Spooktacular: Halloween 4-6

I thought I'd make it thru the entire series, but really three were at my dosage for the day. Still have H20, Resurrection, and End. I will get back to those, obviously everything up thru Nightmare Before Christmas time is still Halloween.

  • **Halloween I-II: Previously.
  • **Halloween III: Season of the Witch: Even more previously.

  • Halloween 4: Return of Michael Myers (1988): "Jesus ain't got nothin' to do with this place. This is where society dumps its worst nightmares. (continues recapping 1-2) Welcome to Hell!" Thanks, strangely informative security guard Jones. Mikey yet again breaks out of the asylum during a transfer on a stormy night, after a decade of sedation and doing nothing, he can punch a hole in a man's skull with his thumb. Laurie (JLC having better things to do) offscreen has a daughter Jamie (not Lee Curtis) and then dies. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is back and having a great time! Despite the "burn" latex on his face & hands.

So most of the film is split as in 2 with Loomis pursuing Mikey, and Mikey pursuing a little moppet; she's cute but utterly ineffectual. Mob of grade-school bullies taunt her with "Jamie's an orphan!"; real bastard kids are more creatively evil. I do like the blatant horror tropes, flashbacks of Laurie to little Mikey, the psychopomp, crazy old preacher who talks about hunting apocalypse. New cop is surprisingly competent and ready to help, without a lot of "oh no I don't believe you". Town drunks & rednecks instantly form a posse/angry mob. But then Mikey's able to massacre multiple locations & critical infrastructure without any planning. I must say, the "guy cheats on girl so they must both die" bit, the new girl is much much hotter than Jamie's stepsister.

Best kill: The cheating girl. The setup is an offscreen kill but you think for a second Mikey's gonna shoot… nope! The rest are pretty lame.

And the chilling finale, looping back to the first film!

Like the first film, they shot it during spring, and here it's even more obvious, green lawns & Utah shrubbery instead of Midwest autumn leaves. Utterly implausible location/time. Soundtrack is lame, lite muzak imitation of Carpenter's score without the overwhelming electronic noise, but not played often, just stingers. Maybe the scariest thing in this film was, my overhead light started flickering & went out during the dark house sequence. Woo-eee-ooo.

★★☆☆☆ Adds nothing to the world.

  • Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989): Recap of previous film, then a hobo in a shack with a parrot finds Mikey. Sir, Haddonfield, IL would be way too cold for a parrot to survive. Jamie is now a loonie after trying to murder her mom under Mikey's psychic control, and sees his visions… But she can't speak! Later this is dropped with no explanation. Loomis is histrionic, but has a moment of trying to talk to Mikey, with typical results.

Right off, this is gonna be a struggle. There's comic horn beeping when the cops (one is Troy Evans, more recently "Barrel" in Bosch) are in the scene. Kill off the recurring characters (stepparents are never seen, stepsister dies in minutes, "Tina" takes her place), bring in some bimbos too dumb to be valley girls on coke, imitation Fonzie, another dumb child for Jamie to sacrifice to Mikey.

Mikey is here played by a smaller actor (Don Shanks) in football pads, and he looks pathetic in shots where you can see him clearly. The same actor plays the "Man in Black" with really sweet boots that cost half the budget, but he does nothing.

The murder altar here is super out of character, more like something Jason would do. There's an impossible touching moment and unburned face.

Other than a few very short stingers, I don't even recall hearing music.

★☆☆☆☆ May be the least interesting slasher flick in history.

  • Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995): Well this is a train wreck, but trying to build a cosmology instead of the random crap of the last movie. Most of a decade was wasted trying to get a script, Tarantino and others passed it around. I'm shocked anything gets made by Hollywood. I'm watching the standard version, there's also a "Producer's Cut" with a lot more magic conspiracy stuff? Hrmn.

Crazy Jamie is now 15 (but played by 20-year-old J.C. Brandy), held prisoner, impregnated, gives birth to a baby; by the Thorn Cult, the Men in Black seen previously with the ᚦ (thorn rune) on everything. Hot librarian Kara (Marianne Hagan), her son Danny being turned into another Mikey by the cult, and bad parents/victims now live in the old Strode house. Bad choices! Laurie's old babysitting brat Tommy (Paul Stephen Rudd) is now an online Mikey conspiracy theorist. Loomis (very old Donald Pleasence with no more burn latex) lives alone in the woods because that's a good idea. But soon Jamie manages to get the band back together by prank-calling the only radio station anyone listens to.

