Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Month of Horror Day 31: The Exorcist

Basement contributor Matt Bellamy has taken it upon himself to watch and review at least one horror movie a day for the month of October . . . because he's awesome that way! And what better day for an exorcism than Halloween? 

Try as I might, I just can't not have all roads lead to this! 'The Exorcist' is the greatest horror movie ever made and in forty years it still holds onto that title without any real competition. It may not be your favourite but you can't not at least admire the incredible craftsmanship on display here. There are way too many double negatives in this review already. Why has it held up so well? Why is it still regarded as tops in the genre? Is it really that scary? Personal opinion, of course but I believe this film holds up so well because of such a universal theme that almost anyone can get behind. I'm not a religious guy at all but the idea of Satan himself embodying a young girl is one creepy as hell premise. Religious undertones in horror fascinate me because I feel like the stakes are always higher and the backstory much more intriguing; it feels very real. There is something about priests, normally very calm and stoic figures in society, terrified out of their wits by some sort of dark, demonic energy, not knowing how to deal with the horrors surrounding them.

It's become a staple for me to watch 'The Exorcist' every Halloween and it gets me every time. This isn't the "jump and scream" type of movie as it's much more interested in getting under your skin, creeping you out, and making you feel extremely uncomfortable. The voice of Satan is just about the most unnerving thing ever contained in a movie as this once sweet and innocent young girl has her demeanour completely changed into a foul-mouthed and purely evil entity. Every single time her room is re-visited by either her mother or the priests, you immediately begin to feel cold, something shared by the characters on screen as their breath becomes visible and their shivers noticeable. It gets to the point that you actively dread each time any character makes their way up the stairs to her room because you know something awful, and upsetting is about to happen.

Anyone who likes or is interested in horror should have seen this by now, it would be like a fan of science fiction not having seen 'Star Wars'. 'The Exorcist' sits on top of pretty much every "best of" list within the genre, and for good reason. If you want to celebrate Halloween night with a great scary movie then this should be on your agenda. Am I pumping its tires too much? Is it really not as great as I'm making it out to be? Sure, I know people who think this film is hokey and slow moving, and it's not for everyone especially if you're into more shocking, violent, and gory horror movies. This film requires your attention and maybe you're not in the mood for that and would prefer some more instant gratification, I get that. If, however, you're serious about being scared then this is as good as it gets, 'The Exorcist' is the best.

So long, folks! See you again next year! HAPPY HALLOWEEN :)

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Jason and Shawn's Top 5 movies to watch on Halloween

Shawn: As the Halloween season approaches...starting about mid September for me...haha...I go through an INSANE amount of horror movies. But there are five that are a "must view" for the season. They aren't necessarily a "Top 5" ...but MUST SEE 5:

(5) I always start with Ghostbusters. A couple of weeks away from Halloween. Just the opening bit is enough to evoke the spirit of Halloween. It is iconic, recognizable and fun. It is also, a "light" start to the season. Who am I kidding, I start in August...haha.

(4) Just because of a tradition I started with one of my boys, Arachnophobia is another light beginning to the festive season of doom, death and scares...haha.

(3) Children of the Corn. What is there to say about this? To me, it is to Halloween as the Rudolf claymation animation is to Christmas! No Joke!

(2) Diving into the nitty gritty of it, The Shining always makes an appearance. Even if I don't watch the whole thing....It is still quite 'festive'. "All work and no play..."

(1) The final "MUST SEE" for me is always going to be The Exorcist. The 1973 version. Hardcore. This says Halloween to me, like Santa says Christmas. Period.

Jason: Shawn's come up with a pretty bad ass list and he, like I, enjoys getting into the Halloween spirit early. But, in an ideal world, once the boy is in bed and I'm allowed to indulge in some Daddy Pops, a horror movie marathon on All Hallow's Eve is the only way to cap off my favourite holiday. What to watch? Check it:

(5) I like to kick things off with the original Halloween II because, if I put it on at the end of the night, I tend to fall asleep or black out before its over. It's an OK watch but, of the 10 or so times I've watched it, I've only seen the ending twice.

(4) The Evil Dead. Not the remake, but the tried and true original. Something about being in the forest, attacked by evil spirits, feels like Halloween to me. And it's unsettling as only a low budget horror flick can be.

(3)  Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street isn't my favourite horror movie, but it's a genre classic that turned the slasher movie on its ear. And Freddy Krueger is an icon as only Robert Englund can play him. A must watch.

(2) Trick 'r Treat is the newest flick to appear on this list, but it's already a classic. Nothing, save for my No. 1 entry, says Halloween to me like this anthology set on the dark holiday. It's funny, spooky, and gave birth to Sam, a character that deserves his own franchise. Surprise! A sequel has bee greenlit!

(1) The one, the only, the original . . . Halloween. John Carpenter's iconic flick is the first movie that really terrified me, and is required viewing on Halloween night. Better people then I have dissected this flick, so all I will say is this gets guaranteed play on Oct. 31.

