THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979)

large amityville horror blu-ray10

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

So I had never seen any version of The Amityville Horror, so I didn’t really know what it was about other than a haunted house. I was expecting this movie to be really good and pretty scary. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t scary.

The biggest issue I think was an issue a lot of haunted house movies face, which is that literally all of the family’s problems (related to haunting) would end if they would just leave the house. We know this is true because the movie doesn’t really resolve anything, the family just leaves. It’s also another case of a story where the husband inexplicably starts acting crazy (I guess from the ghosts?) and scary, which can be annoying in how stereotypical it is. Granted, this movie came out in 1979 so what’s stereotypical now maybe wasn’t then. But still, just leave the house!

Christopher

I was expecting this movie to get a few jumps out of me, but for the most part it was just kind of boring and way too predictable. I’m sure this has something to do with the story being pretty well known, and the movie being relatively old, but I was very disappointed. I also feel like I might have seen this before? Or maybe I just watched the remake? I’m not sure, but I really hope the next horror/suspense film we watch is The Changeling. I always really liked that, and George C. Scott is one of my favorite actors.

 

Advertisements

SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)

sleepaway-camp-cast

Christopher

It’s tough getting Elizabeth to watch scary movies but since this is on our How Did This Get Made podcast list to watch, I knew it would eventually happen. This movie is very weird. It’s really terrible and boring but the ending is crazy enough for me to recommend watching this movie.

The film is exactly what you think it’s about. Kids at a summer camp start getting murdered by someone else in the camp. Who is it? When will they stike next? Is it who we think it is? Is it going to be a crazy surprise?

The funniest thing about this movie to me is how everyone is dressed. Everyone is barely clothed, in a pretty flamboyant way. There’s one scene where all the older boys play a prank on the older girls but when the camera looks at each group it looks like some bizarre gay camp? All the guys are wearing short short jean shorts with shirts that are long enough to barely cover their nipples and all the girls have super short hair and look like they are about to jump the guys. It’s kind of hard to explain but it was pretty funny.

If you are interested at all in crazy ending see this movie.

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

Sleepaway Camp as a whole is hard to talk about because its ending pretty much overshadows the entire movie. For the most part, the movie is boring, weird, and hard to follow. But then it gets insane.

It opens with some kind of lake that families are vacationing on, including a dad and his son and daughter on a boat and two teenagers pulling another teenage water skier. For some reason, the two dumb teenagers on the boat carrying the skier refuse to ever look forward, causing them to hit the dad and his kids and killing them, except for the daughter. Flash forward 8 years, and the surviving daughter, Angela (Felissa Rose) is going to summer camp with her cousin, Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten). This is an extremely confusing camp, because it has young teenagers and older teenagers and it’s hard to tell who of the older teenagers are campers and who are counselors. Everyone at this camp is also incredibly cruel. Angela starts the movie out not talking, and the other campers constantly ridicule her for that. It’s not even really ridicule, it’s like they’re legitimately angry that this shy girl they don’t know isn’t talking. Who the hell cares? To add to the terrible people at this camp, we meet the head cook who is a straight up pedophile. This is not implied, it’s just a fact. He calls the young female campers “baldies,” if that gives you any super gross clue. He tries to rape Angela but Ricky stops it and later someone we can’t see makes the cook fall off his step ladder, which causes him (for some reason) to pull down a giant vat of boiling water on himself.

Angela finally talks to Paul (Christopher Collet), another camper, and one by one an unknown person kills off the campers being mean to Angela. I think we’re supposed to think it’s Ricky because Ricky is always ready and able to defend Angela, but I always thought it was supposed to be Angela. The deaths aren’t really that scary, except for when Judy (Karen Fields) is killed because she’s also raped with a hot curling iron (which we only see through shadow, so it’s not as graphic as it sounds, if that’s at all possible).

There are so many weird things going on in this movie. Like: Meg, an older camper/counselor, excitedly scores a date with the owner of the camp, who’s got to be in his 70’s. Okay? Or: Billy, another bully of Angela’s, dies by being locked in a bathroom stall with bees, which sting him to death, even though Billy could have climbed over the stall, under the stall, or just broken the flimsy broom holding his door shut. Or: the weird flashbacks Angela has when Paul kisses her, which include she and her brother Peter walking in on their father in bed with another man and Angela and Peter sitting in bed staring at each other. Don’t worry, it gets weirder!

