October Horrorshow: Class of 1999

It’s the future, 1999, and the inner cities of America’s once great metropolises have been overrun by youth gangs. Areas surrounding high schools have been declared free fire zones. Police and authorities do not enter. Violence and drugs are rampant. Citizens are warned that if they enter these areas, they do so at their own risk. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Class of 1999”

October Horrorshow: Urban Legends: Bloody Mary

I love seeing famous people in early roles. It’s a reminder that even the most successful of us have to start somewhere, even if grandpa owns a football team. Before she played a conniving investigative reporter in House of Cards, Kate Mara was slumming it as the star of the direct to video horror flick, Urban Legends: Bloody Mary. I’m reminded of Philip Seymour Hoffman in Twister, Paul Rudd in the sixth Halloween movie, Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger in that awful Texas Chainsaw flick, and, the pièce de résistance, George Clooney in Return of the Killer Tomatoes. It seems that horror is fertile ground for the stars of tomorrow. I wonder which young, struggling talent will emerge from today’s shitty horror flicks? Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Urban Legends: Bloody Mary”

October Horrorshow: Christine

A general rule: films that are adaptations of books are not as good as the book. Why should they be? A film removes all the grace of prose, and by necessity compresses the story. Sometimes, though, films are better than their source material, and the rule is reversed. Jaws, Wolfen, Die Hard (aka Nothing Lasts Forever), Full Metal Jacket (aka The Short-Timers)...a list like this could go on and on. It’s strangely satisfying to watch a film that’s better than the book. But also confusing. All those films I cited above come from mediocre books. Yet the mind of a filmmaker was able to read them and think, “Yeah, this would make a good movie.” Okay. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Christine”

October Horrorshow: Carrie

How times have changed. Within two minutes of Brian De Palma’s Carrie, an adaptation of Stephen King’s first novel, there’s a scene in a girls’ high school locker room after gym class with no less than half a dozen full frontal nude shots. High school girls (all played by adults) are bouncing around and giggling after showering, showing off their gloriously naked bodies. I can’t imagine there would ever be a film made today that featured nude teenagers so prominently, much less with such sappy eloquence and, yes, sexuality. It’s not long before the camera pans and settles on the film’s main character, Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), as she showers and caresses her body, culminating in a horrific display of bullying after the onset of her first menstrual cycle. That’s how viewers are introduced to the confused, introverted, oppressed, overgrown adolescent of the title: as she is brutalized by her peers. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Carrie”

October Horrorshow, Spring Edition: Class of Nuke ‘Em High

Class of Nuke Em HighWhat a shitty movie. From Troma Entertainment, a production company well-versed in churning out b-movie fare (most famously the Toxic Avenger series of films and its spinoffs), Class of Nuke ‘Em High is self-aware schlock. From the opening scene to the end, the filmmakers never miss a chance to remind the viewer that what they are watching is not meant to be taken seriously. But the way they choose to draw attention to this fact, with overwrought characters and performances, only serves to make the film feel forced. It revels in cheapness, and this would be a good thing, if only they weren’t trying so hard. At every step of the film, Troma seeks to establish its brand, reveling in its ineptness at putting together something that is watchable.

The film has a strong beginning. After an opening shot purposefully evocative of Troma’s production logo, the scene shifts to the fictional town of Tromaville, New Jersey, where an accident at a nuclear power plant has leaked radioactive goo into the high school next door. A hapless student is exposed to the contaminant when he drinks from a water fountain before class, and his transformation from stereotypical 80s film nerd to smoking corpse is hilarious. But in that scene is a first glimpse of the film’s downfall. Most of the ensemble cast is present, and all exist, like the poor victim, as caricatures of the diverse collection of jocks, losers, horndogs, and punks that populate the banal visions of high school typical of so many films from the 50s to today. The problem is, there isn’t a straight man among the bunch to balance things out. Continue reading “October Horrorshow, Spring Edition: Class of Nuke ‘Em High”