Movies, Picture Post, writing

5-ish Found Footage Films for Your Halloween Hangover That I’ve Seen Multiple Times

(So this post is a little late for Halloween but let’s do it anyway~!)

I love myself some sweet sweet found footage horror. There is something wonderful and cathartic about shaking cam and unknown actors running through fields to escape the ‘evil’. Found footage horror is one of those genres that I appreciate because it’s the sole genre unnamedwhere having a big name actor can actually hurt the movie (I’m not saying Quarantine was a bad movie because Jennifer Carpenter was in it, I’m saying I couldn’t watch it without thinking about that scene in White Chicks) and I truly appreciate what having relatively unknown actors can do for the overall experience. So I decided that I needed to share my favorite films with everyone and just take a break from the school madness. There are in no particular order haha.

Grave Encounters (2011)

Grave Encounters - Wikipedia

Grave Encounters was a film I didn’t expect to like when I first came across it. It was something I threw on Netflix one day while I figured I’d take a nap through the whole thing and it scared me so bad I slept with the hall light on that night. It was not my first found footage film but I think it really had a lot to do with me getting my teeth into the genre. My first time through it I had just moved into a creepy building in Portland Oregon and man, did it just send creepy crawlers up my spine whenever I turned my back on a dark room and I’m so glad I have yet to live in a building with a garbage shute. Hospitals are creepy enough without stuff like this creeping into your brain. One thing I love is that the film isn’t the characters lives, sometimes found footage is written in the sense that ‘only this film exists’ and the characters are only motivated by things we see on the screen. In Grave Encounters however, the characters have struggles and traits that originate before we meet them and never get to full ‘pan out’ on screen, so when one of them bites the proverbial dust we’re left hold a bag full of old hospital bracelets. It is one of the few movies I will put on immediately if you saw you’ve never seen it and for me it’s never not scary. I love this film.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)/ Blair Witch (2016)

undefinedI won’t lie, I am combining these two into one because of all the found footage horror sequels out there I think that Blair Witch complements The Blair Witch Project well in the sense that although it’s ‘updated’ with technology and a more diverse cast, the same creepy feeling I got from the first one is still there. Even though the kids in the film are teenagers, even I can still identify with them.  I wasn’t allowed to see TBWP when it first came out because I was 8 and the only theatre in town that was showing it was the drive-in (it’s weird to think that’s how old I am now) but my parents went to see it with my aunt and uncle and my aunt thought it was real for a very long time. It was the ‘first of it’s kind’ for me in that this was a movie I wasn’t allowed to see that people thought was real and I used to make little ‘witches’ out of bobby pins until my mother told me to stop because she was worried the school would get involved. Blair Witch and TBWP will probably always been films that stir up the scary parts of my stomach when I need them not to be. I still have apprehension about going camping because of it (that and I probably just don’t like camping as much as people want me to think I do).

Hell House, LLC. (2015)

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So, I didn’t watch this one for a long time because I thought it was going to be super lame. When I read through the quip about it on Amazon Prime I was like, that doesn’t sound great, but now thinking back, I’m not sure I actually read the right quip because the one I remember reading had a lot to do with ‘frat guys’. Hell House, LLC. is way better than better than I ever thought it could be and I jump every single time. I’ve been apart of haunted houses before and the makeup and effects in this one (not including the actual ghosts and spooks) is done really well. The cast acts like they know what they’re doing and it’s so nice to see that. There is a lingering creep that this film has and I just can never shake it. Maybe it’s because I have issues with strobe lights or being stuck in dark rooms. The scares don’t hide in this film. It’s not loud scoring followed up by a jump scare, they literally stare at you from the hallway and then probably eat your soul or something.  I know that this just got a sequel and I haven’t had time to watch it YET, so no spoilers, but I’m really hoping that it has the same pay off. I don’t like haunted houses at all really, even working in them (the strobe light thing is a huge problem), but I definitely feel like this is as close as I am comfortable getting.

