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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Berkshire County (aka Tormented) Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: An isolated babysitter is attacked by killer trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

Review: Okay, now for the final Halloween horror movie of the year. I'm not sure what they were trying to do with this story since nothing is explained. I get the distinct feeling that Halloween was tacked on at the last minute to add as a mere selling point. I mean, if you took Halloween out of the equation, the only thing that would be really different is the main girl, Kylie, would have reacted differently to seeing people in masks; that's about it. Likewise, what about calling your movie "Berkshire County" cries Halloween horror movie?

One thing this movie can boast is that it's probably the only non-porn where the plot is set into motion over a blowjob. Yeah, not too many films can make that claim, now can they? I guess this is supposed to be character development as Kylie is oblivious to the fact that she is recorded from--get this--two different angles while blowing some dude at a costume party. Did she keep her eyes closed the entire time?! The next day, on Halloween, everyone is making fun of her until she runs home. Our heroine, ladies and gentlemen. If that weren't bad enough, Kylie gets progressively annoying for, roughly, the next half hour or so. I do like how her mom has a conversation with her while Kylie's showering...because that happens. Later that night, Kylie goes to babysit two kids living in the boonies conveniently. This family's house is really cool though. The son's room is amazing! It's a big circle with buildings and a town painted like a mural. But then the entire room is lined with shelves designed to look like buildings and such too. Eh, you kind of have to see it to fully appreciate the setup. Man, that would have been a dream room for me as a kid with all my toys. Hell, I'd still want that shit!

After putting the kids to bed, the dumb killers show up, and I still don't know what their goal was supposed to be. I will admit, however, I did like how one of the killers was a little kid credited as "piglet." Little piglet! Kylie sees these freaks wearing rotted pig masks yet she goes out of her way to give them candy. Come the fuck on, hun. At this point I've already seen Kylie sucking some dude off on a whim, showering, pissing, acting like a bitch to little kids and her mom, and being easily tricked--this is not how you establish your lead. Whatever...so the killers take their sweet ass time trying to get to Kylie and the kids. There are pure shenanigans with Kylie calling 9-11, and supposedly the killers intercepted the call and pretended to be 9-11. Riiiight. This is supposed to be a big twist in the movie--and that one killer is a girl--but this is utterly preposterous.

The vast majority of the second and third act revolves around Kylie going in circles with these inept killers. Somehow the dude Kylie blew also shows up to die; this is perfect, because that situation is conveniently resolved without the writers having to do anything. Toward the end, Kylie and the kids are captured, and that fucking piglet stabs Kylie in the gut with like a 5 inch blade. Uhh, goodnight Kylie! Wait, what's this, you're just going to brush that shit off, Kylie? Okay, Batman. Kylie strangles little piglet, who lives, and ends up killing both the adult killers including our beloved little 9-11 operator. By the way, these dumb killers just left Kylie with a knife in the back of a makeshift ambulance with open access to stabbing them. Kylie is later rescued, but everyone in the hospital is killed by, what I'm assuming is, a cult that was creating these killers to begin with. And that's the ending--yet another sequel-bait attempt.

This film has mediocre written all over it. There were a few interesting ideas here and there, but there was nothing we haven't seen a hundred times before. Kylie is far too unlikable to get behind, and the killers are too stupid to cheer for as well. The ending makes no sense, a cult of killers is played out, and Kylie probably should have died from her wound. Oh well, at least Kylie stabbing the killers was somewhat satisfying...though, letting the little piglet survive was wimpy. Overall, I think this is more on the pass side. There are certainly better Halloween horror movies out there, and this hardly felt like a Halloween movie anyway.

Notable Moment: When Kylie idiotically drops her baseball bat. Yeah, sure, just throw it on the ground instead of using it. Makes perfect sense. You're fucking killing me here, hun!

Final Rating: 5/10

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Return to Halloweentown Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Against the wishes of her mother, Marnie decides to go to college in Halloweentown.

Review: A lot of fans really hate this entry, but I thought it was just more of the same--not bad but nothing to write home about either. However, I will acknowledge that this installment deviates heavily from the rest of the series. The most noticeable change is that the actress playing Marnie has been pointlessly replaced; that's incredibly frustrating from a continuity perspective. The little sister is fully written out this time with only her name mentioned, Aggie is practically written out as well, and the overall tone and importance of Halloween is lost. In exchange for these changes we are given the most Harry Potter-esque entry of them all. I mean, this franchise has always felt like a ripoff, but this movie is the most brazen of them all.

Right out the gate the film annoys me when they say Marnie is still only 18. How is that possible? She was 13 in the first movie. I recall them saying 3 years passed between part 1 and 2 which would make her 16. If we want to believe part 3 was the following Halloween that makes her 17, and part 4 would have to be only one year later. I don't know about you, but that is a huge ass stretch for me to accept the events of each movie being this close to one another. They also wrote out Marnie's last boyfriend which would make even less sense if no time really passed between 3 and 4. Plus, wouldn't people running into real monsters affect things in muggle-world? Ugh. Fucking kids movies.

The plot is that Halloweentown apparently has a college that Marnie and the brother are going to. It happens to be the thousandth anniversary of Halloweentown or something, and wannabe Death Eaters think Marnie will fulfill a prophecy or whatever. Believe me, it feels completely uninspired and similarly to a rejected HP fanfic. The characters do a lot of stupid things, and you get the usual shenanigans this franchise is known for. A couple positives I can say are that they finally give the brother some powers, they bring back a character to be Marnie's love interest this time, and half the fake Death Eaters are Asian (gotta love that aspect!).

Unfortunately, the worst part of the story is the continued use of time travel! If you can time travel freely, how is anything ever a problem in this series? The whole goal of the Death Eaters is they need a magic amulet that no magic user can block or whatever the hell. By the time Halloween rolls around, if they have the amulet, the spells they cast can never be undone...or so they claim. I don't know how that shit is supposed to work. In a fashion typical to this franchise, the bad guys are beaten extremely easily with Marnie, seemingly, destroying the amulet and another witch capturing them all with one attack. Pitiful. Strangely enough, this is the one entry that ends on a cliffhanger. The brother realizes that Marnie actually gave him the amulet, and he hides it in a book from the Death Eaters. I'm not sure where they were planning to go with that idea since this turned out to be the last installment.

I definitely have my problems with this entry, but it's no more annoying than the problems with the other movies; I do think part 2 was the best one though. The actor replacement of Marnie was unnecessary, and the writing out of multiple characters was not the wisest decision either. However, I did somewhat enjoy the Harry Potter-like plot for what it's worth. Next year, it's going to be 10 years since this entry was made so who knows if they will ever make a fifth "Halloweentown" movie. If they were smart, they would make a new entry for the 10th anniversary and perhaps focus on the little sister or a new family altogether. Alternatively, they could simply let this franchise rest in peace.

Notable Moment: That sequel-bait ending. An interesting proposal in theory, considering this entry was successful, but they failed to capitalize on this within a reasonable time frame.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Monday, October 26, 2015

Halloweentown High Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The Cromwell family is at it again when they try to integrate monsters from Halloweentown at a human high school.

Review: I'll give this franchise a little credit--they are certainly consistent with the quality of each movie. Hell, I was even beginning to think this was better than part 2 until the ending had to come along and ruin everything. Besides the usual shenanigans and Harry Potter ripoffs I'd expect, they seriously dropped the ball when it came to the Cromwells being this powerful family. The brother is continually written to be an idiot and they wrote the little sister out of the script entirely. Come on, son! I don't understand why the dumbass brother would not want powers, and they refuse to explain it. Likewise, the little sister has been very important in the past two entries yet she only pops up for a handful of scenes, does nothing, and then completely disappears altogether at one point. What happened?

