Grizzly 2 – 31 Days of Halloween, Day 27

October is Halloween movie month! Having been completely deprived of any kind of Halloween experience growing up, I now spend 31 days celebrating with film and TV. I like to shoot for a mix of old and new, horror and comedy, from the slightly spooky to the totally terrifying to the just plain weird. Each day of October I’ll reviewing one of these ventures in the realm of the creepy and supernatural. Some will be high quality cinema and some will require large amounts of alcohol to survive. Stock up on seasonal beer and Fireball-apple jello shots and join me! A warning, though – unless the review is of a very recent release, HERE BE SPOILERS.

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So, this isn’t so much an actual review as a notice of a future one. I watched Grizzly 2 for the premiere episode of a new podcast, Monster Mixtape, and instead of writing about it here, I’m going to let that episode stand in for a blog post. Because really, there’s nothing else to say. Except that it truly is the worst movie I’ve ever seen.

If you don’t know the history of this movie, here’s some background. No, it was never released. Yes, you can find it easily on the internet (YouTube). Yes, that is George Clooney (talk about a guy who improves with age). You should watch it, and then look for for the first episode of Monster Mixtape coming soon!

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Hellboy – 31 Days of Halloween, Day 26

October is Halloween movie month! Having been completely deprived of any kind of Halloween experience growing up, I now spend 31 days celebrating with film and TV. I like to shoot for a mix of old and new, horror and comedy, from the slightly spooky to the totally terrifying to the just plain weird. Each day of October I’ll reviewing one of these ventures in the realm of the creepy and supernatural. Some will be high quality cinema and some will require large amounts of alcohol to survive. Stock up on seasonal beer and Fireball-apple jello shots and join me! A warning, though – unless the review is of a very recent release, HERE BE SPOILERS.

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Hellboy (2004)

Starring: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, John Hurt.

I’m not going to try to write a full synopsis for this movie, because, frankly, I’ve seen it twenty times and I’m still not sure I really understand the plot. If you have seen it, this review will make sense to you. If you haven’t, no synopsis can help you. Trying to explain all the plot threads of Hellboy is not a rabbit hole I want to go down.

tumblr_mvtf0poptT1r4z8l1o2_r1_500The truth of it is, Hellboy’s plot is convoluted, confusing, and ridiculous. Some things will not make sense if you haven’t read the comic it’s based on, and other things will not make a whole lot of sense even if you have. But for a movie like Hellboy, that is all entirely beside the point. There are hellhounds. There are strange and dubious prophecies. There is a cat loving, cigar smoking, big red antihero who is in love with a mentally unstable pyrokenetic. There is the reanimated corpse of Rasputin and there are massive ancient beings frozen in space/another dimension. And all that is wrapped up in a ball of action and tied with a bow of Guillermo Del Toro.

It’s. Awesome.

Continue reading “Hellboy – 31 Days of Halloween, Day 26”

Halloween – 31 Days of Halloween, Day 23

October is Halloween movie month! Having been completely deprived of any kind of Halloween experience growing up, I now spend 31 days celebrating with film and TV. I like to shoot for a mix of old and new, horror and comedy, from the slightly spooky to the totally terrifying to the just plain weird. Each day of October I’ll reviewing one of these ventures in the realm of the creepy and supernatural. Some will be high quality cinema and some will require large amounts of alcohol to survive. Stock up on seasonal beer and Fireball-apple jello shots and join me! A warning, though – unless the review is of a very recent release, HERE BE SPOILERS.

