Then there is the playful nature to the killer, which suggests that he is still a boy trapped in the body of this hulking murderer. The scene where he takes out Annie, dressed in a silly ghost under a sheet with her boyfriend’s glasses over it, is a good example.
Or the curious look he gives his victim, Bob. Somehow with that simple tilt of the head, so much is injected into the character who should just be considered a dangerous psychopath. Carpenter and the team give this madman such personality in such a minimalist way, it is so refreshing in its subtlety.
Which brings me to my biggest problem with Rob Zombie’s remake. That film wastes so much time trying to explain young Michael’s madness with such cliches. So his mommy was a stripper and step-daddy was a drunk. Who cares?
The original was much more effective, because John Carpenter knew that what is scary is the unknown. “The Shape” was a complete mystery in 1978. Hell, him and Laurie aren’t even related in the original, that was an idea that was developed in the sequels. This film is lean and mean, and about a killer who just wants to kill, no more no less.
Maybe it speaks to the change in generations and the fact that we are seeing so many prequels and re-imaginings of our favorite films. Modern audiences seem to want to know “why” these characters do what they do. Sometimes, the simplicity of a well-executed story and the ambiguous nature of the slasher is much more effective. People think the back story is more interesting, but as we all know, when the monster is unmasked, he is much less frightening.
4) Dr. Loomis, as portrayed by Donald Pleasance.
Dr. Loomis is Myer’s doctor, and the prototype for the “Ahab” character to follow in the newly-created slasher formula. His scenes in the original are all great, as he is always in a state of urgency and frustration.
Every time the film cuts to Loomis’ hunt for his escaped patient, he is spewing doom and anger at whoever is in the scene with him. He seems to be the only one who knows what Myer’s is capable of, and his frustration is abundantly clear to the audience watching his efforts as he goes above and beyond, trying desperately to find the maniac before he strikes again.
This quote from Loomis says it all,and really drives home the point from #3 about keeping the explanations to a minimum and letting the audience fear the unknown.
“I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply…evil.”
Dr. Sam Loomis – Halloween (1978)
5) The soundtrack.
Few films have ever had a score so iconic and instantly-recognizable.
It is a rare occasion that the director himself wrote the theme song that has implanted itself so well into the collective psyche of several generations.
Thank you, John Carpenter!
Love them or hate them, the Paranormal Activity films aren’t going anywhere. Although I usually don’t pay much attention to box office figures (especially in relation to the quality of the film), the money made on this franchise is unbelievable. For example, the production budget on the first PA film was $15,000, the US distribution rights sold for 350,000 and the film grossed $193,876,403 worldwide. With that kind of profit margin, of course we we are going to get some sequels, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the producers milk this concept in to the ground, which some people would claim they already have…
I have been on the favorable side of this film series, they really seem to work on me on some basic level. The scenes from the original that really struck me as creepy and stuck with me are the shots of Katie standing over Micah for hours in the middle of the night ; and particularly when he wakes her sleeping on the porch and she is barely even there anymore. Sure there was some hokey stuff too, but there were some scenes that really worked.
Also, I think the progression of the series of stories, told in reverse on various recording devices has been interesting. The coven of witches from the 80’s in PA3 was particularly haunting, and it was a fascinating move to go further back to see where this curse originated.
Which brings us to the new film, which jumps back to 2011. We get a quick reminder that Demon Katie disappeared with her nephew Hunter, and their whereabouts are still unknown. Then we are thrust into the shaky-cam POV of a likeable and media-savvy teenage girl, Alex.
We meet her family (non-committal dad, overworked mom, cute little brother) and charmingly geeky boyfriend, Ben. Then the weird kid shows up. “Robbie” is a little boy she keeps spotting walking alone and lurking in her treehouse. He is creepy, but vulnerable and alone, and when the news comes that his mother inexplicably had to go to the hospital, the family takes the kid in.
