Sheldon Wilson’s “The Hollow” or as I refer to it “Phantoms 2: Samhain Edition,” is one of the more incomplete feeling horror films I’ve seen in a long time. Although the movie isn’t the completely worst Halloween oriented horror entry I’ve ever seen, it definitely feels like it could have stood for twenty minutes of exposition. Even when it stops the movie in its tracks to drop exposition, it still feels like the screenwriters are working on an under cooked film that never finds its footing. So much of “The Hollow” is downright unpleasant and dull, and manages to squander a potentially really cool movie monster.
2014’s “Annabelle” should have been an easy win. Take one of the most frightening elements from 2012’s “The Conjuring” and give her her own spooky tale about where she comes from and you have another hit. Sadly, “Annabelle” was an ill conceived and silly movie that is given a second chance with another prequel “Creation.” This film goes even further back before “The Conjuring” to where the doll was merely a dormant spirit lying and waiting for fresh souls to exploit.
Michael Dougherty’s “Trick r Treat” is a contemporary success story that’s enamored horror fans for a long time. Originally in 2007, Michael Dougherty’s horror anthology was kicked around various studios, pushed back, and shelved. When it finally re-emerged, it was pushed to a DVD release on 2009. Once unleashed on the fan base, it began life as a hidden gem, and has grown to become a bonafide horror classic, almost universally praised. To boot, “Trick r Treat’s” mascot, the burlap sack wearing, jagged lollipop adorning Sam has become one of the modern horror icons, whose bred a legion of fans (as well as a slew of merchandise).
If anything, I’m glad Genndy Tartakovsky’s off beat humor and fun animation has been embraced by Sony, but like the previous “Hotel Transylvania’s” this threequel is a mixed bag. Some of it is genuinely funny, and other times it’s either flat or kind of dull. Tartakovsky is usually so very off beat and original, it’s sad that Sony pretty much went the formulaic route with all movie series. There’s the romance, the baby sequel, and inevitable second romance with the series’ arguably most popular character. And the movie, like the formula is pretty predictable, which is what keeps “A Monster Vacation” from really taking off.
Once upon a time TV movies were an event. They meant something. They were used sporadically during the year for various networks as a means of attracting big ratings. Once upon a time TV used TV movies as a means of competing with theaters, and ever since that’s become something of a lost medium. Even when I was a kid, the nineties were filled with TV movies both of the Stephen King multi-night variety, and occasional biblical epics, and or science fiction epics like “Taken,” or “Noah.” It was an interesting time. “Dead of Night” is one of the various TV movies that’s gone from TV movie to well acclaimed horror movie, and that might be because of Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson.
I’ve yet to be impressed by anything that Greg McLean has done in cinema and he meets my expectations with “The Darkness.” Though it’s defined as a horror movie, I’d be hesitant to call it that since the horror genre’s veneer is so thin. “The Darkness” is really more of a painfully awkward drama about a dysfunctional family who put up with one another more than loves each other. In the prologue they seem to like one another just fine, but when we see them in their own surroundings, we’re introduced to petulant, obnoxious, rude, and self destructive people with no clear reason for being so dysfunctional beyond it being a good pit stop before the weak scares.
It makes sense that Shout Factory would package “Tales from the Crypt” with “Vault of Horror” since both horror films are essentially a part of the same universe, and are adapted from the genius EC Comics brand. In “Vault of Horror” you can even see one of the characters sit beside a stack of EC Comics while turning to continue reading a “Tales from the Crypt” novel. It’s a good thing too since both films are stellar horror anthologies, practicing the tradition of EC Comics’ storytelling formula that involves revenge, irony, plot twists, and turning the tables on characters at every turn. If you can spare the time, these films deserve to be viewed as a double bill, because it’s a master class of storytelling and creeps.
Less budget, and less stars, this time Casper’s adventures are reduced to a pretty crummy animated feature where Casper teams up with another spunky young girl. She’s a girl facing a crisis about Christmas and she needs the help of… Casper. Makes sense, I guess. “Casper’s Haunted Christmas” is a noticeably bargain basement style production compared to the previous movies, all the while the animation is often weird and the narrative nonsensical.