Halloween III: Season of the Witch Review (1982)

 

My History With the Film:
I've told the story about discovering my love of horror films through Halloween several times over the years. It was my first true introduction into the genre and it's a franchise I hold near and dear. If I had to make a guess, I'd say I've seen the first film at least 30 times, the second film 15 times, and the rest of the films somewhere between 5-10 times (excluding Rob Zombie's). In all these watches over all these years, I've never once sat down to watch Halloween 3.

When I first got into horror movies in the mid-90's, I heard nothing but bad things about Halloween 3 online. It was still relatively fresh in the minds of people who were disappointed that it didn't include Michael Myers, and I could understand why. I had no interest in seeing a Halloween film without Michael Myers. So, I just skipped it and pretended like it didn't exist.

Over the past ten years or so, I've noticed a change in the horror fanbase's feelings regarding Halloween 3. The tone has changed from "Halloween 3 is a disgrace" to "It's one of the better Halloween films" or "It's great as long as you don't expect Michael Myers to show up." Upon purchasing the Halloween blu-ray boxset last year, I decided that it was time to give Halloween 3 a shot, and on one dreary, rainy Sunday afternoon, I closed the curtains and got comfortable and gave Halloween 3 a fair shot.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A doctor discovers that a Halloween mask company is planning to turn kids into real monsters on Halloween.

What I Liked About It:
-John Carpenter did the score for Halloween 3 and its wonderful. From the opening credits I knew I was listening to something special. His distinct synth sound is always a joy and sets the mood for the film. This soundtrack is quickly going into my spooky playlist rotation.

-John Atkins is a fantastic actor and this film was made for him to shine. He carries the film and provides the audience with a great "every man" to relate to.

-The special effects were top notch. There is a scene in a hotel room involving a minor character discovering a micro chip that was truly haunting. It takes a lot to give me the creeps, but this scene managed to do it, thanks in part by a very adventurous bug.

-The town (Lolita, California) that was used for Santa Mira has a very distinct look and feel to it. It's not quite abandoned mining town, but not quite strange small town. It feels like it exists in-between those two realms in some fantasy world.

-I loved the ending. Those last two minutes were perfect and I love the ambiguity of the ending.

-Although unnecessary, I enjoyed the nods to the original Halloween movies. I won't spoil them, but there are several scenes and actresses that pop up.

-The film is broken down into days that are leading up to Halloween and I really like when films use this chronological filmmaking technique. It helps the viewer build up to the big ending/reveal.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-::SPOILER:: You'll see me write this over and over again, but I hate body snatcher type movies and I hate robots. They do nothing for me and as much as I loved the first half of this film, once it turned into a robot story I began to lose interest in the story. Sadly, I love the idea of witchcraft in the computer age, especially of the early 80's, I just hate the use of animatronics.::END SPOILERS::

-I really liked almost everything about this movie, except for a certain part of the plot. You'll have to see the spoiler above, but I highly recommend you watch the movie before doing so.

-I'm good never hearing "London Bridge" again for the rest of my life.

Additional Notes:
-This is an interesting look at the original concept of having the Halloween franchise become an anthology series. Halloween 3 wasn't as strong of a movie compared to the first two Halloweens, but I really liked the concept. In a fantasy world I could see Trick R Treat being part of the Halloween anthology franchise and I like that thought.

-The idea behind turning the Halloween franchise into an anthology series was created by John Carpenter following the death of Michael Myers in Halloween 2. However, Halloween 3 under-performed and that plan was dropped.

-The gas station featured at the beginning and end of the film can also be seen in The Fog.

-The novelization of Halloween 3 went onto become a best seller, despite the critical failure of the film.

-The filmmakers used "London Bridge" as Silver Shamrock's jingle because it was in the public domain.

-The town name Santa Mira is the same town used in 1956's Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

-Joe Dante was the original director for Halloween 3, but dropped out to pursue another project.

Rating:
It's taken me over twenty years to finally get around to watching Halloween 3. In that time span I've heard a lot of good things and a lot of bad things about the film. I went in with an open mind and made no comparisons to the rest of the Halloween films. This was a standalone 80's horror movie as far as I was concerned.

With that being said, I liked a lot of the film. I like the cast, the music, the setting, and even the story. What I didn't like was an intricate part of the plot that I don't think would bother many others. In trying to keep things spoiler free, I can't dive into that too deeply (you can see what I'm talking about behind the spoiler tag above). I guess, I would say I enjoy 70% of what Halloween 3 is and despite having a great final minutes, I lost a lot of my interest during the last twenty minutes.