Shit gets weird from there, of course, and as a viewer you get entranced by the progression of days and various points of view. While watching these films, I notice that I instinctively now scan every scene, watching and waiting for what may jump out from which angle. The feeling of dread and tension that these films bring with them is sometimes almost unbearable to me. I know that some people call them boring, but they really work on me and my nerves.
The problem with the slow-burn is that sometimes the pay-off doesn’t match the build-up. When the action ramps up at the end of this chapter in the series, despite some questionable reactions and lack of follow-through from the characters, it really works. And the climactic scenes had me on the edge of my seat right up until the abrupt ending. Honestly, I was relieved it was over, because I could not take much more at that point.
This was the first PA film that I have seen in a theater, but my theory is that this series and most “found footage” films work better at home, in the dark curled up on your couch in the middle of the night. Still, it is a tense and unnerving good time, and a good continuation of the original storyline, even though the script leaves us with more questions than answers…
Not surprisingly, Paranormal Activity 5 has already been announced for next Halloween, and a Latino spin-off is currently in production for early next year. For films that get so much negative reaction from horror fans, they sure seem to be popular. Looking forward to part 5!
In the next segment, Second Honeymoon, a couple is on the road, travelling through the west on a seemingly well-earned getaway. We follow them intimately through their own recordings as they have some tourist fun together. The woman gets her fortune told at a Wild West attraction, where it is predicted she will be visited by a “loved one”. This one has a slow build-up of creepiness to it, but is over-all the most simplistic and lackluster short of the five.
The third short, Tuesday the 17th, follows another group of teenagers as they head into the woods for a weekend getaway, all arranged by the slightly off-putting mutual friend, Wendy. They slowly realize she has lied to each of them to get them there and at one point she comes right out and says, “You are all going to die up here.” Soon, the cast is getting chased and picked off by a mysterious stalker who does not show up on the recording. Every time the “glitch man” approaches, the camera pops and fuzzes, so no one ever gets to see what he looks like, even Wendy. It turns out she has faced the “glitch man” before and has lured her friends here as bait and set traps for the stalker, all in an effort to be believed by someone. It does not work out the way she planned.
The next short is titled The Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger, and I found it to be the most interesting and effective of all. The story unfolds through a series of Skype conversations between slightly-off cutie Emily and her long-distance boyfriend, James. She has been noticing strange sounds in her apartment, and is afraid to investigate alone, but encourages James to watch along with her as she confronts her tormenters. This one had a scene in particular that really got under my skin, and is by far my favorite short included here. Things are never what they seem…
Finally, we have 10/31/98, about a group of halfway-decent chaps heading out to a Halloween party. The camera-man in this one is cleverly dressed as a “nanny-cam” teddy bear, so he is hands-free as he films him and his friends arrival at the strangely quiet party. They enter and explore the creepy, quiet house, thinking it is some kind of awesomely extravagant set-up someone did for Halloween. They follow some noises through the maze-like house all the way to the attic, where they stumble onto something they shouldn’t have. This one is great fun, and an excellent way to close out the roller-coaster ride that has been V/H/S.
Overall, the film is a great success, and each short cleverly uses the conceit (or “gimmick” depending on your point of view) to the fullest, delivering us a collection of outstanding first-person vignettes. Also, the ambiguity behind most of the stories is very welcome in this era of over-explaining everything. Sometimes, things are best left to the imagination. V/H/S (Pre-Theatrical Rental) is available through Amazon Streaming right now by clicking the link in this very sentence, before it hits theaters with a limited release October 2nd. One way or the other, check this one out, kiddies!
Grade : A
Years before they famously made a career of pissing off everyone they could every week with Comedy Central’s South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone made Cannibal! The Musical. This will not surprise anyone who has watched the show over the years ; it is full of good songs here and there, and the South Park movie is generally considered a “musical”.
This musical, however, is certainly different than any one you are familiar with. Through song, they tell the story of Alferd Packer, a hapless young horseman who leads a party of miners into Colorado territory in the winter of 1883.
