***Official 21st Annual HTF October Scary Movie Challenge 2020***

JohnRice

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24) The House that Jack Built (2018) 4/5 - Matt Dillon portrays Jack, an oddball with OSD who is obsessed with pianist Glenn Gould and seems to somewhat accidentally become a serial killer. Jack comes to view his killings as some grand work of art and spends the movie looking back on them and philosophizing.

Writer/Director Lars von Trier clearly needs intense counseling. I consider The House that Jack Built to be the final installment in some kind of unofficial "Ah, F*@# It All" trilogy, along with antichrist (2009) and Melancholia (2011). The point of these three movies seems to be to convince the viewer that the entire world and everything in it is just one massive shit hole. Trier accomplishes this in a bizarre and often bizarrely beautiful way. Jack is the least visually impressive of the three movies (the other two are absolutely stunning to look at), but it has a twisted sense of humor the others lack. This dude is just seriously messed up. He is fascinating, though. FWIW, I watched the 150 minute Director's Cut.
 
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Michael Elliott

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Voodoo Woman (1957) *

A mad scientist in the African jungles is turning women into a monster. One shows up looking for gold and the doctor decides she'd be perfect for his experiments. This is without question one of the worst AIP films as it's deadly dull, features no energy and there's really not too much going on. The performances are bad. The story is stupid. The only saving grace is a somewhat cool looking monster.

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1957) ****

Edward D. Wood Jr.'s greatest of great films. Sure, this film is poorly made on all levels but there's not a single sequence in this film that isn't fun. This is the greatest and most entertaining bad film ever made and it contains to be a film I get a great kick out of watching. A lot of goofs but my favorite is the Lugosi stand in losing his cape and putting it back on while being shot.

The Phantom Speaks (1945) ** 1/2

This here is basically a smarter and better version of BLACK FRIDAY that has the same actor in basically the same role. The horror and sci-fi elements are played up much better here than they were in the Universal film and overall it was a nice little picture.

The Giant Claw (1957) **

This is a strange film to watch because it will always be remembered for the incredibly bad monster. Everything outside of the monster is played rather straight and you can tell that they were going for a dramatic movie like GODZILLA. The only problem is that the monster shows up and it's hilariously awful. The film is still mildly entertaining but it's just so uneven.

Pharaoh’s Curse (1957) * 1/2

A 66-minute mummy movie where the mummy doesn't show up until the 41st minute. I actually really liked the mummy in this film but sadly he isn't here too much. The rest of the time you've got a bunch of boring characters talking, talking and then deciding to talk some more.

The House of Secrets (1936) * 1/2

A man inherits a house but finds people living there and they don't want to leave. This "C" grade picture is basically an "old dark house" kind of film but it spends the majority of the running time talking. There's a twist at the end that throws some sci-fi in but overall this one is pretty dull.

Happy Halloween Scooby-Doo! (2020) **

I used to really look forward to the yearly Scooby-Doo movies but they've gotten pretty bland here recently. This here was at least better than the SCOOB movie but there's a lot of wasted ideas. The pumpkin monsters are cool but just not strong enough to carry the film. The mystery is rather bland and the comedy is a miss. There's some nice action scenes and the animation is nice though.

King Dinosaur (1955) *

A planet is in our solar system so some scientists go to check it out and run into dinosaurs. This was Bert I. Gordon's first "big" film and it's also his worst. The special effects aren't even effects as the dinosaurs are just lizards that look incredibly stupid. Even at just 63-minutes this thing feels longer that THE IRISHMAN.

The Werewolf (1956) ** 1/2

An interesting twist on the werewolf story has a man getting the curse because of science. I loved the mountain setting of this one and the lead character is a sympathetic one. For the most part this has a lot of interesting ideas but I do wish they had focused on the science a tad bit more rather than hunters just walking around the woods. The werewolf make-up looked great at times and fair at other times.
 

