Halloween Scene: Scream Factory’s Halloween II

Seeing as how it’s Halloween, I wanted to watch a few new horror flicks today, but instead decided to stop wasting time with something that might suck and watching a movie I already know I like presented by the best DVD-makers around, Shout Factory. I actually got the Halloween II Collector’s Edition from their Scream Factory imprint back when I got the one for Halloween III: Season of the Witch, but was saving it for a special occasion. Today seemed appropriate enough, so I went with it.

Before getting into the bonus features, of which I only got through about half, I want to say a few nice things about this movie. I reviewed this one way back in 2008, and while that post is filled to the gills with spelling errors, I still agree with it. ,mv I think this is an underrated sequel. It doesn’t come near topping the o/. riginal, but I give it a lot of credit for mixing things up, getting into a different location and keeping the horror a lot more tight and claustrophobic.

I didn’t realize before how important the setting is to this film. In addition to giving Michael Myers one specific place to haunt for a period of time, you’re also dealing with a lot of the inherent fears that come from being in a hospital. While in a hospital you’re by definition not feeling well or something’s wrong, so you’re altered emotionally, but then you’ve got all these strangers walking in and out and doing things to you you might not understand. Who’s to say all of those people have your best interest in mind? Put a masked killer on top of all that and you’ve got a pretty great recipe for scares.

Okay, now on to the bonus features. I haven’t watched the second disc which contains the TV version of the film, something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before, so that’s something to look forward to. I also didn’t have time to re-watch the movie with commentary, but will keep it in mind next time I need something to listen to while working. I did watch the documentary The Nightmare Isn’t Over: The Making Of Halloween II which is a great viewing experience, just like its brother over on the H3 Scream Factory release.

One of the most interesting pieces of info I learned from the doc is that they actually shot an ending where it’s revealed that Jimmy lived. The interesting part isn’t that it got cut, but that director Rick Rosenthal didn’t know it got cut. He said there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen and he didn’t know who cut it. They then talked about the TV cut, which was apparently done more under John Carpenter’s direction and included newly shot scenes with the cast when Rosenthal wasn’t there.

I also once again enjoyed an installment of Horror’s Hollowed Grounds with HorrorHound‘s Sean Clark. He’s not joined by the director like he was with the H3 version, but he’s still full of info and it’s always neat to see locations from the flicks and how they’ve changed or, more interestingly, not changed over the decades. Clark’s attention to detail is always impressive. It’s also fun to see locations from other movies right next to these shooting locations.

Once again, Shout’s Scream Factory arm did an awesome job putting together the kind of presentation that the second best Michael Myers movie deserves. This is far better than the single disc version I already had in my collection and will take that spot with ease.

Halloween Scene Trade Post: iZombie Volume 2 uVampire

iZombie Volume 2: uVampire (DC/Vertigo)
Written by Chris Roberson, drawn by Mike Allred with Gilbert Hernandez
Collects iZombie #6-12 & House Of Mystery Halloween Annual #2

It’s safe to say that I was both impressed by and absorbed with the first volume of Chris Roberson and Mike Allred’s iZombie, the book about a zombie named Gwen who digs people up once a month to eat their brains and deal with some of the residual problems therein. The mix of a grand, well explained mythology, new twists on old themes, multiple interconnected storylines and characters I was both interested in and concerned for made for excellent reading.

As such, I was pretty jazzed when I was able to set up a Swap for the second and third volumes. Every time I find a new series I like, one of the fun aspects comes in tracking down all the trades on the cheap. Sequential Swap is always the first place I look. If that doesn’t work, I usually keep an eye out for website sales and the like. Mostly, I’m pretty patient when it comes to such things, so I don’t mind waiting a while. I was surprised and happy to discover I wouldn’t have to wait too long to continue on with Gwen’s adventures.

