Halloween (2018); or #Threestrongwomen

Hello and Hallo-welcome to Sequel Sunday, where the horror feels eerily familiar! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, as they head to Haddonfield, just in time for Halloween!

Today’s film offering: Halloween (2018)

Lilly: First! There WILL be spoilers! As much as I’d love to give a spoiler free review you can read then go and watch the film without any warning, to not talk about the details of this film would do a disservice to the work and thought that went into the script and performances. At least, in my opinion. And since I’m one half of the team writing this review, well! Here we are.

Andy: TL;DR it’s really good, go and see it. There.

220px-Halloween_(2018)_poster
Look how weathered both of their faces are, I just. So. Good.

Lilly: There! Halloween is the eleventh in the franchise, but it ignores nine of its predecessors, a sequel to the original 1978 film. We start off with the comically on point true crime podcasters, Aaron and Dana, as they are attempting to start some sort of Making a Murderer-esque expose on Michael Myers–Boogeyman or Sad Man (not their title, I just assume it would be since it is the obvious choice). They go to see Michael at his cozy institutional home the day before he is to be transferred to a much more institutional institution, you know, for hard core criminals who slashed five people forty years ago (why only now is he being transferred, is that suspicious, maybe it is, spoiler it is). We also meet Dr.Sartain, the protege of Dr.Loomis who has been studying Michael, wanting to know how his mind ticked. We get a taste of Michael’s other-wordly hold on the prisoners around him when the familiar mask makes an appearance on the scene, further solidifying my opinion that some true crime podcasters go way too far. That was evidence! It still is! What are you touching it for! Stop it!

Anyway.

The podcasters than, of course, harass Michael’s one surviving victim, Laurie Strode, played magnificently and with a heavy poignancy by, obvs, Jamie Lee Curtis. In a beautiful sweeping indictment to ‘both-siders’ everywhere, it’s in this interview she makes the point that she is being treated in the same vein as a murderer, thought of as a nutcase due to being twice-divorced and struggling with PTSD. Hi, Halloween (2018)? I just met you, and this is crazy, but I love you forever already, and we’re only fifteen minutes in.

You can well imagine what happens on the night of the transfer. Laurie has been preparing all her life for it, and it happens–Michael escapes. Start the body counter!

No, seriously, you’ll need it, because in 2018, the body count from the original film (5) is tripled.

The film doesn’t just follow the story of Michael and Laurie, however. It also has Laurie’s daughter, Karen, and Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson, and we get to see what being the family of Laurie Strode is like through awkward stifled emotions and anger about why Laurie just can’t ‘let it go’. Oh, and Karen has a bumbling husband, too, so there’s that. But he really is not the focus here.

Not to be cliche here, but this film is seriously a horror film for the #metoo era. On screen and off, women are standing together against looming monsters and finding strength in their ability to survive together in a world where constant vigilance is understood to be necessary but not socially acceptable to wear on your sleeve. Don’t go down dark alleys, but don’t be afraid of the dark. Don’t wear revealing clothes, but don’t wear a parka in spring. Don’t be defenseless, but don’t have an armory in your basement.

Laurie lives with PTSD. She is physically and emotionally scarred by the time she spent fighting for her life in 1978, and she is stuck there, from how she is unavailable emotionally to her daughter to how her hair is a throwback to that era of feathered fluff. Karen lives with having had a parent who suffered from mental health issues and likely an absentee father since he is literally not mentioned (we don’t even know if she is from husband one or two), on top of having been taken away from Laurie when she was twelve and never returned to her mother, which leads to her own suffering from anxiety issues, as well as fear of intimacy/trust issues that shows in lying to her loved ones. Allyson lives with the weight of the two senior women in the family and struggling to find her own place in the world when she just wants a connection to both that isn’t frayed, painful, or full of tiny lies to protect her. She wants to grow up but her two closest female role models in the female are stunted at a young age that she is about to surpass. Add on a boyfriend who, while cute(ish) is a dick, and you have a pretty messy high school life.

Over the course of the film, these three women have obstacle after obstacle thrown at them, be it something benign and ‘normal’ like a high school boyfriend being a massive dickwad to the (surprise) return of the monster who haunted their every waking moment since 1978, but it is in banding together and truly understanding each other’s strengths–Laurie’s paranoia became being prepared, Karen’s lies became tactical distractions, and Allyson wasn’t about to put up with any man or boy hurting her so would do what she had to to put it to an end–that we see them succeed. Much like in reality, women are discovering that, once we shake our internalized misogyny, we can be the greatest allies to one another. It doesn’t matter the age or the background, women can support each other against that looming, awful presence that is determined to kill them, no matter how many people it must go through.

2018’s Halloween doesn’t present you with a neat narrative that tears apart than reconstructs a Final Girl for us to see triumph at the end. Instead, it showcases what happens when those ‘final girls’, made up decades ago to personify strength through victimhood, are tossed aside in lieu of three women, hurting in different ways as a result of one force, banding together to show that women will not be picked off one by one anymore. They will stand together, and they will take down whatever Boogeyman comes their way.

Andy: So Lilly has covered a lot of what made this movie great thematically, and I’m going to talk about the cinematography, blocking, and practical effects that mean all this depth finds its way onto the screen.

The first thing to mention is that this is absolutely not a visual retread of the first movie, a mistake many of the previous sequels made. Carpenter’s original had an almost sanitized look, with a pure white mask and incredibly limited palette filled with blues and blacks at night and autumnal red during the day. This however, is infused with a dirty brown look throughout, signifying both age and decay – a contrast most marked by a kid’s bedroom being preternaturally colourful. There are almost no shots of complete darkness in this movie, showing the characters’ preparedness and understanding of Michael’s methods.

There’s also a lot more blood onscreen, and overall it’s a considerably harder watch, but avoids descending into the nasty torture porn aesthetic of a decade ago. We are spared as many shots of kills as we are shown, a brilliant denial of the voyeuristic aspect of slasher movies, and at one awful moment, we see Michael stop and listen to a baby cry. He leaves, obviously as that is several bridges too far for most movies, but it’s an important moment in making us, as the audience, reconsider our relationship with victims.

There are several callbacks to the original, in both shot composition and staging, but rather than simply referencing, these often serve to highlight the inversions at play. A classic example is a scene where Laurie falls out of a window and lands, dazed, in exactly the same position and manner as Michael did at the end of the original. There it was to add a sinister open ending to the story, a fear that a man who has taken six bullets and got away is not quite human.

Here the opposite is true. The movie’s not over, and it becomes an exercise in waiting for her return. Michael, rather than superhuman, has taken his eye off the ball. This movie will have a definite ending.

Another classic is in a fascinating pair of long Steadicam shots. These were a staple of the original, as Michael methodically stalked his prey: they were also often POV shots. Here we watch as he goes from house to house brutally slaying in quick succession as watch from the street. There’s no ‘art’ here, no thrilling hunt, just a series of almost random acts of violence inflicted upon people committing the unforgivable crime of Being In The Way. It’s part of a much wider reframing of the movie in favour of the victims, a lovely visual comment on the broader themes Lilly has already covered.

