Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Streaming Cellar: The Houses October Built (2014)

Currently Streaming on Netflix.

For the past three Halloweens I have been working at Universal's Halloween Horror Nights, as part of the Terror Tram attraction. It's been pretty much the best job I've ever had, as the Halloween theming really gets me into the seasonal spirit (as if I needed help), and provides some great seasonal festivities now that I'm way too old for trick-or-treating and not social enough to get invited to any parties. Plus, I spend four nights a week roaming around the Bates Motel, listening to people scream in fright all night long (it's not the original Bates Motel from the Hitchcock film, but it was used for the sequels, along with the "Psycho House" on the hill behind it).

With this work experience in mind, I was looking forward to catching up with The Houses October Built, a horror film centered around seasonal scare attractions. I'd heard a few mentions of the film, though never an outright opinion. Sure, Netlix's spookily accurate rating algorithm predicted I would hate the film, but they've been wrong before (though correct more often), and that premise intrigued me. A group of friends in an RV on a Halloween road trip, on the quest for the ultimate haunted house. Not only did it sound like a great premise, full of potential, but it sounded like something I would love to do with my own friends.

Considering that I am still happily employed this Halloween, I am going to let discretion rule and refrain from speaking about my job very much. Let it be said, however, that I sympathized far more with the villains of this film than I did with any of the asshole protagonists.

When this film started my heart immediately sank as I realized it was going to be another found footage flick. I've said before that I'm a moderate fan of the genre, and my positive review of In Memorium shows that I still believe effectively scary movies can be made with consumer grade equipment and non-professional actors. And yet, here, I had a dim vision of how the film would play out, and I despaired at having to listen to unscripted, half finished conversations among this group of obnoxious twenty-somethings in an RV. An RV which, for some reason, has been outfitted with a handful of GoPro cameras, capturing every angle within, and some without, the vehicle.  I was a little confused as to why a group of friends had brought along so many cameras, including a few handheld ones. It just seemed like overkill for a fairly casual vacation with friends. Researching this film I discovered that a more serious documentary version was made in 2011, and was reworked into new footage for the horror film that is currently streaming on netflix. This would explain all of the cameras, but unless I missed it there was never any mention of making a documentary in the film itself (it's quite possible I missed it).

I've already tipped my hand in regards to my opinion about this group, so it should come as no surprise when I say I found long stretches of this film difficult to sit through. One thing I dislike in found footage films is the tendency to edit within conversations. Instead of a full scene with the characters having a complete discussion, we get snippets of conversation. This sort of thing tends to be most prevalent in the early scenes of a found footage film, and it's intended as a shorthand in order to show us the character's relationships to each other in as quick a manner as possible. A little of that goes a long way, however, and when, 45 minutes in, The Houses October Built is still cutting away from conversations before they've concluded, or cutting into them mid-sentence, it's nigh intolerable. There's no rhythm, nothing to grasp onto as a viewer. Instead of falling into the flow of the film, we're kept at a distance.

Add to that the fact that this group is comprised of dull, shallow, self-obsessed jerks, and The Houses October Built becomes a bit of a chore to sit through. The unlikability of the characters wouldn't be a fatal flaw, though, if THOB didn't also treat them as if they were sympathetic. Throughout the film this group belittles each and every attraction they go to, insult every worker they come across by, usually, calling them 'backwoods' or 'inbred', ignore house rules at the attractions, repeatedly climb onto private property and disrupt the experience for others. At one point one of the group, the 'affable, portly party guy', brings a Scare Actor back to the RV and records the two of them having sex without informing her of all the hidden cameras pointed at her. Not to get all preachy, but that sort of frat-boy, chauvinistic behavior hasn't been appropriate for comedy for at least a decade. The film wants us to think it's just good fun, but of course it comes across as significantly sleazier.

