For many years, most of them pre-Internet, I lived inside my own bubble where everybody liked Ghostbusters II. I assume that’s because I grew up in a small-ish town where the majority of my friends were equally large Ghostbusters fans of around the same age. I was too young to be aware of the film’s tepid critical reception, and it wasn’t until I joined Twitter that I learned how divisive it is.
When it comes to the significant 3D horror films of the early 1980s, I enjoy them all, and I defend them in exactly the same way: as 35mm funhouse attractions. That’s definitely true when you catch any of the heavy hitters in their native format: Friday the 13th Part III, Amityville 3D and, of course, Jaws 3D. These movies go to great lengths to leap off the screen and into our laps. The 3D “magic” offered throughout them is like a night at the carnival: giggles and cheap scares that, while crude, remain effective.
The shark genre doesn’t have a lot of room for innovation (all due respect to my shark novel coming this month). That’s probably been true since Jaws, but it hasn’t stopped filmmakers from putting their own stamp on one of nature’s fiercest predators. I don’t think anyone would ever claim The Shallows breaks new ground–if you’ve seen the trailer, you know exactly what you’re getting into–but that shouldn’t matter. If you’re in the market for a white knuckle thriller that’s gorgeously shot, well acted, and plenty thrilling, look no further because this one checks those boxes with ease.
One of the downsides that comes with watching thousands upon thousands of horror and exploitation oddities is that the impact of the strangest ones can be lost on veteran eyes. A movie firing on every cylinder, spewing insanity in droves, may not always leave the impression that it should, because in some ways I’ve probably already seen something like it before. That’s true of The Love Butcher, at least at the outset. Once you settle into this one, though, it’s really rather surprising.
The Forest isn’t a great movie. The audience I saw it with last night couldn’t keep quiet for more than five minutes at a time, their behavior regressing to a point where it became necessary (for them) to brainlessly comment on everything happening on screen (“she’s using her phone flashlight!” is a thing that was tragically said aloud at one point). I wasn’t blown away either, but I don’t think it’s the affront to theatrical horror some are selling it as.
If you know me then you know I’m kind of a fanatic when it comes to BioWare’s Mass Effect games. Despite my disdain for the ending of Mass Effect 3 (something which I’ll channel into its own rant down the line), I remain a big fan of the overall game, the series, and of BioWare in general.
I’m not and have never been what you’d call a die hard fan of the Terminator franchise, which is odd because I consider 1984’s The Terminator to be one of the most chilling science fiction movies ever made. I’ve also been a huge Arnold Schwarzenegger fan for as long as I’ve loved movies, but this “saga” on the whole has always left me underwhelmed.
Ghoulies isn’t a very good movie, and I believe that only the most nostalgically challenged would say otherwise. It’s very poorly paced, and directed with the most workmanlike style. It was salvaged entirely on the strength of its great ad campaign (tagline and poster/VHS box art). I mean, if you were any age in the 1980s, how could you not pause when passing that cover?
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine tweeted that a movie was about to hit VOD starring Nick Damici as a grumpy, blind war veteran who battles a werewolf brought to life entirely through practical FX. Needless to say I was sold, and that was before learning that Tom Noonan, Lance Guest, and Dana Ashbrook were a part of the show! If any horror film this year was up my alley, this was going to be the one.
For many, word that Dario Argento has made a bad film isn’t exactly news. I get it, even though I largely disagree with that stigma. I’m under no illusion that there’s a pretty sizeable gap between his greatest works (everything pre-1990) and “modern” output (everything after it). With the exception of Phantom of the Opera, I’ve found lots to like about his later canon: the lingering and haunting psychological devastation of The Stendhal Syndrome, the playful homage of Do You Like Hitchcock? and the gonzo what-the-fuckery of Mother of Tears. Sure, it’s lesser Argento, but I’ve always had fun.