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Featured Post - The 2021 Halloween Marathon

It's that time of year again. When the weather starts to get chilly and the leaves change. I love Fall and everything that comes with it...

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Halloween Kills (2021)

This movie picks up right at the end of Halloween 2018 with Laurie and her family in the back of the pickup truck headed to the hospital. As they go they see the fire trucks headed to put the fire out at her house. If you remember they had trapped Michael in the basement to let him burn. Well, he gets out and after slaughtering the firemen he heads off to town to start tearing thru the locals. 

While this happens, we also get to see some recurring characters like Sheriff Brackett, Tommy Doyle, Lindsey, and even Loomis’ nurse. When everyone realizes that Michael is back, they form a mob and go after him. Though it doesn’t end well as when they finally catch up to him, he is a lot harder to kill then they realize. We also get call backs to characters from the 2018 movie with the asshole boyfriend and his dad. If that isn’t enough for you, we also get some worldbuilding as they fill in the gaps as to what happened that night. Remember we must ignore all the sequels between the original and the beginning of this trilogy. 

I liked this movie. Not as much as the one that preceded it, but Halloween Kills is decent. The story picks up smoothly from the last movie and is evenly paced from start to finish. The call backs to characters from the original Halloween is cool as we get to see some familiar faces reprise their roles. Seeing Charles Ciphers as Brackett and Kyle Richards as Lindsey was very cool. Also, Anthony Michael Hall taking over as Tommy Doyle was a good bit of casting. The writers do a good job of showing how traumatized Haddonfield has become from the murders forty years ago as well as Michael returning to town. All in all, I was satisfied with what I got. 

Though that doesn’t mean I don’t have some issues. My biggest problem with Halloween Kills is that we don’t get enough Jamie Lee Curtis. She spends most of the movie in the hospital recovering from her wounds along with Hawkins, who survived being stabbed and run over! She never shares a scene with Michael and that angry grandma vibe from the previous movie is totally lost. That was one of my favorite things about that movie and I feel like she was wasted in this movie. There are also a couple “what the hell” moments in the movie, with the most egregious one being Michael showing up at the end to kill off a character while we hear Curtis do a monologue over it. I’m chalking that up to this being the middle movie of the trilogy and they must be setting something up for next year. 

Michael has had a rough night
The kills in this movie are plentiful with many being on screen. We get a face destroyed with a metal tool, fluorescent bulb to a neck, a knife to an eye, eyes gouged out, a nasty neck snapping, hands are slashed, and a head hits the pavement exploding like a smashed pumpkin. We also get to see Lindsey go to town on Michael with a bag of bricks, which was sort of fun. Some old favorite characters die on screen, and they are all decent sendoffs. If you like gore and creative kills, then I think that Halloween Kills is going to be a good time for you. 

I saved this movie for Halloween, and I know that a lot of fans are tearing this one up. It seems that you either like it or hate it. Here is my final take on the movie. While not as good as the previous flick this one has a lot going for it. Yes, as I’ve stated there are some problems, but I’m cutting them some slack due to them needing to setup the next flick. This is a very common thing to happen when you have a planned trilogy. I have hope that when we see the final movie that Halloween Kills is going to have aged well. Obviously, I’m recommending this one.


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer


Saturday, October 30, 2021

Halloween (2018)

Since the Rob Zombie remakes the Halloween franchise had been dead to me. When this came out, I avoided it but went to see another movie towards the end of its run and decided afterwards to watch it. I can’t remember the last time I saw a real Halloween movie in the theaters. I’m glad that I took the chance to do so. 

This movie ignores all the sequels to the original and picks up as if nothing has happened for forty years. Michael Myers has spent all that time locked up in an insane asylum and Laurie has become a paranoid grandma prepper. Though I suppose it isn’t paranoia if you really have a psychotic killer coming for you! 

Some podcasters show up to interview the catatonic Michael going as far as showing him the mask from his killings four decades earlier. Nothing gets a reaction out of him. They wanted to see him before he was transferred to a maximum-security facility, which is important because when next we see Michael, he has crashed the bus and made his escape. The same podcasters are at the cemetery checking out Judith’s grave and are see by Michael. He follows them and gets his mask back after some homicidal mayhem.

This action is cut back and forth with Laurie’s strained relationship with her daughter and granddaughter. Though once the bodies start to show up, they quickly realize that she was right, and the family holds up at her house. The house appears to be a fortress with bars on the windows and all sorts of gates, lights, and other tricks. After taking care of a few annoying people Michael goes after the women in the house. He is able to get in rather easily, which seems weird. Until they turn the tables on him, and you realize that it was all a trap. The place is torched with him in it. The end… though there are two more sequels coming so not really. 

I love this movie. This feels more like the original then any of the other sequels and I’m a big fan of the original Halloween II. The story is solid and feels like a legitimate sequel to the first film. The characters are well developed, and Jamie Lee Curtis is excellent in the role. She plays both the strength of the survivor as well as the vulnerability of a woman who has lost her family over her need to protect and prepare them. There is a scene in a restaurant where she loses her composure that is heartbreaking. Absolutely brilliant bit of acting and writing. 

But don’t worry that they missed the point of a slasher flick because the filmmakers also know that we want to see some kills as well as a few scares. There are a respectable fourteen kills in the movie, some are seen after the fact, but many cool gags are right front and center. There are snapped necks, jaws almost ripped off, an iron fence thru a chin, and another with the skin ripped off a skull for an impromptu human jack-o-lantern. Though my favorite kills are tied between a brutal head being smashed on every surface of a dirty lady’s room and a neat gag with a knife coming thru a throat. There is a lot of kills and some good gore here. Oh, and I totally forgot the head getting stomped into a pile of goo!

Fans of the franchise should also be happy with the use of the music as it fits with the original perfectly. This includes the musical stingers and stalking music. There are also some familiar masks in a blink and you will miss it cameo on some trick-or-treaters. We even get a fun bit where Laurie gets launched off a second-floor balcony and when Michael checks on the “body” it is missing! I thought that was a cool switch. They even have a precocious kid that instead of running and crying drops one of the best lines of the movie to the boyfriend running up to save his girlfriend. “Don’t go up there! You’re gonna get killed, Dave.”

This was so much better than I expected. Since I saw it in the theaters, I’ve watched it a few more times and it holds up on repeated viewings. I’m excited to check out Halloween Kills, which as of the writing of this review I’ve not seen yet. I highly recommend checking this one out if you haven’t done so yet. 


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer



Thursday, October 28, 2021

Tales of Terror (1962)

This is a fantastic anthology of horror tales all starring Vincent Price in different roles. He also narrates the bit in between to tie them together. These are all supposed to reference death in some way. Oh and if Price isn’t a big enough draw for you this is also a Roger Corman production so you have two of the best right there.