So, OK, the characters are shits, but how are the scares? Well, probably about as good as you would expect a film about people walking through a fake haunted house would be, which is to say; not very good. The characters are, when they're not having snippets of conversation on the RV, walking through attractions designed to be scary in person, and filming them with handheld cameras. This group is remarkably easy to scare, and the camera is always suddenly jerked out of focus as they jump in fright when some 17 year old kid in a clown mask jumps out from a dark corner. This means we get a lot of canted angle shots of corners while we hear people scream, and then laugh, and then ask in a panic which whey they should go. There's also no fluidity to the editing, and instead of watching the camera glide through the maze we get disconnected shots of disconnected rooms. The film never reaches the heights of fear achieved by watching walkthroughs of horror mazes on youtube.

This is perhaps the film's most fatal flaw; there's no reason to find anything scary. We know the mazes are fake, the characters know the mazes are fake. Everything is store bought costumes, strobe lights, and hastily applied makeup. That's too much disbelief to suspend. And yet, these characters do get scared, each and every time, and they always react as if they don't have any idea of what is going on. Somehow, though, they repeatedly complain that they're sick of these lame, corporate scare mazes. They want something really terrifying. It's a weird complaint to make, considering how obviously they've been scared so far.

Throughout the film one of the characters has been hunting down traces of an extreme horror haunt that moves from town to town and state to state. He hears rumors about it on chat rooms, in conversations at bars, and from seasonal Scare Actors on the road. He even discovers a password needed to gain entrance to this mythical haunted house. As the film goes on they seem to be getting closer to this attraction, and there are brief moments of threat on the journey. For the most part this is meant to be creepy, but fails to attain that goal. It's hard to make a clown standing behind a tent threatening when we know all the clowns are just taking a smoke break. But there are a few moments; a creepy clown they piss off in the beginning follows them to their RV and stares at them menacingly. A girl in a creepy doll mask from one of the mazes is waiting for them by the side of the road, and screams wordlessly when they let her into the RV. Eventually it becomes clear that someone is entering the RV while they sleep, and they get threatening videotapes.

Strangely, none of the characters ever take this seriously. Or, I should say, some of them do, but are convinced by the rest of the group that it's all part of the mythical Blue Skeleton haunt they're tracking down. Another reason to not care about this group; they ignore even the most blatant signs of danger. But perhaps that's too unfair a complaint; people never think they're in a horror movie. How many potentially terrifying moments have each of us been in, and ignored because we realize life isn't like a horror movie? But there's a difference between not being scared of a dark basement, and not going to the police when someone films themselves holding a knife to your sleeping neck.

Eventually they find the Blue Skeleton, or perhaps more accurately the Blue Skeleton finds them. This is the big moment, when the true terror starts, and yet the same problems persist. It's all filmed half-heartedly, and it still just amounts to people in costumes jumping from out of the darkness and then backing off. In other words; exactly like all of the haunted houses they've been to before. Perhaps it would have been impossible to make a film about fake scares scary, but I can picture a film in which this all worked, and I'll tell you right now it wouldn't be found footage. The found footage aspect makes it all seem too fake, which of course it is, but an actual film would have made for an easier suspension of disbelief. As it is, The Houses October Built joins the long list of films that squander their interesting premises.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Streaming Cellar: The Pit and the Pendulum (2008)

Currently Streaming on Amazon Prime

We believe we know those closest to us, our families, loved ones, friends we've known from childhood. We may believe we know and understand these people, but we don't. Not really. There will always be missing pieces, like an incomplete puzzle. We have a tendency to substitute those missing pieces with aspects of ourselves, but this a double-edged weapon we wield. When we love or respect someone, we round them out with our most positive aspects, or what we aspire to be. When we dislike someone, they become a receptacle for our worst tendencies, the parts of ourselves that we fear to be seen as. But it's an illusion, and we'll never see the entire puzzle completed. There will always be this lacuna, this defining information that will forever be unknown to us.

