Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tony and I Debate It Follows

Earlier this month, my friend Tony and I (and Michelle) finally saw the film It Follows. And we actually disagreed on it. If you've read my earlier review of the film or seen its spot on my "More Great New Halloween Staples" list, you probably know I really like the film. But it didn't work for Tony, and he said he found it ineffective and un-scary. I guess that's just how it goes sometimes. So we did this:

Who do you agree with? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Halloween, too!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween (2007)

There was a time back in the mid ‘00s where, for some reason, movie studios felt the need to totally revamp the old horror classics that nobody ever had a problem with to begin with. But the studios really wanted to do updated versions, even though nobody was asking. And I get it - Hollywood has always lived on the backs of remakes. We have timeless stories and we make them new again for new generations. However, it really seems like Rob Zombie was trying to kill the story of Halloween with this remake rather than keep it going.

Director: Rob Zombie
Starring: Scout Taylor Compton, Sheri Moon Zombie, Malcolm McDowell

Co-written with Michelle and Tony.

This is an awful, repulsive piece of trash with nothing really good about it. It’s seriously just amazing how bad this really is. Zombie wasn’t bad at making pseudo-Texas Chainsaw rip offs like House of 1,000 Corpses, and The Devil’s Rejects was legit a great movie, but it was this movie where he showed his true colors - i.e. he can’t do anything else. But if you want screaming, cursing rednecks and lots of sleazy sex scenes, you’ll be in paradise here. And if you want that, I'll know to stay the fuck away from you.

The only question is, what does any of that have to do with John Carpenter’s 1978 classic, Halloween? Nothing. It has nothing to do with it.

We start off with something that doesn’t make sense from even the first line of dialogue: hillbilly rednecks living in the midwestern suburbs. Yup, the Myers family in this is apparently a bunch of constantly unpleasant jackasses, led by the stepfather Ronnie, this greasy looking motherfucker who looks like he belongs in a trailer in Alabama, but is instead in the suburbs in Illinois now. I guess Zombie really, really needed to put in guys who look like him! It’s like a security blanket or a pacifier for an infant.

Yup, this is how Halloween should open up, said no one ever.

In the first few minutes, Ronnie says he thinks his own stepdaughter's ass is hot and says Michael’s mom is jealous of her own daughter’s ass. That’s how we’re starting off this movie. A pair of adults talking about a teenage girl's ass. Ah, it’s refreshing to start off with absolutely zero expectations or integrity. How could you get any worse, movie? That was a rhetorical question. The movie gets way, way worse.

It’s fucking amazing how unpleasant this is to watch - like, really, even if you don’t care that it has nothing to do with Halloween, it’s still bad on every level. What’s entertaining about watching a bunch of white trash rednecks scream and break shit? I guess the point is to show how bad Michael’s home life is, but frankly all that’s missing here is the cops on speed dial for the next time there's a domestic incident in which one of the kids or the mom, uh, fell down the stairs. Yeah. That's it.

If you never pictured the hulking behemoth Michael Myers as a whiny, stringy-haired 10-year-old, well, now you're safe and will never be afraid of him again. Thanks for fucking nothing, movie.

Michael's mother is of course played by Sheri Moon Zombie, because the entire cast of every Rob Zombie production goes like this: 12 big hairy ugly dudes, and Sheri Moon Zombie wearing a bikini top most of the film. That sounds like the beginning to a terrible porno, which makes sense because Sheri's only role in every one of these films is to show off her tits and ass.

If it seems weird to you that Zombie constantly casts his own wife in these films just to let the whole world see her naked, well, I guess some marriages are just never meant to be understood.

And yeah, as most criticisms of this movie mention - it’s an origin story for Michael Myers, one of the most recognizable horror movie villains. Not to quell the creative ambitions of Rob Zombie (haha...hahahaha….ha ha HA…), but if we needed an origin story, we probably would have gotten one before this movie came out in 2007. The scary thing about Myers was that he was pure, unexplained, unstoppable evil. Explaining him and giving him an actual character is like shining a light under the bed and telling your kid there’s nothing there, it’s all in her imagination.

But seriously, even if you get past that, just think about it: if you were to give Michael Myers an origin story, and show it on screen, why the fuck would you want it to be this one? We don’t need scenes of him whining in the bathroom or being bullied at school. Why would we ever need that? Even if you wanted to know more about why he became a killer, these are very poorly written scenes where every person he meets is a total unrepentant, over the top dick to him. They’re all basically just excuses for Zombie to go for the shock factor of having people say fuck around little kids and show boobs. That’s not interesting to watch.

I want to see all my horror slasher icons as bratty children. That makes the REAL terror shine through...

But hey, he gets his revenge by killing a bully who was mean to him in the woods!

