Ah, October – nothing says autumn like leaves crunching beneath the feet of frightened, half-naked teenagers as they flee blindly from a masked serial killer. Or something like that.
You could waste time plodding through the latest Paranormal Activity installment – seriously, the trailer is pathetic – or you could join the Macabre Bros. for a month-long tour of the Halloween franchise, one of the most iconic yet slyly subversive in the genre. Along with a pre-True Lies Jamie Lee Curtis as the frightened teenager, the films span three decades and sees Donald Pleasence (of gems like Escape to Witch Mountain) and Malcolm McDowell (Little Alex in A Clockwork Orange) at their most withery. Which cranky, white-haired old dude is the best Dr. Loomis? Only one way to find out….
Chris and I got a bit behind in September, but the two films we never reviewed (The Blair Witch Project and Let the Right One In) will get covered soon – promise. We’re also throwing around a few new ideas for the site (one might rhyme with “shmodcast”), so be on the lookout for updates in the coming months.
In the meantime, we’ve decided to take on a more manageable schedule, bringing you two or three reviews per month instead of four. You can still expect the majority of posts to go live on Sunday evenings, but don’t get too butt hurt if they randomly appear on a Wednesday or Thursday. As always, send your film recommendations or ramblings to firstname.lastname@example.org and publicly shame us on Twitter through @MacabreBros.
Random side note: If you live in the Denver area, swing by the 16th Street Mall on Oct. 20 for one of the largest zombie crawls in the nation. Keep your eyes peeled for a tall, red-headed juggernaut and his fun-sized friend with a faux-hawk, both dressed as undead members of the Justice League. Man, this holiday is the coolest.
Love it or hate it, the original Halloween is custom-made for drunken midnight parties and post trick-or-treat viewing. The film is almost deceptively simple, slyly turning suburban Illinois into a hellish setting for the cat-and-mouse game between a babysitter (a shockingly young Jamie Lee Curtis) and a brutal, nearly unstoppable force of evil. Meanwhile, a grizzled doctor from the nearby psychiatric hospital attempts to hunt down his former patient.
Halloween is partly responsible for creating the dubious teen slasher genre, but it’s also an early showcase for two cinema legends: Michael Myers, one of filmdom’s most enduring villains, and John Carpenter, whose trademark style brought craftsmanship to B-movie material. To this day, the two are immediately recognizable — for better or worse — and we’ll dig into the film’s weaknesses, strengths and generation-spanning legacy.
In an utterly faithful yet noticeably modern retelling of the original Halloween, director Rob Zombie imagines Myers as a myth first and man second, all while upending the traditional approach to remakes. Zombie is a polarizing figure, but it’s hard to write off his deep admiration for the horror genre, particularly retro slashers. His previous films, House of 1,000 Corpses and its semi-sequel The Devil’s Rejects, were filled with tongue-in-cheek dialogue, lovingly textured visuals and intensely brutal violence. Zombie and Carpenter share a knack for elevating trashy cinema – albeit in wildly different ways – and we’ll discuss how remakes both add and detract from bona fide classics.
Halloween II (2009)
The comparisons between Zombie and Carpenter get even more intriguing with Halloween II, a schizophrenic film that begins as homage to Carpenter’s own 1982 sequel before veering wildly into the darkest, most bizarre corners of Zombie’s imagination. Set within hours of the heroic babysitter’s first bloody struggle with Myers, the film finds her bruised, battered and again fighting for her life at the same hospital Myers called home. From there, the similarities end and Zombie’s horror indulgences take over, again shaking up expectations in the most gruesome way possible. We’ll see if those indulgences lead to a better, worse, or just plain different “final statement” on the Halloween legend. Oh, and it has “Weird Al’ Yankovic playing himself, if that does anything for you.