Monday, October 5, 2009

The October Horror Movie Gauntlet - 2009

The First Five Days:

During the month of October, I will be keeping a running diary of all the horror films I watch, complete with mini-reviews. Listed here are the horror flicks that I've watched in the first five days of October - I'll be splitting my posts up in this manner so that I don't end up with one huge post.

Oct. 5Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007)* - This is a fun little Canadian picture that’s probably a little more action/comedy than horror, but counts nonetheless because the protagonist slays monsters. Jack Brooks is not a particularly smart film or anything like that, but it does manage to be both funny and rather intense. The casting of Robert Englund (aka: Freddy) as a science professor helps score some automatic cool points, and he does a relatively good job. One thing I want to point out is that when we are first introduced to Englund’s character, he is basically word for word repeating the speech given by the science teacher in 1986’s Slaughter High. He also finishes with the same exact experiment. Now, I’m sure that is coincidental because I don’t believe that anyone is really trying to filch anything from Slaugher High, but it’s pretty weird. Overall, homage to The Evil Dead and all, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is a fun and generally well-made picture that should satiate your bloodlust and your sense of humor. 6/10

Oct. 4 - Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers* - SPOILERS AHEAD: Angela returns (only this time played by a different actress) to re-establish her role as the number one camp killer around. It's actually not a terrible slasher to add to the cannon as there are some creative kills, a continuing mythos, a decent cast of characters, and an unparalleled grab bag of mullets to be seen! This time around we find that somehow Angela has obtained a job as a counsellor at a summer camp, but she still hasn't changed her ways. She creatively kills off the campers that she deems morally unfit by using a power drill, guitar string, knives, a chainsaw, and anything else she can get her hands on. Interestingly, they pay homage to three of the four biggies by having characters dress up like Leatherface, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger. The distributors seem to have really played up this fact on every home video release of the film, always including some visual reference to them. A fun gag or an easy cashgrab? You decide. None of this takes away from what the movie is - a fun, hack and slash ride that is less a good movie than a good time. 5.5/10

Oct. 3 - Zombieland (2009)* - Zombieland is a really fun flick, full of crazy hijinks and fun bloodletting that brings to mind other zombedies like Dead and Breakfast and Shaun of the Dead. That's pretty good company, and it fits somewhere in between the two, it's better than Dead and Breakfast, but not as good as Shaun of the Dead. From the opening credits - a montage of kills set to the stylings of Metallica's For Whom the Bell Tolls - you know that you are in for a fun ride. There are lots of wonderful kills to be found, some decent scares, and enough black humor to keep you laughing throughout. Unfortunately, the script feels a little laborious once the love interest side story fully kicks in to gear. The chemistry between the two actors is suspect, but that's beside the point because the whole idea feels trite and a little forced. Woody Harrelson is phenomenal as Tallahasee, channeling (a much more tender) Mickey Knox again for this film. The rest of the cast do fine jobs, but they are ultimately replacable. Jesse Eisenberg always reminds me of Michael Cera, which is weird because I actually saw Roger Dodger before I was introduced to Cera in Arrested Development. And be prepared for one helluva cameo stashed in the middle of the film. Overall, it's a funny, blood soaked ride that has its flaws but ultimately pays off. Go watch this one in the theater. 7.5/10

Oct. 2 - Cutting Class (1989)* - Standard fare quasi-slasher from the mid-eighties. I say quasi-slasher because there's so little slashing to be seen. There is some light red stuff that flows, and some off camera kills that really add up to more of a whodunnit thriller than anything else. The production values are considerably higher than I imagined they would be considering so many films of this nature from the time have such miniscule budgets. There are some descent twists throughout that keep you interested and just enough "eightiesness" to keep from dating it too badly but still give it a fun, retro vibe. I guess I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the film stars a young Brad Pitt in an early role, and he actually does a more than servicable job in the role. The film also features genre-staple Roddy McDowall as the perverted (and under used) principal. It's not a particularly good movie, but if these types of film are your bag (admittedly they are mine), it's not a terrible way to spend an evening. 5/10

Oct. 1 - Grace (2009)* - I am in a unique position as a first time viewer of Grace, because my wife is pregnant. Very pregnant. But somehow the film didn't actually seem to resonate with me nearly as much as the raw power that is inherent in its subject matter would suggest. Mainly the film felt tedious at times and was without the shock and awe that I had come to expect from the massive amounts of hype surrounding it. It's a shame how things that are tangental to the film like that actually affect your movie going experience, but it happens. That's not to say Grace is a bad movie. On the contrary, Grace is actually a very good movie, artistically made, exceptional acted, and not without its power and charm. The only thing really keeping it from that pantheon of greatness is the often meandering script that kept me from enjoying it too much, and maybe that's just the horror geek in me looking for some ultimate payoff that never seemed to arrive. I'm not above admitting that I am a selfish viewer. 6.5/10

* denotes a first time viewing


Kid Icarus said...

I saw that at Best Buy last night and thought to myself....OMG - never.

Lemmy Caution said...

Just watched this the other night. It seemed to have a good setup (if a bit abrupt at times), but then went nowhere. In fact, if you have ever seen Polanski's film Repulsion, this came darn close to being a remake at times. It stole a good amount from that flick.

Carl (ILHM) said...

I wanted so much more out of Jack Brooks, but I am hoping it was leading into an awesome sequel? Or remake? Its been out 2-3 years, its overdue by now..

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