Saturday, August 10, 2019

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

You know what is really amazing?

Beecher's Cheese Curds.

You know what else is really amazing?

When a really awesome person you only met a couple times, a year ago, reaches out to you with a desire to share a movie watching experience - with a film that really moved them - and you were the first person they thought of.

You know what is even more amazing than that?

When that random reaching out occurs at a time in your life when that's exactly what you needed.

In walks A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. This one has been on my radar for five years. I knew - KNEW - that this film, in order to be enjoyed/understood properly, was going to require a very specific time and place. 


I didn't know what that time and place was, for all those years, until yesterday. 

Turns out that time and place is when you need a specific human connection. When your world looks its darkest, and you know it will be alright eventually (hopefully), but right now you don't know what to do. 

This film is beautiful. It's also very dark and dirty. Hopeless. Hard to expect anything less from a place called: Bad City. 

Filmed in black and white, under the backdrop of destitution and depression, it screams nightmares from the darkest places of hearts and minds - but there's hope. Still. 

Did I mention there is a vampire? 

Destitution, depression, nightmares: Of Course There Is Going To Be A Vampire!

The film is in Persian, created in California, and the surroundings (despite not knowing the time or the place, specifically) has the distinct feel of a 1980's drug-fueled religious and political nightmare. Time for a bad ass vampire who preys on perpetrators of the nightmare and not those who suffer from the nightmare's affects.

Poised and powerful, this film has a lot to say (about people, morals, and human connection - be it a good or bad connection) and yet says it with very few words and more with motions, emotions, style, music, and a very adorable cat. 

If you're a fan of Night Owl then this film is an absolute must see. You can read my review of that one here. In fact my thoughts of Night Owl (or Nite Owl), applies perfectly to A Girl Walks Home From Home Alone At Night: "Personally, I think vampires look best in black and white and covered in their own existential horror."

I'd like to believe that everyone who sees this film will understand it (despite viewing settings), will engage in conversations surrounding it and what it is saying, and will inspire viewers to seek out more versions of horror (and what that word means in cinema and entertainment). I would like that.

Knowing that won't happen in all cases, I'll just warn you against reviews that put this film down as boring or confusing. Those reviewers are missing the point and are new. That said, if your'e looking for a fast action, bloody film, then these are not the droids you are looking for. 

Pairs best with withdrawals and small bits of food, taken in slowly. Alternatively, beer, pizza, and the company of a soul that needs your very specific company at that specific time, encouraged. 

I watched this film on Amazon Prime. Use the Horror Habit Find It. Watch It. links to see where else you can find this existential, experimental, directorial debut.  

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Hell Baby (2013)

I found this film after noticing it was leaving Shudder soon. I had time to kill and thought: Eh, what the hell, I'll give it a shot.

...and then I noticed that Hell Baby is from the creators of Reno 911. I dropped everything and immediately turned it on.

...and then and then I noticed that I've seen this film floating around several streaming platforms, with this poster image:

I groaned and continued my scrolling.

It wasn't until I saw this poster on Shudder that I paid the slightest attention to this film at all:

I'm super judgy about movie posters. Super Judgy. 

Booo first poster, HAHAHA second poster.

I started laughing out loud about 10 minutes into this film. I didn't stop until it was over. Based on the (current) low rating on IMDB, quite a few people saw this and simply do not have my sense of humor (any humor?). To those people: sorry, it's not working out. It's you not me.

It's fast and fumbly, absolutely ridiculous, whip smart, stoooopidly gross, AND IT STARS KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY!!

The story is pretty straight forward: a young couple building their family decide to move into a notoriously haunted house. Hilarity ensues. 

It's crass, but good crass. It's flippant and slapstick, but good flippant and slapstick. It's also brazenly unapologetic for what it is: smart absurdist humor. In all, if you like Reno 911 then you'll be sure to like this. Then there are those who do not like Reno 911 and they need help, not judgment. 

Right after the movie ended, I texted some of my best ladies saying we need a movie night soon - obviously suggesting this film. I can already see us rolling all over the popcorn-covered floor, clutching at our bellowing, laughter-filled bellies. 

Pairs with anything that brings a smile to your face, and a tall glass of turpentine. 

I watched this film on Shudder but you can use the Find It. Watch It. links on Horror Habit's sidebar to locate where else you can find this laughter-inducing gem. 

Here's the trailer for the film. Ask your doctor if this humor is right for you:

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Pet Sematary (2019)

Seems the universe must have wanted my brother and I to catch a preview screening for the new Pet Sematary because I seriously believe we snagged the last two available tickets at the last minute!

This was an unexpected delight, and I promised myself not to walk into this film with any preconceived notions. Keep it a blank slate, don't sit and compare it with the original or the book - just let it stand on its own and see what I think.

