Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers

Seventeen more days ’till Halloween, Silver Shamrock! I’m back for the Halloweenening 2016 with my review of Halloween IV: The Curse of Michael Myers.

By this point in the Nightmare on Elm Street series I was starting to get bored with the sequels and my fondness for A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is based almost entirely on nostalgia. In contrast, I found this to be a completely solid horror sequel. It’s not innovative the way the original was but it isn’t boring and has some genuinely creepy moments.
This movie was supposed to be another anthology entry, like last week’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch but the movie performed so poorly that the producers wanted to bring Michael Myers back. As much as I enjoyed Halloween III, I can understand people wondering where Michael Myers went. This really iconic character was introduced in two movies and then just disappears. John Carpenter worked with Dennis Etchison, who’d written Halloween novelizations to write a script but it was deemed too cerebral. So Carpenter and his frequent collaborator, Debra Hill, sold the rights, and this is how we have a fairly standard slasher sequel. I kind of wonder if there’s a place in the multiverse where Carpenter and Hill’s version exists. Halloween IV was good but I will always wonder what their sequel would look like.
The movie returns to Haddonfield. The opening has some great, desolate shots that are pretty creepy. You find out that Laurie Strode is dead. Halloween IV came out in 1988 and by this time, Jamie Lee Curtis was ready to walk away from the series. So we follow her daughter, Jamie (Danielle Harris), who is coping with the death of her parents and nightmares of a strange man. She lives with a foster family in Haddonfield.
Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) remains in a coma after the events of Halloween II. He’s being transferred to Smith’s Grove and Dr. Loomis is NOT supervising this transfer. You know that if Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) were there that Michael Myers’ arms would be strapped down with chains, duct tape, and rope. Nope, his arms are unrestrained during the transfer, so, as the ambulance attendants talk about his still living niece, he springs to life and just murders everyone. His real target is Jamie but any living human being between him and her is a target.
Watching this movie, I realized that I accidentally lied about not having seen the later Halloween sequels. There’s a scene where a bunch of jerk children from the 80s are teasing Jamie for being an orphan and not celebrating Halloween when I realized that I’d absolutely seen this movie, so TBS or TNT must have shown it at least once.
This is the third time Michael Myers has escaped so this time the entire town of Haddonfield is on lock-down. That’s a cool idea that you don’t really see in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Although, so much of A Nightmare on Elm Street is spent convincing adults that something awful is happening that I can’t imagine a whole town going into lock-down for Freddy.
Jamie’s foster sister, Rachel (Ellie Cornell), does everything she can to protect Jamie but there’s some incredibly unsubtle foreshadowing about Jamie’s future.

Yeah, that’s the same costume a young Michael Myers wore. I’m not like Dr. Loomis, I’m not normally the kind of person to dismiss a child as pure evil, but those old-timey, Pagliacci and Harlequin-style clown costumes are eight hundred times scarier than a regular clown costume, and any child that willingly chooses such a costume is devilish. Jamie dreams of Michael Myers but she doesn’t know who he is. Her fate is tied to his in a way that I don’t think is explained until Halloween VI: The Curse of Michael Myers. I remember nothing of Halloween V or Halloween VI, unless I watched them in a fugue state like this movie, so I can’t explain further how or why Jamie and Michael Myers are connected, aside from genetics. Regardless, the movie ends with Jamie reenacting Michael’s crimes and killing her foster mother.

