Sunday, October 31, 2010

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


May you have a safe and frightful Halloween night.

Mocking Halloween: Halloween

It was only a matter of time before I came around to talking about John Carpenter’s masterpiece horror film Halloween. It has stood the test of time and is considered to be the greatest Halloween film in history as well as one of the greatest horror movies of the past 50 years. It made history and it made its mark on cinema. The story is simple, an escaped psychopathic killer returns to his hometown to finish what he started when he was just a little boy. You see, as a kid he killed his sister with a knife and he was about to do the same to his baby sister until the cops intervened. Now, his baby sister is all grown up and is in high school and living with her foster parents… little does she know a hardened killer is after her. What can I possibly say about this movie? There is nothing bad to report on it. Everything about it is done so well and there is a strong sense of tension but… I often found myself asking the question: is this movie really that scary nowadays?

Sure, to most senior horror fans this movie will always be scary for them and while they are over their childhood fears they’ll always remember how freaked out they were when they saw Michael’s mask but that’s just it. The film is nowhere near as scary as it was when it first came out and probably rightfully so. To call is frightening is a huge stretch unless you are talking to a group of kids between the ages of 7 and 13. It’s rather sad but true. Kids these days are being exposed to so much more brutal things on the TV or on the Internet that they wouldn’t find Halloween to be scary at all but rather boring. I believe I am part of the last generation of kids that would truly find this movie frightening in all its aspects. Even though Zombie remade the film for modern audiences he completely bypassed everything else that was good about the original so for me, a true remake of the film has never been done.

I’m sure Halloween will continue to be classic in the film world as long as there are people who truly admire the film and/or were once afraid of the film. If that stays with it’s audience than we can be sure that Halloween will be popular in the many years to come. However, I believe that within the next 50 or so years, it will be seen as a campy movie (or a cult classic) than being just a classic. The film has a huge fanbase and those fans are introducing their kids to it as soon as possible and maybe that’s the way you preserve the film’s horrific beauty.

Yeah, it turned into a rant rather than mocking the movie. Oh well.

Mocking Halloween: Trick 'r Treat

Even though Trick ‘r Treat is relatively new, it has been a Halloween classic since the night it was released on DVD. Much in the vain of Creepshow, Trick ‘r Treat is an anthology of different stories that take place on Halloween night, in which they all interconnect somehow. There is the story Principal Wilkins and his dark homicidal secret, the story of 4 kids who decided to play a prank on the school ‘weirdo’ but end up getting more than they expected, the story of a young woman is trying to find Mr. Right but ends up find the wrong person and the story of curmudgeonly old man who is visited by the spirit of Halloween in effort to change his ways. They’re all really good stories but there was one thing that bothered me about all of it.

Again, I might be getting a little nitpicky here but the way that Dougherty shows a town celebrating Halloween is so over-the-top and flashy. It reeks of Hollywood. Perhaps it’s my bitter outlook on the suburbs or maybe it’s because I lived in the suburbs too long and I started noticing trends but… no matter how much a town is crazy for Halloween, I’ve never seen anybody go that far. Sure, they may have a parade and that’s fine but every single house on the block had jack-o-lanterns, some sort of Halloween décor and was passing out candy. In my neighborhood, at least, we were lucky to get 3 consecutive homes that passed out candy. To me it seemed like a really flashy depiction of Halloween and it wasn’t even the right type of depiction. I guess you can argue that it was meant to be flashy because the whole movie was based off of a fake comic book but still…

Now, the idea of showing a Hollywoodized Halloween didn’t take me out of the movie nor did it affect my overall opinion of the film but I did shrug and say, “Oh c’mon, who does that stuff?” whenever I saw something that was overkill. A good example of a time where I said this was when we first seen Rhonda’s house caked in jack-o-lanterns. I don’t care if you have the biggest hard on for Halloween; you’re not going to make 3 dozen jack-o-lanterns. The good news is: there wasn’t really much to complain about Trick ‘r Treat. It’s an almost flawless movie!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Our Jack-O-Lanterns

So, as October comes to a finish and Halloween just around the corner I figure that it would be time to show the pumpkins my buddy and I carved. We carved several pumpkins but most of them were carved for a Halloween themed movie that he made. Below are the ones we made for ourselves. I’m quite fond of them and they are different from last year’s pumpkins. Though we did name them. I named mine after Sam from Trick ‘r Treat because the pattern I used was from the movie. My friend named his Walter but I don’t know why. The small one wasn’t named but he still fit in with the rest. Behold… our Halloween jack-o-lanterns!

