Tag Archives: Carpe Scream

Carpe Scream Day 28

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Today’s another kids’ movie night so I’m reviewing “Monster House.”

Monster House, 2006, Sony Pictures

First off, I have to confess that kids’ movie or not there were elements of this that were pretty dang scary, not least of which is that the movie’s story, execution, and even film and color palette, are very reminiscent of old 80’s slasher movies. The movie is obviously set in the early 80’s and with a touch of Spielberg and Zemeckis (co-producers) over the whole, this has a very Halloween meets Goonies meets E.T. feel to it.

There’s a visceral grittiness to the characters and dialogue that feels unscripted and anxious which makes it scarier and more grimdark than your usual fluffy kiddy fare, and that’s very much on purpose. That’s solely for the purpose of making the viewers of ALL ages feel like the kid protagonists. We are transported back in time to when parents wouldn’t believe us, our hormones were turned against us, and when we were slowly becoming aware that real evil existed in the world, and not just in our books and movies. It’s a very helpless feeling and this movie cashes in on making the viewer feel vulnerable and alone.

No punches are pulled either. The evil’s origin story is as dark as you can get for a kids’ movie. This is not a movie for the real young’uns. This one is for the kids who think, “maybe I’m too old to dress up this year.”

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Carpe Scream Day 27

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Today’s movie is a double feature: both the stage production and the Tim Burton film of Sweeney Todd. First up, is the filmed production of the Broadway Version with George Hearn and Angela Lansbury.

Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 1982, Turner Home Entertainment

This is really the bible of this show as far as precedent and how to beat it. Hearn and Lansbury are superior as the demonic and impish Todd and Lovett. Hearn’s deep basso and terrifying expressions really make him a fantastic tragic villain.

“At last, my arm is complete again!”

I’m only sorry that Angie’s comedy chops aren’t as good in this as they’ve been in other things I’ve seen her in. She’s a little too over the top and her stiff-legged waddle and monkey-faces aren’t as funny as if she’d played it more straight. Yes, it’s stage. Yes that’s how 70’s theatre was, I get it. I think I was spoiled by seeing Emma Thompson do it in the staged concert on PBS. She is my favorite Lovett.

Dat hair tho.

All in all, this version is a bloody good time and worth watching.

And then there’s this:

Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Demon, 2007, Warner Bros. Pictures

I’m pretty sure the creation of this was Helena prancing around Tim in a sexy lingerie and singing “Do it! Do it! Film it! Film the musical, baby! Come on!” and him eventually saying yes. It’s clear that Tim had no desire to make a musical. Half of the numbers were cut out, all of the crowd’s lines were cut (so you can sing it yourself at home!) But for that, it’s not a terrible version, if you look at it as bringing demension to the story that you can’t on the stage, the quick cuts, the crowd shots, the action, and the blood. SO MUCH BLOOD. LITERALLY BUCKETS OF BLOOD.

“Do I got a little something on my face?”

That’s really the fun part. In the stage show, the producers have to be conservative with blood in the show, so the actors aren’t slipping in giant wet lakes of it during the production. In the movie we get to see graphic portrayals of real blood, bugs, meat and other delicious closeups and subtle winks and nods that we’d never get to see on a far away stage.

“I’d gander at that.”

Where it falls short is, sadly, the lack of experienced singers in the major roles. They managed to find great performers and singers for the secondary players, but Depp’s gritty constipated grunts, and Helena’s flat whistles utterly fail to enchant, and are perhaps the bigger reason Burton cut out more musical numbers. So this makes a great sing-along and it’s visually exciting. And for all the weak singing, Depp summons a wonder pathos for Todd and Helena brings the subtle quirky funny no problem. Of course, this is the REAL reason we went to go see this when it came out.

Carpe Scream Day 26

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Feeling sick today, so this will be a quick one. Today I watched The Brothers Grimm.

The Brothers Grimm, MGM Pictures, 2005

This movie has the rare distinction of being a completed Terry Gilliam movie. And right from the get-go it’s told to us in no uncertain terms, that this movie is a fairytale, a gothic, beautiful, funny fairytale. So don’t ask why this guy is cartoonishly evil, don’t ask how we have all these anochronistic inventions, don’t ask how a kiss can cure multiple puncture wounds. No. That’s not what this movie is for. This is for Matt Damon and Jude Law playing a Croby/Hope comedy team next to a swanning evil Johnathon Pryce.

My only annoyance was that there was (yet again) another shoehorned love interest with no real chemistry or reason to like either of the main characters and whose sole purpose was to be a hostage in need of rescuing or a kamikaze in need of talking down. At least they twisted the ending a bit concerning her. Anyways. Great movie. Great fun. I’m going to bed now.

