Tag Archives: horror movie

Carpe Scream 4: Child’s Play

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Today, I look at another Horror Movie Icon. For the longest time I thought I’d seen the first Chucky movie, but I guess that was number 2 or 3, because I have no memory of Child’s Play. This is back when they were still calling it “Child’s Play” and not “The ____ of Chucky,” because, let’s face it. It’s all about this freaky little doll, possessed with the spirit of a Chicago Serial Strangler.

childplay

Childhood fears are a subject I embrace with tender love, but this movie is the only one to encapsulate the TERROR which I lived with as a child: FREAKY UNCANNY VALLEY TOYS OF THE 80’S. Seriously. ALL of these guys could have been possessed by dead serial killers. Just look at them!

huggabunch

Killers. All these guys.

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Ahhh! No!

toys

WHAT…. I DON’T EVEN….

wtf

BURN IT WITH FIRE!!!

So yeah, I was among the millions of kids who saw the “Good Guys” doll in commericals (a cute nod to the “My Buddy” doll for boys of that era) and immediately cottoned on to the idea that it was evil. But still not as evil as the HuggaBunch movie.

The rest was your typical Talky Tina plotline, except this doll isn’t protective of its owner and has a vendetta of his own to kill the guys who pursued him in life and—HOLY CRAP, IS THAT GRIMA WORMTONGUE?

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Brad Dourif, image property of MGM/UA

So, I guess this guy is just good at being the evil little voice in people’s ears.

Grima_and_Théoden

“Chucky says she was a rotten bitch and got what she deserved!” (image property of Newline Cinema)

It was pretty fun, and Charles Sarandon was pretty fun as the detective, but it might have been fun to hint at a little romance between him and the mom. And for all Chucky being possessed by a serial strangler, he actually did very little strangling. Mostly stabbing, but when your body weight is reduced to a measly five pounds, you don’t really have that power behind it.

Final thoughts? This movie wins the award for the most fake-out endings ever probably. Chucky is now available to stream on Xfinity OnDemand for a limited time. Also Netflix just posted the The Cult of Chucky for streaming. I might take a peek later this month just to see how weirdly this concept deviates from its source.
Sweet Screams, everyone!

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Carpe Scream Day 29

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Okay, I was putting off this movie, honestly because my friends all warned me it was intense, but today I watched The Babadook.

The Babadook, 2014, Causeway Films

Quick premise: a widowed mother of a (possibly special needs) little boy is haunted by an entity named “Mr. Babadook” after reading a sinister pop-up book that mysteriously appears in her boy’s bookshelf.

First off this book needs some major awards for the prop-master who made that pop-up book. I remember seeing some vague sillouettes in the movie promotions (like above) which all reminded me of the Hatbox Ghost from the Haunted Mansion

“‘Sup, dawg” (property of Walt Disney Company)

Instead, when I watch the movie, I get THIS nightmare fuel.

I think it sees us.

And reading up on it, I discovered that MOST of the money in the movie’s budget (which was raised via kickstarter btw!) went to the amazing artists who made this book. There was also a backer level where you could get one of 200 identical books with EXTRA pages (sadly no longer available). In addition, the set design, the Tim Burton-y interiors and very stylized color palettes bring a phenomenal level of heart to the film.

Okay, I’m done gushing over the artwork. Now I’m going to gush over Essie Davis. I recently became aware of Davis through the Miss Fisher Mysteries by ABC (AUS) and I absolutely loved her in it. She impressed me no less as Amelia in Babadook. And she made a great character for the audience to follow.

The movie makes no bones about it’s theme, which is about how grief, stress, and isolation can wreak havoc on our lives, and tarnish our souls until we’re staring in the face of madness and oblivion. Essie is a very real vessel for all of that emotion as she deals with her son’s violent and hysterical outbursts, as her friends and family start to cut her off, and she even starts to cut herself off from life by not going to work.

Anyone who’s dealt with loss, depression and/or parenthood will tap into all of these immediately, and at times the movie was a little too real, especially when the viewer is forced to confront dark truths and the voices we all keep pent up in the back of our minds.

I won’t spoil the ending, but I will go so far as to say I loved it, and I agree with others that it was actually really cathartic. Unlike a recent online article, I don’t think it’s fatalist or a sign of how hopeless our world has become. I think it’s quite the opposite.

I’ll close with a fun fact, the Director of this film, Jennifer Kent, based the design of the Babadook off of a character played by the tragic Lon Chaney Sr. in “London After Midnight.” I’ll post it down here so you can watch if you like.

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 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!