Michael Elliott

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Maybe it's because I'm more attached to the original series but I think Halloween 5 and Resurrection are much worse than the RZ Halloween II. I can find a few things I like about HII but I'm hard pressed to name anything I like about 5 and Resurrection.
I thought 5 was okay as a kid but the more I watch it the less I like it. What happens to Rachel was just really stupid and having Jamie being mute the majority of the film was just a really dumb mistake. Plus I'm still pissed that the wonderful ending was ruined in part 6 lol. I don't hate RESURRECTION as much as most people do. Part 6 is still right there among the very bottom for me, although I did almost put it on tonight. I'm watching 1978/2018 in the theater tomorrow then I'm going to run home and watching the original HALLOWEEN 2 just to work out which storyline I like more.
 
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Russell G

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An update since I just finished a weird one and need a brief timeout before starting one before bed:

088 10/29 Sorceress (1995) 3/5 Julie Strain is a witch who uses the art of rubbing oils on her tits to influence a promotion for her lawyer husband, only to set off a terrible chain of events. It’s certainly a typical 90s titty-flick, but it mostly delivers. Strain and Linda Blair are the big names, but neither do much. Poor Michael Parks busts his ass off in a small role collecting a pre-FROM DUSK TILL DAWN resurgence cheque that is pretty much worth the price of admission. Also, Blackula/King of Cartoons himself William Marshall shows up! As a whole, it’s no great shakes, but as a late night Skinimax horror film you could do a lot worse.

089 10/29 Annabelle: Creation (2017) 3.5/5 This one delves into how the horrifically looking doll came to be made. Another solid offering, this one is told through the eyes of two orphan girls staying at a group home with the guy who made the doll when haunting things start to happen. They do a really good job creating atmosphere with this one though it still doesn’t explain why the doll looks so awful. I’m legit surprised at how good this series is.

090 10/29 Friday the 13th (1980) 4/5 This is my 500th film of the year, so I rewatched the uncut version of this since that fancy Scream Factory set showed up last week. Much has been written about this one, for me it’s cinema comfort food. Is it a four star classic? Probably not in the grand scheme of things but I get a real kick out of the first four films in this series.

091 10/29 Unsane (2018) 3.5/5 Soderberg shot this one on an Iphone, but forget all that since the result is a solid thriller. A young professional goes to a psychiatric hospital to get help with issues from having a stalker only to end up held against her will. I think Sam Fuller did this better with SHOCK CORRIDOR, but this is still one hell of a thriller and they do a good job of keeping you questioning what is actually happening without it feeling like a trick. It also looks pretty good which kind of drives me crazy since I failed at movie making in the 90s using shitty camcorders.

092 10/29 The Greasy Strangler (2016) 3.5/5 A middle aged son lives with his domineering Disco tour guide dad who may be the Greasy Strangler! I can see people hating this one. I don’t think it would exist if TIM & ERIC AWESOME SHOW GREAT JOB didn’t happen. It’s bananas, but I’m a sucker for these kinds of films that play like over the top offensive children movies for serial killers. Anyways this one is ultimately about father and son bonding of all things.
 
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BobO'Link

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Thursday:

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Running a quick 61 minutes this is more of a showcase for Clyde Beatty's animal act, which eats up at least half the short running time, than a true horror film. Acquanetta, in her highly touted "introduction" is more of a footnote in the story told and never speaks. John Carradine is also shortchanged in his first leading role. The horror sub-plot is decent - Carradine's character is experimenting in glandular research and becomes obsessed with transforming a female gorilla into a human (Acquanetta's role). The rest of the cast mostly stands around commenting on the animal act scenes. Evelyn Ankers, Milburn Stone, Martha Vickers, and others are pretty much wasted here. Stone was cast because from the back he and Beatty greatly resemble each other making the use of Beatty's stock footage work. Could have been one of the better "B" horror programmers had the animal act not been used so much and the transformation bit expanded.

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I watched the new "Extended cut" version. Honestly, I've not seen it enough to pick out what's been added. It's another of the Corman/Price films based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. For my money, there's not a stinker in the bunch of 7 films with Price, 1 with Ray Miland, and The Terror, another favorite but not really part of the "Poe Cycle," being filmed immediately after The Raven using the same sets.

