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.
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).
Director Tom De Simone’s “Hell Night” usually gets lumped in together with a lot of the other eighties slashers, but in reality his genre offering is so much more unique than a simple hack and slash. “Hell Night” is a great Halloween horror romp that feels like something pulled out of a haunted house Gothic novel. It’s the perfect fixture for the holiday delivering a relentlessly bleak tone that makes it quite an unnerving experience all the way through. Linda Blair can do these kinds of horror movies in her sleep and she plays final girl Marti quite well, doing her best to battle a deformed monster in its territory.
I think one of the many reasons why “Silent Night, Deadly Night” has remained a cult classic is because it’s anything but a simple slasher film. While many movies in the eighties were content with maybe just a movie about a hacking and slashing Santa, “Silent Night, Deadly Night” is memorable for being so insane. It’s a wacky, weird, mean spirited and demented horror movie with hints of dark comedy sprinkled in. The tonal inconsistencies and almost rapid fire highs and lows of the narrative make it such a horror oddity that you can’t help but love it. There are just about five movies in one, and all of them are pretty entertaining in their own right.
Hell, Linnea Quigley even appears for a moment because—the eighties…?!
One of the highly anticipated releases of 2017, Synapse Films unleashed the new print of the rare horror comedy “Popcorn” for fans with a limited edition release. Months later, they allow fans another chance with a regular Blu-Ray and DVD editions of “Popcorn” with the same deluxe special features and treatment but none of the collector flavor. “Popcorn” is one of those horror comedies that deserve to be consumed by horror movie fans of all kinds, as it’s one of the cleverer meta-horror movies that satirized indie horror, while also delivering its own interesting slasher tale.
I give director and writer Paul Etheredge-Ouzts a lot of credit for creating a traditional slasher film with a lot of the conventions turned around for an all gay cast. Every single character in the movie is gay, right down to the psychotic masked killer. Ironically, “Hellbent” does fall in to the traps of conventional slasher films, with people willingly walking in to danger, and a slasher whose origins is completely unexplained. I was disappointed in the latter, as I was expecting a big twist, or at least a link to protagonist Eddie’s past as an aspiring police officer.
This is the story of Leatherface. Again. No, “The Beginning” was not his origin, “Leatherface” is. I’m not sure what “The Beginning” was supposed to be. “Leatherface” is the official prequel to the iconic movie maniac, they promise. And once again, like “The Beginning,” 2017’s “Leatherface” is really just a tired, nasty, unpleasant road film following a group of psychopaths. Leatherface’s actual origin is reserved for the final ten minutes where he just reverts to Leatherface mode because—um—it’s familiar! Familiar is good, right? Once again, no one seems to be interested in actually dissecting the madness of Leatherface, or why and how his persona of wearing human skin and carrying a chainsaw relates to him. In the original Tobe Hooper masterpiece,
I think that there is a very good movie hiding beneath the nonsense and absurdity that is Craig Anderson’s “Red Christmas.” I want to say that I appreciated it’s willingness to just certain taboos, but in the end I could never figure out if the film was an indictment on the pro choice movement, an indictment of the pro life movement, or maybe just an altogether mushy mélange of nonsense meant to dismiss both sides of the argument. I didn’t know and I really couldn’t care less, because “Red Christmas” has some very strong performances backing it up. It’s just sad that it’s a mean spirited, ugly, tedious, and altogether tonally confused home invasion horror film.