6WH: Speed Round

Time flies when you’re terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought. We’ve gone six weeks and then some, and as per usual, there are plenty of movies that I’ve watched that I didn’t write about. This might have been because it didn’t fit in a given week’s theme, or maybe I just didn’t have that much to say about it. This year’s 6WH was somewhat more successful than the past couple of years. If I’m counting right, I will have watched 47 movies during the six weeks this year, a significant step up from the past two years (where I’ve only managed 36). And that’s not counting TV viewing either. Go me. So now we cover all those movies.

  • The Toolbox Murders – The first twenty or so minutes of this movie is unbelievably sleazy and brutal. It then settles into a more traditional exploitation mold before picking up a bit in the third act. It’s a hard movie to “like”, but it’s also hard to stop watching. As mentioned during Tobe Hooper week, it was a good candidate for a remake. **1/2
  • Alligator – A follow on viewing from the When Animals Attack week, this one takes that old urban legend about a baby alligator being flushed down the toilet and growing up in the sewers and amps it up by having the alligator survive by eating discarded lab rats injected with growth hormones. Thus we end up with an alligator the size of a car terrorizing Chicago. Pretty trashy stuff, but John Sayles’s script is a cut above your typical giant animal movie, and you’ve also got Robert Forster hamming it up. Worthy! **1/2
  • Young Frankenstein – So I like this movie, but I always feel like it’s the sort of thing I should like more. I laugh during the movie, but I always feel like I should be laughing more. Great production design and cinematography, but the thing that really makes this work is Gene Wilder. He single-handedly makes the movie, and without him I don’t think it would have worked. Then again, the whole cast is great, including the comedic trio of Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman (*horse whinny*), and Teri Garr, and good supporting roles for Marty Feldman as Igor (it’s pronounced eye-gore) and Peter Boyle as the monster. So not all Gene Wilder, but close enough. RIP Gene… ***

    Dignity.

  • Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film – It’s become something of an annual viewing for me and was instrumental in plucking out which slashers I should watch for this year’s Slasher week… It’s a good overview of the sub-genre and worth watching if that’s your thing. ***
  • Dark Night of the Scarecrow – At some point, I was going to do a killer scarecrow week, but my Netflix queue never quite aligned right and I only got to this one, about a mailman’s vendetta against the town simpleton. It’s like The Ox-Bow Incident, but if the wronged party came back as a scarecrow and took revenge upon the mob that killed him. I liked it, but its TV movie origins are a little too obvious. **1/2
  • Goosebumps – It’s easy to get bogged down in despair when watching lots of horror movies, so a good, old-fashioned, fun romp into monster-mash territory is always welcome. I never saw this when it came out because it seemed like soulless CGI horror and, alright, so it has some of that, but I really had a lot of fun with this and it’s certainly worth checking out. ***
  • Phantasmagoria – A feature-length documentary about the Phantasm films. Interviews with all the relevant cast and crew, lots of archival footage, and so on. Maybe a step above your typical retrospective, but probably only of interest to true Phans. Interestingly, this was directed by Jake West, who really needs to get off his keister and make another horror movie (Evil Aliens and Doghouse are both great fun)…
  • Haunter – What’s this? Vincenzo Natali made a movie in 2013 that I didn’t know about? Huh. He’s gone on to become more of a prized TV director of late (particularly on Hannibal, though also pitching in on Westworld, Luke Cage, and the forthcoming Star Trek: Discovery and American Gods), but his movies tend to be a little more difficult to pin down. This one is yet another take on the whole if-Groundhog-Day-was-horror thing and comports itself reasonably well. It’s not quite as weird as you’d expect from Natali, but it’s also not a straight arrow that’s easy to parse either. **1/2
  • Holidays – Horror anthology centered around each of the major holidays. A ripe unifying structure, but it falls down a bit on execution. The biggest director name here is probably Kevin Smith, but his horror chops are, er, lacking. Ultimately, I’m having trouble remembering most of the segments, which probably isn’t the greatest sign, but it wasn’t unwatchable either. **
  • Dracula’s Dog – AKA Zoltan: Hound of Dracula! I mean, yeah, I really wanted to like this but it is a bad movie. It could maybe veer into so-bad-it’s-good territory, but it feel short of even that for me. It’s just flabby nonsense, played straight. *
  • The Silence of the Lambs – We’ve all seen it and it’s awesome. I finally sat down to watch it with the Criterion commentary track, which is one of those cobbled-together mish-moshes of different people commenting. Still good, and yeah, it’s a classic that I’ve learned is a very rewatchable movie for me. ****
  • Psycho – It’s been a while since I’ve watched this and yes, it remains a classic. You could argue about some of the pacing or odd choices, but those are exactly what makes this movie so fantastic. ****
  • The Guest – Still a lot of fun, if not quite as great as You’re Next. But it’s on Netflix instant and it’s a solid 6WH watch. ***
  • The Addams Family – Not as taken with this as I was back when it came out, but it’s still got some really cool stuff, particularly the performances from Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, and a young Christina Ricci. **1/2
  • Possession – Dear lord, what the hell did I just watch? The batshit insanity quotient just went way up in this year’s 6WH. Ostensibly about a bad divorce, it turns out that the woman’s new beau is, um, some sort of tentacled monster (apparently Andrzej Zulawski’s elevator pitch for the movie was “A film about a woman who fucks an octopus.”). Dial performances up to 11; Sam Niell is always great at playing unhinged and Isabelle Adjani is absolutely fearless (dat “miscarriage” scene). Frankly, I have no idea what to make of this movie. Watch it if you dare. Let’s bring back the batshit rating system: ???

    Possession

  • The Slashening – You know what you’re in for once that Troma logo comes up, and yes, this is a farcical take on the slasher, with some funny bits actually landing (though many do not). My favorite is when one girl is trying to get help and smears a message on the glass (the guy inside is playing video games with his headphones on and can’t hear her). After the killer dispatches her, we see him spray the window and wipe it clean. Brilliant. It gets better as it goes on, but this ain’t a classic. **1/2
  • Ghostbusters – Yes, I still love this movie. One thing about the whole reboot situation that was annoying was all the people who claimed that we should like the new one because the old one wasn’t that good, which is kinda silly. I still laugh a lot when I watch this movie, and it’s got a sneaking backbone of genuine horror love. ****
  • Scream: The TV Series – Season 1 – So I did finish the first season and it was pretty good! Perhaps a few too many “Don’t tell the cops” moments where our heroine goes off on her own to confront the killer’s latest scheme, but it all comports itself well enough. The ending reveals are a bit of a cheat, but they kinda work too. Not sure if I like the blatant cliffhanger setup for season 2 bit, but then, I will probably watch season 2 at some point, so there is that. ***
  • Slasher – And I finished this season too… It helps that this was only 8 episodes, especially since this does kinda go off the rails a few times as it moves on. It’s played straight the whole time, but the whole skeletons-in-every-closet theme gets old fast, and those skeletons get more and more ridiculous as time goes on. Compelling enough that I watched the whole season, but it flattens out a bit as it moves on… **1/2
  • Penny Dreadful – So I watched the first couple of episodes and I should totally love this, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet. Will definitely be giving it another chance, but I wasn’t immediately convinced. Still, it’s great to see Eva Green get something to do. She should be a bigger star these days. **1/2
  • Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI – My favorite of the Fridays, I don’t watch it every year, but I probably could. ***
  • Trick ‘r Treat – Haven’t watched it yet, but is on the docket for Halloween night, as has become tradition.
  • Halloween – Duh.

I may sneak in another movie or two, depending on timing, but all in all, it’s been a very successful six weeks. I hope you’ve enjoyed!

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