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Monday, October 31, 2016

31 (2016) - Rob Zombie

They can't all be winners. If you've seen one Rob Zombie movie then you've seen them all. They have the same cliche'd cuts and edits. They use the same type of soundtrack. They have the same actors and carry the same feeling. Some directors can pull it off really well. But Rob just feels like he is out of ideas.

On October 30th, a group of carnival workers are abducted, tortured and held against their will at some weird compound called MurderWorld. They try to survive as their captors force them into a deadly game called 31. They are hunted and tested for the pleasure of some weird powdered wig wearing psychopaths.

I feel as if Rob Zombie thinks that it's his duty to bring back sleazy grindhouse cinema. Its almost like these movies are exploitation-sploitation. Obscenity is commonplace. Mutilation, gore and dismemberment are merely filler moments in between thin layers of obscured normalcy. Grindhouse is less of a film style and more of a natural occurrence in Rob Zombie's world. It's like his films are perpetually set in the seventies and everyone went to the Quentin Tarantino school for dialogue.

The survival game is a pretty neat device. I like the killer clowns. But something just doesn't click. Not all of the movies that I watch on Halloween can be winners. I don't know why I keep trusting Rob Zombie movies with Sherri Moon in them. She is not the second coming of Linnea Quigley or anything like that. She just has no range. Her characters are virtually all the same in varying degrees of sanity.

This is a really intensely gruesome film from beginning to end. Its ugly on all aspects. I wouldn't really sit down to watch this with friends. Instead check out Battle Royal and The Running Man. Both are superior films. The latter being an action movie. Where Rob Zombie fails he can choose to learn a lot. Unfortunately, he just doesn't. Maybe a trip outside of horror is needed. Look at what happened to Richard Kelly. People got wise.

Director: Rob Zombie
Producer: Rob Zombie and Crowdfunding
Writer: Rob Zombie
Starring: Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Meg Foster,  Richard Brake and Malcolm McDowell
Studio: Bow + Arrow Entertainment, PalmStar Media and Protagonist Pictures[2]
Release Date: January 23, 2016 (Sundance)
Country: United States
Did ya know: 31 was re-edited twice before the MPAA gave the film an R rating. The first two submissions came back with an NC-17

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Salem's Lot (1979) - Tobe Hooper

Halloween just wouldn't be the same without a good Stephen King picture. I had just finished reading Salem's Lot and thought that I would check out the television mini-series as well. It has actually been pretty hard to find. There are a lot of different versions of this movie too. Apparently, Stephen King himself loves the cut-down theatrical version. However, I found a near three and a half hour version. I think it is the actual Television version. It has fades for commercial breaks. Either way, I dug it.

Ben Mears, a writer, returns home to Salem's Lot after many years away. He has had this fascination with this dirty old home in town, The Marsden House. Where, as a child, he had seen the owner decrepit and decaying, hanging by the neck. This image stays with him for a long time. It actually turns out that Ben is returning home when a mysterious old figure is moving into the house. Also people are going missing and being stricken ill all around 'the Lot'.

While this is a vampire movie it doesn't explicitly show any nefarious acts. Instead, before anything actually happens we get a well timed freeze frame. It adds to that tone of dread that hangs over the movie. That heavy feeling of fear is what make this a successful movie. There are scenes that make you hold your breath. There are scenes that make you sit on the edge of your seat. All of that, and they give you a good length to tell a full story.

They had batted around a lot of scripts from some of Hollywood's best. Larry Cohen and Stirling Silliphant had both turned in their own screenplays. However, this one written by Paul Monash is pretty great. It doesn't follow the book precisely. Instead it makes the movie its own thing and actually improves upon the tale.

Horror director extraordinaire, George Romero pulled out of this picture due to it being produced as a made for TV mini-series. Which is a shame. At least we get Toby Hooper of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame. They didn't need to go into graphic detail in order to make a horrific film. The length of the movie actually made for some really good character development and detail. I was a fan of how in depth they actually got. Unlike some horror movies based on novels, this one actually does a good job.

Salem's Lot is a scary picture. Although it has been tamed by the restrictions of the television audience. It still delivers a great deal of suspense and terror. I really loved it. It's long but really interesting and it keeps the pace running well. The horror is great. Its perfect for Halloween movie marathons. I recommend it to anyone that hasn't seen it yet. One of the more forgotten Stephen King classics.

Director: Tobe Hooper
Writer: Paul Monash
Starring: David Soul, James Mason, Lance Kerwin, Bonnie Bedelia and Lew Ayres
Studio: Warner Brothers
Country: United States
Did ya know: The scenes of the child vampires floating outside of their victims' windows was partly filmed in reverse to give it a more eerie effect. Additionally, the actors performed on a boom crane rather than being suspended on wires.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Scary Movie (2000) - Keenen Ivory Wayans

During the nineties, Keenan Ivory Wayans ran the parody comedy game. His hit television show In Living Color introduced key Wayans family members that have been a staple in his work for years. Namely, Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans. Both hilarious and both stars in the Keenan Ivory's Scream spoof Scary Movie. 

Following the same narrative of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Teens are ending up murdered in a small California town. Cindy, Bobby, Shorty, Brenda, Ray, Buffy and Greg are all students together at B.A. Corpse High School, We join them just as they had learned that their friend was murdered and it might have something to do with the night that they hit and murdered some fisherman.  

