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35 Days of Horror (2011)

This year, I’ve decided to do a movie countdown leading up to Halloween. I absolutely love Halloween, and even more than that, I love being terrified. Most horror movies fall dangerously short of that mark, but I remain hopeful that I’ll find a new love amid my favorite film genre. My goal is to watch one movie a day, all found streaming on Netflix or shown on cable. I don’t have a lot of money this year, so going out and renting 35 movies (which would probably be a little better than the ones I will find on TV or Netflix) is not really an option. So we’re going to find out together what sort of movies I can round up this year. Here we go, folks!

September 27- Exorcismus. (Netflix) The plot line of this movie was ridiculous; the acting was horrendous. The only redeeming quality of Exorcismus was the priest’s voice. He really did have a lovely voice, though that is hardly the thing you want to be the most remarkable about a horror movie.

September 28- Requiem. (Netflix) Subtitled in English from the original German, this is the story of a girl suffering from epilepsy who also happens to be a devout Catholic. Conflicted between the terrors scientific reasoning and the comfort of her faith, Michaela tries to deal with her epilepsy and her first semester of university. The stress brought on by her studies and her first love, lead to a series of spells, each one more severe than the last. Convinced that she cannot touch the rosary or pray, she believes that demons are responsible for her inability to cope. I can’t help but feel for Michaela. The actors and actresses do a wonderful job in this movie, and though not your typical “horror” film (it’s more of a drama, really), it is a good one.

September 29- Wicked Little Things. (Netflix) A formulaic story about a group of children who die down a mineshaft and wreak havoc on an isolated mountain top. A newly-widowed woman with her two children move into an old family home and are soon visited by grisly specters. Bad things ensue, but without any satisfying resolution. Not my idea of a good horror movie.

September 30- Cabin Fever 2. (Netflix) I honestly cannot think of a single sequel I have ever seen that comes close to the original in terms of plot, acting, graphics, effects, etc. This movie is no exception. I can appreciate it as a B-grade movie (it even had some pretty good B-moments), but in terms of it living up to the Cabin Fever franchise, I think it falls disastrously short. The premise of this movie is tainted water that finds its way to a water-bottling plant and then meanders its way, via animated opening credits, to the halls of a high school.

October 1- Anneliese: The Exorcism Tapes. (Netflix) This movie is based on the real, tragic exorcism of a young German girl, Anneliese Michel. Her parents, priests and doctors were all at odds over the proper course her treatment should take and the end result was horrific. I was intrigued to watch this film because it was purported to be based very closely on the audio recordings of her actual exorcism, but the film didn’t quite do the tapes justice. I have listened to the audio recordings (there are many available on youtube, I’ve linked a couple, as well as on some Catholic websites, etc), and have had to stop them frequently because I was literally having trouble listening at times. Chilling. I am not easy to scare, but these tapes accomplished just that. That being said, the film failed to scare the pants off me as the tapes did. Still a pretty good (though tepid) exorcism film though.

Halloween, horror, movie, countdown

October 2- Frozen. (Starz OnDemand) Ok, you might all laugh at me for this one, but I literally screamed three times watching this movie. It is the story of three friends who are stranded at the top of a ski lift over a holiday weekend. While trying to escape the lift, climb down the pole and reach the ground safely, they are discovered by a pack of wolves, driven nearly to starvation by the climate. Bad things are bound to happen. The ending of the movie made me pretty angry actually, but the entirety of their mid-air struggle had me on the edge of my seat. I am absolutely petrified of falling and this movie was the embodiment of my worst fear. So yeah, I’d choose to watch the first hour and fifteen minutes of it again in a heartbeat if I wanted an adrenaline rush.

