“Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers” watched on 10/11
Just about anything after Halloween III would have been an improvement. Just bringing Michael Myers back was leaps and bounds better. This was actually a pretty solid addition to the franchise. It has the token bad acting and cheesy dialogue, but I really liked the story choices from the filmmakers.
There are several things this film does that break horror clichés. For one, the protagonists didn’t underestimate their enemy. They actually had guns and barricaded their homes. I liked the vigilante group of redneck townspeople who went around shooting things. Of course they were idiots and killed an innocent person. It was still something you would expect to see in real life.
I feel like this was a great direction to take the franchise. If you treat this movie as the third entry of the series it’s a nice progression of the storylines; especially if you look at the direction they could have gone. I was pleasantly surprised.
“The Mist” watched on 10/12
This story was begging to be made into a movie for a long time. Stephen King’s writing is sometimes not conducive to transferring to the screen. Some of his stories that were turned into movies were not very good (see: Salem’s Lot, Secret Window, Dreamcatcher, The Tomyknockers, It, etc.). I’ve always thought The Mist was one of his stories that would be great as a movie, and thankfully Frank Darabont delivered that story wonderfully.
There is almost nothing about this movie that I don’t like. The casting is pretty much perfect. The most difficult role of Mrs. Carmody was played to a “T” by Marica Gay Harden. That character could have very easily been over the top, but Harden kept the character on a tight leash. Actually, a lot of the characters could have been too much to handle. Toby Jones was very underrated as the quiet and guarded person who comes out of his shell in an emergency. I literally cheered for the character in a few scenes.
I guess you could call this a disaster movie, but I think that’s a disservice to its’ quality (not to say that disaster movies suck; some of them are fun). Darabont and the writers paced this movie to perfection. The tension, the fear and the stakes are built and used in the best way imaginable. The film is also broken into distinct acts and scenes that fit well into a disaster that lasts for several days.
A lot of people had an issue with the ending. I thought it was fantastic. It is, however, the most depressing ending I can imagine. It’s easily one of the most depressing endings of all time. The ending in the book is substantially less satisfying than the one they used in the movie. It’s open-ended and leaves you wanting more. The movie gives it a good conclusion, but destroys part of your soul. I guess some people just couldn’t handle the depression.
This is a scary movie that also happens to be a great piece of art. I thought it was ignored by movie-goers and awards voters as well. The Mist is another example of how horror movies don’t need to be cheesy and silly. They can be creative and make you think while they scare you. Dear Hollywood; take notes.
“The Frighteners” watched on 10/13
I haven’t seen many Peter Jackson movies other than Lord of the Rings and King Kong. This was the first of his that I had seen pre-LOTR. It was clear that Jackson was still cutting his teeth as a filmmaker and finding his tone in this film. I wasn’t very satisfied with the zany feel of the movie. It was a bit cartoonish. I think a darker, eerier tone would have been a better delivery system for the subject matter. I mean, it is a horror movie after all.
It was a really good concept for a movie. The film is about a guy who had a brush with death that allows him to see and communicate with ghosts. He uses this ability to get ghosts to “haunt” people’s homes and then he comes in and clears them for a profit. He’s essentially the head of a ghost con man team. The movie takes a turn when he and his team run into a particularly evil ghost that is killing townspeople.
Pretty cool idea, right? I thought so too. Unfortunately it was somewhat squandered by the erratic filmmaking. Okay, I’ve ripped on the movie enough. I actually had a decent experience with the movie because it looked really nice. The team at Weta made some really impressive special effects. I know the movie is only 17 years old, but compared to modern special effects a lot of movies from that time period don’t hold up. This movie does hold up. It’s no surprise to me that they were able to brilliantly create all the details of Middle Earth only a few years later. I honestly recommend seeing The Frighteners for this reason alone.
“The Devil’s Rejects” watched on 10/13
I don’t want to get into another Rob Zombie love fest (free band name). I love the guy’s style. We are kindred spirits. The Devil’s Rejects is a further continuation of Rob (we’re on a first name basis) and I’s connectivity. I really like this movie. It was a terrific follow-up to House of 1,000 Corpses. I liked how Zombie didn’t just give us more of the same Dr. Satan, over the top fare. Rejects was a more grounded, character driven film. It’s more of an action/thriller than a horror flick. Of course, it’s still scary.
