My Love of the Scary Movie and my Top 10!

It’s coming on Halloween, and if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll already know I’ve been sharing some of my old OLD posts on a few of my favourite scary movies. And if you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll have seen some of my random mentions of scary films as and when I watch them.

To get in the mood, a few weeks back we watched a movie called Trick ‘r Treat. I had never heard of it, but it was featuring as a scare zone at Orlando’s Universal Halloween Horror Nights, and the character Sam looked kinda cute for a scary sack headed ghoul, so we found it and watched it. For a movie that was released straight to DVD 2 years after it was finished, I was actually really impressed. It was scary enough, enjoyable and had a nice comic-book feel to it. I’d recommend it if you haven’t heard of it.

But I thought I’d share some of my favourites, whether they’ve been mentioned previously or not. And by favourites, I mean the ones that stuck with me, and I would watch more than once. Here’s my top 10 in order!

10: The Shining

the shining movie poster

I’ve seen this film so many times, that I wouldn’t even call it a horror film now. It’s just a work of art. Scary, violent, messed up it is, but it’s visually incredible and Jack Nicholson is epic. I tried to read the book, but just like Joey, I put it in the metaphorical freezer years ago and never took it back out. Maybe I’ll go back to it one day. If you haven’t seen this, and you like scary films, this Halloween make it a must-see.

9: The Gallows

The Gallows movie poster

This movie surprised me. As a big fan of found footage films, I was really surprised by how good this was. The scares were effective and there were enough twists and turns to keep me interested.

8: The Fog

The Fog Movie Poster

As a child growing up with a massive Hammer Horror fan (my Dad) I was exposed to some very bad, and then some very good scary films. John Carpenter’s The Fog (not the remake please) was one of them and I’m not ashamed to admit that the end brought me out in a cold sweat on more than one occasion. What I love about John Carpenter’s films was not just the ability to make a fricking fantastic horror film, but also how he composed and used the music almost as a character in itself. I just have to think about his films to hear the score in my mind. Having stood on the very shore that inspired this story, on a dark misty night not too long ago, I can honestly say this film is one that stays with you.

7: Halloween

halloween movie poster

Another John Carpenter film, you can have Halloween films without Halloween itself, and it’s sequel (we don’t need to talk about the other sequels really) Adequately frightening and creepy, this is the paradigm of films about Halloween and is a great place to start if you’re wanting a classic scary movie fest this October 31st.

6: It Follows

This movie has such a retro feel, so much so that you’re never really sure when it’s set, but can only assume it’s present day based on some of the technology used. The music, costumes and sets are so ‘of an era’ – and this isn’t even mentioning the storyline. You can read my full review here, if you’d like to know more.

5: Ghost Watch

cover of video Ghostwatch

Not strictly a film, but it’s made the list anyway. This BBC drama caused such a kerfuffle it was actually banned. Due to its style of filming and use of well-known presenters at the time, people actually thought this was a real event. Based on the Enfield Haunting (which was the inspiration for The Conjuring 2) Ghost Watch has inspired so many films after it (The Blair Witch Project to name one), is used as a case study in film schools and still has a cult following. I can honestly say it’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen, and the effects and technology used in it are so impressive for its time. Watch it, then research it to find out why it caused so much drama.

4: Grave Encounters

Grave Encounters movie poster

I really bloody loved these films. There’s only two but I secrectly hope there’s a third. Again this is found footage, but it really pulls inspiration from other places (but not in a copycat type way) and offers scares and weirdness in a way I just liked. Read my full review here.

3: The Blair Witch Project

The blair witch project poster

You may have seen my recent review of this film and it’s sequel (I’m going to just forget that The Blair Witch Project: Book of Shadows ever happened) so you can head there for a full review. But this movie marked a change in scary films. Using found footage, which was never mainstream before, and also the brand new power of the internet, they created a cult following even before release. And the film didn’t disappoint. To this day I still get chills watching the last shot of The Blair Witch Project.

2: Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity Poster

If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know I’m a fan of these films. I don’t understand why people trash them. Yes, the last one was VERY bad, but when you’ve invested in the others you kind of have to include it. The first one was epic and covered found-footage ground in a way that had never been done before. Some of the effects in the first 3 were pretty epic – gobsmacking in fact. Even the spin-off movie ‘The Marked Ones’ was REALLY good and towards the end literally made me gasp in the cinema when I realised what was happening. I guess I know the films really well, and I was pretty much the only one who realised what was going on, BUT still. I honestly think they’re worth the investment in time. And they made it to my number 2!

