The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)

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The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)

Directed by Johannes Roberts

 

                Sequels are almost synonymous with horror movies.  Hell, the 80s spawned so many it was basically parody level.  The case of The Strangers is interesting, it took 10 years to have a sequel come out.  The first Strangers movie, I reviewed in the past, it was creepy and decent but kind of lagged at times and needed more action to keep me re-watching it.  When I heard they made a sequel, I was a bit surprised because of how late after the original it came out and because I thought the original was just above average.  Then I started hearing positive reviews from people I respect in the horror community, figured I had to give it a shot.

                Much like the first, there isn’t much backstory to this movie.  A family goes to a trailer park to visit family and suddenly The Strangers show up and starting murdering people off.  Now the family fights to survive.  The parents die rather quickly and the son and daughter must go it alone.

                The acting is pretty decent throughout.  The father might be the worst actor, especially in his death scene.  My wife, that rarely watches horror movies walked in and said “wow that’s bad acting” lol so that goes to tell you how wooden Martin Henderson was playing Mike the father.  The daughter Kinsey, played by Bailee Madison is pretty good in her role.  She is full of angst and somewhat of a problem child.  She is strong willed and smart, which you see throughout the film.  The Strangers, have very few lines but it goes great with the anonymousness of the masks.  The man in the mask is almost Jason Voorhees levels of relentless towards the end, which is scary but at the same time a little unbelievable.  The dude gets blown up in a car but still is alive, c’mon he’s just a man not an undead badass like Jason.  Along with the acting the movie has great scenery and filmography.  You see some really cool shots in this movie.  One that stands out to me is the shot across the field of Kinsey running and way off in the distance you can see “Pinup Girl” standing and watching.  Another cool shot is when Kinsey goes out the skylight in the bathroom, the camera shoots her from the roof of the trailer which is fun.  There’s a scene where Kinsey runs into some culvert tube thing in the playground, I won’t ruin it but it legit startled me haha.

                The kills are pretty bloody and simple.  You don’t get anything over the top and innovative, but it kind of goes with the realness of the film.  The whole time you feel like this is something that could happen in real life, granted the movie was “based on true events” but we all know that doesn’t mean much.  There are a lot of stabbings, just simple, straight to the point stabbings with lots of blood.  The Strangers are all quite unnerving and unsettling.  One scene we get to hear Pinup Girl speak, Kinsey asks her “why are you doing this?” and Pinup responds “why not?”  That itself is kind of terrifying, because you know with all the ugly and terrible things going on in our world, that is usually the reason.

                The music in this movie is rather effective as well.  We get a lot of late 70s and early 80s lite rock.  The scene in the pool with Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is really haunting.  They did a great job of picking that song, that really stuck with me.  “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” by Air Supply really brings an unsettling feeling to the scene in the film it is used in, and again great choice.  I mention on my twitter account that I kept waiting for “Into the Night” by Benny Mardones to start playing, it would have just fit with the soundtrack, and is a creepy song in its own right.

                I really enjoyed this movie, more than the first one.  It ramped up the action that the first film lacked, without taking away from the suspense and atmosphere.  It had a nice nod to Texas Chainsaw Massacre at the end, which was less subtle and more obvious, perhaps to me because I love TCM.  The only things that fell short to me were the similarities to first film, such as when someone comes to help and they get killed just like Dennis Reynolds from Always Sunny in Philadelphia in the first Strangers.  The other thing that left me wanting more was the ending.  It should have been cut about 2-3 minutes shorter.  They had it, they had a good ending then they went a little too far to try and keep it open for another sequel.  All in all I liked this, it was a fun watch and only 85minutes so it went by nice and fast.  I give this a B+.  If the ending would have been wrapped up quicker and the acting of the father was better, it may have got an A from me.