When they say fight back against your bullies, I’m pretty sure they just mean throw a punch back. Not ambush them in the woods and beat them to death with a stick. But it’s okay, because this is never mentioned again. Yes, really…

The whole movie so far has just been the equivalent of a really obnoxious guy screaming in your face. Every scene is full of greasy, grimy looking people swearing and talking about sex in the most annoying ways possible. But hey, at least we get to see the realism in how Michael finally snapped and became a killer! He’s sitting there eating candy in his house, and then, with no provocation, he gets up and starts slaughtering his whole family.

This is a ridiculous scene where it plays "Love Hurts" over top him sitting on the sidewalk by himself - just awful. It's baffling to me that anyone thought this would be touching. It's as emotional as watching a pet fish flushed down the toilet.
It was the fucking candy corn after all. Damn candy corn.

Yup, that’s it. That’s what Rob Zombie wanted to show you to account for a ‘realistic’ backstory! I mean, I guess it can happen in real life. But the way it’s shown here isn’t particularly realistic, subtle or well written - he’s sitting there eating candy, and then he goes and kills people. I guess he should have had an apple or rice or something. Maybe then he would have been fine.

And yeah, he kills his stepfather, his sister’s boyfriend AND his sister this time, as opposed to just his sister like in the original. That isn’t a big deal, but I just find it funny, like the movie is the bratty little brother of the original trying to outdo all his big brother’s stories. “You had one person killed, huh? Oh yeah, well I can have THREE people killed and in more bloody ways! And I’ll have child Michael wear the Michael Myers mask when doing his first kill!”

Nobody ever wanted to see a midget cosplaying Michael Myers, movie.

So then we get like forty minutes of him in a mental hospital with Dr. Loomis, who is played by Malcolm McDowell. He looks less like a doctor here and more like an aging rock star your dad would be friends with and your mom would disapprove of because he always sleeps on your couch blind drunk after a show down at the county fairgrounds on a Wednesday.

Hey, don't judge him. He's trying to clean up. He's just in a bad place right now.

These scenes all pretty much go like this: Michael asks to go home, Loomis tells him he can’t because he’s a terrible child, Michael cries. Rinse and repeat for like over 30 fucking minutes. Except for one scene that changes up the formula, where a janitor played by Danny Trejo of all people gives Michael a random pep talk about not letting the hospital get him down. I don’t even think Trejo was part of the cast. He was just walking by the set wearing a janitor costume for no reason, and delivered this speech unprompted.

"Remember, kid, don't let them get you down."
"Okay, Mr. Janitor. I don't know why you're telling me this, but okay."
"So why are you in here, kid?"
"I killed my whole family."
"Really? Oh, well forget what I said. You're fucked."

Oh, and this is apparently the worst hospital in the world, as they give metal forks to patients who have murdered people, and train their nurses to make rude comments that provoke the patients to murder them! Ha ha ha! Oh wait, I guess that wasn’t supposed to be funny.

The REAL origin story of the film is telling how mental hospitals learned to stop letting patients have metal forks.

After that, I guess they learned their lesson and kept him locked up for the rest of his life. But hey, what could have really been done about this? You know, things happen!

Until about 15 years later, when a couple of wretched security guards decide to rape some innocent girl who was brought in as a patient. They drag her into Michael’s room and do it there. It’s extremely unpleasant and grating to watch, as they scream “fuck” and “faggot” through the whole thing and obviously the rape itself is extremely awful to watch, and nothing I’d even want to subject my worst enemy to. There is no point to this scene. And it takes way too long. So, congrats on that one, Zombie, you can film a fucking awful rape scene. Hang that award on your wall.

Seriously, what am I supposed to get from this? I guess he really wanted to make Michael Myers the good guy, because I don’t think anyone in the audience is sad that these rapist assholes got murdered. Nothing about this scene or anything else so far has actually been scary so much as fucking gory and awful to look at - neither of those things are compliments. A gonorrhea infection is also awful to look at, for a comparison point. This does not make a good movie.

My only real conclusion has to be that Zombie wasn’t interested in making a horror movie, because this is not a horror movie. This is porn. It’s porn for people who like watching serial killer films and who get off on reading about Jeffrey Dahmer or some shit.

Sigh. So I guess Michael kills everyone else in the hospital, including Danny Trejo, and breaks out. After like, an hour and a half of all this unwatchable, unpleasant, unscary bullshit, what more is there to do? Regurgitate the original 1978 classic, of course!

Seeing this poster on a Google search while you have this remake on would be the only way you'd ever be reminded of the original while watching this piece of shit.

Yes, really - an hour and a half in, we get introduced to Laurie Strode finally. She’s played here by Scout Taylor-Compton, who doesn’t seem like a bad actress. But her first scene has her miming being molested by making over the top sex noises and playing with a bagel, and I died inside just typing that sentence.

You know, it doesn't matter if I even explain this scene more. It would still be stupid.

Her whole character doesn't even make sense. She's a girl next door type who makes jokes to her parents about child molestation! She's an outgoing peppy chick who gets inexplicably shy like a different person entirely when her best friend asks if she has a boyfriend! These things could be fine if written better, but in this movie, I think it's safe to say Zombie isn't in tune with how teenage girls act.

