Film Review: Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

Release Date: July 12th, 2002
Directed by: Rick Rosenthal
Written by: Larry Brand, Sean Hood
Based on: characters by John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Music by: Danny Lux
Cast: Busta Rhymes, Bianca Kajlich, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Ryan Merriman, Sean Patrick Thomas, Katee Sackhoff, Daisy McCracken, Luke Kirby, Tyra Banks, Jamie Lee Curtis,

Nightfall Productions, Trancas International, Dimension Films, 90 Minutes

Review:

“You failed, Michael. Want to know why? Because I’m not afraid of you. But what about you? Are you afraid of me? Are you afraid to die, Michael?” – Laurie Strode

This chapter in the Halloween franchise is the bottom of the barrel. Well, at least until Rob Zombie came along to make two films in his white trash reboot.

The only positive thing about this picture is the first fifteen minutes that show the final confrontation between Michael Myers and his sister, Laurie Strode. Jamie Lee Curtis returned for this small part and really, the build up to this fifteen minute intro should have been a film with this as the finale. Everything after their final confrontation is absolute garbage.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve liked Busta Rhymes going back to his days in Leaders of the New School. I also thought he did a decent job with his small role in John Singleton’s Higher Learning. However, watching him imitate Bruce Lee while using kung fu moves to best Michael Myers is just about the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen and I’ve watched some pretty shitty movies in my day. At least Busta looked like he was trying to make the best out of an atrocious script and a stupidly written character.

The basis of this film, after the decent fifteen minute intro, is about a half dozen college students that go on a reality show to “investigate” the infamous Myers house. However, Michael is there and still alive so college kids start getting shish-kababed with sharp objects galore.

The premise is dumb, the characters are even dumber and the whole idea of how a show like this would work makes no sense whatsoever. It was just an excuse to use cheaper cameras and to showcase a lot of the action with shitty head mounted webcams. It is like half normal movie and half found footage. The choppy editing between the two is a distraction and most of the webcam shots are a jumbled mess.

Fuck this movie. There really isn’t much else to say about it. Watch the first fifteen minutes and then turn it off.

And yes, this turd is getting tossed into the Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read, “Type 1 Stool: Separate hard lumps, like nuts (hard to pass).”

Film Review: Blood Rage (1987)

Also known as: Nightmare at Shadow Woods, Slasher (alternate titles)
Release Date: May 1st, 1987
Directed by: John Grissmer
Written by: Bruce Rubin
Music by: Richard Einhorn
Cast: Louise Lasser, Mark Soper

Film Limited Partnership, 82 Minutes

Review:

“That’s not cranberry sauce…” – Todd

This was a slasher film made in the late 80s in and around Jacksonville, Florida. Strangely, even being a big slasher fan and a Floridian, this movie has eluded me until recently. In my defense, it wasn’t like it was highly successful or made a lot of waves. It apparently didn’t matter that I was in video stores on a daily basis in the 80s and 90s and even worked in one because I just never came across this. It wasn’t until I found this streaming for free for Prime members on Amazon that I knew it existed.

Now this is far from a great slasher film but it certainly stands well above the bottom of the barrel. I went into this expecting something that would be total shit. The film actually hooked me with its opening, which saw a young boy violently murder a teenager at a drive-in movie theater and then pin it on his twin brother.

The story picks up a decade later and we find out that the killer brother has been on the loose the whole time and the innocent brother has been in a mental hospital. The innocent brother escapes, however, so the killer brother takes that opportunity to start killing again, as he can frame it on the escaped mental patient.

Most of this film takes place at an apartment complex called Shadow Woods. In fact, even though I live on the other side of the state, the setting feels like every apartment complex I went to as a kid in 1980s Florida.

The film barely had any real acting talent other than the twins’ mother, who was played by Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman‘s Louise Lasser. Mark Soper pulled double duty as the twins Todd (the real killer) and Terry (the innocent nice one).

There was an obvious lack of budget with this film but the special effects and gore were still well handled and executed nicely. This is a really violent slasher picture with lots of dismemberment, split skulls, decapitations and just about anything else you can think of.

The music in this movie was really cool too. It was an electric 80s horror soundtrack in a similar vein as John Carpenter’s scores but a bit more poppy when it got going.

Blood Rage is a film I was impressed by. I wasn’t looking forward to firing it up but you don’t find diamonds in the rough by being timid. It exceeded my weak expectations and gave me hope that there are still long lost gems out there waiting to be discovered.

