23 October 2011

October 23rd

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966) directed by Alan Rafkin
Browsing Netflix, a good ol' Don Knotts comedy seemed like a better choice to watch with the little one rather than a Carebears Halloween special.  Knotts is a typesetter at the local newspaper who dreams of being a reporter.  With the egging on of the paper's janitor, he modifies an article on the anniversary of a suicide-murder to make it a little more exciting.  The small town he lives in loves it and the paper concocts a plan to have scaredy-cat Luther spend the night in the supposedly haunted house where the crime took place.  Luther's second article about the ghostly goings on there is hugely successful and makes him the toast of the town.  In reality, this is just a Scooby-Doo story with Don Knotts in the role of Shaggy and the owner of the house playing the "I would've gotten away with it if it hadn't been for you kids" guy.  

The movie was actually pretty funny.  Luther gets some really goofy groupees who are part of a local paranormal club.  They chant silly mystical phrases at him and constantly try to touch him to get some of the supernatural energy they think he has. Don Knotts, of course, is perfect at playing the acts-tough-but-really-isn't role ("My body is a deadly weapon!").  "Attaboy, Luther!"  The unseen guy who kept yelling this during the movie cracked me up every time.  I love that this became a thing to do after the movie came out.

A decently fun film, and good for youngins.  (6/10)

Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002) directed by Rick Bota
Ashley Laurence returns as Kirsty in the first of three of these sequels directed by Bota.  Just like Inferno, a man finds himself in Hell but doesn't realize it because it's just a weird version of his normal life.  Is this what Hellraiser is now?  Is it just a series of weak ripoffs of Jacob's Ladder with asshole protagonists?  I love Jacob's Ladder, but there's not a chance in hell these direct-to-video sequels are going to touch the creepiness of that film.  Only Silent Hill 2 can claim that mantle.

In its defense, the film works fairly well outside of the Cenobite stuff.  Main character Trevor is suffering from migraines and amnesia due to a head injury in a crash.  He seems to be having trouble telling what is real and what is not.  As the audience, we're experiencing exactly the same confusion as we try to figure out what the real story is behind Trevor and his missing wife.  I'd completely forgotten the details of this movie, so I had no idea where it was headed and was assuming Trevor was really the killer.  Without the Hellraiser parts, this could've been a pretty cool movie about a brain damaged man being framed for murder by his wife.

Kirsty's reunion with Pinhead is tremendously disappointing.  Twice she's escaped him and here she is, improbably, fifteen years later after having willingly solved the box again.  If I were Pinhead, the chains would be flying immediately before she had a chance to argue.  Instead, Kirsty offers Pinhead yet another bargin and he, improbably, accepts it.  What the hell?  Fifteen years ago, apon encountering her for a second time, he said "No more deals child, it is your flesh we want to experience, not your skill at bargaining."  I guess that Pinhead died in II.  We now have a Pinhead who merely lets people run around Hell in crappy versions of their regular lives.  And he collects "souls" like Lucifer.  Where'd this come from?  He's supposed to deal with the flesh, not the spirit.  Arg.

As for Kirsty's turn to the dark side, I don't have too much of a problem with that.  Recall that after her experience with dad-skin-wearing Uncle Frank, she woke up in a mental institution with no memory of how she got there.  She's been permanently broken from her experiences in the first two films, I think.  Trevor just had the bad luck of cheating on a psycho. (6/10)

The Walking Dead: "Vatos" (2010) directed by Johan Renck
I'm not really sure what the point of the encounter with the Vatos was.  "Don't judge a book by its cover"?  Well, thanks there, mom.  The idea that so many people are able to survive in the middle of city that should have millions of zombies in it seems a wee unlikely.  Then again, Atlanta seems strangely devoid of zombies.  They grab the guns and walk out of town with absolutely no issues.  And, upon finding the truck gone, why did the group walk back to the camp?  There were literally thousands of cars on the expressway right next to them.  Disappointing.

Finally, at the end of the episodes, zombies attack the camp.  Good stuff.  The survivors had become far to complacent in their hillside campsite.  It's about time the reality of the world intruded.  Part of the theme of the comic is that there is no rest and no normalcy.  They're always moving, always looking for a place they can settle down in and never finding it.  Always walking, you might say.  Hopefully, this attack will get them on the move.  

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