Happy Halloween from The Basement!
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Month of Horror Day 30: The Omen (1976)

Basement contributor Matt Bellamy has taken it upon himself to watch and review at least one horror movie a day for the month of October . . . because he's awesome that way! Tonight, Bellamy revisits the charming story of a man trying to kill his son. Well, the kid is the devil, so he has it coming! 

Gregory Peck had been retired from acting for about six years when, in 1975, his son committed suicide thus shaking the Hollywood legend to his core, and seeking work once more to take his mind off of such a tragedy. What better project to jump into than a horror movie about a father trying to kill his son, who also happens to be the son of Satan? It must not have been an easy shoot for the man, especially given the subject matter but being the professional he was, turned in another great performance. Apparently he signed on for a relatively small amount of money but requested a take of the profits of its box office returns; a gamble that doesn't always pay off. Mr. Peck must have known that audiences were craving scares during that time because it went on to become not only the highest grossing movie of his career, but one of the most successful horror releases of all time. One of the greatest actors ever, and one of the smartest, too! Would you expect anything less of Atticus Finch?

'The Omen' is a classic, that's the best way to describe it. From the professional direction of Richard Donner, the top to bottom quality acting across the board, and quite possibly the strongest asset of all, the absolutely tremendous and iconic score composed by Jerry Goldsmith. This was during a time where horror movies were made for adults, by adults and it was a genre taken very seriously. I miss the days like this where real talent got behind projects like these and it wasn't a joke--horror was the real deal. The story is that Gregory Peck's character is the American ambassador to Great Britain and at the beginning of the movie his infant son dies shortly after birth but the hospital sets him up with another mysterious baby which he agrees to discreetly adopt without telling anyone else, not even his wife, who is unaware of the "switcheroo". Probably wasn't the best of ideas as it turns out this other child is the son of the devil, darn! Damien, by the age of 5, is an evil little bastard who, along with his insane nanny, begin to literally raise hell.

Really a great movie, if you have managed to miss it then I'd definitely recommend checking it out, it's one of those classics that many other horror films since have been influenced by in a number of ways. It also contains a now legendary death scene as David Warner's character is brutally decapitated by a flying sheet of glass--I bet the reaction in theatres from audiences back then must have been tremendous! Movies like this one simply aren't made anymore these days, I partially blame "slasher flicks" of the 80's for cheapening the genre however I do enjoy those movies, too! I think we are on the verge of horror getting serious again though and that is an exciting thought so fingers crossed we continue heading in that direction, or at the very least, can enjoy the best of both worlds. Trash and prestige! Wouldn't that be nice?

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Halloween Spooktacular 5: the Ernie Hudson interview with guest Brooke Lewis

There are many Halloween traditions . . . never take candy from a stranger, don't blow out a jack-o'-lantern before midnight, and The Basement's Halloween Spooktacular.

And this Halloween Spooktacular is the mother of all Halloween Spooktaculars. Joining Jason and Shawn for the entire hour is none other than award winning scream queen Brooke Lewis! Brooke and the Basement Boys discuss all things horror, including the creepiest movie music/sounds that accompany the genre.

Then, nothing says Halloween like ghosts. And nothing says ghosts like Ghostbusters. Which is why Jason and Shawn are proud to feature an exclusive interview with Ghostbuster Winston Zeddemore himself -- Ernie Hudson.

Hudson talks about his classic role, working with Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd, and the possibility of a third Ghostbusters movie. But that's not all! The man chats his career, his friendship with the late Brandon Lee, and the state of the film industry. THIS is the one movie, horror and Basement fans need to hear.

So prepare yourselves, Basementities, the Halloween Spooktacular 5 premieres Halloween morning. Nothing says Halloween like an episode . . . from the basement!

Stick with us!
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Month of Horror Day 29: The Conjuring

Basement contributor Matt Bellamy has taken it upon himself to watch and review at least one horror movie a day for the month of October . . . because he's awesome that way! Tonight, Bellamy takes a second look at the best movie the year . . . in Jason's humble/biased opinion.

If you missed experiencing the best horror release of 2013 in theatres, it's available to rent or buy now and I'd highly recommend checking this out immediately, especially seeing as Halloween is just around the corner! I don't want to hype it up too much because yes, there are certainly lots of people who will not appreciate this movie as it's definitely out of place amongst most modern horror--this is not about blood, guts, and gore but instead good old fashioned scares! Today's younger audiences may not gravitate towards content like this and might even think it's "boring" which seems crazy to me but, what can I say, kids these days *shoulder shrug*.

