Halloween White Elephant: Shutter (2004)

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Jump scares may be cheap, and often times they only serve to cheapen the experience of a given film. It’s always a pleasant surprise when you come across an exception to that rule. In the case of Shutter, it was both a pleasant surprise and at times an absolutely fucking terrifying experience. What is actually a pretty straight-forward story is executed with amazing precision and gives the film a brilliant intensity. When combined with absolutely chilling makeup effects and a creepy score, all of that adds up to a great horror movie. It also is now responsible for my not wanting to take a picture of anything. Ever.

The Best Movie Stalkers: A List Inspired by THE RESIDENT

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The ResidentThis list of the best movie stalkers around was originally supposed to be written for Cinematical two weeks ago when Hammer Films’ THE RESIDENT hit DVD and Blu-ray.  In the time between committing to the idea and the deadline, I actually quit Cinematical.  I haven’t stopped thinking about Jeffrey Dean Morgan watching Hillary Swank take baths (which happens approximately every 12 minutes in THE RESIDENT) or movie stalkers, however, and so blam-o!, my first post at HND in months is borne.

Now I haven’t stopped thinking about THE RESIDENT because it’s such an amazing film (it does have some strong elements, they just happen to be spread too thin over its runtime), but because I do dig me some quality creepers.  I’m not talking about your standard SINGLE WHITE FEMALE, FEAR, FATAL ATTRACTION or CAPE FEAR, I’m talking more esoteric, deceptive obsessors; the kind that invade your life like a wasp laying its eggs inside a caterpillar.

Oh, and as much as I’d love to include MISERY on a list of esoteric obsessors, she’s really not a stalker since her trophy does fall into her lap.  Anyways, onto the list!


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Written and Directed by Sopon Sukdapisit, 2008

It’s no secret that I am partial to Thai horror.   Because the US has no counterpart to it, I envy the genuine superstition for the afterlife found in Thai culture.  We have no nation spanning fears of spirits, which is precisely why American horror pales in the ghost department to that of the Asian rim.  Sure, we can do our slashers and our monsters with the best of them as that’s all guttural, but we’re a spiritually incongruous nation and our cinema is lacking for it.

When it comes to Thai horror no one has more enthusiasm for the fears of the afterlife than Sopon Sukdapisit, who wrote the two biggest horror films to come out of the nation to date: SHUTTER and ALONE, the latter of which is arguably the most successful as well.  COMING SOON marks the first time Sukdapisit takes on both scripting and directing duties, proving off the bat up to the task with one of the most gripping openers I’ve seen in recent memory.

A little girl awakens on a heavily soiled mattress in a dank room.  Startled by the dead body laying next to her, the girl hides in the corner as the door slides open and an hysterical corpse of an old woman brandishing a knife best suited for use in a fish market enters the room, searching its shadows for the little girl all the while dragging a hobbled foot behind her.  The girl can’t hide forever and soon the crazy old lady forces her to the dinner table where her “brothers and sisters” paw at bowls of rice unable to see thanks to bloody eyelids with no eyes to cover.

Meanwhile a band of parents are searching the abandoned house, eventually coming upon the old woman’s room.  All is too late.  The little girl has joined her “brothers and sisters” and the parents are left with a roomful of eyeless children.  While the mothers sob uncontrollably the fathers string up the psychotic old woman, set to hang her burned and nearly hairless body from the rafters.

Hell of an opener.  If only things stayed that way.

Horror 2008, a Retrospective: Part 1, January to March

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Part 1: January to March.
Part 2: April to June.
Part 3: July to September.
Part 4: October to December.
Part 5: Events.
Part 6: Awards. (coming)

This was fun.  I set off to do a roundup of 2008’s horror output, good and bad, and ended up with a rather nice guide, a work in progress to be broken into 6 sections: One for each quarter’s theatrical and DVD releases, one for major news and obituaries, and a final for a Top 10 of 2008.

The criteria rests that a film must be uniquely relevant to 2008.  That is not to say that a title must be mutually exclusive to ’08, just that it be important.  For example, ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE premiered in 2006, but wasn’t made available to paying customers outside of a film festival until earlier this year in the UK.

As for the date framing to follow, these are not ironclad.  All US titles should fall within their respective releases.  It is tougher to place something like MANDY LANE or ROVDYR, which having no US release could go either by their foreign theater or DVD runs.  So don’t complain too much about where a film lies, this will all be on one page once all parts are done, but if I’ve left something off entirely – and I am sure I have – please let me know.

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