61 Days of Halloween- Mother’s Day

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment so I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Mother’s Day

Rose Ross in Mother's Day (Troma)

Mother’s Day is a film with many problems. Firstly, it tries to introduce its three protagonists in two different time periods. First, you meet the characters very briefly in college and then separately ten years later.

A lot of screen time in this film is wasted. For example these friends waste a lot of time goofing and being drunk when they reunite and there is also an unnecessary very extensive prank scene from their college days which halts whatever forward momentum the film had built up.

Furthermore this comes after we are introduced to our villains and their M.O. so we are just sitting about waiting for them to strike anew so it becomes doubly painful.

As if you didn’t know going in that you’d get a lot of overacting in this film it goes beyond even what is expected. There’s also terrible example of the 80s work montage, bad scoring and introduced-to-the-mix-real-late ghost character, ghost in the literary sense not supernatural.

As if that wasn’t enough there is a grainy, poorly-focused twist-ending shot that adds insult to injury. Skip this one.

1/10

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Review- Our Idiot Brother

Paul Rudd in Our Idiot Brother (The Weinstein Company)

Our Idiot Brother through its marketing gives you the impression that it’s just going to be a laugh-a-minute-comedy about a slacker brother and his more well-off family’s interactions, while it is funny there is more than meets the eye with this film. That can go both ways but it truly ends up being a good thing in this case.

First and foremost this is a showcase for the comedic talents of Paul Rudd, who rarely finds a vehicle like this where he can really showcase what he can do. From beginning to end in this film Rudd is in top form and there are exchanges whether it’s scripted or he went off-book that only he could make that funny. One of his confrontations with his ex-girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn) comes to mind.

Not to say this is a one man show, quite on the contrary. The aforementioned Kathryn Hahn is hilarious in this film as is her new beau, the good-natured Billy (T.J. Miller). In the family there are strong performances that show a good deal of range from Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel, Elizabeth Banks, Rashida Jones and Steve Coogan. While playing a relatively simplistic character on the surface Rudd displays a different side of himself with each of the aforementioned characters as well as with Jeremy (Adam Scott), his sister Miranda’s (Banks) neighbor/potential love interest, they both share an affinity for Sci-Fi and with River (Matthew Mindler), his nephew, he can see what it is he really wants but never tells his parents.

This film toes the line of drama and comedy very well and in doing so manages not to be overly long. It keeps things funny but also keeps real world consequences involved but doesn’t let the bad things that can and will happen to people put a damper on things. The film like life goes on and it chooses to laugh at it.

Having said all that it is a very funny film indeed and you will likely walk away from it quoting one or two things there are some very good exchanges and some memorable, witty dialogue.

It also has one of Those Scenes. Meaning one of those great scenes by which you will remember the film and Paul Rudd’s performance. I refer to it as The Charades Scene and it is a perfect calling out of all the characters in the film without being too heavy-handed it shows just enough restraint and achieves brilliance due to the writing and performance of it. Naturally, it is also a crucial scene.

The film takes all of its narrative strands and subplots and deals with them rather neatly. Then at the end it meanders a bit and you don’t quite know why. When you find out it’s good for a laugh and a truly happy ending but you’re left wondering if that was truly needed.

Our Idiot Brother
is a good comedy with some very good dramatic moments thrown in. Though in the end the results a re bit mixed in some areas, not just the very end, it’s very much worth viewing.

7/10

Review- Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Bailee Madison in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (Film District)

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark? Don’t worry I won’t be. Allow me to state for the record that I do not have anything against a slow burn, which this film is, however, there’s not enough spark there to get it going. A lot of that has to do with the fact that stupidity abounds in this film. The other is the pace itself and then there’s the subject matter.

Firstly, it is easy to create an adequately entertaining to great teaser scene in a horror film, however, if the rest of the film comes nowhere near matching it then you’ve done yourself a disservice and I understand the temptation to not do one. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark‘s teaser scene is the one truly cringe-worthy moment the remainder of the film is hopelessly tedious and ineffective.

Equally as ineffective are the fairies in more ways than one. Yes, I am aware of the fact that a lot of the lore pertaining to fairies is in no way cutesy but that never really translates in this film. Their voices are small, silly and squeaky and never menacing. Though they’ve had many years to practice are about as hapless as killers can get and that really undercuts any tension that might be built. Not to mention the fact that their whole modus operandi lacks a very cogent explication.