You know what I love about Haddonfield? Their commitment to Halloween, street parties and screaming at the handful of helpless cops, even tho every few years there's a giant bloody massacre. These people love to party. They love the sacrifice and tradition.

One perfect shot: Creepy landlady telling little Danny about Samhain, then Kara about babysitting little Mikey Myers… lightning flashes… and you can see Mikey standing outside thru the window. Good job!

A few of the kills are very gruesome, maybe even too much so, just gore & splatter bags exploding. Others are completely G-rated. Kara gets strangled and has no finger marks on her neck, often there's just a splash of blood, sometimes there's no blood on weapons. Mikey rarely poses the corpses, but a couple times they're set as traps/funhouse props, like the good old days.

Lot of running around Smith's Grove asylum, now a combination hospital/prison/medieval bedlam, and being played with by the Men in Black. Remember you don't have to outrun Mikey, you just have to outrun the slower person he's going to kill. Party members in the asylum come and go, they really don't know how to keep together.

Again barely has any music, except stingers, and a short piece when Mikey's stalking. Alan Howarth from Halloween II did a soundtrack, which was largely cut in editing, and there's a few hillbilly rock songs.

Credits:

In Memory of DONALD PLEASENCE

★★★½☆ Very flawed, half-assed, confused movie, covered in the viscera of a better movie that could've been. But watchable. This has been the high point of today, for sure.

Spooktacular: Ginger Snaps Trilogy

  • Ginger Snaps:

Warning: Dogs die in this movie. So do people, but dogs are more sympathetic.

In a shitty suburb somewhere in Canada, Brigitte (Emily Perkins) & Ginger (Katherine Isabelle) Fitzgerald are the cutest goth sisters, in love with death and horror, staging death scenes like Chainsaw & Dave from Summer School, but with less mercy. They play a game "DOA" of ideal death staging for mean girls they hate… real or filmed. Sam the drug dealer (Kris Lemche) in his panel van (gardening/tree management, good cover for a pot grower, ha ha) is a bit cliché, but has the obvious 3rd party member look.

Dad is completely useless, and rarely present. Mom is surprisingly cool, even offers an extreme solution to what she thinks is going on. But parents, awful kids at school, school counsellors, janitors, etc. are completely useless compared to the sisters.

The problem with a movie about SFX fans is if there's "real" gore or monsters, how do you show the difference? The corpses and monster look like talented but somewhat amateur Tom Savini or Rick Baker fans made them. The monster is filmed in the shakiest of shaky cams, so it doesn't have to be American Werewolf in London or even The Howling good, but if you pause or just have fast image memory, it's kind of too obviously staged.

The girls reaction to the attack and several changes happening to Ginger are the important part, tho. It's a film about female troubles first, the monster second. Ginger turns all hot and witchy, white stripes going thru her hair, the dumb boy obvious prey. Sam and Brig hang out plotting how to hunt lycanthropes:

Let's not panic here. For one, that thing on the road,
my van did a pretty good job on it,
without the benefit of silver bullets.
So, let's just forget the Hollywood rules.
There's gotta be a cure, right?
Otherwise there'd be a hell of a lot more of them.

And Ginger:

I get this ache, and
I thought it was for sex,
but it's to tear everything into fucking pieces.

Ginger gets worse and hotter, even the little tail is cute. But fucked. In wolf form she has six teats! For a chicks-empowerment movie, it does actually a lot of pinup posing of pre-monster Ginger.

I love how the suburban house has a giant maze of unfinished walls in the basement, almost like a sound stage filled with the cheapest building material.

The movie hits a climax and then just ends, rolls over and says "done" like a shitty teenage fuck. Which is why there's a sequel.

★★★★☆

  • Ginger Snaps Back:

Brigitte is on the run, sometimes hallucinating her dead sister Ginger. And yet she uses her real name for her library card, Canadians are just that polite & orderly. A big, male werewolf is stalking her. She's shooting up with monkshood extract, and it's keeping the change at bay but not for long. And found like this, she's treated like a junkie and shoved in a semi-abandoned mental institution, played here by a real abandoned mental institution. She has maybe a month before she goes like Ginger?

