"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

All Hallows’ Eve

Monday, November 6th, 2023

Okay, it’s weird to post a review of a Halloween movie the week after Halloween, but what am I gonna do? I watched it on Halloween. These things take time to write, but not a whole year. I’m posting it now for the record.

The big horror movie phenomenon of Halloween season 2022 was TERRIFIER 2, the unrated gorefest and low budget box office sleeper. The hype caused me to catch up with the first TERRIFIER and then I survived the gauntlet of the sequel so I’m now a ticket-holding passenger on this grimy franchise about a sadistic, thankfully non-verbal, apparently supernatural clown who goes around horribly mutilating random people on Halloween, in ways that he finds amusing.

So this Halloween evening I decided to go back to the roots of the series. Like many aspiring horror directors before they’re able to get a feature film off the ground, makeup artist/writer/director/editor Damien Leone got his start creating horror shorts. The character of Art the Clown first appeared in his 2006 short The 9th Circle, before starring in the 2011 short also called Terrifier. (read the rest of this shit…)

Murder Party (2007)

Monday, October 30th, 2023

I enjoy the work of director Jeremy Saulnier. He did the bleak, regular-dude-sloppily-getting-revenge movie BLUE RUIN in 2013, followed by the punks vs. bigots favorite GREEN ROOM in 2015, and then he kind of went off the radar because HOLD THE DARK (2018) only exists in the mists of Netflix, but I liked that one too.

Those three movies paint a certain picture of what kind of filmmaker Saulnier might be. They may have moments of humor, but they’re all very grim and dry, the emphasis on their unblinking look into the dark fringes of life, with a particular fascination for people not too cool to step into enormous fuck ups and messes that movie characters usually don’t. In BLUE RUIN, for example, the protagonist steals a gun to use in a murder, but it has a lock on it, so he tries to break it off with a rock, and breaks the gun. In HOLD THE DARK a guy shoots at cops from a barn with a high powered rifle and they just scurry around helplessly for several minutes until our protagonist gets a gun and takes careful aim… and then he can’t hit him either.

What I think is fairly unknown or forgotten about Saulnier is that his first film, a whole six years before the wide acclaim of BLUE RUIN, presents that view of life in the context of a straight-up horror comedy. (read the rest of this shit…)

Cobweb (2023 American film)

Monday, October 23rd, 2023

COBWEB (2023 American film) is not to be confused with COBWEB (2023 South Korean film directed by Kim Jee-woon). Totally different thing. This is a new horror movie that wafted briefly through theaters during the OppBarbenheimerie era, came out on disc a few weeks ago, now is on Hulu. I knew nothing about it except that some people had said it was good, and that served me well. It’s a pretty simple story that benefits from a sense of unfolding mystery, so I’ll try to tread lightly for a bit and then warn you when it’s time to start stomping.

One reason to review it right away: it’s a Halloween movie. It’s set in the week leading up to the holiday, there’s a field of pumpkins outside the house that most of it takes place in, there’s a crucial pumpkin-smashing incident. So it’s good for the season. (read the rest of this shit…)

Scream VI

Wednesday, March 15th, 2023

Nobody else seems to see it this way, but I still think SCREAM was the perfect name for the sequel to SCREAM (1996) that came out in 2022. It revived the seemingly concluded series after 11 years, and for the first time without Wes Craven, so naturally it took today’s legacy sequels – where a set of new, younger characters teams up with returning characters from the old series in a story loosely structured like the first film – as its format and subject. The movies it’s based on never have a number in their title; it only made sense to follow the naming convention of such modern horror franchise entries as HALLOWEEN (2018), HELLBOY (2019), THE GRUDGE (2020), CANDYMAN (2021), WRONG TURN (2021), TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2022), HELLRAISER (2022) and the upcoming THE EXORCIST (2023).

A year later here we are with another one from the same directors (Tyler Gillett & Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, READY OR NOT) and writers (Guy Busick [READY OR NOT] & James Vanderbilt [ZODIAC]) and this time it does have a number in the title – the historic first Roman numeral of the series. SCREAM VI is a good title mainly because the trailer showed the M in SCREAM get slashed and split into a bleeding VI, and secondarily because it’s admitting that yeah, we can’t lie, this is the sixth movie in the SCREAM series. It stars mostly our new set of characters introduced in the last one, but makes reference to characters and events from all five previous SCREAMs. I gotta admit, I’ve been there since the beginning, I’ve watched SCREAM many times, SCREAM 2 several times, SCREAM 3 maybe three times, the other two one each, but they drop so many names so fast I had trouble remembering what they were talking about. Not that it matters.