For everyone else though who is sane minded, you are in for a ride. Director James Wan, responsible for kick-starting the 'Saw' franchise, ditches all of that unpleasant "torture porn" and appears to instead be paying homage to such supernatural horror classics like 'The Changeling', 'The Exorcist', and especially 'The Amityville Horror'. It's clear that he holds films like those dearly in his heart or else he wouldn't have come up with something like 'The Conjuring'. Not to say that this all creatively spewed out of his head, the story is based on actual case files, what's on the screen and the handling of the materials though is all him. He has attempted a movie like this before with 'Insidious' which I feel was a valiant effort but the execution was all wrong; a swing and a miss! Perhaps that project was him simply gearing up for this undertaking? I like to think that may have been the case.

The true story of The Warren's, actual husband and wife paranormal investigators, is a good one with lots of rich history to draw from. What transpires over the course of 'The Conjuring' is just one of their many case files and if you've seen the movie and remember the room with all of their trinkets and keepsakes from past incidents then you know there must be a mighty deep well to draw future inspiration from. It's exciting that this movie did as well as it did and went on to become one of the biggest hits of the summer because since then a sequel has been greenlit and will be going into production shortly. I can't wait to see what else will be in store for these characters, respectably played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, as there must be so much more for us to experience. They haven't really been explored in the past, cinematically, so it's about time we paid them their much due attention, keep 'em coming

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Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman up for London Has Fallen

And yes, fictional U.S. president Aaron Eckhart joins Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman for the sequel to the surprise hit Olympus Has Fallen. Given the title, one can assume our heroes have left the White House for London, England, and not London, Ont.

The flick kicks off with an attack on London during the British prime minister's funeral, which is attended by Butler's U.S. Secret Service agent, the U.S. president (Eckhart) and the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (Freeman).

Some in The Basement didn't like Olympus Has Fallen (talking about YOU Matt Bellamy) but I appreciated it for it's brutal, 80s-style violence and sensibilities. In fact, the whole movie felt like an 80s action flick, so why not give it an 80s-style sequel?

And let's face it, Olympus Has Fallen made $160 million worldwide on a $70-million budget. Bitch made some coin.

No word yet on whether or not director Antoine Fuqua returns for more mayhem. Given he's attached to Denzel Washington's The Equalizer (that in itself is an update of the 80s TV series of the same name) it's highly unlikely.

Source: Variety
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Monday, October 28, 2013

The Month of Horror Day 28: Eden Lake

Basement contributor Matt Bellamy has taken it upon himself to watch and review at least one horror movie a day for the month of October . . . because he's awesome that way! Warning: tonight's installment will make your boil over with Bellamy-like rage.

I'm already beginning to boil with rage just thinking about this movie again, I'll try not to lash out too much during this review but no promises! My anger does not stem from the quality of this film at all, by the way but because I hate so much of what is represented throughout it. I have never experienced such visceral reactions to a movie before in my life and I felt like I needed to go for a walk or hit a punching bag afterwards, it got to me that badly! I never knew I held such venom and contempt towards a-hole kids before, you know, the ones with absolutely zero respect or regard for authority or their elders. The kinds of kids we unfortunately see too much of these days who think they're the cock-of-the-walk and don't care what they do, or to whom they do it to, even if it's harmful.

Okay, Matt, breathe. Don't go down that road too far; let's get back to the movie, shall we? Now, believe it or not, I'm a romantic at heart so maybe that's why I was so furious over the events that take place throughout the duration of 'Eden Lake'. I'm a romantic and I like seeing stories where a nice guy like Michael Fassbender takes his kindergarten teacher girlfriend out to the lake with the intention of proposing to her. Isn't that sweet? They seem like such a genuine and loving couple, too. Obviously, I was aware this was a horror/thriller before getting into it so of course something bad was going to happen, I was ready for that. I was not however ready for me to loathe the characters causing trouble for this nice couple as much as I ended up doing. These stupid brats, who are all too real in our world, decide to create a living hell for our newly engaged couple for absolutely no reason other than their own amusement. They steal their car, laughing about it the whole time amongst themselves, wreck it and figure they've done enough damage and would hate to get into trouble with their parents or the law so they decide "what the hell, let's just try to kill these two, that'll be a good time". SO MUCH ANGER!

I will not go into any more story details because the impact from some of the gut punches delivered throughout should be experienced without spoilers of any kind but be aware there is a very good chance you will yell at your screen on more than one occasion. Villains like this exist. They are not unstoppable, machete wielding, hockey mask wearing mad men. They do not come to claim your life while you're dreaming. They're not ghosts, werewolves, zombies or vampires. Instead, they live in your neighbourhood. They ride the bus. They sit in movie theatres with you. Maybe they even go to school with your own children who hopefully are not on the same path. Teens who simply do not care, who have been raised improperly, or whose group of friends they chum around with are a bunch of sociopathic misanthropes. You hear stories on the news about kids like these, who would douse a sleeping homeless man with lighter fluid or gasoline and set him on fire. Torture and kill innocent and defenseless animals. Maybe even commit murder without blinking an eye.

That's it, I need to go for a walk. If you plan on watching 'Eden Lake', I hope you know what you're in for.

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Retro Review: The Car (1977)