Halloween, horror, movie, countdown

October 3- Case 39. (Netflix) A seemingly sweet but abused little girl, Lily, is “rescued” by a well-meaning social worker who then discovers that not all pretty packages contain nice gifts. This little girl is incredibly intuitive and she is actually pretty creepy. Manipulative and observant, Lily winds her guardian around her finger and when the social worker begins to realize that not everything about her ward is as it seems, will it be too late? Guess you’ll have to watch to find out. Also, side note, there is a scene involving lots and lots of CGI bees that gave me the shivers. Would have been a lot more terrifying if they hadn’t been as black as flies. But still a welcome thrill nonetheless.

Halloween, horror, movie, countdown

October 4- Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield. (Netflix) Based on the true events surrounding serial killer Ed Gein, this thriller is a somewhat exaggerated version of real events. But the sick part is… it’s not that exaggerated. Gein was famous for making skin suits out of the flesh of his victims. I find this kind of movie to be the most horrific; it’s terrible what the human animal is capable of.

Halloween, horror, movie, countdown

October 5- The Tooth Fairy. (Netflix) This one turns the classic children’s myth on its head. The tale is of the legacy of a witch, cursed with a horrible skin disease, who begins to lure children into her home and steal their last baby tooth before killing them. A man buys her family homestead and sets up a bed & breakfast, inviting his ex-fiance and her daughter to stay with him for the weekend. The little girl of course hasn’t lost her last baby tooth. After meeting a well-meaning and informative child ghost (who doesn’t reveal herself as a ghost, btw), the little girl pulls her tooth and hides it in her dresser, hoping to avoid the notice of the famous Tooth Fairy Witch. Does it work? You’ll have to watch to see, but I will give this one a slightly higher rating than most, simply because most of the acting was believable.

Halloween, horror, movie, countdown

October 6- Albert Fish. (Netflix) This is the documentary of the life of Albert Fish. This sado-masochistic serial killer and I have a past. You see, the first true crime novel I ever purchased and read was a biography of this man. His story absolutely terrified me as a young adult; the unspeakable atrocities he committed still creep the crap out of me. His religious fanaticism is still one of the most repugnant things I have ever uncovered with my own eyes (via the book, of course. I didn’t actually discover anything about his case. Lol). If you’re at all interested in the psychology of the pathological mind, this would be a pretty good film for you.

Halloween, horror, movie, countdown

October 7- Driftwood. (Netflix) This thriller is about a troubled young man whose parents send him to a detention center guaranteed to turn his life around. The lead character, David, is intelligent, belligerent and woefully maladjusted after the death of his brother. Instead of getting him the help that he needs, his parents turn to the miracle camp of Driftwood. Driftwood is headed by a sadistic owner who demands that his “clients” call him simply Captain. Uncovering the dark, haunting secrets of the detention center is David’s only chance at escape and redemption. But does he have the courage to go through with it?

October 8- BoogeyMan (2005). (FEARnet OnDemand) A supposed remake of the cult classic, this film has little in common with its famous namesake. A man is haunted by the childhood memory of the boogeyman killing his mother’s boyfriend, he decides to banish the nightmare once and for all by spending the night in his old family homestead. Poor guy.

October 9- Paranormal Activity 2. (EPIX OnDemand) This sequel is actually a prequel to the original sparse thriller. This one was far creepier than the original for me, specifically because of the infant/toddler being screwed with… No real resolution or plot development, but then again the original movie didn’t have too much either. This movie didn’t actual scare, but it did make you nervous when the scenes of activity centered around the baby & German Shepherd. Good for a one-off watch late at night, if nothing else.

October 10- Carrie 2: The Rage. (EPIX OnDemand) Pretty decent sequel. This is the story of Rachel, the half-sister of Carrie White, Sissy Spacek’s infamous character from the original Carrie, who has inherited her powers of telekinesis. The antagonist from the original film reprises her role, but has grown up to become the guidance counselor of the new high school in her hometown. Rachel is an outcast, but it is not until she falls in love for the first time that bullies in her high school trigger her powers in a malevolent way. I actually like this film quite a bit. More than I was anticipating, at any rate. The high school bully-machine was pretty well realized, though overly-dramatized, and fed the story line well. I’d recommend this for people who want a little thrill without too much terror.