My favourite is in fact beautifully simple. We have what appears to be a POV shot outside the Strode residence, but it’s far too high up. Then the camera drops to roughly normal eye level, as Michael Myers, the Boogeyman, is literally brought down to earth.

Lilly: In case you’ve not caught on yet, readers, we loved this. It was good. It was really, really good. It took something as (sorry, sorry) simple as the original Halloween and updated it, pushed and prodded at it, and molded it into something that modern audiences could be entertained by and, maybe as importantly, frightened by. I connected with Laurie, Karen, and Allyson easily, and their fear, bravery, and determination echoed the growing voice of feminism in today’s media. While there was humour throughout the film, it was never a joke that women were getting shit done.

And don’t even get me started on how pathetically the ‘Nice Guy’ was framed, or how performative masculinity in the case of Karen’s husband was a trap he built for himself, or how the female victims weren’t the ones undressed, it was the males who were found half naked and…and–just. Go watch it.

Andy: Before Thursday, I would have said Hereditary is the obvious favourite for Hallowfest’s 2018 season. But the fact that we are reconsidering shows just how strong and thematically resonant the genre is right now. I mean, this is a slasher sequel co-written by Danny McBride. Who saw that coming?

Go, watch, enjoy!

Advertisements

Hotel Transylvania 3; or Monsters on a Boat

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another Sequel Saturday, where monsters get another chance to menace! You join your bloggers, Lilly and Andy, as they embark upon their exotic cruise full of their favourite fearsome fiends–er, friends!

Today’s Film Offering: Hotel Transylvania 3

Lilly: Eeeeeeeeee

Andy: Lilly, you need to calm down. We need to write a review.

Lilly: EeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEeee

Andy: Lilly.

Lilly: Eee.

Andy: …You don–

Lilly: Eeeeee.

I’m done.

Andy: Good. I–

91QltsyjqNL._SY445_.jpgLilly: Shut up, it’s Hotel Transylvania 3 day, everyone! Finally!

So, in this third installment of the Hotel Transylvania franchise, we start in Transylvania, 1897–the year mother effin’ Bram Stoker’s Dracula was published because these films are surprisingly thoughtful and reverential to their source materials–where we finally get this universe’s version of Van Helsing introduced. He is a bit more bumbling, and way more high-tech than even Hugh Jackman’s go at the character, and we watch as he fails to kill Dracula multiple times, much to the detriment of his own health. The last we see of him in 1897 is when he falls off a cliff into the sea and screams with dismay at yet again being beaten by his adversary.

Then it’s modern day!

Life is hectic at the Hotel, so it’s decided by Mavis that it’s time for a family vacay–which of course includes all the gang! The destination? Why, a Monster Cruise heading to Atlantis! Dracula rightfully makes the point that a cruise is just a hotel on the ocean, but his mood quickly changes when he lays eyes on the enthusiastic/gymnastically talented captain, Erica. With a secret being hidden by the alluring captain, we’ve got our plot!

Readers, I love these movies. We know this. I think it is a fun and campy way to introduce kids to characters that we take for granted as adults as being two-dimensional due to a long history of seeing them on film.  They are funny, they are witty (two different things, believe you me) and they are a decent way to spend an afternoon with a child that won’t bore you to tears.

It’s also surprising how big of a world these films can build. From the monster’s way of falling in love (via a sensation known as a ‘zing’) to the effects of garlic on vampires (it’s compared to lactose intolerance, flatulence included), the Dracula and Wolfman and Frankenstein’s monster of this film are set apart from those Universal Monster Magnates. Add in delightful human characters Jonathan and Dennis (or Denisovich, an adorable nickname given to his grandson by Dracula), and you got a great mixture of characters to bounce off each other.

I want to look at two different storylines, then I’ll leave the rest for you to go and enjoy, but SPOILERS. Spoilers. You’ve been warned.

One, I absolutely loved: Dracula in love. For those of you haven’t seen the first film, go and watch that dummy, this is the third in the series! But yes, when you hear about what happened to Dracula’s wife, you completely understand his reluctance to deal with humans. You also come to realize, within the mythos of the film, that he could not possibly expect another ‘zing’ to come along, so he threw himself into work and, of course, loving Mavis, Dennis, and maybe even Jonathan at times. The extra pep in the Count’s step when he finds his second ‘zing’ is adorable and relatable, from his dance moves on the ship deck to his inability to form words around her. It’s a simple act of humanization that again breathes new life into him.

And I hear what you’re saying–but Dracula fell in love in Bram Stoker’s Dracula! And to that I say fair point, but it’s not nearly as adorable! I mean, Dracula’s falling in love in Monster Family was better, even if I have huge, angry opinions about that film that might come out at a later date. In fact, Dracula has fallen in love in roughly a million films (approximately), but has he wore support socks and gotten a goofy Charlie Brown-esque smile in those films? No. Nope.

Second one I absolutely had winces for: the coupling of Dennis and Winnie. Remember how they were adorable friends in Hotel Transylvania 2? Well, in another ‘so human like us’ move, the pair are made out to be that weird ‘awww, they are so cute together, they are dating’ friends that I haaaaate in real life with kids and moreso in films since those at least have a choice to not pull that shit.

Pro tip: Stop pretending like little kids are dating. Stop it. It’s weird. When she leans to give him a kiss and Dennis yells ‘I’m only six!’ and is flustered and runs off, I know it’s played for a laugh but shit, didn’t he hit the nail on the head! Why is it we are so keen at putting that bit of adult behaviour on children? Gross gross gross.

And it is heteronormative bullshit playing houses or else little boys and little girls who hang out with their little boy and little girl friends would get the same nonsense. Also, what sort of weird nonsense standards does it set when we’re like ‘aww they are nice to each other, they are dating’. I’ll tell you what it sets, it sets a world where men and women thinking being nice to each other = dating, and if you aren’t dating, why bother being nice, and whoops, if you are too nice, they’ll think you want to date them, so better be a jackass and fuck. That. Shit.

Sorry. Sorry, this is a review for a kids film, but like. Seriously? Seriously.

Hotel Transylvania 3 is a fun film. Rant aside, I love the tone of it, the plot of it hitting home when it comes to a parent dating and what it feels like as a child watching that really rang true to me. Being torn between familial responsibilities and true love is another fantastic theme that is treated thoughtfully. Plus, there is loads of dance scenes, one of which involves so many injuries being sustained by Dracula but yet somehow is romantic.

I highly, highly suggest these films. It’s as simple as that. Go, watch, and enjoy!

Andy: Sorry, had to pop to the kitchen, are you ready to start the revie–oh.

