A scary thing happened on the way to the Movie Forums - Horrorcrammers

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My review of HALLOWEEN KILLS ported over from the Last Movie thread via letterboxd:

https://boxd.it/2cWHiR



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My review of HALLOWEEN KILLS ported over from the Last Movie thread via letterboxd:

https://boxd.it/2cWHiR

Cool.



When is your next project?



Cool.



When is your next project?
Just directed another episode of Chateau Lune, that local horror host show. No clue when theyíll premier (Iíve currently direct episodes for 13 Ghosts, Curse of the Swamp Creature, Horror Express, Little Shop of Horror and Night of the Living Dead) as Iíve pushed for a complete shift away from the local channel distribution with the showís owner but I donít have much authority as Iím not paying for anything.

I have a script optioned by a studio that was supposed to go into production this month but Delta and the strikes have likely postponed it until early next year.

As for my personal projects, Iím putting together a Tati-esque, dialogue free short film called Misophonia. Got a 6K camera, a script and part of the cast ready to go. If it turns out how I hope, weíll be aiming for a festival run then hit Vimeo publicly.



The best thing in The Cave is...
Absolutely and Iím not surprised thatís a gif lmao.


Station Iím glad you liked Them! Such a fun movie. For something from the Ď50s Iím surprised there was as much giant ant action as here was.





Drilller (James, 1984)



In 1983, Michael Jackson's Thriller dominated the charts and the John Landis directed music video for "Thriller" dominated the airwaves. Without trying to dissect its enormous cultural impact, I will sum it up thusly: if there's a music video everyone has seen, this is it. In 1984, in an attempt to craft a midnight movie crossover, Joyce James, Timothy Buckley and Roger Watkins came together to make Driller, a pornographic parody of MJ's video. Needless to say, this didn't make quite the same cultural impact, but is worth checking out as an amusing oddity. The movie starts with Taija Rae and her boyfriend (who resembles the lovechild of Allen Sherman and Rick Moranis) attending a concert for the Hot Star, a Jackson-inspired pop musician who performs a ripoff of "Billie Jean" wherein he informs us that he is the (or actually our) Hot Star (the song is called "I'm Your Hot Star"). Now, we can see that the concert seemingly takes place in a small auditorium and the set design resembles a high school talent show, but still the crowd goes wild, with a few rowdy audience members taking off their tops and needing to be put in check by a portly security guy. (Apparently the audience was mostly played by critics from adult magazines.)

Now, me attempting to fully navigate the topic would be highly ill-advised given my knack for being indelicate, but I will only say that making a porn persona based on Michael Jackson is extremely ill-advised, and probably would have been so even in the '80s. The movie acknowledges this unfortunately through homophobic speculation on the part of the male audience members. Rae steps up to defend him to her boyfriend, who responds "I bet you'd like it if I turn into a werewolf or something. A wild beast could teach you a thing or two." After a bout of extremely unappealing looking sex during which Rae voices her annoyance repeatedly, Rae goes to her bedroom and falls asleep to a late night horror program which she fearfully watches through her fingers. ("There's something evil the air tonight, I can feel it my bones." "That's only your arthritis acting up.") Her slumber is interrupted by who else other than the Hot Star, this time in ghoulish makeup and accompanied by a couple of ghoulish looking ladies, and in the movie's raison d'etre, they perform a "Thriller" parody, complete with a mock Thriller dance. As far as ripoffs go, this is pretty catchy ("It's got a good beat and you can dance to it", to take a line from Lawrence Welk), even if it lacks the immaculate songcraft of its inspiration and the singer (a woman dubs the Hot Star) can't hit the high notes like MJ. (The song is called "Driller in the Night", completely different than "Thriller", please don't sue.) Paying respect to the genre, it concludes with the Hot Star rubbing up against Taija Rae, transforming into a werewolf, and demonstrating what exactly the "Driller" of the title refers to. (Spoiler alert: it's his dick, and the title is more literal than I expected. I understand it was operated mechanically by a few production assistants. If one is truly interested, there is a clip of the sequence on Youtube, but be warned that it gets extremely NSFW right at the end.) Rae reacts: "I'm gonna get rabies!"