The first story is about what happens after death. A young lady arrives at a spooky old house by carriage and is dropped off. She knocks on the door and is greeted by her father, played by Price. He is very cold to her, and we find out that he blames her for the death of his wife, her mother. The woman never recovered from giving birth and died when the baby was just months old. The daughter’s name is Lenora, and she wants to reconnect with him. He is having none of it until it slips out that she is dying. This snaps him back to reality and he changes his tune. Realizing he is going to lose her as well he suddenly becomes affectionate and offers to take care of her. So, things are going to turn out well yeah? Nope.

Dear old dad was very attached to mom and kept her body in an upstairs bedroom. This is disturbing to Lenora, but what is worse is that the spirit of mom comes to life and either posses Lenora’s body or steals her life essence. Apparently, she didn’t like her daughter either. Some crazy stuff happens, and the house burns down… basically everyone dies. Sort of a bummer.

This story is very well shot with excellent sets. Price is great in his role with his performance adding to the creepiness. This is yet another example of where he is able to not only rise above what is honestly a melodramatic story and make you believe it is reasonable. His character goes from horrible to loving in such a short time that a lesser actor would have made that seem unlikely or impossible. The ghost stuff is good with the decayed body on the bed and neat use of shadows to show the ethereal creature moving around the old house. This is a good time.

The second story has to do about what happens before death. Peter Lorre co-stars with Price and plays a drunk who is abusive towards his wife and spends all their money on wine. One night when he is out of cash, he stumbles into a wine tasting convention where the attendees laugh at him. Though he takes on the most arrogant and fanciest of them, played by Price. Despite being an uncouth alcoholic Lorre’s character can identify the wine and shocks everyone there with his skill. When next we see them, the pair are returning to the drunk’s house where the fancy man falls for and starts an affair with his wife. The rest of the segment is Lorre’s character finding out and plotting his revenge. This is of course the classic wall them up in the cellar revenge. His big mistake is also walling up his wife’s black cat with them, so when the police come calling his perfect hiding spot for the bodies is quickly discovered and he is caught.

Price takes a back seat to Lorre in this one. Don’t get me wrong as Price is great as the wine snob, but Lorre steals the show. He ability to play the drunk is amazing. I think I’ve seen him do this in other movies before but never to this level. His line delivery is very convincing as someone who is several sheets to the wind, while at the same time still sharp. He holds his own with Price, which is amazing when you think about it. The scenes between the pair are so damn good. We have a couple of legendary actors at the top of their games tossing the dialogue back and forth. Of the three this is my favorite.

The third stars Price again as well as Basil Rathbone. Here we don’t get nearly enough of Price as he is a bedridden man who is on the verge of death. Rathbone plays an unscrupulous doctor that is trying to use the situation to his advantage. He wants to hypnotize the dying man at the moment of his death so that he can research what happens. That brings us to the theme of this story, the Sanctity of Death. Of course, the doctor is also up to shenanigans involving the soon to be widow. When he gets too rough and insistent with her after his death old zombie husband climbs out of bed and defends her.

This is very solid and I liked it, but compared to the previous two it is a bit weak. Rathbone is decent but either can’t carry the story on his own or just isn’t given much to do. Price is wasted as he spends all but the finale in bed dying. I think that is why hurts this one the most is the lack of Price. He is the reason that you watch a movie like this and to not have him play much of a part in the story is a bummer. Still, I need to stress that this isn’t terrible, just not as good as the others.

In the end I loved Tales of Terror. If you like Vincent Price and his collaborations with Roger Corman you are going to be a fan of this flick. It is beautifully shot, features some classic actors in addition to Price, and generally scratches that creepy itch that horror fans want when they sit down to a movie like this. I highly recommend Tales of Terror.

 

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

 

 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

From Hell it Came (1957)

I hate the phrase “So Bad it’s Good”. That makes no sense at all to me. If you are enjoying a movie then either intentionally or in many cases unintentionally it is entertaining you and therefore not a bad movie. Sure, sometimes you are laughing when you aren’t supposed to be, or the movie is so ineptly made that it is fun in a way that the filmmaker didn’t intend it to be. But a bad movie is just that, bad. With that rant out of my system we need to talk about From Hell it Came.

The movie takes place on an island in the Pacific. The action opens with a man, Kimo, being executed by his tribe for the crime of trusting Americans. It seems his father was the chief and when he got sick, he took him to the doctor rather than the witchdoctor. He died so Kimo also must die. Though it is clear that the new chief and the witchdoctor were in cahoots to poison the former chief and blame it on the Americans. Kimo is killed and buried, but not before vowing his revenge. He returns as a tree monster named Tabanga and slowly shuffles his way to payback!

This is an extremely slow and talky movie that is mercifully short seventy-one minutes. The dialogue is terrible with stilted “native” speak from the actors portraying the islanders and emotionless performances from those playing the American scientists. There is silly talk about the “devil dust” aka. fallout so they manage to work radiation into the story. Ironically, it is destroying the tree devil Tabanga before it can get revenge but luckily the scientists treat it with a handy dandy serum that allows it to get up and start killing. There is also an English woman who runs the local trading post that has the most annoying accent I’ve heard in a movie before. My normally lovely wife was rooting for the Tabanga to get her.

There is no reason that this movie should get a good review from me, right? Well, we haven’t talked about the creature yet. The monster in From Hell it Came is legendarily goofy looking. They took the tree monster to heart and designed a rubber suit that not only looks like an overgrown tree stump but moves on the screen like one. It plods along and hopes that either the actor/victim falls into its barely mobile arms or trips and falls. This happens quite a bit, so the monster has some success getting revenge. Toss in a weird looking giant face and beating heart that pulses only in the closeups and you have an endearingly silly creature.

Despite all the bad things, the lack of plot, mediocre acting, and silly creature design I can’t help myself but to dig this movie. I know it’s not well made, but that doesn’t matter. I find some enjoyment out of how ridiculous the whole thing is. Honestly, who thought a tree monster would be a good idea? More importantly who thought a monster who could barely walk was the way to go? Whomever it was I want to thank you for making From Hell it Came.

Just to tie this into my rant at the top of the interview the fact that they were trying to make a serious movie and accidentally made what I think is one of the funniest flicks of the fifties, is why I like it. Yes, the movie is poorly made but it isn’t bad if it can entertain intentionally or otherwise. Again, be warned this is not a well-made movie, but is part of the appeal and charm. Sometimes silly can be fun so if that is your sort of thing then check it out.