1: Scream

scream movie poster

This film was made for my generation, it was the first 18 film I ever watched and will always hold a special place in my heart. Unfortunately, parody films have pretty much ruined if for any generation afterwards, so there’s that. But I’m a staunch fan and will always be! I wrote a review of the first 3 films ahead of the 4th being released, back in 2011 which you can find here if you’d like to read it.

And that’s my top 10! Of course I have many many more I’d love to include, and I hope I find more in the years to come, which knock others off the list. But until then, if you’re looking for some scary film recommendations I’d go with this list!

Let me know if you have others in your top 10 or if you watch any of these on my recommendation, let me know what you think! Just don’t have nightmares!

 

 

Unfriended

If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know I’m a fan of scary movies, and most recently found footage movies. I saw the trailer for Unfriended not so long ago. I think it was called something else at the time – it seems to have gone through a few title changes before its release. Either way it looked intriguing. I’m not sure whether I realised the format it would take at that time, but after seeing the final cut I was not disappointed.

If you’re yet to watch this movie, I’d suggest not reading this blog yet. Maybe come back afterwards.

Have they all gone?…. Right I’ll begin.

The whole movie is viewed from the desktop of a Mac – the whole thing. Windows, screens, tabs, apps – that’s all you see. The story focusses on a circle of friends who lost one of their group a year earlier when she took her own life. This event was spurred on by a video of her, drunk and not in control of her own body, at a party. The video brought on a lot of hateful messages from her peers and she couldn’t take it. So back at present day, this group of friends are having a Skype chat and there’s an intruder on the call – just a blue silhouette avatar. And then the girl whose computer your viewing, Blaire, starts getting messages from the dead girl’s Facebook account. Creepiness ensues.

There are some great intense and very creepy moments in this movie. There are also some gratuitously gory moments, but these are fleeting, effective and then they’re gone. At just 83 minutes, you can see how they may need to create a super intense atmosphere, but in this format it works. There are some funny bits, some sexy bits and some downright scary bits. There’s a lot of product placement but then I guess there had to be. And if you’re not familiar with the workings if a Mac then you might see this as an educational experience too! Apparently the whole film was shot in one cut – if this is true (and it’s certainly possible) then that’s very impressive. I guess all of the desktop graphics will have been tweaked in post production.

I can’t wait to watch this movie again. It fits right in with Paranormal Activity and Grave Encounters on my shelf of scary movies that work. It was bang up to date, not over the top and didn’t come over as stupid. It was as clever as it needed to be, and was enough to make the girls sat in front of me in the theatre get up and leave just as the intensity ramped up.

I went in with no preconceptions and I hope you can do that to, should you choose to watch this. It doesn’t leave you thinking about it or wondering how ‘this’ happened or why ‘that’ happened. It is what it is. And I really liked that about it.

This Week I Have Been Mostly

this week i have been mostlyThis week has been book ended with great running and has had food and fun mixed in between

  • Sunday, last week, I ran my fastest 5k (29 mins) and my fastest 10k (61 mins). The weather was perfect for it, and despite swallowing a few flies, it was a pretty amazing run.
  • I really enjoyed watching the final week of Masterchef this week. I love seeing the contestants improve so fast – and it always makes me hungry!
  • I finally sold my bike, for a pretty penny, and used some of the funds to buy some holiday shoes!
  • After months of planning, we booked our 10 year wedding anniversary celebrations for 2016 – we’re going to Disney World!

11192662_1426375217668410_87374560_nThere a LOT of planning to do now that it’s booked, but I can’t wait. We’re off next September and got an amazing deal for our stay. We should be there for the Epcot Food & Wine festival and also have a chance to go to the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!!

  • Over the last month we’ve been re-watching the Paranormal Activity movies in order. Last night was 4, which means there’s only one left. Sad!
  • I’ve cooked two new meals this weekend, both Pinterest recipes (and can be found in my Tried and Tested board). The first was Cherry Tomato One Pot Pasta

11189439_351608161715296_1651573003_n The second was Balsamic Chicken and Veggies

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  • To bookend a fabulous running week, today was the London Marathon. A chilly and overcast day for spectators but great conditions for the runners. We braved the cold to cheer on friends and fellow bloggers. I managed to spot and cheer on Leah who writes Naturally, Leah, Janice aka Queen Bee (she had her photo taken with Barack Obama a while back, when he was rambling the UK moors…) and I was able to cheer on my Rock Choir leader Pippa who ran to raise money for NSPCC. This was her first marathon and she did an amazing job. Everyone did an amazing job. There was a great atmosphere, as always!

Next weekend we have a bank holiday and the MK Marathon. This was the event that I ran the half marathon last year, but this year I’ll just be spectating. I’m hoping to spot Mary, who writes A Healthier Moo, as she completes the marathon distance. After all this marathon-ing it’s making me think a marathon isn’t totally off the cards for me…. one day maybe!