Well, that bagel-child-molestation thing would be bad no matter what. Seriously, what the fuck?

The whole thing just kind of plays out like a dumber, trashier version of the 1978 one, with several scenes just being shot for shot the same. It’s full of really shitty changes from the original. Like when this one girl and her boyfriend just finished having sex. In the original one, it’s just a dumb, harmless scene - they had sex and she tells him to get her a beer, and he gets killed by Michael. Here, though, she’s a total bitch to him and seemingly can’t stop being rude even for one second just because the sex was bad.

Christ, even her face is annoying to look at. I'm sure she's a nice person, but this character is just so bad in this movie.

I’m not saying that’s unrealistic - though the dialogue and writing suck - but it just points out what’s wrong with this. This wasn’t a change made for some great change to the overall story. It was just because Zombie seemed to want to make everything super gritty and "realistic," which mostly just comes off as dumb as fuck in this. It comes off silly, tired and dated. Making people shittier and ruder isn’t being realistic, it just shows what a small minded view you have of people.

The final chase scene is extremely boring and lame. It goes on for fucking ever. Like seriously I could have read a few chapters of Infinite Jest by the time this goddamn scene ends. The original movie’s chase scene wasn’t night and day from this one, but this movie has been completely unwatchable poison up to this point, so I guess it’s just hard to sit through more of its fat rolls of “plot.” There’s a moment at the end when you think it’s over - Laurie does her whole “was that the Bogeyman?” line, and Loomis replies. But then…

Yup! It’s still going. You hack ass piece of fucking shit. JUST STOP! Sorry for the tasteless profanity. I got possessed by the spirit of the movie there.

It finally ends, after like twenty minutes of aimless wandering through the Myers house in another stale attempt at a chase scene. The least this movie could have done was end sooner, but no, we don't even get that. We have to sit through Zombie's unique vision - a dull, dime-a-dozen chase scene that anyone could have filmed. Woo hoo... Anyway, Laurie finally kills Michael and THEN it's really over!

Wow, was that all? After two hours of rednecks screaming the word “faggot,” unnecessary violence, rape scenes and people being horrible to each other for no reason, I really want more. I think Rob Zombie really did capture what made the original a classic. I’m surprised he ended it at only two hours myself! I know I could have watched at least another two hours of this tasteless, irredeemable bullshit.

A lot of people talk about how this remake ruined the original’s point by explaining Michael Myers’ character, and they’re right. The original movie was only scary because of how mysterious Michael was, and how he was this unstoppable evil force who just descends randomly on a small town. It was the arbitrary, random nature of it that made it scary. Here, once Zombie explains it all, it’s just a bland serial killer upbringing story that has as much charm as reading a Wikipedia article on Ted Bundy.

But even if you don’t care about that, the movie is still complete shit. This is an annoying, irritating movie on every front. It’s visually grimy and grungy, annoying to listen to because every character constantly spews "fucks" and "faggots" every other line in awful redneck accents and even the violence and sex can't save it, as neither one of those things is even remotely enjoyable to look at here. The movie is not even remotely tense, scary or atmospheric. The writing is woefully slow-witted, blunt and dull, so they can’t even fall back on ideas in the script and claim the gratuitous sex and violence was an artistic decision. It feels more like a dumb 15 year old’s attempt at scaring his mom and little sister because they made him go to church.

This movie fucking sucks, and Rob Zombie fucking sucks. The Devil’s Rejects was a fluke. This is all he really has to offer.

Images copyright of their original owners; I own none of them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

More Great New Halloween Staples

Last year, I put out a list of 13 new horror films that can be added to the canon of flicks you turn on every year for Halloween. Now I have a few more. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see a few of the movies I had planned to - namely The Boy and Goodnight Mommy. But maybe I'll get to add those for next year's installment of this, who knows. The picks here are sometimes obvious and sometimes not - maybe you can find some new favorites.

Here they are:

I've known this movie, about a family that gets lost on a long country road at night, for years. It's probably a bit patchy, as the dialogue is often silly and the acting is over the top. It isn't perfect. But what made me put it on this list is the real horror and absurdity of what happens to these people. There are some legitimate scary scenes here and some cool horror tropes - things creeping in the shadows, people acting abnormally. It's a fun, sometimes silly, creepy flick. I still think about this movie whenever I'm driving at night, so that says something.
A lot of people know this by its American remake Quarantine, but this Spanish film from 2007 is a raw, bloody good fucking time. This is a found footage thing that really makes you feel like you're in the middle of this terrifying disease outbreak. That's how the found footage style should be used - to immerse the viewer further into the world. [REC] does that, and it never lets up the frenzied, fast paced chaos. It's a killer movie and I think any fan of fast paced survival horror will enjoy it.

An insane movie that, for some shady reason, was never actually given a legit release. This is a serial killer film to end all serial killer films, so over the top it starts to seem satirical and hysterical - but it pulls you back and doesn't quite go all the way either, remaining a pretty grisly, gruesome tale. This is a pretty one note movie and isn't particularly clever from a storytelling point of view, but it's put together well, and the whole thing is a sick, gleefully evil good time if you're in the mood for something completely tasteless. It's very low budget, and the potential is oozing from every pore. I'd love to see what these guys could have done with a bigger budget.

