Pee-yew! You have to appreciate Shout! Factory for restoring what is easily one of the worst anthology movies of the eighties. I admit to being a completely newcomer in regards to “Deadtime Stories,” and upon finishing it, I was not surprised it was such a rarity for so many years. “Deadtime Stories” watches like someone really loved “Creepshow” and decided to make their own version with only a quarter of the budget. Then mid-way when the studio realized how awful the movie was, they decided to turn it in to a comedy at the last minute so horror fans can convince themselves the whole disaster is intentional and a tongue in cheek jab at the anthology crazy of the decade.
A young mother who gave up her daughter up during a troubled period is trying to reconnect with her years later. As they try to repair their estranged and strained relationship, they become plagued by the legendary Baba Yaga witch. Written by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler and directed by Caradog W. James, the film takes a folk tale that originated in Old Russia and brings it to the UK and modernizes it. Together they create a horror film that will scare the uninitiated but may not do much for hardcore horror fans. There are a few well directed and developed scares that should work for all however. These happen in an environment built around the strained, but attempting to be rekindled, mother-daughter relationship.
Whether or not you like Nicholas Winding Refn, there’s no doubt that he makes art that gets people talking. Surely, his movies are hit or miss, but they are art that spawn emotions that not many directors can incite. Much like Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive,” Winding Refn’s newest masterpiece is a statement about the ills of fame and how Los Angeles can consume innocence and naiveté. Winding Refn makes a statement about how the modeling industry is literally cut throat, while seemingly drawing inspirations from films like “Suspiria.” The women here are assuredly predators intent on committing a devious scheme that revolves around the idea of vanity and self preservation.
For folks that didn’t know if “Trick r Treat” would end up as a one and done horror classic, or end up becoming a full fledged dynasty, creator Michael Dougherty is nice enough to team up with Legendary Pictures to deliver “Days of the Dead.” Michael Dougherty pens the introduction to “Days of the Dead,” where still uncertain if a sequel would ever blossom back in 2015, helped build this anthology to keep Sam alive in our hearts. “Days of the Dead” is a mid-quel ripped directly out of the “Trick r Treat” universe, the graphic novel unfolds five stories involving Halloween and Autumn that tries to recapture the spirit of the original film. With the mid-quel being a graphic novel, Dougherty side steps the interconnected story format from the film and bonds the tales mainly through our beloved Sam.
Robert Eggers’ debut “The Witch” is a marvelous and absolutely mesmerizing film. It’s not just an incredible horror film, but a fantastic examination of how a family basically tears itself from inside out due to ideas of resentment, sexual repression, and pure isolation. Not many directors debut with a bang, but “The Witch” is a slow burn horror film that begins with the fuse burning and burning until Eggers delivers something of a humongous explosion that will leave audiences speechless. Eggers sets his film on 17th Century New England, where a patriarch of a small family named William is threatened with banishment by a puritanical plantation with his wife, daughter Thomasin, younger son Caleb, and fraternal twins Mercy and Jonas. Vowing to free himself of the puritanical village, William builds a secluded farm at the edge of the woods, swearing to thrive with his family at his side.
Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” is easily one of the greatest horror movies ever made. It’s one of the very few horror movies I can call perfect, and I rarely ever do that. Argento’s horror film about a ballet academy with a hideous secret is a marvel for the eyes, the ears, and for horror audiences that enjoy brain food with their cinema. Jessica Harper is excellent as young Suzy, a ballet dancer who travels to Germany to attend a very elite ballet school. Upon the surprising realization that she hasn’t been allowed to enter the school thanks to a late entry, she is surprisingly allow to attend when a student is mysteriously and gruesomely murdered in her apartment. Suzy immediately begins to become attuned to her surroundings, and finds her environment within the militant and unusual ballet school most unsettling, to the point where she begins to fall ill, and experiences unusual events.
“All Hallow’s Eve” is the fiftieth movie involving Halloween in the last five years named “All Hallow’s Eve” but this time it’s more of a low budget Disney-lite family film. Its Harry Potter meets “Halloweentown” in one of the more painfully derivative and hokey attempts to build a franchise around a teen witch in a long time. It’s not to say “All Hallow’s Eve” is terrible, but it’s a movie that has way too many ideas and not enough of a budget or script to help realize them. So characters spend a lot of time sitting around and explaining things, rather than allowing us to bask in the awe of magic and fantasy. In “All Hallow’s Eve,” Lexi Giovagnoli plays Eve Hallow. No seriously.
For the nineties kids that grew up with great YA horror fodder like “Goosebumps,” “Fear Street,” and “Are You Afraid of the Dark,” director Paul Gandersman and writer Peter S. Hall really seem to have done their research, building a pretty damn great short horror film around the mold of a series called “The Dead Kids Club.” I hope they can find the funding to continue producing films under this label, as I’d love to see a series of shorts or feature length films within “The Dead Kids Club” concept.