October Horrorshow: Halloween 5

What a putrid mess. Halloween 5 is a shameless cash grab. (The full title is Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, but that full title seems only to exist on posters and other promotional material. The title card of the actual movie has no subtitle.) Halloween 4 was a cheap b-movie that sought to bring a recognizable brand to heel after the failure that was Halloween III. And it worked. Audiences didn’t like the fact that Michael Myers wasn’t the villain in the third flick, and producer Moustapha Akkad took notice. He brought back the slasher icon for the fourth installment, and saw a tidy return on investment, so it was inevitable that there would be a fifth. Of course, since abject cheapness didn’t hurt the bottom line with Halloween 4, there was no incentive to produce a quality product with Halloween 5.
Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Halloween 5″

October Horrorshow: The Changeling

The Changeling movie posterJohn Russell (George C. Scott) just had the worst day of his life. While on a winter vacation in upstate New York, he watched his wife and child get run down in the street by an out of control dump truck. A few months go by, and John, a composer of classical music, decides it is time to begin his life again, and takes a job teaching at his alma mater. The new job is across the country in Seattle, and John needs to find a new place to live. At the suggestion of a friend, John locates a house through the local historical society. It’s quite the place. Victorian, high ceilings — it even has a music room. Any house or apartment with a music room resides firmly in the 1%.

The house had been unoccupied ever since it was willed to the historical society, and for good reason. The place is haunted. In fact, John would never have been able to secure a lease were it not for Claire (Trish Van Devere), the member of the society that showed John the house. She’s relatively new to her job, and thus didn’t know about the issues with the house. Also, she’s smitten with the gruff old composer with the surprisingly soft smile and history of personal tragedy. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Changeling”

October Horrorshow: Shutter (2004)

Shutter was a new experience for me. As far as I can remember, I’ve never seen a movie from Thailand before. If there were a line in Vegas on whether or not the first Thai movie I chose to watch would be horror or shitty, what would that line be? Or would that be a sucker bet? It is October, after all. The month of blood and death. Of course I’m watching horror. So the only question is, is it shitty horror? Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Shutter (2004)”

October Horrorshow: Tremors

I’ve written about this before, but my old man had an affinity for bad cinema. Especially the sci-fi variety. It didn’t matter what it was or how bad it was. If it had something to do with space or monsters, he had a hard time looking away. Good sci-fi got the wheels turning, while bad sci-fi brought out his guttural chuckling and whooping. If it was too bad to be funny, then came groans and profanity. Hmm...kind of like me. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Tremors”

October Horrorshow: Pontypool, or, Sydney Briar…is Alive

I’ve seen plenty of bottle episodes in television, but not a lot of bottle movies. Enter Pontypool, a horror film out of Canada from 2008. In this movie, some type of outbreak is ravaging the town of Pontypool, Ontario in the middle of a raging snowstorm. The infected are murderous, making them zombie-like. They shuffle around and infect others, but they’re not after a meal, making these poor people more new-wave infected not-zombies than the traditional Romero undead. Anyway, that is what is going on in the town of Pontypool, but a viewer sees barely any of this, as the movie takes place almost entirely within the confines of a darkened radio studio. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Pontypool, or, Sydney Briar...is Alive”

October Horrorshow: Pitch Black

Pitch Black movie posterI’m a sucker for Alien ripoffs. Really, I am. Something about the shared stories (monsters whittling down hapless cast members) strikes something elemental in my brain. The formula for films like Alien seems so fundamentally sound to modern storytelling that I bet, had he been alive in the era of science fiction, the Bard himself would have come up with it.

Pitch Black, from the year 2000, has, since its release, ensconced itself as both a cult film and a classic entry in the sci-fi monster subgenre. I’m having a hard time recalling a film that held so little promise yet ended up being quite so watchable. I remember heading to the theater to see it thinking I was in for a real shitfest, but I was wrong. Sure, Pitch Black won’t make most critics’ top 500 lists anytime soon, but for a film with such a derivative nature, and therefore incurring such dismal prospects, it was pleasantly surprising. In a less backhanded way, if a viewer refuses to compartmentalize the flick into preconceived notions of what a good science fiction film is supposed to be, they should discover that Pitch Black is a good science fiction film. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Pitch Black”

October Horrorshow: Splinter

From director Toby Wilkins, Splinter is the little horror movie that could. I love little horror films. Generally, filmmakers who are starting out or would otherwise never get a shot behind the camera end up helming horror flicks. It’s like a film rite of passage. Why horror took on this mantra, I have no idea. All I know is, thank goodness it wasn’t rom-coms. What a horrible universe it would truly be if Wes Craven was known for starting out as the director of The Last House on the Left, a movie about a young girl who finds herself in a love triangle with some lovable rogues from the big city. Or if John Carpenter changed the face of emotionally powerful family pictures with Halloween, the story of young Laurie Strode reuniting with her long-lost brother after a family tragedy separated the two on Halloween night, many years before. Or if Sam Raimi was the legendary director of Good Living, about two couples who discover the true meaning of love and sharing while vacationing at a rustic cabin in the woods. Blecchh!! Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Splinter”

October Horrorshow: The Frighteners

Before he was boring me to tears putting endless hours of Tolkien tales to film, Peter Jackson used to make horror films. Not many, to be sure. Peter Jackson is not a horror filmmaker. He is a filmmaker who has made horror flicks. His most memorable work in the genre was Dead Alive (Braindead for all you worldly purists out there). That film is memorable for being, perhaps, the goriest horror film of all time. It truly was an exercise in bloody excess, impossible to faithfully convey in a posting to a website. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Frighteners”