Archive for the 'Cult movies' Category

Jul

Comments Off on Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)

grounding

Welcome to another review, folks! Now, it’s no secret I have a soft spot for remakes, but that doesn’t mean I won’t judge them accordingly. Plus, I feel for the filmmakers trying to walk the tightrope and balance doing too much to change the story, or not enough. Also, no matter how good a remake, or reboot, is, it will get a fair amount of negativity; such as the incredibly done Evil Dead remake. The movie we’re talking about today is a remake of the first horror movie I ever saw, as a kid. Let’s just say my babysitter, at the time, thought it’d make a great bedtime story. Let’s get to Nightmare On Elm Street.

The film opens up in a diner with a teen, who looks more like he’s in his late 20’s, sitting alone, chugging coffee. Someone should’ve told him caffeine only takes you so far, after that stop you’re gonna need a taser. The waitress bypasses him, holding his sweet nectar of consciousness, and he follows, giving us our first look at the new Freddy Kruger. Well, it’s more like a glimpse through really dirty glasses. The guy wakes up, nursing his newly cut hand, and talking to a friend, who’s purpose for being there was already forgotten. The coffee spills, and he knocks out, again, finding himself fighting the dream. We cut back to reality, he’s asleep, and in serious danger of getting a hickey from a steak knife. With confirmation that this is the thing Kruger needs we watch as the teen cuts his own neck, starting the movie off with a great bit of gore, and a good introduction to a favorite movie monster of many.

mathWe attend the dead teen’s funeral, and, per usual get into some long exposition about….wait…is that another dream sequence? By Krom, it is! The movie is not letting up on the Freddy, at all, they’re laying it on thick, and I’m loving it. The next day the blonde girl is in school, thinking about the mysterious man with the clawed hand, only to fall asleep, again! Has she not figured out this is where she’s vulnerable? This girls seems to be the type to stick the fork in the socket twice, just to make sure it worked. Freddy scares her, she screams, and WHAT a scream, she wakes up, and we move on. Her boyfriend comes over, and pays homage to Wes Craven, via Scream reference, and tries to help her, in a way that I never figured out. Him being there is pretty pointless, except, maybe, to set up a patsy, and witness the horror that comes for them in their sleep. Called it! Blonde is ripped to shreds, gives the room, and her boyfriend, a new coat of red paint, and he’s arrested wearing her like a shine job.

Now, this is where I’d start talking about the differences in the original versus the remake. So. I’m gonna. Let’s start with the tone of the movie. While the original was made to be a horror movie, it used humor to stymie the darkness. Meanwhile, the remake revels in it. Do I like one more than the other? Yes. I like the darker tone, namely because Kruger, himself, as of later years, and movies, has become more hardy-har-har than horror, and I like this return to form. The filmmakers understood they had to pay homage, while innovating, so we have wonderful shots of distorted reality, gory images, and even classic shots reappearing. Lastly, let’s talk Freddy. Robert Englund was iconic, immortalized in this role, and rightfully so. Jackie Earle Haley, however, is just as remarkable. Englund’s portrayal was over the top, even cartoonish at times, while still being scary. While Haley’s take is a lot darker, adding ticks, subtracting the smile, and it works just as well. Classic Freddy will always have a special place in my heart, but, I want to see more of the new Kruger.

starbucksBack in the movie, boyfriend boy runs to Nancy’s house. Can’t have a Nightmare movie without her! And tries to tell her what’s going on, only to be arrested shortly after. With each progressing dream sequence we start to learn a little more about the demon haunting the kids’ dreams. Boyfriend guy is in jail, now, trying to stay awake, and…wait for it…fails miserably! Freddy toys with him, displaying the filleted friends like gory trophies. After some teasing Kruger turns the guy into a screaming meat puppet, plunging claws first through the chest. I don’t think he’s going to be okay. And this is another point in favor of the remake: The gore is much more visceral, much more real feeling, I think it has to do with taking the darker tone, and leaving the fantastical behind. Nancy calls another friend, who’s being haunted by the same nightmares, and they try to come up with a plan. And this is something new to the Nightmare movies, as well: The science of sleep. It seems micro-naps will get you killed, even if you’re not aware you’re doing it, like answering your phone while pumping gas. Now that Nancy has entered the mix, things ought to go full steam ahead.

