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Brian Fowler

HALLOWEEN HAVOIC VI!!!!!!

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The darkness envelops the night, the wind howls, the demons lurk...  Oh yes, it is that dark and evil week my children, step right into the mouth of madness, into the land of sin, into HALLOWEEN HAVOC 2015.

 

Up first, a recent chiller to tingle your spines

 

You're Next

 

Chosen by The Unholy Dragon (who didn't send an explanation, tsk tsk)

 

Reviewed by that Havoc veteran Jingus

 

YOU'RE NEXT (directed by Adam Windgard): 5/10

"Really? You HAD to do that RIGHT in front of me?!"

Why are there so damn many home-invasion films being made nowadays? And unlike most horror flicks, many of them actually get picked up for wide theatrical releases. Why? What about this appeals so strongly to our subconscious, in today's current society? Certainly a lot of our culture does seem to have a "hunker in the bunker" mentality (for example, the insane-but-widely-held notion that everyone needs more guns... in what's already the most-gun-owning country in the world, at a time when our overall crime rates are at a forty-year record low). But, seriously, the past dozen years have seen a seemingly endless stream of movies which are basically R-rated versions of Home Alone. There's been so damn many, we're even remaking the home-invasion films of previous decades and from different countries: Straw Dogs, The Last House on the Left, I Spit On Your Grave, Black Christmas, Funny Games... jeez, enough already.

You're Next at least tries to be a little different from the pack. The movie starts with a fairly well-done sequence of two random people being stalked and slaughtered by unknown assailants, just to let us know what we're in for. Meanwhile, just up the road, the main plot centers around a family reunion, being held at a big-ass vacation mansion in the middle of the woods. Wealthy retiree Paul (Rob Moran, falling far behind the rest of the cast with a terrible performance) and his mildly disturbed wife Aubrey (80s scream queen Barbara Crampton, aka "the poor chick who got head from a head in Re-Animator") are hosting a rare get-together with their four children and their significant others. The protagonists-by-default wind up being the oldest son, a wimpy professor named Crispian (current horror mainstay AJ Bowen) and his new girlfriend Erin (Australian should-be-a-star-in-a-fair-world Sharni Vinson). There's already some unpleasantness in the house, with old grudges and family dysfunction threatening to bubble over; but all that's put on hold when arrows start blasting through the windows and shooting people dead.

The fact that the entire main cast of ten meatbags is made of a family and some of their lovers gives a slightly different feeling to this movie than most body-count flicks. Slashers and their sister subgenres often tend to be incredibly callous towards the emotional trauma that the survivors should be feeling over the deaths of their loved ones. I wonder if this is why so many massacre-style pictures tend to involve emotionally unbalanced teenagers who forget their late childhood friends seemingly minutes after their bloody demises, or are collections of people who mostly don't know each other all that well; it saves the filmmakers from having to DEAL with the aftereffects of all that gee-whiz gory violence. You're Next is better than average, by horror standards, at looking raw psychological vulnerability in the face. Don't get me wrong, it ain't exactly an Atom Egoyan film when it comes to closely studying the effects of trauma upon the human psyche; but at least it TRIES to make some moves in that direction, and for this I am thankful.

The problem is, however... okay, how do I talk about this... let's just say, without spoiling anything, that something extra is happening. This isn't just a re-do of The Strangers with psychos killing because psychos kill; there's other shit going on that we don't know about up front. (It even explains a few things which, at first, seem to be glaring plot holes.) But... well, I hate to blame one movie for not being as good as another movie. Sadly, there is absolutely no getting around the fact that You're Next has the GREAT misfortune to be released in the same generation of horror films as The Cabin in the Woods. And comparing the two is like comparing Friday the 13th to Twitch of the Death Nerve: they're basically doing the same thing, but one of them is working at SUCH a higher and more complex level than the other.

