Thursday, October 13, 2011

2011 October Horror Challenge (Part 3: Day 7-12)

This is the third installment of this year's October Horror Challenge. For the first two parts, read here:

It's been a bit of slow going for the Horror Challenge since the last update. I was glad to get so far ahead at the end of that one (eleven movies watched in the first six days of the month). I knew that we were going to be spending most of last weekend in a cabin out in the middle of nowhere, and wouldn't be watching anything for a few days. In fact, I wasn't be able to add anything to the Challenge until Sunday, October 9.

We had a great time getting a couple days away from everything (including The Little Monsters and the Challenge). The Wife and I did some hiking around the Quabbin Reservoir, enjoyed some warmth from the wood stove and the fire pit outside the cabin, and were lucky to get some beautiful late-season weather. I did make one attempt to watch something for the horror challenge. I brought along my copy of season one of The History Channel's show "Monster Quest" with the intention of watching one of the Bigfoot-related episodes featured that season on the DVD player in the cabin. I always like to bring along a Bigfoot book to creep me out a bit when we go camping. Since the cabin had a TV and DVD player I figured this was a perfect opportunity to get creeped out in a whole new way--and also be able to add something to the Horror Challenge total at the same time! The cabin we stayed at was deep in the wooded area surrounding the Quabbin Reservoir, and pretty remote. It was about the closest you can get to being "in the middle of nowhere" in central Massachusetts. The Wife hesitantly agreed to watch the episode "Bigfoot" with me, but changed her mind after the opening scene, which consisted of audio from a purported 911 call from a man witnessing a Bigfoot in his yard. I have to say that, being out in a cabin in the middle of the woods late at night, that 911 call sent a genuine chill down my spine! For the sake of keeping the peace (and because I was getting pretty creeped out myself) I turned the show off.



Sunday night we were still away from home, but stayed at The In-Laws' house. This meant that we were back in civilization, and I had a chance to watch the entire Bigfoot episode of "Monster Quest" (Season 1, Episode 5: 2007). The 911 call seemed quite a bit less fear-inducing while watching it in more familiar surroundings. It's amazing what effect time and place (late at night, under a full moon, in a cabin in the woods) can have in how scary something can be! This is the first item I'm counting this year which isn't an actual movie. There were quite a few TV shows in last year's Challenge (including a number of episodes of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker"). I wanted to avoid putting too many in this year's edition, but this one seems to be pretty appropriate for it. While it wasn't intended or planned, this Challenge is shaping up to be quite heavy on the Bigfoot material. That's perfectly fine with me. And, that leads us to the next item...


Monster Quest wasn't the only Bigfoot-related thing I watched on October 9. "The Snow Creature" (1954) is a personal favorite, and I was also able to watch that on Sunday night. It's not a good movie by any means, but I have a special fondness for it nonetheless. I first saw the movie back in the 1980s when I found a Goodtimes VHS double feature of "Godzilla vs. Megalon" and "The Snow Creature" at K-Mart. While not a high-quality film, it is notable for being part of a wave of Abominable Snowman/Yeti movies that came out in the early- to mid- 1950s in the wake of Eric Shipton's photographs of Yeti footprints in 1951 and reports of the creature from Sir Edmund Hillary's trek to the top of Mount Everest that introduced the legend of The Abominable Snowman to the western world.

I first watched the movie late at night at a friend's house as a teen. We laughed through the movie and mercilessly made fun of it, but... After watching it I had to walk home through the woods after midnight, and once again that element time and place made something that seemed so silly and utterly not scary suddenly seem less silly.

Sean Hartter's artwork for Saturday Fright Special's presentation of "The Snow Creature"
On this night I was able to catch (online) the new episode of the New Hampshire-based public access Horror Host show Saturday Fright Special that featured "The Snow Creature". The two-hour show didn't start until midnight, making for a long night. In fact, I wasn't able to keep myself up for the whole thing--giving up about fifteen minutes before the end (luckily I also have the movie on DVD and was able to finish it a couple days later).



I wasn't able to watch anything on Monday the 10th, but on Tuesday I saw the recent Norwegian movie "TrollHunter" (2010). I'd heard about this one a while back and added it to my Netflix queue, then promptly forgot about it. It seemed like a perfect time to watch it and add it to the list. And it was very much worth it! What a fun monster movie. I'd have to say that it's the best giant monster movie I've seen in some time (at least since "Cloverfield"). Like "Cloverfield", "TrollHunter" employs the "found video footage" documentary-like gimmick popularized by "The Blair Witch Project". It is becoming an overused and tired cliche, but apparently can still be used to good effect--as "TrollHunter" proves. I'm no fan of the reliance that movies have on CGI special effects these days, or the shaky-cam, quick cuts they use to mask the unrealistic-looking nature of many of these effects (I'm just a bit old-fashioned in that way). However, this movie makes good use of both the effects and the techniques. While it doesn't seem to have had a huge budget, "TrollHunter" masks any defects in its effects by showing them mostly at night, in snowy weather and through the camera of someone who was supposedly right there rather than in a cinematic way. You still get good views of the titular trolls, but I didn't have many complaints about how they looked or moved like I might have expected. It was a movie that I wouldn't show The Little Monster, but does keep the nice mix of old, new, campy, funny, scary and serious movies that this October Challenge seems to be developing into.



I've been meaning to see the 2008 Swedish vampire movie "Let the Right One In", and it's American remake "Let Me In" (2010) for a while now. The Challenge gave me the perfect excuse to finally do just that. I decided to start with the original and watched "Let the Right One In" on Wednesday October 12. It's another of those movies I'd heard a lot about but had never seen. I found it to be very good, and once again, a perfect addition to the Challenge. It should be interesting to see how the remake stacks up to the original (much like I'm wondering how the new "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (2011) will compare to the Swedish original from 2009.

That's gotten us caught up to now. I'm expecting an exciting few days as the middle of October arrives. The Rock and Shock show is going to be in Worcester for the weekend of October 14-16. I probably won't get a chance to watch too many movies over the weekend, but should have a fun, horror-filled time--and might even be able to pick up a few DVDs to watch over the rest of the month...

Monster Dad - 15
October - 12

1 comment:

  1. I'm with your wife--there's NO WAY I would watch a horror movie while staying in a cabin in the middle of the woods! And isn't there a tale about people being drowned in their homes that were flooded to make the Quabbin Reservoir? I'm surprised you didn't bring along a copy of Poltergeist! LOL