31 Days Of Horror Movie Challenge: Day 5

Each day in October, three brave souls from our gang of Groovy Goolies (co-editor Paul Childs, Boardgames Master Aaron Nash and Ultimate Movie Geek Nathaniel Jepson) are watching horror films from around the world and across a wide spectrum of the horror genre, so expect slashers, ghosts, cultists, demons, vampires, cannibals, zombies, kaiju, aliens and more!

Paul’s Choice – Quatermass And The Pit (1967)

I had to have a Hammer film. A horror marathon wouldn’t be the same without one. Last year I watched Dracula Prince of Darkness so I wanted to move away from Hammer’s classic monsters and try something a little different. And they don’t come much more different than Nigel Kneale’s adaptation of his own 1958-59 BBC TV series. I saw the series as a kid so I was familiar with the general plot (well, that and it being one of the great sci-fi/horror shows of British television!) but I was interested in seeing how Hammer handled it. I’ve never seen the first two Quatermass films that Hammer made either, but this is very much a standalone story.

Like a lot of Kneale’s work, this is definitely a thinking person’s horror film (although the British Board of Censors believed it to be rather startling and slapped an X certificate on it, citing, of all things, the noises the aliens make being too disturbing). It’s rather a slow-moving film, largely set at one location (Hobb’s Lane Tube Station) but the pace is not to its detriment as it’s all very cerebral and intelligent. Hardly a word or shot is wasted and characters talk through their issues. But it’s gripping to watch and the revelations regarding humanity’s origins and the aliens’ motives are just as frightening as any jump scare or monster make up! In some ways, the apocalyptic ending is a little jarring after the conversational tone of the rest of the film. That final act ups the ante from the TV version, sensationalising the events to add more excitement. Why Hammer did this is understandable as TV and cinema audiences are different beasts and the exaggerated climactic showdown between our heroes and the invading Martian presence makes sense for the big screen.

I liked this a lot and I was surprised at how faithful the adaptation was to the source material. However, as with many of Hammer’s films, I feel that, in places, the effects work lets it down (just a little). While the scenes of devastation around London were well executed, I just couldn’t take the Martian corpses seriously. The ones from the BBC version were far more creepy and believable. Strange considering they were made almost ten years earlier and on a fraction of the budget (and in black and white)!

I’ll return to Hammer towards the end of my marathon with The Devil Rides Out!

Aaron’s Choice – Child’s Play 2 (1990)

The first child’s play is an awesome film with some great acting and some stunning effects. The sequel aims to be slightly different from the ‘Chucky goes from A to B righting all those who have wronged him. This time he’s hellbent on one thing, getting his soul into Andy’s body and escaping his plastic body forever.

I’ve seen the film a fair few times over the years and it’s only recently that I see how great it is. In some ways even better then the first.

It’s bigger, creepier and more cleverly written then the first (even if it’s taken me a few views to fully appreciate the film). The acting is all top notch and it’s hard at times to remember that Chucky isn’t a real person. The characterization of him is impeccable with Brad Dourif bringing the character to life through his voice work.  He has a lot more puns in this film than the first and these add to give the character an extra dimension.

The film just works on all levels and is a blast to watch. Everything moves at a brisk pace, leading to an awesome finale. It also makes some deep points about growing up, fister care and lonelieness, which I surprising for a film about a killer doll.

Overall it’s scary, it’s smart, it’s darkly funny and most of all its a great time.

Nathaniel’s Choice – The Frighteners (1996)

Our resident YouTuber is sharing his thoughts via a video every day. Here is his review of Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners

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