The “Wes Craven Presents Dracula” series has been one of the kookiest and oddest trilogies ever conceived by a studio. Obviously the trilogy is just a hodgepodge of three vampire movies connected because Dracula. But it’s an eccentric trilogy when you take a step back. The first was a sleek action horror film with Dracula being the reincarnated Judas. The second is a goofy thriller about scientists trying to manipulate Dracula’s blood in to a healing medicine. The third is a romance with a martial arts fighting rogue priest who is trying to stop immigrants from becoming Dracula’s imported food.
I love John Landis, and I love that he at least tries to do something new whenever approaching the horror genre. No one else would try to bring together the mafia movie with the vampire movie. And while “Innocent Blood” stumbles in to a messy, dull, and silly horror comedy gangster picture, Landis is at least courageous enough to try to see where it’ll all take him. “Innocent Blood” suffers mainly from being so self congratulatory, to where Landis almost seems to be patting himself on the back at times. There are myriad scenes of characters in the movie watching classic horror movies on television, which is distracting considering the movie is set in Pittsburgh during the winter.
It’s a shame that Disney treats “The Black Cauldron” kind of like the black sheep of the family they don’t mention at family reunions. It’s such a riveting and creepy film that evokes a lot of what makes the fantasy genre so appealing. There’s even the Horned King, one of Disney’s most frightening, if not their most frightening villain ever created, he’s a skull faced, horned monster with one goal to grab the magical black cauldron and use it to take over the world. In galleries and retrospectives, he’s almost never mentioned, which says a lot considering Disney is fond of including the Chernabog, who is only on screen for eleven minutes in “Fantasia.”
Hot woman unleashes genie, genie meets hot woman, genie comes between hot woman and her husband, husband and genie fight for the love of the hot woman. Isn’t that always how it goes? Same old story. “Wishmaster 4” is a noticeable departure in quality, to the point where it’s almost distracting. The prologue is filmed in what looks like an HD camcorder, there’s a gratuitous sex scene not two minutes in to the film, and this time the evil djinn makes his grand appearance by emerging from a closet, as opposed to the previous times where he required a wish to take on full anthropomorphic form. Completely giving up on scaring the audience, “Wishmaster 4” is now dark fantasy, with our djinn humanized for the sake of a goofy romance.
Three movies in and the writers behind “Beyond The Gates of Hell” pretty much run out of steam with the idea of the djinn stretching the concept as thin as it could (a student wishes to go to a place where she can’t be found, the djinn grants her wish by forcing her head in to a rat cage). The djinn still isn’t much of a horror villain and spends much of “Beyond The Gates of Hell” badgering our heroine in to making wishes, rather than appealing to the darker desires of humanity. This time around we follow college student Diana, who is still reeling from the death of her parents at a young age. That back drop of tragedy has no real play in the duration of “Wishmaster 3” except giving her an excuse to be religious.
By 1998, the “Child’s Play” movie series reached the point of no return. The third film in the series was a stale slasher, and Wes Craven re-invented the horror movie, while accidentally spawning a slew of self-aware slashers and horror movies. Hence, “Bride of Chucky” came along and took it to a whole new level. The idea of a female version of Chucky is a great one, and one that could have spawned a wonderful and thrilling movie with a change up in the sexual dynamic and how Chucky approaches his murderous habits, but Ronny Yu’s reboot/sequel instead dives head first in to material that’s a spoof, a satire, a sequel, a meta-horror movie, a horror comedy, and sometimes just a flat out slapstick comedy that comes dangerously close to breaking the fourth wall.
After the sad death of brilliant actor Raul Julia, the “Addams Family” film series was put to rest, despite both films being big commercial hits for their respective years. Almost immediately, Paramount sold the rights to the series to, baffling enough, Saban Entertainment. Saban, of course, is known for producing cheap but popular kids entertainment like “Power Rangers” and “Digimon.” The Saban label at the opening is almost a black mark on the entire movie, as the reboot of the reboot is a bargain basement third entry in to the series with all the cast replaced save for Lurch. The dark and Gothic aesthetic is missing, and comically sinister tone the series perfects is considerably watered down with the film feeling less like Tim Burton, and more like the terrible pilot to a show that never quite took off.