Archive for Halloween Month

Halloween Month: Top 5 Wes Craven Films to watch this Spooky Season!

Posted in Halloween Month with tags , , , , , on October 1, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

The loss of one of genre cinema’s greatest directors is still very raw amongst fans. So, if you’re planning on a movie marathon this Halloween season then what better way to celebrate than pay homage to the beloved Wes Craven, the ultimate master of our nightmares! Here are my personal (and of course subjective) top picks of Craven films  to enjoy this October. So sit back, relax with some sugary treats and don’t forget to Scream!

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**CONTAINS SPOILERS**

5. Red Eye (2005)

Red Eye is Craven’s strongest genre film from the noughties and one of his more underrated in his overall career. Its Final Destination meets Scream in a calculating thriller about a hotel manager Lisa (Rachel McAdams) who is terrorized on a routine flight by a sinister stranger (Cillian Murphy) linked to a menacing and dangerous plot to assassinate a politician. With the threat of her father being killed dangling in front of her, Lisa is trapped yet surrounded by people. She is threatened and unable to say a word, otherwise she risks everything. Red Eye is well executed, slowly introducing the main characters, keeping Murphy’s Jackson Rippner charming and charismatic before revealing his nasty intentions. Its edge of your seat stuff, as the conspiracy unfolds. The primary setting of the plane ramps up the tension signifying the notion of no escape. Lisa has to be careful of every move she makes. She is reminiscent of Sidney Prescott with her resourcefulness and mannerisms; allegedly the role was considered for Neve Campbell at one stage and it does feel as if it was written for her, Rachel McAdams however delivers a powerhouse performance. Its a cat and mouse game with intense direction from Craven. Catch Red Eye on Netflix.

4. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

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This bleak homage to Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) was Craven’s second feature film. Following his controversial début The Last House on the Left (1972), Craven continued with a similar gritty tone as a family become stranded in the desolate Nevada desert only to be brutalized by a group of cannibals. The Hills Have Eyes is exploitation at its finest and an example of Craven’s earlier and more seedier work before his more polished offerings years later. Adding to the grubbiness was the fact that Craven rented the camera to shoot the movie from a well-known pornographer. He had a lot of dark ideas when creating The Hills Have Eyes, including toying with the idea of killing off a baby but instead settled with the dog death which is harrowing enough for any animal lover! The film kick started a career in Horror for Dee Wallace (most famous for playing Elliot’s mother in ET) before going on to roles in 80’s flicks Cujo (1983) and The Howling (1981). Michael Berryman’s hillbilly villain named Pluto is one of the most iconic monsters and is instantly recognizable as a significant horror character. On the whole the film is extremely disturbing and doesn’t hold back on the malice, the burning scene being one of its most harrowing. The Hills Have Eyes legacy lives on through inspiring a number of inbred themed films, the Wrong Turn franchise being the most well-known. It received the remake treatment in 2006 which was actually pretty well-executed. One of the most interesting and violent films of Craven’s earlier career, The Hills Have Eyes is worth watching this Halloween if you’re looking for something macabre and brutal.

3. Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

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The only film in this countdown that Craven didn’t actually direct but he did contribute towards the screenplay. Every horror fan knows that Dream Warriors is the most well-regarded Elm Street Sequel as it went back to the origins of both Freddy and Nancy’s story arcs. It was one of the first horror films I recall really getting into at a young age. Set in a hospital, our heroine Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkampis now a psychiatrist helping teenage survivors of Freddy Kruger fight back using their dreams against him. The teens include Kristen Parker (played by Patricia Arquette this time round) who became a significant part of the franchise in her own right. Chocked full of mesmerizing imagery (gory puppetry scene) and containing many memorable death scenes (“Prime Time, Bitch!” being an exceptional highlight). Dream Warriors was a major improvement on the second instalment Freddy’s Revenge (1985), guaranteeing Kruger as a relevant horror villain for years to come. The original idea Craven had intended for the film was what eventually became 1994’s New Nightmare which was completely ahead of its time and a prelude to Scream (1996). If you’re going to watch an Elm Street sequel this Halloween, make sure its this one!