This is something that's been on my mind a lot lately, and it forms the dramatic thrust of The Pit and the Pendulum, a 2008 Korean film that has absolutely no relation to the Edgar Allan Poe story (the title is both literal and metaphorical. I'll explain in a moment). The film is narratively framed by four friends (a fifth will join them) sitting in a cafe and discussing their absent friend Sang-tae. The film takes its time letting the audience know the reason for the gathering, and for the somber attitudes of everyone involved, but eventually we figure out that another absent friend has recently died, and Sang-tae may have had something to do with it. Before we learn that information (and really, you don't get most of the pieces of the puzzle until the end) it's clear that Sang-tae is the focus of the group's thoughts this night, and that however close he may have been to them, something has happened to sour him in their thoughts.

The film proceeds in an elliptical style, with characters trading stories about Sang-tae that oftentimes are little more than anecdotes, brief glimpses without context that show Sang-tae striking one of the friends, Byeong-tae, drinking too much at business lunches, or confronting a woman, Eun-young, whom he appears to be stalking. There is a story about how Sang-tae and one of the others found an unconscious girl in the woods, the victim of a taxi driving serial killer who shows up a couple times during the film (in one of several genre elements that lurk on the sidelines and sometimes infect what is otherwise a fairly sober drama). We hear that Sang-tae was embarrassingly inappropriate with the woman, massaging her and even asking for her phone number. There is discussion about the fact that Sang-tae was fired from his teaching job, and we're given two different reasons for why he might have been let go. It's clear he was drinking too much, and while most assume he was fired for always being drunk, there is also the intimation that he raped one of his students, the niece of the dean of his university.

But hold on a second. As I said these stories are little more than anecdotes, and surely there must be more to them.

Every story inspires another memory in someone else at the table, and they come forward with their own story about Sang-tae that provides a little more information. We see the scene with the attacked woman, and to our eyes it looks only as if Sang-tae is trying to keep the woman conscious and alert. We see Sang-tae with the woman he is accused of raping, and it's clear that she is obsessed with him, and she drunkenly tries to seduce him before Sang-tae places her into a cab (is this the cab driven by the serial killer? The film never brings it up). We find out that the woman Sang-tae appeared to be stalking is actually a childhood friend and former lover, and that the unease between them is due to the fact that Eun-young, had an abortion, though Sang-tae was unaware of the fact that he had gotten her pregnant. Even the striking of Byeong-tae is shown to be the boiling over of long held resentments, as Byeong-tae has had a lifelong habit of inserting himself, unwanted, into Sang-tae's life and co-opting his friends and loved ones. Byeong-tae openly tries to seduce Eun-young, who Sang-tae still loves and is confused by the coldness she shows him, and Byeong-tae even writes Sang-tae's life history into a screenplay while claiming everything was invented entirely by him.

Sang-tae does drink a lot, clearly to the point where it is damaging his personal and professional relationships, but he never comes across as quite the alcoholic his friends make him out to be. In a bit of business that might come across as too culturally specific for many western viewers, Sang-tae's own personal crisis is kicked off when he discovers, in the course of writing his thesis, that his grandfather was pro-Japanese during the Japanese occupation of Korea, even going so far as to adopt a Japanese surname. He discovers this information while researching the history of a mass grave left by the Japanese and recently unearthed. This would be the titular Pit.

Each story offers context to the stories that preceded it, sometimes weaving in and out of them. We learn more as we go along, and our perceptions of everyone involved swings back and forth. This would be the Pendulum. To the viewer, it becomes clear that Sang-tae's treatment from his friends has been unfair, and yet they themselves cannot see this. We never truly know anyone, and we fill the empty spaces with ourselves. It can be hard, often impossible, to change perceptions about ourselves held by others. Sang-tae has fallen in his friends eyes, and they can only see an alcoholic asshole, and not the young man suffering a mental crisis. A crisis exacerbated by the fact that his friends are withdrawing from him when he needs this most. It's a situation I think we're all familiar with. People form an unfair opinion of us, but what can we do? If we struggle to change the opinion, it will only serve to distance them further. If we ignore it, that will only confirm it. Cutting those people out of our lives may be too painful an amputation. This is another pit, one that Sang-tae is sinking into.

