Howling III: The Marsupials is a weird and inspired gulp of fresh air. I said it and I mean it. You could watch 400 movies in a year and never see another thing like it. Devoid of any ties to the previous films, you’ve got to hand it to director Philippe Mora for refusing to tread any kind of familiar territory with this–an undeniably fresh take on the werewolf genre.
There’s nothing more fascinating to me than the existence of proto-slashers. That is to say, movies made before the “big boom” of stalk-and-slash pictures, where famous elements of the subgenre could be found in narratives that were not otherwise beholden to it. Some proto-slashers are more eerily prescient than others. 1972’s Tower of Evil, for example, is a movie that’s really just an early slasher. But as I recently watched Scream Factory’s excellent Blood and Lace Blu-ray for the first time, I was struck by the familiarity of its opening scene. And how other elements of the slasher drifted in and out of its arena.
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?