 

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

World Without End (1956)

The government has lost contact with the first ship to travel to Mars. Crewed by four men they get caught up in some strange cosmic storm that accelerates them an sends them into the far distant future. Some five hundred years and a couple of centuries since the atomic war destroyed civilization. Crash landing on a healing planet lush with vegetation and filled with mutant monsters they make their way down the mountain. Along the way fighting off mutant cavemen who want nothing more than to destroy them they hide in a cave and discover human survivors. The men of this civilization are all weakly from living underground, but luckily for our virile modern men the ladies are still very attractive. Shenanigans go down because of jealousy, bazookas are made, and the human race is saved!

This is one those fifties movies that hits that sweet spot of being silly and well made. This was an Allied Artists production and was shot in color. If you see a fifties movie shot in color you know that they normally had a decent budget. That is confirmed with a great set for the spaceship. They have all sorts of neat looking instruments and chairs that recline for takeoff and acceleration. When you watch as many low budget science fiction movies as I do you notice these sorts of things. We also get a lot of mutant cavemen and if you pay close attention, they don’t use the same mask for all of them. They all look different which is them paying attention to detail and taking their time to do things right. Like I said this movie is very well made.

Mutants...
Going hand in hand with my point we have the cast. While many of you might not recognize the names much of the cast had long careers and were excellent actors. Hugh Marlowe did tons of television work, but I recognized him from William Castle’s 13 Frightened Girls. The most recognizable face is that of Rod Taylor. He was in so many great movies like Hitchcock’s The Birds and the Time Machine. These are just two of the many seasoned actors and actresses that appear in the movie.

...and some lovely ladies!
Why do I keep mentioning the cast? While the story is paced well and has a lot of science fiction tropes that I enjoy it’s a little dumb. This excellent cast and the production values help to cover this up. At its core this is about how the men have become weak and complacent after living for centuries underground. There is also mention of how few children are being born each generation, which sort of hints at the lack of virility. That of course changes when the time travelers arrive, and all the beautiful women start fawning over them and falling in love. I supposed someone realized that teenage boys were a big chunk of the audience for science fiction, so they played to that. In some respects, this does play like an adolescent fantasy and that has to be acknowledged.

Just to be clear while I was amused by this and wished we had a bit more of a serious story the above isn’t a deal breaker. There is plenty of action including some giant spiders that they have to fight that I totally forgot about. World without End isn’t perfect, but I do like it. I can easily recommend it to anyone looking for some fun mindless fifties’ fun.

 

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

 

 

Monday, October 25, 2021

The Body Snatcher (1945)

This is one of the Val Lewton produced classic horror movies for RKO Pictures. It stars some familiar horror legends and is based on a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson. Oh, and it was directed by the legendary Robert Wise. I love this movie and was looking forward to watching it for review.

The story is set in a time where medical schools couldn’t get enough bodies to teach their students anatomy. So here the doctor, MacFarlane, is forced to work with an unsavory cabbie played by Boris Karloff. He does some graverobbing on the side and provides the resources necessary for the school to continue. When a little girl is brought in for a consultation MacFarlane uses the excuse that he doesn’t have a body to practice on to deny her a lifesaving but complicated procedure. This bothers his assistant who asks the cabbie for help. Since the graveyards are being guarded, he has to acquire it another way. Yeah, he kills a lady and collects his fee!

The doctors know what happened but are stuck because if the cabbie goes down so do they. That doesn’t stop another worker at the school, played by Bela Lugosi, from trying to blackmail Karloff’s character. I did say there was some talent here, didn’t I? More murder happens with some madness or perhaps supernatural revenge tossed in at the end for fun.

This is a fantastic creepy old horror movie. Karloff is amazing as the cabbie, Gray, being at times menacing and at others tender. He seems to genuinely like the little girl and when he finds out MacFarlane is refusing to help her uses his leverage to change his mind. He also kills somebody so they can practice before trying to help her. Yeah, he might be a bad guy, but he has a soft spot for the little girl. Karloff is such a great actor that this odd dichotomy of character makes sense. He makes you believe that Gray has those sides to his personality.

Another excellent performance is that of Lugosi. His part is much smaller, but he does shine when he goes to blackmail Karloff. The two of them share drinks in front of a fire with the back and forth between is a thing to behold. These guys are well into their careers and were wonderful actors so seeing them bounce dialogue off one another was a pleasure. We also have Henry Daniell, as MacFarlane. He was a working actor that appeared in almost a hundred projects. I know him best for an old Sherlock Holmes movie as well as one of the Charlie Chan flicks. But you all might remember him from The Four Skulls of Jonathon Drake. Again, there was a lot of talent on the screen.

The actors are only helped by an excellent script and direction from Robert Wise. He would go on to make movies like The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Andromeda Strain, and my personal favorite The Haunting. He keeps the action moving while still letting the actors do their job and create characters we can both root for and against. The cinematography is also outstanding and is gorgeous. Honestly there is nothing quite like a gothic black and white horror movie. The lighting creates all these creepy shadows and in the dramatic finale we also get lightning that reveals and then quickly hides some very important action.

I could keep going on but that would feel like I’m beating a dead horse. The Body Snatcher is a must see for anyone that is interested in older horror movies. I know that the Universal flicks are much better known but these Lewton produced RKO flicks are worth a look as well. I highly recommend this one and plan to cover more of them soon.

 

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Here Comes Hell (2019)

A group of friends meet at an old estate to have a party. You have a rich man and his spoiled sister, another a tennis pro and his new girlfriend as well as an oilman with issues being a junior. They get their drink on when the host, the rich man, springs on them the fact that the house once belonged to a powerful magician. They are going to have a séance to try and contact his ghost. The medium arrives and they get to summoning the spirits. 

You know I’ve seen enough horror movies to know that this sort of thing never goes well. Sure enough the medium gets possessed and violence ensues. One by one the characters are killed until the last couple decide to go into the basement and close the door to hell that they opened. Or rather Ichabod, the ghost they conjured, has opened. Seemed he was evil and had some unfinished business about summoning demons to destroy the world. Again, booze and a séance don’t mix. 

This isn’t a perfect movie and won’t appeal to everyone, but I loved it. The movie is shot as if it is from the thirties or forties complete with costumes, train travel, and an antique car. To further this the movie is in black and white as well as a 4:3 ratio. Not only that but they take the time to use matte shots and several other tricks from the early days of movie making. Heck there is even a sequence of character driving in a car that is obviously fake, but they go out of their way to make it look “old school” fake, if that makes any sense. This stuff is subtle, but it really does make Here Comes Hell feel like a seventy-year-old flick in all the best ways. The dialogue and performances also support this. There is a certain cadence to the dialogue and style to the acting from older movies that always seems to be missing when someone attempts a project like this. Here it is spot on and I took notice of that. Again in all the best ways this feels right. 

