28 Weeks Later (2007) Halloween Advent

Rating 18
Length 1h40
Release 11.5.2007
Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
About Six months after the Rage virus turned half of Britain into zombies, the US Army helps secure London for the survivors after a carrier of the virus enters the city and the horror begins once again.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Disney Plus
Trailer:

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  • There is an authenticity to the actions of the two leads. However, when their selfish and stupid actions lead to entire chaos of the 90-odd minutes, it’s really hard to root for their survival. Especially at the cost of some excellent characters.
  • What a waste was Idris Elba? Firstly, you make him American when we all know his London accent is the best. Then, where the fuck does he go?! He just disappears. What the actual fuck? Justice for Elba.
  • Flynn ploughing through the field of infected didn’t work for me. How the fuck did no blood splash back and infect him? I know, I know, suspend belief. But seriously?! That would have been so fucking cool had he gotten infected and lost control of the chopper, you know?

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  • The filming techniques are absolutely incredible. There’s movement, without it coming with nausea. There’s a ghostly quality to the night-time scenes that heightens the tension; while there’s darkness, you can also see the detail.
    That final scene is guerrilla filmmaking at its finest. Not only is it beautiful, it throws the story wide open and plants a seed in your imagination.
  • The story, while a continuance of the 2002 film, tells a very different story. It expands on the concept of a zombie being more of a virus, playing on our own fears of bio terrorism.
  • Watching the film in the light of our own pandemic, the realism of how the second wave of infections were triggered is so on point. At first I scoffed at how easily the returning Brits accepted the tests given to allow access.
    Then, the plot gave us two characters who could not follow rules, broke quarantine and fucked everything up. Does make you realise there’s a reason we’re the worst country in the world right now.

Final Thoughts

This films major flaw is expecting the audience to root for the two individuals who caused the secondary outbreak. It’s fucked and makes me angry, and when I’m angry I’m not scared.

28 Days Later (2002) Halloween Advent

Rating 18
Length 1h53
Release 01.11.2002
Director Danny Boyle
About After a mysterious virus wreaks havoc in the United Kingdom, a team of survivors tries to cope with the aftermath of the disaster and find security.
Moon: full moon sighted at 1h40
Where to Watch: Disney Plus
Trailer:

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  • Christopher Eccleston’s accent isn’t right for the part; it’s more fitting for a Politian than a soldier that’s presented. The other issue is that Eccleston does not keep the accent consistent. The recorded broadcast has Eccleston use the more familiar Northern accent that he is known for, yet upon meeting him the accent becomes closer to an RP, and even Shakespearian at times. It’s not the crapiness of his rah, rah, rah accent that bugs me, but the inconsistency. Especially when you consider the base is near Manchester.

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  • The opening and the initial cause of the outbreak is genius. From the way climate crisis groups like Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion are behaving, it is totally realistic that people would be so self-righteous as to blaze in and create chaos all in the name of what they think is ‘right’.
  • The filming technique, editing and use of sounds is impeccable. It all adds to the atmosphere and apocalypse. You feel like you’re there with Jim.
  • There are so many scenes in this film that are beautiful. From the collection of money and cans of drinks, to the raid of the supermarket and the picnic at the side of the motorway. They’re scenes of truest humanity in the face of an apocalypse.
  • The casting is incredible. Naomi Watts is a force to be reckoned with and truly makes me wonder why she hasn’t been in more things other than Bond. Brendan Gleeson and Cillian Murphy are perfect in their survivor roles.

Final Thoughts

A film I’ve not watched in years and I think that worked in its favour.

Halloween Kills (2021)

Rating 18
Length 2h23
Release 26.4.2012
Director Joss Whedon
About Nick Fury is compelled to launch the Avengers Initiative when Loki poses a threat to planet Earth. His squad of superheroes
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: In cinemas and on some home streaming platforms
Trailer:

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  • It can’t keep the momentum of the first of this timeline and it certainly doesn’t hit the bar in terms of quality. 
  • There are almost too many character threads being followed. In a similar way to Halloween II (1981), Laurie is hospital bound and has little to do, there’s Anthony Michael Hall’s Tommy and a few other returning characters from the 1978 original, but how they’re used makes their inclusion too much like fan service than a need for them in the story; almost as if casting and characters were prioritised over telling the story.
  • In a similar sense, this instalment feels like a set up to the next film. They knew how they were starting, they knew there were two more sequels and how this was going to end, the rest just feels like padding. 
  • I really hate the immortality aspect of The Shape/ Michael Myers. It’s fucking stupid because that is part of the legend of him and undermines the believability of a mob mentality.

