Archive | October, 2010

10 Days of Halloween: H2

31 Oct

Happy Halloween everyone!  We’ve finally made it here, through 9 films from arguably the greatest horror franchise to ever grace the screen.  It is a shame that we have to end on such a sour note.

Rob Zombie follows up the original Halloween reboot with H2. At first glance this film appears to be a direct remake of Halloween II, with Laurie in the hospital and Michael showing up to exact his revenge.  However, Laurie awakens from a dream and H2 actually takes place one year after the events of the first film.  Laurie is now living with the Brackett family and Michael has been missing since he was shot by Dr. Loomis.  Laurie begins acting out, mirroring more of the lifestyle of the Myers family from which she came.

Meanwhile, Michael is living in the woods, recovering from the injuries he sustained in the first film.

 

And Growing A Ridiculous Beard

 

 

Michael begins having hallucinations of a younger self and of his mother, encouraging him to return to Haddonfield to kill again on Halloween.  Michael follows the orders of his visions and begins to kill again in search of Laurie.

Now that the synopsis is out of the way, let me begin my review: this film sucks.  Rob Zombie completely butchers everything that the Halloween franchise stood for and turned this film into more of the shock and gore that is his other films.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed The Devil’s Rejects and I love House of 1,000 Corpses, but this franchise is not those movies and you can’t mess with the fundamental elements of Halloween, no matter how much you want to make the film your own.

Laurie is not a reflection of her messed up family and brother, she’s exactly the opposite.  Halloween in its purist form is good vs. evil; in Rob Zombie’s world everything is evil.  Also, Michael Myers is who he is because his actions are inexplicable, when you start using psycho babel to explain why he kills, you kill your movie.  You would think Zombie would have learned from the poor acclaim of the 4-6 films; but if at first you don’t succeed.

 

And where's the mask? Why the Beard?

 

 

What H2 does do well is tip its hat to Halloween II and its sequels, sometimes even at the expense of this film.  In H2 the viewer is treated to Michael coming to life in the ambulance, attacking the hospital, and having a psychic connection to a relative (Laurie this time and not Jamie).  The highlight of this film’s performances again were McDowell and Dourif (horror’s greatest male icon) but Scout Taylor Compton falls short of Jamie Lee Curtis once again.

Finally, not to spoil the film for anyone, but I want to speak briefly about the ending (no spoilers).  I understand why Zombie ended the film the way he did, it was a cute wink that you often see in today’s slashers, but like I said before it completely ruins the mythos of the franchise.

So now we’ve come to an end of our 10 Days of Halloween.  A tip of the Shatner mask to those of you who’ve stayed with us through the entire series, and I hope you enjoyed the Halloween season.

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10 Days of Halloween: Halloween (2007)

30 Oct

While I have enjoyed this 10 day trek through the psyche of Michael Myers, despite slogging through the miserable third and fifth installments, but I am glad it is finally coming to an end. My final review is Rob Zombie’s Halloween reboot, which fell far short of the greatness of the original. Zombie wrote and directed the film, and while it was a noble attempt to explain the inner workings of the brain of Michael Myers, he tried way too hard to make it gritty.

Halloween starts out looking at Michael’s childhood, but instead of being six, like in the original, he is a middle school child living with a Mom who is a loving stripper, his abusive father, and deadbeat sister. His fascination with killing animals eventually shifts to people, when he kills a bully, and while high off the power that he feels he kills his father and sister so that his mother can be free. He is locked up in a sanitarium and Dr. Loomis (Malcom McDowell) attempts to unlock the mysteries of his psychopathy. After 15 years of failed attempts, Dr. Loomis gives up and that night Michael breaks out of the sanitarium and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield to stalk his sister, Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton), and kill anyone who gets in his way. It is up to Dr. Loomis and Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) to track down Michael and end his murderous rampage.

Rob Zombie took on an incredible task of making a more sophisticated and disturbing Myers and while it was gripping at points, especially when McDowell and Dourif were on the screen, he failed to realize that the simplicity and mystery of the psyche is what made Michael disturbing in the first film. Plus, he started off at the very beginning trying to establish that this was a “gritty” film. There was more profanity in the first five minutes than the rest of the series combined and he made very clear that he wasn’t going to pull any punches. But, he didn’t mask it (no pun intended) very well, and it seemed very forced.