Film Review: The Funhouse (1981)

Also known as: Carnival of Terror (alternate)
Release Date: March 13th, 1981
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Written by: Larry Block
Music by: John Beal
Cast: Elizabeth Berridge, Cooper Huckabee, Largo Woodruff, Miles Chapin, Kevin Conway, Sylvia Miles, William Finley

Universal Pictures, 96 Minutes

Review:

“…Who will dare to face the challenge of the Funhouse? Who is mad enough to enter that world of darkness? How about you, sir…?” – Funhouse Barker

I’ve never been a big Tobe Hooper fan. I don’t dislike the guy’s work either but it has never stood out as anything exceptional. He’s better than your average horror director and certainly made better movies than the sea of PG-13 teenie bopper diet horror flicks that rule the industry these days but he never had that one great film that made a mark on me. Sure, Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a game changer in 1974 but I never felt like it was all that great. In fact, I liked its hilarious and gory sequel better but that wasn’t great either.

The Funhouse may be the best picture in Hooper’s filmography, though. Sure, the average horror buff may scoff at my assessment of it, especially after what I said about his Chainsaw movies but it is Hooper’s one picture that I actually want to rewatch around Halloween every year. There is a certain mystique about it but a lot of what sells the picture is the work of Kevin Conway, who plays a different carnival barker at just about every tent. He sets the tone effectively and lures you in.

Also, I have always loved the monster in this movie. He’s a sort of tall, skinny, mutant beast that one could assume was the creation of generations of incestuous inbreeding. However, he seemed to be a really gentle and misunderstood monster that was unfortunately in the care of an asshole and surrounded by shitty people. Realistically, he was probably just a disfigured horny teenager but the film doesn’t really do much to explain the monster. But his look is cool, the makeup was superb and he has always stood out in my mind when looking back at slasher pictures from this era.

The film takes a lot of time getting to the slasher parts but the build up is good and sets the tone. Going through the carnival with the kids in the picture, for the first thirty or forty minutes, is fun. They’re all mostly likable and carnivals are cool. Once they decide to spend the night in the spooky funhouse though, their fate is sealed. Well, three of the four teens fate is sealed, as one girl gets out alive.

The final showdown between the final girl and the slasher is really good though. It takes place in the room under the funhouse with all the gears and dangerous hooks and chains.

The Funhouse also has a pretty impressive score. The music is well orchestrated for a slasher picture and it adds a sense of quality to this low budget feature. It does have some bits that feel repetitive but it may only be noticeable after seeing this a dozen times.

Also, the lighting is great. The use of colors and shadows to make the funhouse even spookier is executed well. I’m also a sucker for old school funhouse rides and this film is set in one. The place feels a lot larger than the outside lets on, which is probably true with the big sets but it gives the funhouse a maze-like structure that is hard for the frightened teens to traverse.

With all the shoddy slasher remakes that have come out over the years, I’m surprised this one has remained untouched. I personally prefer it that way but it makes me think that this one is sort of forgotten and underappreciated.

The Funhouse is a quality slasher picture from the early 80s that isn’t just a retread of the Halloween or Friday the 13th formula. The setting is cool and unique and gives this film its own distinct identity in a sea of slasher clones.

Comic Review: Hack/Slash – Omnibus Three

It has been a few years since I’ve read through the Hack/Slash series but it is my favorite horror comic. I read this omnibus back when it first came out and since I just recently picked up the fourth and fifth omnibuses, I’m revisiting the first three to refresh my memory.

Out of the first three, this one is my least favorite. Granted, it is still thoroughly enjoyable. It has longer stories but some of them feel like filler without as much action as there was in the earlier volumes. Also, the number of slashers in this entry isn’t as large as the earlier stories.

However, at this point in the series, we get more stability. New villains pop up that are bigger than just being one off or two off threats. Samhain, for instance, feels like a presence that will maintain an important position throughout the series as it keeps going. But is Samhain even a villain? Or is he an antihero that out antiheroes our regular antiheroes? He’s a complex and interesting character, almost like the Deadpool of the Hack/Slash universe.

There is a lot more emotional baggage that comes forward in these stories, which contributes to the action not being as much in the forefront as it was previously. That’s okay, as Cassie is dealing with the death of her parents in a really awful way. This book deals with her sorting that out and figuring out what her real place is in the world and how that is going to effect Vlad and others close to her.