Guillermo del Toro's latest foray into horror, and I think this is a better film in that genre than he's had in some time. A period piece set in the late 1800s or early 1900s, this story is about a young girl who marries into a family that perhaps isn't what it seems. The characters and acting are really good in this, and the settings and scenery start out beautiful and slowly slide into horrifying. There are a lot of great gory ghost effects in this, too - killer stuff. The story has been done before, but there's always a place for good re-tellings of a classic styled tale, which Crimson Peak certainly falls under. Bombastic, fun and mournful somehow all at once. A powerful, energized film.

Really brooding, eerie supernatural horror in the "wait, what's REALLY going on?" genre, rife with plot twists and supernatural eerieness you're never sure is actually really there. I loved the setting and visual style of this; there was lots of real seedy, bizarre stuff to look at, and the way the story unfolded just built tension like Lego blocks on top of one another. This is an extremely tense, dark film. The last plot twist wasn't that great, but everything that leads up to it is so good that it doesn't matter. This is just a creepy, weird trip into a dark, fucked up place, and I thought it was pretty awesome.

An artsy, quiet film about a vampire terrorizing a small Iranian town. It's spooky, weird and kind of touching in a way. The story centers on this vampire who attacks men who disrespect women. It's really well shot and the atmosphere is through the roof. It never really goes for full on blood and guts or even psychological horror - it's more of a subtle, artistic tale. But the black and white color is used effectively and the desolate, run down setting is suitably eerie. Go see this.

Starry Eyes (2014)

I've talked about this before, but Starry Eyes is a first rate new horror movie. It's about an aspiring actress in California working at a shitty job when she gets the offer of a lifetime: a job with a weird director who's actually part of a cult. Part Lynch and part gore-flick like Contracted, this is a bone-chilling, atmospheric and brutal story. The film talks about the ambition of a young wannabe artist and also about disillusionment with being surrounded by a bunch of hipsters who don't do anything - her friends in the movie are all really pretentious douches who talk about making movies but then do nothing but get high. It's a lot of fun. Go watch it.

Lake Mungo (2008)

A dark, sad movie about a family who loses their daughter, and how they deal with it. This is a very slow and quiet tale told in faux-documentary format. There are hints of the supernatural, as the ghost of the dead girl is believed to be there, but the movie subverts the usual tropes and tells a gripping and left-of-center story about grief and moving on. There's a lot more to it, but I feel like telling you too much would be ruining the film. I found this a moving story but also a haunting and chilling one. Equal parts scary and sad, Lake Mungo is a very good film.

The Houses October Built (2014)

Real low budget found-footage stuff about a bunch of friends who go on a road trip in search of the most extreme haunts and haunted houses. The characters in this are actually likable and fun to watch, and the haunted house scenery is a gold mine for the Halloween season, dripping with October atmosphere. The haunted house scenes are fun, the dialogue is witty and the plot descends into real seedy, dark, scary waters later on as the characters search for the most extreme haunted houses they can find in backwoods America. I love this movie, and so will anyone else who's as into haunted houses as I am.

What We Do in the Shadows (2015)

I didn't know if this really belonged on a list of great horror movies, but it's too good for me to leave off. And it's got vampires in it, so fuck it, right? This is really more of a comedy than a horror film, about a bunch of quirky vampires rooming together in a New Zealand flat. The acting is good, the characters are a lot of fun and the story playfully subverts vampire cliche and makes everything fun and quick-witted. The film is clever, too, and has more dimensions than just wacky comedy. It delves into some surprisingly touching moments and ends up a more nuanced film than some other ones of its type. Really entertaining, I highly recommend it.

The Babadook (2014)

Horror should always be about something. When you're making a real serious horror film, it has to have some point, some real life tie-in or metaphor to what's happening. If you want to scare people, you make a horror movie that's actually about real things, because the best horror reflects things in real life that we're worried about or scared of, and builds off that. Because otherwise, you're just making a dumb movie at the end of the day. You can make it as supernatural and absurd as you want, but unless you make it real, it isn't fucking scary.

The Babadook, about a single mother struggling to raise her young son, does that in an exemplary way. This is a chilling, mean movie that keeps you on edge at all times. Everything feels uncomfortable and harsh and cruel. It's an assault on your senses, and the way it slides inconspicuously into madness is excellently done. A well made, blood-curdling terrifyingly good time.

It Follows (2015)

This and The Babadook are the most talked about horror films of the last year, and for good reason. It Follows is a fresh, fun film with one foot in classic 80s horror and the other in a more modern, arthouse-style direction. This movie is about relationships. It's about the journey every young person takes to finding one, and about the confusion and absurdity of it all. Very little in this movie has rules or makes sense, and that's how life feels when you're navigating that time of life. The characters do dumb things when trying to fight the evil thing chasing them, because in real life, most people do dumb things, and most of us wouldn't be able to MacGuyver our ways out of a scary situation. So that was refreshing.