I would have liked seeing Rachel fight Michael Myers more, honestly. She seems resourceful but the struggle between her and Michael isn’t nearly as painful as the fight between Michael and Laurie. Instead, we mostly see Michael dispatch a house full of people and fighting Rachel is an afterthought. She does survive a drop off a roof, though. And speaking of surviving long falls, I’m beginning to think that Dr. Loomis has some of Michael’s immortal evil in him. Not only did he survive being stabbed by Michael, then being immolated in Halloween II, Michael throws him out of an elementary school window in this movie and he seems mostly okay. This is a 75-year-old psychiatrist, not Macho Man Randy Savage.
The pacing in this movie is similar to the faster pacing of Halloween II but it doesn’t have as many P.O.V. shots. The movie makers were smart to stick with a synth-y score that retains the original theme.
All in all, this is a fun, entertaining movie, without being groundbreaking art. It’s good, but I wonder what could have been if Carpenter and Hill had been involved.
As I watch this series, I think that Michael Myers is becoming my favorite slasher icon. There’s an irrational chaotic evil to Michael Myers that I appreciate. As Dr. Loomis is hitch-hiking to fight Michael he’s picked up by a preacher who says, “You can’t kill damnation, Mister! It don’t die like a man does.” Freddy Kreuger is looking for vengeance and Jason Voorhees is trying to avenge his mom, but Michael Myers has little reason to exist (Until we learn about the Curse of Thorn. As of now, he has no reason to exist). Bad, traumatic things just randomly happen in life and so does Michael Myers.
Previously on the Halloweenening 2016
Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Posted in 1980's, famous movie monsters, halloween 2016, killer kids, serial killers, slasher | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Every year, I basically miss Halloween because my mortuary school finals for the fall semester tend to fall around Halloween. My semesters tend to start early and run very short. So, I wont be dressing up this year, but, dangit, I miss watching movies for Halloween. I can’t really do a marathon because I’m still in the midst of school, but I figured I could do one movie a week. And what’s more Halloween than the Halloween series? This has the benefit of being a series of movies that I’m not really familiar with. It’s strange, I know that the A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the Thirteenth series got a lot of play on t.v. when I was young but I never really noticed the Halloween series on t.v. This is doubly true for Halloween III: Season of the Witch.


Halloween III: Season of the Witch is the Civil War of the Halloween series, it turns friends against friends and family against family. People either love it or hate it.
Some background might be helpful. John Carpenter and Debra Hill wrote the first two Halloween movies. They were reluctant to make a third movie but they had ideas for other movies centered around weird events happening around Halloween. Halloween III: Season of the Witch was supposed to be the first of several movies focusing on Halloween weirdness without Michael Myers but its initial box office run was poor. So it was decided to resurrect Michael Myers and the world has lost what could have been multiple, weird Halloween stories. Make no mistake, this movie is damn weird in the best way. It’s like a sci-fi witch movie or if Lord Summerisle from The Wicker Man had robots and a computer. On the plus side, it’s great seeing this movie become a cult classic.
Tom Atkins stars as Dr. Challis. He starts investigating the circumstances of an odd murder-suicide that occurs at the hospital where he works. With the victim’s daughter, Ellie (Stacey Nelkin), Dr. Challis uncovers the sinister secret of the Silver Shamrock Novelties Company. It turns out that Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy, I knew I recognized him, he was Andrew Packard on Twin Peaks) worships the old Celtic gods and needs a sacrifice to bring them back.
I know I’ve said this already but this movie is just damn weird. It has this very old fairy-tale kind of horror merged with what was considered emerging technology for 1982. I truly don’t think I’ve seen a story that’s merged technology with the old gods in quite this way.
I can see why people find this movie off-putting, aside from the utter lack of Michael Myers. It has a moderate anti-consumerist/anti-media message that I’m not sure if 1980s America wanted to hear, especially from a movie in the Halloween series.
Do kids still get yelled at for sitting too close to the t.v.? This feels like it was a very 1970s through 1980s concern parents had, but I know I definitely was scolded for that. There are loads of closeups on the t.v. and the title sequence is actually a super-closeup on the t.v.
halloween3titlecard
You can almost feel the static electricity buzzing your nose just looking at that. The Silver Shamrock advertisements make Dr. Challis’ children pretty mindless and this is before the supernatural element is even added.
The family that we see Cochran test his sacrifice technology on, the Kupfers, are pretty much the embodiment of mindless consumption. They’re tacky, loud, and shallow, although I’m not necessarily sure this warrants being sacrificed to the elder gods.
This movie is almost like a proto-They Live, with the distrust of what everyone else accepts. It also has this meta element, with the movie Halloween playing at several points within the movie. So, it’s a movie about Halloween, produced by the maker of the movie Halloween, with the movie Halloween playing within it. It’s also set in Santa Mira, the town where Invasion of the Body Snatchers was set.
I ended up enjoying this movie immensely, it’s the techno-pagan movie that I didn’t know I was missing from my life. The pace is pretty good, it still has John carpenter’s creepy synths that are pretty much perfect for the story being told, and it’s moderately gory. It’s not Michael Myers stabbing teenagers gory, but Cochran’s henchmen like to gauge eyes.
Guys, have a happy Halloween!

