For the last month of my Year in Film 2020, I wanted to do something a little different. Since it’s December and Christmas is getting nearer, I’ve decided to make a Christmas movie advent calendar. Every day for the next 24 days I shall be blogging about the Christmas films I’ve watched. David and I have already decided on a list – so without further ado, here’s day one!
Siblings Kate and Teddy Pierce hatch a scheme to capture Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. When the plan goes awry, the kids join forces with a somewhat jolly Saint Nick and his loyal elves to save the holiday before it’s too late.
I just loved this Christmas movie when it came out in 2018! Kurt Russell is perfectly cast as Santa Claus. It’s just an action packed, heartwarming, fun film!
As the dark nights begin to draw in, it looks like David and I are aiming for a film watched per night, or so October’s count is suggesting! We don’t watch TV, so for entertainment we rely heavily on playing PlayStation games, watching films and endless streams on YouTube. Our go to channels are Harald Baldr and Simon Wilson, who both document their trips abroad. I think we are dreaming of holidays taken away from us by Covid restrictions!
Rocky 4 ✩✩✩✩
Rocky trains his friend Apollo Creed in a match against Drago, an indestructible Russian boxer. But when Apollo is killed in the ring during the match, Rocky vows to avenge his friend’s death.
I surprisingly enjoyed this offering from Sylvester Stallone. It had everything, comedy, friendship, love and loss and with a banging 80’s soundtrack, there’s not much to not like about this film.
The Social Network ✩✩✩
As Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, he is sued by the twins who claimed he stole their idea, and by the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business.
I wouldn’t say this was a particularly exciting movie, but it’s worth a watch.
David, a businessman, passes by an old tanker truck in a dessert while travelling for a meeting. The driver of the truck is a psychopath who finds David’s overtaking offensive and decides to kill him.
This was Steven Spielberg’s directorial debut and surprisingly it wasn’t too bad, brings road rage to another new level!
The Thing ✩✩✩
A research team in Antarctica is hunted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims.
Kurt Russell is the no-nonsense talking hero in this John Carpenter film. It’s not aged well but the tension is all there and the puppetry for the mutating alien is good for it’s time.
They Live ✩✩
A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over the Earth.
Staying with the theme of John Carpenter films is They Live starring wrestler ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Pipper. A bit of a slow burn but not a bad watch.
Monsters Inc ✩✩✩✩
In Monstropolis, best friends Sulley and Mike are the top scarers working at the Monsters, Inc. However, their lives are hugely disrupted when a human girl enters their world.
I love this movie! It has the right amount of comedy, threat and emotion and Sully’s relationship with Boo is heart-warming. I definitely had a tear in my eye at the end.
Sam and Molly love each other, but their romance is short-lived when Sam is killed by a thug. Unable to tell Molly that her life is in danger, Sam’s spirit takes a psychic’s help in order to save her.
Another film that is bound to get the tears flowing. A brilliant thriller with an even better soundtrack.
An alien is left behind on Earth and is saved by young Elliot who decides to keep him hidden. While the task force hunts for it, Elliot and his siblings form an emotional bond with their new friend.
E.T. was the first movie I saw at the cinema. I remember going to see it with my dad. I was five and came home with a crush on Elliott (Henry Thomas) and a sticker book!
Toy Soldiers ✩✩✩
Terrorists, seeking the release of a South American drug baron, take schoolchildren as hostages. However, the captives fight back.
Before watching this film, I thought it was Small Soldiers of 1998 but this stars Sean Austin and is centered around a boys school overrun with terrorists. It was worth a watch.
Dog Soldiers ✩✩✩✩
During a routine training mission in the Scottish Highlands, a small squad of British soldiers expected to rendezvous with a special ops unit, instead find a bloody massacre with a sole survivor. The men are rescued by a zoologist who identifies what hunts them as werewolves. Without transport or communications, the group is forced to retreat to a farmhouse to wait for the full moon to disappear at dawn.
In my opinion, Dog Soldiers is one of the best werewolf films ever made. The cast are brilliant, and there’s enough mystery, threat and violence to keep you entertained. The make-up and werewolf design is on point.
The Birds ✩✩
Melanie, a rich socialite, follows Mitch, a lawyer, to his home in Bodega Bay to play a practical joke on him. Things take a bizarre turn when the birds in the area begin to attack the people there.
I think Hitchcock films are a product of its time, as I found The Birds, rather disappointing and boring. Yes, there is a lot of tension and build up in the first hour, but was I terrified? Not likely!
Josh and Renai move to a new house, seeking a fresh start. However, when their son, Dalton, mysteriously falls into a coma, paranormal events start occurring in the house.
I think Insidious is only scary on the first watch. by the second I wasn’t terrified at all and expected half of the thrills before they appeared. Still a decent scary movie though.
Dead End ✩✩✩
Christmas Eve. On his way to his in-laws with his family, Frank Harrington decides to try a shortcut, for the first time in 20 years. It turns out to be the biggest mistake of his life.