The classic bathtub scene rears it’s awesome head, and little Nancy is sent to Krugerville. He tries to jog her memory of him via face lick, but her alarm goes off and thwarts any further reminding. My question is this: Why would you take a relaxing bath when you’re being hunted by a murderer in your dreams?!? I’d be taking an ice cube shower and doing shots of espresso while blasting the most annoying synth pop I could get my hands on! Moving on. Nancy’s mom is acting suspicious, so Nancy goes on a hunt for information. Mom spills the beans that there was a man named Fred Kruger, who worked at the preschool that all the kids who’ve been murdered attended. This is the beginning of that turn into the seriously dark tone, by implying that the children were molested, but Kruger left town before there were any consequences. Nancy doesn’t buy it, but Scruffy McTeenGuy does. Now our heroes are divided, and we have two very interesting paths this movie is taking.

noseNext day at swim class, while in the pool, Scruffy McTeenGuy falls asleep in the pool. That’s right, in the middle of the pool! Good gravy almighty! You could take these kids out with some well placed velcro! In the dream Scruffy learns about what really happened to Kruger, a tale we know, but with a twist: It seems that Freddy might’ve been innocent. While he coughs up six gallons of pool water we join Nancy in watching a video series of another teen, posted online, confirming not only the preschool, but Freddy, himself. Scruffy shows up and they go confront his father, the principal, only to get further confirmation that they had no evidence for what Kruger was accused of, but they burnt him, anyways. Oh, hello, old classic shot of dead girl in body bag. It’s still so creepy, even after all these years. Scruffy goes to get more pills so Nancy and him can continue-JUMPING JUPITER JONES! Thanks for the jump scare, Freddy! She falls asleep, is chased into the pharmacy, and gets sliced. Luckily they’re in a pharmacy. But, she also discovers that Kruger can be brought to the real world by holding on to him when she wakes up. That’s a bull I don’t wanna try to ride, thank you!

An epinephrine shot later Scruffy finds out that even with chemical help he can’t escape those pesky micro-naps. Two, count ’em, two jump scares later we head into the final scenes of the movie. No spoilers, here folks! So is this movie better than the original? No, it is completely different, telling the same story with a different narrative. Is this Freddy better than the original? Same answer. Should you give this movie a shot? Abso-friggin’-lutely! Without the nostalgia goggles on, and without trying to compare minutes of the past and the new, this movie stands well enough, on it’s own. And I, personally, hope they make more. Thanks for reading, folks! Stay Tuned!

 

roadside attractions

  • Worst Hell’s Kitchen ever.
  • Whatcha doin’ with that knife?
  • Freddy does not like dogs!
  • That’s not washing out!
  • Silent Hill much?
  • When the term “Air Bed” gets too literal.
  • That had to hurt.
  • Don’t drive while sleepy.
  • That had to hurt, too.
totals

10

blood  

BLOOD

Copious, flowing, and awesome

1

blood  

BREASTS

They’re teenagers, and this ain’t the 80’s!

 

10

beast  

BEASTS

It’s Freddy!

8.00 OVERALL
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Apr

Comments Off on Ash Vs Evil Dead

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There is a certain trilogy of movies, all American made, all wonderful to behold; that opened up a new avenue of creativity for generations to come. I’m not talking about any wars that happened amongst the stars, no. I’m speaking of Evil Dead, or The Evil Dead, depending on the movie title. With four movies under it’s franchise name, a myriad of video games, comics, and a gigantic range of other mediums, it would only be fitting that we would continue to want more. Let it never be said that Sam Raimi and The Chin don’t deliver. facial

