Shitty Movie Sundays: Road House

Looking at the list of films I’ve reviewed for Shitty Movie Sundays, there are some real standouts. Most of the films on the list are of such substandard quality that I am genuinely concerned I am wasting precious time in my life that I will never get back when I watch them (Galaxy of Terror, I Spit on Your Grave, Theodore Rex, for example), while others, despite being bad movies, are entertaining. Spacehunter, Raise the Titanic, Reign of Fire, Commando, The Keep — all shitty movies, and all eminently watchable. When I think of my affinity for shitty movies, it is flicks like these that keep me searching for the next great dog. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Road House”

October Horrorshow: Psycho II

I like Psycho II better than Psycho.

— Quentin Tarantino

Slow your roll, Quentin.

I’m taking that quote out of context. It is possible to like one film more versus another, while recognizing that film A is not as good as film B. For example, I have a short list in my head of my favorite movies. Star Trek II is on that list. I can watch that film at anytime. I love it because it’s a wonderful sci-fi flick, with lots of action and a comprehensible story. I also love it because if there had never been any other Star Trek film made, if there had never been any of the television series, it could stand on its own with none of the decades-long backstory. But I will never, ever, say that it is a better film than, say, A Prophet, or Jiro Dreams of Sushi, to name two better films I saw this year. Those two films are better, but they will never come close to attaining the same level of appreciation I have for Star Trek II. It just cannot happen. So I understand how Quentin Tarantino, who has a much more thorough understanding of cinematic history than I, could like Psycho II more than Alfred Hitchcock’s original classic. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Psycho II”

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 readingOctober Horrorshow: Halloween III: Season Of The Witch”

October Horrorshow: Halloween II

Halloween has finally arrived. Across the country the ghouls and goblins are out in force, and scary movies are lighting up the airwaves. We’ve been celebrating here at Missile Test for the entire month of October with the second October Horrorshow, when the site is devoted to watching and reviewing horror films. There’s been no rhyme or reason to it other than one common denominator: blood. Good films, bad films, entire franchises viewed out of order...so what? It doesn’t matter. It’s all in fun, as long as there’s death and gore involved. To close out this year’s October Horrorshow, we present a review of Halloween II, the sequel to John Carpenter’s horror masterpiece from 1978. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Halloween II”

October Horrorshow: Halloween

Halloween, the granddaddy of all slasher flicks. Not the first, to be sure, but a film whose formula worked so well it is still being followed to this day in countless horror films, thirty years after it was produced. It also doesn’t hurt that, unlike many of the films it birthed and inspired, Halloween is well made. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Halloween”

The Empty Balcony: Big Trouble in Little China

As I was watching John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China recently, I was struck by the familiarity of the material. I felt I had seen it before, but in some other context. Confined, mazelike, and windowless environments; various tricks and traps the heroes must overcome; goons, monsters, and the bosses that control them, etc. And there it is. Big Trouble in Little China plays like a videogame. Considering it was released in 1986, before videogames became complex enough to compare, does that mean John Carpenter was breaking new ground, that Big Trouble in Little China is ahead of its time? No. It just reaffirms that the pacing and storytelling of today’s videogames are derivative of cinema. There are plenty of other films from around the same time that are akin to videogames (Aliens, Commando, and Total Recall all come immediately to mind, among many others). Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Big Trouble in Little China”