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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

                                                         
                                                              HAPPY HALLOWEEN

      Just wanted to wish anybody reading this a  very happy and safe Halloween!  Hmmm..... what scary movie to watch tonight?






Friday, October 19, 2012

Satan's School For Girls


     Talk about a perfect movie to curl up on the sofa with on a dark and stormy night... ABC's SATAN'S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS is some downright delicious 70's made-for-tv terror [produced by you guessed it- Aaron Spelling. SATAN'S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS was yet another supernatural shocker to cash in on the shocking success of ROSEMARY'S BABY, of course. I loved watching this one, and it boasts the novelty of featuring both Kate Jackson and Cheryl Ladd years before "Charlie's Angels" ever hit tv.



      It tells the story of Elizabeth Sayers, who enrolls in a distinguished all-girls school in Salem.  She is investigating the mysterious and sudden "suicide" of her sister. Seems the police have labeled her death as a suicide, but Liz knows in her heart she did not kill herself.  Lucky for us, Liz soon gets more than she bargained for.



     Elizabeth meets and befriends Roberta Lockhard (Kate Jackson) and Jody Keller (Cheryl Ladd), and they soon get their Scooby-Doo on as they begin unraveling the mystery of her sister's strange death.  Elizabeth thinks somebody at the school might have some information about her sister, but nobody seems to know anything.  Or do they?  Soon, the girls get more than they bargained for, as they soon realize they are in the midst of a terrifying Satanic cult. It's actually somewhat similar to Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA- a very primitive version of it, you might say.



     There are many things to savor about SATAN'S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS.  I mean, it's a 70's tv flick about a 300 year old all-girls academy in Salem, MA!- who wouldn't be all over this? It's grainy and campy and just a helluva lot of fun. It's got atmosphere for days and some reasonably suspenseful scenes sprinkled throughout. It earns even more cool points for starring Roy Thinnes, star of the fantastic tv terror flick, THE NORLISS TAPES. Thinnes plays a mysterious teacher at the Salem school who may or may not be involved in a Satanic cult. I'll certainly never turn down Pamela Franklin, (who was hot off the classic LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, by the way...), who shines here in the lead role. Plus, Kate Jackson and Cheryl Ladd only seal the deal.

     Predictable? Sure. Cheesy? Yes. Entertaining? You bet. This is certainly nothing to take serious, and I'm sure nostalgia once again helps this little movie along. We recently watched this on a dark and windy Friday night, sitting in candlelight while the wind blew leaves against the window outside. And it was a great Halloween experience. This was remade in the 2000's with Shannen Doherty, and I feel that this could be remade into a rather interesting feature film. If you're in the mood for a devilish good time with a healthy dash of 70's cheese, this is the tv movie for you!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers



      After the failure of the much-hated yet very underrated HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH, the powers-that-be knew (or thought they did) that they must bring back Michael to satisfy the hordes of blood-thirsty movie-goers in the late 80's.  Which really doesn't make sense, as by then the slasher genre was pretty much dead anyway. APRIL FOOL'S DAY from 1986, was a clever tongue-in-cheek satire of those hoary slashers of the early 80's, seeming to already know the genre was on its way out. And, by the mid-to-late 80's, the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films and HELLRAISER had ushered in a new dimension of supernatural terror. Jason Voorhees was having a hard enough time keeping up with the changes in horror, so why they felt compelled to resurrect Michael Myers is honestly beyond me.


     Now it was the 10th anniversary of the original.... but still.  Nothing against Michael Myers- he's my favorite slasher. I can't praise the first two HALLOWEEN films enough.  But I truly feel the story had been played out by this point. I've said many times before and I'm saying it again- I feel they should have still forged ahead with the whole HALLOWEEN anthology films after killing off Michael in Part 2, which was the original plan in the first place. Those two films alone would have been a great contribution to the classic slasher genre. But oh no. Nothing pisses me off more than seeing a good horror icon being milked to death until it reaches a point of utter absurdity- it's happened to Dracula, Frankenstein, and countless others.  And it happened to Michael Myers when some noodle-head decided it would be cool to bring him back to life. This is when the HALLOWEEN films jumped the shark, in my opinion. Not the third one. This one. HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS starts off promising- the opening credits are quite effective.  So good, in fact, that nothing else in the entire film lives up to those first few minutes. A wonderfully sinister atmosphere is established with the credits and the score that really captures the spirit of the season, but don't get your hopes up, kids. All hopes are shattered once the story begins. And it goes a little something like this.


       Michael Myers has been in a coma for the past ten years since terrorizing Haddonfield and Laurie Strode. Myers is being transferred from Ridgemont Federal Sanitarium to good ole' Smiths Grove. Our favorite final girl, Laurie Strode, is what the fuck are you telling me here dead.... but her daughter, Jamie Lloyd, is alive and well and living in Haddonfield.  Jamie was adopted by the Carruthers family, and is plagued by nightmares of Michael (?). I don't know either. Suddenly Michael awakens in the ambulance after hearing one of the orderlies talking about his niece, escapes, and immediately sets his sights on little Jamie. Being Halloween night, little Jamie goes out trick-r-treating, unaware that she's now the target of her uncle's rage. Frazzled Dr. Loomis is still around, and rushes to Haddonfield once again, screaming to everybody that will listen that Michael is back in action. The chase is on to protect little Jamie. There are several things I found horribly wrong with all this.


