Monday, October 15, 2012

Diary of the Dead 2012: Week 2

I’m logging my Monster Movie Month © viewing with ultra-mini reviews every Monday in October (as was the case last year, I’ll only be discussing movies I haven’t reviewed elsewhere on this site). I write it. You read it. No one needs to get hurt.

October 8

The Funhouse (1981- dir. Tobe Hooper) **

Some kids hide out in a funhouse overnight to screw around, and a monster in a Frankenstein mask stalks them. I was always under the impression The Funhouse was a slasher movie. I usually don’t like slasher movies, which is why it took me so long to get around to seeing this beloved flick. It’s really more of a gore-free monster movie (can we agree the killer is way too monstrous to consider a disfigured human?). The distastefully sleazy attitude is pure slasher, though. I prefer fun sleazy, like a John Waters movie. There just isn’t enough fun in this funhouse. It’s also way too slow for a movie with characters this uninteresting. Just kill them and get it over with already! Sheesh.

October 9

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000- dir. Joe Berlinger) **

I confess to mild curiosity about the infamously awful Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, partially because I love the original, partially because following up that unique and genuinely terrifying picture with a run-of-the-mill horror movie is such an awful idea. And who doesn’t love watching a disaster? The prologue shares some of the DIY aesthetic of The Blair Witch Project, even as it plays as a dumb commercial for that movie. The rest of Book of Shadows looks more like I Know What You Did Last Summer. Some idiot Blair Witch Project fans go into the woods, have idiotic discussions about the movie, and go crazy. Idiotically. The implication that all of their drinking, drugging, and sexing leads to murder is stock slasher movie bullshit. The rampant post modernism is a lame substitute for actual wit. Too non-descript to qualify as a truly bad movie, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 isn’t even good for a laugh. Watch Troll 2 instead.

October 10

It (1990- dir. Tommy Lee Wallace) ***½

Stephen King’s greatest novel is a brick-thick epic about a shape-shifting, generation-spanning evil. Adapting It as a TV miniseries isn’t the most complimentary treatment, but as far as those things go, it isn’t bad. In fact, Tim Curry is downright unforgettable as Penny Wise the Dancing Clown, the evil’s favorite form. We meet The Losers Club, a band of heroes who go toe to toe with It, as kids and adults. It has often been said that the kids’ portion of the film is the most compelling, and that’s no lie. The adult cast is OK, but the “Circus of the Stars” aftertaste is a bit distracting (See John Ritter from “Three’s Company”! See Harry Anderson from “Night Court”! See John Boy and Venus Flytrap too!). The production values can be chintzy, which isn’t much of a problem until the spidery showdown that ends the three hours like a wet fart. Still, the kids are fun, Curry is a gas, and on a more personal note, this is the flick that got me hooked on Stephen King novels when I was a teenager. For that, I’ll always be extra forgiving of It and award it an extra half star. Extra points for cutting the whole kiddie orgy in the sewer sequence. Ick.

October 11

Lifeforce (1985- dir. Tobe Hooper) **½

A naked space vampire stalks London. Mayhem and pubic hair ensue. Lifeforce is like The Thing remade by Bob Guccione. Tobe Hooper takes this material too seriously, so what could have been a ridiculous hoot ends up just plain ridiculous. As is so often the case, lots of nudity goes hand-in-hand with a really uptight attitude about sex. Maybe it’s more like The Thing remade by General Ripper from Dr. Strangelove. Gotta deny that lady vampire your essence, fellas! I liked the corpse puppets though.

October 12

Slither (2006- dir. James Gunn) ****

You know how you always wanted to watch a bunch of gun-toting yahoos face off against a swarm of tongues from outer space? Well, it may have been a long wait, but Slither finally arrived in 2006. Ex-Troma member James Gunn turned in a nerdy homage seemingly inspired by Shaun of the Dead’s union of graphic gore and ironic humor, though it is more horrifying and less funny than Shaun. Whereas Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s movie used Romero’s zombie pictures as its chief reference, Slither draws on zombie movies and the classic B-grade sci-fi chillers of the ‘50s. That’s value. Plus, there’s a great cast anchored by Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” Rooker.
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