Overall I enjoyed what I saw and I'll definitely be listening to the soundtrack in the years to come, but I don't see myself revisiting this film anytime soon. I'd rate Halloween 3 a three out of five and say it's a rental.

99 Fear Street: The House of Evil - The Second Horror Review (1994-Book)

 

A couple of months ago I reviewed my first book here on 90’s Horror Review called The Reading Buddy. I had a lot of fun discussing the 90’s homage, and thought it would be interesting to go back and pick up an actual 90’s teen horror book. So, I took a trip to the used book store and ran across some Fear Street books, and like a mature adult, I picked out the one with the best looking cover. I took it home and dived right in, and let me tell you… I had a ton of fun. I don’t know why I skipped over these books as a teenager, but at least in this case, the book feels like a more mature version of a Goosebumps book and I like that. It’s easy to read, short, and just something fun to flip through when you got a few moments. I went back to the bookstore and picked up several more, along with some Point Horror books that I plan on reviewing in the future. Until then, enjoy my review of my first Fear Street book, The Second Horror from the 99 Fear Street: The House of Evil series.

My History with the Book:
I remember loving the front covers of the Fear Street books, but I never actually popped one open and read it. I believe that I felt like they were a little beneath my reading level and I just preferred to read Stephen King if I was going to read horror. My stupid arrogance caused me to miss out on a fun series of books during a time when they were mass produced and available everywhere. As I mentioned earlier, this is my first Fear Street book and I read it over the course of a week in March 2018.

What The Book is About:
Brandt McCloy and his folks move into a house on Fear Street with a troubling past. Things seem to go well for Brandt after he catches the attention of three young women in town, but what he doesn’t realize is that he’s caught the attention of a fourth: Cally Fraiser a ghost who haunts his new home and is insistent on destroying him and everyone close to him.

What I Liked About It:
-This book is actually the second book in a series of three books. Despite picking up the second book without having read the first, I was able to pick right up and enjoy the story. I’m not sure if the first book would have enriched the story for me, but I never once felt lost or out of touch with what was going on. 

-Brandt’s a likeable average guy. It’s strange because usually when dealing with teen entertainment, you see things from the perspective of a nerd or the school hero. In this book, Brandt is very normal. My reaction to him and what he does at times is very neutral. For example: when he begins garnering the attention of several ladies, Brandt isn’t overly impressed nor is thanking his lucky stars. He’s just very neutral about the whole thing, which is strange to see, but refreshing.

-The book starts off with an act of “accidental” violence that is damn graphic and was unexpected, especially when reading the book with my cat napping next to me. It helped me realize that Fear Street wasn’t Goosebumps and this RL Stine was less restricted in how he approached horror.

-Technologically we are in an age where most of our gadgets can help prevent horror from happening, or at least can get us help when it starts occurring. This is an issue that everyone working in horror has to deal with by either finding a way to disable technology or acknowledging it and working it into the narrative. It’s refreshing to read a horror book that doesn’t mention texting and where you feel like the characters are really cut off from one another unless they are in the same room.

-The story had a twist at the end that I didn’t 100% see coming. I knew something was up by the constant teasing of something being wrong with Brandt, but I really thought the twist worked and was a lot of fun. It kinda gives you a Tales from the Crypt type vibe.

-I’ve noticed over the past several years that my attention span has grown smaller when it comes to reading. I’m great with short stories and small novels, but I rarely bother with anything over 400 pages anymore. Fear Street books clock in a little over 100 pages and they are a fast, easy read. Many of the chapters end mid-scene as a sort of mini-cliff hanger that keeps you reading. This isn’t so much a review of the book itself, but of the format and I absolute love it.

-When you write a 120 pages book, you don’t have a lot of room for character development. I’m actually okay with that. I would prefer to read 120 pages of shallowly defined characters than 300 pages of masterfully written backstories and motives when it comes to a horror story. 

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-Horror, especially teen horror (well any teen entertainment in the 90’s), tends to be a bit cliché at times. You have the nerds, jocks, pretty girls, pretty girls who think they are ugly, etc. etc. Outside of Brandt, The Second Horror does nothing to break this tradition. I’m not saying it’s needed, but it would be nice to read a character that didn’t act exactly the way you expected them to act.

-I’ve never been a fan of island/indigenous folklore when it comes to horror and while this worked as a great vehicle for some of the plot, I’m just not a fan. 