(Note: There were two guys behind me and one of them had apparently never seen any SCREAM movie before so the other guy tried to explain who each character was as they appeared. Not ideal.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Terrifier

Wednesday, October 12th, 2022

There’s this slasher sequel TERRIFIER 2 that just had a limited 4-day theatrical release, with some positive reviews. I didn’t see it, but it made me pay more attention to the existence of the TERRIFIER intellectual property brand. I had previously not paid much attention because I had seen pictures of the ugly clown it stars. I respect and support Killer Klowns from outer space, and IT is pretty cool, and I liked THE LAST CIRCUS if that counts, but in general I think an evil clown is about the corniest, most obvious, off-brand Halloween mask bullshit there is. Especially this type where he has a demonic face and teeth trying hard to do the work that the clown makeup is supposed to do on its own by accident. Wasn’t the idea that clowns are scary in the first place? When you have to turn them into monsters isn’t that admitting you don’t really believe that?

Anyway, this writer/director Damien Leone has made a career out of his “Art the Clown” character, first in a series of shorts that he turned into the anthology ALL HALLOW’S EVE (2013), then the two TERRIFIERs. TERRIFIER (2016) is the shortest at 86 minutes, so I decided to start there. (read the rest of this shit…)

John Hawkes Horror Double Feature: Scary Movie (1991) and Night of the Scarecrow (1995)

Friday, October 29th, 2021

Do you like scary movies? What about SCARY MOVIE? I’m not talking about the original script title for SCREAM, or the parody movie series named after the original script title for SCREAM, but the 1991 movie starring John Hawkes and taking place on Halloween night. It was shot on 16mm in Austin and when the American Genre Film Archive released a restored blu-ray and DVD in 2019 they said it had never been “legitimately distributed” until then. I did find a reference to it playing “limited runs in Europe and Asia,” but anyway, that’s why most of us never heard of it before.

Hawkes is from Minnesota, but as a young man he moved to Austin, where he was in a couple bands (including one with Rodney “Joey from ELM STREET 3 & 4” Eastman) and started appearing in locally filmed movies like FUTURE-KILL (the one with the unrelated H.R. Giger cover), D.O.A., and a thriller called MURDER RAP where he’s the star. He’s also the lead in SCARY MOVIE, playing a fraidy cat nerd named Warren who goes with his more outgoing buddy Brad (Jason R. Waller, Austin Stories) and Brad’s girlfriend Shelley (THE BALLAD OF THE SAD CAFE) to a haunted house attraction. (read the rest of this shit…)

Campfire Tales

Monday, December 21st, 2020

CAMPFIRE TALES is a very low budget horror anthology released in 1991. After directors William Cooke and Paul Talbot graduated from college in 1987 they decided to build a film around “The Hook,” a short they’d made in their senior year 16mm class. The stories are very simplistic – unusually light on gimmicks and ironic twists for this type of material – and the filmmaking is not what would traditionally be considered “good.” But being made by beginners with no money gives it that scrappy underdog charm where you’re excited for anything they kind of pull off, and since it was made by young people in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s there’s some relatability and nostalgia for somebody like me who may or may not have come of age around that time.

“The Hook” is set on Halloween, but there’s another story that’s about Christmas, which is what brought me to it. (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, in places 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…)

Patreon bonus: Walker, Texas Ranger Halloween episode

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

Sorry, I never get trick-or-treaters at my apartment, so I didn’t get enough candy for everyone. But I do have a Halloween treat for Patreon people: an illustrated look at a 1998 Halloween episode of Walker, Texas Ranger.

click here for WALKER, TEXAS RANGER: “THE CHILDREN OF HALLOWEEN”

Remember, for $1 a month (or more if you can afford it) you can read this as well as other exclusives like my in-depth reviews of each of the TWILIGHT movies, an episode of Rambo: The Force of Freedom, and some extra tie-ins to the HIGHLANDERLAND series. More importantly you get to feel like a hero for helping me to only work part time so I have more hours for writing the good shit (most of which will always be free right here on outlawvern.com).

Thanks everybody!

Hellbent

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

HELLBENT (2004) opens with your traditional lovers lane murder, well shot with colorful tinting that seems to come from a light shining through a bouquet of helium balloons they have in the car. The two lovers are beheaded by a dude (Nick Name, who also provides some of the soundtrack with his band Nick Name and the Normals) with a scythe and devil mask/helmet thing. We’ve seen a million scenes like this, but there are two things unusual about this version:

1. the lovers are both men

2. the killer is shirtless

Well, mostly #1. The 2014 remaquel of THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN had a male-male couple killed in a lovers lane, but this one takes place entirely in the gay community in West Hollywood, so it’s fair to call it a gay slasher movie. The hero – Final Boy? – is Eddie (Dylan Fergus), who works a desk job at the police station. He’s not an officer – an injury prevented him from finishing the training. He gets recruited to pass out flyers warning people in West Hollywood that there’s a murderer loose, and uses Halloween as an excuse to wear his dad’s old uniform when he does it. (Strangely he won’t get into any kind of impersonating-an-officer trouble while wearing it. But I guess it reminds him of the shoes he’s trying to fill.)

At night he goes to a Halloween carnival with some friends, where you have your typical slasher movie debauchery (except gay) while the devil mask guy follows them around looking for a window to behead them. (read the rest of this shit…)