As Above, So Below (2014)

undefinedI wonder if Indiana Jones knew that this was the way it was going to go for explorers in the future. As Above, So Below was a film I saw in theatres, I believe (because I was old enough this time). It isn’t the strongest writing from the others on the list but it definitely sends you on a crazy adventure through the Catacombs (a place I’ve never been and most likely won’t visit because that’s where people got their bones put. While I don’t believe in ghosts I’m still very much under the influence of ‘you don’t just pile up bones to make a corridor’ as a personal philosophy). AASB definitely has elements that remind me of someone’s first indie horror game, where the quest has been given and you must go, complications happen along the way, but it doesn’t end with a jpeg of “YOU DIED”, but one reason I like it is because it shows promise for the future projects undertaken by that dev. The rawness of the film, the way they play with sound and give you a sense of claustrophobia really alerts instincts in me that keep me awake after watching it (of which I have done several times). It doesn’t rely on twists to propel it, but information that the characters already have they just have to solve. It does well at setting itself up in the beginning and then not letting us down at the end. There is nothing magical about this film, yet I keep coming back to it.

Movies, Picture Post

My Favorite Japanese Horror Movies To Get You Through Halloween

So, as many  of you know, I love horror movies. And as I struggle to come up with things to talk about on this blog (and it turn justify paying for it) I figured I would share with ya’ll my  favorite Japanese horror movies. Now, as a disclosure, I’m not saying these are the best or most well made movies out there. I’m saying I watched them, I liked them, and have/will watch them again. The list isn’t in any particular order,just my favorites! I’ve also not gained any sort of profit from companies for talking about these movies (that would be really super cool though because watching movies for a living in legit my life dream). If you disagree with my list, that is fine. I’m not writing it to persuade you to have all of these become your favorite, just what I enjoy and things ya’ll might like. Let’s get this party started!

I do wanna say that this post is dedicated to the late Isao Yatsu, he appears in more J-horror than the average person watches and the genre will never be the same without him, even if his roles were always small. Just something about him made the movies better.

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Ju-on/The Grudge Movies

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I’m sure most of you have seen or heard of these, but they still give me nightmares. The original Japanese version is based off of novels by the same name, Ju-on. The Grudge is the American version staring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, and Clea DuVall. There are some other rather large name actors in this one, but one casting decision that I really like in that the use Takako Fuji and Yuya Ozeki in both movies (Takashi Matsuyama is also in both movies BUT, he doesn’t haunt my dreams. Takako does hand the role of Kayako over to Aiko Horiuchi in The Grudge 3 and to Misaki Saisho in Beginning of the End; but it was her decision).

Courtesy of IMDb
((Yup, this is the face that haunts me))

They also take different paths, the movies. The American version starts with Gellar living in Japan and visiting a sick woman in the super haunted house, everyone is being haunted, and everyone dies. Although the Japanese version starts in a similar fashion, there are mutiple off shoots of what happens in the films. At one point, it’s even a different house. If you want to watch them in the order they were made (as explain all the different points of each movie would take forever and I want you watching movies, not reading plots) the timelines goes: Ju-on: The Curse, Ju-on: The Curse Two, Ju-on: The Grudge, Ju-on: The Grudge Two, Ju-on: White Ghost, Ju-on: Black Ghost, Ju-on: The Beginning of the End, Ju-on: The Final Curse, and finally but not least, Sadako v. Kayako. The only one I haven’t seen is Sadako v. Kayako; the reason being that my Japanese isn’t that great yet and I can’t find a version with English subs… yet. The Curse and The Grudge are two separate things, as are White Ghost and Black Ghost. But if you want a fun weekend I recommend ALL of them; they explore a lot about the story of Kayako.

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If this doesn’t scare you I don’t know if we can be friends.

I know she isn’t real, but if I turn my back to a darkened hall way, leave my closet open at night, or the light turns off in the bathroom(auto-timers kinda suck); she is the first thing to pop into my head and my immediate reaction is to get out.

Ringu/The Ring Movies

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For a lot of people (from who I’ve talked to, no real research went into this), The Ring was a lot of people’s first J-horror movie. I remember discussing this on the bus in grade 6. It was one of the first released in the states. As with The Grudge/Ju-on movies Ringu and The Ring start out quite similar in story line. With this one I prefer Ringu myself. In the American version I feel that there is to much emotional commitment between the characters and it hurts the effect of terror. You feel sorry for Samara (Sadako) instead of fear, and I don’t think that’s a good method to try to use in that kind of horror movie. There are sequels to Ringu and The Ring; The Ring’s more based on the emotional need of the ghost and her killing to get what she wants. Ringu two is more about outrunning Sadako, protection Yoichi, and staying alive.

