Second Union

Second Union

Owen Butler’s “31 Days Of Horror”

Starting on October 1st, I will be reviewing horror films, one for each day of October. On the 31st, I will review John Carpenter’s Halloween for my grand finale. Hope you enjoy!

Frankenstein (1931)


While slow for the first half hour, the film becomes a true horror flick in its second half, telling the iconic story of the misunderstood monster created by Henry Frankenstein. Boris Karloff is stellar in the role as the terrifying creature, and truly is the Frankenstein Monster, while Colin Clive provides a convincing Dr. Frankenstein. The film has aged very well, and, while not filled with corny jumpscares, it is still one of the best, and most iconic horror films ever made. Grade: A

The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)


I like The Bride Of Frankenstein much more than its predecessor. I also think it handled its characters better, as it shifted to the main character mostly being the Monster. It was very sad to see that old blind man be so friendly to the Monster, because all the Monster wanted was a friend. The man also teaches him to talk. While the actual Bride Of Frankenstein doesn’t show up until the last 5 minutes, her scream gives me chills to this day, and the Monster’s sacrifice is beautiful. Grade: A+

Dracula (1931)


If it wasn’t for Dracula, vampires wouldn’t seem as scary nowadays. Before cheesy novels like Twilight and Vampire Academy became popular, vampires were actually feared, and credit goes to Bela Lugosi’s Count Dracula for that. While the 1931 film is very slow, the fear meter is high, as Dracula pursues his victims with a creepy stare. The tale is iconic, and one of the best horror films in cinema history. Dracula is a must-see, even though it has pacing issues. Grade: A

The Wolf Man (1941)


While people expecting a mega-scary horror film will not be in luck, fans of the other Universal Classic Monster films will pleasantly enjoy The Wolf Man. Even though the beast many know today is not in the film for a grand period of time, he’s given enough to help the viewer understand the uncontrollable rage within. It takes a bit of time to get invested in the plot, but it’s a classic horror film, and many will agree that it’s still fun to watch with the lights off. Grade: A-

Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)


Even though Creature From The Black Lagoon doesn’t have the greatest writing (it has the opposite, actually), it’s still my favorite of the Universal Classic Monster films because of its sheer terror. As a fan of horror films with a water setting (Jaws and The Shallows come to mind), the film’s campy style shows with loud, booming music whenever the Creature’s hand exit’s the water’s surface. The monster’s appearance is one of the most haunting, and in a world of films with cheap jumpscares, I’m glad that there are still movies like this to look back on. Grade: B+

Psycho (1960)


One of Alfred Hitchcock’s best-known films, Psycho is a true horror classic. As on of the first films that could be labeled a “slasher”, it is known by moviegoers everywhere for it’s classic shower scene where Marion Crane is murdered, the killer’s silhouette cutting with the knife. But not many know what comes after, as it delves into a smart and fast-paced thriller that deviates from the slasher genre entirely, deciding to focus on Marion’s sister, who is looking for her. Bernard Hermann’s creepy score is also as exciting as it is thrilling. And when the final motive of the killer was revealed, I was in awe, and left my couch satisfied when the credits rolled. Grade: A+

Jaws (1975)


Don’t be fooled by it’s summer setting; Jaws is one of the scariest films I’ve ever seen. Great white sharks are feared hugely nowadays, and that’s thanks to Jaws. Its tale about a great white shark attacking the town of Amity is unforgettable, and anyone who hasn’t seen this film should get up and go see it right now. That’s probably no the case, since many know the film, but it’s still a classic, no doubt. Since the shark isn’t shown until the end, the tension is higher, and that’s partially because of John William’s main theme, which is fantastic. Jaws is one of the best horror films of all time. Grade: A+

Carrie (1976)


