October 31 Day Horror Movie Challange Part Two: The Ones That Made The Cut
In 2017 I started the tradition of watching a horror movie a day for the entire 31 days of October. I continued this tradition in 2018 and watched some of the favourite horror movies of my friends and family, which can be found listed here.
In every movie, there are horror movies and horror characters which were real stand outs for me during my viewing process. Like last years The Ones That Made The Cut article, here are the best of the best from my 2018 viewing sesh! Please note though that the below will contain spoilers.
Best Death Scene In A Horror Movie: Clara and Koldo in Rec 3: Genesis
2017 Winner: Mike in Tucker and Dale Vs Evil
Zombie deaths certainly get more and more gruesome and unique the more zombies become the norm, but there really is so many times you can watch the hero of the day slice a chainsaw blade through the skull of an infected human. Sure it's awesome, but it's no longer unique. The Spanish zombie film Rec 3: Genesis certainly got the awesome heroine right. The star of the story is definetly the bride Clara (played by Leticia Dolera) who is seen running around with a ripped wedding dress, short black hair and smudged make up, heels, wedding garter, and chainsaw in hand. But the best death of the 31 horror movies I watched was not at the hands of the heroine - rather the death of the heroine herself.
Unfortunately bitten in the last couple of minutes of the movie, Clara asks her newly minted husband Koldo (played by Diego Martin) to cut her hand off with an axe. In many zombie tropes, this act should work against the zombie virus, but alas Clara starts to succumb to the virus and turns, just as they reach the sealed exit of the manor.
Armless, still in a wedding gown and coughing up blood, Clara is carried over the threshold of the preservation zone by Koldo to meet a troop of gun weilding guards. Despite knowing this is clearly the end, Koldo and Clara share one final passionate kiss - before Clara promptly turns and bites off his tongue. Spitting it out, the manic Clara and the devestated Koldo are then peppered in an impressive round of bullets before falling dead next to each other in a mixed pool of blood.
It was an obvious ending the moment Koldo comes out holding Clara, but it summed up the zombie film in a pretty impressive - and somewhat romantisized - way. Definetly one of the more spectacular and slightly unique deaths in the 31 horror movies I watched this month.
Strongest Victim In A Horror Movie: Kirby in Scream 4
2017 Winner: Reece in Green Room
The character of Kirby Reed in Scream 4 has a Randy vibe from the original Scream movie, and is the classic cool kid before the characters of Audrey and Noah took over her style in the Scream TV show. Played by the uber cool Hayden Panettiere, Kirby is a short-haired, horror movie loving afiando who is one of the best friends of Sidney Prescott's niece Jilll.
Kirby's look isn't all that cements her as being the "strongest victim" in a horror movie - it's actually her knowledge of all things horror that makes her a stand out character. Scream is really the only franchise to use horror movie knowledge in the actual movie plotlines and Scream 4 is no exception. One of the most notable sequences of the film is where Kirby is on the phone to the Ghostface killer who is asking her questions about her favourite scary movies. Kirby then starts rattling off a list of horror movies and answering the weapons of the killers in rapid fire and manages to beat the killer to the punchline - until she is stabbed by a surprised killer.
Despite not making it out alive, Kirby is every strong horror-loving character who isn't final girl enough to make it to end, but strong enough to survive as far as possible, which is why she gets my "2018 Strongest Victim in a Horror Movie" award.
Most Surprising Slasher Movie: The Final Girls
2017 Winner: The Babysitter
Watching The Final Girls was a bit of an after thought, but I am so glad I did! Starring American Horror Story's Taissa Farmiga, Vikings sexbomb Alexander Ludwig and always the co-star Malin Aikerman, The Final Girls is a surprising mix of horror and comedy that takes the basic plotline of a slasher film to a fun new height.
Farmiga plays Max Cartwright, a girl who is mourning the death of her actress mother Amanda (Aikerman). Amanda's claim to fame was playing the classic "slut" character of Nancy in a 1980's horror movie that is of a similar vein of Friday the 13th, complete with a machete weilding killer. One Halloween Max goes to a special tribute showing of her mothers movie with her friends (including Arrested Development's Alia Shawcat and Flatliner's Nina Debrov) only to be sucked into the movie itself by a twist of fate.
As the group navigate their way through the film, Max relishes the time she can spend with her mother again, only to have to fight the maniacal killer of the slasher franchise. The film is done in an excellent way - with heaps of surprising action shots and a fun new way to follow a slasher film. But the film gets my "Most Suprising Slasher Movie" award thanks to the awesome slow-motion running attack scene that takes place half way through the movie. The whole movie slows down (it doesn't go unnoticed by the time travellers themselves) and the killer chases after them while on fire. The whole scene was epic, and cemented the movie as a must watch!
Most Realistic Horror Movie: The Skeleton Key
2017 Winner: The Belko Experiment
If you don't believe in it, it's not real right? Everyone has their own belief systems, and generally if you are open and willing to receive information or spiritual guidence from any source, even a small amount of belief is enough to change your mind-set, your thinking, or even yourself. This is essentially what befell Kate Hudson in the excellent movie The Skeleton Key.
