Hello, and welcome to my 2021 Blogging From A to Z April Challenge! This year, I am talking about every single horror movie that Alec and I have seen over the course of the pandemic (thus far). Except for the ones that I forget about until, generally speaking, moments after I hit “Publish.” Because I wasn’t planning to do this as my A to Z this year. So I never actually kept a list of the movies we were watching. The list that you are seeing is a truly epic work of remembering, reconstruction, and research. And yeah, lots of movies haven’t made it back into my memory in time to go on the list. Still, even within these limitations, my list is hovering somewhere around 200 films, so it isn’t so bad, really.
Let me just mention that I am into quite a varied range of horror movies. Some of them are classics. Some of them are disgusting gore-fests or semi-pornographic wallowings. I am going to list every one of them that I remember, the classics and the schlock alike. Seriously, we were watching a movie a night for several months of the lockdown, and we’re still watching quite a few a week. It’s been a journey, and not a wholly edifying one. If you, reader, wish to come on this journey with me, in a no-holds-barred sort of way, go ahead and read the whole of my posts. But if you like a certain level of propriety in your Internet, may I suggest just scanning for titles you recognize and reading about those? Or, of course, you could read these little introductions, then look at the Mystery Picture at the bottom of the post, then say “hi” in the Comments section, then move on with your life.
Oh, and, if you are a child, this isn’t the A to Z for you.
Having said all of that, I notice that my list today is actually a relatively classy one. I may have to cut-and-paste that paragraph and use it again in the future. I am also, however, going to leave it in this post, because it is something I’ve increasingly realized that I should be saying, as I have observed with interest and a certain level of chagrin how mucky some of my posts have gotten.
Pieces (Mil gritos tiene la noche)(1982)
Director: Juan Piquer Simón
I am… pretty sure we saw this. I am pretty sure it is about yet another jigsaw-puzzle-obsessed serial killer, who is trying to make a lady out of parts of other ladies. But… as for details… no. That’s probably not the movie’s fault. We watched at least one other movie with exactly the same premise recently, and that complicates memory.
Director: Joe Dante
Fun. I recommend this one. Paul Bartell (of Eating Raoul) has a cameo here as a mean and controlling camp counselor.
Basically, it is about horrible man-eating piranhas escaping from a government lab and traveling down a river, eating everything in their path. And about the summer camp that is in session a little ways downstream from the lab, which is next in line for the piranhas. And about the people who find out that the piranhas are loose, one of whom is a dad with a daughter at said camp. Mainly, it focuses on the dad and a journalist lady, trying to outrun the flood of death on a makeshift raft, picking up survivors, trying to warn people, and desperately racing to the camp. Thrills and humor abound.
And, I mean, it is directed by Joe Dante. That’s usually a good sign.
Pitch Black (2000)
Director: David Twohy
Yay, Pitch Black! I have discussed it before, it being an early-pandemic watch, but I’ll gladly cut and paste those remarks into this post for you. Here they are:
YES. I loved this one. It was fast-paced sci-fi action from beginning to end. Vin Diesel was just great, even if he does kind of mutter a lot of his lines here.
The movie begins on a spaceship. I guess it is designed for a pretty long journey because everyone starts off in cryo-sleep or whatever. Oh, actually everybody’s asleep except for Vin Diesel, who is too awesome to sleep. He explains about this in a voiceover.
Anyway, then there is a disaster, something slams into the ship or something, the captain is killed, and they crash-land on a deserted planet. Actually, they soon learn that it hasn’t been deserted that long, but I feel like I’m getting ahead of myself. I was going to say more about Vin Diesel. Right. He plays a scary murderer who is being taken from one jail to another. There’s a sort of space cop guy (sort of) along to keep an eye on him and to explain to everyone else how bad news it is that Vin Diesel has escaped.
Anyway, eventually everyone kind of teams up with Vin Diesel, and everything is going great except that they keep getting eaten. And I feel like I’m getting into spoiler territory here, so I’ll stop. It is a fun movie. Lots of action, lots of (muttered) banter, lots of interest, and the monsters are neat. If you like fun of the sci-fi action sort, you could totally watch this one.
It is also the source of Saturday’s Mystery Picture! The still below shows Vin Diesel and a kid who admires Vin Diesel enough to dress up like him. And, I mean, I get it. He’s kind of awesome. By the way, notice how light-flooded this shot is. Pitch Black is about light in much the same way that Tremors is about sound.