With likable characters, a cool, creepy soundtrack and a bunch of super eerie scenes of things creeping up from far away, this is a great film. This is a scary movie, but it also has a sentimental side to it, and several scenes come off more wistful and even kind of romantic than a lot of genre films would try. With an extremely unique style, an interesting story and a palpable, tangible atmosphere and mood, this is a great horror film, and surely one of the best post-2000 ones.

Who says horror is dead? There are more I didn't even get to this year. Until next year, then!

Images copyright of their original owners; we own none of them.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cinema Freaks LIVE: Goosebumps (2015)

Nostalgia is a powerful force these days. Everyone wants to remember what they sort of forgot. The Internet gave them that, like a golden goose's egg, and now movie studios are milking it for all it's worth. If you want the biggest example of that, well...there are probably a lot. But one of them is the new Goosebumps movie. Which Michelle and I did a podcast about!

(SPOILERS are in the podcast and review, for those who want to avoid those!)

Wasn't that great? On second thought, don't answer that. Instead, you can read the review if you're not convinced.

Director: Rob Letterman
Starring: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush

Co-written with Michelle.

Basically about a kid who moves to a new town, befriends a girl and finds out her father is RL Stine, and also that he has a bunch of books which, if opened, unleash all the monsters from the classic Goosebumps books on the unsuspecting real world. You know how it goes. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy has to fight off obvious marketing tools in a kids' horror movie.

The movie is rife with all sorts of witty puns and dialogue from every character. They spew them like gumball machines. It's like all of them sat down in a room and wrote out their dialogue before actually going out to speak to one another. Main character Zach at this point might as well get a job writing for Buzzfeed, he's so quick with a light jab or quip.

"Hang on, mom, I need to consult my joke writer to see what funny stuff he's got for me to say!"

The movie really shows its true colors with a scene of this girl, Hannah, calling to him and making friends. They exchange some dialogue that will be repeated over the course of the film in a predictable way, but is still rather likable anyway, so I'm torn on what degree I should make fun of it – a full on inferno-burn, or a mere sizzling like bacon on a griddle? Eh, it's not terrible.

But I love the part where Jack Black as RL Stine pops out of the window and tells Zach not to talk to his daughter, like a threat against him – come on, SHE talked to HIM first! What is he supposed to do? Ignore the cute girl in front of him flirting with him in the middle of the night? At like 16 or whatever age he's supposed to be, I think a Catholic priest would have an easier time resisting his urges!

"Hey, let's exchange some light hearted, scripted-sounding banter!"
"Sounds good! Can we flirt more?"
"No, this is a PG movie and that would get us thrown in jail."
"Well sheeeeeeeeeeeeaaaatttt."
"I'll make sure you turn GAY before you talk to MY DAUGHTER!!!"

The next day at school, we get all kinds of wacky scenarios, like Zach's mom starting her new job as the vice principal at the school and saying “Twerking” in her opening speech rather than “Tweeting.” Oh the hi-larity! And also, Zach meets this weird kid named Champ, who asks him to go to the dance pick up girls. Yeah. That's why he wants to. Uh, yeah...cough...then Champ hands him a business card, which really makes sense for a high school kid to have and also points out how fucking weird this kid is.

At night, Hannah takes Zach out into the woods, where she shows him an abandoned carnival that somehow still has the power on. I guess they just forgot to turn that off and just chalk up the thousands of dollars in extra electricity towards residents' taxes to a fluke. If it seems weird that I am spending time thinking about that shit during a kids' movie, well, don't pay attention to me. There's another scene  right after where they climb up the old Ferris wheel with nobody around and hang out there, because apparently death excites them.

There's really nothing that can save them here from death – Zach even asks how they get down at one point, which I'm sure Hannah's real answer to was “you can't get down, I own you now!” But they had to cut that out and continue the movie, because otherwise nobody would have gotten paid. Oh well. All I'm saying is, it's insane that this fairground thing is a plot point in the film.

They eventually make their ways back to RL Stine's house, where Zach thinks Stine is abusing Hannah. I remember thinking the trailer showing this plot point was really fucking dark, and not even knowing what movie it was at first. But then of course, they break in and discover Stine's secret – he has every book he ever wrote locked up, and if they're unlocked, the monsters come to life and terrorize reality.

"Why is there one copy of a Bearenstein Bears book in here?"

There's never really much of an explanation for why or how this happens, except that Stine has a magic typewriter that can do it. I guess he never considered STOPPING writing the books even after he had to have known it was possible after a FEW of the fucking things. What a psycho! And why does he have them just displayed like that on a shelf? Shouldn't they be locked away in a safe at the bottom of the ocean or something?! Something tells me this RL Stine in the movie is less a horror writer and more a demented and hell bent sadist bent on humanity's violent destruction.

Stine: "I could have stopped this, but I secretly wanted this to happen!"

