31 October 2012

halloween film fest: afterword

Well, that's it... The Obscene Chewing Halloween Film Fest is officially over. I've thrown the machete in the dishwasher and scared away all the evil spirits by singing Jewel's 'Foolish Games' in the shower (with heartfelt emotion, natch). We've weathered the best and the worst of the genre together—from window-shopping zombies to killer mongooses and back again. While I enjoyed the experience—for the most part, anyway—I'll be happy to watch a few films in the upcoming days without decapitations or Donald Pleasence. 

Here are my ratings of the films I've watched (out of five possible stars). Please note: These ratings reflect my opinion of the films' artistic merit, and not my personal affections for them—which is why Halloween only gets four stars even though it's probably my favorite horror film. 

1. Children of the Corn (1984)  ½
2. Poltergeist (1982)  
3. The Blair Witch Project (1999)  
4. The Omen (1976)  
5. I Spit on Your Grave (1978)  ½
6. Nosferatu (1922)  
7. Prince of Darkness (1987)  
8. Sint (2010)  
9. Sheitan (2006)  
10. Phantasm (1978)  ½
11. Raw Meat (1972)  
12. Hour of the Wolf (1968)  
13. Dracula (1931)  
14. Andy Warhol's Dracula (1974)  ½
15. Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)  ½
16. Waxwork (1988)  
17. Nightbreed (1990)  ½
18. Lord of Illusions (1995)  ½
19. Return of the Living Dead (1985)  
20. The Premature Burial (1962)  
21. Psycho (1998)  
22. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)  
23. Pet Sematary (1989)  ½
24. Dawn of the Dead (1978)  
25. Land of the Dead (2005)  ½
26. Rosemary's Baby (1968)  ½
27. Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)  ½
28. Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)  ½
29. The Innkeepers (2011)  ½  
30. Young Frankenstein (1974)  
31. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)  ½
32. Let the Right One In (2008)  ½
33. The Wolf Man (1944)  
34. Audition (1999)  ½
35. Carrie (1976)  ½
36. Bloody Birthday (1981)  
37. Friday the 13th (1980)  
38. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)  ½
39. Repulsion (1965)  
40. The Mummy (1932)  ½
41. Scream (1996)  ½
42. SSSSSSS (1973)  ½
43. Cabin Fever (2002)  
44. Saw (2004)  
45. The Exorcist (1973)  ½
46. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)  
47. The Shining (1980)  ½
48. Halloween (1978)  


  1. Wow! You probably saw more movies this month than I'll have seen all year. And not a single 5-star movie here! (Which makes sense given that they are horror films and you are rating by merit.)

    Also, do you rate books on artistic merit, too? Because I kind of like better the idea of you rating them according to your own emotional response toward them.

    1. I think The Shining probably deserves five stars, but that would put it on the same plane as 2001 and Dr. Strangelove, and I think those are even better films. So I was torn on that one.

      Usually, my ratings of books and movies are a combination of artistic merit and subjective response. I don't know why I decided to do a strictly artistic merit rating on these—other than because these are horror movies and I think a disproportionate part of our response to these kinds of films is very personally specific. (For example, I might find things scary that you don't, and vice versa. Fear is very personal.) Also, as I mentioned in the Scream blog post, horror movies—more often than other kinds of films—tend to be social rituals or shared experiences, so we can often 'enjoy' a film that isn't very good—and sometimes very bad.

      That said, I also have to admit that most of the ratings above are probably within a half-star of the rating I would give them on a purely subjective level—except for Halloween and Pet Sematary, I think.

    2. 2001 is an awesome movie. I might consider posting (if you care) a list of the films I've rated with 5 stars on Netflix. As you can imagine, I may possibly have a slight tendency to be fairly generous with ratings, but if I do post them I'm not italicizing them because that will be too much work.

    3. No. Seriously I would love to see a list of your five-star movies. That kind of stuff really interests me.

      As you might guess, I'm pretty sparing with my five star ratings. I'm sure we both love lots of movies but we just have different ways of quantifying it.