Despite it being a few years after part 2, Marnie is only just now facing consequences for permanently opening a portal to Halloweentown; they don't mention Kal at all by the way. Apparently Halloweentown has their own ministry of magic equivalent all of a sudden, and they make a bet against Marnie. Ugh...this plot line is painfully stupid--Marnie says something like "I bet..." in passing, and they use this as an excuse to take away the Cromwell family's power. The wager is that Marnie will prove humans can get along with monsters, and the portal stays open. The ministry of magic claims humans still hate monsters, and if they win the Cromwells give up their magic. I thought they were born with these abilities but okay.

Marnie sets up a makeshift exchange student program with a bunch of monsters pretending to be humans. Of course zany antics will ensue as the monsters try to fit in with humans, but it's handled better than you'd think. I was just annoyed that they made that idiot brother shocked that his own makeshift love interest was really a troll. This dumbass did realize they were monsters from Halloweentown all along, right? The other problem for Marnie is that there is supposedly an order of knights that want to kill monsters, and she must figure out if this is real. Once more they shape Marnie's love interest out to be a villain, but he's just a red herring as you'd easily suspect.

As it turns out, one of the ministry guys, his son, and the principal at the high school are working together to sabotage the Cromwells. The time limit to the wager was placed on Halloween, so, of course, everything goes to shit on that day. Marnie and crew prove that humans are okay with monsters after all as the students have developed friendships. It was stupid, though, how the Cromwells losing their powers didn't include the brother or little sister; the other films emphasized them combining their powers but not this time. Making matters worse, the film contradicts itself twice at the end with this whole acceptance theme. It's okay though since Marnie gets to make out with her little boyfriend, and Aggie gets a love interest too. Psshhh, whatever, dude.

This might sound like the worst of the three thus far, but it's the most Harry Potter-ish of the bunch. Take from that what you wish. I did enjoy the shenanigans of this entry, and the story is less convoluted than the first two installments. Other than my usual gripes about this series feeling cheap and unoriginal, I simply wanted tighter continuity. They didn't address Kal, the little sister is written out, the brother doesn't have powers anymore, and they don't show us Halloweentown. With that said, if you enjoyed the last two movies you should be happy with this entry as well.

Notable Moment: You have this message about acceptance all movie long only for the brother and his troll love interest to agree that the other is too ugly to even kiss. Oh Disney...

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The Cromwell family contends with a new foe bent on turning the people of Halloweentown into humans and humans into monsters.

Review: In a lot of ways this film is significantly better than the first "Halloweentown." The villain is more interesting and his plan is kind of cool, the story is straightforward and concise, and they dialed back on Marnie's bitch level. Unfortunately, they ruin the story with time travel and all manner of plot holes that could have easily been avoided. Furthermore, the characters do a lot of sitting around in order to pad the film out. Come on, this is already a made for TV movie--aren't the commercials enough bullshitting? Also, they were ripping off Harry Potter big time and not hiding it at all!

The premise is that a few years have passed since the events of part one, and the Cromwell family has mostly embraced their magical abilities; still not sure why the brother doesn't like having powers but okay. When having a Halloween party, Marnie is seduced by a guy named Kal who uses this opportunity to steal a spell book from Aggie; and by seduced I mean what Disney would consider seduction. Shortly thereafter, Aggie realizes some force is disrupting her powers, and she and Marnie go to Halloweentown to figure out what's wrong. In Halloweentown, the creatures are turning into, what they consider, a caricature of humans as they're under a powerful spell. It is revealed that the spell was cast by this guy Kal who is actually the son of Kalabar. I do like this addition, because Kal is more of a by the numbers villain than Kalabar was, but his absence from part one doesn't make much sense considering Kalabar was supposedly obsessed with Marnie's mom.

Aggie supposedly has a second spell book, but it is in this moronic place where lost items go. Aggie loses her powers which leaves Marnie stuck with only the help of that dumbass, Luke, from the first movie. This is when they begin the time traveling shit in an effort to get the spell book. Look, I'm not even going to try to explain the numerous paradoxes, plot holes, continuity errors, and contrivances that arise with each subsequent time jump Marnie performs, because I would be here all day. Suffice it to say, the story was written in a way that could never possibly make sense. Blah blah blah, Marnie comes to realize Kal actually has both spell books anyway so the only way to win is to defeat the spell itself. Conveniently enough, repeating the spell backward reverses it, and it is a simple phrase: apart and trapa. So anytime the characters say "apart" it should technically cast this spell, right?

Now that they know how to save the day, Marnie and Aggie become trapped in Halloweentown since the present was still moving forward...somehow. See what I mean about the time travel shenanigans? Kal goes into phase two of his plan which is to turn humans into their costumes which was pretty cool. In order to get back to muggle-world, the Cromwell family once again combines their powers in order to open a permanent rift between muggle-world and Halloweentown. Despite apparent victory, Kal says "fuck winning" and offers Marnie a chance to get back the spell books. Overcoming Kal's magic, Marnie gets back the book, reverses both spells, and Kal runs away to god knows where. At the end, Marnie wins Hufflepuff the House Cup, and they mention Kal will be back...except he never does.

I can't really raise the rating of this film over the first entry, but it is the better experience. The plot is structured in such a way that I don't think you would need to watch part one either; this is good for the kiddies. The Harry Potter parallels are a bit unforgivable, but it's still fun regardless and helps ease the kids into familiar territory. Halloween as a holiday is played up more in this entry, but at the cost of spending less time with the world of Halloweentown; I prefer the former to the latter, but others may prefer the opposite. This film certainly has its flaws, but it's an otherwise enjoyable adventure for the whole family. If you liked part one I think you will enjoy this one as much or more.

Notable Moment: When the mom is turned into her Halloween costume. The makeup effects for her were not bad and actually kind of scary for this kind of movie.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Friday, October 23, 2015

Halloweentown Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: One Halloween, a girl realizes she and her siblings belong to a family of powerful witches.

Review: Hmm, I remembered this being a lot more entertaining when it came out, but maybe I'm more of a hardass these days. Oh well! At a glance, this is merely a Harry Potter ripoff focused on Halloween, but the timing makes it hazy as to who's ripping off who. The first HP book was obviously out and selling well by the time this movie was made, however, certain plot elements from "Halloweentown" appear to have influenced the HP universe...especially the film adaptations. Setting aside such a debate, it is clear as day that HP is infinitely superior to this franchise. The acting is horrific, the costumes and creatures look like something you'd see at an elementary school parade, and the plot makes little sense. With that said, I do appreciate the charm and lighthearted nature of the story. As for the quality of the rest of the films, I don't think I even watched them all so here's hoping for the best.

The plot revolves around our Harry Potter equivalent, Marnie, who discovers, on her 13th Halloween, she's a witch. Right out the gate, a lot of shit doesn't add up. They claim you can lose your powers forever if you don't train them by this point yet the film never emphasizes a sense of immediacy. Then there is this subplot about Marnie's mom not wanting the kids to go out on Halloween...because reasons. Plus, the dad is dead...why? Moreover, I don't understand the reason for Halloween being at the center of all this. The gimmick is that all supernatural creatures are actually real and once lived alongside humans. Now the creatures only live in Halloweentown so as not to get killed, but on Halloween a magic portal opens up or something? Well that's fucking convenient. Ugh, nothing is explained. It's just a kids movie...it's just a kids movie...it's just a kids movie...