Then you have the parents: Alex (Guy Pearce, with the most unfortunate hair) and Kim (Katie Holmes), the oh-so-young stepmother. These are your classic dumb characters in horror films. They are oblivious and/or in denial about what is really happening for far too long. Neither of them comes across as someone you could empathize with much less sympathize, Pearce with his cold dead-pan and Holmes with her patented smirky face lack depth as badly as the film does.

There is only any light shone upon the fairy backstory in one scene and that scene works but then it introduces a scene where Kim rushes back to the house drops a canvas and reveals a huge, blatant and graphic mural. The fact that this mural was missed before (or implied to have been missed) is laughable and not worthy of C-Grade Giallo films.

The only thing the film has going for it from start to finish is the stellar performance of Bailee Madison. She is often alone and having to be convincingly scared with no one to play off her and/or reacting to CG elements and she does wonderfully. The fact that Madison shines cannot save this film though.

The pace hardly ever quickens and the horrors of this this film are so avoidable such that it wallows in tedium. The film ends up not being scary, funny or entertaining. Some situations added to create character are so trite it’s surprising they’re in the film at all and to top it off the ending is just dementedly stupid.

It’s rare when a film has me leave fuming as opposed to bow-beaten by its awfulness. This film did that.

2/10

61 Days of Halloween- Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment so I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest

Daniel Cerny in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (Dimension)

After having watched Children of the Corn II:The Final Sacrifice I was considering devising a system wherein I gauged the painfulness of these films by which body part I’d rather punch repeatedly for 90 minutes than having sat through that film. Thankfully, I never got around to hatching those plans because along came Children of the Corn 3: Urban Harvest.

One thing I will say right off the bat is that this film unquestionably wins the award for the worst subtitle of any of the Children of the Corn sequels, while it is accurate it is also terrible and makes you think this film will be a lot worse than it is.

The fact of the matter is I love this film. I might even go so far as to use the annoying variant “lurve” if I could distinguish the difference in usage. Anyway, that is not to say that this one is perfect or better than the first but there’s a spark of creativity here, a flair and embracing of the concept in this one you don’t get in other films in the series. It’s also a little out there and in that way it is to an extent the Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (Yes, that review will be re-posted here) equivalent in this series.

The connection to the original film is really a chronological one, a narrative one. This film uses the same scenario as two; orphaned children in need of care and handles it so much better than the previous film it’s not even funny. Here you get a focused situation: Eli (Daniel Cerny) and his brother Joshua (Ron Melendez) come to the big city from Gatlin. The religion and the cult are on the road in a big city and are about to get a big foothold.

What also sets this sequel apart is that it features its antagonist prominently makes him someone you can understand when you hear him preach and speak but also makes him vile enough that you aren’t upset if he’s defeated. Stories from the Bible and quoting of scripture is used very effectively in the film through Eli making the cult seem like something that makes sense. If the children seem justified in their ritual of killing adults and sacrificing themselves it makes them that much more frightening. Understanding a killer’s mind can be a terrifying thing. If a horror film makes you understand that it’s a winner.

The conveyor of the message in this tale, that is more religious than most, is equally important. Daniel Cerny may not have had the longest or most prolific career as a child actor but he did find two roles he was very well suited for that are quite memorable: Eli and the Demon in Demonic Toys (Which I also want to write about). There’s something intangible about his performance. He’s just scary. He doesn’t have the widest range or convey them all emotions equally well, however, at least he can handle dialogue and he can get angry and headstrong. It’s the kind of performance that might best be labeled as great yet inconsistent.

Kills are not something you’ll hear me discuss too much in this series. The Children of the Corn series as a whole isn’t filled with creative deaths it doesn’t really fit the slasher mold. Not only does this film have some jaw-droppingly effective and creative kills but quite a few of them. Which leads to another element of a successful horror film: no one seems safe.

The tone is set early on in the teaser scene. It reveals how they were orphaned and Eli’s true nature and we know it all along and his brother doesn’t. The film carries that secret for a while but then it also is keeping from us, which it spills later on.

Another way in which this film kind of reminded me of the 3rd Halloween film is in the handling of the corn itself. Now the subplot of the corn being somewhat supernatural and malevolent. It seemingly selectively can take down the infidels. The visuals of those deaths paired with the tag at the end make it very similar but it’s also the best handling of this development in the story. After the next film this notion vanishes entirely.