The only thing I wanted to add was something I noticed about these movies generally that I really really like. A group of main characters are essentially middle-aged men who have a variety of family and work situations yet despite that, they all really like each other and respect each other’s choices, and none of those choices are treated as more or less legitimate. When Dracula ‘zing’s, for instance, they encourage him out of a sincere belief that he will be happier, not because they need him to pair off.  Heck, one of their number, Blobby, apparently even reproduces asexually. It’s a really nice undercurrent of passive tolerance in a group of men that you just don’t see that often.

So yes. Go, watch and–

Lilly: Shut up and let them go watch the film already! Go! Go!

Alien Resurrection; or Andy Has Words

Hello and Hallo-welcome to Sequel Sunday, where the films are back with a vengeance. You join your blogger, Andy, as he settles in for a long adventure in space with kooky alien friends.

Today’s film offering: Alien Resurrection

MV5BMTdjYzU0MzAtZGMzOC00YTYwLWJhMTEtNDE4ODQwMDY2NWM1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTAyODkwOQ@@._V1_.jpgAndy: Ooh boy, there’s a lot to unpack here. I’ve rewritten this introduction three times in order to try and even approach this movie, one that I am increasingly recognizing as my least favorite movie of all time. Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein was unbelievably bad, but I told people about it afterwards with a grin on my face. Land of the Dead is a movie that makes me angrier every time I see it, and it’s descendant Survival of the Dead is by far the worst thing Romero’s ever done. But nothing can approach the cool, seething contempt I feel for 1997’s Alien Resurrection.

A bloated, overwritten mess of a movie, tonally inconsistent even within itself, it takes a franchise I value for its thematic depth and erects a huge circus tent with nothing inside it. It’s a $75 million Seth MacFarlane cutaway gag, a photocopy of a photocopy of something once great and powerful and meaningful and HAAATE.

Sorry. Let’s treat this review as an exercise in plotting, tone and consistency. I will attempt to remain, if not objective, then dispassionate. First off, the plot.

So Ripley’s dead, having thrown herself into a lead furnace at the end of Alien 3 in order to kill the alien queen growing inside her. Unfortunately, some blood samples have found their way into the military’s hands, so 200 years later, Ripley is cloned along with the queen, which is then removed surgically. Ripley seems to have inherited some traits of her parasite, having faster reflexes and a better sense of smell, as well as dark fingernails and mildly acidic blood.

The Queen grows up lays some eggs, and the pirate crew of the Betty brings a hijacked ship of passengers in hypersleep to act as hosts. Soon enough, a dozen or so fully grown aliens are being studied in special cells, until they do what aliens always do and escape to cause havoc. The crew of the Betty, teaming up with Ripley-clone, a soldier, and one of their impregnated kidnap victims have to make it back to the Betty and escape before the military base returns to Earth because that’s where it’s programmed to go in an emergency. Meanwhile, the scientists have done something to the queen’s DNA, and a new hybrid emerges to stalk the survivors before being blown into space and they escape. The end.

Oh and there’s a scene where Ripley-clone finds all the previous ‘attempts’ at resurrecting her that everyone talks about in reverential tones, that I find mildly gratuitous and an absolute pace-killer. It’s like that deleted scene everyone talks about from Alien, where Ripley finds Dallas and what’s left of Brett. Cool, but unnecessary.

‘Contrived’ doesn’t really cover the scope of this nonsense. This is a top secret bioweapons research facility designed to return to Earth at the first sign of trouble, when surely the best thing to do would have it, I dunno, stay exactly where it is? It’s other emergency procedure seems to be to evacuate all of the armed personnel as soon as a breakout occurs. There’s only just over a dozen aliens on board. I’m pretty sure Apone’s squad in Aliens accounted for more than that in their first encounter, and they were ambushed!

There’s also the weird timings of everything. The crew of the Betty arrives, delivers their ‘cargo’, and are allowed to hang around (this top secret facility) long enough for the hosts to be impregnated, the aliens to emerge, grow to adulthood, figure out their surroundings and escape. Meanwhile, one of their poor victims still has his baby alien inside of him when their trying to escape, ready to emerge dramatically several in universe hours later near the end of the movie and literal days after everyone else.

It’s almost worth recommending the novelisations by Alan Dean Foster, who also wrote the novelisations of the other movies, because you can actually spot the moments he has to paper over the cracks in the narrative. The movie is absolutely rife with garbage like this, and I can easily pick out half a dozen more. Another example – why didn’t they acid-proof the cages the aliens were in?

Onto the characters. Besides Ripley-clone, who proves once and for all that Sigourney Weaver should not be underestimated, we have a treacherous scientist, a soldier who managed to survive by ignoring the evacuation order (lol), our aforementioned unlucky bastard, and the crew of the Betty. I’m going to talk about the out of universe problems in a bit, but you should know that this script was written by Joss Whedon, so the crew is literally Firefly Crew v0.1. You can actually map the characters directly onto the Serenity, in many cases.

This is a bit of a problem, because not only are Captain Mal and Pals a complete miss tonally when it comes to the franchise, it also presents us with the problem of trying to sympathise with a crew of people who, onscreen, condemned a dozen people to the most horrific deaths imaginable after kidnapping them. Add on to that Ripley’s weird affinity for the aliens, a question emerges about who exactly we’re supposed to be rooting for here. The soldier? A slice of bread has more personality, and he might as well have REDSHIRT tattooed on his forehead. Winona Ryder? Guy in a wheelchair? Both part of the crew. I dunno. There seems to be a nasty, juvenile edge of nihilism through the whole script, and after 15 years of being online I’ve had my fill of edgy, ‘it’s deep because it’s dark’ bullshit.

The other movies had something to say. The “Crew Expendable” reveal in Alien is shocking because it dehumanises deeply human characters who we’ve come to like. The character work in Aliens is top notch, especially in the scenes immediately after the cryopods open. Alien 3 is an interesting but deeply flawed movie about the ways that secular and religious power intersect when faced with a crisis. Alien Resurrection says…

Well, in the closing at, as they desperately scramble towards the Betty, numbers greatly reduced, Ripley is seized by the aliens. In the hive, the queen is apparently giving birth (as opposed to laying eggs) as part of an additional lifecycle added by those wacky scientists, and what emerges is something that is half alien, half sort-of human, with eyes and everything. This is now our sole antagonist for the rest of the movie.

Firstly, this thing never, ever looks like anything other than a puppet. It’s never shot from the waist down, and it’s face doesn’t so much have expressions as settings. It kills the alien queen, and then bonds to Ripley as its mother. Oh good.

In the best traditions of the franchise, this thing then makes it onto the Betty, kills REDSHIRT, and then gets blown into space, as Ripley looks on in agony at her ‘child’ dying. End of movie.

So then, our message after four movies is that the aliens are closer to us than we realised, as long as our DNA is accidentally combined with them when we’re cloned 200 years later. Land of the Dead pulled something similar 8 years later and it was just as stupid then.

