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Saturday, October 26, 2013

10 of the Best Horror Movies To Watch At Your Halloween Party... and 5 to Avoid

Take into account, this is not a list of the best horror films of all time.  Although some of these are definitely at the top of that list, this list is to provide you with optimal background visuals during your Halloween party.  When the sound is down and people are more focused on mingling and drinking a different set of films is required than when actually watching the film.   This list will help you fill your screen without upsetting or boring your friends.   When the party is done, grab the one that caught the audience's attention and watch it with the lights off - every film on the list is worth watching. Since the numbers of dreadful horror movies is so vast, the list of films to avoid are actually good films, just not party material.  Sound off in the comments section.  Like us on Facebook.

The Standards:
Halloween  - The quintessential Halloween movie.  It captures the feel of cool Halloween night perfectly. Everything you need, a damsel in distress, a small town setting, a mysterious killer and the best horror movie score since Psycho.  Almost 100% gore-free and still scary as they come - take note torture-porn directors.  This is the film that literally had me pee my pants as a kid, rather than walk to the bathroom by myself.  Too much information?

Scream - The first ten minutes are some of the best crafted horror moments ever put on tape making Ghostface one of the most recognized character in horror history.  A little gorier than most on this list.  If you can, put the sound up loud enough just to hear one phone calls with that classic voice.

Evil Dead 2 - While your party guest are trying to explain to each other what their costumes are supposed to be, this is a great film to slip into the DVD player.  Its creepy setting and heaping amounts of physical humor/horror - you can't go wrong.

Not So Standard:
Troll 2 - Do not expect to be scared or even see anything remotely scary.  If hosting expect questions like, "What in the hell is this movie?"  Known as the worst movie of all time (so infamous it inspired a documentary about it, "Best Worst Movie"), it lives up to the title.  Laughable costumes, over the top acting and a plot you have to see to believe - it may be the worst movie ever, but it is also a hell of a lot of fun.  Plan ahead and have some bright green Jello and dips being served as your guests watch.

Bride of Chucky - Not going to show up on many lists of best horror films, but it is certainly not without its charms.  The tongue in cheek humor including a doll on doll love scene will certainly create a few double takes.  Not to mention, watch the chip dip fly as your guests spit take at the sight of Katherine Heigel in all her pre-Grey's Anatomy glory take the screen.

Night of the Living Dead - Black and white classic.  Perfect background to any party.  Simple instructions: turn it on movie and walk away - look like a scholar that enjoys the finer things, like black and white films.  You are now a film snob and you did not even know it.  Wait until the see Bride of Chucky, you'll probably lose the title.

Poltergeist - This 80's classic is sure to get your guests reminiscing about the the good ole days, when all you needed was a clown doll and a rocking chair to scare the crap out of people.  Your guests will come to the light... of your TV screen (wink, wink, elbow nudge).

Drag Me to Hell - Even if you have never seen it before, this dark comedy/horror mash up has enough creepy visuals to add the perfect ambiance - whether it is the talking goat, the chin sucking old lady or the bloody nose from hell - your company will get a kick from it or at least throw up in their mouths a little.

Better than the Original:

Dawn of the Dead - Maybe I am missing something about the original.  Sure it has its charms, but the bad makeup and effects are distracting.  If you want to be freaked out, this is the version to watch.

Man You're F'd Up:

Audition- This film is not for the faint of heart.  With that said, if your audience can handle it (sorry grandma, leave the room) then you may want to mix it up with this Japanese horror film.  The good news is the sound can be down and the film can be followed due to subtitles.  The bad news, a big bag appears about half way through the film, that is all I can say.

Skip These Films Until After the Party
Not every horror film is created equal.  Just because it is considered a classic or won awards it does not mean it is worthy of your party.

Psycho - A genuine classic, but other than a scene or two it will not play well with all the noise of a party.  If you cannot hear the score you may as well not watch the film.

Silence of the Lambs - Academy Award winning films need to be seen and heard.  Once again without the sound you miss a lot hear.  The "fava beans and a nice Cianti" scene will be downgraded from a horrifying insight into a killer's mind to the feeling you get when someone stares at you on the train.  Wait until most guests have gone and watch it with the sound up and lights off.

Sixth Sense - Seeing dead people only works when they look like dead people, otherwise they just look like Bruce Willis.  Not visually exciting enough to show guests.  If you want scary discuss the decline of M. Night Shyamalan.

