Many years later, director Sam Firstenberg’s “Ninja III” is an out of left field mix of horror, action, and ninjas, all of which were very popular in the eighties. I was never quite sure what happened to “Ninja” one or two, but when I was a kid, “Ninja III” was a bonafide favorite of mine that I’d indulge in every time it was on network television. Thankfully I’m not alone as “Ninja III” has become a cult classic that stands alone, much like “Troll 2.” There’s just something fascinating about a young woman and aerobics enthusiast being possessed by the ghost of a ninja, who begins to seek revenge on his past foes.
It’s surprising for such an iconic author that Stephen King’s tales are so tough to bring to the big screen. I don’t know why “Children of the Corn” has managed to become something of a semi-classic since 1984 because the only scary thing about it is how boring it is. “Children of the Corn” has been a baffling horror presence since 1984, garnering a whole series of movies, including a remake, and sequels to the remake. There’s even been a new film in 2018.
After almost twenty years not making horror movies, fans were excited to see Sam Raimi getting back in to the genre that introduced him to us originally. While we might have wanted another “Evil Dead” rather than a PG-13 horror film, with Raimi you never get just a PG-13 horror film, after all. After many years of working on the big budget spectacles of the “Spider-Man” movies, Raimi blasts in to the horror world once again to deliver what has been a very thoroughly analyzed and appreciated little gem. Leave it to Raimi to throw in a smaller film that packs a punch over time.
“Truth or Dare?” is a movie that feels like it belongs in 2005 where Hollywood was churning out abysmal remakes of mediocre Japanese horror movies. And that’s what it felt like I was sitting through. It feels like somewhere there’s an original Japanese version of “Truth or Dare?” that’s sadly not even very good, either. “Truth or Dare?” comes from Blumhouse which is usually great about releasing bold and unique horror movies. Even when they land with a thud, their cinematic experiments usually have potential to impress. “Truth or Dare?” wants to be this modern tech iteration of “It Follows” and “The Ring.” With a competent director and writer, this could very well have been a haunting story about the damaging effect of secrets, trauma, and how we never quite know the people we love.
“And it was going so good too.” That’s my initial reaction to the third act of “Ghost Stories” which feels like one gigantic cop out of a finale. You can reason that the creators wanted to introduce these esoteric ideas that come colliding, but I felt like “Ghost Stories” just ran out of ideas and just stopped trying. I’m also not a fan of the underlying message about how lack of belief is linked to being some kind of bitter individual with a horrible life. Either way I imagine the finale to “Ghost Stories” will be a very polarizing element in the horror movie world in 2018. I think some horror fans will defend its radical approach while others will lambast it for trying way too hard. I’m in the latter category. I didn’t buy its self important morality play.
Ted Geoghegan’s “Mohawk” is stellar and a very timely commentary on colonialism, manifest destiny, and the last gasp of what would become a slain race in the middle of a pointless war in 1814. “Mohawk” has a very unusual aesthetic to it, approaching audiences with a unique score, some great digital photography, and a tone that’s right down the line between horror and action. It has a lot to say about the unfair and cruel destruction of the Native American race, with an enemy we all have learned about but still known very little thanks to revisionist history.
“Hell to Pay” is chapter two in what is one of the more under appreciated animated DC series currently in stores. While DC mainly focuses on Batman and Superman, we’re given a second shot with “Suicide Squad” who DC is thankfully not above sharing for the home entertainment audiences. After the very good “Assault on Arkham,” the team known as Task Force X return with a premise that—let’s just say it—should have been the premise for the live action movie. It’s a small covert team, they should do small covert operations that involve the DC Universe, for crying out loud.
It’ll take more than a bad movie to bring the “Suicide Squad” down. Deep down there’s still a great movie to be made with this concept. “Assault on Arkham” showed it, and “Hell to Pay” proves it. You don’t have to make this group the center of the DC Universe fighting massive gods. They can just be super powered thugs doing the slimy stuff like stealing Lex Luthor’s chunk of Kryptonite, or breaking in to Batman’s fortress to steal incriminating evidence he has to bring down Amanda Waller. Something neat in the same vein happens in “Hell to Pay” when the group are assigned to track down a maguffin that is both silly and clever.