Archive for the ‘Halloween’ Category

WTF HOLIDAY

Halloween 2013 is gone (RIP) and Thanksgiving is right up at the door. Guess it’s true what they say:  Time flies, but turkeys can’t (RIP).

I haven’t posted here at Demon’s Resume in quite a while, but that’s not for lack of doing things.  Quite the contrary:  I’ve had no lack at all of doing very many things.  Allow me to recap the most interesting of them, if you will, and then I’ll get back to being a more regular presence here on my own site.  [All of the pictures below will take you to the links I mention, so feel free to click away.]

  • First off, a reminder that my Paracinema cover story on action heroes and aging is still available:

Paracinema #20

For seven bucks plus shipping costs, it can be yours.  And it should be!  It’s some of my best work ever.

Hal Needham

  • For those who love the sound of my voice…:  I was on the Daily Grindhouse podcast for the first time!  I was there to talk about Hal Needham, the all-time great stuntman and director, who passed away last month.  I had occasion to briefly meet Hal Needham the year before he died, so this was sadder than it would have been, but we had a fun time talking about his movies.

Also:  This is my written tribute to Hal Needham.

  • And I also wrote a tribute to Ed Lauter, another great Hollywood tough guy we lost in October.  This has been a rough year in a lot of ways.ED LAUTER
  • In happier news, in October I completed my month-long horror-movie celebration, which I did this year for Daily Grindhouse.  I did more than 31 posts this time.  Here they all are (click on the posters to head to the reviews):

THIS IS THE END (2013) EQUINOX (1970) NEAR DARK (1987) TREMORS (1990) THE MANITOU (1978) MULHOLLAND DR. (2001) BEST WORST MOVIE (2010) THE WICKER MAN (1973) Suspiria (1977) LADY TERMINATOR (1989) JUAN OF THE DEAD (2011) EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1960). Pacific Rim (2013) NIGHT OF THE CREEPS (1986)Carrie (1976)  Basket Case (1982) Cheap Thrills (2013) Re-release poster for HOUSE (HAUSU), designed by Sam Smith. Nosferatu_poster_by_PandoraDisenos Squirm (1976) SHOCK WAVES (1977) HALLOWEEN (1978) THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974) THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (1976) AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981) CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) TRICK ‘R TREAT (2007) CHOPPING MALL (1986) STREET TRASH (1987) DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE aka CEMETERY MAN-POSTER The Visitor (1979) The Colony (2013) 

 

Hey, did I ever mention I was on Huffington Post Live a couple times?

Jurassic Park (1993)  Evil Dead (2013)

Here I am talking about re-releases and reboots, for JURASSIC PARK 3D and EVIL DEAD 2013:  {CLICK HERE}

 

Oblivion (2013)  The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

Here I am talking about OBLIVION and THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES and really awkwardly hitting on the host: {CLICK HERE}

 

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

  • My book club has been recording our monthly talks as a podcast, so you can listen to any of the episodes by visiting the Books For Crooks page.  For fans of me and of what I do, you’ll probably want to listen to the episode where I recap LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER, one of the most baffling movies of the year.

The Butler (2013)

  • I did a list of Underrated Horror Movies for my pal over at Rupert Pupkin Speaks.  In case you didn’t have enough of me and horror-movie talk already, here’s a bunch more.

Rupert Pupkin Speaks

And there’s even more of my writing out there in the world!

Daily Grindhouse

In addition to horror-movie writing, I also wrote about a variety of movie-related subjects for Daily Grindhouse in the past several weeks.

CHILL

Here’s a list of the Top Ten Greatest Nazi-Killers In Film History.

TODAYS-LESSON

Here’s a piece on Japanese cult epic BATTLE ROYALE.

RROARR

Here are some words about legendary artist Jack Kirby and a new museum dedicated to his artwork.

somethingtodowithdeath

The Daily Grindhouse crew (including me) made a list of the Top 50 Essential Books About Cult Movies. Here are Parts One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.

VANITY-PAULA-PATTON

Here’s where I cast the upcoming Mötley Crüe movie (this one’s really fun).

Warren Oates shooting the shit with Lee Marvin.

On top of all that, I’ve been much more active on the Demon’s Resume Facebook page, where I’ve been posting fun pictures, links, and various inanities which wouldn’t warrant entire posts here at the site.  It’s me and my unique tastes in bite-sized amounts, in case all my other escapades are too time-consuming.

And as always, you can find me at all kinds of odd hours on Twitter:  @jonnyabomb

So how’s all that for a start?