Alas, this all makes up only the first third of the movie, and then Rae is whisked off to a castle (animated inserts are used for exteriors in an endearingly lo-fi touch), wherein she wanders around a few horror-inspired sets and expresses a lot of trepidation about all the ****ing and sucking she witnesses, which include a lesbian scene with illuminated dildos, a woman being encouraged to masturbate by a Quasimodo-like hunchback with the voice of Peter Lorre, a threesome where the men chant some Latin-sounding mumbo jumbo, and an orgy involving a couple with ghoulish makeup on their faces (but not their bodies) and guys in Nixon and Reagan masks. None of this is remotely hot (Lorre and Nixon impressions are pretty much guaranteed boner-killers), but there is a baseline of entertainment value in seeing these cheapo horror sets, usually with some fog machines doing overtime. In between the sex is a fair bit more Thriller dancing, this time set to a song called "Zombie Night". This is easily the worst of the songs in the movie, as it's not even clear what it's supposed to be parodying, in addition to being mind-numbingly repetitive. (Eventually I realized it was supposed to rip off "Wanna Be Startin' Something", but even more so than "Driller in the Night", this is like a child's crayon sketch of the real thing.) Rae looks fearfully at the two male dancers in speedos.

It's worth noting that Nixon goes all in with the portrayal ("They don't call me Tricky Dick for nothing!") and riffs with Reagan ("looks like Bedtime for Schlongo over here"), and folks, I laughed. Astute viewers will also recognize George Payne, but alas his role does not call him to exercise his genuinely impressive acting talents. (That being said, given the lightheared tone, it's probably for the best that he doesn't go full Taming of Rebecca in this.) I must also note that Rae gets accosted a few times by some ghouls, who each tear off pieces of her clothing. However, given that she still seems to be mostly covered after each encounter (until the climax when she's dragged into the action), it seems that either she was wearing more layers than I realized or they failed to maintain proper continuity in this respect. (Roger Watkins was supposed to be acting as production manager but disappeared partway through filming, and director Joyce James describes the shoot as difficult in a user review on the movie's IMDb page. It's hilarious to think Watkins was involved in this, given how caustic his own movies are. I suppose The Pink Ladies is fun, but he apparently thought poorly of it.)

As a parody, this isn't especially sharp, and mostly abandons the premise a third of the way in, but the mix of horror aesthetics, music and goofy tone it pulls from its inspiration make this a reasonably good time. This is less ambitious than the work of Gregory Dark in imbuing an MTV influence into pornography, but will likely be more palatable to most viewers given that the humour here isn't quite as offensive (aside from the unfortunate homophobic jabs). Obviously compared to the actual video or a Hollywood movie, the production values come up short, but for a porno, it doesn't look that bad, or at least does so with some charm. (Apparently the movie was done in partnership with a studio that specialized in BDSM movies, which allowed the use of stage and dungeon sets at a lower cost.) I do think the movie suffers from sex scenes, which go on far too long and never really tie the horror mise-en-scene to a sense of eroticism. (You can compare this to Nightdreams and see how that movie uses horror imagery to convey the urgency of the heroine's experience. Also, I, ahem, found that movie much hotter.) Like its inspiration, it's not effective as horror, but for certain viewers any excuse is good enough to hang around in horror movie sets engulfed in fog. And it helps that the narrative centre of the movie is carried by Taija Rae, who may not be a great actress, but has a wide-eyed innocence and extremely dorky demeanour that suits the lighthearted tone. Would I have preferred that her character prove more proactive during the proceedings or at least interact more closely with the other cast members? Sure (and I admit that some of my interest, ahem, might be prurient), but if we must be subject to werewolves, ghouls and the like getting into spooky (and sexy) shenanigans, she makes a pretty appealing guide.




