Movies

My Favorite Horror Movies

As I mentioned multiple times on the blog, I love classic horror movies. Way back when AMC’s Fear Fest used to begin with the black and white classics and move up to the modern-day slasher films. Sadly, they’ve cut the movie marathon down to about a week rather than a month so they tend to strictly focus on the slasher films. At least the streaming services still have them available to watch. Of course, I took a bunch of film classes where we studied the likes of Psycho, The Exorcist, and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari which gave me a greater appreciation for the classics.

My limit of horror movie watching stops after the original Scream because I just can’t stand whatever they are trying to pull with modern horror/slasher films. I mean, the modern Halloween remakes? Pass. There’s a lot I just can’t take seriously and its important to be able to suspend your disbelief to view them. With today being Halloween I thought I might share my favorite movies just in case you’re looking for something festive to check out tonight while waiting for (or avoiding) trick or treaters.

halloween

Halloween (1978)

In 1963 Michael Myers murders his 17-year-old sister, Judith, but on October 30, 1978 he breaks out during a transport from his mental hospital. He steals a car and terrorizes his quiet hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois.

Why I Like It: It’s a fact Halloween defined the slasher film genre. It takes an already eerie holiday and elevates it with an even creepier, almost silent, killer. Despite it being over 30 years old, and there being plenty of things to laugh it, there’s still plenty of enthralling suspense. Michael Myers is a magnificent villain with an emotionless mask that depicts the soulless, evil person Michael truly is. The John Carpenter score could easily be my favorite film score. It’s hard to imagine Halloween (the holiday) without Michael Myers.

psycho

Psycho (1960)

A secretary steals $40,000 from her employer intending to run away with her boyfriend. She becomes exhausted traveling the back roads to avoid the police, and stops at the Bates Motel. She meets Norman Bates, a high-strung young man with an interest in taxidermy and plenty of mommy issues. What could possibly go wrong?

Why I Like It: Psycho is one of the greatest thrillers of all time (not to mention one of Hitchcock’s best films). Despite the film not being as shocking as it originally was in 1960 (it genuinely made people fear showering), and being made with a low-budget, the film is still incredible today. It’s tense and nerve-wracking. One of the most iconic scenes in film history is the killing of Janet Leigh’s character paired with the extraordinary score, but I might go as far as to there are plenty of other great scenes. I also love how it was partly filmed in Downtown Phoenix giving me a little slice of movie history here in my hometown.

rosemarysbaby

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

A young couple move into a New York City apartment building with quite the reputation, and end up with some pretty creepy neighbors. When Rosemary becomes pregnant she is isolated more and more until the truth about the diabolical cult who wants to use her baby for their rituals comes to light.

Why I Like It: Rosemary’s Baby was outlawed by my mother when I was a child, but as a rebellious teenager I went ahead and watched it. Hey, it was this or the Omen (which I’m still not able to watch again). Rosemary’s Baby is a psychological thriller about a conspiring cult who want to steal her baby but their own dark causes. As the world around her unravels the story becomes more and more uncomfortable. Roman Polanski takes the opportunity to create optimum scariness by leaving much of the storytelling to the imagination of the viewer. There’s nothing more unsettling than realizing you have the ability to create your own darkness based on a few small prompts on-screen, right?

theshining

The Shining (1980)

A writer hoping to cure writers block becomes the winter caretaker of an isolated hotel in Colorado. He is joined by his wife and son who is prone to psychic premonitions. Danny’s visions become more disturbing as time goes on, and Jack begins to unravel along with the dark secrets of the hotel.

Why I Like It: The Shining is a genuinely scary movie, and not simply because it is the upsetting story of a man having a psychological breakdown and terrorizing his own family. It has everything including creepy kids, a set of twins, and blood pouring from an elevator. There are cinematically beautiful shots mixed with eerie and creepy ones. So many of the iconic scenes have made their way into the pop culture lexicon, and considering it took nearly 5 years to make, I’d say it was worth it. There are also plenty of conspiracy theories about the film (I didn’t really know this), but one thing I love about the film is Danny’s NASA sweater. I mean, how cool is that?

theamityvillehorror

The Amityville Horror (1979)

A family is terrorized by supernatural phenomenon after moving into a home which was the scene of a mass killing. Flies begin to swarm, the walls begin to ooze slime and blood, and a priest is called in to exorcise the home from evil spirits.

Why I Like It: Based on the “true” story of George and Kathleen Lutz (true used very very loosely) and their experiences living in the haunted home of a recently killed family. The detectives aren’t sure what caused the killing of the family, but the Lutzes and their children are menaced by the lingering evil it caused. It’s not necessarily a true classic horror film (it’s horribly rated on Rotten Tomatoes), but it’s a really great ghost story. It perfectly gives off the creepy, eerie feeling movies in this genre need to have. They need to be unsettling, and the Amityville Horror succeeds. Sure, there is something to learn here; Have you seen a listing for the home of your dreams at an incredibly low price and you have to question how this could possibly be real? Just. walk. away. I don’t know how the story claims they made it an entire month. I would have been out right at the pig with glowing red eyes.

poltergeist

Poltergeist (1982) 

An average California family is menaced by ghosts communicating with them through their television set. At first the spirits are friendly but begin to terrorize the family unexpectedly. When the youngest daughter, Carol Ann, goes missing they must turn to a parapsychologist and exorcist for help.

Why I Like It: Poltergeist horrified me as a child, and strangely it doesn’t change much as an adult. Nothing is creepier than Carol Ann staring at a television and saying “they’re hereeeeeeeeeee.” What makes Poltergeist so terrifying is the normal situation where the story takes place. It wasn’t a monster filled ancient castle or a haunted mansion, it was a regular family home in California. It was just like any other cookie cutter home and town in anywhere USA. Okay, unless you count that whole ancient Native American burial ground filled with violent, unhappy ghosts thing. Those skeletons in the swimming pool is still the thing nightmares are made of.

 

 

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So, I Tried Filmstruck…

Streaming films from the Criterion Collection was previously a bit scattered. A couple were on Netflix for a while, and then they exclusively began streaming on Hulu. You don’t know panic until you’re trying to stream as MANY Criterion selections as you can before your Hulu free trial runs out (I watched quite a few). But, by the powers that be, Filmstruck was created.

Filmstruck is a streaming service that offers “contemporary and classic art house, indie, foreign, and cult films.” It was created by the film lovers at Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection. There’s a pretty well stocked library of options across multiple genres, and even just scrolling genres seemed endless. Their partnership with the Criterion Collection gives a more immersive viewing experience to movie loves by offering their exclusive special features. This includes commentary and even exclusive curated programming made by guests in the film world and beyond. There’s 4 types of subscriptions (regular, regular + Criterion, annual, and even student), and they give a really substantial 14 day free trial.

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Five for August

I always feel like all I do for posts on this blog is make lists, but I’m just really good at lists. They are really useful for combining tons of stuff all at once without me having to ramble on and on. It’s the beginning of a new month (what the heck) so I thought I would try something new. Rather than sharing some of my favorite things from the month at the end of said month, I thought I would share some things everyone should know about at the beginning. Kind of like those release radar or things to do this month articles in magazines.

Since it’s a work in progress, I tried to combine local things to do with some things everyone should check out no matter where they are. I thought it would be good to cover things like live music, movies, album releases, and just other things worth knowing about. Of course, they will be catered to things I want to recommend, do, or enjoy. So as much as random karaoke night at some dodgy bar sounds, it’s not likely to be found here. I  think this is a great way of making my blog more personal since when blogs first came on the scene they were about our personal lives. There’s probably a really sad LiveJournal or Xanga record out there of my incredibly emo high school years. But rather than go that far I thought why not try to be myself a little bit more?

