In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Friday, September 21, 2018

3:15


Now that the kiddies are back in class, I thought it fitting to pull out a lesser known 1986 chalkboard exploitation flick called 3:15 from director & frequent Walter Hill collaborator, Larry Gross.


After Jeff Hannah (Adam Baldwin) walks away from his street gang, he soon realizes that the “Cobras” won’t let him leave so easily.

So the first thing that struck me here was how not teenage everyone looked in this movie. After the initial scuffle that sees Baldwin leave the Cobras, we leap forward in time one year to a high school exterior and I scoffed that he had somehow gotten a teaching job in that amount of time. I then realized no, he was actually a student. It’s funny to me that Baldwin actually looked older here than he did in The Chocolate War shot several years later. Only the extras, who actually went to the school used in the movie – and were given pizza & t-shirts for their participation according to Imdb – look even close to high school age.

Adam Baldwin (right) and Danny De La Paz in 3:15.

Apart from that, you really have to suspend your disbelief toward a situation being this out of hand. Parents and teachers alike, save a frothing Rene Auberjonois as the school principal are so completely inconsequential and passive, it’s almost comical. I feel like you could’ve taken the school right out of this and just made it about street gangs and not missed a beat – they just would’ve had to change the title.

That said, even the other gangs in the school are just window dressing. Mario Van Peebles leads a Black Panther-esque group called the M-16’s, but don’t do more than hold up the scenery and, for some reason, Lincoln High sports a karate class that is featured for nothing more than a glorified cutaway. In addition to Peebles though, there were a ton of familiar faces, including an always smoking Gina Gershon as one of the “Cobrettes” and Wings Hauser – with real-life wife at the time Nancy Locke – playing parents to Baldwin’s love interest Deborah Foreman.

Deborah Foreman as Sherry in 3:15

Speaking of the Cobrettes, they turned out to be the most malicious out of all of the gangs in the movie, roughing up their competition with nifty makeshift weapons, including lipstick blades(!)


At the end of the day, 3:15 was mildly interesting as a throwaway exploitation flick, but the similarly constructed “meet you after school” effort Three O Clock High (released the next year) was far more substantial and rooted in its heightened reality.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

redruM

Hey all. Since ceasing my Don't Kill the Messenger weeklies, I don't really post about cool stuff on the Net anymore, but I couldn't pass this one up. Here's the new video from Australian artist Pogo aka Nick Bertke where he makes music with sounds from Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining.



I've literally watched this thing a dozen times since I discovered it last week. I wish I had the equipment/time/inspiration to do shit like this. For more of Pogo's videos, check out his YT channel here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Short of the Week #36: Off Season

Getting back to regularly scheduled programming, here's a moody and atmospheric short called Off Season from 2009.



They don't get much better than this, as this piece is well shot, well paced and maintains an air of dread and isolation throughout. Director Jonathan van Tulleken has since kept himself busy in television and most recently has been prepping a feature version of Off Season. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

TIFF Vids 2018

TIFF videographer Robert A. Mitchell was once again on hand to capture red carpet interviews at this year's Midnight Madness. Said “madness” was in full effect for the Halloween screenings and below are the resulting interviews.



Additionally, here are the intro and post-screening Q&A, so naturally spoilers have been warned.



For the rest of Mitchell's videos that week, check out his YouTube channel here.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

H40

It has taken me a week to let things percolate and now that this year's TIFF is behind me, here's what I thought of David Gordon Green's interpretation of the Halloween mythos.


Set forty years after the events of the first film, a re-incarcerated Michael Myers escapes to Haddonfield to finish what he started. In the meantime, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) has sacrificed living a normal life with her daughter (Judy Greer) and granddaughter (Andi Matichak) in order to prepare for his inevitable return.

First I'd like to say that evening spent at the Elgin was a one-of-a-kind experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. As cliché as it sounds, there was a palpable energy in the air, as everyone awaited the first first few bars of horror's greatest piece of music.



I wanted to love Halloween 2018, and there a plenty of people online doing that – I'm glad they are excited – but I had some issues that kept me from being one of them. This film felt very disjointed to me, like it was originally a longer movie and was subsequently cut down. I obviously have no proof of this, but when characters are dropped without warning – and by dropped I don't mean offed by Myers, I mean they just literally disappear – I have to wonder if something got lost in the edit.


For me, this caused an identity crisis within the film that certainly did not speak to a singular vision. I saw Gordon & Danny McBride's voice, but I also saw the Blumhouse stamp, as well. Most of the time, they worked in tandem, but sometimes also at odds. When it was neither, Halloween 2018 cherry picked the best bits from other installments, sequences from the first sequel, H20's motif and the high body counts from the entries of the late eighties. I can't really fault them for the latter though, as I feel like they were making up for what they couldn't get away with then.

I think the fundamental problem was that the heart of the picture should have been Laurie vs. Michael, that is what made H20 – despite all its production foibles – successful, but here this theme got bogged down in its ensemble. Laurie barely felt like a main character until the third act and the super-intriguing thread of three generations coming together to destroy their inherited evil didn't feel earned until the movie's final moments. For instance, I cared more about the babysitter character than I did Laurie's actual granddaughter and that's troublesome.

Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in Halloween.

All that said, I by no means think Halloween 2018 was a bad movie, as there were a ton of solid set pieces that went way beyond simple homage – the Halloween II-esque tracking shot from the trailer notwithstanding. I really liked the physicality of Myers with the original Shape Nick Castle doing double duty with James Jude Courtney. And as one would assume, the music provided by Carpenter and his son, Cody was superb and included several new movements with Myers' departure from Smith's Grove being a real highlight.

I've heard some rumblings about fans not being on board with the comedic undertones, but I wasn't bothered. There's always been room for that in the Halloween series and 2018 offered up one of the best lines since Bud's Amazing Grace serenade.

The Shape returns.

I have to admit that after Get Out, I was hoping this pair of outsiders would offer up something special. I hate the term “elevated genre” as much as any horrorphile, but I'd be lying if the seed wasn't planted leading up to the screening. Truthfully though, Halloween 2018 was just another sequel in a long line of redos and revisionism. I'd put it somewhere in the middle, miles above the maligned sequels and Zombie's canon, but it just didn't resonate with me like the first four & H20 do.

I feel like the Twitter love-fest isn't really doing the rest who have to wait a month any favours. Hype is good, but OVERhype can be a movie's worst enemy. My message would be not to expect anything more than an entertaining sequel revisiting two of your favourite horror avatars and you'll have some good fun in the dark.

Monday, September 10, 2018

100 Midnights!

I'm hitting a milestone tonight folks. This evening's TIFF premiere of Emma Tammi's The Wind will be my one-hundredth Midnight Madness screening. The amount of memories I have amassed over the last eighteen years are innumerable, whether it be the weirdo who inexplicably yelled “Get a Job!” at the screen during Ong Bak 2 or the absolute chaos that transpired when Megan Fox & Adam Brody showed up for Jennifer's Body or the dude that took at header down the escalator at the premiere of Hostel - which you can be sure they then used in their marketing. In celebration, I cooked up this little video which chronicles all the films I have seen at Midnight.



Looking back, it is interesting to see which ones have become genre classics and those which have faded into obscurity. I think the only two glaring omissions from the vid would be 2009's The Loved Ones & 2014's It Follows and that's because I caught afternoon screenings of both the following day. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

TIFF 2018!


Hey everyone, it's TIFF time again. I don't know how many films I'll be posting about in the coming week, but I'd be surprised if I don't have at least a few thoughts on the new Halloween film. I'll guess we'll see!