halloween movies

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Year: 2003
Directed By: Marcus Nispel
Written By: Scott Kozer, based on the original screenplay by Tobe Hopper and Kim Henkel

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie gets props on a few points but loses by stealing the name of a true classic. It may be called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre but I like to think of it as Tank Top City starring the bouncing Jessica Biel as she runs and screams for an hour and a half. In this movie Biel runs where there shouldn’t even be room to run. Just a seemingly never ending series of long hallways in which the villain knows all the shortcuts. Not that I’m complaining, there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half and what a terrific midriff Biel has to bottom out her tank top. However I don’t think this movie should be associated with the original. You got a guy in a skin mask wielding a chainsaw with some real crazies to support him but other than that the only similarity is in the name.

In fact those crazies are where I really think this movie gets the props I mentioned to start off with. It’s always a pleasure to see R Lee Ermy on screen and he really thrives in this intimidating role. The whole family is terrifying in their crass way about violence but Ermy is the gem that shines in this movie. Ermy has a way with profanity; it’s made him famous. I mean he’s no Joe Pesci or Billy Bob Thorton, but he has a way that sets him apart. Being a real life badass, Ermy has never had a hard time letting his wilder side loose on camera.

I watched this movie without seeing the original when it first came out; I think I was 18 or 19 at the time. Oh how young and foolish I was as I liked it quite a bit and added it into my baby movie collection in the beginning. It would probably be another ten years before I saw the original and realized how silly this one really was. I hate that studios think they can simply turn up the volume on something classic and cash in on name recognition. This movie is for people just as I was when it came out, young and dumb. An entertained fool bedazzled by the special effects and the boundaries pushed on violence and gore.

We’ll put a hottie on screen and make her run down never ending corridors. We’ll crank up the violence and add more body parts. We’ll even throw the head of a big time fan into the background. The youth of America, the world even, will tune in and we’ll make big time money. More chainsaw plus little tank top to the power of bouncing Biel boobs equals success! This line of thinking is sad in the reality of movie making because it happens far too often and simply sullies the memory of something great. Take me for example, I saw this movie and never bothered with the original.  I even liked this movie enough to add it to the collection at a 2003 high price for the special edition DVD. Such is the unfortunate decision making that goes on in Hollywood, particularly too when it comes to horror flicks.

I do feel the need to touch on one other thing before I close this out and this is simply for the people in the mode I was when I first saw and became enamored with this film. This movie lies, as they all do, there was no real Texas chainsaw massacre and there was no real leatherface. Certainly there have been horrible things in Texas before but nothing along the lines of what is claimed to have been true in this movie. Leatherface, like many famous movie serial killers, is a combination of others. Mainly Ed Gein, who would grave rob and make things from human material. Purportedly making a face mask on occasion that he would wear around his property. He didn’t do anything with a chainsaw but I don’t know why anybody would. It’s a really dangerous and problematic weapon to use. I know it’s often been used as a weapon in movie lore but in real life it’s a power tool that can dismember you with one careless move. Not to mention the cumbersome nature of the thing and trying to carry it around, much less chase really fit teens with it.

I can think of a few scenarios where this movie would be worth your time. Mainly if you’re looking to “Netflix and chill” this is a great one for the background. Other scenarios involve…nothing, I can think of no other scenarios in which this movie is worth your time. It is Halloween and I suppose you could do worse in choosing a horror flick to pass the time with but I would really suggest you go all out and just watch the original. This movie isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be but it is definitely nothing exceptional. I think it all depends on what you’re looking for as to whether or not it is worth your time.

 

 

 

 

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Halloween Season 2016

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It’s that time of year again. The leaves are beginning to fall and the nights are getting darker. As we wind down to All Hallow’s Eve we will only be reviewing horror movies throughout the month. This year we have some great and some OK horror movies to go through. Starting off we will drop the perfectly themed albeit OK version of Sleepy Hollow by Tim Burton. To follow we have two different versions of The Shining, Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow, David Cronenberg’s Scanners, and possibly more as we try to fit in as much as time will allow.

As I always say this is my favorite holiday of the year because it’s the only one that is all about fun. Nobody has family drama on Halloween, nobody breaks the bank, no pressured obligations beyond showing off the kids on the night of.  Just fun and exciting days before the crazy holiday season. I love this time of year and I love the movies that set the tone for the season.

The Cabin in the Woods

Year: 2012
Directed By: Drew Goddard
Written By: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard

RYAN’S REVIEW

For the life of me I can’t remember what it was that prompted Amber and I to see this film for the first time. With the unoriginal crap generally hitting theaters these days from the horror genre being what they are we usually don’t waste our time with them. It must have been a really slow season for movies hitting the On Demand channel but whatever the reason we took a chance on something we otherwise never would have seen. We started watching it casually and more or less taking it for more of the same before it really started to surprise us. This movie has a rather interesting twist on the same old same old and I really liked it. I tend to like horror movie satires and this one is specifically cool because I love a scenario in which everyone dies and the whole world hangs in the balance only to fall over the edge.

Like any other typical horror movie this one is about a group of teenagers who go on an outdoorsy trip and scary things start to happen to them. Only in this one those things are happening because men for unknown reasons are manipulating the whole situation in the most interesting ways. These two interesting fellows are at the controls casually doing their jobs, on what is alluded to being a big day for them, using technology to set up the five happy college kids in terrifying situations. You don’t really understand what their job is but you know that they are controlling everything for some reason.  The mystery behind it only makes the movie more interesting and exciting when these guys start to turn up the volume.

