Halloween Kills (dir. by David Gordon Green)


You have to appreciate a movie that does what it’s poster claims.

Halloween Kills might not be the best film in a 40 year old franchise that branched off into 3 separate storylines, a remake (with a sequel) and an Anthology entry in the middle. Still, it’s so much better than 1995’s Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers and Halloween: Resurrection. It brings the carnage in quick, and despite some missteps, it tries to do some good. However, there’s only so much you can bring to the table with a story that’s gone on for this long. I didn’t outright hate it, but I didn’t see myself returning to it in the way I did with Malignant or Dune, even though it’s available to watch on NBC/Universal’s Peacock streaming service.

Much like 1981’s Halloween II, Halloween Kills takes place just a few minutes right after 2018’s Halloween, with the Strode house burning and Michael believed to be stuck in the basement. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is injured and on her way to the hospital with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter (Andi Matichak). The town of Haddonfield is attempting to recover from yet another Myers incident. You’d think that after 40 years of all this, they’d have an entire Myers Assault Force or something, but we’re not quite there yet. After all, in this continuity change, Haddonfield only has Michael’s childhood incident and the 1978 one. Despite this, the town has finally had enough of Michael’s antics and band together (with Tommy in the lead) to finish him. To quote Laurie, “Evil Dies Tonight!”

They’re so doomed.

Mind you, this isn’t the first time that Haddonfield’s tried to turn the tables on Myers, though it is a first for this particular universe. They tried back in Halloween 4, but it didn’t quite work out. Halloween Kills poses a quiet question of who is worse: The single killer on the loose, or the angry mob that’s after him?

I’ll admit that I enjoyed the return of some familiar faces in Pamela Susan Shoop (the nurse who was with Loomis when Michael stole their station wagon) and Kyle Richards (Lindsay, the little girl who Laurie was babysitting). Tommy Doyle is there as well, but the adult version of him is played by Anthony Michael Hall (The Dark Knight). They even managed to bring back Charles Cyphers as the former Haddonfield Sheriff. I’ll give this version kudos for delivering some fan service with those cameos. By far, the best addition to the cast was a cameo by The Wolf of Snow Hollow‘s Jim Cummings as one of the Haddonfield Police. Having played a cop in both of his previous films, it was a perfect fit here.The film also weaves a bit of Saw-like magic by expanding on the 1978 Halloween Night. While it’s not a perfect fit to the original events, it adds a somewhat fresh coat of paint to the new storyline that’s in effect here. It’s one of the places where the movie actually shines. They can weave a whole new backstory for Michael, and I’m here for it.

The gore levels in Halloween are your typical fare, as this version of Michael is much more vicious than his earlier counterparts. We can chalk that up to the changing times, I imagine. Like every Halloween, there are a few unnecessary kills – random families that are taken out just to up the body count while you may wonder what these individuals have to do with anything. If you don’t have any problems with that, then the film’s definitely worth a watch. At least in Halloween & Halloween II, the murders were connections to Laurie (her friends) or obstacles in Michael’s way (the Hospital Staff). With Halloween Kills, Michael just executes anyone who’s in his vicinity, which was the same problem I had with the film before it.

The other issue is that Laurie sits this fight out for most the film. With her injuries being pretty extensive, she instead takes on the role of harbinger, reminding her children and her Sheriff friend (played by Will Patton) that Michael is coming and has to be stopped. She’s the new Loomis, for the most part. Anyone walking into this film expecting a face off between Laurie and Michael will probably want to hold out for the next installment.

The Carpenters (Cody and his dad, John) do a good job, musically. There’s no complaints there. I also have to admit that the sound quality is also pretty good in this film. Overall, Halloween Kills is a fun film if you’re not expecting too much and you need something to close your night with. With a runtime of about an hour and 50 minutes, it doesn’t lag too much, though it stumbles a little through the town revenge plot. It’s definitely worth it to get to the last 15 minutes or so.

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Body Bags (dir by John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper)


An odd but mildly likable film, that’s the best description of Body Bags.