Advertisements

sleepy hollow

Sleepy-Hollow

FOX has a new show from the writers of the new STAR TREK which re-envisions Washington Irving’s 1820 short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” for the modern day.  I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with this information.  I grew up on that short story, and on the 1949 Disney retelling.  I grew up not far from Tarrytown where the story is set. I went to haunted hayrides there.  In high school I drew pictures of the Headless Horseman while other kids were trying weed for the first time.  This is a story that has a lot of power for me.  This is a property I know about, more than most.

There’s stuff I like about the promo footage.  I like seeing Clancy Brown (STARSHIP TROOPERS) in anything, although it doesn’t look like he makes it out of the pilot.  I like Nicole Beharie, the female lead, having just seen her in 42 and thinking she made near-angelic sweetness a believable human characteristic there.  I like the idea of the Headless Horseman running rampant through the very bucolic Dobbs Ferry.

But there’s some bizarro stuff in here too.  The premise is that Ichabod Crane, who in this incarnation fought with George Washington, is woken up 250 years into his future, where his nemesis the Horseman has been once again causing trouble.  First of all, that’s Rip Van Winkle, if you know your Irving, but neither that nor the fact that Ichabod has been stripped of his characteristic cowardice is what worries me nearly as much as THE CONSPIRACY.  Oh no, the conspiracy! The back-of-the-dollar-bill spooky-eye pyramid Illuminati conspiracy!  I’m not being sarcastic.  I’m actually concerned.  Concerned that this is going to be turned into NATIONAL TREASURE: THE SERIES.  I don’t watch those movies, the same way I don’t watch DA VINCI CODE movies, because I’m not interested in historical conspiracies.  I’m interested in ghost stories.  Especially when it comes to SLEEPY HOLLOW, I’m interested in the ghosts.  And on top of everything, here they’ve got the spectral swordsman wielding automatic rifles just like he’s Val Kilmer in HEAT.

It’s adequate cause for concern, is all I’m saying.  There are ways to allay worries.  (I am, as always, eminently hirable as consultant on matters of supernatural accuracy.)

Anyway here’s the trailer.  You decide for me.  Keep an eye out for a special guest appearance by the tagline from Tim Burton’s 1999 SLEEPY HOLLOW ad campaign!

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

@jonnyabomb

This happened on October 15th, 2009.  There’s still no joy in it for me.

Trick ‘R Treat is a movie that has developed a large internet and word-of-mouth following among a certain kind of film fan, the kind that loves to find a little-known movie worthy of attention in order to champion its merits to the world.  Trick ‘R Treat was originally slated for a 2007 release and was never released widely; it finally made it to DVD last week.  Having heard scattered but rapturous praise in advance, and always on the lookout for an original horror film that could use a defender, I made watching it a priority.

The verdict:  Disappointing.

It’s not good.  It’s not.  In fact, a half an hour into the movie I realized that it was actually bad, and it wasn’t going to stop being that way.  And sure enough, it didn’t.  It’s twice as disappointing because I know that there are plenty of smart people that love this movie, and good for them, but they’re not right on this one.  There’s some nice cinematography in Trick ‘R Treat, and some occasionally inspired imagery, but a new and original Halloween classic?  No.  Really, it isn’t.  Not hardly.

Trick ‘R Treat is an anthology horror movie, meant in the spirit of Creepshow (George A. Romero & Stephen King) or Twilight Zone: The Movie (John Landis & Joe Dante & Steven Spielberg & George Miller), and the five individual stories are meant to overlap seamlessly in the spirit of Pulp Fiction.  (Stepping into big shoes can make it real easy to trip up…)  The five stories – or four with an introductory sequence – all take place on the same Halloween night, and all are haunted by a scarecrow-mask-wearing trick-or-treater in orange pajamas, kind of a silent Crypt-Keeper figure.   That character is by far the most memorable thing about the movie, and he features into the final and most straightforward story, the only one that is ultimately worth watching in the least.

Here’s the lead-off problem:  Trick ‘R Treat is operating on the premise that Halloween has a series of traditions, and that bad things can happen if you violate those traditions.  The movie mistakenly assumes that every viewer is acquainted with the traditions featured in each story.  It certainly does not lay out the traditions clearly at the outset, and even after watching all of the stories, I wasn’t clear what principle they were referring to.

Let’s look at each segment in these general terms:

The prologue features a young couple returning from a Halloween parade.  The young woman (Talladega Nights’ Leslie Bibb) snuffs out all the jack-o’-lantern candles in the yard, against her boyfriend’s warning.  In an extended “homage” to the opening sequence of John Carpenter’s Halloween, she is stalked and killed.  The tradition broken here:  Don’t take down the Halloween decorations until the night is over?  Okay, this one I get, although it hardly seems like the punishment fits the crime.  (After all, how else can she make room for the Christmas lights?)