    4. Ok, here is my list. I feel I should say, though, that most of the time I rate movies right after I see them, which I think is unfair to both me and the movie. Because then I come back much later and say "why the fuck did I love that one so much when I can't even remember it?" 5-stars should be the ones that stick with me, so at least I'll try to put the ones I'd adamantly defend toward the top of the list, even though these are in no other particular order. Here we go:

      Ghost World
      Harold and Maude
      Citizen Kane
      2001: A Space Odyssey
      Hedwig and the Angry Inch
      Mother (a great Korean film)
      The Fighter
      The Wicker Man (you gotta see this!)
      Mean Streets
      The King's Speech
      Bridesmaids (yup, I really did love this one.)
      127 Hours
      Apocalypse Now
      This Is Spinal Tap
      One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
      Y Tu Mama Tambien
      Pan's Labyrinth
      Blue Velvet
      No Country for Old Men
      The Straight Story
      American Beauty
      The Shining
      Winter's Bone
      Take Shelter
      The Godfather
      The Godfather II
      Rosemary's Baby
      The Exorcist
      The Elephant Man
      The Royal Tenenbaums
      Fanny and Alexander
      The Man Who Wasn't There
      Almost Famous
      The Princess Bride
      Slumdog Millionaire
      Dr. Strangelove
      Pulp Fiction
      The Best of Youth
      Stand by Me
      Blade Runner
      The Wizard of Oz
      Waltz with Bashir
      Sophie Scholl
      The Lives of Others
      Donnie Brasco
      Goodwill Hunting
      The Aviator
      The Social Network
      Kill Bill
      Eastern Promises
      A Christmas Story
      The White Ribbon
      Amores Perros
      The Graduate
      The Departed
      Barton Fink
      Dog Day Afternoon
      Apocalypse Now
      Triplets of Belleville
      City of God
      Black Swan
      Tree of Life (seriously)
      Shaun of the Dead
      Silence of the Lambs
      The Truman Show
      Donnie Darko
      Midnight in Paris
      Miller's Crossing
      28 Days Later
      Let the Right One In
      A Fish Called Wanda
      The Queen
      Catch Me If You Can
      Reservoir Dogs
      Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
      Star Wars: A New Hope
      True Grit
      The Motorcycle Diaries
      There Will Be Blood
      The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
      All About My Mother
      Sin Nombre
      Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
      House of Flying Daggers
      Office Space
      Inglourious Basterds
      Hot Fuzz
      Red Riding

    5. Interesting. Here are my ratings of those. (N/A = unseen.)

      Fargo 5
      Ghost World 4.5
      Moon 4
      Harold and Maude 4
      Citizen Kane 5
      2001: A Space Odyssey 5
      Hedwig and the Angry Inch 3.5
      Deliverance 3.5
      Mother (a great Korean film) 3
      The Fighter 3
      The Wicker Man (you gotta see this!) N/A
      Mean Streets 3.5
      The King's Speech 3.5
      Goodfellas 4
      Mesrine N/A
      Bridesmaids (yup, I really did love this one.) 4
      127 Hours 3
      Apocalypse Now 4
      This Is Spinal Tap 3
      Repulsion 4
      One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 2
      Amadeus (Can't remember)
      Y Tu Mama Tambien 4
      Pan's Labyrinth 3
      Blue Velvet 4
      No Country for Old Men 5
      The Straight Story 5
      American Beauty 2
      Elizabeth N/A
      The Shining 4.5
      Winter's Bone 3
      Take Shelter 1
      The Godfather 5
      The Godfather II 5
      Rosemary's Baby 4.5
      The Exorcist 4.5
      The Elephant Man 4
      The Royal Tenenbaums 4
      Fanny and Alexander 4
      Incendies N/A
      The Man Who Wasn't There 3
      Almost Famous 2
      The Princess Bride 3.5
      Casablanca 3.5
      Slumdog Millionaire 2
      Dr. Strangelove 5
      Pulp Fiction 5
      The Best of Youth 3
      Metropolis 4
      Stand by Me N/A
      Blade Runner 4
      The Wizard of Oz 4
      Waltz with Bashir 2.5
      Sophie Scholl N/A
      Tsotsi N/A
      Freaks 3.5
      Hair (Don't remember)
      The Lives of Others N/A
      Donnie Brasco (Don't remember)
      Sideways N/A
      Goodwill Hunting 3.5
      Milk 3
      The Aviator 2.5
      The Social Network 3.5
      Kill Bill 5
      Eastern Promises 3
      A Christmas Story 4
      Clue 2.5
      The White Ribbon 5
      Amores Perros 4
      The Graduate 4
      Roshomon 4
      Carlos 3.5
      The Departed N/A
      Barton Fink 5
      Hunger 4
      Dog Day Afternoon 3.5
      Apocalypse Now (you already listed this)
      Triplets of Belleville 2
      Network 4
      City of God 2
      Black Swan 4
      Memento 3.5
      Tree of Life (seriously) 3
      Shaun of the Dead N/A
      E.T. 4
      Silence of the Lambs 4
      Firefly N/A
      The Truman Show (Don't remember)
      Donnie Darko 3.5
      Midnight in Paris 3.5
      Jaws 3
      Eraserhead 4
      Miller's Crossing 3
      28 Days Later N/A
      Munich N/A
      Capote 3 (I liked the other Capote film better--Infamous)
      Let the Right One In 2.5
      Tomboy N/A
      A Fish Called Wanda 4
      The Queen 3.5
      Catch Me If You Can N/A
      Jaws (You already listed this one)
      Cabaret 3
      Reservoir Dogs 4
      Before the Devil Knows You're Dead 3
      Trainspotting 3
      Star Wars: A New Hope 4
      True Grit 4
      The Motorcycle Diaries 3
      There Will Be Blood 3.5
      The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2
      All About My Mother 3
      Sin Nombre N/A
      Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon N/A
      House of Flying Daggers N/A
      Office Space 4
      Misery 3.5
      Poetry 3
      Inglourious Basterds 5
      Hot Fuzz N/A
      Red Riding N/A

    6. Here is a list of almost all of my 5-star films:


    7. I can't help but notice that you don't have any Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, or John Cassavetes on your 5 star list. This must be some kind of oversight.

    8. Ingmar Bergman is there (Fanny and Alexander). I've only ever seen that and Saraband, I think. But we had a conversation on Goodreads after which I added a bunch more to my queue.

      Looks like I gave only 4 stars to . =(
      But I still have a bunch more Fellini in queue...

      Recommend a Cassavetes to me. I have nothing.

    9. I'm amazed at all the movies you've seen.

    10. I can't actually say you'll like Cassavetes. He's very polarizing.

      For a first film, I would recommend:

      Opening Night (my favorite)
      The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

    11. David, have you ever seen "The Sweet Hereafter" - it's an Atom Egoyan film. I noticed on your MUBI profile that one of your preferred categories is "melancholy" and this film sits squarely in that thematic. It is one of my all time favorites. I am curious to hear your thoughts - unless you thought it sucked. If you haven't seen it yet, I would put it on your list of things to see.

  2. Awww, too bad about Let the Right One In and Young Frankenstein. But I accept much of your judgment on the others (many of which I have never seen, and don't plan on seeing).

    1. Young Frankenstein got three stars. That means I liked it but didn't love it.

      But thanks for accepting my judgment. I wish the world would follow in your footsteps.

    2. I'm surprised to see that you gave Bram Stoker's Dracula 3 1/2 stars, tho'. I liked it well enough when it first came out, but it's almost comical to me now, Gary Oldman's performance notwithstanding. In fact, I imagine if we were to trace the lot of the sorry typecast hack that we know as Anthony Hopkins, we would see that he pretty much got his sea legs around that time.

    3. My opinion of it actually went up from when it originally came out. Maybe it just benefited from following the turgid Bela Lugosi version.

  3. i've really enjoyed reading these, david. you are a pro-star. i'm sorry you didn't get time to get to black christmas -- but i usually watch it at christmas anyway, back-to-back with white christmas! maybe i can lure you into reviewing it then? :)

    i've wanted to comment on all of these individually but my free time has been minimal lately, and i am afraid i have to assign part of the blame on you for setting me off on interweb research projects in response to comments or allusions you've made here that has eaten up my commenting time. suffice to say my comments in substance are all accolades, and more questions i would like answers to, and feel confident you could provide. someday you will have a ream of comments and it'll be me -- finally caught up. :)

    1. I KNOW! I had Black Christmas scheduled for the last week, but then I ran out of time. I really wanted to do that one because not as many people know about it, but it's really good. Other movies that I would have liked (ideally) to have included: The Hunger, Evil Dead, Creepshow, Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, Misery, and the original Frankenstein. Maybe next year!

      Thanks for your support, Annabel. I know you're out there!

  4. p.s. did you ever get that long rambling email i sent you? you needn't reply -- it's just not in my sent folder, and i'm never certain how well i've synced my various gmail addresses. :)

    1. Yes. Expect a reply soon—now that the film fest is over and I have more time...

  5. Congratulations! It's been fun.

  6. Replies
    1. You would have enjoyed it more if you saw it with me. :P

    2. I've thought about watching it again someday. Everyone seems to like it except me.


  7. Thanks for the memories!

    Two stars for "Prince of Darkness"? We disagree; that film is creepy six ways from Sunday.

    1. Ummm... I really think you need to revisit Prince of Darkness, BB. You might discover a very different film from the one you remember.

      Maybe you were on crack when you saw it the first time.