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It (2017)

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IT (2017)

Directed by Andy Muschietti

 

Remakes.  Boy do I dislike remakes.  For every decent one (see My Bloody Valentine 3D) you get at least 5 terrible ones (see A Nightmare on Elm Street and Black Xmas).  It seems that Hollywood is running out of original ideas, especially when it comes to horror.  Every horror movie of note has had a remake now.  With millions of people being scared of Clowns, for some reason, it was only logical that they remake Stephen King’s It.  The original was a made for TV mini series in 1990.  Basically, this is the first big screen adaptation of the King novel.  People raved and raved when this came out, saying it was better than the original, and telling me I should see it.  Everybody was telling me this.  EVERYBODY!  Was it as good as everyone said?  Well I was able to watch it Sunday morning…

First off, I want to talk about this movie’s hype.  It was relentless!  Turn on youtube to watch a video about wrestling, boom It trailer!  Go to work and coworkers are asking me if I saw the trailer.  Watch a football game and during the commercials, boom trailer.  Take a shit at a McDonalds, and two guys are in the bathroom talking about the fuckin movie!  My god that last one actually happened.  I couldn’t escape this movie.  People that know me, know that I love horror movies.  So everyone was telling me to watch this thing.  So right off the bat I hated it.  I refused to go see it in the theater.  I got so tired of seeing that damn clown!  The reviews started flying in, saying how great it was, its better than the original!  I told myself I wasn’t going to watch it until it came out on video.  I stuck to that promise, I rented it off Amazon Prime.  Sunday, I sat down with my wife and watch this.  You know what?  It wasn’t bad.  It wasn’t amazing either though!

While we found it entertaining, hell my wife actually put her phone down and actively watched this movie, which is a shock.  I felt like it was too long.  Yeah, I know the book is like a million pages, but for a multi part movie, it should have been 90mins instead of 2 hours and 15 minutes.  I found myself getting distracted a lot and checking my watch.  The pacing of the movie was alright for how long it was, I just grew immune to Pennywise.  Maybe because he was everywhere before this movie came out.  Hell, my twitter and facebook were littered with Pennywise memes every damn day!

What I liked about the movie.  The acting was solid, I will say that.  All the kids put in great performances and that can be rare for a horror movie.  Bill Skarsgard did a good job as Pennywise, he was creepy and crazy, although that wore off to me as the movie went on, due to over exposure.  The feel of the movie, to me was less of a horror film and more of an 80s coming of age film like Stand By Me or The Goonies.  You have a group of misfits that are all friends, teaming together to fight off an evil spirit.  I enjoyed the relationships the kids have we each other, and you actually got the feeling that they were all probably friends during the making of the movie.  The bullies were also pretty good actors and I really ended up hating all of them, they were such dicks.  The opening scenes with Georgie and Pennywise were disturbing, you could feel a knot tightening in your stomach with each exchange.  When Pennywise finally took Georgie you felt the pain of his brother Bill.

What I didn’t like about the movie.  Like I mentioned before, I felt like it was too long.  Some scenes were way too dark and you couldn’t see what was going on.  It is something that happens in a lot of horror movies (Humongous…my lord watch Humongous!).  When dark scenes linger too long, it loses my attention because I can’t make out what is going on and it pisses me off.  Pennywise was overexposed, it seemed like you saw him every five minutes.  He started off creepy then he kind of became annoying to me, “oh there’s that damn clown again.”  There wasn’t too much that I didn’t like with this movie really.

What did I think of It?  I finally watched it so stop telling me to!  It was alright, it was entertaining but didn’t live up to the hype for me.  How could it though?  It was greatly over-hyped by everyone I met, everyone I know, and every social media platform known to man.  Hell, myspace was probably even talking about it, but no one would know seeing that no one has been on there in 10 years.  Funny thing, after the movie ended I went “hmmm”, looked at my wife and said “if you could grade this, on a scale of A to F, what would you give it?”  She said “well, maybe a C+?”  Which is exactly what my grade was!  It was entertaining, but not great.  In the end I felt it was too long and Pennywise had too much face time to make him scary.  If I’m grading it vs other remakes, then it would be one of the best, but with how shitty remakes usually are, it doesn’t have much competition.  I’ll stick with my C+ rating.