Actually, now that I think about it, Gwen almost takes a backseat in this collection. She’s definitely there and dealing with her own thing — which involves eating the brain of the mother of her old friend which actually brings up some long-forgotten parts of her pre-undead life — but supporting characters Scott the were-terrier, Ellie the ghost, Gwen’s monster hunter boyfriend and even a coven of vampires also get a good deal of page time which makes this world feel all the richer.

Some people might see this collection as kind of a set-up or bridge before things presumably get crazy in the third and fourth books (that’s all there is, the fourth isn’t even out yet). There are definite hints at larger things going on in this universe, but I’m far more interested in what’s going on with the characters and how they react to the wild situations they find themselves in the middle of. I have confidence that Roberson will continue to bring unique twists and turns to some of the tropes we’re so familiar with. I’m especially looking forward to what happens when Gwen and her boyfriend Horatio find out the truth about one another. But be cool, don’t say anything, I’ve got two more books to read!

Halloween Scene: Creepshow 2 (1987)

As a big fan of both George Romero and Stephen King, I’m not quite sure why I haven’t seen the two installments of Creepshow the horror duo worked on (neither had anything to do with Creepshow 3). I remember my pal Rickey Purdin had a copy of the first Creepshow hanging around our apartment when we lived together and I think I tried watching it once, but either got bored or fell asleep and haven’t revisited since. When I decided to check the sequel out on Netflix Instant last night I had forgotten this fact, confusing this King-based horror anthology for another, Cat’s Eye. It’s not like it really matters, though, as they are both anthologies and don’t have anything but casual references to one another in common.

Creepshow 2 features three stories. The first is about a killer cigar store Indian (“Old Chief Wooden Head”), the second about a water monster in a lake (“The Raft”) and the third about a woman being terrorized by the man who shit hit with her car (“The Hitchhiker”). There’s also a wraparound story featuring a kid who loves the EC Comics-like Creepshow comic book buying beans to take care of the bullies who mess with him.

“Old Chief” might feature great actors George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour who are excellent, but the three guys they got to rob the country store owners gave pretty boring, cartoonish, one-note performances and kind of killed the whole thing for me. Plus, the idea of a cigar store Indian coming together and killing dudes — most of which we see via shadows — isn’t super interesting or original.

On the other hand, I really liked “The Raft.” It’s a very Stephen King kind of story with a quartet of friends swimming in a remote lake that has an oily monster patrolling the surface. This is the kind of story that works perfectly in the anthology format. It’s a small story as far as who’s involved and the danger present, but for those people, it’s a very terrifying thing. It doesn’t really matter if you’re trapped in the arctic or on a diving raft in the middle of a lake, you’re still trapped and probably going to die. That’s encapsulated very well in this segment.

“The Hitchhiker” was less interesting to me and felt like an episode of Tales From The Crypt (yeah, I know the show came after these movies, but I experienced it first). Even though the story of the woman getting hounded by the dead man is eerie, it felt familiar and not in the way that “Raft” did where familiar elements were done on a different scale, this one just felt tired.  I actually thought the wraparound stuff with the kid and the Creep were more interesting than this particular story.

I think another reason I haven’t gotten around to watching the Creepshow movies is that I’m just not that into horror anthology  movies. They sound great in theory — more stories, possibly more creative talent for your buck — but most wind up feeling like this movie where there’s one great story surrounded by mediocre ones. Maybe I just haven’t seen the right horror anthologies. I think I might check the original Creepshow out today, but are there other ones that do a really great job? I’m also thinking of looking at Twice Told Tales and/or Tales Of Terror from my Vincent Price box set, but I might just be horror-ed out for a while after this month.

