Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Warlock's Halloween Viewing Part 1

With another Halloween upon us, like many of you, here at the homebrew we indulge in some horrific viewing of the movie kind.  The first half of the celebrated month brought us a great batch of gruesome goodness both old and new.

So here's what the Warlock's clan has been watching thus far this Halloween season....

The People Under the Stairs (1991 - Wes Craven)
During the 80's there was a literal pile of shitty horror movies lead by a bunch of 'played to death' teenage slasher films and by Wes Craven.  I've never been a Wes Craven fan and despised his Freddy Cruger creation to no end.  When one grows up on classic horror of Hammer films, George Romero and the "Master of Horror", John Carpenter, one's standards tend to be pretty high and Craven falls far, far under that bar.  Craven's bombastic and absurd uncreative violence, spoon-fed plots and childish cartoonish horror attempts makes his films quite laughable - and not in a good way.  I'll give him kudos for his horrifically violent 70's fare of Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes and the fact that he brought Dee Walace to the screen.  We did end up watching one of his most polished horror films a few days later (see below).  Anyways, The People Under the Stairs has some pretty dark themes of child abuse, torture and depravity as a crazed husband and wife, played by Everett McGill and Wendy Robie (Ed and Nadine Hurley from Twine Peaks) torture their daughter and 'guests' to the house that they've placed 'under the stairs'.  There are seeds of some good acting but Craven tosses all that potential into the rubbish bin and proceeds to just blaze shotgun blasts at us - literally. We didn't quite get to the ending on this one and I would challenge anyone watching this to go the distance. Not a great start to our Halloween viewing but it did get much, much better.

Big Trouble in Little China (1986 - John Carpenter)
Going from one extreme to the other we've got one John Carpenter's  masterpieces in his kung-fu, comedy, action, horror film Big Trouble.  Here at our local art-house, The Loft, we're right in the middle of a John Carpenter retrospective.  Since the wife hasn't seen the glory that is Big Trouble that was our choice for the big screen Carpenter flick.  If you've seen this movie, not much needs to be said as you most likely already know how fantastic this 'ahead of it's time' movie still is.  If you haven't seen it, you've missed out on one of life's great offerings and need to remedy that right away.  The third collaboration between Carpenter and Kurt Russel also brings the talents of Kim Cattrell and James Hong into the mystical world of San Fransisco's "Little China" as the ghost emperor Lo Pan seeks "...a girl with green eyes" to make him material again.  Probably one of my top ten movies of all time, well, at least top 20.

The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988 - Wes Craven)
Another Wes Craven entry but this one is quite horrific.  Based on a true story, Craven pulls out all stops to give us a dreadful look at Hatian Voodoo.  I lay the success of this film at the feet of the writers and producers that keeps Craven on task.  Placing the viewer inside some of the scariest dreamlike voodoo experiences along with true zombies (most 'zombie' movies are about ghouls but that's a different topic), the film chills and thrills.   Craven's bombastic violence rears it's head just a bit at the end, but this slightly dated but still effective horror film is worth revisiting.

The Orphanage (2007 J.A. Bayona)
A slow paced ghost story from Spain about a woman who grew up an orphan purchases the orphanage to live in and start a home for disabled children. Did I mention that the children she grew up with were murdered there?  Nothings gonna happen here, no way, no how!  Not a great horror film but not terrible either carries you through the mystery of her child's disappearance.  Somewhat predictable and not breaking any new ground in the ghost story genre it's not a movie I would revisit but would recommend for fans of true ghost stories.

Pretty Dead (2013 Benjamin Wilkins)
A surprisingly effective 'found footage' genre film which gives us a nicely presented take on a ghoulish inducing virus/fungus.  In typical found footage fashion we follow Regina Stevens (Carly Oates) as she tries to figure out what the hell is wrong with her.  Nothing new added to the found footage style of film-making but I found the story engrossing and acting well done.  I was surprised by this one and would recommend it.

Quarantine (2008 - John Erick Dowdle)
A modern classic starring scream-queen Jennifer (the fuk Dex) Carpenter  in another 'found footage' film.  Based on the Spanish film Rec, Carpenter plays a television reporter shadowing a couple of firemen who go on a call to an apartment building. With a great build-up in characters and a unrelenting horrific thrill-ride to the climax this one is a real nail-biter of the virus / mad flesh-eating variety.  I love Jennifer Carpenter.  Anyone that has seen her work knows that she's a natural in front of the camera and pure emotion on film.  This one has some of her best work and that's saying a lot!

The Bay (2012 - Barry Levinson)
Yet another found footage film (seeing a trend here) with a small town on the Chesapeake Bay which falls under the influence of a mysterious virus (or is it?).  Well told and surprisingly creepy, horrific and gruesome.  Definitely worth a watch.

More in a few...


  1. just a quick commentary... Rec is not mexican, is spanish, also a lot better than quarentine... you should definitely watch it.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Diego. I still haven't seen Rec but it's on my list!