2017 will go down as a truly banner year for the horror community. We had great highs and massive lows. It was also the year of Stephen King where we celebrated genuinely brilliant adaptations like “It,” but bowed our heads in shame at the TV adaptations of “The Mist.” Good god that was terrible. I digress. We lost a ton of horror greats, and a good portion of horror hit makers spent a lot of time trying to convince the public that their films were not horror.
And who can forget the infamous “Post-Horror” crap? One of the bigger news headlines in the horror world that sent 2017 out with a bang has been the news that effective January 1st 2018, Chiller TV is shutting down.
Only in 1985 could a movie like “The Midnight Hour” have been created. This is the decade of Michael Jackson and music videos. This is the decade of MTV. This is the decade where one of the goofiest Halloween movies ever made has a musical number that breaks the fourth wall because… well, Michael Jackson, and Madonna! Duh. Seriously, it’s a shame that “The Midnight Hour” has been so hard to find and out of print for such a long time, because it’s such a ridiculous eighties gem that I figured people would be watching it during Halloween parties and laughing their asses off.
Since we’re all slowly and inexorably heading into the last day of the month of October, I’ve gotten to thinking about the perfect film to watch on Halloween. The sort of film where, to properly experience it, you have to turn off all the lights in your living room and surround yourself with friends or family, put a huge bowl of freshly made popcorn on the table to get that smell of hot butter in the air, and then cower together to scream and laugh while lit only by the glow of the television. We’ve all done it at least once, and it’s always fun, but it can be unforgettable if you pick just the exact right thing to watch.
This, in turn, got me to thinking about John Carpenter. Because, as you all remember, he just happened to make a little obscure flick called “Halloween”. Which, coincidentally, is why my own personal recommendation for the perfect film to watch on Halloween is “The Fog.”
After the Satanic Panic of the seventies and eighties, witches became a shockingly more popular aspect of pop culture and were more generally accepted. It’s almost inexplicable how and why witches suddenly became so prevalent in pop culture, but the nineties were all about the mythical figure and all kinds of TV shows tackled the trend in one way or another. Along with shows capitalizing on the trend, there were also a myriad shows and movies that pretty much centered on the witches trend. Before America paralyzed itself with ideas that witchcraft and paganism were ideas meant to destroy Christianity, the ideas of witches were always more family friendly or sought to appeal to the horror fan base.
The story of Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is about as classic a tale and about as old a tale as most other movies in development. Whedon had a vision for a new take on a horror story and Hollywood didn’t get it and kind of fucked it up. Everyone by now knows the tale of 1992’s “Buffy,” and how Joss Whedon initially wanted to make something of a darker more stern take on the vampire hunter that minced a coming of age tale with a story of a young woman coming to maturity. When Whedon was given the chance to finally bring his film in to development he kind of lost control of his creation.
It’s tough to find someone like Elvira who can squeeze in so many double entendres in to only a half hour of comedy. “The Elvira Show” was essentially like the movie from the late eighties, but extended in to a sitcom setting. It was “Bewitched” meets “Sabrina” meets “Married with Children” with Elvira dominating the screen as always with her sexuality and sharp delivery of one liners. There are so many great sexual puns squeezed in to the opening scenes of the pilot from replying to hunky officer Chip “I bet you can’t eat just one,” to explaining that she and her family will be like the Cleavers, with she, of course, being “The Beaver.”
It’s no surprise that, rather than a most established performer and actress like Scarlett Johannson or Christina Hendricks, director Steven Soderbergh sought out Sasha Grey for the lead role in “The Girlfriend Experience.” Grey had spent years making millions off building the fantasies of her male (and female) audience with dozens of notable porn movies, as well as building a humongous line of sex toys that promote fantasy fulfillment for an audience that want every piece of her. Much like Grey, “The Girlfriend Experience” is about the fantasy and the reality that we may not realize isn’t always enticing.
People usually laugh when I tell them I have a mortal fear of zombies, but for many years I did. I had a mortal fear of the walking dead, for reasons I can’t really explain. Fears are meant to be irrational. I can however pinpoint to where it may have all started, and it was with George Romero. One of my earliest memories as a kid was when my dad took a four year old moi to visit a friend of his, who watching this horror documentary on VHS. Mid-way through the footage there was the epic finale of “Day of the Dead” where the humongous horde of zombies is slowly descending in to the military bunker with light cast upon them.