Posted in 1980's, fantasy, halloween 2016, sci-fi, supernatural, witchcraft | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Don’t Breathe

I’m back and I’m reviewing this summer’s most talked-about thriller, Don’t Breathe directed by Fede Alvarez. This is probably going to be my last hurrah since school starts in two days, I’m still working, and I’m officially on-call to work on my clinicals for mortuary school. I’m glad I got to see an amazing movie before my nose is back to the grindstone.
Before I start the review, I’d like to give a shout-out to Otto’s Tacos at 141 Second Ave. in New York City. I went there for post-movie tacos and churros with my best friend. The shrimp tacos were outstanding. There was a problem with our order of churros so they gave us a fresh order with extras. I was not expecting this many churros! The staff was nice and the food was great without being pricey so if you want good tacos on the east side then go to Otto’s.

We were expecting two or three churros but got a damn basket full of them.

We were expecting two or three churros but got a damn basket full of them.


I saw this poster at the movie theater (City Cinemas Village East, a really swell little theater) but there’s another one I’d rather discuss.

Can we take a moment to discuss this poster?

I know I’m a bit of a broken record when it comes to poster design, but the late 1990s into the early 2000s were such a dead zone for poster design. I love Wes Craven but I wonder if it’s something to do with the movie Scream because that movie had the famous poster with the super-closeup of the character’s face and suddenly every movie poster was like that. Now, this poster is the kind where you can learn something about the movie instead of just telling you who it stars. I wonder if filmmakers who are close to my age (Fede Alvarez is five years older than me) remember how great poster and VHS artwork were in the 80s and are emulating that style. This poster looks like the kind of movie you’d choose at the rental store and you’d have to bargain with your mom before she let you rent it.
I also realized the poster reminded me of something but it took me a couple of days to put two and two together. It’s very similar to the poster for another Wes Craven flick, The People Under the Stairs.

Incidentally, this is also a movie about poor people robbing rich people although I have a lot more sympathy for the robbers in The People Under the Stairs. In Don’t Breathe, Rocky (Jane Levy from Alvarez’s remake of Evil Dead), Money (Daniel Zovatto), and Alex (Dylan Minnette) rob rich people using information and keys that Alex gets from his father’s home security company. Rocky wants to run away with her sister from her family who are one step away from being Rob Zombie movie awful. They think they’ve found an easy score with nameless Blind Man (Stephen Lang), a blind veteran with a large settlement from his daughter’s wrongful death. Unfortunately for them, the Blind Man is physically formidable, smart, and mentally unhinged. Also, the Blind Man’s house is like Jame Gumb’s house if Jame Gumb cared less about couture and more about death traps. I can’t really say more about the story without giving away major spoilers.
Now, for those who are unfamiliar, The People Under the Stairs follows the protagonist named Fool. His mother has cancer and his family has just been evicted from their apartment by their slumlord landlords. Like in Don’t Breathe, Fool and his sister’s boyfriend decide to rob their landlord’s house because they supposedly have a stash of gold. I have greater sympathy for Fool because the stakes are so much higher for him. His mother is dying, their apartment is no longer theirs, and it’s not like he can just go out and get a job. I have a harder time mustering sympathy for the protagonists in Don’t Breathe, especially Alex. Alex’s character acts morally superior but he’s betraying his own father with every heist. At least Money is forthright about what they’re doing.
The movie was incredibly tense. It felt much quicker than its full length because I was so fully engaged with it. The cinematography was intense, especially when the gang first breaks into the Blind Man’s house. It captured how disorienting it must have been to be in this stranger’s house.
The music accented the action well and was actually quite beautiful while maintaining the tension. Plus, there were very few musical jump scares which is nice.
The visual effects were nice and very different-looking from the ones used in Evil Dead. Don’t let anyone say that Alvarez is a one trick pony. The makeup on Stephen Lang was also quite good, his scars and eyes looked painful but subtle.
The fight scenes were brutal and intense. One scene in particular gripped me, after the Blind Man discovers the gang in his house. He just starts punching the wall and that’s when you realize that he’s not just prepared to defend his home, he’s full of rage. I also liked a sequence in the basement after the Blind Man cuts the lights on the gang. What’s hunting someone in the dark to him? He already lives in the dark. The sequence definitely owes a bit to one of my favorite scenes in The Silence of the Lambs.

SilenceClariceNightvision
I like movies that make me think about the characters and ask questions about their lives. The Blind Man is such a compelling character for someone who doesn’t even have a name. Think about this, we’re given a clue to his daughter’s name (“Emma” is written on a wall in a bedroom in his house), but it’s like this guy is so forgotten by society that he doesn’t even get a name. Make no mistake, he does absolutely monstrous things that I won’t discuss because that is spoiler-heavy. But, at one point he had a family and people who loved him and that he loved. Where’s his wife? Does he have no friends left? Society has failed everyone in this movie but especially the Blind Man. People don’t just wake up monsters. I was actually so sad for him when I noticed that his daughter’s picture was upside down in one scene.
For me, there were two weak points. One was Money’s dialog. It didn’t sound convincing. I live in a neighborhood that isn’t as blighted as the Blind Man’s but is still pretty awful (A really bad major city in New Jersey). His dialog sounded the way people who aren’t from the hood think people in the hood talk.
The other weak point was this quirk with the cinematography. The camera would pan, then stop and focus on an object for slightly longer than necessary. Then you’d see the object come into play in a later scene. It was like this; “Pan across a workbench. Stop and focus on a hammer and hold for five seconds.” It was like being in a video game when an object is slightly highlighted so you know that Lara Croft can use it to solve an Incan puzzle. It was jarring and took me out of the moment.
What makes up for these issues are the actors’ performances. They were all believable. Jane Levy is put through the ringer (again after Evil Dead) but she makes a formidable Final Girl. Despite my criticism of the characters and dialog, Daniel Zovatto and Dylan Minnette bring a sincerity to their roles. They could have gone for stereotypes but didn’t. Stephen Lang brings a brutal gravitas to the role. A lesser actor could have dismissed the character and made it a cookie-cutter horror role. Here’s a quote from his recent Reddit AMA;

First thing in research is looking at behavior. You can find blind people doing extremely extraordinary things on the internet – jumping out of planes, driving cars, doing sculpture. It’s not what I was going to be doing but it makes you wonder – one can perceive blindness as a tremendous disability or explore all the different ways one can excel at being blind. I threw that into my internal mix, conceiving working through the phases of despair and self pity after his combat injuries, to work through that and arrive at a place of resilience and forward progress where he decides to not only survive but to assert himself. That was a great thing to learn. Many things contributed to the role, and it was very important to me to be familiar with the geography of my home. Moving through the house with speed and economy and confidence I was able to establish my sense of mastery over my own universe – which is vital – the king of the darkness as it were.

