Halloween Week Day 3: Halloween-esque movies for those who don’t like horror

I know a few people¬†really don’t enjoy horror movies, so I thought I’d make a little list of non-horror flicks you can still watch at Halloween. Many of these will be animated movies, simply because I really love animation.

 

Coraline (2009)

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Coraline¬†is one of my favourite animated movies. The stop-motion animation is honestly¬†breath-taking. The movie can be a little scary or creepy at times, but the story is really engaging. Coraline (Dakota Fanning) discovers a mysterious door in her new home, which leads to a fantastic new world at night. At first, everything seems really great and she has a lot of fun, until she discovers what really lies behind the door. The movie is filled with strange and interesting characters and places, some of which you kinda wish could be real (not in the universe they’re in though…).¬†All in all,¬†Coraline¬†is a lot of fun and will certainly keep you in the Halloween spirit.

Corpse Bride (2005)

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When I first saw this movie (I was about 9), I became kind of obsessed with it; I’d watch it almost everyday, I knew all the words and all the songs, I drew the characters everywhere… and I still watch it every Halloween. In¬†Corpse Bride, we are introduced to Victor (Johnny Depp) who¬†unknowingly gets married to Emily (Helena Bonham Carter), who has been dead for a little while. We travel to the land of the dead, which is very colourful and much more alive than the land of the living. It is a fun movie with great music and a pretty cool musical number from a skeleton. And of course, the animation is very beautiful.

Goosebumps (2015)

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So¬†Goosebumps¬†definitely wasn’t spectacularly great, but it was an entertaining watch and I think it is rather fitting for Halloween. If like me, you read the books as a kid, it is fun to try to spot the monsters and guess which monster belongs to which story and all. Author R.L. Stine (Jack Black), alongside his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush), his neighbour Zach (Dylan Minnette) and Zach’s friend Champ (Ryan Lee) must capture all the monsters from Stine’s stories, who escaped the books, before they destroy the whole town. I personally think that some of the special effects could have been better, the same goes for the acting, but it is entertaining nonetheless.

The Harry Potter series (2001-2011)

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Ok so I am a big¬†Harry Potter¬†fan; I grew up reading the books and watching the movies and I’ve learned English by doing so too. The first three movies are the most Halloween appropriate ones, according to me, but why not watch the whole series, right?¬†Who wouldn’t want to spend Halloween at Hogwarts? The movies succeed to transport you into this whole new world, and much like Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), you have a lot to learn and to become familiar with. It is a very interesting and, yes, magical world that you probably won’t want to leave. The¬†Harry Potter¬†movies are always a lot of fun to watch, whether it’s Christmas or Halloween.

Hocus Pocus (1993)

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This movie isn’t “great”, but if you’ve seen it as a kid, you probably really liked it and still watch it every Halloween, out of nostalgia. In this movie, teenagers (Omri Katz, Thora Birch and Vinessa Shaw) accidentally free three evil witches (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy) and must now try and stop them from becoming immortal. It certainly has a Halloween aesthetic and story, but it isn’t scary, so it’s perfect for people you don’t like horror. If you have never seen it before, you might not enjoy it as much as if you were a kid or had seen it as one, but you can still give it a try. I personally saw it when I was pretty young and really enjoyed it at the time.

 

Monster House (2006)

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I’m usually not a big fan of this particular kind of animation, but I don’t mind it so much in this movie; I think it actually works pretty well with the story. It doesn’t quite hold-up, but if you can watch past that, you can enjoy it. In this movie, three kids (Mitchel Musso, Spencer Locke and Sam Lerner) believe that a house in their neighbourhood is actually alive and eating children. They must destroy the house before Halloween comes, otherwise, the other kids in the neighbourhood will get eaten when trick-or-treating. The story is quite entertaining and my friends and I used to watch this movie pretty much every Halloween in elementary school.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

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Of course, this movie had to make the list. Kind of like the¬†Harry Potter¬†series, it is a great watch on both Christmas and Halloween. The many monsters presented to us in this movie are all pretty unique and entertaining, and really interesting to discover. This is the movie that made me fall in love with stop-motion animation; I wanted to make movies like this since I was a kid. The music is really good and you’re probably going sing the main song under your breath for like ever, but at least it’s great. This movie made me want to have a Halloween-Christmas day, where my presents would be real-life little monsters that I could bring with me everywhere I go.

ParaNorman (2012)

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This movie is amazing. Not only is the animation marvellously executed, it has ghosts, zombies, and even a witch. Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) can see and talk to the dead, but nobody believes him and he doesn’t have many friends amongst the living. One day though, a witch’s curse hits the town and Norman is the only one who can save the day. This movie is funny and intriguing, and kinda makes us wish we also had the ability to talk to the dead. Just like¬†Coraline,¬†this movie was made by Laika and proves once again that this company has great talent and imagination. It is definitely worth watching and is guaranteed to make you feel like Halloween.

