Tiny’s Shocktober Musings – Part II [Obsessive Friends]

[OBSESSIVE NOTE] Check out Tiny’s latest batch of Shocktober reviews! For more Shocktober-related content, check out the official Shocktober page of the site. And don’t forget to check out Tiny on The Obsessive Viewer Podcast.

– Matt (@ObsessiveViewer)

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All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” watched on 10/5

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One of the few good things I can say about All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is that it’s short. So you don’t have to suffer through it for very long. Also, there’s plenty of eye candy, no matter which way you swing. Other than that it’s pretty horrendous.

Here’s a small sample of the enthralling dialogue:

“Let’s go! It’s time to get you ladies wet!” – Token Stoner kid

“I’m trying to fuck your best friend here. Can I get some help?” – Hot teenage girl number 1

“They all get big when they get hard.” – Hot teenage girl number 2 (yes, she’s referring to a guy’s penis)

“OMG. A cowboy and a soldier! I just got wet.” – Hot teenage girl number 1

“You wouldn’t happen to have a sister about 10 years older, wouldja?” – Token tall, dark and handsome cowboy

If you couldn’t tell, a guy wrote this movie. It felt like an 80 minute perverse fantasy. The male characters were all gross, immature boys with machismo hormones (not to say that teenage boys don’t fit that description). The females were all really promiscuous, dumb male pleasure centers (with the exception of Amber Heard, although every guy in the movie wishes she was that way).

When I was a teenager I was really dumb. I did and said some stupid stuff, but the characters in this movie made my teenage years seem like Hannah Montana. These kids stole a keg out of the back of a guy’s truck. They smoked weed on school grounds. Hot Teenage Girl number 2 gave one of the guys a handjob in the back seat of the car that they were all riding in. They were ridiculous. What was more shocking was the way they spoke to each other. They openly discussed having sex with one another. The guys didn’t respect the girls in any way. They objectified them to a gross degree; and the girls were completely fine with it. I’m not saying I was offended by any of this (it takes WAY more than this to offend me), it just seemed unrealistic and grotesque to me.

The plot of the movie was pretty standard. Kids take a trip out to a country home, unsupervised of course, and get attacked by an outsider. The ending is actually pretty original. I kind of liked it, but the rest of the movie was the lowest common denominator of filmmaking. It felt like it was a film school, end of the semester thesis.

The last dig I’ll make at the movie: I think I know how it got made. A movie executive said: “Hey, you know how this Amber Heard girl is insanely hot? Yeah, let’s make a movie about that.”

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Halloween II” (1981) watched on 10/3

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This is about as good as horror movie sequels get. Granted they got a leg up by riding the wave of success of the first film, which they took full advantage of in the writing. It made sense and it worked, though. Choosing to set it immediately following the first film was a wise choice. It allowed them to maintain the tone and excitement. I give Rick Rosenthal a great deal of credit. I wouldn’t say he was quite as good as John Carpenter in the directing chair, but he made it feel like a continuation of Carpenter’s legacy.

I think Jamie Lee Curtis really found her stride with this performance as well. She was great in the first film, but I guess I just empathized with her to a greater degree in this interpretation. Donald Pleasance was good as well. Though, I have to say, the character isn’t very nuanced in my opinion. His approach to the situation is odd to me. I guess he just feels the need to stop Michael. He feels somewhat responsible for the carnage Michael has inflicted. I think my issue is with the writing as opposed to the performance. Maybe if I had unloaded six rounds into a person and they walked away from it I’d be a little off too. A person’s reaction to something like that would be unpredictable.

I really liked the public’s reaction to this situation. They slowly realized that they had an unstoppable madman on the loose killing anyone in his path. They did a good job capturing that response; especially in the hospital setting. The onset of panic had a realistic feel to it.

I loved the ending too. I had never seen this movie before, and I was shocked to see Michael Myers depicted as completely dead at the end. I obviously know that he returns in the sequels, so it was a genuine surprise for me. I really liked this movie, but I have a feeling the other six sequels have trouble maintaining the quality.

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House of 1,000 Corpses” watched on 10/2

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I’ve previously stated my admiration of Rob Zombie as a filmmaker (I like his music too, but that’s a different discussion). His camera work is so fun. It feels so seasoned to me, even though he’s not professionally trained. His gross-out nature should turn me off, but I find it kind of funny with a movie like this and The Devil’s Rejects. He doesn’t feel like a horror director. Horror films aren’t typically known for enthralling directing, but Zombie breaks that mold in all of his flicks.

My favorite scene of the movie is when the sheriff’s deputies and the girl’s father visit the house to try to get information. All three of them are subsequently killed by Mother Firefly and Otis. Zombie uses slow motion and music so well during these scenes. It’s so scary. I love Walton Goggins’ acting when he realizes he’s about to be executed. Rob Zombie shot it so well. Regardless of how you feel about the movie you should be able to appreciate the filmmaking in these scenes.