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  • The body count and kills are unrelenting and imaginative. From the first responders, to the final showdown this film really earns its 18 rating. 
  • Jamie Lee Curtis will always be impeccable in everything she does. Ever since seeing her in A Fish Called Wanda, I’ve trusted that anything she’s in will be something I’ll enjoy. 
  • Anthony Michael Hall as Tommy is quite a genius bit of casting and characterisation. To see how those 40 years have gone for Tommy, how much it’s effected him is not something I’ve really thought about. His ability to move and motivate a crowd into a mob is incredible, and something I’m not certain Joseph Gordon Levitt would have been able to pull off. 
  • There are Call backs and Easter eggs to many of the other films in the franchise. I particularly loved the nod to the third film that didn’t even feature Michael Myers. 
  • The scariest thing out of all of the violence is the mob. Michael Myers, due to his apparent immortality, and known volatile tendencies doesn’t have the same shock and horror as the group of ordinary people; doctors, citizens and police who are all but frothing at the mouth at the thought of killing Michael. It’s all within the realms of possibility and the fact that they all ignore the harm they do to others and actively ignore the voice of logic and reason is the sole bit of this film that chilled me to the bone. 

Final Thoughts

I found aspects of the film interesting, but it just didn’t quite live up to the expectations the 2018 offering gave me.

Hot Fuzz (2007) Halloween Advent

Rating 18
Length 2h01
Release 14.2.2007
Director Edgar Wright
About Police officer Nicholas Angel is known to be the best across London. His seniors, who are jealous of his achievements, transfer him to a remote village where he encounters various challenges.
Moon: Full moon at the group showdown
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

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  • It’s a tad too long for me. Even shaving 20 minutes off the total running time would really help it feel like a well paced film. As it stands, I often find myself flagging in the last third; there’s almost too much after the big reveal and it does the film a disservice.

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  • For me, the best thing about this movie is the editing and how it is able to show things that other police shows and films omit in an interesting and artistic way.
  • Casting, as with any Edgar Wright film, is spot on. The best casting choice of course is the one and only Edward Woodwood, who is the biggest bit of foreshadowing I’ve ever noticed in a film.
  • Nicholas Angel is one of the best characters. His story arc and how he interacts with everyone he comes into contact with provides so much entertainment and quotable content.
  • The homage is just as good, if not better, in this when you compare it to Shaun of the Dead.
  • So many subtle things, that have massive payoffs later in the film. In fact, its a film that I’ll watch and notice something new each time.

Final Thoughts

The best of the trilogy, both in terms of casting and genre. For me, its more akin to Wicker Man, than the action movies lampooned, but that’s actually the beauty of this film.

Shaun of the Dead (2004) Halloween Advent

Rating 15
Length 1h39
Release 9.4.2004
Director Edgar Wright
About Shaun is a salesman whose life has no direction. However, his uneventful life takes a sudden turn when he has to singlehandedly deal with an entire community of zombies.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

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  • The biggest thing for me is the lack of a Bond actor. It’s a really stupid complaint given how little money this film was made on, but with both Hot Fuzz and World’s End both prominently starring a Bond, it just would have been a brilliant touch.

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  • Where do I start? I must admit that the first time I watched this movie, I wasn’t too enamoured. That said, I hadn’t watched too many zombie films at that point, so I couldn’t appreciate the homage. It’s all there; from camera angles to lines, it is a love letter to the zombie sub-genre.
  • The cast is spot on. Simon Pegg as the lead, Nick Frost as his best mate. Everyone who supports. Stunning! This film wouldn’t be the same without any of the people involved.
  • There’s so many sequences that really just… work. The record tossing in order to kill the invaders in their garden is genius and I love the ‘action’ sequence to Queen with the follow up of Your My Best Friend leadingus out to the credits.