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Halloween (1978)

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance

Synopsis: The story begins in 1963, when 6 year-old Michael Myers murders his sister while wearing a Halloween mask, in some kind of weird psychosexual fantasy. After fifteen years in an insane asylum he escapes and returns to his hometown, where he begins stalking high school student Laurie. On Halloween night, she and some friends are babysitting and/or messing around with their boyfriends, when Michael begins to pick them off one by one. First Annie is killed after she drops her young charge off with Laurie and the boy she is watching, Tommy, in order to go pick up her boyfriend. Then Lynda and her boyfriend are killed after having sex in the house where Annie was babysitting. Laurie goes over to check on them after receiving an alarming call from Lynda and discovers their bodies, staged dramatically, before Michael attacks her. He chases her back the house she was babysitting at and she manages to hide the children and then fight Michael off with a knitting needle. He’s not easily killed and is about to overcome her, when his psychiatrist, who has been tracking him all this time, comes in and shoots Michael multiple times. He falls off the balcony, but when they look down his body is gone.

tumblr_m7b519p4dt1qj7u8ao1_500Going back and watching the original Halloween now is like going through a time warp. Although hardly the first slasher film and owing much to Psycho and other of its ilk from the 50’s and 60’s, Halloween is definitely the origin of the modern slasher flick and kicked off a flurry of them in the 80’s and 90’s (with the 2000’s we got the torture porn genre, which is its hillybilly cousin on steroids). Frankly, it’s not scary. Maybe it was, watching in a dark theater for the first time, or maybe I’m so inured to terror and violence that it seems almost quaint. There’s little blood or gore, and really very little real tension until the last third. I mean you know Michael is stalking Laurie and her friends, but most of the movie is them chatting, getting high, and arranging their social lives. Even at the climax, the level of fear is nothing compared to modern day horror. Continue reading “Halloween – 31 Days of Halloween, Day 23”

Edward Scissorhands – 31 Days of Halloween, Day 22

October is Halloween movie month! Having been completely deprived of any kind of Halloween experience growing up, I now spend 31 days celebrating with film and TV. I like to shoot for a mix of old and new, horror and comedy, from the slightly spooky to the totally terrifying to the just plain weird. Each day of October I’ll reviewing one of these ventures in the realm of the creepy and supernatural. Some will be high quality cinema and some will require large amounts of alcohol to survive. Stock up on seasonal beer and Fireball-apple jello shots and join me! A warning, though – unless the review is of a very recent release, HERE BE SPOILERS.

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Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Wynona Ryder, Dianne Wiest

Synopsis: An old woman tells her granddaughter a story about where the snow comes from. A long time, an inventor created an artificial boy, Edward, but died just as about he was about to give him human hands. Edward is stuck alone in the old mansion on the hill, with blades and scissors for hands instead. One day, an Avon saleswoman named Peg visits the mansion and finds him. She takes pity on him and bring him home to her family. Edward is immediately smitten by her daughter, Kim. After some initial distrust, Edward becomes popular in the neighborhood due to his polite innocence and his talents for cutting hair and making topiaries. He becomes somewhat of a star, but not everyone loves him – Kim’s boyfriend is jealous of her attention to Edward and tries to get him in trouble, and one of the neighbor ladies comes on to him and then accuses him of attempted rape when he refuses her. It doesn’t take much for the neighborhood to turn against him, and when he accidentally cuts Kim’s brother trying to save him from being run over, a mob forms and chases Edward back up to the mansion. Kim follows him, but Jim interrupts and threatens them both. Jim tries to goad Edward into fighting him but only succeeds when he hits Kim for interfering. Edward stabs Jim and he dies, falling out of a high window. Kim kisses Edward goodbye and returns to tell the neighborhood that both boys are dead after roof caved in on them, bringing a spare scissor hand for proof. Back in the present, Kim tells her granddaughter than she never saw Edward again but she the snow is really ice shavings from Edward making beautiful ice sculptures up in the mansion, drifting down on the town.

2001Edward Scissorhands, an early Burton film and his first collaboration with Johnny Depp, is a beautiful tragic fairy tale. It’s a story about being an outcast, about celebrating those who are different, about love and loss, and most of all about the fickleness of humanity. People are afraid of the strange and different yes, but they also love a novelty. Edward is new and shiny and thrilling and provides entertainment, but everyone is quick to turn on him once the novelty wear off because, except for the Boggs family, they never saw him as person in the first place. Continue reading “Edward Scissorhands – 31 Days of Halloween, Day 22”

Tremors – 31 Days of Halloween, Day 20

October is Halloween movie month! Having been completely deprived of any kind of Halloween experience growing up, I now spend 31 days celebrating with film and TV. I like to shoot for a mix of old and new, horror and comedy, from the slightly spooky to the totally terrifying to the just plain weird. Each day of October I’ll reviewing one of these ventures in the realm of the creepy and supernatural. Some will be high quality cinema and some will require large amounts of alcohol to survive. Stock up on seasonal beer and Fireball-apple jello shots and join me! A warning, though – unless the review is of a very recent release, HERE BE SPOILERS.