Or is it that Ripley, along with Call, Winona Ryder’s character, who is SECRETLY A ROBOT, are the most human characters after all despite being different? You might recognise this as the same moral as Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

There is a tiny, tiny handful of redeeming features. It’s shot very prettily, and is at least aesthetically consistent. It has a character in a wheelchair who’s treated as an integral part of the crew, which should happen more. The aliens are back to being black, after the weird brass color of 3. But that’s it. I’m done.

Jaws: The Revenge; or Ding Dong Merrily on Die

Hello and Hallo-welcome to Sequel Sunday, where we check out a film that follows up with characters we know and love or hate and fear! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, as they kick up their flippers and go back in the water because this time, it’s personal.

Today’s Film Offering: Jaws: The Revenge

Andy: Lilly whyyy,

Lilly: I’m curious and like Michael Caine!

Andy: But it’s so baaad.

Lilly: Hey man, I am a connoisseur of terrible shark movies.

Andy: I’m pretty sure not watching this was in our wedding vows.

Lilly: I didn’t know then what I know now!

Jaws_the_revenge.jpgJaws: The Revenge is the story of, well, the revenge of Jaws, the original shark from the first film in the franchise. Specifically against the Brody family because I figure Hooper was smart enough to get out of ocean related shenanigans and Quint, well. It wasn’t like he had a widow. Loads of lovelorn bow-legged women, sure, but no one settled down with that scamp! Anyway, Jaws: The Revenge takes the idea of ‘what if sharks remember?’ and…I don’t know. Makes it a thing? Or wait, was the shark just related to the shark from the original film? A child of it? Was the original shark a female and so the whole thing with Ellen Brody protecting her family was maybe a parallel storyline? Which child did Dennis Quaid play in the third one again? Why did the shark wait so long! Is Michael Caine a drug runner?

Andy: Yeah, I’m just going to skip the marine biology here for a sec for the sake of my own SANITY. Suffice to say that sharks can neither a) roar, lacking both lungs and vocal chords, and b) SEEK REVENGE.

Lilly: That’s Marine Biology 101 right there.

Andy: This is an amazing movie that somehow recognized how godawful Jaws 3D was and safely ignore it, and yet lacks the self-awareness to know itself is somehow worse.

Lilly: Right? It didn’t even know what tone it was trying to set! Is it the tale of a vicious shark who has a vendetta and can recognize certain members of a specific bloodline/zip down from Maine to the Bahamas in no time? Is it the story of the sadly lacking funding system for marine research, specifically outside the sexy topics of sharks or whales–doesn’t anyone care about snails?

Andy: WHAT CONCH-BASED RESEARCH NEEDS A SUBMARINE. I MAY HAVE IDENTIFIED YOUR FUNDING PROBLEM.

Lilly: … Or is it the story of a widow trying to get her groove back with Michael Caine (as you do) to only be lady-blocked by her over-protective son and a murderous shark?

Andy: Or is it the tale of an increasingly deranged woman, who encounters two completely different sharks and insanely reasons it’s the same shark out for her family.

Lilly: This film has one of those narratives that had multiples stops to get off the horror train yet the characters insisted on keeping chugging along towards doom. It is the equivalent of the babysitter hearing a sound in the basement, going to explore it, to only see blood coming from the wine cellar, going to explore it, to only see her best friend’s head in a jar and going to look for the rest of her body parts in the pantry. Stop. Going. In. The. Water. Done. Shark rendered useless. Story over. Go get some with Michael Caine. Easy! Yet no. No. To get over the death of her son in the beginning of the film due to a murderous trap set by our shark/vengeance machine, Ellen doesn’t go to middle America to take in some farm scenery, she doesn’t go camping in one of America’s beautiful national parks, she doesn’t even drive two hours or so to go to New York or Boston and stay far from the water front. Nope, she goes and stays with her son, the marine biologist, who lives on the beach and is so bad at marine biology that he doesn’t get that sharks can happen where he is. So no, Ellen Brody, I don’t feel bad when that shark shows up, roaring in your face. In fact, I’m delighted, since shark roaring is one of my favourite bad film tropes.

Andy: How do you feel about exploding sharks?

Lilly: I assume the shark was filled with vengeance gas. Highly flammable.

Also, what’s with the sepia memories that Ellen keeps having, some of which she wasn’t even present for and most of which are from an infinitely better film, Jaws? I get it, you are friends with Jaws, Jaws: The Revenge, but the fact that you have to keep proving it is sad. Though, hey, you did get me when a few ladies from Jaws showed up at the beginning, including Woman Who Thinks Your Idea is Bad from the town meeting, and the grieving mother who slapped Brody for letting her son die by shark but apparently it’s all cool now since she was there for Ellen.

Andy: Lilly is more eloquent when it comes to these real bottom-of-the-barrel movies, so all I’ve got to add is that it’s bad. Really, really bad. It killed the franchise and genre so brutally effectively, that for my entire lifetime, there has never been another Jaws movie, nor even a particularly well-regarded shark movie. That’s … kinda impressive, actually.

Plus the shark only kills two people! BAD MOVIE SHARK. NO COOKIE FOR YOU.

Lilly: It’s hard to say what exactly is bad about all of this film–besides saying ‘all of it?’ with a shrug–but it was just magnificently awful. The acting was good, given that part of it was acting like a shark could have a bone to pick with your family, and Michael Caine always delights me to see, even though I was pretty sure he was going to either Catfish Ellen Brody somehow or murder her. Both ideas likely came of wanting a better film, admittedly, but come on, wouldn’t YOU watch Michael Caine trying to catfish Ellen Brody? Well? That said, I’d actually love to see those two crazy kids make it.

Which might be a problem given that I wasn’t watching a rom com, I was watching JAWS. Why am I making up fanfictions about Ellen and Hoagie when there should be some heavy shark-on-person action happening with intrigue and–oh my god, if they say conch one more time.

I can barely finish this review for wanting to google that fanfiction, that’s how bad it was.

However. That said…

It was entertaining. A shark roared! Michael Caine told rambling old man flirtation stories! I learned a bit about conches! There was some need in the narrative for me to know it was Christmas, which lead to so many out of key carols being worked into scenes! And I laughed. A lot. And if a film can’t be scary, can’t be what it was meant to be (I assume), then at least it should do that. And oh did it ever. There were moments I will joke about for years now. Like Michael’s wife cosplaying the girl from Jurassic Park six years before the movie come out. Or Michael Caine, in general, trying to get some from Ellen Brody because apparently he’s tired of his bevy of hot women that only talk about nonsense, and not about the death of their son by a specific shark who was bent on revenge. Or just the concept of a shark working with conchs to lure the object of its revenge to his dooooom.

Plus, I liked it more than Jaws 3D, sooooo.

Andy: I think they call that “damning with faint praise”.

Lilly: It’s no Jurassic Shark, is all I’m saying.

Andy: Aaaand I think they call that ‘insanity’.

Lilly: YOU like that crappy shark movie where they get into a supermarket. Just sayin’.