Just as a side note: I had a great theater experience with this movie. I went to see this with two of my best friends on a Friday night. That night also happened to be the opening night of Hustle and Flow (which is another movie that I really love). So, imagine three token white dudes going to a movie theater to see a crazy ass horror movie made by a guy named Rob Zombie while surrounded by about 300 black people coming to see a movie about a black guy making it out of the hood through the rap game. Yeah, we felt incredibly out of place. We are some pretty goofy guys, and we were even goofier at 18-19 years old. Everyone else in line had been saying “One for Hustle and Flow”, “Three for Hustle and Flow”, “Two for Hustle and Flow” etc. The ticket taker was getting used to hearing it. So my friend Jack got up to the ticket booth. He might be the craziest of us all (which I mean in the most complimentary of ways). He proceeded to use an almost perfect Randy “The Macho Man” Savage voice and said “GIVE ME ONE TICKET FOR THE ROB ZOMBIE MOVIE, YEEEEEEAH!” The ticket taker and the 100 other black people in line stopped what they were doing and looked at us like we were aliens from another planet. Myself and my other friend burst into laughter. It was so incredibly hilarious. We laughed about it for the rest of the night.
I read somewhere that Rob Zombie said putting Dr. Satan in The Devil’s Rejects would be like putting Chewbacca in Bonnie and Clyde. I love that kind of evolution in a young filmmaker. It shows that he’s dedicated to getting better every time he gets behind a camera. That attitude proves to me that Rob Zombie will be pulling me into movie theaters for years to come.
“Killer Klowns from Outer Space” watched on 10/13
I really had a good time with this movie. I had seen some parts of it when I was a kid, but had never seen it all the way through. Honestly, I’m glad I waited till I was an adult before watching it. I think it would have been over my head. I thought it was hilarious. I mean, space clowns who harvest humans? What’s not to like?
This movie offered so many fun clichés. There were stupid, horny teenagers, a bitter old cop who hates everything, a dumbass farmer in overalls and a straw hat who wanders towards the danger out of curiosity. All of those parts were played to campy perfection too.
I don’t happen to be afraid of clowns. It just never bothered me. I definitely get it though. They can be freaky. If you happen to be afraid of clowns this movie will more than likely terrify you. They actually did a pretty good job with the clown makeup. It’s some scary stuff. So you may not want to watch it for that reason. Or maybe you do. Whatever floats your boat. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
“The Thing” (1982) watched on 10/17
The Thing is probably a top 20 favorite movie of mine. Every time I see it I like it more. It’s impossible to talk about the movie without mentioning the special effects. I honestly hold the special effects work in this film in the same esteem as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Avatar. I really think they are that groundbreaking. The detail and scope of the effects are so impressive, but I’m blown away by the imagination of it. It’s so beautifully twisted.
At one point a dog’s head splits apart and shoots out tentacles. My absolute favorite is when Charles Hallahan’s head falls off, sprouts spider legs and walks away. You have to be a delightfully messed up person to come up with some freaky stuff like that. The imagination used to make The Thing is so twisted and disgusting that it impresses me to this day. I’m not sure it’s quality will ever be surpassed.
One of my other favorite parts of the movie is the setting. I’m one of those weirdos who loves winter. It’s my favorite season. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I was born in January in the middle of an ice storm. Maybe it’s because I’m a fat guy with insulating blubber. Needless to say, I am most comfortable when it’s cold outside. So, every time I watch The Thing it makes me wish for zero degrees and a foot of snow. The setting is more than the climate, though. It’s the isolation. This group of guys knows that if the shit hits the fan they are literally on their own until help comes, and help does not come quickly when you’re in Antarcitca.
This film also captures ambiguity to perfection. The alien parasite that overtakes people has the ability to mimic human activity to the point that the men can’t tell who is infected and who isn’t. So every character is both a protagonist and an antagonist. The ambiguity is further conveyed in the ending, which is one of my favorite endings of all time. I don’t want to spoil it incase you guys haven’t seen it. Needless to say it leaves you wondering. Even the actors and filmmakers admit that they don’t know the answer to the ending.
John Carpenter hit another home run with this movie. It’s my favorite movie of his. I only recently found a love for Halloween and Michael Myers, so that could change in the future. However, The Thing will forever be burned into my memory (with a badass flamethrower!) as one of the best.