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The All Things HORROR thread~!

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The first Halloween remake was just fine, as long as you didn't want it to be a real Halloween movie. (For the record, I have no problem with that, considering how many real Halloween movies were absolutely fucking terrible.) Yeah, there were some rough patches, especially most of the Final Girl sequence since it was filmed so damn darkly and I couldn't see shit. But there were enough parts I really liked (especially Malcolm McDowell's fascinating reinterpretation of Dr. Loomis, being smart enough to know he shouldn't even try to recapture what Donald Pleasence brought to the part) that I thought the overall movie was worthwhile. Although, I do think the theatrical cut was by far a better movie than any of the other versions (the ones where Laurie isn't behind the trigger at the end, or where the awful hospital-rape scene takes place). Also, the unbelievable all-time dream cast of genre legends sure as hell didn't hurt.

The sequel... eh... Rob Zombie pretty clearly never wanted to make this movie in the first place. His reasoning was "the studio was determined to produce a sequel to my movie, and if anyone's gonna direct a sequel to MY movie, it's gonna be ME". Zombie is usually a pretty good idea-factory when it comes to memorable scenes and individual setpieces, but this time he was lost without a map and had no clue what the hell to do in this forced situation. It's got a few interesting notions, especially "survivor's guilt" dealing with Laurie and the sheriff and his daughter; but overall, it stunk of desperation and throwing EVERYTHING at the wall and then being dismayed when practically nothing stuck.

...aw hell, why not, here's brief thoughts on Zombie's other movies:

-House of 1,000 Corpses: honestly, this is my favorite one of Rob's films. I'm still somewhat mystified as to why everyone absolutely hates it. It's a fun throwback/tribute/parody of 70s grindhouse flicks, imo. I think Zombie is underrated in terms of working with actors and being a great casting director; back when he filmed this movie, nobody had any idea who the fuck Chris Hardwick or Rainn Wilson or Walton Goggins were. Hell, Bill Mosely and Sid Haig's careers were utterly dead and buried at the time, without Rob Zombie they very likely would have never gotten their second-chance career revivals. The movie has a sly sense of humor underneath all the icky gore and hillbilly bellowing and fancy MTV-style editing, and I think it's been an unfairly-dismissed diamond in the rough.

-The Devil's Rejects on the other hand... yeah, I don't like it. It's SO goddamned grim and nihilistic, producing a world where NOBODY is a good person and everyone is on a greasy slide straight to hell, that I found it repugnant. It's got a few stellar setpieces here and there, the absolutely-perfect final scene comes to mind, but I felt like the overall results was less than the sum of its parts.

-The Haunted World of El Superbeasto: a kinda-cutesy animated movie that was fitfully interesting, but hardly compelling. It's probably the most self-indulgent movie Zombie has ever made, and it's filled with incredibly-unlikable characters who are really difficult to bear watching for a feature-length film.

-The Lords of Salem: I have no idea what the fuck this was. It had a few absolutely fascinating moments here and there, and Sheri Moon is further proving that she's finally evolving into a perfectly decent actor, but it made less sense than your average Dario Argento movie. The repetitive structure didn't help, it was like one of those movies where you're sure that YOU would have moved out of the goddamn haunted house about halfway through the film, but the oblivious characters just keep tramping forward into their inevitable oblivion.

-The fake Grindhouse trailer, Werewolf Women of the SS: the best thing Zombie's ever filmed. It's an absolute crying shame that this was never made into a full movie. "And starring NICOLAS CAGE as FU MANCHU~!"

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I enjoyed Lords of Salem and Devil's Rejects.  The Halloween remake was okay.  House of 1000 Corpses was a little underwhelming and I couldn't get through the Halloween sequel.

 

I saw Zombie in concert about a year ago.  It was a an awesome show and 5 minutes in he stopped the concert and told everybody to just put their fucking camera phones away and enjoy the fucking show.  So he's aces in my book.

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I saw him...

Oh Jesus fuck sixteen fucking years ago!?!?!?

I like, don't love, House.

