Friday, October 12, 2012

HALLOWEEN LIST 2012: Paranormal

This is not a full list of every ghost story I love. That would be far too much to wade through even for the most dedicated of horror fans. :) I tried to do a little cross section of ghosts, paranormal and other worldly films that might have either been missed or that might not have been seen in a long while. The genre is filled with brilliance and real lamers, so it's hard to sift through at times. I hope this list provides a little light at the end of the tunnel when searching.

Go into the liiiiight.  :)

The Innkeepers
Check out the review here.
LOVED this film.

Wake Wood
Wake Wood was held up as HAMMER STUDIOS return to the horror arena and it did not fail to please. The positive buzz was warranted - it was a very strong film with some grand little nuggets within it . Off the radar for a lot of mainstream audiences, this was was a sleeper hit that had horror fans grinning. The story was similar to PET CEMETERY, but the execution was slightly different and the tone was obviously far less "80s".  Great stuff. 

A Tale of Two Sisters (Korea)
Another one we've reviewed before:

This has to be one of my favorites of all time. A strong story with equally strong acting are topped off with some really shocking and creepy visuals. It's a great tale.

Carved: The Slit Mouthed Woman (Japan)
I tossed this on one night while working on a project and thought that it was just going to be background filler while I worked. Something I'd half glance at when I heard the music ramp up. However, I found myself locked in from the very beginning and thought it held up really well throughout. We have our basic, scary woman story going here. The legend of the Slit Mouth Woman - a horrible lady that killed. Well, this film doesn't pull any punches with that tale. The malicious spirit comes after children really goes after them. It's shocking - there are not many magical saves here. And the dark ending is grand.

The Legend of Hell House (1973)
A fantastic haunted house film that follows two psychics, a scientist and his wife as they attempt to "clean away" the spirits that occupy Hill House. Needless to say, they have their work cut out for them.     Read more about the Hill House movies here.

I recently re-watched this chilling little story and it's really good. REALLY good. The acting, the story and the execution are all top notch and it makes for a fun watch. It's also a super clean film - well lit and out in the open with it's scares and effects. I was taken aback on my second viewing, honestly. I'm so used to the use of night vision cameras and shadows these days, but James Wan puts it all out there for you. A great ghost story!

House (1986)
This comedy horror nugget was huge "back in the day" around the video store and on the pay cable circuit. :) When it hit cable, I remember watching it a few times and loving it every step of the way. A good and goofy romp and well worth checking out.

House (Hausu Japan 1977)
This fucking crazy. I'm sorry, but that's really the only way to put it out there. I watched this with a few friends and that exact phrase was used several times as we watched color swirl, heads fly and the dark path this film takes it's characters on get more and more odd. It's as if THE WIZARD OF OZ, THE RING and HR PUFNSTUF were all blended and served on a bed of narcotics. It was an wondrous and strange experience. It's truly mind altering. Suggested viewing time: 11:30pm

This film manages to combine two things I love expertly - submarine movies and ghost movies. As if subs were not claustrophobic enough, something seems to be haunting one that picks up survivors from an attack at sea during World War II. An interesting story and some grand acting with a dash of terror.  

House on Haunted Hill (1959 and 1999)
This is one of the rare cases (another one to follow shortly) where I think it is very interesting to watch the original and the remake close together.  I recently watched the original and found myself scratching my head from time to time and wondering what they were thinking with the script. heheh A group of people is invited to stay the night on haunted hill. If they make it, they get a nice payout of cash. But, will they live through the night?
Vincent Price turns in a great performance and the film is a fun, dark old house movie, but it's strange and slow and full of 1950s over-acting that brings more giggles than scares. However, it does have some creepy visuals.
The remake is the same plot, but with more ghosts and a CGI backbone that's a lot of fun.  Geoffrey Rush tries out a John Waters imitation, but it seems more like Price. Either way you take it, it's a win. Fun and light and full of ghosties!

Check out: HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL TOOL Music video 
(The Horror Show/

13 Ghosts (1960 and 2001)
13 Ghosts - 1960
Another old and new with the new version tossing effects, violence and REALLY mean ghosts into the mix. I think I'm one of about 37 people that liked 13 Ghosts. The original was a staple of my Saturday afternoon viewing with my mother. We watched as people put on special glasses that allowed you to see ghosts. I believe some hidden cash is involved as well. It's quaint now and filled with nostalgia.
13 Ghosts - 2001
The remake cranks everything up, keeping the glasses gimmick and adding layers of chills, suspense and bloody good scares and violence to round things out nicely. Brilliant? Nope. But, it's a lot of fun!