Originally, Body Bags wasn’t even meant to be a film.  Instead, in 1993, Showtime wanted to do a horror anthology show, one that would mix comedy and chills in the style of HBO’s Tales From The Crypt.  Three episodes were filmed.  Two were directed by John Carpenter.  The other was directed by Tobe Hooper.  Robert Carradine, Stacy Keach, and Mark Hamill all agreed to appear on the show.  That’s an impressive collection of talent but, for whatever reason, Showtime decided not to pursue Body Bags as a series.  So the three episodes were strung together in an anthology film.  Linking the stories was a warp-around segment where Carpenter played a coroner and Tobe Hooper and Tom Arnold played morgue attendants!

Now, it must be said that John Carpenter probably made the right decision when he decided to become a director instead of an actor.  That said, what Carpenter lacked in acting technique, he made up for with unbridled enthusiasm.  Carpenter appears to be having a blast playing an old style horror host.  Who can blame him?  In fact, I would say one the most appealing things about John Carpenter as a personality is that he always seems to be truly enjoying himself, regardless of all the crap that he’s had to put up with in Hollywood.

As for the segments …. well, they’re uneven.  That’s not really a shock. Part of the problem is that, because they weren’t originally envisioned as all airing together, a lot of ideas and story points are repeated from segment to segment.  The first segment is about a serial killer.  The second segment is about a transplant.  The third segment is about both a transplant and a serial killer.  It gets a bit repetitive.

Carpenter directed the first two segments, The Gas Station and HairThe Gas Station is a bit too simple for its own good.  Robert Carradine is a serial killer who harasses a woman at a gas station.  That’s pretty much it.  Carradine gives a good performance ad Halloween fans will get a laugh out of a reference to Haddonfield but there’s not much else going on.  Hair is a bit better.  Stacy Keach plays a businessman who gets a hair transplant, just to discover that the hair is extraterrestrial in origin.  Hair is clever and playful, like an above average episode of The Twilight Zone.  Keach plays his role with the right mix of comedic outrage and genuine horror.

The third segment is called Eyes and it was directed by Tobe Hooper.  Mark Hamill plays a baseball player who is losing his eyesight as the result of a car accident.  He gets an eye transplant.  At first, everything seems fine but soon, he’s having visions of himself murdering people!  It turns out that the eye once belonged to a serial killer.  You can guess where this is going but Mark Hamill really throws himself into the role and Tobe Hooper’s direction is appropriately intense.

Body Bags is a pretty minor entry in the filmographies of two great directors but, at the same time, it’s enjoyable in its own silly way.  There’s a likable goofiness to John Carpenter’s wrap-around segment and it lets us know that we shouldn’t take any of this too seriously.  Watch it for your own amusement.

Horror Scenes That I Love: The Ending of The Thing


Since I paid tribute to John Carpenter earlier today, it only seems appropriate that today’s horror scene that I love should come from one of his best films. The final scene of 1982’s The Thing is chilling, both literally and figuratively. Watch below but remember, it’s also a spoiler if you haven’t seen Carpenter’s film yet.

8 Shots From 8 John Carpenter Films


4 Or More Shots From 4 Or More Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today, we are proud to honor one of the greatest and most influential of directors of all time, John Carpenter!  Carpenter is something of a patron saint around these parts.  He’s more than just a horror director but it would be foolish to pretend as if his horror films haven’t forever changed the genre.

It’s time to celebrate the man and his movie with….

8 Shots Form 8 John Carpenter Films

Halloween (1977, dir by John Carpenter, DP: Dean Cundey)

The Fog (1980, dir by John Carpenter, DP: Dean Cundey)

Escape From New York (1981, dir by John Carpenter, DP: Dean Cundey)

The Thing (1982, dir by John Carpenter, DP: Dean Cundey)

They Live (1988, dir by John Carpenter, DP: Gary B. Kibbe)

Village of the Damned (1995, dir by John Carpenter, DP; Gary B. Kibbe)

Escape From L.A. (1996, dir by John Carpenter, DP: Gary B. Kibbe)

The Ward (2010, dir by John Carpenter, DP: Yaron Orbach)

The TSL’s Grindhouse: John Carpenter’s Vampires (dir by John Carpenter)


Wow, there certainly are a lot of vampires in New Mexico!