With the fate of the rebooted movie’s sequel in perpetual development hell we are given, instead, a 10 episode look into the life of the original Deadite killer, himself: Ashley J Williams. I’ve watched this series with a glee that is hardly able to be successfully described, every joke, every reference, and every gratuitous splash of blood was taken in with nothing but sheer adoration. And that is what this series does, it brings back the character of Ash, still played by none other than The Chin, himself, and puts him in all new situations. After a drunken night capped off with a little recreational self medication Ash is trying to impress a girl with “Poetry” and opens that most sacred of books: The Necronomicon. Of course, he’s too inebriated to realize what he’s doing, but that doesn’t stop our hero from reciting the same summoning spell that got his friends killed. You’d think he’d get it through his head to never open that thing again, but he doesn’t. But, I mean, who hasn’t accidentally read from an ancient, evil scripture, summoned demons, and got a whole lot of folks killed? Just me? Anyways, true to form, this is when things start going south, and in a hurry.

At his job, not S-Mart, unfortunately, we meet Ash’s new sidekicks, Pablo, and Kelly, and our adventures really begin. We get a lot of story from the man, himself, as to why he’s hiding out in a crappy trailer in a no-name town in Michigan, and it all boils down to the fact that Ash has developed a streak of yellow, choosing flight over fight. While I’d like to fault him for that, truth be told, I can’t. Every time that book and him come into some kind of contact folks die horrible deaths. But, let’s get to the fun! ENTER THE DEADITES! Exposition be damned, it’s time to go full Evil Dead ahead! Pablo and Kelly are grabbed in Ash’s trailer, and the fight for their life can be only be tipped by an act of heroism or cowardice. For a moment or two the titular hero contemplates leaving his new friends to their fate, but has a change of heart. With all the Raimi directing glory we love Ash enters the fray, flinging axes, blowing skulls into mush with his trusty Boomstick, and dismembering his sweet, old, neighbor with that signature chainsaw arm. And where there’s blood, there’s a lot of it, and I do mean a lot. Holy glorious globs of ooey-gooey, Batman! One-liners are delivered, and we speed off into the credits, ending our first episode.

manualI think it worth mentioning, at this point, that from his last appearance on screen we’ve glorified Ash, a little. And the series is hilariously aware of that, reminding us constantly that he is, indeed, a complete moron who does one thing well: killing Deadites. I’m highly grateful for this, because it would’ve been easy to write Ash into this perfect hero, developed through his years of solitude, and all the tropes we could’ve seen come with re-entering a character like this, but instead, we get that love-able screwhead we all got some of our best one-liners from. Maybe there is hope for Michigan U graduates, after all. Now, enter more characters and arcs. We get a cop, her partner, and even get to find out what happened to that girl that loved poetry. Hint: It doesn’t end well for a lot of people. Practical effects make the ‘Ick’ factor register high in these episodes as we witness that poetry lover twist her own head 180 degrees to stare down the two police officers. Amanda, the cop that will be hunting our main guy, watches in horror as she loses her partner to a set of taxidermy horns, and then proceeds to blow his head off. Literally. We watch it happen, in full HD glory.

As Ash and company head towards a man that can give them more information about the book Amanda sits in contemplation of what happened. Enter Ruby, played by the beautiful Lucy Lawless, yes, THAT Lucy Lawless. I’ll give you a second to fangasm. Okay? Moving on. Ruby starts up the motor in Amanda’s head about what’s really going on, urging her to find Ash, the cause of all of this. So we have our two main plots, folks! But it doesn’t stop there, no, no, no. This series takes us all over the place, throwing demons, Deadites, and other ghouls at us, and never, ever, not once shying away from the gore. The comedy will have you laughing, the horror is actually pretty damned good, and the characters are all highly love-able. Although the series does get a little Game of Thrones-y by killing off some titular characters later on, it is still just as awesome. We get a giant chunk of Evil Dead and all it does is leave fans wanting more. Bruce Campbell resuming the role of Ash is just as entertaining as it’s ever been, Lucy Lawless joining him on screen is just as awesome, Pablo and Kelly do an outstanding job of supporting roles, and even manage to get in on some of the action.meds

