• Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994)

    phantasmiiiWill the Tall Man ever stay dead? Part 3 in the Phantasm series starts immediately after the second movie. Reggie and Mike had just killed the Tall Man and torched his house. As they escaped in the hearse, Reggie’s girlfriend turned out to be evil. Not long after, Mike gets kidnapped by the Tall Man and Reggie must find him back. Somehow.

    Along the way, Reggie takes on a kid named Tim as his sidekick. Initially, I thought this was a misstep, but the kid turned out to be pretty cool with his frisbee slicer and Magnum .357. Don’t mess with the kid.

    Then there was another new character named Rocky, a female badass with nunchucks. I also liked the constant Reggie advances getting shot down by her.

    This one didn’t suffer from the same problems of the previous movie. There was much more tongue-in-cheek action and I think that’s definitely where it needed to go. You want Reggie, Tim, and Rocky to survive. They are fun characters.

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  • Child’s Play 2 (1990)

    childsplay2Two years after little Andy Barclay and his mom were terrorized by the possessed Chucky doll, Andy is living with foster parents, because his mom is locked up in a psychiatric facility. The charred remains of Chucky are reconditioned by the Good Guy doll company to verify that the doll wasn’t defective.

    It doesn’t take long before Chucky is back to killing on his way to reunite with Andy. His goal is still the same from the first movie: he wants to move his soul to Andy’s body or else he will be stuck in the Chucky doll forever. As the movie progresses, people die and Andy blames Chucky, which no one believes.

    As a sequel, it doesn’t do much to expand on the first movie. It’s really just more of the same. I did like all of the methods used to make Chucky come to life. None of it was particularly realistic-looking, but that’s part of the fun. I think the more Chucky moves unnaturally, the scarier it is.

    Most of the characters are not likeable, and so it’s hard to feel engaged as things go south. You just start to think that maybe Chucky deserves to move his soul over to Andy’s body and maybe that would be a more intriguing evolution to this story.

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  • Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)


    freddys_dead
    The series had grown stale and it was time to lay it to rest with one last outing. Here we go again with the “it’s over” treatment.

    The last remaining teenager from Springwood is used by Freddy as bait to lure more children into his jurisdiction. Apparently, he can’t kill kids in their dreams outside of Springwood. Those pesky supernatural rules.

    I had no idea that Breckin Myer played a pony tailed stoner kid. Overall, the acting is not so bad. There are far too many cameos, though, as if everyone wanted to be a part of the historical final Nightmare movie. We’ve got Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold, Alice Cooper, and even Johnny Depp.

    It has a bit of back story interspersed and helps to flesh out the Freddy character a little further. By the end, the main characters (still alive) must pull Freddy out of the dream and into the real world to finish him off. The climactic last 10 minutes employ 3-D (the red and blue kind) FX to make stuff pop out from the screen. It’s about the lamest 3-D you’ll ever see. The Nightmare on Elm Street DVD box set included 2 pairs of the 3-D glasses and I remember feeling like such an assclown wearing them.

    I liked this “final” entry better than the Friday the 13th one. It was certainly a more entertaining package to sit through, but it’s nothing to write home about. The deadly dream sequences were both inventive and ridiculously campy, which the Nightmare series manages to do so well. If nothing else, they were totally right about it being time to close up the Elm street shop.

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  • Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

    finalfridayIt’s hard to take any of these movies seriously with “final” in the title. You’re going to make more. Don’t even try to act like you’re done.

    This Friday the 13th sequel is a bit of a departure from the previous movies. After an elaborate FBI trap, Jason Voorhees’ body is blown to pieces. That’s at the beginning. The rest of the movie is Jason continuing his murder spree by way of his spirit possessing other people. The flaw in this strategy is that it eliminates the notorious title character in favor of this idiotic plot device to keep the franchise going. Also, the premise rips off The Hidden.

    Then we have a bounty hunter guy who believes Jason is still “alive” and intends to kill him once and for all. Finally? He could have been a cool main character, but he’s barely in it.

    Even with minimal hockey-masked Jason appearances, the movie does manage to stay somewhat true to the previous entries in the series. There are fornicating campers, gory deaths, stalking, shitty music, and a few bare breasteses. There are some fun horror homages as well, like the Necronomicon.

    It’s mostly forgettable, because there is no real protagonist and Jason is nowhere near as menacing when he’s in a different body every 15 minutes. I liked the nice little ending scene that sets up Freddy vs. Jason. It’s kind of the consolation prize for having endured a 90-minute turd sandwich.

    Rating:

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  • Blood Car (2007)

    bloodcarA hippie school teacher accidentally invents a blood powered car while working on a wheat grass powered car, and must maintain his fuel supply with a little bit of killing. It starts innocently with squirrels and rabbits (here we ago again with the killing animals). Then it escalates to people. Boy, does it escalate quickly. He runs out of “gas” regularly and must dump a new body into the trunk to feed the car its fuel source.

    You can tell right off the bat that it is very low budget and the acting is sometimes stiff. The execution is almost like a film school project. If it is indeed a film school project, it’s not bad at all. I’ve seen much worse.

    While it is in no way flawless, I have to give it credit for what it’s trying to do. Let’s just say it’s a valiant effort. It’s got some blood and some boobs. What more do you really need?

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  • Nekromantik (1987)

    nekromantikcoverThere are far too many peeing scenes in this movie. Also, WTF did I just watch?