La Habitacion Del Nino

October 11- The Baby’s Room. (Netflix) This Spanish film with English subtitles is a thriller that tells the tale of new parents Sonia and Juan who move into their dream home only to discover that the place has a sinister past. Sonia starts hearing voices through their son’s baby monitor so Juan goes out and purchases a new visual baby monitor. He begins seeing the replay of events past, but can only see them through the eyes of the monitor. This chilling tale quickly warps your sense of reality and the surreal, sucking you in to the world of the past. Pretty, pretty good.

October 12- The Tomb. (Netflix & Starz OnDemand) A part of Fangoria Frightfest, The Tomb is the tale of a Russian woman obsessed with cheating death. Black magic running in her blood, she sets her sights on a wealthy engaged professor, using him to complete her soul-stealing mission. I couldn’t get through this movie all in one sitting; not because of the terror (frankly, there was none), but because I just couldn’t get into this one.

October 13- Masters of Horror: Dreams in the Witch House. (Netflix) I watched this movie years ago, but this one stuck with me. A kind but exhausted graduate student, a sweet mother and her toddler son, a wacky religious old neighbor, a rat with a face, a infanticidal dimension-hopping witch. It had so much. Not really all that spooky, unless anthropomorphized rats do you in, but it was pretty good nonetheless. Memorable, at any rate.

October 14- Masters of Horror: Jenifer. (Netflix) This is another of those that I had seen awhile back, but just like last night’s this one had staying power and made me want to watch it again. The effects were pretty good in Jenifer and the portrayal of the pitiful orphan girl was great. She turns out to be more than Detective Spivey bargained for though. Erotic, suspenseful, gory, creepy: a good one to watch.

October 15- Masters of Horror: Imprint. (Netflix) A man seeks his former love, a Japanese prostitute, only to discover that the woman he once loved has a secret and violent past. Set up as a narrative told by a disfigured compatriot of the man’s lost lover, this one is sure to please with its twists and turns.

October 16- Masters of Horror: Fair Haired Child. (Netflix) A young loner is kidnapped by a washed-up classical musician and his wife. As the story progresses, a tale of lost talent, murdered children and the redemptive value of revenge. I actually really enjoyed this particular installment of MoH. A definite rewatch.

October 17- Masters of Horror: Right to Die. (Netflix) An unfaithful man gets into an unfortunate accident with his wife; he walks away barely scratched but she is badly burned and left on life support. The husband decides to respect his wife’s supposed wishes and terminate her life, but then things begin to get spooky. Corbin Bernsen is pretty good as a smarmy, out-for-himself lawyer and Martin Donovan really puts his heart into the role of grieving but darkly conflicted husband.

October 18- House (2008). (EPIX OnDemand) In this ridiculous film, two couples are faced with the horrors of their own guilt in a home filled with sadistic “devil worshipers.” Past abuse, murder, parental neglect, and marital problems drop the four newcomers smack dab in the middle of their worst nightmares. I would not recommend this movie for anyone who is looking for a really good scare, but if you don’t really like horror all that much, you would probably enjoy this one. It’s one of those movies for people who don’t really want to be afraid.

October 19- Mad World. (Netflix) In this dark thriller, the lives of four young men are exposed in chilling detail. The sick/sad part of it is, these things go on far too often in our twisted world and often go completely unnoticed by the remainder of society. Sexual abuse, feelings of inadequacy, hypocrisy and bullying lead to horrific consequences for these four young boys. A good thriller, though it could have been better realized.

Saw: The Final Chapter

October 20- Saw: The Final Chapter. (EPIX OnDemand) Slicing together parts of the previous flicks in this franchise, Saw: TFC was one gruesome piece of work. The story line was garbled, but wrapped up nicely. Cary Elwes reprised his role shockingly well. Self-help guru, and all around douche, Bobby Dagen is sentenced to play the game he claims to have survived once already. Only one problem: you can’t boast to Jigsaw that you survived his puzzle, when he knows you didn’t even get into the game. But don’t worry, Jigsaw will help you clear your conscious.

