Tag Archives: Horror

Movie Review – Let Me In (2010)

Film: Let Me In
Released: 201o
Director: Matt Reeves
Stars: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloë Grace Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas

Owen is 12 years-old, his parents are no longer together and he has no friends. He’s also being bullied at school and lives a dreary existence. Late one night he meets Abby, also 12, who has moved in next door. She doesn’t say much about herself and doesn’t go to school. Meanwhile, a detective is investigating a series of murders where people have been drained of their blood. Owen and Abby are lonely souls who find comfort in one another and Abby gives him the strength to face his tormentors. Abby has secrets as well that touch directly on the police investigation.

What I thought of it:
With this being a vampire movie and rated a 15 in the UK, I was surprised at how gentle this film was overall. Yes, there is some blood (you’d expect that, wouldn’t you?) and some violence (you’d expect that too), but there’s nothing terribly graphic and the main story focuses on the burgeoning friendship between a twelve-year-old boy and the seemingly similarly aged girl next door. It shows how a strong friendship can give a person the strength to overcome so many things, in this case the main contender is bullying, but there is also a pressing family situation which needs to be dealt with, not just for Owen, but for Abby too.

The two young leads give very subtle and moving performances which show promise of great things to come (they’re certainly both very busy with upcoming movies at the moment!) and their relationship is both touching and tentatively played.

There are some slightly uncomfortable moments – the relationship between Abby and her “father” verges on the sexual with some of the caresses – but there is nothing overt and it is made very clear to the viewer who is in charge in their relationship.

I enjoyed it. The idea of child vampires isn’t new (see 1994’s Interview with the Vampire for one notable example), but it’s played to great effect here and we look directly at how a doomed relationship between a vampire and human has to end – with the human always aging and their vampire friend forever young.

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Wicked Wednesdays – Creature Feature

Hosted by Smurfin’ The Web

What are your favourite creature feature movies?

I’ve always loved vampires, but as Dale has already gone with Dracula, I’ll go with The Lost Boys (1987). It was the movie that reinvented vampires for a new generation, replacing the dusty old relics with young, good-looking, sexy, bad-boy bloodsuckers that were cool as Hell! Starring Keifer Sutherland, Jason Patrick, Diane Weist, Jamie Gertz, and both the Coreys (Haim and Feldman), and featuring a rockin’ soundtrack, it was the birth (or should that be rebirth?) of the genre that opened the door for all those young adult vampire novels and movies. So perhaps I should actually condemn it as being influential on the likes of Stephenie Meyer (who is singlehandedly responsible for turning cool kid vamps into sparkly emo teens), but I still love this film. For me, it never grows old, and it never dies!

Next up is a classic, both in terms of creature and film – An American Werewolf in London (1981) was perhaps the first properly scary comedy horror. The special effects for the transformation sequences were so far ahead of their time that audiences were stunned – they’d never seen anything like it before and it paved the way for all manner of new developments in make-up effects. There’s a heavy dose of humour alongside the horror; it holds up even thirty years after its original release, and it launched writer/director John Landis into the Hollywood stratosphere, as well as showing Jenny Agutter (previously seen in the likes of The Railway Children) in a very sexy new light. Trailers back then were pretty tacky and this one’s particularly bad, but don’t let that put you off watching this classic of the creature-feature genre, because you’ll be missing a treat if you do!

Finally, I’ll highlight a more recent film featuring an alien invasion, albeit on a very small scale. Attack the Block (2011) kind of slipped under the radar, but it’s something of a gem. The premise is simple – what would happen if an alien invasion happened right in one small inner-city area and the only people who could do anything about it were the kids from the wrong side of the tracks? The only “big name” was Nick Frost, who played a very minor comic-relief role, but the young unknowns are the ones who really make this film – they trurn in great performances. Made on a modest budget of around $13,000,000, this one has yet to recoup expenses (according to IMDb), but I would love it if more people saw this one. Don’t expect to be mentally challenged, but do expect to be entertained far more than you thought possible from such a simple idea and young unknown cast. It really is a diamond in the rough!

So which are your favourites? Let me know below and also let Dale know at Smurfin’ The Web HERE.

Movie Mondays – Things That Go Bump In The Night

Share your movie picks on your blog and visit your fellow Monday Movie Meme participants to read what they are offering up. Remember and link back to Dale at Smurfin’ the Web.

This week’s topic is… Things that go bump in the night!

I’ve always been a fan of the baddie masquerading as someone completely normal, or even completely innocuous, therefore the “boy next door” who turns out to be a murderous psychopath is always top for me, as nobody ever expects such a “nice guy” to turn out to be the exact opposite.

