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).
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.”
There’s a considerable drop off in quality with “Teen Wolf Too” with what is essentially the same movie with a premise that was cut and pasted. Michael J. Fox opted out of this follow up, setting the stage for the film debut of Jason Bateman, who took the first and last sequel of this oddly popular series. I remember watching this movie as a kid quite often, since the channel I always watched never had the original. Years later, “Teen Wolf Too” isn’t a very good movie, and as a follow up should be watched by fans that are either Jason Bateman fanatics, or absolutely have to watch every sequel of a movie series. Hey, it’s not as bad as any of “The Howling” sequels. That’s about as big an endorsement I’m wiling to give it.
Before it became a homoerotic horror series on MTV, “Teen Wolf” was the epitome of eighties cheese that mixed a teen coming of age comedy with horror tropes. The idea of being a werewolf is of course a metaphor for puberty, as Michael J. Fox takes a baffling but oddly fun turn in his career after the success of “Back to the Future.” The 1985 “Teen Wolf” hasn’t aged very well, but it’s still a fun novelty of the decade where almost nothing was off limits it meant possibly drawing a laugh. Surely, the idea of a werewolf becoming a star basketball player is absurd, but not offensive as a comedy based around a corpse, or a college student wearing black face. But I digress.
It’s fantastic how effective “Howl” is considering the premise is so barebones and simplistic. If you’re a fan of survival horror like I am, “Howl” should be right up your alley, as it pits victims in an unlikely setting and puts them against impossible odds. Much like “Assault on Precinct 13,” the chances of the characters of “Howl” surviving are slim to nil, but I still rooted for them and eagerly awaited to see how they’d outwit their nemeses waiting in the darkness. Set during the middle of winter, Joe is a ticket taker and train guard who just missed out on a promotion.
A train breaks down in the countryside only a few miles from its departure point. The few passengers on board are getting restless as the train staff attempts to figure out what is going on when all of a sudden, a beat howls outside. The train becomes under siege by a beast who wants to snack on its passengers like canned food. The setting and premise here are simple: People in one location, being attacked, needing to escape. Co-written by Nick Ostler and Mark Huckerby, both of whom mostly have children tv show credits, the script works within its limited setting. They build the characters just enough which is to say, most characters are fairly basic, but they work as beast fodder that the viewer care enough about to have a reaction to their demise.
It also means that the last survivors are easy to spot as they are the most developed characters, which is fairly par for the course with horror movies like this one.
“The Goonies” turn thirty this year, which marks a fun anniversary of one of the most iconic family films of the 1980’s. To this day, the film is considered a masterpiece by many, even brandishing its own sequel coming very soon. I figured why not celebrate “The Goonies” by undermining its legacy and praising its knock off “The Monster Squad,” instead? Ain’t I a stinker? I’ll be honest, while “The Goonies” is a very good movie, at the end of the day I’d rather watch Fred Dekker’s “The Monster Squad.”
It’s harder edged, it’s much more entertaining, has more imagination, and it holds up against the rose colored glasses of nostalgia. Goonies never say die, but The Monster Squad kills the fuck out of monsters and bad guys. Here are five Reasons why I’d rather be in “The Monster Squad” than “The Goonies.”
“The Howling” seems to go for broke this time, choosing instead to channel Tod Browning’s “Freaks” mixed with a tacked on werewolf vs. vampire battle, than actually trying to delve in to the werewolf mythos like the former movies. Like the previous films, “The Freaks” really has no relevance to future storylines, and no references to the previous plot points. There are no werewolf communities, or satanic cults. It’s just another Gothic romance drama posing as a horror film, yet again.