It is with no hesitation that I recommend this series, and cannot wait for the second season to release. If you’re an Evil Dead fan you’re going to absolutely love it. If you’re just a fan of horror, in general, the humor might be hit and miss, but the experience is just as fulfilling. Go give it some love, and tell them Deadman sent you. Thanks for reading, folks. Stay Tuned!

roadside attractions

  • The Classic.
  • The Chin 4.0
  • Yeah, she thought about it.
  • Why is she here?
  • Scream king and queen.
  • Oh. That’s why.
  • Give Ash a hand!
  • Of course it’s evil!
totals

10

blood  

BLOOD

All the blood. All of it.

10

blood  

BREASTS

Only one pair. But. They’re totally Lawless.

10

beast  

BEASTS

Deadites, demons, and darkness, oh my!

10.00 OVERALL
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Jan

Comments Off on Evil Dead (2013)

weapons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to another review, folks. Since I did the original series of Evil Dead, it only seems appropriate that I finish off the quadrology. So, like the time elapsed between movies, it’s now time to get to the last of the films that helped define my love for horror. Let’s get to Evil Dead, the reboot.

So we start this film up on a far different note than the other three. A girl is being chased through the woods. Okay, kind of like the other three, but not really, as her pursuers are people of a…red necked nature. And with no shocker, she’s captured. The next time we see the poor girl she’s tied up, doused in gasoline, and her father is pouring out niceties while leveling a double barreled shotgun at her head. Either this is an extreme form of family counseling, or something is seriously amiss. Oh, look, a voodoo witch. Always good when there’s one of those around. Suddenly the sweet little girl is spewing obscenities that’d make a sailor blush. So with an apology, a lit match, and a shotgun blast we begin our movie.doom

After shaking off that little bit of ‘What in the hell was that about?’ we finally begin to meet the appetizers, I mean cast…..I totally meant cast. This time around, however, instead of the usual two or three teens at a haunted cabin in the woods, we have five, count ’em, five warm bodies to put through the meat grinder; Evil Dead style. The five are gathered there to help Mia kick her drug habit, once and for all. Of course, horror movie tropes aside, it has to be pointed out: Best place to kick a drug habit? Rehab Clinic with medical staff? Nope. Hospital with trained doctors? Absurd. Abandoned cabin in the woods, cut off from all modern technology, emergency services, and any help? Perfect!

Now, that we’ve set the stage…wait. Wait a minute, there, nerd guy! What are you doing? Don’t read from that! Don’t say-And it’s too late. We have our demon, folks. Yes, thanks to an overtly curious nerd, our movie can now become a full-on gorefest! Maya steals a car in a withdrawal fueled rage, crashes it, and meets up with the summoned thing from the book. Like all horror films before, she panics, and makes the classic mistake of GOING IN THE WOODS! A bad situation turns much worse and the movie gives us a hi-def re-imagining of a scene that nearly got the first film banned in a lot of countries. Old alumni of the series cringe, new comers to the series cringe, as well. It’s just cringe worthy. Don’t worry, folks, nobody blames you.

gothAfter being rescued by her brother Mia is returned to the house, gets checked out by their nurse friend, and thus the rest of the freaky truly begins. Possessions, dismemberment, and that basement. Oh, that basement. Now. THIS is where I’d usually detail all the gruesome death scenes, the ooey-gooeys, and even the spewtastic moments of this well-loved film. But, I must not go further, because it’s all just too good to describe via text, it must be seen. Even my most shining string of words would not be able to capture just how amazing the experience truly is. However, I must put my highest seal of approval on this movie, recommend it with no issue, and above all else, beg for more! Wonderful practical effects combined with minimalist CGI give us great scares, wonderful gore, and a really fresh take on a classic piece of horror cinema.