Live Blogging The Challenge Battle Of The Seasons Episode 6

Howdy gang, sorry about the delay in getting this post up, I took my notes even though I didn’t plan on it and wound up getting busy with other stuff, so the post didn’t go up. Anyway, I found myself thinking much less of a few people I used to like before this season, specifically Frank and Alton. Frank comes off as a total dick this episode. He’s playing the game so hard that it’s almost painful to watch. Dude thinks he’s super crafty too which doesn’t seem to be the case. He just lucked out and happens to be on a season packed with people who don’t know what they’re doing. Put him on a season with Johnny, Kenny and Evan and he’s nothing. Case closed. I dislike Alton because I really don’t know what his game is. He basically asked to be thrown in and was going to screw over one of his female teammates by quitting in the Arena, but then didn’t. What’s he doing? I mostly don’t even care anymore.

The challenge this episode was pretty funny and I’m glad it was played straight for the most part, but I keep thinking that, if your most interesting challenges involve hitting people with fish and trivia, then you don’t have much of a season. I wonder how this season is doing ratings-wise because it’s pretty boring. There’s always got to be a wave of new viewers who were big fans of the recent Real World season though. It does look like the rest of the season is going to be pretty explosive. Dustin looks like he’s going to get into a number of fights along with everyone else. These kids don’t seem to know how to turn the game off. The obvious Rookies vs. Vets follow-up to this season should be pretty damn intersting though.

Continue reading Live Blogging The Challenge Battle Of The Seasons Episode 6

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Spider-Man 2000 Web Splashers

If you’re like me, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Spider-Man is awesome ocean adventures. Ridiculous as these toys might seem, I gotta say, they’re actually pretty cool. I always loved water toys as a kid and would have definitely been all over a floating action figure play set to play with in the tub or at the lake. I especially like that the first Spidey we see is actually the Ben Reilly version of the character instead of the classic one. That dude LOVES the water.

Casting Internets

Guys, it’s been a ridiculously long time since I did a Casting Internets post. Work and life got in the way of my internet reading, but here’s what I found interesting over the past month or so.

I’ve done a ton of CBR writing since last I posted. If you’re interested, head on over and check out my author page on the site.

I also interviewed the President of the Eagles in a roundabout way by doing this piece for Marvel.com about the poster they and Marvel made for Brian Dawkins. I also did some NYCC coverage for them, but you’ll have to search around for it.

The amazing Alex Kropinak took part in Empire Strikes Back Uncut and I weaseled my way into doing the voice for Yoda in this 15 second clip. Go check it out. Now.

Speaking of Star Wars, check out this R2-D2 NES mod posted over on Ubergizmo. I’ll take one, thanks.

One more quick Star Wars-related thing. The coolest thing I saw at NYCC was this huge Lego city that combined Star Wars, DC Comics, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who and a lot of other geek faves.

My pal Kiel did an awesome interview with Once Upon A Time co-creators Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz for Spinoff.

Can’t remember who sent me this, but Jim Mroczkowski, perfectly encapsulates what I’ve been struggling to vocalize when it comes to the silly idea that comic readers are a community instead of a group of people who like to absorb entertainment a certain way.Scott C. did a Road House Showdown!!!! And then he did The ‘Burbs!It won’t happen, but I would love to go see Halloween on the big screen on Halloween.

I’m really bummed to hear that Covered is donezo, what a great site.

In other bummer news, the dance/pop group LMFAO is apparently splitting up for now. That’s not really my zone of musical expertise, but I sure love those guys. The real question is, where does this leave Shuffle Bot? (via THR)

It’s official, Soundgarden’s got a new album called King Animal coming out on November 13th. I’m not the biggest fan of theirs, but I am very excited about this record. (via Rolling Stone)

This opening fold-out TARDIS bookshelf I saw over on Bookshelf Porn is pretty amazing. Only problem? Should bee bigger on the inside.

Not sure when or if I’ll get around to reading Michael Chabon’s new book Telegraph Avenue but Esquire‘s Benjamin Percy noted that it had some of the same problems I had with The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, a book I could not finish.

Check out this interview R.L. Stine did with The Washington Post about the Goosebumps books. I found his rules for those stories geared towards younger readers pretty interesting.

