wrong with writers! I’d love to be able to be a writer!). But sometimes I find this a little annoying in books. I know you often “write what you know” so that’s why books so often feature writers (hell, King is the worst for this & I love his stuff). Nick & Amy are both a little pretentious & totally selfish and the things they do and the way they act just didn’t feel very realistic. The way they bicker is more like a couple who has been together for YEARS & maybe had kids and all that – it’s hard to believe a marriage is so awful after only five years but, then again, they both seem like extremely hard people to live with. Amy’s parents are odd, her ex-boyfriend is weird, and past situations involving Amy are too far-fetched. For a smart guy, Nick is a dope who does some idiotic things. The best character is Nick’s twin sister – she provides some laughs. And the main investigator is okay. But none of the characters in the book felt “real” to me, even though they were very well written. Gillian Flynn does do a great job fleshing them out & I felt I knew them very well by the end of the book – I just didn’t “like” them.

The story, however, is great. Lots of twists & turns that constantly keep you guessing. I take ages to get through a book but I finished this one pretty quick as I wanted to know what would happen. I liked how the story is told from two sides (Nick’s story as it happens & Amy’s story through her diary). It was an interesting way to get to know the characters. Unfortunately, the first half of the book was better than the second half and the story does fall apart a bit. Then… The ending. I won’t say a word but that must have divided people. I wasn’t crazy about it but it sort of makes sense. It will be interesting to see what they do with the movie. It could make a very good movie if done right. It’s being made by David Fincher so it has potential. However, it’s also starring Ben Affleck so… Maybe not. SO wrong for the part of Nick! Rosamund Pike doesn’t seem a bad choice for Amy, though, so we shall see. Oh, and Doogie Howser is in it, too.

Summary:

Gone Girl is an exciting psychological thriller that constantly keeps you guessing with its twists & turns. Flynn has written a very entertaining story that seems destined for the big screen so I’m not surprised that we’ll be seeing the film soon. The main characters, although unlikeable and almost impossible to relate to, are richly developed & very complex and you’ll feel like you know them by the end of the book. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys a thriller with a good mystery you won’t have completely figured out by the second page.

My Rating: 3.5/5