I thought this wasn’t a bad film. I sort of guessed the end but it didn’t detract from the shocks and laughs the drama on screen produced. I’d give it a watch just for the gore!
The Others ✩✩
Grace moves into a new house with her two photosensitive children in Jersey. When a series of inexplicable events occur, Grace starts believing that her house is haunted.
I found this movie rather pedestrian in its execution and the thrills and scary moments were few and far between. More psychological than a horror.
On New Year’s Eve, a giant wave crashes into Poseidon, a luxurious cruise liner, and flips it upside down. As the ship begins to sink, the passengers struggle to find a way to survive.
A film I’d seen before but enjoyed watching it a second time round. There were lots of action sequences and tension to keep me enthralled until the credits.
The Fog ✩✩✩✩
Folks get ready to celebrate the centenary of Antonio Bay. But, many had suffered due to crimes that founded this town. Now, they rise from the sea, under the cover of the fog, to claim retribution.
I never get tired of watching this spooky movie. One of John Carpenters’ better films. The story telling is at it’s finest. Though 40 years old, and looking a little dated, The Fog is one of the best ghost stories of all time!
Carry on Cleo ✩✩
After being trounced in Europe, Caesar dispatches Antony to forge an alliance with Ptolemy, who is squabbling with Cleopatra for the Egyptian throne, but the plan goes awry as Antony is captivated by Cleopatra’s asp, and together they plot Caesar’s downfall.
A watchable film but the jokes were very dated and I don’t think the youth of today would get it!
The Conjuring ✩✩✩
The Perron family moves into a farmhouse where they experience paranormal phenomena. They consult demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, to help them get rid of the evil entity haunting them.
I hadn’t watched this movie before. I enjoyed the storytelling and the thrills and liked the cast. Would recommend a watch.
The Witches of Eastwick ✩✩
Three single women in a village have their wishes granted at a cost, when a mysterious and flamboyant man arrives in their lives, to satisfy all their desires. Will good triumph over evil?
Oh dear, this film was awful! I think giving it two stars was generous. I’m not a big fan of Jack Nicholson, his portrayal of Satan just made my skin crawl!
Hocus Pocus ✩✩✩
Three witches resurrect after 300 years to exact revenge and begin a reign of terror after Max, a young boy who moves to Salem with his family, lights a cursed Candle of Black Flame.
An all round fun, family movie. Almost 30 years old but it’s still as good now as it was back then.
Practical Magic ✩✩✩
After the death of their parents, Sally and Gillian Owens move in with their aunts, Jet and Frances. The two sisters have nothing in common except their hereditary gift for practical magic.
This film started off well, a family of witches with a curse on its men but by the end it had gone all soppy and romantic. Watchable.
The Witch ✩
In the New England of the 17th century, a banished Puritan family sets up a farm by the edge of a huge, remote forest, where no other family lives. But sinister forces then start haunting them.
I watched this when I wasn’t feeling well one day and David was busy working. I’m glad I didn’t subject David to this drivel. It is an account of how religious paranoia and hysteria can result in terrible events happening to a family in the 1600’s. I could see where the director was trying to go with this film it just fell short for me.
The Witches (2020) ✩✩
In late 1967, a young orphaned boy goes to live with his grandma in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis. As the boy and his grandmother encounter some deceptively glamorous but thoroughly diabolical witches, she wisely whisks him away to a seaside resort. Regrettably, they arrive at precisely the same time that the world’s Grand High Witch has gathered her fellow cronies from around the globe — under cover — to carry out her nefarious plans.
Oh dear. Why did they have to do a remake of an already good film? I like Anne Hathaway but in this retelling of Roald Dahl’s classic The Witches, she was no Anjelica Huston. The film relied too much on CGI at the cost of the story. I wanted to like it but sadly couldn’t.
Escape From Alcatraz ✩✩✩
Alcatraz is the most secure prison of its time. It is believed that no one can ever escape from it, until three daring men make a possible successful attempt at escaping from one of the most infamous prisons in the world.
Clint Eastwood is his enigmatic self in this tense prison escape, based on a true story.
RL Stine, the author of ‘Goosebumps’, is shocked when demons from his books come to life and spread havoc in Delaware. He, along with his daughter and her friend, tries to get them back in the books.
A good family film with lots of comedy, thrills and action. I would recommend a watch if not seen before.
The Blob ✩✩
The Blob, a slimy substance made as a part of a chemical experiment during the Cold War, spreads havoc in the city of Arborville, California, and disfigures the people who come in contact with it.
Not the Steve McQueen version but a comical 1980’s remake. Best to watch for the cheesiness.
The Conjuring 2 ✩✩✩
Peggy, a single mother of four children, seeks the help of occult investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren when she and her children witness strange, paranormal events in their house.
A strong sequel and a good retelling of the Enfield poltergeist. One of my favourite scary movies. I am liking the direction these films are taking.
What’s your favourite scary movie?
Have you seen any films recently that you have enjoyed or disliked? Any recommendations?