This was the night of one word titles.

Shook is about an influencer being stalked by a dog killer. This was pretty bad, aside from some interesting choices in how it displayed the social media the lead was interacting with. Otherwise not much of note.

Hunted. A couple of rapists pursue a woman through the woods. The villain was cartoonishly evil. But there were a couple funny moments and the final chase is bonkers.

Sputnik. A cosmonaut returns to earth with an alien inside him, a tale as old as time. Yo this movie was pretty ****in cool. The third act gets little too paint by numbers but I otherwise enjoyed it. It’s got major Arrival vibes.



Halloween Kills. I saw this in a Dolby cinema so it was loud as ****. The good parts were great and the bad parts were hilarious. This was a wild movie. I had a blast.

Cold Hell. A woman witnesses a murder and the killer pursues her. This one was pretty slow outside of a dope car chase halfway through.

Party Hard, Die Young. High school kids partying in Croatia are picked off by a masked killer. Nothing new or original here or even that interesting or tense. Bland as all hell.



As part of the 2021 Film Challenge, I intend to go through Coppola's filmography later this year, and I'm looking forward to revisiting Dracula which I last watched probably 25 years ago. As a staunch supporter of the "style over substance" approach, even I spent most of the film rolling my eyes at what I found to be empty flourishes. (Blood dripping across the screen is one example I've retained.) I was admittedly an Edgelord Art Major at the time, so I'm curious to see how my opinion has changed, if at all.

(I also remember thinking Winona and Keanu were terrible. We'll see.)
That post is from August, and I have now re-watched the film in question. (For best results, read the discussion that starts on Page 93 of this thread before reading further.)

Sorry to say that my opinion has not changed much. If anything I was less bothered by Ryder and Reeves, for whatever that's worth.
I tried to keep MKS's defenses of the film in mind throughout, and I'm certainly on board with paying homage to the classic era, but I have not been convinced that the various flourishes were not ultimately empty at best and distracting at worst. In Vampyr, the shadow trick serves to disorient the viewer, and also establishes that characters can "leave their body", which will happen to our hero later. In Coppola's film it just comes across as a gag, with more similarity to Mel Brooks than to Dreyer.






And I'm not just being a smartass here. Obviously Brooks is specifically spoofing Coppola, but they're still basically telling the same joke. "I'm doing one thing but my shadow is doing the thing I would rather do." If the response to that is "of course it's a gag, it's supposed to be a gag", then I'd just say that it's not an approach that I'm interested in. I love Mel Brooks and Vampyr but Coppola is in a weird middle ground that I can't embrace. Wooley and Takoma basically said everything I'm thinking back in August so I won't repeat any of it.

I've often said that cinematography and set design are two of the most important elements for me regarding this genre, and I've joked that some of my favorite films would still be enjoyable to me if you digitally removed all of the actors. But when I say that it's because the film has (through visual means) achieved some sense of place or atmosphere that I find appealing. I didn't get that from Dracula. I often remarked "that's a cool miniature", but never "oh, how creepy!".
__________________
Captain's Log
My Collection



Halloween Kills... I'll probably write a longer review later, but for now all I'll say that Busta Rhymes' speech from Halloween: Resurrection ("Michael Myers is not a soundbite, a spin-off...") would not feel out of place in this movie. So many speeches, holy ****.



Halloween Kills... I'll probably write a longer review later, but for now all I'll say that Busta Rhymes' speech from Halloween: Resurrection ("Michael Myers is not a soundbite, a spin-off...") would not feel out of place in this movie. So many speeches, holy ****.
And on that note, it would only be fair if David Gordon Green brings back his character for Halloween Ends.


God tier late sequel performance, pretty sure he wrote all his own lines.



That post is from August, and I have now re-watched the film in question. (For best results, read the discussion that starts on Page 93 of this thread before reading further.)