This film takes me back to another time in movie history: When people cared about their work. And that care howmondays through every frame, second, and squish that we experience while watching Evil Dead. While Sam Raimi and The Chin were not behind the camera, they were definitely on the sidelines coaching the new players. Evil Dead is a fantastic remake filled with respect and love for the original material, as well as updating a lot of different aspects, such as making the gore and the characters a little more realistic. It gets scary because the hokey-ness of the tried and true horror characters are gone, instead replaced with more grit and grime. Watch this movie, folks. And as always, Stay tuned!

roadside attractions

  • I know that car.
  • Why would you open that?
  • Don’t go in the woods!
  • That’s why you don’t go in the woods.
  • There’s a health violation!
  • Wait until after the credits.
totals

10

blood  

BLOOD

50,000 gallons in just the final scene.

1

blood  

BREASTS

Those…uh…I don’t…They’re there. 

 

10

beast  

BEASTS

While not Deadites, you won’t miss them.

10.00 OVERALL
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Dec

Comments Off on Harbinger Down

Welcome back to another review, folks! Today we’ll be taking in a low budget little masterpiece that I thoroughly enjoyed. What makes it special? Aliens? Nope. Zombies? No. This little piece of film is about the adorable little microbe known as the waterbear. Let’s take a look at Harbinger Down.

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, and I’ll say it as long as I remember how to: Practical effects will always trump CGI. And I must give kudos to the makers for understanding this. Let’s begin the setup this odd tale of frozen horror. We start off in 1982 with a Russian cosmonaut falling to earth, calling for help, I presume, and having pink yogurt leaked onto his face. I don’t blame him, yogurt on my face would upset me, too. He disappears into the clouds above the arctic circle and we have our very first scene of the movie. Way to make it vague, guys.

Next up our buffet of people start to introduce themselves, names don’t matter, of course, because they’re all just human sized happy meals. Our title gives us a Hans Zimmer “BWOM” on to the screen and we’re into the ship of the movie title: The Harbinger. The crew is introduced, bad accents and all. Everyone say ‘Hi’ Lance Henrikson! Or as he will always be known to the Sci-Fi world: Bishop! Exposition is the name of the game as things are explained and you’re simply cringing at some of the attempts at acting. And, just for safety, let’s throw in a fart joke. More exposition and B-roll of ‘Deadliest Catch’ try to convince us that we’re really on a ship. We’re not, and the crabs are only mentioned once more. That’s not a plot point, it’s a plot afterthought.

The plot rears its ugly head! Just as the view of the CGI whales was getting good, too. Something in the ice caught the attention of Main Character Girl, and they grab it. And I do love the switching of camera angles to the discovery channel type narrative. The line “Some things should stay frozen.” could’ve been a great omen, but it’s passed over like a sneeze in the wind. We find out what happened to our Russian cosmonaut: He’s the chunk of ice they just grabbed. And I do have to admire the fact that the captain can look at the helmet of said cosmonaut and instantly tell it’s been frozen since the ’80’s. Maybe Soviet Identification-101 was a requisite of his captain schooling. I, once more, blame Michigan State.

After more exposition, and the main love interest whispering his every line, and I mean every line. We finally get to the autopsy of the fallen astronaut. Or, rather, the bad wax statue that is supposed to represent him. DUN DUN DUNNN!!! Russian McBadchick reveals that the yogurt that leaked on our space guys face was actually waterbears. To which we all responded with an unenthusiastic, “Okay.” Which is followed up with the subtle foreshadowing through the “Double Cross” vodka brand. After retrieving a sample from the mansicle, spouting puns bad enough to make even the punniest person groan, we get the plot moving along. Finally. We’re a good chunk of time into this movie and no one has died a horrible, grizzly death yet!

There we go! Tentacles come to the rescue and squish the head of the mechanic, marking the first death. And we’re back to explaining stuff. Oh, come on, guys! You can’t start up the mayhem and have it just cut off! If you’re gonna start the party, and the killing, keep it going! No amount of brooding music can make up for poor pacing. After some unnecessary yelling our resident jerk professor becomes infected with waterbears, and turns red, sprouts four huge flesh tubes on his back and spews out more death yogurt. Still cringing from that bit of ick, we get a few little homages to what probably inspired this movie: The Thing. And like The Thing, lines are drawn, and sides are chosen. Then all of that is instantly forgotten.