In short, this is the one direct sequel (as opposed to the remake), that as soon as I was done watching it I could see myself gladly viewing again. It also proves how bad a place to watch a film basic cable is because I’ve seen parts of many of these films and the Halloweeen films there before getting the DVDs and they make the experience so much worse. This sequel truly is one worthy of its predecessor and is a blast to watch.

8/10

61 Days of Halloween: Children of the Corn II- The Final Sacrifice

Ryan Bollman in Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (Dimension Films)

When dealing with a series, like I am currently or have in the past, I will tend to lean towards something akin to Franchise Criticism. I will focus on the continuous narrative thread and other things pertaining to the franchise. My opinion of each individual film I will try and compartmentalize but there will be commentary along the lines mentioned above because it is necessary to gauge the franchise as a whole which I will do later on.

One thing to note with the Children of the Corn films is that there is a very distinct aspect about them which acts as a double-edged sword; it is that many times in the sequels you will see a new wrinkle, fact or other bit of information added to the mythos and you’ll think to yourself “God, I hope they don’t continue this strain.” The double-edged sword part is that they usually don’t. The good of that is that stupid subplot never rears their head anew, however, that does hurt the continuity of the series. With each installment you need really only know the basics and can walk in cold, which by my definition makes it a bad series. While there are a few occasional highlights be it a moment, performance or a whole film I cannot contradict myself there. Most of these films will receive failing grades yet it was oddly enjoyable to watch them all for two reasons: one, the basic premise is one I love and I am addicted to series. I can’t help it.

As for Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice not only does it hold the distinction of being the most premature false ending to a horror franchise but it’s also pretty darn lousy. It’s not the worse but but perhaps runner-up in the franchise pecking order.

Firstly, the film lets the cat out of the bag so to speak; the massacre in Gatlin has been discovered and it’s now on the news. This in and of itself isn’t an issue, however, the way it’s handled is. The focus of the narrative is bifurcated between reporter John Garrett (Terence Knox) and his annoyingly dysfunctional relationship with his equally annoying and whiny son Danny (Paul Scherrer) and his relationship with Lacey (Christie Clark).

Oh yeah, there’s also Micah (Ryan Bollman). He’s the new preacher and how Danny nearly gets lured into the cult is one of the few things that comes close to working in this film. The acting is terrible all around in this film it is without doubt the worst in the series. Micah is good for some random evil glares and when he gets a chance to finally be mean it’s fine but many sequels in the series put the antagonist (read the Preacher Boy) too far away from the center of it all.

The film plays at love story for quite a while and despite the fact that Lacey is in with the cult the tension surrounding their relationship is never really elevated. Michah’s involvement only increases when he’s actively trying to get Danny involved. It’s also one of the sequels that seemed to feel uncomfortable in its own skin meaning that instead of trying to lay a good foundation of drama there were times it tries too hard to be something it’s not, in this case, a star-crossed romance.

This also marks the beginning of the shifting of location of this series. The horrors in Gatlin were discovered. Many children, presumed innocent, are now orphaned and in need of foster care. Many people in Hemingford, the closest town up the road, offer to take them in. Here’s where bad writing and acting combine to really take the film down another notch: several times they refer to the orphans as a whole as “the sweet, innocent children of Gatlin, (or some such rot) there is not a time this line is uttered where it doesn’t sound insincere. I’m not speaking about audience omniscience, meaning we know they’re really evil so we chuckle, I mean the line reading itself sounds like the actor is being sarcastic or comedic so suspension of disbelief is most difficult.

One thread that does develop hear that dies hard is the notion of disease, mental or physical, is brought into the equation as a possibility, which is unforgivable because it changes the nature of the films. Essentially the film is in not so many words is trying to play the psychotic, cultist, religious zealot children off as victims. However, one thing I do appreciate later on is that it is treated as a white elephant, meaning it’s a concept so big it can’t just be dropped from the series but needs to be gradually written out. Franchises would benefit from story editors because not many changes were handled that smoothly.

Then you have the characters, yeah, those guys. Despite the efforts to develop them I don’t like them. If the audience is going to identify with anyone it’s the kids trying to run away not the father, not the way he’s written. So here you have it again the most annoying permutation of horror film you don’t really like anyone and you know that in all likelihood they’re gonna walk away at the end and you’d rather they be dead.