When Marnie's grandma, Aggie, shows up to prod the mom into letting Marnie embrace her powers, they all sneak into the magical Halloweentown world. Well, it's certainly no Hogwarts to say the least. Marnie has a little sister and brother who both have powers too, but that's not important until the end. Apparently this family of witches, called the Cromwells, are super powerful, but we never learn the how or why or are even shown evidence of this alleged power. Anyway, it's good everyone shows up this Halloween since an evil force is, I guess, plotting to taking over the world. At this point, who isn't trying to take over the world? After nearly endless displays of shenanigans, shoddy effects, and questionable acting, we learn that the mayor of Halloweentown, Kalabar, is behind everything. I'm sure he was intended to be this franchise's Voldemort, but they screwed that up badly. By the way, this franchise can't seem to decide if the guy's name is spelled with a "C" or a "K." I'm going with the "K" since that's the spelling used in the title for part 2. At the end, Kalabar is about to kill everyone, but the family members combine their powers--including the whiny mom--and the guy just dies somehow. Again, the vagueness of Kalabar's death I'm sure was deliberate in case they chose to bring him back. The family then returns to muggle-world where Marnie is sworn into Hufflepuff.

I think one of the main reasons I couldn't enjoy this as easily as I did back in '98 is because Marnie is such an unlikable little bitch. Forget the shit effects, paper mache costumes, and nonsensical plot delivered in the most matter of fact manner--Marnie alone practically ruins everything. I do like the way they depict Halloween in muggle-world, but that is short-lived. Some of the goofball spells and concepts are amusing, but the ideas feel rushed. Instead of scenes with, what I'm guessing was, a gay werewolf or a vampire at the dentist, they should have focused on the main characters and what the hell is even happening. I have no doubt kiddies and families will enjoy this film more than I so, if they're playing all the films this year, have at it. Overall, this is a mostly mediocre film simply boosted by the lighthearted charm of being a kids movie set on Halloween.

Notable Moment: When Aggie "fights" Kalabar. Wow, the levels of shenanigans and bad acting are quite remarkable. Pssshhh...did that bitch do a barrel roll?!

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Friday, October 16, 2015

Tales of Halloween Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: An anthology of 10 stories taking place on Halloween in the same town.

Review: I have been waiting a while for this film to come out, and, for once, this more than lived up to my expectations. The stories are fun, creative, and allot just enough time to get the point across. You get that Fall look and atmosphere I love along with a certain charm and appreciation for the holiday. I would prefer less stories with longer running times, but they successfully managed to add enough quality to the quantity to make it worthwhile. Not every segment is a hit, of course, but the better entries make up for the shortcomings. I wouldn't go as far as to say this is equal to "Trick 'r Treat," however, it's a worthy rival that's for sure. There is also no wraparound as they try to interweave the segments similarly to "Trick 'r Treat." Unfortunately, the connections are tenuous at best; we see the same trick-or-treaters here and there, the cops discuss the reports coming in, and most segments have the town DJ on the radio. By the way, the DJ is played by Adrienne Barbeau--channeling a role reminiscent to her one in "The Fog." Okay, enough idle chatter--let's get into this.

Sweet Tooth: For the opening tale we have a kid seemingly orgasming while eating candy. Easy, dude. The kid's babysitter is wearing a scandalously short skirt! Hey, I love me some schoolgirl action but wow. Too many distractions with this segment. Okay, so, the babysitter and her boyfriend tell the kid about a killer nicknamed Sweet Tooth. Once upon a time there used to be a boy who could go trick-or-treating, but his parents forbid him from eating his candy. One Halloween night, Sweet Tooth figured out his parents were just eating all his candy themselves which drove him insane. He killed them, ate all his candy, then decided to eat the candy right out of their intestines. Legend has it that if you eat all of your candy on Halloween, Sweet Tooth will come and kill you since you didn't save him any. Scared of this story, the kid leaves Sweet Tooth a candy bar while the babysitter and boyfriend eat the rest. What a dick move by the way. Of course the ghost pops up, kills the babysitter and boyfriend, and the parents return home to the scene of the crime as if the kid murdered them instead of Sweet Tooth. Not a bad start to kick this movie off. I think our little schoolgirl may have been wasted, but I liked the concept of Sweet Tooth.

Not going to lie...I've seen shorter.

The Night Billy Raised Hell: I'm not entirely sure what was going on here, but they were trying to make this one humorous. Some chick and her boyfriend take the little brother, Billy, trick-or-treating to a particular house. Supposedly an old man living in this house is a real hardass about Halloween, and they try to egg his house. This year will be different though as the old guy, seemingly, enlists Billy-boy to help him wreak havoc on the neighborhood as revenge. I did like the over the top antics they commit--like running into Adrianne Curry dressed as Lily from "Legend," eating fried chicken, and nonchalantly killing people. This story actually feels very similar to "Satan's Little Helper" as Billy-boy is running around in a devil outfit. After the night of chaos, we discover the old man had a little demon minion with him while the real Billy-boy was tied up all along. When Billy-boy tries to go back home the cops shoot him for pissing himself. Well...okay. This segment did straddle that fine line between stupid and funny, but it did amuse me just enough.

Trick: There wasn't a lot to this segment as we see a group of goofballs dealing with trick-or-treaters as you'd expect. When one little girl comes to the door she stabs one of these idiots. The remaining fools scramble to get their car instead of calling for help. More kids close in and pick off each person off until one chick is left hiding in a shed. You may find yourself wondering why they won't just call for help until you realize the final chick is trying to delete incriminating photos off her cellphone. It would appear these goofballs are actually killers themselves, and the kids are getting revenge. We see that this shed is a torture chamber as the kids find and kill the last chick. I liked this little twist on the killer children concept.

The Weak and the Wicked: This was probably my favorite of the bunch as it mixed together really cool ideas in an original way. Even though this is taking place the same night as the rest of the segments, they are invoking faithful themes, motifs, and music from Spaghetti Westerns. Plus, the notion of crossing a Western with Halloween is brilliant! You have bullies, led by the luscious Grace Phipps, who are picking on a kid conveniently dressed as a cowboy. The mannerisms, lingo, and styles are perfectly depicted and merged with the modern setting--I cannot stress enough how awesome this feels if you're familiar with the genre. I might add, Ms. Phipps has this whole sexy bad girl thing going on that is totally doing it for me! Sure, she's the complete opposite of my usual type, but it's working in a way similar to my beloved Hudson Leick as Callisto. Anyway, a masked and mysterious stranger pops up who keeps checking his old pocket watch. He shows the bullies a picture of a demon, but they realize the stranger is wimpy and chase after him. Fleeing toward an old trailer, the stranger flashes back to a past Halloween when the bullies burned his family alive and left him for dead. I love how the bullies are little kids when they did this too--it's fucking perfect, man! When the bullies realize who the stranger is, they go to light him on fire too, but the demon shows up and kills them. I do wish they made it so the stranger was actually toying with the bullies--leading them into a kind of makeshift shootout; that would be my only criticism since it would fit the Western genre better. Other than that gripe, this was a near-perfect homage to a genre I'd never think to blend with Halloween.

What can I say, I sometimes like my women completely evil.

Grim Grinning Ghost: We get a little Lin Shaye cameo for this segment as we see the chick from "Starry Eyes" return as a scaredy-cat main character. In fact, quite a bit of the cast from "Starry Eyes" are in this movie. Lin Shaye regales us with the legend of a ghostly, disfigured woman who stalks people on Halloween for making fun of her disfigurement in life. The main girl's car breaks down, and she walks home on foot as the ghostly woman follows behind. The main girl does manage to make it into her house, but the ghost has apparently disappeared. We get the stupid mirror fake out yet again followed by the main girl's dog freaking out. When the main girl looks back the ghost has appeared on her couch, and that's all she wrote. Eh...a bit on the pointless side, but it's presented well enough. In a way, it's reminiscent of the "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow's" premise but nowhere near as cool.

