Dr. Seuss’s “The Grinch that Stole Christmas” was about the materialism of Christmas, and how it’s the spirit that counts. “Halloween is Grinch Night” is about how you—uh—shouldn’t let… Grinches… ruin Halloween for you. And stuff…? Despite being written by Dr. Seuss, “Halloween is Grinch Night” is a weak prequel that doesn’t quite bind with the “Christmas” exploits of our angry green monster. For one, his dog Max leaves him in the final scene when he fails to hurt Whoville on “Grinch Night,” thus there’s not a lot of explanation when he’s back in the actual short film. Also, the animation compared to the original is so drastic, it’s distracting.
At only twenty four minutes I wouldn’t have minded more of Fred Flintstone adjusting to his new neighbors, but we get much more of the Frankenstone family down the road. One of the later additions to the Flintstones lore, the Frankenstones are an odd new family, but they’re at least funnier than The Great Gazoo. Surprised to learn that a new family is moving in to the neighborhood, Fred is horrified when the family is non-traditional monsters that are menacing, but very sweet, and neighborly. An obvious ode to “The Addams Family,” The Frankenstones seek to make friends with Fred and Wilma and Fred is flabbergasted at the way they live.
It’s a shame that the urban legend of “Cry Baby Lane” is better than the actual movie. “Cry Baby Lane” was originally shown on Nickelodeon in 2000 and aired allegedly only once. It was then banned for over a decade, never airing again, not even during Halloween, or even its teen channels. Many movie lovers spent years circulating boot leg copies of the movie, until it finally re-emerged in 2016 and aired on Nickelodeon’s late night block “Splat.” There are a ton of theories as to why the movie was banned, but frankly were it not for the years of infamy, “Cry Baby Lane” would just be a boring Nickelodeon TV movie, best forgotten.
“Buried Alive” is one of the earliest Frank Darabont movies that indicates a lot of what Darabont would have coming for fans of his cinematic outputs. While it’s very much a TV movie, and feels a lot more like an episode of an anthology series than a movie, it’s still a pretty strong revenge thriller overall. “Buried Alive” is dark and bleak from minute one where Tim Matheson is great as an everyday working man and contractor who is a victim of a devious and greedy woman. There’s nothing particularly wrong with his character, he’s just so set in his ways and can’t notice that his wife is a gold digger who has sinister plans for him.
Even in 1981, “The Munsters” are still so damn funny. “The Munsters’ Revenge” is the monster family once again getting in to a misadventure and learning how to beat the bad guy with the help of their twisted magic and family unity. I laughed a lot during this TV movie featuring most of the brood from the original sitcom. Sure, the original three monsters are showing a bit of their age here, but the movie feels like an extended episode with sharp comic timing, some hilarious gags, and a great supporting cast. Best of all there’s Sid Caesar and Bob Hastings who derived the most laughs out of me. In fact, the latter had me bursting in to hysterics as uncle Phantom of the Opera.
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.
A lot of what makes Addams Family such a fun series is the darkly comic and sinister tone and great sense of Goth that comes with it. It’s not often I say this but watching the rare 1977 movie is kind of a chore to sit through, and you can sense it’s not a good movie at all once you gander at the grainy video and lack of production quality. This attempt at a series revival is a “feature length” television movie that is supposed to set off the new Addams Family. For some reason this is a reboot with the entire cast from the original series all over again, right down to an adult Wednesday and Pugsley. “Halloween with the Addams Family” isn’t just abysmal, but it’s boring, and painfully silly.
Sheena fans are in for a treat when Mill Creek releases a collection of Sheena entertainment on DVD. Are there Sheena fans? Are there enough to warrant a big crowd surrounding the TV hoping for Sheena? In either case, for fans of pulp comics and just all around good old fashioned camp, the “Sheena: Queen of the Jungle Collection” packs a ton of content in to a small package, and spans a pretty hefty time period where Sheena was portrayed in various mediums beyond the comics. The 1984 movie “Sheena: Queen of the Jungle” is a camp and cult classic that’s managed to re-emerge over the years mainly for being such a weird and awful movie.