The Woman in Black
This 2012 remake of the 1989 film (based, of course, on the novel of the same name...) is a great retelling. Daniel "Harry Potter" Radcliffe turns in a non-Potter performance and managed to make me forget he was Potter for so many years. It's a dark and gloomy story in the great gothic tradition and it was a good watch. A mystery unfolds and there is just enough on the effects front to sell it, but not enough to wash it over into the abyss of computer driven dreck.  Above all, it raises the bar for the film, taking it up from the good, yet super dry 1989 film. Great for a rainy night!

Stir of Echoes
I smell bacon. KEVIN Bacon. Sorry.
This was a great film. Bacon was coming back into view and breaking away from being FOOTLOOSE and prancing. Here, he's a guy that gets wrapped up in a mystery after a party trick of sorts goes really wrong. If you like ghostly mysteries, check this out. I think you'll dig it and it's story. 

I'll file this one under "Guilty Pleasure" film. It's great for what it gives - grim grinning ghosts and over the top effects work. It seems that performing rituals in graveyards really is not a great thing to do. Like, at all. :) A small group manages to release some truly nasty spirits and seek help with putting them back where they belong from some experts in the field. Of course, real world experience is different that assumptions and fact based guesses. The little lady in the picture is one of my favorite bits of evil from a movie. The makeup is just creepy. I love it. Great little popcorn flick.

Again, am I the only one who loved this film? Yes, I read the SHORT SHORT SHORT King story and, yes, stretching the fantastic tale of a skeptical, ghost hunter who spends one night in the VERY haunted Room 1408 into a feature film did seem like madness, but I thought they did an amazing job. John Cusack knocks it out of the park, Mikael Håfström's Direction is spot on and the effects are fun and damned creepy at times. Well worth a watch. If you don't think so, please leave a comment and let me know what you thought. I'd love to hear.

Apartment 143
I'm still wondering why I didn't dislike this film. It had all the earmarks of a "fast forward the stream" movie I'd watch back to back with four other films in a two hour span one night, but I found myself watching and wondering what was going on in Apartment 143. What was going to happen next. Who was in there with the family and the investigators. I think it was the story and acting that carried it.

More on Apt. 143  here:

Forget Me Not
Story plays a key role yet again (go figure) in this teen horror film turned horror nugget. I'm not going to say much more than I already said in the full article. If you like ghost stories with a twist, check this one out!

The Orphanage
Whoa. Just....whoa. Atmosphere, story, acting and dark,  terror filled moments come together perfectly here. I'll lever look at hide and go seek the same way again. Ever. Great film.

The Others
More gothic, story driven haunting in this Nicole Kidman vehicle. A mother and her two photosensitive children try to live out their lives, but strange goings on start to wrap them in more and more mystery and terror. The film was shot really well. The children being light sensitive meant that the majority of the film had to be shot in low levels of light. This makes for a fantastic and spooking old house location that's GREAT for a dark and stormy night.

The Sixth Sense's M. Knight before people hated him. You've seen it or heard about it. Bruce Willis is great in it. Haley Joel Osment "sees dead people". Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know. But, it's SO GOOD. Really, if you have not watched it in a while, give it another look. It still holds up.

The Innocents
Another gothic tale from 1961. Don't bother watching the trailer - it does it absolutely no justice. The studio wanted to make it look like a non-stop thrill ride. It's anything but. It's a dark and beautifully shot tale of ghosts and madness and loneliness that is shot in rich and glorious black and white.
A governess for two children starts hearing and seeing things and starts to believe that the home is haunted. The downward spiral is amazing to behold.

The Shining
You know what the plot is now - man and his family watch a hotel in the off season. Snowed in, things start to go really wrong. Ax, Jack, snow, blood, twins, drinks, showers, mazes, fingers that talk and :::shiver::: Shelley Duvall. Yes, you've seen this. I know. But, just stop and watch it again. Really watch it.  Watch the performances. Watch the camera work. Catch the slow slow fades from one scene to another in the beginning and watch how they change drastically as you make your way to the end. This is a work of art. This film is more than ghosts and scares. It's really disturbing. :)

Session 9
This film is fantastic, but don't watch it if you're in a down state of mind. It'll push you right over into depression. You can feel the atmosphere. Feel the tension and the sorry state of the characters within it. A hazmat crew takes on a job and has to lower the time frame, adding to the pressure that is already on them to complete things. Everything is riding on the job going well. It might be a little easier if the job wasn't cleaning up an abandoned asylum. One with secrets. Man, this film always gets under my skin!

The Fog (1980)
This is a fun film. Just good old John Carpenter doing what he does best. There is something in the fog and the fog is creeping inland just in time for an anniversary celebration the town of Antonio Bay  is having.  Coincidence?
The story is grand and the creep factor is always fun. Outrun the fog or get caught by what's lurking in it. Being born and raised in Marin County California and a current San Francisco resident, the fact that this was shot in Point Reyes (at the lighthouse) , Bolinas and Inverness is fun as well.

And, you have Adrienne Barbeau and Jamie Lee Curtis staring. Mee-YOW! :)
Good fun!


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