Though there is a big twist in that about halfway thru it gets bloody and sports some decent gore. The movie transitions from classic horror to Evil Dead type mayhem. Now I’m not saying this is as good as Rami’s flicks, but it has the same go for it vibe that I got a kick out of. The makeup effect work is very good for the low budget. You get a headless body chasing them around, several cast members go “demon” as they get possessed. We also get a head blown off, a finger chomped, a random dinosaur hand, and a melting hand! 

Both the quality and volume of the effects work as well as them managing to create an accurate setting for a movie set in the past is a heck of an accomplishment. They didn’t have a huge budget but had the location and obviously the talent to pull it off. Here Comes Hell also has some great dialogue including one-liners like “Don’t mess with Texas” and “The party’s over”. I realize out of context they don’t seem all that great, but the delivery and timing make them highlights that made me chuckle. 

I liked the movie and what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish. Independent low budget movies are where most of the creativity in the horror genre is coming from and honestly always has. Here Comes Hell is the sort of movie that we as fans should be supporting. I can’t wait to see what those involved do next. I highly recommend checking it out. As of the writing of this review the movie is streaming on Shudder. 


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer


Saturday, October 23, 2021

The Beast Must Die (1974)

This is an old favorite of mine that I’m shocked I’ve not covered here for the site yet. The movie opens with a wealthy man named Newcliffe throwing a party at his country estate. We have already seen that the place is wired and locked down so that no one can move around or leave without him knowing. Why you may ask? Thru his research he has determined that one of his guests is likely a werewolf and he wishes to hunt it. See Newcliffe is a big hunter and is looking for a challenge. Sort of The Most Dangerous Game meets The Wolfman. 

After disabling the cars, he waits for the werewolf to reveal itself and it does. Employees and guests alike are killed by the beast. Thru some discussion it is established that lycanthropy is a disease and that as it progresses the person suffering from it has less and less control until it eventually kills them. There are also some familiar rules about Wolfsbane and silver, which gives them a chance to run tests to prove who is the monster. The rest of the movie is hunting and figuring out who it is. 

This isn’t a great movie, but I’ve always enjoyed it. The story is straightforward and gets to the action right away. The bodies start to drop on the first night which leads to some discussion and mystery as quickly everyone is convinced that there is a werewolf among them. There are also attempts during the day on Newcliffe’s life, which lets us know that the person who is the werewolf knows what they are. The Beast Must Die plays out much like a detective/murder mystery as well as a horror flick and that was a nice twist on the genre. 

This is the werewolf
Now I must warn you that this movie is also very cheesy. From them using a large black dog as the transformed creature to the infamous werewolf break where you get a minute to shout out your guesses as to which character is the creature this isn’t trying to be a serious horror movie. At least I don’t think so because if they were then they screwed up. But I have noticed when I show new people the movie, they do get into it and are yelling their guesses at the screen, so it works and is fun. If you want gore, great creature design, and a serious story this is probably not the one for you. 

The movie was made by Amicus, which was the “other” British horror studio with Hammer being the more well-known one. Though I’ve always had a passion for Amicus as they put out some great movies that in my opinion rival anything anyone else was doing in the sixties. Because this was an established studio, we get a lot of familiar faces including the great Peter Cushing, Anton Diffring, Michael Gambon, and Charles Gray … Dr. Scott! Though the star of the movie is Calvin Lockhart as Newcliffe. You may not recognize his name, but he was in a ton of stuff. Here he gets to be the star and is excellent. 

Like most of the Amicus movies this was hard to find for many years. But you can track down copies easily now and I’d suggest doing so. Again, this isn’t a great or gory werewolf flick, but it is a ton of fun. So go grab a copy, invite some friends over, and have yourself a werewolf break! Trust me it is a blast. I highly recommend The Beast Must Die. 


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer


Friday, October 22, 2021

King Dinosaur (1955)

This is another early Bert Gordon movie. In fact, I think this was his first directorial effort. Thanks to a helpful narrator over some stock footage, we find out that a new planet has entered our solar system and taken up orbit near Earth. It is close enough that we can reach it by rocket powered spaceships, which causes a race to see which nation will be first to land on it. Of course, we, the USA, win that race and land some scientists on the planet. There are two men and two lady scientists. Once they prove the planet, named Nova, is hospitable to humans they take off their plastic space helmets and the fun can really begin.

This strange alien planet is populated with strange and wonderous creatures like… um bears, deer, vultures, and a monkey. All brought to the screen with the use of more stock footage! Well except the monkey who is part of the actual honest to God cast. This nature walk, and really for a long stretch it is them walking in the woods reacting to the stock footage, is finally interrupted when they find strange and wonderous giant creatures like alligators, iguanas, and what was either a cricket with its wings ripped off or a termite. Can’t say for sure. Explorers are menaced, shirts are torn, and the “dinosaurs” are nuked out of existence. Two days on the planet and we nuked an entire island full of the locals. Damn…

My first observation is that this movie must have had a miniscule budget. Here we have explorers flying off to another planet and they didn’t spend any time or money to show them on their ship! Seriously we see them climbing down a ladder and that is it. Hell, they clearly only had two space suits as half the crew stayed “on board” to see if it was safe. After that they change into street clothes and go hiking aka. the nature walk. This is such a low budget movie that when the are forced to camp they don’t even have camping gear, just the clothes on their back and a rifle. I know that I’m sounding very nitpicky, but I want you to understand how low budget this movie is. They basically tried to do sci-fi without any money for even a cheesy rubber suit.

Since I’m on the topic of creatures we must talk about the giant monsters. This is a Bert Gordon flick after all. You can see the early attempts at the giant bugs being brought to the screen with some old school rear projection. Gordon would revisit this in his second movie Beginning of the End with much better results. Most of the monster action are miniature sets with regular sized creatures, in this case a small alligator or maybe a caiman fighting a lizard. By fighting I mean someone was clearly throwing them on each other. There are a couple of times where the gator is doing a death role and twisting the lizard around that made me uncomfortable. I guess it was acceptable in the fifties to do this sort of thing, but it still bothered me. We get a few shots of them interacting with the cast and this is again done with some rear projection tricks.

A lot of what I enjoy about Bert Gordon’s movies are present in King Dinosaur. Giant monsters menacing the cast in goofy ways is the biggest one. But unlike The Cyclops or some of his other movies this is weighed down with a nonexistent script and tiny budget. It pains me to say this, but I would suggest skipping this and watching one of his other flicks. King Dinosaur is just plain boring.