So ‘recommend’ seems like a steep word here, but hey, if you got time and a lack of respect for what goes into your eyes, then by all means! Enjoy this film as we have. As in laugh for a ridiculously long time after watching it, trying to stop yourself from forcing others to watch it so you can have a group pain to share and overcome. Go, do that, and enjoy!

Friday the 13th Part III; or Friday Harder, This Time It’s Personal

Hello and Hallo-welcome to Sequel Sunday, where we revisit some franchises that maybe we should never have returned to. You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, in life-like 3D, having developed a new dimension in horror reviewing.

Today’s Film Offering: Friday the 13th Part III

220px-Friday_the_13th_Part_III_(1982)_theatrical_poster.jpgLilly: Turns out, in this sequel to Friday the 13th, it doesn’t matter if you go to Camp Crystal Lake at all, because Jason will take his show on the road and come to you! In Friday the 13th Part III, a group of young people are just trying to have fun at their friend’s old family home, located on Crystal Lake–well, okay, so Jason doesn’t go that far, but he was pretty badly beaten up, so give the guy a break.

The film kicks off with a couple of shop owners getting Jason’d pretty quickly, so we know what’s coming (oh right, it’s a Friday the 13th film!), and their murders are done with moments of ‘whoooaaa’ 3D, with knives thrusting and laundry blowing (whoooooa–wait, why is she hanging things out at night, surely sunlight is the key to this–whooooaaa watch out, it’s JASON).

Andy: You love this crap, don’t you?

Lilly: I DO AND WHY DON’T YOU

Anyway, our return to Crystal Lake is shared by the new batch of Jason-bait, headed by Chris Higgins, whose family owns the ridiculously sized home on Crystal Lake (but then, the real estate there is likely cheap what with all the murdering and tragic accidents). She brings along her pregnant friend and the pregnant friend’s boyfriend, their incredibly hateable friend, Shelley (he’s a prankster!) who is set up on a date with Vera, who is clearly not into her date, blind or not, plus two stoners who…I don’t know, I just knew I’d miss them when they were gone.

Andy: Oh yeah, those guys!

Lilly: Who? Oh right, the stoners. Right.

So, they get to Crystal Lake (after running into an old man who literally is the smartest in the film, yelling about how they should turn back) and meet up with Chris’ boyfriend because Friday the 13th is all about making single people feel bad–even that awful shop keeper guy had a girlfriend/wife! Gosh.

The film then becomes a will they/won’t they story, ‘they’ being Jason, and the will or won’t being whether he will kill every teen he comes across, or just a few. Spoiler–this is Friday the 13th, what do you think!

We also learn that Chris has a secret reason to have come out to the incredibly nice house with her friends–she had been attacked there years earlier so thought ‘why not go back there?’ and then continued that train of thought to ‘with my pregnant friend and a few others I sort of know’ because why not! Why not bring those people to a place where you were attacked.

Andy: They’re about at the intellectual level of a mold spore. So, normal Friday the 13th victims, then.

Lilly: You can probably guess how this film goes–magnificently, you’re right! There are amazing kills (tie between Andy, the pregnant girl’s boyfriend, and Rick, the boyfriend of Chris’, deaths for my favourites) and some horribly cheesy 3D shots where things are thrust towards the camera for 3D fun. Plus, you must know by now I love cheesy horror, and well. This is that and then some.

Andy: Yeah, this is the point in the series where we’ve officially left the heady uplands of “good” and dived into the occasionally boggy vale of “so-bad-it’s-good”. The entertainment factor for this one is purely in the realm of watching inventive ways of impaling teenagers, and if you’re not on board by now, this one won’t change your mind. It’s also the first movie Jason actually gains his iconic hockey mask, so it has that going for it as well.

Other than that, it’s a Friday the 13th movie. Were you expecting anything else?

Lilly: A 3D Friday the 13th movie, excuse you. It’s fun, is what it is. Is it art? No. Is it deep? Nope. Would I watch it again? Yes, yep, always and forever, yes. Give me those cardboard 3D glasses right now, let’s do this.

And we didn’t even get into the weird biker gang subplot! There is so much to enjoy! Go, watch, and let us know what you think!

The Conjuring 2; or Ed and Lorraine Warren Are Our OTP

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another edition of Sequel Sunday, where we look at the next chapters of horror stories. You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, who found one person who believed in them, so they married them.

Today’s Film Offering: The Conjuring 2

MV5BZjU5OWVlN2EtODNlYy00MjhhLWI0MDUtMTA3MmQ5MGMwYTZmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjE5MTM4MzY@._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_Lilly: In The Conjuring 2, we join Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal adventurers, as they are brought into the story of the Enfield Haunting, a ‘real’ case of a series of events in Enfield, London, that terrorized a family, specifically a young girl named Janet. Maybe they can solve this one, even if in reality, Ed and Lorraine were barely present during the Enfield happenings, but whatever, Ed, grab your guitar and charm the ghosts away!

Andy: The real case is actually kinda interesting, as the two guys on the scene still maintain there was something going on, but everyone else thinks it was hogwash. Also fun diversion: We tried ghost hunting here at Hallowfest precisely once. We downloaded an app to pick up voices.

…After the first two it picked up were “BLOOD HERE” and “NO PRIEST” it stopped being fun and we turned it off.

Lilly: Yeeep. Anyway. in what was a media circus of the time, this film touches on the very real possibility that young Janet is what is behind all the events happening in the Hodgson home, but merrily tosses aside the possibility pretty early on by bringing all the kids into the ghostly mix, with some pretty blatant otherwordly goings-on decidedly placing the Enfield Haunting heavily into the realm of the supernatural. Grey area? Unless you’re talking about the greying flesh of the undead, there is no grey here!

Andy: Having said that, though, the movie does go to some lengths to ground the movie in the real world. Belief in the supernatural and fictionalisation of the story aside, this feels like it could have happened. It doesn’t feel fantastical.

Lilly: The Warrens, who, after only one film, seem to be ‘too old for this shit’ and looking to retire from the cases due to Lorraine’s visions of Ed’s death (a good reason to pack it in), are called in by the church to check in overseas and see if they ought to get involved. The church reasons that they cannot help people if their street cred is bad, which is legit, so the Warrens go to Enfield to try and help not only their church friends, but the family, because damn it, that’s what Warrens do!

The Conjuring 2 is a good follow up to its predecessor, rolling out new monsters (a demon nun AND a crooked man!) with the same charm of the first film, mainly resting on the shoulders of the two leads, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. The Warren’s are pure #relationshipgoals, from my favourite scene featuring Ed painting to them separately telling Janet how damn happy they are to have found each other. It’s odd, but in a world of horror films featuring sexy teens having sex and hot female survivors hooking up with hot male survivors, it’s nice to see a couple who clearly sits and crochets together as much as saves the day, all while having major love and admiration for each other. I believed it when Ed said he trusted Lorraine, and not just because the film said they were husband and wife so they ought to. Someone put the effort into making sure that, even with them being over the top at time (Elvis serenades, I’m dying), Ed and Lorraine were real.