The other people are annoying. Child named Ghost (Tatiana Maslany) dresses like a normie, but says spooky Emily the Strange type crap, crawls thru air ducts like Newt, immediately connects hints and badly painted comics to figure out "WEREWOLF" (where, wolf?) Asshole abusive orderly (Brendan Fletcher, scumbag/not-quite-heavy in every Canadian B-series ever) offers drugs/poison for whoring; pretty clearly you should not employ young men to control young women. Alice (Janet Kidder, somewhat upscale Canadian fill-in parts actress) as therapist, can put a guy's eyes out with her rockets, claims to be an ex-junkie who's done everything but looks way too fresh & professional for that.

Ghost eventually leads Brigitte into a dark outer world, the monster returns, running & screaming. Hmn. I've been assuming Ghost is like 12, but Tatiana Maslany is 19 in this, and the character drives a car. But then, Emily Perkins was 23 in the first one playing 15, is now 27 playing… 17? Best not to think about it, but Ghost makes it an issue at all times.

Ghost's hell-house & booby traps are the worst, only accidental victims. Of course, it's a big bad wolf attacking grandma's house thru the woods. And he's gonna huff and puff, or maybe get inside… some other way. But Ghost is no innocent Little Red Riding Hood, and Brigitte, Jeremy, & Alice aren't the Huntsmen.

I guess I like the ending, but a lot of the middle is tedious, obvious chase scene crap, minimal speaking cast unlike the first one, stock horror movie instead of a drama that happens to have monsters.

The new monster suit looks better, it sustains some longer shots. There's more Canadian alt-rock, the end song by Joydrop especially made me laugh.

★★★½☆

  • Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning

An origin story nobody asked for. The sisters are back in 19th C (but C-average history student research) Canada, wandering around the woods (oh, cheapest of Z-movie sets) for no reason, to a fort where they seem awful paranoid of outsiders.

Either I'm very tired after 3 movies, or this is a very dull, formulaic film. They have occasional gunfights against the monsters outside, there's no mystery or even suspense. Couple wandering around Colonial Williamsburg type set and pretending to see monsters. The doctor's leeches turn weird & mutant if used on an infected, ripped off from The Thing.

There's a new bullshit mythology that personally killing the one who infected you, cures your infection. Obviously nonsense, as we know from the first/good film, it's a scientific infection not magic. Indian Hunter (Nathaniel Arcand, given no character name) claims white men brought the Wendigo along with other plagues, which is unlikely since the Algonquin myth predates the invasion of North America, is widespread northwest of them too, and isn't bestial, but a hungry giant.

The hunter's magic cave is lit with like $200 (CDN$300) of candles from Bed Bath & Beyond, doing drugs tells you what you should do, but of course the Fitz girls never do anything right.

The monster suits except the main one are pretty bad, and they don't do anything except growl and get killed, no fast attacks like in the previous movies.

What I think of when watching this is Ravenous (1999), which has a slightly similar premise, but the characters are fun, especially the antagonist, the mythology is creative and more authentic to Wendigo myths, the story suspenseful and morbidly fun. Everything this isn't.

No animals or werewolves were harmed in the production of this film.

★★☆☆☆

Spooktacular: Corpse Bride

Another animated toy movie by Tim Burton. Seen it a couple times.

So a bland, personality-free, impoverished, moon-faced, aristocrat girl Victoria (as in "think of England", played by Emily Watson) is to marry a whiny, nervous fishmonger's son Victor (played by Johnny Depp), overly managed by their awful parents.

Sidebar: Depp used to be a fun junkie, at least at a distance, but with his repetitive creepy roles, his creepy relationships with younger women, the creepy details of his Amb-r H--rd marriage… I really don't want much more exposure to him. He's probably not quite Future Harvey Weinstein/Phil Spector/keeping bits of girls in bottles material like Leo DiCaprio is, but he grosses me out. Terrible people can make perfectly adequate actors, but too far and I only see that.