The acting was pretty good, except Taylor-Compton, who fell far short of the iconic performance by Jamie Lee Curtis. She didn’t make the audience care about her and wasn’t very convincing as being scared. All the screams seemed very timed instead of spontaneous. Malcom McDowell, and I tread on egg shells when I say this, played a better Dr. Loomis than Donald Pleasance, in my humble opinion. He was less cartoonish, even if he didn’t have the classic lines that Pleasance was given in the original.

 

Man, I really miss working with Stanley Kubrick.

 

 

Halloween also suffered from pacing problems. While it moved fairly well up until he left the sanitarium, once Michael got out, the killing dragged on way too long to the point where I lost interest….twice. This was actually the second time I watched it. The first time, I turned it off halfway through to do something more interesting, and returned later and this time, I started watching last night, grew bored with it and decided to drag myself through the rest of it this morning.

While, overall I thought it was a decent attempt at making a gritty reboot, it had too many flaws and felt too forced to make me say that it was “good”. Pac has Halloween II to review tomorrow and I hear that it is far worse than this one, so I wince to think about what his viewing experience will be. I will probably watch it one day, right before Zombie releases Halloween III next year. I hope you enjoyed reading them and if I had to recommend films from this series to view, I would say to watch: Halloween, Halloween II (1981), and Halloween H20. Happy Halloween!!

10 Days of Halloween: Halloween: Resurrection

29 Oct

I didn’t realize until I watched Halloween: Resurrection how lucky of a draw I had getting the even numbers of the Halloween franchise.  Sure, Chris reviewed the original, by far the best film, but I wasn’t forced to sit through Season of the Witch or Revenge of Michael Myers. My good fortunes ended, however, with the 8th installment of the franchise.

Halloween: Resurrection picks up three years after H20 but not before explaining why there is a sequel to H20 in the first place.  Apparently, Michael crushed a paramedic’s larynx so he couldn’t speak, dressed him up like Michael and left him to get decapitated by Laurie.

Lesson: Don't dress up like this guy for Halloween

After explaining this ridiculous reasoning for Michael’s survival, the film cuts to Laurie in a mental hospital, apparently grief-stricken over her mistake.  In comes Michael, returning to kill Laurie.  For a moment, Laurie gets the better of Michael and has an opportunity to end it for good.  But what would we watch for the next 80 minutes?  So of course Laurie tries to unmask Michael and “gets got”.

Everything from this point on is crap.  The premise for the rest of the film has nothing to do with the introductory scene.  Why explain what happened to Michael and Laurie at all if the rest of the movie has nothing to do with it?

You didn't know what happened to these two.

Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks run an internet reality channel and have rigged the old Myers house with cameras.  They then paid six dumb college students to stay the night in the house and investigate what happened there when Michael was a child.  Needless to say, Michael returns and starts picking them off one-by-one.  Also, Tyra dances, Busta does karate, some unknown actress shows her breasts.

And Sean Patrick Thomas dies in yet another horror movie.

It’s getting close to Halloween now, so if you haven’t been watching all the Halloween films like we have and you can only watch one or two, skip Resurrection. The plot is dumb, the acting is terrible, and none of the terror is terrifying.  This is the worst of the films I’ve reviewed …

...for now.

7 Characters You Will Find in a Zombie Survivalist Party

29 Oct

With the premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead coming this Sunday night, I decided to do a zombie feature article. As predictable as the fact every House episode mystery is solved between the 36-39 minute range (if you watch it on DVD), almost every zombie film will have some form of these following characters, band together to survive the zombie apocalypse.

The Hero

We all know this guy; he is the every man. He usually comes from the middle class, and is usually somehow involved with law enforcement or security. He is the reluctant leader, forced into that position by lack of saner options (see: badass and panic guy). However, he is also the least interesting character most of the time. The hero hardly ever gets any mention by fans after the film because most of his time is spent telling people to calm down and is usually humorless (with the exception of Shaun of the Dead). Being the hero in a zombie survivalist party is no great honor though, because it usually requires sacrificing yourself at the end of the film to save your love interest or a lazy little child.