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

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The movie that guaranteed that we’d never sleep again. A Nightmare on Elm Street completely speaks for itself and was the film that put Craven on the map to success. This imaginative and terrifying concept has frightened generations for years to come. It’s the movie that Johnny Depp owes his entire career to and also made an icon out of Robert Englund. If you want a classic movie this year, Nightmare on Elm Street is the one to go for. Also, there’s a chance to see it on the big screen at Celluloid Screams Horror Festival’s All-Nighter, in honour of the master of nightmares!

1.Scream 2 (1997)

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Scream 2  is one of the strongest slasher sequels out there if not the best. Slicing its way onto cinema screens a year after Craven’s 1996 post-modern masterpiece, Scream 2 delivered more chills, more blood and more scares as it continued the Sidney Prescott story to university. Our beloved characters were brought back including Courtney Cox’s feisty news reporter (now author!) Gale Weathers and movie buff Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy). Scream 2 took risks (killing off Sarah Michelle Gellar in her second film written by Kevin Williamson) and some unsuspecting turns as it taught us no one is safe! It also provides a witty commentary on sequels, the status of race in horror as well as reverted to the classic tale of revenge paying homage to Friday the 13th (1980). Scream 2 upped the ante making it the most compelling sequel out of the franchise. For me, its incredibly nostalgic. If you’re ready to Scream this Halloween, this is the sequel for you! After Craven’s distaste for his nightmarish creation Elm Street being transformed into a franchise, he truly proved here that this is how a follow-up to a successful film should really be done!

Read my Ghostface Girls Debate Article on which is the best Scream sequelhttp://moviepilot.com/posts/2015/01/27/ghostface-girls-debate-which-is-the-best-scream-sequel-2629914?lt_source=external,manual

Which Wes Craven films do you plan on watching this Halloween season, what would be your top picks? Feel free to comment below! Or Tweet @HayleyR1989

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

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Poll: Which Halloween Month Article Did You like the most? + Ghostface Girls.

Posted in Ghostface Girls, Halloween Month, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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Just a fun little feedback poll for my readers.

With #HalloweenMonth on the site at an end, which article did you guys enjoy reading the most and what are you most likely to watch on the special day, this October 31st?!

 

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On another note please check out my side project Ghostface Girls latest podcast, Episode 6: Celluloid Screaming. We talk Friday’s upcoming Sheffield Horror Festival, Abertoir’s Halloween events in Cardiff and a couple of things we’re looking forward to at the Aberystwyth Festival in November. We discuss our plans for an upcoming ‘nasty’ little video to be filmed at Abertoir and we want YOU guys to get involved. Fast forward to the end of the podcast to find out how!

You can listen to the latest episode here.

For Caitlyn’s site visit: http://scaredsheepless.com/ for a spooky article on The Woman in Black. 

Also check out our Facebook page, we’re aiming for 100 likes by Friday! Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far.

You can also tweet us at @GhostfaceGirls

I will see you guys at Celluloid Screams and will return with plenty of video coverage!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

 

It’s Coming…

Posted in Halloween Month with tags , , , on September 28, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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Halloween Month 2014 on Hayley’s Horror Reviews

A Complete Month of  the Movies You Should Be Watching Over This Spooky Season!

Starting October 1st! 

Visit Here for previous Halloween Season Reviews from 2011-2013.

Halloween Month: Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Posted in Halloween Month with tags , , , , on October 1, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Undeniably, John Carpenter’s Halloween is one of my favourite horror movies and undoubtedly a classic within the genre. The success of the film spurned a sequel in 1981 continuing the story  of murderous maniac Michael Myers and was intended to be the final Halloween film. The creators of the original, John Carpenter and Debra Hill were less than enthused about continuing the series however agreed to a third instalment as long as it differed from the previous two and didn’t include any of the characters associated with its predecessors, meaning no Michael Myers, Laurie Strode or Dr. Loomis. The film could be considered experimental in terms of trying out a new concept in an already established film series. Season of the Witch was most definitely a risk but what makes it so interesting is despite the fact it didn’t succeed in a well-known franchise and failed to spawn a Halloween anthology, the film is still well appreciated as a stand alone addition and has gained somewhat of a cult following over the years.