Black Christmas (1974)

black xmas

Black Christmas (1974)

Directed by Bob Clark

 

Christmas comes once a year, and during that magical time of year many of us cozy up on the couch and watch the classic family holiday movies that give us the warm fuzzy feeling of the season.  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, It’s A Wonderful Life, Frosty the Snowman, and Home Alone all get us in the festive Christmas spirit.  After all, Christmas is about love, kindness and goodwill towards your fellow man.  Many of the movies try and capture those feelings and embrace the goodness of the holiday, then there are the other films of Christmas.  Films that have a completely different effect on us as viewers.  Films that make us feel uneasy and make our skin crawl.  Films like Jim Carrey’s live action How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  No, that’s not right, although that movie is horrible, it isn’t horror.  Of course, I’m talking about the 1974 classic Black Christmas.

                Black Christmas can be seen as the first full on slasher movie, as it predates Halloween by 3 years.  While it doesn’t get as much recognition as Halloween, Black Christmas brings as much atmosphere and scares as Carpenter’s classic.  Carpenter himself has stated numerous times that Bob Clark’s Black Christmas was a huge influence on his idea for Halloween.  From the point of view shots to the holiday setting, the similarities are obvious.  A seedy, and unnerving film from start to finish, Black Christmas deserves to be mentioned along with the all-time classics in horror.  A funny, somewhat odd fact with this movie is that Bob Clark directed this.  Who is Bob Clark?  Bob Clark is the director of another classic Christmas film.  A film a little more known to the masses.  A film seen as a quirky off beat family friendly treasure.  What film am I speaking of?  I won’t give that away until the end, so think about it while you are reading this entry, haha!

                Black Christmas takes place on a college campus during the Christmas season.  A group of girls live in a sorority house with their alcoholic house mother.  During the week they keep getting odd and disturbing phone calls, and the girls begin to worry.  The man calling speaks with numerous different voices and refers to a boy named “Billy” many times.  While the phone calls continue, the content of the calls begins to escalate, with such wholesome lines as “pretty pink cunt”.  Meanwhile, there is an unseen person that keeps spying on the girls and eventually killing people inside the house.  One of the best and creepiest scenes involves one of the girls being smothered to death with a plastic bag, then set in a rocking chair facing the window in the attic.  That image is prominent on the movie’s poster, and has become one of the iconic shots from the film.  Throughout the rest of the film, the authorities attempt to trace the whereabouts of the insane calls and attempt to find the missing girl.  Why they don’t check the attic is beyond me!  It is later found out that the calls are coming from inside the house, before it was cliché.  Now it is a battle with the cops and surviving girls against the unknown caller/killer.

                The acting is really on point.  All the girls are at least above average and Margot Kidder does a great job as the rowdy and tough Barb.  She is probably the most interesting character in the movie, because she is out of the ordinary for a girl in a slasher movie.  Olivia Hussey plays the main girl of Jess.  She is sweet and nice but not completely innocent like many main or final girls.  Jess is pregnant and is planning on getting an abortion, which is met with great displeasure by her boyfriend Peter.  Jess is a multidimensional character which I honestly love.  After watching as many slasher movies as I have, it is great to see such depth and complexity in a final girl.  Lt. Kenneth Fuller is played by John Saxon of A Nightmare on Elm Street fame, and he’s basically the same character.  Saxon always brings his A game and he’s great at playing a sympathetic authority figure.  The drunken house mother Mrs. MacHenry is played by Marian Waldman and she’s such a sloppy hilarious mess.  She hides booze all over the house, in hollowed out books, in the toilet tank, everywhere and she constantly sneaks sips.

                The kills are rather tame by slasher standards but it doesn’t mean they’re less effective.  The smothering scene that I mentioned earlier is so disturbing and brutal that it is always the first scene that comes to mind when I think of Black Christmas.  The shot of the girl in the rocking chair, bag still over her head is creepy and makes your skin crawl.  There is another kill where a girl is stabbed to death with a crystal unicorn.  All you can see from the killer is his crazed eyes.  Not much blood is shown but the sheer brutality of the kill along with the raw emotion in the killer’s eyes is beyond effective and stronger than any blood bath kill in later slasher entries.  The atmosphere is the star of the movie.  The slow, stalking POV shots with the camera long with the feeling of constantly being watched is enough to draw you into an otherwise slow burn of a film.  The camera angles and long running shots are really top notch.  Black Christmas relies on the unnerving feeling of being watched and the harsh realization of danger being so close.