It's been incredibly hard to find any information on this film online. I found a Variety review of the film from 2008, but that's about it. The IMDb page is strangely inaccurate, listing incorrect character names and a completely incorrect plot summary. This is why I haven't named every character I discuss. To make matters worse, I found the film listed on various Korean resources and wikis, and they're all wrong, as well. They each say that the friends have gathered for Sang-tae's funeral, when he is clearly alive at the end. They also state that they are all students of Sang-tae, when in fact they all know each other through other means (Eun-young knows him from childhood, Byeong-tae knows him through their shared military history). I guess that's to be expected from a rather low-key Korean film. Despite the glut of great films that have come out of Korea in this century, they still haven't quite reached the cultural awareness of China or Japan to most Americans. It also appears to have been a fairly minor event in its own country, however, with the sources I've found saying it only played on four screens, and it's current box office total is $6,454. That makes it the perfect film for this project, as I do believe it's worth seeking out.

I've watched this film twice now in the last week, because after my first viewing I had a few unanswered questions. The Pit and the Pendulum is more of an interesting formal experiment than a satisfying film, at times. Writer/director Sohn Young-sung has mentioned the style was influenced by the twisty stories of Jorge Luis Borges, and that is clear through the Russian nesting-doll style of the film, and on the various outre moments on hand. I haven't even mentioned the possibly immortal martial arts master that Sang-tae meets as a child, or that this master (who speaks to Sang-tae from a noose he's been hung from, left for dead) might be locked into an eternal battle with the cab-driving serial killer. Or the fact that one of the people we've been watching the entire film is, actually, a ghost. On first viewing it can be hard to figure out what the point of it all is, since the film's focus is never really explained until the final scene. It didn't help that the subtitles were often stilted and broken. They were never indecipherable, but it added a layer of distancing to the viewing experience.

The movie ends without resolving all of the stories. There are a lot of unanswered questions revolving around Sang-tae and his relationships, but that's entirely appropriate. We never really know anyone, and there will always be the missing pieces.

Next week in the Streaming Cellar: The Houses October Built (2014), which is currently streaming on Netflix.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The Streaming Cellar: In Memorium (2005)

Every October, like most people, I watch a ton of horror movies. That in itself isn't very noteworthy- I always watch a ton of horror films- but in October I become a bit more focused in my viewing. I watch almost exclusively horror films, and I try to watch at least one a day. I also begin to theme my viewings, programming mini-marathons based around character, actor, or even country of origin. I make an effort to watch as many new-to-me titles as I can while also pulling out old favorites I haven't seen in a few years. I try to favor the new-to-me movies, and usually only sneak in a handful of rewatches. As much as I make it seems like I put a lot of thought into it, I'm actually just winging it, picking whatever I feel like watching on any given day.

Currently my horror binging is aided by Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, frequent trips to the library, and a trial membership to Netflix's disc-by-mail service, which I signed up for in order to get some of the more hard-to-find titles on my watchlist. My Halloween season also starts a bit early these days\, as this marks my third year working at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, so I tend to start my Halloween viewing in mid-September, when I begin working at the Terror Tram attraction. Here's a partial list of what I've watched so far: The House on Sorority Row, Scanners II & III, The Witch (or, The VVitch), They're Watching, Cooties, The Editor, Four Flies on Grey Velvet, Night of the Eagle (AKA Burn Witch Burn), The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow, Deathwatch, The Eclipse, Open Grave, and Demeking the Sea Monster. As you can see, it's a fairly eclectic list of horror films, spanning several decades and genres. I try to experience as wide an array as possible of styles and types of films I might normally not gravitate towards.

