It introduces a fairly large number of characters in a terribly poor way. There's no reason given to care about anybody in the movie. The reasoning given to assemble the squad isn't credible. Action sequences mostly take place in darkness punctuated by fire that, if it isn't digital, might as well have been given that it looks like it. The Suicide Squad fight a bunch of CGI. Jared Leto's Joker is incredibly annoying every time he opens his mouth; the Joker was taken in such a different direction they should've made it an entirely new character. Adam Beach is totally wasted. Skip it!
entertaining, just don't expect A Christmas Horror Story-level quality
A relatively low-budget Christmas horror anthology - think Holiday Hell (2019) rather than A Christmas Horror Story (2015), and if you're OK with that you'll probably be entertained.
It's not an art film, or an artsy one; I'm not sure where anyone would get that. The wraparound story does feature a couple attending a play on Christmas Eve at a very small theatre without knowing what to expect. They're subjected to a few nearly identically-clad performers giving performances with only the barest of props and no sets, and certainly *that play* is arty, but done tongue-in-cheek by the filmmakers. Relatively little is seen of the play; just the beginning and ends of the play's acts, to bookend the segments of the movie's anthology. The two theatre-goers find it off-putting and somewhat funny; the few other watching are even less engaged. The performances are very stripped-down versions of the anthology's segments, to the point of abstraction at times. A neighbor's oppressively bright and loud outdoor Christmas decorations in the play become just a large red light and a large green light held in one of the performers' hands; blood becomes just red ribbons.
One of the sins anthologies can commit is having segments that might as well have been combined, but here the different segments of the movie have very different stories. With five segments and a wraparound story, none of them are especially long.
The directors had only done short films prior to this one. One might see this film as them continuing to develop their skills while making short films but using the anthology format to give those shorts more of a market. That's probably a good thing; one of the sins that low-budget filmmakers make is jumping into a feature when they clearly lacked the skills to make even a short. These directors show promise; I thought it compared favorably with Holiday Hell (2019), for example, and that movie had Jeffrey Combs to help it. The abstract theatre was a far more creative device than HH's curio shop, which is rather a cliché: Das Wachsfigurenkabinett (1924), From Beyond the Grave (1974), Friday the 13th: The Series (1987) (TV Series), etc.
1988, the year Loose Cannons was made, is held by many to be that decade's best year for comedies. To name a few: The Naked Gun, A Fish Called Wanda, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Big, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Beetlejuice. It's no wonder Loose Cannons wasn't released until 1990 just because of the competition - though in any year, it's hard to envision it having a chance at success.
Perhaps part of the problem was the screenwriting by the Mathesons. Both capable of great writing, but really not known for comedy. Then there's the matter of Ackroyd's character. A genius detective with a crippling fear of violence and multiple personality disorder isn't necessarily a terrible idea (though an idea with a high risk for being terrible). However, when the "personalities" are expressed just as very brief mimicry of TV and movie characters, it makes him seem more like an impressionist most of the time than someone with a psychiatric disorder. At one point, Ackroyd's character runs through many voices in no time at all (including multiple SNL characters like the "Mr. Bill" narrator, and the Church Lady), serving no purpose whatsoever.
I found the movie at a dollar store included on a double feature DVD, so it only cost me about fifty cents. I feel sorry for those who paid full matinee price back in 1990! People would be better off spending their time on rewatching better films by the leads.
Credit to American video streaming services for picking up foreign movies, but this was a fairly unremarkable one - a by-the-numbers slasher. Characters were mostly indistinguishable. Motive was a common one for the subgenre. Police and security presence for a huge party seemed unrealistically small, particularly with one death after another. Some credit for the deaths, but when that's the main thing a horror movie has in its favor, that's disappointing.
under 100 reviews in two years; a deservedly little-seen movie
The idea of a professional assassin who uses only poison because blood makes him projectile vomit is mildly funny. The intentionally godawful song over the end credits is almost mildly funny. Neither warranted a laugh, nor did anything else solicit one. Some people allegedly found this movie funny, but it's anyone's guess as to why - they themselves didn't specify.
American account of Polish crime filmed by Greek director as if Nordic Noir
Jim Carrey can handle drama/thrillers (e.g. The Number 23). Here he was given a rather dull character and a poor screenplay; he does OK, no better or worse than anybody could have done.
