South Park 16.12: "A Nightmare on Facetime" (2012) directed by Trey Parker
Not nearly as cool as the Halloween episodes of old. This one pokes fun at the not-quite-antiquated notion of renting a physical movie in the guise of a not-as-good-as-The SimpsonsShining parody. Though I will never set foot in a Blockbuster again, I do rent plastic discs with movies on them from Netflix instead. I imagine I'll be doing so for years to come. Though the two movies they specifically mention in the episode -- The Thing and Halloween 4 -- are indeed available to stream on Netflix and Hulu Plus, streaming selection still isn't remotely good enough to completely replace watching physical discs. If I wanted to see Alien, The Exorcist, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Near Dark, Evil Dead, Psycho, Frankenstein, The Wicker Man, [REC], Fright Night, Phantasm, Re-Animator, Dawn of the Dead, The Return of the Living Dead, Suspiria, or even The Shining... I'm going to need a disc or I'm going to need to risk pirating. Maybe the hundreds of different rights holders will get their shit together and all of these will be streaming someday on a single service... I won't hold my breath.
Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995) directed by Mel Brooks
A vaguely amusing parody of the Lugosi, Lee and Oldman Dracula movies. Though, "vaguely amusing" is how I feel about all of Mel Brooks' stuff, I have to admit. I understand that the jokes on screen are supposed to be funny, but they're rarely enough to get me to erupt in laughter. Even the superior Young Frankenstein I like mostly because it's such a dead-on homage to its source material and has great actors in it. This one, it doesn't work as well for either of those things. I did like Peter MacNicol, who plays Renfield and does a pretty good Dwight Frye impression. He was fun to watch. I also liked the bit in which Dracula's hypnotized victims need incredibly specific directions in order not to walk the wrong way as he commands them. Other than that: meh.
Tales from the Crypt 5.13: "Till Death Do We Part" (1993) directed by W. Peter Iliff
After taking the girls out trick-r-treating -- costumes covered in coats, the coldest Halloween in a long time -- Jack and Casey and I settled in for a night of movies and pizza and wings and beer and vodka and candy. First up: the final episode of season 5 of Tales from the Crypt. It only took us three years to get through these 13 episodes, having watched the first episode back in 2009. Not bad, eh? The season ends on a strong note, with the talents of Frank Stallone and John Stamos -- no, really -- delivering a neat spin on the "Owl Creek Bridge" idea. Onwards to season 6 next year!
Instead of Trick 'r Treat this year, we picked this other classic that takes place on Halloween. Night of the Demons is just a good old '80s horror flick. A group of teens decide to have a Halloween party in an old, abandoned funeral home. Which is an awesome idea. I asked of us, "why are we sitting here, watching movies, when stuff like this is happening?" "Chlamydia," was Jack's response.
More like demons, which actually do act like an STD in the film, being passed from kid to kid through making out. The possessions making some of the kids start killing some of the other kids and lots of screaming and running ensue. It's all good slasher-esque fun. Also, Linnea Quigley shoves a lipstick through her nipple in one of horror's most bizarre scenes. And, please, never forgot Stooge's words of wisdom -- and one of my favorite horror movie quotes of all time -- when he advised: "Eat a bowl of fuck! Let's party!"
I haven't watched any of these in quite a long time. I think Jack and Casey and I are going try to make it through the whole series in the months ahead. It's strange to think of how it all started. I forget who said it first, but the original Friday the 13th is pretty much an American giallo movie and not so much of a slasher. There's nothing supernatural in the film at all. We get tons of POV shots from the killer's perspective in order to keep the killer's identity a mystery. When the killer is revealed, it turns out to be a crazy old lady, which is a twist Argento would be fond of. The only thing missing: Mrs. Vorhees should've been wearing black gloves.
For my fourteenth Halloween in a row, Halloween. Through sleepy eyes, I wondered: what made Michael choose Laurie? Forget the sister idiocy from the sequels/TV version. Why does he decide to stalk Laurie all day and then ruin her night? Well, he doesn't just stalk Laurie. He also follows Tommy to school as well. What do they have in common? Laurie and Tommy were the first people Michael saw after arriving back at his old house. I think -- given what I know about Carpenter -- it was just rotten luck. Whoever would've walked by first that morning would've caught his interest. It might've helped that Laurie was a teen-aged girl like the sister he killed and Tommy is close to his age when that happened. Maybe being back in the house and seeing those two people put him back in the state of mind he was in at 6. Regardless, it's just rotten luck. Laurie -- through no fault of her own -- attracted the attention of an evil force who decided to destroy her happiness for no reason at all. Happens all the time in real life, too.
