October 23, 2014

Diary Of A Movie Watchin' Madman, Vol.II, Part 2 - Revenge Of The Madman

     It turns out I was probably being a little overly optimistic in thinking that only two parts of this year's Diary Of A Movie Watchin' Madman would get the job done.  I'm watching too many movies and writing too much about them to cover everything in just two parts.  This just turned into a trilogy, folks.  Vol. II, Part 3 is forthcoming...

Katherine Isabelle in See No Evil 2 (2014)

(10/14) See No Evil 2 (2014)  Watching See No Evil 2 was an odd experience.  I suspect I'm not alone when I say that my interest in this flick stemmed almost entirely from the fact that it was the Soska Sisters' first directorial effort since the stellar American Mary (2012).  Then the news came that the cast of See No Evil 2 would include Katherine Isabelle and Danielle Harris, two talented veteran sweethearts of genre fans everywhere.  Now I was really jonesin' to see this.  Rarely, if ever, had I found myself so excited about a sequel when I cared so little about the original.

     I suppose that's both the movie's blessing and its curse.  No one is going to be watching See No Evil 2 because they liked the first one so much, but it will find its way in front of a lot of eyes because everyone wants to see if the Soska Sisters are the real deal.  If they can work enough cinematic magic to make this belated sequel to a franchise non-starter worth seeing, then they're definitely filmmakers to watch.  Poor Kane.  See No Evil 2 isn't a Jacob Goodnight movie, it's a Soska Sisters movie.  Even if it's good, he'll get no credit.

     But is it good?  Well, yeah, it's pretty good.  It's not good enough that I'd want to see another if the Soska Sisters aren't involved, but it is good enough that I was impressed by what the sisters accomplished when playing in someone else's sandbox.  The characters display some personality, the performances are better than average, Kane makes an imposing bad guy, his character's mythology is deepened, and the whole movie is obviously more carefully constructed and artful than fans have come to expect from movies of this type.  The Soska Sisters have acquitted themselves nicely, and I'm sure a reinvigorated Jacob Goodnight will return to kill again thanks to their efforts.  Everybody wins.  (First Watch)

American Horror Story: Freak Show
(10/16) American Horror Story: Freak Show (2014) Yeah, I'm counting this again this year.  I'll spend at least the length of a movie watching American Horror Story during Pre'Ween, so why not?  After growing irritated with the fact that no action seemed to have any lasting consequence in last year's Coven, I was looking forward to the fresh start.  Seriously, what kind of dramatic stakes could Coven possibly have had when almost no primary character that died ever stayed dead?  Witches just kept conjuring everyone back to life... 

     Freak Show sounds like horror story gold though, right?  It pretty much was save for one heinously anachronistic misstep that totally pulled me out of the moment.  Jessica Lange's character performs the David Bowie song "Life On Mars" - a song dating back to only 1971 - in a scene that ostensibly takes place in 1958.  It appears from the previews that the show's producers will repeat the miscalculation in the second episode with a performance of Fiona Apple's "Criminal".  Why would a show that otherwise lavishes so much attention on period detail choose - repeatedly - to break the spell with anachronisms?  I'll keep watching, though, to see if there's a method to the music madness.  (First Watch)

Twinkie(10/17) Halloween 6: The Curse Of Michael Myers, Producer's Cut (1995)  After hearing for years about the mythical Producer's Cut of this movie, I was tickled to death to finally see it.  Does it redeem the movie at all?  Does it make it anything more than the worst Halloween sequel after Halloween: Resurrection (2002)?  No.  No it does not.  

     I hadn't watched any version of Halloween 6 for well over a decade.  It makes me sad to see an old, frail Donald Pleasance trying as hard as he can to make something worthwhile out of this turd.  Also, even though I've come to enjoy Paul Rudd over the years, I seriously don't know how he ever booked another acting gig with this terrible performance being the first on his resume.  And why the hell would you make a movie that hinges upon the appearance of Jamie Lloyd, a character we've been following now for three movies, and recast the role?  I'm sure there's a reason for that one, but I don't even care.  Danielle Harris dodged a bullet.

     All things considered, I still feel the same way about Halloween 6: The Curse Of Michael Myers as I feel about Twinkies.  You think, "Hey, I haven't had a Twinkie in a long time."  Then you have a Twinkie.  Then you remember why you haven't had a Twinkie in a long time.  The Producer's Cut is still a stunningly bad Twinkie.  (First Watch)

Curtains (1983)
(10/18) Curtains (1983)  After suffering through Halloween: The Steaming Pile just a couple of days ago, it was encouraging that the very next horror flick I watched exceeded my expectations.  I didn't even realize I possessed a void in my life where a Canadian giallo was supposed to be.  I'd never really watched Curtains before because all the bits I'd seen led me to believe it was stylish enough to warrant a better presentation than a crap public domain copy.  I'm glad I waited.  