Halloween Week Day 2 – Part 2: “Psycho” (1960) vs. “Psycho” (1998)

The original¬†Psycho¬†movie, directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1960, is one of the greatest movies ever made; it is a classic. Its 1998 remake, not so much. Directed by Gus Van Sant, the remake doesn’t stand a chance against its predecessor, and even if you don’t take the original one in consideration,¬†98’s¬†Psycho¬†isn’t that good.

Psycho (1960)

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This movie is a masterpiece.¬†Suspenseful, beautifully shot and offering us one of the most iconic movie villains ever created,¬†Psycho¬†is definitely an important movie, not only for Hitchcock’s career, but for the entire History of cinema. We are first introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), thinking we are meeting our main character, only to later be¬†outplayed by the film itself; something not many movies succeed to do. For most of its running time, the movie seems to be going in a certain direction, but in the end, we realize how foolish we were not to concentrate on the other part of the story.¬†I also have to mention¬†the use of the black and white colouring, which is amazing. It allows the movie’s Film Noir vibes to stand out distinctively. As for the acting, it is great, especially Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, who really does make us feel uncomfortable, even though we also kinda pity him. He brings a certain boyish charm to an otherwise uncanny character.

Psycho (1960): A

Psycho (1998)

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Not only are most of the actors’ performances in the remake superbly¬†inferior, the characters also have a lot less depth and complexity. The remake doesn’t bring anything new to the story; most of¬†it remains unchanged, and the few changes that are made are definitely not in the favour of the film. Most of the movie is a poorly executed shot by shot, line by line remake. The original movie makes great use of suspense and the character of Norman Bates is really intriguing. The remake though, lets us know way too early how¬†deranged Norman really is, taking away a lot of the suspense of the story. Plus, Vince Vaughn’s portrayal of Norman Bates is incredibly off and we absolutely cannot take this character as seriously as we should in this version. It is almost as if the movie either doesn’t even try to be good, or tries a bit too much and fails impressively.

Psycho (1998): D

 

In conclusion, should you watch the remake? Not really. It’s not even a “so bad, it’s good” kind of movie, it’s just plain bad. You should definitely check out the original one thought, I promise you will not regret it.

Halloween Week Day 2: Top 5 ghost/haunting/possession movies

Day 2 of Halloween Week and I thought I might jump in with another top 5, because I actually have a lot of fun making these.

 

Poltergeist (1982)

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I was like 6 when I first saw this movie and I had nightmares for weeks. I had never been scared of monsters hiding in my closet before, but this movie totally changed that. It’s true, some of the special effects don’t really hold-up, but some are still pretty amazing, like * SPOILERS (I guess)* that scene where Marty (Martin Casella) rips his own face off in the mirror or the infamous clown sequence. *END OF SPOILERS* Plus, when you read about every eery things that happened during filming, the movie becomes scarier. This is probably one of the most iconic movies of the genre and is wayyyyyy better than its 2015 remake.

Beetlejuice (1988)

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Okay, so this movie isn’t exactly scary and it isn’t your typical ghost movie either, but it has a real Halloween vibe to it. Plus, it is one of the great Tim Burton movies (which is becoming quite rare, in my opinion, and it really hurts me to say that because he really was my idol growing up). Newly dead Barbara and Adam Maitland (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) want to scare off the new owners of their house with the somewhat unhelpful help of Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton), a freelance bio-exorcist. They also befriend Lydia (Winona Ryder), the new owners’ daughter. It is a really entertaining movie with a quite engaging story and characters. Also, the use of stop-motion animation is pretty cool.

The Shining (1980)

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This movie is honestly one of my favourite movies out there. Jack Nicholson is simply brilliant in his role as Jack Torrence and the movie really succeeds to keep a disturbing, eery feeling throughout. Rumour has it that Stephen King didn’t like the adaptation. Having read the book, I can understand why, but I still think the movie does an amazing job. Plus, it is a movie highly interesting to analyse (if you’re into movie analysis and The Shining, you should check out Room 237¬†(2012) by Rodney Ascher, some theories are quite interesting).¬†This movie has given us one of the most iconic quotes in cinema, and who could forget that funky hallway carpet?