Sam(hain)


Walter (E. Smith)

You dream it, we build it.


Unnamed one

Friday, October 29, 2010

Questions I Have About Saw 3D

Yes, I finally caved in and saw Saw 3D. I made a vow that any movie that followed the 3rd one, I would never pay to see or even care to watch. I didn’t talk about Saw and I avoided it all together with the exception of 1-3. Well, yesterday I broke my code and paid $11.50 for the final installment in 3D. Now, it’s important to note that I haven’t seen 4, 5 or 6 so this may have affected by opinion on it. Yes, it was a steaming pile of shit. It was plagued with bad acting and too many plotlines to keep up with. But that’s where you, the Saw fans, come in handy because I have a few questions that were left unanswered. This was supposed to be the final installment of the franchise but there were so many questions left unanswered when they should have been answered. So here is my list.

There are major spoiler alerts here.

Who in the hell was Bobby? Was he ever introduced before 7?

How did Detective Hoffman get roped into all this?

Was Hoffman a bad guy before the Jigsaw killings started?

When did Jigsaw officially die?

Why did Hoffman want Jigsaw’s wife dead?

Why are all the Jigsaw members in an AA like meeting?

Since when did Jigsaw’s purpose become so twisted? I thought he tortured his victims based on how they took their lives for granted. He actually gave his victims a chance to live but now, it seems you can’t win no matter what. Explain?

Where does Jigsaw/Hoffman get all this warehouse space?

How do they build all these weapons when it takes a lot of engineering skill?

Why wasn’t Jigsaw in the movie more?

Why did Dr. Gordon feel compelled to help Jigsaw with all his medical traps?

Why did that bum just randomly attack the cop in that crack house?

What ever happened to the whole ‘cutting a jigsaw piece out of your skin?’

How did Gordon get so far in such a short time after he cut of his own foot?

When Dr. Gorgon revealed himself to Hoffman, who were the other 2 people he was with?

At the end, what happened to Bobby?

Why did the main detective guy have to get gun down?

What happened to the cops that were gassed?

If Gordon survived, what’s to stop him from continuing Jigsaw’s work?

Again, I may come off as being a snot or ignorant but these are legit questions I found myself asking after the movie was let out. Again, it may have to do with the fact I didn’t see the last 3 Saw films but even still, some of the questions in there pertain only to that movie that should have been answered.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mocking Halloween: Sleepy Hollow

What isn’t there to love about Tim Burton’s Gothic masterpiece telling about the classic ghost story? Sleepy Hollow is what happens when you give a man, who loves the style already, the source material and he runs with it. Essentially it’s about Ichabod Crane, a New York detective, who travels to the town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of strange beheadings. While in the town he is told of the Headless Horseman; the vicious ghost of a Hessian horseman who chops off heads at his will and townspeople believe he is the one doing it. Old folktales. Well, Ichobod, futile in his attempts to prove them wrong through science, soon realizes that the legend is true. What bothered me about this movie was the fine-tuned plot.

This is a pretty big spoiler alert, however. See, the Headless Horesman was raised from the dead by a conniving bitch that wanted to get revenge on somebody for evicting her when she was younger. Also, she wanted to kill off all the heirs to her husband’s, who was the landlord who evicted her, fortune as well as anybody who caught onto her financial get-rich-quick scheme. What the fuck? As a kid I didn’t care about heirs and old women getting loaded off their dead husband, I wanted this to be a real ghost story and not about the dead getting raised. I had to watch the movie several times just to figure out why the woman wanted everybody dead and what her plan was. That’s not really something I want to do when I am watching a ghost story. It should have been simple and straight to the point. Sure it was Burton’s own twist but… I want a ghost and not a Hessian lackey.

Troll 2 Wasn't THAT Bad!

