Say it ain’t so! Is this really my LAST batch of horror films for this year’s Spook Series? How did this month go by so fast?! Well, I’ve had an absolute blast watching all this stuff—even if I did only get through a fraction of the films I’d hoped to watch. I know 18 isn’t anything to be ashamed of, but last year I did 79, dammit! Clearly, my ambition has diminished since last year. Haha. But enough with my woes. Let’s get to these last four frights!
The Addams Family (1991)
Synopsis: “Con artists plan to fleece the eccentric family using an accomplice who claims to be their long lost Uncle Fester.” –www.imdb.com
Why It’s Fantastically Fearsome: For whatever reason, The Addams Family has never been my thing. I know a lot of people remember the quirky, macabre family fondly—be it from the ‘60s TV show or the ‘90s films—but somehow I missed their resurge in popularity when I was a kid. But I got to thinking about good movies for Halloween, and this one came up. I thought, “Why not?” And you know what? I got some chuckles out of this one, mainly due to the pretty perfect cast. Raul Julia as energetic, passionate patriarch Gomez. Anjelica Huston as cool, mysterious matriarch Morticia. Christopher Lloyd as oddball Uncle Fester. Christina Ricci as morbid, deadpan Wednesday, always subjecting her brother, Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) to her twisted games. Heck, even Carel Struycken is great just standing around and looking imposing as Lurch. The cast and the dark yet surprisingly family-friendly humor breathe life into a film that is actually quite plot-lite. Definitely not a bad Halloween choice.
My Grade: B
Synopsis: “Inspired by the E.C. comics of the 1950s, George A. Romero and Stephen King bring five tales of terror to the screen.” –www.imdb.com
Why It’s Fantastically Fearsome: I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into when I decided to check out Creepshow, but when I heard the names “George A. Romero” and “Stephen King” attached to the words “horror anthology,” I was onboard. The thing is, I think the horror genre really is well-suited to shorter pieces. Take the V/H/S films. Granted, not every segment is a gem, but when they’re good, they’re really good and thoroughly creepy. I can even think of some horror shorts that scare me more than many modern horrors. Creepshow embraces this idea by presenting five delightfully campy horror stories that cover everything from the undead to alien plants to a monstrous monkey. It’s all just so much fun, perfectly blending humor and chills. And have I mentioned that Stephen King gets to star in a segment all by himself? Because he does, and it’s wonderful. I really do love whenever King manages to squeeze a cameo into his films, but this goes beyond that into even more awesome territory. Anyway, if campy is your flavor when it comes to Halloween films, I cannot recommend this enough.
My Grade: B+
Event Horizon (1997)
Synopsis: “A rescue crew investigates a spaceship that disappeared into a black hole and has now returned…with someone or something new onboard.” –www.imdb.com
Why It’s Fantastically Fearsome: Oh, Event Horizon. You started with such promise. Seriously, about halfway into this film, I thought, “Wow! This is pretty good! How have I not heard more about this?” But then…well, the rest of the film happened. Haha. But Event Horizon really does start out strong. In fact, it clearly borrows from my all-time favorite sci-fi-horror, Alien, in that it sends a spaceship full of likable crew members to investigate a mysterious, abandoned vessel, only for them to find something horrible onboard. Throw in Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne in leading roles, and, in theory, you’ve got yourself a potentially awesome film. But then one of the crew members goes completely batshit crazy for reasons that aren’t very well-explained, and after that things just get downright dumb. The rest of the film is so grim and twisted and ridiculous that any fun had in the first half is all but forgotten. Metaphorically and literally (kind of), Event Horizon goes to hell. And the last scene was so predictably stupid that I distinctly remember saying the words, “Wow. Really?” to an empty room, wishing I had someone to vent to. For the solid first half and for Fishburne (whom I love), I’ll give this film some points. But for the rest…meh.
My Grade: C
The Innkeepers (2011)
Synopsis: “During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees determined to reveal the hotel’s haunted past begin to experience disturbing events as old guests check in for a stay.” –www.imdb.com
Why It’s Fantastically Fearsome: I was kind of eager to get to this one. I’d heard good things about The Innkeepers from a few individuals (Table 9 Mutant is the first person who comes to mind), and it seemed all atmospheric and spooky—just my kind of thing. And it is atmospheric and spooky. It’s just a little…slow. The film takes its sweet time getting to any of the scary stuff, and when it does deliver scares, they’re not quite as terror-inducing as I’d hoped. But that could also be me being desensitized to horror at this point. Haha. I will give the Innkeepers kudos for this though: I like the main characters. Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) are a really likable, fun pair to follow. They are realistic, and it’s easy to empathize with them, which is pretty important to me (just go to Luke’s excellent Question of the Month here to find my rant about needing to like horror heroes and heroines). Well, Claire does act like an idiot at the very end of the film, but given how likable she is the rest of the time, I can forgive her. And the main spook in this has an unforgettably creepy face—I just wish I knew a tiny bit more about her and why she’s haunting the inn. Still, if you’re a fan of ghost stories and don’t mind a slow-burn, this might be right up your alley.
My Grade: B-
Well, there it is! My last round! Have you guys seen any of these? I have a feeling there will be some Creepshow fans among you (my money’s on Eric and/or Brian). Were you as disappointed with Event Horizon as I was? Big fan of The Addams Family? Did you dig the slow-burn of The Innkeepers? But here’s the biggest question of all: did you have fun with Spook Series?? I sincerely hope so. I’ll be keeping all of the films I didn’t get to this year on my list for next year, but I’m always happy to take suggestions so feel free to throw some my way!
I’m not totally done with Spook Series—I’ll be sharing a couple of reblogs and a sort of summary of the series over the next couple of days, so keep your eyes peeled for those. But the most important thing for you to know right now is this: NOOOOvember kicks off in FIVE DAYS!!! I welcome anyone and everyone who wishes to vent about a disappointing film (or multiple disappointing films), but if you’re planning to participate, I would be oh-so-grateful if you could send your write-ups to me by or before Monday (Nov. 3). Of course, I am a benevolent creature who will gladly accept them beyond that, but if I could have all my ducks in a row by then, I would be pleased as punch. Anyway, I’ll see you tomorrow, and I wish you a very happy Hump Day.