The wickedly vile Prince Prospero (Price) visits the village over which he holds dominion, is angrily confronted by two poor and starving villagers, and sentences the pair to death. Francesca (Jane Asher - Paul McCartney's main squeeze at the time), one of the men's daughter (the other is the "man she loves") begs for their lives. Prospero tells her to pick one to die but is distracted by screams. He goes to investigate to find an old woman infected with the deadly Red Death. He orders the village burned down to prevent the spread of the disease, abducts Francesca, intending her to replace his old plaything (Hazel Court) and sends out invitations to his castle to several dozen of the local nobility to take refuge and party. Will the Red Death take them?

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aka Witchfinder General. England is torn apart with a civil war allowing unscrupulous men to use the distraction to gain local power by exploiting village superstitions. One, Matthew Hopkins (Price), tours the land offering his services as a persecutor of witches. Based (very) loosely on actual events.

Another very good vehicle for Vincent Price who plays this one far more seriously with little to none of the overacting/camp of prior roles.

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The 1978 remake with Donald Sutherland is very good but not as good as this, the first filmed version of the story. Dr. Miles Bennell returns to his small town practice to find several of his patients believe their friends or relatives are impostors. At first, he is skeptical but eventually comes around and determines to find out what is causing the change.

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An inventor of a security system (Karloff) is swindled out of his royalties, invents a new, better, system only to be swindled out of those royalties as well. He develops a device to bypass the old system hoping the company who purchased the new one will actually then install *it* allowing him to get those royalties he deserves. A gang of crooks find out about him, kidnap him, and put him to work bypassing his system allowing them free reign. Not much horror, mostly a gangster/crime movie, but still good fun.
 

HawksFord

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18. The War of the Worlds (1953) – It took us four nights to get through this Criterion blu-ray. One night each for the movie, the movie with commentary, the extras on the making of the movie and the restoration, and the radio broadcasts. It was all time well spent. The movie is still great fun after all these years, and the extras enhanced our re-watch of the film.

:emoji_skull: :emoji_skull: :emoji_skull: :emoji_skull: (out of 5)
 

Malcolm R

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Amazing how fast time goes by. I went into last year's list looking for a movie I would have bet money I just watched last year (Tales of Halloween) to refresh myself on what I thought about it, and found it was three years ago that I watched it (2017). Yikes!

But it turns out I really liked it, and it has apparently been three years, so I think we'll be watching it again tonight. ;)
 
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dana martin

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First Time Viewing ( Double Feature)

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43. Evil Town ( Vinegar Syndrome Archive) :emoji_star: :emoji_star:
44. Dr. Jekyll's Dungeon of Death ( Vinegar Syndrome Archive):emoji_star:1/2

Oh, where to start, you've got to love Vinegar Syndrome for finding the most obscure, insane cinematic garbage ever made willing to scan it and put it out in high definition. It's always a mixed bag with them and sometimes you find a hidden gem, or something that you're like why the hell did I spend money on that. So, two more from the unwatched and collecting dust collection.

Evil Town has a cast that you would have expected you could have a better movie from, but it never quite gels. James Keach and Charlie X from Star Trek and their lady companions are traveling up the California coast when their van breaks down. In a town inhabited by Miss Clara from the Andy Griffith show, Reverend Alden from little house on the Prairie and Dean Jagger in his final starring role. They all do a good job of adding to the creep factor , in a story about a small town of old people with a doctor who's doing experimental research abducting young people and draining pituitary fluid to keep the old villagers alive. Not a great film, but it was a decent watch better than some things I've seen.