 

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

The movie opens with some narration from Laurie aka. Jamie Lee Curtis talking about a tunnel that we all end up going down. One that may lead to hell. Then the action shifts to some nurses who are there for some exposition. Thru them we find out that it wasn’t Michael that Laurie killed at the end of the last movie, but an ambulance driver who he switched clothes with. Since she killed an innocent man, she has been locked up in the looney bin in a comatose state. Of course, that is nonsense because we immediately see that she is faking it. She has been waiting for her brother to come for her again and he does. This time he finally kills her. Seriously this was supposed to be her last time in the role, and they finally kill Laurie off!

The action then moves to an entirely new group of victims. Some college kids have signed up for a spooky night investigating the old Myers house for an online show. What they don’t know is that Michael has been living in the sewers underneath the house and can come and go as he pleases thru the dungeon where his parents used to lock him up. Wait… what the hell? He kills a bunch of kids as he stalks them thru the small house because no one can see him moving around or hears a sound in the small house. Finally, there is a final girl who he is about to kill but then Busta Rhymes does some Kung Fu and saves the day. God damn it.

Resurrection is by far the worst of the non-Rob Zombie Halloween movies (which I utterly detest and will not be covering since they are remakes). The story is an absolute mess with too many characters, a plot that grinds to a halt after a decent opening with the stalking killing of Laurie in the first ten or so minutes. The “kids” in the movie are completely generic and I wasn’t at all interested in them. This isn’t helped by them not getting any backstory at all. I’m not even sure their motivations. Our final girl, Sara, is only memorable for her being able to scream loud enough when scared to shatter glass. Cool that must somehow be important later right? Especially when they take the time to establish earlier that Michael has issues with loud noises. Nope it is never mentioned again. That is the kind of awful writing we are dealing with here.

Kung Fu Fighting
The kills are okay but not great. We get a head in a clothes dryer (someone watched My Bloody Valentine!), a throat getting cut, another getting a tripod jammed thru it, a head gets squeezed, and someone gets ruth thru a metal spike. The most memorable kill is a head getting chopped off. Though it stuck with me not because it was good but because the effect looks so silly. We also get zero tension as you always know where Michael is and any jump scares are poorly executed and telegraphed.

This is just a bad movie that wastes some early performances from up and comers Katee Sackhoff, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and Sean Patrick Thomas. I’ve seen all of them in much better movies and know that they can act. Sadly, after Jamie Lee Curtis leaves the screen early on there is nothing worth watching. This is a bad movie that could have been a franchise killer. In fact, it was so bad that sixteen years later we would get another soft reboot of the franchise. Again, I’m ignoring those Zombie made abominations. Skip Halloween Resurrection as it is not worth your time.

 

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

I think that the creative team behind the Halloween movies realized that they had painted themselves into a corner with the attempts to create some sort of mythology for Michael in parts four, five, and six. What do you do when that happens? Well as we will see again in this very franchise you just reset things. This movie pretends that the events after Halloween II never happened. Though I don’t think that was supposed to be the case originally as they apparently shot stuff to reference the other movies, but it was cut. For the purposes of this review we are just going to assume they meant to ignore them.

Laurie, Jamie Lee Curtis’ character, is now running an exclusive private school under an assumed name. I guess she does this because she wants to forget the past. If you remember both Michael and Loomis were apparently killed at the end of part II. Though it does seem that Loomis must have survived as they reference him. Oh, and this is also the first movie in the franchise which doesn’t star Donald Pleasence who had passed away. But Michael isn’t dead, and he goes to Loomis’ nurses house to get the information on Laurie so he can track her down. Along the way killing some folks.

Eventually Michael reaches campus, which is conveniently empty due to a field trip, and starts hacking his way thru anyone left. But why did he wait twenty years to come back? They do explain that he came after Laurie when she was seventeen and that is exactly how old her son is. So, I guess it is a family thing… if that is you wanted to murder them. Thanksgivings must have been hell growing up in the Myers house because Michael certainly does want to prune his family tree.

I like this movie more than I used to. That might be due to having recently watched four thru six. Seriously I hate those movies as they miss the point of the shape as a killer. Here Michael is back to being a mysterious killer who destroys anyone unlucky enough to get in his way as he pursues his sister. And yes, she is still his sister in this movie. The movie is rather short at under ninety minutes and no time is wasted as we get to some killing right away. There is a bit of a lull in the middle, but it picks up again when Laurie decides to go back into the school after seeing the kids off safely. She is done with Michael, and it is time to settle things once and for all! I liked that, though it would be done better later in the franchise. Though at the time it was cool to see the character shift from victim to aggressor in dealing with her homicidal brother. 

Okay so the mask is a little goofy
The cast is great, and I was so happy to see Curtis return to the franchise and to horror movies in general. She is very good in the movie. It was also neat to see her mom Janet Leigh show up in a small role. Though she is onscreen long enough for an awesomely subtle Psycho easter egg. Familiar faces Adam Arkin and L.L. Cool J have supporting roles. But what is crazy are all the young actors that pop up in smaller roles. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Harnett, and Michelle Williams all appear. Then again it was Miramax and they seemed to be working with all the up and comers in the nineties.

I do have issues with Halloween H20. The kills aren’t very good. We do get a decent throat cut and a gnarly busted leg but most everything else is offscreen or after the fact. The skate to the face is a neat look, but you couldn’t show it to us? There is a call back to Halloween II as one character is stabbed and lifted in a very familiar way. But overall, it wasn’t awesome. I also know that some fans have issues with the mask, which is a couple masks and some CGI because they apparently couldn’t make up their minds while filming. To be honest I couldn’t really tell, but then I wasn’t staring at the mask every time it appeared on the screen. Finally, this is a bit nitpicky but there was I guess some issues with pulling audio from Halloween so they had another actor do a voiceover of Loomis’ famous monologue about trying to keep him locked up. I wish that they could have used the original audio because this annoyed me. It would have also been a nice way to acknowledge the actor that helped keep the franchise rolling when Curtis was off doing other stuff.

This is much better than the three that preceded it, though not great. Still if you are a Halloween fan or new to the franchise this is worth at least one watch. I don’t feel the need to go back to it as often as other installments but for the nineties its not too bad. Consider that a tepid recommendation from me.

 

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

This franchise continues to go further off the rails with this entry, the sixth in the series. Set six years after the events of Halloween 5 it opens with a grown-up Jamie giving birth. She makes a break for it with Michael in pursuit. It seems that he or the accomplices working with him have plans for the child. Yeah, I said accomplices. If you remember the previous movie a mysterious figure in cowboy boots broke him out of jail. Both he and Jamie have been missing since then. Who are these people and why Michael? There is some attempt to tie the story into the having to kill all the members of one bloodline to save the “village”. This is called the curse of Thorn. Totally forgot to mention that Michael now has a signature that he leaves at his murders… Screw this movie.

