Posts Tagged ‘Happy Halloween’

Fright Night 2 (1988)

October 31, 2016

For a couple of years running, I have participated in a good friend’s family tradition. Three years in a row, I have watched the original Fright Night at their house. The movie is cheesy as heck but it really is a near perfect, extremely nostalgic horror movie. It pays tribute to the time-honored tradition of horror hosts. It also gave us another reason to love to hate Chris “Prince Humperdinck” Sarandon. It had every box checked off on the checklist of Eighties horror adventure movies. It is a close cousin to The Monster Squad but is a little more adult. I have the advantage of seeing the movie a few times but I have yet to see the sequel. I have seen the remake (but also not the sequel to the remake). I suppose it is time to fix that.

They say there is bliss in ignorance and while this may be true, there is also safety in ignorance. If you do not know about the monsters then you have no inclination to get between them and their prey. More importantly, if you know about the monsters, then they probably know about you. This is not good for your long-term health and happiness. It is better not to know but when you know, there is a moral duty to act. Those who stand idly by and let the monsters have their meal are doomed to regret it for the rest of their life. The rest of their life is probably going to be short because they are probably the next meal. However, when there is a moral duty to act against supernatural creatures, you are going to have a bad time. So let us talk about Peter and Charley’s bad time.

The movie starts approximately three years after the events of Fright Night. Obviously, nobody believed Peter Vincent or Charley Brewster about the incidents surrounding Jerry Dandridge. Supposedly, Amy is languishing in some insane asylum somewhere. We are deep in the Eighties still and deep in time of horror hosts and strange fashions. I really like the setup for this movie because it deals with what happens after the hero’s big epic adventure. It also doubles down on the original movie’s premise which every good sequel does. Brad Fiedel is the composer of all of the incidental music and the score and he did a great job. His iconic synth and guitar riffs are so memorable just like in the first film. Once again the makeup and practical effects are great in the tradition of the first movie and other iconic Eighties horror movies. The lighting and set decoration are on point again as well. It did feel like there was a little too much dry ice in this one which is saying a lot considering the original.

William Ragdale plays Charley again and he is once again both relatable and kind of a dick. He is your typical teenage boy who is a little too much in his own head and up his own ass but now he also has trauma from vampires. Peter Vincent is still the foremost member of his own fan club. Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent was kind of the heart and soul of the first movie along with Chris Sarandon so it was great to see him return. In the end, there should have been more Peter and less Charley in this movie. Tracy Lind plays Alex who is a much more proactive female lead whereas Amy spent a lot of time just whining. The new vampires are intriguing and definitely as Eighties as Jerry Dandridge was. Julie Carmen as Regine is particularly charming and fun. I also have to give a shout out to the unique look and understated acting of Brian Thompson as Bozworth as well.

Overall, it was a pretty good sequel of a movie that is very iconic in my mind. It is not as well-paced as the original but that was a hard act to follow. This movie walks some of the same paths that the original movie but it also explores some new territory as well. We see the vampires pulling a lot of new tricks but also a lot of Jerry’s tricks as well. It also includes the unforgettable vampire bowling scene. There was one particular plot point that impressed me heartily but I cannot spoil it for you. It was a good attempt but it was probably a good thing that this movie ended the franchise (until the remakes). This one would be interesting to fans of the original but that morbid curiosity does not extend to people who did not see the original. For that reason, I cannot recommend it although I did enjoy it.


Night Watch (2004)

October 31, 2016

The Other can be a frightening concept. As I have discussed before, The Other is anything that is not us. In this movie, “The Other” is anything beyond our normal natural world. This is even more frightening because it comes from a world of secrets and the unknown. Generally, ignorance breeds fear and fear breeds violence and hate. Not knowing what was out in the darkness and why bad things happened gave birth to folktales and religion. Both have their bogeymen who we are told we should fear and perform rituals to protect ourselves from what goes bump in the night. We also are told often to embrace a duality and are told that picking a side will protect us and empower us. However, in the old tales often neither side was really the good guys. If you look at most material covering faeries, both courts are to be marveled at but also feared. Looking at things as Light and Dark without seeing the Gray is dangerous. However, the great thing about fiction is that they can often simplify things so that evil is evil and good is good.

I have been thinking about what makes a monster in these tales of supernatural horror. Do we do bad things because we are a monster or are we a monster because we do bad things? Freddy Krueger was a horrible human being even before he became a dream demon. However, in the Buffyverse, the very act of becoming a vampire removes the soul and usually turns a person evil. Our justice system says that we are innocent until proven guilty. Religion says that it is our actions that define us and not our thoughts. So if you are a vampire who refuses to feed on humans, are you a monster? I think not. However, just watching and experiencing the misdeeds of others can be enough to darken the soul. Police officers and military are often as irreparably changed as gang members and other violent criminals. Hunting vampires can be almost as troubling as being one.