This obviously isn’t a perfect movie. Sheri Moon Zombie is incredibly annoying throughout the movie. Her laugh is like nails on a chalkboard. I think that’s how the character is supposed to be. She is named “Baby” after all. I don’t think she’s a bad actress (I thought she was great in Halloween and Lords of Salem), but the character was super annoying. Also, some of the dialogue is all over the place. Maybe it was an editing issue, but some of the scenes jump around. It doesn’t ruin the movie, though.

I think the main reason I love this movie so much is because it made me realize how fun horror could be. I was never much of a fan of the genre, but this movie rectified that. It was also the most disturbing/gross movie I had seen (the Saw movies supplanted it later). Shock value can go a long way. It makes movies stick in your memory. House of 1,000 Corpses stuck in mine, and I think it always will.

insidious

Insidious” watched on 10/5

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This was an effectively scary movie. It relied primarily on “jump scares”, which I have no problem with. However, I think capturing tonal fright is a much more effective and skillful endeavor. Insidious had a bit of a scary tone to it, but it wasn’t too memorable.

Again, this was a classic horror formula. Family moves into a new home and are subsequently haunted. They made it more original by one of the family members actually being haunted instead of the home. Also, it wasn’t necessarily a haunting. It dealt with beings from another dimension that could occupy particular humans with certain abilities. It was actually a pretty good idea. I think they dropped the ball a little bit with the terminology, and they made it feel too much like a haunting movie, though. I wish they would’ve focused more on the ultra dimensional aspect of the story. That was scary by itself. I don’t know why they diminished the impact of the villain by labeling him a “demon.” They should’ve gone in a different direction with it.

I can’t say it was a bad movie. It held my attention really well. I just think they squandered the idea a bit. The potential of the story wasn’t utilized.

Neither Patrick Wilson or Rose Byrne have ever blown me away. I think they’re both good though. Patrick Wilson was good as Night Owl in Watchmen, and in the film Hard Candy, but I think he has yet to be great. Neither of them had much to work with in this movie. It was too formulaic, but they weren’t bad.

Lastly, I loved seeing Leigh Wannell act again. I hadn’t seen him since his turn as Adam in the first few Saw movies. He’s PERFECT as comic relief in horror movies, and he’s a solid actor overall.

Saw

Saw” watched on 10/2

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Saw is probably my favorite horror movie. I know, that’s a bit unconventional. There’s so much to choose from. So many classics. Saw just spoke to me. I didn’t realize horror movies could be so inventive till I saw this movie. I had fun with House of 1,000 Corpses and Poltergeist was cool as hell. I had respect for the classic slasher flicks, and I thought Scream rejuvenated the genre. For some reason, Saw just brings it home for me.

The movie is more messed up and disturbing than House of 1,000 Corpses is (which was the grossest movie I had seen till this point in my life). 1,000 Corpses was hyperbolic. It was over the top. Saw is so disturbingly realistic that it made me scared to walk out to my car at night. I can think of more disturbing movies (Se7en comes to mind), but Saw felt like it was ushering in a new level of horror.

The premise of this movie is so original. There’s no other villain like Jigsaw. Put yourself in the shoes of Adam and Lawrence (or, any other victim for that matter). Can you see yourself getting out of that situation? No matter what decision you make you will be put into extreme pain or you’ll die. It’s a cruel, but interesting exploration of the human condition. I hadn’t seen anything like that before. Jigsaw is the most formidable horror villain I can think of, and ironically, he’s never killed anyone. If he were caught he could only be charged with kidnapping and reckless endangerment.

This film is so well balanced. It goes back and forth between the two people trapped in the dungeon to how they got there, and how it’s being investigated. Keeping the whole movie set inside the dungeon with Adam and Lawrence would’ve gotten tedious really quickly. They give an appropriate amount of time to each storyline.

That ending; man, it’s so perfect! When I first saw this movie in the theater and the credits popped up my jaw was on the ground. I thought it was so brilliant. I think the ending is one of the greatest twists/reveals in film history. It’s not as great as Vader being Luke’s father (the greatest in my opinion), or Bruce Willis being dead the whole time (a close second), but I think it’s in the conversation of best endings ever. I love the way that Adam screams when the door is closed and Jigsaw says “Game over!”. That scream sticks with me to this day. It’s just perfection to me.

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The Purge” watched on 10/4

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This movie fucking sucked! Apologies for the language, but it was necessary to drive my point home. I liked nothing about this movie. The acting, the directing, the writing, the concept and the execution were all par at best, but mostly awful. They didn’t even use any cool guns! It wasn’t scary. It was just frustrating.

I’ve heard others say it was a cool idea for a movie. Okay, maybe. But it’s far fetched as hell. A 12 hour period where anyone can literally do anything they want? That would never happen in such a successful and utopic America. Hello, The Constitution? I don’t care if it eliminated all crime and made the economy perfect; that is not worth 12 hours of carte blanch murder and crime. I just can’t get behind something so stupid, and I doubt any government would either.

