Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

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Monterey Jack
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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#61 Post by Monterey Jack » Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:15 pm

-Phantasm (1979): 5/10

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What the HELL did I just watch?! Stylish, moderately eerie, and a complete narrative mess, 1979’s Phantasm is a film that’s all-but-impossible to review. It’s like a David Lynch slasher movie, better as establishing an admittedly effective look and mood than in telling any sort of coherent story. The flying silver ball that drills into people’s foreheads is a nifty l’il visual, but otherwise, I’m at a loss, here.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#62 Post by Monterey Jack » Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:41 pm

-Pulse (1988): 3/10

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Deathly-dull thriller about a young boy (an Oliver & Company-era Joey Lawrence) who moves in with his Dad (Cliff De Young) and his new wife (Roxanne Hart), only to find out that the house is possessed by…electricity? Yes, the first horror thriller where the villain is faulty wiring. Pull the plug on this inept, narcolepsy-inducing mess.

-Cult Of Chucky (2017): 4/10

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Still making these, huh? Pass.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#63 Post by Monterey Jack » Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:50 pm

-1922 (2017): 9/10

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Mournful adaptation of the Stephen King novella (from his collection Full Dark, No Stars) features Thomas Jane as a farmer trapped in a loveless marriage to a money-obsessed wife (Molly Parker), who conspires with his teenage son (Dylan Schmid) to do away with her in order to prevent her from selling the valuable land the homestead lies upon and use it to move to the big city, only to find out – the long, hard way – that you reap what you sow. The last two months have been an embarrassment of riches for King fans, and 1922 follows hot on the heels of the big-screen blockbuster It and another recent Netflix original, Gerald’s Game, as another superior adaptation of the macabre master’s text (it’s almost enough to forgive the crushing botch of the adaptation of his Dark Tower books. Almost). It’s not a jump-out-of-your-skin shocker (despite a smattering of truly gruesome and shuddery images), but rather a tale of greed and regret and how the consequences of one’s actions can have horrible repercussions on you and those you value the most dearly. Jane is flat-out terrific in the lead role, and this film thankfully hews far closer on the Stephen King Quality Scale to the previous Jane King movie The Mist than it does to another Jane King movie, Dreamcatcher. Creepy, insidious and haunting, well worth a look.

-Dark Shadows (2012): 8/10

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Dammit, I almost consider this bonkers adaptation of the 70’s Dan Curtis vampire soap opera a minor classic in the post-90’s filmography of Tim Burton. Like its small-screen predecessor, it’s silly, overstuffed and absurd, but holding it all together are Burton’s beautifully gloomy imagery and Johnny Depp’s wry central performance as the aristocratic vampire ancestor of the early-70’s Collins clan, Barnabas. With his impeccable timing and juicy, grandiloquent line delivery, he makes even the biggest groaners in Seth Grahame-Smith’s messy screenplay go down like a draught of fresh-from-the-vein plasma (“You may strategically place your wonderful lips upon my posterior and kiss it, repeatedly!”). Plus, the movie is gorgeous to look at and boasts a killer soundtrack (both the obligatory Danny Elfman score – one of the best from his recent years – and a groovy selection of classic 70’s tunes). And the spectacularly-alluring Eva Green makes for a terrifically cracked witchy villainess (and I mean “cracked” in a most literal sense). Frothy fun.
Last edited by Monterey Jack on Sat Oct 21, 2017 11:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Paul MacLean
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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#64 Post by Paul MacLean » Fri Oct 20, 2017 10:54 pm

Monterey Jack wrote:
Dammit, I almost consider this bonkers adaptation of the 70’s Dan Curtis vampire soap opera a minor classic in the post-90’s filmography of Tim Burton.
I wasn't very interested in seeing this movie, but gave it a look a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised. I agree, a fun, underrated flick, and one of Burton's most enjoyable efforts.