Its hour and a half running time is fairly excruciating in its pacing; the limited color palette and flat dialog certainly didn't help. Seemingly it was attempting to imitate elements of Nordic noir, but the original ("extended") Män som hatar kvinnor (2009) was three hours long, and yet very engaging.
As to the title, presumably because the game of "31" is played every October 31st. Not a very inspired name for the game or the movie, which gets to the central problem of the movie: it's not very inspired.
I liked The Devil's Rejects; for what it was, it was extremely well-done. FWIW, I dig White Zombie too.
When it comes to horror, though, I don't care for retreads. A genre which arguably has a greater freedom to be transgressive than any other mainstream genre arguably should be taking advantage of that freedom. But just as many people with the freedom to vote don't bother to vote or even to register to vote, so too does horror often fail to deliver.
Part of the problem, I guess, is there's a lot of horror fans that DO like the same thing over and again. Rob Zombie was apparently catering to that.
Does he himself like the same thing repeatedly? It certainly seems that way. I'd be curious to see what he might do if he stepped out of his comfort zone: direct a film written by someone else (and not one written specifically for him), do not include Sheri Moon Zombie in the cast (have her work crew if he dislikes being away from her for too long), do not set the film in the 1970s, do not use clowns, do not reference Nazis, do not over-rely on blood & gore. Could it be done? I have my doubts, but would be delighted to be proven wrong.
With, at the moment in 2019, IMDb having merely nineteen user reviews, 644 user ratings, and three external reviews for a film that's been available for almost twenty years, one is hardly primed to expect much. IMDb's owner Amazon had it offered streaming through its Prime service, buried deep among the Thrillers. The brief plot description, "an insomniac who walks the street at night. One night, he witnesses a murder, which sets off a strange chain of events" was nonetheless somewhat intriguing, and given some of the actors it seemed worth a try.
I found it a hoot! Described here as an "Action, Thriller" a Comedy Thriller seems more accurate. The weirdness of the characters and dialogue make it unquestionably a deadpan black comedy. It might be riffing to a degree on film noir or some of the odder giallo films, though some characters could have wandered in from the 1990s' Slacker and Bound.
Cutting between scenes in earlier parts of film is peculiar - it takes a while to make sense of it, which seems purposeful. Editing and cinematography are merely professional here, not exceptional - it could have been lifted to something greater, perhaps. The writing and acting really do make it fun, though, for those into something different.
The production values are very good: cinematography, editing, audio - acting and writing are decent most of the time, aside from one character whose temper is repeatedly violent - it's hard to believe he wouldn't face consequences for that early on. I loved seeing the Dutch scenery and buildings. It's fairly involving, up to a point. I had high hopes for it.
The ending, however, is incredibly unsatisfying. Implausible and forced, it made the whole series become a waste of time. Even the ending itself is a waste of time, laboriously going back through every disappearance even though once the explanation is supplied it is totally unnecessary to do that. I certainly hope more Dutch series will make it to video streaming services available in the US, but please don't waste viewers' time again with such an abortion of a conclusion!
an uncredited Blair Witch remake, substituting Bigfoot mythology
I don't need wall-to-wall action or gore to like a horror movie; some of the ones I most love are more atmospheric than explicit. I really did not like the original Blair Witch Project though - but I liked the mythology created for it, and felt it was put to much better use in Curse of the Blair Witch, The Burkittsville 7, and Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2.
Willow Creek is kind of a remake of the first Blair Witch, with Bigfoot mythology instead of a witch. Bulk of the movie has main characters filming themselves at length before they ever get into the woods. People warn them that the protagonists later worry might be messing with them in the woods. They get lost and walk around in circles. They hear noises. They run. Eventually someone is seen standing silently - something that calls back to something mentioned in passing earlier in the movie that viewers may or may not have remembered, and the camera drops. Major difference from Blair Witch: this movie has songs about Bigfoot sung by Bigfoot fans who are not decidedly not great lyricists. At least it's only 80 minutes long, though it seemed twice that.
The best things in the movie were the name of a woman who says she's part of a local Indian tribe: Shawn L. White Guy, Sr.; some of the scenery before they get into the woods; and the female lead was cute. Oh, and Bobcat Goldthwait probably made a decent amount of money on the film, which maybe good since I like some of the other things he's done like God Bless America (2011).