Chance of survival: 20% (65% if there is no child)

The Badass

Due to some childhood trauma, crystal meth, steroids, or long exposure to lead-based paint (or a combination of all of those), this rage-fueled, profanity spewing character can be your best friend or your worst enemy when it comes to a zombie apocalypse. He is handy when the zombies have found the group and they are closing in, because he will either kill them violently in slow motion or he will act as a distraction so you can make a clean get away. He is your worst enemy when you are trying to remain unseen from the zombies because he will get fidgety and will start yelling and opening fire at the worst possible time.

If he lacks a gun, a chainsaw is his secondary weapon.

He also will cause problems because since he has killed the most zombies he thinks he is the most qualified to lead the group….right into harm’s way. After a couple of days he recovers from the crystal meth and steroid abuse and realizes how terrible of a friend he has been to the group. Using what juice is left in his system, he will usually go down in a blaze of glory, deliberately sacrificing himself to save the rest of the group.

The good outweighs the bad with this character, he is a strong, albeit unstable, ally during the apocalypse.

Chance of survival: 13%

The Ultimate Survivor

The Ultimate Survivor usually is not introduced until about halfway through the film. This guy will have claimed to have been hiding out alone, killing zombies, for at least six months, even if the apocalypse just started two days ago. He will know all the ins and outs about how to defeat them, and will seem like an automatic shoe-in for leader of the outfit. While he is a loner, he will take in the struggling band of survivors, but he usually has his own disturbing agenda. He will generally have a dislike of everyone, except the hot chick who he will berate anyway, but will have ethical differences with the hero. The hero will get into an argument with the ultimate survivor, which will be less of a vocal disagreement than a staring and nostril flaring competition, which eventually leads to a fist fight or imprisonment while the zombies close in. Despite his self-proclaimed prowess at killing zombies, it will fail him somehow and he will meet a gruesome death, usually in an ironic manner, and the hero and clan will leave him to die.

Chance of survival: 0.05%

The Parent/Relative/Extremely Close Friend

The zombie apocalypse will always happen when someone in the survivalist party is with a relative, that is either their only friend and confidant, or someone they have been estranged from for years, and they are forced to take them with the group on their journey to survive. If their relative is more like a best friend they will work as an incredible unstoppable zombie killing force for 3/4ths of the film. They will have some sort of catch phrase or inside joke that was established at the start of the film that will be overused and involve either sex or bodily functions.

If the relative is someone they are estranged with, they will not work well with the group and they will bicker and argue, get in each other’s ways and air out differences when they should be focused more on killing the undead horde that is nearby. But, about 2/3 of the way through the film they will all of a sudden find common ground (probably killing zombies), and work things out. For the next 10 minutes of the film, they will become like best friends and become that unstoppable force.

Whichever type of relative this character is, it usually ends the same: they get bit by a zombie. If you happen to be the parent of The Child (see below), they are twice as likely to be eaten by zombies, leaving the hero to have to emotionally blow their face off and also be burdened by taking care of their offspring.

Maybe if we ignore them they will stop following us.

If this is not enough to make them feel bad, they will probably not be killed by the hero soon enough to stop them from killing more of their zombie survivalist friends.

Chance of Survival: 5%

The Hardened Woman/Potential Love Interest

Apocalypse’s are great for the down-on-their-luck heroes who never get any action. It is the one time that they can legitimately turn to that hot girl and say, “Well, the world is about to end…so….you know….” But, the hero never does that to someone that he hasn’t fallen madly in love with in 72 hours. What union the zombie apocalypse has started, no undead man can tear apart. The love interest, whether it is someone he just met, or someone he has pined over for a while, will be a vital asset to him because it gives him a reason to live and the only reason to step up and be the hero, until she gets him killed. She is usually the strong, yet damaged type, using rage over an ex-boyfriend or “that time of the month” to her advantage as a zombie killing machine. She will probably rack up the second highest zombie kill count of the group and play the tough girl, until the hero and her, next to an ill-advised campfire (why do they always light campfires during zombie films? I get it, they want to stay warm, but it is just pointing out their position to the zombies), will make a connection and boom chica-wow wow.