Ding Dong: Well, it would appear, if you do an anthology film these days, you must include a pretentious entry. I think this was supposed to be a weird metaphor about domestic violence, crazy women and their desire for children, and a dash of pedo-action just because. Some dude is totally whipped by his wife, and she smacks him around and treats him like a child. This is represented by the wife turning into a 4-armed witch or whatever the hell. It would appear what sets her off is mentioning her lack of children as she is obsessed with having one of her own. Come Halloween, we see her ogling a little girl as we get a closeup of this girl's nonexistent cleavage. Uhhh...disturbing. Later on, when a lost little boy appears, the wife attempts to kidnap the kid, but the husband draws the mom's attention just in time. The two fight, the husband implies he had a vasectomy, and the wife transforms and throws him into the oven. Then the wife simply says she's melting, and we end this shit. Umm...what the fuck was this? The only positive was the wife did have a bit of a milf thing going on...just a tad.

This Means War: With more time, I think this segment could have been a lot better. All we see are two neighbors competing against one another to present the best Halloween decorations. One guy represents old school horror while the other is more modern and gore-oriented. This clash of ideas should have been played up more, but they rush to Halloween night with the two guys fighting. After the one neighbor blasts his music, the two guys start destroying each others' property. This escalates into an all out brawl with bystanders betting on them. When the cops show up, the two guys accidentally become impaled on a stray piece of wood. That's it. I can appreciate what they were trying to demonstrate--wish a clash of ideas--but the final product is lacking in depth.

Friday the 31st: Finally, someone realizes you need to have some alien action on Halloween; the only instance I can think of was with "Spaced Invaders" and "E.T." to a lesser extent. We see a slutty Dorothy running from, well, a glorified Jason-wannabe. After a little chase, Jason kills slutty Dorothy only for a UFO to show up and drop off an alien trick-or-treater. Not knowing what to do, Jason kills the alien, but it somehow possesses slutty Dorothy. The two then engage in a gory battle using all manner of weapons. When both parties are in pieces, the alien reforms and returns to the UFO. See, this is what I really love about this film...the weird combination of homages yet retaining a faithful and fun application of these ideas. I mean, just imagine a full-length feature with that plot: an alien possesses a girl dressed as a slutty Dorothy only to do battle with Jason on Halloween!

The Ransom of Rusty Rex: Here we have two goofball kidnappers thinking they have an easy scheme on their hands: kidnapping a millionaire's kid while he's trick-or-treating alone. The millionaire is amusingly played by John Landis and one of the kidnapper's is fucking Starkiller from "The Force Unleashed." The comedic aspects were admittedly funny as the kidnappers wonder why John Landis doesn't care if his kid is captured. It turns out the kid is some kind of monster that has been forcing the millionaire to take care of him but has become newly interested in the kidnappers instead. They fight the monster kid a bit, but, no matter what they do, the monster keeps coming back to screw with them. In the end, they burn the monster, but it will not stay dead and eats a kidnapper. What makes this funny for me is how readily the kidnappers accept their situation and keep trying to kill the monster. Also, their reactions to everything are great.

Bad Seed: To close us out, we get a cross between "Halloween," fucking "Halloween III: Season of the Witch," and the all too similar segment from "All Hallows' Eve 2," called "Jack Attack." It's hard to explain, but it all comes together nicely. Likewise, this is where a lot of the tales converge, however, it would have been better if this happened throughout. The real downside is they totally wasted Cerina Vincent's sexiness in a bit role; she should have been the main cop. Anyway, a sentient jack-o'-lantern starts to eat people as a cop must stop the killings. I think they make one kid get eaten just so the mom can scream "Kevin" like this is "Home Alone." After finally blowing away the killer jack-o'-lantern, the cop and her associate realize it came from a corporate laboratory. At the end, the cops go to this place only to discover there are thousands more of these pumpkins. Overall, they pulled off the sentient pumpkin idea much better than "All Hallows' Eve 2" was able to accomplish. Plus, the comedic aspects were interesting like the sketch artist honestly taking the time to draw a jack-o'-lantern. Oh, and the credits have a song based on the title of this movie too! They had to go there, huh?

With all things considered, I would rate this fairly high as a "Halloween" alternative. "Trick 'r Treat" is still the De facto alternative mind you, but the bizarre and unique segments depicted here are worth checking out regardless. Like I said, the blending of genres and ideas in a successful manner is surely the highlight to this production. Sure, there are a few misses here and there, however, those are still well done segments and do not deter from the full experience. Supposedly this has a limited theatrical release somewhere, but it's easier to access on demand. I'd highly recommend checking this one out this holiday, and here's to hoping this can become a franchise with annual installments. Now, if only we could get "Trick 'r Treat 2" to finally come out.

Notable Moment: During "The Night Billy Raised Hell" segment when Adrianne Curry pops up randomly dressed as evil Lily from "Legend." I don't get why this is happening, but it's awesome.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ramblings of Ryan Volume 6

You aren't doing Halloween right unless you have your Uncle Guts CD!

Time for yet another ramble, but, this time, there is somewhat of a general purpose. I first want to go over the status of the Halloween horror movies I've yet to cover (if ever). There are a plethora of films where the setting takes place during Halloween, but the holiday is not an actual driving force behind the story. For example, "Donnie Darko," or the first "Ginger Snaps" film take place on Halloween, however, it plays no real importance to the plot. Sure, I've covered a few pieces of shit you could say the same about, but they tricked me and the audience to say the least. Anyway, the following films left to cover are as follows (feel free to add another if I missed it):

-Berkshire County: I may or may not review this, but it doesn't look all that great.
-The Scarehouse: Besides looking like absolute shit, the story supposedly takes place on October 30th. Now, if it technically crosses into the next day it's Halloween, but that's exactly what I'm talking about with Halloween being insignificant.
-All Sinners Night: I'm starting to doubt this film even exists.
-Haunted Ship: There is some movie in production for 2016 and there is a 4 year old trailer on youtube. Hell if I know what is going on. Looks like shit one way or another.
-Hellfest: There is a metal concert or tour or whatever the hell each year with the same exact name. Yeah, good luck tracking this trash down.
-Tales of Halloween: I definitely intend to watch and review this one!
-Late Fee: This is another maybe. I'd like to review it, but the trailer does not make it look worth the money.
-Black Eve: A lot of porn comes up when I search this title but no horror movie.
-Scare Zone: Looks somewhat amusing from the low budget trailer, but it doesn't look worth paying for.
-All Hallows' Eve (2007): This is another case of does it even exist? Plus, 6.7 rating on imdb? Right.
-Mr. Halloween: Yeaaaah, it's not happening.

Moving along to another subject...my sheer disappointment with "American Horror Story Hotel." I'll admit, I do like the grittier look and tone, the use of Wes "plastic bag" Bentley, and overall idea of a haunted hotel. However, the story is an absolute mess already--combining far too many ideas right out the gate. This is the reason I couldn't even make it all the way through "AHS: Freak Show." I hate Lady Gaga with a passion and sure as hell don't want to see her running around in pasties. If she's a vampire, can we get Blade on the case to kill this bitch? More importantly, how the hell are you going to kill off Chasty Ballesteros in the first episode? What's that...who's Chasty Ballesteros?! Why she's this little cupcake:
Don't worry, I'll cover some of Ms. Ballesteros' films soon to make up for her death. But in all seriousness, this season pisses me off mostly because they are exploiting the Elisa Lam case. If you haven't heard of Ms. Lam's bizarre death, look it up. I have been following the case closely for the past year, and I don't like the possible direction this show may take her (or some form of her) real life death. I know the police and skeptics have decided her death was a suicide, and the internet believes there was something supernatural. But I agree with the armchair detectives that this was some kind of a murder or there is just something more to the story being covered up. The smoking gun clearly being the altered and manipulated surveillance footage that has become a viral video. The case has fascinated me so much, I've watched the surveillance footage a hundred times, and I want to see Elisa get justice no matter how deep this rabbit hole goes. Regardless, I feel AHS is cheapening the ongoing case rather than creating interest in starting a new investigation. Likewise, the proposed movie based on Elisa's death is insulting. I know people compare this to shit like the Zodiac Killer or whatever, but they aren't the same. When the official story is saying it's a suicide, the evidence is saying otherwise, and idiots want to tell a ghost story...we have a problem. If you are going to disrespectfully milk Elisa's death, can you at least have a disclaimer that helps point those interested in the real case toward the facts?