But oh well – so the plot doesn't make sense. What do you want? All we're really here for are the action scenes. They're generally well done. We get a few pretty enjoyable scenes of the characters fighting a snowman and a werewolf in various places. And Jack Black (again) as Slappy the dummy is hilariously good – he's almost worth the price of admission by himself.

I guess there are a couple of forced 'serious' moments as the film tries to give us a plot about how Stine was bullied as a kid and that's why he grew up to write the Goosebumps series. It's really rather silly and doesn't come off well. Mostly because we needed another bullied-kid story like I needed a bag full of fire ants at the foot of my bed. Oh boo hoo, you got bullied as a kid? Let me play you the world's smallest guitar, doing the intro to Stairway to Heaven.

...wait, I don't think THAT'S right...

But the real reveal is when they find out that, shock and awe, Hannah is actually a creation from one of his books! She isn't even real and doesn't know it. Goddamn. That means he can create functional human beings out of thin air. I mean, yeah, THIS time he created a sweet teenage girl. But what about when he gets the urge to replace a politician in power with his own pawns? Can he just create a proxy who will do whatever he wants? Will we all end up under the thumb of the totalitarian RL Stine reign without even knowing it? Jesus. This just became the most terrifying movie of the year, easy.

I'll put this image here to balance it out.

So the only way to defeat the monsters is, apparently, by writing one final book about all of them, which will end with them getting sucked back into the book. Stine tries, and even almost finishes a book in an extremely short amount of time while Zach is doing something else – maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it seems like this movie has mixed messages. On one side, Stine is a terrifying potential dictator who can do anything with a keyboard. On the other, “hey, he writes his books in under an hour!” Maybe both are true.

This goes fairly well until Slappy breaks Stine's fingers, rendering Stine unable to write. So it's up to Zach to go finish the last page of the book without getting his head torn off by monsters. Meanwhile, though, Champ saves this really hot girl in a skimpy dress from a werewolf, and she rewards him by kissing him. Because, you know, if you can save a girl from a werewolf, you deserve her as a prize, I guess.

I went to acting school and all I got was a shit role where I had to give myself to a dorky character!

Zach manages to finish the book, but only after a terrifying near-death experience in which a Ferris wheel almost kills them when it comes off its hinges and rolls down a giant hill. Seriously, how did they survive that? I think a career in stunts would seem as harmless as a knitting job after that. Jesus.


So yeah, they stop all the monsters at the end, but Hannah gets sucked back into the book as well. The next day at school, I guess everyone just got over that whole 'most of our town was annihilated' thing pretty easily, as no one seems to care anymore. Stine is even a teacher there now, because I guess almost destroying an entire town with monsters you created makes you qualified to teach whatever kids didn't get massacred the previous night by said monsters. Life is fun when it makes no sense, huh?

To add an extra dose of pandering, apparently Stine wrote Hannah back to life just so she could be with Zach. A literal fictional girl created just to be someone's girlfriend. What do I even have to say? It's pretty lame. Should our movies really be teaching young boys that if they do absolutely nothing, a children's author will write a girlfriend into existence for them? Ugh. I've just seen that bad lesson in movies way too often.

This film is just silly, mostly. Nothing in the plot makes sense. But then again, when did the original Goosebumps plots ever make that much sense? The film is pretty true to its source material! The whole thing really is just intended to be like an extended, over the top version of what the classic Goosebumps stories were - it has the same structure and format; a kid meets a girl and gets into supernaturally-laced trouble.

It's nonsense, but it's fun nonsense. The characters are enjoyable in a dumb way and the story is fast and exciting enough, especially for younger kids and teenagers. Jack Black is electrifyingly fun as RL Stine and the effects are enjoyably cheesy. While I can't say this is that good or anything, it is entertaining in its own silly way. So go see it, especially if you used to like Goosebumps.

But seriously, guys. Be careful of who you piss off. You don't want to run afoul of RL Stine, as he is a master of the arcane old arts and possesses unspeakable powers with which he can ruin your life. He rules us to this day from his horrific mountain lair, creating monsters wherever people irk him. On second thought, if you don't see me any time soon, just assume he did something to me because of this review.

Images copyright of their original owners. We own none of them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

About #BoycottStarWarsVII, Racism, Etc...

While I was out doing stuff over the weekend, apparently the Internet had a collective hemorrhage over  another new Star Wars trailer that came out. That really sucks for me, as I was trying to go a full three months without having to write a post like this. But here we go again: apparently, a couple of trolls on some page called End Cultural Marxism wrote a few posts about how the movie is promoting white genocide because none of its main characters are white males. Which I think is probably true. I always knew there was something fishy about that JJ Abrams fella...

But seriously. Most people are obviously not so stupid as to believe this movie is promoting white genocide or any anti-white fervor. Most people just take it for what it is, a film. Most tweets about it are very much against racism and against this ridiculous hashtag "boycott" that's apparently going to happen. The racists who actually are angry are only a vocal minority, nothing more - which, to describe them as a minority, is acutely ironic and humorous actually. Now I want to do it more often. I think I will.