Yes, the movie wasn’t nearly as bad as people say it is. It’s not a flaming plate of shit, it’s not the worst movie of all time and it does not make me want to claw my eyes out with a spoon. That being said, it’s not a good film either. It’s a bad movie but not that bad. Troll 2 was obviously a sequel to Troll and featured a family that decided to trade houses with another family from a town called Nilbog. Their 12-year-old son keeps having hallucinations of his dead grandfather telling him to get the family out of the town because of some dark secret. Well, he’s right because the town is inhabited by goblins that want to turn the family into plant material so that they can eat them. But the kid’s parents don’t listen to him so… there lays the problem. It’s a pretty weird story but I’ve heard weirder. I went into this movie thinking it was going to be worst than The Room or even Blood Reaper but it wasn’t. I saw Troll 2 as a throwback to the campy drive-in movies of the 50s and early 60s and here is why.

The film is well made. Considering the budget and its reputation the makeup and special effects were pretty good. You can tell that the bark growing on Arnold’s face was just plastered on there but that’s the whole fun. The green slop was disgusting and the whole production was just really well organized. The goblin costumes looked incredibly stupid but that just adds to the camp factor. From what people tell me, the director was really proud of this film and I would be too because at least I made a film and completed it. The directors of the 50s b-movies were proud of their work and saw it great and to be honest, it was watchable. I wanted to know what would happen and how the characters were going to get out of the mess. I give the director props for keeping me interested.

One of the biggest problems this movie suffered from was overacting but it didn’t bother me at all. I’m sure it wasn’t the intention of the director to have overacting in their movie but my god… every line was so badly delivered that it only enhanced the camp factor. Again, bad acting or overacting was a staple in b-movies, and to see the witch (I think that is what she was) deliver every line so dramatically over the top made me smile. Think about it. How many times have you seen the old 50s sci-fi movies where the character just completely overreacts to things or under-acts to things or screams from the approaching monster but doesn’t make an effort to move? There were definitely times where the film felt like an Ed Wood film; specifically the ‘Oh my God!’ part and the bizarre corn on the cob make out scene. The acting by most of the parents were so bland that it was funny, and I saw it as a little tribute to the blandness of the stereotypical male hero of b-horror. They are so bland and so monotone that they could easily pass off as robots rather than people.

Another staple of the cheesy films of the 50s was the dialogue and yes, the dialogue in Troll 2 is atrocious but it seems like the type of dialogue that would be right at home in the 50s. Let me explain. Phrases like, “but why grandpa, why?” and “Nilbog! It’s goblin spelled backwards,” and even tack lines such as, “He was one of us… and you killed him! Now it’s your turn.” They all seem to be too scripted, especially when it’s delivered badly but for some reason it fits the film. To me, it’s one of those little tiny mundane details that make it even more of a unintentional homage to b-cinema. In more movies, people don’t repeat what they already said in the same sentence and the characters don’t give out line after line of exposition but in a trashy camp movie they will.

It’s hard to explain but both of the elements I gave were all done pretty good. They were very unintentional but given the aspects… I didn’t look at the film as a serious horror or as a comedy but rather a very obscure trash flick. That’s not to say that there are some really bad moments in the movie that made me ask: what were they thinking? There is the infamous question as to why they called it Troll 2 when it’s about goblins. I guess that’s because troll is llort spelled backwards and that means shit in Danish. There is also the opening sequence where they introduce the sister and the camera keeps cutting to random shit in her room. And there is of course some of the goblins are just standing around in the background waiting to do something. This is nitpicking the movie to death but as somebody who has studied film, these mistakes are very obvious.

Again, I am not saying that this is a great film. It’s far from it but it’s not the worst movie of all time and certainly not the worst horror movie of all time. It’s a trash picture and if you go in thinking that it will just be a good campy ride, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Honestly, this is the kind of movie that I would love to see in a drive-in on a brisk autumn night. I think it had the bad luck of being made way to late whereas it should have been made in the 50s.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pictures of Halloween

Just to tide you guys over while I write some new posts, I decided to welcome the next 5 days before Halloween by showing you some beautiful images of the holiday. Now, I didn’t want to find obscure images but rather some easy-to-find public domain images that really capture the spirit of the season but yet nobody has seen how beautiful they truly are. I myself have gone around Chicago taking pictures of Halloween decorations, pumpkins, scarecrows and the autumn tress but until I get those developed… I bring you Halloween in the form of pictures.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Paradise Promotions

Yes folks, this is the first ever installment of Paradise Promotions and this weekend I will be promoting two things: one is for Halloween and the other is a personal promotion to help out a friend.

Trick ‘r Treat & Halloween Posters

Yes, Steve of The Lost Highway has drawn up some

amazing posters for both of these Halloween themed movies and I strongly urge you to get one. They are incredibly drawn and very nicely made. Now, before you go and think that I am being a suck-up or brown noser… you should now that I was always a fan of Steve’s work ever since I started reading his blog.