Rating:
To properly review The Second Horror, I have to looked at the book and story from a proper point of view, that of a 90’s teenager. It would be easy to look at this book and criticize it for being short, lacking true development, and not bringing enough horror, but you must look at the audience this book was written for and the time that it was written. With that being said, if you are a grown adult with no nostalgic memories of these type of books or someone who prides themselves on only written “intellectual” type books, then this is a definite skip for you.

For someone like me, who loves 90’s horror and missed out on these books, this is a goldmine. It’s an untapped resource of 90’s horror for me to experience for the first time all over. This wasn’t Stephen King and I know that and I’m okay with that. The Second Horror was a quick, easy read that gave me some small frights and entertained me quite a bit. It reminded me a lot of Are You Afraid of the Dark, just a little darker. I rate 99 Fear Street: The Second Horror as a seven out of ten and say it’s worthy of picking up for a buck or so if you want something different to read.

The Mist Review (2007)



My History With the Film:
I don’t remember the first time I watched The Mist, but it had to be around 2008 or so. I went in knowing absolutely nothing about the film other than it starred Thomas Jane and was based on a Stephen King novella. A couple hours later, I sat with my mouth agape and realized I had just witnessed something amazing. It was a powerful film that went beyond “monsters in the mist.”

My most recent re-watch occurred this past weekend, following Hurricane Florence’s attack on North Carolina. I was lucky and retained power all weekend, and when I started thinking of films to watch The Mist came to mind immediately. A few months ago, I purchased a copy of the black and white director’s cut on Vudu, and this seemed like the perfect time to give it a watch.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
Following a bad storm, a sinister mist rolls into a small Maine town and terrorizes a group of civilians hiding out in a grocery store.

What I Liked About It:
-The Ending. You’ll get no spoilers from me on this one, but the ending is incredible.

-The film plays out like a Twilight Zone episode in some parts. There is a lot of analysis on how people react when scared and under pressure, and this film doesn’t shy away from showing it in all it’s terrible glory.

-The cast is wonderful. Thomas Jane (Deep Blue Sea), Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River), Andre Braugher (Frequency), William Sadler (Disturbing Behavior), and pretty much a casting call for The Walking Dead with Melissa McBride, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Juan Gabriel pareja, Cheri Dvorak, Sam Witwer, and Tiffany Morgan.

-Every character is rounded out enough that you feel a connection to them. I’m not saying that every death is impactful, but you never feel like the movie is just offering up nameless bodies to The Mist.

-Horror films get a lot of flack for having some terrible acting (rightfully so in a lot of cases) but this film is an exception. The performances all around are pretty wonderful with no major weak links coming to mind.

-The music is subtle, but fits well. I really noticed it while wearing headphones and came to appreciate it.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-The CG was below average in 2007 and of course only looks worse in 2018. Every time I see something in CGI, I’m reminded of the Gravelings in Dead Like Me, a TV show from 2003, which is not a good thing. Luckily, if you watch the film in the black and white edition (which I recommend), it helps mask some of the cheesier aspects of the CGI.

-The pacing is a little strange in The Mist and it feels like a much longer movie than it actually is. I’m not saying the pacing is bad, but it’s not your standard three act story, so you have be prepared for the storytelling to come and go in waves.

Additional Notes:
-This was writer/director Frank Darabont’s third Stephen King adaptation after The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.

-The opening scene shows David (Thomas Jane) painting The Gunslinger from The Dark Tower.

-To save time on the tight schedule, Frank Darabont hired the camera crew from the TV show The Shield to shoot the film. They were used to moving on a fast paced, hectic TV schedule.

-Frank Darabont had imagined the ending for twenty years and wanted to make his version of The Mist. He turned down $30 million dollars to make this film with a modified ending. Instead, he made the movie for half the amount and forfeited his directorial salary.

-Frank Darabont originally wanted Thomas Jane to play Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead after shooting this film with him.

-Thomas Jane’s third Stephen King movie, the other two being Dreamcatcher and 1922.

-William Sadler portrayed David Drayton in the audio drama version of The Mist. He was also in two Stephen King adaptations: The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.

-Frances Sternhagen’s third appearance in a Stephen King film, the first two being: Misery and Golden Years.

Rating:
I loved The Mist the first time I saw it and I think I love it just as much now. I love a good isolation story and it’s even better when grounded in something I can relate to like a grocery store. It’s not difficult to watch The Mist and see how it laid some of the groundwork for the first season or two of The Walking Dead. The story feels real and the actual conflict isn’t so much The Mist as it is the other people around you, which is a topic I never tire of seeing discussed whether it’s in the before mentioned Walking Dead or The Monsters on Maple Street episode of The Twilight Zone.