It's tempting to give into that and go on this big rant about how wrong racism is, but I don't really think it's necessary. Of course racism is bad. And it feels good to rave against those who promote racist ideas. It releases sweet brain-chemicals that make us feel vindicated. We all need a target to shoot at once in a while. But I think mostly it's fine, and we have nothing to worry about. The racists will go back to their holes and Abrams, Disney and the other producers behind the movie won't hear their cries over the sound of all that sweet, sweet green gold coming in truckloads to their mansions the hour after the film's debut. The movie is in no danger, nor is Star Wars as a franchise, from this nonsense.

But I can't help myself: If people are really pissed about the fact that there are minorities in leading roles in a Star Wars film, they're actually more thin-skinned, weak-willed pussies than any of the so-called "SJW" types they constantly call out for being overly sensitive.

Ahh, yes. Wash over me, sweet, sweet feelings of vindication. Now that I've said my piece against racism, my day is complete.

It's good that we have a new Star Wars film with a diverse cast. That's important. I'm not sure the movie will be anything all that exciting; probably it'll just be a decently entertaining blockbuster, nothing more. But it's about time we had more big action movies with better and more diverse casts. There are enough movies with white dudes as the main characters. Why not shake it up? Even if you don't care about racial progress or social justice, the fact is, it's just more interesting to have a wider variety of people in a movie.

This is the wave of the future. For a long time, minority actors couldn't get any good roles in big movies. They were bit parts, supporting casts, caricatures whose whole identity was based on race. Now that's changing, and not only can a better selection of promising actors get more interesting roles, but kids can have heroes that look like them in movies. That's important, too. I believe we're making progress in this area. There will always be detractors and those who are uncomfortable with change. Let's keep going, and don't let a bunch of racists drag that down or distract from how much progress we've made.

Plus, the actor in question, John Boyega, was in a kick ass movie called Attack the Block a few years back. That shit was awesome. We should be glad he's a part of this.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Most people know the Halloween series for one thing: Michael Myers, that lovable lunk-head who likes to go around and kill his family members on Halloween every year. I guess he’s a bit one dimensional, but hey, he had spirit to him. But if there’s an outlier to the series, most people would point to the 1982 sequel, Season of the Witch.

Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Starring: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin

Co-written with Michelle.

This was the only one not to feature Myers as the killer, as the studio wanted to turn this series into an anthology with different stories every year. But the movie bombed and people were unhappy with the lack of Myers, so they ended up scrapping that idea completely, like a bunch of pussies, and brought back Myers for a bunch of sequels almost no one liked.

But this isn’t TOO bad, is it? I mean, it’s got a pretty cool soundtrack. And it has plenty of children running around, happy that Halloween is right around the corner. Ahh, yes. I can feel the autumnal ambiance already…except in the opening scene, where we see a man being chased by a bunch of guys in suits, who are apparently trying to kill him for some reason. That’s not very nice of them.

The movie is about this doctor, Daniel Challis, who is doing normal doctor things like disappointing his family on Halloween by having to go back into work for an emergency, and grabbing nurses’ asses like a fucking creep. He’s the best guy ever. But the reason he was called in is to tend to the guy from the opening chase scene. He’s been brought in almost dead and clutching a pumpkin mask, and he uses his last dying breath to tell a doctor they’re all going to die. Makes sense to me. I’m gonna use my last words on Earth to say things that sound ominous like for a horror movie trailer, too!

"Nothing can save you now...was that good enough for a trailer quote?"
"Eh, sure."

Challis is also constantly surrounded by, well, the catchiest song in the universe.

Yes, this commercial jingle in the movie’s world is for Silver Shamrock, a company which makes a bunch of masks for kids - well, really only a bunch of copies of the same three masks for kids. Because, apparently, what little kids really want is to be mindless conformist drones all wearing the exact same fucking costumes. The song is played probably two or three dozen times in this movie. I’m tempted to say it’s actually the starring role here.

The plot is, I guess, that the guy who died was delivering something for that mask company and caught wind of what they were really doing, which is why they sent those Terminator-esque guys to silence him. One of them sneaks back in later and finishes the job:

But before he can be prosecuted, he does the typical criminal thing and lights himself on fire in his own car. God dammit. Another one slips through the cracks of the American justice system...

I can't tell you how many times this very specific incidence has prevented the justice system from being able to prosecute a killer. Damn, just damn.

The dead guy’s daughter, Ellie, played by Stacey Nelkin, shows up and is obviously distraught. This character shows a lot of realistic grief and gives the movie a somber tone. Nah, just kidding; she teams up with Challis instantly to go on a ludicrous adventure to solve her father’s murder. That’s a pretty unusual way to grieve. “Hey, random doctor who works at the hospital where my father died! Let’s go solve the murder!”

