House (1977)

★★★★

Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House does haunted house movies right. In this mix of comedy and horror, nothing is too far-fetched. It is a tough film to write about because it is difficult to all take in. In one scene a skeleton is dancing then in another scene, a man transforms into bananas. What can be said but, House is one hell of a ride and one up’s itself with every scene.

Some of the effects in House look intentionally cheesy. The intention by Obayashi was to make the film’s effects look almost childish. This adds to the effect and tone of the movie. As this is not fully horror, but a farce as well. This film definitely has surrealist comedy elements. As shown through the bizarre practical effects and the various scenes in the haunted house.

Where the film is lacking is in the acting department. Many of the actresses had never had acting experience before, so it is excusable to an extent and the characters are playing exaggerated versions of various character archetypes so it does not get in they way all too much. I think the tongue-in-cheek way the seven girls’ names (Melody, Kung Fu, Gorgeous etc.) also defined their characterization was quite humorous.

House, is a fabulously unique take on the haunted house. There is never a dull moment in this 88-minute film as everything builds up to its grand finale of chaos.

Hoop-Tober Film #3 of 35

Final Destination 2 (2003)

★★½

Final Destination suffers from the ever prevalent “horror sequelitis” plaguing the genre. The first film, had a good idea going for it, with the dark comedic tone it had. But since it made back over four times its 23 million dollar budget, a sequel was imminent. Horror sequels tend to always need to “up the ante” to surpass its predecessor (Halloween II (1981) being the best example of this). But this usually has to sacrifice something such as the actual quality of the film being made. Such as repeating the plot of the first movie with only minor differences. Final Destination 2, does just that. It is centered around a car accident instead of a plane crash this time, however. But it still very much relies on the same “cheating death” premise.

The death sequences are the best part of the film, which is expected. But to get to them, you need to sit through the same exact realizations the characters in the first Final Destination had. The film would have been much worse, if it wasn’t for the fact that sole survivor from the first movie, Clear Rivers (Ali Larter) is at least here to speed through the process. Another issue that I had, was how none of these rules really needed explanation. Death was supposed to be a mysterious force and there was no way of stopping fate from happening. The explanation behind how to avoid death doesn’t really make for enjoyable or frightening entertainment.

Part of me enjoyed Final Destination 2 for what it was, a film version of Spike’s tv show, 1000 Ways to Die. However, I have now seen the first three of these movies and I can safely say this one is my least favorite of them. The deaths are not as completely outrageous as the characters in Final Destination 3 (2006) meeting their demise. I will most likely get around to watching the final two movies eventually, because those elaborate death sequences are quite a scene to behold.

Hoop-Tober Film #2 of 35

mother! (2017)

Having your movie be slowly paced is fine. If it has a point. mother! however, does not. Or does it? Darren Aronofsky could have made a decent comedy with some of the material he wrote in this movie but instead it is “serious”.  Or is it a dark comedy? The amount of times that Jennifer Laurence asks people to “please stop” or to “leave” gets comedic. The movie, is not all bad or it may be a masterpiece. Like, the last third of the movie is actually fantastic. But, I don’t understand what the point of the first two thirds are. I’m pretty much certain, that it is all a metaphor for The Bible. (The house being the earth possibly?) The movie operates like a nightmare, which I could feel like be the point of the movie. The nightmare of the human race, restarting on an endless loop. To never end; only to begin again.

People seem to either hate or love this movie, which may be the point. If, we are taking the biblical interpretation of the movie into account, then, what book is loved and hated by so many? This film could be a deconstruction of film itself as a genre and what it means. Pure genius or insanity, it seems like Aronofsky rides that line far too much, but in this film I think it really shows. We watch as the camera follows Jennifer Laurence doing menial tasks far too much in this movie. As odd things happen that only make sense about thirty minutes after the movie is over.