Director: Tobe Hooper
Tobe Hooper’s directorial career is just plain weird. Texas Chainsaw Massacre would, you’d think, sort of set the tone of your career kind of forever afterwards. I’ve seen it, by the way, and thought it was actually pretty good, though I’m not sure I’m very eager to see it again. One of those movies you are relieved to have seen, because now you’ve done it, and you never have to see it again. But he also directed Lifeforce. Which I’ve also seen, and ABSOLUTELY LOVED, and which bears very little similarity to Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Not that, with most directors, I’d necessarily expect a similarity, but Texas Chainsaw Massacre is so extreme and so influential that I bet lots of directors would get stuck on the “massacre” setting and never do anything different. Not, apparently, Tobe Hooper. Lifeforce is a fun horror/sci-fi movie about awesome bat-like space vampires bringing a complicated vampire/zombie-type space-plague to Earth and also personally attacking London. Not like the horrible intimacy of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, not at all.
And then there’s Poltergeist. It is rated PG. It is about a family getting haunted and possessed and stuff. And it is fine. I can’t say I loved it, because I didn’t. I liked aspects of it, though. I thought the weed-smoking-parents touch was cute. And… you know, I’m sure there were other things I liked about it, but it has been a while since we saw it, and all I seem to remember is that the parents are smoking a joint at one point and that that made me smile. Oh yes! I also liked the initial weirdness of the haunting. There’s a scene in the kitchen, where the mother and one of the kids are sort of experimenting with the force that will soon totally engulf their lives. They think it’s pretty neat, at first. I think I would also find it neat.
Director: Keola Racela
A movie about kids working in a movie theater in the 80s in a pretty repressive environment. Everyone has a secret (mostly connected in one way or another with sexuality). The manager, who is held up as a mentor and also a sort of judge of the sins of his employees, has a secret. All the employees have secrets. The theater itself holds a dark secret indeed, in the basement–a pornographic film that releases a succubus (or, where appropriate, an incubus) when it is viewed. The succubus/incubus is released during an employee-only late night movie-viewing, and tempts, corrupts, and tests each member of the little group. All of the secrets come out over the course of the night, and no-one will ever be the same again.
I liked the characters, even the ones (like Chaz) who are revealed to have done some pretty unkind things to the other characters. I am not going to tell you what she did to Ricky in the past, because that would constitute a spoiler, but it is kind of a doozy and messed up his life pretty badly for a bit. Seriously, ouch. Oh, right, I could always write it out in white text! Highlight to read. Spoiler text in brackets.
[Ricky is gay (that’s his secret). Chaz had/has this big crush on him. They were close friends. She realized he was gay, and told on him to the manager, who arranged for Ricky to get sent to one of those horrible “Pray Away the Gay” summer camps. It did not, of course, work. The fact that it was Chaz who told on Ricky, and that she did it because she was crushing on him, is Chaz’s secret.]
Anyway, I did like the characters. Especially Heavy Metal Jeff. Heavy Metal Jeff is out of his goddamned mind, probably because he has been substantially brainwashed by the manager. So, in Heavy Metal Jeff, there is this rebellious natural personality, weirdly channeled towards enforcing conformity. Well-done, there, movie. I liked him a lot.
And it is really fun to travel along with the characters, watching everyone’s secret get unlocked, and then also watching the group as a whole deal with the revelations as they come.
As for the movie itself, I almost liked it. That is, I liked the characters, and I liked the setting, and I liked very much the exploration of the characters’ secrets. But the movie itself–and especially the ending–didn’t really work for me. In fact, I was pretty into this film until the last 20 minutes or so, where it fell down badly. I don’t think the movie fully thought out the succubus part of the film. The rules by which the monster functions are not, I think, at all consistent.
The Predator (1987)
Director: John McTiernan
This was a re-watch for us. The first time I saw Predator, I was absolutely riveted. I hadn’t expected it to be so primal, so simple in plot, and so effective in its simplicity. I shouldn’t have watched it again so soon, though. Again, as I have said about other re-watches, this one should’ve been given 5 or 10 years, not like 11 months. It needed more time to fade from my mind. Still, I have a cool thing to show you, in the Predator line. If you like weird-ass song versions of movies, and if you are okay with massive spoilers, click here to experience Predator: The Musical.