On a more personal (and bittersweet) note, I wish my sister (who died eight years ago) had lived to see this film. As a teen she was addicted to the original series, as well as early 70s tunes -- particularly the Carpenters. I think she would have gotten a huge kick out of a movie based on that series, which actually features a Carpenters song!

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#65 Post by Monterey Jack » Sat Oct 21, 2017 9:32 pm

“How’s about this… We all draw straws, and the loser runs across the parking lot with a ham sandwich.”

-Dawn Of The Dead (2004): 9/10

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On my list of the top-five best horror remakes done (for the record, the rest are Invasion Of The Body Snatchers 1978, John Carpenter’s The Thing, The Fly ’86 and The Blob ’88), Zack Snyder’s turbocharged updating of the George A. Romero classic does what any good update of an older film should…keep the core premise intact whilst delivering a completely new narrative with fresh characters and scenarios. Unlike such wan retreads as the 2006 Omen or the 2013 Carrie, this is no scene-for-scene Xerox…it’s a tight, visceral, action-oriented horror flick, lacking in the social satire that coursed through Romero’s original, perhaps, but more than making up for it in kicky thrills. It also boasts a fine cast (Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Webber, Mekhi Phifer), enthusiastic gore, some welcome comic aspects, and a terrific, Mad Max-ian climax with the surviving characters breaking out of the mall and careening through the deserted city streets in a pair of reinforced mall busses pursued by a relentless hoard of the Undead. Like the Wachowski Siblings, Snyder knocked it out of the park with his first crack at the bat, and has never been able to match it since, despite all of the money in the world, due to his own creative excesses and rampaging ego. Shame, because Dawn remains a fantastic zombie movie, one that just got reissued on a terrific new Scream Factory Blu-Ray (yes, the random boobs that were obstructed by a smear of CGI blood on the windshield of Polley’s car in every previous American release of the film are finally on full display, if you’re wondering).

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#66 Post by Monterey Jack » Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:44 pm

The mirror(s) crack’d…

-Oculus (2014): 8.5/10

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Mike Flanagan’s eerie haunted mirror thriller is a film that plays with past and present, “reality” and fantasy, with the cross-cutting skill of a natural-born horror master. Like a room slowly filling with nitrous oxide, Oculus builds its chills with slowly mounting incidents of this-isn’t-quite-right, and the fact that its primary protagonist, Kaylie (Karen Gillan), is a survivor of the mirror’s insidious influence and who takes a rational, scientific, carefully-thought-out approach to both proving the mirror’s sordid backstory and bring its centuries-long pall of evil to a definitive end neatly sidesteps the usual grousing about, “Well, why don’t they just leave the house?!” that scowling killjoys always drop about scary movies. Despite all of Kaylie’s meticulous preparations (and they truly are well-reasoned and intelligent), the mirror just manages to…well, outsmart her at every junction of the long night she and her brother, Tim (Brendon Twhaites), spend trying to get the bottom of the deaths of their parents (Rory Cochrane, Katee Sackhoff) eleven years earlier. It’s a truly effective, disorienting piece of horror filmmaking.

And, just to keep the theme going, I popped in the 1986 “Mirror, Mirror” episode of Steven Spielberg’s mid-80’s NBC TV anthology Amazing Stories. Directed by Martin Scorsese(!), it’s a creepy little-half-hour exercise in paranoia about a successful horror novelist (Sam Waterston) who starts catching glimpses of a macabre, hooded figure in mirrors and other reflective surfaces. But whenever he turns around, there’s nothing there…until he looks back into the mirror, and sees the figure (played by an unrecognizable Tim Robbins) again, wielding a garrote wire and getting closer, and closer

It’s a nifty little suspense piece, given an insistent, Bernard Herrmann-esque score by Michael Kamen and stylishly directed by Scorsese (there’s a quickie locking-the-doors-and-windows montage that’s like a dry run for Cape Fear), that falters only in the unsatisfying concluding moments. Still, it’s one of the better installments of the lavishly-produced but uneven series.

