Halloween (2018)

2018 | dir: David Gordon Green | 106 m

Halloween is one among many John Carpenter masterpieces that he has deigned to bestow up the world, and I have, of course, watched it many times. The rest of the sequels... not so much. As part of my annual horror movie marathon this October, I decided to get caught up the rest of the Halloween series. Much to my dismay, I discovered that much like the Friday the 13th series, the sequels to Halloween represented at best diminishing artistic and entertainment returns and at worst head-scratchingly terrible movies, the scripts for which probably wouldn't receive a passing mark if they had had been submitted as creative writing assignments in a grade 4 class. Yes, I'm looking at you Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and Halloween: Resurrection. These are sequels that are so bad that it felt like they were made specifically to insult and alienate fans of the series (or at least of the original film).

The Halloween sequels seemed to go off the rails almost immediately, adding increasingly nonsensical aspects to the Michael Myers mythology that made the character less impactful and the story unnecessarily convoluted. The series kept retconning itself before retconning was even a fully formed concept in pop culture. Halloween II was an otherwise solid sequel, but they retconned the backstory to make Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) Michael Myers' long-lost sister instead of a random victim of his senseless violence in an effort to try and provide some sort of motivation for Myers' character. This was despite Carpenter's own original vision of Michael Myers as an "absence of character," and more of a supernatural force of nature. Having Michael Myers obsessed with killing his own family not only didn't make a whole lot of sense, but it also detracted from the horror of an unstoppable, unidentifiable assailant whose motivations are unclear and unknowable, who can't be bargained or reasoned with, and who may strike again, anywhere, for any reason (or no reason at all). 

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

2016 | dir: André Øvredal | 99 m

I don't know if it says more about me or about the horror industry that when I first heard about The Autopsy of Jane Doe, I immediately assumed necrophilia was going to play a large part in the plot. (Am I so out of touch? No, it's the children who are wrong.) I'm not sure why, exactly, but my mind kept trying to connect it with Deadgirl, a movie that involves some teenage boys, a zombie girl, and a whole lot of lube. Although, I'm not sure whether sex with somebody who's only mostly dead counts as necrophilia or it's really more of a grey area, zombiphilia. Either way, the point is The Autopsy of Jane Doe was actually nothing like Deadgirl, and I definitely don't have a fetish for corpses that can legally be proven in a court of law as far as you know. 

Spider-Man: Far From Home

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is, by this point, a well-oiled machine that basically prints money on command. Spider-Man Far From Home, the second solo outing for Peter Parker and his alter-ego in the MCU, seemed destined to be a smash success, as most Marvel films are these days. And, of course, it is raking in a tonne of dough. There's no question it's a financial success for Marvel Studios and their evil overlords at Disney. It did what it was designed to do, and exactly nothing more.

I went in to Spider-Man: Far From Home as a fan of the MCU in general: a few terrible films, a few great films, a lot of solid films somewhere in between those two extremes, but always well-thought out and part of a larger plan. I remember walking out of Avengers: Infinity War and thinking that this is probably as close as I would get to experiencing a cinematic event that people watching The Empire Strikes Back for the first time in theatres must have shared. I'm impressed at the MCU's long-form storytelling, a sort of modern reinvention of the old serial films that people like George Lucas grew up on, and I'm on board, man. I'm picking up what they're putting down.

So of course following this classical rhetorical device of listing my franchise-appropriate geek bona fides, I will follow up with how disappointed I was with Spider-Man: Far From Home. It wasn't terrible; it wasn't great. It was a standard middle-of-the-road MCU film, but almost cynical in its mediocrity, as though tempting audiences to even try and let their heroes - both super and corporate - fail.

Dark Phoenix

Sometimes a film is nearing release amid a turmoil of negative hype, and as it crests to a swelling of negative criticism in the final days the movie releases to a thud at the box office - exactly as expected. And sometimes, your curiosity still gets the best of you, and you have to watch the train wreck for yourself. As an avid enthusiast for so-called "bad" films, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to watch the (presumably) last entry in Fox's rocky X-Men franchise that began so innocently, and triumphantly nearly twenty years ago. The series was a owed a small debt as well; I've seen every entry in the theatre and I wouldn't allow some nasty reviews to deter me from completing the saga: it was the least I could do for the franchise that ultimately opened the door for our modern superhero blockbuster films.

