Happy Horror-Ween!

Let’s celebrate by summarizing what I’ve been doing for the past month.

I was trying to think of a good way to summarize the results of year’s Horror Month and decided to go for a quick summary of everything I consumed since giving individual attention to all of them would be too involved and bloated. So without further ado, here’s all the horror-related films, shows, and video games (no books, although I did read No Longer Human) I consumed this October along with a quick opinion next to each title in parentheses.

Movies I Watched For the First Time

  • Belladonna of Sadness (Shrug)
  • The Conjuring (Okay)
  • The Conjuring 2 (Okay)
  • Exte (Okay)
  • Freddy v. Jason (Eh)
  • Kizumonogatari II: Nekketsu-hen (Irritating)
  • Marebito (Good)
  • Ringu (Good)
  • The Shallows (Okay)
  • Visitor Q (Okay)
  • What We Do In The Shadows (Hit-And-Miss)
  • You’re Next (Good)

Movies I Rewatched

  • Alien (Awesome)
  • Blue Velvet (Awesome)
  • Dawn of the Dead (Awesome)
  • Donnie Darko (Awesome)
  • Gozu (Okay)
  • Guilty of Romance (Awesome)
  • The Neon Demon (Boring)
  • Prometheus (Funny)
  • Suicide Club (Awesome)
  • The Thing (Good)

Video Games I Played For The First Time

  • Alien Isolation (Good)
  • Fatal Frame 2 (Have Yet To Finish, But It’s Good So Far)
  • Silent Hill 2 (Good)
  • Silent Hill 3 (Good)
  • Silent Hill 4 (Good)

TV Shows I Watched For The First Time

  • Black Mirror Season 3 (Good)
  • MPD Psycho (Confusing)
  • Twin Peaks (Dropped After The First Season)

TV Shows I Rewatched

  • Aoi Bungaku (Awesome)

It probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that all the horror stuff I absolutely loved would be the stuff I revisited considering I revisited them for a reason, and it’s pretty hard to truly impress me as is. Having said that, I’m a bit surprised that none of the critically acclaimed survival horror games impressed me the way Resident Evil 4 did last year, but in a way, it made sense. While I found Alien Isolation engaging enough to marathon on an entire Saturday, its bloated nature is already well-known by gamers at this point, and the alien gets more frustrating than scary after a certain point (especially since most of us are pretty damn used to the thing due to how ubiquitous it is in pop culture). As for the Silent Hill series, I’ve read several reviews and editorial pieces in regards to those games before playing them and they all seemed to glorify things I don’t really hold in high esteem, so I wasn’t too surprised when I found them to be overrated, let alone didn’t see Silent Hill 2 as the greatest horror video game of all-time. That and the monsters stopped being scary after a certain point when you realized how piss-easy it is to run away from them along with the massive amounts of ways to execute the bastards I gained halfway through each game.

I actually found Fatal Frame 2 to be pretty scary in the way that only Japanese horror can be, but I only started the game two days ago and the outdated nature of the gameplay and my own PS2 (I only knew it was on the PSN after acquiring a disc copy on Amazon) weren’t helping me prioritize it over the last-minute movie marathon I ended up doing last weekend, so I haven’t finished it as of this time of writing. Definitely going to try and do that by next weekend though, and maybe get into the other Fatal Frames next year.

As for movies, I prioritized all the stuff that came out this year that I didn’t bother to see in theaters since I like keeping current (this includes non-horror stuff like the new Star Trek movie…which was not very good), as well as some stuff I’ve owned for a while but haven’t gotten to for whatever reason. The anime scene was of course, a bit of a bust. Obviously I didn’t like Kizu, but for an anime with Belladonna’s reputation, I was expecting something more…animated as well as shocking. But then again, Japanese horror has never really translated well to their animated stuff, so I shouldn’t be too surprised. Even Aoi Bungaku, an anime that I love, is kind of tame in terms of disturbing imagery.

A bit disappointed that I didn’t love any of the new movies I saw, although Ringu and Marebito still managed to be pretty damn disturbing in a way that tempts me to go back to them someday so I can pick up new details. Given the reputation of What We Do in the Shadows, I was expecting a huge riot, only to remember whilst watching that I’ve never really loved any of these horror parodies like Young Frankenstein, Zombieland, Tucker & Dale vs Evil, Cabin in the Woods, or a majority of Miike’s light-hearted takes on the genre like Happiness of the Katakuris or (more recently) Visitor Q. They’re never as funny to me as people say they should be, probably because horror itself is a pretty comedic genre as is (admit it, that’s the only reason we watch movies with Jason Vorhees in it) and trying to put a light-hearted spin on it is just horror with some of the teeth removed. Still, out of the many non-anime horror movies I watched, the only one I didn’t have a fun time with was The Neon Demon, which surprised me given how I’m usually all for Nicholas Wending Refn’s contribution to the film industry. But that doesn’t really change the fact that it took the slow-paced thing too far to the point of impenetrability and it was borrowing a lot of its plot elements from Suspiria, another classic horror movie that I never really worshipped.

