31 Days of Hallowe’en 2022, Day 31: Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, Episodes 1-3 [2022]

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And so another year’s horror-thon comes to a close. Since covid I’ve stayed in for Hallowe’en, a far cry from my annual childhood parties or the multi-month-long carnival that is autumnal life in Salem. So what better way to ring out my 9th 31 Days of Hallowe’en with the presentation of one of our modern masters of horror?

Also: Happy Hallowe’en!

Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities is an anthology series presented by del Toro – literally, with openings in the style of Hitchcock – with each of its eight episodes helmed by different directors. Tonight I sat down and watched the first three, and it was a very mixed bag for me, so I’d rather score them individually for that reason.

Episode 1: Lot 36

The first episode, directed by Guillermo Navarro, stars Tim Blake Nelson as a racist piece of shit who also happens to be a war veteran, but whose days currently revolve around purchasing storage units to see what he can salvage while not getting the shit kicked out of him by loan sharks. One day he comes across a lot owned by a literal Nazi and stumbles upon some occult artefacts but, naturally, he doesn’t believe in any of this and proceeds to blunder his way through the rest of this predictable episode, which is impossibly slow-moving and features too hateful of a protagonist to spend this much time with. It seems to hark back to a Tales From The Crypt style in which there’s no scares, spooky atmosphere, tension or dread until the episode’s final moments but by then, I just didn’t give a shit.

Score: πŸŽƒπŸŽƒ

Episode 2: Graveyard Rats

Directed by Vincenzo Natali, this one genuinely scared me as it built up suffocating levels of dread while still maintaining its own distinctly camp, grim, grimy style. It’s largely a one-man show for David Hewlett, who plays grave robber Masson, and he absolutely nails every beat of pathos, terror and abject bastardism while still making you root for him. Once it starts, it never stops being scary, and the creature design is just fantastic. Bonus points for being set in Salem (albeit for no apparent reason).

Score: πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ

Episode 3: The Autopsy

Directed by David Prior, this episode stars F Murray Abraham as a coroner who carries out the titular autopsy on a group of miners after a mysterious explosion. Hailed in some articles as the scariest of the bunch, it didn’t quite sit that way with me. I felt that the ending was too telegraphed and it took some time getting started, and in a way I didn’t quite expect (pace-breaking backstory upon pace-breaking backstory). I also found the antagonist too cheesy in a modern way when set against Abraham’s (characteristically brilliant) measured performance and the episode’s clearly vintage setting. Still, I thought it had a richly eerie atmosphere, some grisly visuals and a couple of good scares.

Score: πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ

That’s it for this year. We’ll do this again in October 2023!

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31 Days of Hallowe’en 2021, Day 30: My Name [마이 λ„€μž„], Episode 1 [2021]

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My Name is a Korean TV show that doesn’t need much introduction, based on how Netflix has been pushing it – and I’m glad it debuted in the top 10 (at least where I can see it in the UK), even if it might have dropped off lately (probably because of new releases and viewing habits relating to Hallowe’en). It also probably shouldn’t count as a horror-thon entry, but I decided it would last night at around 2 am when I wasn’t feeling well last night and had forgotten to put on an actual film. So there.

My Name (TV series) - Wikipedia
source: wikipedia
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31 Days of Hallowe’en 2020, Day 28: Goedam, episode 1: Crack [2020]

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Goedam (TV Series 2020– ) - IMDb

Short and mostly sweet, Netflix’s Korean horror short anthology series Goedam seems to be as much of a mixed bag as the Nordic one Bloodride.

There’s not much to say about this since episode one is less than 10 minutes in length, but Crack follows a fairly simple story: a young schoolgirl is haunted by something in a bathroom.

My OCD got chills, so perhaps I’m biased. But why do people sit on a toilet seat knowing that other people have blasted bodily fluids on and around it? Why does she put her hands and FACE on the floor – the gross floor in front of the toilet itself – to see if someone or something else is in the toilet? At that point I would have just given myself up to the ghost as long as I didn’t have to touch anything but alas, my OCD was further triggered by events I shan’t spoil. It’s typical short-film format, though: the scare is always at the end. With Crack, it wasn’t worth the wait for me.

Score: πŸŽƒπŸŽƒ

31 Days of Hallowe’en 2020, Day 25 and 26: Psychopath Diary, episodes 1-5 [2019]

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Time for more K-drama!

Psychopath Diary is a bit slower to get into because the real story doesn’t kick in until the last few minutes of the first episode (as is true for many kdramas), but feast your eyes on this premise:

Yook Dong-sik (Yoon Shi-yoon), a young, doormat of an office worker and full-time cinnamon bun gets retrograde amnesia after being hit by a police car following a suicide attempt. However, he doesn’t remember that he’s witnessed a murder and, because he’s later found with the murderer’s diary on him, thinks that he himself is the titular psychopath, and scrambles to keep his ‘identity’ a secret from everyone around him.

Just…wow.

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31 Days of Hallowe’en 2020, Day 10: Mystic Pop-up Bar 1×01 [2020]

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Mystic Pop-up Bar - Wikipedia

I don’t think it’s cheating to use a Korean drama series for my horror-thon, seeing as an episode tends to run near-feature length (almost 70 minutes here), and Netflix is adding more and more kdramas since they started getting more popular (and all I can say is fuck yes). Watching via Netflix Party (now TeleParty), I let a kdrama-virgin friend pick from a pool of candidates and he went with Mystic Pop-up Bar, a Netflix Original.

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31 Days of Hallowe’en 2018, Day 13: The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell 1×01 [2018]

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curious creations of christine mcconnell, netflix, baking, horror, halloween,

I am so ill I am legit struggling to comprehend how Twitter is telling me that is is simultaneously National Baking Week and National Chocolate Week. Either way, this is the perfect day to write a belated post on Netflix’s latest baking show, which happens to be exactly the kind of spoopy, quirky food programme I would have wanted growing up as a kooky little goth girl.

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365 Days of Horror, Day 20: Black, Episode 3

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black kdrama korean drama

source: yodrama.com

WhatΒ a game-changing episode. Two episodes in of k-drama Black and I’m pleasantly surprised by the sharp curveball this show has thrown me. Up until now it’s been a drama with police procedural elements but with a greater focus on the characters – the quirkiest of which is a wholly different kind of psychic. But since that apparently wasn’t enough, we’ve got an ENTIRELY new set of characters and literally a whole other world with its own rules, subplots and twists and turns thrown in.

We’ve literally only been watching half of the show up to this point.

I’m excited to see where these new developments are going to take us. There’s new sources of humour, new in-world rules and details, messier relationships, and compleely new plot dynamics. I thought the show was already cooking before, but it’s bloody marinating in itself now.

Score:Β πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ

365 Days of Horror, Day 19: Tales from the Crypt 2×16: Television Terror

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“Television Terror”, episode 16 of season 2 of Tales from the Crypt, has cheese in all the right places. I love a good haunted house tale, especially when a loutish dick of a main character has to undergo its torture. Said tool is a news presenter (Morton Downey Jr) keen to boost ratings by doing a sensationalised report from within an abandoned murder house.

Yes, it’s predictable right up until the very end, but it’s bloody good fun: gore, spooks, bug-eyed overacting – it’s an episode to play alongside a popcorn-hurling drinking contest.

Score:Β πŸŽƒπŸŽƒπŸŽƒ