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Tremors (1990)

Starring: Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, and and Finn Carter

Synopsis: Two feckless handymen, Val and Earl, work in around the tiny town of Perfection, Nevada. One day, they begin to notice strange happenings, including people disappearing. They find the body of a local man dead of dehydration at the top of an electrical tower, still holding his rifle. When their truck is attacked by a snake like creature coming up from under the ground, they realize everything is connected. On their way to get help, they encounter the creature again, which they name the graboid, and discover that the snake like things are just the tongues. The graboid is much larger than they thought. They manage to defeat it by running it into a concrete wall, but Rhonda, a local grad student doing seismology research in the area, tells them her equipment indicates there are three more of the things on the loose. They narrowly escape one of these by using the erratic boulders present in the landscape and pole vaulting between them to get to their truck, as the graboids can only move through loose soil. The three return to warn the town, but there’s no time to escape and although they are able to kill one graboid, the remaining two corner the townspeople and eventually drive them out of the buildings and onto a boulder. They manage to kill one of the graboids with homemade explosives but the final one is too smart. Finally, Val gets the idea to lure the graboid to the edge of a cliff and set the explosive behind it. The graboid bursts the cliff edge and plummets to its death.

Tremors-1990I’ll be honest, Tremors isn’t really my kind of movie. I mean, I love a good monster movie (think The Host). And I love a really, really bad monster movie (think Lake Placid). But Tremors is not quite either of those things. It’s a straight-up monster movie, not intentionally bad, not fantastically great, but definitely all about the monster. Tremors is the classic 50’s monster-attacks-small-town movie (think Night of the Lepus or Kingdom of Spiders) remade for the 90’s, with a funnier script and better creature effects. Unfortunately for Tremors, I’ve never been truly in love with that genre, although I’m not entirely unappreciative of it. I can recognize that the movie does a great job of playing tribute to and freshening up the mid-century B monster classic, even if it’s not that enchanting to me personally.  Continue reading “Tremors – 31 Days of Halloween, Day 20”

What We Do In Shadows – 31 Days of Halloween, Day 19

October is Halloween movie month! Having been completely deprived of any kind of Halloween experience growing up, I now spend 31 days celebrating with film and TV. I like to shoot for a mix of old and new, horror and comedy, from the slightly spooky to the totally terrifying to the just plain weird. Each day of October I’ll reviewing one of these ventures in the realm of the creepy and supernatural. Some will be high quality cinema and some will require large amounts of alcohol to survive. Stock up on seasonal beer and Fireball-apple jello shots and join me! A warning, though – unless the review is of a very recent release, HERE BE SPOILERS.

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What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Starring: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Johnny Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer

Synopsis: Set up in mockumentary style, What We Do in the Shadows follows four vampires (Viago, Vlad, Deacon, and Petyr) who are flatmates in a New Zealand suburb. The first part of the film largely shows their daily lives and routines and explains their histories. The plot gets going when one of the vampires, Deacon, enlists his human servant, Jackie, to procure some victims for them. One of the victims, her ex-boyfriend, Nick, ends up being turned into a vampire instead of simply being drained of blood. He begins to hang around with them, and is kind of a drag. He often brings his still-human friend, Stu. At first the other vampires want to eat to Stu, but eventually they become friends with him and he helps them learn how to use modern technology. Unfortunately, Nick’s loose lips about his vampire secret attract the attention of a vampire hunter, who follows him to the house and kills Petyr, the oldest of them. Nick is shunned from the group and takes Stu with him. After several months, they all reunite at the undead masquerade ball. They also discover the ball is being hosted by Vlad’s ex, “The Beast” and that Jackie has gotten Nick to finally turn her into a vampire. A fight breaks out over the fact that Nick brought Stu, as pretty much everyone there wants to eat him. The group escape the ball but run into a pack of werewolves. It’s a full moon, so the werewolves attack and Stu is turned into a werewolf. In the end, Nick makes up with the other vampires and they decide they like Stu enough to still hang out with him. They even agree to be friends with the other werewolves. Viago, using the internet with Stu’s help, reunites with his lost love (who is 90 years old now) and turns her into a vampire, Vlad gets back together with The Beast, and everyone is generally happy with how things have turned out.