The perfect example of this is Norman Bates of The Bates Motel in Psycho. In the original version, he is portrayed by mild-mannered Anthony Perkins who is rather skinny and eager to please, so who would suspect what darkness lies under the surface. In the remake, Vince Vaughn portrayed him as rather shy and slightly simple which also made for a great twist (yes, I rather enjoyed the remake!).

In a complete turn-around, I also love a suave, charming bad guy. Take Dracula in his many guises, for example. He’s absolutely mesmerising and a master of deception, and the double-whammy of sex and blood is always great – the uptight Victorians were absolutely shocked and scandalised by the novel when it was published. Now, of course, we find it difficult to separate the blood and the sexiness when it comes to our vampires. Dracula has been played by many a fine actor, but the ones that always spring immediately to mind are Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee and Gary Oldman – the  latter actually managing to infuse his portrayal with sadness and perhaps even a little sympathetically, as well as sexy and scary.

Finally, I have to admit, I love my bad guys to be smart – there’s a lot to be said for intelligence playing a part in psychopathic activities. That’s where my last choice comes in. Dr Hannibal Lecter is quite the most chillingly intellectual murderer ever. Of course, he was first played by Brian Cox in Manhunter (1986), but he is often overlooked in favour of Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal in Silence of the Lambs (1991). Both, however, were scary as hell and worthy of mention.

Teaser Tuesday – Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
5. Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teasers:

Contrary to his infallibly “honest” image, Abe wasn’t above lying so long as it served a noble purpose. This was a chance he’d ached for those four long years. The chance to test his skills. His tools. The chance to feel the exhilaration of watching a vampire fade away at his feet. Seeing the fear in its eyes.

– page 63, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

It had been another simple errand, another name on Henry’s list. But this place was different. Extraordinary. Abe was on his knees, certain he’d stumbled into some kind of vampire hive.

– page 163, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

“Gentlemen,” I said at last, “I wish to speak to you this evening about vampires.”

– page 269, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

I’ve just finished reading this remarkable alternative biography of Abraham Lincoln, which is a fascinating mix of fact and fiction – or is it perhaps the true story after all? I’m pleased to say I enjoyed every moment of it and can highly recommend it to all fans of alternative histories and mash-ups, as well as those who enjoy vampires in a more down-to-earth kind of setting, or even just those who enjoy a bit of a giggle. It’s very cleverly done and written in such a way that you could almost believe every word of it is true…

Teaser Tuesdays – No Sanctuary by Richard Laymon

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
5. Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:

Peering through the darkness, Rick and Bert could see them pacing around in their compound – another ‘cage’ of strong, supple staves bound together by twine – about five yards from their own. The cats’ noses pointed skyward. Sniffing out the human scent. Slinking around their pen, one after the other, their powerful tails swinging low and threatening.

– page 231, No Sanctuary by Richard Laymon

I haven’t reached this part of the book yet (I’m only a few chapters in), but I just opened the book to this page.

Once again, I’ve cheated a teeny, tiny bit and this time posted the whole paragraph, rather than just two sentences, as without the last bit, it just seemed like a couple of domestic cats were prowling about – nowhere near as menacing as the cougars Laymon actually meant!

It’s been many years since I last read any Laymon, as I found his books kind of same-y after a while and felt I’d outgrown them a bit (I devoured them as a teen), but my sister loaned me this one as I mentioned I’d never read it…


My Favourite Scary Movies

As Halloween is fast approaching, and I’m a fan of horror movies, I thought I’d mention a few of them. However, I’d like to start by mentioning that “scary” movies don’t actually scare me, and there’s a very good reason for that…

You see, I was brought up on Hammer Horror films. Now, I know that by today’s standards these films are old hat and pretty much nobody would find them scary today, but when you’re only seven years old, people would expect you to be turning pale at Christopher Lee in Taste The Blood Of Dracula! I never did – because of my Mam.

My Mam always seemed to love the old Hammer Horrors (I’ve no idea if she still does) and as they were pretty mild, I was allowed to watch them with her. Under her instruction, the blood dripping from Dracula’s mouth was never blood – it was tomato sauce! It was constantly reinforced to me that nothing that happened on the screen was actually real, and that can make all the difference to a kid if they can be made to truly believe that – and I did!

So, here, without further ado, are thirteen of my all-time favourites – the list is far from exhaustive and represents a cross-section of my faves from the  past fifty years or so, and are presented in chronological order. I hope that if you haven’t already seen them, you’ll look them out and give them a try, and that even if you’ve seen them a million times already, you’ll watch again.

