Tuesday, October 21, 2014

2014 Ladies' Horror Film Fest Report

This isn't every movie we tried because some movies ran into technical or other difficulties (Shaun of the Dead had accents too strong for Mom to understand but we couldn't get the captioning on her tv to work right, for example). Some she just didn't like so we quit watching after 15 or 20 minutes.

We also took a leisurely attitude. Sometimes we did outside activities like cutting out quilting materials for Mom or making a cake or sitting by the ocean for a lovely dinner. And so forth. Such are the joys of homegrown film festivals!

The ratings below reflect my own opinion and not those of my fellow viewers. Also, don't miss below for What We Learned!

It was a blast overall and I highly recommend such festivals to any movie-loving family! In fact, we were already beginning a list for the next film fest (not horror based) before we left.


Halloween 1978


Part of the horror film fest that my mother, oldest daughter and I had over the weekend. We watched my mother's copy. Yeah. You read that right. I told you she was a horror film fan, which was confirmed when she said she watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to see why a friend liked it. Bottom line, she was surprised that it was so funny.

My daughter and I hadn't seen Halloween before. Loved it! There is one scene that suddenly brought the whole thing into focus and made me embrace it ... you know what I'm talking about, probably. It involves a gravestone and a pumpkin ... Truly a classic horror film that was delightful in its simplicity.

Poltergeist 1982


The second of our ladies' horror film fest (Mom, daughter Hannah, and me). This did not age as well as one could have hoped for. As my mother said, it came off as a combination of ET and a horror movie. It was a bit slow in the story telling and as a look back at that particular style I could appreciate it. However, the second ending was too much and I wish they'd have wrapped it up more quickly.

The Woman in Black 2012


The final film of Friday for our horror film fest. I'd always meant to watch this and I can understand complaints I'd seen that it was a bit slow and not much happened. However, we were all pleased with the sheer beauty of the film and the hovering spookiness of Daniel Radcliffe's experiences in the old house. Honestly, if you want someone to stand around looking gloomy and startled, I can hardly think of anyone who could have done it better.


The Haunting 1963


This was on Saturday's bill of fare for our horror fest. We all had read The Haunting of Hill House (on which it is based) so many times that we could pick out where it diverged from the original story. Honestly, they did a really good job of adapting the book faithfully, except for Eleanor's love interest and the character of the professor's wife. None of us could figure out how those changes were an improvement to the story or any easier to film but they didn't make the movie any less enjoyable.

Mama 2013


Saturday evening's showing in our horror film fest. I'd been avoiding this because I thought it would be a lot more violent and disturbing than it actually was. It had the feel of a lot of Guillermo del Toro's work, which isn't surprising since he produced it and one wonders if he didn't advise also. However that may be I was surprised at how much I really liked this movie.


The Night of the Hunter 1955


Mom has been pushing me to watch this for years and not surprisingly it was her pick for winner of our horror film fest. I was not quite as taken with it. It felt like three different movies sewn together with Mitchum's terrorization of the kids leading into a slow, meditative Huck Finn turn, followed by spunky Lilian Gish showing us how good parenting is really done while taking on Mitchum. I really loved Lillian Gish's sung response to Mitchum's trademark gospel song. I can understand why Charles Laughton's direction is always mentioned because he had some really wonderful moments of staging that will stick with me for a long time.

Pitch Black 2000


A guilty pleasure and not strictly part of the ladies' horror film fest we were staging. We didn't think Mom would enjoy it, so Hannah and I put it on and watched it bit by bit whenever Mom was taking a nap. We didn't finish it but somehow it was always there in the background. Alien monsters and Vin Diesel. 'Nuff said.

Young Frankenstein 1974


This was the final film we watched in our horror film fest. It was just what we needed to wind up feeling good and finding our way back into the real world where people don't sit around watching movies all day long. It's practically perfect in every way.

Watching so many of these back to back we soon learned that there were common themes for certain elements. We took these to heart. So much so that by the last evening I was made nervous by looking in a bathroom mirror

Disregard these hard-earned lessons at your peril!

In no particular order:
  1. Do not trust ethereal women in black. They are not nice.
  2. If you've seen a mysterious, masked, disappearing man and then the boy you're babysitting sees a mysterious, masked, disappearing man — they are connected. Listen to the children.
  3. If a doctor/professor is writing a paper on psychic phenomenon, do not think he ever has your best interests at heart.
  4. Flickering lights almost never mean a bad electrical connection.
  5. You are never going to get a good night's sleep in a looming house — especially on a hill — especially when it is loaded with Victorian decorations.
  6. Begin investigations in the morning, not in late afternoon when it's getting dark and all you have is a candle or tiny flashlight.
  7. Do not look in the mirror. I repeat — do not look in the mirror.


  1. And never, never, NEVER drink the tea. Or the punch.

    1. I must have missed that ... which of these movies was that in? :-)

  2. Along the same lines as #7: I saw this bumper sticker a bluegrass/oldtime music gathering:
    "If you're in a folk song, DON'T GO TO THE RIVER!"

  3. Never, never stop in Buna, Texas.