The film is apt to be somewhat fun to watch for anyone familiar with Troy, Rensselaer County, New York, though likely far slower and artier than the average viewer is apt to enjoy. There are lots of local businesses that appear, and roads that are recognizable like Hoosick Road, Oakwood Avenue and probably Farrell Road. The geography is a little confusing when it comes to the Lake George references. Lake George is more than a little than "just outside of Troy" as it's described - it's about an hour's drive north and two counties away.
The Helen statue's head that's seen floating along - that's not in Lake George as some viewers interpret it, but in the Hudson River that runs along the west side of the City of Troy.
The story? You're best off turning to interviews of the directors online. Childhood readings of Greek mythology, not revisited, contributed as well as some real-life things abut which they'd read, further influenced by the eventual choice of Troy as the primary shooting location.
Neil Amdur's May 28, 2010 N.Y. Times article "Acting in a Film: It Could Happen to You" stated "Mr. D'Onofrio, who made the movie for $100,000, said he was more interested in finding young talent whose 'rawness, flatness and bad timing' as actors would 'work in a kind of odd way' for what has been described as a slasher musical."
Vincent D'Onofrio deserves some credit for trying to be a little experimental in the horror genre, which is too often formulaic. Going into it, I really wanted to like it. That said, the plot was entirely formulaic and too much of the film taken up by undeveloped characters and singing. "Rawness, flatness and bad timing" are definitely on screen but they don't work in an odd or any other way, unfortunately. I wish the director had said more about why he thought that might work, or other aspects of making the film. I don't blame the cast or crew for wanting to work with D'Onofrio in the Kingston vicinity; I'd have willingly done so myself. In Q&A's he and his co-writer indicated hey took inspiration from Slacker (1991), Clerks (1994), Haute tension (2003), Severance (2006), and Once (2007), though that unfortunately is not apparent in Don't Go in the Woods itself.
Unlike some of the other reviewers, I like both horror *and* musicals, and have enjoyed some horror/musicals. Don't Go in the Woods isn't so much a horror/musical as a horror movie with a lot of music in it, or perhaps is better described as an outdoor band rehearsal with a very paltry amount of horror and acting in it.
The killer's garb and weapon are kind of neat (though little seen), a tracheotomy by a melodica garnered the mildest wisp of a chuckle, and the scenes of one character stopping to play and record on portable Digital Audio Tape a song while fleeing the woods and of another character seemingly singing along to a recording while being attacked (the singing might be imagined) were sort of funny in a way. Perhaps if the rest of the music had been more integrated it would have worked better, or if there wasn't quite so darn much of it. There is frankly more singing in it than in most musicals - possibly only Les parapluies de Cherbourg (1964), where every line is sung, exceeds it.
Meredith Border's October 19, 2011 review for Badass Digest stated D'Onofrio "said he only wanted to make it as entertaining as possible" and "said that he made the film after asking himself, 'What can I do right now? I have a very good friend (Bisbee) who is a great composer, and I have woods and a film crew. So I thought, How about a slasher musical?'" The band was friends with his nephew, and actors were people he encountered at coffee shops or cast by randomly asking people on the street. She also noted he joked, "If we made a sequel, I would call it I SAID, Don't Go In The Woods!" His humor and graciousness all make one really want the film to be good, and to feel somewhat bad about criticizing it.
Good horror movies are hard to make, and so-bad-they're-good horror movies are rare. This isn't either, sadly. As poor as it is, really *because* of how poor it is, the videos of D'Onofrio's Q&As at screenings that are available online, are somewhat worth watching (though the video and audio on the ones I've watched so far are very bad, probably done with cellphones). Most of the Q&A's have the same questions and answers; one wishes more probing questions were asked. If there were a DVD with commentary by him regarding its production, I'd definitely listen to that.