I think an interesting idea would be a double feature with mother! as the two films being shown. Because I really do not think watching it once is enough. I can’t assign a rating to this film. I know this review feels like it is being written by someone with split-personality disorder as I keep contradicting myself, especially in the first paragraph. But, the more I think about mother!, the more I enjoy it and the more I need to see it again.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

★★★½

It is good to see film that was so hated in the past undergo a critical re-evaluation. Some of the most famous examples would be: Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) (Now considered to be one of the greatest movies of all time) as well as Buster Keaton’s silent masterpiece The General (1926). Now, I am not here to declare Halloween III: Season of the Witch to be even of comparable quality to those two films, but at the time, the reason why this movie was so hated was just because it lacked slasher-icon Michael Myers. So, it seems as if people back then did not even pay attention to the actual quality of the movie itself and just were angered at the sudden genre shift towards much more witchcraft and magic-oriented horror. However, now people are realizing that Tommy Lee Wallace directed a pretty fun, albeit uneven B movie.

Where John Carpenter’s Halloween (1979) just happened to take place on the night of Halloween, Halloween III is completely centered around (and relies upon) the holiday. We have a creepy mask factory, some cool practical gore effects, and TV’s sending out signals to take back Halloween to its sacrificial roots. The film manages to be mostly original with its plot, but sadly, it still falls into some lazy writing clichés such as a really pointless and undeveloped romance between Dr. Challis (Tom Atkins) and Ellie (Stacey Nelkin). Other instances of Halloween III‘s clichés are much more fun and really help it shine as a B grade horror film. Such as, a creepy town that is very unwelcome to visitors as well as an evil businessman pent on world destruction.

The soundtrack is a synthesizer extravaganza, composed by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth. It gives off an eerie and unsettling vibe that fits the town of Santa Mira and the subject matter at hand. Possibly the most remembered song is the “Silver Shamrock Halloween Commercial” which is an ear worm (set to the tune of “London Bridge is Falling Down”) that is near impossible to get out of your head whenever this film comes to mind.

Halloween III is an interesting and overlooked horror film that seems to be gaining more recognition as time goes on. The film was supposed to help turn the Halloween series into an anthology series with all planned films also centered around Halloween. This idea most likely confused too many people as Halloween II (1981) had Michael Myers in it. And the backlash was so heavy and the box-office returns so little that, six years later they gave the public what they wanted with Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers (1988).

Hoop-Tober Film #1 of 35

Hoop-Tober 2017

Horror, as a genre, is probably the most limitless. Fear really can be anywhere at anyplace with anything. Ever since I was a child, I was drawn to horror films. Slashers especially. It mostly had to do with how many sequels many of these films had. Such as the likes of Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th. Where horror films can be equally as nonsensical, if they are not scary. I mean, it took only nine installments to take Jason to outer space. Was the plot of Halloween too simple for you? Why don’t we throw in a cult and Paul Rudd to make things a bit more convoluted? The point being, the genre is great; no matter if you want serious or droll entertainment.

That is why, I have decided to take part in Cinemonster’s annual Hoop-Tober marathon. Where, you create a list of horror movies to watch, following the rules stated in Cinemonster’s original list. Then finally, starting on September 15th, you have until Halloween to watch all the films on your list. My list includes pretty much all films I have not seen yet, with the exception of: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Halloween II (1981), Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), and Evil Dead II (1987). I will write about every single film on my list, but those four will be much more retrospective compared to the other 31 movies on the list. And, some of the four may even be added to my “Great Films List”. All reviews to the movies will be listed on this page so it shouldn’t be much trouble to find all of them since they are all organized in this document. So, with that being said, let the marathon begin!

