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Pay attention not only to the cultivation of knowledge but to the cultivation of qualities of the heart, so that at the end of education, not only will you be knowledgeable, but also you will be a warm-hearted and compassionate person.

~ HH the 14th Dalai Lama


Halloween Horror Fest

I've watched an abnormal number of horror movies this year. Some of that is because my wife is researching portrayals of librarians in film, and the most recent batch she added to our collection simply happened to include a lot of horror flicks. But I've also been re-embracing my horror roots, not only in film but also in literature (for a while this summer I returned to reading my beloved vampire novels, though only a handful turned out to be any good; I do highly recommend Robin McKinley's Sunshine) and in my own writing.

In that vein, I've been more in the mood recently to watch horror, and I've seen some interesting movies (Rob Zomebie's The Devil's Rejects and his remake of Halloween) and re-watched some old favorites (the original Wicker Man, Interview with the Vampire). But for this Halloween, I thought I'd list a few of the disappointments.

Weirdest/lamest/silliest horror movies I've seen this year:

House of 1,000 Corpses
Yes, I know it's Zombie and has become a cult classic of sorts, and it is fun in places, but it's also chaotic and mostly absurd; The Devil's Rejects was better.

The Dunwich Horror
Despite the lame "Satan spawn" write-up on the DVD case, it stays surprizingly faithful to the story, at least as far as this sort of movie can remain faithful. But Dean Stockwell tries way too hard for "intense and creepy"; he only ever manages "numb gaze" and "dull breathy monotone." Plus, in a weird sexploitative move that violates the tone of the original story, they tossed in a "sexy" leading girl, who winds up being one of the stupidest "blonde bimbos" in the history of horror cinema--and that's saying something.

Chainsaw Sally
Imagine an unintentional spoof of House of 1,000 Corpses crossed with a intentional (but failed) attempt at an homage to the bizarre but far superior Suspiria, all on a $6,000 budget. The hick-cop dialogue was sort of funny, though, and I admit I enjoyed all the serial-killer references.

From a Whisper to a Scream
Actually not half bad, but the Vincent Price interludes are the best part--the four sketches that make up the rest of the movie range from idiotic to hilarious to mildly interesting, sometimes in the same sketch, but it does manage to stand in the great tradition of the old Amazing Stories and Twilight Zone serials.