The lead role in this very typical group of young people is the obvious jock played by Chris Hemsworth. I find it really funny that at one point he is standing at a gas pump and for absolutely no apparent reason he is holding a football. He is just such a cliché character and it comes so natural to the mighty son of Odin. I love when Thor tries his Evel Knievel move after a vaguely heartfelt speech of abandonment and simply crashes to his death against an invisible wall. His monologue is the kicker because he is promising to bring back help and all of that, but really he is just leaving them behind to escape on his own. I laughed so hard the first time I watched it when he crashes into that wall and dies so unceremoniously. It was at that moment that this movie had me, I specifically remember looking to Amber and saying “I love this.”

My favorite character in this group of obvious characters is the obvious one, being the stoner guy who plays “the fool.” Everybody is acting crazy and he is just looking at them asking, “really?” I also love that he uses his cleverly disguised bong as a weapon when faced with danger. I read that Fran Kranz, who play the fool, needed to do a lot of research in order to play this stoner character including learning how to smoke and roll joints. I find that funny too, it must have been hard putting in that kind of work for his job. In the scene where they are all jumping into the lake he isn’t participating because apparently the guy is too ripped to take his shirt off. Taking that into consideration his prep work makes sense, the ripped guys aren’t usually the pot smokers. As for the rest of the group, or the scholar, the whore, and the virgin. They were all interchangeable and nothing more than pretty faces playing their role.  I don’t think any of them were noteworthy and any actor could have been cast in each of the parts with no notable difference in the film. .

The real golden nuggets in the cast are the men playing the parts of the mysterious operators, and the woman who appears at the end as the boss behind it all. The operators are played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford and they have great chemistry working together. Their opening scene was specifically written to confuse the audience and make them think they were in the wrong theater. Richard Jenkins, playing the older of the two operators, is a flawlessly talented actor who can do a bit of everything. I specifically like him for his humor because he can be so funny. He is generally unknown by name but everyone recognizes him because he is in so many films. Bradley Whitford has been around forever but I remember him most for playing the bad guy in Billy Madison. In this film he is great playing alongside Jenkins. I specifically like how casual he is with the whole process of his job. Whether he is chit chatting on the ride to the office, firing an automatic weapon against monsters, or dying at the hands of the merman he seems so casual I find it funny. These guys are great together and the way they are portrayed keeps the movie so interesting as it progresses. I love when they think that they have accomplished their goal and they start to party. They are popping champagne and celebrating while over their shoulders Kristen Connolly, who plays “the virgin,” is being brutally beaten on the big screen.

The end of the film features Sigourney Weaver in the top dog role as the boss making a final plea to the two survivors to do what is right for the sake of mankind. I love Sigourney Weaver and her part in this movie is the cherry on top that makes everything so cool. Joss Whedon is a fanboy and all fanboys love the woman who taught us women could be badass in the role of Ripley. Also playing a significant part in another fan favorite, Ghostbusters, Signourney Weaver is near and dear to the hearts of us all.  This seems to me like her cashing in an easy paycheck but her presence gives the film credibility. As always, she brings it when she is on-screen, her performance capped off what was already a fun and exciting movie.

This movie was filmed and shelved for a few years before ever hitting theaters 2012. It just happened to hit the big screen the same year as another hit by Joss Whedon and Chris Hemsworth, The Avengers. In the time that elapsed between shooting and release Hemsworth became an actor of more notoriety. He had made his place in the Marvel superhero world in 2011 when Thor came out so when this film was released his name was in top billing. It made his unceremonious death a bit more surprising when we watched it the first time and all the funnier because it was unexpected. This was not the only film in which that happened to Hemsworth. The remake of Red Dawn was also shot and sat on the shelf for a couple of years before release. I remember that happening but can’t remember the reason. I was very much disappointed by the decision to remake that classic movie about a real conflict with whatever asinine thing happened in the new one.  I don’t know how he did in that film or what befalls his character in it because I will not waste my time watching it, those are precious hours and minutes I cannot get back and feel right about losing.

This is a fun movie from a really cool and continually up and coming filmmaker in Joss Whedon. Depending on how the next Avengers film does, which all indications are that it will be even more awesome, this guy will have his ticket punched and there is no telling what he is capable of doing. I read that he and Drew Goddard wrote this movie rather quickly. It was something he did in his downtime for fun. That says a lot about what he is capable of in the future. This movie has been a welcome addition to the collection and I think it is more than worth your time to see.  This is the time of the year for scary movies and it’s great to have a fun one to throw into the mix.

 

 

AMBER’S REVIEW

I went into this movie thinking it was your everyday scary movie about a cabin in the woods. I think it was fun to go into it like that. I was completely caught off guard with this movie, and in a good way. This is so different from the usual horror flick and that’s what makes it worth watching.

cabinI like this poster! It’s a great way to subtly introduce the movie’s plot. The coloration is great and adds an eerie feeling to the plot of the movie. The typography is not horrible, but could have been handled in a better way. Overall, I really think this poster and movie work so well. It is a refreshing take on a Halloween-esque movie.