I get what Rob Zombie’s going for. No, no, I really do. I even appreciate it. He’s trying to inject the iconography of real-world serial murderers into mainstream Slasher movies, and my hat’s off to his efforts. I, too, once harbored the delusion that the two had anything to do with each other. But both our efforts are hampered by the inconvenient fact that Slasher villains are are not serial killers.
If they are anything, they’re spree killers. Think Charles Starkweather instead of Edward Gein. I know everyone’s had Edward on the brain since the police first hauled out his human-skin living room set, but you know what? It’s been done. At least Zombie avoids going down the tried and oh-so-true Silence of the Lambs route, since by now even that‘s degenerated into Jerry Brukheimer’s boring, CGI-assisted propaganda for the coming police state, CSI. Continue reading Halloween II (2009)→
Everyone ignores this Halloween sequel, and why shouldn’t they? I’m guilty of it myself. Why should we waste our time on something called Halloween that’s not centered around one Michael Myers? Besides, it’s written and directed by the man who’s puerile “mind” vomited up Amityville II: The Possession: Tommy Lee Wallace.
Not that I hold that against him. Sure, Tommy participated in a classic Dino De Laurentiis land grab, writing the screenplay for a film the De Laurentiis Group had no right to make. Sure, Tommy began his screenwriting career by slandering real-life murder victims, telling a story that absolved their killer of any responsibility by straight-up ripping-off TheExorcist. Sure, all that is horrible human (and, more important for me, writerly) behavior…but does being a horrible person mean you have good horror movie in you? We’ll find out tonight, won’t we? Yes. Continue reading Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)→
Conventional wisdom goes something like this: “David Cronenberg’s films are so damn grotesque because of his personal distaste for the flesh.” I used to agree. But watching Shivershelped me realize I had it all backwards. If anything, The Flesh is David Cronenberg’s not-so-secret hero. That’s why he continually returns to stories that center around the Flesh’s victories over barriers human society has erected against it. I submit Videodrome as my evidence. Continue reading Videodrome (1983)→
Now here’s something we haven’t seen in awhile: a Roger Corman movie. And goddamn, the man’s still in fine form, making films that are nothing if not honest. “Hello,” they say, “I’m crap. And honestly unashamed. At least I came in on time and under budget. I’ll make money, and keep my Master in food and clothes for the foreseeable future. What more do you want?” For some, that would probably be enough. But around here we like to shoehorn the films we see into some greater narrative or another. What better narrative than the decline of Roger Corman, not as a man, but as a Bad Movie institution?
Was a time when the Sci-fi channel didn’t bother making its own crap. There were far, far, far too many pre-existing, crappy syndicated sci-fi shows one could buy up on the cheap and use to plug holes in the schedule, like a frantic bricklayer working overtime to build a mafia front, knowing that the Don is not as forgiving as, say, Darth Vader. Then the Dark Times came upon us all and the Channel sold out to USA…and thus to NBC, and thus to General Electric. Awash with this new, corporate cash, the channel began regularly premiering its own films. To an outsider, the process resembles a feces fight inside a monkey cage. The channel flings monetary poo at primates lower on the social pecking order, who quickly respond in kind by lobbing back handfuls of cinematic excrement. Unfortunately, these often pass straight through their intended targets, escape the bars, and hit the “SyFy” channel’s dwindling audience in the face. Continue reading Sharktopus (2010)→
And here we have a film never should’ve seen the light but, like that three-car pile-up on your way to work, resolutely sits right in the middle of the road refusing to be ignored. The same way most critics ignore John Carpenter’s made-for-TV movies.
Awkward segues aside, there’s two very good reasons to focus on the man’s studio pieces. For (1) they’re better, and for (2) they’re easier to find. Yet in their blindness, critics miss essential facets of Carpenter’s story, which is in many ways the story of genre cinema in the 1980s. That’s sad because it’s a great story in itself…often much more interesting than the films it created. A story littered with greed, betrayal, and compromised aesthetic principals that will probably go on to make a great bio-pic once everyone forgets who Orson Welles was…or, if they remember him at all, remember him only as “the voice of Unicron.” Continue reading Halloween II (1981)→
David Cronenberg’s put the “ewww” in “auteur…ewww, gross!” since his college days in the late 1960s, only breaking into the wider world of Canadian commercial films after he wrangled money out of the National Film Board of Canada to help make this. As partially taxpayer-funded horror movies go, I think Canada got more than it bargained for, and you’ll certainly get more than your money’s worth. Shivers is Cronenberg’s ET, the Rosetta Stone to his entire subsequent career, resounding with the themes and issues Croneneberg continues to return to, by which I mean, “Shoehorn into every goddamn thing he does, whether it belongs there or not.” (See also, Naked Lunch).
Thankfully, Cronenberg’s early films have a rough and tumble quality that’s gritty in the old cowboy sense of “ready to move at a moment’s notice.” As opposed to the poncy, hipster sense of “My video games come in twelve shades of brown.” Continue reading Shivers (1975)→
Two thousand seven was a black year all around. Spider-man jumped the shark, the Fantastic Four died, and Michael Bay sodomized the Transformers amidst a shower of derision and money…mostly money. As if that weren’t depressing enough, in the midst of it all some brain-damaged soul looked both ways and said: “I know! We’ll remake Halloween!” He was promptly run through by the heretofore-unseen masked killer standing directly behind him. In accordance with his last will and testament, the remake was greenlit, with Rob Zombie set to write and direct. The result is a 2007 version of the 1978 film that’s probably been ripped-off, re-imagined, re-purposed, retconned and reanimated more than any other film ever. I might as well start wearily sighing now. Continue reading Halloween (2007)→
Reviews with swear words and sociopolitical analysis from David DeMoss