Dr. Jekyll’s Dungeon of Death Would be one of those films they could be entertaining if it wasn't so bad, this is grade Z horror. The concept is the great grandson of the original Doctor Jekyll utilizing his grandpa's formula is abducting people and experimenting in his dungeon of doom in beautiful San Francisco. This doesn't turn people into Hyde, but instead inhibits them with rage. Best analogy that I can give I went into this expecting a horror film, and what you basically get is UFC And really bad acting , seriously two people pitted against each other wrestling, fighting. People that before have no clue what they're doing automatically becoming black belts. I might try and watch this again, but only after 5 or 6 beers. At least I can't say that I bought it and never watched it. Hopefully, I can find something else to purge this from my mind with only one day left, maybe I should have given this just one star.

next...
 
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John Stell

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Bold - Denotes first ever viewing

Rating - Out of a possible 4


163) 10/29/2020 The Ghost of Sierra de Cobre (1964)


Martin Laundau plays architect who also investigates alleged hauntings. His current job involves a blind recluse who thinks his dead mother is phoning him. Originally filmed as a pilot for a series called The Haunted, it was expanded for theatrical release instead. It's a clever and effective tale and it's too bad this didn't become a series. The bleeding ghost visual may be dated but it works.

164) 10/29/2020 Edge of the Axe (1988)
1/2

Someone is axing various women in small town while the police try covering everything up. Above average slasher with better characterizations and subplots than most. The motive for the slayings is withheld until the big reveal, which is something of a cheat since the actor playing the villain didn't appear to be the one actually wielding the axe.

165) 10/30/2020 Primal Rage (1988)


On a college campus where a doctor is experimenting with a primate, a nosy student reporter breaks into the lab, gets bitten by test subject, and goes on violent rampage, infecting others along the way. Cheesy fun with good gore effects. Acting is OK for the most part.

166) 10/30/2020 Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014)
1/2

Virus starts infecting populace turning them into zombies. Those of a certain blood type seem immune and have to fight for their lives. Australian zombie film has been accurately described as cross between Dawn of the Dead (the remake) and Mad Max. It's hyperkinetic, gory, and funny at times. Some of the humor though is too cute, as if they're deliberately trying to make a cult film. But for the most part this is an entertaining if familiar zombie entry.
 
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sleroi

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10/30

33. Roald Dahl's the Witches (2020) - first time viewing - ****

I had high expectations for Nic Roeg's version of this and remember finding it just OK. So I had minimal expectations for Zemeckis' version and was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed this one.

Octavia Spencer is great as Grandma, and Anne Hathaway is magnificent as the maniacal grand high witch. The story moves along briskly, and is visually sumptuous. And Zemeckis expertly blends the sinister and creepy with a good dose of whimsy.

My only faults are Chris Rocks horrible attempt at a southern accent, but thankfully his narration is brief, and the fact that HBO Max doesnt offer 4k.
 
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dana martin

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Bold - Denotes first ever viewing

Rating - Out of a possible 4


163) 10/29/2020 The Ghost of Sierra de Cobre (1964)


Martin Laundau plays architect who also investigates alleged hauntings. His current job involves a blind recluse who thinks his dead mother is phoning him. Originally filmed as a pilot for a series called The Haunted, it was expanded for theatrical release instead. It's a clever and effective tale and it's too bad this didn't become a series. The bleeding ghost visual may be dated but it works.

164) 10/29/2020 Edge of the Axe (1988)
1/2

Someone is axing various women in small town while the police try covering everything up. Above average slasher with better characterizations and subplots than most. The motive for the slayings is withheld until the big reveal, which is something of a cheat since the actor playing the villain didn't appear to be the one actually wielding the axe.

165) 10/30/2020 Primal Rage (1988)


On a college campus where a doctor is experimenting with a primate, a nosy student reporter breaks into the lab, gets bitten by test subject, and goes on violent rampage, infecting others along the way. Cheesy fun with good gore effects. Acting is OK for the most part.