On the craftsmanship side of things, I have to give the filmmakers props; this is a well-made flick. The audio mix is especially noteworthy, with the sound effects sounding awesome and there's an unusually ambitious amount of fading back and forth between different soundscapes. An unusual score also helps, mixing 80s-John-Carpenter-style synthetic riffs with some 70s-Tobe-Hooper style atonal anti-music. The movie looks nice too, with excellent lighting and framing, leaving us with a bunch of pretty pictures (of oft-horrifying content) that have a neat warm candlelit-ish glow around them. The final touch is a cast of people who, by "most of these people are dead men walking" slasher standards, are fairly real-feeling and relatable human beings. They're not NICE people, most of them are actually right bastards to one degree or another; but they're the sort of bastards that we know from real life, and much less Phony Movie People than is norm for lower-budget flicks in this genre.

But... back to that plot. It keeps spinning, with at least one or two more twists than the movie really needed. I might've given this an overall positive score with a 6/10, if the film didn't first get repetitive and then damn'd contrived and silly in the final scenes. "Someone sneaks through a window. This person gets stabbed/beaten to death. Then someone else sneaks through a window. Then that person gets stabbed/beaten to death. Then someone ELSE sneaks through a window. Then THAT person gets stabbed/beaten to death." I'm not even exaggerating, it actually goes on longer than I'm making it sound. And those last sixty seconds, pee-you! Who the hell thought THAT was a fitting ending to the puzzle-box they'd set up here? It's as if they were trying to set up a cross between Vacancy and Die Hard for the overall film, but then went with the finish from a Final Destination movie.

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I saw You're Next when it came out. Don't even remember exactly how it ends. I thought it was ok-ish at the time, but nothing I'm going to see again. I did think Sharni Vinson carried the whole thing on her back.

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Yeah, it was one of those films that had all the pieces to be really good and ultimately was fine, but didn't quite reach its goal.  It didn't help that the twist, while not given away, was obvious and felt cheap as a result.

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I saw You're Next when it came out. Don't even remember exactly how it ends. I thought it was ok-ish at the time, but nothing I'm going to see again. I did think Sharni Vinson carried the whole thing on her back.

The bit that really irked me was literally the final minute, when

the cop shot Sharni, and then he ended up taking an axe to the face as they cut to credits. A terrible contrivance, one that hadn't been remotely built up for, and didn't seem to have any kind of narrative point. I would've liked it better if the wimpy brother had turned out to NOT have been part of the conspiracy, he returns to the house with police in tow, and he's first through the door and gets killed by the axe.

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I think that You're Next wanted to be a smart home invasion horror movies like Ils or The Strangers but the minute de-fang the monster, your horror movie is ruined. 

 

Once the masked stalkers suddenly transformed from ruthless killers to inept dweebs in the wake of badass final girl and the hackneyed mystery sub-plot emerged, the movie collapsed under its own weight.

 

You're Next did not have the runtime to be a complex horror film. It needed to keep things simple.  It would a far better movie if it had just focused on pure survival and kept the quality of opposition for badass final girl very high.  Once she went into ninja mode, the killers did not stand a chance and as I said before, under no circumstances do you defang your monster.

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The long night ends, you awake in a cold sweat, and look out the window for the slowly rising sun, only to find it never came, you never slept, you are trapped here for all eternity with only your fears to keep you company.

 

 

Film: Theatre of Blood

 

Chosen by: nate

 

nate didn't really send an explanation so much as a full review, but in short, he likes it and he likes Vincent Price in it.

 

Reviewed by: Execproducer

 

So, do ya like the Grand Guignol? How about movies that are meta as fuck, long before anyone was using that word to describe film? Or when a beloved actor is clearly having the time of his life in the role of a lifetime? Well then, Theatre of Blood  should be right up your alley.  Vincent Price stars as Edward Lionheart, a Shakespearean Actor, believed dead by the world at large, who returns to enact bloody vengeance upon the critical establishment that dogged his every performance, denied him glory, and drove him to unsuccessfully seek the Undiscovered Country from whose bourn no Traveller returns. And that vengeance will come in the form of Shakespearean death scenes starring the very critics who panned Lionheart for his overly hammy performances.