Andy: Fun activity – notice every time Ed demonstrates proficiency at a skill. Between this movie and its predecessor, he’s a painter, plumber, guitarist and singer, and mechanic, in addition to an accomplished demonologist, medium and agent for the Vatican. He’s like a superhero.

Lilly: As far as the story went, it all depends on what you were looking for. When I heard it was going to be about the Enfield Haunting, I was pretty damned intrigued, but if I went in expecting it to be the story of, well, anything real I’d have been a bit confused–and if you are feeling like you wanted that, why not check out the 2015 miniseries, The Enfield Haunting, a really well done adaptation of the story that was a bit more grounded in reality–but as a general rule, horror claiming to be ‘based on a true story’ is going to be two streets over, one street down, and well around the corner from anything nearing the truth of the situation it is based on, and we all know that.

Andy: If anything, this’ll make you want to look at the real case, so I count it as a win. I like this movie. It’s a good entryway into these sorts of movies, what with Super-Ed making us all feel safe and it’s all nicely shot. The only criticism I have of it is that it’s a little long. We have the wrap-up of the previous movie’s cliffhanger, Life At Home with the Warrens, the haunting before they get there, the haunting AFTER they get there, and several more twists and turns after that. It’s … ponderous, and about 45 minutes longer than most movies we review.

Lilly: Which, if that was 45 minutes of Ed doing random hobbies of his, from, I don’t know, shoeing horses to flying a two seater plane and hand sewing hot air balloons, I’d be down for it, but it does seem like the story of Ed and Lorraine winding down in their paranormal shenanigans was mushed into the story of Enfield pretty awkwardly. I’d rather a third film of them retiring and doing one last gig, but this started with that to then turn into ‘or IS IT’ and I’m not really sure I liked the weird turn in tone. Cutting the film down for time might have helped avoid that.

That said, The Conjuring 2 gets a big thumbs up from me. If I’m honest, I’d watch those Warren kids get up to anything, so my bias definitely shows, but even if you forgot them (how!), this is a solid ghostly mystery of a family being menaced, and we’re on board. There are some neat transition shots, some awesome makeup effects, and whoever styled Patrick Wilson and all his dad sweaters, well, I salute you. Plus, you know it is an enjoyable film to have Andy still like it even though it uses The Clash’s London Calling when showing London–it’s a pet peeve of his which often leads to long rages, and this time, it was allowed!

Of course, we’d love to hear from you, readers! What did you think? Did you enjoy the second Warren Family Fun Adventure, or was the first enough for you? What is your favourite thing Ed Warren gets up to? Have you checked out the Annabelle spin-offs, or will you check out the spin-off the nun of this film is reportedly getting? Let us know, on Twitter, in the comments, or on Facebook!

Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge; or Freddy Wishes He Had Jesse’s Girl

Hello and Hallo-welcome to the second of our Sequel Sundays, where we sit down and sit through the second, third, and sometimes fourth go-rounds for horror franchises. You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, as they question their sanity and wonder why they keep waking up, covered in blood.

Today’s Film Offering: Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge.

maxresdefaultLilly: One, two, Freddy’s coming for you again, and this time, he’s not going to do all the dirty work himself! Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge tells the story of Jesse, who is the teenage son of the family who moved into a specific house on Elm Street that you might remember from the first film. Lots of hosing down must have happened prior to that open house, I’m just saying.

Andy: And I’m just saying I wanted to do Dream Warriors.

Lilly: Quiet, you.

Anyway, Jesse has issues not only with Freddy haunting him in his dreams, trying to convince him to take up the glove in his name and terrorize the neighbourhood, but the young man also faces the worst horror of all: unpacking his room. I’m here to tell you, readers, never have I related more to a horror film.

Jesse isn’t alone in his battle against the familiar boogeyman from the basement–he’s joined by his Meryl Streep look-a-like friend, Lisa, and his frenemy, Grady. Lisa pushes Jesse to try and get help for his sleep/murdering issues, and Grady wears no shirt and makes eyes at Jesse, which is also helpful, I’m sure. Frankly, for a film which tries to convince me Jesse and Lisa could be an item (including a scene at a pool party that is both poorly timed and ultimately creepy), I’m happy to ship Grady and Jesse any day, any time. They had more romantic chemistry–Lisa came off as Jesse’s nurse at times, making sure he was eating right and getting enough sleep. Meanwhile, Grady was getting shirtless all the time, sweating heavily, and drinking three cartons of milk at once to impress Jesse (I assume that is why he had so much milk, anyway, or was that a metaphor for how thirsty he was?)

Andy: Meanwhile Freddy … doesn’t actually do that much. He kills what, three people on screen? And there’s nothing anywhere near as spectacular as the first movie’s Depp Fountain – and when you take out spectacular deaths from a slasher movie, you’re left with characters, and these guys are not the most compelling bunch of cardboard cutouts.

Then again, it is fun to see them take a franchise completely in a new direction in only the second sequel, even if it doesn’t quite work. Freddy as a corrupting influence as opposed to a straight killer could work, even if it doesn’t here.

I mean they also take the franchise in another new direction. A really gay one.

Lilly: Suuuuuper gay. There was a leather bar with drag queens. Why? Who knows. I mean, I’m always pro leather bar with queens scenes, but why! Also, the deaths featured male nudity at varying levels. So, if we see Freddy as a metaphor for Jesse’s inner urges…well. The only step outside that box is during the aforementioned awkward pool party scene. And what does Jesse do when that weird sexuality flails its grey tongued head? Why, run to (shirtless) Grady’s house! To his bedroom! To stay the night! And there is nothing wrong with this strange, strange metaphor, but…why? It wasn’t something that carried on in the series (I’d love that, please and thank you) so it just seemed like a momentary glimpse into ‘What if…’ in the Freddy universe where Freddy wasn’t a monster but rather some sort of vessel for self exploration.

Andy: If you think we’re exaggerating, after running into Grady’s room he yells “He’s inside of me! He’s going to take me again!” It’s not even subtext at this point, it’s just text.

Lilly: And the tagline. Readers. Come on. The man of your dreams is back! So. Come on. Readers.

Andy: Anyway, I’m afraid I can’t recommend this one. As a horror movie it basically fails, being neither scary nor compelling, and as an exploration of a fairly serious issue at the time, it is just too funny. It’s so ridiculous that you can’t tell if it’s intentional or not.

Plus, you know a horror movie has misstepped badly when in a late scene a swimming pool begins to heat up and bubble, but slowly enough that everyone gets out safely. You’re a slasher movie from the 80s: BOIL THOSE KIDS ALIVE.

Man, I hope that doesn’t ever get taken out of context.

Lilly: I’m going to take it out of context all the damn time, now.