Okay, moving along...how about that retarded "Ghostbusters" remake?! Man, fuck that movie! I love the defense of "you don't like it 'cause it's womenzz!" Uh no, we hate it, because it's yet another pointless remake of a classic. And I am equally angry about the prospect of a dude bro version with Channing "talentless" Tatum. God, I would love to punch that douchebag in the face. He already fucked up "G.I. Joe" and now dares to screw up "Ghostbusters" too? The main problem with the chick remake is that it's A) pandering B) HORRENDOUSLY cast and C) being created by someone with no respect for the fans or franchise. I can't wait for this to bomb HARD!

(In Mandark voice) Ahahahahahahahah!

On to the awesomeness that is "Fallout 4," baby! I didn't think anything would surpass my excitement for the "Final Fantasy VII" remake, but then this game had to come along. This game has it all: giant open world, dialogue trees, custom characters, house building, town building, weapon customization, armor customization, an awesome and endless leveling system, and god knows how many extras yet to be revealed. Can this be the game to save this console era...because the games that have come out in the last two years have been nothing but disappointment. Everyone should get this game! I'll link to the E3 presentation since it was perfectly displayed in all its hyped glory:

Good ol' Godd Howard!

And finally, to close out this ramble...
Top: Haruna Iikubo, Masaki Sato, Erina Ikuta, Kanon Suzuki, Mizuki Fukumura
Middle: Haruna Ogata, Miki Nonaka, Akane Haga, Maria Makino
Bottom: Haruka Kudo, Ayumi Ishida, Riho Sayashi, Sakura Oda

I have to talk about my girls in Morning Musume finally releasing an all-English song! Individual members over the years have done various covers of English songs, but this was the first time they made their own. It's called "One and Only" and is certainly catchy--I'm loving it! Surprisingly, the girls' English was well spoken and pronounced, but it is clear that Miki is taking point as she's the only fluent English speaker. All the girls gave it their all, looked beautiful, and I respect their tireless efforts to improve. In fact, I really liked what Sakura had to say about the group doing an English song and how J-pop has its root with old, Western pop. 

I get that they are trying to appeal to a wider audience internationally, but I fear the song may be too tame and lost on Western audiences. Don't get me wrong, I prefer J-pop and wholesome music, but the West currently revels in songs that promote debauchery and outright idiocy; a song like this may be viewed as intended for children. Hopefully Morning Musume can expand their audience with efforts such as this, and I know I will support them as always. Personally, I must come to terms with the fact that this lineup has surpassed the golden era in which my darling Rika was a member. Of course Rika is still my dream girl, but the current Morning Musume has edged out Rika's lineup in fun, creativity, and pure talent. 

I'd love to link the song now, but it doesn't have an official video or anything yet. At the moment, it's simply being promoted through J-Melo, a Japanese/English hybrid show. I'll update this blog post if/when it gets an official video. UPDATED...here we are:

Monday, October 12, 2015

Hocus Pocus Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After their execution 300 years prior, three witches return to steal the souls of the children of Salem, Massachusetts.

Review: Although I do like this film, I have to admit, it seemed a lot better when it came out in '93. In one respect, I enjoy the Halloween look and Fall atmosphere of New England (despite filming taking place in California). On the other hand, the characters make incredibly stupid decisions, and there was way too much emphasis on "virgins" in a kids movie. And, unlike "The Monster Squad," they do not even address what a virgin is for an audience of, presumably, mostly children. That forces the parents into the awkward position of explaining it to their children, and we all know how much parents hate to raise their children! Fucking Disney.

Where the film shines is in the setting. I prefer my Halloween movies to play up the holiday with lots of trick-or-treaters running about; this movie does not let you down in that department. Similarly to "Jack-O," this night of festivities does not appear to end either which is perfect. Though...this might be the longest Halloween night in history. I mean, does 6 AM ever roll around? The story itself is decent, with a certain, cornball charm, and keeps you engaged with steady pacing. The comedic aspects are amusing enough as the actors do embrace their roles enthusiastically; the witches each have their own weird personality quirks to dazzle the senses. Watching the witches figure out modern technology can be fun too with gags that will surely have the kiddies laughing. Although it's not really a plus for everyone, the Allison character, played by Vinessa Shaw, was considered a major hottie for a time after this and "Ladybugs." Unfortunately, Sarah Jessica Parker's hotness didn't live up to my original image.

As for the faults that were annoying me now that I'm older...I have to start with the premise being either a plot hole or a huge ass contrivance. The witches are resurrected by some candle yet where did it come from? They just happen to leave it around on the off chance they were executed? They don't mention it when they're killed too--it simply becomes introduced out of nowhere. I get the feeling some kind of script edit is responsible for this oversight. Besides that, the witches turn Binx into an immortal cat who is indestructible...uhh...why couldn't they do the same to themselves? While on the subject, Binx being killed a few times, including getting run over by a bus, is a bit much for a kids movie; especially when he stays dead at the end. The romance subplot is painful to behold and beyond forced simply to cement that happy ending. The defeat of the witches was flat out stupid as they only had, arguably, minutes to steal a child's soul or die, yet, they pass over dozens of kids just to get Dani? Finally, what the hell constitutes a "child" to this movie? It would seem anyone under 18 is a kid, but the witches come from an era where you'd be married with a kid of your own by 14. I didn't realize Satan was honoring some modern legal definitions.

Am I overthinking this? Probably. Setting aside my complaints, this is an entertaining foray into family-oriented Halloween movies. It touches on enough of the right bases to keep you invested while never overstaying its welcome. The characters are unique and memorable despite not a lot of depth added to their plight. The story is a tad more adult than I would deem suitable for kids, but it shouldn't be that big of a deal. I do have an undying hatred of Disney, but, once in a while, I can appreciate their attempts to present a competent film. In fact, this is probably among the higher choices to select from when it comes to this holiday. Just don't forget it's a kids movie from the early '90s, and you should be golden.

Notable Moment: When Max gives Allison his number. Not bad, Max-baby, not bad at all.

Final Rating: 6/10

Friday, October 9, 2015

All Hallows' Eve 2 Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After a woman receives a mysterious VHS tape on Halloween, she watches its disturbing contents in this anthology tale.

Review: I'm kind of surprised this managed to get a sequel before "Trick 'r Treat 2" could come out, but, alas, here we are. Now, I actually really enjoyed "All Hallows' Eve" for what it was despite its noticeable flaws. The wraparound in the first film was awesome, and the stories had that clown, Art, to pull them together. Although the individual tales were missing a certain polish to spice them up, they were interesting enough and presented well. Unfortunately, the sequel thought quantity over quality was the way to go with short, incoherent tales; some borderline on pretentious, and you know how much I love that! This was not the wisest decision to say the least.