“This is it! The limited double feature 18” by 24” silk screen printing of 2 of the greatest Halloween films ever made both together in on poster. John Carpenter’s “Halloween” together with the more recent hit “Trick ‘r Treat.” These custom illustrations are printed on vintage French brand stock paper and printed with traditional silk screen process just like the old days.”

Order yours now!

The Bob And Harvey Show

This is the podcast that my, let me get this all the way, high school district A/V specialist teacher co-founded. His name is El’Ahrai Stanek and he was sort of a guide and a wise old master to me when I was in high school. He introduced me to many horror films and we carried on a lot of horror related conversations. His podcast that he does with his buddy John is actually really good and pretty funny at times. I strongly urge you to give it a listen if you love movies, more movies and other movies.

“Since September 2006 John and El’Ahrai have been talking movies, more movies, other movies and DVDs and recording it for your listening pleasure. Obviously these two love movies. I mean they really truly love movies. And not even just the good ones, between the two of them they have enough copies of Battlefield: Earth and Day of the Animals to choke a monkey. John’s dedication to hyper-violent yet sensitive art films and El’Ahrai’s love for surrealistic horror have sparked many debates on the program. But those are often the best programs."

Give them a listen.

That concludes this weekend’s Paradise Promotions.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Tribute To The 'Haunted Village' of My Childhood

I remember back when I was a kid, oh around the age of 10 or 11 years old, I would collect holiday light-up figurines. These light-up figurines would only be bought during Christmas and Halloween and you can guess which was my favorite holiday. Well, during a massive period in my life where I was going through some trouble… these figurines broke and were lost in my house. It’s sad because I loved them so much and as a young sketch artist I would love to draw the buildings. Now, one lays in pieces in my childhood home’s bathroom and the rest are gone. I have no idea what the name of the figurine collection is or where I can find them but I would love to get back in touch with the figurines that somehow shaped who I am. Their detailed and imaginative beautify that is reminiscent of any Tim Burton movie and German Expressionist film. They were truly spooky in a childish way but that’s why I love them.

There is only once place that has photos of these little figurines and it’s taken from a website that has only half of the ones that I remember. A site called My Mania has photos of these figurines and I would love to know where I could buy them. Now, because this site has a lot of figurines that I never had I only want to show you the ones that I did have and if you want to see the others you can click on the aforementioned link.

I did not have the pirate ship that went with them but I remember I had these wacky looking skeleton mermaids and for some reason they always freaked me out. Perhaps it’s because they were all bone or the fact that their tongues were sticking out.

I had the tornado in the graveyard and as a kid I was always fascinated by it considering this was also during a time in which I went through my weather stage in life. I remember I used to hang little tiny Halloween light bulbs on the wire rims it and my cat would always jump up and bat them right off. Next to it you’ll see a pumpkin sitting on a tower. Now… I can’t be sure but I believe that was a hotel but I’ll always remember that building because it was my personal favorite next to the casino and it reminded me of something that belonged in Jack Skellington’s world.

Another one of my personal favorites was the Midnight Café. Why? Because it was in the shape of a cat. It sort of resembled the buildings you would find in the TV show CatDog since the building was in the shape of what they sold inside. Again, I found the architecture to be very light-hearted in a campy sort of way.

Here you’ll see another cat-like building and to the right you’ll see the Spooky Dentist. I never had the pleasure of buying them due to financial difficulties but I remember thumbing through a Jo-Anne Fabrics catalog and circling them to show my mom.

This is the close up of the Spooky Dentist. I saw it once on eBay but I didn’t buy it because it was a ripoff. Still, I remember wanted it as a kid and if I ever do get the money I would pay for it.

There was also one other figurine that was my absolute favorite and it was a haunted casino. I can’t remember the exact name of it but it was the one that I kept closest to my bed because I loved the way it looked. I believe it had a Roulette wheel and slot machines with skulls on it but… I can’t remember. If anybody knows of the collection that these belong to or where I can find these figurines, it would be deeply appreciated!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mocking Halloween: Jaws

What can I possibly complain about the Stephen Spielberg classic Jaws? Well, it’s something that always left me a little cold and it happens in the infamous opening sequence. The movie is about a shark that terrorizes a picturesque summer getaway known as Amity Island but to show the shark is a cold blooded killer they need a first victim and this is where the beginning comes into play. A young and rather sexy looking woman takes a dive into the water while her boyfriend lounges on the beach, this of course is happening at dusk I think. The shark grabs the young woman’s feel jolting her back and forth and eventually consuming here. This is what always got to me, even now as I re watch it.