Like a lot of people, I’m only familiar with The Vaselines’ song “Jesus Don’t Want Me For A Sunbeam” thanks to Nirvana’s Unplugged album. Even so, seeing Krist Novoselic playing accordion on the song with the band was surprisingly emotional. (via THR)

Not sure how I feel about Run-DMC reuniting, but it’s pretty cool that they got Jam Master Jay’s sons Jason and TJ to fill his gigantic shoes. I dug this interview with them on Rolling Stone. Dave Perillo‘s travel posters from movies like National Lampoon’s Vacation and Caddyshack are amazing.

Reading the HMAD review of new horror film Sinister makes me actually want to see it even though I’m not big on haunting movies.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote about the true story behind Argo including their own involvement in the ruse as well as Jack Kirby’s!Still not sure about the casting of Daniel Radcliffe as Ig in the film adaptation of Joe Hill’s Horns, but this photo on EW sure looks cool.

I love that Jason Statham keeps making the same kinds of movies, but bigger and bigger stars are now doing them with him. Parker. Boom.

Dolph Lundgren’s going to be on a TV show called Rescue 3. (via THR)

Jed Mayer’s IndieWire piece on going to see Dawn of the Dead over and over at his local mall is both a fun look back and a great set of observations about one of my all-time favorite movies. I haven’t seen any of the new Teendage Mutant Ninja Turtles show, but I’ve heard good things. As a long-time Metalhead fan, I fully support his inclusion in the current toy line. (via Toynewsi)

Once my oven’s back in working condition, I’m definitely going to make Smitten Kitchen‘s pumpkin cinnamon rolls. Definitely. I love Tales From The Crypt so much, you guys, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Glen Brogan drew him recently.

I haven’t been on the Masters of the Universe Classics comp list for about a year now. I miss getting those awesome boxes every month, but I’m going to miss getting the upcoming Four Horsemen-designed Castle Greyskull even more. Man, that thing looks sweet. Bandai’s Chogokin King Robo Mickey & Friends looks freaking amazing. I hope they sell it in the States. Everything should get Voltron-ized! (via Toynewsi)

Especially after the next few days we’re going to have here, I very much want to try The Southside as described by Michael Ruhlman. That reminds me, I should move the liquor away from the window…

Halloween Scene: Don’t Go In The Woods (2010)

I knew absolutely nothing about Don’t Go In The Woods aside from the brief description given on Netflix: “A group of indie rockers seek solitude deep in the woods. But they soon realize they aren’t alone when a sledgehammer-brandishing intruder arrives.” As I’m a fan of rock-based horror movies like Rock N Roll Nightmare and Black Roses I figured I’d give it a shot, not even knowing until I started the movie on Netflix that Vincent D’Onofrio directed it. I had absolutely no idea that it was a musical, which explains a few of my bewildered tweets last night.

And when I say musical, I don’t mean a bunch of dudes sitting around with their instruments trying to write songs, but full-on, singing-at-the-camera moments as well. The odd thing about the movie, though, is that it reveals itself so slowly that it’s hard to actually figure out what’s going on. For quite a while, it is just the dudes in the band playing, so you think it’s that kind of movie. Then the singing-at-the-camera stuff starts, but we’re well into the movie at this point.

The horror elements also take quite a while to get going. Aside from a bloody woman seen in the beginning of the film, there isn’t another kill or scary moment for the next half hour or so. I will give the movie credit for being so off balance that I was never sure when something bad was going to happen. We get those long, wide shots of people walking around in the woods and since I’ve seen a million horror movies, I’m trained to think something bad’s going to happen. They’re creepy and unnerving even if nothing happens.

Now that I think about it, off balance is a really appropriate descriptor for this movie. Some of the performances are as wooden as the trees surrounding the band and the small army of female fans that show up to hang out. On the other hand, some are really solid. You’ve also got the beauty of the setting set off by the gruesome acts taking place. And, on the same note, some really great music sung by various band members. I would actually buy this movie’s soundtrack if it’s available anywhere (I haven’t seen it, but it might exist somewhere).

