Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Warlock's Halloween Viewing Part 2

Every year during the month of October, the wife and I sit down with bowls of popcorn, soda and chocolate snacks and overdose on creepy films old and new, never watched before and re-watched numerous times.  The month's first reel can be reviewed here but now on to reel 2!

Ponty Pool (2008 Bruce McDonald)
Pontypool, a little virus / human-canibal concept from Canada starts off quite engaging.  Taking place in a sound studio of a small town radio-station, the story and suspense is effectively built-up through radio correspondences and phone calls.  Think Orson Well's 1939 War of the World radio broadcast.   It seems to me that this is still an affective way to get the viewer engaged because it works here. Eventually, the outside world encroaches onto the radio station in what reminds me of John Carpenter's "Assault on Precinct 13", even the lighting has a certain John Carpenter quality about it.  Alas, the second half of the movie looses it's steam and gets a bit odd but I have to give the story props for taking same new and interesting chances on a genre that is being beat to death at this point (see the brilliant Warm Bodies for another take on advancing the Walking Dead genre).

Silence Of The Lambs (1991 Jonathan Demme)
Does Silence of the Lambs fall into the category of a horror-film?  Well, considering that it's one of three films (Jaws and Alien being the other two) that left me in the theater drained and overwhelmed by the terror and suspense, for me I would say yes, yes it does.   No need to go into what this one's about.  I'm sure most of you have watched the psychological cat and mouse between Agent Starling, Buffalo Bill and of course Hannibal Lecter. A modern classic of suspense and terror right up there with Hitchcock's Psycho.  "I'm ready when you are Sgt. Pembre."

John Dies At The End (2012 Don Coscarelli)
A kitchen sink horror film meaning that everything is tossed in here to make an original and entertaining and unpredictable horror action comedy. With traces of everything from The Matrix and Naked Lunch to  Adventureland and Big Trouble in Little China it effectively blurs reality and other-world Eldrich horrors in a quick paced entertaining flick. You'll never look at soy sauce the same way again.

Pumpkinhead (1989 Stan Winston)
Like many of you, I grew up on horror films.  I was weened on the Universal classic monster movies, came of age with Jaws, Alien and Halloween and watched many 70's director's starting attempts at horror (Tobe Hooper, Sam Raimi).  The 80's were filled with plenty of horror films many of which left much to be desired. By then I was pretty jaded sitting through crappy 'horror' film after crappy 'horror' film (I'm looking at you Wes Craven and Jason).   Pumpkinhead was one movie that I avoided around that time, thinking it was a rip off of a dozen other attempts to scare me.  Well, this movie by puppet master Stan Winston, turned out to be quite the surprise.  A no brainer classic monster movie done with heart and horror with a creature that will rival even H.R. Gieger's creation.  Atmospheric with some standard 80's tropes slightly turned on it's head this move was refreshing entertainment.  No CGI here.  Classic rubber and latex and some mechanics from the director himself makes Pumpkinhead an enjoyable Halloween must-see.

The Evil Dead (1979 Sam Raimi)

The first time I saw this movie as a kid it scarred the bejesus outta me and that's just what I needed this night! Um.... Note to self. When going to a "haunted house" with free admission expect to have the evangelicals toss a sermon about Jebus in at the end. But that's alright, feel free to laugh at their very stereotyped scenes of horror and loudly and abruptly seek the exit during the brainwashing part at the end.  So to cleanse the filth of manipulative christians off of us, the wife and I rounded the night off with Sam Raimi's classic The Evil Dead.  Whats to say about this classic anything goes horror film starring Bruce Campbell.  Raimi would actually kick the concept into high gear in the sequel not that you would think it would be possible.  Anyways, a classic. I'll let Roger and Gene sum it up...

Jennifer's Body (2009 Karyn Kusama)
Continuing with the possession theme we have chic-flick horror film Jennifer's Body. Smartly written by Diablo Cody (Juno).  I was entertained by more than just Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried in this little miss popular possessed by a demon killing all the boys concept. I thought the fast witty dialogue by Diablo Cody, and smart characters and interesting themes  really made this entertaining and a watchable fun teen horror movie.  Worth checking out if you haven't yet.

Stakeland (2010 Jim Mickle)
I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic films. Even the bad ones I enjoy watching.  Stakeland is one of the best.  Stakeland takes place after some unexplained event left the world battling hordes vampires and follows the story of two travelers, a teen-aged boy named Martin and a man known only as "Mister" as they make their way to the fabled New Eden.  It has a very pulpy feel to it and Mister is a man living by his own moral code that will make Robert E. Howard smile.  Seriously, the way he deals with some cultists (yes, I said cultists) that rape a nun is pretty impressive and brings to mind Howard's fantasy characters.  The vampires are more dangerous than the lumbering zombies in Walking Dead as they are strong and vicious and mindless.  They are also actors in gruesome makeup and not crappy CGI effects as in Will Smith's crappy I Am Legend.  There's even a crazy 'christian' religious cult that just piss on everybody.  A very nice touch.  This post-apocalyptic world is a complex one as it takes a serious look at those moral codes, humanity and religion and mixes it up with mutant future sandbox of well thought out science fiction.  Out of all the movies this season that I watched for the first time, this one was by far the best.  I highly recommend it.

Halloween (1978 John Carpenter)
We usually watch this one every year and usually on Halloween but this year, at our local art house in Tucson, The Loft, they've been running John Carpenter movies all month.  Earlier this month we watched Big Trouble in Little China on the big screen and last night we walked over to view Carpenter's classic Halloween.  A classic that I'm sure needs no description or review here. There were many, many imitations afterwards but none ever topped the original slasher film.  It still holds up on this 35th anniversary viewing.

"And he shouts too."

 So tonight, we'll be enjoying our decorations, handing out some candy to the trick-or-treaters and enjoying Romero's classic Night of the Living Dead along with the traditional Universal monster films of the 30's.

Happy Halloween all you Home Brewers!

1 comment:

  1. Ah, we just watched the original Halloween the other night. Just love that film. Great stuff. Even if the leaves were flown in to make it look like fall. I'm okay with that.

    Happy Oogie Boogie Day