It was a good Halloweentime. I watched 56 horror movies and 44 horror episodes. I read some old Hellraiser and Nightbreed comics. Me and the girls had fun playing with tons of glow sticks, which are incredibly cheap these days. I went to two Halloween parties, one with family and the other with friends. I watched the trees in my city undergo their beautiful transition. It was a good Halloweentime.
See again you in 46 weeks!
Sending your kids out begging house to house, dressed as princesses: what a weird world we live in.
The hook of the movie -- a kid discovers his new neighbor is a vampire -- is pure fun. I think the best scene in the movie is early on, when Jerry sneaks into Charlie's house to kill him. It's pretty much every kid's worst nightmare: the monster is real, he's in your bedroom, and mommy can't help you. It's tense stuff and Charlie and Jerry's lopsided fight is quite scary.
Charlie, the hero of the show, is a fellow horror geek and a huge reason I think this movie has stuck in people's minds for 27 years. Charlie's the type of horror geek we horror geeks kinda wish we were. He's the type to first recognize the vampire infestation / zombie apocalypse / werewolf killings because of his extensive and unique (but socially unacceptable) knowledge. Better, he's the type that absolutely refuses to stop trying to defeat the evil even in the face of disbelief and ridicule and a really super-strong monster who wants to kill him. Would that we all had such opportunity to prove to the normal people that we're not proto-serial killers just because we have a few Freddy pictures hanging on the wall...
Jerry, though physically strong, has a number of really big Achilles' heels. He has all of the typical vampire weaknesses -- crosses, holy water, sunlight, stakes -- but they seem to really, really bother the poor guy. Just one poke in the hand by a wooden pencil is enough to make him cry and run home. I propose that an anti-vampire suit would be ridiculously easy to construct. You could become an unbeatable god in the vampire community for under $20. Those demonic slaves of the night would cower in mortal terror at your very sight. All you need? A few dozen boxes of toothpicks and some glue.
A direct-to-video/VOD anthology series hosted by George A. Romero himself. When I say "hosted," what I mean here is that each story is introduced by a low-energy Romero inexplicably wearing a winter coat and apparently sitting on a living room couch while delivering cheezy lines even the Cryptkeeper wouldn't be able to spit out. He looks to be half-amused by the whole process, but not particularly interested. It would be sad, but it looks like the filmmakers are from Pittsburgh. This has gotta be good old George helping some neighbors out by leveraging his name and likeness. There's no way anyone would've seen these otherwise.
"Valley of the Shadow" from Jeff Monahan is one of the worst horror shorts I've ever seen, and I'm counting shit people shot in their backyard with a camcorder. I never did catch what this was supposed to be about. It's something about a fruit in the South American jungle that leaks blue fluid, but I don't know. What it ends up being is a group of unlikable characters chased by a native... except the native is played by a white guy with a shaved head and done up in warpaint. I'm guessing they cast him as the headhunter due to the "tribal" tattoos on his arm. Ugh.
"Wet" from Michael Fischa is a little better, being the second story I've seen this year about an evil mermaid. Despite warnings from a local antiques dealer, a lonely guy digs up some gold and jade boxed on the beach that each contain some decayed body parts. Off camera, they assemble themselves into a beautiful mermaid. She isn't very nice and begins to munch on the man (starting with his groin, with some rather gruesome sound effects). Without explanation, this somehow provides the man with a fish tale and her with legs. Maybe mermaids are sea-vampires and their bite turns you into one of them? I see loads of potential to milk the "supernatural teen romance" market here...
"House Call" from Tom Savini is actually pretty good. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't originally made for this production but was created as the pilot for a failed TV series called Chill Factor. It's very talky, but has a nice mood to it. It involves a doctor making a house call because a mother is worried about her son. She begins to fill him in on what her son has been up to each night, eventually revealing that the boy is a vampire. The still from the trailer below reveals the other twist to the story concerning the doctor:
Slightly better than the first one, but that's not saying much.
"The Gorge" from Matt Walsh is a mix of The Descent and Hunger. Some dumbass kids go caving without telling anyone where they're going and end up trapped. One of them gets his leg smushed by a rock. They start to get hungry. Nature takes its course. It's not bad. The gore effects are pretty good and they take the time to build the characters up into their cannibalistic choice. The coda, after they are rescued, takes a wee too long, though, and the unnecessary monster makeup on the girl at the end is ridiculous.