Considering how long the film takes getting to one big scene, it doesn’t exactly do the best job at pacing, and many scenes are simply just normal school happenings, but when that senior prom scene comes, the anger lashed out from shy Carrie White is iconic movie imagery. With the well-known pigs’ blood prank, this film is definitely not for the faint of heart, as it truly goes to show how cruel high-school girls can be to each other. Brian De Palma’s classic film may not be truly considered a horror film until the end, and its music is laughably bad, but it is still a good film overall. Grade: B

Alien (1979)


Ridley Scott’s Alien is one of the most frightening films I’ve ever seen. It combines horror and science-fiction elements we all love and creates a shocking and fun start to what has become one of the biggest franchises of all time. The cast is stellar, and their chemistry is great, with their humorous banter accompanying the outer-space thrills is a welcome addition, considering most horror films never stop to take a break with some funny dialogue. While some may find the first 30 minutes a bit slow, I think that the set-up for a film that had me on the edge of my seat was perfect. Grade: A+

Friday The 13th (1980)


The majority of the slasher genre consists of sequels, and that’s the work of films like Friday The 13th. While it surely isn’t as bad as the numerous follow-ups that would come, the film is still a lousy flop, filled with horrible writing and a thin plot. While the final twist is a bit of a shocker, the rest of the film feels like it was made simply to become a moneymaking franchise. I can understand how iconic it is, largely because it launched the genre altogether, but it really doesn’t do much more than show teenagers having sex and then being killed afterward. It also gets quite repetitive, which caused me to get bored very quickly. Grade: D+

The Evil Dead (1981)


The Evil Dead is one of the most silly and creative horror films I’ve ever seen. It’s a very entertaining film, and while it gets very gruesome, it’s still humorous at heart. It’s creativity with its kills and gorefests is full throttle, with the majority of time spent watching axes chopping limbs, and I’m kind enough to not talk about the “tree” scene, which is just straight up weird and disturbing. Even though its characters make dumb decisions, the actors work very well together and always seem like they’re having fun. This film pretty much launched the “cabin in the woods” genre, and it’s one of my favorite horror films ever. My only problem is that it’s sometimes too gruesome, and I don’t always appreciate films like that. Grade: A

The Thing (1982)


A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)


One of the most iconic horror films of all time, Wes Craven’s influential slasher A Nightmare On Elm Street is scary, but also funny. The film follows teens who are being stalked and killed in their dreams by a man named Freddy Krueger, who has grown to be one of the most well-known faces in horror today. The teens must try to stay awake while being pursued by the burnt serial killer, and while some things are a bit stretched, the film is very well-made. Robert Englund’s classic portrayal of Freddy still gives many people chills, and the one-liners he utters are as creepy as they are hilarious. While its script is a bit shoddy at times, A Nightmare On Elm Street is one of the biggest and most iconic horror films ever made. Grade: A-

The Fly (1986)


As expected, this one’s gonna be a bit hard to talk about, considering I’m still reeling from the experience of watching this film. First, let’s get something straight: this film is jacked up. Alright, it is one of the most disgusting, disturbing films you will ever see. David Cronenberg’s stellar directing and the mesmerizing cast make this film very good, and this is definitely one that I would say should never, under any circumstances, be remade. Its tragic tale can only be told once, and this is the way to do it. The ending left me so devastated, I can’t even begin to explain. An emotional and stomach-churning roller coaster ride, The Fly is not for the faint of heart, but is one of the saddest, most mesmerizing horror movies of all time. Grade: A+

Child’s Play (1988)




Tremors (1990)


IT (1990)

Reviewing Stephen King’s IT may be a weird choice, considering the buzz about clowns jumping and scaring people nowadays, but without this film, that crap probably wouldn’t be happening. IT tells the story of a group of friends that seek out to destroy a creature they call “It”, the creature’s main form being a clown named Pennywise. The TV miniseries’ first half has some strong performances from child actors, but the second just isn’t good and has cheesy things that I didn’t find scary at all, like the fortune cookie scene. While the first half is a tale of friendship and teamwork, the second feels like it’s there just to finish the story, and isn’t compelling enough. It’s not necessarily bad, its just not good either. Here are my grades for both parts and the film overall. I can only hope that its 2017 remake does a better job telling the story than this one. Grade: B-

