While “Creepshow 2” has always been taken as one of pair of horror movies that pay tribute to the golden age of EC Comics, over the years the horror community has learned to appreciate “Creepshow 2” as its own entity. Surely, its cut from the same cloth as the original classic, but it also carves out its own identity and doesn’t repeat the same beats as the original film. The Michael Gornick directed sequel is a darker, grittier, and more vicious follow up to what was kind of a raucous and darkly comic celebration, and it works. As a nostalgic memento, and as a sequel carved by Stephen King and George Romero, “Creepshow 2” is a classic in its own right.
From The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society and Andrew Leman comes the excellent “The Call of Cthulhu,” a short film I was lucky enough to experience years ago and was lucky enough to re-visit. From 2005, the independent effort channels the horror and sheer terror of HP Lovecraft’s mythology so well, the time manages to fly by without a hitch. “The Call of Cthulhu” is a brilliant throwback to the silent film era channeling the likes of Val Lewton to bring audiences a love letter to a time in film when horror meant the twang of the score, and focusing on the horror of our actors.
If you think Rob Zombie is the only director releasing a schlocky survival horror film about evil clowns, you’d be mistaken. Here comes Tom Nagel’s “ClownTown,” a film a group of hapless travelers that wander in to an abandoned town ruled over by psychotic clowns that want to kill them a lot. After an unusual and tacked on prologue that copies John Carpenter’s “Halloween” almost shamelessly, we enter in to the actual tale of a group of friends heading to a concert. When they’re accidentally run off the road in a seemingly abandoned town, they and two other travelers find themselves being victimized and terrorized by psychotic and murderous clowns.
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.
Stephen Herek’s “Critters” is a fun and gory horror science fiction film that knows exactly what kind of movie it is. It’s neat a mix of a monster movie and a tongue in cheek action sci-fi movie. As well it delights in doling out a lot of gruesome kills and fun nuggets of very light comedy that will arouse some chuckles, but never ruin the momentum of the movie. Up in the space in a prison space ship, the Krites have managed to escape their cells and are now on the run. They’ve taken hold of a ship of their own and are headed for Earth. The alien overlords hire two skilled bounty hunters with blank faces, urging them to find the krites before they reach Earth and wreak incomprehensible havoc on the population. With the bounty hunters on their tails, the Krites have crash land on a farm in the middle of a rural town in Kansas.
Killer dolls are popular once again and now seems like a better time than ever for Chucky to enter stage left and remind people that once upon a time he was the plastic maniac with a butcher knife. 1988’s “Child’s Play” is still a mini-classic that dabbles in the killer doll sub-genre and offers up its own twist. It’s essentially a slasher movie through and through, but it has small doses of the supernatural, and mysterious to add some kind of logic to the origin of Chucky. Brad Douriff’s turn as Chucky is immortal as he plays serial killer Charles Lee Ray, a man who is chased by police during a robbery. After being mortally wounded during a shoot out, Ray ducks in to a toy store and finds no other option but to summon magic to keep himself alive. Said magical incantation allows his soul to be transferred in to a popular doll named the “Good Guy Doll.”
With the opening of “Carrie,” we see a brutal horror unfold with main character the titular Carrie White taking a shower during gym class and discovering the horror of her first period. She’s a girl who’s never really been given an explanation on anatomy or biology thanks to her religiously fanatical mother, and is terrified. Sadly the predators in her class that revel in bullying Carrie torment her by throwing tampons and towels at her as she screams. While the scene itself is jarring and the epitome of the cruelty Carrie inexplicably receives, it’s also the implication that ultimate evil has been realized. Though it’s mostly hinted at by Carrie’s mother, Carrie, despite being a good person at heart, is also pure evil personified.
After the blundering misfire that was “Annabelle” I was a bit scared that “The Conjuring 2” would be a bland follow up to what was one of the best contemporary horror films ever made. Thankfully James Wan not only outdoes himself, but builds on the mythology of Ed and Lorraine Warren. “The Conjuring 2” follows the tradition of the original film, putting the Warrens in to an impossible situation where they have to do battle with a powerful evil. What’s more is that the evil has chosen to pick away at a vulnerable lower class family once again, prompting the Warrens to risk everything for the sake of one victim’s soul.