The first full story features a school principal (Spider-Man’s Dylan Baker), a single parent with a young son, who confronts a sloppy brute of a child (Bad Santa’s Brett Kelly) who has been smashing pumpkins and stealing candy.  The principal calmly poisons the kid, then spends the rest of the episode trying to nervously hide the body from the neighbors and his son.  The tradition broken here is:  Always check your candy.  That one I get, because it’s the only time in the movie that a tradition is clearly stated.  The crippling problem with this story is character-based:  Why does this guy kill a kid on his front steps, totally out in the open, and then all of the sudden get shy about it?

In the second story, a group of adolescents plays a scary prank on an autistic girl, but in doing so, they invoke an old supernatural menace.  Tradition broken:  Don’t play pranks lest they happen for real? I’m not sure.  This was a pretty convoluted segment, with plenty of character and plot inconsistencies.  My more empathetic tendencies also lead me to take issue with the concept of the mentally-challenged undead.  If you are the type of person who is excited by the prospect of retarded zombies, go ahead with it I guess.

In the next story, a virginal college student (True Blood’s Anna Paquin) is stalked by a cloaked, fanged man, but she and her mega-hot friends turn the tables on him.  Tradition broken:  Don’t take anyone’s Halloween costume too literally?  I really can’t say.  This segment is an utter mess, and it pains me to say it because it culminates in the appearance of my favorite movie monster.  But the story makes no sense, it is confusingly intercut with the previous stories, it features the abrupt and not-well-explained reintroduction of a character from an earlier story, and it features the worst acting of the entire film.  You can distract me with amazing cleavage, but only temporarily.

In the last story, a wheezing old bastard (awesomeness’s Brian Cox) is besieged by that scarecrow kid who’s been appearing throughout the movie.  Tradition broken: Be kind to trick-or-treaters lest they be unkind to you. I guess.  This isn’t fully clear, but it almost doesn’t matter this time around.  I called this one the best segment earlier because it has the most interesting filmmaking – it has the movie’s best actor playing against a legitimately decent monster design, and it’s just an extended chase sequence that doesn’t waste time on poor dialogue or cute twists.  The pumpkinbaby’s motivations are still mighty unclear, but at least I wrung some entertainment out of the movie’s final moments.

The one thing that fans of Trick ‘R Treat and I can agree on is the mystery behind its delayed and unceremonious release.  Not that I believe that this movie is good enough for anyone but the most optimistic and desperate horror fans, because it’s not; but because I literally see a worse movie than this dumped into theaters every single week.  Trick ‘R Treat doesn’t hang together right, but it’s less ugly and sadistic than the Saw movies, more energetic than (for example) Surrogates, and more ambitious than just about any Sandra Bullock movie.  Trick ‘R Treat fails, but at least it tried.  It’s sad that I consider that praise, but I’d rather give a chance to a movie that wants to be original than a movie that is cynical and lazy.

But yeah, probably skip this one anyway.

Am I wrong?  All I know for sure is that I’m on Twitter:  @jonnyabomb

Halloween.

Hanging out with my sister and for some reason she wanted to see this for the first time today.

You can read what I wrote about it here.

John Carpenter’s classic slasher film is both the spiritual heir to Hitchcock’s Psycho and a monstrously influential masterwork in its own right. In Psycho are the seeds of the slasher genre, but Halloween opened the floodgates. It also happens to be better than any similar movie that followed. What distinguishes Carpenter’s movie is probably actually two things: 1) The layer of mythology that Carpenter applies to a fairly simple story about a masked psychopath, delivered in ominous phrasing and hushed panic by British actor Donald Pleasance (he talks about Michael Myers the same way that Quint talks about the Indianapolis in Jaws), and 2) Carpenter’s simple score, with that unforgettable piano refrain and the pitch-perfect way that the sweeping synth sounds are layered on. I don’t know if you could make such a sparse, effective score today. Most movies insist on a broader orchestral palette. Carpenter had the intelligence and the confidence to do more with less.

Right now, though, I’m obsessed with one strange notion:  Dr. Loomis is yelling at the guy in charge of the asylum for not imprisoning Michael Myers well enough, and he mentions that it’s 150 miles to Haddonfield, where Michael Myers is planning to go.  Right?  Okay.

Just wondering: What kind of music does a Michael Myers listen to while he’s driving a 150-mile road trip in a beige station wagon?

It being ’78, my guess is Steely Dan.  I’m sure Rob Zombie has different ideas.

Although maybe he listened to that cassette tape of “Don’t Fear The Reaper” over and over again, like pre-game hype music.