October Horrorshow: The Orphanage

I love the American movie business sometimes. If there’s a trailer where cast members have no dialogue other than shouting someone’s name, it’s a dead giveaway the film has subtitles. Can’t show any in the trailer, because movie companies think we’re stupid.

I have to be honest. Sometimes when watching films, it feels as if there is nothing new happening onscreen. Action films, drama, thillers, sci-fi, horror, etc. It can all take on a distinct sheen of sameness. Take ghost films. I’ve seen more than a few of them, and if the plot involves a wife, husband, and a child or children, then there are a few things a viewer can expect. First, the child will all of a sudden have a couple of ‘imaginary’ friends to play with. This causes looks of concern from the parents, but little more. Of course, out here on the other side of the screen, we know the little tyke’s imagination hasn’t just been running wild. Rather, they’ve been seeing ghosts. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Orphanage”

October Horrorshow: Kingdom of the Spiders

I have a mental list of things I would do if I could go back in time. The standard stuff is there. Kill Hitler, catch a live performance of Beethoven’s Ninth with the composer himself conducting, etc. But those are representative of my more grandiose schemes. Far down the list is finding some way to weasel into the movie industry, and direct a film starring William Shatner in the 1970s. It’s a fleeting obsession, really, and was conceived only after watching Shatner’s star turn in Kingdom of the Spiders, from 1977. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Kingdom of the Spiders”

October Horrorshow: Dead Heat (1988)

These caps[sic] are on the biggest murder case of their lives...their own.

So declares the DVD box art for the 1988 zombie action flick Dead Heat. When searching for a shitty movie to idly pass an evening, a typo on box art is a pretty fair indication a viewer has found a winner. Any movie called Dead Heat and starring Joe Piscopo doesn’t need any extra hint that it’s a special film, but the fact the producers didn’t care enough to release the flick with a simple bit of copy editing on the box is just icing on the cake. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Dead Heat (1988)”

October Horrorshow: The Crazies (1973)

Is George Romero paranoid? It’s a possibility. At the very least, I would say he is mistrusting of authority. Night of the Living Dead, his seminal work, and all its follow-ups, showcase a horde of the undead rendering civilization waste. But it’s worth remembering that Romero’s zombies are not supernatural in origin. Rather, they are the result of government experiments gone wrong. Ergo, it’s not the zombies that are the greatest threat to civilization in Romero’s universe. It is the people who take our taxes. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Crazies (1973)”

October Horrorshow: Halloween III: Season Of The Witch

This film gets a bad rap. Halloween and its sequel featured the silent killer Michael Myers and his constant would-be victim, Laurie Strode. By the time this third film was made, both had become horror icons, especially the masked murderer Myers. The brand association any potential viewers would have between a film with the title Halloween and Michael Myers was strong, so the decision to completely drop Myers, Strode, and the slasher concept for Halloween III was bound to create a backlash. It’s inexplicable, honestly, that producers John Carpenter and Debra Hill expected any other reaction. The two of them were worn out on Michael Myers after the first two films. There’s nothing wrong with that, and no one was putting a gun to their head and forcing them to make another Halloween film, but they were mistaken when they thought the name of their little franchise was more valuable than the characters in it. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Halloween III: Season Of The Witch”

October Horrorshow: The Thing (2011)

Last week, The Thing was released to theaters. Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., this new Thing is a bit weird. Originally conceived as a remake of the 1982 John Carpenter film, during pre-production the film morphed into being a prequel. This was not a bad idea, as the Carpenter Thing is not only a strong film, it also had a ready-made introductory story that could be made into a full-length feature...possibly. The new Thing, however, while being clearly a prequel to anyone familiar with Carpenter’s work, contains so many visual cues from Carpenter Thing that it also becomes clear the remake idea was not completely scrapped. Or maybe it’s just a case of lazy filmmaking. Maybe there was a script for a remake, the concept changed, but that draft remained, was altered, and became what was finally put to film. Either way, it’s the remake/prequel aspects of new Thing that make it weird. Maybe it’s an homage, but if that’s the case, there was a bit too much homaging going on. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Thing (2011)”

October Horrorshow: Pumpkinhead

Stan Winston was legendary in the film industry. Before he died, he won three Oscars for visual effects (Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Jurassic Park), one for makeup (Terminator 2 again), and racked up a total of six other nominations. He either led or was part of the effects and makeup teams that worked on The Thing, The Terminator, Ghoulies, Predator, Leviathan, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, Interview with the Vampire, Avatar, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. In short, the man had a hell of a career turning the unreal into the real. In horror, he was a master monster maker. But, a man has to branch out, explore new opportunities. Enter Pumpkinhead. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Pumpkinhead”

October Horrorshow: Basket Case

This is one of the more bizarre movies I’ve ever seen. From writer/director Frank Henenlotter, Basket Case is an ultra low budget black comedy horror flick about a young man and his brother. By all accounts, Duane Bradley is a normal person. Raised in upstate New York, he’s on his first trip to the big city. He’s naïve — green as all hell, in fact — but he has his charms, and it’s easy to tell that the city can’t come close to extinguishing all his innocence. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Basket Case”

October Horrorshow: Zombi 2

I could not imagine there being an October Horrorshow without a zombie flick. REC got close, but that and other recent movies are from the new wave of zombie fare — i.e., the bad guys aren’t zombies, they’re infected by some nefarious viral agent. But Halloween just couldn’t be Halloween without a horde of the classic lumbering undead making an appearance on my screen. Enter director Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2, the 1979 Italian sequel/non-sequel to George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Zombi 2”