    This German horror porn is about as extreme as I’m willing to go, and I wasn’t that willing. I think the sexual attraction to dead things isn’t even that disgusting. What got me was the dead animals. The killing of a rabbit seemed pretty real and it’s not something I want to watch.

    Much of the movie was excessive for the sake of arousing some sort of visceral response, but it doesn’t really say anything meaningful about the human condition. I guess there are people out there that have sick fantasies. I don’t really want to know about or be around those people.

    About the only good thing about it was some of the really jarring musical cues. It added the necessary “nails on the chalkboard” symphony to the wretched visual ugliness.

    I’ve created a new rating specifically for movies like this. Behold, the anti-taco. When you see it, you understand that this is where you must turn back. No fun will ever be had here.

    Rating:

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  • Phantasm II (1988)

    phantasm_2It took 9 years to produce a sequel, but only 6 years have passed in the movie. The ending of the first movie is continued through flashbacks and the younger brother, Mike, is now a grown-up. He is joined by Reggie, also returning from the first movie and a new character, Liz, who has psychic tendencies. They must unite to try to stop the Tall Man, who just wants to kill everyone with his little murder sphere.

    There are some road movie elements, and a great MacGyver-esque montage of the heroes loading up on weaponry. The hunt is on to find and destroy the Tall Man once and for all.

    While there are some good gory kills, the sequel misses some of the nuances that made the original a classic. The overall tone is more of a buddy cop movie. It lacks the momentum and pacing. The middle part drags, but it picks up in the third act.

    I won’t go so far as to say this sequel shouldn’t ever have been made, but I will say that it could have been so much better. It’s not very memorable and it’s only fun some of the time. The rest of the time, it’s like a chore to sit through.

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  • Phantasm (1979)

    phantasm-posterTwo brothers deal with strange goings-on in a small Oregon town where people are dying and the most likely suspect is a creepy undertaker known as the Tall Man.

    Phantasm achieved cult status and is well known for it’s original premise, iconic Tall Man character, and the deadly sphere object. These elements are explored in greater depth in four sequels. It’s fun seeing how later movies were influenced by some of the scenes in Phantasm. There is a scene in George Romero’s Day of the Dead that is very reminiscent of a dream sequence in this movie.

    The movie holds up surprisingly well for being made in the late 70s. I mean, there are bell bottoms everywhere and it’s definitely got an old vibe, but the story still works and most of the FX aren’t too bad. I kept wondering how they got away with so much gore in those days.

    Pretty much all of the acting is atrocious. Angus Scrimm is good as the Tall Man. He’s normally scary looking and he gives a menacing presence in all of his scenes. The younger brother is totally worthless and he curses like a sailor.

    Bottom line: this is perfect for a cool October evening spooky movie night.

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  • Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

    freddy-vs-jason-posterWhen it first came out, I thought Freddy vs. Jason sounded absolutely ridiculous. It turns out that both horror franchises needed the breath of fresh air that this movie brings.

    With Freddy rendered powerless due to the townsfolk suppressing his memory, he uses Jason as his pawn to bring the good people of Springwood back to fearing him and thus giving him strength. I know it’s a bit looney tunes, but it actually works. Even though it was directed by Ronny Yu, at times it felt like a Wes Craven Freddy movie and other times it felt like a Wes Craven Scream movie. It didn’t feel much like a Jason movie as there was minimal stalking.

    The movie is fast paced and never gets bogged down. Once Freddy exits the dream world, it’s go time as the two iconic characters battle it out to the bitter end.

    The production is top-notch. After watching so many 80s horror movies, it’s nice to have artistic shots, good lighting, realistic special FX, clean audio, appropriate casting, and better than average acting.

    There is so much carnage. It’s pretty horrific for today’s standards. Each kill is a little bit more brutal than the last with buckets of blood everywhere.

    It’s just too bad that they couldn’t have kept the momentum going beyond what was started here. In a way, this movie was kind of the last hurrah for these notorious bad dudes.

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  • Gate II (1990)

    gate iiIt’s sequel time! Terry, the ugly not Stephen Dorff kid from the first movie, is back and his life has gone to shit after the events of the first movie. He’s all alone and his dad is an alcoholic. For some reason, he thinks that opening the demon gateway and harnessing its power will somehow get things back on track. Yeah, that makes a whole lot of no sense whatsoever.

    When the movie fails to make any plot progress, we get boring scenes such as Terry helping his dad with a necktie, Terry falling asleep in class, and Terry longingly staring at a ballerina music box.

    Then there is the fun stuff like one of the little demon creatures being kept as a pet in a cage. And it swings on the little bird perch. Truly wonderful. And Terry and some girl can wish for stuff and the demon provides, but the stuff turns to shit after about a 24 hour period. Like, actual dookie. It’s spectacular. Also, be careful wishing for stuff from a little stop-motion demon that swings in a bird cage.

    The sound design is also great as most of the dialogue sounds like ADR, so it often sounds too present in the mix or else like it was not recorded in the same space as the rest of the sounds. The music alternates between straight up 80s poppy fun and the worst horror/suspense synthesized strings score.

    The middle part up until the end really drags. I was willing to give a pass on some of the tedious stuff, but the 90-minute run time felt more like a Peter Jackson Hobbit movie.

    Rating:

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