But was Lionheart really an incurable ham? There are indications that the critics, while cruel, may have been justified. In the 1st death scene he is a cold, mocking Mark Antony. Cut to a very stagy Antony delivering Caesar's funeral oration in a theater to his merry band of meths drinkers/henchmen/assassins. His confrontation with the Critics Circle could have easily taken place on a stage. A policeman remembers seeing him onstage and describes him as "A very, uh, vigorous actor." And Vincent Price could play ham like no other. But this film makes very clear, as if we needed the proof, that he was indeed playing. For every bad accent and intentionally poor line reading, there are a wealth great moments. His attempted suicide is preceded by a fantastic partial delivery of the Nunnery Scene soliloquy from Hamlet.  He does a very credible impersonation of Olivier's film version of Richard III.  His Shylock would probably hold up in any Shakespearean repertory theater. And his rage-filled diatribe at Ian Hendry's Peregrine Devlin during the fencing scene would induce you to his murderous side, if you weren't there already.

Theatre of Blood slyly addresses the criticisms of Price's own career and gives you a glimpse of an alternate universe where he takes his rightful place amongst the Greats of Stage and Screen had his career followed that path. And he is supported in that effort by many of the Greats of the British Stage and Screen, including  Sir Michael Hordern, Robert Morley, Harry Andrews and Jack Hawkins.  Dame Diana Rigg plays his very devoted daughter. Every bit as talented as her father and looking killer in go-go boots.

Theatre of Blood is a wonderful mix of tragedy, comedy, and horror. Gory for a Price film (His 1st R-rated), it is to my mind his greatest. Sadly, it would also prove to be his last great film and a bit of an anachronism in the same year as The Exorcist and a year after The Last House on the Left.

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In my haste to finish this, I forgot to mention how much I love Michael Lewis' score. If I made a list of my favorite  Main Title Sequences pre- Star Wars, this would be high up there.

 

 

It really sets the scene for this film.

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Oh yeah, Theatre of Blood is great. Maybe not as good as The Abominable Dr. Phibes from two years prior, but in a different way. He really loved doing that movie and it shows. And the murder setpieces are just a riot, to boot. I only like Phibes' a touch more.

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I had a friend INSIST that I watch You're Next and he was mad that I didn't like it. I felt the final kills were just comical, and I can't get behind a "survivor" horror movie when all the characters dying are fucking assholes. Why should I be invested in almost any of those spoiled pricks surviving?

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So it'd been a couple years since I could even entertain doing this because of schedule stuff so I forgot the description. Whoops.

I really liked You're Next for two big reasons. One is that the family felt shitty and backbiting in a real family way. That family that has the love/hate thing that can lead to getting sidetracked by sniping even in a panic. I dug a lot of the directing and particularly liked how the final girl gradually takes on the tropes of the slasher to the point that the final kill is totally helpless. It has a pretty wonderfully dark sense of humour as a bonus and rewatching with the twist in mind closes a lot of plot holes.

A lot of the ideas that get people killed are suggested by one of the brothers who are in on it. The wire outside the door particularly stands out for that. It seems unbelievable as a plan until you realize they engineered that exact course of action.

It felt pretty fresh and fun to me and I've had a few people who don't even super dig horror enjoy it. But how invested you get in the characters will influence that a lot, as well as whether or not you agree with/enjoy the role inversion toward the end.

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I will say "it's basically a Noah Baumbach movie, except you get to see all those awful assholes get brutally murdered" is a point in the movie's favor. The lead girl is nice enough that she stands out as being not-a-terrible-person in a crowd otherwise full of spoiled yuppies and hipster douchebags. But like you said, they're realistically awful, which is at least a nice change from way too many of the howling psychopaths that you tend to get in your average shitty slasher.

But about that one kill:

A lot of the ideas that get people killed are suggested by one of the brothers who are in on it. The wire outside the door particularly stands out for that. It seems unbelievable as a plan until you realize they engineered that exact course of action.

Even in retrospect, I still don't buy the wire kill. How did they manage to predict the exact spot to string the wire so that the person running out would hit it throat-first? After all, there's a house full of people with different heights, it could've been several different people who ran out first. Two inches lower, and the wire hits their clothed torso and does nothing; two inches higher, and it just cuts their face and makes an awful mess but not much else.

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I will say "it's basically a Noah Baumbach movie, except you get to see all those awful assholes get brutally murdered" is a point in the movie's favor. The lead girl is nice enough that she stands out as being not-a-terrible-person in a crowd otherwise full of spoiled yuppies and hipster douchebags. But like you said, they're realistically awful, which is at least a nice change from way too many of the howling psychopaths that you tend to get in your average shitty slasher.

