And so here I am, exactly a week before going to see a screening of Benedict Cumberbatch perform Frankenstein. and it wasn’t until today that I actually watched the 1931 classic. At only 71 minutes, James Whale wastes no time establishing everything, making this a quick and atmospheric Halloween watch.
Even though I have never seen Frankenstein, I know everything about it, the plot, “It’s alive! It’s alive!”, and of course the monster (Boris Karloff). This film has, like Victor Frankenstein’s monster itself, stumbled into its legendary pop culture status. The strongest point of this movie other than Karloff’s performance, is the atmosphere which, for a movie made in 1931 still is impressive to look at. The editing and film making represent a different more primitive time in Hollywood. The abrupt editing of scenes and the over the top delivery from some characters. None of these things even come close to ruining this film. Why not? Because it is Frankenstein. Sure there have been more adaptations of the story but this is not one of them. It makes up for the awkward moments with the Gothic atmosphere, and the studio sets add to this making it seem more like a stage play if anything else.
Frankenstein has cemented itself in its legendary status is everything that came after it and the influence of it still shines bright through all horror films in some way and a good place to start for anyone looking to study the genre.
Hoop-Tober Film #7 of 35
McG’s The Babysitter is a movie that could have only really thrived on a service like Netflix. I doubt that most (including me) would go to a theater and see a movie such as this. It doesn’t set out to be high art of any kind, which is completely fine. It just aims to be entertaining, scary and funny; and at least it succeeds at the first one.
At a lightning fast 85 minutes, this movie just flies by. Even though the editing had some odd choices, such as editing animated text into scenes (maybe to capitalize on people making GIFs?) or a strangely-inserted POV sequence it was never dull as everything is so nicely condensed and nothing is focused on for longer than it should be. One editing choice that I also found to be unnecessary was the use of flashbacks to scenes from earlier in the movie before Cole (Judah Lewis) would do something. It ruins some of the intelligence of the movie and was just plain lazy to blatantly tell the audience.
With a one exception, the characters in this movie don’t matter. The main character, Cole though an arc that feels rushed and happens mostly all during the finale. Bee (Samara Weaving), was the best character undoubtedly. Weaving helps bring her character to life, making her a charismatic, funny, and relateable character…who happens to be a psychopath. Bee’s friends however, are all just stereotypes that have been recycled again and again from other high school coming of age films. Which, by the looks of it seemed to be the intention but, it was an unsuccessful attempt at that. All of Bee’s friends were rarely ever funny and just came off as cannon fodder for the gruesome violence that entailed. The worst of these performances however, was Bella Thorne’s as Allison; the high school cheerleader archetype of the movie. Her comedic delivery and acting in general was horrendous and the movie would have been at least marginally better if she was not cast in the movie.
The Babysitter borrows from many other, undoubtedly better movies. Most notably, Home Alone (1990). It is a bit of a genre-Frankenstein of some sorts. Not really being scary and not being very funny either. It’s just a short and entertaining “turn-your-brain off” movie that best watched on late sleepy nights
Final Destination 2 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
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
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!
- Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
- Final Destination 2 (2003)
- House (1977)
- Lifeforce (1985)
- Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
- A Page of Madness (1926)
- Frankenstein (1931)