Blair Witch - With the sound down it just looks like a motion sickness enducing, hiking home video.  With the sound on it just looks like a motion sickness enducing, hiking home video.  Scary film, just not a party film.

Martyrs - Be warned, this is a gory mess of a film.  Your guests may not only turn their backs to the screen, but also may take you off their Christmas card list.  If your party invite lists can handle hardcore horror, this film may be up their ally.  For the rest of us, it is preferred this does not play while eatting pepperoni slices and cheese.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gravity (2013) - Review

Silence.  Silence is not what you'd expect in a movie theater these days.  Whether it's someone that has never learned about their inside voice, a cell phone caller so important they must loudly answer a call and then announce that they are in the theater, a cute little baby crying during its first rated-R film or that pretentious bastard that finds necessary to post updates on before the movie is over - movie theaters are no longer anything but silent.  With that said, it is the silence that should get you to look past all that and put your butt back in a theater seat, because a theater seat is the absolute best place to watch this film.  I watched it in a packed house that was surprisingly dead silent, a silence only broken only by the gasps of the completely immersed audience.

Gravity is the film that will remind you why you love the movies and even more, why you love the movie theater.   In a day and age where even I watch more films in one month on my TV, my tablet and even my phone than I do in the theater all year - Gravity is a great reminder - go back.

The film is a simple, yet captivating story of a spacewalk mission that runs into some major hiccups when some debris disrupts the calmness of space.  Seconds before, all is well - a breathtakingly beautiful planet earth is a backdrop for the busy astronauts, Dr Stone (Sandra Bullock) focused on repairing a faulty computer board and Mike Kowalski (George Clooney) whose only concern is how many more minutes he needs to continue floating around on his jet pack to break the longest space walk record.  They float weightlessly in what resembles a space ballet.  Then suddenly everything changes, the almost dance-like move turn into crashing, spinning, gasping and then helpless floating into the vastness of space.

As someone that is not a big fan of water (yes, I do shower - snicker, snicker... grow up...,) this film reminded me why.  Sure, this is space and their is no water, but it shares the same feeling of helplessness of helpless isolation, one person against a seemingly endless, faceless nemesis.  Once things go wrong, there is no simple button to correct them - it is your turn to step it up or float (sink) away to nonexistence.  I found myself holding my breath for long periods of time - my simple fears were pinpointed and exploited.  The best part, there were no CGI monsters to remind me I was in a movie.  Yes, there was plenty of CGI, but done in a way that I honestly forgot it was even there.  Take not Hollywood, just because you can create creatures and effects never seen before, it DOES NOT mean you need to.  And when it comes to 3D, Gravity may

This is not a gimmick film, it is a story of courage, fear and people.  It is the last aspect that makes it work so well, people.  We can associate with them - they are not supporting actors for a massive special effects display - they are the main course of this meal.  It helps that the leads are the incredibly likable Bullock and Clooney.  I want to hate Clooney, I really do... I just can't.  He single-handedly represents the connection between old Hollywood charm and new Hollywood (if I am wrong, please, let me know.)  Both are at their best right here.  Bullock, maybe a career best. 

The director, Alfonso Cuaron created what is perhaps his best film.  He makes something that is completely unnatural to almost everyone on earth almost feel natural.  His use of 3D is unobtrusive, almost forgettable (in a good way) cinematography is often a stumbling block for directors.  Even when I found myself flinching as debris flew over my shoulder, it still never felt anything more than authentic.

Not only does the film flow, there are times you will forget that it is not one big, long shot.  It is, dare I say, a piece of art.  Sure there are films that handle many elements better, this film just happens to master what it has taken on.  Isn't that what is all about.  Not every film will be the Citizen Kane or China Town, but if you do what you do, well... you win.

There is a reason for big movie screens, this is one of them.  It is a near perfect mix of cinema, technology and acting.  I plead with you, by the power vested in me by the internet see this in the theater.  I get it, you have a big TV - NOT big enough.  But FilmSnork, I have the Bose surround sound.  I DO NOT CARE.  See this in the theater.  This is why you go to the movies.  Now, go!

9.5 out of 10

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

TRAILER: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

For those of you that made it through the over-criticized (and maybe, a little tiny bit overlong) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey here is the moment you have been waiting for the trailer for The Hobbit 2. (crickets) Come on, the first one was actually quite good. Check it out.