Few horror films, as a franchise, really survive in their most earnest form: if the villain wasn’t the protagonist to start eventually they become them because they’re who the movie is named after and the characters seem to get dumber, more disposable less identifiable, therefore what do you want to happen to them in a horror film, a piece of entertainment designed to feed on your baser instincts? Kill them. All I’m saying is few far between are the effective, affable protagonists later on in horror series. The constant gives you comfort and a twisted ending gives you pleasure from time to time.

There’s none of that here. After I saw this film I lamented on Twitter about deciding to place the original film last in my viewing order thinking it’d be all downhill until got there. This series like so many has its peaks and valleys. This is a chasm, not quite an abyss, we will get their but its rather painful to endure.

2/10

Review- Creature

Serinda Swan and Mehcad Brooks in Creature (The Bubble Factory)

Creature. What does Creature do right? What is Creature? Why does Creature exist and why was it released to 1,507 screens? Why did I watch Creature? These are all questions I asked myself while watching this film.

To answer the first question there’s not much this film does right at all. It’s the kind of film that thinks character development is giving someone a piece of dialogue in which they say something weird and it never gets explained or an inside joke is shared and we never get let in. A film can overcome the shortcomings of its cast with its narrative, technical proficiency and artistry. There is very little of that so I’m left watching a cast that might have been rejected for Final Destination 5.

So it ends up being the worst permutation of all horror films: one wherein you actually want all the characters dead but know they likely will survive. The characters are for the most part as annoying as the actors. To be fair there are but two positive developments: one is a twist and the other is that Niles played by Mehcad Brooks emerges as someone watchable and that you can almost pull for. In the end he’s like a poor-man’s Duane Jones (Night of the Living Dead) but this movie is nowhere near a classic.

The edit of this film is painful. At a climactic moment there are so many cutaways that it goes beyond foreshadowing to bludgeoning you with obviousness. The film is also riddled with nonsensical dissolves and cuts and worse yet cutaways were you know they’re not showing an entry wound to save money.

Despite the fact that I did manage to find some good things to say about it about I was tempted to walk out of this film due to its sheer crappiness. This was right before the aforementioned twist. A twist which does not absolve most of the characters of their stupidity and is therefore wasted.

Stupidity rears its ugly head in a big way at least twice in this film and it’s truly insufferable. In Fright Night I discuss one of the paradigms of modern horror being about disbelief, well stupidity is another. Any horror fan cut their teeth on films where screaming girls run upstairs and trap themselves when a killer is chasing them. It was fine for a time but we’ve grown tired of it. These kids willingly seek out the local lore to mock it and become endangered. It doesn’t engender sympathy.

Then there’s the Phantom Menace, I mean, The Creature. It may be the best thing going for it but it’s consistently, purposefully under-exposed like they’re giving it the Jaws treatment sans theme song through most of it. It doesn’t make it scarier, when it’s revealed it’s laughable.

As if the creature’s lack of ferocity isn’t bad enough the film is like softcore porn at times.

To address one of my initial questions about how wide the release was my only guess is that it’s a kind of reverse psychology. Now it’s the biggest bomb of all-time and everyone with a morbid streak will want to see it on video.

1/10

Review- Shark Night 3D

Sara Paxton and Dustin Milligan in Shark Night 3D (Relativity Media)

Shark Night 3D, oh boy. I have to admit I did go into this one with a healthy dose of skepticism. However, this is why you go out to see movies because you hope you’re surprise on occasion. Shark Night 3D definitely caught me off guard and I’m very glad of it.

In a nutshell Shark Night 3D is the kind of film that we (meaning those who were disappointed by it) expected Snakes on a Plane to be. There is a self-awareness about the film that stays jut beneath the surface but pops up to make us chuckle throughout this film. However, it also creates quite a few jolts and got some pretty big reactions from the audience at the screening I was at.

Although the set up is rather conventional (college students heading off for a weekend in the country) the film does create a situation that couldn’t have been anticipated (sharks in a lake). It also comes up with a rather smart and logical way to try and explain it away.

Shark Night 3D
also does enough to build its characters up just enough so that we get to at least like them if not know them before things start to go down and works on them as things get more mysterious. So while there is some levity to a lot of it there is also some gravity to it all.

What you also have here that you don’t usually find in a horror film is decent to good acting, which really does help the film quite a bit. Firstly, there’s Sara Paxton who does very well, there’s also Donal Logue who is awesomeness personified, the supporting cast is also buoyed by Joel David Moore who is always funny and has appeared in many films in the genre.

