31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 31 – Halloween II (1981)

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Director: Rick Rosenthal

Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Charles Cyphers, Pamela Susan Shoop, Ana Alicia

Screenplay: John Carpenter, Debra Hill

92 mins. Rated R.

 

Here we are again, another year of horror done and another terrific Halloween. This year wasn’t as perfect as last year (two times where technical difficulties took over), but all the same, I really enjoyed myself, and I hope you have as well. Before we get started, I’d like to thank you for taking this journey with me again, and offer you the ability to offer feedback. Let me know what you want next year…movies, new extras, etc…and I’ll do my best to get you the content you deserve.

It is Halloween night, 1978. Michael Myers has slain several teenagers and was shot six times and dropped out a window. When Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence, Prince of Darkness, Escape from New York) goes to check the body, Myers is gone. Now, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, TV’s Scream Queens, True Lies) is being taken to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, and she is about to discover that Halloween night is far from over.

Halloween II should be thought of in a better light. The movie is pretty good. It just has a big shadow hanging over it. That shadow is John Carpenter’s original film, Halloween, a perfect horror film from one of the greats of the horror genre. The sequel from director Rick Rosenthal (Bad Boys, The Birds II: Land’s End) is just not as good. That doesn’t make it a bad film, just a less-than-perfect film.

Halloween II does have faults; I can’t say it doesn’t. First of all, never take your lead and make her bedridden the entire film. Secondly, when you fill up the potential deaths, make them more likable than the staff at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. Lastly, don’t make your big reveal so forced and obvious. There is a great twist in the movie, but I could have seen it a mile away.

All that being said, I love that the story from Halloween isn’t over yet. The technique of the direct sequel doesn’t always work, but I didn’t find myself disappointed in the project which actually elevates the original even more. Halloween II is a fine film (a terrific double-feature with the original) and a great way to spend the holiday, just maybe not for the characters.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of John Carpenter’s Halloween, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 30 – The Thing (1982)

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Director: John Carpenter

Cast: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David

Screenplay: Bill Lancaster

109 mins. Rated R for adult situations/language and violence.

IMDb Top 250: #164 (as of 03/04/2016)

 

Last year, I discussed remakes that add something new and become better than the original. The Fly came up, and I was also thinking about The Thing, a 1982 remake from director John Carpenter (Halloween, The Ward).

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At a remote Antarctic research station, a creature has been discovered; an alien creature from another world is terrorizing several Americans with its ability to mimic their look perfectly. As paranoia sets in, R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell, Grindhouse, Furious 7) has decided that the Thing needs to be stopped before the rescue party arrives and It gets out of Antarctica.

The Thing is one of my absolute favorite films. John Carpenter’s emphasis on practical effects by using effects master Rob Bottin is shockingly elegant and horrifying.

Kurt Russell leads an all-star cast of individuals, each able to perfectly exemplify frightened man lashing out at an almost unwinnable situation. He is aided by some terrific work from Wilford Brimley (Cocoon, Did You Hear About the Morgans?) as the unhinged Dr. Blair and Keith David (TV’s Community, Platoon) as the anger-filled Childs.

Carpenter understands what needs to be said in his film. His usage of themes like paranoia, isolation, and violence explode in this colorful and scary presentation of people without the proper resources to handle a situation.

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Seriously, there isn’t enough praise for this perfect piece of horror cinema. As far as the prequel goes, I would avoid it if you haven’t seen the original. Check out 1982’s The Thing. I know you’ll love it.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of John Carpenter’s Halloween, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 29 – Monsters (2010)

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Director: Gareth Edwards

Cast: Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able

Screenplay: Gareth Edwards

94 mins. Rated R for language.

 

Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) is living proof that anyone can make a movie, even if they have to play multiple roles, which he did, as director/writer/cinematography/production designer/visual effects on the film. But how is the finished product?