Scream (1996)


My favorite horror film of all time, Scream follows a group of high-schoolers being stalked and murdered by a serial killer given the name “Ghostface”. I’ve seen this film on many occasions, and I remember watching it for the first time and being stunned when Ghostface’s identity was revealed. It has so much going on to make you switch beliefs of who the killer is, based on where people are at times, and their overall personality, but when the ending comes, it’s very satisfying to watch. The movie is also very well-written, and pokes fun at the slasher genre, even given the director Wes Craven a cameo as another one of his characters – Freddy Krueger. I love Scream, and its smart, funny, and bloody tale will leave you wanting more. Grade: A+

The Blair Witch Project (1999)


Ugh, The Blair Witch Project. The film that launched the “found footage” subgenre of horror films. This is a very good example of something I was anticipated to see, and ended up being hugely disappointed. Instead of giving viewers a scary experience, The Blair Witch Project is simply teenagers arguing and shouting obscenities at each other. While it does have some creepy elements, like the stick figures in the trees and the snapping twigs, but the majority overcomes the minority, and when I finished the film, I felt that I had wasted an hour and a half of my life. It is well made, and the actors are convincing, the film just can’t support my expectations of a film like it, and when they enter the cabin near the end and the camera falls to the ground, I understood what had happened, but to me it didn’t feel scary, because the camera just fell. I truly can’t understand why people love this movie so much. Grade: C-

The Ring (2002)


The Ring is an American remake of a 1998 Japanese film called Ringu. It revolves around a mysterious videotape, and anyone who watches it will get a phone call saying they will die in 7 days. As someone who hasn’t seen the Japanese original, I can only assume that The Ring is a pretty faithful adaptation to its source material. Gore Verbinski is one of my favorite directors (Pirates Of The Caribbean is very nostalgic to me) and I think that this film is one of his best. It is one that is very confusing, so I recommend watching it during the day. While some of the character development is a bit mediocre, the movie’s atmosphere is one of the scariest ever in film. Samara, the main “villain” of the film is extremely creepy. Another thing I liked about this film was that you don’t really know what happens to the victims after 7 days, but that is revealed at the end, and boy, is it creepy. Grade: A-

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (2007)


One of the best Tim Burton films is 2007’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street. Adapted from a musical, it’s one of the goriest films I’ve ever seen, but it’s a visual wonder as well and while I’m not really sure if it classifies a horror film, it’s on this list anyway. It’s a story of love and tragedy, and seems like a Shakespearean-style movie when watched. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I get bored with Tim Burton using Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in most of his recent films. They start to feel less like characters in one film, and more like characters that cross over from one film to the next. It is truly one of the most tragic movies I’ve viewed, and its emotional, somber songs are sung very well by the actors. I didn’t feel the ending resolved things, as there were some loose ends that I would’ve liked to be tied up, but overall, the film is very good and a bloody fun movie. Grade: A

Trick ‘r Treat (2007)



Cloverfield (2008)


Paranormal Activity (2009)


This 2009 film spawned a franchise that people look at today and say, “What happened?”. Filmed on a relatively low budget, the first Paranormal Activity film isn’t as bad as its follow-ups, but still isn’t necessarily good, either. I spent a lot of time waiting for something to happen, which was a huge problem I also had with The Blair Witch Project. While it is an intriguing horror flick, it really isn’t anything else, as the “Paranormal Activity” mainly consists of doors moving slightly or a bedsheet folding over. It doesn’t have any jump-scares, and relies on loud noises to covey the message as to what is happening. Also, the male protagonist Micah doesn’t listen to his girlfriend at all, which is kind of stupid. Grade: C

Insidious (2011)


