31 Days. 31 Movies. 31 Reviews. Some were great, some were shit, and most were somewhere in between. Here’s a quick recap:
Definitely see: Street Trash, Feast, Night of the Creeps
Honorable Mention: The Last Exorcism
Absolutely avoid: Pulse, Pieces
Farewell, October. You will be missed…
Graphics & Composition by Ryanne Mangaser
Plot: A diabolical toymaker manufactures millions of Halloween masks designed to spread evil on October 31st.
Halloween III is notoriously known as the outcast of the Halloween franchise. Why? It’s the only film in the series not to feature Michael Myers. While I’ve seen most of the Halloween movies several times, I’d never seen Season of the Witch even once. I think I avoided it for so long because I heard such awful things and didn’t really care to watch a Halloween devoid of its iconic killer. Well, the time has come. Thirty days down and one to go. What better way to finish October than with the only Halloween movie I’d yet to see???
Halloween III: Season of the Witch is nowhere near as bad as I was led to believe. The score is awesome, the acting is quite solid, the death scenes are good, and I found the ending quite satisfying. The biggest mistake this movie made was being named Halloween III. From IMDB’s trivia page:
After Michael Myers died at the end of Halloween II, the plan by John Carpenter was to make a new “Halloween” movie each year, each telling a different Halloween-related story. After this movie underperformed at the box office, the film-makers decided to bring Michael back to life for future sequels.
It turns out Halloween III is the victim of shitty marketing. This movie easily could have, and definitely should have, been called something else. I understand the hatred, but I think it’s a tad misplaced. Is Halloween III really worse than the other sequels? I don’t think so. At least Halloween III took a fresh angle. Halloween 4 and beyond recycle the same unstoppable killer plot without any logical explanation. Again, this movie is more a victim of its title than anything else. Not great by any means, but definitely not horrible. I actually liked it. If preconceived notions are keeping you at bay, grow a pair and take the plunge.
Plot: Two sisters navigate California after a comet turns the world’s population into either ravenous zombies or lifeless dust.
I rarely describe things as cute, but that’s exactly what Night of the Comet is—a cute, little horror film that doesn’t take itself too seriously but isn’t totally cheesy. Throw in the fact it was released in 1984, and I can totally understand its cult following. Night of the Comet also features several female leads, a refreshing dynamic in the horror genre, especially for its time. If you’re looking for a fun adventure that showcases girls taking charge, Night of the Comet is a perfect solution.
Plot: A college campus is terrorized by a chainsaw-wielding serial killer who cuts his victims into pieces in an attempt to create a human jigsaw puzzle.
I thought Pieces was pretty fucking terrible. Like Demons, much of the dialogue is horribly dubbed. Horribly. There are some okay death scenes, none of which I’ll remember a day or two after writing this. Actually, I take that back. There is one murder scene where the killer stabs his knife into the back of his victim’s head and the blade bends completely in half—I’ll remember that one for a while. The movie plods along while the police try to uncover the identity of our mystery killer. In the meantime, young females are chain-sawed into…pieces. For reasons explained earlier in the film, the killer takes a single body part from each of the girls he’s murdered. Eventually, the police figure out the murderer’s identity (Not-so-spoiler alert: It’s the creepy Dean!) and arrive just before he’s able to kill another victim. The end? Nope. This is where things get really good.
After putting a bullet in the Dean’s skull, the cops perform a quick sweep of the apartment. One cop leans on a trapdoor bookcase that spins around, revealing a Frankenstein-esque corpse that’s been constructed from the missing victims’ limbs. This piecemeal body falls from the bookcase, pinning one of the main characters (Kendall) to the ground in what turns out to be both the scariest and funniest moments of the entire movie. The end? Nope. Immediately following this scene is an interaction between the lead cop and Kendall, who are still inside the creepy Dean’s apartment. As they get ready to leave, Kendall stops to grab his jacket off an ottoman. As he does, the life-less hand of the jigsaw Frankenstein corpse magically reaches up, grabs Kendall’s groin, and proceeds to rip his dick off as he screams in agony. The end? Yup. The movie literally ends on a freeze frame of Kendall’s screaming face just as his dick is being ripped off by a human jigsaw corpse. PIECES!
Plot: A group of strangers are lured and trapped inside a movie theater where they must survive a demonic force.
Demons is fine. I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it nor would I go out of my way to bash it. Most of the film takes place inside a movie theater where a bunch of random individuals have been recruited for a mysterious premiere. After one of these individuals accidentally scrapes her face on an exotic mask, her cheek explodes and she turns into a demon. Anybody she bites or scratches also turns into a demon, and so on and so forth. The rest of the movie plays very much like a standard zombie film—a group of people try to survive as members of their party slowly turn into the evil they are fighting. Lots of gore. Lots of blood. Good makeup. Solid visuals. Shitty acting. And voices rarely match up with the actors’ mouth. That’s Demons. If you enjoy horror movies that focus on style over substance (and I don’t mean this in a bad way), feel free to give Demons a view, along with any other movies that have been produced or directed by Dario Argento (Suspiria) or Lucio Fulci (Zombi). There is also a sequel, Demons 2, that came out in 1986. Maybe next year…
Plot: An athlete turned quadriplegic receives assistance from a trained monkey that, unbeknownst to him, has been genetically altered.
Monkey Shines opens on an athlete, Allan, who is obliterated by a Mack truck during a morning jog. Now paralyzed from the neck down, Allan must cope with his new living situation. To help with the transition, Allan’s scientist friend offers the assistance of a trained monkey. Little does Allen know, but this monkey had been the target of a scientific experiment designed to increase brain function. Allan and the monkey quickly develop a strong bond—so strong, in fact, they become telepathically linked. Soon, the monkey begins acting upon any emotion conjured by Allen. If Allen gets mad at ex-girlfriend, monkey kills ex-girlfriend. If Allen gets mad at mother, monkey kills mother. Allen does not actually want these murders to happen, but he is helpless to stop the monkey in his paralyzed state. Eventually, Allen and the monkey duke it out. It’s even less exciting than it sounds. And that’s the movie in a nutshell.
Monkey Shines perfectly toes the line of mediocrity. There aren’t enough terrible aspects to loathe it nor enough memorable moments to treasure it. On a good day it’s a time waster; on a bad day it’s a waste of time. Either way, this movie is far too bland to warrant a recommendation.
Plot: To avenge his mother’s death, a young Abraham Lincoln trains in the arts of vampire hunting.
This movie is called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I didn’t expect much. As long as Lincoln made mincemeat of some vamps, I’d consider myself satisfied. Well, I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is essentially an action movie that revolves around vampires. As Lincoln ascends to the Presidency of the United States, he learns vampires are plotting a continental takeover by helping the South during the Civil War. It’s up to Lincoln and his years of training to stop this looming force. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is completely absurd, but that’s exactly what it should be. The action scenes are well choreographed and the sets look quite beautiful (though many of them are clearly computer generated). If you go into this movie with expectations of horror, you will be sorely disappointed. If you go into this movie with hopes of watching our 16th President butcher vampires with a silver-lined axe, I think you’ll have a hell of a time.