Hoop-Tober List

  1. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
  2. Final Destination 2 (2003)
  3. House (1977)
  4. Lifeforce (1985)
  5. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) 
  6. A Page of Madness (1926)

It (2017)

★★★½

When people say that Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise the Clown scared them in the 1990 version of It, I do not see how. Is this because people possibly have a fear of clowns or the movie from their childhood? Sure, Tim Curry did a good job as the character but he never petrified me. For the most part, the teleplay felt like missed potential. It was far too low budget and lacked the good acting aside from Curry’s performance. Now, 27 years later, (coincidentally) a big screen version of It has finally been made that fully takes advantage and has fun with the plot and turns it into a solid adventure that everyone should enjoy.

It is not really a horror film like the advertisements would suggest. More or less, the film seems to be inspired more by such Stephen King adaptations like Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me (1986) than something like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980). Or in other words, it is an adventure movie that includes horror elements. The film very much feels like an episode of Stranger Things (it doesn’t help that one of the stars of Stranger Things is in this movie) The setting is also updated from setting of the book in the late 1950s to the late 80s. It also feels very aware of the era it is based in. We see a Gremlins poster in one of the character’s room. Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), Batman (1989), A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989). The bikes the children ride are there only modes of transportation, walking is done only sometimes and when it is, it is for short distances only. This somehow makes it all the more epic and innocent. Because, there was a time in our lives where we didn’t have a licence and biking was our only way of getting places.

Pennywise the clown, this time played by Bill Skarsgård. Sounds much more childish this time around. I think the opening scene of the movie (shown in the trailers) doesn’t fully show what is in store with his performance. The odd delivery and his genuine creepyness at the correct moments of the film is what makes Skarsgård a treat to watch on screen.

The budget on It was only 35 million dollars. The way everything looked would make me believe it to be at least twice that amount. This is also just the first part of a planned duology but Warner Bros. is waiting on the returns for this movie before they begin shooting. If you enjoy The Goonies (1985) and other “eighties youth-adventure” type films, but wished that they had a little more violence in them. Than look no further than It.

Logan Lucky (2017)

★★★★

Back from a four-year hiatus, Steven Soderbergh returns with a funny and impeccably-shot (I wouldn’t expect any less from Soderbergh) heist movie that shines with its intriguing and likable characters. Logan Lucky, or “Ocean’s Seven-Eleven” as the heist is referred to by some woman on the news (in the film) is a fun ride with phenomenal use of mise en scène.

A John Denver song opens this film, this is now the third time John Denver has been referenced in a movie this year (Alien: Covenant and Free Fire) being the other uses of “Take Me Home, Country Roads”. It’s just interesting that this year’s movies seem to have a fascination with John Denver and that specific song. I hate to dwell on this but I just think its a really funny pattern. This introduces us to Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) a football player that had his career was cut short by a leg injury. It turns out that the whole Logan family are notorious for a family curse. Clyde (Adam Driver), Jimmy’s brother lost his arm while in military. After Jimmy loses his construction job, he decides to pull off a heist at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It isn’t just Clyde and Jimmy that really make this movie. It’s the other characters too. Pretty much all are cleverly sculpted to be the right amount of absurd and realistic. Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) specifically. This is a performance that I have never seen Craig take on as an actor, a country fried criminal. The only performance that seemed lacking was Hillary Swank as FBI agent Sarah Grayson, her whole part of the movie seemed a bit weird and it slowed the movie down to a screeching halt. Luckily her role was minor and slowed down the movie for only about ten minutes, if not even.

The great thing about Soderbergh is that he is a cinematographer as well as a director so, he has a great understanding of both positions in the industry. This film in particular has some really interesting shots as well and the whole movie has a sort of vibrancy that is unmatched by anything that has come out this year.

A Soderbergh heist movie has fun with the outrageous plot. The three Ocean’s movies were so far-fetched and over the top in how they pulled off their heists that they made it a fun and crazy endeavor to watch. Logan Lucky is no different, it involves a Jimmy and Clyde meeting with a man dressed in a bear suit, a prison riot that is negotiated down to getting George R.R. Martin to release The Winds of Winter, and painted cockroaches. This is a very layered movie that I wanted to watch again as soon as I left the theater and I think most will feel the same way.