Final Thoughts

I love this film. Not as much as I love Hot Fuzz, but this is what a spoof should be. Not the Scary Movie type.

Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Rating 15
Length 1h39
Release 27.5.2009
Director Sam Rami
About When loan officer Christine Brown refuses an old lady an extension on her loan, the lady places a curse of the Lamia upon Christine. Once cursed, Christine’s life is turned into a living nightmare.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

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  • The plot of this film hangs on Christine being cursed, which is all good if she’s deserving, but she really isn’t. It’s so stupid that it’s because of being denied a third loan extension.
    The way its framed, no wonder people see it as a misogynist commentary of women seeking promotion and their inability to be cut throat.
    Then when you consider how utterly soft the character of Christine is, it just doesn’t make sense and equally, to make her mean enough to be cursed you would then not root for her.
  • The CGI really hasn’t aged well at all. It’s that shiny sore thumb that sticks out against the practical effects.
  • The running ‘gag’ of having something going into, or coming out of Christine’s mouth gets old, fast. I was done from the moment the Gypsy sucks on Christine’s chin. Nope, nope, nope! Not needed.
  • I’m not so sure the prologue was necessary.

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  • Justin Long is brilliant in this as the supportive, but sceptical, boyfriend. Particularly that final scene, its brilliant to see him in something that’s not a comedy.
  • Dileep Rao was a welcome addition to this film. While the only other film I’ve seen him in is Inception, I am surprised to have not seen him in more mainstream movies.
  • The ending is rather brave and breaks the norm for a hero. It is not a successful ending for Christine. People may not like this, but I found it refreshing and ensures it remains as a stand alone.

Final Thoughts

Bit too off the wall with its gore and physical horror for my taste, but it’s a good effort.

Terror Train (1980) Halloween Advent

Rating 18
Length 1h35
Release 4.11.2019 (Blu-ray release)
Director Roger Spottiswoode
About During a hazing, a fraternity of pre-med students has a particularly sinister prank in store for one their more timid pledges (Derek MacKinnon). With the help of a coed, Alana Maxwell (Jamie Lee Curtis), they pull off the prank so well that the pledge needs to be institutionalized as a result. After several years pass and people forget the incident, those involved with the prank are ready to celebrate their graduation by having a costume party on a train, but they haven’t escaped their past yet.
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
Trailer:

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  • I have a massive issue with the handling of the trans character. It is a problem that many films have and it feeds into the issue that trans people have in society today. This is not the first film to portray someone who is a trans woman as someone who is not only deviant, but psychologically compromised.
    Over the last year, gender critical activists have used this Hollywood archetype of the trans woman as an excuse for their hate.
    While I give the film credit for hiring a known transvestite for the role, it doesn’t change the fact that the portrayal, and use of the character as a plot device, as grossly problematic.
  • The transition from one New Year’s Eve to another lacks a little context; the viewer certainly does need more than the ‘three years later’ credit. The audience already know going in that the killer is going to be Kenny so making a mystery of it is really pointless. Instead, it would have been better to hear what happened to him.
  • Other than Doc, and the blurb, it wasn’t overly clear that these students are pre-med. Maybe its that I watch too many medical shows, but these people weren’t really characterised as people involved in medicine.

Treat

  • Hart Bocher, who most will know as Die Hard’s smarm Ellis, gets a doucebag expansion in this film. This role was clearly made for Bocher and its wonderful to see this man get more screen time.
  • The fact that we don’t see the first attack is amazing. Even the audience think that Ed is messing about, given that he’s just been near the magician’s equipment.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis gives us a much stronger character than Laurie in Terror Train. She challenges the behaviour of people around her. I also like how much remorse she shows towards Kenny.
  • I love that its set on New Year’s Eve rather than Halloween. I also love the concept of the killer taking on the outfit of the person previously killed. Yes, we know what the killer will turn up wearing next, but the characters in the film don’t and it really adds to the suspense.

Final Thoughts

A film with flaws, but enjoyable all the same.