Insidious is a film by James Wan, who has made other very popular horror flicks like Saw and The Conjuring. It follows a wife and husband whose son is comatose and their house is haunted. This film made me jump so many times, and I like films that do that. It truly gave me a sense of dread as to what will come, and while it can be a bit confusing, it’s a phenomenal film. Wan truly knows how to make horror films, and this is one of his best. The writing is spot-on, and the performances from Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne (among others) are marvelous. I’m glad this has become a franchise, because after watching this for the first time a few years ago, I immediately wanted more. Grade: A

The Cabin In The Woods (2012)


One of the best horror films of the 21st century, The Cabin In The Woods has all of the elements taken from other “cabin-in-the-woods” horror films like The Evil Dead, but it’s plot is also very unique, throwing the teens in a situation where they are being controlled to make stupid decisions-literally. The monsters are unique, such as the highly disturbing “Sugarplum Fairy” and the “Angry Molesting Tree”, which is definitely inspired by The Evil Dead. The performances from the actors and actress are very good, as is the script, written by none other than Joss Whedon (director and writer of 2012’s The Avengers). Very funny as well, the film relies heavily on classic horror film stereotypes, which makes for a thrilling and fun experience that I would recommend to almost anyone. Grade: A-

Sinister (2012)


It takes a while to get on its feet, but Sinister is a thrilling and truly scary film. It follows true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt who moves into a house where a murder took place and a little girl disappeared. As the film progresses, he begins to unravel the mysteries of both the murder and the disappearances. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that jump-scares are overused, and that may be a problem to many with this film, but I think that the jump-scares work fairly well in Sinister, and are actually some of the best parts of the movie. Another great thing about the movie is that the script is very well-balanced, and none of the characters make a lot of stupid decisions. While some things may feel out of place, I think that Sinister is a very good film, and that it didn’t get the praise it deserved. Grade: B+

The Conjuring (2013)


Based on true events, The Conjuring stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as real-life demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, hired to investigate strange occurrences in a farmhouse in Rhode Island. This is without a doubt one of the best horror movies of all time, and it’s one of the few “based on a true story” horror films that effectively captures the terror of what the victims must have felt. The “hide and clap” scene is, despite its briefness, one of the creepiest scenes in the film, as the film gives you a sense of unawareness of what’s to happen. The script is written very well, and James Wan is definitely one of the best horror directors of the 21st century. While its spin-off film Annabelle was terrible, The Conjuring is aimed to be a classic, and I only hope there will be more movies after this year’s sequel, The Conjuring 2Grade: A+

The Babadook (2014)


Am I the only person who doesn’t think The Babadook is amazing? I must be. I was heavily disappointed by this film, and while I think that the premise is unique and fun, the film could’ve had so much more. For an indie film, yeah, it’s great, but for a film that was supposed to scare the living daylights out of me, well…meh. I ventures into a territory that I really hate seeing in horror flicks, and by that, I mean that it becomes more disturbing than scary. In the real world, hell yeah a woman pulling out her own teeth is scary, but it doesn’t have to lead up to that. This film’s first few acts go nowhere, and I was holding out, thinking that maybe something really freaky would happen in the last act. Nope. And the ending was terrible! I seriously don’t see how this film got so much critical praise. Is this what horror films are becoming? I seriously hope not. Grade: C

Ouija (2014)


Halloween (1978)

Halloween is one of the most iconic horror films of all time, and it launched the “slasher” subgenre of horror films. John Carpenter’s direction, Jaime Lee Curtis & Donald Pleasance’s performances, and Carpenter’s music are the strongest aspects of this film. which never gets old, even though it’s almost 40 years old. Michael Myers has become one of the most terrifying faces in horror movie history thanks to his silent demeanor and utterly chilling mask. The opening scene is one of the best in horror movie history, one that is phenomenally filmed and is genuinely scary. If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend that on Halloween night, you rent this film from your local video store and be prepared to be terrified. Grade: A+

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