6WH: Week 3 – Now Playing

I’m cheating a little bit here, as most of these aren’t actually playing at a theater near you. Indeed, I don’t think any of these got a particularly good release, mostly making the festival circuit or being released on-demand or something. That being said, they’re all things that have only become available somewhat recently, and one just came out this past week, so there is that. I suppose I should have gone out to see Annabelle, but I didn’t get around to it this weekend, perhaps later in the marathon…

  • Halloween Rare Deleted Scene 1978 (short)
  • Jason’s Deceiving Speed (Robot Chicken)
  • Stage Fright (1987 trailer)
  • Stage Fright – I don’t really like musicals, but when you combine musicals with slashers, well, the result is pretty decent. At first, I thought this was going to be a remake of the hokey Italian slasher (preview above), but aside from being mostly set at a theater, the two are very different. The opening establishes the tragic past that will drive the plot in the present, which is set at a theater camp. When the show director picks the tragic show and casts the daughter of a dead theater star, a murderer dressed up as the show’s villain starts offing the competition. Or something like that. We’re hitting all the slasher tropes pretty hard here, is what I’m saying. The opening is fantastic, a flashback followed by a big musical number that sorta introduces the major players at the camp. Again, not much of a musical kinda guy over here, but these numbers really do inject a sense of energy into the proceedings that would normally be rather drab in a similar movie. The film flags for a bit in the second act, but finishes reasonably well once the killer (whose musical numbers are all metal music) starts picking up the pace. I had a lot of fun with this. Nice cameo from Minnie Driver and for some weird reason, I always love seeing Meat Loaf in movies. I think I prefer the original killer’s mask to the Kabuki version, but what are you going to do?

    Old Mask Rulez!

    The old style mask rulez!

    It’s a paint-by-numbers slasher, so there’s not a lot of surprises on that front (even when we start revealing killers, etc…), but it has the added twist of being a musical that keeps the proceedings fun and energetic. Of course, the slasher film is an inherently derivative genre, so all those predictable tropes are actually somewhat comforting, and this film really did scratch that itch for me (so much so, that I think I’m going to make a week of it next week). Definitely worth the watch for slasher fans. ***

  • Hell No (fake trailer)
  • Grindhouse: Don’t (fake trailer)
  • The Cabin in the Woods (trailer)
  • Willow Creek – This one has been making the rounds at festivals for a while, but has only recently become available on streaming. This is director Bobcat Goldthwait’s found footage Bigfoot movie. Right away, you probably know what you’re in for, so I won’t go into too much detail about plot. In short, the found footage elements work (this is another one of those movies where the footage is from people who were themselves trying to make a documentary, in this case about Bigfoot) and the film holds together reasonably well. It is very derivative and The Blair Witch Project seems to have covered much of the same ground. Unlike the slasher movie’s sorta comforting tropes, I generally can’t get behind the found footage tropes. This worked reasonably well for what it is, but it didn’t really do much for me until the last act. Most of this is done in a static two shot, with our two protagonists in a tent hearing all sorts of weird crap out in the woods.

    Willow Creek

    That might sound boring, but it works really well, and when things do get out of hand, I like where the movie goes. It ends about how you think, but there are some tweaks to what that looks like that I found interesting enough. Ultimately, I’d been hearing about this movie for a long time, so it felt like a disappointment, but it’s stuck with me reasonably well. **1/2

  • The ABCs of Death (trailer)
  • V/H/S/2 (trailer)
  • The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror III
  • ABCs of Death 2 – Like its predecessor and indeed, most anthology films, this is a hit or miss affair. Unfortunately, after a promising start with A is for Amateur and B is for Badger, the rest of the film is mostly miss. There are occasional high points, but they’re almost always surrounded by mediocrity. The brevity of each story/letter does keep the pace brisk enough that it never gets boring… and there are some that have really intriguing ideas. I’d say that it’s overall better than the first film, but by evening things out, it also doesn’t have the true standouts that the first film had. I won’t go through each segment, but there are the ones that stood out for me as being pretty solid:
    • A is for Amateur (directed by Evan Katz) – An amusing story told in Gambit/Boondock Saints style where we see how a crime is supposed to go down, then watch how the plan disintegrates in reality. Ends with a touch of irony that is perfect. A great start to the anthology.
    • B is for Badger (directed by Julian Barratt) – An obnoxious television show host gets his comeuppance. It’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen right from the start, but it gets points for execution and the gag at the end of the bit.
    • M is for Masticate (directed by Robert Boocheck) – When they were making the movie, they left M open for a contest to see who could make the best short. This was the winner, and it might be my favorite bit from the entire movie.

      M is for Masticate

      Slow motion rampage set to music followed by a hilarious stinger at the end. Maybe they should do a contest for all the letters next time.

    • Z is for Zygote (directed by Chris Nash) – Unquestionably the most disturbing of the segments in this movie (though it never reaches L is for Libido levels from the first film), this one follows a pregnant woman in an old farmhouse who doesn’t want to have her baby until her husband returns. It’s nasty and grotesque, but it sticks with you and makes for a good way to finish off the anthology. **

    There are plenty of other solid entries, and quite a few mediocre or half-baked ones. All in all, it’s worth a watch for horror obsessives, but perhaps not for most folks.

And there you have it. Stay tuned for a week of Neo-Slashers. Exciting!

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