After making ill-advised vows in a forest to what is very obviously a charred skeleton, Emily (Helena Bonham Carter) rises and takes him to a magic wonderland/horrific underworld. She's lovely, fun, charming, only a little bit rotted and maggoty. AND he gets his dog back. Really any guy should be so lucky.

Weirdly, the surface world is Victorian era, but rendered in very close to monochrome, but the underworld is basically 1930s New Orleans, with jazz songs and brighter colors.

Victor's a cad, a jerk, a bore, who doesn't appreciate anything good in life, and just wants a bowl of gruel and the dullest girl produced by the dullest race on Earth. I really have no sympathy for Victoria, and I don't think Emily should either, because she's just so dull.

So Lord Barkis (Richard E. Grant) shows up and lurks around, vaguely someone connected but nobody bothers to figure out who he is, and there's no other guests so you'd think they'd really focus on him. Nope. Until he turns out to be… related to Emily's backstory. But he makes no sense. If he's a thief & lady-killer, there's no money to be gained from Victoria, did he just do no research? Serial killers (as opposed to spree killers) usually obsessively study their victims first.

When Victor finally does agree to die and join the hot (but grave-cold) girl, it's out of character. Everyone in the underworld is excited, but I don't believe it possible of him.

The dead returning to the overworld is great, that's what the film should mostly be, instead of a short screamy parade. Girls dissolving into a swarm of moths don't make any sense in the cosmology shown so far; you seem to stay dead and just keep rotting away down below.

Victor & Victoria are going to have a dull, miserable life, still totally owned & controlled by their parents, nothing at all has changed except she knows he cheats with dead girls.

Such cute character designs, and Emily's great, but the plot and loser living couple all but ruin it. Danny Elfman manages to do some out-of-character music, but mostly it's Batman/Edward Scissorhands soundtrack all over again.

★★★★☆ I guess but I'm always disappointed by it.

Spooktacular: The Crow

Back in the '90s, young goth industrial Mark watched this once a week or two, just as background angry music vibes, often before doing a radio show or DJ set. "Palm-slam the VHS in and do all the moves" as it were. Now I have a DVD which is almost too good, I dunno what I'd do with 4K Bluray, since the film to me is that dark, blurry vibe. There's terrible sequels & TV shows, and an upcoming whitewashed honkie sequel, which everyone involved with should die of shame. I'm only going to talk about the first one (and the original James O'Barr comic? Maybe sometime.)

Set on October 30th, "Devil's Night" in the film's world, I thought about waiting but I've got something else scheduled. And I need something a little more serious after the last few.

Eric (Brandon Lee) & Shelley are way too cute and nice, by now they'd be all cottagecore, Nightmare Before Xmas their favorite film, farmhouse and antique shop decorated with Hallmark® & pumpkins. But at this time, the returned Eric is all dark rage. Sarah the little girl and Darla the slut mom are kind of pointless, but it gives Eric someone to talk to in a few scenes. I hate Sarah's voiceovers.

His first kill, Tin Tin, is messy, no fighting skill but superior strength & speed, putting his knives back in him. His preying on the pawnbroker is a show of invulnerability, and cold rage. He's figuring out what he is and why.

"At least he didn't do that walking against the wind crap, I hate that."

Ernie Hudson as beat cop, occasional giant walking armory. I just wish he could do one Winston Zeddemore line.

Second kill of Funboy is all taunting and jokes and ironic killing with his own implements. Actually the first 3 are, arsonist T-Bird burned into his ride, but the last two (and all the thugs) stop being ironic.

"This is the really real world, there ain't no comin' back!"

Joyride with T-Bird, for once a bad guy recognizes that he's in a horror movie and not the monster this time. Eric's crow graffiti got more elaborate each time, after this he wouldn't have time to draw these out before the cops arrive, even as slow and useless as they are in the city.

Boardroom meeting has a lot of Batman (1989) vibes. "Gentlemen!" in the same tone as painted-up Joker. Gang of disposable thugs. Invincible hero in black. But all the specific sides are backwards.

"I'm not Skank, that's Skank right there. Skank's dead!" "THAT'S RIGHT."

Final church duel, with an almost mortal Eric and Top Dollar, and creepy sister thinking she can use the crow's magic. Very Highlander, actually, I always expect lightning and Queen music here.

