With Mrs. K at work, my daughter and I kicked up off the first day of Halloween together. I opened the season by popping in Cartoon Network Halloween: 9 Creepy Cartoon Capers, a compilation DVD I picked up five years ago (three before Lil K was even born). We watched The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: "Billy & Mandy's Jacked-Up Halloween" and Johnny Bravo: "Bravo Dooby-Doo" before I decided it was time to unpack the decorations box. Lil K was happy to help at first; I had her Halloween books, last year's costume and last year's Halloween clothes on top. However, after getting her finger painfully stuck in Grolschenstein's mouth (who knew he bit?), she got a little timid. I discovered this year that there are certain decorations I just can't use. The life-sized Jason Vorhees is out. Anything that makes scary sounds: out. I guess she's either too old or too young for the scary stuff this time around.
After the little one was in bed, Mrs. K and I watched the first movie of season. She wanted 28 Days Later, but I convinced her to watch the first movie from Horrorfest 2007 with me. I probably should have read some reviews first...
Borderland (2007) directed by Zev Berman
"That was brutal!" said Mrs. K as the end credits rolled. It was quite the kick in the guts, I agreed. Three college-age kids drive into a Mexican bordertown for some fun. There they have the bad luck of crossing paths with a cult that practices human sacrifice by way of torture. It sounds relatively clichéd: according to horror movies, thousands of kids die horrible deaths while on roadtrips to rural/non-American places each year.
Somehow, Borderland did it differently. There's a sense of realism about the movie, though perhaps this is partially from the "this is based on a true story" title card at the beginning. It's shot in a really harsh manner. Both the sun and artificial lights seem to give everything a sharp, yellow edge, like a piece of broken glass. The editing is tight, showing just enough of the horror to horrify and only going just a little bit over the line into gross-out territory. The actors who were tortured by the cult did a disturbingly fantastic job of conveying realistic anguish. Also, Marco Bacuzzi really needs to be in more horror movies. Buried in the story are interesting observations on the nature of violence and the effect of belief in the supernatural on a culture.
"Did you like it?" asked my wife. No, I didn't "like" it. I can't imagine buying this to own; I don't see myself ever watching it again. But, I would say it was well-made and worth the disturbing experience. (8/10)
Amazing Stories: "Mummy Daddy" (1985) directed by William Dear
In order to lighten the mood after Borderland, I popped in one of my favorite Amazing Stories episodes. I figured this would be a good one to watch, as my wife is pregnant right now. In it, Harold is playing a mummy for a horror movie being shot on location in the swaps of Louisiana. In the middle of a nighttime shoot, he gets a call that his wife has gone into early labor. Without taking his costume off, he jumps in a car and heads for the hospital. Needless to say, dressed as he is in an area where people really believe in mummies, some hijinx ensue.
This episode is packed with clever writing, callbacks to the old Universal horror movies and plain funny moments. It's been a favorite since I was wee. (9/10)
PS: Universal, you can eat me. I just ordered a bootleg set of season 2 of Amazing Stories, since you've not interested in finishing a tiny two-season show on DVD.
Rituales de Sangre: The True Story Behind the Matamoros Cult Killings (2008)
After the wife went to bed, I popped the Borderland DVD back in to watch this documentary. It covers the real case that the movie was loosely based on. Essentially, it's deputy sheriff George Gavito describing the investigation, interspersed with camcorder footage taken by his department of the crime scene. It was a bit shocking, in that they freely showed footage of the murder victims been dug out of the ground with shovels and a backhoe. The documentary was also focused mainly on the cold reactions of the perpetrators to their crimes. I would've liked to have seen them put these awful events into some context: how it affected the communities, how it affected Spring Break in Texas in the years that followed, if there were any similar cults believed to still exist, etc. (6/10)