Here’s another film that had good 3D and used it to great effect and got buried recently. I personally see no point in making a film 3D if you’re not going to be self-conscious about it from time to time and use obstructions and fling things at the lens/audience.

While it’s by no means perfect and silly it’s aware of both those things and plays off that to great success. And if you do see it be sure to watch the credits for a hilarious bonus at the end.

6/10

Review- Fright Night (2011)

Imogen Poots and Anton Yelchin in Fright Night (DreamWorks/Disney)

Here’s another case of full disclosure is necessary, there are two things that bear mentioning with regards to Fright Night: first, I am in no way a fan of the original Fright Night, it has some strong elements but overall I was not entertained in the least. Therefore, I walked into this version with an open mind as it with this remake I actually felt there was a need for it.

This incarnation of Fright Night does absolutely wonderful things with the aspect of disbelief in the horror genre. Typically and you get very weary of this if you’re a fan of the genre. You are therefore used a long struggle were characters doubt the supernatural elements of the story. The modern notion respects the audience enough and is just reflexive enough that this part of the story is quickly addressed but sped through. Never has it been so quickly and intelligently handled as in this film.

This, of course, lends itself to much comedy. Comedy in a horror film can be a precarious thing. Many people do need that release valve for their nervous energy but many horror films veer too heavily towards comedy. This one does something odd in as much as it keeps the horror subsumed and allows it to bubble to to the surface and take over when necessary.

Not to say that those who like their horror in a more classical style will necessarily walk away disappointed from this film. You get in this film very well-done gore and perhaps what I was most grateful for good, old fashioned scary vampires. The horror elements are there in spades.

Another way in which this film is a kind of throwback is that its a horror property that was able to attract talent to it. First, you have your protagonist in Anton Yelchin, who may not be a household name yet but has certainly done his fair share of films and should be recognizable to most. You also have the ever-versatile Toni Collette as his mother. Then there’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse as his friend. Then perhaps the most important duo is the vampire (Colin Farrell) and the vampire hunter (David Tennant).

It’s truly a shame that the 3D backlash came at a time when good films with effective 3D work was released. This is one of them. Yes, there is an over-saturation of 3D but this film should not have fallen victim to our general malaise with it.

The pace of this film as intimated earlier is fantastic. Due to the fact that it deals with the niceties quickly, effectively with great dialogue it allows the film to move quite quickly and still manages to build suspense while doing so. There are quite a few memorable sequences in this film.

It’s quite easy to look at Fright Night and say “Oh, look, another remake and another vampire movie at the same time,” however, this one gives both a good name and is worth seeing.

9/10

61 Days of Halloween- Children of the Corn (1984)

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment so I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Children of the Corn (1984)

John Franklin in Children of the Corn (New World Pictures)

In my opinion this is a great film and here’s why: Even before we see anything we feel that the score will be of great importance in this film. Aside from a slightly electronic new wave 80s score provided by Jonathan Elias the film is also scored by a children’s choir appropriate and both chilling in tandem with the events that occur onscreen and with the theme of the film.

Like in many horror films we begin in flashback to prior event that led to current unusual circumstances with voice over narration of Job (Robbie Kiger) who is the older brother of Sarah (AnneMarie McAoy). Throughout the film these two are involved in simple activities which are banned under the rules but because of Sarah’s gift they generally are allowed to do what they wish.

What separates this film from most in the 80s is that it’s not necessarily into gore. We get dead bodies and the after-affect of the massacres. The obsession of needing to see the blade or bullet, whatever it may be, pierce the skin is absolutely eliminated and the result is even more frightening.

Joseph (Jonas Marlowe), a child displeased with the ways Isaac has placed upon the town of Gatlin, tries to escape but he is caught. All we see when he dies is a few drops of blood falling on a suitcase he was going to take with him on the road.

Film is a medium that is at times binding to the imagination. When any director, Fritz Kiersch, in this instance allows the audience to imagine what may have been done to these people it deserves notice. Another example of this being the massacre three years prior that kicks off the film we hear a mother’s death over the phone and see a father’s blood splatter over a son’s face. A lot of what makes this film great is the mounting tension that is created when we see these two trying to get around this seemingly abandoned town.