Finally, there were the TV shows. Since they take a long time to finish and I’m usually not for serialized horror since it’s almost impossible to keep the atmosphere going for a long time, I obviously didn’t watch much in that regards. Black Mirror is episodic, so I had no problems with that, and honestly I thought this new season was more interesting than the first two despite the bloated nature that comes from being on Netflix. Twin Peaks though…I understand its reputation and all that, but oh my god it was so bloated to the point that I had to give up after the first season. There are so many characters in that show and they’re all given really long subplots to the point that it was just character/world-building for the sake of character/world-building without really moving the plot anywhere, and immersion in Lynch’s traditional mindfuck-ery is all but impossible when his stuff goes on for so long (I remember having some of the same problems with Inland Empire). At least MPD Psycho is short, although the plot of that was told very confusingly to the point that I couldn’t really get into that either. Which was a shame, because it had religious high school girls massacring their fellow students with machine guns.

So no real success in the horror TV world, and there’s not really any other serialized horror stories that I’m interested in watching, although I am tempted to give Penny Dreadful another chance now that it’s on Netflix and I have access to English subs. Going to have to start from the very beginning though because all I remember is that Frankenstein’s monster is a bastard and Eva Green is hot.

So that’s Horror Month in a nutshell. Technically it’s not over yet, and I plan to watch Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (I think this is the only anime that has Halloween in it) and maybe one more horror film to close things off, but overall, it was fun. I wish I had been able to devote more time to video games, but hopefully I’ll at least get through the new DOOM before the year is up.

Minor Quips

  • Still never finishing Shin Sekai Yori or bothering with American Horror Story.
  • Actually, I watched a little bit of the second season of Twin Peaks to see if it’d go anywhere, but when I realized I had watched the length of a two-cour anime with very little progress, I had to throw in the towel.
  • Okay yes, I know Gintama has some Halloween stuff too.

15 responses to “Happy Horror-Ween!

  1. I was pretty bored and a bit let down by The Neon Demon as well. On that note, it’s not gory as such but if you ever happen to be looking for something in the modelling industry/psychological horror vein, I recommend the live-action film version of Helter Skelter instead.

      • Like I said, it’s more psychological than out-and-out horror, but there are certainly a few elements there. Give it a try – at the very least I wasn’t falling asleep as I was in Neon Demon, and the casting is on point.

  2. @Artemis: I read the manga for helter skelter a long time ago, I heard the film was Mario Bava-esque, that gets my interest and I enjoyed the manga for how bleak/messed up it was . Does the film tone down the yuri element and reduce the detectives part?

    @Flawfinder: I think I may have been lucky in the sense I experienced The thing, ringu, alien, silent hill in my childhood and thus they had the intended effect of terrifying the shit out of me back then.
    Of your list I missed out on marebito and visitor q, going to watch marebito now. Belladonna was probably more shocking for people back in the 70s.
    Its good to see another Sion sono fan, my favourites by him are strange circus an love exposure, be sure to check out whispering star in December when dvd comes out.
    Penny dreadful is….slow…and probably doesn’t fully captilize on its premise but I still need to give it another chance too.
    I felt the new black mirror was half/half mixed bag with episodes 1, 3, 6 being the best of them.

    In terms of horror films, have you ever seen Diabel and possession by Andrej Zulawski?

  3. I’ve also watched Black Mirror season 3 and thought it was pretty mixed. Episodes 3, 4 and 6 were my favourites. I thought some of the episodes were too on-the-nose with their messages and didn’t have the subtlety the episodes in seasons 1-2 had – especially the soldier episode. Which episode was your favourite?

    • I thought most of the subject matter in Black Mirror Season 3 was more interesting than the first two (although too bad the execution faltered).

      As for my favorite, Shut Up and Dance was pretty cool. Also liked the idea of Nosedive considering how much I hate ratings.

  4. Ouran Host Club had halloween in it, I remember some of the characters had vampire costumes.

    My impressions of the first Silent Hill after playing it recently are similar to your view of the sequels. Another challenge with the first game is the lack of an on-screen map. When every area is extremely dark and looks the same, I’ll have to pause and bring up the map fairly often. The pitfalls of playing PS1 classics.

    Still, running away from 3 enemies in pitch black with poor controls and combat mechanics is pretty scary. Love the sound direction as well; reminiscent of Lain, Texhnolyze.

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