Oh yeah—it’s time for some more spooks. So far, I’ve covered the top ten films that you, my lovely readers, chose from this poll. If you missed those write-ups, you can find all of them in the Spook Series Archives, along with several write-ups from last year (which I have been reblogging like a lazy fiend, so you can also find it if you just scroll down through my homepage). What new terrors await in this post? Read on, brave souls…
Synopsis: “Whilst attending a party, three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery underground. Soon, though, they find their lives spinning out of control and their bond tested as they embrace their darker sides.” –www.imdb.com
Why It’s Fantastically Fearsome: Chronicle is a film I’ve been meaning to check out for awhile because I’d heard good things (especially from Dane DeHaan superfan Zoë). I’m happy to report that it completely lives up—which is really encouraging during a time when so many found-footage films are so very lame. Chronicle livens up the genre with a sci-fi twist, excellent performances from a trio of relative newbies (DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan, and Alex Russell), and even a floating camera that captures many more angles than the average found-footage film. The story unfolds at a pretty rapid pace, but for the most part it’s told very well, helping us to get to know and like the three main characters while showing off their very cool powers. My only major qualm is that the treatment of DeHaan’s character toward the end feel kind of cheap…but then the very last scene is such an effective punch in the gut that it helps make up for it. Ultimately, this film was just pure fun. If you like found-footage, sci-fi, or any of the lead actors, I recommend it.
My Grade: B+
Teen Wolf (1985)
Synopsis: “A struggling high school student with problems discovers that his family has an unusual pedigree when he finds himself turning into a werewolf.” –www.imdb.com
Why It’s Fantastically Fearsome: Hmm. “Fearsome” isn’t quite the right word here…Were any of you youngsters who watch MTV’s brooding supernatural drama Teen Wolf aware that the show has its roots in this cheesy ‘80s comedy? I’ve never watched the show myself, but from the commercials I can tell that it is a very different vibe from this. Basically, Teen Wolf the film is a standard tale of one high school student’s transformation from zero to hero with a slight twist: he finds out he’s a werewolf and accidentally transforms in front of half the school. You’d think everyone would freak out, yet they’re completely cool with it because they suddenly have a star athlete win their basketball games. Which seems like an outrageously unfair advantage…but whatever. Like I said: cheesy. Nonetheless, this film is somewhat elevated due to the fact that said teen wolf is none other than Mr. Michael J. Fox, who really can never do wrong. Fox’s charm is what makes this movie work, and it probably wouldn’t be half as effective without him. If I’d been a child of the ‘80s, I’m sure I’d look back on this fondly. As someone who just watched this for the first time, it’s hard to see past the cheese. Still, if you turn off your brain and simply watch Fox be his charming self, you might have some fun with this.
My Grade: B-
The Wicker Man (1973)
Synopsis: “A police sergeant is sent to a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl whom the townsfolk claim never existed. Stranger still are the rites that take place there.” –www.imdb.com
Why It’s Fantastically Fearsome: Okay. I think I’m gonna ruffle some feathers with this one. Because I’ll be completely honest: I did not like this film. I suppose there are a few interesting elements—the mystery of the missing girl, the general strangeness of the island, the disturbing ending, and young Christopher Lee (whom I had always just assumed was born a 70-year-old man), for instance—but for me, this film was a chore to watch. I think a lot of it was the singing. My God, the singing. Every time the annoyingly chipper villagers started a new tune, I wanted to take out the DVD and fling it against the wall. It’s just so freaking hippie-dippie, and that did not work for me. I know we’re supposed to think the village is weird, and we’re probably supposed to have a negative reaction to it much like the main character, Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward), but the problem there is that Howie reacts with such righteous, holier-than-thou outrage that it’s hard to get very attached to his character. Of course, it doesn’t help that I was able to predict the last 15 minutes of the film, making me more frustrated with the main character at every turn. If I can figure this stuff out, why can’t a policeman? Sigh. I’m ranting aren’t I? I think I’m just severely disappointed because I was expecting a new classic for me to love. I’ll stick to Psycho and The Exorcist, thank you very much.
My Grade: D
The Thing (1982)
Synopsis: “Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills.” –www.imdb.com
Why It’s Fantastically Fearsome: No worries. We’re ending on a positive note here. Because I really liked The Thing. It actually reminded me of Alien in some ways—the isolation and trapped feeling, the scientists on a mission, and, of course, the freaking alien. I have to say though, as much as I love the monster in Alien, I found this one a heck of a lot scarier because it can become anyone. And, you know, it’s also pretty darn gross (which, by the way, kudos to whoever dreamed up the design for the crazy thing). This is just a fun, tense, wonderfully eerie ‘80s sci-fi thriller that I could easily see myself watching over and over again. It may not delve into the characters a whole lot, but what we learn about them we like—especially leading man MacReady (Kurt Russell) who takes charge and manages to keep the gang from descending into complete chaos. I also like that the film doesn’t spend too much time trying to explain this awful creature after them. We learn just enough of its story for it to make sense, but it still maintains a degree of mystery that keeps it very creepy and full of surprises. And that ending! It’s perfect. I think I’ve found a film to add to my Halloween favorites.
My Grade: A-
So did Chronicle give you hope for found-footage films? Do you have a soft spot for Teen Wolf? Isn’t that monster from The Thing one of the most grotesque (and awesome) creations ever? And, most importantly, do you hate me for hating The Wicker Man? I’m hoping that last one is a resounding “no,” but we’ll see how this goes. Have a spooktacular day! 🙂