"On Sabbath Hill" from Jeff Monahan drags on for far too long. An asshole professor gets one of his students pregnant. Rather than simply get an abortion, she decides to kill herself in his class for reasons unfathomable. Naturally, her ghost begins to bug him constantly until he decides to follow her example. It's a simple, not particularly original, story that felt about twice as long as it really needed to be.
"Dust" from Michael Fischa is a little bizarre. A security guard at a science lab discovers that some dust from Mars can temporarily cure his wife of cancer. As a bonus, it also makes her extremely horny. We're treated to more than one scene of an overweight old man being ravaged by his considerably more attractive wife. Props to the actress for being so game. This being a horror story, things go south from there, people end up dead, and the film crew thinks tinting the moon red can stand in for a shot of Mars.
I forgot how awesome this movie is. The 'berg back in the '70s and early '80s really knew how to put a crowd-pleaser together. Great characters versus a hellishly scary monster terrorizing a community. What more do you need for a horror film?
Holy cow, Robert Shaw is incredible in this film. Every line that comes out of Quint's mouth is gold ("Seen one eat a rockin' chair one time."). Why Shaw didn't score an Oscar for the Indianapolis speech, I don't know.
Poltergeist is kind of Jaws with a ghost, ain't it? The house = the beach, the ghosts = Jaws, Steve = Brody, Dr. Lesh = Hooper, the real estate developer = the mayor and, of course, Tangina = Quint. Hmm. In that case, I think Mrs. Kintner should've dove into Bruce's mouth to grab her boy. Or, Steve should've thrown a propane tank from a backyard grill into the ghost's mouth to blow it up. Either way.
Tales from the Darkside 1.12: "In the Cards" (1985) directed by Ted Gershuny
A tarot card reader is given a cursed deck of cards that only reveals bad news. This is not very fun and she desperately tries to find a way to get rid of them. A decent episode, and at least it was serious and dark for a change.
Tales from the Darkside 1.13: "Anniversary Dinner" (1985) directed by John Strysik
A great episode. It's a little predictable, but it establishes a nice mood and the characters are well drawn. An old couple is about to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They are lonely in their old age and miss having their children in the house. When a young runaway wanders by, they invite her to stay with them and encourage her to relax in their hottub. And don't mind the vegetables in there...
Mockingbird Lane (2012) directed by Bryan Singer
Not bad. I'm obviously a fan of the original show, but I'm not opposed to doing different things with those beloved characters. And, those characters have been changed quite a bit. In a reverse of the original show, the Munsters look more-or-less normal but aren't quite as nice as they used to be. The show starts with Eddie transforming into a werewolf and ravaging a boy scout camp, and ends with Grandpa stealing the heart from Eddie's new scoutmaster to repair Herman's broken ticker. Having the Munsters as killers is going to turn off a lot of old school fans, I'm sure. But, I don't think this is really that important of a change.
For me, the meat of the original show was the interactions between the Munsters themselves. They aren't quite there yet with this new show. I like Herman and Lily's relationship, which seems to be as loving as it was in the original. Herman's interactions with Grandpa could use some work. I know it's far too much to ask for a repeat of that magic chemistry Al Lewis and Fred Gwynne had, but they at least need to hint that new Herman and new Grandpa secretly appreciate each other's friendship. The family's attitude towards Marilyn, also, is a little too harsh. They're straying into "shut up, Meg" Family Guy territory a little with her. I like it better when the family simply feels sorry for her.
If this thing gets picked up as a series, I'm not sure where they could really take it. Based on this episode, it would be seem to be about monster-izing typical sitcom problems (instead of having a talk with Eddie about puberty, it's about being a werewolf). That'll get tired fast. There's potential for the family to cause some fun havoc in their little suburban neighborhood, though. We shall see.
Surprisingly good, despite the horrible title. I kind of thought of it as the movie that let us know what was happening on the another side of London while Shaun was having his adventures elsewhere. It has the a bit of the same humor, except for a hundred times more jokes about Cockneys. Which is sometimes a problem. I'm sure there were a slew of jokes that flew over my head because I'm not English and don't know the first thing about the subcultures of London.
While not a mind-blowing zombie movie -- zombies arrive, people run and shoot at them, some die, the end -- this film had a bunch of great little ideas in it I haven't seen in any zombie movie before. A zombie bites a guy, he blows its head off with a gun, but a part of the zombie's face remains biting into his arm. He then has to carry this partial zombie face around for a few scenes. That same guy has a metal plate in his skull from the war. Guess what happens when his companions try to shoot him after he turns?