Rejects is the best nihilistic 70's grindhouse film ever, despite being made in the mid-00's.

I like Halloween, until it completely goes off the trails the last ten minutes.

I find the sequel to be deeply fascinating and interesting but not, you know, good. I've written before on here about the high regard I hold Taylor Scout-Compton's performance in. So very brave and willing to go all the way out there.

Never saw the cartoon movie.

Lords of Salaam is a nice throwback to the old "devils child" movies with some amazingly visuals. I really dug it, though not as much as Tim Brayton did.

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House of 1000 Corpses is the worst totally blatant wink to 70's exploitation splatter that it is unreal.  I hated it. 

 

Devil's Rejects was light years better because it was a wink to the same genre yet executed with far more subtlety and it was completely unapologetic.  Zombie got it right.  Big time.

 

I enjoyed Lords of Salem far more than I should have.  Probably because Sherri Moon was allowed to be smoking hot on her own via her own screen presence rather than being held up to the camera every five minutes like she was in 1000 Corpses.  HEY LOOK AT MY WIFE~!  ISN'T SHE SPECTACULAR~?

 

i have the same issue when Keven Smith puts his spouse on camera.

 

John Carpenter's Halloween is awesome because John doesn't tell you shit about Myers so you have no idea what he is capable of.   Zombie demystified Myers by giving him a sympathetic backstory.  That was stupid.

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John Carpenter's Halloween is awesome because John doesn't tell you shit about Myers so you have no idea what he is capable of.   Zombie demystified Myers by giving him a sympathetic backstory.  That was stupid.

 

Exactly.  The best villains exist as forces of nature with no backstory, like the aforementioned original Myers, the Joker or even The Strangers in the movie of the same name.  Evil exists and we rarely are allowed to understand why.  It reminds me of why I only half-liked You're Next.  When we get the big reveal

that the whole thing is just a  plot to steal an inheritance

, it lost something for me.  Silent killers in animal masks show up and murder everyone and it's never explained why?  That's great.  The other thing?  Not so much.

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I loved You're Next and I didn't mind the twist.  The big reveal didn't bother me because I rather enjoyed Final Girl being a total badass.

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Not just that Zombie gave us a backstory but it was such that a small part of you wants to cheer for Myers and that's not Halloween to me.  There's nothing sympathetic or cool about Myers.

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To be fair, Zombie's Halloween was doomed because of decades of slasher movie consumption has programmed most horror fans to do just that:  cheer for the killer.

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The best villains exist as forces of nature with no backstory, like the aforementioned original Myers, the Joker or even The Strangers in the movie of the same name.  Evil exists and we rarely are allowed to understand why.

Really? There's plenty of great villains who are heavily explained. Norman Bates, Hannibal Lecter, Freddy Krueger, Max Cady, Dracula, Hans Gruber, Hans Landa, Bill the Butcher, Peter Lorre in M, the girl in Audition, Emperor Palpatine, Apollo Creed, most Bond villains... hell, most of Shakespeare's heels are given big speeches where they totally explain their evil backstory and secret plans. The whole "mysterious bad guy who is never explained" deal is largely a recent modern invention, classical storytelling rarely worked like that. Not everybody has to be some Anton Chigurh type who comes outta nowhere, squashes the forces of good, and then casually struts off into the night. Hell, that's actually not scary to me, when the movie is all-too-obviously stacking the deck in the villain's favor so that he runs roughshod over all the heroes and there's never any real conflict over who's gonna win.
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@ Jingus

 

Backstory or lack thereof is important because it describes the nature of the monster and that determines how we feel about the victims.  My rant about the Twilightification of the classic Vampire would last weeks.

 

John Carpenter saw fit not to tell us anything about Michael Myers because he does not want us to be prepared for what he can do or what he is capable of.

 

All we really know about Freddy Krueger is the brief blurb about how he died and the most important part about that story is that Freddy is identified as a child killer.  The great failure of the Elm Street sequels is that they fail to remind us why we should be afraid of Freddy and why he absolutely deserved what he got.