Eventually, Ricky gets attacked, too, so he’s out of the running for being the killer. When the counselors can’t find Angela or Paul, they start running around looking for them until they come to the lake. They see Angela sitting there from behind. When they approach her, she stands up, naked, holding Paul’s decapitated head. But as she stands, we see a flashback to her crazy aunt telling her as a child that she always wanted a daughter, not another boy, and so she was going to raise him as a boy. Cut back to Angela, who, because of being naked, we see she has a penis, and also maybe has blood on her mouth and has a weird animal scream. The end!

Soooo, I don’t even know what to think about that. I really wish the movie was interesting enough to support an ending like that. Buuuut nah, of course not. This is worth seeing, but as a whole, it’s definitely not a success.

HALLOWEEN (1978)

extrait_halloween_9

Elizabeth

I was legitimately nervous about seeing Halloween because Michael Myers’ mask is legitimately horrifying to me. And then the first scene is also pretty scary, where we see Michael murder his sister from his perspective.

And then . . . it gets boring. At first I thought it was going to be interesting, because once Michael escapes from the mental institution he’s in, he stalks Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) during the daytime, which was creepy in its strangeness. But once it’s Halloween night, and once I thought it would really start to get going it’s just . . . boring. The majority of the movie is watching three teenage girls spend their Halloween night waiting for something to happen. Eventually, of course, Michael does start murdering people, but by then I was honestly so bored that I sort of didn’t care and just wanted the movie to be over. Maybe that’s harsh of me, but I just didn’t find Halloween to be all that scary or really the least bit interesting.

Christopher

This movie scared me so much as a kid; I had many sleepness night due to Michael Myers. I never actually saw it but I was at a birthday party, on a Saturday night, and someone else at the party brought their MM mask. That night was full of people running out of shadows, wearing the mask, and scaring everyone in their path. Now, I can probably safely say that I was the only one that freaked da $#%^ out, but I remember that night all too well. I remember not being able to sleep with everyone and ended up asking the parents at the party if I could sleep in a real bed and the next day meeting my parents at church and confessing my new giant fear to my parents. I remember thinking I would never be unscared again, in my life. I also really remember the rubber smell of the mask. I’m kind of freaking myself out writing this cause it’s becoming all too real again.

So watching it for the first time as a 26 year old living on their own, I’m not quite sure what I was scared of. Everything that that movie is in my mind was no where near as scary as the actual movie. And it was kind of boring. I am kind of interested in this film franchise though and I really want to watch Halloween III soon!

SINISTER (2012)

Sinister_05638

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

Sinister is definitely scary. I’m not going to deny that. The movie opens with a long, Super 8 film of four people slowly being hanged from a tree. So I mean, yeah, it’s scary. But it’s also interesting, though it doesn’t quite take itself to the level that I think it could.

The biggest mistake I think Sinister makes is that it can’t help itself when it comes to cheap scares. There’s a lot of things coming up behind characters, things moving in the background unexpectedly, and loud noises. Because the plot revolves around Ethan Hawke finding a series of snuff films that all show families being murdered, which we also see, there’s no real need for jump scares because the movie is scary enough.

I’m also notoriously bad at predicting movie endings, whether it’s a horror movie, a twist ending, or just a regular ending. But I predicted the two main elements of the ending of Sinister way before they were revealed, which was disappointing.

Christopher

This movie didn’t make a lot of sense but it did scare me. Not that that’s a very hard thing to do. The thing about this movie is that if you think you know what’s coming, you do. I think they thought they had a lot of big reveals but they were kind of lost on me since I thought we were supposed to already know that stuff.

The back story of the main character is confusing. All the scary stuff in the movie are cheap (don’t get me wrong, still scary to me). Check it out if you’re interested but really just watch The Blair Witch Project again!

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)

Blair_witch_project_720p_www_yify_torrents_com_3_large

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

One of the things that makes The Blair Witch Project so great is the fact that it’s sort of two horror stories in one that eventually come together. On the one hand, it’s a realistic scary story of three people getting lost in the woods. On the other hand, it’s a supernatural scary story about three people getting hunted by some kind of spirit. By the end, I think it’s implied that the reason they’re staying lost is because of the spirit, which is just a great way for everything to come together.

What also makes The Blair Witch Project so great is that the filmmakers resist actually showing anything: we never see what’s hunting/attacking them at all. We never even see anyone die. It seems like so many horror movies, especially in that found film genre, the filmmakers just can’t help but showing the monster or killer or whatever, even if it’s in the last few moments (I’m looking at you, Paranormal Activity).

