It’s no secret that the writers of “The Simpsons” hold a great love for Stanley Kubrick. Bart Dressed as a Droog for “Treehouse of Horror III,” and “Treehouse of Horror V” delivered the brilliant “The Shinning.” For the 25th “Treehouse of Horror” yearly special, the gang behind the series pays a full unabashed tribute to Kubrick in what is easily the best “Treehouse” special in years. Though supplying only three segments this year, the writers opts for quality over quantity and the show really hits its stride for the Halloween Season well.
Now that “Hack/Slash” is done, I’m kind of regretful and happy I didn’t finish its run with Image. This is what happens when I leave this series? Tim Seeley kills off Vlad? And pitifully, I might add? Granted, it’s nice to see that Cassie has fully embraced her homosexuality and is now in a happy relationship with her wife, but damn, did you have to kill off Vlad? In either case, you’re nobody in the horror world if you don’t cross paths with Ashley Williams at least once, and lo and behold, he’s back, baby.
It’s not so much that “Darklight” is a terrible movie, it’s just so lackluster. You figure a movie with such prime material for a dark superhero thriller would be fun, or at least campy, but “Darklight” is a lethargic film. I figured it was me the first time I watched this back in 2004, but ten years later, and the film is still so lifeless and lacking in any kind of charisma or charm. Not even the lovely Shiri Appleby seems to be enjoying this role. She plays a mythical female demon cast out of the Garden of Eden for defying men who becomes a superhero in modern times and ends up serving men, anyway. That’s not a good reason to root for a superhero if you ask me.
I admit that The Vicious Brothers don’t exactly tap in to a part of the found footage genre that hasn’t been done before. Even before found footage became a popular filming format, the premise of con men looking for something supernatural that get more than they bargained for has been done. In fact one of the best “Tales from the Crypt” episodes tapped this premise. That said, while I did recognize the proceedings, “Grave Encounters” is still a lot of fun, if only for the haunted house spooks and bleak ending that ensue. One of the more amusing pop culture devices has been the satire of ghost hunting shows, and “Grave Encounters” brings it in spades.
“Mimesis” is set in a world where horror fans gather for a party and have no idea what “Night of the Living Dead” is. At one point a character is explaining “Night of the Living Dead” prompting confused gleams from everyone. Horror buffs really have no idea what “Night of the Living Dead” is? It’s not even a remotely rare film. “Mimesis” is part “Night of the Living Dead” and part “My Little Eye.” Two friends are invited by an acquaintance to attend a party with other horror buffs at a house to meet stars and talk movies. When party goer Duane passes out while drinking, he awakens to find himself in a waking nightmare where he and fellow party goer Judith find themselves fighting off what seem like zombies.
What I love about Kathryn Bigelow’s “Near Dark” is that it doesn’t glamorize vampires. It doesn’t paint them as pop stars, millionaires, or aristocrats. In reality the group of vampires that roam the South here could be mistaken for dangerous transients. Their lives are a series of contradictions that paint them as despicable but somewhat empathetic villains. They have immortality, but burst in to flames in natural sun light. They have fantastic powers, but they have literally no choice but to roam the world looking for new prey. “Near Dark” is very much an eighties relic like its lighter counterpart “The Lost Boys,” and still hasn’t shown its wrinkles. Draped in glorious shades of blue and gray and given a haunting score from Tangerine Dream, “Near Dark” is a vicious vampire film about a young man trying to maintain his soul and keep his humanity in tact.
“Nothing Left to Fear” is the prime example of a horror movie that has nothing to offer, and tries to cover it up with fancy special effects and clunky metaphor. The problem is that even those gimmicks don’t work to conceal what is an amateur, tedious, and pointless remake of “The Wicker Man” where another group of people or persons become the sacrificial lambs to religious fanaticism. We know they’re the sacrificial lambs because when our characters The Bramfords arrive in their new town, they see a lamb being sacrificed. Get it? Foreshadowing! Symbolism!
With the original’s star Lance Henrisksen gone, and his purpose fulfilled, there’s really nowhere to go with the pumpkinhead mythology, so the sequel just strings together a humdrum revenge tale. Or “Pumpkinhead Knows What You Did Last Summer.” The original “Pumpkinhead” may not have been a masterpiece by any definition, but it was assuredly a solid revenge film with a unique monster. Director Jeff Burr’s follow up is a sub-par mess that has no real grasp on what kind of tale it wants to tell, its main downfall being the abysmal performances by the entire cast.
If there’s one film I’d suggest to blossoming horror fans that need a primer course for the genre, I’d suggest “Terror in the Aisles.” It’s not a horror movie, so much as a compilation of some of the most interesting thrillers and horror movies from the seventies and eighties, and it touches on the idea of horror’s role in our everyday lives. Why do people love to be scared? What keeps us coming back to horror movies? Why do so many people frighten by horror cinema when there are valid threats in reality? One of the more interesting ideas behind “Terror In the Aisles” is the exploration of movie going as a communal experience.
Holy hell, if the Syfy Channel in America is trying to capitalize off of Annabelle from “The Conjuring,” they’re going about it all wrong. It’s hard to rationalize a movie so horribly inept and put together. Through no fault of my own I even fell asleep after the thirty minute mark from sheer boredom, and after awakening I couldn’t quite bring to rewind the film and begin again. “Finder’s Keepers” doesn’t require a lot of thought or explanation. It’s really just a hodgepodge of ideas that amount to absolutely zero. There’s no pay off, no reason to care for the characters, and the writing is painful.