While I love the variety in art styles that grace the pages of comic books, this omnibus has so many drastic changes in style that it is a distraction. Maybe seeing each issue as a separate piece is a better way to approach it but as I was thumbing through the pages of this big collection, it just jumped around too much stylistically and the changes were quite drastic. Not to say any of the art was bad, it was all good but it messes with the tone.

This third omnibus sits in the middle of the five. This is the Wednesday of the series, or the hump day. It connects the beginning with the end and is a bridge that looks back at what’s happened and sets the stage for what’s still to come. It mostly works and it still leaves me excited to finally read the last two books and to see how the end of this story plays out.

Film Review: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

Release Date: August 5th, 1998
Directed by: Steve Miner
Written by: Robert Zappia, Matt Greenberg
Based on: characters by John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Music by: John Ottman
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, Adam Hann-Byrd, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Janet Leigh, Josh Hartnett, LL Cool J, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Nightfall Productions, Trancas International, Dimension Films, 86 Minutes

Review:

“Mom, I am not responsible for you. That’s it, I’ve had enough. I can’t take it anymore mom. He’s dead. Michael Myers is dead.” – John

When this film came out, I didn’t even want to see it. It looked awful, I assumed it was awful and when I did see it on video, a year later, I was left unimpressed. However, my tune has changed somewhat, seeing it almost twenty years later.

It isn’t wholly awful and in fact, it has some pretty strong positives.

On the negative end of the spectrum, the opening segment is decent but then the film drags and drags until you finally get to see Michael Myers hunt down his sister. You don’t really get some good Myers action until the last twenty minutes or so of the picture.

Then there is the issues with the Myers action itself. That issue being that half the killing, if not most of it, happens off screen. The majority of the film shows people getting cornered and then it cuts away. A few minutes later, someone stumbles across their dead friend. I assumed this had to be rated PG-13 but nope, it has an R rating but apparently no balls. Strangely, even though it cuts away from real violence and gore, the film is capped off with a decapitation that is actually shown. The way violence is handled in this movie is really friggin’ baffling.

Also, there are just so many bullshit jump scares that it was more irritating than surprising.

The cast in this is also pretty weak. There are really well-known stars in the film but this was before most of them broke out. Michelle Williams would go on to be nominated for four Academy Awards and receive lots of other awards nominations but in this, she’s just teenie bopper eye candy. LL Cool J didn’t seem to have much to do and Josh Hartnett didn’t serve much of a purpose other than being the son of Laurie Strode (Curtis) and giving her a reason to finally hunt down Michael Myers herself.

But lets get to the positives.

Jamie Lee Curtis kills it in this. This is her best outing as Laurie Strode and twenty years later, she finally gets that Ellen Ripley moment, where she has had enough, grabs a weapon and hunts the hunter trying to kill her and her child. The final showdown between her and Myers is absolutely fantastic and it is the best final battle out of any Halloween film. She truly was Michael’s match in this and it was damn cool to see. It actually makes up for the boredom I felt for the first two-thirds of the picture.

Also, we get a nice cameo from Janet Leigh, Jamie Lee Curtis’ real life mother. She’s even got a car like the one from Psycho.

Halloween H20 may have an incredibly stupid name and fall victim to being a standard 1990s slasher, lacking the gravitas of the films from the previous two decades, but that final act is stellar. The moment where Laurie and Michael come face-to-face for the first time in twenty years is actually chilling. I wish they wouldn’t have wasted that shot by putting it in the trailer.

So I no longer have a severe dislike of this film, I actually like it a lot. Especially the final moment between Laurie and her murderous brother.

Film Review: Madman (1981)

Also known as: Madman Marz, The Legend Lives (working titles)
Release Date: October 30th, 1981 (Albuquerque)
Directed by: Joe Giannone
Written by: Joe Giannone
Music by: Stephen Horelick
Cast: Gaylen Ross, Paul Ehlers

Jensen Farley Pictures, 88 Minutes

Review:

“Losing, winning – what’s the difference? Play the game with a fair heart, and you’ll always be able to look yourself in the mirror. Play too hard to win, and you might not like what you become.” – Max

I have heard about this film for awhile now. It certainly has its fans out there. There is even a documentary floating around about this cult picture. So I figured that I would finally fire it up, as it is Halloween season and I’m always looking for new experiences, even though I already own well over a thousand horror pictures.

Madman was a huge pile of shit. I mean, it is truly fucking awful.

