The Shape wishes you a Happy Halloween

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

For my “trick” today, I got to experience catastrophic hard drive failure, and have spent all day trying to restore and back-up files. So uh, yeah. I’m behind on my 31 Days of Horror postings – and there’s no chance of catching up tonight.

It’s cool to just pretend November is still October, right?

Hope everyone is enjoying their day with rad costumes, gory films, and lots of sugary sweets! I’m off to squeeze in a viewing of Carpenter’s classic – and then do some more work before I turn in.

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The Ward

I was surfing through the streaming options today and got very excited when I saw that John Carpenter’s The Ward was available…but sadly, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

Everything about the sets and the atmosphere was just right. There’s really nothing creepier than a mental institution, let alone one out in the middle of nowhere, and also, in the 60s. Scary metal tools, long, dark hallways, and the worst: electroshock therapy — it’s enough to cause shivers many times over even without a deranged ghost running around murdering patients.

But I digress. Kristen (Amber Heard) ends up on “the ward” because she’s burnt down a house and has no memory of what happened before, or why she did it. Also a problem – the other 4 girls in the ward start acting sketchy from the moment Kristen arrives, and on one’s coughing up any answers. One by one, the girls start to get picked off, eventually (of course) revealing a terrible secret. The thing is, the secret really isn’t that terrible. Or even that good.

There’s not a whole lot of gore in this, mostly some subtle scares and very J-horror-esque ghost. But there is quite a bit of suspense, which is what you want in a ghost story, right? I just wish the ending had been better.

I can only recommend this to faithful Carpenter fans who have to see everything he does. Otherwise, skip it.

John Carpenter’s The Thing

With the remake prequel looming, you know I had to devote some time to a re-watch of John Carpenter’s The Thing.

Amazingly, despite the hair farm that Kurt Russel is cultivating (plus having to get over the fact that Wilfred Brimley looks downright spry and Keith David is young and virile), this 1982 film totally holds up.

The Thing itself is executed in grotesque, goop-covered F/X glory, lending a surreal touch to the already isolated Artic setting. And in addition to providing lots of splattery moments, this movie is also packed full of sneak-up-on-you jumpy scares, and thrilling reveals.

The Thing, you see, can be anybody, at any time. And there’s no way to know who it is. Alien had facehuggers that snuck in and impregnated people with babies. The Thing can slink around with one remaining tentacle and attack someone in secret, disguising themselves as a perfect replica.

Absolutely worth a watch — there’s not a boring moment on screen. And before you get all up in arms about the 2011 version, remember that this one was actually a remake too — of 1952’s The Thing From Another World.

Why John Carpenter’s Halloween Rules

31 Horror Movies I Own #31: Halloween (1978)

Still one of my favorites, Carpenter’s original Halloween may not be packed with the level of blood and gore that movies made now are, but it’s still creepy, unsettling, and yes, even scary.

Good girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Leigh Curtis) has a boring evening of babysitting planned for Halloween while her two slutty girlfriends hook up with their dudes. Unfortunately for all of them, “The Shape”, AKA Michael Myers, has escaped from the mental institution he’s been in for the last 15 years.

Some of the best scenes are of The Shape stalking Laurie and planning his attack, and of course, Donald Pleasance as the over-the-top Dr. Sam Loomis (a nod to Hitchcock’s Psycho), exclaiming how Michael is “pure evil”.  I also thoroughly enjoy Curtis’s excellent screams and her traumatized appearance throughout the killer chasing her around the house.

I consider it a must-see every October 31st. My Halloween wouldn’t feel right without it!

The sequels—well, they all have their problems, and I’ll dissect them another time. But for my thoughts on the Rob Zombie remake(s), take a look at this entry I made back in January.

Happy Halloween!