The comedy comes not only from the absurdity of the songs and the many uncomfortable moments between the characters, but the unabashed low-budget pride of the whole production. After a creatively gory black white and red opening scene, we are introduced to Alferd Packer (played by Trey Parker, credited as Juan Schwartz) sitting stunned in the courtroom, claiming, “That’s not the way it happened.”
After being pushed to open up about the truth behind his travels by a sweet young local girl, Packer tells his sad story through song from behind bars as he awaits “Hanging Day.”
The songs are absurd and hilarious, and you will find yourself singing along before you know it, as the group of rag-tag misfits ventures into the rivers and mountains of Colorado, each character with their own reasons for making the treacherous journey.
Despite warnings of doom and dangers, including Asian Indians, huge rivers, random bear traps and even a Cyclops, the dedicated group will not give up on their trek through the mountains.
The downward spiral into insanity and eventual flesh-eating begins when Packer’s beloved horse Leanne disappears in the night carrying all of the supplies.
Alferd is appropriately broken up about the vanishing of his horse, which he articulates beautifully through song :
After more trials and tribulations, Packer and his party meet up with some interesting “Indians”, who have teepees and everything so they must be legit…
Unfortunately, a group of menacing trappers have arrived as well, and the dirty so-and-so’s make all kinds of boasts and threats through this off-key tune….
In an effort to stay close behind the trappers, Packer gets his group moving, but they get lost in the mountains and desperate hunger starts to infect the minds of some of the party…
Everything gets out of control then, with darkly hilarious results. Trey Parker and Matt Stone really impress with their non-existent budget and obvious talent for comedic timing…
He looks like he is about to sing a song...
If you have never seen Cannibal :The Musical, do your homework and check it out, even if you are not a fan of musicals. It is a goofy and gory good time!
And if you have seen this bad boy before, be sure and take a look at the newest Cannibal! The Musical: 13th Anniversary Edition, which includes Trey and Matt’s notorious drunken commentary. Enjoy.
Highly recommended by Darth Biscuits!
Grade : A
Have you ever watched a movie that was over 10 years old and realized that it is still relevant today? I recently sat down and watched Dee Snider’s StrangeLand for the first time and man…it creeped me out! Movies rarely do that so you can imagine my surprise! However, it still rings true to the precautions we have to take when surfing the internet.
The movie starts out with two teen girls, Genevieve Gage and her best friend Tiana Moore, in an Internet chat room when a private message pops up from a CaptHowdy. They strike up a conversation and he invites the girls over to his place. It’s all giggles until the next day when the girls haven’t yet returned. Genevieve’s father, Mike Gage, is a local police officer and he begins to look for clues as to where the girls went to with the help of a younger officer named Steve Christian.
Things go from bad to worse when they pull a car from the lake. Mike instantly recognizes it as Tiana’s car, but they cannot find either of the girls inside until they pop the trunk and find Tiana dead. She had been tortured and her mouth sewn shut. They also find a septum spike with the help of the tow truck operator. Mike and Steve venture into the city to visit a club recommended to them and venture into a world unbeknownst to them. Little do they know that as they are leaving, in the next room over is Captain Howdy, hanging by hooks as he looks forward to crossing into the abyss into death.
Through a fortunate turn of events and a little help from his teenage niece, Mike gets in contact with Captain Howdy on the same teen chat room his daughter was in. After getting an address the cops go and search for Genevieve. The problem is, it was a fake address and they bust through on an old couple having sex. After a sleepless night in the car, Mike logs online and gets a message from Captain Howdy. The voice message tips him off though and he gets a clue as to Howdy’s location. Going to the back of the house, he busts the lock onto the basement and walks through the basement and up the stairs to find a gruesome discovery. Multiple bodies pierced and hanging, all with their mouths sewn together like Tiana’s. He finds his daughter, trapped in a cage and he goes to free her. Captain Howdy comes from behind and hits Mike from behind, knocking him to the floor and the gun away.