 

And I think you are confusing revelation of motive with explanation of background origin.  When are we ever introduced to Asami Yamazaki, Hans Gruber, or Palpatine on the personal and intimate level that we are to Michael Myers in Zombie's Halloween reboot?  Is the little bit we even know about characters like Asami or Palpatine even reliable information since it comes from liars and crazy people?

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J.T. nailed it. Zombie trying to rewrite scripture doesn't work. The Shape is a force of nature and cannot be explained, and trying to give him a backstory emasculates the character.

 

However. The weird thing is I actually liked that element of the first remake more than the rampage in the second half, which I can't really explain. Maybe it's the goofiness of Michael busting through walls (yes, he's a force of nature, but that was a forced piece of cinema), Malcolm McDowall saying "Michael" about a thousand times in a row, the fact that he was remaking something that never needed to be remade...

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J.T. nailed it. Zombie trying to rewrite scripture doesn't work. The Shape is a force of nature and cannot be explained, and trying to give him a backstory emasculates the character.

 

The best thing about Halloween is that Carpenter provides us with a safety valve in the scene where Myers is briefly shown without his mask and the images remind us that there is indeed a human somewhere under there, but somehow the scene ends up being equally terrifying as it adds more mystique to the mask itself. 

 

Without the mask, Mike is just an ordinary looking guy.  With the mask on, he becomes The Shape; an inhuman, unfeeling killing machine.

 

We get a similar same feeling in Friday the 13th when Jason puts on the hockey goalie mask and we feel that surge because Jason has finally found his sense of true identity.

 

There is probably an essay out there about how important masks are in slasher movies.  It is too much of a horror trope for it not to be a well discussed topic.

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I get what you guys are saying, but I don't entirely agree. I've never been the biggest fan of the franchise in general (hell, I argue that the remake is a more interesting film than the original, and so is part 4) and Michael has never really scared me. He's just some guy in a mask. I never, ever bought that he was some kind of Inexplicable Evil which apparently gave him magic superpowers. When he's getting shot and just ignoring the bullets like they're Airsoft rounds, I'm rolling my eyes and muttering "bullshit!". The movies never convinced me that was plausible. And of course you can get some great shit out of horror movies which sucker-punch you with things that aren't possible, stuff like Alien certainly comes to mind; but the Halloween series in general just didn't sell me on Michael's mysterious otherworldly nature. (And let's not even mention the god-damned word "Druids".) Hell, I always felt like "The Shape" was a prissily pretentious euphemism for "some big guy in a mask who doesn't talk", it felt like they were trying to build a mythology on a bedrock made out of foam packing peanuts.

 

However. The weird thing is I actually liked that element of the first remake more than the rampage in the second half, which I can't really explain.

I can explain it: the first half of the movie is all-new stuff. The second half is practically a scene-for-scene remake of the original, and the filmmakers are palpably nervous that they might fuck it up if they make it too different. Zombie would happily mess around with the childhood backstory all damn day; but when he got to the meat of Michael's massacre on the night, he got cold feet and didn't want to change much. After he gets back to Haddonfield, the script goes on autopilot and we pretty quickly realize that the movie's not gonna be blindsiding us with many big surprises. It's like Zombie regarded the original script as scripture and couldn't bear to blaspheme by altering too much of it. (This is bizarrely reversed in the sequel, when easily the best sequence is the beginning when he's pretty faithfully remaking the original Halloween 2 and actually doing it better than the 1981 version.) Zombie wasn't shackled like that in the first half when Myers was a kid or in the asylum, he could let his wacky imagination run wild and come up with whatever crazy shit he wanted to do.

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I get what you guys are saying, but I don't entirely agree. I've never been the biggest fan of the franchise in general (hell, I argue that the remake is a more interesting film than the original, and so is part 4) and Michael has never really scared me.

 

The "Aw, poor thing." origin that Zombie builds for Myers is IMO incredibly lame, but I will give Zombie credit for one thing.  The scene where Danny Trejo's character tries to talk Michael down is fucking brilliant.  It lets you know that the kid whose tragic past you were witness to early in Act One is long dead and was replaced with something far worse than a tormented child.