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Flanagan, begin again…

-Ouija: Origin Of Evil (2016): 9/10

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Compared to the lousy first Ouija movie, Origin Of Evil is akin to the first Superman movie being Part IV: The Quest For Peace, and the sequel being Superman: The Movie. Flanagan, again, directs the admittedly-familiar material with screw-tightening skill, and gets fine performances from his talented cast (including Elizabeth Reaser, Oculus alumnus Annalise Basso – try saying “Oculus Alumnus” three times fast! – and E.T.’s Henry Thomas as a concerned priest). In the annals of possession movies, you’ve seen stuff like this a lot over the last decade, but rarely with such careful craftsmanship and intelligence, and Flanagan gives the film – set in 1967 – a pleasingly retro look and feel (replete with deep-focus split-diopter shots and even some faux-reel-change circles) that gives the film the tone of a classic thriller from decades past that you’ve just now come across.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#67 Post by jkholm » Sun Oct 22, 2017 10:16 pm

CAT’S EYE 6/10

Like most horror anthology films, CAT’S EYE is a mixed bag. I haven’t seen it since the mid-80s and wondered how it held up and if it might be appropriate to show my kids. (Keep reading for the answer to the last question.) In preparation I read the two short stories by Stephen King that were the inspiration for the first two segments. “Quitters, Inc.” is a fairly straightforward adaptation of King’s somewhat sadistic take on a man who learns to quit smoking the hard way. I liked James Woods’ performance and a hallucinogenic scene at a party involving creative use of cigarettes but ultimately found the story a little mean-spirited. The second segment, “The Ledge” is even more mean spirited (and much rougher than the original short story). Aside from some excellent cinematography, I didn’t like it.

Finally we get to “General” which I thoroughly enjoyed. I would even go so far as to call this an unheralded gem of 80’s style fantasy. I’m a cat person (we have two) so it’s nice to see a cat portrayed as the hero (although I kept wondering throughout the film how they got the cat to do some of the scenes without injury). The little troll creature was very creepy. It reminded me of the Zuni fetish doll from “Trilogy of Terror” (another anthology in which the final segment is the best one). The final confrontation was quite exciting. I will wait, however, to show this to my kids as I think the idea of a creature that lives behind the walls and climbs onto a kid’s bed at night could be nightmare inducing. And our own cats would be of little help should a tiny supernatural creature enter our house. One is fat, lazy and risk-averse while the other is old and indifferent. If you own cats, you know what I mean.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#68 Post by Monterey Jack » Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:31 pm

They check in…but they don’t check out.

-The Shining (1980): 8/10

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-The Innkeepers (2011): 8/10

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A duology of haunted hotel movies today. Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s 1977 novel (one of the prolific horror author’s very best works) is one of the most iconic horror movies of all time, one of the most referenced and parodied movies ever (The Simpsons did the definitive, uproarious sendup of it with their Halloween episode segment “The Shinning”), and is an awesome example of Kubrick’s exacting attention to detail and impeccable filmmaking skill…and yet, I can’t quite bring myself to love it. It’s a cold fish of a movie, the brilliantly-realized sets and cinematography and camera placement never supported by characters you like or can identify with. King’s novel is clearly a personal exorcizing of his own struggles with alcoholism and substance abuse that were already a problem at the beginning of his career and only deepened into the 80’s before he finally cleaned himself up, but with Jack Nicholson mugging up a storm from frame one in the central role of Jack Torrance, you never get the novel’s relatable descent into madness for a fundamentally decent man led astray by his own addictions and how the spirits that infest the Overlook Motel use this to gain access into his strained psyche. Oh, the film is plenty effective in rattling the audience around, with its eerie music choices, Kubrick’s hypnotic pacing and the overall mood and vibe of the proceedings…it’s undoubtedly frightening, and Nicholson’s cartoon performance is certainly iconic and highly-entertaining, but the definitive adaptation of King’s text remains to be made (the 1997 TV miniseries was an honorable attempt, but the cheesy production values and edits for network consumption did it no favors). Like Blade Runner, it’s a film I watch every couple of years trying to see the brilliance that so many others do, and always come away marveling at the craftsmanship that went into it while my emotions remain unstirred.

