SHOCKtober 2012: Post Mortem

Yesterday I completed the 31 movies in 31 days of Final Girl‘s SHOCKtober event.

It was an interesting experiment, to watch that many movies in that short a time and write about each one. However, it is unlikely I will ever participate again.

There isn’t anything wrong with the concept itself, of doing a movie a day for the whole month, but there is a serious flaw in letting someone else pick the movies. There was a lot of terrible shit in this list, movies that I think I would have preferred never to have seen. Not all of them for the reasons I gave for the final film, Martyrs. Some were just because they were old and boring.

Plus, too many foreign films. There is nothing inherently wrong with foreign films, but reading subtitles means that you have to pay very close attention to the movie, even if it is boring. You can’t browse the Internets and return focus to the film when something exciting happens. Nope, you have to sit there staring at the screen and read the whole damn thing. I don’t mind foreign films, but I have to prepare myself for them, get other stuff done and clear the two hours of time where I can focus on just the movie. I feel like doing that roughly once a month. This selection had 13 films with subtitles. There were 15 foreign films, but the copy of Planet of the Vampires I watched was dubbed as was Tenebre (I had a subtitled copy but the subtitles wouldn’t work on my player).

If I ever attempt anything like this again, I’ll be picking the list myself.

On the other hand, being forced to write every day was good. And I plan to carry it into this month as I participate in NaNoWriMo. In fact, since I wrote this post in advance, there is a decent chance that I’m already writing. I hope so anyway.

Until next time…

SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 31: Martyrs (2008)


Fuck you.

That really should be the entirety of my review. But I don’t want to be so glib. It might encourage people to see this horrific piece of crap.

Basically, you should only watch this if you like love ultra-graphic gore and sadistic torture. If you don’t like love those things, then you should avoid this movie at all costs.

So, this girl, Lucie, escapes from somewhere that she was clearly being kept and tortured. She gets away and gets put in an orphanage where she befriends Anna. Anna learns that Lucie claims to be tormented by a ghoulish monster. Flash forward fifteen years where Lucie busts in on a family eating breakfast and murders them all with a double barrel shotgun. She calls Anna, tells her she killed the people who tortured her as a child and Anna comes to help dispose of the bodies. Lucie keeps being attacked by the ghoul, but, once Anna is there, realizes it is all in her head, is just guilt over the girl she left behind when she escaped, and slits her own throat. All of this is shown in very graphic detail.

Anyway, Anna discovers a secret basement and a tortured girl, who looks a lot like the ghoul Lucie was fighting. Anna frees her and tries to help her.

It was at this point that I first turned the movie off and uttered the phrase, “Fuck you.” The tortured girl, when left alone for a few moments, is found cutting herself with a giant knife, just hacking away at her own wrist. Eventually, when I calmed down, I watched the rest of the movie.

People show up, kill the tortured girl and take Anna prisoner. The people explain that they are torturing girls to learn the secrets of the afterlife. Anna gets tortured. A lot. Time passes, the movie keeps fading in and out and she reappears each time more tortured. Eventually she’s told that she’s almost complete. Then they flay her alive. Flay. At this point Anna reaches some sort of enlightenment and experiences the afterlife. Not a near death experience – she’s in this euphoria state for over two hours. Then she tells the leader lady something, it’s whispered – we don’t get to hear it. The crazy cult people gather to hear the words of Anna, and while they wait the old lady tells another member to “keep doubting” and then shoots herself in the head. A nice title card tells us that “martyr” is Greek for “witness”.

All that torture. All that disgusting shit. All of it, and I get “keep doubting”?

Seriously, Martyrs, fuck you.

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants - Blog @ Rotten Cotton, Life Between Frames

SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 30: Planet of the Vampires (1965)

Planet of the Vampires is an Italian science fiction horror film where two spaceships respond to a distress call on an unexplored planet. In their attempt to land, both ships become damaged. One loses its meteor deflector and the other takes engine and hull damage.

In their attempts to recover, it is discovered that some of the crews have become possessed by aliens. Those aliens want to hitch a ride off their dying planet and get to a new planet where they can thrive. Several people try to thwart the plans of the aliens, but ultimately the aliens win. However, the ship is still damaged and won’t make the long flight home. So instead, the aliens turn the ship to the nearest inhabited planet: Earth.

Dun dun DUN!!

Man oh man, the 60s!

There is just something about the way the colors look in movies from that era, especially sci-fi, fantasy and horror stuff. So vibrant! And the sets, caught halfway between realism and totally fake. With fog hiding the sound stage floor. And the fashions! Just look at these space outfits!

I want to make one of those, the male version of course, for Dragon*Con. Except, I’d need to figure out how to make it look that good while being made of a material that breathes.

Anyway, movies of this era can’t really be called “good” but they have a quality that makes them a lot of fun to watch.

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants – Blog @ Rotten Cotton, Life Between Frames, nijomu

SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 29: The Horde (2009)

My second favorite film of SHOCKtober, The Horde is a French zombie apocalypse tale. A group of police are going after a drug lord who is responsible for killing a colleague. They invade the condemned high-rise where the drug lord lives, screw up and get captured. But then zombies happen and they all need to team up to survive.