But about that one kill:

A lot of the ideas that get people killed are suggested by one of the brothers who are in on it. The wire outside the door particularly stands out for that. It seems unbelievable as a plan until you realize they engineered that exact course of action.

Even in retrospect, I still don't buy the wire kill. How did they manage to predict the exact spot to string the wire so that the person running out would hit it throat-first? After all, there's a house full of people with different heights, it could've been several different people who ran out first. Two inches lower, and the wire hits their clothed torso and does nothing; two inches higher, and it just cuts their face and makes an awful mess but not much else.

He specifically suggests that sister do it and that she take a running start. The ones who are in on it push for it because "She's the fastest." in a sort of blend between playing at pragmatism and ego. It goes perfectly because they know what buttons to push to ensure she's the one making the run.

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LIGHTNING!  THUNDER!  MONSTERS! GORE!

 

Film: Trick or Treat

 

Chosen by: twiztor

 

picked it because it intertwines the worlds of horror movies and heavy metal music. Plus, an awesome cameo from Ozzy Osbourne as a priest.

 

Reviewed by:  The Mad Dog Marty Sugar

 

Trick or Treat (1986)

 

Not to be confused with Trick 'r Treat from 2007, this is ranked Number Three by Bloody Disgusting in "The Top Ten Cheesiest Heavy Metal Horror Films of All Time," behind Rock'N'Roll Nightmare (1987) and Shock 'Em Dead (1991), but ahead of such gems as Zombie Nightmare (1986) and Ghoul School (1990).

 

Eddie Weinbauer (Marc Price from Family Ties), is a heavy metal high school nerd who is bullied by the cool kids (lead by Doug Savant of Melrose Place and Desperate Housewives  fame), all while idolizing former school alumnus turned heavy metal god, Sammi Curr  (played by former Solid Gold dancer, Tony Fields). Curr, who was recently banned from playing a Halloween dance at old Lakeridge High, has mysteriously died in a hotel fire; the local DJ and former high school chum of Curr's, NUKE (played by Gene Simmons), bequeaths a never-released demo of Curr's to Eddie, who quickly learns that not only is there a lot of satanic messages on the album...but said album is powerful beyond belief, as it brings Sammi back from the dead.

 

Obviously, having your undead rock idol as your personal goon when dealing with high school bullies is pretty cool at first, but our Eddie has a conscience; as you might expect, the late Mr. Curr has no conscience anymore (if he ever did), so now our hero has to battle his idol to save everyone. This is the problem with hero-worship: it always disappoints. I remember meeting Lance Storm when I was just a wrestling fan, at the awful New Blood Rising pay-per-view in Vancouver, and he was awesome to talk to; nine years later in Camrose, Alberta, he was less than pleased that my wrestling mentor got me booked on an indy show over several of his own scrawny trainees...even though it was just in a hardcore match that nobody wanted to work, anyway. Regardless: it left a bitter taste in my mouth.

 

There's a lot of interesting trivia about this film: Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. was almost slated to play Curr, before it went to Fields; Gene Simmons was originally offered the role, but he didn't like the script so he just agreed to the DJ role. Ozzy Osbourne also has a cameo as a televangelist who preaches against the evils of heavy metal; not surprisingly, both Simmons and Osbourne are portrayed on the DVD packaging as feature stars in the movie, despite only being in it for mere minutes. Kevin Yagher did special effects and has a cameo, and he would go on to work on such iconic characters as Freddy Krueger and The Cryptkeeper. Tony Fields would ultimately die from AIDS in 1995, which was rather controversial at the time...as one might expect.  

 

This film isn't great by any stretch, but it has some interesting kills (Sammi travels via electricity and can reach through a TV and kill you if you're on the air), and Fields is pretty great as the crazy heavy metal frontman: there's an early scene, pretty much a tribute to classic Ozzy (but with a snake instead of a bat), that's especially over the top. Fun little film, that progresses well enough and has some sweet, sweet tunes.

 

GRADE: C+

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BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE! IT'S A BLOODY DOUBLE FEATURE~! NOW HOW MUCH WOULD YOU PAY?