Let’s Talk Paranormal Activity

If you’ve been living under a rock, you won’t know about Paranormal Activity. So let’s pretend for a second you are said rock dweller, and I’ll tell you a little bit about a series of found-footage movies that could change your life.

In October 2007 Paranormal Activity graced our screens and brought those nasty shadows and night-time bumps to life and into our homes. With the use of footage from hand cams and closed circuit systems, we saw a dark entity unfold. Odd clues and occurences (and amazing effects) brought to life the single most scary movie I’d seen at that point.

Now I’m pretty good with scary films. I like to be frightened and this genre of movie is right up my street – but the final 30 seconds were too much for me. I hid. I didn’t see that final 30 seconds until much later on.

IMG_2826I was curious enough, however, to google a text description of what happened in that last-minute.

5 movies followed, including Paranormal Activity: Marked Ones, a spin-off movie (but a must see if you’re following the series… I’ll explain more in a bit).

Paranormal Activity 2 was released in 2010 and continued the story, or began the story since it actually back tracked and told you where things began in the first movie, then continued the first story a little, all at the same time.

Sounds confusing, but isn’t I promise. Again, the effects in this movie were epic. One particular scene had the whole cinema gasp and then giggle with nerves.

Paranormal Activity 3 went back even further, to the 80s, using an old style home movie tape camera. With the use of the base of an oscilating fan the directors created a nerve-wracking panning effect that you just knew would give you the chills at some point, since you were at the mercy of its slow left-right turns.

Speaking of the directors, incidentally, this movie was directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman who were the creators of the original Catfish movie/documentary (if you like Catfish the TV show you must check out the original documentary, it’s awesome.)

Never disappointing their viewers, there are two separate moments in this movie that will take your breath away.

Paranormal Activity 4 snaps back to the present day, and starts to explain a little more of the back story and link it to present-past events.

Using current technology such as webcams and infrared dots on an XBox Kinect, this story plods along and in my opinion was the weakest of the series so far. It progressed the story like it needed to, however, so definitely worth a watch.

To bridge the interim between this movie and the impending Paranormal Activity 5 (or The Ghost Dimension), Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones appears removed from the standard format and focusses on a group of youths pretty much just larking about but when weird things start happening in their apartment complex they get a bit too curious and even weirder things start happening to them. The story starts to link in with what you’ve already seen in the previous films and by the end I was bolt upright in my seat having twigged what was about to happen – let me tell you, I got chills. This movie definitely furthered the whole series’ story.

Paranormal Activity: the Ghost Dimension, which I believe to be the final part of this series, is due for release this October. If it is the last one, I for one am hoping they release a set containing all the movies, because I’ll have them on repeat in my dvd player. This is an awesome collection of movies, and if it’s your kind of film but you haven’t watched them yet, or you haven’t watched them all yet, you have enough time to rectify the situation before the 6th installment comes out.

Maybe just don’t watch them alone…..

New Kicks

This weekend flew past in a gale of jobs, chores and visits. Friday night we ran and then headed to the fish and chip shop for a treat dinner. I was supposed to be running with a friend on Saturday morning but I’d had such hip pain on my run the previous evening that I knew I needed to rest.

We headed to Sweatshop to ask their advice since I’ve been struggling with my right foot rocking inward causing blisters, my foot to drag and my trip and fall last week. I was convinced that it was the cause of my hip pain too. I asked whether I would need an insole for my right foot and showed them my running shoes. The manager asked me to stand straight and in front on him and he could see immediately that my right knee drooped inwards. I’ve never taken that much notice before to be honest. I was helped out by a lovely girl who firstly stood me on a green plate and took various pictures of my feet and then she warmed up some flat insoles. These were then moulded to my feet. She fetched a few pairs of shoes with higher support and told me I shouldn’t be wearing Nikes because they’re the widest fit you can get and I have really narrow feet. I needed something with a little more support.

I tried on three different shoes, using their treadmill with and without the moulded support insoles in each pair. The girl was amazing and spent as much time as I needed getting the feel right. It was so good that Gary asked if he could have the same service after me. It was a good thing in the end because he worked out why he’d been getting knee pains and was able to get a pair of shoes to correct it.

We both love our local Sweatshop and the manager knows us by sight…. not sure if that’s a good thing! But the service was amazing. I’m really pleased that we now have shoes which will be good for us, and I wouldn’t be surprised if my Nikes are the reason why I had knee pain for so long last year, even though I had a gait analysis when I got them. So apparently I’m an Asics girl now, and I love my new shoes – I’m lucky they’re very pretty!

asics

insole

So I’ve been breaking them in and I have 5 weeks to get used to them and for them to get used to me 😀

On Saturday night Gary and I watched Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. This is an interim film between Paranormal Activity 4 and 5 which is due to come out later this year. It carries the plot along but doesn’t hugely touch on the other films – until the end, which had me gasping with realisation. It’s an immense addition to the franchise.