This movie is sooooo good. Unless you just cannot possibly tolerate subtitles, you must see this film if you like zombie movies. It takes the best elements of an action film and the best elements of a zombie film, and you get a high energy zombie survival action movie that is great from beginning to end.

The Horde is chock full of awesome moments. Bloody deaths, noble sacrifices, stupid people, less stupid people, actual smart people… there is this one moment, that looks a lot like this:

and that the movie reminds me at times of Dead Rising is a huge plus. But it also reminds me of Left 4 Dead as well. In fact, lots of the movie reminds me of a video game, but not in a dumb way like that terrible Doom movie.

It is a crime that I haven’t bought this on Blu-ray yet, but then again, it’s available on Netflix Instant Streaming, where I have watched it three or four times, so maybe I can be forgiven.

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants – Blog @ Rotten Cotton, Life Between Frames, nijomu

SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 28: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Rosemary’s Baby is one of those movies I have avoided for years specifically because everyone keeps telling me how great it is. I’ve done this before, and will continue to do it, because when people build up expectations like that the movie rarely ever meets those expectations. I still haven’t seen No Country For Old Men for exactly that reason – I’ll watch it the minute I can go six months without hearing about how it’s the best movie ever made. (It’s actually amazing how many “best movie ever made”s there are…)

Anyway, I’d always heard about how Rosemary’s Baby was so great and so I never watched it. But with SHOCKtober including it on the list, I did. And as expected, I was underwhelmed.

It was okay. It was slow. I’m not a Mia Farrow fan. There were no shocks or surprises. Every step of the way I was one step ahead of the film, and especially after having seen The Haunting of Julia, the end really wasn’t a surprise at all. Of course, since this movie came first, perhaps it’s Julia that shouldn’t have been the surprise…

Like many of the moody thrillers of the era, Rosemary’s Baby is well crafted. And I’d say well acted, but I truly loathe Miss Farrow in these sorts of roles (which is most of the roles that she plays), the wide-eyed innocent with the soft whiny voice. And really there is nothing wrong with the film, it’s good, it’s just not the best movie ever made, so don’t go in expecting it to be and maybe you’ll end up thinking it is…

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants - Life Between Frames, Blog @ Rotten Cotton, nijomu

SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 27: Calvaire (2004)

Calvaire… I don’t really know what to say about it.

Crazy people?

It didn’t make any sense.

What a complete waste of time.

I won’t get that time back.

It’s gone now.


And what did I fill that time with? A guy singing to the elderly? A man with a missing dog that doesn’t exists? Someone having sex with a calf? An innkeeper who emasculates a guest and pretends he is his wife?

Totally not worth it.

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants – Life Between Frames, Blog @ Rotten Cotton

SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 26: Triangle (2009)

Of all the movies in the SHOCKtober experience, Triangle is easily my favorite. And that’s saying quite a lot when you consider there are zombie films in this list. It is so good that I don’t want to talk about it. I just want you to go see it. You need to see it.

Yes, it’s a bit bloody. And yes, there are points at which you might be confused. But once you are done, and once you’ve thought about what you’ve seen, go check out this thread where some friends and I (as “jason”) discuss the film.

Feel free to come back here and continue discussion in the comments. I’d be happy to chat about this film with anyone. So, I guess that means the comments might eventually be filled with spoilers. See the movie first.

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants – Blog @ Rotten Cotton, Life Between Frames, nijomu

SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 25: Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

If you like movies with resolutions, Picnic at Hanging Rock is not for you.

Students from a girls’ school, along with some chaperons, head to a local geological formation for a picnic. Three of the girls go missing, as does one of the teachers. An investigation happens. One of the girls is found. She doesn’t remember anything. A school administrator dies. The end.

This film is what you get when there isn’t a murderer with an ax stomping around killing the girls. Instead, you have the mysterious nature of an untamed land that no one fully understands simply whisking the ladies away. To what end? We’ll never know.

Director Peter Weir perfectly captured the landscape of Hanging Rock, giving it a character, making it feel at times light and airy and other times like it is almost closing in around the people. Slowly closing in. The pace of the film is languid at best. And it never really delivers a moment of release where the mystery is solved or fates are learning. It hangs open at the end, telling you that no answer is ever going to come. And of course, the pan pipe music adds to the unsettling feel the film drips with.

At the heart of Picnic at Hanging Rock is Australia itself. The image in most people’s minds, and not really too far from the truth, is an island with coastal cities surrounding an ancient Outback where things happen that cannot be explained.

As I said at the top, if you require solutions to your films, don’t go near this one. But if you are okay with not knowing what happened, then Picnic at Hanging Rock is a delightful, eerie film to experience.

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants – Blog @ Rotten Cotton, Life Between Frames

SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 24: Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971)

Man, oh man. Tombs of the Blind Dead delivers. It begins innocent enough with a girl in a shower… it’s a beach shower next to a pool, get your mind out of the gutter! Betty is showering and another woman, Virginia, calls out to her. They are old friends. Quickly they catch up and V tells B that she and a friend are going camping and that B should come. At the sound of his name, Roger climbs up out of the pool and immediately begins to flirt with B. But doesn’t she see that V is totally upset by this?!

