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.

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.

The Addams Family 2 (2021) Halloween Advent

Rating PG
Length 1h33
Release 8.10.2021
Director Conrad Vernon and Greg Tieman
About Hoping to get closer as a family, Gomez, Morticia and the rest of the Addams clan embark on an adventurous road trip in a hideous and humongous camper.
Moon: Starts off as a crescent, going into a full moon
Where to Watch: Cinemas nationwide
Trailer:

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  • Finn Wolfhard didn’t return. Honestly, I’m gutted because the person they got to replace him was so different.
  • It had a very Simpsons feel, in the sense that nothing from the first film had any standing in this one. A shame really, as I loved the characters we met in the first film and it would have been quite easy to intergrade them into the story.
  • What happened to having Kitty as the MGM lion?! (Side bar: I got very upset at the youngling who insisted, repeatedly, that the MGM logo showed a TIGER! Don’t worry readers, I did not heckle)

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  • There’s some excellent horror movie Easter eggs throughout the film for eagle eyed adults.
  • The story is pretty decent; for both kids and adults. Elements may be predictable, but it is a cartoon.
  • The comedy is as standard as the first outing, which gags for kids and ones for adults. Some of the location gags are just brilliant.
  • While there are arguments that this film is not in keeping with the live action or tv offerings, I must disagree. I have found both offerings well within the spirit of the Addams Family.
  • Snoop Dogg is perfect as Cousin Itt. I do want to play his lines backwards to see if he does indeed say what the characters say he does. (Thank you Red Dwarf for enabling me to identify backward tracks)

Final Thoughts

Its a decent kids film with a fun plot and a wonderful story arc for Wednesday. While I doubt the box office will see a third outing green-lit, if we do I would love to see Pugsley have a bigger role. Even with, sigh, the new voice actor.

Prom Night (2008) Halloween Advent

Rating 15
Length 1h30
Release 6.6.2008
Director Nelson McCormick
About Donna’s senior prom is supposed to be the best night of her life, but a sadistic killer from her past has different plans for her and her friends.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

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  • The story is lacking, so much. It’s economical in how it tells the story, but I’m left feeling a bit underwhelmed as a result.
    My biggest issue with this is the film’s killer. Idris Elba’s Winn mentions that the jury felt he was insane and so didn’t opt for the death penalty. With what’s presented, I can see why. There really needed to be a little more to the prologue to show how it escalated to the point that it did; what was their relationship like? I understand throwing us in at the point they did was a creative choice, but I want to be in the position Winn is and know that he’s a bad guy, that he wasn’t just insane. The way its presented, it’s almost as if there’s another film preceding this. 
  • Plot choices. Like, seriously, you’re going to have Winn pull the fire alarm and still have the lifts in action? It’s stupid that I’m annoyed, but everyone knows that is what happens to lifts. Hell, you could have had the killer on the lift with one of the friends and it be at the point that the alarm is pulled, she realises who he is. It could also be that the lift doors had only just closed, so there’s not questioning how he got out.
    Oh, and the dream fake-out to only go and have her do the exact same thing when she’s awake. The girl has been through a traumatic experience. Don’t know about anyone else, but I’m sure as shit getting that boyfriend to come with me.

Treat

  • Idris Elba. Damn it, this man could be in the world’s worst film and I would still watch. Beautiful, smart and someone you would absolutely want on your side if a mad man was after you.
  • Brittany Snow really holds her own as the lead, and final girl. She is one of a few actors that stop this being a complete loss of a film. 

Final Thoughts

Great concept, boiled down to a mindless slasher. It’s a one watch wonder that really should be better.

Halloween II (1981) Halloween Advent

Rating 18
Length 1h32
Release 26.4.2012
Director Rick Rosenthal
About Myers, a horrific murderer, spends 15 years in an insane asylum after terrorising the people in his small hometown on the eve of a Halloween. As soon as he gets out, he hunts down his sister.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

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  • The opening is rather clunky and almost feels like I’ve missed a scene or two. I understand it starts off directly after the first film, but I think that puts this film at a disadvantage because of the first being resolved.
  • The tone of the film is off. It has the Horror elements, but there’s also lines of dialogue and the way they’re delivered, that will reduce most viewers to fits of giggles. The biggest laugh is when a Michael Myers is hit by a police car. The sequence, I’m sure, is meant to be shocking. It most definitely isn’t.
  • Michael Myers has a whole new silhouette. They must not have been able to get the original guy back, and it shows. It’s hard to not notice and it really takes you out of the film.
  • The time of day is really unclear. In some scenes it appears at if it’s at least gone midnight, in others it appears like its not even past 7pm. Add to that, the fact that the hospital Laurie is taken to is unusually empty for a peak evening, the film just feels disjointed.