Predator 2 (1990)
Director: Stephen Hopkins
This was an early-pandemic watch for us, and I talked about it here. I’m not going to cut-and-paste this time. This post is already kind of monstrously long, and I have doubts about whether my earlier review might be considered to contain spoilers. Basically: I liked it, but not as much as I liked Predator.
Prom Night II (Hello, Mary Lou: Prom Night II)(1987)
Director: Bruce Pittman
I saw this movie as a kid, and was fairly engaged by it, and also somewhat freaked out by it, but in a fun way. As an adult… it’s fine?
The Prophecy (1995)
Director: Gregory Widen
Christopher Walken is brilliant here as the Angel Gabriel. Every time he came onscreen, I had this “oh yay, it’s the bad guy!” feeling. He makes this film, for me. I could say more, but really all I have is variations on “it was awesome,” and anyway this post is already hovering near 2000 words, so I am going to move on. I strongly recommend this one.
The Prowler (1981)
Dir. Joseph Zito
This classic early 80s slasher was filmed in Cape May. We’ve been there. That made this movie extra-fun.
On the whole: if you like slashers, this one’s worth seeing, definitely.
Dir. Stan Winston
Another early-pandemic watch, which I discuss here. Again, my earlier review may have ventured into Spoiler territory, so beware!
And that’s it for today! Tomorrow, I just have one movie, for Q.
By the way, is this spoilers-in-white-text thing working for people? Or are there technical difficulties? I’ve started to wonder. I know it does not work well when I look at my posts on my phone.
Anyway, here is the Mystery Picture for tomorrow! A hint: this movie only begins with “Q” for the English version of the title.
Re-watched Poltergeist last Halloween – forgot how much humour was in it.
Yeah, it certainly does have its funny moments!
I only read your posts on the computer. The white-out spoilers work fine. I’m glad you have been doing that.
Pitch Black is one of those movies that if I stumble upon it while surfing I will stop and watch, no matter what point it is at. I got upset in one early scene with the death of a specific character (who was very Low Scapped in this film). Ahem
So, Pitch Black, Dave, and Twister are the three movies I never plan to watch but watch as they come across my surfing path.
Thanks Stuart! I’m glad to know my system of spoiler-concealment (which was suggested to me by Alec, and is so beautifully simple that I probably never would have thought of it) is working for you.
I really like Pitch Black. I think we’ve discussed that death before, last year. I think I did a bunch of research and managed to figure out which death it was and why it bothered you, and I remembered thinking your criticism was fair enough, at the time.
Never seen Dave or Twister. Good?
P is a good letter. I don’t know why I still haven’t seen The Prophecy.
Hey Katherine! I myself was surprised to discover that I’d never seen it. And I really think it is worth a watch. In fact, I mean, I kind of loved it.
LOVED Poltergeist. Such a great film really. Spielberg can bring the scares when wants to. Pumpkinhead was fun, and I featured a monster inspired by the movie this past month. And the Predator movies were a lot of fun.
Prophecy is a great example of why Christopher Walken should be in every horror movie.
For your mystery movie. I loved it!
Tim Brannan, The Other Side: 2021: The A to Z of Monsters
Yeah, I liked Poltergeist, just didn’t quite love it. There’s lots of great stuff in it, though. And I noticed your Pumpkinhead-inspired monster! Although… would you call Pumpkinhead “fun,” exactly? I thought it was fairly grim (in a good way).
The Predator movies (or the two I’ve seen) are indeed fun. Lots of fun.
I agree about Christopher Walken. Amazing!
Ha, look at that! You reviewed…mystery movie… too! I didn’t love it, myself, but I agree that the witches are awesome and that that whole aspect of the movie was very interesting.
I have no inspiration regarding this mystery scene, except to sympathize with the chap who is clearly getting a pain from the decor. However, should I be concerned that it has taken me until P to notice that you have two upper jaws when you scream?
YAY I was wondering if anyone had noticed that!!! I thought it was a good “horror” touch.
Did you ever watch Piranha 3D? That’s the one I remember. I think it may be a remake?
You’ve also convinced me want to watch Pitch Black!
Weekends In Maine
Wow! Look at that. Piranha 3D! Is it any good?
Yay! Tell me what you think of Pitch Black, when you see it.
It was really campy, fun and ridiculous all at the same time. I love comedy horror though so enjoyed it. Jerry O’Connell’s death scene was especially memorable. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched though so unfortunately I’ve forgotten a lot of it.
Weekends In Maine
I love horror-comedy too! What are some of your favorites in that line?