THE HALLOWEEN HORROR MOVIE CHALLENGE
The Halloween Horror Movie Challenge is simple: watch 31 horror movies over the month of October (averaging out to one per day, but of course it could be divvied up however you please). The only prerequisite for this challenge is that you don’t have a life.
I was able to hit the 31 mark in October of 2008, but I don’t recall even trying last year. This time I’m going for it again. Though there are some specific movies I plan on watching, there is no set list, so for the most part I’m making this up as I go (I don’t want to draw too heavily from my own DVDs, so a lot of it will depend on what’s available on demand or from Netflix).
Regardless of whether or not I’ve seen the movie before, I’ll be posting a mini review for each one I watch – probably a few at a clip like you’ll see after the jump. I can’t be bothered with taking the time to craft reviews that are free of spoilers, so if it’s something you haven’t seen before but plan on watching, you can either a) read at your own risk, or b) fuck off. Now, let’s get on with it!
- The Wolfman (2010) To say the recent remake of The Wolfman was disappointing is to say that Stephen Hawking might have a slight speech impediment. The production itself was rife with problems, with original director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo!) being replaced by Joe Johnston (Jumanji??), along with release date changes as a result of last minute re-shoots, and the film supposedly being edited and tinkered with right up to the week before its opening. When it was released on DVD with a slightly longer unrated/extended/director’s/whatever cut, I decided to give it another shot. It actually is a little better, thanks to some extra scenes that flesh things out a bit more, and a beginning that doesn’t feel like an editing hack job this time around. Anthony Hopkins is off his fucking rocker as Benicio Del Toro’s batshit crazy father, and Hugo Weaving does a solid as a Scotland Yard inspector. Makeup extraordinaire Rick Baker’s effects are second to none, but unfortunately the Jumanji guy insists on using shoddy CGI wherever he can, the worst of which is on full display during a silly werewolf-on-werewolf battle at the end that’s impossible to take seriously. 2.5/5
- Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives Aside from literally being the start of the second half of the Friday series (if you consider Jason X to be the tenth and final one, as you should) Part VI also marks the beginning of what I call the “Zombie Jason” era. After calling Part IV “The Final Chapter” and having that little shit Corey Feldman kill him off at the end, the filmmakers pulled a fast one on audiences by immediately commissioning Part V [read my quasi-review here], in which the killer was really some bereaved nutsack who stole Jason’s MO. So in order to really bring him back for VI, the standard-order bolt of lightning is used to reanimate Jason’s maggot-covered corpse. What results is a Jason that moves a bit slower but is largely impervious to bullets and pretty much everything else (except boat motors, I guess). This is also where he begins to accomplish such superhuman feats as pulling people’s body parts off, breaking people in half and performing triple decapitations; clearly this guy has been chugging creatine and protein shakes during his time off. Director Tom McLoughlin knows what kind of shit he’s working with, and injects the movie with a good dose of humor (a good example being the opening credits intro, which rips off the James Bond gun barrel sequence). And although more than half of these movies take place at or around Camp Crystal Lake (which is supposed to be a summer camp for kids), Part VI is the only one that actually bothered to have kids in it. It’s also the last “good” Friday the 13th movie, before the psychic bullshit of Part VII, the Jason-on-a-cruise-ship Part VIII, and the shit-eating failures that were Jason Goes To Hell and Jason X. 4/5
- The Addams Family I hadn’t seen this one in ages, and it surprisingly holds up. The casting is practically perfect, and it’s riddled with one-liners and the type of black humor you would expect from something like this. The plot, involving the Addams’ lawyer attempting to steal their fortune by having a look-alike pose as the long-lost Uncle Fester, is of the who-gives-a-shit caliber; the characters, jokes and overall atmosphere are enjoyable enough that you don’t really care about the plot itself. The ending is one of the biggest cop-outs of all time, where it’s revealed that the look-alike really was Fester all along, albeit with a bad case of amnesia. Thankfully, his memory is restored once he’s struck by lightning (isn’t lightning quite the helpful tool?). 4/5
- Addams Family Values picks off pretty much where the first one left off, with the Addams clan welcoming a mustachioed new baby. There’s a bit of business about Fester being lonely, which comes to a head when the family hires an attractive new nanny. Turns out the new nanny is really the Black Widow, a serial killer infamous for marrying wealthy men, then killing them and running off with their fortunes. She has her sights set on Fester (really, another plot about someone trying to steal the family fortune?) and tricks Gomez and Morticia into shipping Wednesday and Pugsley off to summer camp, because they’re on to her. This sequel is right on par with the original, whereas despite a plot you couldn’t give two shits about, it still has plenty of jokes, enjoyable performances, and setpieces (such as Wednesday and Pugsley’s sabotage of the Thanksgiving play, which outdoes their bloody sword battle from the first one) to make it an enjoyable ride. Sadly, Raul Julia (Gomez Addams) passed away shortly after this movie’s release, which put the kibosh on any plans for a third one. (Another one was eventually made in 1998 with a new cast, but fuck that.) 4/5
- Psycho II was completely unnecessary, but so are most horror sequels. As it stands, it actually does a fairly respectable job at continuing Hitchcock’s original story, even if the plot gets way too convoluted for its own good. Everyone’s favorite mama’s boy Norman Bates is released from a psychiatric hospital after 22 years, much to the dismay of Lila Crane, whose sister was last seen taking a shower in the original. Norman goes back to his old house and motel, and it’s not long before his dead mother starts leaving him notes and phoning him up. But is it really her? Meanwhile, a mysterious figure dressed as his mother is going around poking people with kitchen knives. The climax is an entertaining trainwreck, with too many characters clashing together. It’s revealed that Lila and her daughter were the ones playing tricks on Norman (hoping he would crack and get sent back to the psych ward), while a third figure was separately killing people off. That figure turns out to be some old bitch who claims to be Norman’s real mother, whose sister raised him after she had been locked up. Norman offers her some tea, then promptly whacks her over the head with a shovel. I don’t fucking know. 3/5
- Psycho III I couldn’t resist. After the is he or isn’t he the killer mind games of the last one, part III finds Norman back in full-on crazy mode. He carries his mother’s corpse around the house, and poisons birds so he can stuff them at his kitchen table. Joining him at the motel this time are an ex-nun (yes, an ex-nun) and a wannabe musician. The latter actually takes a part-time job as Norman’s assistant manager so he can make enough money to get to LA. Adding to the mix is some journalist lady who, despite having a pretty good idea of Norman’s history, insists on doing things like rummaging through his motel office and attempting to get into his house. People start getting stabbed by that trusty ol’ kitchen knife, but once again you’re not entirely certain it’s Norman. The movie ends with Wannabe Musician Guy trying to blackmail Norman after he finds his mother’s corpse in his house, and Journalist Lady explains to Norman that the old bitch from the end of part II who claimed to be his mother is really his aunt, who grew to resent her sister for stealing Norman’s father from her and starting a family. It all adds up to a lot of shit you wouldn’t care about (I certainly didn’t), but there’s a few fairly grotesque kills, and Anthony Perkins is reliably demented as usual. This one’s more of a straightforward slasher compared to the more psychological aspects of part II, and like most horror sequels, the ending is hilariously contrived in order to leave the door open for more sequels. 2.5/5