 

Film: The Loved Ones

 

Chosen by: The Suicide King of Spades

 

There's a guy in high school, a girl asks him to prom, he has to say no because he's already got a girlfriend, so the girl and her father kidnap him and have their own twisted version of prom.  This absolutely falls in the "torture porn" bucket, but it's so much fun, with obvious talent and style on display.  You never get a "why am I watching this" vibe as with lesser entries in that genre.  The villains are so enjoyable to watch while being legitimately hateful at the same time, which isn't easy to pull off.  Should put a huge smile on a horror fan's face.

 

Reviewed by: Ultimo Necro

 

The Loved Ones

AKA "And you thought your high school prom night sucked"

AKA "Now thats a bleedin knife Mick!"

By Ultimo P. Necro Esq.

 

It's an Australian film, I've seen Australian films before, I've see Crocodile Dundee and Mad Max.  I enjoyed both so lets put another shrimp on the barbie and strap in.  Literally, because the first scene is a father and son in a car that swerve off the road because there is a guy covered in blood walking in the road.

 

Fast forward and same dude, Brent, is now going to his high school prom.  Brent turns down some broad and then has a make out session with his girlfriend while rejected creepy girl watches on.  He follows that by cutting himself and going for a rock climb / suicide attempt.  

 

Brent seems like a likable dude, he likes Metallica, smokes weed and bones a hot chick all within the first 5 minutes.  

 

For a horror film, the first 10 minutes are filmed beautifully.  Some really nice shots of rural Australia while the dude goes for his rock climb.  Things then hot up when Brent, after his rock climb, gets kidnapped and dragged off to a backwards cabin in the bush.

 

Did I mention Hot Goth Chick earlier? Nope, well there appears to be a sub-plot with a smoking hot goth chick who goes out with a guy who looked like me when I was 16.  They go to the prom with the immortal lines "Yeah, Ive got my weed in my pocket, that's why your dog was sniffing my nuts" and after advising Hot Goth Chick that he doesnt have a hygiene problem she exclaims "Why, were you expecting me to suck your cock?".  Its all pretty light-hearted stuff.

 

I'm watching this with the wife.  She watches Australian soaps and so far she has only recognized the Hot Goth Chick's Dad as someone from a soap.  She has also brought me some Stollen Cake which is making the night fell less Halloween-y and more like Christmas.  Next year, I will return to watching my pick on my own.

 

Anyway, enough of that nonsense, back to the horror.  Creepy rejected girl from earlier, "Princess" is back making a cut and paste scrapbook of our boy Brent.  What I'm assuming is her Dad comes in, gives her a dress and has a bit of a perv on his daughter.  She gets changed and comes down for dinner where Brent is tied up.

 

Annnnnnddd its on now, they straight up inject hs voicebox so he cant scream.  They then take pictures with what I'm assuming is Princess' Mom who has been lobotomized.  All very creepy and no doubt setting the scene for further events.

 
Back to the prom with Hot Goth Chick and her date with a whole lot of nothing going on.  I will pause for a moment to shout out the music in this film.  Some really great Metal and Hardcore tunes so far.  Digging it a lot.  The juxtaposition between the noise / music in the prom scenes and the silence of the creepy house really adds to the surrealness of the weird family scenes.

 

Speaking of weird, there is a scene in here where Brent tries to get out by feigning need for a number one.  Princess whips it our for him and gives him 10 seconds to go or Daddy will nail his junk to the chair.  Thankfully Brent goes, although it is one of the creepiest things I've seen in a recent horror movie.

 

Brent takes a hefty dose of punishment, which leads me to believe he probably watched TNA.  They have IMPACT down under right?  The scene where Princess get her scrapbook out could easily be turned into a Botchamania clip... "This here is the midget in the trash can", "Oh this is when Chris Sabin was World Champion", "This is Aces and Eights".  

 

From TNA, we move onto Tournament of Death in the next scene as Princess carves a giant love heart onto Brent's chest with a knife and then pours salt into his wounds.  In saying that, the main dude, Brent, does remind me of German Deathmatch "Legend" Thumbtack Jack, lets all thank our lucky stars that Ian Rotten never saw this movie.