Ladies, and gentlemen! Let’s meet our creature! Attached to the ceiling, and the cosmonaut, it instantly eats the Inuit of the movie. Bishop steals a line from “Jaws” and we continue on, trying to figure out who’s infected and who’s not. Someone asks just how smart the thing is, and before you can say ‘How could they cut the power, man, they’re animals!’ it cuts the power. They go after the creature with liquid nitrogen, freeze it, and continue to advance the plot, which also seems to be frozen. Russian McBadchick reveals her true purpose, and an infected crew member burns on the deck. We find out that Main Character Girls mother died, to what end, I have no idea. A random tentacle eats the black girl and we finally start the murder spree…..I hope.

The Cosmonauts reanimated lower torso sprouts a head of its own and takes down Russian McBadchick. I retyped that sentence three times, but they all came out just as bad. And now we take another break from our monsters to bring you some plot device involving explosives. You don’t care, I don’t care. Main Character Girl goes for a dip in waterbear sludge for the explosives. More tentacles! Another creature appears and we lose Bishop, uh, the captain; who instructs the crew to stay away from him, but has them all join him on the deck two minutes later. Russian McBadchick comes back for one last scare as an infected, and we move into the final scenes.

No spoilers, here, folks, but I will recommend to keep watching. Is it a bad movie, is it a good movie? Well, it’s a creature movie with a lot of charm. Mostly practical effects, and the old school charm of older movies like “The Thing” and even “Tremors” earns this creature feature major bonus points. It has some major pacing problems, and some of the acting can be hokey, but all in in all, you can tell the entire crew is invested and wants it to succeed, and it’s that little touch of passion that makes movies like this gold. Cons aside, it’s a fun romp with some surprises up its sleeve, and I recommend checking it out on Netflix to relive some classic monster magic without having to resort to classic monster movies. Thanks for reading, folks! Stay Tuned!

roadside attractions

  • Blue ice balls.
  • Kill it with…ice?
  • Aw. It’s kind of cute.
  • Legs don’t fail me now!
  • Bishop has aged.
  • No longer cute!
totals

8

blood

BLOOD

Good amounts of blood, guts, and gross icky-ness.

0

blood

BREASTS

None. None at all.

10

beast

BEASTS

Who knew bears were so terrifying?

8.5 OVERALL
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Oct

Comments Off on Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Look, no one loves the “Halloween” series more than I do, at least until Busta Rhymes gets involved. The first film is an unimpeachable classic that defined a subgenre and entirely makes up for “Ghosts of Mars” and “John Carpenter’s Vampires” in the same way that the Beatles catalogue means Paul McCartney still gets to be a legend even though there’s that terrible Christmas song and “Kisses on the Bottom.”

But there’s one movie nestled among the chapters of Michael Myers’ seasonal quest to kill his sister/niece/sister again that does not belong – 1982’s “Halloween III: the Season of the Witch,” or The One Where He Didn’t Come Home. Nope, “Halloween III” doesn’t have Michael. It doesn’t have Michael’s final girl blood relations fleeing into narrow dead ends. It doesn’t have Donald Pleasance earning every bit of his paycheck and all the residuals in the universe as Dr. Loomis, foremost authority in the field of abnormal EVIL child psychology.
John Carpenter and Debra Hill, who created ”Halloween,” its sequel, and produced III, envisioned the series going in an anthology direction after “Halloween II,” like a theatrical “American Horror Story.” But audiences hated “Halloween III” for not being more “Halloween III.” For years, even after I’d memorized Halloweens I, II, IV, and V, I still hadn’t even tried hate-watching III because everyone I knew spat on its clamshell. But you know what? Once I did give it a shot, it instantly became a favorite. Among the Halloween series – which, again, I have memorized, 4srs — I’d put it second in quality only to the first one, although I still watch it far more often. Let me tell you about it!