There is another plot line with Paul Rudd starring as now adult Tommy that was being babysat by Laurie in the first flick. He lives across the street from another batch of Strodes that are now living in the old Myers place. Why move your family into the house of the killer that terrorized your relatives? Because the dad is a jerk. Seriously, that is the reason. Toss in some stupid twists with a now retired Loomis and the new doctor taking care of Michael to thoroughly confuse things as the cherry on the top of this dog crap mess of a movie.

Clearly, I’m not a fan of The Curse of Michael Myers. This is a prime example of a movie that has no idea of the story it is trying to tell. As you can see above there are many different storylines that never seem to fit together. This makes for an uneven narrative that jumps around so much that it leaves the audience confused. There are many questions left unanswered. Why if it is Michael’s mission to end the bloodline and save the village does he allow Jamie to live all of those years? And when he was in the room right after the baby was born why didn’t he just kill them then rather than wait for the escape to go looking?

Loomis' last ride. Sucks it had to be in this.
Okay so maybe then he didn’t want the baby to die and instead needed Jamie to have it. Must have been some big deal with the cult that was helping and protecting him. Maybe they are going to harness evil or some other nonsense like that. But then why does he seemingly at random decide to kill the shit out of all of them? He slaughters all the people that were helping him before they finished whatever they were working on. I guess he just wanted to kill the bloodline… oh wait he had many chances to do that and didn’t!

There are more unanswered questions that I could go on with, but it is pointless. This movie feels like they had a lot of unfinished ideas that they tossed together without caring if it made any sense. Of all the sequels I’ve covered so far, this one is the most frustrating yet. It isn’t just bad it is ineptly made. For a franchise that had such a pedigree over the first couple flicks that is completely unacceptable. Being a horror flick I normally talk about the kills and gore. Not going to bother with The Curse of Michael Myers. It could have the best kills ever, executed with the skills of Tom Savini at his peak (it has neither) and it wouldn’t save this movie from being garbage. Shame on the producers and filmmakers involved in this disaster.

 

Ó Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Monday, October 18, 2021

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

When last we saw Michael, he was being shot multiple times and falling into a mine or well. This movie shows us that he managed to roll out into a creek and float downstream until being helped out by an old man with a parrot who lived in a cabin. We are led to believe that he then proceeds to lie there in a coma for a year waiting for his next chance to go after his niece Jamie. The old man apparently just lets him lie there until he wakes up. Also, the police never go looking for the body I suppose, because it doesn’t seem like he would be that hard to find. Lots of unanswered questions.

But hey at least we know that Jamie stabbed her adoptive mother and is now possessed by the killer spirit that plagues the family. Only not really. In this movie she has spent the last year in a hospital being treated for being traumatized by her attempted murder. She can’t speak and starts having bad dreams after Michael wakes up. Her adoptive sister from the first movie is back, but just long enough to introduce another batch of teenagers to get murdered before she too is dispatched by Michael. The idea of her being the next killer is totally dropped as he tries to kill her yet again, all the while building up a body count.

I could keep trying to explain the plot, but it isn’t worth the effort. This movie is a complete mess that clearly didn’t know what the hell it was supposed to be. The tone shifts continually from the murderous rage of Michael, to the teenagers being irresponsible, and finally we get some comic relief in the local cops. They even get their own silly theme song and bungle their way along until they are brutally murdered… God Damn it movie what the Hell are you doing? Best of all is a mysterious guy in black boots that gets off a bus and sneaks around Haddonfield. He isn’t that important until we see him lay siege to the jail and breaks Myers out after Loomis had finally captured him. What is that all about? You have to wait for the next movie to find out. The Jamie character, which had been setup as central to the story is left abandoned in the middle of the police station as the writers decide to wander off in another direction with the jail break.

I normally don't notice... but this mask sucks!
This movie has a lot of ideas, none of which are developed. This makes for an uneven, illogical, and difficult to follow story that wears out its welcome quickly. There are more examples than I’ve listed above but why bother? I can’t think of a franchise that kept switching gears and rebooting itself like Halloween. With part four they tried the Jamie character and added some psychic connection to Michael. They began developing it more here and then bailed to start something else that was then followed up on in the next movie. I had some hope that the kills would be decent since I saw KNB was credited for the special effects work. We get one fun kill with a rake to the face that is on screen and fun, but the rest are either offscreen or tame. There is nothing here for fans of gore.

How could the people in charge run the Halloween franchise so far into the ground that this was the best idea they could come up with? It doesn’t even feel like a finished product and has that tossing things at the wall to see what sticks vibe to it. Don’t bother wasting your time on Halloween 5. I can’t believe that I have so many more to watch before I’m done with this series.

 

Ó Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Six years passed between the release of this movie and the unpopular Halloween III Season of the Witch. After the backlash from fans the producers decided to bring Michael Myers back for more killing, but he and Loomis were the only ones destined to return… this time. And if I’m to be honest it is here that the franchise begins to take a horrible turn.

Ten years have passed since the events of first two Halloween movies. During that time Laurie Strode has had time to fall in love, marry, have a daughter, and die in a car accident. Clearly Jamie Lee Curtis’ career was doing well enough she had no desire to come anywhere near this one. It is Halloween and Jamie, the daughter, has been adopted and is getting ready to go trick or treating. See what they did there with the name? Well that is about as clever as they are going to get with this one. Michael Myers wakes up as he is being transferred and comes after her. 

Wait a minute didn’t he and Loomis die? Nope they both survived the explosion so when Michael heads back to Haddonfield his is followed by Loomis. Along the way Michael takes out the phone lines and Loomis’ car. This is a very different Michael Myers from the early films. Here he has strategy and sets up his victims. By the time Loomis arrives in town the killings have already started. Jamie and her adopted older sister Rachel are the last survivors and flee town in a pickup truck full of well-armed locals. That isn’t as safe as it sounds. 

I could keep going on with the plot synopsis, but I won’t. This movie is where the Halloween franchise starts going off the rails. In the earlier movies Myers was scary because he was the shape. He was a killing machine without any clear motivation. Just a screwed up human being that could take some punishment and clearly had the ability to ignore pain. He was the boogeyman. With the start of this movie they decided to make him something else. After ten years in a coma he sits up and has all of his strength. He knows right where Jamie is and how to get back to Haddonfield. Bullets don’t stop him, getting hit by a car doesn’t slow him down. He has become an unstoppable killing machine with supernatural powers. 