Sorry to say that my opinion has not changed much. If anything I was less bothered by Ryder and Reeves, for whatever that's worth.
I tried to keep MKS's defenses of the film in mind throughout, and I'm certainly on board with paying homage to the classic era, but I have not been convinced that the various flourishes were not ultimately empty at best and distracting at worst. In Vampyr, the shadow trick serves to disorient the viewer, and also establishes that characters can "leave their body", which will happen to our hero later. In Coppola's film it just comes across as a gag, with more similarity to Mel Brooks than to Dreyer.






And I'm not just being a smartass here. Obviously Brooks is specifically spoofing Coppola, but they're still basically telling the same joke. "I'm doing one thing but my shadow is doing the thing I would rather do." If the response to that is "of course it's a gag, it's supposed to be a gag", then I'd just say that it's not an approach that I'm interested in. I love Mel Brooks and Vampyr but Coppola is in a weird middle ground that I can't embrace. Wooley and Takoma basically said everything I'm thinking back in August so I won't repeat any of it.

I've often said that cinematography and set design are two of the most important elements for me regarding this genre, and I've joked that some of my favorite films would still be enjoyable to me if you digitally removed all of the actors. But when I say that it's because the film has (through visual means) achieved some sense of place or atmosphere that I find appealing. I didn't get that from Dracula. I often remarked "that's a cool miniature", but never "oh, how creepy!".
The Terror And Wooley Show are of one mind about this.



Halloween Kills... I'll probably write a longer review later, but for now all I'll say that Busta Rhymes' speech from Halloween: Resurrection ("Michael Myers is not a soundbite, a spin-off...") would not feel out of place in this movie. So many speeches, holy ****.
I'm a fan but if you did a shot every time a character says some variation of "evil dies tonight" or "Michael haunted this town for 40 years," you'd be dead before the first kill.

One would think the Nolan Bros worked on the script.





Haunts (1977)

A guy in a ski mask terrorizes a small rural town, murdering people with scissors. Our main character is a Swedish woman who's coping with the killer in town while also dealing with some personal demons. This is from '77 so the horror police probably won't let me call it a slasher, but that's ok because it goes into some non-slasher places anyway.

Despite the prevalence of violence against women, this still manages to be a mostly PG affair. The version I watched is cropped for TV and looks like a VHS dupe, but that only added to the gritty appeal for me. I watched it on Plex but the print on Youtube is about as good/bad, so either would work. Not great, but fans of this sort of thing should find it worthwhile. There's some twists and turns I didn't see coming.



Hunted. A couple of rapists pursue a woman through the woods. The villain was cartoonishly evil. But there were a couple funny moments and the final chase is bonkers.
I read this, and yet I was really not prepared for those final 20 minutes. It was like


I'm also delighted and perplexed by the fact that it was made by the same person who helped to write and direct Persepolis?!



*clears throat*


Halloween Kills (Green, 2021)



I'm not a diehard fan of the entire Halloween franchise, but I happen to think some of the sequels are pretty good. So when David Gordon Green "rebooted" the series with his sequel in 2018 that ignored all the other sequels, I was a little annoyed by the erasure of Rick Rosenthal's Halloween II, which I happen to think is a pretty strong example of its genre. But at the same time, I could mostly excuse this decision as I appreciated that the movie was having a direct conversation with John Carpenter's original, and while I found much of its exploration of the concept fairly self-defeating, it still worked as a fairly propulsive horror film with a good sense of narrative momentum and some effectively gnarly kills. Halloween Kills, which picks up right after that movie, shares the level of brutality of its predecessor, with a bevy of murders involving neck snaps, crushed skulls, blunt force trauma, fluorescent tubes to the neck as well as the requisite stabs, each of which seemingly has the foley artists working overtime. Carpenter's original is known for being fairly bloodless by the standards of the genre, with Michael Myers' strength demonstrated succinctly when he manages to lift one of his victims by the hilt of a knife. Green bludgeons you with ample graphic evidence of Myers' abilities. Gorehounds will be sated, is what I'm saying.

Unfortunately, in between those scenes, the movie is kind of a chore, and its erasure of Rosenthal's film annoyed me especially as it consciously invites the comparison, re-envisioning events right after the events of the original as well those of the 2018 film. Where Halloween II moves briskly, showing Myers attempting to continue his rampage while evading the police in its particularly thrilling first act, Halloween Kills stops the action every few minutes to tell us the significance of what's happening. The first time it happens, Anthony Michael Hall (playing Tommy Doyle, one of the kids babysat by Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode in the original, a role which was also played by Paul Rudd in The Curse of Michael Myers) dampens the mood during Halloween night at a bar with a not ineffective speech. I think Hall's casting is particularly astute, as his bulked-up physique could be read as an attempt by his character to gain a sense of control after the traumatic events of the original.

But every few minutes, somebody else gives a similar speech, again explaining what Michael Myers means to the community (The phrase "Evil dies tonight" is repeated ad nauseam.) Each of these is staged like fodder for a trailer, so that the movie never breathes dramatically. In Halloween: Resurrection, perhaps the series' least loved entry, Busta Rhymes elegantly explained that "Michael Myers is not a soundbite, spin-off, tie-in, some kind of celebrity scandal. Michael Myers is a killer shark, in baggy-ass overalls, who gets his kicks killing everything and everyone that he comes across. That's all." Not only would his speech not sound out of place here, it's less ungainly and on the nose than some of the ones here. Given the focus on community trauma and the self-defeating strategy of the previous film, I suspect this is Green's attempt to take on modern "elevated" horror films which prioritize theme over tension, but the fact is that some of those are still effective horror films and as a result Green's gambit is either disingenuous ("look at how bad my movie is, just like the ones I'm satirizing") or highlights his relative incompetence. Take your pick.

The previous movie had certain ideas about gun ownership that one could read a clear political stance into, even if the execution felt more in reference to genre tropes than the real world. This one turns its attention to police accountability and especially mob mentality, but while it ultimately indicts the latter, its handling jerks between pro- and anti-mob incidents in a way that seems schizophrenic more than subversive. (One could expect Dr. Hibbert to cry out "We've given the word 'mob' a bad name" and not find it out of place, given the movie's penchant for speechifying.) The mob element also results in a certain sprawl, which is structurally interesting (and allows Myers to rack up his kill count much faster) but takes us away from Curtis and Will Patton, whose relationship is only human element here that feels genuine. It's all pretty unfortunate, as when the movie decides to shut the hell up and commit to following something through, it can be pretty tense, like Patton's flashback to his encounter with Myers on the night of the original film's events. And when Myers is going about his murderous business, there is a baseline of entertainment value given Green's mean-spirited glee in executing these sequences.

And for a certain strain of horror fan, some of the references here might be enjoyable. The movie calls back to Halloween II with the death of a character dressed as a nurse (a nod to one of that movie's best known kills), and by finding a diegetic explanation for the changed appearance of Myers' mask. (While many of the sequels have used wildly different masks, The earlier film used the same one as the original. The reason that it looked drastically different is that in between the films, it was kept under the mattress of producer Debra Hill, who happened to be a chainsmoker.) Here the explanation is that the mask is burned along with Myers, which brings to mind another line from the great Busta Rhymes in Resurrection:"Looking a little crispy over there, Mikey. Like some chicken-fried mother****er." (We need to bring back Busta, is what I'm saying. Let's get this trending, people!) The use of a firefighter's saw in one sequence also brings to mind High Tension, which has similarly gruesome murders. Both Halloween II and High Tension are substantially more tense than this one (and Resurrection, while far from "good", is much funnier whenever Busta Rhymes is onscreen), but the movie does refer to at least one movie that's much worse, when a character's arm is severed after he falls to his death in a gruesome riff on the most memorably cheap moment in Zombie Holocaust. Take that, Marino Girolami!




You are not making me want to see this movie.



I think, instead, you've convinced me to re-watch Halloween II (for the 10th time).