31 Horror Movies in 31 Days …. Ish

Maximum overdrive

So much for getting this all wrapped up last October! Excuses are lame, so I’m not going to make them. Instead, how about I finish what I started by giving you the scoop on the rest of the Stephen King adaptations I’ve seen.

{side note: even though I LOVE The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Stand by Me, and Dolores Claiborne, I don’t really consider them horror so I didn’t include them in this list}

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I really wanted to like this one, because John Cusack! And Samuel L. Jackson! And a creepy haunted hotel! But unnnnnnnggggggh….I hated it. The special F/X were pretty boss, but the plot is a mess, the acting is just plain NOT good, and the chosen ending (out of several alternatives) was pretty fucking awful. I know there are a ton of people who love it, though…maybe they appreciate it as over-the-top entertainment? So while I’d say SKIP IT, I don’t know, you guys. You might like it.

Apt Pupil
It’s been awhile since I watched this one, but I remember being really impressed with how the story was translated on screen. Ian Mckellan is postivitely terrifying as Kurt Dussander, and Brad Renfro (poor Brad Renfro!) is equally so as his student? Admirer? Hater? Who knows. This is one of the stories that I was really into when I was a kid, so a lot of the nostalgia I have about Different Seasons is probably leaking over to my love of this adaptation. (more…)

Carrie, Carrie, Carrie

carrie_1976

Stephen King’s “Carrie” has  been adapted three times now, and while I’m a long-time fan of DePalma’s 1976 version, the newest addition by Kimberly Peirce is pretty damn good too. Really, the only horrible misstep is David Carson’s 2002 made-for-television version, which whole-heartedly SUCKS.

SPOILERS! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!  (more…)

Italian Horror Double Feature: Argento’s Tenebre and Dracula

Tenebrae 2

In order to save my sanity (lest it break from too many awful adaptations) I had to take a break from my Stephen King project this weekend to review a couple of horror films by Dario Argento instead.

Ah, Dario Argento. I feel like Italian horror is either something you completely love or completely hate, and I’ve been completely in love with Argento since I viewed Suspiria when I was a teen. After that, it wasn’t long before I was driving down to Scarecrow video every weekend to check out more Argento films, along with some Lucio Fucli and Lamberto Bava (Demons and Demons 2! YES). In order to love Argento, you have to love bad dubbing, melodramatic acting, and watching women’s heads crash through glass windows over and over and over … and over again. Which I do!  (more…)

Cat from Hell (Tales from the Darkside: The Movie)

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Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is one of those films that I always forget about, and then when I watch it again I’m like, “Oh, hey, this is great! Why don’t I own it?” I can only chalk it up to seeing it on TV over and over and over again in the 90s, which apparently created some kind of near-blackout in my brain when I try to think of horror movies that are wildly entertaining.

Anyway. This 1990 horror anthology features 4 stories (one of which is an amazing wrap-around story starring Deborah Harry and Matthew Lawrence), and the middle story is based on Stephen King’s “The Cat from Hell.” George A. Romero (yes, THAT George A. Romero) adapted the screenplay from King’s short story, and the entire movie is directed by John Harrison, who also directed a bunch of episodes of the Darkside TV show.  (more…)

The Shining (1980) and The Shining (1997)

the-shining-axe

terrifying

The two adaptations that have been made so far of Stephen King’s The Shining are a pretty stellar example of what I mean when I say that when King adapts his own work, it just doesn’t make for a good film. Stanley Kubrick re-worked King’s story into his own by adapting the screenplay himself for his 1980 film, and then a pissed-off King (who never thought Kubrick got it right), wrote his own adaptation for the Mick Garris-Directed TV miniseries of The Shining, which aired in 1997. 

While I think Garris and King’s adaptation is pretty terrible, I understand why they did it: they both felt that Kubrick made his own version of the story that was completely different from the book. Garris has a good explanation of it here. It’s an interesting story, Mick, but unfortunately almost nothing about your film was scary. The only moment I found myself gritting my teeth through was when Weber’s Jack Torrence assaulted De Mornay’s Wendy with a croquet mallet (as written in the book), and I mean BEFORE his face morphs into demon-mode — but it was still nothing close to the way I feel every single time Nicholson axes through that door to get to Wendy and Danny. NOTHING. CLOSE. (more…)

Thinner

Thinner Fat Suit

For my third Stephen King film, I picked Thinner (1996), which is kind of a mixed bag for me. The novel is one that I read over and over and over again to the point of it falling apart because I just thought the story was so damn cool, but the translation to screen is a little bumpy. Mr. Tom Holland is the director of this one too, and he co-wrote the screenplay adaptation with Michael McDowell (who helped craft the screenplays of both Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas!).

