Joe Dante has always had this peculiar style that’s always helped his films stand out among everyone else’s. “The ‘Burbs” is another of his films that features the suburban unit being terrorized or working themselves up in to a stir. Dante loves to put his hands in to the perceived American norm and stir it up with some chaos and anarchy. It’s hard to believe that “The ‘Burbs” was originally a flop, as it’s managed to become one of the most highly appreciated cult classics of all time. In the face of the passing of the late great Carrie Fisher, if you’ve yet to see it, you definitely owe it to yourself to.
The yearly “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” induction ceremony is one of the more iconic and polarizing concerts, often inspiring a slew of controversy from music buffs and musicians alike. There’s always a hailstorm of “Why not this band?” or “Why not this artist?” and you’re always guaranteed to read an interesting headline of someone griping about an overdue band not getting their dues yet. Suffice to say whether the ceremony falls flat or it’s raucous, it’s almost always a promise you’ll get an interesting experience. And that’s from what we get to see on the edited annual broadcast on cable television. There are some bands and or artists excluded from this list as they have been omitted consciously, from what I’ve read, but for your money it’s a pretty solid release from Time Life I recommend.
Larry Cohen’s horror film “It’s Alive” didn’t always get the respect it deserved. While it’s certainly a seventies shock horror film about a mutant baby, it’s also about fear of genetic and birth defects, the question of abortion, and the idea of euthanasia in children. It thrives on being a horror cult classic, but it’s also a socially relevant movie that pounces on a lot of important issues. Larry Cohen’s classic film gets a wonderful treatment from the folks at Scream Factory with all three “It’s Alive” films on one box set, and it’s a collector’s set that’s impossible to pass up.
Jim Wynorski’s “The Return of Swamp Thing” is one of my bonafide childhood favorites, and a favorite of the rental places. “The Return of Swamp Thing” was my introduction to the character when I was a child and it’s a definite favorite that’s become more about sentimental value than quality. I admit that viewing “The Return of Swamp Thing” through nostalgic glasses helps improve the campy direction Jim Wynorski takes for this second outing.
It’s surprising for such an iconic author that Stephen King’s tales are so tough to bring to the big screen. I don’t know why “Children of the Corn” has managed to become something of a semi-classic since 1984 because the only scary thing about it is how boring it is. “Children of the Corn” has been a baffling horror presence since 1984, garnering a whole series of movies, including a remake, and sequels to the remake. There’s even been a new film in 2018.
This was a time where the internet was capable of everything, and virtual reality was the wave of the future, which is what “Lawnmower Man” banks on to tell its yarn about the dangers of mind expansion. “Lawnmower Man” for a movie allegedly based on a Stephen King novella is really just a pastiche of other Frankenstein tales and tech gone bad stories from the past. It’s infamous, also, for being “based on” a Stephen King novel in name only (leading to a very notable lawsuit). Instead of a King tale, we get Jeff Fahey turning in to a computer and knocking boots with a very delectable Jenny Wright.
As a slasher buff, I’m saddened that we’re in a current horror climate where other less deserving slasher films have gotten full fledged franchises while “Behind the Mask” is still just a one time gem. “The Rise of Leslie Vernon” is one of the best slasher films of the aughts that was perfecting the indie slasher sub-genre well before “Hatchet” came along. No slight to Adam Green, but I’d much rather have had three “Behind the Mask” films over four “Hatchet” films any day of the week. “Behind the Mask” is brilliant in not only creating a great slasher villain, but telling a sharp meta-story that dissects the sub-genre as a whole.
After almost twenty years not making horror movies, fans were excited to see Sam Raimi getting back in to the genre that introduced him to us originally. While we might have wanted another “Evil Dead” rather than a PG-13 horror film, with Raimi you never get just a PG-13 horror film, after all. After many years of working on the big budget spectacles of the “Spider-Man” movies, Raimi blasts in to the horror world once again to deliver what has been a very thoroughly analyzed and appreciated little gem. Leave it to Raimi to throw in a smaller film that packs a punch over time.