Halloween Scene: The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

I’ve seen Return of the Living Dead before. It was back in my early horror-watching days. Back then, I didn’t realize there was an actual connection between this film in Night Of The Living Dead (the original script was written by NOTLD co-creator John Russo who split with Romero at some point and created this alternate franchise) aside from the fact that this movie claims that that movie was created as a cover-up for an actual zombie infestation. I also didn’t really get that it’s supposed to be a more comedic take on the zombie genre. It seems so obvious looking back now at the over-the-top performances and the crazy punk characters in the flick, but when you’re renting anything you can get your hands on, these things don’t seem too out there. In fact, the aspect of the movie that stuck with me the most from the first viewing wasn’t the tarman or the half corpse talking to the people or even Linnea Quigley running around naked, but the futility of the whole thing.

See, in this movie, the main characters discover a zombie in a barrel that’s still alive. He gets out and they chop him up into pieces. Then they take him over to the creamatorium where they think they’ll easily dispose of the body and be done with it. But he burns up, goes up into the clouds and then comes down as rain, infecting the entire grave yard. That essentially means that the zombies can not be stopped. You can stuff them in containers and hope they don’t get out, but that’s just a stop gap. Maybe you could round them all up and shoot them into the sun, but then you might get space zombies and no one wants that. That sense of “you’re not going to win” really stuck with me. It’s kind of like if Freddy is after you. You might survive one movie, but he’ll get you. You know why? Because he’s freaking boogie man and you’re just a dumb kid trying to figure out what the hell is going on around you!

This time around, though, I was able to enjoy the comedic aspects of the movie more, but that doesn’t take anything away from the special effects which are still pretty damn good. Tarman looks great and gross and the torso zombie on the table is still creepy. I love this collective of weird 80s punks and wonder if anyone ever really dressed like that AND hung out with people who dressed so differently (I love that the leader says something like “I’m trying to make a statement!”). Overall it’s a good mix of fun and frightening that I dug.

I know that I’ve seen ROTLD 3, but not sure if I’ve seen 2 and definitely haven’t seen anything after that. 2’s on Netflix Instant so I’ll probably give that a look soon and then I’ll move on to the weird S&M fest that is ROTLD 3 at some point after I get through the War of the Worlds discs I hope come this week.

Halloween Scene: Prom Night (2008), Sleepwalkers ( 1992) & Jack-O (1995)

I watch a lot of movies, you guys. By this time of the week I’ve seen all the Bravo and VH1 reruns I’m interested in, so I turn on the NetBox and just look around. A lot of times these movies just turn into background noise, something to have on while I work on freelance or hunt for jobs online. The ones that capture my attention turn into Halloween Scene posts (unless it was the only thing I watched, then it’ll get a haphazard review at best). Over the past few days I’ve watched three horror movies that were just kinda eh: the 2008 Prom Night remake, Sleepwalkers, a Stephen King werewolf script, and Jack-O, a lame riff on Pumpkinhead. None of these movies really deserve their own full-on review, so I figured I would just put them all here in one quickie roundup.

Prom Night wasn’t a great movie to begin with. I’ve only seen it once and it was with Rickey. We were kinda drunk and had rented a crappy VHS copy from the Dollar Video down the street from our place. I think the reason we both liked the movie at the end was because the crappiness of the tape offered a lot of atmosphere to the movie. I don’t remember a whole lot about the original and, I’ll be honest, I don’t remember a lot of the remake. I know there was a killer there during prom and I think I have a crush on Brittany Snow. A girl I knew in high school who did the musicals with me ended up as a background dancer on her old TV show American Dreams (that’s what I heard at least, I never actually saw it after the first few episodes). So yeah, this is a pretty lame review of two movies I don’t remember, but I guess that says more about the movies than it does me (I hope).

Sleepwalkers is a movie I definitely remember from the video store. I remember that weird pink and purple cover with the floating eyes staring back at me. I didn’t even realize it was on my NetBox queue, but when I saw it I turned it right on. It’s a Stephen King script that’s based on an unpublished short story and it’s a whole ball of weirdness. There’s ALL kinds of incest you guys. Like tons. And that’s just between the two sleepwalkers, which are kind of like werecats who can turn things invisible and make a car look like a different car. It’s a pretty lame movie, on the real. The werecat effects look pretty good as do the special effects when the cars go invisible, but overall the story’s just strange. Oh, plus, you know, lots of incest. There’s also the matter that these werecats, who look like regular people most of the time, get their true nature revealed anytime they cross in front of a mirror. And they’re afraid of cats. And yeah, Milo likes the idea of cats saving the day at the end of the movie (especially after seeing so many dead kitties hanging from a tree in the very beginning), but as a human I wasn’t too interested. And that can be said about most of the movie actually.