 

In a swerve, we cut back to the prom where it appears dude is going to get lucky with Hot Goth Chick.  After 30 seconds, natch, its back to the house of Horror.  Where we nearly get a full on incest scene which is interrupted by our metal hero Brent.  Brent finds his self mutilation blade and begins his escape.  Although, just when we thought he was getting out, it turns out Princess and Daddy have some sort of demon in their basement and he halts his escape for the time being.

 

We then get to what I will call THE DRILL SCENE, Jesus H.Christ, the drill scene is brutal, poor Brent gets a lobotomy.  THEN after deciding that the hole isn't big enough, they go back for some additional drilling and then BRENT UNLEASHES FUCKING HELL ON DADDY! NOW THAT'S A KNIFE!!!!

 

We then find out that it's not a demon in the basement, it's the previous victims!

 

Holy shitballs this movie fucking rules.  Brent ends up in the basement and takes out all the previous victims when he is set upon by them.  Brent dispatches them and begins his plans for an escape.

 

From outta nowhere Brent's girlfriend remembers him mentioning Lola Stone (Princess) and calls the cop from earlier to the madhouse.  Cop immediately gets cleavered in the face.  Princess leaves poor old Brent in the basement and sets off on a mission to kill Brent's Mom.  Brent's girlfriend appears on the same road and is stopped by Princess and we get a chick fight in a VW Beetle.  Brent then, having escaped the pit of previous victims, comes careering along in a Police Car and wipes out Princess.  Princess immediately goes all T2 on us an drags herself along the road using a knife.  Brent reverses over her head for the win.

 

Go Brent, Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!

 

This film was one of the best straight up Horror / Slasher flicks I've seen in forever.  It had the perfect amount of gore and suspense without resorting to the usual genre cliches.  Whoever picked this film, I salute you.  The soundtrack was excellent, as I mentioned earlier it was shot beautifully.  It really gave the impression of the vastness of the Australian bush.   Some of the scenes were brutal but filmed with a real simplicity. Recent "reality" gore films like Hostel have been so over the top in their intensity that it puts me off watching them, but this got the balance just right.  The pacing was really good and the hot goth chick side plot really was used almost as a pacing stick to allow them to ramp up the murdery stabiness of the house scenes.  When it came time to go, our boy Brent delivered and the last 30 minutes of the movie flew by.  I would recommend it to anyone.  Its a little Texas Chainsaw mixed in with some teen horror and prom movie and treated subjects like self harm and depression with a real tenderness before the real gore and horror started. 

 

Lets all just be thankful the worst thing that happened on our Prom night was that we didn't get a date and spent the night watching a Raw replay instead.

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Heh. The soundtrack to Trick or Treat (by Fastway!) was one of the first albums I ever had, taped off my friend's brother's tape of it. The only thing I still really remember about watching the actual movie was the guy's mom flipping through his record collection and seeing Exciter and Impaler and cringing with disgust, then Possessed's Seven Churches LP (among others) floating in the air to freak her out more. 

 

 

EDIT: I'm definitely watching The Loved Ones, and if anyone else wants to, looks like the whole thing is on Youtube. The trailer pretty much underlines everything SKOS wrote.

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I really enjoyed The Loved Ones.  Just a blast to watch, tons of fun mixed in with the gore.  Necro's assessment is spot on.  I endorse it with no hesitation.

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Very glad Ultimo Necro enjoyed it!  I first saw The Loved Ones at the Toronto film festival in 2009, and then had to wait three long years before it finally got released on dvd in 2012.  Saw a copy of it not too long ago sitting on a Wal-Mart discount rack, which is kind of a shame, thinking about how many people would've walked right by it without realizing the awesomeness.

 

We then get to what I will call THE DRILL SCENE, Jesus H.Christ, the drill scene is brutal, poor Brent gets a lobotomy.  THEN after deciding that the hole isn't big enough, they go back for some additional drilling and then BRENT UNLEASHES FUCKING HELL ON DADDY! NOW THAT'S A KNIFE!!!!

 

This reminds me of the couple of people in the theater who couldn't handle it and scurried for the exits during the drill scene, followed by the audience bursting into applause when Brent finally broke free.  Good times.

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So wait - there literally was no point to Hot Goth Chick other to watch her fuck?

