The cult classic that spawned from the big craze from “The Exorcist” is finally on blu-ray in its original glory, as it was once butchered for television and altered for a wider audience. “Ruby” is a goofy film, albeit one of the most successful independent horror movies of all time, starring Piper Laurie whose undead husband begins haunting the family through her deaf and mute daughter. Despite some really striking scenes of horror, and some fine hammy performances from Laurie and the like, “Ruby” is pretty much a stinker.
You could almost attribute the invention of the sub-genre involving travelers trapped in a house with a bunch of demented folks to James Whale. While there are no chainsaws or torture devices anywhere, you could see where the seeds were sewn for films like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Haunting.” Whale’s film “The Old Dark House” presents glimmers of dark comedy and some pretty funny one-liners but through and through it’s an atmospheric and very creepy tale about a travelers trapped in a house with a psychotic brood. During a horrific rain storm, a group of travelers in the country side of Wales find themselves soaking wet and seeking shelter from the cold water barreling down on them.
Yesterday marked the decade anniversary of the release of “Cloverfield.” It was in 2007 that Bad Robot unleashed an amazing and painfully addictive viral campaign for what was essentially a modern giant monster movie. Taking to the internet as the primary tool, fans speculated for over a year what “Cloverfield” was from theories about a Cthulhu apocalypse film to “Voltron,” and fans even created their own monster designs for what the monster would and should logically look like.
There was even a mysterious online game that had zero to do with the movie but capitalized on the mystery, nonetheless. “Cloverfield” ended up being a wonderful film, and the start of an anthology movie series that involved human struggle, a mysterious marketing campaign and a giant behemoth of some kind. With “Cloverfield” now a decade old and two more mysterious movies from the series coming very soon, I look at five reasons why the movie is still so fantastic.
When a disease sweeps the area, all parents become crazed killers going after their offspring. In one house, a teenage girl and her little brother try to survive while their parents do all in their powers to kill them.
One of the last relics of the video store, I vividly recall coming across the cover to “Ice Cream Man” at least a dozen times and wondered what horror Clint Howard would dole up from the back of a truck. Years later, “Ice Cream Man” has caught on as a surreal and self-aware horror thriller that packs in a lot of gore, grue, and goofy black comedy that makes it a collector’s item. From Jan Michael Vincent shooting a bunch of mental patients, to the Ice Cream Man using Ice Cream as a symbol of his sexual repression and rage, to really bad padding to make one of the child actors look heavy, “Ice Cream Man” has earned its status as a cult classic since video stores shut down permanently.
Brian Taylor’s “Mom and Dad” has a really good idea on its hands and sometimes he doesn’t really know what to do with it. “Mom and Dad” best sums up the whole of its premise in the opening where Taylor stages the film like the opening to Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead.” A mom looks back at her toddler sitting in its seat, gets out of the car and walks away calmly as a train barrels down on it. We then flicker to a small suburb from top view where carnage is about to ensue. Granted, “Mom and Dad” begins very tensely and starts off with a lot of mounting suspense that kept me glued to the screen.
Chalk it up to rock bottom expectations, but “It” blew me away when it arrived in theaters mainly because it exceeded my expectations and proved to be a stellar film all around. Andres Muschetti already killed it with his adaptation of his short “Mama,” but he brings his same sensibility in another coming of age tale where pure evil meets innocence. “It” is a masterstroke of a reboot, a movie that pays tribute to the original novel and re-invents every aspect from the ground up for a new audience without dumbing down the material.
2017 had so many good films that just one list or even two were not enough. This list is all about fun. Movies that are fun to watch and have something to offer that may not be the top top best of the year but damn close. These are films you want to watch with friends, even one for the kids. Watch these at home in PJs or with a drink (hot cocoa is the drink of choice for one of those films of course).