Wraparound: Art may not have been the most original horror villain, but he was intimidating enough to represent this series if need be. Apparently the creators did not agree with that sentiment. Instead, we get some fucking moron wearing a cutout mask from the back of his Count Chocula cereal. The movie calls him "the trickster." Riiight. This guy doesn't appear in any of the segments anyway so what was the point? There is a chick just hanging out on Halloween...sipping wine by candlelight while consulting her Ouija board for dating advice. Yeaaah, sure, we'll roll with that I suppose. Even though this trickster idiot sneaks into her apartment building, wields a knife in front of her, and gives her a weird VHS tape, this chickadee isn't bothered by this. You know what, she probably isn't bothered by this--it's probably turning her on with the attention. Now you may be wondering, why would a chick fitting this description have a VCR on standby? Well, she can't bear to watch "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" in any other format. Come the fuck on. You're not even trying! This bitch doesn't even have any movies in her apartment by the way. Moving along...she watches the tape as with the first film, sees the creepy tales, and at the end is killed. There is little action in between the segments and absolutely no build up to the wraparound's conclusion. This was a huge failure especially considering the wraparound was the highlight of the first movie. I think this may be the most disappointing aspect to the entire experience.

Jack Attack: Starting off the stories, this one establishes a very Halloween-ish feel that I like to see. A babysitter and a boy are preparing to carve a pumpkin when all hell breaks loose. It would seem that this particular pumpkin is sentient or a mutant of some sort. The two eat the pumpkin seeds, and those seeds suddenly sprout into carnivorous mini pumpkins that rip out of their bodies. Eventually the babysitter's boyfriend shows up at the end as we see that the pumpkin vines are taking over the entire house. Eh, it's not the best of stories, but it had nice set design. I was just shocked by how short the story was as I was expecting a similar experience to the first film with longer entries.

The Last Halloween: In one respect, I can appreciate the bizarre nature of this story, but, at the same time, this was the first of the stories to straddle that pretentious line. Four kids are trick-or-treating in, what appears to be, the aftermath of some kind of collapse of society. The children are obviously supernatural, and I suppose they're the four trick-or-treaters of the apocalypse or something. A guy and his wife are attacked by these children in a nonsensical way as the children turn into more grotesque forms representing their costumes. In the end, the children move on as the camera pans back to a city in chaos and ablaze with fire. I want to like this segment, but that pretentious vibe rubs me the wrong way.

The Offering: Okay, for this story, I can safely say they were being 100% pretentious! A father and son duo are traveling through a forest and heading toward a ritual location or whatever the hell was going on. The father forgets an ingredient for this ritualistic offering--or deliberately left it--which leads to the son being forced to take care of it. We don't see anything or have any understanding of what is happening as something comes out of the forest and gets the son. And that's all that happens. What the fuck? I swear the dad calls the son Isaac too. Really? No context. No explanations. Get the fuck out. The cinematography was well done though--I liked the snowfall.

Descent: I almost liked this segment, but it had to go for that pretentious ending, didn't it? When going over her friend's house, a woman inadvertently walks in on the friend's murder. Hiding just as the killer is finishing up, the woman manages to survive as we cut to six months later; the only caveat is that the killer heard the woman's distinct ringtone but assumed it belonged to the friend he killed. Working late one night, the woman becomes trapped in an elevator with the killer who just happens to work in the same building; it is also addressed that the friend worked there as well. When the woman's ringtone goes off randomly, she freaks out and stabs the killer before he can react. When the elevator resumes working, we realize that the woman sees every guy as having the killer's face. This means the dude she stabbed wasn't actually the killer after all, and now she's getting arrested. Again, I liked where they were going with this scenario, but I didn't like where we ended up.

Masochist: This segment was straight up retarded, I'm sorry. I don't know what else to really say. We are in bizarro world as kids walking along end up at a carnival attraction. Some dude tells them to throw weapons at "the masochist" which is just a person they know tied up. The first victim is one of the kids' abusive father so of course they throw the weapons at him. Then we cut to another "masochist" with the camera going crazy. That's it. That's all that happens. Fuck you, this is the worst segment in the film.

A Boy's Life: This story was a surprising change of pace as they tried to take a more sentimental route. After a boy's father died, he believes there is a monster bothering him each night. Because of this fear, the boy often wears the father's dog tags to give him courage. Annoyed by the fear, the insistence of there being a monster, and taking the dog tags, the mother keeps snapping at the boy. One night, the mother realizes the best way to help the son overcome the fear is to embrace his childhood fantasies. The two amusingly run around the kid's room pretending to fight the monster until the son finally feels better. Unfortunately, they ruin all of the sentimentality established in the story by ending it with the monster pulling the mom under the bed. Was cheapening your very own story the best way to handle the conclusion? Hell, make the monster nothing more than the father's ghost or something--match the tone of your own premise.

Mr. Tricker's Treat: Coming in as the second worst story, we meet some guy, apparently called Mr. Tricker, as he's killing some kids. Yay. The kids look molested to me, but, nevertheless, this guy is trying to turn his victims into real life decorations. When setting up the bodies, some bimbo pops up out of nowhere and compliments the realism. So impressed with the kind words, Mr. Tricker decides to add the bimbo to the collection. The end. Ugh. Seriously, at no point was anyone like, "we can do better than this?"

Alexia: For the record, this is the only segment I'm unsure of the title as it was never explicitly stated. Anyway, does this segment at least manage to close things out on a high note? Mercifully, yes, and this might be the best segment to boot. Although it does feel like an unofficial "Unfriended 2" mixed with a little Sadako and Natre action, I'm perfectly fine with that. Some guy is troubled by the anniversary of his ex-girlfriend's suicide; her name is Alexia obviously. I guess he's using facebook? To be honest, I quit that site so long ago I have no idea if this is how it looks at the moment. The guy gets into a conversation with his current girlfriend as he mentions his sense of guilt that dumping Alexia may have been the cause of her suicide. After the girlfriend says she will come over to cheer the guy up, he decides to unfriend Alexia. Big mistake, buddy-boy. He gets a message from Alexia, his computer goes crazy, and the screen begins to distort. Eventually the screen focuses on a creepy photo of Alexia sitting in the dark as it zooms in on her face. Since the website won't close, the guy unplugs the computer only for us to see Alexia emerge behind the monitor. Closing his eyes, everything appears to have been a hallucination as the girlfriend shows up. We later get the whole mirror fake out trick as the guy checks up on the girlfriend whom is sitting in front of the computer. Despite the computer still being unplugged, that picture of Alexia has returned except the girlfriend is in her place instead. The story ends with the guy realizing Alexia is sitting next to him. As you can tell by that description, it sounds like a combination of many different horror films, but it's done well. Alexia does look creepy, the production value looked good, and the makers of the segment understood what they were doing. If only the rest did.

I really love anthologies, but I don't know about this movie. The first film had 3 stories and one hell of a wraparound whereas this sequel has a pathetic wraparound, 8 short stories, and 11 fucking minutes of credits! A few of the stories are commendable, like Alexia, but they aren't so good they salvage the whole film. The overall production quality was a legitimate improvement from the first film, but the actual stories are inferior and often nonsensical. I want to say this is still worth a view--and some might even enjoy this one more--but be aware this is nowhere near on par with something like "Trick 'r Treat" when it comes to "Halloween" alternatives.

Notable Moment: When Alexia comes out from behind the computer. Ehh...so what if it's a cross between Natre and Sadako.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Hollow Gate Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Some guy hates Halloween so he kills people sporadically over the years.

Review: In a word: painful. Could this be the worst Halloween horror movie in existence? Hmm...it has a lot of competition so I don't know. What I do know, however, is that this was hard to sit through--forcing myself to watch it in 10 minute increments (sometimes only 5!). The acting isn't the worst I've endured, but it felt like all the dialogue was being ad-libbed in the worst of ways; maybe they were writing the script as they went. I'm assuming this was intended to be a "Halloween" ripoff of some sort, but the story is beyond ludicrous. Also, unlike a piece of shit like "Jack-O," this isn't fun or entertaining in any conceivable way.

