The story of Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is about as classic a tale and about as old a tale as most other movies in development. Whedon had a vision for a new take on a horror story and Hollywood didn’t get it and kind of fucked it up. Everyone by now knows the tale of 1992’s “Buffy,” and how Joss Whedon initially wanted to make something of a darker more stern take on the vampire hunter that minced a coming of age tale with a story of a young woman coming to maturity. When Whedon was given the chance to finally bring his film in to development he kind of lost control of his creation.
There’s probably a very good reason why “Midnight Kiss” has never seen a DVD or Blu-Ray release, and that’s because it’s very much a cheesy nineties horror movie lacking any kind of focus. Sometimes it’s an erotic thriller, sometimes it’s a gory vampire movie, and other time it even dips in to something of a vigilante superhero movie. Fans of vampire flicks will hate its soapy late night cable porn aesthetic, while fans of erotic thrillers will dislike the gory vampire tale that ensues. I’m not sure who will enjoy the vigilante vampire cop aspect, but that’s only some of the problems behind this movie.
Fred Dekker’s “The Monster Squad” is the assembly of many eighties tropes, even conjuring up the aesthetic of a novel series one might have found tucked beside “The Hardy Boys,” and “Babysitters Club.” It’s Amblin, Spielberg, Universal and everything else we loved about the eighties, and while it can in many ways be considered a take off on “The Goonies,” it watches so much better over time. Even better is the script by Shane Black allows for interesting and complex preteen heroes, all of whom have their spotlight, as well as their own personal struggles. Like Spielberg, Black introduces a potentially broken home with main hero Sean, while this extraordinary situation allows his family to re-unite for the fate of him and his little sister.
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.
I swear, there’s nothing more baffling and unusual than “Tales of the Third Dimension,” a horror anthology of cobbled together horror tropes that doesn’t deliver a remotely scary movie. There’s a stiff, robotic skeleton who narrates in a bad Rod Serling impression. He’s accompanied by three puppet buzzards that interact with one another like the Three Stooges, and there’s the inexplicable recurring presence of cats. It was originally supposed to be in 3D, so there are a ton of scenes obviously meant for the gimmick that just looks laugh out loud moronic sans the effect. Finally there are three bland horror tales where, I swear, the moral of one is “Be a good kid, and Santa Claus will defend you against your psychotic, mentally deranged, wheelchair bound grandmother.”
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.