The Exorcist (1973)

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After all those years, that little girl still freaks me the hell out. Just like¬†Poltergeist, I saw this movie wayyyyy too young (I used to sneak out of my room at night to watch¬†tv…) and it gave me a ton of nightmares. Not only¬†is the makeup disgustingly effective, the acting is really good. The movie was actually nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award, one of the very few horror movies to ever be nominated. I personally haven’t read the novel it is adapted from, so I don’t know for a fact that it is a faithful adaptation, but the screenplay was written by William Peter Blatty, who is the author of said novel. So I guess it is pretty faithful.

The Amityville Horror (1979)

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This movie is not the most entertaining one on this list and it has way too many unnecessary sequels and remakes, but I believe it is an absolute must-see nonetheless. It mainly has bad reviews from critics, but did pretty good at the box-office, and if you are interested in the History of horror movies, this movie is definitely important. Based on an apparently real-life story, and shot in seven weeks, The Amityville Horror gave us one of the most famous haunted houses ever, and a creepy little theme song to go with it. It does have a pretty traditional horror movie story (a couple moves into new house where a mass murder occurred and start experiencing a series of paranormal events), but at the time, it was pretty new and still effective.

Honorable mentions

  1. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
  2. The Conjuring (2013)
  3. The Haunting (1963)
  4. The Sixth Sense¬†(1999) —- This one was actually going to make¬†the list, but according to me, it is not exactly the kind of movie intended for this list. Yeah, it’s a ghost movie, but not the kind you watch on Halloween. Idk, at least I get what I mean.

Halloween Week Day 1: Top 5 zombie/contagion/virus… movies

I thought since Halloween is coming, I’d write a post each day up to it, because I quite like horror and sci-fi and Halloween-esque movies. And yeah, I love zombie movies¬†so I thought my first post could be a sneaky little top 5 of my personal favourite zombie/contagion/virus movies.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

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Obviously,¬†George A. Romero’s¬†Night of the Living Dead¬†had to make the list. Not only is it one of the best zombie movies out there, it is also¬†the¬†movie that defined the genre; It has all the key elements of the zombie movies we know today. Romero’s first feature-lenght film was made with only $114,000 and it has become one of the most successful independent movies ever made. It is genuinely scary and the special effects and makeup work perfectly for the movie. Whether you like zombie movies or not, if you’re a film enthusiast, you should definitely watch this movie. (I also made a scene analysis for a class a few years back, you can read it here if you want.)

28 Days Later (2002)

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This Danny Boyle movie takes place in a rage-like-virus-infected-United Kingdom (what a phrase) and is quite stressful. Not only the infected people look terrifying with their bloodshot eyes, they can run, so yeah, unlike typical zombies, these ones are pretty fast. Little anecdote: I watched this movie with my friend and a vein in her eye popped and her eye turned all red and that was real scary. Anyway, the infected people are not the only threat in the movie; the army is also a quite dangerous group. The movie is quite eery, in parts because of the song that plays thought the film, but also because of the camerawork and the pretty serious themes present in the movie.

Re-Animator (1985)

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Don’t you just love campy 80s movies loosely based on a H.P. Lovecraft’s novella? Cause I know I do. This movie blends many genres, comedy, horror, sci-fi, etc., and the amount of fake blood involved in its making is pretty amazing. It has a Frankenstein-esque vibe to it, mixed with 80s special effects and a spectacular B-movie aesthetic: it is pure gold. Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West is a lot of fun to watch and the movie makes a few references to Hitchcock’s work (if you know me, you know I love to spot references in movies). This movie might not be the best movie ever made, but I personally think it has a lot to offer,¬†both as a cult movie and as an entertaining one.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

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The first of Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy,¬†Shaun of the Dead¬†is, in my opinion, one of the funniest movies out there. It¬†pokes fun at the zombie movie genre, by having Shaun (Simon Pegg) telling Ed (Nick Frost) not to say¬†the word “zombie”, for exemple, or by re-using zombie movie stereotypes, only to deconstruct them as the movie goes on. Absurd and genuinely enjoyable,¬†Shaun of the Dead is a great horror-comedy movie, with a pretty cool soundtrack and a fun use of foreshadowing.¬†Simon Pegg and Nick Frost work very well together, as usual, and so does the rest of the cast (Bill Nighy as Phillip, Shaun’s stepfather, is pretty amazing). And watch the other two of the trilogy as well (Hot Fuzz¬†(2007) and¬†The World’s End¬†(2013)), they’re all pretty great.

The Evil Dead (1981)

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This movie is more of a supernatural/demon-possession kind of movie, but the looks of the possessed people is quite zombie-like and therefore, I decided to include it in this list. Anyway. This movie is a bit disturbing, as you don’t always know whether to laugh or to be scared, and it gave birth to one of the most popular cult movie franchise ever. Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) has become¬†an icon of the cult movie type and the movie itself inspired many spin-offs, such as video games and comic books, and more recently, a tv series starring Bruce Campbell.¬†The Evil Dead¬†makes great use of stop-motion animation (as I mentioned in¬†I love stop motion animation) and even though the possessed laughter of a certain character is probably the most annoying thing in the History of cinema, this movie is a great Halloween watch.