The movie starts out with an old guy running pell mell to escape what appear to be tax preparers or junior executives, maybe Mormon missionaries, a pretty sweet jack-o-lantern mask stuffed in his waistband. Seeking refuge in a junk yard, old guy manages to commit vehicular manslaughter on them, escapes, later to ruin the shift of a night watchman at a garage who’s just trying to watch a news report about Stonehenge. (Plot point! Plot point!)
Enough of that exciting stuff. We are transported to meet our real hero. Tom Atkins’ Dr. Dan Challis is instantly relatable, although partly because we meet him while he’s being sneered at by his killer shrew ex-wife and disappointing his kids by bringing them less awesome Halloween masks than mom got. (“They’re Silver Shamrock!” the children exclaim, singing along to the commercial for the very same masks at eye-ruining distance from the Magnavox. Get used to that hectoring singsong; it’s going to be a motif.)

Dan is your basic good guy caught up in terrible events; he’s a doctor, sure, but there’s definitely more Sears catalogs and Playboys in his place than medical journals. He drinks when he’s on call, has implied alcoholism, endures a bitter ex-wife with custody of their two kids, and pats the night nurse’s bottom with no fear of repercussion ‘cause he’s too OK to harass anybody. He is an 80s main character in search of a Stephen King novel. He’s a good — not perfect! — but good guy. And he has a sweet mustache.

By the way, bitter ex-wife Linda is played by Nancy Loomis, the same actress who played Annie, one of Laurie Strode’s less fortunate babysitter friends in “Halloween.” (Also her staring corpse in “Halloween II!”) Foul-mouthed and half-naked in “Halloween,” 5 years later, she accessorizes a grey wig with a dowdy shawl and 80% of her lines are yelled over the phone at Challis. Hollywood really is terrible for the aging actress.

Challis gets paged, and the scene can’t jump cut hard enough away from that domestic bliss. The garage night watchman has delivered the old guy to the hospital, still clutching that Halloween mask. (Yes, Silver Shamrock! How did you know?) As Challis asks what happened, old guy is summoned to consciousness by that obnoxious commercial for Silver Shamrock Halloween masks, gasping, “They’re coming to kill…ALL OF US.” Challis prescribes Thorazine, because death threats always look better after a good drug-induced snooze.

While Challis is sleeping something else off in the doctor’s lounge, another Botany 500 suit model stalks into the hospital like so much Michael Myers. This is, in fact, an even less populated and policed hospital than the one in “Halloween II.” He arrows in on the old guy and takes another page from the Michael Myers playbook with a brisk head crushing. The night nurse walks in on the end of it, but luckily for her, the killer doesn’t care, and like a bee that’s spent its one sting, proceeds directly out to the parking lot, douses himself with accelerant, and goes up in a suicidal pyre.

Challis gets to see the conflagration and is on hand the next morning when police reveal the body to a young woman, the old guy’s daughter, Ellie Grimbridge. She identifies the body, horrified and grieving, but also cute. Later, she tracks Challis down in a bar and asks whether her father said anything the night he died. Challis tries a comforting lie, but when that fizzles, he expresses an urgent desire to find out what’s going on. And an amateur sleuthing team is born! Cue the upbeat opening.

Challis and Ellie check out her father’s shop, where he has a conspicuous inventory of those Silver Shamrock Halloween masks, and decide to take a day trip to the mask factory, his last known whereabouts before what we saw in the first 15 minutes of the movie. Challis also asks a friend in the coroner’s office to do the autopsy on the old man’s murderer and pass Challis any fun, plot-advancing tidbits.
The Silver Shamrock factory is located in a Southern California company town called Santa Mira, populated by…Irish immigrants. OK, sure. Realizing it’s too small a town to snoop without a cover story, Challis and Ellie decide to pretend to be a couple, buyers from the factory like Ellie’s dad was, and book a room at the local motel. Luckily, Ellie also packed lingerie for her day trip to track her father’s last movements with the nice, strange doctor.