It's this last part, a conscious widening of my film awareness, that leads me to today's film, and the topic I hope to continue. As anyone who uses a streaming service knows, it can sometimes be difficult to find something to watch, partially due to the overabundance of cheap looking knockoffs and movies that went straight to streaming. Netflix is full of low budget films no one has ever heard of, no-budget flicks that would have gone direct to video but now arrive unheralded on your recommendations list. This is usually the most common complaint I hear about such services, but as I've shown, my tastes are more omnivorous. I refuse to use the term indiscriminate, which is something I've frequently been accused of. It's not that I lack critical thought, or turn my brain off when watching certain films, it's just that I believe good movies- or at least interesting movies, which is pretty much the same thing in my eyes- can be found in surprising places.

I've decided, this Halloween and possibly beyond, to make a more concerted effort to watch some of these titles. Hence, The Streaming Cellar, where I dig into some of those questionable titles that always get recommended once you've finished binging on Stranger Things. I've been doing this occassionally already, but I'm going to be taking more chances this October. I haven't quite codified a list of guidelines for this project, and I'm mostly playing it by ear. I will, however, try to limit myself to lower budget films that have not had any national theatrical release (festival screenings and perfunctory one-week engagements are OK). I'll also be widening the scope to cover international films, as long as they haven't enjoyed a long theatrical run.

Today's film seemed to be an even bigger risk than usual, as not only was it a no-budget horror film shot digitally with a cast and crew of unknowns whose careers never took off, but it was also a found footage film. I actually enjoy a lot of found footage films, and often dig the theme park feeling that comes with a POV camera stumbling through chaos, but I also recognize that it's too often simply a gimmick used to generate cheap jump-scares without having to invest a lot of money or talent.

Also, they couldn't even spell the title correctly.

In Memorium (2005)
Currently streaming on: Amazon Prime

I'm going to deflate the suspense right up front and just tell you that I rather enjoyed In Memorium, despite its drawbacks. For one, this film came out in 2005, two years before Paranormal Activity (this film's most similar counterpart) jump-started the current craze for found footage that seems to finally be slowing down. Certainly In Memorium is not the first film that could be classified as found footage (not even close), and certainly there were a bunch of likeminded films being made at the same time, but the genre had not yet broken through to the mainstream to be recognized as an actual genre by most moviegoers. There was something charming, almost quaint, about going back and watching a found footage film before all of the genre's tropes had been so rigidly set in stone.

One thing I found oddly endearing was the manner in which In Memorium was filmed. The characters set up a bunch of motion-activated cameras, covering every possible angle in the house, and yes, the cameras are also inserted into the bathroom, leading to at least one genuinely amusing moment when they realize what this means for their daily habits. The cameras are all fairly visible and stick out from the wall in what is probably the biggest signifier that this movie is over a decade old. The wall mounted cameras also preclude the need for any shaky handheld camerawork (there is a tiny bit, but it's a pretty negligible amount), which is certainly going to be welcome news to many found footage detractors. It also gives a reasonable response to the frequently asked question of 'why do they keep filming?' In In Memorium, they keep filming because no one has removed the cameras yet.

The film also has another great improvement over most films in the genre; likable characters. One of my common complaints with found footage film is that the characters tend to skew towards the unlikable and unpleasant. I'm not sure if that's a conscious decision on the filmmakers' part, or possibly an attempt to try and distance the audience from characters that they'll have to watch suffer and die. Or possibly it's an an unconscious reaction on my part towards the type of person who reacts to tragedy befalling their friends or family by grabbing a camera rather than trying to help. Maybe that narcissism is just part and parcel of the character type.Think of the boyfriend in the first Paranormal Activity, who continues filming despite his girlfriend's obvious and growing distress.