After a small struggle, Mike shoots and cuffs Howdy and releases his daughter. Instead of being charged with murder though, they declare him insane and he spends years in a ward. He now has all his piercings removed, covers his face with powder, and his once wild hair is now brown. Dressed like Mister Rogers, he has been declared rehabilitated and ready to join the normal world. However, the normal world is not welcoming with open arms. Genevieve awakes from a nightmare and Mike rushes to her side. A conference is held outside of Captain’s house, who now chooses to go by his real name Carleton Hendricks, and the welcoming committee isn’t as welcoming as he had hoped. Later that night, Jackson Roth, one of the more outspoken of the group, drunkenly calls some pals when his daughter has not come home. Part of the group he calls is Catherine “Sunny” Macintosh, who also told him to burn in hell at the conference. They burst into Carleton’s house and rough him up before shoving him into a car and driving away. Mike sees all of this from outside of his car, and even struggles with calling it in. Instead he just lets them drive away.
So they hang Carleton with a noose out in the woods somewhere. It starts to rain, so they all pile in their cars and drive away, leaving the body. After the branch cracks and the body falls, moments later Carleton starts to choke and looks up at the branch. Makeup washing off in the rain and blood dripping from his nose, he snarls and says “What a rush.” before looking away. Later on that night, Jackson and his wife decide they want to get a little frisky. She comes from the bathroom, dressed up and dancing as Jackson gets all excited. As she comes closer, he notices that something is wrong. Her throat is slit and then moments later, her body falls to the side as Captain punches and knocks Jackson out. Later, Captain messages Mike at the station and calls moments later. After a conversation, he gives Mike new clues and hangs up. Captain walks over to a naked body, that of Jackson Roth and pierces him fish hooks. True to the Captain Howdy style, Jackson’s mouth and eyes are sewn shut.
The fun doesn’t end there though, oh no. Captain has decided that Catherine “Sunny” Macintosh needs a spiritual awakening and decides to put her through the torture of the spears of Sheba. The next day, Mike’s wife calls him and mentions that Genevieve has not made it home from school. Both parents rush home to find that Captain Howdy is on their computer screen. He shows Genevieve on the screen with her mouth sewn shut again. Mike tries to bargain with Captain, exchanging his place for her own and Captain Howdy refuses. The connection then shows that the feed has been terminated.
Officers get wind of a break in and go to investigate. They come in to find the bodies of Jackson and Sunny, as well as many others. Ambulances come and take the surviving people away for treatment. Mike is at the scene, where he finds a matchbook of the club that Captain Howdy had been to and he decides to visit it. It’s now closed as Mike goes in to find Captain Howdy alone. After a lengthy conversation, Mike finally goads Captain Howdy into coming out and a fight ensues. In the last moments, as Mike is being choked, Captain walks away and takes Mike into the room where there are industrial sized hanging hooks. Another fight between the two and Mike rips out Captain Howdy’s septum ring and crawls away. He stands up, grabs a hook and shoves it into Captain Howdy’s back. He then cranks the chains to lift Howdy up as he swings from each side of the room. Mike then takes some oil from a burning candle, douses Captain Howdy in it, and takes the match book and sets him on fire. The body is left swinging as moments later, Captain Howdy falls to the ground dead.
Well, you’d assume that with a dead character, the movie would be over. Not in this world though; there have been reports on and off for several years of a squeal. As of May of this year though, Dee Snider has confirmed that him and his manager are working on getting it financed. So “Strangeland ll: Disciple” is in the works and more people can get their Captain Howdy fix. I want to personally thank my friend, Joel Robinson, for allowing me to use the artwork above in this review. Check out his artwork on his webpage here.
Geeks everywhere have been drooling in anticipation of Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to the masterpiece The Dark Knight. What we expected was an exciting visit with our favorite characters and a satisfying conclusion of the trilogy.
What we got was a pretty good time at the movies, but a film that almost drowns in its own story. The Dark Knight Rises is filled with too many characters, too many plot-lines, and a story that, at it’s core, is just a re-hash of the first two in the series. Madman threatens to destroy the whole city of Gotham with a convoluted plan…
The film starts off in the aftermath of the events of the Dark Knight, with Batman in hiding, gimping around Wayne manor and growing a scraggly beard. Alfred, Bruce’s only trusted friend, seems to be hanging around just to guilt-trip him and burst into tears at every opportunity.
