A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 Dream Warriors PosterFranchise quality can be a funny thing. Generally speaking, although there are local dips and peaks, we expect the quality of a film franchise to gradually slide down over time. What’s more, once a franchise hits a certain nadir, it can be expected that that’s it for the franchise; it may manage to scrape its way back up to mediocrity, but it will never be truly “good” again. With horror franchises having a particular reputation for being quickly-turned-out rehashes to make a buck, this goes double for them. So when I found A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 to be a very poor movie, it made it hard to expect much out of part 3.

And yet, Dream Warriors (directed by Chuck Russell) is a return to form for the series. While not a superior film to the original, it’s back on the same level as it. Of course, a lot of this has to do with the fact that it returns to the story and themes of the original instead of diverging the way the second one did. Continue reading

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Godzilla (1954)

Godzilla 1954 PosterSixty years. That’s how long the big guy has been stomping around. There was a new American version released this year which seems to have done reasonably well, but it all began back in 1954, with a film made in Japan (as with nearly all of the franchise). Originally titled Gojira, and still often referred to as such even by American fans, the first film was released in altered form in the United States, with additional footage spliced in to make it more “relatable” for American audiences and voices dubbed over.

Having had a fairly limited Godzilla experience — I had only previously seen the Matthew Broderick film, bits of Godzilla 1985, and of course the all-time classic Bambi Meets Godzilla — I decided that this was the year to correct this by watching the original. The original original, the 1954 Japanese version, with the only alteration being English subtitles. It was definitely worth it. Continue reading

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The Amityville Horror (1979)

Amityville Horror 1979 PosterThe 1970s were an influential time for horror films. Many of the subtypes of the genre either got their origin during the decade, or at least received one of their most influential entries. The allegedly-based-on-a-true-story haunted house genre is no exception; the town of Amityville, New York, has been dealing with a supernatural reputation for 35 years now, ever since its story was popularized by Stuart Rosenberg’s film.

The Amityville Horror is based on a novel, itself based on the claims of George and Kathy Lutz of what happened when they moved into a home that had been the scene of a mass murder the year before. Played by James Brolin and Margot Kidder in the movie, the Lutzes are a newlywed couple with three children from Kathy’s previous marriage. They are initially unconcerned about the house’s past; “Houses don’t have memories”, as George says. But they soon find that it’s not just a case of a simple little fixer-upper. Continue reading

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The Exorcist

Exorcist Poster1973 Best Picture Nominee

William Friedkin’s The Exorcist is one of only two horror films to ever be nominated for the Best Picture award at the Oscars, and this only if we accept the occasional labeling of Jaws as a horror film, which is debatable. There’s no such debate with The Exorcist, as its distinctly diabolic theme puts it firmly into not just the horror category, but the supernatural horror category.

It’s also a film that — as with last week’s review of Scanners — is fairly well-known for a particular scene, even among people who haven’t seen it. A 360 degree head turn and a gusher of pea soup evidently make a lasting impression on the public. Continue reading

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Scanners PosterIt seems as though I’ve been hearing about Scanners since before I could read. That’s probably as incorrect as it is inappropriate, but suffice to say I’ve been aware of the movie for a long time. Or at least, aware of one particular scene from the film. Anybody who is a fan of b-grade sci-fi and horror probably knows the scene. For those of a delicate disposition, I’m not going to include a picture here, let alone an animation, but let’s just say it’s one instance where one could say a film was “literally mind-blowing” without aggravating any grammarians.

David Cronenberg’s 1981 film certainly has notoriety, to say the least. The question facing me was whether it was worthy of any actual acclaim. After watching it, it’s still something of an interesting question. Continue reading

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Why Horror Movies Tend to Get Negative Reviews

Note: I wrote this essay a few weeks ago in response to a poster on Reddit asking why scary movies always seem to get low ratings and bad reviews. Although I think my Halloween Haunters reviews have been more evenly mixed over the years, I’m well aware of the trend, and I felt I had a good grasp on why it is the way it is. When I was finished writing, I realized just how much I’d written, and recognized it as a sign that maybe it was time to start blogging regularly again. Since the post went over fairly well in that Reddit thread, and since it fits well within the theme of the month, I’m reproducing it here with minor modifications.

Why does it seem like scary movies always get low ratings/bad reviews?

There are a few factors at work here. The easy answer is that most horror films really aren’t very good, but of course that wouldn’t really answer the question because it doesn’t explain why, and what it means for the films to be bad. Continue reading

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Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Gremlins 2 PosterLast December, I reviewed the original Gremlins as the initial installment of that year’s Christmas Cinema. The sequel, not being tied to any particular time of year, I could have viewed at any time, but circumstances allowed for it to come across my path just in time for it to inaugurate this year’s Halloween Haunters.

Director Joe Dante and stars Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates returned for Gremlins 2, which is vital for the sequel. This is not a franchise that would be near as enjoyable without the sense of continuity; it’s more fun to watch people who are experienced with the little troublemakers than to switch to somebody new and start all over again. By sticking with Billy and Kate as the protagonists (along with Gizmo, of course), the film is able to skip over most of the build-up and plunge headlong into the lunacy. Continue reading

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