Here’s a good way to tell if you’re dealing with a crappy movie. When you try and find a posted image that’s 269×400 and 110X150 is the best you can find. That means the internet barely cares about Jack-O and honestly, neither should you. Like I said above, it’s like Pumpkinhead, but if the kid was the hero, Pumpkinhead had an actual pumpkin for a head and the kid hero looked like my friend Randy did when we were kids. There’s some other additions like the ridiculously right wing neighbors, the slutty neighbors (different ones) and…a haunted house that the parents put on in the garage. It’s funny that I just re-read the Trick r Treat review over at HMAD today because BC mentions how well TrT builds the atmosphere of Halloween. Well, this movies fails completely. It seems like any other day except for the constant mention of the haunted garage for charity. Please don’t watch this movie, it has no redeeming qualities.

Halloween Scene: Graduation Day (1981)

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So, last night I was flipping through my Netflix Instant Watch queue and wanted to watch a short horror movie, so I settled on the 90-ish minute Graduation Day (1981). After I was a few minutes in I realized the movie sounded a bit familiar thanks to a post I read over at
Horror Movie A Day (the best horror site around as far as I’m concerned). Now, sometimes, like in the case of Troll 1 and 2, which I’ll get to shortly), I check out a movie because HMAD’s BC watched it and wrote about it. Other times, like this one, it’s just a coincidence, though we both watched it on Netflix.

Anyway, though our opinions of Netflix on Xbox differ (I only have a problem about 10% of the time), our opinion of the movie is pretty similar: it’s not great. Check out his review for a good assessment of things. Okay, done? There’s a few ridiculous things I’d like to add. First off, there is a roughly 7 minute scene which is based around a band playing a song at a roller rink or some such. The scene isn’t all that interesting, but it seemed like this performance garnered more of the budget than the rest of the flick as there’s lights and people moving all around. I wonder if they thought being in Graduation Day would be their big break?

There was one other cool kill in the movie (though completely ridiculous). This dude on the football team (though what he’s doing in pads in June is beyond me) is walking through the same woods that a bunch of kids have already been killed in and after running into Vanna White and some other girl who tosses his ball into the woods, he comes across the killer who puts a sword through the ball and then throws a perfect spiral into his torso. Hey, it’s creative, if not physically impossible.

And speaking of Vanna, her role really sucks in this flick. Like BC says, she’s one of two annoying girls that doesn’t do anything important except facilitating the football guy’s death. The funny thing is that the other girl gets more face time on camera. So, while we can hear Vanna’s distinct voice, you rarely get to see her face, which is the fun part of watching these horror movies with young stars.

Okay, one last ridiculous thing about Graduation Day. The girl who dies in the beginning has an older sister int he military. I’m not sure which branch because I wasn’t really paying attention. We do know she was in Guam though for whatever reason. Anyway, this woman who has been trained by the greatest fighting force on the face of the planet has a hard time not getting killed by some douchey teenager with a knife. She at least uses some hand-to-hand techniques when he tries attacking her under the bleachers (where he’s keeping all his victims in various poses), but both parties move so slow I thought the Netflix was flickering. Nope, just bad choreography. I was really hoping that she would really jack this dork up (who looks a lot like Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers). When will we get a movie where the “victim” really knows how to handle themselves? I want a Leatherface vs. Rambo-type movie.

Oh jeez, I forgot, there’s actually one more ridiculous moment I want to mention. It’s kind of spoilery, but I don’t recommend you actually seeing this movie unless you’re a completist slasher fan. Anyway, there’s a fake scare at the end where the dead girl’s sister is in bed before going back to the military and she imagines the killer has come back and is going to stab her in her bed. But wait, he’s dead right? Right, but instead of this just being a dream sequence, it turns out that it’s her step dad (I think he’s her step dad, again, I wasn’t paying attention. He’s at least the guy nailing her mom) yelling crazy stuff at her and holding an empty bottle. It reminded me of that scene from the Simpsons where they’re in the witness protection program and Homer keeps busting into Bart’s room with a knife and then later a hockey mask and chainsaw. This guy definitely belongs in horror’s crazy old guy hall of fame.