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Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy, TV’s Halt and Catch Fire, 12 Years a Slave) is an American who has been hired to escort his boss’s daughter Sam (Whitney Able, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, A Walk Among the Tombstones) from Mexico across to the U.S. The only way to get there? Go through the “infected zone” where alien creatures have taken over in a world where humans have adapted to the idea that they are no longer the dominant species on Earth.

The visual effects on the film, which were made on a single computer with store-bought software, are terrific. Director Edwards commands his film and doesn’t settle for less than great. As for our story, there isn’t much of one. I don’t think he realized how much the plot would have to fend for itself here, and the plot is nothing new.

McNairy and Able have great chemistry (they were dating at the time) but they just don’t have much to do. There is a lot of needless exposition of the characters that doesn’t make them very compelling. I’d rather learn about the world that has been built.

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Monsters is a pretty incredible film for its backstory, but as far as entertainment goes, general moviegoers won’t find much to love here. Filmmakers like myself love the idea that one man can be so driven by his need to create, but the film itself is less than remarkable.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 28 – The Collection (2012)

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Director: Marcus Dunstan

Cast: Josh Stewart, Emma Fitzpatrick, Christopher McDonald, Randall Archer, Lee Tergesen

Screenplay: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan

82 mins. Rated R for strong bloody violence, grisly images, language and brief nudity.

 

The 2009 film The Collector was written as a prequel to Saw, but when the producers vetoed that option, it became The Collector. While The Collector had its moments, it had just as many faults. Director Marcus Dunstan seems to have learned from his mistakes for the 2012 sequel The Collection, a highly stylized game of cat and mouse which sees Arkin (Josh Stewart, Interstellar, Transcendence) escaping from the clutches of The Collector (Randall Archer). Immediately after, Arkin is enlisted by Lucello (Lee Tergesen, Monster, Red Tails) and his boss Mr. Peters (Christopher McDonald, Requiem for a Dream, About Last Night) to find Peters’ daughter Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick, The Social Network, Before We Go), the Collector’s newest claim. When they get to the slasher’s lair, they discover that the Collector has a few more tricks in store for them.

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I’m not going to tell you that The Collection is a perfect horror film. It has faults, but it takes a major step up from its predecessor. Arkin has become a much more likable lead, having evolved from his criminal ways. The addition of equally likable Elena and Lucello, we have several characters that we care about. We want to see them live. When they fall into danger, I genuinely wanted them to survive.

I enjoyed the Collector’s background and the extensive look at how he operates as a serial killer, and though I agree that his lair and the traps he sets seem almost like he has second sight, but if you can suspend your disbelief enough, you can find fun here.

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The Collection won’t be for everyone. The film has a lot of detractors, but fans of the original will find a lot to like. Its creative team has evolved in the three years between the films, and it looks good for future endeavors.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of Marcus Dunstan’s The Collector, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 27 – Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)

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Director: Wes Craven

Cast: Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, Allen Payne, Kadeem Hardison, John Witherspoon, Zakes Mokae, Joanna Cassidy

Screenplay: Charlie Murphy, Michael Lucker, Chris Parker

100 mins. Rated R.

 

Many horror directors attempt to cross with comedy at some point, and for me, there are two infamous examples of note: John Carpenter’s Memoirs of an Invisible Man and Wes Craven’s Vampire in Brooklyn. I actually really enjoyed Carpenter’s film, and when I originally saw Vampire in Brooklyn several years back, I liked it too. Sadly, on my most recent viewing, my opinion has shifted drastically.

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Maximillian (Eddie Murphy, Beverly Hills Cop, A Thousand Words) is the last of a line of vampires from the Caribbean. In order to save his bloodline, he needs to find a female born from a native vampire he knew. Detective Rita Veder (Angela Bassett, TV’s American Horror Story, Meet the Robinsons) is that woman, working for the NYPD in Brooklyn. After siring Julius Jones (Kadeem Hardison, White Men Can’t Jump, Made of Honor) to be his personal servant, Maximillian sets out to find his destined love in the urban jungle.

Wes Craven (Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Eddie Murphy famously fought on set about the tone of the film, and it is the paramount reason why this movie failed so much. Craven wanted a horror film with comedic elements, and Murphy wanted a comedy with horror elements. The clash was the downfall of the film.

