And now, the thrilling conclusion of that thing I’ve been doing!
Night 26 – Return of the Living Dead. Even though zombies are pretty well-known for feasting on brains, this is the only movie I’ve seen that actually has zombies seeking out brains specifically. These are also the most well-spoken zombies I’ve seen, maintaining the capacity for rational thought and speech. Which makes them more brain vampires. This film takes the somber tone of the original Night of the Living Dead and ever so loosely uses it as a basis for gross-out comedy. Ultimately it fails where movies like Shaun of the Dead succeeded by failing to give a single identifiable character amongst a huge cast.
Night 27 – Gothika. Think of this as a checklist of horror movie staples of the ‘aughts. Creepy long-haired girl? Check. Twist ending? Triple check. Jump cuts of screaming, distorted ghosts? Got those. Jacob’s Ladder-esque head whipping? You bet. “Gothika is so cookie-cutter in its design, it may be the Frankenstein’s monster of horror movies, cobbled together from parts of good movies that have been done to death.
Night 28 – Carnival of Souls. While it wasn’t scary, this is the only movie I’ve watched this month that made me want to die. An unmemorable girl survives a car accident and then wanders around listlessly, staring glass-eyed into the distance, occasionally seeing a person in pancake makeup. The slow pacing, lack of action, and lack of really anything resembling a plot really wore me down and I nearly turned it off out of depression. But I stuck it out to see the ending’s Shyamalan twist, which makes me wonder why we call it a Shyamalan twist if hack directors were doing it decades before him.
Night 29 – Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. I thought I could undo the soul-sucking boredom of the last movie with a mockumentary about an up-and-coming serial killer who idolized Mike Myers. But this film can’t decide if it wants to be a parody or an actual horror movie, and it whiplashes back and forth between the two without doing either one especially well. It was the same reason “Scream” isn’t very memorable; It’s trying to be the very thing they’re analyzing for humor but still wants to be taken seriously.
Night 30 – Them! To be honest, I picked the last few movies based on their length. I’m ready for this endurance run to be over with. But “Them!” surprised me after I had become jaded to monster movies of the ’50s. The giant ants and their nests were actually pretty unnerving in a proto-“Aliens” sort of way. It only falls short in that the giant ant scenes were few and far between; most of the movie is scientists talking science and James Arness reprimanding women for trying to do men’s work. Also of note: every scream in this movie is the Wilhelm scream.
Night 31 – Bride of the Monster. There’s not much you can say about Ed Wood that hasn’t already been said. A mad scientist who creates Loch Ness monsters in his free time uses radiation to create a race of superhumans, one person at a time. Also the radiation causes lightning storms, I think? This work features the famous scene of Bela Lugosi wrestling a giant octopus, otherwise known as rolling around on a rubber prop and screaming.