It nearly bears repeating, that expectations into a film hold a lot of sway over opinions of the film (least for me). So in this case, my expectations are pretty low. Like, VERY low. With that, I may just enjoy the film for what it is.

Horrors of Malformed Men

My fascination with Japanese culture has its roots firmly planted in my passion for video games and Godzilla; from the first moments in the mid-eighties when I saw the Nintendo system in action, and then held the rectangular controller in my hand, a curiosity and admiration planted itself within my mind. It wasn't just the games themselves, but the origin of these works and how they came to be. My parents would spoil me on a monthly basis with a plethora of video game related magazines, and within those tomes, I would read about the latest title causing an uproar in Japan, while we had to wait for our North American release of said game later on. 

We had a hand-me-down black and white television with a Betamax player connected in the basement's rec room while the colour set and VHS player were relegated to my parents living room domain. Maybe it was just availability, or an interest my father had, but we had amassed a collection of Betamax movies, both purchased and recorded off televisions, with a strong focus on Godzilla films. The syncronization in English dialogue with Japanese actors was incredibly fascinating; even being so young with no concept of a foreign film, I knew these movies came from parts of the world that I did not know about or understand, but I loved this place nonetheless. 

Ghostbusters (2016) Review

For whatever reasons, call it fate, call it karma, call it creative bankruptcy, I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe that we were destined to get a Ghostbusters remake. It's a real shame that the dialogue around the Ghostbusters remake released in 2016 was tainted by misogyny and general vitriol from armchair critics and trogloditic neckbeards that dwell in the deepest, dankest corners of the interwebs, because it was a genuinely mediocre summer blockbuster that in most other universes probably would have have been the start of a movie franchise. Or at least, some more marketable merchandise that would have helped grease the wheels for all those involved for a little longer.

I remember being pretty sour on the general concept of a remake of the 1984 cult classic Ghostbusters. Admittedly, it has to do at least in part with the fact that this was a beloved film from my childhood. I grew up watching Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II as well as the animated The Real Ghostbusters. To this day, I will still sometimes find myself randomly singing quietly to myself or in my head the Ghostbusters theme song, or the rap song from the end of Ghostbusters II, a movie from a more civilized time when every film got the pop-rap song it deserved to play during its end credits. (Too hot to handle, too cold to hold...)

Fantastic Beasts, Where to Find them and the (Unrelated) Crimes of Grindelwald

It’s entirely possible that I don’t really understand Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Upon seeing the movie in theatres a few short years ago, I felt indifference. Sure, there were beasts. Yes, they appeared fantastic. But I didn’t really understand why we were focusing on them so much, in a film where the plot didn’t seem to necessarily revolve around them. Knowing that this was the first in an ambitious series of movies set in the Harry Potter Wizarding World, I could chalk up my confusion to a few things: 

Thoroughbreds

“Heathers meets American Psycho” so, I guess it’s a good thing I’ve seen Psycho quite a few times over the years, and watched Heathers late last year during my project to consume the most popular films of the eighties. Honestly though, the tagline didn’t need to be said to push me there, as just a quick glimpse of the trailer, combined with the talent involved had me sold from the get go. 

But when did I watch that initial trailer? Yeah, it’s practically an afterthought: apparently the film had been sitting in post-production and doing the festival circuit for a while before receiving a wide release in March of 2018. Here we are, practically a year later and I have an opportunity to watch this film. 

Friday the 13th: Part III

As I work my way through a few different classic series, I stumble upon the third in a franchise and always forget one important trope from the '80s: the third movie MUST be in 3D.

Of course, I don't have the 3D version of Friday the 13th Part III, but the effect is obvious and quite frankly, distracting. Instead of panning across suburban street with kids playing baseball, the camera focuses on the child holding the baseball bat directly at the camera for a few seconds before moving on. We've got a yo-yo scene (which goes on for seconds too long), juggling, brooms and of course, lots of stabby weapons, including both ends of a pitchfork. This may seem like nipticking and it really is. I just can't help but think of all the scene setup and extra seconds here and there "wasted" on the 3D visuals, but on the other hand I would be really interested to see what these effects looked like in theatres back in the '80s, having only really experienced modern, Avatar-type 3D over the past few years myself.

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