Murphy’s Maximillian didn’t have great voicework, and the choice to do his signature multiple roles thing by playing a few other characters that Maximillian disguises himself as didn’t work nearly as well on second viewing.

Craven’s abilities as a director were really called into question during the making of this film, and his work suffered tremendously from studio interference and the uneasy set. It’s sad, because the overall idea seems like a lot of fun. I really like Kadeem Hardison’s portrayal of the decrepit Julius Jones.

I also don’t think the casting of Bassett works in the film. She has the ability to act, but this just isn’t the movie for her.

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I’m happy to see that Craven was able to recover from a film like Vampire in Brooklyn with solid works like Scream and Red Eye, but Eddie Murphy, who blamed everyone else for making a film he knowingly wrote and acted in disappoints me. He claimed that he only did the film was so that he could finish his contract with the studio and focus on other works. I call bullshit, Eddie. You failed but you couldn’t just accept it.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 26 [Happy 25th Birthday!] – Graveyard Shift (1990)

Wow, here we go again. Another Stephen King adaptation. This one is less good.

Graveyard Shift comes from Stephen King’s Night Shift collection, and is a largely entertaining short story. This film departs rather heavily from the source material. A drifter has been hired to clean out the Bachman Mill from rats, but what he discovers is a beast much bigger than any rat.

Graveyard Shift is a mostly forgettable film apart from the pretty enjoyable performance from Brad Dourif and the Colonel Kurtz-like Mill foreman. The creature effects are pretty meh and I didn’t care about anyone else enough to be sad when they bit the dust. Plus, I didn’t care for the fact that they had no work ethic. Just do your job people! C’mon!

Graveyard Shift isn’t good. For a film that came out 25 years back, it only has one thing going for it: Stephen King, who isn’t even involved other than the source story. Forget this one.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 25 – Bad Taste (1987)

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Director: Peter Jackson

Cast: Terry Potter, Pete O’Herne, Peter Jackson, Mike Minett, Craig Smith

Screenplay: Ken Hammon, Tony Hiles, Peter Jackson

91 mins. Not Rated.

 

I’m a big Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lovely Bones) fan. I’ve really enjoyed the kind of art he can create on a budget. I will say, however, his early work leaves a lot to be desired. I guess there is a point in Jackson’s career that I start to love his work, The Frighteners. Bad Taste came before that point.

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In Bad Taste, the population of Kaihoro has been replaced by aliens who wish to harvest the humans for intergalactic fast food. The Astro Investigation and Defense Service recruits several agents to stop them.

This movie is just kind of bad. I didn’t like the wooden characters, the sound work is terrible, and I just didn’t find it very interesting. The idea can work, but I just didn’t see it happening here.

One important point to make is that director Jackson didn’t give up, filming the entire movie over the course of four years while working a regular job. That takes a lot of work, and I can respect that.

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Now, I cannot forgive Bad Taste for its boring film work, even if I liked the ending and the alien costuming was pretty interesting. There is a lot to improve upon, but it didn’t work nearly as much as it should have. What did you think, bloggies?

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, click here.

For my review of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, click here.

For my review of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, click here.

For my review of Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, click here.

For my review of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, click here.

For my review of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, click here.

For my review of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 24 – Dracula (1931)

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Director: Tod Browning

Cast: Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan

Screenplay: Garrett Fort

85 mins. Not Rated.

 

Tonight, I wanted a classic. In the most simplistic and understandable way. I chose Dracula.

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When Mr. Renfield (Dwight Frye, Frankenstein, Drums of Fu Manchu) arrives at Castle Dracula to meet the mysterious Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi, White Zombie, Bride of the Monster), he succumbs to the Count’s convincing and becomes his slave. The Count is a vampire, a demonic force who feeds on the blood of the living, and he is heading to London to live in his new home at Carfax Abbey, where he meets Mina (Helen Chandler, The Last Flight, Christopher Strong), Johnathan Harker (David Manners, The Mummy, The Black Cat), Lucy, and Doctor Seward. As the Count begins claiming new victims, the equally strange Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan, Mission to Moscow, A Shot in the Dark) must do all he can to stop him.