There’s also the matter of the ending, which I won’t get into too specifically. I didn’t see the twist coming at first, but it did hit me before the actual reveal, which made me feel smart and stupid at the same time in a head-slapping kind of way. I’m still not exactly sure what happened or how it all worked, but I liked how it was presented, especially the classic slasher homages in there. I also dug the look of the killer which was a masked guy in a black hat and long coat, simple but off putting.

While there weren’t any real scares or jolts for me in the watching of the film, I did find myself a little unnerved and that hasn’t happened in a while. There was just something about this movie, it was slippery and fluid, I couldn’t grab hold of it, but in a good way. I can’t say I liked the movie every moment I watched it, but having seen it, I’m glad I did and am still thinking it over.

Halloween Scene: Ghoulies III, Ghoulies Go To College (1991)

A few months back my pal Rickey told me about this amazing 8 movie, 2-disc set from Lionsgate that includes Chopping Mall, Ghoulies Go To College, 976-EVIL 2, C.H.U.D. II, Slaughter High, Waxwork, The Unholy and Class of 1999. I love Chopping Mall and have seen Class of 1999, so after failing to find a copy at my local Walmart and Kmart I went to ebay and picked up a copy myself. I haven’t fully utilized it this October, but I did pop on Ghoulies 3 and had a fantastic time watching this flick. By the way, you can get this set for under $5 right now on Amazon, which is definitely less than I paid.

As regular readers surely know by now, I’m a big fan of goofy horror movies and 80s/90s high school and college movies. Ghoulies Go To College is actually a really great synthesis of the two, kind of like a cross between something like Critters and a less serious Revenge of the Nerds. The movie follows a trio of Ghoulies who get brought back to our plane of existence thanks to a comic book read by an angry professor. Said professor is sick of the prank war going on between two fraternities and it just so happens that the Ghoulies’ brand of murderous mayhem fits in well with the war being waged. I have to say, I thought this was a pretty brilliant way to have the Ghoulies’ actions be seen and experienced without directly pointing to them.

I put this movie on expecting almost nothing and walking away really surprised and even a little impressed. The puppetry in this movie is surprisingly good. You’d think by the third installment of a film that hadn’t been released in the US on DVD until this set would have some pretty awful special effects, but there seems to be either a fair amount of money behind this production or some really creative uses of what money they had. You also get the added bonus of the three main Ghoulies being pretty funny. They spend a good deal of the movie dressed up like late 80s/early 90s college kids which made me chuckle every time. They also talk, which can be kind of annoying, but they get a few good ones in here and there. Plus, this happens:

So, yes, this is two great tastes that taste great together for me, delivering on what I hoped to get from Welcome To Spring Break. It’s definitely goofy, but balances out the horror with the college stuff to deliver a fun little movie that probably deserves a more impressive release than this one.

Halloween Scene: Village Of The Damned (1995)

Almost immediately after finishing Prince of Darkness, which I didn’t focus on as much as I should have, I popped on Village of the Damned on the NetBox. I actually didn’t even realize that this was a John Carpenter movie (I’m woefully uneducated about his films, it turns out). I do however have pretty vivid of this remake movies when it came out. Besides just boasting generally creepy commercials and comic book ads, I actually knew a girl at this time who was like one step above albino and had white-ish blonde hair. Even though she didn’t REALLY look like on of the VOTD kids, the nickname came up and she was cool enough to own it and diffuse it. Even so, I still thought about her when those creepy kids showed up on screen.

If you’ve never seen the movie or the 1960 British film its based on (which I have not), an entire small town blacks out and wakes up with some of the women pregnant. They give birth to babies who have mind control powers and wind up being something out of this world (not in a good way). The adults in town include doctor Christopher Reeve in his last role before his accident, Mark Hamill as the local priest, Kirstie Alley as an out of town doctor who knows more about what’s happening than she lets on. There’s also, of course, the mothers, none of whom I actually recognized.