Why do this? They were clearly watching the other big franchises like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, both of which featured a killer that you couldn’t destroy and that had supernatural powers. This copied it and in doing that tossed everything that made this franchise special. If that weren’t bad enough, they didn’t even do a good job at that. The script is awful and filled with plot holes and mistakes. First Michael appears to be able to be in a lot of different places at once. He has the time to kill everyone at the police station (again because he is now bullet proof…until he isn’t) and get to the power station to turn the lights off. All so he can almost immediately appear at the house where he knows that Jamie and her sister are at. 

Come on movie you have to at least make some sense. They double down with him suddenly hanging onto the back long after they should have left him back in town. Of course, they had to do this to get the big ending where suddenly shooting Michael hurts him and knocks him down a mine shaft or whatever the hell that was. Then of course we get the big shock ending when it appears that Jamie has become the killer now. Considering they made the point of putting her in the same damn costume that Michael wore as a child when he killed his sister was it really a surprise? I did enjoy Loomis trying to shoot her… Donald Pleasence is awesome but doesn’t get enough screen time. 

I should also mention that I found the kills to be disappointing. You get a finger to the forehead and a throat torn out, but everything else is just off screen or happens when the camera isn’t looking. If you are going to try and be one of the other big franchises, then at least give me some gore. I know that many horror flicks were getting neutered, but this is tame even by comparison to what the MPAA was letting slide. 

This is a bad movie that I have managed to avoid watching for years. I had hoped that it might have aged well, but it didn’t. The only good thing that I can say is that Halloween 4 is better than the horrors that followed. 


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer



Saturday, October 16, 2021

Halloween III (1982)

The dive into the Halloween franchise continues with the most controversial of them. It was decided that the Michael Myers story was over, but that there were many more spooky tales to be told. Not only did the movie not have the killer we all knew and loved, but it wasn’t even that kind of story! This is well before the days of the internet where everything was spoiled months before a movie came out. Opening weekend people showed up for some more Michael Myers and got something very different, which made many of them very mad. Before I get too much further let me explain the plot. 

The action kicks off with an old man running from someone. He eventually ends up in a hospital under the care of Dr. Challis, played by Tom Atkins. The man is killed, and the killer blows himself up in the parking lot after committing the murder. When the murdered man’s daughter, Ellie, starts asking questions the pair of them head off to figure out what the hell her father was up to before he died. This leads them to the Silver Shamrock novelty factory that is in the midst of a busy season making Halloween masks for the kids. Okay clearly something isn’t right about the town and the factory, especially the strange men in suits that seem to be everywhere. They turn out to be automatons, mechanical creatures that are controlled by the man in charge of Silver Shamrock to guard his plant and his plans. 

Some creepy stuff happens, people are killed, and a huge conspiracy is revealed. The owner of the factory turns out to be a devotee to the “old” ways. Using magic and the power of Stonehenge he plans on using the masks to kill the children who then sprout out insects and snakes that kill their parents! It all is triggered by a television commercial that is advertised as the big giveaway. Can they stop this evil plan in time to prevent the sacrifice of millions of innocent children? I’m not sure and don’t want to spoil the movie, but I can say that Tom Atkins has an awesome mustache. 

So, no masked killer… unless you want to count the masks that are used to kill people. More importantly there was no killer stalking his victims while they drank and got up to other naughty hijinks. I can totally understand why this movie flopped with audiences when it was first released. But Halloween III is a decent movie that was an experiment that I wish had succeeded, especially given the track record of the sequels that followed and ignored this movie. The cast is solid with Atkins in the lead role. I don’t totally buy him as a doctor, especially when he dumps the kids on his ex-wife to go play detective armed only with a six pack of beer! But he has enough charisma that I ended up not caring how silly that was. The villain of the movie is played by Dan O’Herlihy, who is great. He is always charming, even when he is about to murder some innocent people. 

There are some decent bits of gore in Halloween III. The best might be when a hand is jammed thru the eyes of a victim, who then has his skull fractured from the inside. There are also melted heads, an exploded face, multiple yellow gooey bits from automatons used by the villain as his guards, and a head gets twisted right off a body! Not all of it is right in your face, but there is still enough to have some fun with. 

The one thing that has always bugged me about the movie is the twist at the end with Ellie. Spoilers are coming. Well, you were warned so here it is. She was either one of the automatons from the start or was replaced at some point during the trip to the factory. After fighting it out with fake Ellie the good doctor makes it to a phone where he is somehow able to convince the networks to not air the commercial… How did that work? This was a weird way to end movie. 

Clearly there are issues with the plot, but overall Halloween III is a good time. Atkins is a charismatic leading man and there is enough to the story to be creepy and at times gory. The movie is hurt by the ending as it just doesn’t seem to fit. It feels like the filmmakers weren’t sure of what to do with it and just winged it. But the movie doesn’t deserve all the hate that it initially got and is worth a watch. I recommend it. 


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer



Friday, October 15, 2021

Halloween II (1981)

Horror movies have spawned many sequels over the years. Of all of them I think this might be the best or at least the cleverest. This movie takes place immediately after the end of the original Halloween. Michael has picked himself up off the yard where he landed at the end of the movie and is wandering the neighborhood, injured but still ready to grab another kitchen knife and continue his work. 

While this is going on Loomis is still looking for him and the girl that got away, Laurie Strode, has been taken to the hospital. Remember she was pretty beat up after her encounter with Michael. Eventually he finds out where she is and heads off to finish the job, which isn’t a good thing for the staff. As he makes his way thru them, collecting quite a body count, Loomis is grabbed and removed from Haddonfield. Seems that the state officials want to distance themselves from accidentally releasing a mass murderer. Though Loomis does make his way to the hospital for a final showdown with Michael. 

I really like this movie and think that having it pick right up at the end of the first was a genius idea. They basically continue right along with the same night of terror. Laurie is still traumatized, and Jamie Lee Curtis is great again in her role. Pleasence is also awesome reprising his role as Loomis. He manages to play right on the edge of overacting without crossing the line. He also gets more screen time as Curtis spends a lot of the movie in a hospital bed. Much like the first movie we get a great stalking/chasing sequence to finish up things. Only this time it is in a creepy hospital. 

In my review of Halloween, I mentioned that I don’t consider it a slasher movie because the kills aren’t as in your face. In this one they are more like what you would expect from a slasher flick. A security guard takes a hammer to the face, needles are driven into eyes and temples, another person is cooked alive in a whirlpool, and we even get someone drained of all their blood. That last one makes quite the mess and provides a bit of slapstick. There are a lot more kills and many of them are on screen. Carpenter didn’t direct this so his less is more attitude from the original isn’t carried over. 