I’ve seen the Blind Man compared to the shark from Jaws but I think that Michael Myers is a better comparison. You can stab Michael Myers with a knitting needle, a knife, and a coat hanger, and then you can have Dr. Loomis shoot him six times but he always comes back. So does the Blind Man.
Do I recommend this movie? I do, it was an interesting, unique thriller. Honestly, my best friend and I guessed what the twist was going to be and we were right. But I’ve also watched and written about 231 horror movies, so that’s probably just my familiarity with the genre and not a reflection on the movie.
When people find out that I love the horror genre, the number one complaint I hear is “Nothing new is being made!” Well, this is new and unique. There are many compelling new horror films being released but people might just be looking for them in the wrong places.
If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss it, feel free to do so in the comments. If you haven’t seen this movie then don’t read below this point.

Posted in 21st century, crime, psychological, things involving me, thriller | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Why do I do this to myself? If you know me, then you know that my relationship with Pinhead is complicated. He scares me but I respect his swagger. I really got lucky with this movie, then, since Pinhead has maybe fifteen minutes of screen time.
This sequel to the original Hellraiser is directed by Tony Randel with Clive Barker staying on as executive producer. If this movie had a theme, I’d say it was the banality of evil because the bad guys in this movie are so dang banal.
The movie starts with a two-minute flashback that I call “Pinhead: Origins.” An army guy (that I only know is Elliot Spencer because I’m familiar with the Hellraiser universe, I don’t think we even hear his name in the movie for over an hour; Doug Bradley plays Elliot Spencer and Pinhead) solves the Lament Configuration (Fancy name for the Rubik’s Cube O’ Death) and we see a quick montage of him becoming Pinhead.
Then forget that you saw that because we’re back in the present. It’s right after the events of the last movie and Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence) is in a mental hospital after telling her account of what happened to her dad, stepmother, and uncle.
HellboundKirsty
She begs Dr. Channard (Kenneth Cranham) and his assistant, Kyle (William Hope, who played Gorman in Aliens to destroy the mattress that her stepmother Julia (Clare Higgins) died on.

Dr. Channard

Dr. Channard

It seems like Dr. Channard doesn’t believe Kirsty but he’s actually been searching for a way to solve the Lament Configuration. Why? Who knows. He says it’s to understand. It seems like he wants to understand consciousness and death but opening an S&M torture hell dimension seems a little extreme. This is a problem the movie has, the character’s motivations never seem clear. At one point, reanimated Julia dubs herself the Evil Queen, but why? What is she even working towards?
Dr. Channard runs home and summons Julia from the beyond pretty quickly. Like Uncle Frank in the last movie, it just takes some blood. Julia shows up in a much more complete state, just missing her skin. The effects with the body horror really shine, even if they suffer the same jerky stop motion in other sequences. The body horror is top-notch.
HellboundBodyHorror
HellboundJulia1
Meanwhile, Kirsty is receiving Hell-o-grams that her dad is trapped in Hell and is as skinless as a Lean Cuisine chicken dinner.
HellboundDad
Luckily, Kyle has witnessed Julia’s return and realizes that Kirsty was telling the truth. Dr. Channard falls for Julia pretty immediately, despite her utter lack of skin and clearly being evil.
HellboundFrankenJulia
This is what I mean about the banality of evil with these characters. They’re motivated to total, unrepentant evil, over the littlest things. At least Voldemort had a master plan and wasn’t just thinking with his Voldepenis.
Kyle springs Kirsty from the hospital and he discovers that Julia’s been feeding on patients that Dr. Channard has provided. Julia dispatches Kyle and attacks Kirsty. When Kirsty wakes up, she finds another patient, Tiffany (Imogen Boorman), who’s obsessed with puzzles, solving the Lament Configuration.
HellboundTiffany
The Female Cenobite (Barbie Wilde) is all for claiming Tiffany but Pinhead is all, “No! It’s not the hands that summon, it’s desire.” So there is a kind of logic to the universe, I appreciate that. Also, this doesn’t happen until 51 minutes into the movie. For almost an hour, this is the Julia and Channard Show. Apparently, Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 was commissioned within a week of the original Hellraiser being released. But Clare Higgins didn’t want to return as Julia and the filmmakers realized how popular Pinhead was. Hellbound was supposed to have the last appearance of Pinhead. Thank goodness they changed this, since Julia’s desires are just so petty, and I find Pinhead to be much more interesting. I’ll continue to watch Hellraiser movies, even though Pinhead scares me, if I can learn more about his origins.
HellboundPinhead
Kirsty enters hell to try to find her father, and Tiffany is wandering in this fantastic, circus-like hellscape. There’s a clown juggling eyeballs and a baby sewing its own eyelids shut. The scene has this jarring, dissonant music that’s just great. I’d post pics but Netflix sent me a funky DVD and I had to switch from my computer’s player to my DVD player. So no screencaps of this really cool scene, just trust me, it was one of my favorites and terribly creepy.
Dr. Channard and Julia are wandering in his quest for knowledge with absolutely no further explanation of what he wants aside from sex with Julia, who’s lost her power mullet from the first movie.
HellboundJuliaPretty
But this is Julia and she’s eternally devious and was just looking for a soul to give to Leviathan, who I guess is the big bad of the dimension. Dr. Channard is taken by this human-sized puzzle box and for a brief moment looks like this Francis Bacon painting, “Figure with Meat.” I guess those art history classes weren’t pointless.
HellboundChenardFrancisBacon