As for The Innkeepers, it’s a much more modest production, with writer/director/editor Ti West (The House Of The Devil) wanting to do no more than evoke a handful of pleasurable goosebumps, and he has a terrific sense of just how long to hold a shot, how to arrange the collection of sighs, whispers and piano chords on the soundtrack to escalate general unease into genuine tension as the film unspools with methodical efficiency. And he gets likable performances from super-cute Sarah Paxton and schlubby Pat Healy as the caretakers of the soon-to-close Yankee Pedlar Inn who investigate the potential spirit of a woman murdered there over a hundred years earlier basically to kill the time in-between very-infrequent guests (Top Gun’s unrecognizable Kelly McGillis plays a former actress who assists in sussing out the uneasy spirits that live in the walls). It’s not a great film, but it certainly has its share of effectively creepy images and ideas, and boasts an elegant score by Jeff Grace.

-Silent Rage (1982): 6.5/10

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I’ve wanted to see this since Edgar Wright and Quentin Tarantino – on their commentary on the Hot Fuzz DVD – referred to it as “Chuck Norris vs. Michael Myers”. An odd mixture of Norris action flick and slasher movie, it features Chuck (in his trademark flannel shirt but sans his trademark beard) as a small-town sheriff pitted against an unstoppable foe (Brian Libby), who has undergone secret experiments from a mad doctor (Ron Silver), which allow him to heal at a ridiculously accelerated rate. It’s kind of a borderline to consider this horror, and yet all of the signposts of early-80’s slasher movies are there…the hulking killer who says little and keeps coming, no matter the punishment dealt upon him, the opening kill sequence (featuring a rather elegant one-shot take that has a heavy Carpenter/De Palma vibe), the “science gone wrong” hand-wringing. It’s also not that bad of a movie, all things considered, although it would have been punchier had they trimmed out some of the ridiculously-gratuitous nudity and extended Chuck’s final hand-to-hand throwdown with the killer, which is far too brief and routine.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#69 Post by AndyDursin » Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:04 am

Some quick thoughts on a variety of things I've been watching this season:

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DRACULA (1931)
The first few minutes of this Bela Lugosi "classic" do earn their keep -- the sets and mood established in the early Transylvania sequences are rightfully remembered by fans...the rest of Tod Browning's talky, stage-bound movie? Not so much. Still, I love the overall atmosphere and Dwight Frye's batty performance as Renfield. The Universal Blu-Ray is actually terrific with its crisp high-def transfer, and the Spanish version -- with its superior dramatics and pre-Code sex and violence -- is also included for the hardcore.

HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)
This first Hammer Dracula condenses the Stoker novel in its own way, but it's still a frightfully entertaining rendition with Peter Cushing's Van Helsing leading the way. Ironic for as much play as Christopher Lee's reputation gets for his Dracula "performance," he mostly says nothing in the role and just looks imposing...though that's half the battle. Despite fan interest, the only Blu-Ray of this is a UK Special Edition that restores some long-lost footage from the Japanese cut (optional to watch in conjunction with the 2007 BFI restoration of the picture). Good supplements make this worth the import, seeing as Warner seems to have little interest in producing a new Hammer US Blu-Ray box-set at this point (I'm guessing this will turn up on Blu-Ray at some point, but when?).

BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960)

For me, this is the best of the Hammer Draculas, even though Dracula isn't on-hand. Peter Cushing, fortunately, is, as Van Helsing helps a young woman who's gotten involved with an undead aristocrat and his elderly mother. Strong color cinematography, old-fashioned "Golden Age" type of horror mood and a memorable climax really hit the mark here in a film that's perennially underrated. The Universal Blu-Ray (in their Hammer Collection boxset) is a little too tightly cropped on the bottom of the frame, but the color and details are still nice.

THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957)
Hammer's initial Frankenstein is interesting to compare with other versions of the oft-told story, especially in how unsympathetic Doc (Peter Cushing) is here. It's a testament to Cushing's acting ability that he can be so virtuous and easy to pull for as Van Helsing, and so cool and increasingly villainous as Frankenstein. This doesn't really capture the wider themes or range of emotions inherent in the material -- and Lee's Frankenstein is just a big hulk, certainly not as memorable or soulful as Karloff's rendition -- but on its own terms, it's an effective slice of '50s horror. Another UK only Blu-Ray release, "Curse" has not been restored and could look a lot better -- colors are washed out and details are softish, the result of the source materials used. Perhaps that's why Warner hasn't touched it in the U.S., but it's still worth seeing with terrific extras on-hand.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#70 Post by Monterey Jack » Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:41 pm

Welcome, boils and ghouls… :twisted:

-Tales From The Crypt (1972): 8/10

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Merrily macabre Amicus horror anthology adapted from the pages of the classic EC horror comics from the 1950’s (which later became a long-running HBO television series in the late 80’s and early 90’s) features a quintet of scary tales imparted by the hooded Crypt Keeper (Ralph Richardson) to five people (Joan Collins, Ian Hendry, David Markham, Richard Greene and Nigel Patrick) who chance across his subterranean catacomb while exploring a local cemetery, in which all of them find a gruesome and fittingly ironic fate. Like all anthology movies, the stories are a mixed bag (the best – Collins menaced by a maniac dressed in a Santa Claus outfit just after she’s murdered her husband on Christmas Eve – was later adapted by director Robert Zemeckis for an episode of the TV series. The weakest is a Monkey’s Paw retread with Greene), but even the mediocre segments are short enough not to hurt the overall flow of the film, and it all goes down with a nicely mordant sense of humor.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#71 Post by Monterey Jack » Tue Oct 24, 2017 10:28 pm

You may not believe in ghosts, but you cannot deny TERROR…! :shock:

-The Haunting (1963): 9/10

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-Crimson Peak (2015): 9.5/10

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A pair of spooktacular tales of haunted abodes today. Robert Wise’s 1963 production of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting Of Hill House remains one of the greatest haunted house movies ever done, impeccably crafted, well-acted and goosebump-raising decades later despite virtually no physical manifestations of any of the spirits living inside the rotting halls of Hill House, currently being investigated by a quartet of guests (Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn, Claire Bloom, Julie Harris) all with their own reasons for being there. Aside from an ominously bulging door, Wise never lets us see any of the usual misty, translucent specters one usually expects in this type of film, relying instead on eerie sound design and innovative, careening camerawork (which almost seems like an inspiration for Sam Raimi’s later Evil Dead movies) to sell the film’s chills. It’s all frightfully fun.

As for Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak, it’s one of the most bafflingly underrated horror films in recent memory, probably due to it being too genteel and slow-paced for the Blumhouse crowd and yet too sporadically-yet-enthusiastically violent for the Merchant Ivory set. It’s a gorgeously gloomy chain-rattler that evokes old-school classics like The Haunting and The Innocents as well as those ravishingly romantic suspense melodramas that Alfred Hitchcock made for David O. Selznick in the 1940’s (Mia Wasikowska may as well be Joan Fontaine in Rebecca, and Tom Hiddleston may as well be a dangerously dashing Cary Grant in Suspicion). It’s all technically spectacular…the costumes, cinematography, music and especially sets are crafted with lavish care, and Del Toro (along with frequent writing partner Matthew Robbins) creates a narrative with all of his usual signifiers (insects, melancholy ghosts, whirligig machinery, atmospherically dank subterranean chambers) brought to life by a superb cast that also features a particularly great Jessica Chastain. I like this one more every time I watch it, and think it’s easily Del Toro’s best American production, and his second-best overall after Pan’s Labyrinth.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#72 Post by Monterey Jack » Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:06 pm

-The Vault Of Horror (1973): 4/10

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Mediocre follow-up to the previous Amicus EC Comics adaptation, Tales From The Crypt, has a weaker wraparound gimmick (five strangers enter an elevator in a high-rise building, are trapped in the subbasement, and sit around discussing their personal nightmares), and five segments that range from adequate to outright lame. Stick with the original.