Soon, a chick shows up to steal his fingerprints.
A rookie cop shows up to make him feel bad.
A bad guy with a mask and an accent arrives to cause chaos.
Commissioner Gordon has a crisis of conscience.
Characters are introduced, and plot-lines threaded and weaved, and still no Batman.
There is a woman, and a bomb, and an existential crisis…
It all gets to be pretty overwhelming and jumbled together, to the point I had a hard time caring at all.
Bane had his moments, and Tom Hardy did his best to make the character powerful and intimidating, but his takeover of the city was pretty unconvincing. The messy explanations of his origin, changed from the comics to fit the “twist” of the film, just didn’t sit well with me.
In fact, the entire third act is what left the bad taste in my mouth. The film-makers seemed to be trying too hard to wrap up all these plot-threads, and it just turns into a jumbled mess.
How much time passed from the detonation of the football field to the return of Batman?
I am not really sure…
In that time, while a madman reigns, the cops are trapped underground, and everyone seems to just be waiting for a giant bomb to detonate, chaos doesn’t erupt in the streets? Everyone just accepts the fact that a madman with a mask and an outrageous accent is in control? They never riot or fight back?
Instead, there are weird trials, where those adjudicated guilty are forced to walk out on ice…um, what?
Well, we all know that eventually Batman will climb his way out of the giant well, or whatever that was, and rise to defeat the evil…
Honestly, Batman does not kick a whole lot of ass in this film. He hobbles around, takes some beatings, gets his back broken, even gets incapacitated by a 2-inch pig-sticker at one point. The new toy, the flying Batmobile, just seems clunky and unpractical. The utility belt seems practically useless.
And, not to spoil it for anyone, but I found the multiple twisty endings to be the film’s biggest problem, because they leave you scratching your head as you exit the theater three hours later.
One, in particular, seems like a slap in the face to the audience.
It may sound like I hated the film, which isn’t true. I found it to be beautiful to look at, and a fitting wrap-up to Nolan’s trilogy, just not something I am eager to revisit any time soon….
Okay, I hate spoilers, so I’m not going to give out the rest of the story. Just know that you need to watch this movie. The production company, Asylum, is fantastic for putting out mockbusters direct to DVD. With this movie, it’s pure gold in my opinion as it is genuinely an interesting film. It has a great plot, and incorporates a lot of historical figures. It’s a little campy at times, but Bill Oberst Jr portrays Lincoln wonderfully, and almost to the degree that I would imagine him have being back in the Civil War era. Of course, there are several historical “inaccuracies” portrayed throughout the movie, but unless you’re a history buff you wouldn’t know it.
For the movie budget only being $150,000, it’s a damn good flick. Bill Oberst Jr gives a fantastic performance, and there’s several funny parts throughout the movie. There’s also a “Making Of” featurette in the special features, as well as a short gag reel that is okay. Overall, I would say I got my $10 worth with this movie.
So a lot of reviewers have already deemed this movie as just “another zombie movie” and that really irks me. This has a brilliant concept behind it that has been untouched by other zombie flicks. For starters, it’s an era piece film set back starting with the American Civil War. Then throw in that the director John Geddes and producer Jesse T. Cook also did Monster Brawl and you already have me giddy. The story is narrated by the voice of Malcom Young, who’s ancestor Edward Young had left behind a journal of his dealings with a deadly outbreak during wartimes in Tennessee. Mark Gibson really embodies his character Edward as you watch him struggle through surviving these trying times.
The story begins with Edward waking from a flashback to the front of the line and fighting with his fellow men. You see him as he shoots a man several times, only to have him being attacked moments later as the other soldier doesn’t seem to be affected by the bullets wracked in his body. It then cuts to a scene of a bloodied Edward in his home, awakening and screaming. The scene pans from him and across the small living area towards the entrance, covered in blood and the body of his wife laying in the floor. She had been infected and now Edward’s son, Adam, is missing.