This woman is screaming her brains out for somebody to help her and her boyfriend doesn’t even pop his head up to see if she is okay, he just assumes that she is. It always bothered me because if I were him I would be running out into the water to at least try to help her. Perhaps is the Hollywood convention that prevent him from doing anything, you know, in order to build suspense and fear but that still leaves me bitter. The woman shouldn’t have been killed… she was making it very obvious that something was attacking her and nobody came to her rescue. They played it off as though the boyfriend didn’t know she was being attacked but I say that’s a crock.

Sam Raimi Tortures His Characters

I do have to give Sam Raimi props for doing something I never expected. Some may argue that Drag Me To Hell was his return to horror and I am one of those people, but again that is debatable. What’s not debatable is what Raimi put Christine through in the movie. Raimi has created a character that we immediately identify with and feel sympathy towards and then right when we think everything is working out for her she gets… dragged to hell. In other words, Raimi took the opportunity to deliver a swift kick in the nuts to us viewers but let me elaborate.

Christine is working her ass off to become the assistant manager at the bank she works at. She is competing with another co-worker who happens to be a tool and a suck-up. In effort to show her boss that she is capable of making hard decisions, she refuses a load extension to an elderly lady who happens to be a gypsy. She puts a curse on the poor girl despite the fact that she was doing her job and she was doing it so that she could have a better life for herself but the gypsy shows no mercy. Already you can’t help but feel for her because she was only doing the right thing.

But now, lets take a look at some of the other things that the poor girl had to go through while this curse was taking it’s toll on her.

- The gypsy attacked her in her car.

- The gypsy literally gummed her and pulled her hair.

- Constant psychological torment by the demon.

- The gypsy ghost vomited maggots and dirt on her.

- The gypsy’s dead body puked up embalming fluid on her.

- The gypsy ghost punched her in the mouth.

- She had to kill a baby kitten.

- The demon threw her around the room.

- She’s been called names.

- Her boyfriend’s parents think she’s crazy.

- The corpse of the gypsy threw up dirt and mud into her mouth.

- The corpse of the gypsy also tore some of her hair off.

- The demon also threw her across a room.

I’m sure there is much more that happened to her but this is what I can remember right off the bat. Remember, this happened to her all because she did her job to secure a good position at the bank she worked at and then things go downhill from there. In the end, she thinks she got rid of the curse and actually… in the prime of her life, bought a nice but pricy blue coat for her to show that things will be all right. Then, the Earth opens up and demonic hands grab her and drag her to hell anyway. It just goes to show you that Sam Raimi has to compassion for his characters but we like it that way.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mocking Halloween: Signs

Ahh yes, Signs. Shyamalan's ode to Hitchcock and one of the first movies he directed. When this movie debuted it received pretty positive reviews and was Mel Gibson’s last movie till Edge of Darkness. The story follows a priest who lost his faith after a drunk truck driver hit and killed his wife. While his family tries to adapt to his new lifestyle they are unwillingly thrown into the middle of an alien invasion after crop circles appear in their cornfields. Sure the plot seems a bit random given the hard-hitting story but that’s not my beef here. I don’t want to complain about the ‘twist’ since I feel as though water as the alien’s weakness is NOT a twist but rather something minor. It was a scene that always made me go… “What are you doing? Just pack your shit up and leave!”

When Gibson’s character confronts the drunk driver (who happens to be a local and played by M. Night himself) he is sitting alone, calm, pensive and spooked in his car. He gets into the car with him and they have a little chat about what happened the night of the accident. It’s not until they are done having their 10-minute scene of exposition till we realize he locked an alien in the pantry. At that point I was like, “why are they sitting their talking about an accident when there are aliens running around the place, especially when one is in the damn pantry?” I understand that it was for dramatic effect but if I were M. Night I would be like, “Yeah, man, sorry about your wife but holy shit there is an alien in my pantry. Go home! Save your kids! I’m out of here!” Perhaps I am being nitpicky, oh darn, but this scene felt way to dramatic considering the circumstances of everything around them.