Kill Theory

October 21- Kill Theory. (FEARNet OnDemand) This revenge flick pits eight college-aged kids against one sadly troubled man. This man, convicted of 2nd degree manslaughter and housed in a mental institution for 3 years, comes back with a vengeance. The “Kill Theory” is that, deep down, each of us is a killer, if presented with the right circumstances. For the mostly-faceless ringleader, his circumstance was dangling 100-ft above the earth, tethered to 3 of his closest friends and the choice between sacrificing their lives to survive or dying together.  So the question for these eight is: Do you have that primeval desire to live, or would you rather die with your friends?

Valemont

October 22- Valemont. (FEARNet OnDemand) In this movie length adaptation of the popular series, Valemont plays home to the countries collegiate-aged vampires. Conspiracy theories, ulterior motives and questionable character traits plague our plucky heroine in the search for her estranged brother’s killers. Hijinks, garlic oil administered via syringe, pig’s blood orgies, Vampire/Human Relations 101, and sap that would kill the newly-turned vampires… Full of plot holes, but shot well. Be forewarned though; this is not a horror movie. Or a horror series. It’s just strangely plotted out, poorly realized intrigue.

October 23- Exorcism of Emily Rose (FearNET OnDemand) One of my all-time favorite exorcism flicks. I just really love the lead actress in this movie. Father Richard Moore is on trial for the negligent death of Emily Rose, a victim of either demonic possession or psychotic epileptic disorder. It is up to Laura Linney to fight for Father Moore in his desire to let Emily’s story be told. With murder, intrigue, great film angles, dual scene shootings from the perspective of both the prosecutors and the defense, TEoER is one to watch again and again.

October 24- After Dark Horrofest III- Autopsy (FearNET OnDemand) This ridiculously incoherent gore-fest was a complete snooze. Not even a Terminator alum could help this film out of its grave. A group of college-aged kids, evenly comprised of women and men, wrecks on a back woods road, injuring a man in the process. They are then taken to a nearby hospital, Mercy. The doctor, who is fueled by a kind of crazy lust to cure his wife of terminal cancer, takes a special interest in their care. Easily mislead cops, ex-con porters, and tenuous personal relationships make this a real let down of a flick.  Not even a spinal fluid drinking scene could redeem this movie. And believe me, they tried that too.

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Man Crushes, update

Thought it was about time to add to my “crush list,” lovelies. So without further ado, I’ll just jump straight in, shall I?

Michael Weatherly. Best known, perhaps, for his role as DiNozzo on the drama NCIS, Weatherly’s chiseled jaw and blinding smile more than qualify him for this list.

Jason Momoa. What with the inauspicious first viewing in Baywatch: Hawaii, I certainly didn’t expect this model of Hawaiian descent to grace our collective radar for long. But seeing as he’s grown up *quite* well, I’ll forgive him those few years of relative anonymity.

Christopher Meloni. Marine, kick-ass fictional detective, protective father, wicked smile, and the man can grow a mean beard. Need I elaborate further? Didn’t think so.

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V-  Vacations! I know I technically didn’t take a true vacation this year, but weekend trips to visit friends (who all happen to live 2+ hours away) count in my book. Those weekends gave me something to look forward to when the weeks seemed just a little too long. I will take an actual vacation in 2011 if it kills me, though. Lol.  

W-  Writing. I competed in NaNoWriMo this year and managed to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I know 1,667 words a day doesn’t seem like a lot, and it wouldn’t be if life didn’t get in the way and push you 20,000 words behind schedule with three days left to go. Lol. I’ve left it alone for a while so that when I go back to it, I’ll look at it with fresh eyes and can add scenes/characters/brush up dialogue without the bias that comes from being too entrenched in my work. I’ll post some snippets once editing starts.

