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October 4, 2009

Horror Quick Hits

Hey all, I'm gonna be posting more full reviews, but the fact of the matter is I'm attempting to watch too many movies this month to post full reviews of all of them. So, when that's not possible, I'm gonna throw in some brief comments about the other flicks I've watched. Starting now.

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
1989, Dir. by Rob Hedden.

Truth be told, I'm not the biggest fan of this series or the slasher genre as a whole, outside of Halloween, which set the bar too high for the likes of the '80s slasher. But I'm not above popping one in and having a good time as things go to pieces, and I will admit that Jason's one bad mamma-jamma. I picked this installment of the series to represent him this month, mostly because I hadn't seen it in years and it was the last one I needed for my collection. Unfortunately, it was as bad as I remembered.

The title is such a tease. About 60% of the movie takes place on a boat with goofy teens on a cruise to NY from Crystal Lake, and there's little of interest in them. Our heroine is the classic "oustider trying to deal with past demons" chick, which sets up some terrible "visions" of the young Jason who drowned in the lake (which somehow connects to NY). When the film finally does hit the Big Apple there are a few memorable scenes, particularly Jason's showdown with an amateur boxing champ and face-off with a gang of street thugs, but those are moments that are more "bad good" than good. And then there's the finale which is just ridiculously bad, as both a social commentary and a way of defeating a killer.

There are a lot of bad movies in the F13 series, but most of them are at least fun to watch. This one does not fit that role. In fact, I'd put it alongside the New Line produced Jason Goes To Hell as the worst in the series. (And if you bring up Jason X, I get angry. Jason X rules, and does not suck.)

The Mike's Rating: Run Away!

Midnight Movie
2008, Dir. by Jack Messitt.

Now, this is the kind of slasher film I can get behind...well, almost.

Made on a skimpy budget in what looks to be Chicago (Y'all's cities all look alike to us simple rural folks!), Midnight Movie tells of horror encountered by the staff and customers of a small movie theater that decide to play a midnight showing of the once lost horror film 'The Dark Beneath". This isn't your average horror film, as the director/star/writer went on a killing spree after being made to watch his film in a mental institute (Someday, this might be Uwe Boll's biopic!), and the cops suspect he might show up at this little theater with its little staff.

I'll give this movie some credit, it's flippin' out there. The filmmakers were not hesitant to shake the traditional slasher elements to the core, adding in some supernatural elements involving the film within a film and even gave us a Nightmare On Elm Street-ish theme of the power of fear. The film on screen also gives us some cool black-and-white scenes that are kind of a throwback to older indie horror, which is pretty cool most of the time. This film could have settled for standard slasher gimmicks, but they at least put some effort into shaking the viewer's preconceived notions as they went forward with their plot.

Midnight Movie isn't always successful, mostly due to the amateur nature of the actors and some goofy lapses in logic. I admit that my biggest issue, for most of the film, was trying to figure out why none of the movie theater employees seemed to have any idea that the things that were happening to the film they were playing weren't humanly possible (also, it seems like the filmmakers chose to ignore how a projector works too, didn't fit the story I guess), but that's just me being a theater employee still. Oh, and the soundtrack was a bit much too. Still, I'm not gonna damn this one, its good intentions weigh more than its superficial flaws.

The Mike's Rating: Solid Selection

Mad Monster Party?
1967, Dir. by Jules Bass

Slight change of pace from those two blood filled flicks. Mad Monster Party is a claymation theatrical flick from the makers of Rudolph the Reindeer and such, Rankin-Bass. Considering it boasts a cast of no less than Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, The Mummy, The Werewolf, The Creature (which bears no resemblence to the Creature from the Black Lagoon whatsoever?), Jekyll & Hyde and "It" (I won't spoil the surprise, but you'll recognize It) could this movie look more fun? Oh yeah, it could add the vocal talents of BORIS FREAKIN' KARLOFF!

Mad Monster Party is definitely a fun look at these monsters for kids. As an adult, I find some of the musical numbers to be a little awful, and it's not much for depth in writing, but I can't imagine not being enthralled by this were I still the horror obsessed kid I once was. However, there are some very adult themed jokes for us older folks, and the animation is just gorgeous to look at from a "classic" standpoint...I'll take this over Pixar any day.

Oh, and Francesca is totally HOT. Rowwwr.

Sorry, I got distracted. What I mean to say is that Mad Monster Party is a diversion that any classic horror fan must experience, and hopefully share with horror ready children in their life.

The Mike's Rating: Prime Choice

That's all for tonight, but soon a review of the 1976 Italian chiller A Whisper in the Dark, and by Wednesday I should finally be able to bring you my thoughts on the long awaited Trick 'r Treat! Until next time, may your October be full of happy hauntings!

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