Even though I had a lot of luck with new movies, as documented in this earlier post, I still went back and watched some old movies I’d never seen, plus a few I had seen but only once and an old favorite or two. Continue reading Halloween Scene: The Old School
Crossover movies can be tricky beasts. By definition you’re serving at least two masters from two different fan bases. When combining two properties like Aliens and Predators — ones that had already faced off in the worlds of comics, video games and pretty much everything aside from movies — there’s a lot to live up to. When we first saw AVP back in 2004, we were admittedly disappointed. Frankly, we would have been happy if the movie was simply our two favorite aliens smashing each other to bits at every chance without so many pesky humans getting in the way.
Well, we revisited the movie recently and it’s a wonder what lowered expectations combined with a better working knowledge of a story can do for enjoyment of a film. Going blind into any franchise flick or remake, you’ve got a certain set of expectations and the new film either meets them or doesn’t. If they’re not met, then you leave disappointed at best, which can sour you. That’s how we were with AVP. But, never let it be said that the Explosions Are Rad crew doesn’t go back and re-evaluate.
AVP finds a group of scientists, archaeologists, industrialists, diggers and mercenaries traveling to Antarctica to investigate a strange heat signature that’s more than it seems. Lead by Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) — who plays the inspiration for his character in the Alien flicks — the trip soon proves to be more than meets the eye as the crew discovers an ancient underground temple that just so happens to house an Alien queen. As we learn, millennia ago, the Predators came to Earth, built these temples to test their skills against the murderous xenomorphs and returned to test their warriors. The crew stumbles upon this deathtrap and must do their best to survive as the Aliens and Predators try to kill them and each other.
The problem with this movie mainly comes in the first 20-30 minutes, which could and should be significantly trimmed down. Sure, it makes sense that they want you to care about these characters, but at the same time it also feels like they’re trying too hard to get you to care about the bait they throw in the water during Shark Week. Hit those plot points a little quicker and get to the action. The biggest and most pointless part of the film that could have been excised completely is this extended interaction where Antarctic guide Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan) goes back and forth about leading the team as they’re untrained and the mission timeframe is too tight. Of course, she winds up staying on because she doesn’t think her replacement is good enough so this conflict that feels tacked on winds up doing absolutely nothing but show the audience that Alexa is a good, moral person, something that comes across pretty naturally.
But, aside from a bit of a length problem, the rest of the movie’s actually a pretty fun ride. The crew gets split up inside the temple as the various hunters go about their business, thanks to some Cube-like shifts in the building’s structure. It’s a pretty well thought out movie, directed and co-written by Paul W.S. Anderson along with screen story credits going to Alien writers Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. They probably didn’t need to go to all of the trouble to set the flick on Earth, but what they did seemed to fit well with the existing worlds set up in the previous film.
Of course, the real test of a crossover movie’s success or failure lies in how cool the scenes look when the two different groups finally come together on screen. This film neither lacks those kinds of scenes in the latter half, nor do they disappoint. You not only get to see three different Predators doing their things, but also a pretty impressive cast of Aliens including a Queen running ripshot through this place leading up to the ultimate battle.
While expectations might have been incredibly high for Aliens Vs. Predator the first time around, we think it’s worth checking out further down the line with a better understanding of what’s actually happening in the film as opposed to what we want to.
For today’s main Halloween Scene entry I was looking for a supernatural slasher movie from the 80s, so when I stumbled across The Horror Show which was produced by Sean Cunningham the director of the original Friday The 13th and read that it was not only about a serial killer’s ghost haunting a cop but also that said cop was played by Lance Henriksen, I was sold. Heck, I didn’t even bother adding the movie to my Netflix Instant queue, I just played it straight out.
As it happens, it’s actually a pretty good movie. Well shot, well acted, creepy killer, good special effects, might be scary to some. What more can you ask for? The plot is kind of a mix of Jack Frost, Jaws and I assume Shocker, though it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that one. Henriksen plays a cop who tracked down a serial killer named Max played by noted character actor and “that guy” Brion James. At the execution, Max gets fried but almost immediately a shrink with some crazy ideas about energy and evil or whatever see that his ghost rises out of the body and threatens him. From there, the Max’s ghost starts haunting Henriksen and his family, making him go crazy.
I should note, however, that this isn’t really a slasher flick, even though the killer is fond of meat cleavers. I guess it’s kind of a haunted house movie, or maybe more accurately a haunting movie? It’s not so much things moving that shouldn’t be, but voices being heard, devices being manipulated and in one case, someone being straight up murdered. As such it plays out more like a psychological thriller I guess. After a certain point, you’re not really sure what’s real and what’s not, but it’s all so frenetic, that it almost doesn’t matter.
By the way, the movie is also known as House 3 because it was renamed for foreign distribution. Were the House movies that big that they had a following outside of the States? I mean, I dug the first one, but I don’t think it was an international smash hit.
Anyway, I’ve been writing a lot of things like “it’s not a classic, but it’s fun to check out” this October, but I think The Horror Show might be close to that kind of thing. I hadn’t heard about it before even with the pedigree names attached, yet it turned out to be a solid flick with good actors and impressive gore. Can’t go wrong with that!