This is perhaps a misnomer since these movies probably aren’t playing now in movie theaters (if theaters are even open at all), but since we just watched a bunch of films from 1978, I figured it was time too look at some things released this year. The one movie I wanted to get to and is legitimately only playing in theaters is Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor. It sounds like a hoot, but it’s not actually playing anywhere near me and oh yeah, there’s a pandemic on. It’s supposed to come to streaming… in early November (which is no good for Halloween viewing!) In any case, I did manage to rustle up three relatively recent releases, all of which are pretty great.
The Six Weeks of Halloween: Week 5 – Now Playing
- Werewolf Women of the SS (fake trailer)
- Wolf Guy: Enraged Lycanthrope (trailer)
- Silver Bullet (Robot Chicken)
The Wolf of Snow Hollow – A series of murders coinciding with the full moon stresses out a small mountain town’s police force. What a strange little beast this movie is. Too dark to be a comedy, but too funny to be scary and too wacky to be dramatic. And yet! It’s all of those things and more. It might take a while to get on writer/director/actor Jim Cummings’ wavelength, but once you’re there, this movie is fantastic. I suspect, though, that this movie will alienate a lot of folks.
Still, the pitch black parody of 80s ski-lodge comedies works well, and as Cummings’ character enters a full-on breakdown, he puts on a Tim Robinson-esque performance that is, well, an odd but perfect and surprisingly funny choice. The supporting cast, led by elder statesman Robert Forster and the quietly proficient Riki Lindhome, do their job well too, finding a similar dark balance. The movie also looks great, and perhaps it’s that craft that helps sell the weirdly contradictory aspects of the film. For instance, some of the attack sequences are cross cut in a way that is simultaneously scary and funny and yeah, this is a difficult movie to describe. And that’s before we get into the family drama and addiction stuff! I had a ton of fun with it and all the math added up for me… but your mileage may vary. This may be the one movie in this post that is now playing in theaters, but it’s available for purchase on a bunch of streaming sites as well… ***1/2
Sputnik – During the Cold War, a Soviet spacecraft encounters something odd and crashes back to earth. A psychologist is brought in to examine the lone surviving cosmonaut and begins to suspect that he may have brought something back from space. A neat little Russian monster flick, it starts slowly and establishes a grim sense of dread. This is paid off once the monster is revealed, though as the film progresses and revelations are doled out, the pacing suffers a bit. Some of the choices are cliched and I don’t think the final revelation lands quite as well as desired, but it’s ultimately a very well done monster movie.
The creature design is great, and the effects are just good enough to get by. It obviously owes a debt to Alien, a comparison that does it no favors (i.e. few films can compete with Alien) but as these things go, this is a pretty good take on the alien parasite sub-genre. It’s certainly better than the more recent Alien movies and I think it compares favorably to stuff like Life.
Basically, it’s a perfectly cromulent trip through well tread territory. If you like this sort of thing, you’ll enjoy this. It’s the only movie I watched this weekend that played its premise straight, which was also nice. ***
- It’s the Gifts That I Hate (Robot Chicken)
- Wes Anderson’s Horror Trailer (SNL)
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Murder (short)
Extra Ordinary – Goofy tale of a driving instructor with the magical ability to manipulate ghosts, a lonely man with serious dead-wife issues, and a musician who wants to sacrifice a virgin to get another hit. This actually came out last year, though it didn’t make it to the U.S. until earlier this year. It’s certainly not a conventional comedy, but it is clever and very funny. It strikes me as the sort of quirky movie that could find an audience, if only it were more widely known (or available – it is on Kanopy if you’re interested).
Will Forte is probably the most well known actor involved and his performance is certainly big and showy and fantastic. But the real standout is Maeve Higgins, who plays Rose the driving instructor with a perfect balance of reluctance, resign, and yet hope. The other lead is played by Barry Ward, who gets ample opportunity to ham it up when possessed by ghosts. It’s quirky and it’s weird and it’s probably the best horror comedy I’ve seen all year. ***1/2
I can’t believe we’re already 5 weeks into the 6 Weeks of Halloween. Coming down the homestretch! We’ve got some 80s Scream Queens coming. After that, we’ve got the traditional Speed Round of stuff I’ve watched but not otherwise covered… Plus the usual Season’s Readings! Keep your eyes peeled. Or, uh, don’t. That sounds painful.