-Split (2017): 8/10

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Has the last fifteen years of M. Night Shyamalan’s career been some kind of elaborate, long-con, Andy Kaufman-esque prank? The man who gave us such indelibly absurd moments as Mark Walhberg apologizing to a potted plant (that turns out to be made of rubber), Paul Giamatti reading mystical clues to the universe off of the backs of cereal boxes and a kid getting a doody-filled adult diaper smashed in his face has actually made a GOOD MOVIE again, and it’s so disorienting I almost want to go outside and see if the sky is now bright green. Split is so tense, so well-acted, and so meticulously-shot and edited, it’s hard to imagine it’s from the same man who gave us such legendary stinkbombs as Lady In The Water, The Happening and The Visit. James McAvoy is a big part of the reason the film works…with a lesser actor in the key antagonist role(s), the film might have tilted over into Full Retard camp absurdity, but McAvoy skates right up to the line where his performance might have tipped over into unintentional comedy without ever quite getting there. There are moments of uncomfortable humor squiggling around in the margins, but you’re never allowed to forget the genuine menace and threat bubbling away below the surface. It’s a real performance masterclass, and I’d honestly like to see him not be forgotten by the Academy when next year’s Oscars roll around. Anya Taylor-Joy (The VVitch) is equally great as the most level-headed and resourceful of a trio of young girls kidnapped by McAvoy’s multiple-personality baddie, and the way her backstory (delivered piecemeal throughout the film) collides with her current predicament comes together with a satisfying narrative click. Even the authentically surprising “stinger” at the end feels justified, and for the first time in a long time, I’m honestly looking forward to Shyamalan’s next movie. Bravo.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#73 Post by Monterey Jack » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:02 pm

Dial “Z” For Zombies…



-Resident Evil (2002): 6/10

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-Land Of The Dead (2005): 7.5/10

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On the scale of rating movie adaptations of video games (which – to put it charitably – have been less-than-good over the years), Resident Evil is resoundingly…okay. It’s also got to be the most blood-free zombie movie I can think of to still receive an R rating. I guess that fleetingly seeing one of Mila Jovovich’s boobs and hearing the F-Bomb more than once is enough to earn an R these days, because the movie squeamishly cuts away from headshots and zombie bites so often it’s like you’re already watching the edited-for-TV version. If you can deal with a zombie movie about as tame as World War Z, and characterization and plotting so thin it makes “Ninjas have kidnapped the President…go get him!” seem as plotty as a Tom Clancy novel, Resident Evil is sorta fun in a glib, slick, perfunctory manner, and I’ll admit seeing Jovovich ninja-kick a zombie Doberman in the face is amusing. It’s still highly forgettable cinematic Fast Food, though, and ends on a who-cares apocalyptic cliffhanger that I don’t care to see resolved in any of the movie’s fifty sequels.

As for Land Of The Dead, the late, great George A. Romero’s return to the zombie genre after a two-decade absence is certainly a step up from the likes of Resident Evil…it’s actually got something to say on a level slightly deeper than the schlock videogame thrills (although the subtext about the Haves vs. the Have-Nots is laid on with more heavy-handed obviousness than his previous films in the series), is peopled with characters that, while not especially deep, are nevertheless likable and played by a talented cast (Simon Baker, John Leguizamo and Asia Argento – daughter of Dawn Of The Dead producer Dario – chief among them), enthusiastically gruesome and briskly to-the-point. It’s no Night or Dawn, but it’s a damn sight better than the sad mediocrity of Romero’s final two movies, Diary / Survival Of The Dead, and stands as a fitting tribute to one of the greats of the genre. I raise a glass of gore to you, good sir.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#74 Post by Monterey Jack » Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:20 pm