166) 10/30/2020 Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014)
1/2

Virus starts infecting populace turning them into zombies. Those of a certain blood type seem immune and have to fight for their lives. Australian zombie film has been accurately described as cross between Dawn of the Dead (the remake) and Mad Max. It's hyperkinetic, gory, and funny at times. Some of the humor though is too cute, as if they're deliberately trying to make a cult film. But for the most part this is an entertaining if familiar zombie entry.
166
right now this is how many of us feel at that accomplishment and how john without sleep looks



and of course his reply

 
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BobO'Link

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Do some of you never sleep?
I get home from work around 4:10 and right now it's just my wife and me (my daughter has my across-the-street grandkids in St. Louis right now for a very long visit). She pretty much leaves me alone if I'm watching movies (she'w not a movie or horror fan). A short supper break, during October usually eating in front of the TV, and it's easy to get in 3 or 4 movies (length depending) before bed. I sometimes get up quite early anyway and can get in half to a full movie before having to get ready for work (I go in at 7:30, leaving the house around 7:20). I get up normally on the weekend and can get in 10-14 movies each day on Saturday and Sunday. I often take a bit of time to go shopping with my wife once a week.

Right now I'm at 136, expect to get in another 4 today, and 10 tomorrow for an anticipated final total of 150. And I get 7-8 hrs sleep a night to boot. If I were retired you'd be seeing numbers in excess of 200. The vast majority of what I've watched this year has been shorter films, running 75-90 minutes tops. A few have been those longer ones but very few. That helps.
 

John Stell

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Rating - Out of a possible 4


167) 10/30/2020 Hollywood Horror House (1970)


Psychopath (played by John Garfield's son) with a fatal mother fixation gets job with aging Hollywood star Miriam Hopkins ("Champagne" Ivy from 1931's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) putting her and the entire household staff in danger. Great to see some familiar faces such as Gale Sondergaard and Lester Matthews. The kills can be quite gory at times, and some of the dialogue is good, as is most of the humor. The main issue is Garfield's mixed-bag performance. Sometimes he's very good and other times he's...not.

168) 10/30/2020 The Living Corpse (1967)


Also known as Dracula in Pakistan, this version of Bram Stoker's novel concerns doctor who thinks he's perfected the elixir of life. Instead the potion turns him into a vampire. Two brothers, both of whom are doctors, investigate the strange goings on at the doctor's castle and put their lives, as well as those of their family', in danger. There are some out of place musical numbers and a laughable seduction dance from one of the vampire's brides. The music tends to be bombastic and annoying, stealing cues from Horror of Dracula, and also including odd choices such as La Cucaracha and themes from The Barber of Seville. But the film is atmospheric and creepy, and features sincere performances.
 

whacky blacky

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October 30

66. Halloween Party (2019). FTV. Streamed. 2.5/5. A haunted meme is hitting computers having them type in their biggest fear within so many seconds. If you don't, you die by your fear (it just knows even if you didn't type anything). Mostly cheesy but it does have its share of jump scares. I did like the ending.
 

Neil Middlemiss

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October 30: The Thing (2011) - 4 out of 5

A discovery in the artic has Norwegian scientists excited and they enlist the expertise of an American paleontological , Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). But their frozen discover wakes up. With the ability to absorb and mimic its prey, the thing they uncovered could be the end of them all.

This prequel to The Thing, 1982's masterpiece, covers most of the same beats as that John Carpenter classic and, by all accounts feels, like a remake. But fans of the 1982 film will recognize the connective tissue, as it were, that make this a prequel (setting the stage for Kurt Russell's visit to their camp in the original) - and the closing moments of this film lead nicely into the opening of the 1982 film. And the experience works best of you can watch them together, which I do every year either on the same night, or, like this year, the 2011 film on the eve of Halloween, and the original on Halloween night.

Where this 2011 film falters is in the creature effects, relying upon computer generated imagery to create deformed and bizarre concoctions versus the legendary practical effects that special make-up and effects designer Rob Bottin almost killed himself producing for the 1982 film. The new computer generated VFX capabilities allow sequences to be more frenetic and energetic, but something gets lost. Practical effects by their nature can slow down action in a scene, and with that ‘limitation’ comes a need to build upon horror and tension, or make more realistic so the camera can linger and marvel at the creation. That’s something the brisker pace of this CGI-aided prequel doesn't give enough space for.

