IN SELECT THEATERS OCTOBER 28TH – Although Henry Selick does a damn fine job of directing what is one of the most entertaining stop motion animated films, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” has Tim Burton’s stamp all over it. It’s about an outcast, a love for the Gothic and Halloween, and it’s unabashedly menacing. Though Henry Selick’s animated movie was originally touted to kids, the film is very much a dark and harrowing narrative about monsters from the Halloweentown infiltrating the Christmastown, and using the traditions and rituals to terrorize random victims. One montage even features kids getting very creepy presents like a shrunken head, and a snake. Jack Skellington is the pumpkin king who is the anti-hero that finds himself restless with Halloween and accidentally becomes the villain when he falls in love with Christmas.
There’s never been anything like Jason Lei Howden’s “Deathgasm” before and I doubt there will ever be anything like it ever again. “Deathgasm” is one of the very few death metal horror movies I’ve ever seen and it’s one that will definitely touch on the right spots for horror fanatics, despite the fact that it’s heavily centered on characters that live and breathe death metal music. For them, it’s a way of life and eventually becomes the downfall of humanity. “Deathgasm” is a shockingly excellent horror comedy that focuses more on the coming of age of its main character and how he uses the eventual demon apocalypse to discover something about himself.
Once upon a time, Kevin Smith decided that he liked “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” so much that he’d copy the cliff notes and paste them on to a recycled fossil of his former glory in the shape of “Clerks” and build himself a brand spankin’ new cult classic. Instead what we get is a movie pandering to teens that is very obviously made by a fifty year old man if he were trying to write like Diablo Cody. I imagine Kevin Smith spent much of his time writing his screenplay for “Yoga Hosers” and promising to cast daughter Harley Quinn in it if she helped with the dialogue and much of the modern colloquialisms. Meanwhile he stuck to what he knew: which is stuff about convenience store clerks, and mocking Canada wholesale. There are shelves of maple syrup in the background, and boxes of cereal like “Cheeri-EHs.” Plus, our two main characters begin their work shift (almost in a subliminal apology to the audience) muttering in repetition “Sawrry Aboot That.”
Part of the “American Masters” documentary series, “Norman Lear” is a very bittersweet look in to a man who changed culture and television as we know it. Before Norman Lear, not many television shows and mainstream television networks were willing to step forward and address issues that confronted social and economic problems. Norman Lear is a man who grew up in a troubled family and spent a lot of his life remolding television in to a medium that could change how we think and ask us to reflect on our lives. Mr. Lear used a lot of his own experiences to help create some of the most important television series of all time. From “All in the Family” which brought important issues to our homes through comedy, “The Jeffersons” about changing the racial dynamic in a higher class setting. There was “Maude” which explored a very strong sitcom heroine of the feminist ilk, and “Good Times” which explored the life of a family in poverty.
After seeing the trailer for Morgan Spurlock’s documentary “Rats,” I was expecting so much more. I guess not so much more, so much as a point. Rats are gross! Rats are icky! Rats are intelligent! Rats are in the city! And…? So, what is the statement or hypothesis for “Rats”? The message behind the documentary Spurlock films is so jumbled and confused that it comes off so manipulative and sensationalized. One moment we’re watching Indian man smashing the heads of rats with sticks, and the film ends on an Indian sanctuary for rats where locals worship the little animals. What is Spurlock even trying to convey to the audience? Spurlock films lot of money shots of rats crawling through pipes, and swishing around sewers, and jumping out of garbage bags, all set to ominous music. Subjects interviewed in the film, meanwhile, throw around buzzwords to make us feel grossed out or threatened.
I’m shocked New Concorde wasn’t sued by Steven Spielberg, since “Munchies” is about the closest rip off of “Gremlins” I’ve ever seen. While previous wannabes were just copying the formula of mischievous and often dangerous monsters wreaking havoc, “Munchies” goes so far as to copy the aforementioned horror fantasy right down to the monsters, all of whom bear striking resemblances to the enigmatic gremlins. Aimed toward a younger audience, but sporting a lot of raunchy humor, “Munchies” is set in a small town where young aspiring comedian Paul and his archaeologist father Cecil (Harvey Korman) find a small monster in a cave. Convinced it’s an alien of a sort, they take the friendly monster home and decide to make it their pet.
Despite being very rough around the edges, and at times shoddily edited, “Chubbies” is a film that has its heart in the right place. It’s “Ghoulies” meets “Sorority Girls in the Slimeball Bowl o Rama” and it has a fun concept to follow its mixing of sub-genres. “Chubbies” left me laughing, rolling my eyes, and gazing in sheer disbelief at what director Chris Hartman was able to pull off. In the planet Snerd, sex has been outlawed and all forms of sexual stimulation are illegal. When a group of sex hungry aliens known as Chubbies break free from their jails, they crash land on Earth. They end up at the local Bowl-o-Rama where a group of friends are having their very own Halloween party after hours.
With the original “Critters,” the producers adhered to a certain kind of formula that made the monsters from space seem like twisted cousins of “E.T.” With “The Main Course,” director Mick Garris is able to go beyond the limits of the concept and widen the mythology of the Krites and their bounty hunters. What’s more, Garris is also able to get so much more creative than the first film, as well as offer a better variety of Krites, and how they’re capable of devouring humans when they crash land on Earth once more. One of the best moments of “Critters 2” involves the krites working together as a hive and forming a gigantic ball that goes rolling through town.