Sunday, October 18, 2009

Oh, The Horror! #36: Trick 'r Treat

What the heck is this now? Horror films are becoming fun again? First we had Drag Me To Hell then the recent Paranormal Activity, and Zombieland has been getting some great reviews all over which I've yet to see for myself and now this nice little gem called Trick 'r Treat directed by Michael Dougherty and produced by Bryan Singer. From what I understand, this movie was set to come out in 2006 but it was delayed by Warner Brothers for whatever reason and it's finally been released on DVD about a week or so ago. Decided to pick it up due to some of the great reviews I've been reading and hearing about and finally watched it and have to say it truly is a nice little gem to own and watch with some buddies.

The movie revolves around four stories all taking place in the span of a few hours in a town during Halloween. You have a sadistic murdering principal played awesomely by Dylan Baker, a virginal girl dressed as Little Red Riding Hood played by Anna Paquin who is being stalked by mysterous man in a mask and cloak, a group of kids who collect Jack o' Lanterns and recount a town's creepy urban legend, and a grumpy ol' hermit, played by Brian Cox, with no Halloween spirit and needs to be taught it. Through out the movie is one small figure named Sam who appears in all four segments and plays a bit of a role as the Spirit of Halloween, making sure things go according to plan with this special holiday. You don't want to mess with Sam and break a Halloween tradition, I'm telling you. As the movie progresses, we come across various creatures of the night such as demons, zombies, werewolves (the werewolves segment had to be my favorite part of the whole movie), vampires as each segment beings to interlock and connect with each other in some way shape or form. One of the exciting things about this anthology is putting together the pieces of when certain things occurred as various scenes are in fact out of sequence.

Dougherty, who wrote and directed this movie, does a great job behind the helm. Visually, this movie definitely grabs you and gets you interested. He knows how to definitely bring a script to life through the camera using some great camera movements with beautiful editing transition shots, all adding greatly to the quirky but creepy fun of this movie. He also picked a great set of actors as his characters who all seemed to be very comfortable in their skin and all enjoying their parts in this movie.

I honestly don't know much else of what to say about this movie without going into full detail of everything that was showcased without spoiling some stuff. It was cleverly written with some nice subtle touches throughout. I honestly couldn't help but allow myself to fall in love with this movie. This is definitely a movie to be enjoyed by anyone with the Halloween spirit. It's not the scariest film you'll ever see, though there are some really jumpy parts and some great tension built up in certain segments, but it will be one very fun evening you'll have watching this with a group of buddies or some family members. Even though I do think it'd make a fun flick to watch with family for Halloween, it isn't a kids movie. There's language, sexual innuendo, killings, mutilation, and breasts. I know growing up, I wasn't scorned against watching stuff of the like, but a fair warning to parents who want to watch this with their little kiddies.

But enough of great praise. There were but two things that didn't quite do it for me. For one it was one of the designs for Sam himself. The look he has through the movie is fantastic and quite adorable. You can't help but love the character just based on his visual alone. It's when he takes off his mask that a bit of the mystique of the character sort of loses me. Now it helps for the story where you see his look, but I could have done without seeing it. And the second would definitely be the running time. 82 minutes of this? Why couldn't we get more? Ah well. I do hope this movie does very well and WB notices they screwed up in not releasing this when this was originally suppose to come out. This definitely has the markings of a big cult favorite and following. Hopefully a wide-released sequel? I do know Dougherty himself has plans for one.

So c'mon, guys, get into your Halloween spirit and enjoy this nice little fun movie. You're never too young or old to follow the traditions of this festive holiday. But then again, go ahead, don't follow the traditions. When you see Sam on your doorsteps, I sadly won't get the chance to tell you I told you so.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oh, The Horror! #35: The Addams Family & Addams Family Values

I re-watched both movies a few nights ago with my girl and both remain at the top of favorite movies for me. When I was a kid, I dreamed of being part of this kooky family that was created by the masterful Charles Addams and it was these two movies that cemented my love for this morbidly humorous family. The film stars the late Raul Julia as the energetic and romantic Gomez, Anjelica Huston as the vampish wife Morticia, Christopher Lloyd as the indestructible Fester, Christina Ricci as the morbidly deadpan Wednesday, Jimmy Workman as the unintelligent naive Pugsley, Judith Malina as the curse-inducing Mama in the first film and then Carol Kane in the sequel, Carel Struycken as the Frankensteinish butler Lurch, Christopher Hart as the handful Thing, and finally John Franklin as the too kool to shave Cousin Itt. Each actor perfectly brings the family to life in both movies that feature non-stop laughs ranging from disturbing actions and high morbid humor.

