"I'll just get my gear."

Archive for October, 2020

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

Two Halloweens ago we discussed Tobe Hooper’s first masterpiece. This is his second. He didn’t even want to direct it at first, sort of got pushed into it, but damn did he rally. In many ways THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 is the Tobe Hooperest movie ever made.

I don’t blame you if you’re skeptical during the opening scene where two obnoxious “senior boys at Wheeler High” calling themselves “Buzz and Rick the Prick” drunkenly drive a Porsche, fire guns, and harass the K-OKLA request line until they receive a drive-by chainsawing on a bridge that must’ve been built by the same people who made that endless runway from the climactic chase in FURIOUS 6. (read the rest of this shit…)

Sleepwalkers

Friday, October 30th, 2020

A rare movie-watching phenomenon that I love: rewatching one I saw decades ago, and have always believed sucked, but discovering that I really like it now. It happened with THE MANGLER, Tobe Hooper’s crazy adaptation of a Stephen King short story, and it’s happened again with SLEEPWALKERS, the first movie written by King that’s not based on a previously published work. Maybe it’s something about King’s stories, but more likely it’s that my tastes in horror have evolved since I was a teenager and saw this in the theater.

The mythological premise is established with a little text at the beginning: there are these fuckers called sleepwalkers, they are nomadic shapeshifters who are like vampires but instead of blood they suck the lifeforce of “virginal females,” and instead of sun or garlic or whatever they’re susceptible to cat scratches.

It’s a Stephen King thing. Just go with it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Night Screams / Phantom of the Ritz

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

Earlier in this year’s too brief Slasher Search, I reviewed OPEN HOUSE, and I wrote about the interesting career of its director, Jag Mundhra. And I saw that he directed HACK-O-LANTERN, which I had considered watching for many years, but I felt like it no longer qualified for Slasher Search, because it has a fancy remastered Blu-Ray release with extras and everything. And then Joe Bob Briggs played it on Shudder, so it became more notable, but was clearly not something that required searching.

Never fear. I’ve managed to find a substitute double feature, another director who did two obscure late ’80s horror movies. The first is on DVD (but an old and crappy one), the second only on VHS.

The director’s name is Allen Plone, and his first film was NIGHT SCREAMS (1987). It’s fairly serious and straight forward, very often laughable, but strange and vaguely competent enough to be entertaining. And filmed and set in Wichita, Kansas, giving it its own regional flavor. Pretty much the kind of thing I’m looking for here. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Shape of Evil: Confronting darkness through the ‘Halloween’ series

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

Two years ago, but it seems closer to ten, a nice deputy editor for a new publication approached me to write a piece. He had been reading me forever and was working for this company with a bunch of money invested in it, could pay pretty well and expose me to some new readers not only on the web but a print magazine he compared to Rolling Stone. I said yes and we were going back and forth about what my first piece should be, and then my mom died.

Freelance gigs are usually a little stressful and all-consuming for me, but for some reason I still wanted to do it. Looking back at my emails, I was literally trying to schedule around the days off I had other than the one for the funeral. I agreed to write about the Halloween series, in conjunction with the upcoming David Gordon Green sequel. I watched all ten existing movies (including remakes) and came up with this piece that ties them all together thematically, at times addressing the grief and fears I was dealing with at the time. I took longer than I was supposed to and ended up with twice the agreed upon word count and I was so unsure anybody else would be interested that in my email I said, “If you don’t want it I understand, just let me know and I’ll use it on outlawvern.com and we’ll come up with something else for me to work on for you.”

Then the magazine (you will never see this coming) ran out of money, all the editors resigned, I don’t believe I ever got paid and the article could only be seen on the Wayback Machine. But I got no regrets because working on this helped me in a tough period of my life and gave me a better understanding of my relationship with the genre. So I’m proud to repost it here.

(I’ve kept their edits, so you’ll notice some British spellings in here.) (read the rest of this shit…)

The Man Next Door

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

THE MAN NEXT DOOR is a 1997 film that only came out on VHS. The cover has a big skull, a scary house and a very dated font choice. It’s written and directed by Rod C. Spence, known for his raw suspense. Or perhaps he’s known for editing 2000s reality TV shows like Survivor, The Apprentice, American Chopper and Jersey Shore, which he did for a while after this (and his websight says he writes screenplays and novels).

It was released as part of First Rites, which was an imprint from Hollywood Video (the biggest American video store chain besides Blockbuster) for low budget independent movies from new directors. Showcasing new voices or whatever. It fascinates me because it doesn’t seem to me like they would earn any more money from having THE MAN NEXT DOOR available than just having more copies of CON AIR or whatever. With some research I learned that it was someone else’s deal that partnered with Hollywood in the U.S. and Rogers in Canada, but still, there must’ve been someone within the shitty corporate structure of Hollywood Video that really believed in this mission and convinced someone to get behind it. That’s pretty cool. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Car / The Car: Road to Revenge

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

I don’t have a car and there’s not a drive-in near me, but I think it’s great that the drive-in movie experience is making a comeback in response to the pandemic. Nature finds a way. In honor of this great revival I offer you a drive-in double feature: two horror movies about a car. In fact, about the car.