1.  The Devil Rides Out (1968)
Christopher Lee and Charles Gray are fantastic in this Satanic abduction horror. It’s atmospheric and Lee is doing what he does best – being incredibly imposing and charming! I like this one far better than all the Dracula films Lee did, despite being a BIG vampire fan.

2. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Another chillingly atmospheric thriller as Mia Farrow falls foul of her devil-worshipping neighbours with nefarious plans. Based on the equally brilliant book by Ira Levin, Polanski managed to perfectly capture the full horror of Rosemary’s situation.

3. The Wicker Man (1973)
Badly remade in 2006, the original starring Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward is far superior! Village mentality mixed with a Pagan cult (which does no favours to real Pagans, but can be forgiven because it’s such a damned good film!) lead to a good, Christian copper desperately searching for answers as the clock ticks. And there are a couple of excruciatingly nasty shots which will make you feel sick to your stomach.

4. The Exorcist (1973)
Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells will forever be associated with this dark study of a child possessed by demonic forces, but that’s no bad thing! Linda Blair is wonderful as the girl under the control of evil, and Max von Sydow is always a name to be reckoned with. GO and watch it now – the power of Christ compels you!

5. Carrie (1976)
Who hasn’t at least heard of Stephen King’s debut? WHo doesn’t already know about the final shock at the end? Don’t you still jump, even though you’re expecting it? Sissy Spacek’s perfect turn as the bullied telekinetic teen ensures this film’s place on the list of all-time horror classics!

6. The Omen (1976)
Another one that was recently remade (2006) although the remake wasn’t half bad, even if it was nowhere near the original on any level. It had a very hard act to follow – who could hold a candle to the suave Gregory Peck playing a father who finds his son isn’t his son at all. How would you handle it? Would you have the strength to go as far as he does? Stunning performances all round, but special mention goes to Billy Whitelaw as the sinister Mrs Baylock!

7. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
John Landis’ film featured pioneering special effects which at the time had never been seen, and had to be seen to be believed. Now, of course, we have CGI that looks so much better, but it’s still worth revisiting this classic and marvelling at not only the effects, but the performances, writing and direction. It has horror and humour in spades. It also caused my sister, Leni, to be terrified of going to the bathroom alone after viewing it for the first time. Fair enough – she must have been about 6 or 7 at the time!

8. The Hunger (1983)
David Bowie, Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve are, for me, the unholy trinity! Beautifully shot with touching scenes depicting loss and longing with stirling performances from all three. The horror of the situation is actually the fate of Miriam’s lovers…

9. The Lost Boys (1987)
This was the film that brought vampires bang up to date with a hip young gang of teenaged vampires running amuck in Santa Carla. It had the double-whammy of the two Coreys (Feldman and Haim) who were pretty big at the time, eye candy Jason Patric, and the wonderful Keifer Sutherland who was perfectly cast as David.

10. Candyman (1992)
Kickstarted a slew of urban legend related movies in the 90s, but this is the original ad best. Virginia Madsen is compelling as a student working on her thesis, and Tony Todd put the willies up a LOT of people who will never feel quite safe repeating the name Candyman in front of a mirror – just in case!

11. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Part road trip, part crime caper and part vampire flick – this might sounds like a terrible mix, but it really works! An unual cast that included Harvey Keitel as a preacher who has lost his faith, Juliet Lewis as his sweet an innocent teenaged daughter, and George Clooney as a hardened criminal on the lam sounded like it was all back to front, but Tarantino pulled it off with quirky aplomb.

12. Event Horizon (1997)
This is actually the horror film that came closest to completely wigging me out. In my defence, I was more than a little drunk when I went to see it in the cinema, but it is incredibly graphic and even now causes me to wince at some of the scenes.  It was once described to me as “The Shining in space”, but I never thought much of The Shining and loved this. There are some similar elements – going slowly mad in a confined space being the main one – but this, for me, outshines The Shining on every level.

13. Ring (1998)
No, not the sloppy American re-make, but the original, tense Japanese version. If you watch this alone late at night, I guarantee you’ll be unplugging the TV before you go to bed! It really is rather freaky and the tension builds so well that you hardly notice it until your nerves are twanging!

So, there you have it, thirteen of my favourites. There are plenty of others I had to leave off the list, and I’m sure I’ve missed many of your own favourites, but I’d love to know which horror flicks you love, so please leave a comment and let me know!