Well, I guess I can understand the logic behind it.  My family used to visit New Mexico frequently.  We even lived there for a few months when I was a kid.  If you’re looking for a place to hide out, New Mexico is a good place to do it.  You can drive for hours without seeing another car or another person.  Add to that, New Mexico is state where people respect your privacy.  No one’s going to show up at your house demanding to know why you only come out at night.

Of course, if I was a vampire, I might avoid New Mexico because of the bright sunlight.  Seriously, if you’re trying to escape being touched by the sun, the New Mexico desert might not be the ideal place to hide out.  I don’t know, though.  I’ve never been a vampire.

In John Carpenter’s 1998 film, Vampires (actually, John Carpenter’s Vampires because everyone know the power that the Carpenter name holds for horror fans), Jan Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith) is the world’s oldest vampire and he’s looking to perform a ceremony that will take care of that whole sunlight issue.  If he can perform the ceremony, he’ll be the most powerful creature in the world.

Fortunately, the Vatican has put together a team of ruthless vampire exterminators.  Led by Jack Crow (James Woods), these guys have no problem tracking down vampires and riddling their undead bodies with bullets that have probably been dipped in holy water.  Unfortunately, with the exception of Jack and his second-in-command, Tony (Daniel Baldwin), the vampires hunters aren’t too smart because Valek gets the drop on them while they’re partying at a hotel with a bunch of prostitutes.  The only survivors are Tony, Jack, and Katrina (Sheryl Lee), a prostitute who was previously bitten by Valek.

After teaming up with an enthusiastic but inexperienced priest named Father Guiteau (Tim Guinee), Jack tries to find a way to stop Valek. Meanwhile, Tony finds himself falling for Katrina despite the fact that Katrina will soon be transforming into a vampire and he and Jack have pledged to destroy every vampire that they come across.  It leads to several chases, several bloody shootouts, and a lot of panoramic shots of the New Mexico desert.

The first time I ever watched Vampires, I thought it had its moments of demented fun and I thought that James Woods gave a wonderfully frantic performance as Jack Crow but overall, I got a little bit bored with the film’s constant violence.  There’s only so many times that you can watch people die in slow motion before you get tired of it.  The second time I watched the movie, I was able to better appreciate the film’s self-awareness.  As directed by John Carpenter, it’s intentionally over-the-top in just about every regard and it’s definitely not meat to be taken seriously.  It’s a mix of a western and a vampire film and Carpenter is basically saying, “If we’re going to do this, let’s go crazy with it.”  The film still has its flaws, of course.  Daniel Baldwin seems lost in the role of Tony and the film is oddly paced,  It ends awkwardly, with the promise of a direct sequel that was never made.  (There were sequels, don’t get me wrong.  But Jon Bon Jovi is no substitute for James Woods at his most nervy.)  But the important thing is that, on a second viewing, those flaws were overshadowed by John Carpenter’s kinetic direction and the performances of James Woods, Sheryl Lee, and Thomas Ian Griffith.  

The first time I watched the film, I thought it was just another movie about modern-day vampires killing people while being hunted by unconventional extrerminators.  However, the second time that I watched it, I found myself considering that Vampires is actually a movie about Catholics kicking ass!  Yay!  The lesson here is to always do a second viewing.  Flaws and all, Vampires was far better than I remembered.