The story of Thinner is pretty basic, and somewhat chilling (at least, in the book it seemed so): overweight, obnoxious lawyer Billy Halleck (John Robert Burke) accidentally runs over a gypsy woman in his car and kills her — while his wife is giving him head —  and then uses his connections to get out of being punished for it. The gypsy’s ancient father decides to takes matters into his own wrinkled hands, by cursing Halleck with something that causes him to lose weight rapidly no matter how much he eats.

It doesn’t take Billy that long to figure out what’s up, and once he does, he spends the entire movie running around looking for a way to break the curse — and, and ogling hot gypsy Kari Wuhrer, but who wouldn’t? It’s a little boring, but since the whole movie only runs 93 minutes it’s okay. The best/funniest parts involve Wuhrer and her slingshot, and Joe Mantega as mob boss Richard Ginelli, who’s also an expert on Gypsies. Or something. (more…)

The Langoliers

Anguish

This is what I was doing the entire time I was re-watching this. 

OMG. I can’t even believe I watched this. Again. I guess I felt like I had to pick a terrible King adaptation for movie #2 since I started with one I genuinely enjoy.

I haven’t watched The Langoliers since its debut on television in 1995, for many, many, many good reasons. I’m not sure what possessed the powers that be to create a two-part TV miniseries out of a short novella (which by the way, was just fine reading), but that they did … and very badly.

Cheap production values, laughable dialog (Oh, Tom Holland. Sometimes you work! And sometimes … you don’t. And you don’t here.), and the most insanely terrible special F/X you’ve ever seen are just some of the highlights that I remembered, but there’s so much more to hate about this one it’s almost enough to fill an entire month full of blog entries. BUT I will try to just stick to one.

Double What

“WHY are you watching this? No, seriously. Why?”

So 9 people get on a redeye to Boston, they all nap during the flight, and when they wake up, EVERYONE except them is gone. Poof! Just like that. Even weirder, all their stuff is still there, including the jewelry they were wearing and creepy things like wigs and teeth bridges and stuff. Ew, gross.

(more…)

Pet Semetary

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It may be complete and utter madness, but this year I’ve decided to start with a “retrospective” theme again. Last year was Wes Craven, but this year I’m focusing on horror films based on the works of Stephen King … which is likely to get very, very painful since so few of them are great. Or even good. Or even watchable. But! Believe it or not, there are some gems. Such as this one, which I have a soft spot for.  

Pet Semetary, a 1989 film by Director Mary Lambert (who also helmed the PS sequel as well as the recent SyFy masterpiece Mega-Python Vs. Gatoroid) is based on one of the King novels I read until it was falling apart when I was a teen, and was giddy with excitement to see in the theater when it was released. Unfortunately the bonehead dude I was dating at the time had other plans, mainly: walking out of the theater about 55 minutes in when he was personally offended by the storyline. NEEDLESS TO SAY THAT GUY DID NOT LAST.

Anyway! I managed to see the rest of it later when it came out on VHS. And I was hooked immediately. The movie stars a handsomely-coiffed Dale Midkiff as Louis Creed,  Denise Crosby (aka Tasha! Yar!) as his wife, Fred Gwynne as their older (yet not much wiser) neighbor, Jud Crandal, the most annoying child actress in the world as their daughter Ellie, and Miko Hughes as their son, Gage, who was just a little over 2 years old when this thing was filmed. (Fun fact: Hughes also played Dylan in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare(more…)

Bereavement Vs. Chained

Creepiest scarecrow, EVER. Nice job, Bereavement.

Moving on from the Craven madness, here are #16 and 17 of my 31 Days of Horror Films (which I may or may not have to extend into November): Bereavement and Chained. 

I picked up a few new’ish horror released lately at my favorite video store: Chained, which is Jennifer Lynch’s latest, and Bereavement, which I didn’t know is a prequel to Malevolence (as yet unseen by me).

Both have a similar premise: a serial killer kidnaps a boy and tries to teach him how to be a serial killer; however, while Bereavement kicks some serious splatter ass, Chained has so many problems I don’t even know where to begin. (more…)

My Soul to Take

 

I honestly couldn’t bring myself to watch this one again, so here’s my immediate reaction to it when I watched it last year, followed up by what I remember.

 My Soul to Take has sort-of an interesting premise, but it’s also sort-of a lame one. Alex Plenkov, AKA “The Riverton Ripper” is a serial killer who has been terrorizing and murdering families. And one night his brain flips a switch and murders his own (pregnant) wife and gets shot while trying to murder his daughter. (It’s worth noting that this opening, right up until they get to the hospital, is actually pretty decent. LOTS of splatter! And madness!)

But then, and here’s where it starts to lose it: RIGHT at the moment of his death, 7 kids are born in the same hospital, and Plenkov’s soul is transferred to one of them. BUT WHO?!?!?

Flash-forward to 16 years later, when all the kids born on that night hang out near the sight of the Riverton Ripper’s shooting, and uh—I guess “reenact” the scene or something? I’m unclear on this part. Because it’s so lame.

 SPOILERS AHEAD (more…)