The central couple in In Memorium are markedly more appealing, though the film does stack our sympathies in their favor by giving the boyfriend, Dennis (played by Erik McDowell), incurable cancer. It's this disease which has prompted the couple to install motion-activated cameras inside their rented home, to document Dennis' final months. If this sounds like a thin setup for a horror film, especially for a childless couple (at least Michael Keaton in My Life was filming his last days for his son's benefit, same for Mark Duplass in Creep), perhaps it would help to know that Dennis is an aspiring filmmaker, and his girlfriend, Lily (Johanna Watts), is an aspiring actress. Actually, writing that out, my description makes them sound just as narcissistic as the character types I was complaining about, but they come across as more likable than that.

The acting is solid for something of this budget, and though that sounds like a backhanded compliment, it really isn't. I've noticed that when most casual moviegoers complain about bad acting in low budget films, they're really talking about a matter of post production. Have you ever seen untouched behind the scenes footage of scenes being made? It turns everything into a high school drama class production. Great performances in films depend on a lot of things aside from just the performer. Obvious things like sound mixing, of course, but also less obvious aspects, like lighting, video quality, or color correction. Most low budget movies have to rely on a lot of ADR, and while blockbusters have the same issue, the larger budgeted films tend to have more resources and a larger team to make sure the dialogue is mixed properly into the scene. Similarly, your reaction to performances in movies depends on other contextual information, allowing you to buy into the film's reality more easily.

Putting aside the actual performances, I felt the two leads had a nice chemistry between them, and I enjoyed watching the two of them exist together. I like horror movies where the leads are likable and get along, because having concern for the welfare of the main characters is something most horror films tend to neglect. One of my favorite horror films in recent memory, Ti West's The Innkeepers, affected me so strongly because I liked both of the leads and I didn't want to see anything bad happen to them. Something similar happened to me while watching this film, though I should probably stress that on a much more minor scale than The Innkeepers. There's only really one performance I didn't buy in this film, that of Dennis' brother Frank (Levi Powell). Both brothers are variations on the Southern California surfer dude, though Frank is clearly a caricature while Dennis only somewhat sartorially fits into that descriptor. He's a rather stiff presence, and unfortunately the majority of his scenes are meant to be tearful and dramatic. His performance is more befitting that of an extra in the original Point Break.

Now you have a general idea of the film, and I'm sure by now you've guessed the trajectory the story will take. Young couple in new home begin filming their lives, and unexpectedly find they're filming other unknown presences. Creepy goings on start off small, and then escalate throughout the course of the film. You spend a lot of time staring at static-filled screens where nothing is happening, and suddenly get a quick glimpse of something spooky. Some of it will go unnoticed by the cast, other stuff will be noticed and dismissed. Eventually the activity will reach such a pitch that the main characters are forced to acknowledge it, at which point there will be a discussion of what to to, whether to stay or leave. Some reason will be found for everyone staying put, at which point the dramatic finale will be in motion. The formula is pretty well known, but, as with all horror films, what really matters are the details and small variations within that formula.

So far I've described the basic setup, and given some of my thoughts of the film in general, but I'm about to get very specific about some plot elements. If you've read this far and think you might want to watch the film, I'd advise you to go ahead and do so before reading any further. If you don't mind having the plot spoiled for you, by all means read on.

Part of what I found so charming about this film is the manner in which Dennis and Lily react to the haunting. When they first notice evidence of a ghost on one of the cameras, they're both disbelieving but interested, and begin to investigate the history of the house they have just rented. It's pretty much how I think I would react in this situation; they don't believe, but still think it would be cool to see proof of an actual ghost. To begin with the landlord, Ms. Sporec (Mary Portser) is helpful, as she's been keeping scrapbooks about all of the tenants for decades, but soon becomes less forthcoming when she fears that the cameras and haunted house theories are only a ruse to try and sue her for wrongful death when the boyfriend eventually dies. Yeah, that part didn't really make sense to me, either. But I think it's meant to make us suspicious of what she's trying to hide.