THE CAR (1977) is directed by Elliot Silverstein (CAT BALLOU) and written by Dennis Shryack & Michael Butler (THE GAUNTLET, CODE OF SILENCE, PALE RIDER) and Lane Slate (DEADLY GAME) and it’s a killer car movie before CHRISTINE. Its faceless villain is a cool looking matte black 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III customized by George Barris, designer of the Munster Koach, Knight Rider and maybe the Batmobile (rival Wikipedia editors seem to have added conflicting information on that). Anyway it kinda looks like a hearse and has a big, distinctive grill. I could see the Tall Man from PHANTASM cruising around in this thing.

(read the rest of this shit…)

The Wretched

Monday, October 26th, 2020

As we’re all aware, this has been a hell of a year for the box office, with hits like BAD BOYS FOR LIFE, 1917, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG and other movies released last year or in January or February. And in early June, Forbes reported a notable box office achievement: THE WRETCHED, a low budget horror movie released by IFC, was the first film since AVATAR to top the box office for six consecutive weeks. A smash!

There are a few caveats to that. Number one, one could argue that other movies would’ve dominated the summer box office had there not been a pandemic that cancelled most studio releases and closed down all but drive-in theaters. (But you can never prove it!) Number two, Deadline reported in a dickish, parade-pissing article (even using the term “fake news” for maximum assholeishness) that TROLLS WORLD TOUR and left over studio movies THE INVISIBLE MAN and THE HUNT actually made more than THE WRETCHED during that period but didn’t report their box office numbers. The article is too busy trying to prove that Box Office Mojo is wrong to explain why, but I assume the studios were panicking about the public knowing how much money they were losing. Chaos reigns.

I don’t know, but the point is I only know of THE WRETCHED because it was (at least briefly) the answer to that trivia question. I thought that was cool. Hooray for drive-ins, and hooray for the dumb stupid luck of this random horror movie that happened to be coming out at that time.

But it’s been on disc for a while (and it’s on Hulu) and now that I watched it I’m happy to find that it deserves the attention. (read the rest of this shit…)

New bonus on Patreon: Knight Rider: “Halloween Knight”

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

I realized last night that Halloween is a week away and I still feel like I’m just getting started on the seasonal festivities. Maybe October will have to be held over. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL review today, and over on Patreon I have a new post taking a look at a Knight Rider episode called “Halloween Knight.” There are some goofy Scooby-Doo elements, Halloween costumes and a bunch of references/homages/connections to horror movies, including the very obvious one pictured below and a slightly more obscure, much more surprising one that I’m excited to share with everybody.

CLICK HERE FOR “HALLOWEEN KNIGHT”

Thanks everybody, and there’s plenty more to come right here on outlaw vern dot com.

 
 

 

Ouija: Origin of Evil

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

This is a rare event for me, to watch a prequel to a movie I haven’t seen and don’t plan to see. The original OUIJA from 2014 was a PG-13 horror movie co-produced by ghost-merchants Blumhouse and remakers Platinum Dunes, “based on Ouija by Hasbro.” It’s the same writers as KNOWING, which could be a plus, but I didn’t know that until just now. So it didn’t seem like a movie for me, and nobody told me otherwise.

But two years later I remember seeing the trailer for the prequel before some other horror movie and talking with my friend about it actually looking good. It’s a period piece set in 1967, with a real nice look to it courtesy of cinematographer Michael Fimognari (FAST COLOR) and this time it’s directed by Mike Flanagan – I’m not sure if I’d seen anything by him yet, but I’d heard good things about OCULUS. And since then I’ve seen ABSENTIA, HUSH and GERALD’S GAME – all quite good – and the 2018 made-for-Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House convinced me that he is a legit Master of Horror for our age, even before he knocked my socks off with DOCTOR SLEEP. So it’s cool to go back and catch up on this one and realize how much of a rough draft it was for Hill House (even more than ABSENTIA). It’s got the scary old house (smaller and suburban, though), the psychic gift passed through generations, the themes of trauma and loss, the period detail, and of course the freaky ass Mike Flanagan ghosts. (Flanaghosts?) (read the rest of this shit…)

Books of Blood / The Mortuary Collection

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Well! Heh, heh! Hello there boys, ghouls and non-DIE-naries. It’s me again, your voluble villain of vivacious vicarious violence, Vern! I don’t tend to review the anthologies nearly as much as other types of horror, but this year two of the SCREAM-ing services have new ones that seemed promising. So I’ve prepared for you an anthology of anthologies, a little two-headed review I call THE PAIR-ER OF TERROR!

Hulu’s BOOKS OF BLOOD and Shudder’s THE MORTUARY COLLECTION both find fresh ways to deal with the horror host/wraparound story tradition. THE MORTUARY COLLECTION is formatted as stories told by creepy old mortician Montgomery Dark (Clancy Brown, PET SEMATARY II) – he looks like The Tall Man from PHANTASM – to Sam (Caitlin Custer, Teen Wolf), a young woman he’s interviewing for a job. I like that some of the stories had me thinking, “Well, that’s a pretty simplistic moralistic kind of ironic ending” and then Sam would point out as much, to Montgomery’s increasing frustration. And then the last and best segment is a story about Sam, ending with a great twist that leads into the wraparound finale, which really works as the climax of the movie and not just a wrap up.

BOOKS OF BLOOD sort of does the whole thing in reverse – instead of establishing up front what the stories are (comic books, campfire tales, etc.) they unfold and explain at the end what they’re all about, like an origin story. If you’re familiar with Clive Barker’s short story collections of the same name you know what that means (SPOILER: they’re the stories of the dead whose names are carved into a guy’s flesh.)

(read the rest of this shit…)