It's hilarious. Like the Animal House of horror. Scenes are memorable and quotable. It should have your sides splitting while simultaneously satisfying your horror thirst. It has so many callbacks to the genre, like our lead Cindy Campbell's name is a play on the name Sidney from Scream and Neve Campbell, the actress that played Sidney. So while it takes obvious stabs at horror movies, it also throws in some pop culture. 

The cast is stellar. It's a showcase of the younger comedians and actors/actresses of the new millennium. Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Shannon Elizabeth, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans and Lochlyn Munro all turn in some memorable performances with Jon Abrahams as the best. His interpretation of Skeet Ulrich's character Billy was awesome. There are also cameos from pop stars from the time like James Van Der Beek as Dawson. 

It's a really bizarre movie that takes some amusing twists and turns. I loved it. The way that they melded the story with so many different references. This film and the sequel are unfortunately the only two movies in the series that I liked. It started to lose momentum and the horror element. But this is the pinnacle of the Wayans' work at the time. Such a classic. 

Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans
Producer: Eric L. Gold and Lee R. Mayes
Writers: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Buddy Johnson, Phil Beauman, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
Starring: Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Jon Abrahams and Shannon Elizabeth
Studio: Dimension Films and Wayans Bros. Entertainment
Release Date: July 7, 2000
Did ya know: When Ray and Brenda are in the movie theatre, the preview screen reads: "The following 'Peeview' has been 'assproved' for immature audiences only. If you can read this you are too close. Pee Pee Poopy Boogers Farts Butthole. Rated I for Immature. We thought it would be funny to put this here. Kiss our asses and take it off pause. This is the humor we are dealing with. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Sleepaway Camp (1983) - Robert Hiltzik

Really good horror movies need to leave an impression on you. Sleepaway Camp is definitely the type of movie that leaves it's mark. While being infamous for it's graphic ending. It's also a quintessential eighties horror film that captures the time in the style and fashion. It encompasses that summer camp style that was really popular during this time. It actually captures the camp feeling a whole lot better than most Friday the 13th films. 

Angela Baker and her cousin Ricky attend Summer Camp. Ricky had been coming for a while, but this was Angela's first time. Needless to say, the adjustment doesn't go very well. The camp is full of creeps, assholes and jerkbags. And someone is running around trying to kill them all! This really doesn't help things for Angela. 

This movie isn't afraid to go places that other movies don't. It explores all sorts of themes from gender bending to child molestation, while simultaneously being an entertaining summer camp comedy. The characters are all exaggerations with strokes of realism. The dialogue can be hokey at some points but really realistic at others. The fighting and bickering between campers is really great. It makes for an entertaining feature. 

This is a great slasher flick. Some of the characters that bite it really deserve it. The cook has my favorite incident. He's a real piece of shit that gets his comeuppance really well. The ending is the kind of finale that you never forget. Believe that. 

Sleepaway Camp isn't going to be for everyone. It's highly offensive to just about any yuppie or parent. However, it has a lot of great qualities that make it memorable. It's a great movie for more adult themed Halloween parties and isn't really for the youngins. If you liked this movie then I would suggest Wet Hot American Summer and Friday the 13th. Both are classics from two different genres. Both fit around this movie perfectly. 

Director: Robert Hiltzik
Producer: Jerry Silva and Michele Tatosian
Writer: Robert Hiltzik
Starring Mike Kellin, Katherine Kamhi, Paul DeAngelo, Jonathan Tiersten and Felissa Rose
Studio: American Eagle Films
Release Date: November 18, 1983
Country: United States
Did ya know: Jane Krakowski was originally cast to play Judy.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Stir of Echoes (1999) - David Koepp

This is a really cool movie that gets over looked a lot. Sure, A Sixth Sense came out before it and it may resemble that a bit too much. But who cares? Stir of Echoes has a really cool story that is supported by a solid cast. It has a great song as it's theme and it has some seriously scary scenes. I was more than happy to review it for the 31 Movies of Halloween. 

Tom Witzky and his family have recently moved into this town. A nice small town that really has some great old pride. However, the town is holding back a deep dark secret. Tom and his son Jake are getting these visions of a dead young woman in their home. Tom becomes obsessed with it and starts driving a wedge in between reality and insanity.

Kevin Bacon does a phenomenal job here. His work is some of the best in his career. I really liked the story too. The botched hypnosis thing is a really great device. I like that it opened up Toms mind to seeing these beings from the other side. I just wish we were able to see the other side.

The effects were pretty minimal. They saved on time by replaying some of the grossest stuff. Namely, the tooth being knocked out and the fingernail being broken off. Those are both pretty gruesome. But that seems to be the only appearance of gore. Other effects that I liked had to do with the lighting and set-up. The flashback sequences were cold and damp. I really liked the dying effect that they had used with Samantha. It was neat.

This is a solid horror movie with some really great suspense. If you have a pulse then it should keep you glued to the edge of your seat. It should also have you humming Paint it Black. I recommend Stir of Echoes to just about anyone. It was presented as a mainstream psychological thriller like Seven, but more appropriate. Your mother wouldn't be embarrassed to watch this with you.

Director: David Koepp
Producer: Judy Hofflund and Gavin Polone
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe, Zachary David Cope and Illeana Douglas
Studio: Artisan Entertainment
Country: United States
Did ya Know: In the hypnotism flashback scene, there is a scene of a safety pin being stuck through Tom's hand. This was not a special effect - a stunt man was paid to come in and have a safety pin pushed through his hand for the scene.