Tuesday, September 23, 2008

2008 HTF Scary Movie Challenge

It is that time of year again when us horror movie fanatics watch as many scary movies as we possibly can in the month of October. Hosted by the Home Theater Forum, some of the members do their best to take the challenge and not get burned out on horror. There are different levels of commitment for the challenge. Here are the rules from last year;

**Official 8th Annual HTF October Scary Movie Challenge***

1. Watch 13 Scary/Horror/Halloween-Themed films before midnight on October 31, 2005 (use your own timezone to set the ending time).

2. Two of the above must be new discoveries, movies you've never seen before. The point of this is to see those few movies you've always meant to see, but never got around to. I recommend more than 2, but 2 is the minimum to pat yourself on the head and say you completed the challenge. Please specify new discoveries in your film list by making them bold, adding asterisks, different colors, etc.

3. If you were part of the challenge last year, no more than two of the same films can be RE-watched. I'll grant a couple since some movies (ie. Halloween, Rocky Horror) are simply tradition and I'm willing to give credit for these. (Revision: This only applies to those going for the 13 movie challenge)

4. Come here and talk about 'em.

5. There is an uber-category, the Ultimate Splatter Challenge for those who wish to put all of the rest of us to shame. This is the heavyweight division. These people, if they choose to accept the challenge, must view 31 horror/scary/Halloween themed movies before dawn on Nov. 1st. Ten new discoveries are recommended for this one. The rest of us will bow down in awed reverence to these truly "Splatterific" HTF members. The bragging rights will be awesome and long lived.

6. There has been discussion over the past two years as to what movies qualify. Is Silence of the Lambs a horror movie? Does The Nightmare Before Christmas count? From now on, if you wanna include it, go for it. There will be no hairsplitting. If The Wizard of Oz send you to the dresser for a fresh pair of boxer shorts, all the power.

There may be a few changes this year due to a few disgruntled participants who did not like some of the selections some other participants were counting as movies. I feel that since it is the Scary Movie Challenge, that it should be limited to actual movies and shorts cannot be counted simply because they have a horror theme. Some people during last years challenge included numerous shorts that ran under 10 minutes. It is a bit easier to get to 100 hundred movies when a "movie" is only 10 minutes long! Knowing that I would never have the free time to actually win even if I did include shorts, it does not really bother me that people include them. I will be interested to see if there is a change to the rules this year. Maybe there should be a certain viewing time required before it counts as a "movie". So it may be required to watch at least 3 or 4 shorts to count as one entry.

Last year I managed 40 films. I usually take off a day around my birthday and watch horror and exploitation type movies, so I manage to add a few to my total on that day. I am going to try my hardest to watch 2 movies per day this year. The problem I always seem to have is that Hockey season starts the second week in October, and it is hard to make the decision to not watch hockey and watch yet another horror movie. A lot of the members of the forum will also post reviews of the movies they watch, but I don't know how they manage the time to watch and write reviews.

Please wish me luck and join in! I will post s link to the thread on the HTF board as soon as it gets started.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


What is the world's fascination with zombies? Ok, maybe the world isn't fascinated with them, but I am. Why? Is it because I have actually found someone who runs slower than me? Maybe it is because they are one group that really has no peer pressure to speak of. They won't give you a hard time if your missing an arm or other appendage. They never seem to fight amongst each other. Sure they may rip your liver in half trying to get the biggest piece, but they aren't going to fight about it. They would rather move on to the other body parts rather than waste time arguing. It is probably an advantage that they can't actually talk, unless aarrrggghhhh counts. Also, do they have a preference for certain body parts or is it all good? Do they prefer internal organs or will an arm do just as well?I said they run slower than me, but this is only if we are talking about the Romero type zombies and not the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake type zombies. These zombies actually run faster than me, although since they are technically dead and decomposing it seems this would be difficult. The 2004 Dawn of the Dead zombies do look scarier than the zombies from the original, though you have to wonder if their blue skin was an inspiration for the Blue Men Group, although I have never seen the zombies play drums made out of plumbing or the Blue Men take a bite out of an audience member. If they were actually just infected, like the zombies (who are not really zombies according to Danny Boyle) from 28 days later, then I would expect Usain Bolt type speeds, but not from a reanimated corpse.

Romero is definately the king of the zombies, although there are a few other films that may be considered classics of the genre. Lucio Fulci's Zombie, or Zombie 2 as it's known in Italy, features some of the best zombie makeup for any zombie film. Add some Fulci eye gouging and you have a classic! The Beyond is another Fulci movie featuring loads of zombies and characters that never seem to realize that when they shoot the zombies in the head they die, and when they shoot them anywhere else, no matter how many times they shoot them, they do not die! And who can forget the classic Bruno Mattei film, Hell of the Living Dead? Mattei comes from the Ed Wood school of directing. "Why if I had half a chance, I could make an entire movie using this stock footage". Combining slow motion stock footage of monkeys jumping in trees, tribal dances, plenty of gore and a little nudity, Mattei makes one of the best bad movies ever. You can actually learn some important life lessons watching this movie. Like when you're in a house that is filled with flesh eating zombies, don't stop to put on a tutu and top hat and dance with a cane, you will most certainly be eaten.Remember, remove the head or destroy the brain!


I have to say that fall is my favorite time of year. The Packers and Red Wings are starting new seasons, Halloween is coming up very soon, and my birthday is right around the corner. Not that I am looking to become another year older, but since there is not much I can do about it anyway I chose to embrace it. I really think that age is a state of mind, or a state of decomposition depending on how you look at it. I have met people in their 70s with more energy than teenagers, and people in their 40s who seem one step away from death. We obviously can't control our health completely, and even if we try and take really good care of ourselves we can still get sick or succumb to disease. But we are here for as long as we are here, so we might as well make the most of it. So we should all drink as much good beer and fine tequila as we can while we are here! But don't drink too much or you won't be here as long as you would like to be.

While fall is my favorite season, it also signals that winter is on it's way. I could do without winter. Maybe give me 2 months of winter and then head right into spring. Or make both fall and spring a little longer and shorten winter. Who do I need to talk to about this? Is there a petition I could sign or something? Maybe I should just move farther south!

But until winter comes I get to enjoy the smell of the cool fall air, grilling before the Packer games, decorating the house for Halloween, the start of hockey season and celebrating my birthday with my family and some tequila or beer, or tequila and beer.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Host (Gwoemul)

The biggest blockbuster in South Korean history, this comedy/drama/fantasy/horror/sci-fi/thriller, may not be everyone's cup of tea. There are so many different things going on in this movie that people looking for a straight horror movie will be scratching their heads.
I liked this movie because there was so much going on. Not only did you have a scary monster, even if it looked like a giant tad pole with legs, but a possible viral outbreak, archery, clashes with the government, a dysfunctional family and Agent Yellow (the toxic gas that the US government says it's safe to use to fight viral outbreaks).
The movie stars Kang-ho Song who I had previously seen in Chan-wook Park's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. In both movies he is after the kidnappers of his daughter, but this time the kidnapper is a big sea monster created by the dumping of formaldehyde in the sewers near Seoul's Han River. When his daughter is taken by the monster and feared dead, a call from her cellphone makes him realize that she is still alive. When the authorities do not believe him, he and his family decide to try and save her on their own.
It is hard to juggle horror, drama and comedic elements in the same movie and make it work, but somehow director Joon-ho Bong pulls it off.