     First off- why in the world would you kill off Laurie Strode?  Unforgivable. Blah. Second- Danielle Harris. I'm sure she's a lovely lady and actress, and this is nothing personal against her earlier, but her character really grated on my nerves. I tried to accept it all, and just couldn't. Third- the mask is just not the same. Like, at all. It just looks too silly to take seriously. This is not the terrifying Michael Myers of my youth who haunted my dreams. He's just not scary this go 'round. Michael has no neck in this installment, and seems to be sporting some Joan Crawford-worthy shoulder pads here. The finished effect is just goofy looking, sorry not sorry. Fourth- the characters are not one bit likable. At all. I was furious a mere 30 minutes into this movie, and wanted them all dead immediately.


     And what is up with the current residents of Haddonfield?  You would think after the events of the first two films, that it wouldn't take an act of Congress to get them the least bit concerned about the return of the masked killer. It seems to take practically the entire movie to convince them they are in any sort of danger. Snore. Fifth- does nobody remember the ending of HALLOWEEN 2?  Laurie shot out Michael's eyes, right before Dr. Loomis blows the hospital up, remember? I suppose I should find some solace in the fact that the awesome Donald Pleasance returned for this dreck, but I couldn't help but feel slightly embarrassed for him the entire time.



     Now I'm completely in the minority here, and perfectly willing to accept that.I used to think I was the only one who loved HALLOWEEN 3, but the film is a bona fide cult classic today. I still find the third film to have far more creativity and actual intelligence involved- whereas this one is just re-hashing somebody else's original ideas to capitalize on the 10th anniversary of the first film. HALLOWEEN fans vehemently love and defend this sequel- and that's fine.  But it's just not HALLOWEEN to me. The absence of John Carpenter, Debra Hill, and Jamie Lee Curtis is glaringly obvious, and probably is a large part of my dislike for this movie. And this is just NOT Michael Myers either- it's somebody pretending to be him, and badly at that. He is about as scary as Richard Simmons, honestly.  And what's up with the hair on this mask?  In some scenes he resembles a manic Neil Diamond.


     If it were me, I would have celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the original HALLOWEEN simply by re-releasing the first two films in theaters to show audiences what started the slasher craze in the first place. HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS just does not bring anything new to the table.  It's not a terrible film.  It's not a glaring disappointment.  It's greatest crime is that it's boring.  Slashers were pretty much dead by 1988, and by that time of the decade, most were pale imitations of HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH anyway.  So.... I don't really see the point of this. Oh well. If you have never experienced a HALLOWEEN film or the terror of Michael Myers, I suggest picking up the first two sequels and leaving it at that. The intentions of this film were good, but the finished product just doesn't do Carpenter or Curtis justice. Maybe it was just a product of its time. Maybe I was somewhat jaded as a wee junior in high school.  Maybe it was Maybelline. Or maybe it should have never been made at all. Because all it really accomplished was opening the door for even more mindless and ridiculous sequels. I don't hate this film. But I don't understand the love for it either. I'll give it one more try, and maybe I can find something in there I missed.

P.S.- the original movie poster is pretty awesome, I will give it that!

 

Monday, October 8, 2012

More Halloween-themed movies, please!

     I  re-watched the 2007 horror comedy anthology "Trick 'r Treat" recently.  I remember thinking that even though the movie wasn't the greatest, I enjoyed the film and respected that it was paying such obvious homage to Halloween night.  I love it when a film, especially a horror film, explores the time period of October 31st.  John Carpenter did it exquisitely with "Halloween".  It perfectly evoked the magic and mystery of that special night of the year. (I still lament the decision of the powers-that-be behind the "Halloween" franchise to bring back Michael Myers in the fourth sequel, instead of following the original idea of a yearly anthology of Halloween-related stories.  Why somebody doesn't jump on this is beyond me.  The possibilities here would be endless..).  And although pretty uneven in its storytelling, "Trick 'r Treat" offers up some spectacular Halloween atmosphere and imagery.  Which makes me long for more horror films taking place on or around Halloween.  It just adds that extra-special touch, doesn't it?

     There is just something about October that lends itself so well to horror.  Maybe it's just a huge part of me that refuses to let go completely of my childhood.  All the monsters of my youth ran rampant throughout the month of October- Dracula, Frankenstein, Michael Myers and Jason. I grew up in an exact copy of Haddonfield- I related to every minute of John Carpenter's "Halloween" (well, except the sex scene- I was only ten!)  October to me meant pumpkins and black cats, witches and ghosts, overcast days and falling leaves.  It meant listening over and over to Disney's "Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House" and watching every late-night horror flick I could find.  Halloween was the most magical time of the year to me, and it signified the beginning of the holidays.  I love, love, love Halloween even more now as an adult, I think.  As a matter of a fact I'll be finishing my Halloween decorations today at the house.  So on that note, I'm going to finish decorating.  I'll leave you with some of that rad Disney record.  It's the perfect day for it.
   
THIS IS MY SHRINE TO ALL THINGS SCARY- MOVIES, BOOKS, MADE FOR TV, SOUNDTRACKS- I LOVE IT ALL.
I in no way claim ownership of any image or video used on this blog.