One of the most effective techniques Kiersch uses to heighten tension while the film was progressing is the use of shots from an anonymous yet subjective POV after we know the children were already out to get them. There’s a shot through broken glass that’s been stained brown, a shot of someone peering over a garbage can, low-angle shots of the corn when Joseph’s being chased. He also employs time to his advantage because the young couple does not enter the town of Gatlin where all the horrors will occur until the 39th minute of the film and even when there things creep along slowly.

There is a great use of wide-angle shots throughout to demonstrate the emptiness of the town. The audio and visual effects of this film are absolutely breathtaking, except maybe for one notable one at the very end (You know which I mean). There’s a great use of what appears to be time lapse footage coupled with the audio effect of gushing wind to signify the wrath of God. Near the conclusion of the film we hear the greatest demonic voices in the history of film (In my humble opinion). They’re deep, raspy and frightening without going overboard. And just when we think the most psychotic of all the town’s children is going to walk away from this Isaac speaks to him in that voice and delivers a line that helps make that voice: “He wants you too, Malachai. He wants you too.” The escalating horror of the climax continues when there is a gorgeous fiery apparition in the sky and later an obviously processed flame beneath it which we assume is supernatural but to say more would be giving it away.

The end of Children of the Corn is wonderful the very last scene gives you a fright which is conceivable and doesn’t seem fake at all due to some crafty editing. It takes away that artificial happy ending feeling. The happy ending in any horror movie is absolutely false because we know the characters usually have been through a harrowing experience and it’ll be hard for them to walk away smiling. Watch for the sound of the crickets and the return of a choir, this ending will run a chill through you all over again!

This film is also steeped in religious commentary. First, there is Horton and Hamilton in the car listening to a televangelist and mocking him and showing very good comedic interplay. They find a cross made of corn and Horton says in an offhand and stunned way “Jesus Christ” to which Hamilton responds “Not in my book.”

We witness a mass of those who worship He Who Walks Behind the Rows and see the irony of their words screaming at us. All the names of the children in this town Isaac, Malachai (Though spelled differently in the story), Job and Sarah are biblical figures. These are the children of God-fearing people who have twisted the scripture to suit the needs of a few sick souls who are power hungry those who stand against the clan generally have no chance. Vicky is kidnapped and hung from a cross made of corn, biblical passages are written in blood on church walls the same church where a desecrated portrait of Jesus hangs.

There is but one point where the film climbs towards the didactic and even so it’s but a moment and almost necessary because it shows how insane Malachai’s followers have gone. One other thing that make this film is unique is that we get inside the cult and see the way Isaac and Malachi differ. In what makes horror films fun we get to side with one of them over the other because if we were involved with them in any way he’s the one we’d prefer. There is much infighting with these two and it adds to the tension and adds a wallop to the climax.

9/10

61 Days of Halloween- The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment so I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (Warner Bros.)

The Beast from 20,0000 Fathoms has many things going for it: First, it’s adapted from a short story by Ray Bradbury. Second, it’s very much a classic ’50s Sci-Fi film replete with a title that doesn’t necessarily make sense. Third, the creature is created by Ray Harryhausen, a cinematic legend. Fourth, rarely if ever will you see rear projection work as well in this era. Lastly, keep your eyes peeled for a young Lee Van Cleef, who would go on to parttake in the Man Without a Name Trilogy and other western classics.

However, there’s more to it than that. This film impressively builds the scale of events up. it begins with a seemingly isolated incident near the arctic circle and then our lead played by Paul Haubschmid (credited as Christian) seeks the paleontological community’s support and doesn’t initially find it. However, sightings are on the rise but still isolated and he is believed by the Doctor’s assistant and eventually others.

The climax explodes in scale as pretty much all of New York City is under siege when the dinosaur comes ashore. What makes it even more impressive is not only is there a drastic increase in the scale of sighting and destruction but it also slowly but surely ratchets up the sense of impending doom.

This film also like It! The Terror from Beyond Space does not overstay its welcome and this film clocks in at a brisk 80 minutes.

You also factor in two other aspects that sets this film apart just a little bit. First, near the end the danger of the beast is increased by the fact that it is now a plague-bearer so its destruction is two-fold. Secondly, while it’s never confirmed one of the theories about how it may have been jolted back to life is being frozen and then atomic radiation revived it, which brings in radioactivity to this tale as well. It was such an omnipresent factor in 50s cinema it was essentially a character and to add that to the rest just makes this a truly special film.

8/10