There are other scenes throughout the movie where Mel is talking to his kids about how they were being born while giant Amazon sized aliens are attacking the house and I was left flabbergasted. For the love of everything holy… grab your kids, throw ‘em into the cellar and tell them to calm down or shit WILL hit the fan. Oh Shyamalan; you and your dramatic talks.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Van Helsing: Modernizing the Classic Universal Monsters

Personally, it’s hard for me to believe that I am talking about Van Helsing when it’s undoubtedly an action movie. It’s sort of like Sommer’s other movie The Mummy but today I want to talk about the monsters in Van Helsing. Sure, you can stone me to death for this but I actually really enjoyed this film because it reminded me of the classic Universal monster movies. This is probably because Mr. Hyde, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein and his monster, Igor and Dracula all make an appearance in the film. The way I see it, this is sort of like a big budget flashy version of the classic films that Universal made when they paired up their famous monsters such as Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man or Dracula Meets Frankenstein. Those films, as well as Van Helsing, both find ways to connect the monsters but that isn’t what I want to talk about. I want to elaborate on why I really think Sommer’s nailed the contemporary look of each classic monster.

Mr. Hyde

In Sommer’s short adaption of the classic story of duel personalities, Mr. Hyde isn’t really as ‘ugly’ as the adaption by Paramount in the 30s but he does show the contrast between Hyde and Jekyll. I’m not a huge fan of this modern day adaption because Hyde looks like he is on steroids and is way too big for his own good (the same problem I had with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). I do, however, like how Hyde looks facially. He is butch, gritty, vile and looks like a really mean Englishman. Also, the other problem that I had with it was that it was all CGI and I would have really liked if they played Hyde off as sort of a serial killer rather than some enormous freak in a bell tower.

The Wolf Man

I expected the Wolf Man to be in CGI and I was prepared to see an awful adaption of the classic Universal monster but I was pleasantly surprised; the CGI wasn’t that bad. The Wolf Man isn’t really that human like the original 40s rendition but you can see the human-like qualities that it possesses. It’s an abnormally huge wolf, the transformation scene is very painful to watch and you see the Wolf Man peel back it’s skin to reveal the human underneath it and when Van Helsing is turned into one… he howls in the classic horror movie sense. Though you never see what the first Wolf Man looks like in his or her human form, they really made it violent and pretty scary.

Dracula

It is obvious that nobody can beat the charisma or the charm as Bela Lugosi or the dark, frightening portrayal of Christopher Lee but Sommer’s Dracula pays tribute both to the classic Universal Dracula and perhaps even Fright Night. Here, The Count is lovingly over-the-top and pretty charismatic but has modern renditions. There is not cape or slick back hair but rather a fancy masquerade like outfit (similar to that of the vampires in Interview With A Vampire) and his hair is longer and romantic. You can tell that he is very tragic and is very set on completing his goal. In his pure vampiric form he is almost like a man-bat-thing with large wings, tall body and a long bat-like mouth full of fangs. I compare him to what Jerry Dandridge looked like in Fright Night only a little scarier and violent. Still, I think this is a great modern day interpretation of the classic Stoker villain.

The Frankenstein Monster

This is my favorite reincarnation of Frankenstein in the modern era that I have seen. Taking out the fact that the film opens up in black and white and sets the dramatic tone that Universal was known for, the Monster looks brilliantly fantastic. They kept the trademark body features such as the tall, bulky body, the flat head and the screws coming out of his neck but they gave him modern day updates. The most notable is his ‘heart’ and his ‘brain,’ which look very steampunk and something that was taken right out of a Guillermo Del Toro film. Here, we finally see what is keeping this monster alive and it’s the electricity that is in his heart capacitor. The performance is very operatic and feels like it should be on the stage rather than film but that might go back to the Edison version of Frankenstein.

Like I said, this isn’t the best movie let alone action or horror but it delivered what I wanted… monster, action and a lot of humor. Up until I saw this film I had never seen anything close to the classic Universal Monsters on screen and considering this was distributed by Universal… I felt that I accomplished my task.