X-  Umm… X-rays? Xylophones? Xerox? Xenon?

Y-  YouTube. Hours have been spent laughing and singing along to videos, shows and songs from my childhood as well as new favorites. You should really check out schmoyoho if you haven’t already been exposed to the genius of the Brothers Gregory.

Z…  Ze end! Yep, it’s a flake out for the very last letter. Hey, don’t get mad at me; you tell me something amazing that starts with “Z” then. 😉

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Q- Quilting. Yes, I am secretly a grandmother trapped in the body of a twenty-something. My grandmother taught me to hand-piece and quilt when I was a very young “tween” and I am the only other person in my family who is carrying on her legacy through handicraft. I would not stop for anything in the world. 

R- Rupert Grint. How adorable can you get? And boy, he has grown up before our eyes into a beautiful young man.

S- Sushi. Need I say more? 😉

T- Tumblr. It’s a great outlet for my thoughts, as well as a source for discovering photographs, movies, quotes, songs, etc. that I would not have been exposed to otherwise. Check it out for yourself! 

U- Understanding. I have come to accept more things about myself that have heretofore been glossed over and gagged by me, than ever before. Coming to terms with those quirks, faults and inconsistencies within myself has helped me so much in determining why I am where I am in life and where I wish to go from here.

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I- Introspection. I have never delved further into my own psyche than I did this year. I hope that the coming year holds as many personal discoveries and truths as this.

J- Jensen Ackles & Jared Padalecki. Beautiful men, beautiful actors. Pair them with a brilliantly written series and pour these two into the characters of bruised, funny, hauntingly broken brothers and you have a winning recipe. For Heather bait.

K- Knitting. Yarn is one of my major addictions, and I find knitting both entertaining and therapeutic.

L- Listening. As I mentioned before, my friends are more than my chosen family. They are my everything; and that means that I listen to them. Their jokes, stories, experiences, gripes, fears, joys, celebrations… I love to listen and I love to show my affection for the people around me through lending an ear if one is needed.

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M- Making new friends. I love my friends. Having some people drift out of my life, or leave it with a heart-hitting bang, has actually been a great cathartic purge. But I am ready to open myself to new people, and I think I’m beginning to get some of the old Heather-sparkle back J Get ready world, I’m finding my bearings again, and none of you are safe from my charm. Lol.

N- New Zealand All Blacks. My favorite team in my favorite sport. A welcome change of pace from glorified American sport.

O- Onread.com. You can read practically any book for free online, and I’ve heard you can download them as well, though I have never done so myself. There are a few drawbacks- to get around copyright regulations, I suppose. Be forewarned, the formatting of the books is completely screwed up (meaning the punctuation and sentence breaks are misplaced and sometimes non-existent) but if you are an intelligent person, that is easily rectified as you are reading by your own assumptive reasoning.  

P- Phoenix Coyotes. If I had to pick a favorite US sport, it would be hockey by a landslide. And I am a sucker for the underdog. I love watching these guys play. Hearts of gold, they have. So sad Gretsky isn’t a part of the coaching staff anymore, but they brought in a great replacement for him so I can’t complain.

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E-     Ed Sheeran and Erik Hassle. My two favorite musical discoveries of the year. I just plug ‘em in and sing and all my troubles melt away. I am sensing an escapism pattern here; maybe E should be for escapism. Lol.

F-       Food. Loathe as I may be to admit this… food is a large part of my life. Hang out with friends: food. Family? Food. Three squares a day, too. I love to explore new cultures through food. Though I would love for next year to be a little more controlled with my choices and veer a little further from the food-addict side of the spectrum.

G-      Good friends. I would be nowhere without my friends. Some have disappeared this year, some have re-entered the picture, but I have just the right number of people on whom I can actually depend.

H-     High-speed internet. Since I moved back to Roanoke, I had been living with dial-up and the addition of high speed saved my mind. I can actually check my email in less than an hour 😉

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