A Few 2013 Halloween Film Musings From Yours Wickedly
Posted on October 22, 2012
My husband enjoys reminiscing about the time he almost threw out my entire Fangoria Magazine collection. He’s lucky he didn’t. Damn lucky. He may have wanted to get even with me for leaving them in the bathroom for him to find when he’s looking for something to read. Why? Because the curiosity drives him insane to the point where he HAS to look at the pictures before getting freaked out. Whatever the case, horror films are one of my favorite vices, like a Coney Island hot dog, and I have my father to thank for both. From fun to funny to awful to horrific, to scary to ridiculous, I’ve seen them all and thought I’d share a few of them with you today, especially since this year has seen the release of some rare ones on Blu-Ray from back in the day. A day. My day. The eighties decade.
Let’s just ham this up a little, okay? If you’re looking for something fun and campy, look no further than Elvira: Mistress of the Dark and Elvira’s Haunted Hills! Elvira is a natural entertainer and an absolute sweetheart to meet in person. She also comes equipped with her own special effects. I’ve met her three times now (twice with the hubby) and will go to see anything she does in the future without even knowing what it’s about. That’s how much fun she is. In Mistress of the Dark, she inherits a relative’s home and belongings in a town that would like to burn her at the stake…literally. “…tell them that when all is said and done, I only ask that people remember me by two simple words. Any two, as long as they’re simple.”
Elvira’s Haunted Hills isn’t the direct sequel fans had been waiting for, but it is a worthy addition to her film canons…er, cannon. En route to Paris, Elvira and her maid (which made me laugh at the thought of how poor the character is to only have one staff member compared to my staff) stays the night at a castle whose owner (Rocky Horror alum Richard O’Brien) has a secret or two…and Elvira looks just like his deceased wife! Past, not present. Ew. There’s even a hilarious musical number where Elvira sings “girlfriend the trained dogs were quite a treat, they thought moi was a bitch in heat grrrr…” This is the fun side of Halloween. The only downside is that neither of these films are available on Blu-Ray. This is where I typically say my version of grrrrr…just without the music.
Who knew, right? And while we’re patiently waiting for Blu-Ray releases of Curtains and Prom Night, this year saw releases for The Boogens (a personal favorite of Stephen King) and Terror Train. The Boogens is probably known more for what people think lurks around during its 96 minutes than what the budget could really afford. The title is pretty awesome and the poster art plenty creepy, only the creature(s) don’t quite live up to the reputation nor does the gore we’ve come to expect from an 80s film. Still, it’s a neat little picture about a mining town where a recently unsealed mine once purposely collapsed many, many years ago lets loose these little creatures called Boogens. Not Boogers…which is what they kind of look like. And they’re hungry…the Boogens. Plus, with dialogue like “Oh, my God! They’re after me, eh! Run, eh!”, how can you go wrong? Okay, I may have made that last bit up.
Terror Train is another one of those anomalies I’d heard about, seen photo stills from, knew the poster, but never really saw since I didn’t have cable and mum wouldn’t let me see it at the theater. The idea about a prank gone wrong resulting in the deaths of those involved years later isn’t new by any means (Prom Night anyone?), but this one does keep you guessing as to who’s responsible. A bunch of college students having a masquerade party aboard a train are picked off one by one, but why and by who? Can Jamie Lee Curtis figure it out before she’s asked to scream again? Please, please, please figure it out. I had to turn my speakers down. The reveal is unexpected. Unfortunately, the downside is less-than-stellar picture quality on the disc.
Another 80s Oldie
Opinion on Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse always seems to be divided. Dad took me to see this back in 1981 and it scared the hell out of me! It’s one of those films that, to me, looked way too tempting to pass up not asking to go and see. Why? Because something was alive…in the Funhouse. And boy, was it a doozy! Four friends head to the local carnival for a little pot smoking and decide to stay the night in the aforementioned funhouse. Unfortunately for them, there’s one serious monster lurking there. This is a film that doesn’t look slick or typically Hollywood and the grit gives it that kick in the sides it needs to unnerve you. And unnerve me it did and piss mom off it did, too! Huh. Suddenly typing like Yoda I am.
Back To Halloween
Shout Factory has been busy with a couple recent Blu-Ray disc releases within the Halloween franchise. While John Carpenter’s Halloween is most likely never to be equaled, it didn’t stop others from trying. Universal released Halloween II on Blu-Ray a year or two ago and while it had plenty of fans up in arms (http://www.shocktillyoudrop.com/news/20993-halloween-ii-how-universal-disrespected-moustapha-akkad), the one thing it had going for it is inclusion of a documentary called Terror in the Aisles. Shout Factory gave this second outing a proper release filled to the brim with special features. Director Rick Rosenthal upped the gore quotient and diminished Jamie Lee Curtis’s screen time, so does the film work? The harshest critique that can be leveled against it is simply “it’s not the first one.” There may be people trying to copy me one day, but they’ll never be the original. Right. This just became about me.
I’m a fan of Director Tommy Lee Wallace and had the opportunity to interview him several years ago, so I was really happy to see Shout Factory give some TLC to his Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Forget what you’ve heard about Halloween III, okay? Think of it as another scary movie that just happens to have Halloween in the title, then sit back and watch the mayhem. H3 is actually a pretty balls to the wall scarefest where someone gets their head pulled off, there are bugs and snakes, and a plot that will change the face of the holiday forever. It’s a visceral film and not given the respect it deserves…like my books or my chances of ever getting on Ellen. Sorry, me again.
Halloween 4 and Halloween 5 were also given recent Blu-Ray releases. Stick with Halloween 4 because they actually put some effort into making this one a decent entry. Gone is Jamie Lee Curtis, but the spirit of the first film is still alive. Michael Myers escapes when he overhears he has a niece. It’s a good thing he hasn’t gotten so old that he needs blood pressure medication because mayhem ensues. The thing is it’s well-staged mayhem and a script that behaves fairly intelligently. All of this, naturally, is lost in Halloween 5, which is simply an excuse to see how much abuse a director can put a child actor through and how long an audience will sit there watching vapidly written characters. Director Dominique Othenin-Girard thinks he’s making art. He made merde.
And, oh, heck, let’s quickly sum up the remaining Halloween films before heading out, shall we?
Halloween 6: Stick with the Producer’s Cut. It makes more sense, honestly tries to take the series in a new direction and…did I mention it makes more sense than the muddled mess of a theatrical version with all its reshoots?
Halloween H20: Eh. Loved seeing Jamie Lee Curtis again, especially trying to kick her brother’s ass, but I left the theater underwhelmed.
Halloween: Resurrection: Not nearly as underwhelemed as I left this film. Rick Rosenthal comes back to the series to deliver…poop. Smelly poop. The only reason to watch this is for Katee Sackoff in a pre-Battlestar Galactica role.
Rob Zombie’s Halloween: Dark, nasty, and nihilistic. While I can certainly respect his vision and interpretation, there’s really not much to like here. Funny thing is the same argument could be made for House of 1000 Corpses, but that one unnerved the hell out of me while making me laugh quite nervously at the same time. Loved House, didn’t much care for Halloween.
Rob Zombie’s Halloween II: Darker, nastier, and still nihilistic. Didn’t like this one any better. There comes a point where you take things too far and this one went there. I was so far out of my comfort zone that it legitimately bothered me and not in a good way.
So there you have it. I had several other titles I was going to mention, then had to reel it in after seeing how much blah blah blah I dished out with these.
Any favorites you’d like to mention? Let’s see how close we are to our taste in terror!
Low growling hug noises,
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.