I do recommend watching it in black and white if you are willing to, and would rate the film a solid four out of five.

Teaching Mrs. Tingle Review (1999)



My History With the Film:
I always assumed that Teaching Mrs. Tingle was a horror/comedy film. Then I finally got around to watching it in early 2018 and realized that there was nothing horror related about this film at all. Similar to my review for Gossip, I've decided to press on with the review because if I was misled by the marketing, I'm sure others were too.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
After being accused of cheating, three high school students accidently take their teacher hostage.

What I Liked About It:
-I love the cast of this film. You have the always great Helen Mirren joined by Jeffrey Tambor along with the kids: Katie Holmes, Barry Watson, and Marisa Coughlan. It's an excellent cast who all do well by their characters. I was especially impressed with Marisa Coughlan and am surprised that this wasn't a huge breakout role for her.

-Once I got over the shock that this wasn't a horror film (maybe I was mixing it up with Teaching Mr. Griffin?) I started enjoying the movie. It's mostly a comedy that does have a little heart. Having come out in 1999, I could see how this film may not have found its audience though. It's not quite cute enough to be in the "She's All That" group, not funny enough to be like "10 Things I Hate About You" and not gross enough to be in the "American Pie" camp. It's a film that stands alone in its own little genre and I can see why the marketing department had such a hard time selling it.

-I love Kevin Williamson's dialogue and it's on full display in Teaching Mrs. Tingle. Lots of random references and fast, intelligent discussions.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-The movie is not good. The script is lacking any real substance and it feels thrown together. The film never knows what it's setting out to say and because of that you feel lost throughout the entire movie. I think the cast was really dedicated to their roles, they just didn't have enough to work with. Despite all of Katie Holmes charming attributes, it just isn't enough to save this film.

Additional Notes:
-The film was originally titled Killing Mrs. Tingle, but after the Columbine shooting the movie was pushed back and retitled to Teaching Mrs. Tingle.

-Gillian Anderson turned down the role of Mrs. Tingle.

-The film was originally shot to be R-rated but the studio decided to try and maximize their profits by turning into a PG-13 film.

Rating:
Killing Mrs. Tingle was a disappointment and not just because it wasn't a horror movie. I have a feeling that the studio snatched up the script because Kevin Williamson's name was on it and at the time he could do no wrong.

Teaching Mrs. Tingle is a five out of ten.

Event Horizon Review


My History With the Film:
I saw Event Horizon for the first time when it began airing on HBO back in the late 90’s. I was up late and decided to watch it once I noticed that it looked sort of like Alien. Two hours later, I was horrified at what I just watched. It was a ghost story set in space and a damn good ghost story at that.

Since then I’ve watched Event Horizon once every four or five years, and it hasn’t gotten old yet. My most recent viewing in March 2018, was just as terrifying as the first.

What the Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A scientist and a team of astronauts are sent on a mission to answer the distress call of a space ship that has been missing for seven years.

What I Liked About It:
-I love a good ghost story and I love movies that place in space. This is a perfect mixture of both. It truly is expert horror/science fiction.

-Sam Neill goes all out in his descent into madness and every time I watch this film I’m still surprised by how far he takes the character.

-The sound design is amazing and truly enhances and already creepy atmosphere.

-Speaking of atmosphere, the one thing that makes a ghost story great is the feeling of hopeless and isolation. As each year passes, we become more connected and that feeling of isolation diminishes. But by setting this story in the far reaches of space, it truly makes you feel like there is no chance in help ever arriving. I don’t know if there is another movie that makes you feel so isolated like Event Horizon does.

-The special effects hold up well for the most part.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-Nothing... I'm not saying this film is perfect, but there is no major issues that I have with it.

Additional Notes
-The original cut was more violent and ran 130 minutes. The studio forced Paul W.S. Anderson to cut the film down by thirty minutes and tone down the violence. There have many mixed reports about whether or not a version of this cut still exists, but from what I can gather all the footage that they have managed to track down has been improperly archived or too badly damaged to use for a proper re-release.

-The space suits the actors wore weighed sixty-five pounds and made it tiring to wear while standing up and impossible to sit down. Special hanging poles were made to allow the actors to rest between takes.

-The gateway's interlocking design was an homage to Hellraiser's puzzle box.

-There is a complete X-Wing on the antenna array of the Event Horizon.

-The shot of the space station orbiting above Earth took up one-third of the visual effects budget.