Initial thoughts: "this is going by very quickly!" The film doesn't meander, at all. It dives right in and before you know it, the family is having a lovey gathering outside...close to the road.

Second thoughts: "holy christ almighty!" 

The first part of the film may fly by with trusty Easter eggs scattered about to appease the die hard fans, but the second part is a new visualization of the *same but different* story. Best I can describe it is: take your favorite urban legend and then consider all the different ways in which that same story is told over the years...

My brother and I spent a good couple hours talking about this film afterwards. We first hashed over what we liked and then what we didn't like. There was very little we didn't like and in fact, the more we talked about what we liked - the more we developed a mounting respect for the film. This new Pet Sematary was a pleasent surprise and, dare I say, it was refreshing to see story elements removed from this version that felt awkward and weird in the original. And I f*cking love the original.

Key items that kept coming up in conversation:
  • The set of the burial ground. Folks, our initial, collective thoughts were: this looks like a set straight out of a 1940's creature feature. This is not an insult! This was fascinating, striking, and it worked very well! I also love 1940's creature features so I was in a happy place (...despite 'the place').

  • My brother said: "The cat [Church] is like a mascot for the movie..." Yes. Yes. Yes. Church seems to have integrated himself into this film with an alarming and frightening impact that I wasn't even prepared for. 

  • ZELDA: If you've ever seen the original, you know the scenes with Zelda are nearly piss-your-pants worthy. I honestly wasn't sure if this version was going to even try and touch that subject. But they did and NAILED IT with a new piss-your-pants experience. I didn't think anyone could create such a terrifying vision, but the Zelda story here is something you don't want to miss. 

  • No nonsense, straight forward. Both my brother and I agree that the original film sometimes feels like an emotional or dreamlike story (not that we're complaining) - intensity is coming from the heart, a bad nightmare, it messes with your head. This one will also mess with your head, but the story is weaved with more consistency and clarity. Confusing characters are cut, story lines and actions are portrayed with deliberation and equilibrium.

  • The creators of this revival *knew* what worked in the previous film and what fans were looking for from the book. Well done, folks. 

In all, acting is very well done! This particular story is innovative, cleaver, and thought-provoking! The set, setting, and atmosphere is relayed with a cool but alarming familiarity! And that damn cat IS the mascot for the film...  Could do without the children parade though. That's my only main complaint. Was not a fan and didn't see why it was necessary.

***But here's what happened when we left the theater....***

My brother and I walked for several blocks in the dark, quiet, blustery night. I had to take a moment to ask myself if we were in April or October. 

The streets were dead silent. Strange noises were coming from unknown sources. Shadows moved and the air didn't feel right. After a moment of silence between us, my brother said, "It's actually really creepy out...".


Folks, the last time I walked out of a theater after watching a horror film and was afraid, was 17 years ago. 

17 years ago. 

It's taken 17 years to encounter another film where I walk out of a theater with some super intense heebie jeebies. My entire 30s were either completely fearless or it's simply taken that long to have all the elements of watching a horror film in the theater align into a perfect storm. 

Still a little shook about how honestly scary that walk after leaving the theater was (less than 24 hours later), I can say this film must have played no small part and yet I cannot specifically say what frightened or disturbed me so much that the outside suddenly became a threatening place. In all, my brother and I hurried to a well lit bar and then spent the next two hours talking about this film. Some beers later, the outside wasn't so scary anymore...

All in all!! If you're a Stephen King fan and/or a fan of Pet Sematary, see this film. Seriously. I think you will also be surprised by it. Also, as much as I really, really, really didn't want to compare this film to the original, I did anyway and I well, now I love both. 

Watch with your pets (I came home and smothered my cats with hugs and kisses, promising them that I would never bury them in the Pet Sematary). Pairs with cans of discontinued beer, fire pits, and freshly laundered clothes.

I watched this film in the theater and I think you should too. This is of course not required but I think you'd miss out in some pretty scary experiences if you only had a smaller screen experience. 

Take care all and remember: Sometimes dead is better.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Greta (2018)

Last night I attended my first movie screening! I felt so fancy.

Bonus: this movie was showing in the same movie theater where I obtained my first job after I moved to Seattle (over 20 years ago). The early 20 somethings behind the concession counter were not as impressed with this knowledge as I was sharing it with them (repeatably, they serve beer there now).

Let me introduce you to: Greta

I walked into this screening with very, very little knowledge of what I was walking into - and I was pleasantly shocked and surprised. 

This movie begins with a young woman finding a handbag on the train and, with a pure heart, hand-delivers it to the owner at her home. Things get wildly out of hand from there. 

Now, see - well. I totally and immediately understood this young woman because I kinda sorta did the same thing once. Instead of a handbag through, I found a bunch of unopened mail (important stuff, checks, etc) all scattered in the middle of the early morning street. Several different addresses all over the neighborhood. 