It's especially baffling when you remember that Challis is a doctor, and most doctors are not usually qualified to solve murders. A lot of the time, cops handle that instead. I guess the cops in this movie's world were just too busy doing other things, like playing pub trivia or looking for the next best deal on used furniture. So solving crimes just fell to the next rank down the pecking order, doctors, to take care of solving the murders.

Their investigation leads them to this small town where Silver Shamrock masks are made in a giant cliche looking evil factory. In the hotel at night, Challis initially offers to sleep on the floor or in his car, which is nice of him, being a gentleman. Then Ellie asks him where he wants to sleep, eyes wide like a deer in headlights (though I believe it’s supposed to be a flirtatious look), and Challis doesn’t miss a beat. He immediately goes “Where do you THINK I want to sleep?”

Clearly, he was just waiting for this. He is a big fan of ‘my father just died and we’re trying to solve his murder’ sex, you know - the popular fetish.

It's an aphrodisiac.

Most of the movie after this point is just the characters wandering around trying to spy on Silver Shamrock, which turns the movie into a bigger budget version of you and your friends playing James Bond as kids in the backyard. Seriously, how many scenes are there in this movie of Challis just running from place to place? What is the director’s fetish with that?

But I guess I can see why Silver Shamrock is scary. I mean, their malfunctioning equipment is still deadly enough to kill people with laser beams to the face!

Then a bug comes out of her face, but I'm pretty sure the bug was always in there, and the laser just let it out.

It turns out the mastermind behind all this is a man named Conal Cochran, who gets the prize for being the most affable mass murder aspirer ever. Seriously, he may be trying to kill children with evil masks, but listening to his deep, comforting voice, you almost want to believe that the batshit nonsense he is spewing makes sense.

He could convince you to eat your own pinkie toe, he's so charismatic.

They find out that for some reason, they can’t contact anyone outside the town! That’s no good. It’s implied heavily that Cochran is behind this because, who the fuck else would it be in this movie? So they go ahead and break into the Silver Shamrock factory. They almost immediately get into a fight with the army of robots inside. Yes, really. An army of robots. I know it sounds like I’m just doing mad libs at this point, but it’s true.

And then the army of (blank) kidnapped the hero, who works as a (blank) so he wouldn't stop the evil (blank) from doing (blank) to all the children of the world.

They catch both Challis and Ellie and tie them up. Meanwhile, all the kids in the country are buying the same three stupid masks from this company for Halloween, which Cochran reveals will kill them if they see the commercial while wearing them. Okay, for one, that’s pretty cool technology, which I am sure Apple or Google is already developing. And two, really? All the kids buy those masks? There was no one buying a Batman costume or a cowboy one? Everyone just wanted those three same masks? I gotta say - the movie is making an excellent critique of ‘be like everybody else’ mass marketing culture.

...or, maybe, it’s just dumb. Yeah. Maybe that.

"Alright, we got three masks! Hooray for variety!"

We also see what happens when the mask activates: it collapses your head and makes bugs come out. That’s pretty cool.

Eh, it was before the current safety standards were enacted. What can you do?

There’s also a scene where Cochran explains his plan to Challis - he’s going to kill all the children in the world with masks because he doesn’t like how commercialized Halloween has become, wanting to return it to its original Pagan roots. Well, hey, seems a bit extreme, but we all need a hobby.

They escape, killing the robots and for some reason leaving Cochran alive - seriously, it didn't show him dying. He could still be out there now!

Then later in the car, it’s revealed that Ellie herself is a robot now, and she tries to kill Challis in the car. I actually think it’s because she had a delayed reaction to him sleeping with her while they were trying to solve her father’s murder. She just realized, hey, this guy is a dickbag. But it’s okay, he kills her and leaves her on the side of the road. Wow. Once a douchebag, always a douchebag.

This screenshot sums up the whole movie for me, actually.

Then he tries to stop everyone from showing the commercial, making several frantic calls to TV stations. A couple of them, surprisingly, actually do it - I guess they always listen to insane doctors screaming on the phone and change their scheduled programming for them. But most do not, as the commercial is apparently on every single station. The movie ends with mask-wearing kids watching the commercial and Challis screaming as Armageddon comes. So overall, a happy ending.

"If you could see how wide I'm opening my mouth right now, you would definitely give me what I want!"

Halloween III is a silly movie. It's got a slow, trudging pace and a lot of silly moments. When you think about the plot, it makes no sense. Why were there robots working for Conal Cochran? How did they make those masks? The rest of the story, like the whole 'doctor and beautiful girl team up to solve murder and have sex' plot, is pretty hilariously dated. The movie is slow-paced almost to a fault.

...but, somehow, it still works!

Yeah. It's just got that corny, fun vibe about it. The soundtrack is great and the plot is ghoulishly fun. It could be a lot better, and some just won't be able to look beyond the flaws. But I thought it was a nice slice of October fun with a goofy plot like they just don't make anymore. If you want a fun horror flick to watch this Halloween, this wouldn't be a bad choice. And at least it's better than 90% of the actual Michael Myers Halloween movies...

Images copyright of their original owners, I own none of them.