Spooky Season Movie Recommendations

To be perfectly honest I’ve been neglecting my horror/thriller passion since this year kind of turned into one but now October is upon us and for those like me who enjoy Spooky Season; let’s explore what movies I recommend to celebrate this time of the year…

Halloween (2018)

I’ve been a fan of the Michael Myers Halloween saga for quite some time and it probably stands as my favourite slasher film series up to Halloween H20. Yes there probably are a few ropey sequels in that collection but the first one was also the first ever slasher film and it paved the way. Spooky season would not be the same without that piano tune straddled by the good old mask wearing knife yielding speechless murderer who stalks the leaf fallen neighbourhood of Haddonfield in search of kills. The concept has been emulated many times in cinema but without the same effect.

A few years back some wise folks decided to reboot the franchise but effectively started again by discounting every film that followed the original to pretty decent standards. I thought it was so good upon release I visited the cinema twice to watch this sequel that packs one hell of a kill count. Jamie Lee Curtis deserves an honourable mention as she returns and picks up forty years later albeit hardened by the trauma of the first film’s events.

Fun fact: The town which my debut novel is based takes inspiration from Haddonfield and also the name of the high school I went to called Harlington making the name ‘Haddintgon’ – cool huh?

Jaws

Every attempt to create a scary film about an evil fish has fallen flat since 1975’s Jaws which holds up incredibly well for today’s standards. The evil fish or great white shark serves as just a side vessel for the story which is really about people being stupid and knowing there is a threat out there so don’t go out there – this sounds incredibly 2020…

The small town trope (which works in near enough every horror setting) or the quiet Island of Amity relies heavily upon seasonal trade in the summer and now a man eating shark could threaten that. The main character is new in town and also the Sherriff, he tries to balance local politics while taking down this threat which looms every so gradually in a film that is perfectly paced, characterised and overall quite scary. The sheer chemistry later on in the film between the three main characters hasn’t been emulated too often in cinema after making things all the more immersive. The shark, which looks kind of fake and was only used sparsely for that reason just heightens the terror. Don’t go into the water – it’s October anyway…

Grave Encounters

I’m a huge fan of found footage films probably because the concept of reality is heightened with in them. Over the years and since the Blair Witch Project some film makers have gone out of their way to make a film seem real and so comes along ‘Grave Encounters’ which is not only a found footage film but it also ticks a huge amount of horror boxes.

The film is a collection of footage all spliced together in continuity that relays the making of a paranormal investigation show called Grave Encounters. You see behind the scenes shenanigans from a highly likeable team as they put together the last episode of their first series, this one being a ‘lock in’ at a vast but mostly abandoned institution. The setting of this film is harrowingly perfect. Corridors upon corridors lay untouched from the primitive days of mental health care. Wheelchairs and gurneys lay empty, doors are wide open from the hundreds of cells, a bathtub sits unused – trust me they got the location bang on in this one! The first person view of this setting at night is one of nightmares.

You see all the usual stuff that paranormal investigation shows do, they even bring in a physic who is just a guy in shades and a leather jacket. For the purpose of the show, they ask the caretaker to lock them in overnight and that’s when it begins. You’ll have to watch it to find out, but trust me it’s worth a look and it’s terrifyingly awesome.

The Cabin in the Woods

For some this may appear to be an odd choice to include but to me the Cabin in the Woods is an incredible yet wonderfully fun film that turns every trope of the genre on it’s head. We like genre bending here at the Hall of Information and if you didn’t like this film it’s probably because you expected it to just be about a creepy cabin in the woods – that’s been done too many times before and even this film knows that.

Joss Whedon had a lot of involvement in this one, you can tell by the casting and the story telling which starts in one place and takes you to somewhere completely random and unchartered. It’s fun, outrageous and overall unexpected. Give it a try.

The Conjuring Series

Yep, the whole series that falls under the Conjuring umbrella is worth your time. I must start with a fair warning; these films are full of jump scares, but not the cheap jump scares you see in cheap horror, the jump scares in this series normally build to one with purpose and these films are well written, well paced and stand nowhere near the usual hokey-ness of the genre. From the first one all the way through to the creepy ‘Annabelle’ series and even ‘the Nun’; these films are chilling, thrilling and walk the tightrope of paranormal and possessions.

Fascinating Horror Youtube Channel

I might have a problem with being obsessed with true but horrifying tales and although this is not a movie it’s a recommendation because the Fascinating Horror channel over on YouTube is one I cannot get enough of. You can see from the screenshot below how many videos I have steamed into. From bizarre naturally occurring events to man made disasters that have truly chilling outcomes, this is a channel not to be missed. The narration style is clear, concise and well paced. Saying that the subject matter is also very well researched but a little fu**ed up also.

Over to you…

That wraps up just a snippet of stuff I’ve been watching so far but October is a long month so hit me up with any recommendations in the comments below…

The Conjuring 2: Horror done right

And I’m back for my second ever Saturday blog post. The last one worked so well I thought I would do another some months later. Things are about to get a little spooky and jump scary as we delve into a review of the Conjuring 2.

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I know for many people horror isnt your film genre. Understandably, there are many terrible horror stories out there, the monster gets revealed too quickly or you can see the ghost is actually a guy dressed in a bed sheet. Or you’re the other type who doesn’t like the potential heart attack, again understandably.
Myself, the jump scares and loud bursts of music have become something I can live with for the sake of seeing a decently put together story unfold.
So if you are familiar with the Conjuring and Annabelle (the latter in which I reviewed on here before) you will grasp the format. If not, well, there’s this couple, Ed and Lorraine Warren. They are paranormal investigators and work closely with the church. They take on cases of ghosts, ghoulies and possessions. Loosely they are based on a actual people, that’s always nice and adds to the horror.

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This time out they are faced with the ever so famous Enfield haunting. Of course this is after their most famous case back in the states, Amityville. The film introduces us to the aftermath of Amityville whilst slowly building up Enfield and the events that happened back in the 70’s. You can really feel the sense of build up and the story taking its time, something in which most films of this genre rush and fail at.
The two hauntings either side of the Atlantic have one thing in common. The potential to be hoax, even now it isnt really known if either are. Another contribution to the horror, mystery and sense of realists. Again boxes are being ticked here.
Eventually things start to get pretty damn poltergeisty (if that’s a word) in London and the media catch on. Events and the setting cling pretty close to the real story, with the Hodgson family being very well cast and convincing throughout. So it isnt long until the famous Warren’s are invited by the church to see what the damn hell is taking place.
I don’t give much away in my reviews, especially if this is a film I incline you to see, and it is. This conjuring 2 is a re-telling of a famous ghost story and built around just that. Of course the truth is merged with imagination and I couldn’t help but enjoy the build up of jump scares which were consistent and not over done.
Director James Wan has done a fantastic job with this beautifully shot creep fest. You can see they spent time and money on making this film look good on screen. This is of course a cinema film, especially if you want the sounds and sights. Even when somebody came down the aisle of the cinema I found myself on edge. In fact the whole audience behaved, something which tension will do to an audience. A rarity these days.
Both Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the paranormal investigator couple pick up exactly where they left off and built upon their already rich chemistry and characterisation. This isn’t just a horror story but a trip back to late seventies England. Something in which older viewers will enjoy.
Whilst it’s still at the movies, go and see it.