It really isn’t a great film, sorry, readers. It was boring or ridiculously hilarious–there is a scene where a bird goes homicidal and it is hysterical. And I am not sure if I mean funny or like it drives you to hysteria. I was disappointed, even with all the silly fashion moments (how big can Jesse’s shirts get before he is just wearing a tarp?) and OTP shipping between Grady and Jesse (seriously just make out already, gosh). Oh, and the pacing was weird–we didn’t really get the same sort of ‘Oh, he only comes when you are asleep!’ realization, just Jesse taking pep pills and drinking coke madly, or any sort of hint at Freddy’s background, just that he worked in a boiler room once. What’s happening? Why! Where! How! Watch out, bird!

So that’s a no from us. No, Nightmare on Elm Street 2. Just no.

Dawn of the Dead; or We Ain’t Up Here Doing Traffic Reports

Hello and Hallo-welcome to the first of our Sequel Sundays, where we discover if there’s anything more horrifying than paying to see the same movie twice! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, who are walking the earth. They’re not dead or anything, they just felt like it.

Today’s Film Offering: Dawn of the Dead220px-Dawn_of_the_dead

Andy: Oh MAN, this is so EXCITING that we’re FINALLY reviewi–wait, why do I have a tranquilizer dart in my neck all of a sudden?

Lilly: You were getting overexcited. Had to take it down a notch.

Andy: Wait, won’t this knock me out for several hours?

Lilly: Probably.

Andy: …How long do I have?

Lilly: Well, I kinda put an extra zero on your body weight when I was calculating the dose, so I’d say about 3 minutes. I’m not taking any chances with you and Romero.

Andy: Right.

Anyway, 1978s Dawn of the Dead is George A. Romero’s sequel to the classic Night of the Living Dead, which we will review later this week, and between the two of them, form essentially the entire basis of the modern zombie movie. There had been zombies before, of course, but these two movies, and the increasingly diminishing sequels really codified the zombie apocalypse. The Walking Dead, Resident Evil, World War Z – all of them owe a huge debt to these two movies, the Iliad and Odyssey of the shambling undead.

Lilly: Did … did you just compare these movies to Homer’s 3,000 year old epics?

Andy: Maybe. Let’s look at this one in more detail.

Dawn of the Dead, as a title, implies the corollary: the Twilight of the Living, and the end of the world is demonstrated in two harrowing scenes. The first is a chaotic newsroom, as the bosses fret about ratings while the underlings fret about the much more serious question of whether the aid stations on the screen are still ‘operational’. The fact that we don’t see any of these aid stations makes the whole thing way worse.

The second is an assault on an apartment building by armed police, and true chaos reigns as cops fight against the doomed occupants, zombies, and their increasingly deranged colleagues.

In the end, the two threads come together, as two of the cops, a helicopter pilot and his girlfriend from the newsroom all take off – literally, in a helicopter – to take their chances in the big, wide world. The quartet eventually find an abandoned shopping mall, and after a few tense scenes sealing off the entrances, begin life in a consumer’s paradise. They have access to all the stores, all the goods and food they could need, and they are safe. For now at least.

The quartet make for an interesting bunch. Ken Foree, the calm, moral centre of the movie, is by far the best as ex-cop Peter, and he carries most of the film on sheer charisma alone. He has the least connection to the other three, joining last in the planned escape, and he’s the most clear-headed.

Lilly: And most quoted by Andy, I’m here to share with you, readers.

Andy: The other cop Roger, played by Scott Reiniger, is a bit more hotheaded, but the two have an easy and excellent chemistry.

Stephen, or “Flyboy” is less engaging, but still an interesting character. He lacks the gung-ho easiness of the two cops, and seems to be threatened by it. (In one hilarious scene, he keeps missing shots, and Roger keeps coming in and doing it in one. You can read so much into this) He has one identifiable, useful skill, but when his girlfriend sensibly suggests he teach her how to fly as well, he seems put out rather than seeing the practical side. It’s the zombie apocalypse, David Emge. Get your ego out of the way.

And rounding them out is, of course, Francine. Less useless than Barbara, at least, poor Gaylen Ross has been written as the character constantly telling the others not to do things, usually the things we want them to be doing. I mean, she’s probably right, but still, she comes off as a nag and the vocal delivery really doesn’t help.

I suppose the final character is the mall itself. Pit stop, refuge, battlefield or deserted monument to excess, it’s a fascinating place and a fascinating idea. How quickly would you get bored if you had access to anything you need at any time. You’d be alive, sure, but would you really be living?

Lilly: See, and while Andy tumbled down the philosophical rabbit hole of the scenario, I stood rather firmly on the ground above, shouting ‘YES’. They have literally found the best option for a stronghold outside of a literal fortress. I had no feelings of ‘man, that would suck after a while’ because what, planning how to live past stores running out isn’t interesting enough for you?

Also, I’d like to put in a defense for Francine, because she has a ‘use’ and is used for it–SPOILER–she has a bun in the oven and no matter how great Peter is, he isn’t popping out a baby and a possible future for the human race any time soon. Don’t get me wrong–I think women in horror should be used as more than sex objects or vessels in horror but in this scenario, Francine should be given a medal because not only is she trying to learn how to fly a helicopter while building a nest in the mall for their rag tag bunch, but she is doing it while pregnant. I already have moments when watching horror films, and Andy can attest to this, where I will wonder out loud ‘man, and imagine if any of those women were also on their period–their days must just really be sucking right now’. Oh, and on top of pregnant, she also is dealing with some losses. So. I’d nag, too, if I thought I’d have to deal with the fallout of whatever nonsense the guys were coming up with while carrying a child and dealing with the undead uprising.

Andy: A final note is on Tom Savini’s amazing effects work. All practical, all gruesome, although the blood is a seriously odd colour, this is some of his best work.

Lilly: Okay, so now that Andy has wound down, I have some points!

First off, I had literally no attachment to anyone in the film save Peter. And even then, it is because it seemed like most energy was put into writing him and the others were just afterthoughts. And if I’m supposed to feel tension when the zombies attack, I kind of need to care that someone might die. On a basic level of ‘humans should survive to make more humans’, sure, but I didn’t care if it was these specific humans or the motorbike gang or anything.

Second, I wasn’t a fan of the makeup of the zombies–the practical effects were great and the bright blood I actually enjoyed, but the zombies being grey and blue was off-putting to me. It’s hard to explain, but in a movie where you are trying to show the fact that the world is shifting and the dead are taking over, it seems like the zombies being a full on different colour than the living had that whole ‘they are us but not’ element tossed aside. Not comparing films, but comparing scenes, if the old man in the graveyard of Night of the Living Dead was grey/blue, no one would be cracking jokes about him, they’d be asking if he needed a hospital. You can spot the undead far easier, and it takes the element of ‘wait, you’re not–(insert scream and flesh tearing)’ out of the film and out of my worries. No one is going to be surprised zombied when the person approaching them looks that monstrous.

That all said, I did like the setting as a place to hole-up during a zombie outbreak. It is somewhere I’d want to be–properly barricaded, anyway. And they did a pretty good job with that, so if it wasn’t for unwanted attention from other survivors, it could have been great. Which, ps, I loved–I love a good ‘the monsters are US’ trope in a monster movie.