I have two big complaints about Halloween II. First is without Carpenter at the helm the stalking scenes where Michael is pursuing Laurie aren’t nearly as good. The setting of the hospital has a lot of potential but there isn’t much tension built up. The other big thing that was a huge mistake is giving Michael a backstory and motivation. It is in this movie that we find out Laurie is his sister and that he wants to kill her much like their older sister and the beginning of the first movie. I liked it better when he was the shape. No reason, no motivation, just a force of nature that wanted to kill. Pure evil plays much better. 

In the end we have the same great actors, Curtis and Pleasence, given a good script that continues the story. There are more kills, and they are executed nicely on screen. While not nearly as good as the original I still give Halloween II credit for doing its own thing. If you haven’t seen this one it is a worthy sequel. Now onto Halloween III.


© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Halloween (1978)

This is another of those movies that I feel a bit silly reviewing. Even the most casual of fans has to know about the original John Carpenter classic that launched the franchise. But since I’m doing a retrospective on the series, I figured it was necessary to preach to the choir just a bit.

The movie kicks off twenty years in the past where we see a teenage girl getting frisky with her boyfriend. He leaves afterwards, and someone sneaks up on her stabbing her do death with a kitchen knife. We quickly discover that it was her younger brother Michael, basically just a kid. Then the action shifts to the “present” or twenty years later. Dr. Loomis is getting ready to transport the now adult Michael for an evaluation to see if he can be released. Not much chance of that since according to the good doctor he has been starring at the walls for the last couple of decades. But when the car arrives to pick him up the patients are wandering around in the dark and Michael soon steals the car and takes off. Where is he headed? Home of course.

The rest of the movie is Michael stalking some random high school girls that happen to be babysitting kids on Halloween night, targeting one in particular. Her name is Laurie Strode and she had the misfortune of dropping the keys off at the old Myer’s house while Michael was hiding out. He literally went home you see. Loomis arrives in town and with the sheriff starts hunting Michael aka. the Boogeyman. After some deaths he finally starts chasing Laurie, but before he can get her Loomis shows up and Michael ends up dead… or does he?

Before anyone fires off an angry email about Laurie being Michael’s sister and that it wasn’t all random please stop. Remember that was added in Halloween part II so here it is all random and unexplained. I’ve always preferred that because Michael is much scarier when he doesn’t have a backstory. In this movie he is just the shape, an evil killing machine that doesn’t need motivation or reason. If you have the misfortune of meeting up with him, you die. That is way scarier so when I watch this one, I try and forget about the attempts later in the series to explain the character. Hell, the more they try and explain him the worse the movies get.

The lighting, camera work, music, and setting all work together to make Halloween as scary as any movie you will ever watch. Many of the fans have seen this one so much that they have become calloused to how great it is. There are scenes where Michael is in the background and we the audience can see him, but the characters can’t. Other times the characters do see him and then just as quickly he is gone. But my favorite bit is where he steps out of the shadows behind the Laurie Strode character with only the white of his mask being visible at first. These aren’t simple jump scares, but instead are creepy and set the tone for the action.

Many cite this and Black Christmas as the first slasher movies. I’ve never felt like the original Halloween was a slasher movie. It doesn’t have the in your face kills and gores that those movies feature. Instead the kills here aren’t as over the top and you don’t see knives or blood splashing everywhere. You get one simple stabbing and a couple strangulations. They are slightly disturbing when you realize this is likely how a serial killer would get rid of his victims, but it certainly isn’t the bloodbath that we would see in the slasher craze of the eighties. Halloween instead focuses more on the characters, especially Laurie and Dr. Loomis. Jamie Lee Curtis is great as Laurie and pulls of the horror of seeing all of her friends killed very well. But it is Donald Pleasance as Dr. Loomis that is most memorable. He basically steals every scene that he is in and has all of the best lines, both serious with his monologues as well as some funny one liners.

There is a reason that Halloween spawned a franchise. It’s a classic that caught everyone by surprise and became part of the culture. And while I don’t consider this a slasher movie it also helped spawn that phenomenon that dominated the nineteen eighties and beyond. This is a must see if you consider yourself a horror movie fan.

 

Ó Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

Monday, October 11, 2021

Séance (2021)

This popped up on Shudder and I’m always down for a new horror flick this time of the year. Honestly Shudder has been releasing some interesting stuff, so I figured what the hell. I mean the movie was pitched as a haunted girl’s school flick so… cool. Be warned I’m going to avoid the worst spoilers but there will likely be a couple just so I’m able to talk about the movie. If that bugs you jump to the last paragraph to see my recommendation.

Students at an all-girls school are in the bathroom trying to summon a ghost. Stuff happens and they get spooked, though it all turns out to be a big prank. Unfortunately, one of the girls, Carrie, ran off to her room and we see that someone or something comes out of her closet and attacks her. Her body is found outside under her window. They think she fell but we know she was pushed! This opens a spot at the very competitive institution, and we get a new student named Camille brought in to take her place and even her room!

The same clique of girls that were around with Carrie start hazing the new girl. She fights back and punches are thrown. This gets them all detention where they decide to work together. I guess working together means have a séance to talk to the dead girl’s ghost. Contact is made and things get spooky from there. Is the ghost come back to get revenge on the girls? Was it even one of the girls who killed her? Or could she be back for some other reason? Oh, and who the hell is Camille?

Séance isn’t a perfect movie by any stretch. There are scenes that seem to go on too long, especially when trying to establish how mean the girls are to Camille. It gets repetitive and the hurts the momentum they have built up. Not sure that this movie had to be ninety minutes long and could have used a few trims here and there. What I did love was the plot itself. It isn’t often that a movie has a twist I didn’t see coming. What I thought was going to be a straightforward haunting turned out to be part ghost story and part slasher. That was a neat trick and was executed well. The identity of Camille and how she connects to everyone was also cool.

I liked the cast and thought that the actresses were very good in their roles. I also thought that all the supernatural stuff was handled very well. There are some legit creepy bits and scares. They are telegraphed a bit and predictable but still effective. We also get some kills, especially at the end. Throats get cut, necks snapped, and heads crushed. Much of the gore is CGI but they don’t linger and except for that last gag it isn’t too obvious. For a low budget movie I was happy with what I got and applaud their efforts.

This isn’t an all-time classic that I will watch every year, but it is a perfectly good and fun way to kill some time. I always like catching some new movies each October to spice things up and Séance, while mild, fit that need. Head on over to Shudder and check this as well as many of the other fun movies they have available. I recommend it!

 

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer