It’s hard to believe we’re in the last week before Halloween, but here we are, coming down the homestretch. This is another week without a real theme, but they’re all films I’ve wanted to see since last year’s 6WH marathon.
- Season’s Greetings (short film)
- The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XX
- Somegreybloke: Trick or Treat
- Trick ‘r Treat: I’ve been hearing about this film for about 2 years now. It gets rave reviews everywhere it goes. Festival screenings were packed and viewers were, by all appearances, very enthusiastic about the film. Devin Faraci even ranked it as his #6 movie of 2008 and called it the best Halloween movie of all time (even though it hadn’t officially come out yet). Whether it was because of internal politics at Warner Brothers or because they were scared of the Saw franchise, the film never got it’s rightful theatrical release… but it has finally appeared on DVD/BR and so I now get to watch it, and it’s quite good. I’m not entirely sure it lived up to the hype, but it’s still a very good film. The movie consists of several intertwined but mostly unrelated stories, sorta like a horror version of Pulp Fiction (a lot of horror anthologies have more delineation between the various short stories, whereas this movie has a lot of overlap). The thing I like best about the film is that it truly engages the holiday of Halloween like no other movie has. Sure, I love John Carpenter’s original Halloween, but that story wasn’t really dependent on the holiday… The great thing about Trick ‘r Treat is that it incorporates all sorts of Halloween lore and rituals as plot elements. Most of the dangers are things we’ve heard of: watch out for poisoned candy (or candy with razor blades), never blow out a Jack O’Lantern, and so on. Writer/director Michael Dougherty even attempts to add to the mythology by creating a kind of mischievous mascot in Sam (short for Samhain), the little guy with the orange outfit and sack mask. One of the segments features a modern urban legend, several seem to indicate that things are more dangerous than they seem, and there are some connections between the segments. To be sure, I’d like to see more of Halloween’s traditions examined than what appears here, but it’s still quite good. I suspect it will become a big cult hit in the years to come, as it is a film that truly celebrates the holiday, but it’s hard to tell if it will ever really attain that status as the go-to Halloween movie. Very solid stuff, one of the better horror films of the past few years, and something I definitely want to revisit in the future. ***
- The Others (trailer)
- The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror VII: The Thing and I (sorry no vid online)
- Somegreybloke: Halloween 08
- The Other: Last year I watched The Others and Steven noted in a later comment that The Other is also a very creepy film. After a fitful start and a twist I saw coming a mile away, he was indeed correct to note the creepiness factor in this film. It starts slow, following some kids who are playing on a farm (or at least, a very rural area). There’s definitely something odd about the main characters, and we later find that their grandmother has taught them how to play a “game” where they essentially practice telepathy. We first see them do it with animals, then later with humans. Of course, mysterious accidents start happening and dead bodies begin appearing, and it’s all centered around this little boy Niles and his twin brother Holland. The beginning of the film is unevenly paced, but reasonably effective at setting the stage and hinting at things bubbling beneath the surface of this otherwise ordinary farm. About 2/3 of the way through the movie, there is a twist. Now, it’s not a poorly executed twist, to be sure, but it is something that’s been done a million times since this film was made in 1972, so I had it pegged from the first scene in the film. But as luck would have it, the film is not completely reliant on the twist to establish the chills. Indeed, from that point on, things get much creepier and much more intense. It all leads up to a rather dark ending that I found quite shocking. There’s a real edge to this movie that isn’t apparent at first, but which hit like a ton of bricks later in the movie. I don’t want to ruin anything, and the movie is certainly not gross, but there are some very disturbing scenes towards the end. If you’re a fan of the slower burning 70s psychological horror, this is a pretty good example of the genre. ***
- The Toxic Avenger (trailer)
- Bad Taste (trailer)
- Evil Aliens (trailer)
- Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead: I had originally planned to do a whole week of Troma films, but due to time constraints and quite frankly, not being in the right mood for extreme (and I do mean extreme) gore, I decided to limit it to just this one entry, which has to be a contender for the goriest movie of all time (and even among the other Troma movies, that’s saying a lot). There is so much fake blook, feces, and, uh, green chicken zombie goop that is sprayed all over the place in this movie that I couldn’t help but wonder where it was all coming from. I mean, there is splatter flicks, and then there’s this movie where people gush more blood and pus than could ever conceivably fit in their body. There’s even a shot of a camera pointing up from within a toilet (while someone is on the toilet). The film itself takes aim at the fast food industry, and though it gets a few digs in at the typical protester-type, it’s pretty steadfast in its desire to gross you out about the food industry. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no attempt to seriously examine anything in the movie, but those Troma types like to whip a message at you along with all the goop and blood. Also, it has musical numbers. I was certainly not expecting that, though the songs are spread somewhat unevenly throughout the film. In the end, what we’re left with is an extremely silly, amazingly gory film. If you’re a fan of the Troma aesthetic, you’ll love it. If not, you could possibly hate it. It’s pretty disgusting after all (of course, that’s exactly what it’s going for, so it’s hard to hold that against them). **1/2
That’s all for now. Coming down the homestretch, I’ve got a couple of additional posts planned for this week, including a speed round of movies I watched but haven’t covered (just like last year), and some other stuff too, so stay tuned.