Planet Terror

Rose McGowan

Freddy Rodriguez

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBi00ZiqIv4 

In 2007 the Grindhouse films along with their fake trailers were released in theaters. Apparently, they were shown as a double feature one right after the other in between which were placed various fake trailers by as various directors as Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright, and Eli Roth as well as the directors of the two films Death Proof and Planet Terror. In those days, Quentin Tarantino’s name still had value for me and the fact that the film was to star one of my favorite actors, Kurt Russell really amped up my anticipation. I didn’t really pay attention to Planet Terror assuming it would be the inferior of the two films. I never really liked Robert Rodriguez’s take on horror in From Dusk till Dawn although I liked his Scream like analysis of Sci Fi in The Faculty and the phenomenal Sin City but was rather disappointed by the third film in his El Mariachi Trilogy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico. So, after being disappointed by the overlong, whiny, talky, bitchy Death Proof , whose awesome action scenes weren’t nearly enough to make up for its godawful dialogue, I turned my sights on Planet Terror. I am happy to say that it is another one of my must see Halloween Flicks. It is exploitation at its most exploitative. It is beautiful garbage made with loving care aged film reel by aged film reel.

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Monster House

Mitchel Musso

Sam Lerner

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Damn, I wish this movie was around when I was a kid. It is the perfect gateway drug to real horror with plenty of good humor for grownups and a surprising amount of shocking suspense for everyone. I watch it every Halloween while carving pumpkins and eating candy. It’s the perfect family Halloween film.

Everyone must have one of these creepy houses or apartment buildings near them. There was one smack next to my bus stop in Elementary School. A dark two story Southern Gothic monster. No one knew if anyone lived there or not. Sometimes there were lights on the second floor when we passed by in the evening. All the adults in our neighborhood cautioned we little ones not to go there or even play near it after dark. This made the wait for the bus rather suspenseful. Some idiot kid kept scaring me with tales of Bloody Mary and other urban legends. I hated that house.

Here in Monster House, which definitely isn’t idly named, we begin on a beautiful autumn afternoon where a snaggletoothed pigtailed tot is pedaling her tricycle among the leaves singing a tuneless song with plenty of la la la’s and greeting the trees and birds. We know this isn’t going to end well and the hilarity to which it is played amps up the anticipation for her fate.

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Fright Night (1985)

William Ragsdale

Roddy McDowall

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ISgM9sjza8 

I’m just going to come out and say it, Fright Night is my favorite horror film ever and the top film on my must-see Halloween Watch List. Halloween cannot come without me watching this movie or the jack o’ lanterns won’t shine as bright nor will the candy taste as good. To think I’ve only just discovered it within the last five years is truly amazing. Where was this movie all my life? It’s not particularly scary nor all that suspenseful. What it is, however, is serious about horror while being simultaneously campy about horror movies. We begin with wolves howling at a beautiful full moon and the dialogue from a corny vampire flick on an unseen TV set. Two teenagers are making out in a bedroom. Charley Brewster(William Ragsdale, ie the titular character in the later TV series Herman’s Head) and Amy Peterson (Amanda Bearse aka Marcy of the later Married with Children). The corny movie on TV stars the actor Peter Vincent (played by Roddy McDowall the character’s name probably a combination of Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, two of the horror gods of the 50’s-70’s) who is also hosting the TV program which is showing his old movies. This reminded me of Joe Bob Briggs and his Drive-In Theater show on TMC back in the day where he would offer his commentary on the film before and after the commercials. The make-out session ceases when Charley tries to take things to the next level. A typical, easily distracted boy, his attention is soon seized by the sight of the neighbors moving in next door. They are handling something that looks like a coffin into the basement. The kind with storm doors.

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Stardust

Charlie Cox

Claire Danes

reviewed by Tom-Tom

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfYBKDyF-Dk 

My experiences with reading Neil Gaiman have been unfortunate. I’ve read two of his books and rather than having been the originals, they were the reedited, expanded versions. They seemed bloated and aimless works with solid ideas and great creativity forfeited by the unedited mess in which I found them having been lent to me by a friend. They weren’t the taut, creepy Doctor Who episodes I know he can write nor the excellent TV shows and movies I know his works can inspire. Thankfully, today I am reviewing his great fantasy work Stardust directed by none other than Matthew Vaughn (Kickass, Kingsman) which I have not yet read. The mid to late 00’s of the new century gave birth to a variety of young adult fantasy films no doubt spurred on by the three stately films of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and various Disney films which began to toe the dangerous line allotted by PG-13 and even PG ratings on how much violence or frightening situations could be allowed for any one film’s given viewership. Pirates of the Caribbean pushed the envelope further especially considering it was made by Disney. I remember the mass hangings at the beginning of the third film shocking me quite a bit for this very reason. This all led filmmakers, one could reason, to make films geared to youths but without embarrassing or boring the parents or guardians who came along to satisfy the requirements of PG-13 ratings viewer regulations.

Stardust is one such film, excellently written with biting delight. It has much to say about love, life, and adventure without getting tripped up in its own ego. It’s so bursting with originality and one-liners nicely counterpointed with really mean witches and equally mean heirs to the throne of a magical land of Stormhold that we want to care about for all the interesting characters which populate it.

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The Fly

Jeff Goldblum

Geena Davis

reviewed by Tom-Tom

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMc9EdQ52-w 

One of the most lauded horror films of the 80’s directed by David Cronenberg no less and I just recently got around to watching it. We get to see Goldblum do what was to become his signature technobabble (he would make an excellent Time Lord if the Doctor Who series would ever forgive an American as its title character). He plays a only slightly mad scientist here a Seth Brundle, well at first anyway. He’s being interviewed by a stunning Geena Davis (wowsers, first we get a 70’s Bonnie Bedelia in Salem’s Lot and now an 80’s Geena Davis, the luck horror films bring) who plays an intelligent and ravishing freelance science magazine reporter named Veronica, who is attending a science conference to get the scoop on new innovations in the field. She’s not impressed at all by the tall, lanky, and socially awkward Brundle. The scientist stares with a pensive frown  He somehow convinces her to come to his lab far out of town in a seemingly abandoned brick apartment building. He opens a large stainless steel sliding door and they enter into his lab. There are three large black vats, one with a cover over it. Between the two uncovered vats, is a gigantic 1950’s like computer station. It looks like a washing machines with big blocky buttons on it. However, we soon find out that it isn’t any mere stone age machine. It receives voice commands and recognizes voice patterns. There’s a molecular analyzer equipped in it as well. What, then, does it actually do?

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