Mocking Halloween: Friday the 13th

Honestly, what isn’t there to bitch about Friday the 13th? This is a franchise that has gone on for way too long and just influences the stereotype that horror movies are stupid and all about the body count. However, I want to focus on just the first film. Essentially it’s about a group of youthful camp counselors who reopen Cam Crystal Lake after a bizarre death occurred years before. Little do they know, a killer is stalking them and killing them one by one. Can it be the ghost of the deformed boy that drowned in the lake? Or perhaps it’s really him and he never died to begin with? Only time will tell. I don’t want to make this into a review of the film because I can really nitpick the hell out of it so instead I will focus on some key things.

The biggest thing that this film suffers from is it’s characterization and this is something that has followed the franchise up until Jason met Freddy K. The characters are nothing but a bunch of stupid, sex-craved, alcohol addicted teens that have no personality and at times you want dead. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, but it caters to the fact that horror movies are dumb and pointless and they are not. There are plenty of good horror movies out there that are like Friday the 13th but have characters that you care about and you want to see live. I understand that this is what Friday the 13th is known for but when this movie first debuted, nobody would have known this and it could have had the potential of being original and engaging and not just dumb popcorn fun.

Friday the 13th also suffers from really boring kills. They’re not really non-original but when somebody does get killed, it’s actually quite boring… at least in the camp setting. There is really no atmosphere unless the killing happens out in the woods and when it’s out there the music sort of fits with the mood. The kills that happen in the camp itself are really dry and sort of ridiculous. I can see the writers sitting down and thinking all sorts off summer camp motifs and wondering how they make those into killings. Perhaps I’ve grown away from Friday the 13th but to me, it’s dumb and mind-numbing but I know it has a fan base that is huge and in that case… somebody’s got to love it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mocking Halloween: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

To horror fans, when you mention the word chainsaw they will immediately think of Tobe Hooper’s gritty realistic film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This movie paved the way for how horror movies were made and how future films would utilize its scare tactics. The film is about a group of teens that get stranded out in the Texas countryside. Little do they know the family that inhabits the nearby house is a family of cannibals that picks them off one by one. This movie is famous for introducing us to the immortal Leatherface and his cannibalistic clan but also for scream queen nominee Marilyn Burns. However, there was always something that seemed really out of place here.

This movie is set up and filmed to look like a documentary or at least to give us this sense of gritty realism. As scary as it may be, the one thing that always seemed really out of place was the acting towards the end. When Sally wakes up and sees the entire family at the dinner table they proceed to mock her and make fun of her. Sure this may be scary but it’s way too over the top and it takes me right out of the movie. It discredits all the realism from the rest of the film and makes me feel like I am watching a really bad b-movie. There has to be a point where you should realize that this might be a little too wacky for the film. As insane as these people are, I’m sure they wouldn’t be acting like Loony Tunes characters.

If that’s not enough, the dinner sequence is plagued by the constant screeching of Sally Hardesty. I know she is being held captive and is about to be killed but screaming like a gut-shot banshee is not going to help. When I saw this in a theater I had to cover my ears because it was so loud. Nobody came to help the first couple of hours and nobody is going to come the next couple of hours. Perhaps my ears are sensitive but… there also needs to be a point where the female character needs to shut up and stop screaming so dramatically.

Mocking Halloween: Child's Play

Though this is sort of a Christmas themed movie, I feel as though many people would be watching it this Halloween since it is a classic slasher movie, though it’s a bit different from others. You see, Child's Play is about a killer that performs some sort of voodoo ritual and transmits his soul into a Good Guy doll seconds before his human body dies. Than, a young boy is given the possessed doll for Christmas but begins killing people. The adults think Andy is going crazy but little do they know that his doll really is possessed by the soul of a Lakeview Strangler. There is a big problem with this movie and it’s sort of in the same vain as Phantasm and it shows that the film hasn’t really aged well with modern audiences.

The problem here is that that killer is a doll! Sure, it’s not as strange as killer metal balls but nevertheless a doll is attacking people!! Personally, every time I see the doll running around with his doll shoes, carrying a knife and jumping up and down I laugh and it takes me out of the movie. Even when the doll begins talking, especially the when it uses vulgarity, it comes off as extremely campy and ham-handed. But perhaps the best parts that are so stupid it’s funny is when Chucky attacks somebody and the person is struggling to get the doll off them. It’s a goddamn doll for Christ’s sake… and they can’t just pry him off? If I were them, I would pull the doll off of me and throw him in the fire or something. It’s a doll. Not a person.