Meanwhile, Kirsty has found her dad’s house but Uncle Frank is really there. He tricked Kirsty because his torment is being surrounded by beautiful women but being unable to have sex. Reeeeeeeally? That’s his torment? How did he even get through high school… Julia saves Kirsty by destroying Frank, not out of any affection, mind you, but in revenge for Frank stabbing her.
You think Dr. Channard is dead but it looks like he’s become Pinhead Two: Electric Boogaloo and he’s ridiculous. He has these worm penis-things coming from his hands and he has this biomechanical robotic penis coming from his head. The worst part? He somehow kills all the Cenobites. There’s something so pathetic watching Pinhead die, although I suspect he wouldn’t have died if Kirsty hadn’t reminded him of his mortal identity.
HellboundHandWorms
HellboundChenardPenisHead
Julia loses her skin. Literally, it comes off like taking off rubber gloves. Kirsty is out of commission and Channard is advancing on Tiffany when Julia shows up again, looking a little worse for the wear. They kiss and it’s an uncomfortably long scene, seriously, it’s about two minutes long. Tiffany solves the puzzle box that’s been bouncing around and it turns out that that wasn’t Julia at all. Kirsty put on Julia’s damn nasty skin to save herself and Tiffany. The two-minute long kiss bought them time. Solving the puzzle box kills Dr. Channard and they return home.
But that damn mattress is there and a workman emptying Channard’s house gets sucked into it. Would someone please, PLEASE, just destroy the murder mattress?
My favorite part of this movie? Kirsty Cotton. Nancy Thompson and Laurie Strode get a lot of attention as final girls but I think Kirsty is so resourceful, especially for someone facing the actual powers of Hell.
I’m pretty scathing in this recap and I know this is going to upset some horror fans but I stand by what I said. While the effects were good (Some of them. A lot suffered from the stop-motion scorpion demon effect from the first movie, especially the penis worm hands) the plot was muddled and the character’s motivations were mostly unclear, especially regarding the bad guys. The performances of the baddies were good but I just couldn’t care about anything they wanted. I love Clive Barker’s writing but this movie is a mixed bag. Just because something is considered iconic doesn’t mean it’s good. I only recommend this movie if you’re a Hellraiser completist. I’m a completist so there’s a good possibility that I’ll watch the whole damn series, no matter how terrible it becomes. I expect my suffering will be legendary, even for hell.