Treat

  • The new theme remix is cool.
  • Some of the deaths are messy and genius, particularly the one in the hot tub.

Final Thoughts

To make this work, it really needed to go the way of Alien/Aliens and not sit in this middle ground of a tonal shift. Because the original is so good, it was never going to match it, so it needed to offer something completely different.

The Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting (2020) Halloween Advent

Rating PG
Length 1h34
Release 15.10.2020
Director Rachel Talalay
About Recruited by a secret society of babysitters, a high schooler battles the Boogeyman and his monsters when they nab the boy she’s watching on Halloween.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

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  • It is clear from how the film is set up, that this is meant to be the first in a series. There’s always a way in which these films are created that makes them feel more like they’re trying to set up the universe than be in the story they’re telling.
    If the creative team are not invested and engaged in the current story, how do they hope the viewer will be?
  • The tired old trope of parents asking their child to babysit at a minutes notice. Halloween is for kids, you let them have their fun. While it always leads to a good story (Hocus Pocus, case in point), I just wish they could come up with something new.
  • Give me more Tom Felton. He was a joy to watch, and while I’d love to see him play the hero at some point, he’s just so good as the bad guy.

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  • It has that Percy Jackson watchability. I am not its target audience, but I don’t feel forgotten.
  • The cast is solid. So much so I am gutted at least a second film hasn’t been commissioned. They will most certainly have aged out by now.
  • The plot is simplistic, but effective. Adults may see the next plot points coming a mile off, but its a little bit of a comfort too.

Final Thoughts

Its the perfect film for a midweek watch when you don’t want anything too taxing.

Scary Movie (2000) Halloween Advent

Rating 18
Length 1h28
Release 8.9.2000
Director Keenen Ivory Wayans
About Cindy Campbell and her friends mistakenly end up killing a man. A year after the unfortunate incident, someone stalks them, leaves threatening messages and tries to kill them one by one.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

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  • This film hasn’t aged well. There’s some jokes and nods that reference things that were so of the moment that anyone watching today will not understand ‘wassssup’ and the Matrix ‘bullet time’ are among the few that just seem outdated. There are some ‘jokes’ that should never have been okay to put to film.
    Case in point is the ‘gag’ of Miss Mann, the PE teacher. They’re revealed to be a pre-op trans woman and its oh so funny *please understand the eyeroll and sarcasm that went into this* because geddit, geddit???! Just in case you didn’t, we get an eyeful of scrotum when the character sits, open legged with a skirt on.
    I don’t care about the intention of this. At all. It’s fucked up and wrong, and there’s no excusing it.
  • Some of it is a little too on the nose. Like, in some cases its lines of dialogue lifted from the film they’re lampooning. Spoof is no new thing; Mel Brooks is the master and everyone loves Airplane! but the beauty of most of those films lie in their subtlety. They’re commenting upon the genre as a whole, but this makes it almost too personal.
  • The over-acting at times is painful. It cheapens it and sucks IQ points from me every time I watch. I know I’m not the target audience; I prefer homage to whatever the fuck this is.

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  • I love the black representation in this movie; from the tongue in cheek “A whole bunch of people are dead, so these black asses are getting out of here” to the interaction in the cinema that riffs off the opening of Scream 2. I can see how carefully this film was constructed; it walked that careful ‘White Hollywood’ line so that films like Fifty Shades of Black and Black Panther could run.
  • You have to hold off for the pay off, but I really like the ongoing persona of Shawn Wayans’ Ray. I’ll admit, I was a little uncomfortable at the sledgehammer hints that he’s gay. However, in that final act when Bobby reveals he’s gay and that so is Ray, Wayans response is brilliant; it’s not offended, its a plain and simple ‘I’m not’. It feels a little bit like a ‘fuck you judgemental motherfucker’ and I’m all up for that.
  • Doofy is fucking brilliant. It’s a character that really takes the film to its most insane extremes and really does throw you off the first time of watching. Plus, kudos has to go to that neat little nod to the Usual Suspects right at the end there.
  • Fair play to the sexual positivity of women in this film. Yes, it is done for laughs, but there’s equality in that- there’s pot shots at both male and female masturbation.

Final Thoughts

This has not aged well, but if you are a teenage boy, you have the emotional range of a teenage boy, or you’re looking to have 90 minutes of ‘I get that reference’ hammered down your throat…. this is your wheelhouse.