                One thing I wonder during this movie.  How can someone call from within the house?  They must have more than one phone line because if you call your own landline phone, nothing happens.  I have wondered this a lot watching films like this and A Stranger Calls.  Maybe this was possible in the 1970s?  If you’re old enough to know, please get at me about this, you can tweet to me @31horrormovies.  The only real knock I have against this, is how slow of a burn it is.  While the atmosphere, kills, and suspense are great, the movie does drag a little in the first half hour.  This may turn off some viewers, especially if you have a short attention span.  This movie was remade in the mid 2000s, I’m not even looking up the year because it was that bad, I want to forget that it exists, plus it was called Black Xmas…ugh.

                If you couldn’t tell by the review, I love Black Christmas.  Every time I watch it, I get reminded about how creepy and demented this movie really is.  Some of the phone calls will make you snap to attention and say “did I just hear what I thought I did?!” The killer speaking in different voices and making guttural sounds just makes your skin crawl.  I suppose that is why the movie had the tag line of “if this picture doesn’t make your skin crawl, then its on too tight!”  If you love horror, and love Christmas then you HAVE to watch this.  It is a classic and deserves more recognition than what it receives.  Black Christmas vs Halloween?  Atmosphere and creepiness, I have to give to Black Christmas.  The killer is hands down Michael Myers, while Billy is deranged he doesn’t have the same feel as Myers.  While I still think Halloween is the better film due to re-watch ability it has.  As far as the scare factor, Black Christmas takes the cake.  I give the movie an A-.  If it wasn’t so slow in parts it would be a solid A from me.  Oh and to answer the question I posted earlier.  The family favorite Christmas movie directed by Bob Clark?  Everyone’s favorite A Christmas Story!  Think about that.  What if TBS played Black Christmas 24hours on Christmas day?  How different would our holiday be?

Oct. 31st: Friday the 13th (1980)

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Friday the 13th (1980)

Directed by Sean S. Cunningham

 

Happy Halloween!  What a long journey it has been this year in the marathon.  This month flew by and honestly it was a nice distraction for me personally.  Had some bad news at the end of September and the October movie marathon helped me cope with it all by keeping me busy.  That’s what movies can do for you, they help you escape in moments of personal tragedy.  Ok all of that behind us now, I wanted to watch a classic this year.  So I dug up my Friday the 13th DVD that I bought at a garage sale over 15 years ago now, wow I feel old.  Now that I think about it, I wish I could hit that garage sale now, the person obviously loved horror movies, they even had a stitch faced Chucky doll for sale.  I grabbed a few gems from their movie collection and moved on.

                After Halloween, there was a slew of ripoffs and followers.  Shortly after seeing the movie, Sean S. Cunningham decided he could make his own Halloween style movie.  He had the title Friday the 13th before the script was even written.  He found funding, got a deal with Paramount and with Victor Miller started getting the script made.  Little did he know, he was creating one of the most iconic horror movie franchises ever made.  Cunningham recruited Tom Savini to do the special effects.  Savini was fresh off from Dawn of the Dead and has become THE special effects master.  From there they started planning out the kills and gore.  Friday the 13th would go on to be known for its elaborate and gruesome death scenes, which actually became a staple in the genre as a whole.  Bettsy Palmer was casted as Mrs. Voorhees, continuing/establishing the tradition of having a strong veteran actor/actress in with a mix of young actors in slasher movies.  The trend started with Donald Pleasance in Halloween as Doctor Loomis.  Palmer helped anchor the movie.  Adrienne King was casted as the final girl Alice, and little-known actor Kevin Bacon has an early career role as Jack.  With the rest of the cast set, they were ready to go.

                The plot of the first film centers around a group of young people setting up a summer camp for children.  The camp was home to a string of deaths in the past.  In 1957 a young boy drowned and the following year a few counselors were murdered.  The locals nicknamed Camp Crystal Lake, “Camp Blood” and warn anyone looking to return there.  Once all the counselors arrive, they start noticing odd things and they start getting picked off, one by one by an unseen killer.  Alice is the final girl alive and she has to fight off the mysterious killer.