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I also enjoyed the Ringu 0: Birthday prequel to Ringu. It describes Sadako as a college student and what led her to be a vengeance murder beast.  It doesn’t quite fit with the Ringu/Ringu 2 style of haunted video tape, but it goes more into Sadako and why she does what she does. That’s one thing I like about Japanese horror, it takes the time to develop their ghosts, but not in a way where we feel sorry for them. Just so that we understand them.

Art by chi nasagawa on DeviantArt

One of my favorite parts in Ringu is the very first scene, which was borrowed by The Grudge during it’s final scene. Watch it and find out

One Missed Call

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Alright, another movie with an American counterpart. This one is apart of a trilogy, but as with most trilogies, the second movie isn’t really the same as the first, and the third is WAY off. However the first movie runs really well. Yumi’s (who owns a creepy cuddle pillow) friend receives a call from her own cell phone number and the voice mail left is of her last moments alive before something kills her. This continues to escalate and it’s up to Yumi to figure out what is happening to everyone. The movie touches on topics such as abuse, which is an overlying theme of the whole movie. A lot of people say they don’t like/don’t understand the ending, but I’m not gonna talk about it because I don’t want to spoil it. Because I think it is a little silly, but it returns to a theme that is mentioned earlier on which I can appreciate in film.

Just like all the rest so far, the American version starts there and takes a turn for not better (I wouldn’t say worst, because it definitely could have been worse). Similar to The Ring, the first American version of the film takes the best parts of the first two original films pastes them together and then tries to salvage a second movie out of it. Thankfully they didn’t get to make a second one for American audiences. If you prefer the American version then please, by all means, watch it. It’s just not my cup of tea. I like to have people watch as many horror movies as they can manage.

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There are many more movies that I’m going to mention that have American remakes, but I’m not going to get into the remakes as much. I’m sure if you want the American version, you will watch it, but this is about J-horror!

Kairo (Pulse)

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This movie is older, but is only dated by the technology. It’s about technology too. The movie follows two different groups of people. The first group compraised ofMichi, Junko, Yabe and Taguchi and the second, Ryosuke and Harue. Michi works at a plant shop and when Taguchi stops showing up for work she goes to his apartment where he promptly kills himself. Ryosuke begins his story by signing up for the Internet with a CD and a manual (like I said the movie is dated and as soon as he is connected to the internet is shows him a lot of different people, sitting in dark roooms, acting strangely. Now days, we call that Chatroulette, but in the movie it spread ghosts between users which resulted in the user committing suicide.

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I like this movie for a few reasons. It explores technology in dark way, hinting that it leads to an apocalyptic sort of future. Maybe we are headed in that direction… slowly? Who knows. I like that the characters are constantly looking for hope in a dying world. They look out for each other, even when people throw themselves from tall buildings. The red tape in this movie seems to serve a different purpose than in the American version. In this one it seems like the red tape is to keep things in, whereas the tape in the American version is meant to strictly keep things out.

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If you want to second guess your webcam and turn your monitor away while your not using it because you’re afraid. I recommend this film.

Carved: The Slit Mouthed Woman

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This movie is based on an urban legend from the Edo period about a woman who covers her face with a scarf, fan, or mask and goes about asking people if she pretty. If the person answers yes, she removes her covering which reveals a huge gash across her mouth. She asks again and if the person screams or says no, she kills them. If they say yes, she lets them go, only to kill them later on that night in their home. So that’s a fun person to party with. In the movie she is depicted as a woman wearing a beige coat and mask and she carries a giant pair of shears. She kidnaps children and hides them away, while a couple of school teachers investigate and try to find the children.

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I think this movie does really well because the majority of it is shot during the day. There are hardly shadows for the ghost to hide in. And that lends an element of realism to the story, as to say that abductions can happen at any time; even by ghosts.

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Carved  does have a prequel/sequel that came out after the first movie called Carved 2: The Scissors Massacre. It’s the story of a girl who gets acid thrown on her face after an old lover of her sister’s gets jealous after the sister’s wedding. That story is more about her descent into madness and her taking revenge on unforgiving classmates. Also a good watch.

I’ve listen 5 movies here that I think you’ll love this upcoming Halloween, hey you could even start early, there are enough prequels and sequels to get you started. A lot of these moves are available on sites like youtube.com, 123movies.to, or netflix. Happy watching and stay scared!

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