Carpe Scream Day 25

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We’re in the final week of Carpe Scream and today’s movie is a great one to watch after 24 days of horror movies: Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil

Tucker and Dale VS. Evil, Magnet Releasing, 2010

I’ve wanted to watch this one for a while, but it required a brew and a bunch of Friends. Well the stars finally aligned and I was treated to a hilarious, fun, bloody, treat. Alan Tudyk, Tyler Labine, and Katrina Bowden had fantastic chemistry, timing, and some great comic acting chops to boot. This movie takes horror movie tropes, hangs a lampshade on them, whacks them with a hammer, and then invites them to have a cup of tea and talk about their feelings.

“I notice your collar is up. Do you want to talk about that?”

The premise is: two unassuming hillbillies are having a vacation weekend in their new cabin when suddenly a group of college students start freaking out around them and subsequently dropping dead.

A comedy of errors worthy of Abbot and Costello ensues, with over-the-top violence, hilarious one-liners and huggable characters you just want to invite over for a cookout and PBR.

I highly recommend it to all horror fans: it’s great for hard-core enthusiasts who can spot all the references or for light horror fans looking for a good time that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Check out the trailer, if your curious. It’s currently streaming on Amazon and Netflix.

Carpe Scream Day 24

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Today I watch a great gothic anime Movie, Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust.

Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust, 2001 Madhouse Animation

I’ll just start off by saying, Oh My God Madhouse,

Oh My God Madhouse,

Oh My God Madhouse.

This is SO visually gorgeous, I love this. Every second is eyeball candy. The writing’s pretty punchy and very entertaining, voiced perfectly by wonderful voice actors. The only thing is that there’s so much obvious world-building behind this series that I sometimes get a bit lost and have to hit Wikipedia. We also get very little of everyone’s story, so unfortunately the story is not as compelling because we don’t get to ride in any one character’s head. The vampire hunters, come kind of close, but they’re not really the main characters either.

So for a beautiful, scary, gory, creepy, vampire festival from the classiest neighborhood of Hell, I highly recommend Bloodlust. Just don’t ask me a lot of the story, because I still don’t know. (Apparently the books are like this too).

Carpe Scream Day 23

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Today I watch a cult classic that sort of missed me in its heyday: Monster Squad

The Monster Squad, 1987, TriStar Pictures

To be fair this is back when Hollywood was specifically making Rated R movies specifically designed for kids who sneak into R-rated movies or have oblivious parents rent R-rated movies for them regularly. And I think I have the same problem with this as I do with most “boys movies” of the 80’s, in that there doesn’t seem to be any real consistent tone. Kids are yelling shit and making jokes about sex and virgins and “the gays” (Boy, the 80’s was different, wasn’t it?) and yet we have a sweet little-girl Frankenstein friendship-is-magic, a sweet German refugee who makes them pie, and a little boy whose crayon letter to the army is answered.

I love this movie. I laughed so hard at the jokes (I finally get why kids in elementary school were yelling “Wolfman’s got NARDS!”

I loved the sweet “Creepy German Guy” and all the clues they gave us about him. I cried at the “Don’t Go Frankenstein!” moment and cheered for the little sister.

AWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

I’m just REALLY pissed off that I can’t show ANY of this good stuff to my kids. Maybe in a few years, yeah, but if just a few things were cut out, this would have made a GREAT family film for Halloween. For now, though, it’s going to have to sit on the shelf along with Goonies, and E.T. What the crap, 80’s?

Carpe Scream Day 22

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Today I watch my first Freddie movie. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, 1994, New Line Cinema

This was on TV when I was in College. I was aware of Freddy as a kid. One could hardly avoid the Halloween costumes, parodies, pop-culture references or that popular Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince rap about him. I also recall the outrage that Freddy had been “killed off” in the last movie. So when New Nightmare started and I realized that it was the actors playing themselves against a movie-Freddy come real, I knew enough to get most of the references and I was too hooked to turn the movie off,

First of all I LOVE this concept. Love, love, love, love seeing Wes Craven, Robert Englund, and Heather Langenkamp and a score of other Hollywood actors playing themselves in a terrible shifting dreamscape of what’s real, what’s Freddy’s trap, and what’s only a movie. It was especially cool to see Robert England as more of what he’s really like, instead of a creature actor, even if it does betray his love of tinted Lennon glasses.

“Sorry. It’s the 90’s”

It’s has that self-awareness and face recognition of a Muppet Movie with a dark macabre monster twist. I now know that it’s lost the cartoon-y feel of the previous Nightmare films, and watching it a second time, it does seem to lose that “Craven” feel to the whole affair. I prefer more when he’s over the top and unabashed, than when he attempts more stark realism. 

We did get THIS gem again.

So, in my opinion as far as Nightmare movies go, watch the first one, and then watch this one. Also, apparently Depp would have done this movie but Wes was too shy to ask him (since Depp’s rise to stardom). What a missed opportunity!