Chances are that she will survive because the hero will be much more focused on saving his piece of tail than anyone else in the group.

Chance of Survival: 92%

The Panic Guy

As soon as you meet this guy in the film, you know there is no way he is going to survive. He is a tool, and usually a prick to the hero, before the apocalypse. He is cocky, rich and will have stereotypical 80’s antagonist written all over him. All his cockiness will come crashing down when he stares into the lifeless eyes of the undead. He will become a bundle of nerves, like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. He will think he is smarter than everyone just because he is richer and of a higher class. He will not even make it halfway through the film, and will probably cost you a member of the survivalist party because he will sacrifice their safety to save his own skin. When he finally completely loses his cool, starts screaming like a little girl, and making rash decisions. These rash decisions will lead him to probably the most gruesome death of the film.

Tickle torture!!!!

They will probably stay put and in a dead pan voice yell, “Wait..no..don’t do that…we don’t want you to die and stuff…”, but as soon as he is gone, shrug and continue their journey.

Chance of survival: 0%

The Child

The best way to survive a zombie apocalypse is to be a helpless child. Sure, we all see zombie children and they are creepy as hell.

Especially this one.

But, in the film, once you are established as a solid member of the survivor group (membership is usually established through The Relative character), you are good to go. Everyone else will go out of their way to save your lazy butt from the horrible zombies you are making no attempt to run away from. The hero, parent, or love interest will put them over their shoulder or carry them while shooting or swinging their baseball bat. All the child has to do is scream to alert the party that zombies are nearby and they are good to go. Plus, it is brutal watching a child get murdered. It is apparently okay to introduce a child zombie post-reanimation, but it is not okay to introduce them before having them eaten by zombies.

Chance of Survival: 100%

If you can think of other stock characters from zombie films, leave them in the comments!

Here are some clips from The Walking Dead which premieres this Sunday at 10pm to satiate your desire for the undead!!!

Upcoming Film Trailers (Sanctum, Scream 4, Biutiful)

28 Oct

My apologies for not keeping my readers informed of films that are coming out in the mid-to-late future. I tend to focus more on films that are in the development stage, or right about to come out, rather than ones that are already in production. But, here is one of my first attempts to give you a look at some trailers for films coming out next year that you may not have seen (for better or worse).

Sanctum

James Cameron produces this film, since he seems to have a desire to do anything related to the deep ocean. My theory is that with all the money he has accrued he is going to attempt to be the sole owner of International Waters and attempt to control the rights of filming anything that has to do with the ocean. While I am sure this film will be intense and feature great visuals, it looks like the acting is second-rate.

Scream 4

Hoping to revive his prestigious horror career, Wes Craven returns to one of his most successful franchises, Scream. Boasting new rules to parody the evolving horror genre, Craven brings back some major players from the old cast as well as some new, younger blood fresh for the killing. This new preview is promising, but after My Soul to Take, I think I need to set my expectations much lower.

Biutiful

This indie film, directed by Alejandor Inarritu (Babel, Amores Perros), stars Javier Bardem as a father whose life is in free fall and he attempts to pick up the pieces. It looks like Bardem is looking at at least being nominated for another acting performances and it looks like this is beautifully filmed. Babel, although not one of my favorites, did get nominated for Best Picture, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this one ends up in the running as well.

I hope you enjoyed them. Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Goodfellas TV Show?

28 Oct

I realize that there are very few ideas in the film and tv industry right now that I seem to be getting excited for and this piece of news I am still hesitant to be positive about.

Last month, Goodfellas writer, Nicholas Pileggi, announced that he wanted to work on a Goodfellas tv show based on the original film. He has now come out and said that Martin Scorcese will be involved in the production, much like he was in Boardwalk Empire. Pileggi had this to say about the project:

“I want to do it, Marty wants to do it, Warner Bros wants to do it,” he explained. “Of course, you can’t pick up from ‘Goodfellas,’ since we murdered everybody, or rather, everybody was murdered! There’s nobody left. But I think we’re going to figure out a way to do the early years—sort of a prequel”

While I love the Goodfellas film, I think this type of show has been done a little bit too much recently with The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire. That is not to say that I don’t have complete faith in both Pileggi and Scorcese to produce a great show, but instead that it would feel redundant right now, especially if Boardwalk Empire sticks around.