                By now everyone and their cousin has seen this movie, so I really can’t say spoiler alert.  The killer ends up being Mrs. Voorhees, the mother of the young boy (Jason) that drowned in 1957.  She killed the counselors the following year as retaliation for her son’s accidental death.  She blames the counselors for having sex and not watching her son in the lake, whom wasn’t a strong swimmer.  Mrs. Voorhees is obviously a nutcase and even talks to herself in Jason’s voice.  She is driven to murder the new counselors by the spirit of her dead son.  She isn’t as stealthy or unstoppable as later slasher villains but it really makes sense, the woman is in her 60s.  She gets knocked over, staggers around, she’s clumsy and it is very realistic.

                The acting is average really, for the genre that is.  I have seen better, Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street for example but I have seen much worse like 80% of slasher movies for example haha.  Betsy Palmer is great as the deranged Mrs. Voorhees, you feel her pain and anger over Jason’s death, even if it was almost 30 years prior.  Adrienne King is not great, nor is she really even attractive, but she has kind of a charm to her that I can’t quite put my finger on.  She ends up being strong enough to take down Mrs. Voorhees and survive.  The other castmates are kind of just there for bodies.  Kevin Bacon doesn’t show much promise in this movie and you’d be surprised watching this then watching some of his later work, hell even Footloose he’s way way better.

                As mentioned before Tom Savini did the special effects, which for the time are incredible.  Some of the kills became legendary in the genre.  The axe to the face, the arrow up through the throat of Kevin Bacon, and Mrs. Voorhees’ decapitation at the end are all amazing.  His creativity and ability to make something out of nothing is unmatched.  The lengths he goes to, to get the shot he wants is inspiring.  A behind the scenes look is shown in the documentary Crystal Lake Memories, an amazing documentary if you have about 5 hours to waste haha.  There is lots of gore and blood, enough to satisfy most people and it helps to keep the movie interesting during the slow parts.

                The ending?  Yeah that is an interesting one!  Alice and Mrs. Voorhees battle on the beach and Alice grabs a machete.  She chops Mrs. Voorhees’ head clean off!  Alice then, for whatever reason, gets in a canoe and lays down.  Day comes and a cop is walking towards the beach looking out at Alice.  Alice sits up in the canoe and looks at the cop, then all of a sudden Jason pops up and grabs her, pulling her into the water.  The next scene, Alice wakes up in the hospital and asks the cop what happened to the little boy.  No one seems to know what she’s talking about and she says “then he’s still there”.  It sets up for a sequel, but you have to sit and think about what happened.  Did she imagine the whole canoe part?  Did she pass out after killing Mrs. Voorhees?  Or did she actually get pulled into the lake by Jason and she was rescued by the police?  It is really odd and is only there for a last second jump but it is all in fun and really caught me off guard the first time I saw it.

                There are a bunch of people that think this movie is horrible.  I really don’t think that, it was the first in the series, a series that went on way too long.  It is slow, the characters really aren’t developed that well and some of the dialogue is kind of lame.  Friday the 13th has to be respected because of what it did for the slasher genre.  It was extremely profitable with a $550K budget, and making $59.8M.  It ushered in numerous rip offs and sequels.  The slasher genre exploded in the early 80s and there are a bunch of good entries with similar stories such as The Burning.  Jason came in the sequels and became probably THE most recognizable horror killer ever created.  While the movie isn’t perfect, it isn’t nearly as bad as many say, nor is it as good as some say.  I love this movie, I watched it at a young age and really enjoyed it.  I would say Friday the 13th is an A- in my book.  If the characters were developed more it would probably get a full on A from me.  Also if it was a standalone film, it wouldn’t be rated so highly to me, but I have to appreciate what it did, what it influenced and how it was made.

Oct. 30th: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

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I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Directed by Jim Gillespie

 

The late 90s saw the reemergence of the slasher movie.  Movies like Scream, Urban Legend and I Know What You Did Last Summer breathed new life into the genre and brought in new fans.  It was 1997 and I was in 5th grade.  My love for horror movies was in its infancy.  I always loved Godzilla movies and I was scared shitless by Child’s Play.  For some reason I was instantly drawn to I Know What You Did Last Summer.  I needed to watch it, and I’m not sure now if I even know why.  This movie turned 20 on October 17th, yes you read that correct…TWENTY.