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What We Do in the Shadows is a pitch perfect, Christopher Guest-style mockumentary. Made in New Zealand by Taika Waititi and one half of Flight of the Conchords (Jemaine Clement) and using all local actors, it had a tiny budget and an even tinier initial release. Pretty much every scene was almost entirely improvised, with the actors told only the basic structure of the scene they were to be performing. Somehow, these conditions all combine to produce a hilarious, critically-acclaimed vampire satire that has finally managed to get the world-wide distribution it deserves. It’s a movie that sneaks up on you and makes you happy to be caught. Continue reading “What We Do In Shadows – 31 Days of Halloween, Day 19”

Ginger Snaps – 31 Days of Halloween, Day 16

October is Halloween movie month! Having been completely deprived of any kind of Halloween experience growing up, I now spend 31 days celebrating with film and TV. I like to shoot for a mix of old and new, horror and comedy, from the slightly spooky to the totally terrifying to the just plain weird. Each day of October I’ll reviewing one of these ventures in the realm of the creepy and supernatural. Some will be high quality cinema and some will require large amounts of alcohol to survive. Stock up on seasonal beer and Fireball-apple jello shots and join me! A warning, though – unless the review is of a very recent release, HERE BE SPOILERS.

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Ginger Snaps (2000)

Starring: Katherine Isabelle, Emily Perkins, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers

Synopsis: Brigette (Perkins) and Ginger (Isabelle) are high school outcasts, anti-social and obsessed with death to the point of having made a suicide pact as children. Their main hobby is filming and photographing elaborate, realistic, and gory scenes of their own demise. They are each other’s only friend, and their parents, particularly their overly cheery, pushy mother, don’t understand them. Suddenly, during a string of mysterious attacks on neighborhood dogs, everything changes. Ginger gets her first period and then is attacked by a creature of some kind while she and Brigette are in the middle of playing a prank on their main antagonist, a cheerleader named Trina. Ginger heals swiftly from the attack, but over the course of the next month begins to change. Her teeth become fanglike, she sprout hairs from her swiftly-healing wounds, and even grows a tail. Her behavior changes too, she fights with Brigette and becomes more outgoing, sexual, and even predatory, leaving her younger sister behind. Brigette figures out that Ginger is transforming into a werewolf and getting increasingly out of control, to the point where she savages and infects her boyfriend and kills Trina, who comes looking for her dog. Brigette, with the help of greenhouse worker and pothead, Sam (Lemche), figures out how to make a cure from the monkshood flower (wolfsbane) and attempts to save Ginger. But Ginger isn’t interested in being saved. Before she can be cured, she transforms fully into wolf form, killing Sam and finally attacking Brigette who defends herself with a silver knife, stabbing Ginger. As wolf-Ginger lays dying, Brigette puts her head on her sister’s chest and cries.

tumblr_mmfck28jDk1rdecj3o1_500Ginger Snaps is a low budget Canadian horror movie that somehow manages to be the most interesting werewolf film I’ve ever seen. In historical and popular culture werewolves are primarily used as a symbol of the monster who lives inside of a man, the part of himself that he hates but can’t control. To a lesser degree and more recently they have been used as a metaphor for puberty, a less dramatic but no less upsetting change we all go through. Ginger Snaps relies primarily on this latter comparison, though with a heavy dose of the former, but it does so in a far more gritty and gory way than the average teen werewolf flick, and twists the usual narrative to focus on the specific troubles of female adolescence. Continue reading “Ginger Snaps – 31 Days of Halloween, Day 16”