So, I meant to post this yesterday, but LIFE. Instead, you get them now. There’s this pretty cool thing going on over at App.net called the #WednesdayChallenge that encourages users to write a short piece of fiction that fits the weekly theme in 256 characters (technically, less, as the hashtag #WedC needs to be included in the post). I discovered it yesterday and thought it sounded like fun, so I made two entries.
This sort of reminded me of a subreddit I found a month or so ago called /r/shortscarystories. I took the opportunity then to post this piece there (which directly inspired the first of my two entries above). I hope to continue participating in the #WednesdayChallenge going forward, as it’s an excellent writing exercise and I really need to be writing more. This is the perfect way to force me to do some craft-honing.
If you want to read more about the #WednesdayChallenge, click the hashtag links above or check out the new site the creator threw together to showcase the works.
When the car broke down, I was fifty miles past nowhere with another hundred to nothing. The sliver of the moon that remained struggled to peek past the clouds, as I hunched over the engine, hoping to get a glimpse of the problem and keep moving. No one traveled this road after dark.
When the battery died and the lights went out, I settled in for a long walk, careful to keep my feet on the black river of cold pitch. I checked my phone for reception every few minutes until it too turned lifeless in my hands, just another hunk of technology that betrayed me.
The rustling of the brush caused me to nearly leap out of my skin as a bobcat bounded up onto the shoulder and dashed away into the dark, more frightened of me than I of it. I counted to thirty before taking another step, afraid of drawing it back. Ten steps later, I stumbled and fell to my hands and knees. My hands rested in something sticky, but the moon had retreated once again. I stood and wiped my hands on my jeans as the light poked through the shroud above. The lifeless carcass at my feet grinned up at me. It was likely the bobcat, though what was left of it fostered some doubt. My skin began to crawl and I struggled to remain calm. I rubbed the back of my neck, which had grown much warmer.
By the time I felt the hot breath on my neck and hand, it was too late even to scream.
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I have watched Evil Dead 2 (iTunes) and Army of Darkness (iTunes) a number of times, but what makes them so enjoyable, is watching them again and again to find new things to enjoy. Not that the movie is filled with subtlety. But rather, there are amazing things happening all the time, that your brain usually can’t handle it all at once, so you must watch the movie again to take it all in.
Evil Dead 2 is less of a sequel to the original The Evil Dead (iTunes), and more of a remake, with a much higher budget. Where The Evil Dead ends, like many horror movies, with a lone survivor that believes he is out of danger only to be attacked once again (with little to no hope in sight) as the credits roll, Evil Dead 2 sets up a sequel with a wholly different style.
Army of Darkness is a campy, action flick with some of the greatest one-liners in the history of cinema. If you ever played Duke Nukem 3D, you’ll recognize many of them. It has long been one of my favorite movies of all time, despite the stop-animation skeletons not quite holding up to today’s standards. The rest of the movie is a rather epic tale of one man’s determination to do what’s right (with a lot of pushing) and return to his own time.
I know that I’m not giving you a whole lot of information on these movies, and that’s because it’s really important that you simply watch them. Just remember: the more blood used in a scene, the better it is. This is always true.
And thanks to those of you that followed along with my day-by-day horror movie marathon. It was a lot of fun, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
The Thing (iTunes) is one of those movies that I saw parts of when I was a child and remembered it being awesome, but never found the opportunity to sit down and watch it from the beginning. John Carpenter made a name for himself in the late 70s and early 80s thanks to films like The Thing and Halloween, which were both scary and visceral. The Thing took it to a whole new level with some of the most incredible special effects of its time (which still hold up very, very well today).
The best part of this movie is the way the characters quickly become suspicious of each other, which I feel confident is how things would go down in real life. There are also some great characters and a number of recognizable faces. Wilford Brimley sans-beard is a sight to behold.
I’m now really excited to see the prequel, and I’m going to have to try and track down the Xbox game that picks up where the movie left off, because I have heard excellent things about it, as well.
Nearly everything that Steven Spielberg touches turns to gold, which is why I was excited to watch Poltergeist (iTunes). The beginning of the movie is creepy as all seven hells, as the little girl goes downstairs to talk to the TV, and it doesn’t stop there. A number of shots throughout this movie are decidedly creepy.
It’s always a pleasant surprise when I see famous actors and actresses in movies that predate where I first discovered them. While I always knew that Craig T. Nelson would have begun his career before Coach, I never knew he was in this movie. His performance is excellent, but it pales in comparison to how incredible Heather O’Rourke is. Spielberg is one of those rare producers and directors that is capable of finding child actors that are miles above the rest, and while he didn’t direct this film, his influence can be seen in how amazing she is in this movie.