Now Edward isn’t your typical zombie hunter and goes out, just weilding an axe and gun while killing the zombies. He actually studies one for about 10 days before shoots it and then continues on. The great thing about this film though is that even though it is mostly live action, there is a massive amount of beautiful clasic animation splattered thoughout the film. It helps to break the monotony of some parts of the movie, and reminds you that this comes from a journal passed through generations.
The movie has a real star studded cast. The voice of Malcom Young is done by the Emmy-winning actor Brian Cox, who got his big break as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter. Dee Wallace makes an appearance as Eve, and Bill Moseley makes an excellent evil General Williams. Despite what you may have heard about this film, check the movie out. I’m sure that you won’t be disappointed.
Described as a slasher musical, this thing has to be some kind of joke.
Incoherent and just plain stupid, this film is a disgrace to the name of Vincent D’Onofrio, the great actor who inexplicably chose this emo-band advertisement to stand as his directorial debut.
Yes, THAT Vincent D’Onofrio!
He is also credited with “story”, whatever that means. I guess he said, “So, we film a bunch of annoying emo kids singing terrible songs and flirting for an hour, then we start chasing them around with a hammer. Sound good? Let’s film!”
So, as the “story” goes, a bunch of whiny ass hipster kids head into the woods for a weekend of sitting around a fire holding hands and singing shitty songs. I don’t know their names, but there is the Conor Oberst wannabe lead singer, who earns our hatred in the opening scene by tossing a bag of weed out the window as they drive to their campsite. There are a couple other lame characters along for the ride, and they all look like hipster douche-bags. Young Dave Grohl, the blind guy, the buff Asian…
Within ten minutes, you will be ready to see them all die horrific deaths.
A bunch of whores show up, claiming that they followed the band up the hill hours ago, and they brought the booze and dope, so now it must be time for the killer to show up and start slashing, right?
They sing more laughable songs, each one worse than the last, and even the girls get their solos, song after song…
Emo-boy starts moping around and whining about “creating” some new songs, and bashes everyone’s cell-phones to pieces before bursting into another trembly-lipped tune.
The characters are idiots, the songs are shit, and by the time a guy all dressed in black with a top-hat shows up and starts bludgeoning them to death, you will be hard-pressed to give a fuck.
Most likely you will be cheering the killer on, until the laughably blatant plot-twist is revealed, then you will be groaning with dismay…
I am sorry to report that this film is a huge pile of crap, and not recommended to anyone.
Grade : F
Then we quickly cut to the typical modern horror set-up, meeting our likeable victims and following them to the titular Cabin. Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Jesse Williams and Fran Kranz fill the five usual archetypes of a horror movie like this – Dana the virgin, Curt the jock, Jules the slut, Holden the brains and Marty the stoner… only those roles aren’t exactly as we’ve always come to know them.
The story of their creepy weekend in the woods unfolds pretty much as would be expected in a typical horror film. The trick of the film is, every few minutes we get glimpses of the machinations behind all those stereotypes, in very clever cut-scenes to the scientists. Little by little, what is really going on is revealed, to the audience first and eventually to the surviving characters.
By the time the third act arrives and the worlds collide, it is nearly impossible not to look at the screen without a grin from ear to ear. The finale is packed with such deranged insanity, I wonder if anyone will ever be able to top it in terms of pure mayhem.
It is great fun to take this ride, and the script is very clever and well-written. It has been described as a love-letter to horror fans, and the winks to us along with references to easily-recognizable classics are plentiful. I believe there are even more layers to this film, but we will discuss them in a later class, after all of you have done your homework and seen this new classic.
In fact, us horror geeks that constantly whine and complain about remakes and sequels should consider it their duty to see and support Cabin In The Woods, which is a truly unique milestone for horror in film. It is not only a film with something new and different to offer, but it’s script even provides the answers as to why there are so many remakes and sequels if you pay close enough attention.
We, the movie geeks of the world, are the Old Gods, and we demand a sacrifice.