The Skeleton Key is about a hospice worker named Caroline (played by Hudson) who moves to an isolated home in the swamps of New Orleans to help out an elderly man who had a stoke and can no longer function without assistance. As Caroline explores her new home she begins to experience paranormal instances and her belief system is piqued as she witnesses things she never thought possible. As she continues to try and unravel the mystery that surrounds the hoodoo origins of the house, she realises that seeing ends up being believing.
I loved this movie, and I found it the most realistic because the nature of hoodoo and voodoo is extremely alive and well in the town of New Orleans. The belief system and the rituals are strong, and it wouldn't be hard to begin to believe in these practices with exposure. Caroline's eventual belief was as realistic as you could expect for someone in her position, and that's why I deemed it the most realistic of the horror films I saw during the 31 Day October Challenge this year.
Best Villian In A Horror Movie: Tiffany in Bride of Chucky
2017 Winner: Sam from Trick R Treat
Tiffany from Bride of Chucky (and subsequently Seed of Chucky and Curse of Chucky too) is my absolute favourite horror character ever. The reason behind that is her look - she just looks so damn cool! The character of Tiffany is played by the sweet-talking Jennifer Tilley and her look at the beginning of Bride of Chucky is to die for. With bleached blonde hair, a gothic latex-fashion style and a chest tattoo of a stabbed heard with Chucky written above it, Tiffany oozes the sex appeal of a fetish artist and lives up to the opening title theme song of Rob Zombie's "Living Dead Girl".
After resurrecting the doll of Chucky back to life and toying with him (quite literally) Chucky gets his own back on his old girlfriend by killing her and channelling her spirit into a bride doll. Pissed off with her new look, Tiffany then redoes her doll self to resemble her old look, with blonde hair, dark make up, a white bridal dress and a leather jacket, making her the coolest little killer (and doll) around! She joins Chucky in on his killing spree, but focuses more on killing off characters who may have done her wrong, or gone against her general (if not skewed) principles. It's a fun mix, and she is definetly my vote for the "Best Villian in a Horror Movie".
Most Horrifying Horror Movie: The Shining
2017 Winner: The Hills Have Eyes
There is a reason why this 1980's horror movie based on the Stephen King novel remains a masterpiece of modern horror well into the 21st Century. The tension is foreboding as it builds, the monumental images of the ghost twins, the elevator of blood, and the dead woman in the bath continue to haunt as the most iconic images in horror ever, and a young Jack Nicholson is so terrifyingly demonic like it's hard not to be scared of his face alone.
But the reason that The Shining has surpassed all the blood and gore of my slasher binge to be crowned 2018's "Most Horrifying Horror Movie" is the abject realism of sexism and abuse that provides the start of the climax. The story is about a small family who are isolated in a hotel as caretakers for the winter and when an evil presence begins to influence the father (played by Nicholson) he turns on his family in an attempt to kill them.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" but the most horrifying and gripping part of the movie is when the father Jack finally turns on his wife. He menacingly walks towards her, forcing her up the stars, yelling and belittling her with his demonic smile and evil face. Other than threatening and yelling at her, he hasn't yet hurt her, cut her, or make her bleed, but it's this build up of on coming violence that is terrifying. His wife Wendy is clearly petrified, warningly swinging a baseball bat with no real attempt to use it on him due to the fact that she is clearly so under his thumb.
This scene is truely horrifying to watch because it depicts a very real look into the fear and terror that goes on behind domestic abuse. Cannibals and rippers may be bloody and cruel, but it's hard to go past the cruel look in a husband's eyes as he abuses and threatens his wife. The reason The Shining earns its top spot as being the most horrifying horror movie of the last almost three decades, is the very real depiction of horror that can happen in your own home.
The One That Didn't Make The Cut: Halloween
2017 Winner: This is a new category
When I watched this movie I was so underwhelmed that I decided to create a new category for my The Ones Who Made The Cut series that I have labelled The one that DIDNT make the cut. This sad prize goes to the 1978 horror classic Halloween starring Jamie Lee Curtis. Now Halloween is often revered as a cult slasher classic, and while it has never reached the heights of popularity that Scream, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, Michael Myers was seen as one of 'the' slasher killers of the 70's and 80's. To this day it still sits on a 93% rating on Rotton Tomatoes.
Looking at it with a modern lense, the film itself is quite artsy. Full of sweeping long shots, monumental horror images, and homages to the great Alfred Hitchcock, Halloween for the better part doesn't have much else going for it. It seems like a really fucking long movie and that most of it is made up of Jamie Lee Curtis' character Laurie walking through the quiet and neat surburban streets of her home with Myers simply standing, watching, and stalking her. His stalking is unsettling yes, but the movie is so slow moving that it sits on absolutely boring.
I am keen to see how time has faired on this series, and gladly will watch the 2007 version starring Scout Taylor-Compton to see if the pace is picked up a bit, but overall I was thoroughly disappointed with Halloween and it doesn't deserve the hype it gets.
Want to know what these movies were up against? Check out the list of my October 31 Horror Movie challange for 2018 here.