We also meet an angry woman staying at the motel, in town to pick up her mask order, and another buyer, Buddy, with his wife and truly obnoxious brat, who are so National Lampoon, guys, I’m not kidding. So a lot of the snooping comes to Ellie and Challis at the motel, and that’s convenient. We learn that the factory (and thus the town) is run by Conal Cochran, a famous maker of novelty gags, toys, and masks, and Challis risks all kinds of fun backwash sharing his brown bag o’ booze with a local deadbeat, who points out the video cameras monitoring the whole town and complains bitterly that the factory is staffed entirely with outside people, not local talent like himself.

The night wears on. Ellie’s lingerie goes on, and maybe off, but we don’t see that. This is pretty PG-13 here. The deadbeat is double head crushed by more tax preparers of the night. And angry lady toys with one of the Silver Shamrock masks, unleashing a beam that fries her face off and generates worms and bugs from the gaping face holes. Face obliteration is a pretty ironic thing for a mask to do, and it’s still a fairly good practical effect, trading blood for broken teeth and exposed sinews.

The next day, best Halloween mask salesman evar Buddy and his family are taking a tour of the factory, which Ellie and Challis manage to glom onto. Cochran tours them personally though the place, and we get a closer look at his legacy of successful clockwork toys (Plot point! Plot point!) as well as the mask making process – less the tantalizing “final processing,” which Cochran explains has to do with trade secrets and volatile chemicals. He doesn’t want anyone to get hurt.

Speaking of getting hurt, Challis spots some more of the menswear models of doom and recognizes their eerie resemblance to the killer what bonfired himself in the hospital parking lot. Ellie also spots her dad’s car, partially hidden under a tarp, although she’s prevented from getting close by more members of the Silver Shamrock Kraftwerk tribute band.
And then our heroes, with the proof that Ellie’s dad was there (which wasn’t really at issue, was it?) and the serious heebie jeebies, hear what the audience is yelling at them and decide to get the hell out of Halloweentown. But FIRST, Challis wants to call the cops. Dumb, dumb, stupid man. While Ellie packs her one tiny overnight bag, he goes to the motel office and finds all lines are routed to a wrong number recording. By the time he gets back to the room, Ellie’s gone, and the room is surrounded by blank-faced, sharp-dressed men. So Challis is off to the races.

For a while, he manages to kill rather than be killed, and soon realizes that the suited baddies in pursuit are automatons, super realistic killbot versions of the clockwork toys that helped make Cochran so successful. So are most of the people in Santa Mira. But if Challis were successful in escaping, we wouldn’t get a villain speech, and we do get one from Cochran, a splendid speech not just about his evil plan, but about Halloween itself and, unlike Dr. Loomis, he pronounces Samhain correctly.
Challis isn’t down for the count though. There’s more movie left, a big scary child sacrificing plot to avert, and a cute girl to save, too. I’m leaving out a lot of good stuff actually, like what happens to Challis’ coroner friend and Cochran’s demonstration of his evil plan for Halloween night. You should watch and see. …Probably not while wearing a Halloween mask though.

roadside attractions

  • Killer Clockworks from Killarney
  • Honey mustard blood
  • “Halloween” Easter eggs
  • I’m crushing your head (x2)
  • Face/off
  • Killer driller
  • Willy Wonka level cruelty to children
  • A cult following
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Not a bloodbath. More of an acid bath with snakes and worms playing pinochle in dissolved skulls.

.3

blood

BREASTS


.3 Glancing nip slip. Be ready to hit pause.

1

beast

BEASTS Once again, the real monster is man and army of his killer robots.

8 OVERALL Maybe they should have called it All Hallows Eve or Samhain or The Night Celtic Witches Sacrifice All Y’All’s Children.” “Halloween III” both deserves the Halloween name and doesn’t deserve the short shrift it’s gotten because of the “Halloween” name. On its own merits, you get a great cast, a fairly original story in the vein of 70s, early 80s conspiracy horror with both witchy and technological components, a spooky Kraftwerky soundtrack, and plenty of memorable practical effects that still ook out effectively decades later.
dripper

Watch the trailer to “Halloween III: Season of the Witch”

trailers

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