Perhaps today, people want real hardcore killers and axe murderers and that leaves no room for imagination. I am sure that if you show this movie to a kid or even a pre-teen today they would scoff and laugh at it and rightfully so. It’s very corny but than again, isn’t that what made some horror movies great?

Kids Nike Dunk Hi ‘Jack-O-Lantern’ Sneakers

Until I get my Internet working at a go speed today’s post will be showcasing a special kind of shoe. Those of you who first followed by blog (via Horror Blips) would know that I already voiced my opinion on the Nightmare on Elm Street shoes but this season I want to focus on another type. Nike released a special type of shoe for their Nike Dunk Hi collection that celebrates the wonderful season of Halloween. These dunks use usual Halloween colors of black and orange with Halloween inspired graphics. The upper consist of graphics in orange and black with Jack-o-Lantern visible on the toe box. The front and lace panels both have orange stitching” (Bay Area Kicks).

Much like the Nightmare on Elm Street shoes… I find it interesting to see how popular Halloween has come but in a way it’s also become very corporate. I’m sure most kids would buy the shoe based on it’s looks rather than what the jack-o-lantern stands for. I guess that’s fine but hopefully all this is just a blessing in disguise. Maybe it might peak kid’s interest in what Halloween really is. One this is for sure, the people who started Halloween would have never guessed we would be honoring their ceremonies by imprinting aspects of it on shoes.

Available at Finish Line

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mocking Halloween: Phantasm

What happens when you mix aliens with horror? No… not Alien but I’ll give you another hint. Aliens, horror and funeral directors; that’s right, you get Phantasm. A low budget horror movie that isn’t too famous but isn’t too obscure either. It’s about a group of kids that find out the dark and out-of-this-world secret of the local funeral director/grave robber and now they must expose him for what he really is. They just have one problem; they are trapped in the maze of the funeral home and pursued by his robotic weapons. This movie suffers from one thing and one thing only… the antagonist. No not The Tall Man but rather another antagonist.

The Tall Man is a rather frightening fellow and he is the typical scary, pale faced, tall, slip and eerie looking funeral owner but when I finally saw what his choice gadget is for killing people… I almost laughed. It’s a flying metal ball that drills into your head and sucks out your blood. I couldn’t believe my eyes. These guys are running from flying metal balls!! It’s just so out there and so wild that it seems to be awkward for such a moody and atmospheric horror film. What is even better is that as the film series progressed, the balls got more and more complex and sort of became a running gag in the franchise.

There are balls with razor blades on them, balls with long drills; swarm of balls, balls that drill and tear up your insides, a golden ball that does God knows what and a whole bunch more. In fact, the sequel’s tagline says it all: “This summer… the ball is back!” It’s the only bankable thing that the series has to offer and it’s sort of sad. I find it rather anticlimactic to see the main villain of a horror franchise be a metal ball from outer space but there is one movie that can beat this.

Mocking Halloween: Evil Dead

What isn’t there to like about Sam Raimi’s monster cult hit Evil Dead? It’s a perfect blend of horror, camp and comedy all rolled into one ‘cabin in the woods’ movie. The story follows a group of friends to travel to a cabin… in the woods… so that they can have a great time drinking and partying. Little do they know that there are demons lurking in the woods after the person who lived there before unwillingly summoned them from Hell. One might be asking, what can I possibly complain about Evil Dead. Well, I’ll tell you exactly that.

From what I know about the movie, this was supposed to be an actual horror movie and nowhere near a horror comedy or maybe it would have less comedy but more horror. It wasn’t until the sequel when Raimi decided to have fun with the genre. However, in the case of Evil Dead there are so many things that happen that just turn out to be hysterical than scary! Take for example, when Linda gets possessed she becomes insane and she laughs, giggles and pretty much stays in the same spot for a majority of some of the scenes. Perhaps it was intentional for it to be sort of silly but for a movie that has a huge reputation, it certainly didn’t live up to it. I don’t want to see demons laughing and giggling… I want to see them kill.

Even the infamous tree rape scene comes off as being really tacky and sort of out of place in the overall movie. When it happened all I could do was lean back and ask, “why a tree? Why couldn’t it have been something else?” Again, going back to the reputation this movie has… I want demons, not killer trees! I understand that there are demons in the movie, but still... raping trees? Perhaps this is one case where it isn’t the movie’s fault for being so ham-handed but rather the rabid cult fans of the film that make the movie seem as though it’s the greatest horror movie ever made… ever.