C'mon! Does it look like I'm going anywhere?

Plus, in order to make this show like the original film they would need to use more “salty” language and violence, which would not fit any of the major networks. HBO already has Boardwalk Empire which leads me to believe that they wouldn’t take the show and that it would fall to another lesser premium channel. Or, that the show would get picked up by AMC, who has had a lot of recent success with shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, but if they did that they would not be able to drop the f-bomb, which shows its utmost versatility in Goodfellas.

Didn't you know that f--- is a noun, verb, and adjective?

Then, comes the matter of casting. Who could fill the shoes of the great Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, and Ray Liotta? This is actually the part that I am least concerned about because there has been a lot of promise shown by some of the young actors in Hollywood recently, but still it could be an issue nonetheless.

What are your thoughts? Should the Goodfellas stay dead? If not, who do you think should play the lead roles?

10 Days of Halloween: Halloween: H20

28 Oct

After a streak of Halloween films with cheap thrills, it was refreshing to see one that still had cheap thrills but had better production value. While Halloween: H20 is no classic, it still is one of the better Michael Myers films in the series.

The film opens with Marion Whittington (Nancy Stephens), returning home and finding her office was raided and that the file for Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis finally reprising the role) was missing. When she flees next door out of fear she finds the neighbor children dead and that Michael Myers has returned. Michael quickly kills her and goes off to find Laurie in California, where she is in the witness protection program, under the name of Keri Tate and currently employed as the headmistress of a prep school. On Halloween night she is finally conquering her age old fears of Michael Myers, when he returns again to finish what he started 20 years before.

Halloween: H20  gives a nod to the Scream films (which were also paying tribute to Halloween in turn) even though it had only been out for two years before that, and acknowledges that it is a film that will play in the conventions of the slasher genre. For example, there is the idiot kid that says, “I’ll be right back,” and of course Michael comes back for one final kill after everyone thinks he’s dead…etc. Also, I thought it was great how Janet Leigh (Marion from Psycho) makes an appearance, and the car from Psycho is in the film with the same license plate that has Norman Bates‘ initials on it was in there as well.

What I liked about this film is that it moved on from the whole supernatural Michael premise and the cult undertones that Halloween 5 and 6 had and it was more about the creepiness of Michael’s psychopathic nature. He is just a stalking machine, bent on killing his bloodline and anything that gets in his way.  The writers decided to act as if Halloween 3-6 never happened to keep things simple, and probably from sheer embarrassment to be associated with them.

While the production value was much better, it didn’t offer a whole lot in the way of scares, and what it did offer was nothing new. There wasn’t much gore, the body count was a lot lower, and most of the kills were pretty lame, even by cheap horror movie standards. Also, I thought that the mask this time wasn’t as scary and took away some of the dread of seeing Michael Myers.

He kind of looks like Ronald McDonald's crackhead brother.

But, I think this installment had accepted its cheesiness to an extent and played with it and because it didn’t take itself so seriously, it was easier to accept than Halloween 4-6.

My favorite cheesy horror movie moment is when Josh Hartnett and Michelle Williams are running away from Michael. Granted, Michael moves slow as molasses, but these kids run down a hallway and out a window and Michelle Williams is all of a sudden completely out of breath and it is time to stop and talk about the next move, when he is still pretty much in sight of them.

Man, it is exhausting running 50 feet.

How were they that tired, that fast? If Michael Myers moves so slow, wouldn’t it behoove them to run as far away as possible since he really had no chance of catching up?

(SPOILER ALERT)

At the end of the film Laurie seems to decidedly destroy Michael by cutting off his head. This does seem very logical, seeing as they have tried only three other ways of killing him before this:

I know stabbing him didn't work the last 20 times..but...it might work this time!

What is interesting to note about this is that there is still one more film to watch before the Rob Zombie reboots. How do they have him come back from a beheading? Hmmmm…..tune in to Pac’s next review to find out.