I know The Blair Witch Project is sort of groundbreaking in a lot of ways, particularly the way it was marketed, but it’s real strength is its ability to maintain and build tension and stress. We’re told in the beginning that three filmmakers went missing and we’re about to watch their footage that was found a year later, so even if you somehow missed knowing what The Blair Witch Project was about as a viewer, they tell us. So everything leading up to them going into the woods is stressful, because we know what’s going to happen. And once they’re lost, it gets more stressful because we know the end is coming.

The last 10 minutes or so are pretty famous, and for good reason. I know the scene of Heather (Heather Donahue) speaking directly into the camera has been parodied a lot, and out of context I guess it is sort of goofy, but in the movie it is so scary and stressful. Heather is apologizing to everyone’s mom for getting them in this situation because she knows they’re going to die. It’s really sad and the fact that it seems so realistic makes it even scarier. And of course, the very last scene of Heather and Mike (Michael C. Williams) searching for Josh (Joshua Leonard) after hearing his screams from an abandoned house has got to be one of the scariest endings of any movie, and one of the best in general. Fucking. scary.

Christopher

I purposefully went out of my way to never see this movie. I thought it would scare the shit out of me and I was absolutely correct. It’s also one of those movies that has been parodied so many times it feels like it wouldn’t have the same impact as if I didn’t know anything about it. Luckily this was not the case. I’m glad I did not watch this alone. Even with Elizabeth there it was a pretty high stress movie. I’m sure I am the last person to see this so I can’t really recommend anyone to see it but I will say, whenever we can nominate films to be placed on the National Film Registry, this will be one of them!

THE CONJURING (2013)

02-the-conjuring

Elizabeth

The Conjuring is good as far as haunted house/exorcism movies go. I feel like there’s only so far you can go with haunted houses but The Conjuring manages to feel a little different by not revealing too much or relying solely on cheap scares. Although I have to say, for a movie with a primarily female cast, The Conjuring doesn’t do that much good for women.  The main spirit doing the haunting is a woman who was tried during the Salem Witch Trials, except here she’s actually a for-real witch who later sacrificed her baby to Satan. The ghosthunters also say that demons/spirits tend to prey on the emotionally vulnerable and weak, and then turn around and say that in this instance, it’s always the mothers who get preyed upon so that they’ll kill their children. Put two and two together and that leaves mothers as the weakest souls.

One accidentally funny element of The Conjuring was casting Ron Livingston and having him essentially play his character from Office Space. Whether his daughter was being flung around the room by an invisible spirit or his possessed wife held scissors to his daughter’s throat, Ron Livingston wasn’t all that concerned. He was usually standing in a corner looking confused and/or amazed.

Despite all that though, I tend to like haunted house movies and The Conjuring is a fairly decent one.

Christopher

I wasn’t sure about going to see this movie in theaters, mainly because of our experience of watching Mama. Although The Conjuring was surprisingly enjoyable. It was a bit cheesy and there were the normal cheap scares but I felt that the story was far more interesting than the normal horror story and I feel like this is true because other than the main family the main characters were the paranormal couple trying help. Apparently this couple was real and what I think is the most interesting part of the whole movie is that they have this room where they keep evil objects from past cases. I would love for them to have a movie on each object and I think it would be a missed opportunity for them not to make at least another film.

I think if you are at all interested about this genre then you should check this out.

SPOORLOOS (THE VANISHING) – 1988

the-vanishing_PDVD_004criterion_

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

The Vanishing is unique to me in that I could easily label it as the scariest movie I’ve ever seen as well as one of my all-time favorite movies. I’ve been wanting to watch it with Chris for so long, and over the weekend I finally bought the Criterion Collection DVD, which we watched almost immediately after I got it. This was maybe my 3rd or 4th time seeing it, and for being such a suspenseful movie, it really does get better with age.

The Vanishing is not about who kidnapped Saskia (Johanna ter Steege), because the movie tells us well within the first act that the kidnapper is Raymond (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu). The movie has more than one timeline going, showing us Saskia and Rex (Gene Bervoets) and their relationship up to the kidnapping, Raymond’s life up to the kidnapping, and Rex’s continued search for Saskia 3 years later, which eventually causes Raymond to reach out to Rex. What The Vanishing doesn’t tell us, until the end, is what exactly happened to Saskia. We know that Raymond must have lured her to his car, but how? We see him try and fail at different attempts to lure other women, plus Saskia is taken at broad daylight in the middle of a busy service station with Rex nearby. We know that Raymond must have drugged her and taken her to his summer home nearby, but then what happened to her? It’s what drives Rex and the movie, and the closer we come to the resolution, the harder it is to even breathe and watch at the same time.