The best idea: old people vs. zombies. The main characters' grandfather lives at an old folks home and rallies his fellow seniors to defend the place against the undead. Awesome. We get a machine gun taped to a walker, an old lady throwing a box of cereal at a zombie, an old man in a wheelchair killing a zombie in a wheelchair, the inability to flee due to too many hip replacements, and the best chase scene of any zombie movie ever when a slow pack of zombies pursue a slow old man with a walker. In fact, they really should just rename the movie, if they bring it over here, to Seniors vs Zombies. That'll get butts in seats.
I love the movie more every time I see it. I was describing it as the horror Labyrinth, but it's really much better than that. Both are mainly about that confusing transition between girl- and womanhood. Wolves, however, is filled with far more symbolism and has much more to say. It's also not an easy movie to follow (particularly if you've just watched some silliness about old people killing zombies).
What I noticed this time out was the storytelling aspect of the film. Or that, the movie is about our need for storytelling as it is anything else. Stories helps us make sense of the world. They don't even necessarily need to be true stories to be the "God's honest truth." Granny's stories, in the best tradition of our old fairy tales, are thinly disguised morality plays intended to plant seeds in Rosaleen's mind that will grow as she does. Puberty will soon have Rosaleen discover the "wolves with hair on the inside" and Granny's stories, she hopes, will protect the child. And, because the stories are also entertaining, they're easy to remember and retell. Most of Granny's stories in the film are actually told by Rosaleen. Not only will this ensure she can pass these same lessons on to her own children, the repetition makes the lessons more immediate in her mind as well. Now, whether she actually follows what the stories teach, that's an entirely different thing...
The other thing I noticed is that the entire movie is a fairy tale and its moral is this: don't wish to grow up so fast, kids. Once you grow up and lose that innocence, you'll discover the terrible truth: being an adult is hard, confusing, and its only relief is inevitable death.
I've always wanted to see this because of the nuts trailer (below) and because Fulci plays himself in it. In it, Fulci begins to see visions of the gore from his movies in everyday life. As in, when he goes to a restaurant, the meat offered him only makes him think of the cannibal scene he just shot. His visions get so bad, he seemingly can't take three steps in his own home without going into a trance and imagining a five minute gore scene (in reality, ripped off from other movies). It's like horror epilepsy and a cheap way to pad the film. So, he goes to a psychiatrist. Unlucky for him, the shrink is not a nice guy and uses Fulci's problem to make Fulci think he is responsible for the shrink's murders.
It's not a great movie. Still, I got a kick out of Fulci's starring role turn. His acting is bizarre and low-key and kind of fun to watch.
Lots of folks seem to consider this an honorary horror movie -- including Ari Lehman at the Flint Horror Con -- so I gave it a spin during my Six Weeks. Normal people are going to avoid that label in favor of the far more respectable "psychological thriller" tag, but, yes, this is a horror movie about a repressed woman who cracks under pressure and descends into madness. Losing one's mind is one of the more horrific things that can happen to a person and this film illustrates that better than just about any I can think of.
I love the way the film handles Nina's increasing mental instability. It starts slowly, with scratches on her back and mysteriously bleeding fingertips. We catch a very quick glimpse of a drawing's eyes moving. Nina spies a woman dressed in a black on the street who, only at first, seems to mimic her movements. They are all very subtle and, strangely, very believable hints that Nina is having some problems. As a repressed perfectionist, it seems like these are the small ways the intense mental pressure in Nina's mind might seek an outlet.
The arrival of Lily into her life opens the floodgates. Lily -- the real Lily -- represents everything she is not: a free-spirit who, while technically an imperfect dancer, makes up for any flaws with the emotion she infuses into her performance. Which happens to be exactly what Thomas is looking for in a Black Swan performance. Naturally, a part of Nina's already damaged mind begins to take on some of Lily's personality traits in order to pull off a perfect Black Swan performance. Imaginary Lily becomes Nina's own Tyler Durden, in a way, pushing her into letting go of the extreme control she's exercised over herself for her entire life. I dig the subtly of the transformations -- when imaginary Lily's face would switch quickly to Nina's -- quite a bit. It's all blink-and-you'll-miss-it and I was often not sure of what I was seeing, exactly. Perfect for putting you into Nina's frame of mind.
This a heckuva complicated character study. Portman certainly deserved that Oscar. I need to watch this film again to see what else in here.