Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Top Five Scary Movies

In honor of Halloween, which is every day in my world, I tried to resurrect the old Top Five list I used to so enjoy. So, I asked a bunch of people to provide me with their Top Five Scariest Movies. We'll see how it goes.

So, first off, I gotta come up with my picks.
I notice that most of these movies are recent, and there's a reason for that: I saw them in the theatre. Home video--or worse, television with commercials--just offers too many distractions, too many escapes, and stuck in a darkened room with a huge screen (and hopefully nobody text messaging across from you) is really the way to immerse yourself in the experience going on in the film. And I do have a great fear of ghosts, which I think all the above have in common.

You know what was really scary? DRAG ME TO HELL. The thing with that is, there was so much splatstick and comedy in it that you tend to brush off the fear easier than many horror flicks.

So, I asked a variety of people for their picks this time around, and the first to respond was Liz M. She included a practical essay for each entry. Her picks:

1. The Exorcist
2. The Shining
3. Se7en
4. Silence of the Lambs
5. Psycho
Tyranist was next to respond (strange, since I sent him the request last). His picks:

1. Halloween (I still have to run from the dark when I'm done watching it)
2. The Exorcist
3. The Shining
4. Alien
5. Black Christmas

He and I watched the 1974 BLACK CHRISTMAS a couple months ago, and I was really surprised by how scary and well made it was. Especially since we both liked the 2006 remake when it came out. After watching them both back to back, the remake kind of blows.

My evil cousin Ryan sent in his response: "I don't think my opinion here would be very useful." At least he was honest.

Big Bob Freelander sent in a similar list (except his reason was that it's too hard to decide). He put THE CHANGELING on and nothing else.

Chemist Jeff said:
"I can't really recall that many that were truly scary. Yes a bunch of them startled the crap out of me, but that's not what I think of as far as being scared. So my (short) list is:"

1) Prince of Darkness
2) The Omen
3) Exorcist
4) Nightmare on Elm Street (the first one)
5) Big Mama's House
(this was actually number one, but it's not really in the spirit of the question so I relegated it...)

Beta Ray Charles sent in:
I guess I haven't seen many, either. Or at least, not many good ones so my list will have some unorthodox ones, for sure.

5. The Grudge
4. The Fly (1958)
3. Terminator 2
2. This House Possessed*
1. Poltergeist

Prison Guard Johnny sent me:
1. Scream
2. The House on Haunted Hill
3. The Shining
4. Dead Girl
5. The Exorcist
Actually, he put BABY GENIUSES first, but I figured it would skew the voting. We want scary-fun, not scary-veryverywrong.

After a while, Evil Cousin Ryan did send it a list (he's not a big fan of Horror), which went like:
1 Terminator
2 Aliens
3 Alien
4 I know what you did last summer

I sent out my request several days ago, hoping I'd be in time for Halloween. But more than half the folks I asked for answers never got back to me. If they do, I suppose I can change this around, but until then, our winners are:
But the weak turnout may be a reminder of why I let the Top Five lists die.

Rish "The" Outfield

*Apparently, this was, ironically enough, a movie about a possessed house. He said a scene where someone was taking a shower and the water suddenly became boiling hot and killed them stuck with him for years.

FixFlix 20

Oh, merciful Lord, no.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Dollhouse" addendum

Folks, it would be douchie (Dush-y?) of me to not post about the "Dollhouse" episode Jeff and I watched tonight. The reason: it was really, really good.

Yeah, I've bagged on the show of late, and I said recently that I hope that Joss can go on to a good show soon, now that "Dollhouse" is going to be canceled.

But maybe I spoke too soon (oh, not about the cancellation; they may as well start the "only four more episodes left"-type ad campaign), as I sure would hate for the rest of the bunch to be as good as the last one, and have my negativity posts be my final word.

So, the episode in question, "Belonging," written by Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon, was unusual, in that Echo was a supporting character throughout. It something of an origin story for Sierra, and it went miles toward making Sierra, Adelle, and especially Topher into sympathetic characters. I never liked Topher from the very beginning, and except for the birthday episode, I got the impression half of the writers felt we weren't supposed to like him (despite the other half's filling him with clever/cute dialogue).

I've noticed Eliza Dushku's performances really vary, and while she's always nice to look at, sometimes she can't pull off the acting without visible effort. But in this episode (and the one before, where she had a lot more to do), she was very, very good.

There were a couple of really great, interesting, and thought-provoking moments in this episode. Commander Will Riker himself, Jonathan Frakes, directed the episode, and while I'm not suggesting he's slumming it doing episodes of television (he's got a "Castle" airing in just a week or two) and a wildly uneven couple of "Librarian" TV movies, but the man directed STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT. That alone should get him work on Sci-Fi, time travel, and horror movies.

Well, if anything, I'll check out the last episodes in December with a bit more anticipation than I otherwise would have.

Rish "Glass Is Half Fu--" Outfield

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Thrill Me!"

I just had to drop a quick post to mention that one of my all-time favorite movies, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, finally came out on DVD today.

I first saw NOTC in junior high, when I hadn't seen a ton of horror movies, and even though I loved it then, I had no idea what a special, uniquely great movie it was. Was it any wonder that, after that, I expected all teen horror films to be scary, funny, well-written, enjoyable, sad, realistic and surreal, only to find that most of them aren't any of those things? The film is considered a B-Movie, and if that's what it is, it's the best B-Movie of all time*, with a plot that goes something like . . .