                The plot centers around a group of 4 friends that accidentally kill a man by hitting him with their car.  They decided to take the man’s body and dump it into the ocean.  A year after they dump the body, they start getting odd letters and messages saying “I Know What You Did Last Summer” on them.  The man is back and he’s seeking vengeance for being left for dead by the teenagers.  Nothing too special, basically your run of the mill slasher story.

                Playing the group of “teenagers” we get the gorgeous Jennifer Love Hewitt playing Julie the main character, Freddie Prinze Jr playing her boyfriend Ray, Ryan Philippe playing Barry the foul mouthed rich boy, and Sarah Michelle Gellar playing beauty queen Helen.  The acting is basically what you would expect from the late 90s teen movies.  As much as I was in love with Jennifer Love Hewitt back in the day, she’s not a great actress but her awesome cleavage in this movie kind of makes up for that.  That seems to be a common joke about this movie and my friend Craig once said “That movie can be summed up with one thing…’push up bra’”.  Freddie Prinze Jr. is hammy in every movie he’s in, each character he plays in any movie is the same.  If he wasn’t a pretty boy, I honestly don’t think he would have had much of a career.  Sarah Michelle Gellar is probably the strongest actor in the movie, so that really tells you how solid the rest of the cast is haha.  Ryan Phillippe’s character of Barry is one of my most hated in all of horror movies.  I couldn’t wait for this tool to die when I watched this back in the day and now I still couldn’t wait.  He acts like he’s a badass and drops the F bomb basically every other word.  The fish hook wielding killer Ben Willis, is played by Muse Watson, and really there’s not much to talk about, he doesn’t even have many lines.  It is also worth noting that Johnny Galecki aka Leonard from Big Bang Theory is also in this movie, as a side character named Max that has a crush on Julie (but who didn’t back in 1997 right?).  It amazes me how well each of the 4 main characters have aged in this movie.  Jennifer Love Hewitt is still very attractive, Gellar basically looks the same, and I don’t think Prinze and Phillippe have aged at all.  Hell even Galecki looks exactly the same!

                The dialogue is painful in some spots.  Helen’s sister Elsa has some really bad conversations with Helen in some scenes.  Her character is written terribly as well, she’s basically a bitch even when Helen runs for her life and takes refuge in her store.  Probably the scene that is the most inadvertently funny is when Julie checks her trunk, only to find a dead body with crabs all over it.  She then runs to Helen and Barry that check her trunk, and the body is gone.  Julie becomes frustrated and says the killer is watching and he’s just toying with them, then she yells “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!”  It makes me laugh every time because of how clunky and wooden it is delivered and how idiotic it sounds.  That infamous scene was parodied a few years later in Scary Movie, classic! 

                Special effects are always a huge deal in slasher movies but in this movie, they’re kind of lacking.  We get a little bit of bloody but nothing too gruesome.  Scream has much more gore than this movie.  If it wasn’t for Barry’s 1,000,000,000 f-bombs this movie could be rated PG-13.  There isn’t any nudity, there isn’t much blood and the kills are rather tame.  If you’re looking for a gory bloodbath, look elsewhere.  There is one scene that is effective that I always remember from the movie.  Helen is hiding in her sister’s store when the killer walks by carrying Elsa on the fishing hook.  It is a simple shot but haunting.

                I can’t believe this movie is now 20 years old.  That makes me feel so damn old.  Every time I watch this, the cornier I think it is.  I think this is a case of loving a movie as a kid, coming back to watch it as an adult and realizing it isn’t as great as you originally thought.  The story is cliché, the dialogue is just horrid and the acting is product of its time and it is obvious.  The horrid sequel is by far worse and shouldn’t be viewed by anyone.  Although this movie is pretty average in hindsight, it will always hold a special place in my heart as the movie that fueled my horror movie obsession.  Really it helped boost my love for slasher movies and for that I thank it.  I really can’t give this any more than a C.  It isn’t good, it is not bad at all but a product of the late 90s and a time capsule to that odd decade.  If you haven’t seen it, watch it because it is a pillar of the slasher genre, Scream is probably better but this deserves recognition as well.