The next morning at the train, because you always take a train to go camping, R and V are waiting for B and her guest, but B’s guest doesn’t show up. B tries to back out of the trip, but R convinces her to go. V is so angry!!

Once on the train, R and B are all flirting again, and V stomps off to get some air. B goes out to see what is the matter and we get a dream sequence where we learn that V isn’t upset that B is flirting with R, she’s upset that R is flirting with B! Total lesbo! Then R shows up and ruins everything!  V gets super angry, goes back to her seat and even asks the guy checking tickets if they can stop the train. But he says the train never stops here. V really wants off though, and the train is pretty slow, so she gets her bag and jumps off the train. B and R call out to her but they stay on the train. R does pull the emergency cord, but the guy driving the train won’t stop because the area is cursed.

V walks until she finds an abandoned town in ruins. She makes a camp and goes to sleep. Zombies – very cool looking Zs, Zs on zombie horses – rise up from their graves and totally chase her around. She climbs on a zombie horse and tries to escape, but they run her down and drink her blood.

The next day, B and R rent horses and go looking for V. They find her shoe in the ruins after their horses run off, and they also run into cops who inform them that V has been murdered!! B and R identify the body and head off to find out more about the ruins. Then V gets up, totally one of the undead, and kills the coroner! V then tracks down B’s work, but B isn’t there, and the girl who is there sets V on fire which destroys her undead life!

B and R find out that the Zs might be Templars who returned from the crusades with Egyptian artifacts and Satanic rites. They killed people and drank blood until the townspeople captured the Ts and hung them from trees until birds plucked out their eyes. Now the Ts rise as TZs each night to continue drinking blood! But that’s not enough to scare off B and R. They get a couple new friends and head out to spend the night at the ruins. Well, the TZs rise and attack them. B manages to run away and she sees the train. This time the train stops…

Okay, this tween/valley girl shorthand is going to stop for a moment, because something happens here that makes me very very angry when it comes to horror films. Betty is running for the train, she trips and rolls down a small (very small) hill. The conductor jumps from the train to help her. As he does, the zombies ride up on their zombie horses, get off their horses, and slowly walks toward the train. This takes, almost literally, 2 minutes. During that time, the girl is acting like she is paralyzed form the waist down. The guy is dragging her and she is just dead weight. Even if I had a broken ankle or broken leg, with zombies that close, I think I could quite easily ignore the pain for the 8 seconds it would take to hobble over to the train and get the heck out of Dodge. Instead, the conductor has to struggle with her, wasting time, finally getting her into the train but now surrounded by slow blind zombies. He dies. The engineer dies. Everyone else on the train dies. But now, her legs totally working fine, Betty climbs atop the pile of wood for the engine. The train begins moving again because the brake is released and it heads to its usual destination. When it stops, Betty climbs off the train. Everyone else is dead. Everyone died because this woman couldn’t get up and move before. The conductor should have dropped her ass on the ground, gotten back in the train and drove off. That’s my one and only complaint about this movie.

… so, anyway, B, whose hair looks totally icky, looks back at the train and screams!

The main thing for me about this movie is the zombies. 100% practical effects, and they look way more convincing than some of the CGI garbage we see in newer movies. They totally work, and despite the horse riding, they are nice slow zombies of the inevitable doom sort. Now I was to watch the rest of the series, of which there are three more. But here, take a gander at a few stills of the zombies of Tombs of the Blind Dead.

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants – Blog @ Rotten Cotton, Life Between Frames, nijomu

SHOCKtober 2012 – Day 23: The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

I am the Mothman. Goo goo g’joob.

A reporter and his wife go out house hunting. While driving home, she swerves the car to avoid the giant flying moth thing with red eyes that her husband doesn’t see and wrecks the car. She is only hurt a little, but when doing the head CT the doctors discover that she has brain cancer and is going to die.

After she’s dead, the reporter finds all these drawings she made of the Mothman. Two years later, he’s driving, gets lost and winds up on the doorstep of a house intending to ask to use the phone. The man who lives there pulls a gun, angry that this is the third night in a row this reporter has come asking to use the phone. When a local police officer show up to handle things, the reporter learns that other strange things have been happening and the two of them start investigating.

The rest of The Mothman Prophecies revolves around the Mothman, or Indrid Cold, or someone, making vague yet accurate predictions of disaster as well as phone calls to phones not even plugged in anymore. More conspiracy theory with supernatural or alien overtones than real horror film, the movie mostly just has a bad script which doesn’t deserve the beautiful work of director Mark Pellington.

The only way this film will terrify you is if you are prone to hearing voices, because maybe those voices are actually alien moth ghosts predicting future disasters. For me though, I can’t believe I bothered sitting through it again. Yeah, that’s right – I’d seen this before but I’d apparently wiped the majority of it out of my head. Hopefully I can manage that trick again.

Be sure to keep an eye on Final Girl and the rest of SHOCKtober.

UPDATE: Check out other participants – Blog @ Rotten Cotton, Life Between Frames