 

Honorable mentions:

  1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
  2. Dead Alive (1992)
  3. Zombieland (2009)

Is TV replacing movies?

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So yesterday, I finally finished watching¬†Breaking Bad¬†(2008-2013) (I know, I’m very late) and man that tv show was great. Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of Walter White was simply amazing and the show was brilliantly written. But anyway, I did not come here to write a review of the show.

Because the show was so great, it made me think a lot. Not necessarily about what’s good and bad, and were Walter White’s actions justified or not, but whether television is replacing movies or not. And I think that, slowly, it might be. So many tv shows now are filmed like movies. What I mean here is that the creators, writers, directors… everybody involved seems to work harder than before. They want their tv shows to look beautiful, they want talented actors, they want complicated characters and great writing. There always were good tv shows, but now, the game is becoming stronger.

People love to get to know the characters, and I think this is something tv can offer than cinema can’t. Of course, you get to know the characters of a movie when you watch it, but maybe not as much as a character on a tv series that’s been running for three years.¬†Of course, if a movie has many sequels, like the¬†Harry Potter¬†movie series, you get to know the characters, the stories and their world a lot better than in a single movie. And movies with many sequels or with shared universes, such as¬†The Hunger Games, the¬†Twilight¬†series, and the Marvel cinematic universe (just to name a few), often become highly popular, whether you like them or not. Because just like in a tv show, you get to understand a lot more things, the story can (usually) be more intricate and the characters can have more complicated developments.

Anyway, I just think tv shows like Breaking Bad might one day replace movies, just because they are so good! Of course, not every episode is going to be revolutionary great, but in general, tv is becoming more and more of a threat to the film industry.

I have never seen Star Wars

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Don’t I suck and don’t I know it. Ok, the title is kind of a lie; I have seen scenes here and there, but never an entire¬†Star Wars¬†movie. I remember when I was 4 or 5, a friend of mines was watching one of the movies, I honestly don’t know¬†which one (it might have been¬†The Phantom Menace?). He turned it off when I arrived at his place, but I saw. I saw this horrifically¬†annoying character with long, floppy ears. Yes, my first ever impression of this classic movie series is Jar Jar Binks. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’ve never watched the movies; I was terrified. Years later, at another friend’s house, I saw scenes from a re-released version, you know, with the terrible CGI and all. Another bad start. Plus, my parents are Star Trek fans and I would watch reruns of the show with them when I was a kid, and I have to say, I quite enjoyed it. You know how there is (used to be?) this “war” between Harry Potter fans and Twilight fans? Where you can only love one or the other? Well from what I’ve heard, there is a similar “war” going on between¬†Star Wars¬†fans and¬†Star Trek¬†fans. So maybe I’ve never seen a¬†Star Wars¬†movie because I come from a¬†Star Trek¬†kind of family (like, I’m not the only person in my family who has never seen a¬†Star Wars¬†movie, neither my mum, nor my dad, nor my sister have).

But that doesn’t mean I know nothing about the series. Of course I know some things. The obvious things. The “Darth Vader is Luke’s father” kind of things. Backwards Yoda speaks, I know. And I know Leia is Luke’s sister, but I also know she kissed him once? Like a real kiss? My friend told me it was to make Harrison Ford jealous, but still. He’s her brother. Anyway. I also know there’s this guy with a red face, and I saw him on a t-shirt when I was 7 and I had a nightmare where he was chasing me. Then there’s Chewbacca who’s Harrison Ford’s best friend or something and he makes this noise guys at school kept imitating¬†to interrupt teachers. And there’s this teddy bear colony at one point. And those two robots, R2-D2 and C-3PO, I don’t really know what they do, but they’re always together. Where do they come from? I know about “the Force”, but what is it? What does it do? I have no idea. I know Jabba the Hutt and Leia’s slave costume and Harrison Ford being trapped in a wall. What I don’t really know is what links all of these together. And I don’t know what goes in which movie. I also don’t know in what order I should watch them. Like, should I watch them in chronological order of the story or of the release date?

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What I really wanted to say here is that ever since I saw the trailer for the last¬†Star Wars¬†movie,¬†Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I thought it looked great. I did not go to see it in theatres, because I hadn’t seen any of the previous movies, but I think a¬†Star Wars¬†marathon is long overdue. Especially since I’m a cinema nerd since forever and I’m a cinema student and all… And even though my friends already spoiled the movie for me because they said I did not care anyway.