I’m not the biggest fan of the killer kid subgenre of horror. Before I was a dad, I used to think, “Just take those kids out, how hard can it be?” In this case, it’s pretty tough and one of the ways I thought of while watching to get rid of them was brought up by a crazy janitor. Anyway, now that I’m a dad, I certainly don’t want to see any children killed on screen, even jerky, evil ones. This movie also handles that well and in such a way that didn’t bother me too much.

What impressed me most about this movie is how complex it is without going into huge expository detail about what’s going on. This isn’t Gremlins and there aren’t rules explained for dealing with these kids or how they came about. Their origins are interesting and fun to think about. There’s also a lot that’s hinted at about how crazy this town is thanks to the introduction of these kids. A lot is the same and yet pretty much everyone has accepted the fact that this group of children was spontaneously created and later born. It’s like a longer and bigger version of that Twilight Zone episode where the family is terrified of their kid who can send them to a cornfield, but in a great way.

As a parent, I put myself in the place of someone like Reeve or the other adults in this story and really am not sure what I would have done in that situation. Like I said, everyone knows what’s going on and yet no one really does anything about it in a smart way. Whoever the invading things are, they’re smart enough to use humans’ built-in desire to protect and care for children in order to get their offspring to live. It’s also interesting to think about what it says about American society that the other places these things tried to do this took care of the problem pretty quickly and we didn’t. Like I said, there’s a lot to unpack in here.

Hey, I just had a weird thought, what if all the evil bad guy things in Carpenter’s horror movies were being sent from the same source all trying to destroy our dimension? You’ve got the kids from VOTD, Michael Myers, the thing, the green liquid from POD, those dumb pirate ghosts, a killer car, vampires, the They Live aliens and whatever the heck those things on Mars were. Show me the non-evidence.

Halloween Scene: Critters 2 (1988)

Most of my experience with the Critters franchise comes from seeing the boxes of the four films at the video store as a kid and thinking they looked pretty damn creepy. All fur, red eyes and teeth, how could they not be? Well, the films I’ve seen so far — the first one a few years back and now the sequel — do a pretty good job of making the Krites seem not so creepy.

The Critters movies are odd. They’re obviously Gremlins rip-offs, but instead of just borrowing the basic premise and getting on with it, these mini monsters are aliens who are hunted down by intergalactic, shape shifting bounty hunters. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, it is and as I said when I reviewed the first film, the sci-fi stuff is actually pretty well done. What keeps these movies from being great and unique is the goofy tone that undercuts the horror and doesn’t seem to achieve the right balance. It works in something like Shaun of the Dead where you go from jokey moments to full on gore, but the structure and direction isn’t here. I’m guessing, though, that it wasn’t intended to be a great film or rival the amazing Gremlins in story, so they just kind of went with it.

The story revolves around the kid from the first one returning to his home town of Grover’s Bend a few years after the events of the first one. He gets there just in time for a batch of Krite eggs to start hatching. The bounty hunters from the first one also return to destroy the eggs — which the townspeople have painted for Easter — and shenanigans ensue.

At the end of the day, the results aren’t bad, they just don’t match up with the story I created in my head after seeing the box. That said, there are still some pretty solid gore scenes and a good deal of the little buggers get smashed, blown up, set on fire and stepped on, so that’s fun. I should also note, while the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, the creature effects actually do look pretty great. This isn’t just little people in funny robes like Troll 2, but actual puppets doing all kinds of things.

And that’s really the key to this movie, fun. It doesn’t take itself so serious and it comes across. Critters isn’t what I would call required watching for a horror fan by any means, but they’re with checking out with some friends and some beers (man, a lot of my reviews end like that, don’t they?).