Dracula is downright brilliant in so many ways. I love the lead performance from Lugosi and Van Sloan. The two play off each other so well. Dwight Frye’s work as the turned Renfield is also terrifying and unsettling even today.

Dracula continues to impress, and I suggest watching this film back-to-back with the Spanish language version (both made on the same sets at the same time). I also suggest viewing the film with the newer score from Philip Glass. Seriously, what are you doing right now? You should be watching this.

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I’m sorry. I shouldn’t tell you what to do. No wait, I don’t care. See the damn movie!

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 23 [Top 250 Friday] – #192: Diabolique (1955)

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Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Cast: Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel

Screenplay: Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jerome Geronimi

116 mins. Not Rated.

IMDb Top 250: #192 (as of 10/23/2015)

 

I saw Diabolique last night. I wasn’t entirely impressed. Let me explain.

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Diabolique is the story of two women, Nicole Horner (Simone Signoret, Room at the Top, The Army of Shadows) and Christina Delassalle (Vera Clouzot, The Wages of Fear, The Truth), who conspire to murder Christina’s husband, the cruel Michel (Paul Meurisse, Le Deuxieme, Lunch on the Grass). After they commit the crime, Michel’s body goes missing and the two women are thrown into a chilling conspiracy of deceit.

I thought the visuals of the film were fine. The actors capably perform in the film. I really enjoyed Vera Clouzot in particular. There are some great aspects of this film.

One big failure of this film, though, is the pace. I’m not one of those people who discredits older black-and-white features for problems of aging, but this one kind of bored me a bit.

Now the ending itself was pretty sweet. I still felt somewhat underwhelmed by it, but I feel like that could be because I heard about it before I saw it.

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Diabolique isn’t for everyone. It is definitely a slow burn, and I just wasn’t really feeling it. I hope you will feel differently, but for me, it just didn’t do it.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 22 – Clue (1985)

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Director: Jonathan Lynn

Cast: Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren

Screenplay: Jonathan Lynn

94 mins. Rated PG for violence.

 

Everyone out there is discussing the possible upcoming video game boom. I’m just over here thinking about the board game boom.

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Clue is the story of six people, a butler, a maid, a cook and a man named Boddy. Mr. Boddy has gathered Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan, The Sting, Murder by Death), Mrs. White (Madeline Kahn, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles), Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd, Back to the Future, A Million Ways to Die in the West), Mr. Green (Michael McKean, TV’s Better Call Saul, This is Spinal Tap), Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull, TV’s Dads, Mrs. Doubtfire), and Miss Scarlet (Lesley Ann Warren, Secretary, Jobs) together to discuss something. Before he gets the chance to do so, he is murdered by one of the attendees in the room. Now, these conveniently placed people, each with a motive for murdering Mr. Boddy, each with a weapon of choice, have to discover who is the killer? Was it Professor Plum in the billiard room with the revolver? Was is Miss Scarlet with the rope in the kitchen? And what about Wadsworth (Tim Curry, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Burke and Hare), the butler? Is he involved?

My favorite aspect of this film is that writer/director Jonathan Lynn (Nuns on the Run) found interesting  yet convoluted ways to make the board game adaptation actually work. Things like the corny names and the motives, the general campiness of the game/plot, all of it really works well. He even found a way to work in multiple endings (depending on your home video release, you may have a version with all three endings sewn together or one that randomly picks an ending; both are great options).

Now, the decision to cast comic actors who can handle drama seals the deal here. What a terrific cast! Mel Brooks could have directed this film, that’s how impressive our players are. Add to that an impressive direction from Lynn and you have the reason why Clue is such a masterfully beloved cult classic.

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Clue is a classic, even if you present me with a less-than-stellar Rotten Tomatoes score. It’s a classic and I don’t care what you say. See this film and then, hell, play the game. It makes for a fun evening.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.