We have yet another foreign horror movie which makes it the sixth of sixteen reviews this year. This one is Russian and might just be the first pure Russian movie I have watched outside of a certain Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode. Yet again, this means that I have no preconceived notions about any of the actors in this movie. The movie stars Konstantin Khabensky as Anton, a man who basically tracks monster criminals on behalf of the Light side. I like how Anton is not perfect and his journey on behalf of the Light is plagued by the temptation of evil. He is a great example of the reluctant hero. I like to think that even when pressed, we are all the reluctant hero. Nobody gets supernatural abilities and suddenly leaps up excited to risk their life. Anton and everybody he meets is  hardened by life outside the norm where things are more dangerous.

I really liked the visuals in this movie. Everything is bleak from the very beginning of the movie. The world is full of shadows and muted colors and light is almost a godsend. Even in sunlight, everything is just dark and dangerous looking. It makes light and splashes of color a very welcome contrast. I really love the digital effects of the supernatural world. I especially loved how various vampiric powers and abilities are depicted. For example, vampiric vision makes everything but the veins of a human body invisible, making it easier to feed. There is also some great drawn animation which makes some of the exposition easier to get through. The editing is smooth and keeps the movie clipping along at a pretty good pace. The action is easy to understand and the subtitles made the Russian language clear.

Overall this is a pretty good horror adventure movie. The depiction of the supernatural world just beyond our natural one is one of the most interesting examples I have seen in pop culture. The movie was the top grossing film in Russian history when it was released but the record has since been topped. It is also one of the first Russian blockbusters after the fall of Soviet cinema and is therefore automatically a success. The movie has some great ideas but I would say its only sin is that it is too long. It incorporates two plots that do not ever fully connect. However, I feel like the world building and character work mostly make up for this. I would recommend watching this movie because it is so different in how it depicts the creepier side of things.

Media Update 10/29/2015

October 29, 2015

Tremors 5: Bloodline

I have watched all of the Tremors movies to date so it was only natural that I had to watch Tremors 5, if only to complete the set. It’s actually a pretty good set of B-movies. The first one is kind of like Jaws with giant earthworms instead of a shark. I think they did a pretty good job throughout the series of setting out pretty clear rules for the monsters and their extraterrestrial biology. Pretty quickly Michael Gross took over the series with a rotating list of young annoying guys. It actually worked pretty well. This is the first Tremors movie in over a decade which is not really a good sign. Michael Gross was in good shape but the movie just seemed a little off its game. I can’t even blame Jamie Kennedy for this one though since he wasn’t nearly as bad as he has been in the past. Maybe it was that they changed the rules of the monsters or maybe it was that they ruined the pacing and comic timing a bit. I’m not really sure but it’s still a watchable B-movie.

Crimson Peak

I went an saw this before gaming last Saturday, getting up early for a Saturday so that I could drive down to Columbia. I had been looking forward to the movie since just the title was announced more than a year ago. I love Guillermo del Toro’s work and I eagerly follow news about him and everything he plans on doing. I don’t even want to count how many times I’ve seen Hellboy. I didn’t know what to expect going in and I was a little sleepy and cold going in. I shouldn’t have doubted. I went in expecting a ghost story and instead got something more akin to The Turn of the Screw or The Woman in Black (the stage version). I absolutely loved it and I won’t say another word because I want people to see it.


I was looking today for something not horror that would fit the Halloween theme of this post and Netflix provided me with a show that I had wanted to check out. Legends was a show that they advertised the hell out of ahead of time. Most of the advertisements touted that Sean Bean would not be killed. Sean Bean is an awesome actor but unfortunately (and sometimes fortunately) his characters have a high rate of dying on screen. The show follows an FBI undercover agent who operates several “legends” which are criminal identities he can slip into. Sean Bean is excellent at it and his work is on par with the kind of stuff that Dollhouse did. He basically plays several characters through the course of the show and pulls it off very well. The rest of the cast is really good as well, giving him all the support he needs. Definitely check it out if you have the time.

Spooky Links fo the Week:
(All the links are short films this week!)
Local 58 – Weather Service
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 5 (New!!)
Monster Problems
The Witchboard
The Rattler

Updates of the Week
– Watched the Shining again, the good one
– Two more movies to review
– Remember: Three movies will be reviewed on Halloween
– I wish I had premium cable so I could watch Ash vs. Evil Dead
– I love Halloween so much (but not the Michael Myers movie really)
– This weekend is the annual Fright Night viewing
– Also the annual Nightmare Before Christmas viewing
– The real horror is the Republican Debate though

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