Sunday was Mother’s Day and so after our run and my food prep for the week we headed over to my Mum’s and then to Gary’s parents where his Mum had laid out a table of food  – it was to celebrate Gary’s birthday which is today!

For his birthday this year, since we don’t always go for masses of pressies any more, I made a present for Gary. It’s a photo frame with three square apertures. Inside them are a map of where we met, where we married and where we live. I got the idea from Pinterest years ago and have been looking for the perfect frame ever since. I found it, finally, when I visited London a while back and with a little help from my friends (thanks Hayley and Jen!) I was able to complete it in time for Gary’s birthday. And he really really loved it!

mapframe

So, the count down to the half marathon is upon us. I have decided to run this 13.1 miles for Macmillan Cancer Support because they’re amazing and have helped my Dad so much whilst recovering from cancer. You can sponsor me at my Just Giving page if you want to but if you can’t or don’t want to then I’m also taking moral support donations! I intend to write a post about my training leading up to the big event nearer the time. With my new kicks I hope it’ll be pain free!

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Do you like scary movies, Sydney?

So it’s that time of year again, when little kids dress up and go begging for sugar. Also known as Halloween! In the UK Halloween isn’t, or wasn’t, a big deal. When I was a kid it was just going around your street for sweets before the sun went down. But the influence of America has altered the season somewhat, and now people dress up properly and put out lanterns, and host parties.

My experience of Halloween, coming from a strong Christian family, was having to put up a sign by our front door explaining that we didn’t welcome Trick or Treaters because we were Christian. I attended a few church gatherings called White Knight parties on Halloween evening, which consisted of party games and a disco until about 8pm. I would then have to explain to all my friends at school as to why we had the sign up on our door, the next day. Huge fun for me.

So now I’m an adult I don’t really revel in the spirit of the season (spirit…. geddit!) However I am partial to a scary movie or two and we do buy in sweets for the kids if they come knocking (none did last year, however). So last year we Halloween’d it up by watching Let The Right One In and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and tonight we went to see Paranormal Activity 2.

Now I’m going to talk about both the first movie and the second, so if you don’t want to be very mildly spoiled, then don’t read any more.

I really enjoyed the 2nd film, pretty much as much as the first. I saw the first one at home on dvd and it scared me shitless. It was an amazing movie, and I know when they start to show it on  SKY I’ll watch it again. It had the right amount of scariness and psychological elements to it, that stayed with you for weeks (if not longer!) The second was a prologue to the first. Let me start with saying that as with the trailer for the first movie, the majority of the scares in the trailer NEVER emerge in the actual film. In the trailer you see a baby in the street – never happened – a tall shadow standing behind the sofa – never happened – a figure in the bathroom staring into the babies’ room – not there – and the baby being stood up against the crib – didn’t happen the same way. I know it’s not important to the movie, but false advertising pisses me off!

So as I said the movie is a prologue, and by that I mean it starts 2 months before the first movie, and overlaps by about 2 weeks at the end. You need to have seen the first one to understand the second. The premise is the same, but because they’ve linked the two movies, the fact that similar things happen mean you don’t feel like it’s a copycat or a cop-out. There were a few moments where I actually had my hand over my face and there were a few jumps.

The family install cameras in the house after a suspected break in where the house is trashed, and the only thing taken in a necklace given to Kristi by her sister (Katie who was the main female character in the first movie). This is never explained or mentioned again. But you kinda make up your own reasons for this by using the background information you’ve learned from the first movie. Your concerns and anxieties are mostly created by the addition to the story of a baby and a dog. That’s really the only way they could have added a new element to what is basically the same story as the first. The interest then added by the fact that the stories are linked by the two sisters.

The movie is left on what could be a cliff-hanger tiny little chance for a third movie – though the writers are saying that if they do make another, it will be planned very carefully, which is good to hear. It shows they care about the integrity of the story.

All in all I really enjoyed the film, and if they do make a third I’ll definitely watch it. The next movies I want to see are Let Me In (a remake of Let The Right One In, which promises to be as good as the original) and Catfish (which I really don’t have any clue what it’s about and I really don’t want to until I see it!), oh and there’s a little film about a young wizard which is meant to be rather good (hehe). In the mean time, I’ll be kicking it old school watching some oldie horrors…. I’m partial to a John Carpenter film when I can 🙂

Happy Halloween!