The art, characters, and storyline are pretty close to the charming original 1970s children's book by Wende and Harry Devlin. Mr. Whiskers is kind to children, who he lets skate on the pond by his house. Cyrus Grape is a crotchety old man who is mean to children, claims the pond is his, and won't let them skate there. Mr. Whisker's sister is coming to visit for Christmas, and if his house is as untidy as it was the last time she visited, she would like him to move in with her in the city. Maggie and her grandmother help Mr. Whiskers with both problems. Cranberries figure in via the setting in Cranberryport and the grandmother's cranberry cookies, a recipe for which is on the back cover of the book. There are a number of cute details from the book which get lost in the TV special, like Mr. Whiskers being a sea captain, and the source of his Christmas tree decorations.
The TV special starts with a depiction of the harvesting of cranberries from a bog, not surprising since Ocean Spray was a sponsor. The skating pond is an iced-over cranberry bog. Cyrus Grape is not just crotchety, but owns spying equipment, and vandalizes Mr. Whisker's house to the point of collapse. What the special does with him at the end is particularly unbelievable in light of that. More than a little inspiration was taken from How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) (TV), I think.
Barry Manilow narrates and sings "Christmas is Just Around the Corner," and a song about Mr. Grape reminiscent of "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch."
It's fairly cute, and at less than 30 minutes, nothing you'll be likely to regret watching unless you really resent the changes from the book. However, you would be much better off checking out the book, if you're unfamiliar with either!
the only thing we have to fear is... a bad horror movie
A relatively tame film about teenagers who sneak into a common fear-themed haunted house attraction before it's due to open, where their fears actually can come to life and kill them because of an evil statuette. Possibly the lack of violent or sexual content was due to the movie being shot in the very Mormon state of Utah?
The things they're afraid of are not very focused, in that they don't just attack or kill the person who has the fear, but go after everybody. Some people get injured or killed by things that as far as we know, nobody was afraid of. It's a little weird that way. In the advertising for the film I'd read, there was mention of "sinister clowns, killer scarecrows." There's really only one of each and the clown barely gets any screen time at all.
The characters aren't particularly interesting. The women are pretty, while the guys are somewhat goofy-looking. Corri English's Samantha is a little more developed by virtue of some backstory accompanied by flashbacks which are fairly well-done.
Cydney Neil, former owner and operator of the Rocky Point Haunted House in Salt Lake City briefly appears as herself. A shame more use wasn't made of her.
The director is listed as the producer for an upcoming film titled Hell House, which oddly appears to have the same plot.
While I don't worship the original, I still wasn't keen on ever seeing this remake - but a friend had rented it and consequently I did sit through it. Thankfully I didn't pay to see it.
According to IMDb, director Samuel Bayer directed "Absolute Garbage" before ANoES, and "Fiasco Heights" after; either title would be an adequate summation of this remake.
The movie kicks off with opening credits that are both scrawled in chalk and printed clearly, as though they couldn't decide which look to go with and decided redundancy was a good compromise.
Poorly-written, poorly developed, poorly acted characters have "nightmares" which entirely fail to capture the feel of a nightmare, in which they are threatened and sliced by Freddy. Freddy's dialogue is poor, the voice is poor, and the effects they added to his voice laughably bad. They decided to make him look more like a real burn victim, which is fine, but they also decided they didn't want to make him look *too much* like a burn victim, which is silly. They also decided to have part of his face filled in with CGI via a green screen mask, and indeed part of his face looks distractingly like CGI.
The worst CGI is in the scene where Freddy presses himself against a wall from behind the wallpaper. I don't think there is any way to watch that scene in particular without being taken out of the movie and having to laugh or comment on how bad it looks. As a side note, Nancy's wallpaper is surprisingly dull and stodgy looking for a teenager.
In quite a lot of shots in the movie, objects have a jittery or blurry or shimmering look to them similar to what one gets from poor quality video or the awkward look of bad pan & scan applied to a widescreen film. This is particularly evident in shots where the camera pans and dollies simultaneously. I'm not sure what caused this or where the fault lies.
There are some moments taken from the original, like Nancy's bathtub scene. Why they bothered isn't clear. It's as if they said; let's redo that bathtub scene, but there shouldn't be anything sexual or scary about it; let's instead make it briefer and pointless.
One of the silliest scenes is when Nancy's mother tries to get Nancy to give her a photo while simultaneously repeatedly denying that Nancy went to school with the people in the photo. Indeed, the memory problems of the kids are not really handled well. They never noticed they didn't remember their childhoods before, never noticed that the pictures of their childhoods were removed from photo albums before? If Nancy's never seen a photo of herself as a child before, how does she even recognize herself in one when she does?
