After tackling round one and round two of this year’s Spook Series films, it’s time ROUND THREE! These may not be the top vote-getters from my Spook Series poll, but there are some very worthy films on here, and I’m glad to have watched every one of ‘em.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Synopsis: “Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.” –www.imdb.com
Why It’s Terrifically Terrifying: I went into this film having only seen (and become very fond of) the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. I feel kind of guilty about that—I always feel like I should watch the original before the remake, and maybe in this case that has tainted my viewing. Because I think the remake is slightly better. But this is still a really great film. Dawn of the Dead has the same basic premise as its remake: survivors of a zombie apocalypse take refuge in a shopping mall. The nice thing about the original is that the group of survivors is significantly smaller, so you get to know and like them better. And you want to know what’s really cool? Three of the four main actors are from Indiana! As an Indiana native, I find this thoroughly awesome. One of them is even from my hometown and went to my college! But enough geeking about that. This film is a bit slow-paced, but there are tense bursts of action and plenty of humorous moments to keep it very entertaining. Plus, as opposed to George A. Romero’s premiere zombie flick, Night of the Living Dead (which you can read about here), the female lead in Dawn of the Dead actually does something. Thank God for that. If you like zombie flicks, definitely check this out.
My Grade: B+
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Synopsis: “Based on the true life serial killer, Henry Lee Lucas.” –www.imdb.com
Why It’s Terrifically Terrifying: I don’t remember if someone recommended this to me or if I just found it on my own, but you know what? I’m glad I watched it for one reason: Michael Rooker. Maybe I’ve seen him in other roles, but right now the only one I can think of is his portrayal of Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy. And he does a good job with Yondu. But his turn as serial killer Henry is much more memorable and much more chilling. It’s weird—even though he’s a serial killer, Henry is sometimes a kind of likable guy. In fact, he’s a heck of a lot more likable than his sleazy roommate, Otis (Tom Towles), and he even makes a point to look out for Otis’ sister, Becky (Tracy Arnold). Maybe Henry couldn’t be considered a hero, but he has moments where you might call him an anti-hero. Still, that doesn’t make what he does any less disturbing, and this movie will probably give you the heebie jeebies—especially when Henry starts videotaping his killings. It’s not the kind of film you’ll want to watch over and over (and the ending kind of frustrated me), but I’d say it’s worth a watch.
My Grade: B
Synopsis: “A group of students investigates a series of mysterious bear killings, but learns that there are much more dangerous things going on. They start to follow a mysterious hunter, learning that he is actually a troll hunter.” –www.imdb.com
Why It’s Terrifically Terrifying: I’ve seen plenty of found-footage horror films in my time. Probably too many, in fact (and for a taste of that, see this list). But this one is a worthy addition to the ranks. Because who the heck thought that trolls—the bumbling, nose-picking oafs of the Harry Potter and Hobbit films—could be this scary? I’ll tell you who thought that: Norwegian director André Ovredal. Through Trollhunter, he’s crafted a film that is as much a horror as it is an adventure, a fantasy, and maybe even a little bit of a dark comedy. Trollhunter follows a trio of film students as they begin to investigate strange bear killings, but their investigation soon leads them to the mysterious, gruff Hans, portrayed pretty perfectly by Otto Jespersen. By teaming up with Hans, the students discover a whole new world—a world where power outages and fallen trees aren’t a result of natural disasters, but giant, stinky monsters. While I think this film could’ve benefitted from a less abrupt ending, more of an explanation about different types of trolls, and maybe a little bit of history about the trolls (I think the film takes it for granted that viewers know all the Norwegian fairy tales about them), I still think this is a fun, tense film that manages to be eerie while not taking itself too seriously. If you like found-footage and especially if you like trolls, give it a whirl.
My Grade: B
Whatcha think—have you guys seen these films? Which Dawn of the Dead wins for you? Or, for that matter, have you even seen them both? Is it a little terrible that I saw the remake first? And, more importantly, can you forgive me for watching the remake first? I sure hope so. Anyway, I hope your Wednesday is going swimmingly! And, if not, two days ‘til Friday! 🙂