And then a gun with blanks, not checked for safety, shot Brandon Lee dead on set. They finished the missing scenes with the stunt double & bad CGI face swap.

"You didn't say goodbye. And you're never coming back."

★★★★★

Spooktacular: Demon City Shinjuku

Anime from 1988. I'm shamefully watching a dub, as the better version I have has no subtitles! This movie was so popular it got a Big Eyes Small Mouth RPG adaptation, tho it's 2 decades out of print. There's several remake/inspired-by games. I barely remember actually watching this, must've been 25 years ago, but I've used the game several times.

Hairy man with a stick, and sorcerer Levi Rah have a swordfight on a rooftop, and when the sorcerer wins, he plunges an elite shopping district of Tokyo into darkness and ruin. That monster!

10 YEARS LATER, President Can-do-no-wrong has stopped all war and flies around in a Space Shuttle. This is the future world if we only got rid of shopping!

Scruffy hero Kyoya (son of hairy man) & sexy woman co-worker who talks like a Southern hillbilly work at a noodle shop, and he trains kids in kendo, but SECRETLY he's a master magic ninja "Nenpo". Ghost Yoda shows up to recruit him, but says he's not ready, and all he has is a wooden bokken. Can-do-no-wrong is tangled up in evil vines for some reason, guarded by Real Yoda. Daughter of Can-do-no-wrong follows scruffy hero down a dark street to recruit him.

Long segments of Kyoya & President's daughter running around Shinjuku, fighting gangs, getting conned. Everyone who talks is sucked into a black void, or a sewer, or attacked by a giant bug.

Young punk Chibi guides them around. Cool trenchcoat guy Doctor Mephisto with faux-Transylvanian/Russian accent shows up to help, which is so not suspicious. A sizzling hot chick refugee from Wicked City shows up, with explosive results. So far all the weirdo monsters have been good, but there's half an hour of nothing happening between them. There's zero character development of anyone, just weird people in a dark city.

Multiple times, Levi Rah can pull Kyoya into ghost worlds to be hit by monsters, or just sit in a nice park (actually an abattoir populated by demon children, the worst kind of children!). But he never seems to seal the deal.

A final showdown, a sacrificial virgin, Levi Rah rules all, and has an actual magic sword instead of a stick and Nenpo. "I despise you!" [exploded] Levi Rah finally gets to monologue at an audience, and it's pretty good. Kyoya finds the magic stick of his father, which failed to killed Levi Rah the first time, but somehow it works now? This final fight makes no sense. Anyway everyone walks away happy, with a hint of a sequel that never came.

The visuals of this film are astounding; this is why we have anime, to make demonic hellworlds real. Not enough is done with the fact this is Shinjuku, there should be more shops, style-gangs or demons, government intervention instead of it being like Escape from New York. The music's pretty mediocre, jazzy trumpet city pop mostly, with some synth stingers. This cries out for a full-on vaporwave soundtrack in a remake. The actual plot is the most linear D&D adventure possible.

★★★½☆

Spooktacular: Rob Zombie's The Munsters (2022)

A prequel origin story we never asked for. Setting seems to be a random mix of 19th to mid-20th C Transylvania by way of overacting and bad jokes. Every shot is lit with colored gels or neon, it's like Atomic Blonde got drunk and threw up on the screen.

Opens with a series of vignettes. Mediocre, campy graverobbers (Richard Brake—Night King, Jorge Garcia—fatass Hurley, shocked he's still alive) collecting parts. Grampa/The Count (Daniel Roebuck) comes up from his coffin, with Igor (Sylvester McCoy! Not my favorite Doctor!) all excited about matchmaking Lily with Count Orlock. Lily (Sheri Moon Zombie) has an excruciating date with Orlock (also Richard Brake), full Nosferatu makeup. The terrible bar is kind of nifty, a goth Star Wars cantina vibe. Werewolf (Tomas Boykin, eventually named Lester) is The Count's disowned son, which at least explains where Eddie will get his lineage; the Countess is not seen or mentioned, but I expect she was a bitch! Breaking news tells us idiot & genius brothers have both died… WHICH BRAIN will the graverobbers collect? Yeah.