This has got to be one of the flimsiest motives for a killer; the only one I can even think of that comes close is from "Christmas Evil." One Halloween when he was a kid, Mark, the killer, had his drunk dad dunk his head when he was bobbing for apples. That's it. That's his motive. Now he hates Halloween and wants to kill people on the holiday. Oh goodness gracious. Waiting a decade before he finally kills anyone, Mark is working at a gas station when some asshole couple bothers him. By the way, Mark's family is rich yet he works at a gas station? Okaaay. So this couple decides they want to finger fuck right in front of Mark and he blows their car up in response. In fairness, I probably would have done the same. So we skip ahead again a couple years. Oh fuck...this is "Children of the Living Dead" all over again. This time Mark goes crazy after some bitch rejects him, but they imply he didn't kill her. What? This leads to him being under a kind of house arrest at his grandma's mansion for an indeterminate amount of years.

Finally we jump to "present day" with a group of idiots going to some airport party or whatever. Apparently this movie takes place in good ol' Oblivion, Oklahoma. Through contrivances, the idiots work out a deal where they will deliver costumes to the grandma's mansion in exchange for getting a wig. Don't even ask. Little do they know that Mark has decided this is the night he will finally kill grandma and go trick-or-treating. When the idiots arrive, Mark traps them with an electrical fence that allegedly covers the entire grounds. Yeaaaah...bullshit. The kills are pathetic, Mark is omniscient, and the idiots seemingly just run in circles around the mansion. The only remotely positive thing I could say is that Mark changes his costume with each death and adjusts his weapon accordingly.

In the end, a couple police officers, we keep cutting back to, realize something is up. They get through the electrical gate when the last idiot is about to die. After shooting Mark a bunch of times, everything appears to be over...or is it?! Magically surviving a headshot, we see Mark waking from a coma as the credits roll. That's really funny. I love how all of these shitty movies have sequel-bait endings as if anyone in their right mind would ever fund these fools a second time!

This film is absolutely terrible from start to finish. The effects are shit, the acting is unbearable, the story is ridiculous, the killer is nonsensical, and the entire experience is boring as fuck. What were they thinking? This movie is a disgrace to Halloween itself. The only slightly redeeming qualities--if you want to go there--are the costume changes and the sheer cowardly nature of the idiots which can be somewhat humorous. Avoid this shit like a razor blade in your caramel apple.

Notable Moment: I don't know...maybe the sheer incompetence of the finger fuck scene? Seriously, who does that and doesn't expect to have their throat slit?

Final Rating: 2/10

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Jack-O Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: An old man is killed in the past and a pumpkin ghost seeks revenge or whatever was going on.

Review: I don't know what the hell I just watched, but I can say it was hilarious! There were multiple scenes that brought me to tears I was laughing so hard. This is what I like to see from a shitty movie--pure shenanigans of the highest caliber. It's not quite as fun as the likes of "Troll 2" or "The Room," but it's probably the best-worst of the Halloween horror movies. From the monotone and nonchalant line delivery to the unabashed continuity errors, this movie has it all and kept me entertained from start to finish. However, as dumb as this film was, it actually highlighted a phenomenon that used to make Halloweens of the past so amazing. I'll go into it later, but I have to give them a little credit for that aspect.

What better way to kick the story off than with some little boy, seemingly, about to get molested, right? Okay, he's not really, but his uncle(?) was creeping me out. Actually, there are too many pedophile-esque characters for my liking. You have this one pointless bitch a little too feely for this same boy and Linnea Quigley's character blatantly stating "I like little boys." Yuck. Speaking of which, I like how Ms. Quigley is the top billed actress yet she's merely a secondary character. That says a lot about the "talent" starring in this trash. Back to the story...this little boy, Sean, is the youngest descendant of a family that killed some sorcerer guy once upon a time. Because of this, a pumpkin-headed ghost wants revenge on Halloween. It honestly makes little sense really, and it doesn't help that this sorcerer dude is "played" by poorly edited footage of a dead John Carradine. Yeah...just roll with it.

Sean's parents are having a haunted garage attraction at their house so they need someone to babysit dear Sean. This is retarded as Sean shouldn't need babysitting, and they also oddly allow this weird lady they just met hang out with their son all day. By the way, this weird lady, Vivian, simply pops up out of nowhere as a mere plot device. The pumpkin ghost--let's call him Jack-O--runs around killing pointless victims to pad out the body count, but he does this in the most roundabout way. Through shoddy editing, they'll have Jack-O in one position, then he will be back to another spot seconds later; you have to see it to fully grasp the stupidity. Although I like that Jack-O wields a scythe, the kills are pathetic and Vivian's death is a highlight without a doubt. The best death, however, is this one bitch who electrocutes herself to death by stabbing her toaster. Not only does this fool run from Jack-O, moronically leaving her door wide open, but, when she is electrocuted, she turns into a fucking skeleton! Is this "Looney Tunes?"

At one point, Jack-O finally realizes what he's supposed to be doing in this movie and goes after Sean. I swear, every line Sean delivers is amazing! Only he can turn a simple "no" into comedy gold. My lord...I was crying so much when Jack-O was trying to bury this kid in a grave! The parents aren't much better though...the mom with her crack addict eyes and the dad sounding like a buffoon. That reminds me...the audio is fucking ATROCIOUS--easily among the worst I've ever experienced; that's saying a lot. Anyway, they manage to kill Jack-O with two fucking sticks in the shape of a cross. The end...or is it?! Dun dun dun! What a fitting conclusion to such an epic adventure. I love when everyone was trying act tough fighting Jack-O too.

Ignoring all of the idiocy for a second, there was one aspect they covered in this movie that I genuinely did like: Halloween and trick-or-treating lasting all night. There appears to be a collective forgetfulness or not caring about how great Halloween used to be. In this movie, Sean doesn't even start to trick-or-treat until 7 PM! The parents planned to keep their haunted garage open until 10 PM. Other kids are depicted as still trick-or-treating as well so it's not like Sean is abnormal. What the hell happened to the fun of this holiday? When did it become a night to whore it up, fall into a drunken stupor, and calling it quits when it gets dark? This movie at least demonstrated the glory I enjoyed when I was young. The kiddies now are seriously missing out.

Overall, this film serves more as a comedy than horror. It can be irritatingly stupid at times, and gets off to a slow start, but I would still recommend it for those who enjoy so-bad-it's-good movies. The Sean character is brilliant and the level of zany antics is reasonably high. Having this be a Halloween horror only adds icing to the shit cake. However, if you're looking for a serious film to watch this holiday, do not waste a second on this.

Notable Moment: Damn...this is a tough pick; there are so many fantastically horrible moments to choose from. I guess I have to go with when Sean is "begging" not to be buried alive. Oh man, I was in tears.

Final Rating: 3/10

Friday, October 2, 2015

Hellions (2015) Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After discovering she's pregnant on Halloween, a young girl must battle supernatural children hellbent on taking her baby.

Review: Wow, as I live and breathe, someone actually decided to make a pretentious Halloween horror movie. I thought the closest instance of that shit we'd ever experience would be Rob Zombie's bastardization of "Halloween 2." Oh fuck...this is not going to be good. Look, Halloween is either fun or scary depending on your perspective. Hell, maybe even sexy if you want to go there (the more nurse and schoolgirl outfits the better!). But don't give me this art house bullshit with lame, pro-life metaphors spliced in for good measure. It's not a total debacle, but there are only so many "what does this mean" moments a sane individual can take before they snap and reach for the kitchen knife. This movie started off with a lot of promise too...what a shame.