The thing I had the biggest problem with was the implication that “We’d all feel a lot better if we could just go relentlessly murder someone once a year.” Of course, there are people like that in the world, but this film implied that MOST people feel that way. I mean, I’ve been angry to the point that I might’ve killed someone, but I would have been destroyed as a functional human being after I did it. I wouldn’t feel “relieved” that I got to release my pent up tension. I would feel guilty beyond comprehension, and I’d like to think MOST people feel the same way.

I’m glad it wasn’t a very successful movie because I think it’s literally dangerous. It presents a dysfunctional solution to an issue that will never go away, and it presents it as a success. Even after the carnage and horror presented in the movie it doesn’t make the point that The Purge doesn’t work or is a bad idea. The movie didn’t really work either. There are so many other points I could make about how bad this movie is, but I don’t want to waste any more of your time discussing this piece of garbage. Don’t watch it. It’s a waste of space.

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Saw II” watched on 10/3

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My love for the first Saw movie unfortunately didn’t continue through the rest of the franchise. It seems like after the first film they were going exclusively for gross-out torture porn. I said earlier that shock value can go a long way, but it can’t carry an entire franchise. “Team Saw” didn’t get the memo on that.

I’m not saying this movie sucks. It has some good parts. I love how Amanda was brought back, and then it was revealed at the end that she’s working with Jigsaw; that was a great idea and it was an appropriate way to carry-on the franchise. However, having the people play the “game” inside the house was a huge waste of time. I realize it was supposed to act as a distraction for the audience and the characters, but they could’ve downplayed it some.

This entry in the franchise didn’t have the same strong characters as the first film. Detective Matthews came close, but he was pretty one note (I like Donnie Wahlberg, though). All of the people in the house were fodder, so they were obviously kept pretty shallow. I’ll concede, however, that I liked seeing Jigsaw/John Kramer in all his glory. How perfect is Tobin Bell for this role? Answer: pretty damn.

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Saw III” watched on 10/5

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This movie was way too damn long. Two hours is too much torture porn. After I watch this movie I need a shower and a therapy session. Much like the group of people making their way through the house in Saw II, the guy making his way through the factory trying to save the people who have wronged him is basically a distraction. It was at least interesting. I like the scenario, but not when it adds plot to a semi-bloated movie.

My favorite part of Saw III is the test that Amanda is put through. She doesn’t know she’s being tested, and neither does the audience. I liked how she sealed her fate through her actions. It’s classic Jigsaw. Throughout the movie I was getting upset because a lot of the “games” were unwinnable. I thought it was the filmmakers being uncreative, but it turns out to be part of the plot. Unfortunately it took two hours to get there.

I was also annoyed with the very end (it felt like this movie had four endings). Jigsaw/John Kramer gets his throat slit by Jeff. He slowly bleeds to death and all of a sudden his hand falls out of the bed and he’s holding a damn tape recorder. The first time I saw this movie I think I literally said “Are you fucking serious?” Die already, man! I just thought it was beyond silly. It makes me laugh, though.

Saw III wasn’t a great entry in the franchise, but some of the character development was a nice touch.

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Saw IV” watched on 10/6

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This entry in the Saw Franchise is a much more appropriate length, but it is SUPER bloated.  There is so much going on! They try to get us invested in characters that have barely been in the franchise. Detective Kerry was a really minor character. She gets killed pretty early on, but they tried to make it a big deal. The biggest offense is Lt. Rigg.  I seriously think he has about 20 minutes of screen time between Saw II and III.  I didn’t even recognize him the first time I saw Saw IV, and he’s the main character!  They were really grasping at straws for this fourth movie.  We were already invested in Detective Matthews, but he barely does anything in this movie. He’s integral to the plot, but he doesn’t evolve at all. He just dies, and that’s it. I thought it was strange planning on the filmmakers part.

Having said that, I think this entry is far better than Saw III. Getting to see the genesis of Jigsaw was really cool.  I think most of the Saw audience had been curious about John Kramer.  We wanted to see how he became Jigsaw. This movie delivered that in a very satisfying way.

I had an issue with the lesson Jigsaw was trying to teach Lt. Rigg. At the end we find out he was trying to teach him that he can’t save everyone. He needs to learn to let go. Is that an admirable quality? “We can’t save everyone, so why even try.” How bleak is that? You should still try to save everyone if you have the means. I get that you need to learn to let go of the ones you didn’t save, but you should still try to save them. If he would’ve not tried to save Detective Matthews he would have lived. That is just a stupid “game”, and it doesn’t make any sense.

I feel like Saw IV would’ve been a great ending to the franchise.  We get full completion of all storylines and characters.  We see how Jigsaw’s work will continue in the future. It’s perfect, but Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures wanted to milk the cash-cow for all it’s worth, and green-lit three more sequels. Screw quality, right? Let’s just make money!

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One response to “Tiny’s Shocktober Musings – Part II [Obsessive Friends]

  1. Pingback: OV’s Shocktober: The Purge (2013) [First and Only Viewing] | The Obsessive Viewer

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