"I want a man that makes my blood run cold. That every time he enters my crypt, it's like a stake thru my dead, black, heart." —Lily

Up until Herman's (Jeff Daniel Phillips) unwrapping, I'm pretty dubious of this whole joke. But then he comes out… tells some jokes, clowns around, and… OK, this guy can play Herman. He is really dumb, but having him become a vaudeville/rocker works for dumb.

Zombie-a-Go-Go nightclub is pretty lit. I wish we had that for real.

Long sequence of them dating, over the Count's objection, then typical sitcom hijinks. The visuals are great, the plot is recycled '50s rom-com, and I really really hate rom-com. Half an hour or more with the only amusing bit being them collecting little baby Spot.

Through shenanigans, they move to Hollywood… 1313 Mockingbird Lane… on Halloween. There's a long block party sequence which is actually fun again. The movie nearly redeems itself!

And in the morning, under blazing sunlight, the Munsters react to their new normal life among square honkie pastel-clothed Los Angelinos with the same shock I would. IT IS A HORROR MOVIE AFTER ALL!

The end credits are pretty great, tho, recreating the series intro, then a little rock song by Count Orlock about them.

It has all the flaws of a Rob Zombie film, without any gore or fucking, and only a few funky scenes to make up for it.

★★½☆☆

Spooktacular: Halloween I-II

  • Halloween (1978): I always forget this opens with little Mikey murdering his sister's tits (all we can see thru the mask), it's not a flashback later. Carpenter has a heavy hand with his soundtrack, which is awesome but often overpowers the dialogue in scenes. Adult Michael Myers (Tony Moran) escaping from an institution in the rain is perfectly goth; could he try any harder? How does he know how to drive, or find his old house, or cut phone lines after half a lifetime institutionalized? We don't know, but he's doing good!

Teenage high-school friends & baby-sitters club Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis, b.1958), Lynda (P.J.Soles, b.1950), Annie (Nancy Kyes, b.1949) (ages 20, 28, 29; but JLC looks mid-20s) fart around and see spooky Mikey driving around, then hiding behind bushes, but do nothing about it. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) warns everyone, stridently and repeatedly, that Mikey is evil. EVIL! Honestly I'm more worried about the good doctor's mental state.

Long segment of doing nothing, there's a good 30 minutes of this film could be cut at the start, it's so very slow. Here's a minute watching Forbidden Planet, admittedly one of my favorite films. Until finally… A KILL! 53 minutes in. Next one's another 12 minutes, after the sacrifices nominate themselves by fucking. Laurie finally starts investigating. "Your fucking on the phone sounds a lot like someone dying!" (she doesn't quite say).

Mikey's staging of his kills like a funhouse is great. Kill spread out on a bed with the stolen tombstone above, jack'o'lantern beside. Hanging one corpse. Stuff another in a spring-open cupboard, oddly illuminated for a dark house. When chasing, he lets his victims see, slowly walks over, waits for them to run around, freak out, and hide… then moves in. Just perfectly theatrical. As noted in Scream, "movies don't make people serial killers, movies make serial killers better!". Neighbors in this very white suburb of course don't help anyone screaming outside on Halloween, like Kitty Genovese.

Laurie's not helpless, of course, she's got that killer instinct of her own. And Loomis is looming around somewhere with a gun, as doctors often do. The Sheriff (father of one of the slain girls) is utterly, totally useless. It's common in horror RPGs to have the police be unavailable or incompetent, and here's the trope creator at its peak.

★★★★☆ for the first 15 & last 45 minutes, ★☆☆☆☆ for the middle 30.

Note: This film was made for $325,000, earned $47M.

  • Halloween II (1981): Immediately starts with the last few minutes of the previous film. Z-grade films often use stock footage or rip off their previous installments, but we don't usually see that in independent but well-funded films like Carpenter's. This has a budget of $2.5M, earned $25M. Almost the exact same soundtrack, and same heavy-handedness.

Not quite Steadicam®, but hand-held filming for killer's POV, might be the first time we'd ever seen that. Pretty soon it switches back to conventional camera behind the action.

Michael is a little different, here played by Dick Warlock (what a great name!)