Baby, it’s cold outside…

-Harbinger Down (2015): 1/10

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-The Thing (2011): 8/10

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A chilling Arctic double-header tonight. 2015’s Harbinger Down is borne of a noble intention of doing a modern-day monster movie entirely with old-school practical effects sans CGI enhancements, but director Alec Gillis (who, along with longtime partner Tom Woodruff, Jr. has been at the forefront of the animatronic creature F/X craft for decades) forgot that, without a good screenplay, competent production values or good acting, even the niftiest rubber-tentacle effects are for naught. Sad to say that Harbinger Down is dreadful…inert, dankly-lit and filled with a cast of nobodies (save for genre fave Lance Henriksen, slumming for a paycheck) spouting awful lines like, “What do you call a frozen Communist? A hammer & pop-sickle!” Coming in at a scant 81 minutes, it’s direct-to-Netflix horror dreck of the most boring sort.

And to think…the main reason Harbinger Down even exists is due to the disappointment from Gillis and Woodruff, Jr. about the majority of their hard work on the 2011 prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 classic The Thing getting painted over with last-minute CGI when the suits at Universal complained that they didn’t “move fast enough”. While I’d love to see the “all practical-effects” version of the movie one day come to light, the movie itself is actually very underrated, a faithful, respectful companion piece to the Carpenter film that – the occasional, admittedly dodgy CG shot aside – offers plenty of gruesome thrills, anchored by the easy authority of leading lady Mary Elizabeth Winstead, the rare knee-weakening beauty who’s every bit as believable wielding an electron microscope as a flamethrower. The movie evokes the gliding craftsmanship of Carpenter’s film with an impressive eye (on his audio commentary track, director Matthijs van Heijningen, Jr. even notes he used vintage Panavision lenses from the early-80’s to get that classic Dean Cundey lighting just right), and while some of the minor details don’t quite jibe with the continuity of the 1982 original (uhhhh, original remake), it gets so much right I’m willing to let it slide.

Also kept the theme going with the first-season X-Files episode “Ice”, where FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) travel to a remote research station in Alaska to investigate a curious video only to the find the entire outpost dead in an apparent spate of murderous rage, and with a team of scientists (including guest stars Xander Berkeley and Felicity Huffman) they find themselves exposed to a lethal parasite let loose from the ice after thousands of years. The series was still finding its footing this early in its run (this being only the eighth episode overall), and it’s so heavily indebted to The Thing (even lifting stock shots of U.S. Outpost #31 from it) that it should have given outright credit to it. Still, it’s The X-Files…it’s always fun to see Duchovny and Anderson riff off of each other, and the paranoid tension is kept high throughout.

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Re: Halloween Horror Marathon 2017

#75 Post by Monterey Jack » Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:09 pm

“Is this the face of a bat who would lie to you…?”

-The Bat People (1974): 3/10

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Tiresome schlocker about a doctor (Stewart Moss) who is bitten by a bat during a spelunking expedition and starts a slow transformation into a bloodthirsty cross-species mutation. Aside from the novelty of an early screen credit for makeup master “Stanley” Winston, The Bat People is slow, dull and plodding, with a dearth of interesting death scenes. Hell, even the title is a misnomer, as it should have been titled The Bat PERSON.

-The Beast Within (1982): 5/10

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Unsatisfying riff on I Was A Teenage Werewolf about a young man (Paul Clemens) born of a rape committed against his mother (Bibi Besch) seventeen years earlier, and how his genetic lineage compels him to kill those who did his father wrong. Fairly routine stuff most of the way, but if you stick with it long enough, the last twenty minutes at least offer up some ballooning, show-stopping makeup effects concocted by Thomas R. Burman that definitely typify that gooey Baker/Bottin early-80’s heyday. It’s impressive work, but too bad you have to wade through an hours’ worth of tedium to get there.

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