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So wait - there literally was no point to Hot Goth Chick other to watch her fuck?

 

Well it's also comic relief watching this guy with a girl that's way out of his league, and it kinda helps the mood of the movie when you're occasionally cutting back to a guy having the best prom night possible.  But no, she has nothing to do with the plot.

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So wait - there literally was no point to Hot Goth Chick other to watch her fuck?

...art imitates life?

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So wait - there literally was no point to Hot Goth Chick other to watch her fuck?

 

Yes, admiring the directors for knowing precisely who their target audience was and skewering them.  A completely brilliant move.

 

I totally love The Loved Ones.  A smart movie that is totally dialed into the horror geeks it expects to be watching it while not clubbing you over the head with the idea..

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Hot goth chicks brother is a previous victim but that has zero effect on the outcome of the movie.

Thanks SKOS for a great pick. I've pimped this movie out to a few people for Halloween.

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Muwahahahaha the bloodshed and fear grows!

Film: The Mummy

Chosen by: The Creature That Runs the Havoc

A spectacular performance by Boris Karloff, and its basically a (superior) stealth remake of Dracula

Reviewed by: The Unholy Dragon

Holy shit this is of its time.

Full disclosure, the last couple years have seen me swing more and more toward contemporary film and television. I kind of got sick of making ‘for its time’ arguments and justifying wooden acting and/or racism/sexism en masse. If something is truly timeless, it holds up outside the context of the period. And I don’t really care enough here to write an essay on how it is comparative to the period. I’m basically the worst person to get this pick and I have no doubt my opinions will differ greatly from whoever recommended it.

So noted.

The Mummy. Hoo boy. I knew when the cast list included ‘The Nubian’ I was in for a cultural expedition into classical racism and here it was. Throw in a damsel character and a romance so rushed that Romeo and Juliet would be like “Hey guys. You may want to slow down a bit.” LOTS of wooden acting too. So much. Not all of it. Karloff was totally solid as the Mummy, albeit entirely one note. It was a good note though. The professor and his advisor dude were alright. I even liked the overenthusiastic helping hand at the start. But for some ungodly reason this ended up with the leads it did and ho-ly shit they are some terrible actors with some terrible writing. The script for them sucks too, in fairness, but I don’t think either one is secretly Natalie Portman.

I actually enjoyed the plot well enough. There were really clever aspects like Imhotep in mummy form terrifying the sole person to see him into hysterics. I dug how he led them to the dig site so his love could be reached. I REALLY enjoyed the eventual reveal that he’s so tainted by his resurrection and use of dark magic that his touch burns the skin. The delivery was just…very 1930s.

Funny enough, the other thing I really enjoyed were the visuals. The films had to stay within a certain comfort zone due to the effects of the time and it led to some really great costumes and set designs. Yeah there were times when it looked like someone recorded an especially well funded high school stage play but I liked that. I also dug how not everything had to be flawless. In the scenes with heavy lifting, big burly men were shown to be awkward and clumsy in their handling and it was totally alright because hey, shit’s heavy. The roughness of it actually did a lot to ground it and that was great.

The actual scripting though. Ugh. It just meanders. Stuff happens without much rhyme or reason. Imhotep as an adversary is really ill defined in what he can do and it basically shortcuts to seeing anywhere and giving you a heart attack unless you have the magic doohickey. But while there’s the whole ‘lost love’ angle, he’s never really sympathetic and it all just sort of…falls apart. The whole film is messy. It doesn’t help that the lead protagonist meets the girl in a fugue state, talks to her for 20 minutes, and decides he is head over heels in love and everyone’s okay with that. And I know it’s a genre convention not uncommon at the time, but it’s a bad genre convention so fuck it.

And that’s just it. Every criticism I could make of it can absolutely be countered with “Yeah but it was 1932” which is fine and fair enough. But I’m watching it in 2015. And knowing that shit was conventional in 32 doesn’t make it any more fun to watch now. If you’re into 30s films or the classic aesthetics or looking at things from a historical perspective then I’m sure there’s a lot to like here. But otherwise, this is a film so thoroughly of its time that I’d probably suggest watching the Brendan Fraser version instead and calling it a day.

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