Another bad scene is when Kyle "sad face" Gallner seemingly arbitrarily decides that when they were children they lied to their parents about what Freddy did with them. He goes from supporting Rooney "expressionless" Mara to taking off with his father.
Yet another ridiculous aspect has to do with the backstory, wherein they have Freddy being employed as a full-time gardener by a very small daycare center which probably has no need of even a part-time one. Equally ridiculous, the daycare center allows him to live and sleep in the unfinished, unrealistically cavernous basement of the daycare center. The owners must be rather dodgy, I guess.
Somewhat inexplicably, director Bayer and writer Eric Heisserer are attached to the sequel, listed as being in pre-production for 2012 as of this moment. It must be because this remake did good business; it's certainly not because they made a good movie.
Poachers in a bear preserve capture Bigfoot, who ends up being transported to an almost- abandoned police station, where he wreaks havoc.
On the "good" side, Cristina Santiago is smoking hot, there's some brief nudity from another actress, and some of the gore is decent and at times funny, as with the impalement by "Dead End" sign.
On the bad side, the video is of a poor quality which doesn't work well in low-light conditions resulting in a hazy look, and most of the movie is set outdoors at night or in dim interiors. Additionally, the comic relief of Don and Murph is extremely bad. They're very annoying characters, particularly Don who is a grossly overweight man-child who breathlessly shrieks and yells constantly. It's an unfunny shtick he's been doing on YouTube for years, and it's no funnier here than there. Padding out the running time, there are some scenes where the two go around asking people if they're seen the sasquatch, which they have not.
The sasquatch has quite a bad costume, and his behavior is hard to figure. Sometimes he attacks while unprovoked, sometimes he wants to peep on or kidnap young women, at other times rescue them, at other times fight them. Sometimes he'll kill, while at other times he'll just knock somebody out or ignore them.
I guess on the whole the movie is fairly amusing, but it isn't very funny and it certainly isn't good.
little-seen horror anthology deserves to be little-seen
In this horror anthology, a dead soldier introduces the first story "The Bootmaker." All but two soldiers in a platoon in Vietnam are killed. One thanks his "lucky tattoo" (which we never get a good look at). Years later, they look exactly the same, and the tattooed guy's wife is cheating on him with his buddy, now a bootmaker. The bootmaker has flashbacks and nightmares of the other soldiers telling him to kill his friend. The end is pretty predictable, but botched in that the tattoo can't be seen.
"The tombkeeper" introduces the second segment, "Choice Cuts" in which two brothers run a butcher shop. One is a racist, sexist bully while the other is kind-hearted and begins a relationship with a customer. Some nudity in this segment. The end is again pretty predictable.
The last segment has no introduction. An actor bombs an audition, but receives a message that he has been requested by name for another audition. A devilish-looking man gives him a script to read, and as he reads it there are flashbacks to episodes from his life when he performed the same evil deeds in the script. Predictable ending here too. At least some zombies show up.
This may be older than 1989, I'm guessing. The 1989 Legacy Home Video originally retailed for $59.95! Yikes. It can be picked up for less than a dollar used on Amazon, if you must see it. It's not very good, but it's not the worst horror movie I've ever seen.
Happily, I was able to view this award-winning short online.
A man constructs a contraption while surrounded by pitch black darkness. A musical saw wavers out a tune on the soundtrack. Contrary to one description I've read, I did not see or hear his wife berating him while he was doing this. The end might come as a surprise, but probably not. The one line of dialog at the end suggests why the contraption might have been built, but for the most part we are left wondering who the characters were and what their lives were like and why it ended this way.
I wonder what Dearden's other short films are like?
pretty good, but blending Poe's life and work is a little too clichéd
Like the early 1910s silent-era versions of The Raven, this version of The Black Cat blends a representation of Poe's life with his work. There's a tendency to represent horror authors as themselves as horrific as their work, capable of the same violence, or as insane as their characters. This seems to be particularly the case with Poe, the poison pen of Rufus Griswold having unfortunately secured the image of Poe as a drunken addict. Griswold appears in The Black Cat as a potential piano buyer, oddly.