Even if Mikey gets a couple more kills in, Loomis can't find him. But he can just about shoot another kid in a white mask, who then gets killed by exploding cars. Pointless death! Nobody is punished for this near-shooting/vehicular homicide.

None of the new characters have much development, even as much as the first movie. Sheriff & then useless #2 cop don't believe Mikey got away. Ambulance guys and their nurse girlfriends are creeps. Very slow lack of plot movement, couple cops and Loomis wander around looking at things.

Most of the kills in this are very inartistic, just walk up behind, hit or stab, done. No posing. There's a hot tub scene where Mikey shows a little creativity, and the second kill is more creative/gross. The old doctor & virgin nurse have somewhat more medical deaths, possibly even predicting Dexter! Jimmy the ambulance guy, wannabe boyfriend to Laurie, has the dumbest, most accidental death in any film.

Laurie's cunning, self-defense instincts have been missing for the first hour, but finally she gets up and wanders around hiding; pretty good for a girl who was stabbed & broke an ankle just hours ago.

The institution finally comes to collect the madman "Doctor" Loomis and implement Reagan's policy of "care in the community" (let crazy people roam & be homeless). Now we find out why Mikey's after Laurie!

Of course nothing stops the Mikester. He's become completely unstoppable and inhuman at this point, an avatar of death. Even the worst possible injuries only inconvenience him.

While there's a little additional plot & lore here, it doesn't really feel like a plot resolution. Maybe he's dead, maybe not. Laurie's got the thousand-mile stare of Linda Hamilton in Terminator. She's ready to murder some of her own.

This is basically 92 minutes of film hiding the 30 minutes that should've been in the first. I'd love to see a "Halloween Good Parts Edition" without all the flab.

★★★☆☆ MEH.

Spooktacular: Coraline

Never saw or read this, despite a lot of Neil Gaiman in my bookshelf.

The stop-motion throughout is amazing. And preposterously expensive and time-consuming, to produce a thing that 80% of the time would be possible live-action, 10% would require some SFX, 10% would need CGI or painted cartoons. It does stand out, but Coraline is the only one who gets real facial expressions, apparently by swapping prostheses and editing out lines. I prefer a more Ray Harryhausen solution of stop-motion and green-screens.

A family with two workaholic drones and a pre-teen emo girl has moved into a weird old house, which never goes badly. How the house is divided up isn't all that clear; the family gets 2 main floors, the basement for 4 old biddies, the attic for the Amazing Bobinski & his mouse carnival. Little girl should not spurn the beets of Amazing Bobinski. He's amazing. Must be the beets. But his beats are weak.

Never put a banana slug up your nose. It may crawl up there and eat your brain and walk around as you, and that's how we get Republicans. Wybie survives by not having much there to start with.

Of course if you find a secret small door in your house, you should go explore it! (the ones in my house lead to a heating duct and a nasty unusable space behind the heater, not to fantastical other worlds, alas.)

The Other Mother goes from extremely friendly and Best Mom Ever, to somewhat more controlling.

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." —Leo Tolstoy

In this case, the family is unhappy because Coraline won't let Mother sew buttons in her eyes. Other than that, everything seems better there, and they see fine. I don't see why Coraline's so worked up.

The Cat in the other world is good, Keith David's a hell of a voice for it, but really it shoulda been Danny John-Jules. "Today I've made a whole lotta things MINE!"

So then a quest to collect the four mcguffins, which look a lot like random household objects, a boss fight, a ritual to banish the evil, but all done the way a kid would. The boss fight is very directly inspired/ripped off from a scene in Krull.

As is often the case with Gaiman's work, it's cute & "spook-adjacent", fairy tales and D&D, rather than horror, and this one is more for kids than usual.

★★★½☆

Halloween Movie Spooktacular: Beetlejuice

Every day is Halloween 🎃 to me, but for the next month+week, I'm in full spooky times. I've pulled up my entire horror/weirdo movie list, and I'm going thru them. Some are new to me, some very old.

  • Beetlejuice: 👻 Beetlejuice 👺 BEETLEJUICE. Geena Davis is so goddamned cute it hurts, but her rustic gingham dress and the boy's (Adam Baldwin, before becoming fat and evil) khaki & plaid make them look much more old-timey than the '80s. And drowning in 3m of water is ridiculous. I'm not a particular fan of Jamaican music, must say, and their fixation on it is… squares who don't smoke weed but wear Bob Marley shirts are weirdos.

I don't understand the purpose of Jane, the annoying neighbor/realtor, she doesn't own or sell the house, she doesn't impart any useful information, just hands over a key. Lydia could've found the key on a spidery lintel and this subplot cut.

Delia's (Catherine O'Hara) "hat" of two gloves twisted together is maybe the worst thing in this; her art's bad but her fashion is nightmarish. Charles (Jeffrey Jones) is close to a non-entity, he wants peace and quiet, and likes the rustic normcore of the dead couple, but when the plot needs him to scheme he turns feral again. Urgo or Otho or whatever (Glenn Shadix, Associate Bob from Demolition Man) is bizarre, pretentious, but maybe the only one of the invaders with his own plot & agenda, this feels like one weird scenario in a longer story for him.

Lydia, of course, this is the film that made me love Winona Ryder. Creepy little goth girls are my favorite. Overly indulged and rich, rather than the punk version I'm more familiar with. She has no fear of the weird, only annoyance at how tedious and self-indulgent her family are, and here's a normcore dead couple to imprint on instead. Pretty soon she'll be wearing black gingham.

Finally on to the freakshow! The underworld desert is very undeveloped in this, just sand, angular shapes, and stop-motion sandworms. I've seen a few episodes of the cartoon, which covers this more, but need to find & watch the rest.

The dead bureaucracy waiting room, all the dead workers, there's just fantastic character designs and makeup, and some great practical gags like the separated woman.

Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton) is a little more lazy evil than the monster he pretends to be. He'll do evil deeds if he can get something out of it, but he's probably been doing this a long, long time, millennia, and can't really put in the effort anymore. "I've seen the Exorcist 167 times, and it keeps getting funnier every single time I see it!"

Juno (Sylvia Sidney) does a good Linda Hunt imitation, her advice isn't very useful as you'd expect from a career bureaucrat. "Never trust the living!"

The trivial access of the living to the Handbook for the Recently Deceased is a bit of a problem; so many ghosts leaving their books around would be pretty obvious.
★★★★★

What I'm Watching: Free Guy

Deadpool is a nebbish bank teller NPC "Guy" in Knock-off Grand Theft Auto Online, who becomes self-aware. Knock-off WildStyle (Jodie Comer, the knock-off of Liz Banks) is looking for the SECRET DATA that will FREE THE SYSTEM. There's a lot of idiot players running around shooting things, which is OK, but there are very few good action pieces for the protagonists. There is a meh kiss, otherwise entirely rated T for Teens, simulated violence and limited profanity, but no nudity. Almost everything this film needs to be interesting, is what it doesn't do.

There's a few unrealistic/terrible for plot things, to say the least.

  1. In MMOs, levelling fast by ignoring quests is not plausible. If there were high rewards for being "good guys", other power-gamers would do it to cheat up to max level, then go bad again.
  2. You can generally nuke or spawn any NPC or knock specific players offline from an MMO's management console. This "ghosting" accounts thing makes no sense.
  3. You don't keep servers physically in your corporate/dev headquarters, they're at some ISP on a main Internet trunk, spread around the world, managed by professional sysadmins and not a petulant man-baby with an axe.
  4. Even if you stole the code of some indie game, you wouldn't keep the original terrain running, wasting CPU/RAM.
  5. We've had "life simulators" where you just watch characters, all the way back to Little Computer People; they don't sell well, they're ignored after a few hours. Games need either a task, or sandbox you can screw around in.
  6. Hot girl realizes that she loves the personality of the ugly bobble-head-lookin' dude (Creepy Steve from Stranger Things) she worked with, even without Deadpool's face & body. Realistically, she'd obsess over her hot CGI guy and congeal into her chair over the next few years.

Everything in this has been done better in TRON (literally the core plot), Dark City, The Thirteenth Floor (especially the hot girl & simulated guy), The Matrix 1-4, and The LEGO Movie (literally the Special and WildStyle). It is better than the abomination of Spielberg's Ready Player One movie, but the book was of course far better.

★★★☆☆ generic movie fails to execute a much better idea.