By the time Rex meets Raymond, he’s already gone a little crazy. His search for Saskia has left him in debt, he can’t have normal romantic relationships, he hallucinates, cries out for Saskia. So when Raymond approaches Rex, it doesn’t seem quite as strange that he doesn’t immediately murder Raymond, or try to murder him, or call the cops or something (though Chris, I think, still found it hard to believe that he wouldn’t do that). It’s sort of like hearing about a schizophrenic person shoot themselves in the head in an effort to stop hearing voices. It’s crazy, but if you were able to feel the agony that they felt, maybe the reaction would seem more normal.

Anyway, the more Raymond and Rex talk, the more we learn about Raymond. He refers to himself as a sociopath and claustrophobic. He tells Rex a story of how he saved a little girl from drowning and when he saw how proud his daughter was thought that the only way to validate his unselfish, pure good deed was to counter it with a completely selfish, evil one, so he decides to commit the most horrible act he can think of.

In the end, Raymond never tells Rex what happened to Saskia. Instead he gives him an ultimatum: either Raymond will show Rex what happened to Saskia, by doing the same thing to him, or Raymond will leave and Rex will never know. It’s an agonizing decision that pits what is probably the strongest human instinct (self-preservation) against a strong combination of human emotions (love and curiosity). So, eventually, Rex opts to know, takes a sleeping pill, and the screen goes dark. Later, Rex wakes to find himself in the process of being buried alive; already trapped in a coffin while Raymond piles the dirt on from above. Rex never makes it out, because Saskia never makes it out. Instead we’re left with the image of Rex, alive in a coffin, lit only by the lighter that Saskia gave him, screaming and finally crying out for Saskia.

It’s totally fucking terrifying. The concept alone is horrifying: the person you love getting kidnapped and the only way you find out what happened to them is to experience it yourself, and then learning that you’re both going to die by means of suffocation through being buried alive. Great. But what’s also terrifying is the way Saskia is taken. Eventually, her actual abduction is shown. Saskia is Dutch and outgoing, and Raymond, who is French, compliments Saskia’s French, which she knows is bad. Flattered, she strikes up a conversation with him and notices his golden “R” keychain, which we previously saw Raymond’s youngest daughter give him for his birthday. We also previously saw Saskia making fun of Rex’s keychain, so she asks Raymond where she can buy one herself. Raymond tells her that he’s a salesman for them and has a box in his car, so she follows him there. There is a box in his car, but it’s full of tiles that his wife gave him for his birthday to fix up the summer house with. While he digs through it, he casually tells Saskia to sit in the car. She hesitates, then sees a picture of him with his (all-female) family, smiles, and sits in the passenger seat. And that’s when Raymond violently drugs her with chloroform on a handkerchief before she can scream. It’s so realistic; before we’re shown this we have to wonder why on earth Saskia, who is smart and already with a man she’s in love with, would ever get into super creepy Raymond’s car. But the language barrier, along with Saskia’s trust that Raymond’s family life speaks anything to his character, eventually does her in. And while I still feel fairly confident that I wouldn’t get into a stranger’s car (especially after seeing this movie a few times), the way it’s presented here doesn’t seem totally impossible. And that’s totally scary.

The Vanishing also plays with the familiar the-villain-doesn’t-seem-evil-because-he-seems-normal idea, because he’s a professor with a wife and two daughters that all seem to love him. But The Vanishing doesn’t do much to try to convince us that Raymond is normal; it’s pretty clear from the start that he’s psychotic. But what makes his seemingly normalness scary is how his family factors into his plan. His oldest daughter screams outside their summer house after seeing spiders; after asking a neighbor if he heard screams (he didn’t), Raymond uses this to determine that screams from his summer house won’t be heard. His youngest daughter’s admiration for saving the drowned girl gives him the idea for burying someone alive, and the keychain she gives him is what catches Saskia’s attention. And his wife’s gift of tiles further lures Saskia to her death. They all play a part in Saskia and Rex’s nightmare by doing nothing more than being a loving family.

Please see The Vanishing, but please make sure you’re seeing the 1988 Dutch version, not the (apparently) horrible 1993 American remake, which is hopefully coming up for us soon . . . if Chris can handle it.

Christopher

I was expecting to like this movie but I was not expecting it to freak me out as much as it did. It’s horrifying. I think what this film does best is making you feel like you know what’s coming and putting a little twist on it. If I had seen this movie in high school I would not have been able to sleep for a week. I’m glad Elizabeth is so fond of it though cause this is definitely not the kind of movie I tend to watch on my own. Please watch this if you like thrillers.