Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

Halloween 4 PosterThe Halloween film franchise had a wildly successful opening, and a solid sequel that continued the story of Michael Myers stalking Laurie Strode. The third film, however, attempted to shift the series into being an anthology series, with a completely unrelated story. It was less than successful, partly because horror fans wanted more of Michael Myers and partly because it just wasn’t very good. So with the fourth film, the producers decided that if a character-based franchise was desired, that’s what would be delivered. They even made their intentions clear with the title, labeling it Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.

Though Tony Moran would be replaced with stuntman George P. Wilbur as the homicidal maniac, the character wasn’t all that was returning. He was once again being hunted by Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis, the psychiatrist who knew better than any other just how evil Myers was. And once again it was Halloween night, and once again Haddonfield, Illinois would be turned into a scene of horror. Continue reading

Posted in Halloween Haunters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Horror Express

Horror Express PosterIt just wouldn’t be Halloween without at least one campy horror film starring a master of the genre. In the case of Horror Express, a 1972 film by Eugenio Martín, we get two masters: Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Cushing plays a surgeon and Lee an archeologist; the two acquaintances are both traveling through Siberia on an express train on their way back to Europe. In a rarity, neither of the two are playing the villain. The horror in question is an old fossil that Lee is bringing back with him, a potential link between modern man and neanderthal. But it seems the fossil, though thousands of years old, still has some life kicking around in it. Death seems to follow the fossil wherever it goes, and once on the train, all hell breaks loose. Possibly literally. Continue reading

Posted in Halloween Haunters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Carnival of Souls (1962)

Carnival of Souls PosterThere’s an old folk tale about a man who spies the Grim Reaper in a crowded marketplace, and who is seen by the Reaper in return. Death looks surprised to see the man, and clearly recognizes him. The man, fearing for his life, buys the fastest horse he can find and rides to a far off town by nightfall. There he is killed, and Death greets him, explaining that the reason he was surprised to see him earlier is that he had an appointment to pick the man up in the faraway town that evening. The lesson of the fable is that one can’t cheat death. Of course, cheating death — and the consequences for doing so — is a moderately common theme in horror films. While the best known example nowadays is the Final Destination series of films, an earlier example is Carnival of Souls, starring Candace Hilligoss.

Hilligoss plays Mary, a young woman who is out drag racing with her friends when she accidentally drives through the rails of a wooden bridge. She is the sole survivor of the crash. Continue reading

Posted in Halloween Haunters | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Halloween Haunters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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

Posted in Halloween Haunters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Halloween Haunters | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

Posted in Halloween Haunters, Oscarama | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments