JOHN CARPENTER LOVEFEST

Why John Carpenter Is My Favorite Director

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The Maestro in Action

Many directors have a distinct style. When directors carve out their own niche, for the most part, the men behind the lens gain notoriety. Great examples of this are Martin Scorsese, with his quick cut, narrated crime capers. Quentin Tarantino, who uses dialogue and ultra-violence to give his stories life. There is also, my personal favorite director; John Carpenter. From the time I was a boy, there is something about Carpenter’s films that hook me. The ingredients he uses to cook up his films fit perfectly with my movie pallet. For this reason, I would like to tell you why John Carpenter is my favorite movie director.

Simplicity   There is one common thread through Carpenter’s work; survival. From Assault On Precinct 13 to Ghosts of Mars and everywhere in between, a fight for survival against an evil force is the main theme throughout. This makes for his films to be unsettling, intense, and simple. Babysitter versus madman, scientists versus alien, or truck driver pitted against evil sorcerer. You get the picture. A simple plot. Good versus evil. Everything right down to Michael Myers expressionless white mask is uncomplicated. This makes a plot like an escaped mental patient stalking babysitters in small town Illinois seem plausible, organic, and more terrifying; it could happen to anyone. Simple is good. Carpenter does it well.

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The Soundtracks   If you were to take away the haunting synth-based soundtrack from the previously mentioned Halloween, what are you left with? You have footage of a man walking around the dark with a knife. This is not nearly as effective as the same footage armed with the iconic theme of the film. Carpenter’s soundtrack scores and themes are very effect in drawing out the tension and action. The main title from his 1980 ghost story The Fog is my personal favorite. The music is creepy in all the right places. Carpenter still continues to tour, performing his vast collection of synthesizer music. His Anthology and Lost Theme albums are amazing.

The Villains   All great stories have a great protagonist. John Carpenter’s films have a wide arrange of monsters and bad guys. From a possessed 1957 Plymouth Fury named Christine, to a whole island filled with violent criminals in Escape From New York, Carpenter villains run the gamut. The Shape, also known as Michael Myers has even become a pop culture icon since he first appeared in 1978. Perhaps his best creature is the parasitic alien that jumps from host to host in The Thing. This is Carpenter’s best film, and it is party because the alien is convincing and pretty damn cool. A great movie monster goes a long way in telling a great story.

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They Live (1988)

The Anti-Hero   John Carpenter’s films also have another common theme; the anti-hero protagonist. Anti-hero, by definition, is “a central character in a story, movie, or drama, who lacks conventional heroic attributes. Carpenter’s heroes do not wear capes, drive fast cars, or fit into any typical hero mold. Look at these characters, for example. Snake Plisskin is a convicted bank robber who sent into a crime infested Manhattan to save the U.S. president. In Big Trouble in Little China, Jack Burton is hard-living truck driver who battles a sorcerer. For the Kurt Russel hat-trick, whiskey drinking anti-social helicopter pilot McReady battle the alien that invades his Alaskan science outpost in The Thing. Nada, the drifter in They Live and Dr. Loomis, Michael Myers psychiatrist are also examples of Carpenter’s unconventional good guys.

Genre Crossover   Blending genres is something that can make a compelling story. John Carpenter is the master of blending horror and science fiction together to make great cinema. Look at films like The Thing, They Live, and Village of the Damned. All great horror films with some science thrown in for good measure. His use of aliens and Martians is pretty much a Carpenter trademark. Humor is also something the director does well. It is usually subtle, but in a movie like Big Trouble, the laughs are right on the surface. Starman is a blend of sci-fi and romance. I think you get the point I am trying to make. The man is a damn good writer and filmmaker.

 

My Top Five John Carpenter Movies:

  1. The Thing
  2. Halloween
  3. Escape From New York
  4. The Fog
  5. They Live / Big Trouble In Little China

T.

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List-O-rama: Top Five Favorite John Carpenter Films

Five Favorite John Carpenter Films

n-john-carpenter-433-1Mr. John Carpenter is the man. What else can I say about a writer/director who has manufactured so many brilliant stories, and memorable characters. His full-length film debut, Dark Star, was in released in 1974. Since then, he has treated movie-goers to thrills, chills, comedy, horror, science fiction, and just pure cinematic beauty. And despite what Hollywood has become over the last couple decades, Carpenter keeps it real and does it his way. Also, yesterday was his sixty-ninth birthday. Let’s celebrate with a top five list of my personal favorite J.C. films. You may or may not agree with these choices, so feel free to comment. From five to one…

5. Escape From New York (1981 MGM) – Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, and Earnest Borgnine? This is top five on that merit alone. Basically, the President of the United States crash lands in Manhattan. Sounds simple, but Manhattan in the future is now a large maximum security prison, and the inmates have the commander in chief. A one-eyes bank robber named Snake Plissken is sent in to retrieve the captives and the downed airplane’s cargo. I get a Mad Max, Man With No Name feel whenever I watch this movie. Amazing Soundtrack, a bad ass anti-hero main character, and Donald Pleasence as the President. I think I have proven my point.

4. They Live (1988 Universal) – Humans are being kept under sedation by a race of alien creatures through subliminal messages that appear on billboards, television etc. Nada (played by the late, great Roddy Piper), a down on his luck blue-collar guy finds a pair of sunglasses and soon uncovers the brainwashing and manipulation. I love this film because it does star “Hot Rod” Piper, but I also appreciate the Twilight Zone vibe it gives off. They Live is an alien movie, but it also a social comment on how society is told what to do through advertising, and we don’t even know it. Also contains one of the longest fist fight scenes in the history of film. You cannot argue with that.

3. The Fog (1980 Embassy) – The plot sounds crazy; one hundred years ago, a ship of lepers bound for the shores of Antonio Bay, California are deliberately guided to crash into the rocks along the coast, and thus left for dead. Now as Antonio Bay prepares to celebrate it’s centennial year, a ghostly fog washes across the seaside town. What is inside this fog now seeks revenge for the wrong doings of the town’ ancestors. A spooky ghost story with some creepy atmosphere and strong female performances make this one of Carpenter’s more underrated films. Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, and Adrienne Barbeau star, even though the real star of the film is the ambiance and mood.

2. The Thing (1982 Universal) – Claustrophobia and paranoia make for brilliant film. John Carpenter’s The Thing is chock full of both these elements. An American research station in remote Antarctica is confronted with a being not of this earth. Soon, it is all out panic and mistrust as the alien begins to take on the forms of the research team. Trust is lost and all hell breaks loose. Carpenter favorite Kurt Russell is R.J. MacReady, and Keith David is great as Childs, the two men who take it upon themselves to flush out and destroy The Thing. This is not only a great Carpenter film, but one of my favorite science fiction/horrors. If you have not seen this film, go watch now.

1. Halloween (1978 Universal) No big surprise here. The film about babysitters being stalked by a man wearing an expressionless mask, made on a shoe string budget, snowballed into a massive hit. A simple story about a boy, Michael Myers, gone wrong, locked away in an institution, only to return home fifteen years later to murder his estranged sister. It sounds like anyone could make this movie. Unfortunately, not just anybody is John Carpenter. On a low budget, Carpenter squeezed out all he could and the result is a true classic. To the point acting, an iconic soundtrack, and the quintessential slasher is the perfect storm. Sure, the Halloween franchise has pretty much spun out of control, but that has nothing to do with Carpenter. If you are a fan of bare-bones horror, I’m sure this film is right up there on your list as well.

In 50 Words… Hellions (2015)

In 50 (or so) Words…

hellions_ver2Hellions (2015)

Directed by: Bruce McDonald

Starring: Chloe Rose, Robert Patrick, Rachel Wilson

Whizbang Films, StoryBook Corporation, DHX Media

It is Halloween, and seventeen year old Dora is stunned and distraught after discovering she is four weeks pregnant. Her night gets worse as she is terrorized by a group ghostly trick-or-treaters who are after more than just candy. Halloween becomes surreal and terrifying for the young mother to be.

I was really excited to watch Hellions simply because it is directed by veteran Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald (Hardcore Logo, Pontypool). The first half of the film is very promising, but then things fall apart. The film becomes wishy-washy with too many scenes that left me guessing if what I watching was reality or a fantasy sequence. By the last ten minutes I had lost interest because I wasn’t sure which direction the story went. Not all was lost. There are some very creepy scenes as well as a little bit of tension. Canadian actress Chloe Rose (Degrassi: The Next Generation) is convincing as the tormented protagonist, and Robert Patrick (T2: Judgement Day) is, well, Robert Patrick. It is unfortunate that Hellions did not finish as strong as it started. I really wanted to like it more than I do.

2.5 Bloody Moons

T.

31 Days of Halloween Day 31 – Halloween (1978)

31 Days of Halloween – Day 31

“Black cats and goblins and broomsticks and ghosts,
Covens of witches with all of their hosts
You may think they scare me, you’re probably right
Black cats and goblins On Halloween night”

Halloween (directed by John Carpenter, 1978) Typically, October 31st is the day we reserve on the calendar jack-o-lanterns, candy and costumes, and fun. Little ghosts and goblins roam the streets, going door-to-door for sweets. But in Haddonfield, Halloween took on a whole new meaning. Instead of tricks-or-treats, terror and fear fill people’s hearts. You see, October 31st is the night he came home. On Halloween night, 1963, a young boy named Michael Myers was left under the care of his older sister, Judith. Dressed as a clown, Michael climbed the stairs up to his sister’s room, pulled his mask over his face, and stabbed his sister to death. Fast forward fifteen years to Smiths Grove mental institute, where Michael has been a patient since the murder of his sister. Myers manages to escape, and returns to Haddonfield. Dr. Sam Loomis, Michael’s psychiatrist, heads to the town to try and intercept the now-adult psychopath. Loomis knows that what lies behind Michael’s dead eyes is pure evil, and realizes that the residents of Haddonfield could be in danger. After stealing an expressionless mask from the local five-and-dime store, Michael is now at large and disguised. Laurie Strode is a typical teenager, and along with her friends Annie and Lynda, become the targets of The Shape (the name given to Michael by the writers). Laurie heads out to her babysitting job, unaware that she, or the other girls are being stalked by the faceless killer. She soon discovers that her life is in danger, and must fight to survive her attacker. Dr. Loomis pieces together Michael’s intentions, but will it be too late? Can he save Laurie and stop The Shape from claiming one more victim on Halloween? This film is a study on how to get more from less. From the shoestring budget, to the minimal use of gore, to the simple story, John Carpenter’s Halloween is a home-run. The suspense and atmosphere are second to none, aided by a soundtrack that is as much part of the film as any other character. The violence is subtle, but realistic and believable. The Shape is the perfect villain. He does not stand out, he is emotionless, and becomes part of the shadows. He speaks no dialogue, remains masked, and does not command any sympathy from the audience what so ever. This makes us more sympathetic to Laurie, as she flees from the monster. It is not until Halloween II that we learn the whole back story of Michael’s family tie to Myers. The story of Halloween leaves a lot open for interpretation. We are unsure of Michael’s motives, or why he targeted these particular babysitters. The character of Dr. Loomis is important because his dialogue paints a picture of Myers as a calculated killer, and helps make Michael loom even larger. Jamie Lee Curtis is perfect as the girl-next door, all-American teenager. Halloween was her big screen debut, and she nails it as Laurie. The accomplished Donald Pleasence made great use of limited screen time, but became a horror icon as Dr, Sam Loomis. John Carpenter has brought to life numerous classic horror and sci-fi films, and Halloween fits right into that category. Numerous sequels have been made, but the only one that matters is Halloween II, which continues the story immediately after Halloween ends. If you are going to watch one film on Halloween, don’t you think it should a movie named after the occasion? There are scarier films, but there is something special about this one. To me, it encompasses everything a horror movie should be. I love Halloween because of Halloween, and vice versa.

I have really had a fun time over the last month writing about the films I consider must see Halloween viewing. I made it my mission to watch every film, whether I have watched it a couple times, or twenty five times. There were things I noticed about each film I never noticed before, and realized that there are moments that still make me cringe or give me a shiver down my spine. This is why I love these movies. I hope you can cherish them as much as I do. Thank you for reading. It has been a pleasure.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III
  • Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)
  • Day 25 – The Blair Witch Project
  • Day 26 – The Shining
  • Day 27 – Trick r Treat
  • Day 28 – An American Werewolf in London
  • Day 29 – The Changeling
  • Day 30 – The Exorcist
  • Day 31 – Halloween (1978)

T.

31 Days of Halloween Day 27 – Trick r Treat

31 Days of Halloween – Day 27

Trick r Treat (directed by Michael Dougherty, 2007) Since I was a young kid, I’ve always enjoyed horror anthologies. Blame it on my short attention span or not, whether it was Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye, Creepshow and Creepshow 2, or Twilight Zone the Movie, I like the fact that these films have four or five mini-films that make up the whole movie. Some of these movies have a continuous theme or element, such as a character or object; they connect each story to one another. This is the case with Trick r Treat. There are four interwoven stories that all take place in the same town on Halloween night; a school principal and his son who take jack-o-lantern carving to the next level, a “vampire” who gets more than he bargained for from a group of girls who turn out to be real party animals, a group of kids who enjoy playing mean pranks get the tables turned on them in haunted quarry, and an mean old man who gets to meet the true meaning of Halloween up close and personal. Each story has one common element; Sam. Sam (short for Samhain) is a demonic little pumpkin faced creature who is an enforcer of Halloween rules and traditions. Sam is always there when something goes bad. If you disrespect Halloween, he will find you. Sam has become somewhat of a new horror icon, a deservedly so. He is as cute as a button, and just has deadly. Each story is based on some sort of urban legend or twist on a fairy tale, and are well crafted and infused with some humor. My personal favorite story is the haunted quarry. Years earlier, a bus of mentally disabled and troubled kids is driven into a rock quarry and left to drown. Present time, some kids plan to play a mean trick on a girl. Their plans backfire when they are the ones that fall victim. Great eerie atmosphere and a spooky setting make it a great segment in Trick r Treat. The cast includes Dylan Baker (SpiderMan 3), Anna Paquin (TVs True Blood), Brian Cox (Manhunter), and Leslie Bibb (Talladega Nights). This film has become an annual Halloween watch for me. If you want to watch a charming little anthology with a little bit of everything, make sure to check out Trick r Treat.

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Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
  • Day 10 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Day 11 – Near Dark
  • Day 12 – The Lost Boys
  • Day 13 – Child’s Play
  • Day 14 – Sleepy Hollow
  • Day 15 – House of 1,000 Corpses
  • Day 16 – The Devil’s Rejects
  • Day 17 – Night of the Living Dead
  • Day 18 – Dawn of the Dead (’78)
  • Day 19 – Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
  • Day 20 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • Day 21 – The Cabin In The Woods
  • Day 22 – A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
  • Day 23 – The Exorcist III
  • Day 24 – The Evil Dead (1981)
  • Day 25 – The Blair Witch Project
  • Day 26 – The Shining
  • Day 27 – Trick r Treat

T.

31 Days of Halloween *Day 3* – ROB ZOMBIE’S HALLOWEEN

31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN – DAY 3

Rob Zombie’s Halloween (directed by Rob Zombie, 2007) Right from the opening scene, this re-telling of the John Carpenter classic grinds on the nerves. You instantly hate every character except for Michael, and his mother. Even the beloved Dr. Sam Loomis character in the original (Donald Pleasence), quite frankly, is an asshole in this story.
Most horror re-boots are not effective because audiences are desensitized to the subject matter, and also because most re-boots suck. I believe Rob Zombie did a commendable job with giving Michael a back story, and manufacturing some sympathy for a character that has never spoken a line of dialogue since his inception in 1978. The juxtaposition between the young, bullied Myers boy and the savage killing machine he becomes is a nice touch. The story is much the same at the very core as the classic. As a child, Michael kills his sister, becomes institutionalized, and escapes years later, then returns to Haddonfield to finish of his only remaining relative, his sister Laurie. Where Zombie’s vision differs is in the amount of corpses left Michael’s wake, and the amount of bloody violence that we see on screen. The original is void of blood, and relies on atmosphere and shadows to give us the chills. 2007’s Halloween uses abrasive characters, brute force, and violence to tell the story. The effect is not the same, as Carpenter’s Halloween will always be the champion slasher film. If Rob Zombie would have “re-made” Halloween, it would have fallen flat on its face. Instead, he chose to “re-tell” the story, adding elements to make it a very watchable film. This updated version even keeps the Michael Myers legacy alive more so than six sequels (not including the original Halloween II, because that movie kicks ass) ever did. Actress Scout Taylor-Compton plays the part of Laurie Strode (made famous by Jamie Lee Curtis), and is great as a more contemporary, sassy sister to the maniac, Michael. Something else I really enjoyed, and is prevalent in all of Zombie’s films, is a great mix of 70’s rock as the soundtrack. Any movie that kicks off the opening scene with Kiss’ ‘God of Thunder’ is bound to be a good time. Love it or hate it, the film is polarizing, and bloody enjoyable. Give it a watch. You may like it. After all, it is Halloween.

Cool factDanielle Harris, who played Michael’s niece, Jamie Lloyd, in Halloween 4 and Halloween 5, plays the character of Annie Brackett. A nice bit of nostalgia for us horror nerds.

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Recap:

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween

T.

Five Favorite Horror Movie Theme Songs – The Music Makes It

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What element can make an average film great? The musical score. Music can add many things to a movie. The right piece of music can make an action scene that much more exciting. A beautiful score can make the most tender moment that much more heartbreaking. A song or theme can forever be attached to a movie, and make it part of popular culture. Everyone can identify the Star Wars theme. Think of any Quentin Tarantino film, and you could probably name one song that has become part of the films lore, When it comes to horror movies, music is absolutely important. The soundtrack builds tension, and it can also be placed to make the audience aware that danger is imminent. If you want to test that theory, next time you watch a scary movie, plug your ears when the tension builds. The visuals alone are not enough to frighten you. There are a handful of themes that have made their respective fright films that much better. I would like to share with you, my five favorite horror movie themes. I am sure I have left a couple out, but these are the five for me. In no particular order, here they are.

Halloween (Theme composed by John Carpenter, 1978) John Carpenter is the master of atmosphere, and the master of his own soundtrack. Carpenter composes the music for many of his films. Halloween is his best work, creating an instant classic. His other brilliant scores include The Fog, Escape From New York and They Live.

Suspiria (Theme composed and Performed by Goblin, 1977) Italian band Goblin bring Dario Argento’s Susperia to life with their beautiful, eerie, and psychedelic soundtrack. The film requires a soundtrack as equally atmospheric, and Goblin provides it wonderfully. Goblin is frequent collaborators with Argento, most notably in his other films Deep Red and Tenebre.

Exorcist (Tubular Bells – composed and performed by Mike Oldfield, 1973) The theme for The Exorcist, Tubular Bells, was not written for the movie. It was written and recorded for the Mike Oldfield’s 1973 album Tubular Bells. After being selected for The Exorcist, the song became a top ten hit, not to mention help scare the hell out of a lot of cinema goers. The theme is simple, but intense. A great fit with an all-time horror classic.

Phantasm (Theme composed by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrove. 1979) After recently watching Phantasm again, I realize that the theme and music score are the best parts of this film, along with the “Tall Man” played by Angus Scrimm. The film has some creepy elements, but really is not as frightening as I thought 25 years ago, although it is very original.

Jaws (Theme composed by John Williams, 1975) In case you are familiar with John Williams film scores, he is the man responsible for the themes to Fiddler on the Roof, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. The Extraterrestrial and a little space epic called Star Wars. His soundtrack scores are incredible, and appear in many amazing films. The Jaws theme is perfect. If a great white shark needed an entrance theme, this intense piece of music is it. When I see people splashing around at the beach, this theme gets stuck in my head. Now that is an effective theme song!

T.

My Top Five favourite Horror Movie Re-makes, Re-Boots, and Re-Dos.

TOP FIVE FAVORITE HORROR REMAKES

When Hollywood officially ran out of ideas in the mid-2000, they started re-making, re-booting, re-imagining, re-vamping, re-(you get the idea). There is a large list of horror movie classics that have gotten the rejuvenation treatment over the last decade, and the ones that are good or even decent, are far and few between. Off the top of my head, I can name a few that fell far short or the original. A Nightmare on Elm Street (awful), Friday The 13th (bad), The Wicker Man (god-awful), Dawn of the Dead (watchable), and The Fog (should have stayed lost in the fog) come to mind. Like good scotch, the originals have all aged well. The remakes are like stinky old milk, two weeks past its expiry date. As horror movie fans, we can pray that a few classics are off-limits. The Shining, Jaws, and Exorcist are hopefully untouchable. Poltergeist should have been on that list, but it was butchered in this summer’s remake. A total hack job. Sam Rockwell could not even save it. Although most disappoint, I have waded through the muck, and chosen my top five “most watchable” horror movie re-boots. I’m not saying these are amazing cinematic masterpieces, but they are passable, and entertaining. In no particular order…

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Directed by Marcus Nispel, Platinum Dunes 2003) Being a big fan of the 1974 Tobe Hooper nerve-grinder, I was excited and worried for this updated version of TCM. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the Michael Bay produced version of this tale of a cannibalistic family who preys on weary travelers. The acting was decent, the suspense and violence was on course with the original, and R. Lee Ermy (Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket) makes any film a little better. Also, it seems that a lot of remakes get “Hollywoodized” with a sexy cast and crazy CGI effects, but this film did not get lost in that stuff (I’m not saying Jessica Biel is not attractive). The sequel, or prequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning was not so great, but that aside, the 2003 TCM is definitely worth a watch.

Halloween (Directed by Rob Zombie, Dimension Films 2007) The original Halloween is the pinnacle of slasher movies as far as I’m concerned. John Carpenter took a minimal budget, used atmosphere, suspense and a soundtrack to create a timeless film. Rob Zombie took the premise and made it his own. The violence is over the top, the character interaction is gritty, and the acting is quite adequate. Zombie gives a little more back story on Michael as a boy, with some insight on why he might be a psychopath. Basically his family, minus his mother, are assholes. If you liked The Devil’s Rejects, chances are you will like Halloween. Same gritty feel a lot of the same actors, and a great 1970’s soundtrack. Different from the original, but good slasher fun none the less.

Evil Dead (Directed by Fede Alvarez, Ghost House Pictures 2013) Sam Raimi is the master of camp horror, and the 1981 original is a charming, creepy trip into the woods. Demon possession, a book of the dead, and Bruce Campbell all equate to a great time of a movie. A remake could never capture the tongue-in-cheek, campy fun of the original. However, they did manage to capture the gore, violence and terror of the original. This film is a blood bath, with 50,000 gallons of fake stuff being used throughout production. There are a few nods to the original Evil Dead, as well as Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn. If you light some jump scares and violence, this film is recommended. The original team of Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, and Bruce Campbell are all producers on the remake. These three are primarily responsible for the original Evil Dead, and it’s always a good sign if the re-boot is endorsed by the creators of the original film. Also, watch through the entire end credits for a special cameo.

The Fly (Directed by David Cronenberg, Twentieth Century Fox 1986) I recently watched the original 1958 version starring horror icon Vincent Price, and watched the updated version the following day. Both are very enjoyable. However, the Cronenberg film, in my opinion, tells the story better. The Fly is basically a beauty and the beast story. To me, it is a love story, but in a way that is suitable for a  Cronenberg movie. Jeff Goldblum is brilliant as scientist Seth Brundle, and in turn even better as the “Brundle Fly”. The special effects are excellent for their time, before CGI. The fly make-up and suit are seamless, and the experiment effects are vintage 80’s. I am quite surprised that someone has not tried to remake The Fly again, considering that at the heart of the story, it is just a woman unconditionally loving a man, even though that man has turned himself into an insect. Cronenberg has crafted some great films, and The Fly is right up there with Videodrome and A History of Violence as my favorites.

Bram Stroker’s Dracula (Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, American Zoetrope, 1992) I suppose it could be argued that this film isn’t really a remake of a film, but a re-telling of the Bram Stroker literary classic Dracula. To hell with it though, I am going to include it on my list. This is a lavish, artistic film with an all-star cast that includes Gary Oldman and Sir Anthony Hopkins. Oldman is brilliant, portraying the most famous Vampire of all time. Oldman’s Count is charming and vulnerable, as well as monstrous and savage. The original 1931 Universal film is a timeless icon, and Bela Lugosi IS Dracula, but in that era of film making, they were limited as to how far they could dive into the source book. The 1992 production is high quality, and is a very believable period piece. As with The Fly, Bram Stroker’s Dracula is also a love story at it’s core, but sometimes love is a violent, bloody thing. The cherry on top is the fact that the beautiful Tom Waits plays the slightly unhinged R.M. Renfield. A perfect match!

T.

Top Five Favourite Halloween Movie Deaths

The Halloween film franchise has always been my favorite. Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th are close seconds, but there is something more appealing to me about Michael Myers. “The Shape” has the expressionless white mask, and seems to be a more “hands on” murderer. A knife or a simple choking always seem to be his go to methods. The series has gone down hill in quality and originality, but the original Halloween and Halloween II are classics as far as I’m concerned. I even enjoy Rob Zombie’s 2007 Re-imagining, with a much larger and imposing Shape (played by Tyler Mane). A few of the sequels are decent, but lack the charm and atmosphere of the 1978 John Carpenter classic. The second sequel Halloween III: Season of the Witch is an entertaining watch, and actually quite original, but has nothing to do with the Michael Myers storyline, so I have not included any deaths from it in this list. These five deaths are not the most brutal, or most gory of the series. These are simply my favorite for reasons I will give with each one. Please enjoy!

5. Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)   Oops! – Ok, so this is technically not one of Michael Myers’ kills, but he is indirectly responsible. Basically, Michael returns to Haddonfield after 10 years to finish off his only remaining heir. The town’s rednecks are getting shit faced at the local tavern and learn through a television newscast that Michael is at large. Well, now it’s time to take the law into their drunken hands. The posse storms out of the bar and goes to make a citizen’s arrest. It goes badly. Poor Ted Hollister is creeping around some bushes and becomes the victim of mistaken identity. Please, if you are drunk and decide to go out and mob an escaped lunatic, make sure you ask questions first, and shoot second.

4. Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)   Batters Up! – A young Michael Myers could have made the Major Leagues with a swing like this! Poor Steve Haley was famished after having sex with Michael’s sister Judith. So when you are hungry, you make a sandwich in the kitchen. Unfortunately at the Myers’ house, even snacks are danger. His thirst results in a crushing baseball bat blow to the top of the head. This one makes me cringe each time I see it. Lesson? Michael Myers is not a fan of you banging his sister. Or stealing his lunch meat.

3. Halloween (1978)   Oh Brother… – This is the opening scene of Halloween, and really sets the tone for the entire film. The scene is ninety-five percent shot as it was from a young Michael Myers’ perspective.  Judith is supposed to be watching Michael on Halloween night. As it turns out, she is entertaining her boyfriend in her upstairs bedroom. We follow Michael’s perspective as he observes his sister’s promiscuity. After he waits until Judith’s suitor leaves,  he goes into the kitchen to retrieve a large knife. He makes his way upstairs, pulls his mask down and stabs his sister multiple times. All this done while dressed in his clown costume. His parents return home to find their son standing on the sidewalk holding the knife that butchered Judith. I am not sure if Carpenter intended this as an homage to the famous point-of-view shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, but the result is as effective. A very simple and personal introductory murder for the young psychopath Michael.

2. Halloween (1978)   Annie’s Death – The original John Carpenter’s Halloween was great for numerous reasons. The music score was perfect, the acting was believable, the tension and suspense was beautifully done, but I feel the best reason was the simplistic nature of the film. The film was believable because it was not over the top and gory. The killing was minimal and done in a personal manner, which made Michael Myers have a human element. Annie’s death is a great example of a smart, simple, and suspenseful film work. While you are watching, you know Michael is there, stalking Annie, but you don’t know when. Michael is a smart, patient predator that waits until he knows Annie is absolutely alone and vulnerable. The detail is pinpoint, right down to the steam on the inside of the car windows that is generated by Michael’s breathing. The shot of young Tommy witnessing Michael carrying Annie’s lifeless body across the front yard is a nice touch.

1. Halloween II (1981)   A Real Lady Killer… – Michael seems to have a real problem with people’s promiscuity. Nurse Karen decides to take her break with ambulance driver Bud…naked…in the hospitals hot tub room. This should have been Bud’s lucky day, but it wasn’t meant to be. Things are getting hot and heavy in the tub, too hot for Karen actually. She send Bud out to turn the thermostat down (which Michael has cranked right up). Bud is easily dispatched while Karen waits for him to return. Michael enters, Karen thinks it is bud standing behind her and she begins seducing “Bud” by sucking on his fingers. “Do you want to go for breakfast after?” she asks. She doesn’t know that Michael is only hungry for death. Michael drowns/burns Karen by repeatedly shoving her face into the boiling hot tub water. This is my favorite death because it was the first attempted seduction of Michael Myers, and because it is the first time I remember being exposed to a half nude woman when I was a child. Those types of milestones are exciting and not easily forgotten. (I have included the PG edited version video. Sorry fellas.)

T.