Prince of Darkness, Review by Case Wright


Speilberg had 1941, Lucas had Howard the Duck, and John Carpenter had Prince of Darkness. I’m not going to spend a whole review impugning the Master of Horror, BUT….this was really really really bad. When I was young, several months ago Pre-COVID (more on my COVID experience tomorrow- you’ll love it: there’s sweat, fever, explosive things, and I couldn’t smell any of it!) , I reviewed the Dracula mini-series and now Prince of Darkness (John Carpenter). You’re going to start thinking that I have a vampire fetish, but don’t worry Prince of Darkness not only does not have a Dracula figure; it’s unclear if it has much of anything going on at all. Imagine watching a movie called A Man Named John and John appeared briefly at the very end of the movie with no lines. You’d think that was really weird because you are a smart and discerning film consumer.

It starts out in Los Angeles in the 1980s, which looks like the LA of today, but it had MUCH less poop everywhere than today. Ahhh, progress. After the first 10 minutes of the film, I can tell you that: the Prince of Darkness is infact and evil alien who lives inside of a swirling Vitamix that looks alot the green juice they try sell me at the gym

– This is what the POD looked like for most of the film :

I always knew that the green juice smoothie was pure evil!!!

Jesus was also an alien and trapped the POD in the Vitamix above; furthermore, the Church was aware of it and kept it quiet in LA because they were Angels fans, a professor of physics at the local community college forced his physicist students to become Ghost Facers in exchange for a higher grade, and homeless people are murderers now.  I know these things because I got an expositioning that I shall never ever forget.  The students go to see the Eeeeeeevil Vitamix and get sprayed with evil juice and become really lazy zombies. This goes on for a LONG LONG time.  You’d think they’d just use tomato juice to get out the evil or some Shout, but maybe Shout wasn’t invented yet?

One of the physicists becomes possessed with POD and tries to reach into a mirror to release her more evil dad. Ok, why not? It’s a family affair, it’s a family affaaaaiiiirr.  Just as the evil is about to enter our world one of the physicists pushes the POD into the other dimension through the mirror taking her along with it. This was really dumb. Why not just shove the POD? She didn’t look very big. You’re also physicist; you could’ve made a lever or something. LAZY PHYSICIST!!! You never really got to know the POD or the physicists for that matter. It was like John Carpenter was willed an abandoned building and just wrote a script around that location because why waste a perfectly good abandoned building?! 

The biggest puzzle of all was why the main physicist quasi-hero couldn’t get his mustache to line up properly?  It’s like the left side of his mustache was trying to escape his face and was willing to leave the right side of the mustache behind- such a cowardly left-side mustache! 

 

Hmmm, I wonder if anyone will notice that I trim my mustache while tilting my head?

Thank you all! You get to learn about COVID tomorrow; it’s pretty pretty…. pretty… gross.

4 Shots For 4 John Carpenter Films: Halloween, The Fog, Christine, They Live


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

This October, we’ve been using 4 Shots from 4 Films to pay tribute to some of our favorite horror filmmakers!  Today, we honor the one and only John Carpenter!

4 Shots From 4 John Carpenter Films

Halloween (1977, dir by John Carpenter)

The Fog (1980, dir by John Carpenter)

Christine (1983, dir by John Carpenter)

They Live (1988, dir by John Carpenter)

 

Music Video of the Day: Night by John Carpenter (2015, dir by Gavin Hignight and Ben Verhulst


Okay, so it’s more cyberpunk than horror but ….

Listen, it’s John Carpenter.  As a month, October pretty much belongs to John Carpenter and there’s never a more appropriate time to share a music video for one of his songs.  Interestingly enough, Night is one of Carpenter’s rare compositions that is not also a part of a soundtrack.

It certainly sounds like it belongs in a movie though, right?

Enjoy!

4 Shots From 4 Donald Pleasence Films: Wake In Fright, The Mutations, Halloween, Phenomena


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today, we celebrate the life and career Donald Pleasence!  One of the greatest of all the horror icons, Pleasence was born 101 years ago today and that means that it’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 Films

Wake in Fright (1971, dir by Ted Kotcheff)

The Mutations (1974, dir by Jack Cardiff)

Halloween (1978, dir by John Carpenter)

Phenomena (1985, dir by Dario Argento)