The Evil Dead (1981) Halloween Advent

Rating 18
Length 1h25
Release 17.1.1983
Director Sam Rami
About Five friends travel to a remote cabin in the woods where they play a tape with incantations. This releases the demons which possess them in succession until only one is left fighting for survival.
Moon: Full Moon sighted throughout the film.
Where to Watch: Rented from Prime but is currently on Now Entertainment
Trailer:

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  • The tree rape! Did it really have to be so explicit and gratuitous?! Does it also meant that the Deadening that the group go on to experience starts life as an STI?! Its all rather odd and is almost filmed with a certain, limited, target audience.
  • The Deadening voices, particularly of the women, really start to grate after a while. Particularly the three women, who were already hard to tell apart.

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  • The Super-8 feel really gives such a retro, intimate and indie vibe to the whole film. Its a refreshing change to see a film with rough edges and no Hollywood budget.
  • The story is simple, yet effective. There’s no twists or complications. It’s the ideal length and is, or was, a self contained story with no sights on setting up a sequel.
  • Bruce Campbell is awesome as Ash in his original form. To see the horror unfold around him while he comes to the realisation of the things he has to do, is something else.

Final Thoughts

I can see why this film was banned in places around the world, and it isn’t necessarily something I’ll watch again, but it is a must watch for any horror fans.

The Haunting (1999) Halloween Advent

Rating 12
Length 2h05
Release 24.9.1999
Director Jan de Bont
About Dr Marrow enlists Theo, Luke and Nell for a study of sleep disorders at the Hill House. As soon as the terrifying truth about the mansion is revealed, everyone is found fighting for their lives.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

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  • The CGI has not aged well. 1999 was a time in which CGI had become common place, but the work wasn’t given the money it really required to get it up to the standards set by Jurassic Park. The result is something that is added to, rather than blended into the film’s environment.
  • Nell being a relation of someone in the house was poorly executed. Something shouldn’t come from left field like this does. While the ‘Welcome home Elenore’ hints at a connection, everyone is dismissing it as a prank. What was needed was some more hints so it didn’t feel like a last minute addition to the story.
  • There’s a real lack of a body count and it doesn’t gel with what is presented. It gives the film a messy feel. Which can be explained when you discover that Spielberg took over editing duties from the director.
  • As previously mentioned, this film is messy. Its a plot that lacks any smooth transition from act to act. The finished piece is more like a jigsaw puzzle missing half of its parts.

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  • The set design of the house is stunning. Every inch of the building and sets are beautiful and meticulously created. The scale of the glasshouse and the pond really must have been amazing on a big screen.
  • Catherine Zeta Jones’ Theo is bi-sexual. It was possible the first time I’d see that sort of representation and it was certainly the first time I’d seen a character’s sexuality mentioned without it being directly connected to the plot.
  • Liam Neeson and Owen Wilson are brilliant. In a pre-Taken role, this was possibly the first thing I remember seeing him in outside of Phantom Menace. I know he was in things, it just wasn’t stuff I’d seen or remembered him in.
    Baby faced Owen Wilson perhaps isn’t someone you would automatically think of for a horror movie, but he holds his own and certainly seems to enjoy being a part of the film.

Final Thoughts

It’s one of those films I don’t really like, but I rewatch in the hope something has changed. It never does.

Tone-Deaf AKA Killer Instinct (2019) Halloween Advent

Rating 15
Length 1h27
Release 18.5.2020
Director Richard Bates Jnr
About After losing her job and imploding her latest dysfunctional relationship, Olive (Amanda Crew) flees the city for the weekend, escaping to the countryside for some peace and self-reflection. She rents an ornate country house from an eccentric widower named Harvey (Robert Patrick).
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Own Copy but is available on Now Entertainment
Trailer:

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  • There’s something off about the plot and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.
  • The addition of the son feels a little pointless, especially when there’s no real resolution with him in the end.
  • The dream sequences are at odds with the rest of the film. Normally I would find that fine, if not interesting. Perhaps its down my mood while watching, but it just didn’t work for me with this watch.