That issue aside, it's a pretty good episode of Masters of Horror. Combs is nicely made up as Poe and thus has now done two of the greats, having done Lovecraft in the anthology Necronomicon, where he wasn't a bad likeness either but not as good as Christopher Heyerdahl. The accent Combs gives Poe is a little hard to take, but for all I know it may be an accurate one. The work is gorier than I recall the story being, thanks to Stuart Gordon. One wishes the blood did not look so much like Karo syrup in some scenes. There's a scene with an ax that also was a little too blackly humorous, or attempted to be, in the vein of Reanimator. Anyhow, it's perhaps worth watching - if I seem too critical it's only because I noticed there were many positive comments already and thus didn't think I needed to write about its strengths.
I first saw director J.T. Petty's movie The Burrowers. I liked it, but it didn't entirely work for me. This short works somewhat less.
As in The Burrowers, some people search for someone taken by The Burrowers. They're some kind of creature that cuts the neck and buries their victim alive. There's very little information and no sight of them in this short, more in the movie. Unlike The Burrowers, the protagonists here are Native Americans. It's an all-native cast save for one white man who tries to shoot a deer they were hunting. The dialogue is all subtitled. There are a number of shots of nature. There's a slight iris effect or at least the edges of the picture are dim. It ends with someone going off to learn more. Very unresolved. The music is nice, sounded a bit like a thumb piano.
I wonder why this wasn't included as an extra on The Burrowers DVD? I watched it on FearNet, for which it was produced I guess. I'm also not sure of the relationship of the TV series, which I have not seen, to this short and the feature.
Two dancers in two locations; outdoors in tall grass, indoors in a black setting. The same dancers in both, cutting between them being in the same positions in both. They strike some awkward-seeming poses braced against each other, but they do so with an incredible grace, seeming to be held up by nothing at times. There are some shots of a large bird in the sky. There's a few shots that would not be out of place in a horror movie, the woman with her hair bedraggled in front of her face, leafless tree branches.
The film is in black and white, grainy and high contrast. Blotches on the film appear at times, and the camera sometimes goes in and out of focus. On the soundtrack, there's an instrumental piece, pretty, but sad. At times there's static and voices as from a radio, television, or broadcast of some kind.
It's said to be inspired by a poem by Dambudzo Marachera, "Darkness as a Bird of Prey." I'm not familiar with the poem or poet but may try to find it now. Googling it, I find only one mention: a different film inspired by it, also a dance film: "Return Flight... above this dead-weight night" by directors Viv Hamblin and Anna Morris. Curious!
IMDb's video description of this has something about a couch potato, his dog, and the shopping channel. None of that here. This is apparently a music video, lacing opening or end credits, music a little like R.E.M. A silhouette of a man on the street looks up at the red silhouette of a woman. Their shadows grow long and touch, and his shadow joins her as she leaves the building and walks away. He goes on a long walk, often hunched over. The shadows of people he passes reach out to him, but he continues walking on. The background is minimalist, sort of watercolors I think. Birds fly by and drop the letters "I miss you." Nicely done, I wish there were more credits here for it. I thought music videos generally weren't included on IMDb, though?
In close-ups against a black background, a man's hand wields a chef's knife, which plunges again and again. Blood sprays against a bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling, against the man's clothing, into the air, covering the knife. Atmospheric music plays. The final reveal doesn't entirely follow what we've seen, but it's not a bad ending I guess. As a film it's not terribly strong, it seems more like something that might be used to promote a horror festival or something like that. And while the "baker" in the title evokes the children's rhyme, there's no baker or baking in the film, so it doesn't quite fit. Oh well, it's just a minute long, time fairly spent.
A well-dressed waiter sits alone in a boarded-up bistro as zombies shuffle the abandoned streets outside. "Brainz" someone has spray-painted across a newspaper box. The waiter sheds tears on a photo of himself proudly serving up a tray of food to someone as everyone in the restaurant watches. He's grown stubble on his cheeks; he's been there a while.
The animation is on the simple side, computer-animated, cartoonish, but well done. I've seen a few animated zombie shorts, not sure if they've all made it onto IMDb or not. At the moment, this one can be viewed for free on IMDb, which is pretty cool.