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Halloween III is certainly a film that really captures the essence of the Halloween season and puts its audience in the mood for the annual spooky festivities. Due to this, there really is something special about it. Its clearly an obvious choice to review considering the season but from the captivating setting and general iconography present in the film, it really encompasses the spirit of things. The film has one main connection with the original film, in a clever intertextual reference, the 1978 Carpenter film can be seen playing on the TV during a couple of scenes, which when you take Scream into consideration, it further supports the fictional world of Haddonfield and Myers and uses it in a film context within a film. To an extent, it could be argued that Halloween III was one of the earlier self-referential horror films, aware of its own tropes.

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The main plot focuses on Silver Shamrock, a Halloween, mask-making corporation who have some sinister plans to kill a number of American children and their parents through the consumptions of the masks themselves, in an elaborate plan conceived by businessman Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy). Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins), an on-call doctor stumbles upon a sinister murder/suicide of an unknown man clutching a Halloween mask who warns him with the impending message “they will kill us all”. He begins to investigate alongside the man’s grieving daughter Ellie (Stacey Nelkin), the duo soon find themselves caught in the middle of the corporation’s malevolent ways and it really becomes a battle of man vs. consumption as Challis attempts to stop the television stations  broadcasting Silver Shamrock’s infectious commercial before its too late.

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Season of the Witch incorporates a spooky story that acts on a deeper level with its view on early 80’s American society. It is a critique of anti-capitalism, the rise of television and places children in peril demonstrating a kind of fear of future generations, all of course within a horror metaphor. The evil head of the corporation Conal Cochran secretly implants  computer chips containing small bouldar fragments from Stonehenge into the masks in order to unleash an ancient, Celtic ritual on Halloween night. The struggle of old society against new is heavily present here, however Cochran must use the means of modern technology to suck in unsuspecting victims into his evil plans. Later research has shown that academics have taken an interest in the film, deciphering the critiques of American culture at the time. For example Martin Harris suggested that the film has “an ongoing, cynical commentary on American consumer culture.” While Nicholas Rogers described its portrayal of the successful, corporate businessman as “oddly irrational”, it therefore highlights an exaggerated, if not fantastical perspective on the fears present in late twentieth century America. Consumerism has always been a major factor within the US and the film clearly puts forward the idea of how its encouraged among the general public. With its memorable/irritating commercial jingle “Eight more days till Halloween, Halloween, Halloween” etc. it demonstrates how the repetitive and catchy nature of the images and audio provided feeds into their brains to ensure the products will appear attractive to them. It has to be argued that despite what is generally thought of the film, it has managed to intrigue the likes of academics and critics with its strong commentary and themes which have proven to be pretty interesting to observe and discuss. Another mystery that surrounds the film apart from the history of why it did not succeed as the beginning of an anthology is the ambiguous ending. Forever audiences will wonder if Challis managed to defeat Cochran’s evil plan or did he perish along with the rest of society? Audiences are free to choose which ending they prefer however leaving it so open ended leaves an empty feeling for the viewer, its never resolved therefore, it remains scarier not knowing for certain.

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By all means, the film isn’t a masterpiece but for a genre fan like myself, it holds appeal as a charming horror sequel. It certainly isn’t the worst ever created or the worst entry from the Halloween franchise, that can be handed to Resurrection, which in my personal opinion ruined all that was set up about the franchise.  As previously stated, it displays a lot of interesting themes and did make a statement on the period in time that it was made. In theory, it hasn’t differed from what most horror films attempt to do. It will always remain a curiosity as to whether Halloween could have ultimately worked as an anthology, however critics differed otherwise. The late Roger Ebert gave the film a thumbs down feeling it took too much from other movies he considered “better” and deemed it as a “low-rent thriller”, while others did not adjust to the absence of the Myers character. Arguments like those against the film are fair but its mainly down to personal taste. Season of the Witch tried to break itself away from its predecessors while including  similar stylistic elements, for example the jack-o-lantern primarily associated with the credits of the previous two. Interestingly, it was the only film of the franchise that delved into notions of the sacrificial aspects of Halloween.

So, you ask, why is this early 1980’s, cult sequel one to watch this season? Well, Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without watching one of these movies. If you look at it on a deeper level its themes are truly thought-provoking. Plus, its a definite old school, seasonal piece and a crucial example of horror and cult cinema. Its also guaranteed that the Silver Shamrock theme will linger in the mind well after the film is over! mwhaha!

Sources: Halloween Movie Wikia.

Hayley Alice Roberts.