Posted in 1980's, body horror, demons, famous movie monsters | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

An Ode to Barbara from “Stranger Things”

Stranger Things debuted when I was mired in finals so I didn’t have a time to watch it when it first came out. So I’ve been binge-watching it now and finally finished it yesterday. Surprise, surprise, I love it!
Stranger_Things_logo
The music is perfect, the performances are strong, and the story is spooky. On a level, I know I’m being pandered to based on my nostalgia for media from the 80s but I don’t even care because the attention paid to the details makes it worthwhile.
Things are going to get spoiler-ish from here on out so stop reading now if you don’t want things to be spoiled.
Seriously!
Stop now!
I’m here to talk about my favorite character, who I wish we’d seen in more than two episodes, Barbara “Barb” Holland (Shannon Purser).
barbara
Barbara is Nancy Wheeler’s (Natalia Dyer) best friend. She’s loyal to her friend but isn’t afraid to call her out when she does stupid things, like hanging out with a gang of jerks because they’re popular.
Stranger Things follows a group of misfits and obviously appeals strongly to the misfit demographic. Maybe that’s why Barbara appeals so strongly to fans?
barbara2
She’s older than the group of boys the show follows. And she clearly doesn’t care what people think of her, but she still hurts when she’s rejected by her friend. At least Mike, Will, Lucas, and Dustin have each other when things get rough. Barb’s at that age where you watch the people you know become popular and you’re just kind of left behind.
barbara3
Barb sitting alone on a diving board is all of us who ever went to a party, against our better judgment, and hated every minute of it, but really hoped this time would be different, that this time we’d fit in. Oh, Barb, I’d probably accidentally cut myself with a bottle-opener too.
barbara4
I really wanted Barb to survive the Upside Down, I wanted her to be a fierce final girl. She tried but she wasn’t.
Barb, you deserved better.

Posted in 1980's, 21st century, supernatural, tv | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Predator (1987)

I’m back after a hiatus where I switched jobs and finished another semester at mortuary school. I chose a movie to watch for fun and ended up with the 80s action flick Predator in my continuing effort to catch up with the movies of the 80s.
“But Predator isn’t horror?!” I hear you say. One, why do you have to be that way? Two, like the song (Only 1000% less rapey) I like the lines blurred in horror. My favorite movie is The Silence of the Lambs, and I will argue anyone to the death that a movie about a serial killer skinning chubby women and keeping them in a well is absolutely horror, along with thriller, and police-procedural. Horror that mixes genres is 1000% better, like adding peanut butter to chocolate.
This movie stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dutch, the leader of an elite special forces unit trying to find missing hostages in Central America.
DutchPredator
Fun fact for my non-American readers; this movie spawned not one, but TWO state governors. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the governor of California and Jesse Ventura was the governor of Minnesota. What a time to be alive!


Dutch and his team finds a group of skinned corpses and realize the mission may not be as straightforward as it seems.
BodiesPredator
That’s basically the plot, it’s really not complicated. The Predator picks off the team, one by one, until Dutch is the last one standing. It’s like a slasher but the victims are men instead of teenage girls and it’s in the jungle, not a house.
Like Jaws, the viewer doesn’t see Predator a lot, at least until the end. This is a smart move to build suspense and hide any deficiencies in the costume (Although, we also owe a great debt to Stan Winston and James Cameron for the end design of Predator.)
Predator
What I liked about this movie was the choice to add shots from the Predator’s point-of-view with the thermal imaging. It creates this flat, claustrophobic effect similar to the end of The Silence of the Lambs.
What I appreciate about this movie is the surprising wit and one-liners. Maybe it’s because my movie-watching habits came of age with the works of Joss Whedon and the pun-loving Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I love a hero that’s witty. Watch Dutch tell a rebel soldier to stick around.