     If you're wondering, the new Blu-ray release of Curtains from Synapse looks fantastic.  The movie itself is pretty damn entertaining too, as long as you realize from the outset that it actually has loftier ambitions than most of the early eighties slasher movies with which it's usually associated.  I was surprised several times by how stylishly composed much of it is.  I mentioned to Adrienne - who also enjoyed it - how much the shot compositions and color palate frequently put me in mind of Suspiria (1977).  Of course, Curtains as a whole isn't as good as Suspiria, but it was a lot better than it really needed to be to ride the slasher wave.  A pleasant surprise.  (First Watch)

Witching & Bitching (2013)

(10/20) Witching & Bitching (2013)  I've somehow managed to live to a ripe old age without seeing a single movie by Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia even though I've been hearing about his critically lauded film Day Of The Beast since it was released in 1995.  His recent feature The Last Circus (2010) has been sitting in my Netflix queue unwatched for months.  Subtitles, you know.  Don't get me wrong - nothing ruins a foreign flick faster than a bad dub (Blood Glacier, anyone?), but I still have to be in just the right mood to want to read a movie.  I'm so happy I found myself in the right mood when Witching & Bitching turned up on Netflix this week, and I'll probably end up finally watching The Last Circus before the week is out.  Added incentive: the lovely lady with the broomstick in the pic above, Carolina Bang, stars in The Last Circus as well.  I had so much fun with this one that I'm hungry for more from director Alex de la Iglesia.  Also, I've got a pretty big crush on Ms. Bang now, too.

     The tough part here is trying to explain to others exactly why Witching & Bitching was such an exhilarating watch for me.  The Netflix synopsis describes the movie as follows:  In this heist film turned horror fest, a gang of thieves lands in a coven of witches who are preparing for an ancient ritual -- and need a sacrifice. That synopsis is accurate insofar as it goes, but it does the movie a disservice by failing to even hint at the sense of pure anarchy that permeates the film.  It's a crime caper, a comedy, and a horror film all at once, and each of those components is carried to absurd and exuberant extremes.  I realized what an almost unclassifiable delight Witching & Bitching was when I tried to describe to a friend why she should watch it and words failed me.  They still do.  Believe the hype this time, folks.  Witching & Bitching may not the scariest movie you'll watch this Pre'Ween, but there's no doubt in my mind that it will be one of the most entertaining.  Recommended.  (First Watch)

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)(10/22) The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)  Who'da thunk it?  The Town That Dreaded Sundown crept up on me like The Phantom Killer of Texarkana, and it turned out to be a fairly decent potboiler.  Don't be fooled by the title, though.  It isn't so much a remake as a kind of meta sequel to the 1976 Charles B. Pierce movie of the same name.  

     This follow up exists in a world where the citizens of Texarkana are still haunted by the real life unsolved mystery of the Moonlight Murders, a series of brutal killings perpetrated over the course of three months in 1946 by a hooded assailant who came to be know as The Phantom Killer.  The Phantom was never captured, the mystery never solved.  Each Halloween the locals gather to watch Pierce's 1976 movie about the murders at a local drive-in - pretty tacky, huh? - and last Halloween the murders resumed (fiction, not fact).  Since it couldn't possibly be the same killer some sixty-five years later, who's responsible for the new rash of murders that rock the community and eerily mimic the particulars of the old Moonlight Murders? 

     The Town That Dreaded Sundown chugs along pretty effectively for most of its run time, and it doesn't play it's self-referential scenario for laughs.  It "remakes" many of the murders as depicted in the 1976 movie, but it's very much its own beast.  It boasts beautiful cinematography, solid performances, and an intriguing premise.  Sadly, its one big misstep is a resolution that fails to satisfy and seems as though it was airlifted in from a different movie.  That's not enough to completely derail an otherwise effective thriller, but it unfortunately compromises the good work that precedes it to some degree.  The story might have been better served by a more ambiguous ending.  Still, The Town That Dreaded Sundown is better than one would expect from a quasi-remake/sequel to an obscure low budget horror movie now nearly forty years old.  I look forward to the next installment some time around 2054.  (First Watch)

Movies At Dog Farm Pre'Ween 2014 logo


  1. I am looking forward to Witching and Bitching. The trailer hit a year ago, but the movie never went to a wide release. AHS: Freakshow will be added to my viewing.

    Lats night I made some time to watch Oculus. If you are a Dr. Who fan, you will delight in seeing Amy Pond. If you are not, there's no good reason to watch a movie about a haunted mirror. Yes, I typed correctly. A haunted mirror. There's no real gore, no nudity, and no reason to fear the ghostly image of a woman with mirrored eyes (cyberpunk throwback?). Seriously, this woman and the ghost chick from Mama need to pair up and make an HBO estrogen film where they complain about men while drinking lattes and shop at purse stores. So far most of this Halloween viewing has been flat.

    Time to set Halloween and Trick 'R Treat on repeat in the blu-ray player.

    1. I'd been wondering if Oculus was worth the time. Good to know it isn't. I've got plenty of movies stacked up to watch this week, anyway. If you're looking for something specifically Halloween themed and haven't seen it, Satan's Little Helper is on Netflix. I can't in good conscience give it a rave, but it's different.

    2. Satan's Little Helper fell way short of my already low expectations. I will have to rely on the old favorites. Oh, the remake of Night of the Demons wasn't too bad. Look that one up--if it's still streaming.

    3. Come on, Carl. You didn't get an evil little grin on your face when the masked man smacked the cat against the wall? You're a tough audience. lol

      I've seen that remake of Night Of The Demons, and I remember thinking it was better than I expected it to be. Don't remember too much beyond that.

  2. I like what you said about See No Evil 2. with saying the SoskaTwins are playing in someone else's sand box. They do a good job with the material they are giving, but I like them in their own sand box. . Is the prodcer's cut of Halloween 6 on Netflix. if not I guess I'll be watching the regular one instead. Witching and Btching does have my interest though. Great post man

    1. That Halloween 6 Producer's Cut was included in the new Halloween collection on Blu-ray. Believe me, though, you really don't need to see it. lol Witching & Bitching is available on Netflix however, and it's by far the more entertaining movie.


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