Hello Geeks and Ghouls, Famous Monster here. Well, it’s finally October and you know what that means? Breast Cancer Awareness 5Ks? Good guess. Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Delicious, but no. Halloween? YES. Horror movies? DOUBLE YES!
Welcome to 31 Days of Horror, where I’ll cover two noteworthy horror films a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 62 Films perfect for watching on a cold, dark October night. Be sure to visit Geeks of Doom every day this month for a double-shot of chills and thrills!
Today’s double-shot is the horror anthology V/H/S and Ti West’s The Innkeepers.
V/H/S is an anthology of five horror stories with a simple premise: A gang of delinquent misfits is hired by a mysterious entity to burglarize an old man’s house and acquire a rare VHS tape. When the kids break in, they find the man dead in a chair facing a makeshift wall of TVs and VCRs. The gang quickly discovers more found footage than they bargained for. They search boxes and boxes of unmarked VHS tapes, their only clue as to what they’re looking for is, “You’ll know it when you see it.”
And so the kids start sticking random tapes in VCRs and discover different found footage flicks. Curated by Brad Miska of Bloody-Disgusting.com, V/H/S (Video Horror Segments!) includes short films by Ti West (House of the Devil), Glenn McQuaid (I Sell the Dead), David Bruckner (The Signal), Joe Swanberg (Silver Bullets), Adam Wingard (The ABCs of Death), and the filmmaking group Radio Silence.
That Really Creepy Scene:
Ti West’s Second Honeymoon follows Sam and Stephanie, a married couple on a road trip. While staying at a hotel, the couple is visited by a strange woman who asks for a ride, Sam declines her request and the girl finally leaves.
Later, when Sam and Stephanie go to sleep, an unseen camera wielder enters the room and watches them both sleep, softly touching Stephanie’s skin with a switchblade. The person behind the camera steals $100 from Sam’s wallet and goes into the bathroom where we see the person in the mirror’s reflection – a woman wearing a bizarre mask. To top it off, she puts Sam’s toothbrush in the toilet. What a bitch.
There’s something powerful about watching a violent, disturbing VHS tape. I guess it really all goes back to the idea of snuff films – of seeing something you weren’t meant to see, something that can’t be unseen. Films like Videodrome and The Ring have that kind of power – if you watch this weird tape, you’ll die in seven days.
In the age of DVD and YouTube, that premise doesn’t seem nearly as scary. “Oh dude, there’s this BitTorrent out there and if you download it and watch it, you’ll totally die in like 5-6 days.” Just doesn’t have the same kind of effect, does it?
That’s where V/H/S shines. It takes me back to a childhood spent watching VHS tapes, and thinking about the power they held. We had shelves of VHS tapes, most of them commercial releases, but tons of tapes where we had recorded movies or specials off of TV.
The two best short films in V/H/S are the first two: Bruckner’s Amateur Night and West’s Second Honeymoon. The third segment, Glenn McQuaid’s Tuesday the 17th, is easily the worst of the bunch. Swanberg’s The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger is an entirely decent short while Radio Silence’s 10/31/98 is a Halloween-themed short that proves to be a rather weak ending for the anthology. Regardless, V/H/S remains a worthwhile curiosity for those looking for new horror.
Hungry for more? Consider checking out Ti West’s The Innkeepers. The Yankee Pedlar Inn of Torrington, Connecticut, offers 60 individual bathrooms with private baths, each adorned with stenciled walls and period furniture and restored with the most modern of conveniences. Since 1891, The Yankee Pedlar has been known for gracious hospitality and homegrown warmth. It also has a reputation for being haunted.
Believed by many to be one of New England’s “most haunted hotels,” The Yankee Pedlar is about to shut its doors for good. As the Inn’s final days draw near, the remaining employees – Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) – set out to uncover proof of its haunted past.
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