So what on earth is this movie about? The face value interpretation: Dora, a 17 year old, finds out she's pregnant on Halloween conveniently. Planning to hang out with her boyfriend that night, and explain to him the...uhh...good(?) news, Dora is harassed by strange trick-or-treaters. At first things appear to be typical hi-jinks, but they quickly spiral into murderous chaos when she finds the boyfriend's head in one of the kid's bag. Magically, the house shakes and the night becomes a somewhat lit up world. They were trying to make this look like a blood moon, but it's far too pink; I don't know, the lighting is way off. Dora's doctor comes to help her, gets killed, and Dora realizes her baby is growing far faster than a normal human baby would. There is something with a voice talking to Dora in her mind--not sure if that's supposed to be the baby or one of the evil kids. Whatever...Dora learns that salt hurts the evil children, or hellions if you will, just as the town Sheriff shows up; I don't know why Robert Patrick signed up for this shit but okay. The sheriff explains how he knows about the hellions as they came for his wife and kid too which is utterly ridiculous but, again, okaaaay. Dora is later captured, after the sheriff seemingly dies, and she experiences an overblown coke trip. The T-1000 saves her, however, and they run away only to somehow end up at the sheriff's house. The sheriff gives Dora a monstrous baby just as hers begins to grow rapidly. After running through a field of exploding pumpkins, Dora uses a sickle to cut out her hellspawn before waking up in a hospital. The film gives us the dream within a dream fake out before cutting to a scene that was actually at the beginning of the movie. Dora looks at a bunch of babies in the maternity ward, hears that dumb voice from earlier, and roll credits. Well...that made perfect sense.

Pretentious interpretation inbound: Dora, a scared, wannabe rebel teenager, learns she is pregnant and realizes her life will fall to pieces as a result. Already struggling to graduate, and perhaps realizing her relationship with her boyfriend is superficial, decides to initiate her own abortion once she learns the doctor must tell her mom. Due to the copious amount of blood loss, Dora hallucinates while in a state of regret over her decision; we see evidence of this when she inexplicably wakes in a pool of blood in the bathtub. Dressing ironically as an angel for Halloween, Dora is tormented by the hellions which represent angry children who were also aborted. They killed her boyfriend since he was the one who got her pregnant, the doctor for shattering her world, and the sheriff who may have been wooing her mom or whoever the hell he's supposed to be; there was definitely something shady going on there. The world turns pink as that represents the inside of her womb with constant cuts to the baby growing inside and that inner voice probably belonging to the baby as well. The fake out dream even mentions the fear that Dora thought her mom would see her as a whore. Everything else added is just for artsy reasons I'm not going to waste my time trying to understand.

Now if you think I'm being exceptionally harsh simply due to the pretentious nature of the story, well, there are plenty of other stupid aspects. For example, why does the music sound like a reworked "Silent Night?" This isn't fucking Christmas, son. Why are so many shots reused over and over again? This movie, with the credits, barely clocks in at 80 minutes--this is shameless filler. You're really going to make that crack trip scene last for a full 2 minutes?! When we factor in the opening and ending scenes being the same, what are we looking at, a 50 minute running time realistically? That's unforgivable. And what's up with the fucking pumpkin patch--obviously that was supposed to mean something. Kind of hard to take it seriously when the CGI is absolute, sci-fi channel-esque shit. Come on, son.

The general idea here, a pregnant girl attacked by demons on Halloween, could have worked quite well, but it turned into whatever the hell this was. The imagery can be good at times, and the actors were decent given the material, but it's hard to find many positives to say. The amount of filler is unacceptable, the execution is a mess, the story is incoherent, and the film itself was trying way too damn hard to be pretentious. They didn't even take advantage of the scene when Dora is gearing up to fight the hellions with her salt filled shotgun shells--that shit ends almost immediately. I don't know what the fuck went wrong, but if you've made me resort to comparing your film to the Rob Zombie "Halloween" sequel, you've done something incredibly wrong!

Notable Moment: When we get that random, two minute coke trip. Seriously, what the hell was that all about besides padding out the running time?

Final Rating: 4/10

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pay the Ghost Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After his son disappears, a man believes a supernatural force is abducting children each Halloween.

Review: Well, it's October again so that means another year of Halloween horror movies. I intended to finish reviewing all the remaining stragglers, but there are a lot more than I imagined. More to the point, most of the backlog movies are direct to DVD pieces of shit that are sold for ripoff prices considering how low budget and pathetic they are. I have a comprehensive list in which I looked at all their trailers, laughed at their imdb ratings, and considered their prices...yeah...what I review this year was either online for free or one of the rare films I'd pay to see. Because of that, this will be the year I tap into family movies which coincides nicely with this newer Halloween horror movie, "Pay the Ghost." While this film considers itself an addition to the horror genre, had they cut out the pointless deaths, this could have probably passed for a slightly darker kids movie. It's not that this movie is absolutely terrible, but it did not know what it wanted to be and was far too matter of fact with its blatant idiocy.

The core concept of the story is actually creative: more kids disappear, and are never found, on Halloween than any other day...in New York City at least. I highly doubt that is true, but I can roll with it. Unfortunately, that plot line is, more or less, the only story aspect that makes sense throughout the film as we are given ridiculous scenarios, nonsensical kills, and incoherent contrivances out the ass. You have Nicolas Cage, not turning in a zany performance, who is the father of an abducted son. It's obvious this is a paycheck movie for him, but he still turns in a commendable performance surprisingly. Sadly I can't say the same for the emotionless drone son, and they included Lori from "The Walking Dead" still playing Lori it would seem; does this woman play anything other than insufferable bitches?!

They do not play up the Halloween holiday properly except for the first 15 minutes or so. Instead, the horror is supposed to come in the form of vultures flying around, a jump scare-happy antagonist, and just plain bizarre situations. In fact, most of the creepy moments happen simply for the sake of keeping the pacing up despite never having a reason to occur. All of the character deaths make no sense as the ghost magically has an omniscient knowledge of those who figure out her identity. Yet...she never kills the parents, some random blind dude who knows everything, a detective who disappears from the script 2/3 of the way in, and a convenient Celtic enthusiast who serves to explain the plot? Right. As it would turn out, some time in the 1600s, a woman and her children were blamed for a plague and burned alive on Halloween. Every Halloween since, she steals 3 children from NYC as some ill-defined sense of retribution. Thanks to a well placed contrivance, each year you have a chance to free the previous year's children if you pull them out of Kayako-land I suppose. Of course Nicky Cage does this, no thanks to Lori, and he also inadvertently frees all the spirits of past children who, seemingly, get rid of the evil ghost. The movie has a Hollywood ending, but they just had to throw in a pointless final zinger. My fucking goodness.

There was potential here, however, the story appears to have undergone massive rewrites or heavy editing. I could forgive many of the faults had they removed the overtly horror elements and made this a family film. I'm not saying this needs to be reduced to "Sesame Street" levels, but this could have been toned down to the likes of "Hocus Pocus." Although this film is loaded with stupid moments and shenanigans galore, it's actually more on the mediocre side than anything. The production is competent, the premise is interesting, and the actors try to work with the material the best they can. With a few tweaks this could have been significantly better, but, alas, this is what we get. I'd say this is possibly worth a view, but your expectations need to be fairly low or you have another reason to be interested. It's certainly not the worst Halloween horror movie I've reviewed, but you'd probably be better off watching "Halloween" for the millionth time or seeking out "Trick 'r Treat."

Notable Moment: When we see all the ghostly children that have been abducted over the centuries. Definitely a cool yet eerie scene.

Final Rating: 5/10