A canister filled with alien slugs crash-lands in the woods in 1959, infecting a frat boy who dies and is placed in cryogenic freeze. In 1986, a couple of geeky best friends, in order to try and impress a beautiful sorority chick, pledge a fratrnity, and are told to steal a dead body and put it on a rival frat's doorstep. The body they grab turns out to be the one in cryogenic storage, and still harbors the space slugs, which go on a rampage, entering the dead and living alike and turning them into zombified incubators for more of the alien parasites. And somehow, hilarity ensues.

The film was made on a low budget in 1986 by twenty-six year old writer/director Fred Dekker. I worked in 2001 at a video store in Los Angeles, and before I was unceremoniously fired, met Dekker several times, as he was a regular customer. I showered him with praise for NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, and he was happy to talk about it, telling me time and time again that he didn't know when it was coming out on DVD.

Well, there were rights issues, music issues, and general headaches due to the property changing hands, so it wasn't until October 27th, eight years later that it finally came out (if you think about UMD, HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray, there have been three video formats since then, crazy).

I'm not writing this to encourage people to go out and buy NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (though if you want to, I'll not stand in your way), but just to mark the occasion (I was watching the special features on the DVD and would've felt guilty if I hadn't said something). There are very few movies that only get better with repeated viewings (WRATH OF KHAN and HOT FUZZ come immediately to mind), and this is one of them. Dekker's not made a lot of stuff in the decades since, and very few people have heard of NOTCs, but I just had to say a few words, since the film brought me joy twenty years ago, and even more today.

Rish "Afternoon of the Creeps" Outfield

*Unless TERMINATOR is a B-Movie. Not sure exactly on the 21st Century definition.

FixFlix 19

Here's another one that would be really nice.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

FixFlix 18

Keep those cards and letters coming, folks.

Friday, October 23, 2009

"Dollhouse" countdown begins

So, Jeff and I watched another episode of "Dollhouse" this week. It was the one where Echo is replacing a mother who died and gets this motherly instinct so powerful it continues when she is wiped. It was alright, had a couple fairly good moments, but nothing close to what I'd need to care when I hear that the show is being taken off the schedule during November sweeps.

Sweeps are when networks sell advertising space, and hence, is when the special guest stars, the big-budget episodes, and the entire run of ABC's new "V" are put on the air. For a show to be taken off the air during those months is pretty indicative of its fate.

"Dollhouse" hasn't been canceled yet, but their parking spots are already been divied out to somebody new.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

FixFlix 17

My cousin mentioned yesterday that he is enjoying these.

Darn. Just when I was phasing them out.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy October

Everyone's entitled to one good scare.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spider Baby 2

Children are just so much closer to nature than we are, you know?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Slaughterhouse Rish

So, I don't know if it was a mistake or not, but I blogged about a book recently, and now I'm reading "Slaughterhouse 5" by Kurt Vonnegut, and I'm somewhat tempted to blog this one too.
I'd heard of the book before, and I was vaguely aware there was a movie made once, but I never read it, and except for the main character in CAN'T HARDLY WAIT, know no one else who has read it.

In fact, I can't think of what motivated me to pick it up. I think there was a comment on an old Dunesteef episode where somebody mentioned this as one of their favorite books, but I found it at the library, and I grabbed it (and a collection of Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales, but that one I put down fairly quickly).

"Slaughterhouse Five" is actually quite amusing, even though it is a rough, dark, almost mean-spirited novel. That surprised me, since I have such an old-fashioned view on the past it's almost embarrassing. A lot of it takes place during World War II, and it constantly surprises me that things like vulgarity, porn, a-holism, and the f-word existed in those days.

The repeated phrase "So it goes" impressed me at first, then I felt like it got repeated too much, and then, after it had been repeated a dozen more times, I started to laugh whenever it was used.

From back in the Horror Film Compendium days, I had set aside two major compliments for a movie. The first one doesn't really apply, since books tend to be much better written than horror movies, but the second one totally works for "Slaughterhouse Five." When it ended, I was disappointed, because I was enjoying it so much I could've stood for more.

Rish "Billy Pilgrim" Outfield

Friday, October 09, 2009

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Dollhouse Airing Out

So, apparently last week's "Dollhouse" was its lowest rated show yet. I heard somebody point out that "Stargate Universe" got higher ratings, and that's on a cable channel with an utterly moronic name. So, it looks like the show is going to be canceled.

Jeff and I started watching Eliza Dushku's last series, "Tru Calling" during the summer. It started out fairly weak, though it had a pretty bang-up premise. After four or five episodes, he and I considered not watching anymore, but decided to watch the rest of the disc before deciding for sure. Well, as if somebody somewhere in-a-time-warp-but-with-future-reality-altering powers heard what we were considering, and immediately, the show got not only better, but really quite good. I was surprised, and happy to discover that I was wrong.

I looked up "Tru Calling," though, and saw that while FOX did renew it for a second season, they canceled it after only five episodes had aired. Of course, "Tru Calling" had about twice as many viewers as "Dollhouse" does.*

So, it's going to get canceled, and I still don't get why it was renewed for this season, since FOX has always seemed to be about money. I guess the main reason for writing this is that I went to Jeff's place last night and we started to watch the new season of "Dollhouse," and it did absolutely nothing for me. If anything, most of the momentum and interest I had for it in the first season were gone, and except for looking at attractive young people (which I could watch the CW for), I could see very little worth sticking around for.

I guess that makes me a bad man. I know I was a big supporter of this show. It just doesn't mean anything to me anymore. Heck, I'm much more interested in the remaining "Tru Calling"s I haven't seen. Better luck next time, okay?

Rish Iscariot Outfield

*I was curious, so I checked out "Firefly"'s ratings, and you know what? It got twice as many viewers a week as "Dollhouse" too.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Saturday, October 03, 2009