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The way I look at it is not all villains represent a person.  Sometimes, they represent the idea of pure evil/terror, and that can only be achieved when we know little or nothing about the killers.  We can't empathize or justify their actions that way.

 

Norman Bates has been humanized for us.  Michael Myers has not.

 

Why the Joker's unknown past works so well is that we know everything about Bruce Wayne and how he became Batman.  If the Joker is to be Batman's true reverse image, we can't know anything about the clown.  Batman fights based on loneliness, loss, justice, and vengeance.  The Joker fights because he simply because he can.

 

We may know what goes bump in the night.  That alone doesn't necessarily frighten you.  The unknown power of that entity is what makes you lose sleep.

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Hannibal Lector wasn't given a backstory until the awful Silence sequel novel, and that backstory was shit, ridiculous and did nothing to add to the character.  "Nazis starved my family and I was forced to eat them" or whatever it was meant that Hannibal went from super intelligent monster to sympathetic figure and that's just plain dumb.

 

In many cases, explaining the antagonist's life before he became that person is a lot like making a prequel to a film you liked.  There's just no reason for it.  "Hey, you know that movie you loved and those characters that were so awesome?  Here's how they were BEFORE that!"

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Hannibal Lector wasn't given a backstory until the awful Silence sequel novel, and that backstory was shit, ridiculous and did nothing to add to the character.  "Nazis starved my family and I was forced to eat them" or whatever it was meant that Hannibal went from super intelligent monster to sympathetic figure and that's just plain dumb.

 

In many cases, explaining the antagonist's life before he became that person is a lot like making a prequel to a film you liked.  There's just no reason for it.  "Hey, you know that movie you loved and those characters that were so awesome?  Here's how they were BEFORE that!"

 

Hey, you like Angelina Jolie? Well here's a picture of Jon Voight's ballsack!

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John Carpenter's Halloween is a dark, primal fairy tale (and a virtually flawless engine of suspense.)

Zombie's is more of a psychological thriller shoehorned into a slasher (and while it has some strong points, it's far from virtually flawless.)

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In the effort to get me to watch more TVOne with my girlfriend, they decided to once again try their hand at Afro-centric horror.

 

The Summoning wasn't a half bad effort.   There was a lot to like despite the flaws and hopefully there will be more horror films to come. 

 

I am just happy that there is something else to watch on TVOne other than the billion My Man Done Me Wrong movies that are on all of the time.

 

Ganja & Hess is still probably the better Afro-centric horror movie that only I have seen even if it has the infuriating habit of trying to be more than a vampire piece and stumbles over its own ambitions.  One day I will track down Spike Lee's unofficial reboot, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. 

 

I have never ever laid my hands on a copy of Lucky Ghost.

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Now you reminded me of J.D.'s Revenge and I'll be damned if that doesn't need to be on El Rey.

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Now you reminded me of J.D.'s Revenge and I'll be damned if that doesn't need to be on El Rey.

Yes! JD's Revenge has my favorite movie tagline ever: "He came back from the dead to possess a man's soul, make love to his woman, and get the vengeance he craved!"
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I'll use this double post to point out that Louis Gossett Jr. didn't age for like 40 years. It's that bald thing, like Hector Elizondo.

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Now you reminded me of J.D.'s Revenge and I'll be damned if that doesn't need to be on El Rey.

 

Damn, I am now reminded of my huge adolescent crush on Alice Jubert.  HOT~!

 

I had totally forgotten that Warner Brothers sued AIP over Abby because it was nearly a direct copy of The Exorcist with a voodoo loa subbing in for Satan.  No wonder it took so long for it to resurface.

 

Somewhere at the crib, I have Holla and Holla 2 aka the our failed attempt to jumpstart an Afro-centric slasher movie franchise.  I got them on the cheap at a yard sale.  One day I will force myself to sit down and watch them.

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Latest installment of Blackbox TV.

 

 

Crazy ass Tony Valenzuela, creator of BBTV, is finally finishing up the work on his feature length movie.

 

Villisca!

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