The first movie revolves around a plot of a greedy woman named Abigail Craven played by Elizabeth Wilson who dresses her son, Gordon, to resemble Gomez Addams long-lost brother, Fester, to steal treasure and become rich. Gordon, as Fester, slowly begins to feel more like part of the family despite at first being completely uncomfortable with their weird life-style. Morticia found no problem with finding cyanide in his suitcase, Pugsley laughs at having his arm caught in Gordon's bear trap, Thing attacks him to sleep, and Wednesday watches him from her door in a suspicious way. A huge question is constantly brought up about if Gordon is actually in fact really Fester or really an impostor. The overall plot of the movie isn't strong, but you still can't help but fall in love with the characters. They're kookier than the 60's television show (I know, as if that were possible) and their constantly one-liners are too perfect not to love.

Craven: Love/hate. Hate/love. Like for Mama, no?
Gomez: But I didn't hate my mother. It was an accident!

Morticia: Gomez.
Gomez: Querida?
Morticia: Last night you were unhinged. You were like some desperate, howling demon. You frightened me. Do it again!

A most definite favorite part of both movies are completely how into each other both Gomez and Morticia are. They're the most perfect couple I've ever seen in any movie with hardly any tension in their relationship, just complete adoration and love. The chemistry between both Huston and Julia works perfectly and are completely believable. When the two get into a scene that requires them flirting, you can't help but smile and laugh at their lines to each other. The scene when Morticia is tied up and being tortured and Gomez is speaking to her about real torture being to live without her and their theme music begins to play as they're about to kiss and are interrupted is truly hilarious and gets a chuckle out of me and people I'm watching it with every time. Lloyd does a wonderful job playing the extremely chaotic Fester and watching his love and appreciation for the family grow is a delight to see, especially when he grows especially close to Wednesday and Pugsley and teach them how to sword fight and blow up bombs and play pranks against Mama. Besides the fantastic scenes between Gomez and Morticia, it is Ricci as Wednesday that steals the show. Wednesday in the original series/cartoon/strips is a completely different character as she's more happy-go-lucky and sometimes very sad character but Ricci plays her with such deadpan humor that it's impossible not to love the ret-conned personality. Ricci's portrayal of Wednesday fits perfectly for this type of movie and it would have been extremely weird seeing a different portray than what we got.

Girl Scout: Is this made from real lemons?
Wednesday: Yes.
Girl Scout: I only like all-natural foods and beverages, organically grown, with no preservatives. Are you sure they're real lemons?
Pugsley: Yes.
Girl Scout: Well, I'll tell you what. I'll buy a cup if you buy a box of my delicious Girl Scout cookies. Do we have a deal?
Wednesday: Are they made from real Girl Scouts?

The sequel, Addams Family Values, takes place about 9 months from the last movie where Morticia reveals to Gomez that she's pregnant with a third child. When the child, Pubert, is born, Wensday and Pugsley grow highly jealous to the point where they drop him from the roof of their home and try to decapitate his head. The loving wife and husband see fit to find a nanny. After various failed attempts, they finally find just the right nanny, the white-dressed and extremely beautiful Debbie played hilariously by Joan Cusack. She seems right at home with the family as she isn't quite freaked out by their life-style and even says a few lines that fit perfectly with the Addams way of thinking. As she's introduced to the members of the household and shown through the house, she takes an interest to Fester who's extremely shy of her. As the movie progress, she tries to get close to him and they eventually get married. But during her first night at the Addams Mansion, it is revealed to us that she is actually the murderous Black Widow who marries rich men and kills then during their honeymoon, collects their money and vanishes until she's broke. Due to Debbie, the family starts to slowly deteriorate as Wednesday and Pugsley are sent to a freakishly happy summer camp that hates them and tortures them with songs, hugs, and Disney movies, Gomez seems to slowly go insane and may possible die, while their baby has transformed to a rosy cheek and blond curl baby who may fearfully become President one day.

Once again, this movie is filled with even more of the humor that's loved in the first movie:

Morticia: Oh Gomez... you still desire me after all these years? The old ball and chain?
Gomez: Forever.
Morticia: I'll get them.

And we get more laughs and destruction. And it's inpossible not to fall for the adorably new-born Pubert who fits perfectly with the kooky family especially by the end of the movie as he laughs happily after causing a death of a character.

Overall, both movies are very fun and well made films. While the second film is much stronger plot-wise, I have a slightly bigger love for the first movie due to the music and editing. The soundtrack score composed by Marc Shaiman is very enticing and grasping as when the tracks from the movie play on my Media Player, I can't help but reply them over and over for a long while, my favorite piece being A Party for Me? and the Finale. Shaiman plays very well with the energetic family while adding some horror sounding music that complements the family very well. Editing-wise, a huge favorite transition of mine is the scene when Morticia and Gomez waltz for a few seconds and Morticia pulls off a sheet that then brings us to the grand ball for Fester. Beautifully well made films, both movies are directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. If you haven't seen either of these movies, you've been living under a rock and need to be stoned with that rock and enjoy it.

And major props to David Hine for making me a part of the Addams Family.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Oh, The Horror! #34: Paranormal Activity

Most over-hyped film in recent years or does it live up to it? Honestly you'll have to see for yourself, but for me personally I'm definitely in the middle. Now not to say I didn't enjoy it, I enjoyed the hell out of it. But when I hear people deem this as the scariest movie made in decades, I have to stop and ponder... and it is rather hard to think of a truly terrifying great movie recently, all I could think about are Drag Me To Hell and Coraline (not really terrifying, but put yourself in Coraline's shoes and view it as a lil' kid, you'll piss your pants!). But yes, this film is a mockumendary directed by Oren Peli starring Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat as a couple who decides to video document strange occurrence in their house. We are presented through this story through the video documents taken by the characters.

We begin the movie with Micah testing out his new video camera then meet his girlfriend of three years, Katie, as we watch them all lovey-dovey on a normal day. As to why Micah has the camera, Katie reveals to us a little later that she's been haunted by a strange entity since childhood. One day while asleep with her sister, she noticed a big black mass standing at the foot of her bed. A few days later her home burned down. A few years later the same entity haunted her and and this time it was happening again now that she was happy with her new wise-cracking boyfriend. The characters are fairly likable which is a plus to have when you make a horror movie, but Micah is definitely the character that gets you irritated watching the movie as he's warned against certain things such as antagonizing the entity and thus making things worse than it could have been. Note to everyone: DO NOT MESS WITH OUIJA BOARDS!

So yes, the movie documents about two weeks of strange occurrences that includes load banging sounds and creaking doors and lights flickering. Each night is a lil' more and a lil' more and tension grows as you're not sure what to expect next despite quite a few scenes being fairly predictable. The slowness and gradual build-up really grasps you until things really start unfolding finally. The director did a wonderful job growing suspense and using time and quietness to his advantage. It's really refreshing to see how a low-budget movie done in seven days can get you uneasy with hardly much special effects. I also see this as a way of getting into "horror fans" heads who only believe that a good horror movie should be rated R with a ton of gore and tits. If this movie had eliminated all the cursing, it could have definitely been a PG-13 movie and still frighten the viewers it's been frightening. And speaking of, I enjoyed hearing girls scream their asses off and panic through the movie. Now some scenes I felt weren't too strong to fully get me to jump or be fearful, but I did have a hell of a good time watching this film. I felt it was well made and may not be a top favorite of mine, but it's good money spent and good to watch with some buddies. Hell, bring your girl friend. I shoulda done that. Heh... there's always next week or so... But yes, in the end I could have done without the final second or two of the movie as I felt it was a tad cliche but a way of Peli having some fun. So go have some fun with Peli and others and allow yourself to enjoy this good horror film. Don't put too much thought about if this will live up to the hype. Just go see it.

But I do have to ask, though... people really threw up watching this movie?