The end of the movie is also excellently creepy. After it seems as though everything is safe again, the ending goes on longer than it should, until you realize that it’s not over at all, and the truly terrifying visuals haven’t yet begun. Had I seen this movie as a child, I am sure that I would have had nightmares forever.
If you’ve never seen this movie, you owe it to yourself to watch it, even if just for the last 30 minutes of awesomeness.
Also, Star Wars bedsheets!
Stephen King is a master of the macabre, but his stories don’t always translate well to the screen, usually because great scenes are either ruined or left out entirely. In the case of Pet Sematary (iTunes), the film is fantastic. The effects hold up very well by today’s standards, and the final 45 minutes of the movie are creepy as all hell.
There aren’t a lot of scary moments at the start of the movie, aside from a few jumps, but the end of the movie more than makes up for it. The idea of a 2-year-old demon child attacking his parents and family friend is creepy on its own, but the visceral nature in which he goes after them with a scalpel is gut-wrenching. Of course, as a parent, this movie hits harder than others, especially as I think about what the finale means for the daughter, who is away with her grandparents.
Also, I absolutely love to hate the 80s tradition of writing terrible songs to play during the end credits of horror films that use the title of the movie to try and be somehow relevant. This movie is no exception. I don’t care if it is by The Ramones, it’s still ridiculous and cheesy. Does that mean that I wouldn’t buy an entire collection of these songs and rock out to them all? Of course not. I’m still bound by my desire for all things schlock.
So far, this is probably my favorite of the 80s horror films that I’ve watched this month. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good scary movie to watch this All Hallow’s Eve (or Samhain, if you prefer).
So, apparently I saw the 2005 remake (iTunes) of this movie back when it came out on DVD, and had forgotten about it. It didn’t take long to remember, though, since the remake borrows heavily from the original. The Amityville Horror (iTunes) is the supposedly true story of a haunted house in Amityville, New York, wherein a family that moved into the house claimed they were terrorized by paranormal phenomena. Based on the book of the same name, it was made scarier in the early days of its release, due to the claims of the events depicted being true.
One of the nicest things about the original, though, was the extra 30 minutes of length, showing the audience many more of the events from the book. Also, Margot Kidder was super-hot in this movie. I’m talking white-hot, supernova. I never felt the same way about her in the Superman movies, but maybe I should watch them again.
The only real problem with this movie is that there are no real scares to be had. There’s a general sense of unease and a few moments where you worry about what might happen, but nothing truly frightening. If you’re looking for a truly excellent haunted house movie, then I once again refer you to The Haunting (iTunes), which was simply outstanding.
The most important rule to remember in a scary movie is to never trust that your boyfriend will actually do what you tell him and stay awake to protect you. Instead, he will inevitably fall asleep and either let you die or die himself. And if that boyfriend is an adorable, baby Johnny Depp, he will explode in a spray of blood all over the ceiling and walls. Which is actually pretty awesome when you think about how everyone else in this movie dies.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (iTunes) is yet another 80s horror flick that focuses more on bizarre rather than truly scary moments. Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are often more terrifying than most 80s horror movies.
Elm Street, however, still has an iconic villain that is synonymous with horror: Freddy Krueger. Where Friday the 13th was generic and terrible, Elm Street was original and entertaining. Not scary, but fun to watch. Robert Englund’s Krueger is an excellent villain and he is so much fun to watch. I’m now interested in watching the entire series. I’ll probably watch all of the Jason films, as well, just so I can properly enjoy Freddy vs. Jason, even though I don’t feel confident that any of his films get better.
I always knew that Jason wasn’t the killer in the first Friday the 13th (iTunes), but I never quite understood how he becomes the killer for the rest of the movies. I get it now. I also didn’t realize that this movie was so terrible. I mean, just awful. I get that now, too.
Honestly, the only reason to see this movie at all is because it spawned 8+ sequels/remakes. It’s worth seeing for the nostalgia, but not by much.
I can’t even say any more about this movie. If I ever watch this movie again, it’ll be simply to make fun of it.
The king of all slasher movies, Halloween is responsible for nearly the entirety of the genre as we know it today. While Psycho may have been the first, John Carpenter’s seminal masterpiece is responsible for taking Hitchcock’s formula and refining it to blade’s edge, creating such iconic moments as seeing through the killer’s eyes as he stalk his prey, mysterious phone calls with no one on the line, and even a lone girl trapped in a house while a relentless killer attempts to butcher her.
Carpenter managed to make a name for himself with this film, leading to a future directing a number of horror and schlock action flicks (including my personal favorite, Big Trouble in Little China [iTunes]). I’ll be revisiting his work this weekend with The Thing (iTunes), and I can’t tell you how excited I am for that. This movie is also responsible for catapulting Jamie Lee Curtis to stardom, and we can’t thank Carpenter enough for that.