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  • Robert Patrick and Amanda Crew made, or salvaged, this film. Individually they both provide solid performances, but when they have scenes together they are amazing.
  • The final act is brutal, but well worth the slow burn of the first hour. When the characters eventually end up in their fight for survival, you wonder if there was any way to get to that point any sooner.
  • The comedy is off kilter and that works for me. It gains that inappropriate ‘should I be laughing at this’ sort of laugh.
  • The breaking of the fourth wall is used sparingly and good effect, particularly that last line.

Final Thoughts

Not a film I’ll rush to watch again, but it’s a fair horror offering for fans of Robert Patrick.

Muppets Haunted Mansion (2021) Halloween Advent

Rating PG
Length 52m
Release 8.10.2021
Director Kirk R Thatcher
About On Halloween night, Gonzo is challenged to spend one night in The Haunted Mansion.
Moon: Full Moon sighted just before Gonzo enters the mansion.
Where to Watch: Disney Plus
Trailer:

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  • Kermit’s new voice is not quite right for me. At first, I thought it was that Kermit had a pig nose on his face and they were adding an effect. However, additional scenes proved otherwise. Whoever they picked is a few octaves lower than previous voice actors and not only is it noticeable, it changes the whole character.

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  • Wil Arnett is perhaps the perfect human companion after Jason Segel. He has the adaptability to play the sort of characters Muppets needs. Arnett looks in his element throughout and it lifts up the performance of everyone involved.
  • Move over Animal, Pepe is my new favourite Muppet. He’s charming and funny. Not only that, he works well alongside fan favourite, Gonzo.
  • The songs are used sparingly, which I’m grateful for.
  • The humour, the charm and the meta-ness of the plot is all on brand and well written throughout.
  • It’s the perfect length for a family-friendly film. Especially for those days when no one has the attention for anything longer.

Final Thoughts

Muppets doing what Muppets do best, what’s not to love?

Tremors (1990) Halloween Advent

Rating 15
Length 1h36
Release 29.6.2012
Director Ron Underwood
About A small town gradually becomes aware of a strange creature which picks off people one by one. But what is this creature, and where is it? At the same time, a seismologist is working in the area, she detects _tremors_. The creature lives underground, and can ‘pop up’ without warning. Trapped in their town, the town-folk have no escape.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix and Amazon Prime
Trailer:

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  • Near the start, before you ever really know what’s going on (except you do because that stupid poster spoils it), Rhonda is ‘stalked’ by one of the graboids in typical creature feature fashion. Yep, we get monster eye candy. It’s effective when used well, however in this movie it’s god-damn stupid. Here’s why: those fucking creatures are blind and, even if they had sight, the thing is shown to be underground. Honestly, I can’t say I’ve ever noticed before, but today it really riled me up. For such a clever film, this is just dumb. Hell, it’s almost at odds with the rest of the movie. Once again, studio interference, allowed for this addition.

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  • This is such a clever, tightly plotted, enjoyable movie. Any who studies film should watch this whenever their university covers cause and effect. It’s so well planned that it’s an absolute joy to watch. Things that seem tiny have a massive impact later in the film. Just one example is that Earl and Val are arguing about what job they need to do that day and how Val needs to think ahead and consider which jobs will pay first, they end up in the store where the fridge is needing to be fixed. While Val goes to fix it, Earl reminds him of the conversation they had and they say they’ll get back to it. At first you might think this interaction is just about establishing the character dynamics, but an hour in that fridge comes back into play and really bites them in the ass; some of them literally.
  • Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward are the perfect double act. I adore Fred Ward in anything and everything he does. To have his older, wiser Everyman working alongside Bacon’s younger, more impulsive, partner is almost chalk and cheese. Almost like your buddy cops after they’ve learned to work together. It works.
  • Paul Gross and Reba McEntire play their roles perfectly. So much so that it took me years to make the connection of Gross being Ted’s dad in HIMYM, or Reba as THE country singer. Not only do I love the gun obsession, I love the apocalypse preparedness of the couple.
  • The dialogue is brilliant and quotable; you can see why it has become a cult classic. It doesn’t matter how you see this film: cheesy, silly, legitimate creature feature, it gives it all and entertains along the way.

Final Thoughts

For me, this film is up there with Jaws. I shit you not. The story is tight, the visuals are spot on and the characters have you rooting for them.