Rating:
I love Event Horizon and that is a surprise because I'm not really a fan of any of Paul W.S. Anderson's other work. The movie hits all the right cues and has the right tone to make me feel uneasy even after watching it several times over the past twenty years.

I rate Event Horizon a nine out of ten and say it's a must watch.

Scre4m Video Game (2011)

In 2011, Scream 4 was released in theaters and all sorts of Scream merchandise was released to promote the film. The Scream trilogy was finally released on blu-ray, two new retrospectives were made, and all sorts of new Ghostface masks and Halloween costumes featuring the Scream 4 branding were sold everywhere from Dollar General to Party City. Also released (and sadly forgotten) was Scre4m, a Android/iOS video game.

The game was released on June 6th, 2011, a couple months after the Scream 4 movie was released. Scre4m was developed by The Weinstein Company (TWC) Games, Beefy Media and Codeglue using the Unity engine.

The game was pretty simple. You played as Ghostface and you attempted to kill off teenagers without being spotted. If you were spotted, the police get called, and you get arrested. The game was played by swiping your finger across the screen and guiding Ghostface to the kill.

Scre4m featured three levels: high school, frat party, and gym and seemed to channel the spirit of the movies well. I remember playing it on iOS and enjoying it quite a bit. It wasn't a perfect game, but it was a fun way to spend a few minutes doing something horror related on your phone.

Scre4m unfortunately is no longer available on the App Store or Google Play, but I did managed to snag a clean .apk online. There is a complete walkthrough of the game on YouTube that I've posted below the following pictures.








Jeepers Creepers Review (2001)


My History With the Film:
I remember Jeeper Creepers coming out in 2001, but it just never appealed to me. From the trailers that I saw it looked like it was full of CGI and that didn't interest me any. I remember it renting well at Blockbuster, but I that still didn't change my mind about watching it. It wasn't until 2018 that I finally sat down and watched the first film and I was both surprised and disappointed with what I saw.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A brother and sister duo encounter a people eating demon while traveling through a rural town.

What I Liked About It:
-The first twenty minutes of this film are flat out amazing. There is a believability factor in dealing with two siblings on this long trip home that is very relatable. The out of control truck and the dumping of the bodies create a nightmare situation that seems like it could happen to anyone. In fact, someone has linked together how these opening scenes re-create an episode of Unsolved Mysteries that actually happened.

-The design of The Creeper is something to truly admire. It's half man/half demon and I absolutely love the way it looks. I was not as impressed with how it moved.

-I loved the two leads and I thought Justin Long and Gina Phillips did an incredible job convincing us they were boyfriend and girlfriend. Also, kudos to the writers for not going with the easy romantic pairing and instead allowing us to experience a different type of relationship in a horror movie.

-The car was an excellent character in this film and felt unique. It was a classic, but run down, and even with a sock holding the trunk closed it still felt special.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-After that first fifteen or twenty minutes, our main characters start making such stupid decisions that it's hard to ignore. My suspension of disbelief is just not that strong. For example: ::SPOILERS:: going back to the location where you think bodies are being dumped and then hanging out and leaving your car in full view of where the psycho you just saw dumping bodies can easily find you.

-I thought the church setting was incredible and was sad to see us move on so quickly. The small town vibe worked well at the diner, but then the setting continued to change every fifteen minutes and what I loved about the beginning of the movie was replaced with less inspiring set design.

-I think between the set changes and the reincarnation of The Creeper, I felt this movie lost it's steam by the second half. It was a chore to get through and what started off so promising ended in disappointment.

Additional Notes:
-The Creeper had a single line of dialogue, but it was ultimately cut from the film.

-Writer/Director Victor Salva intentionally wrote the main characters as brother and sister to avoid any sexual tension and allow for them to focus on escaping The Creeper.

-Like many horror films, the actors/actresses were not allowed to see The Creeper before hand so the filmmaker could get a true response. Same thing went with the old truck from the opening scene.

-The Creeper's truck is a 1941 Chevrolet Heavy-Duty COE (Cab Over Engine). 

-The film was shot in Dunnellon, Florida. At nighttime the insects were so loud that the filmmakers had to fire a gun in order to silence the bugs long enough to get a take.

Rating:
When I first started Jeepers Creepers I thought the film was going to go into my top twenty favorite horror films. By the time it ended, I was ready for it to be over and realized that it was not nearly as impressive as I thought it would be. The movie does a great job at building some tension and has some truly shocking moments, but despite having a runtime of ninety minutes it felt twenty minutes too long.

Jeepers Creepers is a six out of ten for me and one that I'd watch the beginning of and then turn it off.