 

Oct. 29th: Fright Night (1985)


Fright Night (1985)Directed by Tom Holland

 

Ok I have to say right off the bat, I totally guessed at what year this came out when I started writing this review, and I was right. It is funny, seems like the more 80s movies I watch, the easier it is for me to guess the release date. Anyway, now with that out of the way lets talk about this damn movie. Vampires have been a horror institution for, well basically forever. Nosferatu came out in the 20s, which was based off the Bram Stoker novel “Dracula” from 1897, so yeah basically FOR-EV-ER (Sandlot quote). It is a subgenre that never seems to get old, someone comes around and breathes new life into it.

​Fright Night is about a teenage boy named Charley(William Ragsdale), whom loves late night horror movies with host Peter Vincent(Roddy McDowall). He has a new neighbor movie in named Jerry (Chris Sarandon). From the get go Charley suspects something weird is afoot with Jerry. One night, Charley is “pervin a dish” (another Sandlot reference) watching Jerry and a lady friend get it on. Charley notices Jerry’s teeth seem to grow in to fangs, Jerry makes eye contact with Charley and he runs. The next day Charley tries to convince his friend Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) and girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) that Jerry is a vampire. Of course, they think he’s nuts. Charley’s mother invites Jerry over for a drink and now Jerry can enter the house any time he wants, which is explained as a Vampire rule by Ed earlier on. In the night Jerry attacks Charley. Charley tries to get Peter Vincent to help him, he’s brushed off and goes home to lick his wounds. Amy and Ed visit Peter and convince him to help them out, basically to prove Jerry isn’t a vampire. The group goes to Jerry’s house and they have him drink “holy water” which isn’t real holy water, trying to prove to Charley that he’s nuts. Peter notices Jerry doesn’t have a reflection, and he runs off. Now Charley, along with his friends have to figure out how to get rid of Jerry before he destroys everyone.

​While it may not be the most original story, sort of a mixture of Dracula and Rear Window, the story is effective and fun. The acting is quite solid and Evil Ed is rather funny, I really don’t know why he didn’t have a bigger career in the 80s, he would fit right in with movies like Porkies and Meatballs. Ragsdale does a good job as the neurotic Charley, you feel his frantic nature through his words and movements. Amanda Bearse, looking back makes me laugh because I can only see her as Marcy D’Arcy from Married…With Children now, but she is decent as the good girl next door type. Sarandon is always pretty good, he was great in Child’s Play and is really effective here as the vampire Jerry. Roddy McDowall, I mean…isn’t he always good? I love his character, the actor that portrays the fearless vampire hunter, but when put in danger he’s a pansy ass.

​The special effects are subtle and well done. The vampires look cool and aren’t just guys with fangs, they’re actual creatures. Other than the creature effects, there isn’t much in this movie, it tends to lean towards atmosphere and humor more than gore. The soundtrack is pretty good as well, you get a nice mix of genres from the era, rock, glam metal, pop, mostly everything is represented. The vampires in this don’t turn into bats, but into wolves, which is interesting. Usually werewolves and vampires have a distinctive line.

​Every scene is this movie seems to have nods to other horror movies, which is really fun if you are a horror nut like me. I can’t really explain much more of the movie without ruining the scenes, it is a fun movie and you should watch it. Fright Night doesn’t seem to get the credit it deserves, it is spooky and fun, full of scares and laughs. Usually I’m not much of a vampire movie fan but Fright Night is a fun one that I have watched a few times. If you have a chance, check it out, it is on Hulu plus right now. I would grade Fright Night a B. The acting is good, the dialogue is above average, and the effects are…um, effective? I can’t really give it an A because I never feel the drive to watch it each year but I do really enjoy it.

Oct. 28th: Ranking the Halloween Franchise

Ranking the Halloween Franchise from Worst to Best#10 Halloween Resurrection (2002)

Was it really going to be any other? I mean Busta Rhymes doing kung fu and killing Michael Myers on a reality internet show. Yeah it is as stupid as it sounds. Trick or Treat Mutha Fucka!

