October Horrorshow: Ghosts of Mars

John Carpenter is one of my favorite directors. He’s not on the Mount Rushmore of filmmakers, but his best films can be thought of as eminently watchable. They are respected. They are known and successful enough that a lot have been remade. But he also has some films that are not so good. It would be easy to blame Carpenter’s poorer quality films on budget, but that does not compute. Carpenter worked magic with the measly budgets he had in Halloween and Escape from New York. Rather, something happened in the late 1980s, starting with Prince of Darkness in 1987, that precipitated a steady decline. There were still sparks of life in his films, but that eminently watchable quality of his films seemed to fly away. In its place was substituted cheapness, sometimes of rank quality, and this turn was inexplicable from a filmmaker who had done so much with so little throughout his career. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Ghosts of Mars”

October Horrorshow: Halloween: Resurrection

I don’t know what I’m going to do. This is the eighth year that I’ve done the October Horrorshow, and at the end of every year, on Halloween, I’ve reviewed one of the Halloween movies. But, with Halloween: Resurrection, I’ve run out. This is it — the last of the movies from the original franchise. I already reviewed the Rob Zombie remakes before the Horrorshow existed, so those are out, as well. There is a new flick in the works, but apparently it’s stuck in development hell and won’t be in the can before next year’s Horrorshow. Oh, man. My hands are shaking and my heart is beating fast. This feels exactly like when I graduated college and the rest of my life was staring me in the face. I can see far but there’s nothing but blackness at the end. I’m…lost. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Halloween: Resurrection”

October Horrorshow: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

What a clumsy title. H20. Does it relate to water? Not at all. That’s a zero on the end, not the letter ‘O’. H20, then, is the shortened version of what this movie should have been called — Halloween: 20 Years Later — only shoved right in the middle of the title. Beware films that can’t even get their titles right. As it turns out, though, this flick is redemption for a franchise that had been foundering for the entire 1980s and ’90s. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later”

October Horrorshow: Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

Woe be to the viewer when a film series becomes tired. At first there was innovation, followed by repetition. Afterwards comes mediocrity, before, finally, the series descends into total and utter garbage. Such is the case with the last film in this year’s Horrorshow, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. From the opening scene through denouement, the sixth entry in the Halloween franchise is a tedious affair. So tedious, in fact, that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to pay enough attention to this movie to write about it. It was a close call. More than once while I was watching a text message would come in or I would want to look up a member of the cast or crew on the internet, and any deviation in my focus threatened to derail my comprehension of on screen events. How could I possibly write a review of this dog if I couldn’t remember what I just saw? I’ve stopped watching films after fifteen or twenty minutes and still written reviews, but the difference between those films and this one is that, although I only spent a short time with those films, I was able to keep my focus. Halloween 6 was a struggle from beginning to end. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers”

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: 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 readingOctober Horrorshow: Christine”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Escape from L.A.

From IMDb’s trivia page on Escape from L.A.: Escape from LA [sic] was caught in development hell for over ten years. A script for the film was first commissioned in 1985 but John Carpenter thought it “too light, too campy.”

Too campy? Why? Were The Riddler and Two-Face in the original draft? I find it hard to believe that Carpenter rejected a script for this film because it was campy. This movie lives on camp. It’s not light, though. I’ll give Carpenter that. Escape from L.A. is a violent flick. A bit cartoonish, maybe, but that many bullets can’t be fired in a movie and still be considered light. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Escape from L.A.”

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”