I liked this film. I’d recommend this film. It reminds me more of modern zombie films than Night does, so I’d even suggest it over Night if a person came to me with a love for something like The Walking Dead as their jumping off point. So, with all that said – Andy …

Andy: Why are the walls melting? And wh… *thud*

Lilly: … Andy is out, so I’ll wrap us up.

Go, watch, and enjoy!

Halloween III: Season of the Witch; or Happy Happy Halloween, Halloween, Halloween

images-3

Hello and Hallo-welcome to our last edition of Sequel Sunday this Hallowfest, where we see if films can make it through the tricky world of sequels. You join your reviewers, Andy and Lilly, as they pop on their Silver Shamrock masks and settle down in front of the television, reading for a special surprise to be revealed on Halloween.

Today’s film offering: Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Andy: Time to settle in for another Horror History lesson!

The original Halloween, coming out in 1978 was always intended to be the first in a series of movies – but they were going to all be standalone stories with different plots and characters – all set around Halloween. And so, in 1982, Season of the Witch came out, completely unrelated to Michael Myers or Laurie or Haddonfield.

There was a tiny problem though, and that problem was called Halloween II.

Trouble is, the first movie had been so mind blowingly successful, and creative executives so pathologically averse to risk, that it was inevitable that the white-faced boiler-suited asylum escapee would be back – and as a result, the Halloween franchise is now indelibly linked to Mr. Myers et al. Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers banged the final nail into that coffin, and as a result Season of the Witch is one of the weirdest curios around – a member of a franchise which, well, isn’t.

So what is it about? Well, the story (penned by Nigel Kneale who also penned Quatermass be still my beating heart) concerns a slightly shady company in the business of selling children Halloween masks, and a grand conspiracy to do with ancient witchcraft…

Lilly: Where’s Michael Myer’s, again?

No, but seriously, why did this film have to find itself in the Halloween franchise? A tale with genuinely spooky elements and creepy conspiracies and scary stuff, Season of the Witch could have been a contender, yet it got the short end of the stick as to which franchise it was randomly plopped into. I mean, if it had been thrown into the Sleepaway Camp franchise, who knows how popular it could have been! Who knows!

As a person who is generally creeped out by children in masks, this film takes that fear and just rubs your (non masked) face in it, and does so with a jingle that will stay in your mind forever. I mean, just forever. When I think of the word ‘Halloween’, I think of two songs: ’This is Halloween’ from The Nightmare Before Christmas and the stupid Silver Shamrock commercial jingle. I mean. Effective advertising, but still. Wait. Was this film actually about how advertising can infect your very soul? Wait. Ooooh. Oh, you got me, Halloween III. I see you.

Andy: Ooo deep themes about advertising’s effects on the population. Me like.

Lilly: All joking aside, I enjoyed this film. Not as much as Halloween (a sigh of relief can be heard throughout the land, I know) of course, but it’s not a slasher film, so do you compare them beyond my personal preference? It’s a film about black magic, so maybe you’d be better off comparing it to other films of that ilk, if you must, but if you just look at it as a horror film, straight up, it’s not that bad. It’s got some decent acting, it’s got some spooky plot points, and hey, it scared me.

Andy: Yeah, it’s sort of like a really, really well made TV movie – like those Stephen King adaptations that get churned out every few years, but better. It’s never going to make any top ten lists, for instance, and it’s not the first movie from 1982 I’d recommend (The Thing, obviously), but it has a charm all of its own. Definitely one to file under the ‘cult classic’ category.

Lilly: So, why not give this black sheep of the Halloween family a try? Go, watch, and enjoy!

An American Werewolf in Paris; or Reports of My Lycanthropy Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

456742467604_06160506_American_Werewolf_Paris_704_large.jpg

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another Sequel Sunday, where we take a second look at second (and third) films! You join your reviewers, Andy and Lilly, as they pack their bags and brush up on their handy foreign phrases (‘êtes-vous un loup-garou?’ for instance).

Today’s film offering: An American Werewolf in Paris

Andy: Good Lord, there was a lot of crappy movies in the late nineties. We’re probably the only generation that can add the phrase “Thank God” to the end of “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.”

An American Werewolf in London was a fantastic example of something lots of movies try and very few are completely successful at – it was a loving pastiche of its genre, as well as being a very effective member of it. Paris is … less successful. It’s a lot less witty, has fewer likeable characters and a more incoherent plot. It also has literally no connection to the previous film other than the title.

Still, we musn’t be mean to the little darling, I mean, London is one of the greatest werewolf movies ever made, and we didn’t give Alien 3 as much schtick for not being Alien.

Lilly: Actually I liked Alien 3 more than Alien…

Andy: I, uh, well. We’re all entitled to our opinions, I guess.

So, An American Werewolf in Paris concerns three teenage lads on a trip to Paris who discover a secret party for wolfmeat young go getters like them and are respectively devoured, captured by an evil – coven? pack?

Lilly: Pack. They’re like dogs or, hey, wolves, so pack. Or gaggle, because hilarious. Gaggle of werewolves!

Andy: …Pack of werewolves who seem to think that eugenics is a fun and useful idea in modern society and bitten but rescued by the beautiful but mysterious Serafine, herself a werewolf but not associated with the werewolves who are also Nazis.

Lilly: Yeah, #notallwerewolves.

Paris is not a film about the torturous adjusting to the monster inside so much as a ‘Yes, they are also Nazi-like, keep up!’ action thriller type film. There is little subtlety, and what actual exploration there is of the lycanthropy of this film is thrown into maybe five minutes of movie science-ing (which, for those of you just tuning in, I hate). The film seems more concerned with really making the point that not all werewolves are dangerous if they take precautions and take their medication–man, so many metaphors there. So many. Can we have a reboot of werewolf films as a thing? We can all apologize for 2010’s The Wolfman and just embrace all the things being a werewolf can symbolize. Come on!

The two main problems with Paris were that, as Andy mentioned, I didn’t really like anyone involved and the film didn’t really grab me. I mean, for starters, screw you, Andy (from the film, main character was called Andy, to be clear), maybe she doesn’t want your help, that poor sad French woman, but that is her business. What she chooses to do with her body is her business! Even in a film where the once a month her body turns on her schtick is in play! Second of all, the guys were going around, illegally jumping off buildings for fun, and that just rubs me the wrong way. Then there was the throw backs to London like the dead bothering the living after being killed by a werewolf that only served to remind me of a better film. Then there was the fact that it felt like a made for tv movie with the low quality it had, but a tv movie made for a channel that showed breasts.

Andy: Yeah, it’s just not very good.

Lilly: There you have it, ladies and gents. Our first non-go, watch enjoy of the year! Don’t bother. Just. Watch another werewolf film. Go watch Ginger Snaps or Teen Wolf. Or, actually, watch An American Werewolf in London because that is an enjoyable, interesting film to enjoy!