Performances here are largely quite good, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead's capable and assertive Kate proving to be the film’s finest. A particularly good film with flaws but one that has firm connections to what I consider to be the greatest horror film of all time, and that raises this film's stock quite a bit.

The effects are already aging poorly, but I find myself enjoying the film just a little more each year anyway.
 

Malcolm R

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Tales of Halloween :emoji_scream: :emoji_scream: 1/2

Below is what I posted in 2017, when I first viewed this. Based on the second viewing, I feel pretty much the same so I'm just going to quote it here:

Anthology of 10 short horror films taking place around the same community on Halloween night. All manner of horror icons are roaming the streets: devils, demons, serial killers, witches, ghosts, aliens, and mutant pumpkins. Adrienne Barbeau reprises her DJ persona (as in The Fog) to narrate the action.

This was a great anthology film, with cameo appearances by many directors of classic horror (Joe Dante, Mick Garris, John Landis, Stuart Gordon) in shorts directly by some of today's horror directors (Darren Lynn Bousman, Lucky McKee, Neil Marshall).

The anthology format is great. It allows the weaker segments to end guickly (Ding Dong, This Means War, Grim Grinning Ghost) and the best segments leave you wanting more (The Night Billy Raised Hell, The Ransom of Rusty Rex). Best story twist: Trick. Weirdest segment: Friday the 31st.
I would also note the opening short, Sweet Tooth, as one of the better segments. The segments that trend toward comedy seem to work the best, IMO (The Night Billy Raised Hell, The Ransom of Rusty Rex).
 

Russell G

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Last update until Sunday, I got to cram as much as I can tomorrow with a free day with only laundry to do!

093 10/30 The Nun (2018) 2.5/5 This entry into the Conjuring franchise is a real mixed bag. It tells the story behind the Nun painting featured in Conjuring 2. The problem is that if someone told me that this script was kicking around for a few years until they tagged some Conjuring stuff on to bookend it, I’d believe. It’s a big ‘ol loud and over the top demonic possession story that lacks any of the nuance or atmosphere that make the other entries in the franchise stand out. Some decent performances, but over all this was a bit of a slog.

094 10/30 Night of the Creeps (1986) 3.5/5 I thought I had seen this one but I think it’s a case of that iconic VHS cover being everywhere as I had zero memory of this and I surely would have remembered it! An alien experiment crashes to the earth in the 50s and now in the 80s some nerds muck about and set it off during pledge week which means parasitic slugs are turning people into murderous zombies. The plot is convoluted and nuts, but the whole thing is such a play on the genre that it manages to be a ton of fun. The humour mostly works as it derives from the situations and the pacing is fire. You can tell that the people behind it love the old monster movies and are making this with love. Director Dekker will go on to make THE MONSTER SQUAD, and it totally makes sense.

095 10/30 Friday The 13th: Part 2 (1982) 3.5/5 Considering how iconic this one is, seeing how it actually has Jason in it, you want it to be better. The gore is toned down a bit, but it does have a mean streak to it which is great. Overall though, it feels tired like it’s treading water repeating the first film. Which isn’t a good thing on the second film of what will be one of horror's longest franchises. That and the lead girl make this one not as engaging as the first, but in the end, it’s still fun and it’s kind of nice seeing redneck overalls Jason and his flour sack. We were all so innocent in our youth!

096 10/30 The Curse of La Llorona (2019) 3.5/5 This instalment of the Conjuring franchise seems to get slagged off but I liked it. It’s better than THE NUN at any rate. A social worker interferes with the cursed Weeping Woman, who now wants her kids. Granted, this one doesn’t seem to have much to do with the Warrens and what not, I thought it a good curse/ghost story and kind of plays like a J-Horror. They do a good job setting it up and building the atmosphere and tone like the Conjuring films. This kind of thing is always a little goofy, people do dumb things, but that’s the way it goes so you can’t be too hard on the movie for that. Overall, these Conjuring films work.
 

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