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31 Days of Halloween Week 4 Reviewed

A Letterboxd diary list

Doom Asylum (1987)

Wow, this piece of 80s trash is my kind of what the fuckery. A group of overacting teens (including Sex & The City’s Kirsten Davis & her blue swimsuit and Patty Mullen from Frankenhooker) go and visit an old asylum for some reason, and get picked off one by one by a rubber-faced burn victim Freddy Krueger knock off with the worst one liners in the history of cinema.

But wait, there’s more - the asylum is also the practice room for an all female noise punk band who don’t take kindly to the new intruders. Cue lots of wandering aimlessly around the asylum and the occasional death scene when the killer can be assed getting out of bed - seriously this guy spends half the movie in bed & watching black & white horror films. The clips of the old horror movies just serve to pad out the running time to 77 mins.

We also have a goofy indecisive male lead who offers to replace his girlfriends dead mom, hence her weirdly calling him Mom for the rest of the film and refusing to have sex with him cos incest. There are bizarro romantic fantasies and kill scenes reminiscent of the steamroller death in Austin Powers whereby the characters back slowly against a wall and don’t even try to escape. Instead, they scream and await their doom as the killer slowly approaches with a power drill or a Buzzsaw. One character even cracks a joke as he’s being murdered.

Also, the version on Tubi changes aspect ratios more than a Wes Anderson film.


Signs (2002)

This was the first time rewatching this since seeing it in the theatre in 2002, where I liked it well enough but was beginning to tire of Shyamalan’s self-important shtick when really he was making classed-up B-movies. But having revisited most of his films this year, a re-evaluation has taken place. That self-importance is still there, but I really appreciated his filmmaking craft - Sixth Sense through to The Village are some of the most beautifully shot and edited films around. And the goofy family humour worked better for me this time around, as did the emotional ending. 4/5

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Realising that many of my October watches were newer films, I chucked this on to break up the flow and was delighted by this classy and tawdry Roger Corman picture, full of colour, cruelty and drama. Vincent Price is in top form here and the ending is chilling. 4/5

The Fog (1980)

This perfect campfire ghost story begins (suitably) with a campfire ghost story in Carpenter’s 40 year old classic The Fog.

He sets the tone immediately and smartly gets most of the exposition out of the way so he can concentrate on building he tension and introducing the residents of Antonio Bay, the coastal town with a sordid history. The atmosphere he builds is as thick as the supernatural fog that rolls in from the sea, bringing with it those creepy ass pirates and their gnarly hooks.

Carpenter is such a patient filmmaker, he lets his films breathe and grow steadily without speeding to the next kill or setpiece. He also gets a lot of mileage out of the coastal setting - wide shots of the windswept coast, wooden beachside houses and that incredible lighthouse where Adrienne Barbeau’s DJ runs the nighttime radio show and gets to commentate and warn the township of the horrors being unleashed.

The simple fog gags of billowing clouds of brightly lit smoke are extremely effective & give the fog its supernatural edge, as it curls under doors, floods windows and envelops its victims in its smoky embrace.

The cast is great with man god Tom Atkins & an adorable Jamie Lee Curtis running around town, and while Barbeau is mostly confined to the lighthouse, she is the voice and the heart of the movie, refusing to go off the air in the midst of this supernatural crisis. And Carpenter’s moody evocative score is, for my money, better than the Halloween one, dark & ambient but not without his signature piano melodies.

Carpenter’s atmospheric folk tale horror is a true classic that has stood the test of time (as most of his films have) and like a good campfire story, draws you in close to whisper in your ear and sending a steady shiver down your spine as all good horror stories do. 5/5

Halloween (1978)

Another late October watch, this movie never gets tired for me. This watch I noticed how much tension Carpenter packs into the first half, before the Babysitter Killings even begin. An absolute classic. 5/5

Red Rooms (2023)

This grim film dives into the world of serial killer groupies and the dark web. Interesting and dark but the pacing, subject matter and the icy void of a main character made it hard to fully engage with. Worth a look for true crime fans maybe? 3/5

Cobweb (2023)

This was pretty fun. Had the Halloween vibes and a couple of good twists. Lizzy Caplan and Antony Starr give really fun performances, but they never felt like real people, let alone parents and it made the whole scenario feel little fake. And I am very much done with needlessly CG’d beasties (looking at you too Boogyman) when an actor could have done most of the stuff on display. Having said that, I imagine this film would absolutely kill at a teenage sleepover. 3.5/5

When Evil Lurks (2023)

This was possibly the most hyped horror film of 2023, with plaudits flooding out of Fantastic Fest when the film premiered. Luckily, Shudder had already picked the film up so we didn’t have to wait long to judge the film for ourselves. And I was relieved to find that the film had been slightly misrepresented as an extreme horror film ala The Sadness.

While WEL does have its share of shocking moments, they are woven into an enthralling story and mythology involving the existence and rather haphazard containment of demons by the Police and residents of a rural Argentinian area. The world-building here is impressive, as is the increasing escalation of ‘bad shit’. The film does lose a touch of its steam before the end but is still a Top 3 horror film for me this year. 4/5

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

I caught this on Halloween on the last night of the Terror-Fi Film Fest in Wellington (and got to DJ some horror soundtracks before it) and it was such a blast to see this on the big screen with a packed audience, including my fave Wellington audience member, the unknown (to me) Laughing Man who reacts with a full-scale barrage of throaty laughter to every single gag, bless him. The film is obviously a labour of love for the Chiodo Brothers and the FX, cast and score all work to create a fun, funny, carnivalesque time (slightly marred by a few dated jokes / views). 4/5

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