Useful Links: Ingrid Goes West trailer, Washed Out @ Marquee Theater, Old School! 90’s R&B and Hip Hop dance party, Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later trailer

4 “Iconic” Lifetime Movies

A few weeks back while enjoying homemade pizza we decided to check out whatever was airing on Lifetime that night. Lifetime has a pretty great reputation for making a steady stream of movies we love to hate. In fact they are so popular Lifetime established a movie network that runs almost 24/7 showing them off. They have just become one of those things you can turn on in the background or watch all day long while laying on the couch. They are just so addicting.

The one viewed that night was Manny Dearest. I thought I could share some thoughts on it because rarely do you get a story about a creepy male nanny. There was quite a bit of humor involved in such a dark subject, but not as much as the classic, A Deadly Adoption, starring Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig. Instead I decided to revisit 4 truly iconic Lifetime movies from yesteryear. Lifetime movies have a few formulas, but the best ones are based on true stories that become even more dramatic for television. For this reason all the movies below are based on a true story (which happened accidentily).

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My Criterion Collection Selections

Wow that’s quite a few “tion” words, isn’t it? 

The Criterion Collection is one of my favorite things to ever exist. The Criterion Collection collects the most popular films and packages them with tons of exclusive extras for film lovers to enjoy. They are mastered for the greatest watching quality and new additions are made monthly. The collection has evolved as technology has changed and is currently available for streaming on Filmstruck. There is an expansive variety of directors, countries, and films to choose from.

What I love so much about the Criterion Collection are the exclusive cover art that each DVD/Blu-Ray comes with and I love the extras. They seek out commentary, extras, documentaries, behind the scenes footage and more to help the viewer enjoy the film with greater context. I’ve taken a lot of film classes and seen plenty of the movies available in the collection. I may also be guilty of marathon streaming movies a bunch I haven’t seen on Hulu Plus before they removed them.

One really cool thing Criterion does is allow you to create a collection online of movies through My Criterion. Make lists of films you own, a wish list of movies you want, and share them with others. Plus many filmmakers and industry members make their own lists to share with everyone when you need a new suggestion.

Below are 5 of my favorite films available on Criterion. There are over 150 films available so it was quite hard to narrow down just 5 (I have many more). I also have quite a bit of feelings about Armageddon being available on Criterion…but no one really wants to hear about that.

  • Band of Outsiders | Jean-Luc Godard (1964) – The French New Wave is one of my favorite genres to watch. Since Pierrot le Fou is out of print, this is the next best choice. The additional features in include excerpts from a documentary with Jean-Luc Godard and behind the scenes footage.

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Documentaries Worth Watching

It’s finally the weekend and time to relax by doing a whole lot of nothing. I usually spend time finding random documentaries on Netflix (there’s quite a few interesting ones about mysteries and cults if you like that kind of thing). I think documentaries are interesting because they give us a glimpse into worlds we may not see otherwise. As someone who loves learning I’ll watch a documentary on pretty much anything.

I have accumulated a few favorite subjects and specific documentaries. One of my favorite subjects ever in life is design. I would heart eyes emoji any time we watched one in my design class. Another subject I like is music. Not only does it give me a chance to hear the history of artists, songs or movements but I get to look at some things I might not have considered interesting before. Netflix has quite a few really good music documentaries if the aliens, conspiracies, and cults get old.

Below are some of my all time favorite documentaries. Aka the ones I talked people’s ears off with despite them desperately wanting me to shut up. Seriously I can talk about fonts for an unfortunate amount of time. 

  • Helvetica (available for rent on Amazon) – This documentary is about typography, graphic design, and the most popular (and recognizable) font. There are interviews with people who absolutely love it and those that can’t stand it. Its pretty surprising how widely used the font actually is from magazines and signs to television. I truly never realized how many places it appears. It also digs a little deeper into the people who create the fonts we use every day because they each have a story to tell.

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