Like this poor young woman, I too made a TERRIBLE MISTAKE in my good nature attempt. Instead of just putting the mail in the mailbox down the street, I decided to hand-deliver the mail back to the owners. 


I have absolutely no idea why I didn't just pop the mail into the street corner mailbox and instead hike through the neighborhood in the scorching hot afternoon to do this ridiculous thing, but I think it was lack of coffee, the terrible heat, and a healthy dose of stupidity. 

Turned out all those addresses didn't exist anymore (new buildings being built) and I wasted a lot - a lot of time and energy - and what I did was likely illegal. After nearly an hour of walking around and failing at every address, I popped all that mail into the nearest mailbox and walk of shamed myself to the nearest pub.

I share this little story as a cautionary tale for anyone who finds mail in the street. JUST PUT IT IN THE MAILBOX. And.... also because several simple, bad decisions and unbelievable moments occurred in this film and it might make you groan but hear me out: roll with it, it helps with the entertainment of the film. Just as I hope my self-humiliating little story entertained you. You'll ask yourself, "why would anyone do this? No one would actually do that" and that's fine, just let the few but striking suspension of disbelief moments take you for a joy ride.

I found this film to be a fast-paced slow burner. There's one scene in particular, after a lot of quiet activity, where the fully packed theater jumped. While there are other fast cringe-binge moments that will have you curling back into your seat. 

This is also a bad ass film with a karate kick to the face ending. 

The theater clapped at the end. I always found that weird but even *I* clapped. Back when I worked at this same theater in 1997, one of my jobs was to wear a bow-tie but also to assess the crowds during the trailers and report back to management on the crowd's reaction to each preview. 

I'm going to do the same here, for Greta:

Entertained, talked loudly and excitedly at the end, laughed at moments. Jumped at scenes. Seemed to like it.

Fun, frightful, and fancy - watch this thriller/killer with one of your best friends. I watched it with one of mine (my brother is awesome and took the photo below). Pairs with French food and bottles of booze that you can break in case you need to fight someone. 

Take care everyone, and enjoy the film! (and don't hand deliver stranger's mail OR handbags).

Monday, November 12, 2018

Overlord (2018)

A few weeks ago, while watching a football game, I saw a kick-ass trailer on TV that prompted me to text my brother right away.

Me: "We need to see Overlord!"

Brother: "Whoa, this is freaky. I literally just watched a trailer for that like two minutes ago and was going to text you the exactly same thing!!"

Me: "It's a sign. Hopefully a sign that it's awesome and we'll really enjoy it!"

Brother: "Oh shit, you must be watching the Seahawks game!"

Us: Hahahaha!

Although I thought fate was working some mysterious magic on us for a second there - instead we were just watching the same game at the same time - the real magic is that when we both saw this trailer, for the first time, we both knew what had to be done. Overlord had to be seen. 

I rarely ever see movies on opening weekend, let alone opening day. I just don't like people crowds that much. I made an exception for this film. 

I can't put in proper terms how excited I was to see this film, and I can't tell you exactly why I had to see it except that it had the look and feel (based on the trailer alone) of a film sure to kick ass and take names. I'm also not sure if it was released on Veterans Day weekend purposefully, but this proud ten year+ Veterans Affairs Administration employee and member of a military family was All Over this film, and not wrong at all in my suspicions of it's ass kickery.

Going to take a moment here to reiterate my Twitter post - sent about 10 minutes after walking out of the theater: 

Just remembering the opening scenes gives me palpitations. Holy SHIT.

I was working in a movie theater when Saving Private Ryan was released and remember hearing about WWII Veterans needing to walk out because the visuals/memories were all too real. I've never been in a war zone. I never want to. But this film's opening scenes help give the audience an experience of what D-Day - war in general - entails. 

That's a horror story in itself. 

And then the zombie things show up....

This is a war film. This a military show. This is a horror story. This is a creature feature film of epic proportions. Bonus: Punching Nazis in the face! 

My brother and I argue about how much of a creature feature film this is - you decide for yourself by seeing it. I felt the creatures played a significant role. He felt they were secondary to the other horrors happening. 

All in all, here's what you need to know: A handful of American soldiers with a mission to dismantle Nazi communications head into France on the eve of D-Day, and then they stumble upon experiments....

Thrilling, adventurous, people making bad descions, people making sacrificial descions, real monsters, medical monsters, heartfelt, insane, gross, gritty, fast, and kick-ass: See This Film. 

For the best experience, see this film in the theater

***As I was typing this up I just got the news that Stan Lee passed away. I'm adding this news to this post because his comics played no small role in my youth - finding the hero in yourself and in others - and the role he played as hero to so many, in comics and in person. Cheers to you, sir. For everything. Travel on to that next world peacefully. 

Cheers, heros. F*ck you Nazis.