I’d say the best marketing The Last Halloween ever had was on a bag of Reese’s Pieces during the Halloween of 1991. I can still remember my mom buying the big bag of Reese’s Pieces and on the lower left hand corner there was the ad for the CBS special premiering that month with the “Mission to MARS” mascots front and center. It was a fine Halloween, with a great special that ran once on CBS and before disappearing into obscurity. Serving as a promotional film for the candy company MARS Company, “The Last Halloween” was a half hour movie about a small town named Crystal Lake with an economy reliant on their massive candy factory.
When I was a kid, “Hello Mary Lou” was one of my all time favorite horror movies. It was a sequel to a film I didn’t see until many years later, and it was always presented in edited, cut for time versions on Channel 11 WPIX in New York, but I sure as hell loved it. It was just a wacky, occasionally creepy movie that was so much crazier than I originally thought it was. The only theme that “Prom Night II” has in common with the original slasher movie is the overtone of revenge from days past. That is about as far as it goes, as “Prom Night II” takes a massive departure from the original premise involving an axe murderer out for revenge stalking high schoolers leading in to a disco centric prom with Jamie Lee Curtis front and center.
What do you do when the world you’re in is too boring, too stressful, or too miserable to endure? You retreat into your own imaginary world, of course. “Monster Camp” is one of the many documentaries taking off from the ilk of “Trekkies” and “Ringers,” in which we spend a time in the lives of folks who just love their hobby. They don’t just love their hobby, but it’s something of a way of life that manages to have a positive influence on them and everyone around them.
“In boot camp, we used to every night we had to say–before we went to bed, we’d have to sing the Marine Corps Hymn, and laying at attention in bed,we’d sing the Marine Corps Hymn, and then we’d say,”Another day in the Corps, sir, for every day’s a holiday and every meal’s a feast. Pray for war. Pray for war. God bless the Marine Corps. God bless my drill instructors. Pray for war.” And every night we had to say that, and when we’d run and we’d sing songs, we’d sing, like, they’d say, “Kill, kill, kill.” And when we–at our–at judo practice and knife fighting practice and bayonet fighting practice it was always, that was the yell: “Kill, kill, kill.”’
In the nineties America was obsessed with dinosaurs. For reasons we could never put our fingers on, Dinosaurs were in just about every facet of pop culture you could imagine. Video games, movies, animated series, they were mascots for snack foods, they were the basis for a family sitcom, and yes, they were fit in to movies amounting to cinematic oddities still making movie buffs scratch their heads. We had a family film about miniature dinosaurs, a buddy cop comedy about a female cop and a dinosaur, and yes, we even had “Tammy and the T-Rex.”
You don’t know how good you have it. These days everyone has Iron Man, and Captain America, Oscar winning Spider-Man movies, and massive team movies from DC and Marvel. Aquaman is a friggin’ box office juggernaut. In 1996, though we had slim pickings, and, well the best we could get was a truly terrible, painfully dull cinematic adaptation of a pulpy Dark Horse comic that doubled as a remake for “Casablanca.” No seriously, this is as good as it got for us comic book fan boys.
The idea of the cost of war has never been more thoughtfully and emotionally conveyed than in Isao Takahata’s “Grave of the Fireflies.” The 1988 animated film is still one of the most emotional and powerful films I’ve ever seen, it’s a film that completely transcends all ideas of storytelling, and destroys any stigma that animation is a child’s medium that is limited in scope and substances, especially when telling human stories.
Katie Holmes was always prone to playing more glamorous and squeaky clean roles back in 2003, but for “Pieces of April” she’s the center of what is a unique Thanksgiving set film. Peter Hedges film is all at once a funny, heartbreaking, and thought provoking film. It’s a film about redemption, and ultimately about forgiveness. Can we forgive someone who has hurt us over and over? Can we forgive someone who almost went out of our way to hurt us in the past? Can we forgive ourselves for the heinous things we’ve done in the past to our loved ones, if we work hard at redemption?