 

#9 Halloween II (2009)

Rob Zombie’s second Halloween movie and I think the worst of the two. Incredibly mean spirited and grim, Halloween II doesn’t have many likeable characters. Everyone is basically a piece of shit in this movie. Michael eats a dog, because reasons. He takes his mask off and basically just looks like the unholy spawn of Rob Zombie and Braun Strowman (I bring WWE references!). While not terrible, it is my second least favorite of the franchise.

 

#8 Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

While it is not terrible, it is rather dated and really kind of pointless to be honest. Paul Rudd is in an early role as Tommy Doyle, the surviving boy of the original movie. Rudd is great now, but seeing that this is his first role, he’s really not that great. Donald Pleaseance shows up in his final appearance and he’s as hammy as ever. Crazy old Dr. Loomis is in full force here.

 

#7 Halloween (2007)

Rob Zombie’s first remake/reboot of the classic franchise. Like his sequel basically everyone is a piece of shit, its common ground in his movies. Michael becomes massive, again Zombie/Strowman demon spawn. The girls are sort of annoying, I mean I love Danielle Harris she’s adorable but even when she dies I’m not overly attached to her character. There is an insane amount of screaming, to the point where it was pissing me off. It is a very polarizing movie, groups love it lots hate it. While it is not the worst of the bunch, it is far from great or even good.

 

#6 Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

This one is pretty damn boring, not gonna lie. Young Danielle Harris returns as Michael’s niece Jamie, and she shares a telepathic connection with him, for some reason. The infamous Cult of Thorn is introduced and met with tons of negativity from the fanbase. This movie’s biggest insult? It is just so damn boring uuuggggh.

 

#5 Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

Ironically, this was the first Halloween movie I saw as a kid. It was early in my horror movie journey and I enjoyed this film a lot. If anything it made me interested in watching the others that came before it and for that I have to show it some respect. It is not without it’s flaws however, CGI mask anyone? H20 is a product of it’s time but it is still a fun and entertaining entry.

 

#4 Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

The fourth installment brought Myers back after the backlash of part 3’s departure. Basically, a gift to the disgruntled fanbase, Part 4 has all the similar scenes we enjoyed in the first two films while bringing some new ideas to the surface. The addition of Michael’s lost niece Jamie introduced a new character that would return in the fifth film. While it can be sort of cliché, this sequel is fun and enjoyable. It was the second film I saw in the series.

 

#3 Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

What no Michael Myers?! No Laurie Stroud?! No Dr. Fuckin Loomis?! That was the majority of movie goers thoughts when seeing the third film. What we get is a story about an evil toy maker that produces the years hot new Halloween masks that every kid wants. The masks have a medallion on them that react to a tv broadcast causing the masks to kill the children. It is really messed up and I love the campiness of the film. Cyborgs, Pagan rituals, killing children, and Tom Atkins…this movie doesn’t give a shit and goes for balls out crazy. I really enjoy this movie and it is just plain fun. The original idea was to make the Halloween series an anthology series. The first two movies told the Myers saga, the second telling the Silver Shamrock mask story and so on. Fan backlash caused them to return to Michael Myers in the 4th movie.

 

#2 Halloween II (1981)

A rarity in the slasher genre of returning characters and a movie that takes place immediately after the end of the first movie. The bloody is turned up in this movie to compete with the likes of Friday the 13th. Michael becomes more unstoppable and brutal. Laurie is taken to the hospital and Dr. Loomis roams the streets in search of the fleeing Myers. It is intense, atmospheric and a worthy follow up to the original.

 

#1 Halloween (1978)

Is it really a surprise? You all know my love for the original. Made on a small budget, light on blood but heavy on atmosphere and character development, Halloween is a masterpiece. The music, the story, and the cinematography are all on point. This set the standard for the following craze of slasher movies. A monster in the box office, Halloween launched an icon in Jamie Lee Curtis and gave John Carpenter instant credibility as a director. You can’t really argue it’s spot at the top of the mountain.