I think the people that love it, love it because of it being bad. But it’s really not one of those endearing good/bad movies. There are so many good/bad movies that deserve the love and loyalty of those who like those things. This is just terrible on every conceivable level.

You can’t expect much in regards to a story in a slasher film but this one paints a good picture of who this madman is. That’s the only positive and it is a detail so minor it really doesn’t matter with how crappy the movie is, as a whole.

Madman offers nothing new to the genre. It is poorly shot, atrociously acted and the madman himself is one of the silliest looking slasher I have ever seen. The costume is so bad, in every closeup, you can see that it’s a dude wearing a mask and he has no makeup around his eyes in the mask’s eye holes. It looks like a teenager in a cheap Halloween mask with crazy hair, wearing a fat suit stuffed under some overalls.

It was painful to sit through this movie. Also, it has some of the most unattractive girls in slasher history. It’s like the killer was murdering everyone in an effort to save the audience from seeing them naked. But I don’t think that this film was that smart. They just hired whatever birds they could actually convince to be in this flaming pile of dog shit.

So does this deserve to be put through the Cinespiria Shitometer? Oh, yes! What we have here is a “Type 5 Stool: Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (passed easily).” I beg to differ on the “passed easily” part.

Video Game Review: Friday the 13th: The Game (PlayStation 4)

*I played the PlayStation 4 version. The game is also available on Windows and Xbox One.

I was a bit late to the dance on Friday the 13th: The Game. Honestly, I’m not big on online multiplayer stuff, as I’m an old school gamer and like to work alone; I don’t need a bunch of people holding me back, I can fly on my own!

So because of that, I was holding out for the single player mode to be released, as it was announced some time ago. Annoyingly, it has been delayed and delayed and well, it still isn’t out… half a year later. Therefore, I was growing impatient and being that I’m a big fan of the Friday the 13th franchise, I figured I’d just take the plunge. Plus, I downloaded this on Friday the 13th and it’s October, so I figured I’d celebrate by killing camp counselors.

Unfortunately, I had problems with the game from the start. More than half the sessions I played, dropped due to connection issues. I tested my connection, it was fine. I also fired up some other games and they ran smoothly. I’m not sure if it was the Friday the 13th servers themselves or if there was just a lot of traffic bogging things down, due to playing this on Friday the 13th and it being the day that the physical copy of the game was released, alongside updates of new maps in the game.

I didn’t get to play as Jason until my fourth session. As cool as I had hoped it would be, I enjoyed playing as a counselor more.

To break it down, each game has eight players. One player is Jason Voorhees trying to kill the counselors, the other seven players are the counselors, who have to try to survive until the session time runs out. Counselors can also attempt to escape to safety or take on the ultimate challenge and try to kill Jason – good luck with that!

My biggest problem with the game, other than the connection I had, is that the controls are overly complicated and clunky. The way the controls are laid it, doesn’t make a lot of natural sense. The game is ambitious with giving you special abilities and whatnot but it makes things more difficult, especially without the game having a proper hands on tutorial. It isn’t a game that you can just jump in and play, there is a learning curve that just makes things kind of frustrating for those who want to jump in and have fun. With the connection issues, it made the experience even more frustrating.

Plus, you jump into a game with experienced players. Experienced players who don’t have the patience for some halfwit trying to figure things out for the first time. For a latecomer to the game, you’re just thrown to the wolves and it isn’t a fun experience.

The first time I grabbed a counselor by the throat and was ready to murder the crap out of her, the connection dropped. Then when I was a counselor and was finally confronted by Jason, the action mechanics just didn’t respond well. Most of the time, I survived the game and didn’t even see Jason. Maybe I have great stealth skills that carried over from years of playing Metal Gear games.

When I got to play as Jason again, the action mechanics of the game just felt like a mess. I’d hack and slash like a crack-addled maniac but I’d barely hit anything. Half the time I tried to chop down a door, the hit wouldn’t register. Everything just felt awkward and alien and I’m a guy that has played games since the time I could pick up an Atari 2600 controller. I’ve played a plethora of games on every single system that has ever come out and when it comes to gaming, I’m a completist, so I have my mileage.

I really wanted this game to be great and to live up to the hype surrounding it but it just doesn’t cut the mustard. I’m going to give it a go a few more times and see if something clicks for me but I’d much rather play the original NES game from 1989, which is also, still more terrifying.

Man, I truly wanted to love this game.