The big question in every haunted house movie is; why don't they just leave? I think for a lot of people in America the answer is pretty self explanatory; not everyone can afford to hightail it to a hotel and give up on their home. But still, it's a valid question within a film, and In Memorium chooses to answer it by heightening the stakes for the characters. When the activity escalates and the presence is clearly not friendly, Dennis and Lily do try to leave. The home was only recently rented under a three month lease, and these kids are clearly well-to-do enough to have options. The problem is, Dennis has been experiencing bizarre symptoms unrelated to his cancer, and every time he tries to leave the property they get worse.

I've said repeatedly that this house was rented, and I keep mentioning it because it's an important detail that I don't fully understand the necessity of. It doesn't quite make sense, that Dennis would learn of his diagnosis, come up with his plan to film his final months, and then also require a rented house that he can fill with cameras. I honestly think the detail only exists to provide a McGuffin, to keep us believing that the house is haunted and to give a reason as to why none of the characters has ever noticed it before. Throughout the film Lily and Dennis repeatedly question why the house appears to be haunted, when none of the recorded tenants have died there, and no one before them had ever seen a ghost. The answer is obvious; the house isn't haunted.

Oh, there is a ghost, and it is malevolent and killing Dennis (faster than his cancer), but it turns out he brought the ghost with him. Dennis and Frank's mother was apparently an abusive wreck, and once Dennis was old enough he struck out on his own, effectively abandoning his younger brother to the care of their horrible mother. She died of her own terrible disease, and Frank was left as the only one to care for her. Now, on the anniversary of her death, she has returned to exact her revenge by killing Dennis with the very symptoms she suffered from. It's an effective twist, and handled well by the movie, and it elevates the film above many in the increasingly crowded field of found footage. It also leads to some interesting dramatic territory as the small group of actors have to deal with some seriously emotional familial baggage. It's a task that not everyone is up to, unfortunately, as Frank in particular seems hard pressed to actually sound sad, as opposed to merely constipated.

All in all the film is probably only a minor success. In Memorium isn't as outright scary as many of its contemporaries, but it also has a little more on its mind. The suspense is handled well, and with no real budget for special effects director Amanda Gusack is able to stage a couple of effective little jolts. I haven't really thought of a scale by which to rate these titles, but I will say the film probably won't appeal to most modern fans of found footage. However, I think the film deserves to be remembered, and would probably be enjoyed by fans of low budget horror and quiet festival films.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Countdown to the Countdown to Halloween

For a few years now, off and on, I've been taking part in the Countdown to Halloween blogging event. A loose assemblage of blogs covering various themes, but all posting frequently about something Halloween related during the 31 days of October. I'm taking part once again, and while in years past I've tried to keep to daily posts, or 3 times a week, or some other self-imposed schedule, I'm under no such delusions this year. I plan to keep posting as long and as often as I can this month, but I'm working odd and lengthy hours, while also dealing with a 3 month old at home. What I'm saying is there may be gaps in my activity, but I hope to at least drop in here regularly with a quick review, some reminisces, or maybe just some awesome music to add to your Halloween party mix.

I'm finishing up a few posts that will be going up over the next couple days, so for now I just wanted to promote the Countdown itself. Heading over to the Countdown to Halloween site will give you a list of contributors, as well as instructions for joining up if you feel so inclined. You'll notice on that list my pal Rik, who is going to be celebrating the month on his main blog site, The Cinema 4 Pylon, as well as his awesome animation blog The Cinema 4 Cel Bloc. We're also putting together something special over on our shared blog, We Who Watch Behind the Rows, where we pick a Stephen King book or story and then discuss the written word and the filmed adaptation(s). Head over there to read out latest post on The Woman in the Room, and an announcement for what our Halloween plans are.

I know this is a brief and somewhat low-key beginning to the month, but my plan is to build up to a pretty great Halloween this year. It should be fun, and I hope you join me for the party.