For me, the interesting part about Predator is how it endures in pop culture. Check out this scene from the “Modern Warfare” episode of Community.

Posted in 1980's, action, aliens, creatures, famous movie monsters | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Body Bags

Man, oh man, do I have some serious love for the 1993 anthology flick, Body Bags, directed by John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper, and starring John Carpenter as the creepy coroner who bookends the stories. John Carpenter also did the music with Jim Lang, so we’re treated to his awesome synth music.
JohnCarpenterBodyBagsIntro
This movie brings just the right balance of gore and funny and, with its many cameos, is like a gift to horror fans.
KissBodyBags
“The Gas Station”
Alex Datcher stars as Anne, a college student working the overnight shift at a gas station in Haddonfield, Illinois.
AnneBodyBags
That town has a killer problem. She deals with an assortment of weirdos, creepy devilish artwork in the bathroom, and the fact that a killer (Robert Carradine) is stalking her.
CreepyArtBodyBags
I think this might be my favorite segment. There is a legitimate sense of dread but it doesn’t have the brutality of “Eye.” Anne is a resourceful final girl and it’s delightful watching her take out the killer.
SerialKillerBillBodyBags
“Hair”
“Hair” is the funniest of the three segments. This segment was also directed by John Carpenter. Stacy Keach plays Richard Coberts, a middle-aged man who’s self-conscious about his thinning hair.
StaceyKeachBodyBags
He sees an ad for a miracle hair thickening treatment and, voila! He has a long mane of masculine Fabio hair.
StaceyKeachLongHairBodyBags
But there’s a price, as the hair doesn’t seem to stop growing and starts taking over the rest of his body.
There’s some great body horror in this segment, as we see hair coming out of wounds and eyes. Keach has a legitimately funny and sad performance as someone who’s so insecure and whose vanity has such bad consequences.
“Eye”
The last segment is directed by Tobe Hooper. Mark Hamill stars as Brent Mathews, a baseball player whose career is endangered when he’s in a car accident and loses an eye.
MarkHamillBodyBags
AccidentBodyBags
The Queen of Fashion, Twiggy, stars as his wife.
TwiggyBodyBags
Luckily, Brent qualifies for a revolutionary eye transplant, courtesy of Drs. Bregman and Lang (Roger Corman! and B-movie mainstay John Agar).
CormanAndAgarBodyBags
Things get dark as Brent finds himself dreaming about killing women and having sex with them. Turns out the eye donor was an executed serial killer. Brent unravels and becomes more obsessed with killing women, including his wife.
MarkHamillCrazyBodyBags
This one was hard to watch. It had a distinctly different feel from the other segments. I’ve used the word “brutal” to describe it earlier and I think that’s accurate. You can feel Brent’s anger as he becomes more and more possessed and Mark Hamill really turns in a great performance as he goes crazy.
Apparently, this was supposed to be a Tales from the Crypt kind of the show but it wasn’t picked up so we’re just gifted with this little gem.
I’m not sure if this is on purpose but I was struck by the similarities between “Eye” and “Hair” and the “Hell Toupee” story in The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror IX,” when Homer gets a hair transplant from Snake after Snake is executed and starts acting like Snake.


I’m not sure if this was on purpose, I’ve only found some Simpsons-themed Wikipedia entries that mention it.
For me, one of the funnest things about this movie were the cameos. Sam Raimi and Sheena Easton had roles. There was also;
Greg Nicotero torments Stacy Keach with his luscious hair in "Hair."

Greg Nicotero torments Stacy Keach with his luscious hair in “Hair.”


Wes Craven in "The Gas Station."

Wes Craven in “The Gas Station.”


Tom Arnold and Tobe Hooper as morgue assistants.

Tom Arnold and Tobe Hooper as morgue assistants.


This movie is perfect for people who like their horror gross and liberally sprinkled with humor.

Posted in 1990's, aliens, anthology, body horror, comedy, possession, serial killers, slasher | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments