Thursday, October 08, 2020

31 Halloween Movies - Week 1

Previously: Introduction

This little project of watching a Halloween movie every day of October is off to a positive start. The goal was to span the entire history of the genre, and I've got a good mix going. Here's what I've seen this first week.

1. Nosferatu - The earliest adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, this black and white silent film is a must-watch classic for horror buffs. It was the very first, and is a masterpiece despite filmmaking becoming much more sophisticated and polished in so many ways since it was made. Even for its time, it gives an incredibly creepy vibe with several iconic shots.

2. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - I read the book the same week that I watched this, which is basically the original text with some zombie fight scenes added. The movie version takes more liberties to increase the zombie and action content, which I appreciated. The film version makes zombies more human and self-aware, which is an interesting take. It also makes Wickham much more the villain and incorporates the Four Horsemen, both of which were a bit silly to me. So for different reasons, both the book and the movie ended up being disappointing.

3. The Wolf Man (1941) - With Nosferatu still on my mind, I decided to watch another classic black and white film, with Lon Cheney Jr. as the titular character. The movie plays with the idea that Cheney's character may merely be imagining his werewolf experiences--that it is more psychological than mystical. It also explores religious belief and how the human capacity for evil may manifest in different ways. I was surprised at how abruptly it ended, but otherwise I liked it.

4. It (1990) - For all the talk of how iconic Tim Curry's performance as Pennywise was in this first screen adaptation, this was quite a cheese-tastic piece of early 90s made-for-TV silliness. The acting and dialogue were mostly stilted, but some of the effects were pretty good for the time. I did enjoy Curry, but I mostly chuckled at the rest.

5. Carrie (1976) - Despite my feelings about It, I decided to stick with the Stephen King theme to watch this original adaptation of another of his stories. People naturally focus on the iconic prom scene, but I thought that her abusive, religiously oppressive home life was just an important part of the story, as it clearly plays as big a part in what leads her to do what she does as her classmates. Anyway, this was fantastic, and maybe my favorite of this first week. Everything about it was well done.

6. Frankenstein (1931) - "Now I know what it's like to be God!" This is the doctor's exclamation just after his successful activation of his monster. Just as with Shelley's novel, this move explores the tragedy of humanity trying to claim something that doesn't belong to it. Interestingly, it's also about a search for what is beyond what we know, as again the doctor says himself.

7. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - I read this book years ago and loved it (from the same author as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), so you'd think I'd have made it a point to watch this movie before now. Alas, better late than never. The pacing and effects were both well done, and it was a much better adaptation than the other Grahame-Smith based work I watched this week.